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Alex Brandon / AP

Friends and colleagues say President Trump, chief strategist Steve Bannon and policy guru Stephen Miller think they're off to a terrific start. They see complaints about the travel ban as media misinformation and hype — amplified by Republicans they don't like and that they know will never like them.

On a conference call with reporters last night, a senior administration official said: "It really is a massive success story in terms of implementation on every single level."

And asked about the softening yesterday of the administration's stand on green-card travelers from the seven restricted countries, a senior administration official told Axios' Jonathan Swan: "The only issue is the media created an issue that never existed, and then asked us to resolve an issue that never existed. … The EO [executive order] is not going to be changed."

Despite the bravado, others who are high-up inside the administration worry that the ham-handed handling of the ban and its rollout are indicative of bigger problems ahead. These sources say:

  • Big decisions, and edits to crucial documents, are made in the dark of night, with scant input beyond the inner circle. "There are a few guys who keep everything to themselves," said a top official.
  • The insular inner circle is getting more insular, as it amasses more power.
  • No force within the West Wing is a sure-fire counterweight to Bannon/Miller.
  • The inner circle, resentful of leaks, seeks little input from the Cabinet, outside allies or Hill leaders. A leadership aide told us yesterday afternoon: "Congressional leaders had no hand in drafting this and haven't been briefed from the White House on how it works."
  • Trump is showing no signs of WANTING order: He loves the competing views, internally and externally, allowing him to be the (usually last-minute) decider.
  • The place oozes paranoia. So every bad move is simply chalked up to media-hate.
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines

A health care worker administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Ruleville, Mississippi. Photo: Rory Doyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. is now vaccinating an average of 2 million people a day, up from 1.3 million in early February.

Why it matters: That puts us on track to hit President Biden's goal of 100 million doses a month ahead of schedule.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday voted 51-50 — with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie — to proceed to debate on President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package, likely setting up a final vote this weekend.

The state of play: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire 628-page bill on the floor, a procedural move that will likely add 10 hours to the 20 hours already allotted for debate.

4 hours ago - World

Netanyahu campaigns against Biden's plan to save Iran deal

Netanyahu campaigns at a gym last month. Photo: Pool/AFP via Getty

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indirectly criticized the Biden administration for its intention to return to the Iran nuclear deal and told his supporters he was prepared to "stand against the entire world" to stop it.

Why it matters: This is a major change of tune for Netanyahu, who had been careful in his statements on the Iran deal and avoided publicly criticizing President Biden. The statement was part of Netanyahu's attempt to rally his base ahead of Israel's election on March 23.