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Cover: Penguin Press

A sneak peek for Axios readers at a passage from "A Very Stable Genius," by the WashPost's Phil Rucker and Carol Leonnig, out Tuesday:

The night of January 23 [2017], the first Monday of his presidency, Trump came face‑to‑face with House and Senate leaders from both parties at a White House reception ... At a long table in the State Dining Room, Steve Bannon ... could not stop looking at Nancy Pelosi...
Pelosi assumed Trump would open the conversation on a unifying note, such as by quoting the Founding Fathers or the Bible. Instead, the new president began with a lie: "You know, I won the popular vote." He claimed that there had been widespread fraud, with three to five million illegal votes for Clinton. Pelosi interjected. "Well, Mr. President, that’s not true," she said. "There’s no evidence to support what you just said, and if we’re going to work together, we have to stipulate to a certain set of facts.
"Watching Pelosi challenge Trump, Bannon whispered to col­leagues, "She’s going to get us. Total assassin. She’s an assassin."

Go deeper: The one book to understand Steve Bannon

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Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.