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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Friends and allies of Steve Bannon had been warning him for weeks to lay off Jared Kushner — telling him that President Trump would turn against him if he kept publicly attacking the son-in-law.

What we're hearing: Tommy Hicks, a Trump campaign fundraiser and the chairman of the favored pro-Trump outside group America First Policies, relayed a message from the White House to Bannon to "knock it the f— off" or else Trump would blow him up, according to two sources with direct knowledge.

Republican operative Arthur Schwartz was another of Bannon's friends who warned him about fixating on Jared too much and pushing Trump over the edge.

Both Schwartz and Hicks declined to comment.

The Hill's Jonathan Easley broke the news — and I can confirm his reporting — that on Wednesday morning Bannon and his allies were preparing to issue a statement disowning his damaging comments about the president's eldest son Don Junior.

Easley reports:

  • "Bannon on Wednesday was about to issue a statement praising Donald Trump Jr. and disputing his quotes in a book from Michael Wolff, but the statement was spiked after President Trump went nuclear on his former chief strategist."
  • "Bannon's aides sought to impress upon him the need to put out a statement quickly. The aides had crafted a statement, which was pending Bannon's approval, when the White House beat him to the punch."
  • "In the unreleased statement, Bannon had planned to call Trump Jr. a patriot and dispute the account in Wolff's book... in which Bannon described Trump Jr. as 'treasonous' and 'unpatriotic' for setting up a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer."

What's next: Some of Bannon's closest allies are urging him to still issue such a statement and make peace with Trump and his family. Bannon is resisting. He's quite like Trump in this respect: he views any apology or admission of error as a sign of weakness. But it may be the only way to preserve some sort of a political future for himself.

Go deeper

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First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

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The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

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Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.