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AP

West Wing staff anticipate John Kelly will act as more of a gatekeeper, as a traditional Chief of Staff would. "He was given full authority. Everyone goes through him," a source familiar with the situation told Axios.

  • Under Reince Priebus, the Oval Office resembled a "rolling craps game," in the words of one top Republican. Staff and visitors wandered freely in and out of the Oval, bantering with Trump, showing him print-outs of news articles unfavorable to their internal enemies, and generally eating up chunks of the President's precious time.
  • Most senior staff had lost all respect for Priebus. Multiple senior officials have told me he "gums up" the system and by the end was almost solely in survival mode.
  • In Reince's final 24 hours he was short on allies. Extaordinarily, not a single senior White House official came out to defend him as the new WH communications director Anthony Scaramucci pummeled him on TV and accused him of being the building's chief leaker.

By the end, the only senior official plotting to defend Reince — and destroy Mooch — was Steve Bannon. He saw the jaw-dropping New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza as a last ditch opportunity to kill Mooch. Bannon tried to conspire with other conservatives to get the message to Trump that this was beyond the pale — and he got some support from Laura Ingraham and Lou Dobbs — but ultimately Trump had made up his mind. He was over Reince.

As for Mooch, Trump initially found his crude quotes to Lizza amusing, but he became less thrilled about it as the negative coverage piled on. But he was never going to punish Mooch, let alone fire him. Jared and Ivanka had brought Mooch in, in part, as a Reince-seeking missile. They and the First Lady distrusted Reince, thought him incompetent and wanted him out. The President gave Mooch his blessing to nuke Reince, but he will likely be pleased to see his new comms director dial back his aggression (and colorful language) a few notches.

Go deeper: Watch our Axios Sourced on Scaramucci's influence in the WH.

Go deeper

FBI report likely to show record increase in murders in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the FBI data released next week shows what's expected — that 2020 saw the highest single-year spike in U.S. murders in at least six decades — experts say the sudden job losses, fears and other jolts to society at the start of COVID-19 will likely have been the overwhelming drivers.

Why it matters: Many Democrats already feared that rising crime could hurt their party in the 2022 midterms.

23 mins ago - Health

Some experts see signs of hope as COVID cases fall

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New coronavirus cases are continuing to decline, and some experts are cautiously optimistic that the virus will continue to wane even into the fall and winter.

The big picture: The next few months are highly uncertain, and some localized outbreaks are all but guaranteed. But the U.S. is at least moving in the right direction again.

Air quality alerts issued as California fires threaten more sequoias

The Windy Fire blazes through the Long Meadow Grove of giant sequoia trees near the Trail of 100 Giants in Sequoia National Forest, near California Hot Springs, on Tuesday. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two wildfires were threatening California's sequoia trees over overnight — hours after authorities issued fresh evacuation orders and warnings, along with air quality alerts.

The big picture: Air quality alerts were issued Wednesday for the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley as smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex fires resulted in hazy, "ash-filled" skies from Fresno to Tulare, the Los Angeles Times notes.