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President Trump standing outside the West Wing earlier this month. Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Never in the 14 months of the Trump White House has there been such a mood of acute anxiety from within the West Wing.

What we're hearing: Nobody knows what exactly is happening, who’s about to be fired, or which staffer will next be frogmarched out the door by security for some shadowy clearance issue.

"This is the most toxic working environment on the planet. Usually tough times bring people together. But right now this atmosphere is ripping people apart. There's no leadership, no trust, no direction and this point there's very little hope. Would you want to go to work every day not knowing whether your future career was going to be destroyed without explanation?"
A White House official to Axios

Senior officials are equivocating privately when asked whether they think John Kelly and H.R. McMaster are staying or going. Nobody knows because it’s Trump, and the way he dealt with Rex Tillerson was sudden, even though he’d long been fed up with his Secretary of State.

But the clearance issues are more serious:

  • West Wingers believe more people are set to be escorted out the building for security clearance issues.
  • Swan has learned that it’s not just Johnny McEntee — the president’s trusted body man — who’s been pushed out for security clearance issues in recent days.
  • The same thing happened last week to an aide to the First Lady. He was escorted from the premises and his former colleagues don’t know what the security clearance issue was that forced him out. (The Daily Beast first reported his departure.)

Why this matters: This acute level of uncertainty — and these rapid fire executions, especially the security clearance issues — are shredding an already devastated morale inside the building.

Be smart: This makes it harder than ever to attract top-tier talent. They're going to have big problems replacing the next wave of vacancies.

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Go deeper

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.

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