Jan 22, 2019

2. The real Trump bombshell

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

It's easy to lose sight of what truly matters in this Russia investigation. And, to be fair, only Robert Mueller truly knows. But lost in the buzz around the BuzzFeed story, was a bombshell floated by Trump’s own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

What he said: In remarks that he yesterday tried to walk back as "hypothetical," Giuliani admitted Trump's team may have been working on — and updating him on — a potential Trump Tower in Moscow all the way up to Election Day.

This possibility is a huge deal for four reasons:

  1. Giuliani suggested that then-candidate Trump was aware of — and discussed — the deal far longer than previously disclosed. Giuliani, relaying a quote from the president that hardly sounds hypothetical, said in an interview with the N.Y. Times that Trump had told him the Trump Tower Moscow discussions were "going on from the day I announced to the day I won."
  2. That would mean Trump was being untruthful or highly misleading with his repeated campaign denials of any Moscow business dealings, as late as his Oct. 9 debate with Hillary Clinton: "I don’t deal there."
  3. This would mean Trump was cooking up a business deal with Vladimir Putin’s Russia while calling for warmer relations with Russia and questioning the U.S. role in Putin’s nemesis, NATO.  
  4. And Russian officials would have had negative information to hold over Trump, during the election and after. They would have known Trump was misleading the American people about his Moscow deal. 

Why this matters: Imagine there was no drip, drip, drip — and we learned in one fell swoop that an American presidential candidate was secretly negotiating a multibillion-dollar business deal with an enemy of the United States (and falsely denied it) while that nation was seeking to tip our election in his favor.

Be smart: It appears the Giuliani strategy includes, little by little, confirming troubling facts so that they won't seem as jarring when revealed in full by Mueller or others.

  • This allows Trump and others to say: "This isn’t new." Or: "Trump disclosed this earlier."

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy