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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

POTUS kicked off his nine-day, five-country swing across the Middle East and Europe this weekend, hoping for a reset after a disastrous week. Just how bad was it? Well, there were no less than seven White House-related stories that individually could have led multiple news cycles in more normal times — but we live in Trumpland! So while POTUS enjoys Saudi Arabia, let's look back on a week of Russian scoops…

Monday: In an Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian ambassador to the United States — that the American press couldn't enter, but Russian press did — POTUS bragged about intel from a foreign pal on a key ISIS source. The pal was Israel, which Trump visits in 2 days. They weren't happy. But the explanation should make you feel better: POTUS' disclosure was "wholly appropriate" because he wasn't aware of where the information came from!

Tuesday: The news that POTUS asked Comey back in February about "letting Flynn go" blew up every happy hour in Trumpland. Things went downhill quickly. Some Democrats started throwing around the word "impeachment." Even John McCain made a "Watergate" comparison! And given the news of Comey's fastidious paper trail, there could be even more bad weeks ahead.

Wednesday: Right at 6 PM, maybe the biggest news of the week: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had appointed former FBI Director Bob Mueller as special counsel on the Russia investigation. No one saw it coming — not even the White House, which apparently only got an hour's notice. And why not drop another at 10 PM? Michael Flynn told the transition team back in January that he was under FBI investigation for undisclosed lobbying for Turkey — and he still got hired to be the gatekeeper for the Trumpland's national security decisions!

Thursday: After months of repeatedly denying any communications between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, news came of at least 18 previously undisclosed contacts, involving Flynn and other officials. After such a crazy week, this one almost seemed tame. But don't worry — you're fully authorized to make contact with Trumpland each and every Saturday.

Friday: The week has to end just like POTUS' meal — with two scoops. First: POTUS told Russian officials in the Oval Office that Comey was a "nut job" and that firing him had "taken off" great pressure because of the Russia investigation. Second: a senior White House official is under scrutiny as "a significant person of interest" in the Russia investigation, so, uh, it definitely looks like the pressure is still on in Trumpland.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 mins ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.