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Rebecca Zisser / Axios

There's only one thing on the mind of Trumpland this week: the firing of FBI Director James Comey. It's saturated the news for the better part of a week — largely through POTUS' own special skill of keeping a single story on life support across multiple news cycles. So let's get the story straight on how everything went down and huddle amongst the bushes of Trumpland.

The firing: The actual act was as uniquely Trumpian as it gets. POTUS had his private head of security hand-deliver Comey's termination letter to FBI headquarters. Of course, Comey was actually a few thousand miles away in Los Angeles, where he saw the news on TV — which he reportedly thought was a prank at first. And in the most LA twist of all: a helicopter tracked Comey's every move on traffic-choked freeways back to his private jet. If the Russia investigation doesn't fit…

The press shop: Someone else who got blindsided by the news: Sean Spicer. He reportedly tried to email a statement announcing the firing but gave up and yelled it at reporters outside his door instead. Then the bushes incident happened. Then he had some badly-timed Naval Reserve duty, which let Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders step into the spotlight. And she's apparently the only one who escaped Trump's ire in the press shop this week. Not the best night for Melissa McCarthy to be hosting SNL, huh?

The recovery: But things got back on message through Wednesday! Say it with me: "POTUS followed the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General." Say it over and over and over again. That's what Kellyanne and Mike Pence and Sanders did — all day long on Wednesday. It was spin, but it was defensible spin. It looked like the White House was gonna get through this one!

The interview: Then POTUS sat down with NBC News' Lester Holt and all of that went out the window with a few simple words: "I was going to fire [him] regardless of recommendation." So Sanders tried to say she'd hadn't talked directly with POTUS to discuss his motivations, Mike Pence was misled again, and Kellyanne was nowhere to be seen. And, on a bigger level, that raised even more questions about the whole Russia thing. So probably best just to hunker down and…

The tweets: …tweet? Yeah, naturally POTUS unleashed a tweetstorm of epic proportions yesterday morning. He hinted at doing away with live press briefings — and that wasn't even the bombshell. He suggested that he might have "tapes" of his conversations with Comey. It was in quotes, like "wiretapping," so who knows what next week in Trumpland is going to bring?

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's carbon emissions-cutting pledge faces tough climb

Image from the Rhodium Group study "Pathways to Paris." Courtesy of the Rhodium Group.

The verdict is in: President Biden's U.S. emissions-cutting pledge isn't a fantasy, but the path to meeting it is very difficult and relies on forces outside of White House control.

Driving the news: The Rhodium Group just released an analysis of policy combinations that could close the gap between the current U.S. trajectory and Biden's vow under the Paris Agreement to cut emissions in half by 2030.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Updated 12 mins ago - Economy & Business

Johnson & Johnson pulls the trigger on Texas talc gambit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's official: Johnson & Johnson has invoked a Texas legal loophole in an attempt to protect the bulk of its corporate assets from claims that its baby powder caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Why it matters: It's the biggest and boldest invocation yet of the so-called Texas two-step defense. But it's still not clear whether it's going to work.

Poll: U.S. leadership approval rebounds from Trump low

A Gallup report published Tuesday found approval of United States leadership in 46 countries and territories hit 49% — up from 30% at the end of Donald Trump's presidency, and matching former President Obama's first year (2009).

Why it matters: Biden's efforts to reengage with the international community following the Trump administration appear to be improving the global approval ratings for U.S. leadership, though this poll does not take into account the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.