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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

When President-elect Trump was preparing to move to the White House, some of his aides and security experts conspired to impose more guardrails on his raw, prolific tweeting.

"They tried everything in the book," a top campaign official recalled. Some members of Trump's inner circle feared that what was an undeniable asset during the campaign — the power of authentic, direct communication — might become a mixed blessing as the leader of the free world.

How right they were. Trump has continued tweeting just as before, and the result has been a dilution of the impact — a bit of a "boy who cried wolf" effect. As an example, a former aide cited Trump's repeat this week of his "change libel laws?" crusade. The tweet got little attention.

"People kind of get that's he's messing with them," the former aide said.

  • Trump's view: When the President held a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in mid-March, a German reporter asked Trump whether he regrets any tweets in hindsight. "Very seldom," was Trump's reply. And he added what is undoubtedly true — that he "probably wouldn't be here right now" were it not for his use of social media during the campaign.
  • The tradeoff: Twitter helped Trump kill his primary opponents, and allowed him to circumvent negative mainstream media coverage during the campaign. As president, though, his weapon of choice has inflicted wounds on himself as well as his adversaries. ("So-called" federal judge, anyone? Key news organizations as "the enemy of the American people"?)
  • The damage: Twitter has been the source of Trump's most persistent controversies. Remember, the whole fiasco with Rep. Devin Nunes and the House intelligence committee began with an unsubstantiated Saturday morning tweetstorm in which Trump accused President Obama of illegally wiretapping him. Trump couldn't have thought much about the gravity of these tweets, because he followed them with a jab at Arnold's "pathetic" ratings on "The Apprentice," then hit the golf course.
  • Public skepticism: Trump's most ardent fans love his tweeting, but most voters don't. A Quinnipiac poll found 59% of voters think Trump should get rid of his Twitter. Trump's approval ratings are worse at this point than any President in the era of political polling (back to Harry Truman, according to FiveThirtyEight).
  • Fear factor wanes: Republican House members used to tell us how their biggest fear was Trump going after them on Twitter. We hear less of that now, and members are beginning to openly mock Trump.
  • Bottom line: It's hard to think of a time Twitter has helped Trump since the inauguration. And it's distracting him from better use of a medium with a bigger reach: TV.
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Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
3 hours ago - Health

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Hospital staff work in the COVID-19 intensive care unit in Houston. Photo: Go Nakamura via Getty

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.