Jan 6, 2019

Trump says appointing acting Cabinet heads grants "more flexibility"

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump told reporters outside the White House on Sunday that he’s "in no hurry" to replace his acting Cabinet secretaries with formal replacements, saying, "I have acting, and my actings are doing really great. ... I sort of like acting. It gives me more flexibility, do you understand that?"

Why it matters: Trump's attorney general, secretaries of Defense and Interior, EPA head, and UN ambassador are all working in acting capacities, despite being Senate-confirmed positions. The appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, in particular, came under fire as potentially unconstitutional — even from conservative legal scholars like John Yoo. And the Washington Post reported this week that Patrick Shanahan's position as acting Defense secretary could also be constitutionally murky. Furthermore, Trump, who campaigned on "draining the swamp," faced criticism for his acting secretaries' lobbying ties.

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The cost of going after Bloomberg

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Here's the growing dilemma for 2020 Democrats vying for a one-on-one showdown with frontrunner Bernie Sanders: Do they have the guts — and the money — to first stop Mike Bloomberg?

Why it matters: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren all must weigh the costs of punching Bloomberg where he looks most vulnerable: stop-and-frisk, charges of sexism, billionaire entitlement. The more zealous the attacks, the greater the risk he turns his campaign ATM against them.

How Trump’s economy stacks up

Source: "Presidents and US Economy", Trump figures through 2019 courtesy of Alan Blinder; Note: Data shows real GDP and Q1 growth in each term is attributed to the previous president; Chart: Axios Visuals

Average economic growth under President Trump has outpaced the growth under Barack Obama, but not all of his recent predecessors.

Why it matters: GDP is the most comprehensive economic scorecard — and something presidents, especially Trump, use as an example of success. And it's especially relevant since Trump is running for re-election on his economic record.

Coronavirus cases rise as 14 American evacuees infected

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

14 Americans evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship tested positive for the novel coronavirus before being flown in a "specialist containment" on a plane repatriating U.S. citizens back home, the U.S. government said early Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,770 people and infected almost 70,000 others. Most cases and all but five of the deaths have occurred in mainland China. Taiwan confirmed its first death on Sunday, per multiple reports, in a 61-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Health officials were investigating how he became ill.

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