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Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Some top remaining administration officials are preparing to resist any unlawful or dangerous orders in the closing days of Trump's presidency, senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the sensitive conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: After Trump incited protesters to storm the Capitol on Wednesday, there's a near universal view among top officials that he is unfit and unhinged, these sources said.

  • Recently departed Attorney General Bill Barr said as much on the record Thursday.

What we're hearing: While several senior officials have already resigned in disgust since the riots, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Deputy National Security adviser Matt Pottinger, there has been a heavy behind-the-scenes push to urge other top national security officials to stay on as a bulwark against emboldened U.S. enemies.

  • Multiple Cabinet officials and senators from both parties, including senior Senate Republicans, have privately urged National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to stay in their jobs for the sake of the nation's security and continuity of government.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also intends to stay on, according to a source briefed on his thinking.
  • Two senior national security officials told Axios that they and their colleagues at the top level of government have decided to defy any requests they believe would put the nation at risk or break the law. They plan to force Trump to fire them.

Between the lines: Some senior officials at the State Department and other agencies privately discussed the need to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. That idea is going nowhere.

  • Many view it as bad for the country and technically unworkable in such a short period of time.
  • Senior officials described an awkward and troubling alternative — the reality that they are staying away from the West Wing, avoiding Trump, and hoping to white-knuckle their way to Jan. 20 without having to engage much with him.
  • Yesterday, Pence directly urged the Pentagon to hurry the deployment of the National Guard to the Capitol.

What's next: Both Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have publicly signaled that Congress may push to impeach Trump a second time if his Cabinet does not invoke the 25th Amendment.

Go deeper

Jan 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
29 mins ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.

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