Sep 22, 2018

Trump at war (with his own government)

Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/Axios

We’re starting to see the worst collateral damage of President Trump's war with his own Justice Department. The rift has dominated (even defined) his presidency. And it looks like it’s getting worse.

A former administration official told Axios: “It’s a 'Deep State' he created. Whether it existed before or not, it does now.”

Yesterday's astonishing leak: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein "suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration," and discussed the possible invocation of the 25th amendment, per the N.Y. Times.

  • "[M]emos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, ... documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions."

Timing: The conversations came on May 16, 2017–just a week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, a seven-day window when tensions between the White House and Main Justice hit a fever pitch, threatening to cripple both institutions.

The fallout ... Rosenstein's unconvincing denial: "I never pursued or authorized recording the President and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false."

  • The leak triggered a fevered debate among Justice Department watchers: Was Rosenstein joking when he made those explosive comments? It’s a vital question — but in a way, it also isn’t. After all, in normal times, the deputy attorney general doesn’t joke about secretly recording the president.

Trump last night at a rally in Missouri: ""You've seen what happened in the FBI and the Department of Justice. The bad ones, they're all gone. They're all gone ... But there is a lingering stench and we're going to get rid of that, too."

Be smart: The leak is a tiny indication of how much special counsel Robert Mueller knows, and has known for months.

Go deeper

The technology of witnessing brutality

Charging Alabama state troopers pass by fallen demonstrators in Selma on March 7, 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

The ways Americans capture and share records of racist violence and police misconduct keep changing, but the pain of the underlying injustices they chronicle remains a stubborn constant.

Driving the news: After George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police sparked wide protests, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said, “Thank God a young person had a camera to video it."

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Lessons from the lockdown — and what comes next

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

We are nowhere near finished with the coronavirus, but the next phases of our response will — if we do it right — be more targeted and risk-based than the sweeping national lockdown we’re now emerging from.

Why it matters: Our experience battling this new virus has taught us a lot about what does and doesn’t work. We’ll have to apply those lessons rigorously, and keep adapting, if we have any hope of containing the virus and limiting the number of deaths from here on out.

Updated 37 mins ago - Politics & Policy

George Floyd protests: Unrest continues for 6th night across U.S.

A protest near the White House on Sunday night. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Most external lights at the White House were turned off late Sunday as the D.C. National Guard was deployed and authorities fired tear gas at hundreds of protesters nearby, per the New York Times.

What's happening: It's one of several tense, late-night standoffs between law enforcement and demonstrators in the United States over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people.