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.

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How small businesses got stiffed by the coronavirus pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The story of American businesses in the coronavirus pandemic is a tale of two markets — one made up of tech firms and online retailers as winners awash in capital, and another of brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop shops that is collapsing.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has created an environment where losing industries like traditional retail and hospitality as well as a sizable portion of firms owned by women, immigrants and people of color are wiped out and may be gone for good.

Apple's antitrust fight turns Epic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Millions of angry gamers may soon join the chorus of voices calling for an antitrust crackdown on Apple, as the iPhone giant faces a new lawsuit and PR blitz from Epic Games, maker of mega-hit Fortnite.

Why it matters: Apple is one of several Big Tech firms accused of violating the spirit, if not the letter, of antitrust law. A high-profile lawsuit could become a roadmap for either building a case against tech titans under existing antitrust laws or writing new ones better suited to the digital economy.

Survey: Fears grow about Social Security’s future

Data: AARP survey of 1,441 U.S. adults conducted July 14–27, 2020 a ±3.4% margin of error at the 95% confidence level; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Younger Americans are increasingly concerned that Social Security won't be enough to wholly fall back on once they retire, according to a survey conducted by AARP — in honor of today's 85th anniversary of the program — given first to Axios.

Why it matters: Young people's concerns about financial insecurity once they're on a restricted income are rising — and that generation is worried the program, which currently pays out to 65 million beneficiaries, won't be enough to sustain them.