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Susan Walsh / AP

The huge number of vacancies throughout the top ranks of government is concentrating power in the West Wing — to Jared's benefit, and with the effect of balls getting dropped.

"Too few people are doing too much, and it's keeping the Cabinet weak," said one outside adviser to the West Wing. "In a Cabinet of people who are used to being superstars, no one has been able to negotiate to get a high-powered team in."

"Bannon will tell you: We're doing things differently — that's the way it used to be," said a veteran of past Republican White Houses. "But there are some actual functions of government that need to be carried out by these buildings."

The belittlement of the Cabinet is most apparent in the invisibility of Sec. State Rex Tillerson, a 65-year-old former corporate titan who's now operating in the shadow of 36-year-old Kushner.

"I don't know what Rex does every day," a friend said. "[SecDef] James Mattis is home alone."

According to the Political Appointee Tracker of the Partnership for Public Service, of 553 key positions in the Trump administration requiring Senate confirmation, 486 have no nominee, 24 are awaiting nomination, 21 have been nominated and 22 confirmed.

The partnership shared the latest historical equivalents with Axios AM. As of today:

  • Trump: 21 nominations, 22 confirmed.
  • George H.W. Bush: 72 nominations, 27 confirmed.
  • Bill Clinton: 69 nominations, 44 confirmed.
  • George W. Bush: 65 nominations, 32 confirmed.
  • Obama: 120 nominations, 54 confirmed.

As Trump might tweet: Big difference!

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Go deeper

Brazil's health minister tests positive for COVID during UN summit in N.Y.

President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro (L) and Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in Brasilia, Brazil, in May. Photo: Andressa Anholete/Getty Images

Brazil's Health Minister Marcelo Queirog has tested positive for COVID-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he confirmed Tuesday night.

Why it matters: Hours earlier, Queirog had accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the UNGA. The Biden administration expressed concern last week that the gathering of world leaders could become a coronavirus "superspreader event."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues New York Times and his niece over tax report

Former President Trump hosting a boxing match in Hollywood, Florida on Sept. 11. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a $100 million lawsuit against the New York Times and his niece Mary Trump on Tuesday over the news outlet's 2018 reporting on his tax records, the Daily Beast first reported.

Details: The suit, filed in New York's Dutchess County, alleges NYT journalists "engaged in an insidious plot to obtain confidential and highly-sensitive records" and that they "convinced" Mary Trump to "smuggle records out of her attorney's office and turn them over to The Times."

House passes government funding, debt ceiling bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The House passed a bill on Tuesday to fund the government through early December, along with a measure to raise the debt ceiling through December 2022.

Why it matters: The stopgap measure, which needs to be passed to avoid a government shutdown when funding expires on Sept. 30, faces a difficult journey in the Senate where at least ten Republicans would need to vote in favor.