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Sources with direct knowledge say that since the earliest days of his presidency, Trump has mused about revoking press credentials for reporters who infuriate him. But press staff have often successfully counseled him against doing so, telling him it would only elevate the reporter involved and would result in damaging stories about him cracking down on press freedom.

Driving the news: Yesterday, Trump went ahead and did it anyway, with Sarah Sanders announcing that the White House had removed the "hard pass" of CNN’s Jim Acosta, who had tangled with Trump at his midday press conference.

Be smart: Despite the White House accusing Acosta of "placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern" when she was taking a microphone from him at the presser, the video clearly shows Acosta didn’t do anything physically threatening to the intern.

  • The video tweeted by the White House apparently is edited to shift speeds of footage where Acosta and the staffer make contact, possibly making his gesture look more aggressive.

As Trump made clear in his interview with "Axios on HBO," he has no interest in de-escalating his fights with the press, because he thinks it works for him politically and his crowds demand it.

  • But until now it had all been rhetoric. This is the first time the Trump White House has revoked the credentials of a mainstream reporter.

The reaction from White House reporters made it clear that a new line had been crossed:

  • The N.Y. Times' Peter Baker called the White House explanation a "[f]alse predicate to punish a reporter. This is what the president wants. If he really thought @acosta was unfair, then why did he call on him? Because he wants the confrontation."
  • Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, said the group "strongly objects to the Trump Administration’s decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.