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A source who spoke to Trump last week told me he left the conversation concerned that the president "actually believes" Ty Cobb's "happy talk." What the source meant was that the White House lawyer has been naive in his view that the Mueller investigation — as it relates to the White House — will be wrapped by end of year or shortly after.

I emailed Cobb today to ask whether he still believed his previous public statements that the White House would be free of the investigation by the end of this year or January. (He'd originally said before Thanksgiving.)

  • Cobb's reply: "Yes Jonathan, still believe shortly after the first of the year absent some unforeseen delay. People keep confusing that estimate with the Manafort/Flynn silos which will certainly continue to be active. My August estimate of when interviews would be completed was less than two weeks off, and that was despite the China trip which cost us 2 weeks, and half a dozen international crises."

I told Cobb I still didn't understand what he meant. Was he saying Mueller has 100% completed all interviews with White House staff? And if the Manafort and Flynn "silos" continue to be active, couldn't they potentially implicate people who currently work in the White House?

  • Cobb replied again: "I am saying the interviews will be completed by the end of next week which I have said often and which has been quoted by 50 news outlets over the last month or more (with the caveat and understanding illness, Acts of God or logistical factors could add 24 to 48 hours). The Manafort inquiry has nothing to do with the White House as the indictment itself and the related public acknowledgement of Manafort's lawyer, make plain. And, we do not anticipate the long awaited Flynn indictment will delay the Special Counsel's conclusion of the inquiry into the White House. Just no there there."

Go deeper

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

2 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.

3 hours ago - World

Two years of COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

Two years ago Wednesday, the first case of a mysterious new respiratory disease was discovered in Wuhan, China. Now, the Omicron variant has deepened concerns about just how much longer the coronavirus pandemic will last.

The big picture: More than 5 million people have died since that first case. Most people on earth have lived through some form of lockdown. 54% of the global population has had at least one vaccination, though the shots have been distributed unevenly.

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