Photo: Joyce N. Boghosian / The White House

Immigration talks. Mar-a-Lago. Davos. No matter where President Trump goes, or what he does, the dark cloud of Robert Mueller seems to shadow him.

Be smart: Below is a roundup from the past 48 hours, amid a government shutdown and the opening day of Davos. Much of this flows from actions taken in office knowing the whole world is watching for a cover-up. It’s the ultimate unforced error — and reason many around Trump fear him testifying.

  • "Mueller ... is seeking to question President Trump in the coming weeks about his decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James B. Comey," per the WashPost.
  • Jeffrey Toobin says on CNN that the testimony "will be a defining moment of the Trump presidency ... as dramatic a confrontation" as President Bill Clinton's questioning in the Starr prosecution.
  • In a conversation of interest to Mueller, "Shortly after President Trump fired his FBI director in May, he summoned to the Oval Office the bureau’s acting director for a get-to-know-you meeting," per the WashPost. "Trump ... asked Andrew McCabe: ... Whom did he vote for in the 2016 election? McCabe said he didn’t vote."
  • "Trump ... also vented his anger at McCabe over the several hundred thousand dollars in donations that his wife, a Democrat, received for her failed 2015 Virginia state Senate bid from a political action committee controlled by a close friend of Hillary Clinton.
  • Why it matters: "McCabe ... found the conversation with Trump 'disturbing.'"
  • "The encounter is also the latest example of Trump erupting at a senior official, whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia probe, or White House counsel Donald McGahn, for not doing more to quash the investigation early on.
  • Axios' Jonathan Swan scooped: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions — at the public urging of President Donald Trump — has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed."
  • "Sessions was questioned for several hours last week as part of the special counsel investigation," per the N.Y. Times.
  • "Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates ... added a prominent white-collar attorney, Tom Green, to his defense team, signaling that Gates' approach to his not-guilty plea could be changing behind the scenes," per CNN.
  • Simona Mangiante — fiancée of former Trump campaign worker George Papadopoulos — told the WashPost: “I believe history will remember him like John Dean."

Go deeper

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 19,648,084 — Total deaths: 727,024 — Total recoveries — 11,941,723Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 4,998,105 — Total deaths: 162,425 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
Updated 2 hours ago - World

Brazil coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 and case numbers surpass 3 million

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself to Facebook congratulating his soccer team, Palmeiras, for winning the state title Saturday, moments after the health ministry confirmed the national COVID-19 death toll had surpassed 100,000.

Why it matters: Brazil is only the second country to confirm more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. On Sunday morning, it became the second country to surpass 3 million cases, per Johns Hopkins. Only the U.S. has reported more. Bolsonaro has yet to address the milestones. He has previously tested positive for COVID-19 three times, but he's downplayed the impact of the virus, which has crippled Brazil's economy.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest coronavirus case numbers and more context.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Democrats react to Trump's coronavirus aid action

President Trump speaks to workers at a manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing President Trump Saturday night for taking executive action on coronavirus aid, with Democratic leaders demanding the GOP return to negotiations after stimulus package talks broke down a day earlier.

Why it matters: Trump could face legal challenges on his ability to act without congressional approval, where the constitutional power lies on federal spending. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the most vocal Republican critic, saying in a statement: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."