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AP / AP / Hogan Lovells

The "Hunger Games" that have afflicted Trump's staff have lately begun to infect the various Russia-related legal teams — backbiting, second-guessing, lack of trust.

Trump loyalists think help is on the way: The White House yesterday announced the appointment of the mustachioed Ty Cobb, a respected Washington lawyer specializing in white-collar defense, to President Trump's government staff as "Special Counsel."We're told Cobb is fully empowered: Jay Sekulow, the outside Trump lawyer who's doing all five Sunday shows today, will stay. Marc Kasowitz, an outside Trump lawyer whose bad press empowered his internal critics, will likely be diminished or leave the team, according to people close to POTUS.There's much hope inside that Ty can help partition the investigation from the rest of White House work — and that he can have a beneficial effect on minimizing POTUS distractions and ill-advised tweets, etc. But few on the inside know him or have been briefed on specifics of the role he's being asked to play.From his Hogan Lovells law-firm bio: "Bet-the-company litigation calls for a unique combination of skills, experience, and track record. Ty Cobb ... has been widely recognized as one of the premier white collar, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement, and congressional investigations lawyers in the world."Clients managing crises, allegations of corruption, and other critical matters turn to Ty ... Ty's wide-ranging enforcement, bribery, and corruption practice has taken him to more than 35 countries and 44 states."Friends of Trump describe Cobb, who's said to be related to the baseball Hall of Famer, as "adult supervision," both internal and external."It hasn't been clear who internally has been in charge," said one Trump confidant. "This brings some struture and grown-up leadership on this issue."Insiders say Cobb will serve as a Grand Central for congressional and other Russia probes, and will set guardrails for who can and can't talk to each other about the matter internally. Everything will have the ultimate aim of protecting the President.Cobb's role will be the eye in the sky — the quarterback. One Trump veteran calls Cobb "the official wall of Russia."The problem is that the President doesn't want to be protected: He has resisted earlier efforts to insulate him from potentially landmines, including defending Don Jr.Scoop: Look for Don Jr. to retain new advisers soon.Be smart: Trump has carried a self-jeopardizing gene that's perplexed partners throughout his career. If Cobb can provide a clear path, it'll take pressure off Trump from thinking he has to do it all himself — which is when he gets in trouble.

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Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas case, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

5 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.