Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

President-elect Trump and boxing promoter Don King at Mar-a-Lago in December 2016. Photo: Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

As President Trump increasingly tunes out formal advisers, there's a growing list of misfits and hangers-on that he just can’t seem to quit — and whose advice he seems to welcome and even adopt.

Why it matters: Trump is successfully resisting the West Wing bubble that tended to imprison his predecessors. But he fills his time and mind with colorful, marginal thinkers who reinforce his instincts rather than broadening his horizon — comfort food, rather than nutrition.

  • The WashPost reports on A1 today: "Trump began the past workweek cutting into steaks at the White House residence on Monday night with his political soldiers, including former advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, strategist Brad Parscale, and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner."
  • "He ended it dining on the gilded patio of his Mar-a-Lago estate with eccentric boxing promoter Don King, who said he vented to the president about the Stormy Daniels saga."
  • Last month, The Daily Beast reported a Trump dinner with Fox News host Jesse Watters and former White House gadfly Seb "Dr. G" Gorka because “he couldn’t get enough of them on TV."
  • Trump remains phone pals with Reince Priebus, the chief of staff he pushed out.
  • The N.Y. Times reported last month that Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro "told Mr. Trump in an Oval Office visit months ago that [his lawyers Ty] Cobb and [John] Dowd [who has since left the team] were leading him down a path toward his demise."

A source close to Trump told me: "The 'misfits' or 'deplorables,' as some people call them, offer the President insight into the perspective of various constituencies: middle America, the Trump base, movement conservatives, culture crusaders, evangelicals, and populist nationalists."

  • "Don King may seem like a strange choice. Of course, they're longtime friends. But I'd also argue few people have their finger on the pulse of the People more than a big-time fight promoter. He's also one of the few people on earth who can rival Trump as a brander (e.g. 'Rumble in the Jungle,' 'Thrilla in Manila')."

Yes, but: As CNN's Jake Tapper tweeted about the Gorka-Watters dinner: "So you’re the president of the United States of America. You can dine with literally anyone you want to. Titans of industry. Geniuses of the arts. Tech wizards changing everything. World leaders and humanitarian saints."

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
8 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.