Jan 29, 2018

Trump's FBI target steps down

Andrew McCabe before testifying to Congress in December. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Months of private and public pressure from the Trump administration paid off today, with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepping down in advance of his scheduled retirement.

  • The public pressure: Trump has tweeted five times about McCabe over the past year, thrice in December.
  • The private pressure: AG Jeff Sessions — at the public urging of Trump — had been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed, Axios' Jonathan Swan scooped last week.
  • "McCabe abruptly stepped down on Monday as the F.B.I.’s deputy director after months of withering criticism from President Trump, telling friends he felt pressure from [FBI Director Wray]," sources told the NYT's Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo.
  • Wray "raised concerns about a forthcoming inspector general report examining the actions of Mr. McCabe and other senior F.B.I. officials during the 2016 presidential campaign, when the bureau was investigating both Hillary Clinton’s email use and the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia," per NYT.

Swan on why it matters: "Substantively, I don't think it makes a big difference regarding Trump's exposure, especially on Russia. Rod Rosenstein is still there and so is Mueller. But Sessions is gradually bending the Justice Department in the direction Trump wants it to turn."

Intrigue: Today's talker comes from NBC's Carol Lee, who reports that Trump called McCabe after firing James Comey in 2017:

  • "Trump demanded to know why Comey was allowed to fly on an FBI plane after he had been fired... McCabe told the president he hadn’t been asked to authorize Comey’s flight, but if anyone had asked, he would have approved it..."
  • "The president was silent for a moment and then turned on McCabe, suggesting he ask his wife how it feels to be a loser — an apparent reference to a failed campaign for state office in Virginia that McCabe’s wife made in 2015."
  • "McCabe replied: 'OK, sir.'"
  • "Trump then hung up the phone."

Behind the scenes by Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs, a preview of more to come:

  • "Trump erupted in anger [last week] while traveling to Davos after learning that Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned that it would be 'extraordinarily reckless' to release a classified memo written by House Republican staffers."
  • "Trump warned Sessions and others they need to excel at their jobs or go down as the worst in history," sources told Bloomberg.

Go deeper: Timeline — Trump's turbulent relationship with McCabe

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How the war on disease made our world

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The biggest pandemic in decades serves as a reminder of just how big a role infectious disease has played in human history — and will continue to play in the future.

The big picture: Without victory over infection, humanity wouldn't have developed the globalized and populous civilization of today. Yet that civilization is vulnerable to COVID-19, which can only be fought by decoupling the connections that underpin the modern world.

Coronavirus updates: World case count tops 600,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe warned that the novel coronavirus pandemic could worsen if people fail to take the appropriate containment measures, at a Saturday news conference in Tokyo.

The big picture: The U.S. leads the world in confirmed coronavirus cases, as the number of global cases nears 620,000. Governments around the world are trying to curb the medical and financial fallout of COVID-19, as infections surge across Europe and the U.S.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 618,043 — Total deaths: 28,823 — Total recoveries: 135,736.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 104,865 — Total deaths: 1,709 — Total recoveries: 894.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to provide businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day. In Spain, over 1,300 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. Business latest: President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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