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AP

In the moment, it's impossible to process how consequential, historic and bizarre these dribs and drabs are that we're being barraged with all day.

Less than 24 hours after a mass shooting that critically wounded a member of Congress, the President of the United States issued official statements via Twitter that said:

"They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice ... You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people!"

He followed up later in the day with more tweets:

"Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are? ... Crooked H destroyed phones w/ hammer, 'bleached' emails, & had husband meet w/AG days before she was cleared- & they talk about obstruction?"

And just this morning: Axios' Jonathan Swan pointed out that White House allies, over the past 10 days, have taken cues from Trump and begun hitting Mueller on the air, in social media and in conversations with reporters.

History note by Blake Hounshell:

Then at 9:21 last night, following two nights of revelations by the WashPost about the Mueller investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released a statement saying:

"Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous 'officials,' particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch or agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long-established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations."

And, if all that weren't enough for one day, we learn that Vice President Pence has lawyered up.

Statement from an aide: "[T]he Vice President has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods [in Richmond] to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel. The Vice President is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the President's agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter."

The backdrop: Amid all this, Republicans are trying to pass a health-care plan that, even in states Trump won, is one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation a majority party has pushed in a long time. It's not just unpopular — Trump himself called it "mean." Imagine the campaign ads: even Donald Trump thinks the plan is too mean!

Sound smart: Please just reread that last paragraph.

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Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.