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Top Republicans tell us that yesterday may have been an inflection point in the West Wing meltdown — that if behavior like this continues, apparently sanctioned by the President, people will finally leave.

  • The story that they've been telling themselves and others, about the President growing in office, looks more and more like a fable. Instead, insiders feel the situation is getting worse.
  • A George W. Bush alumnus told us last night: "Republicans don't care about Russia. They do care about dysfunction."
  • What triggered this new bearishness among White House officials and their allies were the crude quotes by incoming White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza in a jaw-dropping piece headlined, "Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Rant About Reince Priebus: He started by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. It escalated from there."

In the seconds after the astonishing story posted, a veteran lobbyist sent me a screenshot and said: "not sure if this is truly real."

It wasn't The Onion. It was real:

  • Scaramucci said White House chief of staff Reince Priebus "is a f---ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac."
  • "He reiterated that Priebus would resign soon, and he noted that he told Trump that he expected Priebus to launch a campaign against him. 'He didn't get the hint [when it was announced] that I was reporting directly to the President.'"
  • "Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. 'I'm not Steve Bannon, I'm not trying to s--k my own c--k ... I'm not trying to build my own brand off the f---ing strength of the President. I'm here to serve the country.'"
  • "Yeah, let me go, though, because I've gotta start tweeting some sh-t to make this guy [the White House chief of staff] crazy."

What some in the West Wing are thinking: There are interns reading this.

Be smart: The President likes people with backbone. And at the moment, Scaramucci is empowered: We're told the President loved the Mooch quotes. But President Trump doesn't like being upstaged. "Mini-me" can't forget the "Mini" part. Being more Trump than Trump, in Trump's house, is a dangerous game.

P.S. A source close to Mooch says he thought he was off the record, and Mooch tweeted: "I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won't happen again."

A New Yorker spokesperson tells us: "Late in the conversation, Scaramucci requested that one part be off the record, and we respected that. The rest was on the record. Today (Thursday), Ryan and Scaramucci had another conversation and Scaramucci was clear and agreed that the conversation was on the record."

Go deeper

Trump's Tucker mind-meld

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images and BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

If you want to understand the rhetorical roots of Trump's Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, go back and watch Tucker Carlson's monologues for the past six weeks.

Between the lines: Trump — or rather his speechwriter Stephen Miller — framed the president's opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest movement using the same imagery Carlson has been laying out night after night on Fox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 11,366,145 — Total deaths: 532,644 — Total recoveries — 6,154,138Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 2,874,396 — Total deaths: 129,870 — Total recoveries: 906,763 — Total tested: 35,512,916Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity — Houston mayor warns about hospitals
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Former Trump official Tom Bossert says face masks “are not enough”
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: Sports return stalked by coronavirus
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Bolton's hidden aftershocks

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The news media has largely moved on, but foreign government officials remain fixated on John Bolton's memoir, "The Room Where It Happened."

Why it matters: Bolton's detailed inside-the-Oval revelations have raised the blood pressure of allies who were already stressed about President Trump's unreliability.