Updated Dec 23, 2018

Trump's next chief of staff does cleanup duty for his boss

President Trump's incoming acting chief of staff says Mexico won't "exactly" pay for the wall, clarified that Trump "now" knows he can't fire the Fed chair and predicted the partial government shutdown will last into 2019.

The big picture: Mick Mulvaney is attempting to clarify the Trump administration's messaging from the White House's hectic statements that led up to what is now partial government shutdown.

Five highlights:

1) The wall: Mulvaney admits on ABC's "This Week" that Mexico won't pay for the wall, a promise Trump made on the campaign trail. "Technically, you and I both know that [the process for paying for the wall] cannot work exactly like that. I can't spend any money at the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Homeland Security can't spend money from Mexico. We have to get it from the Treasury."

2) The Fed: Mulvaney spoke with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last night and Trump "now realizes" that he "does not have the ability" to fire Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

3) The partial government shutdown will likely extend into 2019. Trump stands by funding $5 billion for the wall and “refuses to go along to get along," Mulvaney said on "Fox News Sunday."

4) On the resignation of Jim Mattis: "The president had known for quite some time now that Sec. Mattis and he did not share some of the same philosophies," Mulvaney said.

5) Past comments: Mulvaney said he and the president have joked about his comments from 2016, when he called Trump a "terrible human being." "The president knows that I've been fighting with him to fight for ordinary Americans. He likes having me around. I like working for him," Mulvaney said.

Flashback:

  • Mulvaney in 2015: “To say ‘build the darn fence’ and have that be the end of an immigration discussion is absurd and almost childish for someone inning for president to take that simplistic a view."
  • Mulvaney in 2016: “Yes, I’m supporting Donald Trump. I am doing so as enthusiastically as I can given the fact that I think he is a terrible human being. But the choice on the other side is just as bad.”

Go deeper: Pre-Christmas Trump: Rebuked, rampaging

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,341,907 — Total deaths: 74,476 — Total recoveries: 275,851Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 364,723— Total deaths: 10,781 — Total recoveries: 19,346Map.
  3. 2020 update: Wisconsin governor orders in-person primary voting delayed until June.
  4. States latest: West Coast states send ventilators to New York and other states with more immediate need — Data suggest coronavirus curve may be flattening in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
  5. World update: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as coronavirus symptoms worsen.
  6. Stocks latest: The S&P 500 closed up 7% on Monday, while the Dow rose more than 1,500 points.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Wells Fargo's small busines surprise

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wells Fargo surprised small business owners late Sunday when it said that it had run out of money to lend to small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the federal stopgap for COVID-19 relief.

  • But an announcement by the Federal Reserve today might quell concerns for the customers who will be hard-pressed to apply for cash elsewhere.

Why it matters: Because of restrictions placed on Wells Fargo after its fake accounts scandal, one of the nation's biggest lenders says it's had to turn away struggling small business customers.

Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks governor from delaying state's primary

Tony Evers. Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Wisconsin's Supreme Court on Monday blocked an executive order by Gov. Tony Evers (D) that attempted to delay in-person voting for the state's primary election — currently scheduled for Tuesday — until June 9.

Driving the news: Judges ruled 4-2 along ideological lines that Evers does not have the power as governor to unilaterally postpone the election, despite the fact that the state has a stay-at-home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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