Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's easy to grow immune to — or skeptical of — the constant news breaks that all seem like big, defining Trump moments unfolding before our eyes. But we might look back at this week as the real deal.

The big picture: The breadth and speed of the new disclosures were sobering even to the most fervent loyalists in Trump's inner circle.

  • Two weeks after joining President Trump's legal team, Rudy Giuliani told Fox's Sean Hannity last night that the president had repaid Michael Cohen for his $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels: "Funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.” Aboard Air Force One last month, Trump was asked if he knew about the payment and he replied: "No."
  • The specificity and scope of Robert Mueller's question list for Trump was chilling to many Trump friends, and infuriating to Trump. The questions —many of which cite specific dates, reflecting the vast narrative Mueller has already developed — sweep across the campaign, the convention, the transition, the first 13 months in office. 
  • And the questions were posed before the FBI raided Cohen’s office. Cohen is the Rosetta stone of Trumpland, with intimate knowledge of Trump’s life before the campaign. 
  • The disclosure that Mueller has threatened to subpoena Trump, if he refuses an interview, was a reminder of the president's potential vulnerability amid his bluster. Giuliani told Hannity that if Trump sits down with Mueller, it should be "not under oath ... not videotaped but audiotapes. I want to make sure they don’t misrepresent his answers."

The departure of Trump lawyers John Dowd and Ty Cobb, and the arrival of brawler Rudy Giuliani and impeachment specialist Emmet Flood, signal a more combative stage, according to the WashPost's lead story:

  • "Trump has adopted an increasingly hostile posture toward the special counsel ... '[T]he gloves may be coming off.'"
  • Be smart: "Trump is intent on ridding his presidency of the shadow that the investigation has cast ... and no longer sees cooperating as the quickest way to make that happen."
  • "In private conversations, Trump has taken to decrying Mueller’s probe as a 'total b------- investigation' and has occasionally invoked his late attorney Roy Cohn, a hard-charging figure who taught him to punch back at enemies."

P.S. And back in the West Wing ... "The president has come to believe that [Chief of Staff John] Kelly is hiding things from him," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • "Kelly complains aloud about Mr. Trump, telling colleagues, 'I don’t need this' after dressing-downs from the president."

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 19,648,084 — Total deaths: 727,024 — Total recoveries — 11,941,723Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 4,998,105 — Total deaths: 162,425 — Total recoveries: 1,643,118 — Total tests: 61,080,587Map.
  3. Politics: Trump signs 4 executive actions on coronavirus aid — Democrats, and some Republicans, criticize the move
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective — 1 in 3 Americans would decline COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
Updated 2 hours ago - World

Brazil coronavirus death toll tops 100,000 and case numbers surpass 3 million

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself to Facebook congratulating his soccer team, Palmeiras, for winning the state title Saturday, moments after the health ministry confirmed the national COVID-19 death toll had surpassed 100,000.

Why it matters: Brazil is only the second country to confirm more than 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus. On Sunday morning, it became the second country to surpass 3 million cases, per Johns Hopkins. Only the U.S. has reported more. Bolsonaro has yet to address the milestones. He has previously tested positive for COVID-19 three times, but he's downplayed the impact of the virus, which has crippled Brazil's economy.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the latest coronavirus case numbers and more context.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans and Democrats react to Trump's coronavirus aid action

President Trump speaks to workers at a manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, on Thursday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing President Trump Saturday night for taking executive action on coronavirus aid, with Democratic leaders demanding the GOP return to negotiations after stimulus package talks broke down a day earlier.

Why it matters: Trump could face legal challenges on his ability to act without congressional approval, where the constitutional power lies on federal spending. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the most vocal Republican critic, saying in a statement: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."