Updated May 3, 2018

Trump's walls may be crumbling

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

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

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.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 hours ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."