J. Scott Applewhite / AP

In the West Wing, the single biggest mistake President Trump has made is not elevating someone who can and will say "no" to him, and make it stick.

  • One discouraged confidant, worried that the Russia investigation will be a long-term problem, emailed Axios: "DJT has been sort of brilliant at times about navigating things. But... he was never held accountable by anyone."
  • The N.Y. Times' Tom Friedman wrote a memo to Trump's War Cabinet this morning, urging the "five adults with the most integrity in the Trump administration" to act as Trump's parents.
  • The Daddy for today is burly economic adviser Gary Cohn, according to the juiciest (and last) paragraph of an account by the N.Y. Times' Thrush and Haberman: "In a recent meeting in the Oval Office, Mr. Cohn was speaking when Mr. Trump interrupted him. 'Let me finish,' Mr. Cohn interjected ... Trump, unaccustomed to ceding the floor, let him make his point."

No one else does that. Frank Bruni writes in his N.Y. Times column today, "Tweeting Toward Oblivion," that Trump's demons are winning: "He can tweet, or he can govern. ... Trump is no victim. He's the luckiest man alive — or has been, until now." This is the week that it either runs out — or the series gets extended.

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Cleanup on aisle Biden

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

After two gaffes and a low blow from President Trump questioning his faith, Joe Biden spent Thursday evening off his own message — clarifying comments and responding to attacks.

Why it matters: Biden’s responses reflect what we could see a lot more of in the next few months — cringeworthy comments and Trump smears, smacking into each other and pulling the Democrat off course.

2020 election strategy: Hire all the lawyers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus has sent overall U.S. unemployment into the double digits — but it's a sort of full-employment act for election law attorneys.

The big picture: The prospect of extended court fights over COVID-19-related voting changes, an absentee ballot avalanche, foreign interference and contested presidential results has prompted a hire-all-the-lawyers binge by candidates and campaigns — not just in swing states but around the country.

Right-wing media defanged by dissolving anti-Biden storylines

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The three biggest anti-Joe Biden storylines in right-wing media over the last year have either fizzled or are getting less online traction than they used to, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: This dynamic has rendered a formidable media ecosystem less effective in boosting President Trump as we move into the heart of the 2020 campaign.