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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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Go deeper

Birx: Trump White House could have reduced COVID deaths by 30 to 40%

Deborah Birx, then-coronavirus response coordinator, speaks during a news conference in the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Nov. 19, 2020. Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Deborah Birx, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator under former President Trump, told a House subcommittee earlier this month that the Trump administration could have prevented tens of thousands of deaths during the early stages of the pandemic.

Driving the news: "I believe if we had fully implemented the mask mandates, the reduction in indoor dining ... and we had increased testing, that we probably could have decreased fatalities into the 30% less to 40% less range," Birx said in a closed-door testimony to the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, according to excerpts provided by the panel.

Study: Fear of debt keeps Latinos out of college

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fear of never being able to pay off school loans is keeping many young Latinos in the U.S. from going to college or completing a degree, according to a report published in September.

State of play: Latinos tend to have more difficulty repaying school debt than white student borrowers, according to Federal Reserve data, at the same time that they need more loans in order to afford tuition.

3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Biden administration objects to Israeli settlements plan

Israeli PM Naftali Bennett (L) meets with Secretary of State Tony Blinken. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has privately protested to the Israeli government over its plan to approve the planning and construction of more than 3,000 new housing units in the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: The approvals for new homes in the settlements will be the first since President Biden assumed office, and come after Biden and his top aides personally pressed Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to restrain settlement activity and decrease the number of new housing units.