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President Trump. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Wednesday that Bill Stepien will take over as his new 2020 campaign manager.

Why it matters: The elevation of Stepien is a demotion for Brad Parscale, Trump's existing campaign manager. Parscale was hand-picked by Jared Kushner, the president's adviser and son-in-law. He had been in the role longer than any of Trump's previous campaign managers.

  • The shake-up comes as Trump's status as the incumbent weakens in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times writes.

Our thought bubble, via Axios's Margaret Talev: This has been foreshadowed for weeks and moves like elevating Stepien and bringing back Jason Miller, a top campaign spokesman and 2016 adviser, kicked off the transition. It’s an important reflection of Trump acknowledging how vulnerable his re-election bid looks — and his desire to find someone other than himself at fault.

Between the lines per Axios' Jonathan Swan: Parscale was undercut by Kushner and Trump’s loss of confidence after Tulsa. Functionally it means very little given that Stepien and Miller have already been playing bigger roles.

  • The minute you don’t have control of strategy, messaging or key hires you are campaign manager in name only. But they know they can’t fire Parscale, who knows too much and built the digital infrastructure the campaign relies on.

The state of play: Kushner is essentially still running Trump's re-election campaign from the White House.

  • The president was infuriated following low-turnout at his much anticipated Tulsa rally, his first since the coronavirus pandemic hit. It prompted Kushner to make changes then, including moving Michael Glassner, who was in charge of campaign rallies, to a new role. 

What Trump's saying: "Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign."

Background:

  • Parscale was a Trump favorite after serving as digital director in 2016 and bringing the campaign to new heights on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
  • Stepien previously served as Trump's deputy campaign manager.

Flashback: Trump fired his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort in 2016 and still won the election.

Go deeper... Poll: 62% say Trump is hurting efforts to slow spread of coronavirus

Go deeper

Finally, a real debate

Photo: Morry Gash/AP

A more disciplined President Trump held back from the rowdy interruptions at tonight's debate in Nashville, while making some assertions so outlandish that Joe Biden chuckled and even closed his eyes. A Trump campaign adviser told Axios: "He finally listened." 

The result: A real debate.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

Driving the news: James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.