Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

By any historical measure, it’s highly unusual for President Trump to repeatedly pressure his attorney general to intervene in an investigation of the White House, as Axios scooped late yesterday.

Why it matters: By any historical measure, it’s highly unusual to have a special prosecutor probing whether a president obstructed justice during his first days in office, like the Robert Mueller investigation is doing. By any historical measure, it’s highly unusual for a president this early in his term to pardon a controversial political donor (conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza) — and to signal he might pardon other celebrity criminals, like Trump did yesterday with Martha Stewart and more.

Be smart: Maybe these three events are mere coincidence. But almost no one around Trump, even his closest allies, thinks this is the case.

  • WashPost front pager, "With pardon, president sends a signal": "Trump ... delivered an indirect but unmistakable message to personal attorney Michael Cohen, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and others ensnared in Trump-related investigations that they, too, could be spared punishment."

Why Trump loves pardons:

  • Remember how on the campaign trail Trump would paint a picture of a click-your-fingers presidency?
  • As soon as he took office, he’d fix the healthcare system, remove the national debt by cutting waste, fraud and abuse — the list goes on.
  • The clemency power is one where Trump can click his fingers and get instant gratification. Better even than those executive orders, which have to face those pesky and inconvenient circuit court judges.

Pardon flurry ahead, per WashPost: "A senior White House official said that as many as a dozen other pardons are under consideration by Trump, adding that most are likely to happen."

Haphazard process .... "Trump’s pardon of D’Souza was his sixth act of clemency as president. Each was issued unilaterally, subverting the traditional Justice Department process of reviewing thousands of pardon requests," per WashPost.

  • "Most of the pardons are impulsive, according to a person familiar with the process, and are driven by his 'seeing something on TV, reading something in a newspaper, hearing from a friend or someone lobbying him personally.'"
Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Deadly Hurricane Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," it began lashing Alabama late Wednesday, per the National Hurricane Center.

53 mins ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.