Carolyn Kaster / AP

The spotlight has been on President Trump's legal jeopardy. But inside the small circle of top Republicans who advise this White House, there's increasing concern that future political problems are stacking up.

One of the oldest (and most trusted) hands in America told a large group of CEOs in New York City on Friday: "Simply put, Trump has lost control of his presidency. He still has all the power of the office, but for someone who spent a portion of his life in real estate litigation, he shows once again he has not learned the first rule of legal combat: It is often better to say nothing and do nothing."

That voice isn't a partisan, but our kitchen cabinet of Republicans is growing notably more bearish, even though slam-dunk evidence of "high crimes and misdemeanors" hasn't emerged.

"Another week, and no progress on the GOP agenda," said a GOP sage. "Infrastructure Week turned into Comey Week. No one really knows Trump and came to D.C. with him. He is a president on an island, all alone. ... [T]he ability to get anything done is in double jeopardy."

  • What Republicans fear: a downward spiral in which the Russia distractions make it harder to pass Trump's agenda, new talent won't come into the West Wing, top-shelf potential challengers are reluctant to run as Republicans in 2018, the House flips, and article of impeachment become a real risk.
  • Watch the Georgia special election results a week from Tuesday. It's officially the most expensive House race in history, and Democrats look like they could pick up a Republican seat.
  • Trump knows that he thrives with an opponent, so he personalized the investigation by making it Trump v. Comey, personally calling out his fired FBI director and offering to take him on under oath. In the short run, that plays well with the base, which wants a fighter. But it makes it harder to wall off the Oval Office by firing or disowning associates.

Be smart:

Comey's failure to deliver a smoking gun has

bought Trump some time

. But so far, he's shown no indication that he has a plan — or the will — to use that time to change the course of events.

Go deeper

16 mins ago - World

China announces retaliatory sanctions on Rubio, Cruz and other U.S. officials

Photos: Graeme Jennings/Pool/Getty Images; Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry announced Monday that it's imposing sanctions on Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) along with nine other Americans, including Freedom House president Michael Abramowitz and Human Rights Watch Executive director Kenneth Roth, per Bloomberg.

Why it matters: It's a direct response to similar actions by the U.S. that included the Trump administration placing sanctions on officials Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam last Friday over Beijing's encroachment of the Asian financial hub's s autonomy.

Of note: China announced last month it would ban Rubio, Cruz and other U.S. officials from entering the country over their criticisms of human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. However, there was no indication any of them intended to travel to China.

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

Updated 34 mins ago - World

Police and protesters clash in Belarus after "Europe's last dictator" claims election win

Protesters and riot police clash in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday during a demonstration against President Alexander Lukashenko's claim of a landslide victory. Photo: Misha Friedman/Getty Images)

Riot police clashed with protesters in Belarus overnight after a government exit poll predicted Sunday President Aleksander Lukashenko, an authoritarian who has ruled the Eastern European country since 1994, had overwhelmingly defeated a pro-democracy opposition candidate.

Why it matters: It's a precarious moment for the former Soviet republic, where decades of repression and a complete disregard for the coronavirus pandemic threaten to topple "Europe's last dictator." Rights groups said at least one protester was killed and dozens more wounded in a "police crackdown," per AP.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

2 Lebanese ministers and 9 lawmakers resign days after deadly explosion

Anti-government protesters in Beirut. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Lebanon’s information and environment ministers resigned Sunday in the wake of massive protests over the deadly blast in Beirut's port last week, per AP.

Why it matters: In her resignation letter, Information Minister Manal Abdel-Samad called change "elusive" and apologized for not delivering more to the country, which had been devastated by a financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic even before the blast destroyed much of the capital city.