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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.

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Go deeper

12 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

12 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 13 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."