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Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Sources close to the president say that a political dispute with special counsel Robert Mueller has turned visceral and personal after the feds' raid on the New York offices of Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer and fixer.

What we're hearing: One of the sources said: "Mueller's investigation has been drip, drip. This was a giant leap forward ... a personal hit. ... They were moving in inches. Today, they moved a mile."

  • Until now, when storms hit, Trump could turn to Hope Hicks to explain things to him, suggest wording, simmer him down. With her departure from the White House, we saw the president working out his fury in real time.
  • The source continued: "This is the first crisis post-Hope Hicks. ... This was different: I've never seen him like this before. ... This is the president you're going to see more of from here on out: unvarnished, untethered."
  • Another source close to Trump said: "He takes the Russia stuff as a political hit job. This was a personal affront. This was the red line" of intrusion into personal financial matters.

The president — arms crossed defiantly — held a stunning on-camera venting session during an appearance with his senior military leadership where a potential strike on Syria took second billing to Michael Cohen ("With all of that being said, we are here to discuss Syria tonight").

  • The WashPost cites three sources as saying Cohen "is under federal investigation for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations."
  • A statement from Cohen's lawyer, Stephen Ryan, said: "The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients."

During the 10-minute rant, Trump ...

  • ... used "disgrace" seven times and "disgraceful" twice.
  • ... fumed about an action by agents of the government he heads: "I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys — a good man. ... It's a total witch hunt."
  • ...accused those agents of his government of "an attack on our country, in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for."
  • ... said, repeating back a question: "Why don't I just fire Mueller? ... Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens. But I think it's really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, 'You should fire him."
  • ... referred to the investigation as "the most conflicted group of people I've ever seen. The Attorney General made a terrible mistake ... when he recused himself.  ... [W]e would have ... put a different Attorney General in."
  • ... quadrupled down on firing FBI Director James Comey: "One of the things they said: 'I fired Comey.'  Well, I turned out to do the right thing, because if you look at all of the things that he's done and the lies, and you look at what's gone on at the FBI with the insurance policy and all of the things that happened — turned out I did the right thing."

Be smart: Close aides are recommending against firing Mueller. But that means little these days.

The big, surreal picture: Take a minute to think about the history unfolding before our eyes. You have the president’s top lawyer getting raided by the FBI, prompting the president to warn of an epic attack on government and signaling he might try to can the special counsel investigating him.

  • This is on the eve of the arguably most powerful and well known CEO of our generation getting grilled by Congress, in part because the Russians used his platform to try to elect the man at the center of it all.
  • History books will be written about this — and you were there to see it all unfold.
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Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker