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Evan Vucci / AP

Excerpts from Mark Leibovich's cover story in the forthcoming New York Times Magazine, "This Town Melts Down":

  • "The president was sitting alone in a small dining room just off the Oval Office at a wooden table covered with papers. His cheeks were the color of coral, not the usual glowing orange we see when he's framed by a screen. Trump half-stood, said hello and shook my hand. I hadn't seen him since the election, and I congratulated him on his victory. He thanked me and pointed out that 'you treated me very badly' during the campaign, and that the 'failing New York Times' had been 'so unfair' to him, but he was perfectly pleasant about it."
  • "Trump also mentioned that his popularity with his base was 'looking great' and that he had 'inherited a mess.'"
  • "It was 12:30, but the president was not eating lunch. He was watching a recording of 'Fox and Friends' from about four hours earlier on a large TV mounted on the wall."
  • '"[L]ike most reporters, I found his tweets far more illuminating than anything the White House press office could ever disgorge. I urged him to keep it up."
  • "Trump assured me that he would keep tweeting. 'It's my voice,' Trump said, ... enumerating how many millions of followers he had. 'They want to take away my voice ... They're not going to take away my social media.'"
  • "Sean Spicer ... cuts an oddly compelling profile in that he represents a crossover player, someone who comfortably inhabited the old Tokyo-on-the-Potomac before Godzilla was elected and put him to work. He also seems to embody a particular neurosis of Trump-era Washington, where the lizard-brain logic of making a name for yourself is colliding with the imperative of survival in the shadow of a capricious force."

Go deeper

27 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Representatives from all branches of the military escort the 46th president to the White House.