Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Usually when people say stupid or cruel things, they apologize and move on, instead of defiantly standing by their statements. But that doesn't happen in Trumpworld, and it certainly hasn't happened in the case of White House staffer Kelly Sadler's callous remark about John McCain.

The big picture: Once you’ve worked for Trump for a while you know that the worst thing you can do, the biggest show of weakness, is to apologize. He never does and never did (with one exception — the "Access Hollywood" tape). So staff knows that if they publicly apologize they’re actually MORE likely to incur Trump’s wrath than if they just move on.

In this specific case I'm told that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was so furious about the leak that she didn’t want to say anything publicly to validate it. And other White House staffers like Mercedes Schlapp defended Sadler privately because they believed she was being viciously targeted by colleagues. 

I asked a senior administration official about the phenomenon this morning. Here's how he explained it:

"Not apologizing is a core operating principle for Trump. The basic belief is that you never actually get ‘credit’ — from the Left, the media, political opponents, etc. — for apologizing, so why do it? Even the Access Hollywood response video included a defiant Trump going after the ‘actions’ of Bill Clinton and ‘bullying of victims’ by Hillary, and ended with ‘See you at the debate!'"

Go deeper

Biden confidants see VP choices narrowing to Harris and Rice

Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; Win McNamee/Getty Images

Confidants of Joe Biden believe his choices for vice president have narrowed to Sen. Kamala Harris and Susan Rice — and would be surprised if he picks anyone else.

The state of play: This is a snapshot of the nearly unanimous read that we get from more than a dozen people close to him.

An election like no other

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The coronavirus will make the 2020 presidential election different from any in modern history: Voting that begins earlier, results that take longer, mail carriers as virtual poll workers and October Surprises that pop in September.

The big picture: Perhaps 80 million Americans will vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, tells Axios. That's going to set up more of an Election Season than an Election Day — and increase the odds of national turmoil over the vote count.

Exclusive: Inside McCarthy's new GOP messaging platform

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has given his GOP colleagues new marching orders for stump speeches between now and November, as incumbents worry about how President Trump's own challenges may strain their re-election bids.

Driving the news: McCarthy delivered a PowerPoint presentation to the GOP conference in person last Thursday at the Capitol Visitor Center, with several members joining via Zoom, lawmakers and aides familiar with the gathering tell Axios.