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Evan Vucci / AP

If this sentence is true, it should worry people who work for President Trump — and people who're thinking about it. And bringing in good people is a challenge right now: Talented, experienced Republicans who have turned down big jobs tell me it's partly because it just seems too risky right now.

Here's the sentence, from the N.Y. Times' First 100 Days Briefing last night:

Trump has been increasingly focused on who was with him or against him during his campaign, according to several people who have spoken with him in recent days.

That intel — under the bylines of Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Weisman and Eric Lichtblau — came in the context of this news: "Trump overruled his newly minted secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, and rejected the secretary's choice for his deputy at the department ...

"The deputy's job was denied for Elliott Abrams, a conservative who had served under President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush, [and] deals a blow to Mr. Tillerson in his first week on the job. The rejection of Mr. Abrams leaves Mr. Tillerson without a sherpa to help guide the first-time government official around the State Department headquarters."

Mr. Tillerson isn't the type who likes to have blows dealt to him, especially blows that are apparent to, and trumpeted by, The New York Times. Trump has gained credibility from impressive Cabinet picks -- Generals Mattis (Pentagon) and Kelly (Homeland Security), Tillerson, Elaine Chao (Transportation), etc.

But there be dragons: If one of them gets fed up and quits (not impossible, we are told), it's a fiasco. Mattis chafed during the transition at efforts by Trump's team to impose underlings. And there are other grievances that Cabinet members express privately.

Why did Elliott Abrams get the death penalty from The Donald? This is amazing: "Trump had a productive meeting with Mr. Abrams on Tuesday, according to a White House official and a person close to Mr. Abrams. But after it took place, Mr. Trump learned of Mr. Abrams's pointed criticisms of the president when he was running for president ... Among those criticisms was a column headlined 'When You Can't Stand Your Candidate,' which appeared in May 2016 in The Weekly Standard."

We all need to show we're capable of growth (hence Axios AM). And if the president is obsessing about past slights on Day 23, he's losing precious time, expertise and goodwill — playing into the hands of those unwilling to give him a chance.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear. Read episode 1.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.