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Chris O'Meara / AP

When President Trump 2.0 emerged this week with a slew of more conventional Republican positions, a big question was: How long will it last? Trump insiders promise this is more than a mood: It's the result of Trump's instinctive desire to win, after a series of dropped balls. A West Wing confidant told Axios:

We're seeing the working out of his improvisational personality, based on new and immediate inputs.

Those inputs include both the more moderate advisers who are ascendent, and the new understanding of the world that comes from the Situation Room. "Which is 'America First': currency manipulation, or a bunch of missiles in California [from North Korea]?" a West Wing adviser said. "If I'm going to be 'America First,' I need to be for security."

Trump is restless, and still asks friends for their opinions of his staff. He made it clear to a recent visitor that Steve Bannon on the cover of TIME two months ago still sticks in his craw. Friends say Bannon is stubborn and a survivor, and plans to fight to stay.

The rest of April and May is a critical stretch on Capitol Hill — a chance for Trump's team to resuscitate health reform, keep the government open, pass a budget, and get started on tax reform.

More insights from those close to Trump:

  • "They've got to produce," a Trump friend said.
  • "When you pass a few things, then you've pivoted." added the West Wing adviser.
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Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.

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