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"President Trump's legal team is wrestling with how much to cooperate with the special counsel, ... an internal debate that led to an angry confrontation last week between two White House lawyers," the N.Y. Times' Peter Baker and Ken Vogel write at the top of column 1:

  • "At the heart of the clash is an issue that has challenged multiple presidents: ... how to handle the demands of investigators without surrendering the institutional prerogatives of the office of the presidency."
  • "Trump's aides said they were scrambling to respond to [Mueller] requests to avoid a subpoena that might make it look as if the White House was not cooperating."
  • "The debate ... has pitted Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, against Ty Cobb, a lawyer brought in to manage the response to the investigation."
  • "Cobb was overheard by [Vogel] discussing the dispute during a lunchtime conversation with John Dowd, ... [Trump's] his personal lawyer ... at ... BLT Steak, not far from the White House and a few doors down from The Times's office."
  • "Cobb was heard talking about a White House lawyer he deemed 'a McGahn spy' and saying Mr. McGahn had 'a couple documents locked in a safe' that he seemed to suggest he wanted access to. He also mentioned a colleague whom he blamed for 'some of these earlier leaks,' and who he said 'tried to push Jared out.'"
  • More quotes from Ken's lunch.

Go deeper

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.