Jan 5, 2018

Trump's legal threats backfire as Wolff book surges

Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Trump is so furious about Michael Wolff's book, "Fire and Fury," that some aides are just trying to avoid him. Key aides tried to talk him out of legal threats against the author and Steve Bannon, the key source.

Lawyers laughed: Does Trump really want to give discovery to Michael Wolff?

  • But Trump was insistent on following a tactic he frequently used in business — rattling cages with lawyers' letters that resulted in no actual legal action.
  • His demand that the publisher withhold the book (POTUS needs to see "The Post," with its takeaway on prior restraint) was a publisher's impossible dream that had the predictable effect: more publicity and presales.
  • The publisher issued this statement: "Henry Holt confirms that we received a cease and desist letter from an attorney for President Trump. We see 'Fire and Fury' as an extraordinary contribution to our national discourse, and are proceeding with the publication of the book."
  • Not only that: "Due to unprecedented demand, we are moving the on-sale date for all formats ... to [today] from the [previous] on-sale date of [next] Tuesday."
  • In D.C., Kramerbooks started selling copies at midnight.

Below is a screenshot of a letter from Trump's lawyer to Wolff and Steve Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt:

P.S. WashPost Style front, "Breitbart may see a Bannon backlash," by Paul Farhi:

  • "The website and its chairman found themselves isolated ... after Bannon's comments ... caused a backlash inside the White House, among rival conservative media outlets and among Trump supporters."
  • "Bannon's comments ... prompted a key backer, the billionaire Mercer family, to withdraw financial support for Bannon's political activities. So far, however, the Mercers have not signaled that they will walk away from Breitbart itself, which would be a crippling blow."

Be smart: Key conservatives tell us Bannon could wind up being ousted from Breitbart.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,094,068 — Total deaths: 58,773 — Total recoveries: 225,519Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 273,880 — Total deaths: 7,077 — Total recoveries: 9,521Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: Wisconsin's governor called for a last-minute primary election delay. "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said on the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: The amount of gas American drivers are consuming dropped to levels not seen in more than 25 years, government data shows. Trump is calling on the Energy Department to find more places to store oil.
  7. Tech updates: Twitter will allow ads containing references to the coronavirus under certain use cases.
  8. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Senators call for independent investigation into firing of Navy captain.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Government will cover uninsured patients' coronavirus treatment

Azar at Friday's briefing. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The federal government will cover the costs of coronavirus treatment for the uninsured, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a White House briefing Friday.

How it works: The money will come from a $100 billion pot set aside for the health care industry in the most recent stimulus bill. Providers will be paid the same rates they get for treating Medicare patients, and as a condition of those payments, they won't be allowed to bill patients for care that isn't covered.

More states issue stay-at-home orders as coronavirus crisis escalates

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order on Friday as the novel coronavirus pandemic persists. The order goes into effect Saturday at 5 p.m. and will remain in place through April 30. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also issued a statewide social distancing order on Friday.

The big picture: In a matter of weeks, the number of states that issued orders nearly quadrupled, affecting almost 300 million Americans.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health