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Michael Snyder / AP

A milestone, on Day 148 of the Trump presidency: Amid all the bluster and bellyaching, President Trump is acknowledging for the first time — with both public and private actions — that he's fighting to save his presidency.

It's his next campaign — triggered by his own pique and carelessness, long before he would have to formally gear up for 2020. This is a big reason nearly every action — and reaction — is aimed at shoring up his base.

In moments of clarity amid his fits of rage, Trump knows he boxed himself in politically and legally by firing FBI Director Jim Comey, triggering what he though he could avoid: an all-consuming investigation focusing on him.

Pause for a moment to soak in that the President of United States confirmed on the record via Twitter that Mueller is gunning for him. And attacked his own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein (who now might resign or recuse himself).

The arsenal: Facing special counsel Robert Mueller's still-growing team of 13 prosecutorial killers, Trump is building his own arsenal. The president's personal legal team added the intimidating John Dowd, who represented Sen. John McCain in the Keating Five banking scandal, and whose Dowd Report for Major League Baseball got Pete Rose banished for life for gambling.

Dowd, 76, joins longtime Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz; Jay Sekulow, the TV face of the team, who's doing a "full Ginsburg" blitz oftomorrow's Sunday shows; and Mark Corallo, a Justice Department alumnus who was Rep. Bob Livingston's press secretary during the Clinton impeachment.

Reuters reports: "Another well-known white-collar Washington lawyer will likely join the team shortly."

Be smart: Trump, notorious for his litigiousness in New York, is playing an inside-outside game: stockpiling talent to protect him legally, while publicly trying to discredit the investigators and whatever they might eventually say or do.

A problem for Trump: Those things are at odds. Everything Trump says now, Bob Mueller will use against him.

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Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 6 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker