Jun 17, 2017

Trump's new campaign: stoke the base, sully the investigators

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.

Go deeper

Tariff worries hit record high amid coronavirus outbreak

Data: CivicScience, margin of error ±1 percentage points; Chart: Axios Visuals

Concern about President Trump's tariffs on U.S imports grew to record high levels among Americans last month, particularly as more lost their jobs and concern about the novel coronavirus increased.

Driving the news: About seven in 10 people said they were at least somewhat concerned about tariffs in March, according to the latest survey from CivicScience provided first to Axios.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Largest 24-hour spike in fatalities

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll from the novel coronavirus surged to its highest one-day total on Tuesday, as the U.S. saw its largest 24-hour spike in fatalities, per Johns Hopkins data. Recorded deaths across the U.S. surpassed 12,900 early Wednesday.

Why it matters: State officials have stressed that lockdowns must continue even if cities begin to see slight improvements from social distancing. Several hot spots, including New York, New Orleans, and Detroit, are expected to peak in the coming days.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 54 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 1,430,453 — Total deaths: 82,133 — Total recoveries: 301,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 399,081 — Total deaths: 12,907 — Total recoveries: 22,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Trump said he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning that the crisis could kill more than half a million Americans.
  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers 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.