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Photo: Getty Images

Was Trump trolling when he offered on Saturday to personally whip votes to help Nancy Pelosi become speaker of the House?

Between the lines: I asked that question to about a dozen current and former White House officials and sources close to the president. None of them knew, including a source who spoke to the president on Saturday.

Most guessed it was partly trolling, but also partly serious (although disingenuous) given he wants to sow chaos in the Democratic Party:

  • One former senior White House official texted: "Trolling. Highlighting Dem dissension. Distracting from other news. Confusing typical partisan patterns. Feeding the narrative that he wants to work with Pelosi so that she looks worse when things turn nasty. All of the above."
  • Another former White House official, who has not discussed this latest tweet with the president, added: "He knows that chaos is good...If she becomes Speaker there will be lingering resentment and criticism of the establishment."
  • Two Republican members of Congress, both of whom are close to Trump, didn't put any stock in his comments. "There is no chance Pelosi would receive Republican votes because her Republican supporters got beat in the midterms," one said.

The bottom line: Even Hill Democrats who oppose Pelosi have privately conceded to me that she looks like a lock for the speakership. She'll clear the caucus vote on Nov. 28. Then anti-Pelosi rebels will be able to say they kept their promise to oppose her in the conference, and backed her on the floor to keep Kevin McCarthy from becoming speaker. In other words: Trump is a sideshow; she won't need him.

Go deeper

UNC race conscious admissions process upheld by judge

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Aug. 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can continue its race conscious admissions process, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could end up in the Supreme Court after the conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vowed to appeal the judge's ruling that UNC didn't discriminate against against white and Asian American applicants in its policy that it said was designed to increase diversity.

SEC debunks conspiracy theories about meme stock mania

Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The SEC issued its long-awaited report on the meme stock mania, which downplayed the narrative that a "short squeeze" was the primary driver behind GameStop's historic stock moves — and shot down conspiracy theories about the event.

Why it matters: The postmortem was highly anticipated, largely because of what it could hint about what the regulator thinks should be done in wake of the saga. But the report stopped short of specific policy recommendations.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.