Feb 8, 2017

Trump's secrets

Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump has begun reaching out to veterans of earlier White Houses for advice, as he seeks to bring more order and stability to a chaotic internal power structure that relies on competing and sometimes conflicting centers of gravity.

From a West Wing insider: "I just wish he'd done it before he took office."

The conversations suggest West Wing changes could be in the offing, according to people close to the White House.

One source said there's clearly "some fluidity" as Trump begins Day 20 as president. Other sources, directly involved, tell us there was lots of jockeying and conversations among senior West Wing players over the weekend, as top officials sought to further define their still-murky lanes.

"We've added a little due process," said a top official. "The question still is: Can we herd all the cats?"

  • The dilemma: The president likes having chief strategist Steve Bannon as a disrupter and presidential whisperer who is "Trump's beating heart, tied to the base" — the dynamic, angry forces who won the election. The challenge for White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is building a system that lets Bannon be Bannon, while fostering internal and external communication, consultation and coordination.
  • What Trump is thinking: People who talk to the president say he has been alternately frustrated and defensive when discussing the rollout of his executive order restricting migrant travel. Friends explain that Trump likes to be liked: He's a lifelong schmoozer and dealmaker who, despite the sharp elements of his message, doesn't like being portrayed in the harsh light that the travel restrictions have triggered.
  • Trump after dark: The calls to White House alumni show that the president is continuing his pattern of consulting widely by telephone, despite being suddenly encased in the ultimate closed system. According to associates, Trump still has his old number that he used to work with the avidity of a telemarketer.
  • The secret system: Friends and Trump are co-conspirators in a cheeky new practice that keeps him tied to his longtime outside network. Here's how participants say it works: You call and leave a voicemail on the old phone — or at night, perhaps Trump sees the number pop up on caller ID. If POTUS wants to talk, he calls back from his new, Secret-Service-approved secure phone — savoring his small triumph over a bureaucratic and security apparatus designed to rein in this lifelong kibitzer.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll hits 3,900

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

The U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus has just hit 3,900, per Johns Hopkins data.

Details: Tuesday night's grim milestone came hours after President Trump said it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the "greatest test" the world has faced together since the formation of the United Nations just after the Second World War ended in 1945, UN chief António Guterres said Tuesday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 858,000 and the death toll exceeded 42,000 Tuesday night, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 12,000 deaths.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 857,957 — Total deaths: 42,139 — Total recoveries: 178,091.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 188,547 — Total deaths: 3,899 — Total recoveries: 7,068.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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