Alex Brandon / AP

Top White House officials were scrambling last night to grasp the significance of Jeff Sessions' contacts with Russia's ambassador and figure out what to do about it.

Sources close to the President's inner circle and to Sessions are very defensive and believe the "opposition party" media is elevating mundane interactions. Despite the growing clamor from Democrats, there's about a zero percent chance President Trump will fire Sessions or that the House will impeach him — the only ways he could leave.

This does, however, strengthen the case for an independent investigation, and the chances just got a lot higher that Sessions recuses himself from any FBI investigation of the Trump campaign's alleged contacts with Russian officials. Especially now that some prominent Republicans believe this should happen.

Perspective from a source in close touch with the president's inner circle:

  1. Sessions was a visible campaign surrogate but was hardly involved in the campaign's mechanics at that time.
  2. Absent more revelations, Sessions did nothing substantively wrong when he met with the Ambassador.
  3. The denial at the hearing is a problem — obviously — and it would be politically prudent for Sessions to recuse himself. It's unclear, though, what the President believes on this point.

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Axios Re:Cap digs into the pandemic's urban-rural divide with microbiologist Amber Schmidtke, who has found that coronavirus-related morbidity is higher in many of Georgia's rural counties than in Atlanta.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 3,156,234 — Total deaths: 133,746 — Total recoveries: 969,111 — Total tested: 38,032,966Map.
  3. Public health: The U.S.'s new default strategy: herd immunity — 23 states and D.C. are mandating face coverings.
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Biden and Trump point fingers over "buy American" proposals

Joe Biden at a campaign event in Wilmington, DE. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump and Joe Biden are going back and forth over the former vice president's "buy American" economic proposal, which Trump claims Biden "plagiarized" from him.

Why it matters: Biden is directly challenging Trump and his "America First" agenda with the release of his latest plan, focused on economic recovery and re-investing in American manufacturing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.