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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Where key GOP senators stand on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Trump planning to nominate his third Supreme Court justice nominee this week, key Republican senators are indicating their stance on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with less than 50 days until Election Day.

The state of play: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has vowed that "Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." Two GOP senators — Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) — have said they oppose holding a vote before the election, meaning that two more defections would force McConnell to delay until at least the lame-duck session of Congress.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 30,873,714 — Total deaths: 958,383— Total recoveries: 21,103,559Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,788,343 — Total deaths: 199,421 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
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  6. World: England sets £10,000 fine for breaking self-isolation rules — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.

Biden to Senate GOP after RBG passing: "Please follow your conscience"

Joe Biden made a direct appeal to Senate Republicans in a speech addressing the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, urging them to "cool the flames that have been engulfing our country" by waiting to confirm her replacement until after the election.

The state of play: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said soon after the news of Ginsburg's death that President Trump's nominee would get a vote on the Senate floor.