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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Some advisers to President Trump see two big, long-term problems with the release of the Ukraine call notes: It makes him seem guilty, and sets a bad precedent for protecting private chats with world leaders.

The state of play: One longtime adviser said this looks worse than anything he's seen to date — and it’s documented. 

The decision to release the memo has produced internal tension in the White House, with some officials privately saying it was a mistake.

  • Some aides, convinced the call summary was exculpatory, hoped the records would force news organizations to walk back some of their reporting. Instead, the reporting has just intensified.
  • Others argued that releasing details of the call between two heads of state set a bad precedent.
  • "It puts the whole quid pro quo to bed, but trades it for several other issues," one administration official said.
  • In fact, Democrats said Trump saying "I would like you to do us a favor though" was evidence of favor-trading.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone invited several of Trump’s fiercest Republican defenders to the White House yesterday morning to review the notes from the call before they were released to the public. This allowed them to coordinate talking points before the document was blasted out.

  • "The sense was that the transcript didn’t come close to living up to the hype Democrats had set up, and didn’t remotely approach impeachable," a source familiar with the White House meeting told Axios.
  • Attendees included Sens. David Perdue, Ron Johnson, and Shelly Moore Capito, as well as Reps. Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, John Ratcliffe, Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows, according to Johnson.

But on the Democratic side, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said the material reflects "a classic Mafia-like shakedown."

The bottom line: Like during the Mueller investigation, expect Republicans to continue to try to discredit the whistleblower's complaint, the media's account of the memo, and the process by which it's all coming to light. 

Go deeper: Trump's plan to make Biden into Clinton

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
13 mins ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 32 mins ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.

Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray as FBI director

FBI Director Christopher Wray at a virtual DOJ news briefing on Oct. 28. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/pool/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray as director of the FBI and has "confidence in the job he is doing," White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed in a tweet Thursday.

The big picture: Wray, who was nominated by former President Trump in 2017 after he fired former FBI Director James Comey, came under heavy criticism from Trump and his allies over the past year.