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Jared Kushner, John Kelly, and Rob Porter in the Oval Office in September. Photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

In less than a week, months of progress in bringing order to President Trump's West Wing have been reversed.

The resignation of Staff Secretary Rob Porter has brought back many of the chaotic characteristics of the early months, according to conversations we have been having.

  • Leaking in real time.
  • Internal finger-pointing, with factions turning on each other.
  • Frenzied internal speculation.
  • Staff members admitting they lack faith in the chief of staff's judgment.
  • More fires than aides can put out.
  • President Trump venting internally and externally, and calling old friends to air grievances about his team.
  • Why it matters: This time, all that is sprinkled with anger and panic. People around the president are unsure exactly what happened, and baffled about how to regain their footing.

The big picture: The White House has still not explained who knew what, and when.

The latest:

  • WashPost lead story, "Kelly’s job may be in peril amid furor from Porter’s exit": "[T]he man whose mission had been to enforce order in the West Wing, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, was focused instead on [saving] his job."
  • "Kelly spent much of [yesterday] scrambling to preserve his credibility inside the White House. In a morning staff meeting, he told senior aides to tell lower-level staffers ... that he had taken action within 40 minutes of learning that abuse allegations from both of Porter’s ex-wives were credible."
  • "[S]ome staffers left the meeting believing Kelly had asked them to lie."
  • The three potential Kelly replacements Trump has discussed — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, OMB chief and acting CFPB head Mick Mulvaney and businessman Tom Barrack — are names that have circulated before, reflecting the White House's limited options.

Broke last night ... "Another Trump staffer quits after assault claims," per WashPost:

  • David Sorensen, a speechwriter at the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, resigned "after his former wife claimed that he was violent and emotionally abusive during their turbulent 2½ -year marriage."
  • Sorensen sent Axios a 12-page statement, including photos and screenshots, denying the allegations and contending he was the victim of abuse from her.

Be smart, from the N.Y. Times: Trump's "glowing praise of a staff member accused of serial violence against women was in line with the president’s own denials of sexual impropriety ... and his habit of accepting claims of innocence from men [Roy Moore] facing similar allegations."

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
49 mins ago - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Trump gives Biden access to presidential intelligence briefings

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Trump White House on Tuesday gave President-elect Biden access to daily presidential intelligence briefings, a source familiar with the matter tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has refused to share the briefs until now, as he continues to challenge the result of the election and declines to concede. The president's acquiescence comes as another sign that the transition to a Biden administration is taking place.

AOC and Ilhan Omar want to block Biden’s former chief of staff

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Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are boosting a petition against Joe Biden nominating his former chief of staff to a new role in his administration, calling Bruce Reed a "deficit hawk” and criticizing his past support for Social Security and Medicare cuts.

Why it matters: Progressives are mounting their pressure campaign after the president-elect did not include any of their favored candidates in his first slate of Cabinet nominees, and they are serious about installing some of their allies, blocking anyone who doesn't pass their smell test — and making noise if they are not heard.