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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A gift from the journalistic gods ... Adding to our unprecedented real-time visibility into this presidency, Capitol Hill last night leaked 15 pages of memos that fired FBI Director James Comey had written in real time about his contacts with the White House.

What's new: President Trump had immediate doubts about his own national security adviser, Mike Flynn, who was later fired and is now cooperating with Mueller: "[T]he president pointed his fingers at his head and said 'the guy has serious judgment issues.'"

What the memos tell us about Trump:
  • Conversations can be mostly one-way exchanges:
    • "The president spoke an overwhelming majority of the time. He never asked me an open-ended question or left it to me to choose a topic of conversation."
  • He's obsessed with one particular passage in the dossier about his connections with Russia:
    • "I said, the Russians allegedly had tapes involving him and prostitutes at the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow from about 2013. He interjected: 'there were no prostitutes; there were never prostitutes.' He then said something about him being the kind of guy who didn't need to 'go there' and laughed (which I understood to be communicating that he didn't need to pay for sex.)"
    • "He said '2013' to himself as if trying to remember that period of time ... He said he always assumed that hotels he stayed in when he travels are wired in some way. I replied that I do as well."
    • "He then started talking about all the women who had falsely accused him of grabbing or touching them (with particular mention of a 'stripper" who said he grabbed her) ... "
    • "The President said 'the hookers thing' is nonsense but that Putin had told him 'we have some of the most beautiful hookers in the world.'"
    • "He said he thought maybe he should ask me to investigate the whole thing to prove it was a lie."
  • He eschews propriety, and traditional constraints of office:
    • "He touched on my future at various points."
    • "He [said] that he needed loyalty and expected loyalty. I did not reply, or even nod or change my facial expression, which he noted because we came back to it later."
  • Once he gets spun up, the obsession can last:
    • "[H]e returned to what he called the 'golden showers thing' ... He repeated that it was a complete fabrication and 'fake news.' ... He said it bothered him if his wife thought there was even a one percent chance it was true."
    • "The conversation then swerved into a long discussion of the email investigation ... He knew the sequence of events extremely well, breaking them down in his lexicon into Comey One, Comey Two, and Comey Three developments."
  • He speaks bluntly and likes gossip:
    • "[H]e asked me to compare [Obama's Attorney General Eric] Holder and AG [Loretta] Lynch."
  • He still uses "Art of the Deal" schmooze mode:
    • "As we got up, he said we should have my family back to dinner. When I didn't reply, he added, 'or a tour, whatever you think is appropriate."
  • He's preoccupied by press and leaks:
    • "He began by joking that I was getting more publicity than he. I replied that I hate it."
    • "He asked whether the FBI leaks and I answered ... of course."
    • “The president ... [returned] to the issue of finding leakers ... I said something about the value of putting a head on a pike as a message. He replied by saying it may involve putting reporters in jail. 'They spend a couple days in jail, make a new friend, and they are ready to talk.' I laughed."
  • He loves perks:
    • "[H]e talked about the inauguration and crowd size, the campaign and his effective use of free media ('earned media'), the extraordinary luxury of the White House (which he favorably compared to Mar-a-lago [sic]), his many activities during the day and week, his young son's height ... "

Be smart: One of the biggest takeaways is how much presidential mindshare goes to grievances, distractions and worries about investigations:

  • Comey quotes the president as saying that he "is trying to do work for the country, visit with foreign leaders, and any cloud, even a little cloud gets in the way of that."

Go deeper: See the memos.

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Go deeper

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.
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Clean trucks are paving the road to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.