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Photo: White House

Senior White House officials are in a state of shock, and facing huge questions about their handling of the crisis, over the resignation of Staff Secretary Rob Porter after his two former wives went on the record to allege physical abuse:

Why he matters: Porter, 40 — a clean-cut Harvard and Oxford standout who was chief of staff to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) — managed (and partly controlled) the information flow to President Trump, including clippings and briefings.

Colleagues tell me they can't reconcile the Rob Porter they know (consummate gentleman) with the Rob Porter they’re reading about, with a police report and photos of a black eye by a former wife.

Be smart: The West Wing couldn’t have handled it worse, including over-the-top statements of support for Porter before all the facts had come out.

  • The big question: Who in the West Wing knew about Porter's past, uncovered months ago by the FBI while investigating Porter for a security clearance?
  • Watch for: a glut of stories analyzing the M.O. and character of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, along with speculation about consequences for him.

Go deeper.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.