Apr 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief presents a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

  • Stephanie Grisham, who's held the post of White House press secretary and communications director since last July, has never held a formal daily briefing — a regular practice that ended under her predecessor Sarah Sanders.
  • It's not clear whether Meadows intends to replace Grisham or to bring in a press secretary to supplement her communications director role — and whether he intends to resume regular briefings on topics beyond the coronavirus.

What we're hearing: Meadows met with Farah in recent days and has discussed the possibility of the job directly with her.

  • Meadows did not respond to requests for comment.
  • Grisham told Axios: “Sounds like more palace intrigue to me, but I’ve also been in quarantine. If true, how ironic that the press secretary would hear about being replaced in the press.”

The backstory:

  • Farah, 30, served as communications director for Meadows when he chaired the House Freedom Caucus, and she has maintained a close relationship with Meadows and his aides. Before joining the Pentagon in August, Farah served as Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary.
  • McEnany, 31, was a former CNN contributor and national spokesperson for the Republican National Committee before being hired last year as press secretary for the Trump re-election campaign.

Go deeper

Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

2 hours ago - Economy & Business