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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House was caught flat-footed by the explosive content in "Fear," Bob Woodward's new book on the Trump administration, as nobody on senior staff had seen a copy when the Washington Post published the excerpts yesterday, according to sources with direct knowledge.

The big picture: White House officials have finally obtained a copy and are now poring over it, but as the day rolled on yesterday, staff met to discuss strategies to push back — all while President Trump’s mood worsened and TV coverage shifted from Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings to the book.

  • By last evening, some key officials thought the best strategy would be to go after Woodward personally by highlighting criticisms of his reporting and sourcing from the books he wrote on Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
  • Senior officials know they have a problem with Woodward. "The problem is his credibility," a source with direct knowledge told me. "They know they can’t give him the Michael Wolff treatment." Wolff, who authored the bombshell "Fire and Fury" was notoriously averse to basic fact-checking — and could be more easily dismissed. Woodward, by contrast, has hundreds of hours of tapes and made every effort to talk to all the main players.
  • Worth noting: The White House failed to obtain a copy of former staffer Omarosa's book before it landed as well.

Trump's response last night to The Daily Caller: "It’s just another bad book. He’s had a lot of credibility problems. ... I probably would have preferred to speak to him, but maybe not. I think it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the book. He wanted to write the book a certain way."

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Mike Allen, author of AM
14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.

Off the Rails

Episode 8: The siege

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 8: The siege. An inside account of the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 that ultimately failed to block the certification of the Electoral College. And, finally, Trump's concession.

On Jan. 6, White House deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger entered the West Wing in the mid-afternoon, shortly after his colleagues' phones had lit up with an emergency curfew alert from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.