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."

Go deeper:

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM. 

Go deeper

Updated 19 mins ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the Next Digital offices in Hong Kong in June. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been arrested for "collusion with foreign powers," said Mark Simon, an executive at the tycoon's media firm Next Digital Monday morning local time.

Why it matters: He was arrested under the new national security law that gives Beijing more powers over the former British colony. Lai is the most prominent person arrested under the law, which prompted the U.S. to sanction Chinese officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, over Beijing's efforts to strip the territory of its autonomy.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 19,769,560— Total deaths: 729,351 — Total recoveries — 12,030,061Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,041,573 — Total deaths: 162,913 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. States: New York reports lowest rate of positive coronavirus test results since pandemic began
  5. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020. 
  6. Schools: Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral — How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on.

New York reports new low positive coronavirus test rate

People physically distancing at tables in New York City's Times Square in June. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Sunday 515 people, or 0.78% of those tested, returned a positive reading for COVID-19 the previous day.

Why it matters: It's the lowest single-day positive rate since the start of the pandemic. It's another sign that the state that was once a global coronavirus epicenter is curbing the spread of the virus. "Our daily numbers remain low and steady, despite increasing infection rates across the country, and even in our region," Cuomo said in a statement. "But we must not become complacent: Everyone should continue to wear their masks and socially distance."

Go deeper: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning