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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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In photos: Life slowly returning to normal as restrictions lift across U.S.

Fireworks near the Statue of Liberty in New York City marking the end of New York State's pandemic restrictions in New York State and honoring frontline workers. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New Yorkers and Californians celebrated most COVID-19 restrictions lifting on Tuesday, as the two states became the latest to move toward fully reopening their economies.

The big picture: The pandemic has now claimed over 600,000 lives in the U.S., but vaccines have helped drive down the seven-day average to roughly 14,000 new cases and fewer than 400 deaths per day, helping most states to ease restrictions.

2 hours ago - World

China's government issues warning after sending 28 planes over Taiwan

A J-11B fighter aircraft from China's air force flying over the Dafangshen airport in Changchun, China. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

China's government issued a warning to "foreign forces" after Taiwan reported a record 28 Chinese military planes flew over the self-governed island's airspace Tuesday, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The warning and deployment of aircraft including fighter jets and bombers comes after G7 leaders issued a statement Sunday urging the Chinese government to respect human rights and calling on peace and "stability across the Taiwan Strait."

Southern Baptists reject push from right to elect Ed Litton as president

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) rejected a push from the right in a divisive vote on Tuesday, electing a president who has prioritized racial reconciliation and approving a measure that rejects any view of racism as "anything other than sin," AP reports.

Why it matters: Ed Litton, as the new SBC president, will have the power to determine committee appointments, which can set the tone for the country's largest Protestant denomination. The SBC is comprised of 14 million members.