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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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America's Chinese communities struggle with online disinformation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Disinformation has proliferated on Chinese-language websites and platforms like WeChat that are popular with Chinese speakers in the U.S., just as it has on English-language websites.

Why it matters: There are fewer fact-checking sites and other sources of reliable information in Chinese, making it even harder to push back against disinformation.

Pennsylvania certifies Biden's victory

Photo: Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pennsylvania officials on Tuesday certified the state's presidential election results, making President-elect Joe Biden's win in the key battleground official.

Why it matters: The move deals another blow to President Trump's failed efforts to block certification in key swing states that he lost to Biden. It also comes one day after officials voted to certify Biden's victory in Michigan.