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The White House is trying something new with Mueller. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

President Trump's White House is giving up a "scorched-earth strategy of publicly criticizing and undercutting" Special Counsel Robert Mueller in favor of cooperating with him, the New York Times reports. The hope is that cooperation will lend itself to a public declaration from Mueller that Trump is not a focus of the Russia probe.

Flashback: The president "has long sought such a public declaration." Before firing Comey, Trump was outraged that the then-FBI director refused to remove the "cloud" of the Russia investigation hanging over his head by saying publicly that he wasn't under investigation.

More, from NYT:

  • "The president's legal team is working swiftly to respond to requests from Mr. Mueller for emails, documents and memos, and will make White House officials available for interviews."
  • "More than a half dozen White House officials, witnesses and outside lawyers connected to the Russia inquiry have described the approach, which is as much a public relations strategy as a legal one."
  • "The president's legal team aims to argue that the White House has nothing to hide, hoping to shift the burden to Mr. Mueller to move quickly to wrap up an investigation that has consumed the Trump administration's first year."
  • "Whether the strategy will work is another matter. The plan rests on the premise that Mr. Trump has done nothing wrong ... and some lawyers connected to the investigation say that Mr. Cobb has been too willing to take the president at his word"

Go deeper

The modern way to hire a big-city police chief

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

When it comes to picking a city's top cop, closed-door selection processes have been replaced by highly public exercises where everyone gets to vet the candidates — who must have better community-relations skills than ever.

Why it matters: In the post-George-Floyd era, with policing under utmost scrutiny, the choosing of a police chief has become something akin to an election, with the need to build consensus around a candidate. And the candidate pool has gotten smaller.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Speculative crypto art market takes off

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Move over, GameStop. The newest speculative game in town is NFTs — digital files that can be owned and traded on a plethora of new online platforms.

Why it matters: Most NFTs include some kind of still or moving image, which makes them similar to many physical art objects. Some of them, including a gif of Nyan Cat flying through the sky with a pop-tart body and rainbow trail, can be worth more than your house.

New coronavirus cases fall by 20%

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New coronavirus infections continued their sharp decline over the past week, and are now back down to pre-Thanksgiving levels.

The big picture: Given the U.S.’ experience over the past year, it can be hard to trust anything that looks like good news, without fearing that another shoe is about to drop. But the U.S. really is doing something right lately. Cases are way down, vaccinations are way up, and that’s going to save a lot of lives.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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