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Sean Spicer / Twitter

As President Trump's motorcade arrived back at the White House at 10:50 p.m. after his Capitol speech, he invited a dozen gleeful aides up to the residence for a celebration. Over Diet Cokes, they relished the reviews that were popping on their iPhones, shouting out the latest poll or pundit to go their way.

The inner circle knew that the accolades would be short-lived — Trump was in a new mode, not a new man. A top adviser said: "The question for me is: Is this a harbinger, or a one-off?"

Another Trump adviser was hopeful that this supremely image-conscious man would catch the bug: "For the first time, he saw something that he had never seen: People from the entire spectrum saying, 'That's amazing.' That's an experience he's never had before."

Several insiders credited the speech's tone to the involvement of a wider range of aides. "The Stephens" (Bannon and Miller) remained top wordsmiths, joined this time by a bigger circle that included Vice President Pence, Ivanka and Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell and Hope Hicks.

Miller's first draft followed Trump's instruction to be uplifting. Later iterations got darker, then the final version came back to the light. "We got to the point where the grownups in the room no longer paid attention to command and control, and got involved for the sake of the country and the president," one aide said.

The staff's post-speech euphoria drove the decision to put off unveiling the new executive order on migrant travel, which was penciled in for yesterday, but now is expected early next week. There also were some tweaks needed, with the stakes so high for getting it right this time.

"For once, we had the wind at our sails," a top aide said. "We decided not to sh*t on ourselves."

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Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.

2 hours ago - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A COVID-19 intensive Care Unit in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on May 27, 2021. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

By the numbers: Catholics, Biden and abortion

Expand chart
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

President Biden — the second Catholic U.S. president — will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday, as some church leaders debate whether to deny Holy Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

By the numbers: Overall, two in three U.S. Catholics believe Biden should be allowed to take Communion despite his stance on abortion, according to polling by Pew Research Center.

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