Around 11 am, a senior White House official told me the internal planning was “too fluid” to report anything that would definitively still be true by 1:30 pm, when Trump was scheduled to make his announcement.
In short: Trump saw a Republican Senate poised to abandon him. Better to cave on his own terms, and in his own words, than watch both parties hang him out to dry.
“I can tell you exactly what happened,” one Republican senator texted me. “The mood at Senate Republican lunch on Thursday resembled what the mood must’ve been on the Union lines at 4 pm at First Bull Run. I’m amazed only six [Republicans] voted for Schumer’s bill. The message from that lunch by VP, Shahira [Knight] and Mitch [McConnell] to POTUS was, it’s over. They’ll be 70 votes within 48 hours.”
White House officials told me they knew their momentum was fading.