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Rep. Duncan Hunter. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Corruption instantly becomes a centerpiece issue in the midterm campaigns — a huge new weight for Republicans in marginal races.

What we're hearing: With a corruption indictment of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) capping Republicans' hell day, a top GOP guru told Axios: "The Republican Party looks like a criminal enterprise."

  • Hunter was the second member of Congress to endorse Trump. The first was Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), charged two weeks ago with insider trading.

Top Democratic strategists tell me they're poised to exploit this massive vulnerability.

  • One operative close to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out that during an April press conference, she was already talking about "the Trump Administration’s culture of corruption."
  • The key, Dem strategists tell me, will be for campaigns to keep the focus on corruption rather than impeachment, which could backfire.

Be smart ... With all the bad news already swirling, look at what will unfold during the heat of midterm campaigning:

  • Lanny Davis, Cohen's lawyer, to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: "Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel, and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows. ... He is now liberated to tell the truth —everything about Donald Trump that he knows."
  • Mueller prosecutors said in a filing yesterday that Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn is not yet ready to be sentenced, "a sign that Flynn’s cooperation with investigators is continuing," per AP.
  • A week from today (Aug. 29): Deadline for U.S. "to decide whether it wants to retry the 10 counts that were declared a mistrial," per N.Y. Times.
  • Sept. 17: Manafort goes on trial in D.C. "on charges including conspiracy to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent, money laundering, witness tampering and making false statements," per AP.
  • Dec. 12: Cohen will be sentenced. "The government calculated the sentencing guidelines at from 51 to 63 months and the defense put them at 46 to 57 months," per N.Y. Times.
  • No sentencing date has been set for Manafort.

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM. 

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.