Photo: Michael Cohen / Getty Images for The New York Times

Ken Chenault, 66, is days away from stepping down after 17 years as chairman and CEO American Express. He guided the company through 9/11 (the HQ, across the street from the World Trade Center, was left unusable), the global financial crisis, and numerous challenges to AmEx as the go-to payment option for the wealthy and well-traveled, AP's Ken Sweet writes.

Why he matters: "When Chenault became CEO, he was only the third black CEO of a Fortune 500 company ever. And for several years after his appointment, other black men and women were hired as CEOs, at companies such as McDonald's, Xerox and Merrill Lynch."

  • "The son of a dentist from Long Island, New York, who grew up as a black man during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Chenault never expected to be CEO of a major company, let alone work 37 years at the same one."
  • "But that trend has reversed. With Chenault retiring, there will be only three black CEOs at Fortune 500 companies: [pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.], financial company TIAA and retail chain JCPenney."
  • Chenault: "It's embarrassing. ... You need a pipeline of people coming in. You need to create an environment where people are embraced and engaged rather than just tolerated."
  • What's next: "He will be joining the corporate boards of Facebook and Airbnb."

Editors note: AP incorrectly identified Pfzier as being one of three Fortune 500 companies with a black CEO, while excluding Merck & Co., who's CEO Kenneth Frazier is African American. We have updated this story to reflect the changes.

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20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ to "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making," the letter says.
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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
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Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.