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Victims' rights Attorney Jeff Anderson speaks to media during a press conference on April 23, 2019. Photo: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images

The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection this week with the sole purpose of relieving the legal pressure it faces from sexual abuse victims.

Why it matters: Bankruptcy means that a judge will put a ceiling on how much BSA will pay to victims. The proceedings could limit the degree to which local councils' billions of dollars' worth of assets can be awarded to victims.

Context: The 100-year old organization is facing 275 lawsuits, and expects thousands more claims to be filed.

  • Thanks to new state laws, sexual abuse victims can bring cases to court regardless of when the misconduct occurred.

How it works: Organizations can turn to bankruptcy courts when facing a monsoon of lawsuits from corporate wrongdoings. Examples include...

  • USA Gymnastics, which faces fallout from multiple cases of sexual abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar.
  • Catholic Church dioceses, including one in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which filed for bankruptcy Wednesday.
  • PG&E, the California energy utility facing claims from victims of wildfires sparked by its equipment.

By the numbers: BSA is solvent.

  • The organization has $1 billion of assets, against $294 million in liabilities.
  • If you include assets owned by local councils and related nonprofits, it has way more. The local councils have $3.3 billion in assets, per the Wall Street Journal.
  • BSA has tried to separate itself from the 261 local groups. In the bankruptcy filing, it says the councils are financially independent and separate entities. That could protect the councils from having to pay into a compensation fund while also putting billions of dollars out of the reach of victims.

The bottom line: One lawyer told the New York Times this strategy is similar to the Catholic Church, whose dioceses — not parishes — filed for bankruptcy protection in an attempt to protect parishes' assets. (It sometimes worked.)

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.