Jan 17, 2018

Federal judge hears case on encrypted apps in White House

President Donald Trump. Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool / Getty Images

A federal judge heard arguments Wednesday on a lawsuit alleging the Trump administration hasn’t properly prevented aides from using encrypted apps such as Signal that delete messages after they're read, Politico reports. Watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the National Security Archive filed the lawsuit last year.

Why it matters: Last February the White House told aides that they must save official messages they send or receive on social media platforms, which the DOJ lawyer said amounts to a ban on encrypted apps. Trump’s Department of Justice wanted to have the case thrown out.

  • The DOJ lawyer argued that two cases from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the 1990s provide precedent to keep the courts from reviewing the president’s record management in the first place.
  • If that ends up being the case, that could effectively give the White House broad leeway to ignore obligations of Presidential Records Act, a lawyer from CREW argued.
  • The federal judge didn’t indicate whether he intends throw out the case.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

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Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."