Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

"Corporations are people," said Mitt Romney in 2011, famously, but if they are, they seem to have an impressive degree of impunity.

The big picture: Just like people, corporations display impressive instincts for self-enrichment and self-preservation, even when they're not-for-profits. They're not holding themselves to account, but — unlike real people — no one else seems to be holding them accountable either.

  • CBS had a "total failure" not only in its C-suite but also at the board level, according to documents obtained by the New York Times. While the sexual harassment by former CEO Les Moonves is on him, the broader culture of denial and multimillion-dollar payoffs and coverups was much more endemic. Yet the result of the board investigation into Moonves is likely to result in CBS keeping — for itself — the $120 million it would otherwise have had to pay him.
  • At Tesla, the CEO and controlling shareholder openly scoffs at his regulator, the SEC, and the settlement he signed with them. There's no sense that he or Tesla feel any sense of real accountability for his actions.
  • Multiple non-profits, including the Boy Scouts and USA Gymnastics as well as more than 20 Catholic dioceses and religious orders, have either filed for bankruptcy or are considering doing so in order to head off lawsuits alleging sexual abuse within their organizations. It's a move that wipes out non-existent equity (non-profits don't have equity) while also making it much harder for victims to receive justice.

Why it matters: The proximate cause for the rise of Trumpism was the financial crisis, where no senior bankers were prosecuted even as millions of Americans saw their livelihoods destroyed. That pattern continues to this day, with corporate entities receiving privileges that the 99% could never dream of.

Our thought bubble: Populism will remain a powerful and righteous force in American politics so long as that continues.

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3 hours ago - World

China-Iran deal envisions massive investments from Beijing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

China and Iran have negotiated a deal that would see massive investments flow into Iran, oil flow out, and collaboration increase on defense and intelligence.

Why it matters: If the proposals become reality, Chinese cash, telecom infrastructure, railways and ports could offer new life to Iran’s sanctions-choked economy — or, critics fear, leave it inescapably beholden to Beijing.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 13,048,249 — Total deaths: 571,685 — Total recoveries — 7,215,865Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,353,348— Total deaths: 135,524 — Total recoveries: 1,031,856 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. World: WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" for foreseeable future — Hong Kong Disneyland closing due to surge.
  4. States: Houston mayor calls for two-week shutdownCalifornia orders sweeping rollback of open businesses — Cuomo says New York will use formula to determine if reopening schools is safe.
  5. Education: Los Angeles schools' move to online learning could be a nationwide tipping point.

House Judiciary Committee releases transcript of Geoffrey Berman testimony

Geoffrey Berman. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday released the transcript of its closed-door interview with Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan who was forced out by Attorney General Bill Barr last month.

Why it matters: House Democrats have seized on Berman's testimony, in which he claimed the attorney general sought to "entice" him into resigning so that he could be replaced by SEC chairman Jay Clayton, to bolster allegations that the Justice Department has been politicized under Barr.