Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifies in 2018. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has hired Shelby Pierson, a career intelligence official, as the first U.S. "elections threats executive within the intelligence community," NPR reports.

Why it matters: FBI Director Christopher A. Wray warned Washington in April about Russia's "continued meddling in American elections" and called it a "significant counterintelligence threat," the NYT reports. In Friday's announcement, Coats said he is directing other agencies to appoint their own elections threat executives.

The state of play: "Trump views any discussion of future Russian interference as effectively questioning the legitimacy of his 2016 victory, prompting senior officials to head off discussions with him," writes the NYT.

  • When former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen grew "increasingly concerned about Russia's continued activity" in the U.S. during the 2018 midterms, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney "told her not to bring it up in front of the president," per the NYT.

The catch: President Trump has told confidants he's eager to remove Coats from his position, according to 5 sources who discussed the matter directly with the president, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports:

  • Trump would like to "downsize" the ODNI, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Go deeper ... Report: U.S. is underestimating Putin's "grand strategy" for Russian dominance

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Updated 4 mins ago - World

China says U.S. is "endangering peace" with high-level visit to Taiwan

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a June briefing in Washington, DC. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."

Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. early Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.

Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 18,543,662 — Total deaths: 700,714 — Total recoveries — 11,143,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 a.m. ET: 4,771,236 — Total deaths: 156,807 — Total recoveries: 1,528,979 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. States: New York City health commissioner resigns in protest of De Blasio's coronavirus response — Local governments go to war over schools.
  4. Public health: 59% of Americans support nationwide 2-week stay-at-home order in NPR poll.
  5. Politics: Trump's national security adviser returns to work after coronavirus recovery Republicans push to expand small business loan program.
  6. Sports: Indy 500 to be held without fansRafael Nadal opts out of U.S. Open.
Updated 2 hours ago - World

At least 100 killed, 4,000 injured after massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: At least 100 people have been killed and over 4,000 injured in the blast — and the death toll is likely to rise, the Lebanese Red Cross said, per AP. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for the past six years.