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Sessions has taken a strong stance against hate crimes since he was sworn into office. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

The Department of Justice is sending a federal hate crimes lawyer to help prosecute the murder of a transgender teenager in Iowa, the New York Times reports. The department rarely gets involved in local cases, reserving this action for "cases in which they can provide expertise in areas that the federal government views as significant," per the Times.

The big picture: Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed Obama-era protections for transgender individuals as a group, but this case suggests he may still get the department involved in individual crime cases. Sessions has maintained a hard stance against hate crimes, and he may be following through on a pledge to examine hateful violence against transgender individuals.

Go deeper: Sessions says transgender individuals are not included in a workplace discrimination civil rights law; disallows students from using bathrooms per choice.

Go deeper

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

The next big political war: redistricting

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.