Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Burns during Senate testimony in 2015. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A longtime diplomat and Joe Biden adviser tells Axios that the United States has lost international credibility as President Trump spreads conspiracies while challenging his losing election results.

Why it matters: Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor who previously served presidents from both political parties as a former ambassador and undersecretary of state, says the president's baseless challenges have undercut the U.S. as a beacon of democracy and critical voice against governmental overreach in other nations.

  • "Donald Trump is doing more damage to American democracy than Russia or China or Iran or North Korea could ever do with their cyberattacks on us," Burns said in a Friday night interview with Axios from his home in Westport, Massachusetts.
  • "I think it's the most serious threat to our democracy in my lifetime," said Burns.

Between the lines: Burns served Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who made Burns his ambassador to NATO among other posts.

  • Burns stressed he was speaking to Axios in his personal capacity and not on behalf of the Biden team.
  • But he is an important part of Biden's kitchen cabinet — advising the president-elect during the campaign and joining a high-level briefing with Biden and other top foreign policy and national security advisers on Tuesday.

The big picture: The intelligence community talks a great deal about foreign influence campaigns, but Burns says he can't imagine a more acute threat to the social fabric than what Trump and Rudy Giuliani are doing right now.

  • "This is the first time in the history of the country where the clearly defeated candidate has refused to concede and refused to conduct a peaceful and orderly transition," said Burns. "That's the core of our democratic experience in America, that we have peaceful transitions."
  • "The outrageous and outlandish and completely irresponsible claims he's making with no facts behind them is poisoning the atmosphere in an already divided nation," Burns added.
  • Trump's lawyer Sidney Powell has floated, without evidence, that Trump actually won the election in a landslide because millions of votes were stolen from him. Her allegation: that Trump is the victim of an international "communist" conspiracy in which countries such as Venezuela and Cuba have manipulated American voting machines to switch millions of votes from Trump to Biden.

The consequences: 77% of Trump supporters say Biden's victory was due to fraud, according to a recent Monmouth University poll. That's tens of millions of Americans who believe this election was stolen and will likely consider Biden an illegitimate president.

  • Like many other foreign policy and national security experts, Burns saw this poll and is profoundly disturbed about its implications — not just for social cohesion inside the U.S. but for America's ability to project power abroad.
  • Trump is "making it extraordinarily difficult for the next president, for Joe Biden, because ... a lot of our power in the world comes from our credibility as a democracy ... that we can be a model and an example to others," Burns added.
  • "And Donald Trump is destroying that right now with what he's doing to divide us, even further after the election."

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - World

Biden sets his sights on China

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images  

The new administration's first few moves and statements on China suggest that President Biden may continue some of the Trump era's most assertive policies.

Why it matters: China's severe domestic repression, its dramatic rise as a technological superpower, and its increasingly aggressive actions around the globe mean that the world expects the American president to take action.

Updated 4 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: How data and the pandemic have democratized the "high-performance lifestyle — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Pfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains — Republicans are least likely to want the coronavirus vaccine
  3. U.S. news: California surpasses 50,000 deaths COVID-19 deaths, more than any other state — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter return to church after receiving COVID-19 vaccines
  4. Local: Public transit ridership in Twin Cities dropped 53% amid pandemic — Data firm predicts "complete chaos" in next phases of Florida's vaccine rolloutAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for the coronavirus

Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.