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Robin Groulx / Axios

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai found himself answering for President Trump's media bashing at a Wednesday Senate hearing, less than 24 hours after the president renominated him as the top regulator.

The top line: The chairman wouldn't say directly whether he agreed with President Trump's statements that certain media outlets are the "enemy of the American people" because he didn't want to "wade into the larger political debate." He did, however, express support for the First Amendment. He responded similarly when asked about White House adviser Steve Bannon's declaration that the media should "keep its mouth shut." Pai said that he had "not made comments like that."

The details: Pai also said he hasn't spoken with anyone in the administration about AT&T's proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, which the president has criticized. He also generally reiterated that the FCC would act independently of the White House.

Why it matters: The exchange underscores how Trump's continued attacks on the media raise questions for Pai. Telecom giants regulated by the FCC have expanded their push into news content, from the AT&T deal to Comcast's investment in multiple digital media outlets to Verizon's purchase of Huffington Post owner Aol.

Note: Comcast's NBC is an investor in Axios and Andy Lack is a member of the Axios board.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Here come Earmarks 2.0

DeLauro at a hearing in May 2020. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to restore a limited version of earmarks, which give lawmakers power to direct spending to their districts to pay for special projects.

Why it matters: A series of scandals involving members in both parties prompted a moratorium on earmarks in 2011. But Democrats argue it's worth the risk to bring them back because earmarks would increase their leverage to pass critical legislation with a narrow majority, especially infrastructure and spending bills.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

UN says Paris carbon-cutting plans fall far short

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Nations' formal emissions-cutting pledges are collectively way too weak to put the world on track to meet the Paris climate deal's temperature-limiting target, a United Nations tally shows.

Driving the news: This morning the UN released an analysis of the most recent nationally determined contributions (NDCs) — that is, countries' medium-term emissions targets submitted under the 2015 pact.

Biden condemns Russian aggression on 7th anniversary of Crimea annexation

Putin giving a speech in Sevastapol, Crimea, in 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for the people of Ukraine and vowed to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in a statement on Friday, the 7th anniversary of Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea.

Why it matters: The statement reflects the aggressive approach Biden is taking to Russia, which he classified on the campaign trail as an "opponent" and "the biggest threat" to U.S. security and alliances.