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Screenshot: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver via YouTube

The Federal Communications Commission misled news organizations last year with claims about a cyberattack to explain away technical troubles with its comment system, according to a new report by Gizmodo based on its review of internal emails.

The background: In May 2017, after the FCC's comment system buckled following a John Oliver report on net neutrality, the FCC's then-chief information officer said the problems stemmed from a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack — and said the attack was similar to one that happened the last time Oliver told viewers to deluge the FCC with comments, in 2014.

Why it matters: Net neutrality supporters were skeptical, and argued that the FCC was covering for its failure to keep its site accessible. The FCC has either been unwilling or unable to produce evidence an attack occurred, either in 2017 or 2014, and the commission's security staff say they had no evidence of such an attack, per Gizmodo.

What they're saying: The FCC declined to comment on the story. David Bray, the former FCC CIO who blamed the FCC site's problems on DDoS attacks, wrote on Medium in response to Gizmodo:

"Whether the correct phrase is denial of service or bot swarm or something hammering the Application Programming Interface (API) of the commenting system, something odd was happening in May 2017.... My entire focus throughout the entire turbulent time was on ensuring actual people could continue to comment."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”