Dec 5, 2017

First look: Biden takes aim at Russia and Facebook

Photo: Patrick Semansky / AP

Joe Biden has written a tough, newsy article for Foreign Affairs magazine that takes on the Kremlin, the White House and the social-media giants, as the former vice president stays in the mix amid planning for a 2020 run. Axios has an exclusive first look for you.

The big quote: "Social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google must provide greater transparency about who funds the political advertisements on their platforms, work harder to eliminate automated and bot-generated content, and invest in the technological and human resources to root out fake foreign accounts that spread disinformation."

Biden co-writes with Michael Carpenter, Penn Biden Center senior director and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, on "How to Stand Up to the Kremlin: Defending Democracy Against Its Enemies," in the forthcoming (January/February) issue of Foreign Affairs:

  • "The Russian government is brazenly assaulting the foundations of Western democracy around the world."
  • "Russia's assault on democracy and subversion of democratic political systems calls for a strong response. The United States and its allies must improve their ability to deter Russian military aggression."
  • "Trump has made a habit of lavishing praise on Putin and even reportedly sought to lift sanctions against Russia shortly after his inauguration. We are not questioning Trump's motives, but his behavior forces us to question his judgment."
  • "If this administration cannot or will not stand up to Russia, other democratic institutions, including Congress and civil society organizations, must mobilize."
  • Biden calls for "the creation of an independent, nonpartisan commission [like the 9/11] to examine Russia's assault on American democracy."
  • "Putin and his cronies do not understand that the greatest strength of American democracy is an engaged citizenry. Even if the president refuses to act, we can."

Be smart: This message is a testament to the extent to which Russia has become the central partisan dividing line on foreign policy, in a reversal of the traditional positions.

  • Biden's blast sounds more like a candidate than a White House retiree. And it looks like the beginning of working out a campaign message.

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog finds flaws in FBI surveillance process beyond Page application

Carter Page. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Justice Department inspector general found errors in 29 out of 29 randomized FBI applications for acquiring wiretap warrants through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, according to a report released Tuesday.

Why it matters: The broad DOJ audit of the FISA program stems from a damning investigation into the FBI's surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, which uncovered "serious performance failures" by some FBI officials during the Russia probe. The IG's final findings come as Congress debates whether to renew the authority it grants to the FISA courts.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 838,061 — Total deaths: 41,261 — Total recoveries: 174,115.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 177,452 — Total deaths: 3,440 — Total recoveries: 6,038.
  3. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with other health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  4. Federal government latest: The White House and other institutions are observing several models to better understand and prepare cities for when the coronavirus is expected to peak in the U.S.
  5. In Congress: New York Rep. Max Rose deploys to National Guard to help coronavirus response.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Misinformation in the coronavirus age.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

U.S. coronavirus updates: White House studies models projecting virus peak

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The White House and other institutions are observing several models to better understand and prepare cities for when the coronavirus is expected to peak in the U.S.

The state of play: The coronavirus is expected to peak in the U.S. in two weeks, but many states like Virginia and Maryland will see their individual peaks well after that, according to a model by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Health