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NRCC spokesman: GOP not conceding in PA special election

Rick Saccone.
Rick Saccone. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Matt Gorman, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, told NBC News that the party is "absolutely not conceding" to Democrat Conor Lamb in the special election in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district. Gorman added, "We are waiting for provisional ballots on Friday. And we are not ruling out a recount or other legal actions.”

Between the lines: Regardless of the ultimate victor, last night’s election results were a tough pill to swallow for the GOP. The district voted for Trump by 20 points, and Lamb managed to close that gap against Republican Rick Saccone.

  • Potential legal challenges to benefit the GOP, per NBC News’ Alex Moe: “Reports of miscalibrations of voting machines in Allegheny Co; Report GOP was kicked out of room counting absentee ballots in Allegheny Co for 90mins; Reports of mistakes on PA SOS website”
  • Yes, but: Even though he's not conceding, Saccone’s camp has told NBC News that he plans to run again in 2018 in the soon-to-be-redistricted 14th congressional district, which will be a more GOP-leaning district.

Big picture: Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman says it's “not a surprise” that “Lamb (D) expanded lead with Washington Co. absentees. Hard to see why Rs would want to drag this out when they've got so many other races to be worried about.”

Jonathan Swan 4 hours ago
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Bolton bombshell: the clashes to come

John Bolton
John Bolton speaks at CPAC in 2016. Photo: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sources close to President Trump say he feels John Bolton, hurriedly named last night to replace H.R. McMaster as national security adviser, will finally deliver the foreign policy the president wants — particularly on Iran and North Korea.

Why it matters: We can’t overstate how dramatic a change it is for Trump to replace H.R. McMaster with Bolton, who was U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush.

Erica Pandey 5 hours ago
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How China became a powerhouse of espionage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

As China’s influence spreads to every corner of the globe under President Xi Jinping, so do its spies.

Why it matters: China has the money and the ambition to build a vast foreign intelligence network, including inside the United States. Meanwhile, American intelligence-gathering on China is falling short, Chris Johnson, a former senior China analyst for the CIA who's now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tells Axios: "We have to at least live up to [China's] expectations. And we aren't doing that."