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Howard Schultz speaks at Miami Dade College in March. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who put his independent presidential exploration on hold in June, will tell supporters later this morning that he's abandoning his campaign but still plans to spend big "to fix our broken system."

Why it matters: Schultz — a billionaire who planned to spend north of $100 million on 2020 — now will direct that same amount, over a longer time, toward innovative efforts to reduce inequality and promote political reform.

Between the lines: Schultz, 66, didn't want to be a spoiler if Joe Biden becomes the nominee, and calculated that he'd have to begin locking down ballot access before the Democratic race is settled.

  • What's next: Schultz, who plans to combine philanthropy and strategic investing with a passion for increasing access to the American dream, now becomes one of the most active private players in public policy.

In a "Dear Friends" letter going to hundreds of thousands of supporters later today, Schultz writes:

  • "[N]ot enough people today are willing to consider backing an independent candidate because they fear doing so might lead to re-electing a uniquely dangerous incumbent president."
  • "If I went forward, there is a risk that my name would appear on ballots even if a moderate Democrat wins the nomination, and that is not a risk I am willing to take."
  • "Finally, a back injury in April and three subsequent surgeries have required a level of recovery that has prevented me from continuing my travels and engaging with people to the degree that is necessary."
  • "The money that I was prepared to commit to a presidential campaign will instead be used to invest in people, organizations and ideas that promote honesty, civility and results in our politics."
  • "Onward with love of country, Howard."

Read the letter.

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Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.