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Alex Brandon / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions met twice last year with the Russian ambassador to the US, the Washington Post reports, though he later said he had no "contact with the Russians". The Sessions response:

I never met with any Russian officials to discuss issues of the campaign. I have no idea what this allegation is about. It is false.

Sessions was asked during a confirmation hearing earlier this year about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia. He said at the time that he did not have "communications with the Russians," and claimed he wasn't aware of any contacts.

The then-senator met once with Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Armed Services Committee, and once after an event. He is already under pressure to step aside and appoint a special prosecutor for ongoing Russia-related investigations. For context, Michael Flynn resigned after misleading the White House about conversations with Kislyak.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.

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