Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested at Ecuador's London Embassy Thursday after the country withdrew its offer of asylum. The U.S. Department of Justice subsequently released its indictment of Assange — importantly focusing on his technical assistance helping Chelsea Manning hack State Department cables rather than on publishing leaks.

Why it matters: That the indictment focuses on Assange the hacker, not Assange the reporter, blunts a long held press freedom argument that he should not be charged with crimes. All journalists rely on leaks, and many relied on classified information publicized by WikiLeaks, making a river of journalists guilty of the same crimes for which Assange would be prosecuted.

The other side: If charges had been focused on being an intelligence asset of Russia by publishing leaks (they aren't), that'd be a blow to, well, me specifically. I directly received and reported on documents from Guccifer 2.0, the avatar of Russia's hacking efforts in the 2016 election.

The big picture: Assange's previously reported upon activities appear to have gone far beyond journalistic practice into what most reporters would consider criminality. He potentially:

  • Hacked a website of an anti-Trump PAC and shared the password with the Trump campaign.
  • Directed hackers to attack a specific target — transcripts show that a request was brought to those hackers by an intermediary they believed was sent by Assange.
  • Provided hackers with technical assistance in the form of a search algorithm to sift through hacked documents.

The bottom line: All of those things would appear to be illegal. No, it doesn't matter if the password on a website is easy to guess.

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:45 p.m. ET: 6,777,026 — Total deaths: 199,352 — Total recoveries: 2,577,446 — Total tests: 94,211,463Map.
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7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week

Data: Compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Seven states set new highs last week for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health departments. Wisconsin and Nebraska surpassed records set the previous week.

Why it matters: Problem spots are sticking in the Midwest, although the U.S. is moving in the right direction overall after massive infection spikes this summer.

Murkowski says she opposes voting on Ginsburg replacement before election

Photo: Greg Nash/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a statement Sunday that she opposes holding a Senate confirmation vote on President Trump's nomination to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election.

Why it matters: Murkowski joins Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) as one of two Republican senators who have thus far said that they do not support rushing through a confirmation vote before November. Two more defections would likely force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to resort to holding a vote in the lame-duck session, which neither Murkowski nor Collins have addressed.