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Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP.

The Koch donor network, helmed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, is poised to join the fray on President Trump's behalf. At their retreat in Indian Wells, Calif., top Koch officials said they're waiting for the nominee's identity to be revealed, but they liked the initial list of names Trump released.

Why this matters: The Kochs have the biggest political infrastructure and the most cash of any outside group on the right, and they want to be helpful to Trump where they align with his policies, including on regulatory reform, tax cuts, and now, SCOTUS. Charles Koch, 81, has made it abundantly clear to donors and officials that he's not going anywhere.

What's next: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to get Trump's nominee through the traditional way: Marshaling 60 votes in the Senate. He'd rather not break precedent and use the so-called "nuclear option" for the highest court (ramming the nominee through with 51 votes.) To do that, Republicans need to pressure eight Democrats into supporting the nominee.

Outside groups matter in this battle: The Judicial Crisis Network "will lead a $10 million effort encouraging 10 Senate Dems up for re-elect in 2018 to vote to confirm nominee or face losing their seats in 2018," says conservative operative Greg Mueller.

Go deeper

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

7 hours ago - Health

Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.