Dec 11, 2019

Graham: "It wasn't the Ukrainians" who hacked the 2016 election

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said at a hearing to review the findings of the Justice Department's inspector general report that it was Russia, not Ukraine, who interfered in the 2016 presidential election by hacking the Democratic National Committee.

"We know the Russians are messing in our elections. And it was the Russians, ladies and gentlemen, who stole the Democratic National Committee emails, Podesta's emails and screwed around with Hillary Clinton. It wasn't the Ukrainians. It was the Russians. And they're coming after us again. So to be concerned that the Russians are messing with presidential campaigns was a legitimate concern."

Why it matters: What was once a consensus due to the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community has become something of a litmus test for loyalty toward President Trump, who has promoted allegations that Ukraine interfered in 2016 on behalf of Democrats.

  • Trump's request that Ukraine's president investigate whether the DNC's server is hidden in his country — a baseless conspiracy theory — contributed to the opening of the impeachment inquiry due to allegations that he withheld military aid until the investigation was announced.
  • Graham has been among the fiercest critics of the impeachment inquiry, but has declined to give credence to the idea that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in 2016.

The big picture: Graham used his opening statement to blast the FBI for the significant factual errors and omissions that officials made in surveillance applications for Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

  • The inspector general's report rebuked the FBI for its serious oversights but ultimately concluded that the Russia investigation was not tainted by political bias.

Go deeper: Read Inspector General Michael Horowitz's opening statement at FISA hearing

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Over 500 schools in South Korea have either closed or postponed reopening, according to the Korea Times, which cites data from the Ministry of Education.

Why it matters: South Korea has been a model for how to handle the novel coronavirus, and the closures reportedly followed concerns from parents and teachers over child safety. The country's confirmed death toll has plateaued at 269 over the past few days, with few increases, per Johns Hopkins data.

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,877,503— Total deaths: 362,731 — Total recoveries — 2,464,595Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,735,971 — Total deaths: 102,286 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March —How the U.S. might distribute a vaccine.
  4. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  5. Supreme Court: Senators Grassley, Leahy urge Supreme Court to continue live streams post-pandemic.
  6. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.
  7. 🚀 Space: How to virtually watch SpaceX's first crewed launch Saturday.

Trump to end Hong Kong’s special trade status

President Trump. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday that the U.S. would be fundamentally changing longstanding policies toward Hong Kong as a result of Chinese encroachment on the city's autonomy.

Why it matters: Trump said he would be effectively ending the special trade status that has allowed Hong Kong to flourish as a gateway to the Chinese market. That leaves an uncertain future for businesses that operate in Hong Kong, not to mention the city's 7 million residents, and could be met with reprisals from Beijing.