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Tech.Co / Flickr CC

A lobbyist for Palantir — the famously secretive data firm co-founded by Peter Thiel — has been hired by the Defense Department, a spokesman for the Pentagon confirms. Justin Mikolay's new job as a special assistant in the Office of the Secretary of Defense was first reported by ProPublica.

The details: BuzzFeed News reported that Mikolay, who has been listed as a lobbyist for Palantir on some of the company's official disclosures, will be a close adviser to new Defense Secretary James Mattis. It's not his first time working at the Pentagon.

Why it matters: Government business is key for Palantir, including from the military. BuzzFeed reported that Mikolay worked on a key contract while at Palantir. It also raises questions for people watching to see what kind of links Thiel, a Trump backer, has to the administration.

Update: Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement that when Mikolay joined the Pentagon he "took action to ensure he would not participate in any matters that would have a direct and predictable effect on Palantir, consistent with conflict of interest statutes and government ethics regulations." Davis added that Mikolay had adopted "a screening arrangement to ensure all particular matters involving Palantir are forwarded to another senior defense official for appropriate disposition" and noted that similar moves "are not uncommon for civilian appointees who have worked previously in the private sector."

Go deeper

Tim Scott hopes to reintroduce version of GOP police reform bill

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told reporters Wednesday he plans to reintroduce his police reform bill or a similar proposal in the coming weeks, and that he has discussed a potential compromise with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

Why it matters: Eyes have again turned to Washington to take steps to address police reform in the wake of Derek Chauvin's guilty verdict Tuesday, after efforts stalled in Congress last year.

Biden announces small business tax credits for vaccine PTO

Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday will call on all employers to provide employees paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects, and he'll include a paid tax credit for small businesses to do so, administration officials said.

Why it matters: The administration sees places of work as highly influential in making shots more convenient for working adults who are in high-risk industries.

White House unveils plans for high-profile climate summit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration offered new details this morning about the big, virtual climate summit Thursday and Friday and signaled they expect new emissions reduction and climate finance commitments from multiple countries.

Driving the news: The administration said 40 heads of state would attend, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.