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Jared Kushner listens right as Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the White House. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Office of Government Ethics will now allow lobbyists to contribute anonymous gifts to White House staffers' legal defense funds — including those caught up in the current Russia probes, per a Politico report. Lobbyists were previously banned from doing so.

Why it matters, as Politico's Darren Samuelsohn writes: "The little-noticed change could help President Donald Trump's aides raise the money they need to pay attorneys as the Russia probe expands — but raises the potential for hidden conflicts of interest or other ethics trouble."

The history behind the decision:

  • A 1993 OGE guidance document allowed anonymous donations under the presumption that staffers receiving funds wouldn't know who donated.
  • However, the Clinton-era OGE decided that policy might bring unwanted scrutiny and advised attorneys to avoid anonymous donations.
  • Though the OGE's internal policy changed, the guidance document itself was never officially altered because the administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama never faced significant personal legal trouble.

The decision:

  • Then-OGE head Walter Shaub had been trying to formalize the Clinton administration's interpretation of the 1993 guidance document to make it clear anonymous donations were barred by adding a note reading "SOME STATEMENTS IN THIS OPINION ARE NOT CONSISTENT WITH CURRENT OGE INTERPRETATION AND PRACTICE."
  • As Shaub planned his departure from the OGE in July, the office's new head, David Apol, told him that he'd had conversations with the White House about abiding by the original recommendations of the 1993 guidance document.
  • Under Apol, a note has been added to the 1993 guidance document stating that its original intent "HAS NOT CHANGED," adding that the decision is "BECAUSE EACH ANALYSIS IS VERY FACT SPECIFIC."

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.