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Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch said Thursday that the Trump administration has "undermined our democratic institutions" in a Washington Post op-ed.

The state of play: Yovanovitch's piece comes one day after the Senate voted to acquit President Trump in his impeachment trial and after her official retirement from the State Department. Her ouster played a key part in the articles of impeachment against the president — and led Trump to attack her in real-time as she testified before the House Intelligence Committee last year.

What she's saying:

  • "I have seen dictatorships around the world, where blind obedience is the norm and truth-tellers are threatened with punishment or death. We must not allow the United States to become a country where standing up to our government is a dangerous act."
  • "Unfortunately, the last year has shown that we need to fight for our democracy. 'Freedom is not free' is a pithy phrase that usually refers to the sacrifices of our military against external threats. It turns out that same slogan can be applied to challenges which are closer to home."
  • "This administration, through acts of omission and commission, has undermined our democratic institutions, making the public question the truth and leaving public servants without the support and example of ethical behavior that they need to do their jobs and advance U.S. interests."
  • "The events of the past year, while deeply disturbing, show that even though our institutions and our fellow citizens are being challenged in ways that few of us ever expected, we will endure, we will persist and we will prevail."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
30 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.