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Defense Secretary James Mattis with President Trump. Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum Saturday, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that Russia had attempted to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections and that Vladimir Putin has "continued efforts to try to subvert democratic processes," CNN reports.

"There is no doubt the relationship has worsened. [Putin] tried again to muck around in our elections this last month, and we are seeing a continued effort along those lines."

Why it matters: This appears to be the first instance of a high-level Trump administration official acknowledging that Russian electoral interference continued into the 2018 midterms. President Trump canceled a meeting with Putin at the G20 summit over Russia's aggression against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait, but had an "informal conversation" with the Russian president at dinner Friday night, according to press secretary Sarah Sanders.

Go deeper

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday signed a slew of executive orders to address the coronavirus pandemic, including an interstate face mask mandate and an order to renew supplies of PPE, testing materials and vaccines through the Defense Production Act.

Why it matters: The stakes are highest for Biden’s vaccination effort. Several states cannot keep up with demand.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.