St Basil's Cathedral in Red Square. Photo: Alexander Shcherbak / TASS via Getty Images

Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Ben Sasse sent a joint letter to the Trump administration Thursday urging them to coordinate with NATO allies to respond to Russia’s use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, England.

The bottom line: If NATO countries join the U.K. in expelling Russian diplomats from their countries or choose to freeze Russian assets, they would be sending an undeniably clear message to Russia that its shadow operations will not go unpunished among NATO allies.

  • NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Thursday that attack “happened against a backdrop of a reckless pattern of Russian behavior over many years,” and that Russia is “blurring of the line between peace, crisis and war.” Stoltenberg also said he "fully supports" the need for a response, "there has to be consequences.”
  • The U.S., U.K., France, and Germany also issued a statement Thursday blaming Russia for the attack.
  • The letter is addressed to Mike Pompeo, the current CIA Director and expected incoming Secretary of State, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.

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U.S. policy shift will allow taxpayer funding for projects in West Bank settlements

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The U.S. and Israel will announce tomorrow that they are expanding three agreements on scientific cooperation to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is a substantial policy shift for the U.S., which did not previously allow its taxpayers' money to be spent in the Israeli settlements.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  3. Business: Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota cases traced to three Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Putin mandates face masks.

McConnell: Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will help GOP retain Senate

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed no regrets about Judge Amy Coney Barrett's controversial confirmation, telling Politico in an interview that he believes the decision to place her on the Supreme Court just a week before the election will help Republicans retain the Senate.

Why it matters: With a week to go until Election Day, many Republicans are concerned that President Trump's unpopularity could cost them the Senate. McConnell has long viewed the transformation of the federal judiciary through the confirmation of young conservative judges as his defining legacy.