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Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The absence of a Marine sentry outside the West Wing on Monday raised questions about whether President Biden was keeping the schedule publicly outlined by his aides.

Why it matters: A sure way to tell if the president is inside the Oval Office is if the spit-shined Marine is at the post, opening the door to the West Wing. A pool reporter questioning whether there had been a change in policy received a simpler, circa-2021 response: the Marine was getting a COVID test.

  • "The president was in the Oval Office this morning working, receiving the PDB and all the things that you're aware of from the schedule. There hasn't been a change of policy," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during the daily briefing. 

The backstory: Biden's schedule said he would be in the Oval receiving the Presidential Daily Briefing at 9: 45 a.m. The sentry was absent at that time.

  • Pooler Debra Saunders, White House correspondent for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, told her off-campus colleagues at 9:58 a.m.: "There is no Marine standing outside the front door. ... Apparently, the Marine no longer is an indicator that POTUS is in the Oval."
  • Psaki and other aides later clarified.

Bottom line: The White House says it's a "misnomer" a Marine must be present when the president is inside the Oval.

  • The sentries may leave their post for a variety of reasons, including an event elsewhere on White House grounds or to support other world leaders or VIP guests.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
5 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania. 

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