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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last Friday, MIT released an unredacted version of the 61-page report by law firm Goodwin Procter into Jeffrey Epstein's donations to the university.

What's new: There is a dispute as to the cooperation of Apollo Global Management CEO Leon Black, a onetime Epstein client who in 2014 made an anonymous $5 million donation to MIT which Epstein claimed to have arranged.

  • Goodwin Procter's lead investigator Roberto Braceras tells Axios: "We were unable to connect with representatives of Mr Black."
  • A spokesperson for Leon Black tells Axios: “No one associated with the investigation contacted Mr. Black at Apollo or at his family office. Any suggestion that Mr. Black did not cooperate with the MIT/Goodwin investigation is categorically false.”

Someone is lying. Or, at best, painfully twisting the truth. And that brings us back to how little we still know about the relationship between Epstein and Black, the CEO of a publicly traded investment giant with more than $300 billion in assets under management.

Goodwin's report says "we did not find any evidence" that Black's donation was actually Epstein's money (i.e., no "laundering").

  • It does not address why Black donated $10 million to Epstein's charity after he pleaded guilty to soliciting underage prostitutes (186 days of silence and counting).
  • It also doesn't address how its findings square with its other findings that then-MIT Media Lab chief Joi Ito suggested that MIT "swap donations with someone else's foundation," in order to avoid the scrutiny that would come from accepting cash from a convicted child sex offender.

The bottom line: After 61 pages, the math still doesn't add up.

Go deeper: Pro Rata Podcast on MIT's Epstein loophole

Go deeper

5 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.