21 hours ago

Axios Sneak Peek

Welcome back to Sneak. Republicans drew some bright red lines today.

  • No Donald Trump ever back in the Oval Office (Liz Cheney), and no revisiting his 2017 tax cut to pay for infrastructure (Mitch McConnell).

Today's newsletter — edited by Glen Johnson — is 816 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Scoop — White House fears political fallout from pipeline hack

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The gas may be flowing again, but the White House is more worried than it's letting on about the potential fallout of the Colonial Pipeline hack that caused fuel shortages and triggered price increases, Axios' Jonathan Swan and Alayna Treene have learned.

Behind the scenes: Senior Biden officials are acutely sensitive to the images of lines outside gas stations before Memorial Day — the typical launch to the summer driving season. Republicans also are jumping on the bandwagon, suggesting Joe Biden is a modern-day Jimmy Carter.

  • Inflation seeping into the public consciousness and checkbook is giving legs to the attack.
  • "I see that everybody is comparing Joe Biden to Jimmy Carter," former President Trump said in a statement Wednesday. "It would seem to me that is very unfair to Jimmy Carter. Jimmy mishandled crisis after crisis, but Biden has CREATED crisis after crisis."
  • While the attempts to paint Biden as Carter are very real, a key difference with regard to the pipeline crisis is that gas disruptions in the 1970s happened in two waves, and lasted months. Colonial Pipeline announced Wednesday it was resuming its operations.

The big picture: Seeking to calm nerves on Capitol Hill, the White House took the unusual step of arranging for three Cabinet secretaries to brief Congress on the Colonial ransomware attack.

  • The White House's "bipartisan member briefing" on the cyberattack was to be held at 6pm today, according to an invitation reviewed by Axios.
  • Briefers included Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

What they're saying: Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a close friend of the president, nodded when Axios asked whether the White House is more concerned about the situation regarding the Colonial Pipeline than it's letting on.

  • He then said: "I think there's more we can and should do."

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who's been a leading voice in Congress on the issue, sees a rare opportunity for bipartisan cooperation.

  • He said he wants to partner with Republicans and the appropriate committees on legislation forcing critical infrastructure companies to report cyberattacks to a public-private entity in near real time.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that while she “absolutely” thinks the White House "could be doing much more,” she hopes the hack serves as "a wake-up call to policymakers."

Keep reading.

2. Inside the White House response to Colonial hack

President Biden arrives to deliver a COVID-19 update today. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Top White House officials — including counselor Steve Ricchetti and National Security Council chief of staff Yohannes Abraham — briefed President Biden about the Colonial Pipeline hack at Camp David last weekend, sources familiar with the response tell Alayna and Jonathan.

Why it matters: The high-level response, which also included daily calls from national security adviser Jake Sullivan, underscores the administration's heightened concern about fallout from the hack — both from a national security and a political perspective.

What we're hearing: Biden made clear after receiving his first briefing Friday night that he wanted to be regularly kept abreast of the status of the hack and the administration's response.

  • He requested details on both fronts, officials said.

Keep reading.

3. By the numbers: Caucus leader durations
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Data: History, Art & Archives of U.S. House of Representatives; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

After months of building disagreement, House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as conference chair today. She had been the No. 3 House Republican for a little over two years.

By the numbers: Cheney certainly is not the only one to have held the title for only a short amount of time. But a handful of leaders chaired their caucus for multiple Congresses — and as long as 14 years, according to historical House data.

4. Scoop: FEC drops first of several election complaints against Trump

Donald Trump Jr. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Federal Election Commission has voted not to investigate allegations that Trump campaign representatives — including Donald Trump Jr. — solicited illegal foreign assistance in 2016, Axios' Lachlan Markay has learned.

The big picture: The commission deadlocked in a 3-3 vote on whether to probe potential campaign finance violations surrounding an infamous meeting with two Russian nationals at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.

  • News of the vote comes shortly after the FEC officially closed the file on another 2016 campaign matter: former President Trump's hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
  • The Daniels and Trump Tower cases are two in a large backlog of FEC complaints related to Trump's — and, to a smaller degree, Hillary Clinton's — conduct during the 2016 campaign.
  • The commission is expected to announce votes on a number of those cases in the coming weeks, with little to no enforcement action expected.

What's they're saying: An FEC spokesperson declined to comment on the Trump Tower matter. But Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21, one of the groups behind the complaint, told Axios his organization had been notified that the case file had been closed.

  • "Everyone in the system knows that the FEC will not enforce the law because the Republican commissioners do not want to enforce the law," Wertheimer said.
  • The Republican members' reasoning, a source said, was largely procedural: the five-year statute of limitations for the law at issue expires in just a few months, and they argued there now isn't enough time left to sufficiently adjudicate the matter.

Keep reading.

5. Pic du jour

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves behind House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy after addressing reporters following the Gang of Four meeting with President Biden.

Editor's note: This newsletter has been updated to reflect that the advisers who briefed President Biden at Camp David did not travel there specifically to do so but were there already.

📅 Join Axios' Mike AllenNick Johnston and Margaret Talev tomorrow at 12:30pm ET for a virtual event about the future of clean energy investment and jobs. Guests include Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Register here.

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