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The WSJ has the tale of NIH Director Francis S. Collins on the ropes and patients locked out of lifesaving cancer trials because of two vials of samples contaminated by fungus in an NIH hospital pharmacy. Collins tried to handle the incident with transparency, but the ensuing investigation spiraled into a larger hit on the research hospital's practices and angered doctors who felt it drew flawed conclusions, especially regarding patient safety.

Money quote #1: "His decisions appear to have boomeranged."

Money quote #2: "Morale has sunk to an all-time low."

Why it matters: Collins wants to keep his job, although President-elect Trump is looking at other candidates too. It might not help his chances if his own doctors and scientists are talking trash about him.

Go deeper

The next cliff for the unemployed

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A program supporting Americans who are typically ineligible for unemployment benefits will expire at the end of the year, with millions still relying on it as the labor market sputters.

Why it matters: The result could be catastrophic for the economic recovery that Wall Street fears is already fragile.

The apocalypse scenario

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.

Why it matters: Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, together with a widely circulated article in The Atlantic about how bad the worst-case scenarios could get, is drawing new attention to the brutal fights that could jeopardize a final outcome.

Federal judge rules Trump administration can't end census early

Census workers outside Lincoln Center in New York. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration could not end the 2020 census a month early.

Why it matters: The decision states that an early end — on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31 — would likely produce inaccuracies and thus impact political representation and government funding around the country.

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