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Alex Brandon / AP

White House and intelligence officials worked to spread evidence of contacts between Donald Trump's associates and Russia, and of Russian interference in the election, within the government before Barack Obama left office, according to the New York Times.

The intel included intercepted communications in which Russian officials discussed their contacts with Trump's associates, and accounts of meetings in Europe between "people close to Trump" and Russian officials.

What they did: US officials included as much raw intel about the contacts and election meddling as possible into analyses, and raised specific topics in briefings knowing their comments would be archived.

Why they did it: to "leave a clear trail" for investigators, and preserve intelligence that might otherwise have been swept aside once Trump took office.

Who didn't do it: The Times says Obama was not personally involved.

Sean Spicer's response: "The only new piece of information that has come to light is that political appointees in the Obama administration have sought to create a false narrative to make an excuse for their own defeat in the election."

The context: FBI investigations into Russia's election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign are ongoing, and the House and Senate intelligence committees have also announced investigations.

Go deeper

Updated 38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.