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Ambassador Jon Huntsman. Photo: Vyacheslav Prokofyev/TASS via Getty Images

Paul Whelan, the American citizen arrested in Moscow last Friday on charges of espionage, was visited by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman on Wednesday, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: It's unusual for such a high-ranking official to make this kind of visit, according to national security analyst Evelyn Farkas. Whelan is facing up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Some intelligence experts believe he was detained as retribution for the arrest of confessed Russian agent Maria Butina.

Details: Whelan is a 48-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran and "avowed Russophile" who was in Russia attending a wedding, according to The Daily Beast. He's the director of global security for an auto-parts supplier, BorgWarner, where he conducts investigations into "theft, fraud, sexual harassment, workplace violence" and other issues that affect the company.

  • Whelan's job puts him in "frequent contact with a variety of federal agencies," and he has visited Russia several times since 2007.

What they're saying:

  • Whelan's family told the New York Times: "We are deeply concerned for his safety and well-being. His innocence is undoubted and we trust that his rights will be respected."
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said if Whelan's detention "is not appropriate, we will demand his immediate return."
  • BorgWarner said in a statement that the company was in contact with U.S. officials in regards to Whelan's arrest.

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Axios Re:Cap digs in with former FDA commissioner Rob Calif about the EUA process, the science and who should make the final call.

14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The recovery needs rocket fuel

Data: BLS. Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's deeply disappointing jobs report should light a fire under Congress, which has dithered despite signs the economy is struggling to kick back into gear.

Driving the news: President-elect Biden said Friday afternoon in Wilmington that he supports another round of $1,200 checks.

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.