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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Peter Thiel doubled down last night on his "Google has maybe been infiltrated by the Chinese government" claim, which was eventually picked up by President Trump. When (lightly) pressed for evidence, Thiel simply said he was "asking questions."

Why it matters: You don't propose that someone deserves to face a firing squad without at least a single receipt.

So a few questions for Mr. Thiel:

  1. Have you shorted Google stock or is Palantir currently competing with Google for a major U.S. government contract?
  2. You've said on the record that you're "not a vampire." Are you able to provide independent verification of this claim? Because, were you a vampire, it could pose a national security risk given your ties with senior U.S. officials.
  3. Is it because you're actually a vampire that you deny being a vampire? And would that not be seemingly treasonous, in that the generally accepted societal punishment is death (albeit by wooden stake, in this case)?

Between the lines: I don't mean to minimize the very real possibility of Chinese espionage attempts at U.S. tech companies, and Google's AI efforts certainly make it Silicon Valley's juiciest target.

  • Moreover, an argument that Google was unpatriotic for not renewing its massive U.S. Department of Defense contract (Project Maven) while continuing to do business with tech transfer-heavy China is a legitimate source of political science debate. (See Lonsdale, Joe for more on this).

Go deeper: Pro Rata Podcast digs deeper into Thiel's comments on Google, and the broader Trumpist attacks on Big Tech. I'm joined by David McCabe, who was in the room Sunday night for Thiel's speech. Listen here.

Go deeper

Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

oving crates outside Rep. Elise Stefanik's old office Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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