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Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Politico sources tell Axios that Ryan Lizza, Politico's chief Washington correspondent, and Rachael Bade, now of the Washington Post but formerly of Politico, will join the Politico Playbook franchise in 2021, and the company plans to add several other high-profile names to the roster in the coming weeks.

Details: The company has been trying to assemble a new team that would manage a slew of products related to the Playbook franchise.

  • While Lizza and Bade are likely to anchor the team's main newsletter product, the company is in talks with other reporters about heading up other Playbook-related products, like Playbook-branded newsletters and audio briefings.
  • Sources tell Axios that Eliana Johnson, a former Politico White House correspondent and current editor-in-chief at the Free Beacon, and former Politico reporter Tara Palmeri have also been in talks with the company about roles.

Currently, there are three Playbook-branded newsletters: Politico Playbook, which comes out in the morning, Playbook PM, which comes out in the afternoon, and Transition Playbook, which tracks the appointments and people entering the new administration.

  • Sources tell Axios that several reporters and editors will likely be tapped to be a part of the Playbook franchise, which could also potentially include a column or a longer audio briefing, in addition to the short audio briefing that comes out each morning with the main Playbook email.

Why it matters: The company has been hunting for weeks for replacements for current Playbook authors Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer, who are leaving with longtime Politico congressional bureau chief John Bresnahan to launch a competitor to the Playbook franchise, sources told Axios earlier this month.

What they're saying: "POLITICO Playbook is going to be bigger and better than it’s ever been before in 2021," says Politico spokesperson Brad Dayspring.

  • "That will include assembling an all-star team of talented journalists who can cover Washington inside and out, upside and down, and can do so from any type of platform from newsletter to audio, streaming to TV and live events."
  • "The team isn’t set until it is set, and it isn’t set yet."

Go deeper: Politico stars plan competitor to Playbook franchise

Go deeper

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.