Politics & Policy

Why it matters: While Democrats fight to convince voters that they should be the ones tasked with taking down President Trump, the current administration is powering ahead on efforts to restrict immigration, unleash business and reshape the U.S. role in the world.

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Man charged with threatening Ukraine whistleblower's attorney

Attorney Mark Zaid. Photo: Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors in Michigan have charged Brittan Atkinson for allegedly sending a threatening email to Mark Zaid, an attorney for the Ukraine whistleblower whose complaint launched the impeachment inquiry into President Trump, Politico reports.

Why it matters: Trump and his allies have rallied against the whistleblower, demanding their identity be made public — a call often fueled by right-wing media outlets, which have repeatedly amplified the whistleblower's alleged name.

Warren and Sanders raise millions after Nevada debate

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Both Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders raised more than $2.5 million after their Wednesday evening debate stage performances, the largest post-debate haul of the cycle, according to their campaigns.

Why it matters: The Democrats targeted first-time debater Mike Bloomberg, attacking his campaign spending, past comments about women and people of color, and non-disclosure agreements with former employees.

Trump indulges Wall Street with Milken pardon

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump loves Wall Street shenanigans. Companies owned by him have declared bankruptcy six different times, and he was once sued alongside Mike Milken for participating in a scheme to artificially inflate junk-bond prices.

Driving the news: Trump pardoned Milken this week, with an official statement positively gushing over Milken's role in developing the wilder side of fixed-income capital markets.

All the Trump associates convicted or sentenced in the Mueller investigation

Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was sentenced to 4o months in prison for crimes that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

Why it matters: Stone is the seventh person to be convicted and sentenced for crimes unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. His case has been at the heart of ongoing tensions between President Trump and his Justice Department.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Situational awareness

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months in prison
  2. Top NSC official reassigned to Energy Department amid "Anonymous" fallout
  3. Morgan Stanley to buy E*Trade in $13 billion deal
  4. Coronavirus slams companies' 2020 sales projections
  5. Black activist group gives its first presidential endorsement to Elizabeth Warren

Roger Stone sentenced to more than 3 years in prison

Roger Stone arriving for his sentencing hearing. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to 4o months in prison for crimes that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

Why it matters: Stone is the seventh person to be convicted and sentenced for crimes unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. His case has been at the heart of ongoing tensions between President Trump and his Justice Department.

Podcast: Bloomberg’s social media strategy

The Wall Street Journal reported that Mike Bloomberg’s campaign is hiring people to regularly post from their personal social-media accounts and send texts in support of Bloomberg to their contacts. Pro Rata producer Naomi Shavin is joined by Axios media reporter Sara Fischer to discuss the campaign’s social media strategies and how platforms are responding.

Go deeper: Read the Wall Street Journal report

Warren targets billionaire Sheldon Adelson with ad buy in his newspaper

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images; Shahar Azran/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren purchased a full-page ad in Thursday's edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal to tell the paper's billionaire owner, GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, how much he would pay under her proposed wealth tax, per The Nevada Independent's Jon Ralston.

Why it matters: The ad appeared in the paper the day after Warren challenged another billionaire — former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg — on the debate stage. The ad buy also comes days before the Nevada caucuses.

Mulvaney calls out Republican hypocrisy on deficits under Trump

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a speech at the Oxford Union on Wednesday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged it's hypocritical of the Republican Party to criticize deficits under the Obama administration and ignore them under President Trump, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The deficit has ballooned under the Trump administration and is expected to surpass $1 trillion in 2020, despite Trump's promise on the 2016 campaign trail to eliminate the national debt in eight years.

A former Google executive is vying for Susan Collins' Senate seat

Ross LaJeunesse. Photo: Ross for Maine

Ross LaJeunesse, the former Google executive running for a Senate seat in Maine as a Democrat, is laying out his plan for regulating tech.

Why it matters: The former Google executive made headlines earlier this year when he detailed his exit from the company. Now he is hoping to parlay his tech know-how into a Senate seat.

Scoop: Top NSC official reassigned to Energy Department amid "Anonymous" fallout

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates will be reassigned as a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, the National Security Council said Thursday — and a senior White House official said that the administration "rejects" the rumors that she is "Anonymous."

Why it matters: Coates has battled claims that she is the still-unknown Trump administration official that penned a New York Times op-ed and book critical of President Trump.

The new not-normal: The Trump state

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump changed how to run for president. Next, he changed the Republican Party. Now, he’s changing the presidency and the boundaries of executive power. 

In the past week, Trump has purged internal dissenters, imported loyalists, pardoned political and financial criminals and continued a running commentary on live Justice Department criminal cases — despite an unprecedented public brushback from his attorney general.

Bloomberg's rough debut

Photo: John Locher/AP

Mike Bloomberg was booed during his debut debate as a Democratic presidential candidate — indicative of a rusty outing where the former New York mayor looked unprepared to respond to obvious lines of attack.

Why it matters ... The debate underscored the Bloomberg’s campaign biggest fear: It's hard to hide to his prickly demeanor. Bloomberg had all the time, practice and forewarning money could buy — and still struggled mightily on the public stage. 

Black activist group gives its first presidential endorsement to Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren at an event in Nevada ahead of the caucus. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren is getting an endorsement from an influential activist group for black communities.

The state of play: Black to the Future Action Fund, a think tank and political organizing group, was formed by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza. This is their first endorsement of a presidential candidate, though they've endorsed down-ballot Democrats like Stacey Abrams and Lucy McBath.

Jeff Bezos writes a short climate mystery

Bezos announces the co-founding of an earlier initiative, The Climate Pledge, in September. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Amazon

The most striking thing about Jeff Bezos' new climate philanthropy is the size. A close second is the information void about what it will actually do.

Catch up fast: The Amazon founder on Monday announced a $10 billion fund to help scientists, nonprofits and activists — and then dropped the mic.

Bloomberg finally upends the national conversation

Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios — Note: Hover over the weekly rank on desktop to see articles and interactions for each candidate and issues.

Stories about Michael Bloomberg last week generated 9.4 million interactions on social media — more than twice his previous high. Still, he's getting lapped by Bernie Sanders, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: This was the point when Bloomberg converted massive spending into significant organic interest in his campaign, but it may be no match for the Sanders grassroots army.

1,000 veterans denounce Trump for attacking Alexander Vindman

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, before testifying during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on President Trump's impeachment inquiry last November. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Over 1,000 military veterans have signed a letter criticizing President Trump for his "actions and insults" toward Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, which they say show he's "prioritized a personal vendetta over our national security."

Why it matters: Vindman was a key national security official until he was fired this month. He testified at the House impeachment inquiry that Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, which he listened in on, was "improper." Among his criticisms of the Purple Heart recipient, Trump said Vindman was "insubordinate" and had "problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information."

George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Florida., seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."

Debate night: Democrats fight for make-or-break moments in Nevada

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg defended his wealth to his Democratic competitors in his debate debut, while Sen. Bernie Sanders, a front-runner, faced comparisons to President Trump over his populist appeals, at the ninth Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday just days before the Nevada caucuses.

The big picture: Sanders argued that Bloomberg's version of centrism won't produce the voter turnout needed to beat Trump. Bloomberg retorted that he doesn't think there's "any chance, whatsoever" of Sanders beating Trump and struck at the senator's Medicare for All plan.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sanders defends socialism: "We are living, in many ways, in a socialist society right now"

Sanders in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders again defended on Wednesday's debate stage his embrace of Democratic socialism.

What he's saying: "Let's talk about Democratic socialism — not communism, Mr. Bloomberg, that's a cheap shot. Let's talk about what goes on in countries like Denmark, where Pete correctly pointed out, they have a much higher quality of life in many respects than we do."

Warren skewers Bloomberg over a "drip, drip, drip" of sexual harassment accusations

Warren and Bloomberg on Feb. 19. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday's debate stage of signing "who knows how many" non-disclosure agreements with his female employees over sexual harassment and gender discrimination.

What she's saying: "Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those non-disclosure agreements, so we can hear their side of the story?"

Klobuchar calls for Bloomberg to release tax returns

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar targeted Michael Bloomberg for not releasing his tax returns, comparing the former New York mayor's reluctance to President Trump's court battle over releasing his returns.

What she's saying: "I don't care how much money anyone has, I think it's great you got a lot of money, but I think you've got to come forward with your tax returns," Klobuchar said, reminding the audience that Trump "has been hiding behind his tax returns."

Warren launches at Bloomberg: We can't "substitute one arrogant billionaire for another"

Bloomberg in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 19. Photo: Bridget Bennett/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth at Wednesday's Democratic debate painted New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the same kind of racist and sexist that Democrats have repeatedly accused President Trump of being.

What she's saying: "I'd like to talk about who we're running against. We're talking about a billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians. And no, I'm not talking about Donald Trump, I'm talking about Mayor Bloomberg."

Exclusive: Facebook weighs in on Bloomberg's social media tactics

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Facebook says that paid political campaign staffers are allowed to post content supporting the candidate they work for, so long as those employees "make an effort" to disclose their ties to the campaign.

Yes, but: Facebook will not take down content posted by a campaign staffer that endorses a candidate they work for if they do not disclose the relationship, a spokesperson tells Axios. That's because there's no clear guidance from regulators about whether or not this type of paid relationship violates campaign finance rules.

Trump to install loyalist Ric Grenell as acting intelligence chief

Photo: Sylvain Gaboury/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

President Trump confirmed in a tweet Wednesday night that he will install Richard Grenell, the current U.S. ambassador to Germany and a staunch defender of the president, as the acting director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: The role, which was originally vacated by Dan Coats in August 2019, is one of grave responsibility. As acting DNI, Grenell will be charged with overseeing and integrating the U.S. intelligence community and will advise the president and the National Security Council on intelligence matters that concern national security.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

What to watch in the Nevada debate

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Cengiz Yardages and Mario Tama/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg's wealth will fuel rather than shield him from tests and attacks when he makes his Democratic primary debate debut on the stage tonight in Las Vegas.

The state of play: Bernie Sanders is still the front-runner. So the other candidates must weigh which of the two presents a bigger threat to their viability: Sanders, with his combined delegate, polling and grassroots momentum? Or Bloomberg, with his bottomless budget?

Go deeperArrowUpdated 19 hours ago - Politics & Policy
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