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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Trump again nominates Rep. John Ratcliffe for intelligence chief

Ratcliffe at CPAC on Feb. 27. Photo: Michael Brochstein/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

President Trump again nominated Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) as Director of National Intelligence (DNI), in a tweet on Friday.

Catch up quick: If confirmed, Ratcliffe would eventually replace Richard Grenell, a staunch defender of Trump and former U.S. ambassador to Germany who was installed as the acting DNI only a few weeks ago. Grenell would have had to leave the post on March 11 unless Trump formally nominated someone else to oversee the U.S. intelligence community, the New York Times reports.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House Democrats lose appeal to force McGahn testimony

Photo: Alex Wong / Staff

Democrats in the House lost an appeal to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to comply with a subpoena, Politico was the first to report.

Why it matters: McGahn was seen as a crucial witness in the House investigation into whether President Trump tried to obstruct the Mueller inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election . The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 on Friday that it did not have the authority to resolve the dispute between the executive and legislative branches.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to nominate Kenneth Braithwaite as Navy secretary

Trump waves at the Army-Navy game in Dec. 2019 in Philadelphia PA. Photo: Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

President Trump on Friday formally announced his intent to nominate current U.S. Ambassador to Norway Kenneth Braithwaite as Navy secretary.

Flashback: Trump first floated Braithwaite's nomination in November after ousted Navy Secretary Richard Spencer reportedly told the White House that he would ensure ex-Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher — who was acquitted of war crimes and had a minor charge cleared by Trump — could retire as a SEAL as long as White House officials did not intervene.

Sen. Ron Wyden asks HHS how agency employees are tested for coronavirus

HHS Secretary Alex Azar testifies on the agency's FY2021 budget on Feb. 27. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, told Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Friday that he was alarmed by a whistleblower's recent allegations that federal personnel received U.S. evacuees from the coronavirus outbreak in China without adequate protective gear or training.

Driving the news: Vice President Mike Pence replaced Azar as the administration's point person for handling the coronavirus this week.

Federal court temporarily halts "Remain in Mexico" program

Migrant wearing a cap with U.S. flagin front of the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/picture alliance via Getty Image

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's earlier injunction on Friday, temporarily stopping the Trump administration from enforcing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Why it matters: Tens of thousands of migrants seeking asylum have been forced to wait out their U.S. immigration court cases across the border in Mexico under the policy. The Trump administration has long credited this program for the decline in border crossings following record highs last summer.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden retracts claim he was arrested in South Africa

Joe Biden. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden told CNN Friday morning that he had not been arrested during a 1970s trip to South Africa during which he tried to visit Nelson Mandela, despite recently claiming he had been.

Why it matters: Biden made the claim multiple times while campaigning in South Carolina, where he is trying to court a sizable base of black Democratic voters in this weekend's primary contest. The Washington Post and the New York Times questioned the credibility of the claims and could not find any official confirmation of the arrest.

Bernie's plan to hike taxes on some startup employees

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced legislation that would tax nonqualified stock options at vesting, rather than at exercise, for employees making at least $130,000 per year.

The big picture: Select employees at private companies would be taxed on monies that they hadn't yet banked.

House Democrats request interviews with prosecutors who quit Roger Stone case

Rep. Jerry Nadler. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Judiciary Committee Democrats are seeking interviews with four prosecutors who resigned from the Roger Stone case after the Justice Department intervened to recommend a shorter sentence for the former Trump associate.

What's happening: In a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr sent Friday, House Democrats requested interviews with 15 current and former Justice Department officials as part of an effort to investigate allegations of Trump interference into the DOJ.

Judge rules against Trump policy limiting public comment on energy leasing

Photo: Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday overturned a 2018 Trump administration directive that sought to speed up energy leases on public land by limiting the amount of time the public could comment.

Why it matters: U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald Bush's decision voids almost a million acres of leases in the West, according to The Washington Post. It's a victory for environmentalists, who tried to block the change as part of an effort to protect the habitat of the at-risk greater sage grouse.

  • The ruling invalidated five oil and gas leases in Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, and affected 104,688 square miles of greater sage-grouse habitat, per The Associated Press.
  • Leases in greater sage-grouse habitat will return to allowing 30 days of public comment and administrative protest.

The big picture: From Axios' Amy Harder, this is the latest in a long and convoluted list of regulatory rollbacks the Trump administration is pursuing on environmental rules that courts are, more often than not, rebutting. With Congress gridlocked on these matters, expect the courts to be the default way Trump's agenda faces checks (unless, of course, a Democrat wins the White House this November).

NTSB warns about lax oversight of new car tech

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

There's mounting evidence that people put too much trust in driver-assistance features like Tesla Autopilot, but federal regulators aren't doing enough to ensure the systems are deployed safely, experts say.

Why it matters: Nearly 37,000 Americans die each year in highway accidents. As automated features become more common, the roads could get more dangerous — not safer — if drivers use the technology in unintended ways.

Podcast: Fracking in focus

Fracking is big business in some swing states, but several Democratic presidential candidates have pledged to end the controversial energy extraction process if elected. Dan and Axios' Ben Geman dig into the politics and practicality of a fracking ban.

Ad spending on 2020 primary tops $1 billion

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Spending on the 2020 presidential primary has officially surpassed the $1 billion mark, with more than half of that total coming from billionaire Michael Bloomberg, according to data from Advertising Analytics.

Why it matters: It's the most money that has been spent this early on in an election cycle in U.S. history.

Preview: “Axios on HBO” interviews Roger Stone

On the next episode of “Axios on HBO,” Roger Stone opens up about his desire to be “right with God.”

Watch the full interview on March 1 at 6 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

Mass shooting in Milwaukee: What we know

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in 2012. Photo: John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images

Six people died in a shooting at the Molson Coors Brewing Company in Milwaukee on Wednesday, including the gunman, Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters at a Wednesday evening press conference with local police.

Details: All of the victims worked at the brewery complex, as did the shooter who died of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," police confirmed in a statement late Wednesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 24 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Hillary Clinton to launch podcast

Hillary Clinton at the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival on Feb. 25 in Berlin, Germany. Photo: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton plans to launch a podcast in late spring, Politico reports.

Details: The currently untitled show will be co-produced by iHeartMedia and is expected feature Clinton holding conversations with guests, from world leaders to celebrities, many of whom she hopes will fit the theme of her novel "The Book of Gutsy Women," per Politico.

Go deeper: Hillary Clinton on Bernie Sanders: "Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him"

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