Politics & Policy

Why it matters: President Biden has made the COVID-19 crisis and a post-Trump return to national unity and traditional democratic ideals his top priorities. From vaccinations to stimulus to schools, Biden is seeking bipartisan compromise while showing a willingness to use executive authority and bare Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and Senate to implement his policies. Republican leaders are navigating deep party divisions over if and how to move beyond former President Trump.

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Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Scam PAC operator gets nearly 4-year prison sentence

A Trump sign with Vice President Mike Pence's name removed sits next to the Colorado State Capitol as Trump supporters protest the election on Jan. 6 in Denver. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

A Las Vegas man behind scam Trump and Biden PACs and a fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program scheme was sentenced to 46 months in prison Monday.

The big picture: James Kyle Bell, 44, must also forfeit or pay back nearly $1.4 million in cash and assets related to the schemes after pleading guilty in May to one count of wire fraud, according to a Department of Justice statement on the sentencing.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

Letter comparing parent protests to domestic terrorism triggers funding fallout

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The nation’s leading school board advocacy group is facing a critical loss of funding and membership after sending a letter comparing parent protests and threats to domestic terrorism.

Why it matters: The National School Boards Association has since apologized, but the fallout could be seven figures in annual funding. At least 17 state affiliates have severed ties with the group — and some are even considering establishing a competitor.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pence to hit Biden on gas, price hikes in N.H. tour

Photo: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence is heading to New Hampshire on Wednesday to rail against President Biden’s tax-and-spending agenda, with a loaded schedule akin to a presidential campaign, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: With four events, Pence’s agenda alone will make clear he isn't waiting on a decision from former President Trump about his own presidential intentions. Pence is looking to position himself to be his party’s nominee in 2024.

Scoop: Inside Jake Sullivan's call with U.S. hostages' families

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

National security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke last week with relatives of U.S. hostages and others wrongfully detained abroad, after more than two dozen families expressed frustrations about their inability to get a meeting with him or President Biden, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Participants on the video call, which began at 7pm ET Friday and lasted more than an hour, told Axios they didn't get satisfactory answers to many of their questions. Nonetheless, they were encouraged by Sullivan's commitment to follow up and pledge to be personally available to them and others going forward.

Trump endorses David Perdue for Georgia governor

Former President Trump makes an announcement with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to his right and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) to his left in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Aug. 2, 2017. Photo: Zach Gibson/Pool via Getty Images

Former President Trump on Monday endorsed former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in his campaign for governor of Georgia.

Why it matters: Trump turned on Republican Gov. Brian Kemp after Kemp doubled down on the state's electoral integrity last year.

Justice Department closes Emmett Till murder probe

A faded photograph is attached to the headstone that marks the gravesite of Emmett Till in Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The family of Emmett Till announced Monday that the Department of Justice has formally closed its second investigation into the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Why it matters: The DOJ reopened the probe in 2018 after the white woman at the center of the case reportedly recanted her allegation that Till, a Black 14-year-old, sexually harassed her prior to his murder.

Microsoft seizes websites from Chinese hacking group

Microsoft company logo is seen during the SmartCity Expo World Congress 2021. Photo: Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Microsoft announced Monday that it has seized a number of websites that were being used by a China-based hacking firm to carry out cyberattacks in 29 countries, including the U.S.

Why it matters: Microsoft said it believed the sites "were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organizations."

Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries

New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul COVID-19 addresses rising cases in the state and the new variant Omicron at a press conference in November. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Monday that some state hospitals will be ordered to halt certain elective surgeries in an effort to combat a recent COVID-19 surge, Hochul said at a press conference.

Why it matters: New York has struggled with hospital capacity throughout the pandemic and postponed nonessential procedures before.

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes to retire, will be CEO of Trump media org

Rep. Devin Nunes. Photo: Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who serves as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, will retire at the end of the year and become CEO of Trump's new media organization.

Why it matters: Nunes, once considered a moderate member of the party, became one of the fiercest defenders of former President Donald Trump throughout both of Trump's impeachments and the Intel committee's Russia investigation.

Chris Cuomo says he is leaving his SiriusXM radio show

Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Chris Cuomo on Monday announced that he is stepping away from his SiriusXM radio show, citing difficulties brought on by new revelations about his involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

State of play: CNN fired Cuomo last week after reviewing documents that showed that the star news anchor used his contacts to garner information about the women accusing his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment.

NY man arrested for allegedly threatening to attack LGBTQ+ groups, Pride

: A participant seen holding a sign at the Queer Liberation March in New York City. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

A New York man was arrested and charged with mailing threatening letters to LGBTQ+ affiliated organizations and individuals, including threatening to attack New York City's Pride March, prosecutors said on Monday.

Driving the news: In one letter, Robert Fehring, 74, allegedly threatened that there would “be radio-cont[r]olled devices placed at numerous strategic places” at the 2021 New York City Pride March with “firepower” that would “make the 2016 Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting look like a cakewalk,” the complaint said.

Project Veritas hires its first lobbyist after FBI raids

Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe. Photo: Brandon Bell via Getty Images

Conservative provocateur James O'Keefe's Project Veritas has retained a former senior Trump administration official as a lobbyist, records show.

Why it matters: The FBI raided O'Keefe's home last month amid an investigation into a diary allegedly stolen from President Biden's daughter. Project Veritas' new lobbyist was retained to discuss the situation with members of Congress.

DOJ cites discrimination in lawsuit against Texas over voting districts

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging Republican state lawmakers discriminated against Black and Latino voters and have "again diluted the voting strength of minority Texans" when they approved new redistricting maps.

Why it matters: A DOJ assessment of the new districts found that they violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.

13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Regulators investigating Trump SPAC deal

Former President Donald Trump speaking during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, in October. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Regulators are investigating the planned merger between Digital World Acquisition Corporation and former President Trump's social media business, according to a recent filing by the SPAC.

Driving the news: The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority are looking into the trading of Digital World's shares, while the SEC is investigating communications and documents between Digital World and Trump Media Technology Group.

Prosecutors "haven't ruled out" charging school officials in Michigan shooting

Michigan school officials had the legal grounds to search alleged shooter Ethan Crumbley's backpack and locker but did not do so, Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald told CNN Monday.

Catch up quick: Crumbley has been charged with numerous felony counts related to terrorism and murder after opening fire at Oxford High School, killing four students and wounding seven other people.

Vulnerable Dems urge Congress to preempt 2022 Medicare cuts

Rep. Susan Wild. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vulnerable Democrats are urging President Biden and congressional leaders to act quickly to prevent the Medicare cuts that will take effect on the first day of the new year.

Why it matters: Congress has little time to act before the Medicare reimbursement cuts kick in on Jan. 1, 2022, and there’s currently no vehicle on the table to push the legislation through.

Updated 15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Louisiana officials find "probable" Omicron case in cruise ship COVID outbreak — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: NYC to impose vaccine mandate on private employers — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy.
  4. World: U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Exclusive: Over 280 migrant children to be reunited with their families

The Department of Homeland Security has identified more than 280 migrant children since September who are now in the process of being reunited with their families, a DHS spokesperson told Axios.

What's happening: President Biden's family reunification task force in September established two websites, one in English and one in Spanish, for separated families to directly sign up for reunification. To date, 284 children have been identified through the websites and are on the path to reunification.

Biden unveils corruption strategy

Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday released the first-ever U.S. government strategy for countering corruption, kicking off a week of policy initiatives pegged to the inaugural "Summit for Democracy" on Dec. 9-10.

Why it matters: Joe Biden is the first president to establish the fight against corruption as a core national security interest. Critics say corruption not only robs a nation of its core resources but discourages citizens from believing in the rule of law.

Congress' chip-funding pause raises alarms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Despite bipartisan support in the Senate, a plea by the Commerce Secretary and growing desperation from industry officials, Congress still can't get a key bill that funds the U.S. chip business over the finish line.

Why it matters: With the global chip shortage continuing to crimp the economy, the semiconductor industry has ramped up pressure for funding of U.S.-based manufacturing facilities as one remedy.

Right wing builds its own echo chamber

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Data: Apptopia; Table: Axios Visuals

Conservatives are aggressively building their own apps, phones, cryptocurrencies and publishing houses in an attempt to circumvent what they see as an increasingly liberal internet and media ecosystem.

Why it matters: Many of these efforts couldn't exist without the backing of major corporate figures and billionaires who are eager to push back against things like "censorship" and "cancel culture."

Updated 23 hours ago - World

Myanmar court sentences deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

The latest: Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the country's leader, later cut Suu Kyi's sentence to two years, the Times reports.

Dec 6, 2021 - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis addresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Dec. 5. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos on Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... Let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

NSA leaker Reality Winner: "I am not a traitor"

A screenshot of Reality Winner on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS

Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner told CBS' "60 Minutes" she's not a traitor and acted in "service to the American people" when she leaked classified documents on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Why it matters The interview broadcast Sunday was the Air Force veteran's first since her release from prison last June for leaking a classified report after being prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

In photos: Bidens resume tradition by attending Kennedy Center Honors

President Biden and the Kennedy Center honorees. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden attended Sunday night's Kennedy Center Honors, resuming a tradition of presidential participation not carried out by the previous administration.

Driving the news: This year's honorees include "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels, operatic bass-baritone Justino Díaz, actress Bette Midler, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell and the songwriter Berry Gordy, one of the founders of Motown.

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