Pennsylvania's acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid announced Wednesday she decertified Fulton County voting equipment for future elections after officials allowed a private company to examine the machines during an audit of the 2020 election, violating the state's election code.
Why it matters: Degraffenreid said the company was able to "access certain key components of its certified system." Pennsylvania is the second state after Arizona to have decertified an election system because of dubious audit requests by pro-Trump Republicans.
A coalition of more than 20 U.S. media companies delivered letters to Congress and the Biden administration, seeking assistance with the relocation of Afghan journalists and staff who worked for American outlets.
Why it matters: Afghans who worked with the U.S. press “fear retaliation from the Taliban" as the U.S. military nears the complete withdrawal of troops in Afganistan, per the letters.
The Chicago City Council on Wednesday voted to establish a new civilian commission composed of publicly elected community members who will oversee the Chicago Police Department.
Why it matters: Chicago police have been the center of controversy for decades. In recent years, pressure for reform has increased when it was revealed that officers had tortured and coerced over 100 people into false confessions, and after police shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a Black teen, in 2014.
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty in a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday to four counts of rape and seven sexual assault counts, AP reports.
Driving the news: Weinstein is accused of allegedly attacking five women between 2004 and 2013, per Reuters. His appeared in court comes just a day after being extradited from New York for the trial.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Wednesday said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is "playing politics" with the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot by pulling select Republicans off the committee created to investigate the origins of the attack and pursuing a separate investigation.
Why it matters: Cheney said she believes McCarthy's "disgraceful" actions and rhetoric on the insurrection should disqualify him from becoming House speaker if the GOP reclaims the chamber in the 2022 midterms.
Vice President Kamala Harris told a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday that she is planning to campaign for California Gov. Gavin Newsom ahead of his recall election this fall.
Why it matters: Harris' support in the campaign would be a "significant step" from Democratic Party leaders to aid Newsom in the recall fight and could also prove to be a "strong fundraising draw," per the Chronicle.
President Biden is nominating Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), to be his ambassador to Austria.
Driving the news: Biden also will name David Cohen, a former top lobbyist for Comcast and bigtime Democratic bundler, as his choice Canada. In addition, Jamie Harpootlian, a South Carolina lawyer and major Biden bundler, is being nominated as ambassador to Slovenia.
Tom Barrack, the billionaire real estate investor and close friend to former President Trump, was arrested yesterday on federal charges of acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates. It's a case that touches the highest levels of American finance and power.
Axios Re:Cap goes deeper with Vicky Ward, an investigative journalist who's reported Tom Barrack through her books on New York real estate, the Kushner family and her new podcast series on Jeffrey Epstein.
Salt Lake City has declared racism a public health crisis after the city council and mayor adopted a joint resolution, pledging to eradicating racist policies.
The big picture: The resolution comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared racism a serious public health threat in April.
A key procedural vote meant to advance the bipartisan "hard" infrastructure package failed 49-51 on Wednesday after Senate Republicans came together to sink the measure.
Driving the news: A core bipartisan group of senators have been negotiating for months and given how close they are to a deal, senators tell Axios they do not expect this to be the last vote on the $1.2 trillion package.
A judge said Wednesday that victims and families who suffered losses in the collapse of the oceanfront condo in Surfside, Florida, are entitled to a minimum of $150 million in initial compensation, AP reports.
Catch up quick: The June 24 collapse killed at least 97 people and led to several lawsuits, per an NBC affiliate. The National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading a federal investigation into the structural failure.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin defended Gen. Mark Milley Wednesday, following allegations that the latter had made plans to prevent former President Trump from staging a coup during the 2020 election, Politico reports.
Why it matters: Austin's remarks come as Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faces criticism from conservatives over accusations presented in an upcoming book detailing the end of Trump's presidency.
The GOP will pursue its own investigation into the Capitol insurrection if Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) doesn't reverse her rejection of the two Republicans named to the Jan. 6 select committee, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday.
Why it matters: Pelosi on Wednesday rejected McCarthy's naming of Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) to the committee, citing their objection to President Biden's Electoral College victory. In response, McCarthy accused her of running a "sham process" with her "egregious abuse of power."
Despite pleas from the city of St. Petersburg, environmentalists and activists, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis doubled down Wednesday and again refused to declare a state of emergency for Tampa Bay's ongoing red tide.
Why it matters: DeSantis said his office is committed to working with the community to fight the red tide, but argued that a state of emergency would hurt businesses by sending the message that "Florida has problems."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that she rejects Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's naming of Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Jim Banks (R-Ind.) to the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, citing their objection to President Biden's Electoral College victory.
The latest: "Pelosi has broken the institution" with her actions, McCarthy said at a Wednesday press conference. Unless she reverses course and seats all five GOP nominees, "Republicans will not be party to their sham process and will instead pursue our own investigation of the facts," he noted in a separate statement.
A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the enforcement of an Arkansas law that criminalizes gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth.
The big picture: The legislation is among the first of its kind to pass in a state legislature. It forbids doctors from providing access to hormone treatments and puberty blockers to anyone under the age of 18.
The soon-to-be-announced deal between the U.S. and Germany on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline falls well short of Ukraine's hopes and fails to address the country's national security concerns, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky tells Axios.
Why it matters: The deal is designed to allay concerns in Kyiv and on Capitol Hill about the imminent completion of the Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline, which the Biden administration itself has condemned as "a Kremlin geopolitical project that threatens European energy security."
The U.S. will extend its restrictions on non-essential travel at the borders with Canada and Mexico until at least Aug. 21, the U.S. Homeland Security Department said on Wednesday.
Why it matters: The announcement of the 30-day extension comes after Canada said Monday that it would begin allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents to enter the country starting Aug. 9.
The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it distributed over $1.5 billion in rental assistance across the country in June before the national moratorium on evictions expires July 31.
Why it matters: The number of households assisted in June grew by almost 85% over the previous month and nearly tripled since April. But, in some states and cities, funds still aren't flowing fast enough to renters and landlords who don't have the infrastructure in place.
The arrest on Tuesday of Tom Barrack, a business tycoon and close Trump ally, for allegedly acting as an unregistered Emirati agent could complicate relations between the Biden administration and the UAE.
Driving the news: The indictment against Barrack, a real estate investor who chaired Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee, indicates he was in contact with the highest echelons of the Emirati leadership, without naming specific officials.
Tom Barrack is an extraordinarily successful private equity and real estate investor, building a multibillion-dollar empire that spans data centers to hotels to telecom towers. He's also under arrest and being held in federal custody.
Driving the news: Barrack, a longtime friend of Donald Trump and chair of his 2017 inaugural committee, was charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates.
A group of key former governors and mayors — including former Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke — today embraced the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal as long overdue.
What they're saying: "We know first-hand the overwhelming need for improvement," the group said in a statement provided first to Axios.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will visit Tianjin, China, on July 25-26 to meet with Chinese government officials, including State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the State Department announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: Sherman will become the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit China, just days after the U.S. and its allies accused Chinese state-sponsored actors of carrying out massive cyberattacks all over the world.
First lady Jill Biden is embarking on a solo Pacific tour Wednesday, leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympics in Tokyo between domestic stops in Alaska and Hawaii.
Why it matters: This is Biden's first solo trip abroad as first lady. She has had an aggressive domestic travel schedule in support of her husband's administration.
The new book by The Wall Street Journal's Michael Bender — "Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost" — pinpoints the moment that the relationship between former President Trump and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley began to disintegrate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday will release a report by Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi to push back on GOP attacks, arguing that the bipartisan infrastructure deal and Democrat-only social-spending package would help the economy.
Zandi writes, in excerpts provided to Axios: "Greater investments in public infrastructure and social programs will lift productivity and labor force growth, and the attention on climate change will help forestall its increasingly corrosive economic effects."
A new survey finds that 68% of Americans believe Big Tech companies have too much power in the economy, and 56% think these firms should be regulated more than they are now.
Why it matters: The Pew Research Center survey, conducted April 12-18, 2021, shows a statistically significant increase for those who support more regulation — a big uptick from 47% in June 2020.
The effort to make it easier for consumers to get smartphones and other products fixed is gaining ground across the country.
Why it matters: Repairing pricey devices — rather than replacing them — can help consumers save money and extend the lifecycle of their products.
President Biden's nomination of veteran antitrust attorney Jonathan Kanter to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division — the government's most powerful competition watchdog — shows just how serious the White House is about getting tough on tech.
Why it matters: Kanter, known for his strong views that the feds should do more to rein in the power of large corporations, has been a favorite of progressives who share those beliefs.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Tuesday the resignation of its top administrator for "possible improper behavior" after an outlet linked Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill's phone activity to gay bars and the LGBTQ dating app Grindr.
Why it matters: The small Catholic outlet, The Pillar, was able to achieve this by obtaining "anonymized" data from a broker, and having a consulting firm analyze it and link it to the church official — showing how easy and legally this can now be done.
At least a third of migrant families separated at the border during the Trump administration and reunited in the U.S. so far under President Biden were homeless initially, three people familiar with estimates discussed by advocates and government officials told Axios.
Why it matters: As the number of reunions grows, such homelessness rates have the potential to significantly strain non-governmental organizations already plagued by limited resources.
Border officials are encountering migrants from more distant countries, rather than just Mexico or the Northern Triangle, according to the latest public figures from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
Why it matters: These longer journeys to the U.S.-Mexico border underscore the desperate situation many migrants face in their home countries, as well as the multi-dimensional diplomatic, economic and moral challenge the United States faces trying to control their flow north.
Senate Democrats are weighing a Plan B if the bipartisan infrastructure negotiations fail: adding the nearly $600 billion in spending Republicans have already accepted to the $3.5-trillion plan they want to enact alone — a $4.1 trillion overall price tag.
Why it matters: The combination gets the roads and bridges both parties favor; the reconciliation package covers the "soft" climate and child care items wanted by progressives, and Republicans would have to answer why if they oppose a measure that includes all of what they want.
Congress, staffers and reporters are wearing masks again as Capitol Hill faces a new wave of the coronavirus despite widespread vaccinations.
Why it matters: The Delta variant is surging, and Congress is a potential petri dish for the new variant. House and Senate leaders are weighing whether to reintroduce coronavirus protocols to the Capitol. While most lawmakers have been vaccinated, they fit high-risk profiles and work in close quarters.
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered Keith Raniere, leader of the cult Nxivm who in 2020 was sentenced to 120 years in prison for sex trafficking, to pay $3.4 million to 21 victims, the New York Times reports.
Why it matters: Nxivm marketed itself as a self-help organization and forced women, who were called "slaves," to submit sensitive, personal material including naked photos to ensure their loyalty. Higher-ranking members would use the "collateral" to coerce compliance with orders including participation in sexual acts.
The big picture: The law that Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed in March would have banned nearly all abortions in Arkansas — with no exceptions for rape or incest, only for if a pregnant person's life is in danger.