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Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "there is a substantial chance" the order to poison Alexei Navalny, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, came from senior Russian officials, while speaking with conservative commentator and personality Ben Shapiro on Wednesday.

What he's saying: "I think people all around the world see this kind of activity for what it is," Pompeo said on "The Ben Shapiro Show." "And when they see the effort to poison a dissident, and they recognize that there is a substantial chance that this actually came from senior Russian officials, I think this is not good for the Russian people. I think it’s not good for Russia."

  • "I think people see this and say this is not the way countries that want to be powers, that want to be important and play on the global stage, this is not the way that they should engage in activity. They ought to instead promote freedom and democracy."
  • "What the United States government will decide to do directly in response to this, I don’t want to get in front of the President."

Catch up quick: Navalny was responsive and no longer in a medically induced coma as of Monday, the New York Times reports. He was flown to a hospital in Berlin on Aug. 22 for treatment after the suspected poisoning, and he's the latest in a string of Kremlin critics to have been poisoned, though Russia denies that any crime took place.

  • German officials said they found the nerve agent Novichok in Navalny's system.
  • A bipartisan collection of lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee called on Trump Tuesday to investigate the alleged poisoning.

Go deeper

Biden calls Trump's refusal to concede "an embarrassment"

A seemingly amused President-elect Joe Biden said Tuesday that President Trump's refusal to concede does not "change the dynamic" of his transition plans, but called it "an embarrassment" that "will not help the president’s legacy.”

Driving the news: Biden was asked by several reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, how he would work with Republicans in Congress who haven't acknowledged his victory and whether Trump's refusal makes it difficult to lead the country in a unified way through the transition period.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
3 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

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