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White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah will make his briefing debut at the podium tomorrow. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be on vacation. Both the vacation and Shah's debut have long been in the works.

Why it matters: Shah is one of the most highly regarded operatives in the White House Press shop. Chief of Staff John Kelly thinks highly of him, and he’s trusted by Sanders and communications director Hope Hicks.

The backdrop: Shah, who worked at the RNC during the campaign, had some unwanted publicity this week after NYMag's Olivia Nuzzi published private messages featuring Shah calling Trump a "deplorable" in October of 2016. Shah also referred to the release of the Access Hollywood tape as "some justice." It was notable how forcefully Hicks defended him to NYMag when that story broke this week:

"Raj Shah is a talented operative and skilled communicator. We have always known about his previous roles and are so pleased he is using his unparalleled capabilities to advance the agenda of President Trump, whom he has tremendous respect for. Perhaps if the leakers trying to undermine him were as talented and smart as Raj, they would be here fighting for the American people every day, rather than trying desperately to remain relevant by spreading information that Raj himself shared many months ago. Raj’s skills as a press secretary are only surpassed by his stellar character."
— Hope Hicks

Shah has been all over TV of late, including a combative appearance on CNN and numerous hits on Fox News and Fox Business. He joins Mercedes Schlapp and Hogan Gidley in the roster of Trump surrogates adding to the profiles of Sarah Sanders and Kellyanne Conway.

Go deeper

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

5 hours ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.