Manafort at the Republican convention. Photo: Matt Rourke / AP

Two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination, Paul Manafort, then his campaign chairman, offered private briefings on the campaign to a Kremlin-linked billionaire, the Washington Post reports.

From the July 7, 2016 email, sent to an intermediary: "If he needs private briefings we can accommodate."

The billionaire: Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, per the Post.

The key paragraph: "The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller."

The backdrop: Mueller appears to be closing in on Manafort. His investigation into the longtime political consultant is now reaching back more than a decade, and prosecutors reportedly told him they plan to indict him.

Manafort's response, via a spokesman: The email was an "innocuous" attempt to collect debts from a past client.

Go deeper: FBI wiretapped Manafort before and after election

Go deeper

Romney calls Stone commutation "historic corruption"

Sen. Mitt Romney. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Saturday tweeted a scathing response to President Trump's Friday night commutation of former associate Roger Stone's prison sentence, calling the move "[u]nprecedented, historic corruption."

Why it matters: Romney has emerged as the party's most prominent Trump critic. He sent shockwaves through Washington after announcing he would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial — becoming the only Senate Republican to break ranks and vote for the president's removal from office. Now he is the first major GOP lawmaker to condemn Trump's Friday night call regarding Stone.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 3,184,722 — Total deaths: 134,830 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,856,341Map.
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  4. Trade: Trump says he's no longer considering phase-two trade deal with China because the pandemic damaged the two countries' relationship.
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We're losing the war on the coronavirus

Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

By any standard, no matter how you look at it, the U.S. is losing its war against the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The pandemic is not an abstraction, and it is not something that’s simmering in the background. It is an ongoing emergency ravaging nearly the entire country, with a loss of life equivalent to a Sept. 11 every three days — for four months and counting.