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Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Russian spies have been stepping up their intelligence gathering efforts in the U.S. since the election, feeling emboldened by the lack of significant U.S. response to Russian election meddling, current and former U.S. intelligence officials told CNN. There are nearly 150 suspected spies currently in the U.S. (Recall, Barack Obama booted 35 Russian diplomats suspected of spying in 2016.)

Why it matters: As CNN writes, "Russians are targeting people in the US who can provide access to classified information" and are also trying to hack the U.S. government for intel.

What to watch: President Trump is reportedly considering returning two Russian diplomatic compounds to Russia, which Obama shut down in December because the U.S. suspected Russians were conducting espionage there. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sidestepped a question on the matter on Capitol Hill last month, and The Hill reports today a group of bipartisan senators are urging Trump to take the compounds off the negotiating table a day before Trump has his face-to-face with Putin tomorrow.

How they're getting in: The State Department issues temporary duty visas (TDY) to suspected Russian spies when they don't have concrete reasons to deny a visa, which, it should be noted, is not a new concern, since Russian operatives are good at linking their presence in the U.S. to seemingly legitimate business.

An official from State wouldn't talk about the visas that have been issued, citing confidentiality under the Immigration and Nationaltiy Act, a DHS official said there is an extensive process for granting visas, and the FBI wouldn't comment.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.