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Gates sat down with Mike Allen at the National Archives Building Thursday to discuss his experience leading the DOD, the CIA, and Texas A&M. They talked about Gates' role in Tillerson's nomination, sending strong messages to military aggression, and upcoming challenges for Trump's Administration in geopolitics.

  1. Gates recommended Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State: As he said he told Trump, "an unorthodox choice and person I would recommend is Rex Tillerson. I've known Rex for a number of years, actually through the Boy Scouts where... after these meetings Rex and I would stay up late into the night talking about the world… I felt he had a great understanding of geopolitics and geo-strategy. He wasn't going to need a briefing book to know about Indonesia or South America or the Middle East or Russia…. I later learned from the press that was the first time he had heard Tillerson's name."
  2. On Tillerson's relationship to Putin: "Just because somebody has done business with Vladimir Putin doesn't make them friends."
  3. On Russian fighters coming within feet of American ships and aircraft: "If I were secretary of defense… when that Russian plane flew within 20 or 30 feet of an American warship, I would have sent a message. I would have asked the president to send a message to Putin, 'the next time your forces come that close to one of our ships, we will paint it, and we will shoot.'"
  4. On sending messages to Iran in the Persian Gulf: "You guys get closer than a half mile to one of our ships… I would've sent the message: we're going to react. Just know it. And you're not going to win."

Go deeper

Tech scrambles to derail inauguration threats

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are sharing more information with law enforcement in a frantic effort to prevent violence around the inauguration, after the government was caught flat-footed by the Capitol siege.

Between the lines: Tech knows it will be held accountable for any further violence that turns out to have been planned online if it doesn't act to stop it.

Dave Lawler, author of World
5 hours ago - World

Uganda's election: Museveni declared winner, Wine claims fraud

Wine rejected the official results of the election. Photo: Sumy Sadruni/AFP via Getty

Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of a sixth presidential term on Saturday, with official results giving him 59% to 35% for Bobi Wine, the singer-turned-opposition leader.

Why it matters: This announcement was predictable, as the election was neither free nor fair and Museveni had no intention of surrendering power after 35 years. But Wine — who posed a strong challenged to Museveni, particularly in urban areas, and was beaten and arrested during the campaign — has said he will present evidence of fraud. The big question is whether he will mobilize mass resistance in the streets.

Off the Rails

Episode 1: A premeditated lie lit the fire

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 1: Trump’s refusal to believe the election results was premeditated. He had heard about the “red mirage” — the likelihood that early vote counts would tip more Republican than the final tallies — and he decided to exploit it.

"Jared, you call the Murdochs! Jason, you call Sammon and Hemmer!”