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Dermer at Trump Tower the week after the election. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided, in a unorthodox move, to extend the term of Israel's ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer by another year.

Why it matters: Dermer is the most politically oriented ambassador Israel has ever had in Washington and is perceived as being totally affiliated with the GOP. He is the closest adviser Netanyahu has, other than his wife and his son, and among the most influential foreign diplomats in Washington.

In March last year, Netanyahu passed a decision in the cabinet to extend Dermer's term from four to five years. His explanation was that the Trump administration had just taken office, and continuity was needed at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

On Sunday, Netanyahu will pass another decision in the cabinet.

  • The draft decision copy I obtained says that "Special circumstances on the world stage in general and especially in the U.S.-Israeli relationship" call for extending Dermer's term.
  • It also says, "Dermer managed to build a vast and qualitative network of contacts which allows him to promote Israel national security interests with the administration and with Congress."

Dermer was appointed as ambassador in 2013 at the beginning of Obama's second term despite the fact that he actively worked as Netanyahu's senior adviser to assist the Romney 2012 presidential campaign.

The Obama administration was very suspicious of Dermer but agreed to his appointment. Relations with Obama's senior adviser's — mainly National Security Adviser Susan Rice — very quickly went south. Dermer was a treated as a persona non grata at the Obama White House. Things grew even worse after he orchestrated, together with than Speaker John Boehner, Netanyahu's March 2015 speech to Congress.

  • Obama and his adviser's saw Dermer as a GOP political operative and not as the representative of a close ally.
  • Since Trump entered office, Dermer's status at the White House changed quickly and he became a very frequent visitor to the West Wing. During the campaign and the transition, Dermer built a close relationship with Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner and with other advisers like Steve Bannon.  

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Small groups of protesters rallied outside fortified statehouses over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

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Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

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President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.