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Police officer in a protective mask and suit in Salisbury, England. Photo: Jack Taylor / Getty Images

In an interview with Sky News, Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, said his laboratory could not definitively say Russia had manufactured the nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy in the town of Salisbury, England.

Why it matters: Russia will seize on the comments to argue the U.K. has accused the Kremlin without evidence. But Aitkenhead said it is not the scientists’ job to “prove” where the nerve agent was made. "We provided the scientific information to the government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they’ve come to," he said.

  • The U.K. Foreign Office quickly followed up with a statement saying the Porton Down assessment was "only part of the intelligence picture."

What evidence the scientists did find: “We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent,” Aitkenhead said.

  • As the Foreign Office statement notes, Russia "has produced and stockpiled" Novichok as part of its work to find "ways of delivering nerve agents probably for assassination." Novichok was developed in the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.

Go deeper: Russian nerve agent from Skripal attack a deadly game-changer.

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.