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Josh Raffel (R) with Jared Kushner (C) in New York City in 2013. Photo: Paul Bruinooge / Patrick McMullan / Getty Images

Senior communications official Josh Raffel is leaving the White House, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Raffel, a former Hollywood PR executive, was originally brought in early last year to run communications for the Office of American Innovation, but quickly became the point man internally for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Even though Raffel was a Democrat and Hillary Clinton supporter, White House staff (including some Trump originals) told me they were surprised how quickly they grew to like and trust him.

One White House official told me that when there’s a crisis “we call Josh.” The official said he didn’t envy Raffel because “he is always handling the worst stories.”

In the fall of 2017, Raffel was quietly promoted to deputy communications director and began taking a bigger role internally. Raffel oversaw communications for the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, worked with Gary Cohn on a number of NEC issues, including tax reform, and also formed a close relationship with Michael Anton at the National Security Council.

Raffel was known to have high-level relationships at major print publications and the TV networks.

I’m told Raffel has been telling friends and colleagues including Jared and Ivanka over the past two months of his plans. He has told them he has to deal with family obligations back in New York and will return to the private sector.

Senior officials Jason Greenblatt, Ivanka Trump and Gary Cohn all sent quotes about Raffel for this story.

  • Greenblatt: “Josh was an integral part of our peace team and became a close friend. He guided all of us through the process of communicating serious and complex issues that impact people across the world.”
  • Ivanka: “Josh is honest, passionate and thoughtful. Whether it was offering strategic guidance on the communications for tax reform or a foreign trip, Josh's guidance was invaluable. The White House won’t be the same without him.”
  • Cohn: “Josh has been a trusted partner as we worked to enact the President’s economic agenda and passed historic tax reform. He is focused and thoughtful in our day-to-day operations and in driving a policy roll-out, and he will be missed.”

I’m told Raffel’s final day will be sometime over the next two months.

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President-elect Joe Biden should anticipate major and minor conflicts in space from even the earliest days of his presidency.

The big picture: President Donald Trump's military and civil space policies are well-documented, but Biden's record and views on space are less clear.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
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  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.

Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.