Barack Obama and Jeff Sessions after Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast February 2, 2012. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool / Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is launching "Project Cassandra" — a coordinated a team that will investigate individuals and entities that help Hezbollah, the Islamist group in Lebanon which Iran supports, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The Obama administration reportedly backed off and even hampered a Drug Enforcement Administration campaign targeting Hezbollah’s trafficking in order to secure the Iran nuclear deal, as Politico reported last month. Trump has said the deal gave Iran too many concessions, and critics will slam Sessions’ move as partisan.

Big picture: Losing sight of Hezbollah’s trafficking has security implications for U.S. awareness of Hezbollah’s work with not only Iran, but Russia, Venezuela, and Syria as well.

What the DOJ is saying: “The Justice Department will leave no stone unturned in order to eliminate threats to our citizens from terrorist organizations and to stem the tide of the devastating drug crisis,” Sessions said.

  • Sessions previously ordered a review of the law enforcement effort to target Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking and money-laundering programs.

Also about Iran ... The administration is expected to decide on whether to waive sanctions on the Iran deal this Friday, and despite Trump’s threats to cancel the deal over his concerns about Iran's behavior in the Middle East, he may very well waive the sanctions to allow Congress more time to develop a fix to the deal.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 33,867,247 — Total deaths: 1,012,341 — Total recoveries: 23,537,059Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET: 7,229,319 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body.
  5. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  6. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.
Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook removes Trump ads tying refugees to COVID-19

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook said Wednesday that it was removing a series of ads from President Trump's campaign that linked American acceptance of refugees with increased coronavirus risk, a connection Facebook says is without merit.

Why it matters: The ads were pulled after they received thousands of impressions and are a sign that the Trump campaign continues to test the limits of social media rules on false information.

Over 73 million people watched the first debate on TV

Data: Nielsen; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than 73.1 million people watched the first presidential debate on television on Tuesday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: While that's a sizable audience for any American TV program, it's down more than 13% from the record number of TV viewers who tuned in for the first debate of the 2016 election. The chaotic nature of the debate and the overall uncertainty around this year's election may have pushed some viewers away.

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