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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department is flying every U.S. ambassador from around the world to Washington next week, regardless of whether the government remains shut down, according to two internal emails leaked to Axios.

Why it matters: The State Department has been under financial strain during the shutdown, with employees on unpaid furlough and some resources halted.

Bloomberg first reported that the conference is still scheduled to go ahead.

The organizers of the global Chiefs of Missions (COM) conference — held from Jan. 16–17 — conceded in their internal email that “under the current circumstances” meetings with members of Congress “cannot be guaranteed.”

Between the lines: A State Department spokesman told me they’re persisting with the conference for national security reasons.

  • But a former senior State Department official told Axios that, while COM “is a good convening to get everyone on the same page and build morale and relationships within the department … it’s absurd to argue a COM is crucial to our safety and security. That does not pass the laugh test.”
  • A second former senior State Department official told Axios that when the government shut down in 2013 the department was forced to postpone an important conference for its Public Affairs Officers until after a spending bill was passed.
  • Meanwhile, President Trump announced yesterday that he’s canceling his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos as a result of the shutdown. He was scheduled to leave Jan. 21 — 10 days from now.

Details: The annual COM conference was launched in 2011 under the Obama administration to convene all U.S. ambassadors in one place and give them an opportunity to meet with key government officials in Washington.

  • According to the email, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will host a closing lunch for the group on Thursday. President Trump is not scheduled to meet with the diplomats.
  • The department told ambassadors that “the conference is mandatory,” and that they are allowed to be absent from their posts from January 14–20 in order to attend.

Go deeper

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/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. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

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