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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) rebuked President Trump at the Democratic National Convention for not confronting Vladimir Putin over intelligence reports that alleged Russia paid the Taliban to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: Duckworth, an Army veteran who lost her legs in the Iraq War, sought to draw a sharp contrast between Trump and Biden, whose son Beau was deployed to Iraq, on the issues of national security and protecting U.S. troops.

What she's saying: "Joe Biden understands the sacrifices because he has made them himself. When his son Beau deployed to Iraq, his burden was also shouldered by his family. Joe knows the fear military families live because he's felt that dread never knowing if your deployed loved one is safe," Duckworth said.

  • "That is the kind of leader our service members deserve, one who understands the risks they face and who would actually protect them by doing his job as commander-in-chief. Instead, they have a coward-in-chief who won't stand up to Vladimir Putin, read his intelligence briefings, or even publicly admonish adversaries for reportedly putting bounties on our troops' heads."
  • "As president, Joe Biden would never let tyrants manipulate him like a puppet. He would never pervert our military to stroke his own ego. He would never turn his back on our troops, or threaten them on Americans peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights."

The bottom line: "Donald Trump doesn't deserve to call himself commander-in-chief for another four minutes, let alone another four years," Duckworth concluded. "Our troops deserve better. Our country deserves better."

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2020 - Podcasts

11th hour troop withdrawals

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it would withdraw around 2,000 troops from Afghanistan by mid-January. This comes after President Trump’s Pentagon reshuffle last week — when he fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper and a few other officials.

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.