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Taylor Swift. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage via Getty Images

Taylor Swift told Vogue that she chose not to endorse Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election because she believed President Trump had "[weaponized] the idea of the celebrity endorsement."

"He was going around saying, 'I’m a man of the people. I’m for you. I care about you.' I just knew I wasn’t going to help."

Why it matters: Swift faced criticism for years for her silence on political issues, which changed with her endorsement of Tennessee Democrats during the 2018 midterms. That move caused thousands of people to register to vote, BuzzFeed News reported.

Swift also told the magazine she believed her own personal controversies at the time, stemming from her feud with rapper Kanye West — who later famously declared his support for Trump — wouldn't have helped Clinton:

"Also, you know, the summer before that election, all people were saying was 'She’s calculated. She’s manipulative. She’s not what she seems. She’s a snake. She’s a liar.' These are the same exact insults people were hurling at Hillary. Would I be an endorsement or would I be a liability? 'Look, snakes of a feather flock together. Look, the two lying women. The two nasty women.' Literally millions of people were telling me to disappear. So I disappeared. In many senses."

The big picture: Since her 2018 endorsements, Swift has become much more vocal about her political leanings — especially on LGBTQ issues. She wrote an open letter in June to Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican, asking him to support the House-passed Equality Act.

  • Her Change.org petition on the subject has been signed by multiple 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Beto O'Rourke and Amy Klobuchar.

What's next: Swift will likely increase her political activism heading into 2020. She told Elle earlier this year, "Invoking racism and provoking fear through thinly veiled messaging is not what I want from our leaders, and I realized that it actually is my responsibility to use my influence against that disgusting rhetoric."

  • "Only as someone approaching 30 did I feel informed enough to speak about [politics] to my 114 million followers. ... I’m going to do more to help. We have a big race coming up next year."

Go deeper: Celebs largely shun 2020 spotlight

Go deeper

Updated 6 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker