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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

President Trump last night took Broadcom out back and slaughtered its $117 billion pursuit of Qualcomm, in the name of national security.

For capital markets, this is unprecedented. A deal that didn't even exist has been blocked by a U.S. president, who also apparently has the power to determine who can and can't stand for election to a private-sector company's board of directors. And all of it was enabled by a regulatory body focused on foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies, even though the acquirer was scheduled to stop being "foreign" in just a few weeks.

For Broadcom, this is an unanticipated disaster. It got outplayed in D.C. by Qualcomm, and used by the White House as a proxy in the IP protection fight to come against China.

For Qualcomm, this sweet relief is only temporary. Its stock had never gotten close to Broadcom's offer price and plenty of shareholders wanted to replace the entire board. And it still hasn't been able to complete its own deal with NXP Semiconductors, nor settle its legal battles with Apple.

For Intel, this is opportunity. It could just rest easy, or could make a play for either Broadcom or Qualcomm. The former makes more strategic sense — and likely would create fewer anti-trust headaches — but it might not be able to resist the siren song of the latter's willing shareholders.

For Silver Lake, the private equity firm backing Broadcom's bid, it's the first major defeat after a series of high-wire wins. It's also likely to discourage other private equity firms from engaging in hostile takeover attempts. Sure this one had unique complications, but Broadcom's biggest hurdle was always its unwilling target.

For other CEOs, this is a lesson that cozying up to President Trump — including press conferences in which you tout new job creation, spending and even redomiciling in the U.S.— doesn't necessarily give you carte blanche.

For CFIUS, this apparently shows that it can work quickly when everyone is on its back. Just nine days ago it asked Qualcomm to delay its shareholder vote by 30 days.

For future M&A, this is a warning. The White House is more than willing to stop mergers it feels aren't in the country's best interest. Not just for national security, but also for anti-trust. Just ask AT&T or DraftKings.

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”