J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Rep. Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said during a Thursday press conference that it is "highly concerning" that the White House letter — inviting ranking members of the committee to review the intelligence materials that chairman Devin Nunes has seen — came out the same day as the N.Y. Times story on Nunes' sources. "That timing is concerning," he added. Other notable takeaways:

  • Schiff said he will go to the White House as soon as they're ready for him, and noted that he will ultimately share what he finds with the rest of the committee.
  • On source of information: "To me this looks nothing like a whistle blower case," said Schiff. Paul Ryan previously suggested the source seems like 'whistle blower-type person.'
  • On Russia probe: "This won't distract us from our Russia investigation... if that's the object here, it will not be successful... this is too important not to go forward... We are going to get to the bottom of just what the Russians did and how they did it, and whether there was any coordination."

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  5. Politics: Trump tells "Axios on HBO" that pandemic is "under control," despite surges in infections and uptick in deaths.
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Massive explosion rocks Beirut

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.

Driving the news: The cause of the explosion is unknown. It's also unclear how many people were killed or wounded, but the Lebanese Red Cross has told AP that casualties number in the hundreds. Reuters reports that at least 10 people have been killed, citing security sources.

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The U.S. is at risk of attacks in space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Other nations are catching up to U.S. capabilities in space, potentially putting American assets in orbit at risk.

Why it matters: From GPS to imagery satellites and others that can peer through clouds, space data is integral to American national security.