Wednesday’s top stories
After Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, Twitter removed three of the president's tweets and locked his account for 12 hours, saying it may ban him if he doesn't stop breaking its rules with his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Why it matters: It's Twitter's strongest action against the president's account to date. A number of groups have called on Facebook and Twitter to fully suspend Trump's accounts.
On a day of high ceremony, a pro-Trump mob overran police barricades and invaded the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers inside were meeting to certify the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
The state of play: With rioters loose inside, police locked the House and Senate chamber doors as some lawmakers took cover and others evacuated. The mob banged on the chamber doors, breaking the glass. Reporters inside the Capitol said they heard shots fired. Smoke billowed outside.
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President-elect Joe Biden called on President Trump to demand his backers end their siege on the Capitol on national television, saying the violence "borders on sedition and it must end now."
Driving the news: “President Trump, step up,” Biden said, speaking a little after 4p ET, after a mob of Trump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol to try to block lawmakers’ certification of Biden’s Electoral College win.
President Trump on Wednesday tweeted a video telling demonstrators from the "March for Trump" who invaded the U.S. Capitol to "go home," and falsely claimed that the election had been stolen from him.
Why it matters: The shocking breach of the Capitol came after Trump encouraged protesters to march on Congress. "I know you're hurt," Trump said, adding baseless claims that the election "was stolen from us," and calling it "a landslide..."
Democrat Jon Ossoff has defeated former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in Georgia's runoff race for the U.S. Senate, AP projected Wednesday.
Why it matters: The projected victory came hours after Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler and officially secures Democratic control of the Senate. The 50-50 split means that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote after Jan. 20.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday rebuked his Republican colleagues' efforts to block the certification of the Electoral College, saying in an emotional speech on the Senate floor that overturning the results of the election "would damage our republic forever."
Why it matters: In a complete break from President Trump and other Republicans, McConnell denounced "sweeping conspiracy theories" about widespread election fraud and said he "will not pretend" voting to overturn the election would be a "harmless protest gesture."
Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College count on Wednesday in a final effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
Why it matters: President Trump and his allies have no other path to change the election and are relying on this last ditch effort that will ultimately confirm Joe Biden as the next president.
On Jan. 6, Hong Kong authorities arrested more than 50 pro-democracy activists and politicians who participated in primary elections last year, charging them with "subverting state power" under the national security law that China forced on the city last year.
The big picture: The arrests indicate Chinese Communist Party leaders see any form of true participatory government as an illegitimate subversion of their power.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that he lacked constitutional authority to follow President Trump's wishes to throw out Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
Why it matters: Trump has been pressuring Pence to overturn the election results as part of an ongoing attempt to subvert Biden's clear win, which failed to garner evidence or support through various legal battles. Trump will view Pence’s statement as the ultimate act of betrayal.
Addressing a huge crowd of loyal supporters south of the White House, President Trump declared that he will never concede to Joe Biden and attacked "weak Republicans" — calling out "the Liz Cheneys of the world" — for failing to support his efforts to overturn the results of the election.
Why it matters: It's a new escalation in Trump's war against the GOP, which has pitted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other mainstream Republicans against the most popular figure in the party. Cheney is a member of House Republican leadership, meaning that Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will likely be forced to respond.
Members of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner circle are concerned that President-elect Joe Biden is filling his administration with veterans of the Obama administration, some of whom they've had difficult relations in the past, particularly over Iran.
Why it matters: The Biden and Netanyahu administrations are on course for an early clash over the Iran nuclear deal. Several of Netanyahu’s aides at the Israeli National Security Council have been grumbling about the fact that Biden will be surrounded by "Obama people" — including the deal's architects and some of its fiercest advocates.
There's no doubt about the outcome — Congress will ratify Joe Biden's election win and he'll be sworn in on Jan. 20 — but that won't stop today's political theater that may drag late into the night.
- Here's our guide to watching the certification debate, with input from legislative aides, historians, election experts and Axios' Ursula Perano.
The New York Stock Exchange again reversed course Wednesday and announced it would delist three major Chinese telecom companies — China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom Hong Kong.
The backdrop: The NYSE originally announced it would delist the companies on New Year's Eve in order to comply with a White House executive order. The exchange then reversed course late on Monday and said it would no longer delist the telecoms.
There are lots of energy policy implications if Democrats have indeed pulled off a surprising sweep of Georgia's Senate races that hands them both chambers of Congress. As of 10am Wednesday, Raphael Warnock has defeated Kelly Loeffler, and Jon Ossoff is on track to beat David Perdue.
The big picture: Senate rules work against moving big bills without a supermajority (a topic we explored yesterday). But that said, the party in power controls the agenda and has some room to maneuver even with the thinnest possible margin.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared on Wednesday that Democrats have gained control of the Senate, calling it a "brand new day" in Washington.
The state of play: The AP projected that Rev. Raphael Warnock has defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R). Democrat Jon Ossoff is currently leading in the race against former Sen. David Perdue (R), but the contest is still too close to call.
A London judge has denied bail to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after ruling this week that he must not be extradited to the U.S. to face espionage charges due to a high risk of suicide.
The state of play: Deemed a flight risk by the judge, Assange must now remain in British prison as the U.S. government appeals the decision to block his extradition. Assange's lawyers say his mental health has deteriorated significantly after he spent years in London's Ecuadorian Embassy seeking asylum before his arrest last year.
With his anger rising at Georgia officials, President Trump resisted going back to the Peach State after his first runoff rally on Dec. 5.
Behind the scenes: He told advisers he didn't think he needed to go back. Both candidates, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, put in a huge behind-the-scenes effort to get him to go back. He plugged them during his Monday rally, but also ranted about the state's Republican officials and election machinery.
Republicans, who enabled President Trump with their silence and compliance, are privately furious with him for blowing their Senate majority.
Driving the news: Democrat Raphael Warnock was declared victor over Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of the twin Georgia runoffs at 2 a.m., and will become the Southern state's first Black senator. Democrat Jon Ossoff is on track to beat former Sen. David Perdue in the other runoff, with most of the outstanding votes in Democratic strongholds.
Gone are the days of jet-setting for work. Even as we return to offices, the pandemic's effect on business travel will likely last.
Why it matters: The fate of business travel has big ramifications for the economy at large. Its decline could cost millions of jobs, shutter even more small businesses and make your next vacation more expensive.
Democrat Raphael Warnock has defeated Republican Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia runoffs for the U.S. Senate, AP projected early Wednesday.
Why it matters: It's a massive, high-dollar win that brings Democrats one step closer to controlling the Senate. Democrat Jon Ossoff's bid against former Sen. David Perdue is still too early to call, per AP. Both Ossoff and Warnock need to win in order for Democrats to gain a potent 50-50 split in the Senate.
Nearly 3 in 4 Democrats say the organized effort in Congress to block certification of Joe Biden's Electoral College win is a threat to America's democracy, while 6 in 10 Republicans say it's a defense of it, according to a new SurveyMonkey poll for Axios.
The big picture: The poll shows how badly Biden has been damaged by two months of baseless allegations of election fraud. Just 58% of Americans accept his win as legitimate, while more than one in four doesn't — and most of those skeptics say they won't buy it even if Congress certifies the results today, as expected.
Poor timing, poor planning and a lack of resources have all led to a coronavirus vaccine rollout that is going much slower than anticipated.
Why it matters: The spread of the virus is vastly outpacing the U.S.’ efforts to inoculate people against it.
A federal judge on Tuesday denied a bid to thwart the Interior Department's plan to sell oil drilling leases in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Why it matters: District court judge Sharon Gleason's ruling clears the way for the Interior Department to unseal bids tomorrow for drilling rights in the region.
This week is all about power. Power in the Senate. Power in the White House.
Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we asked several former Washington power brokers to give us their best tips for new members of Congress — as well as a certain incoming president.
Before senators begin debating an expected challenge to Arizona's Electoral College vote Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell will deliver a weighty speech trying to save the Senate from itself, people familiar with his plans tell Axios.
Why it matters: The majority leader had hoped to keep his fellow Republicans from challenging the 2020 election results, but now that over a dozen senators will, the history-lover aims to keep his party from even deeper self-inflicted wounds.
President Trump will award three athletes the Medal of Freedom on Thursday, including a posthumous award to two-time Olympic gold medalist Babe Zaharias, according to White House officials.
Why it matters: The ceremony is part of Trump's final awards spree in the remaining days of his presidency. On Monday, he awarded the Medal of Freedom to House Republican Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). He's scheduled to dole out the same honor to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) next week.
It's not just the presidential election that matters big time.
What it means: The outcome in tonight's Georgia runoff elections will decide the fate of Biden's presidency, from whether he gets his Cabinet nominees to whether progressives get their tax hikes and public spending.
A group of former lawmakers were among dozens of pro-democracy activists arrested on Wednesday under the national security law imposed by China, per opposition groups and local media.
Why it matters: Hong Kong had enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, but the passage of the sweeping security law by Chinese lawmakers last June has led to a major crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. It has escalated in recent weeks, with the arrests of activists including media tycoon Jimmy Lai and the imprisonment of other prominent figures like Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow.