Friday’s top stories

Jun 11, 2021 - World

Putin calls Biden and Trump "radically different"

Ahead of an upcoming meeting with Joe Biden, Russian President Vladimir Putin told NBC News on Friday that the current president is "radically different" than his predecessor.

Why it matters: Trump faced accusations of cozying up to Putin while in office while Biden has pledged to take a hard-line approach against the Kremlin.

Teens juice the summer recovery

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Teenagers are stepping up to staff an economic comeback that's expected to kick into overdrive this summer.

Why it matters: A working teen renaissance is underway in America as businesses scramble to find employees.

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Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump-era Justice Department emerges as scandal of the summer

Washington has been served up an unprecedented controversy, and now officials from two branches of government are rushing to get a piece of the scandal spoils.

Driving the news: In the spotlight... the Trump-era Justice Department, which seized records from journalists and House Democrats during a leaks investigation over stories about the Russia probe.

Updated Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Justice Department probes Trump DOJ targeting of media and Congress

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Friday announced the opening of an internal probe into the department's Trump-era secret subpoenas against Apple for data belonging to House Democrats and its seizure of phone records of journalists working for major media companies.

The state of play: The move comes after Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco requested that Horowitz open a review and calls from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for an investigation into the matter.

AG Garland to double enforcement staff to protect voting rights

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division will double the number of enforcement staff dedicated to protecting the right to vote in the next 30 days.

Why it matters: After an election fraught with baseless claims of fraud and a recent flurry of voter restriction bills in state legislatures, Garland underscored his dedication to protecting voting rights. He said the DOJ will "do everything in its power to prevent election fraud, and if found to vigorously prosecute" but will also scrutinize "new laws that seek to curb voter access."

Congress unveils bills to dismantle tech giants

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Lawmakers on Friday debuted bipartisan bills that could fundamentally change how Big Tech does business in the U.S.

Driving the news: If passed, the bills could force Apple to change how it runs its app store, break apart Amazon's control of its marketplace and halt Facebook and Google from buying smaller rivals in an effort to remake the online ecosystem.

Biden administration unveils plans for Trump's border wall funds

A portion of U.S.-Mexico border wall stands unfinished on near La Joya, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Biden administration is returning more than $2 billion redirected from Department of Defense projects for Trump's border wall, and is again calling on Congress to cancel other remaining border wall funds.

Why it matters: Biden had promised not to build "another foot" of President Trump's infamous border wall if elected. One of his first executive actions paused construction of the wall, and called for a plan for the funds in 60 days — a deadline that passed in March.

Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Full list: 2021 Pulitzer Prize winners for journalism

Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images

The 2021 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced Friday after one of the toughest years for journalism in recent memory. Many award recipients this year were recognized for their work covering the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice protests in the wake of George Floyd's murder last year.

Of note: The Pulitzer Board awarded a special citation to Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed George Floyd's murder on her cell phone.

Teen who filmed George Floyd’s murder wins honorary Pulitzer

Concrete pillars in front of a memorial for George Floyd on June 3. Photo: Nicholas Pfosi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she recorded the viral video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck, was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize Friday for documenting the painful and pivotal moment.

Why it matters: Frazier said that witnessing and filming the incident — which culminated in Chauvin's conviction in what advocates called one of the most important civil rights cases in decades — changed her. "I'm not who I used to be," she wrote in a tribute posted in May.

Updated Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer demands Barr and Sessions testify over DOJ’s targeting of House Democrats

Former Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called on former Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions Friday to testify over the Trump Justice Department's secret subpoenas for data belonging to House Democrats.

Driving the news: At least a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee had records seized between 2017 and early 2018, as part of the Justice Department's crackdown on media leaks related to the investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Exclusive: Sony’s PlayStation boss moves past console wars

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment.

PlayStation’s competition goes far beyond its gaming rivals, Sony’s head of PlayStation Jim Ryan told Axios.

Why it matters: With entertainment converging on every screen imaginable, old distinctions between the business of games, movies, streaming and even social media are becoming less relevant.

Jun 11, 2021 - Health

FDA clears 10 million J&J vaccine doses from contaminated Baltimore plant

Emergent BioSolutions ruined 15 million of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses back in March. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it's allowing for the release of two batches of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine made at the Emergent BioSolutions facility in Baltimore, where 100 million doses had been set aside for review after an accidental contamination.

Why it matters: The two authorized batches amount to approximately 10 million doses of J&J's single-shot vaccine, according to AP. The doses could end up being used in the U.S. or exported to other countries.

Jun 11, 2021 - Health

G7 commits to sending 1 billion COVID vaccine doses to lower-income countries

Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

The Group of 7 wealthy nations on Friday pledged to deliver more than 1 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine to lower-income countries beginning this summer.

Why it matters: The G7 countries have been criticized for not sharing vaccines with nations that have fewer resources and are struggling to contain new waves of the pandemic.

G7 leaders pose for "family photo" as summit kicks off

G7 leaders pose for the family photo at the start of the G7 summit. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The three-day G7 summit in the seaside village of Carbis Bay, England, kicked off on Friday, with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcoming his counterparts from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union.

Driving the news: The leaders of the world's wealthiest democracies, as well as the presidents of the European Union, announced a pledge to provide the world with 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Oregon lawmaker expelled from office for helping rioters breach state Capitol

Members of the far-right gather to protest COVID-19 restrictions at the state capitol on January 1, 2021 in Salem, Oregon. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Oregon lawmakers voted 59-1 late Thursday to expel GOP state Rep. Mike Nearman from office after a video emerged that appeared to show him coaching protesters on how to breach a closed state Capitol last year, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: It is the first time in state history that a sitting lawmaker has been ejected from office. Nearman was the only one to vote against the resolution.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jun 11, 2021 - Technology

Ransomware epidemic intensifies

FBI director Christopher Wray testifies during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on June 10. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Profit-driven cyberattacks are becoming frighteningly routine, with more and more industries facing the threat of having their vital information stolen and little recourse beyond paying a ransom.

Why it matters: Such attacks may be motivated by profit, but as recent events have shown, can cause significant disruption to vital industries.

How to finance climate goals will be key hurdle at G7 and U.N. talks

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Climate finance has emerged as the biggest stumbling block to progress at the high-stakes United Nations climate talks in Scotland in November. How the Group of 7 wealthy nations treats the issue Friday and Saturday may determine the outcome.

Why it matters: Providing the funding that was promised to developing countries might open up other areas of important conversation in Glasgow, such as setting more ambitious emissions reduction targets for 2030.

Jun 11, 2021 - World

A one-of-a-kind UEFA European championship

Data: UEFA; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

The UEFA European Championship, still called Euro 2020 despite a one-year delay, kicks off today as Italy hosts Turkey at Rome's Stadio Olimpico (3pm ET, ESPN).

What's happening: Unlike any of the previous 15 iterations, this year's tournament will be a pan-continental affair, with Rome acting as just one of 11 host cities.

Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Garland to promise voting-rights fight in major policy speech

Attorney General Merrick Garland arrives at a Senate hearing Wednesday. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will give a policy address on voting rights at 2 p.m., promising "concrete steps ... to secure the fundamental right to vote for all Americans," the Justice Department says.

Why it matters: President Biden said last week that he's prioritizing fights for federal voting-rights protection, as Republicans in legislatures across the country pass their own election laws. Democrats' efforts were set back Sunday when Sen. Joe Manchin said he wouldn't support a centerpiece bill passed by the House.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schiff, Swalwell confirm Trump DOJ secretly seized records in leak probe

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the committee, were notified last month that the Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Apple records about them in 2017-18, in what Schiff called "a body blow to our democracy."

Driving the news: Schiff and Swalwell spoke on CNN after the N.Y. Times revealed that as part of a leak investigation, the Justice Department subpoenaed, and received, Apple metadata (records but not actual content) for at least a dozen House Intelligence Committee members, aides and family members. One was a minor.

Amazon's quest to kill transparency bills

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Amazon and peers eBay and Etsy are waging a lobbying war to scuttle bills pushed by brick-and-mortar retailers who want to require their online rivals to disclose more information about third-party sellers.

Why it matters: Online shopping became a lifeline for consumers and businesses during the pandemic, and lawmakers say that makes fighting online fraud and theft even more important.

Jun 11, 2021 - Economy & Business

Netflix spreads its wings

Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/Axios

After years of dominating video streaming, Netflix is beginning to eye new business lines that could help it stay ahead of competitors.

Driving the news: The company on Thursday unveiled an online merchandise store, Netflix.shop, that features products inspired by shows on its streaming platform.

What Biden packed for Europe

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. Jill Biden's "Love" jacket. And an updating of the Atlantic Charter that briefly let President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson channel FDR and Winston Churchill.

The big picture: Joe Biden's first foreign trip as U.S. president is a carefully-managed mix of multilateralism and message discipline so far — and a deliberate contrast to his predecessor's M.O. on the international stage.

Central banks are headed toward digital currencies

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The U.S. is starting a national conversation around a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

Why it matters: Several other countries have already experimented with or released early versions of CBDCs. Such a pivot could aid underbanked populations, and help make banking and monetary policy more efficient.

Jun 11, 2021 - Health

Biogen says FDA didn't push for trial before Alzheimer's approval

Photo: Adam Glanzman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Two Biogen executives said in an interview the company's newly approved Alzheimer's drug is priced fairly, and that it didn't conduct another clinical trial before approval because the FDA didn't push them to do so.

Why it matters: The scientific consensus is the drug, Aduhelm, has not been proven to work. But Biogen and the FDA are content with "hopefully" validating the $56,000 drug's efficacy at some unknown point in the future.

Jun 11, 2021 - Economy & Business

By the numbers: The price of gas, beer, booze and makeup

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

While a 5% increase in the Consumer Price Index grabbed headlines on Thursday, a third of it was driven by higher prices for used cars and trucks, which jumped 29.7% from a year ago. And the gas index was up 56.2%.

Why it matters: Underneath the hood of the CPI numbers, it's clear that not all items moved in tandem.

Arizona Senate candidate poured millions into voter registration group

An Arizona Rangers member watches an audit of the state's 2020 presidential ballots last month. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Days before the first Republican candidate jumped into next year's Arizona Senate race, he poured millions into an ostensibly nonpartisan voter registration operation affiliated with prominent election fraud conspiracy theorists.

Why it matters: GOP candidate Jim Lamon embraces many of these theories, and a drive to register voters with the same inclination has the potential to benefit his candidacy. Lamon also stands to get a substantial tax break from his $2 million effort to turn out conservative voters.

Swing voters fear inflation

A New York City street scene. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Though restaurants are bustling and signs of life are returning across a nearly post-pandemic United States, swing voters in Axios’ latest Engagious/Schlesinger focus group say they feel anxious about the current state of the economy.

Why it matters: Main Street is living a debate being fought in the ivory tower and among economists. Only 3 of 13 voters said they felt the U.S. economy is “booming.” The rest expressed fear of an impending crash following the injection of federal stimulus money during the pandemic.

Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The best infrastructure deal Biden's gonna get

Via Twitter

The infrastructure deal announced Thursday night by a group of 10 Democratic and Republican senators is likely the best bipartisan bill President Biden is going to get.

Why it matters: It has the backing of Democrats' most rebellious party members — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — as well as the support of key Republican senators. The question now is whether the group can convince progressives and the broader GOP conference to get on board, too.