Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Alexander F. Yuan / AP

The Trump administration is moving toward returning two diplomatic compounds to Russia that were seized by the Obama administration on the grounds that they were used for espionage, the Washington Post reports.

Flashback: In December, Obama ordered the compounds — in Maryland and New York — closed and expelled 35 alleged Russian spies in retaliation for the Kremlin's meddling in the 2016 election.

Why it matters that the administration is even considering the move:

  1. This would completely undermine Obama, and the U.S. response to Russia's election interference.
  2. It would be a major concession to Russia, particularly if nothing is given in return, at a time when the very mention of Russia carries a whiff of scandal and intrigue.
  3. On a more basic level, it would mean re-opening compounds from which Russian spies reportedly operated for decades.

Where things stand, per the Post: In early May, Sec of State Tillerson raised the possibility of returning the compounds if construction was allowed to move ahead on a new U.S. consulate in St Petersburg, but dropped the condition about the consulate days later after meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and U.S. Ambassador in Washington. It's not a done deal, though — a Tillerson adviser said "the U.S. and Russia have reached no agreements."

The Flynn connection: Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor, discussed the Obama administration's sanctions with Russia's ambassador and "indicated that U.S. policy would change" under Trump. He then misled other officials about the discussions, and was subsequently fired.

Bonus anecdote: I spoke with locals in Centreville, Maryland the day after the compound there was closed about the espionage in their backyard, and what they thought would happen next. Smoky Sigler, then president of the town council, predicted that once Trump was in office he'd wait a few months, then let the Russians back in. "They'll be back," he told me. As crazy as it sounded at the time, he may well be proved right.

Go deeper

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  4. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  5. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries.
  6. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Health

Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden's plan to accelerate the reopening of K-8 schools faces major challenges from a still out-of-control pandemic and more contagious coronavirus variants.

Why it matters: The longer American kids miss in-person schooling, the further they fall behind. But the uncertain state of the science on the role young children play in the pandemic continues to complicate efforts to reopen schools.

Focus group: Former Trump voters say he should never hold office again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

"Relief" is the top emotion some swing voters who used to support Donald Trump say they felt as they watched President Biden's swearing-in, followed by "hope."

Why it matters: For voters on the bubble between parties, this moment is less about excitement for Biden or liberal politics than exhaustion and disgust with Trump and a craving for national healing. Most said Trump should be prohibited from ever holding office again.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!