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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Trump administration said on Wednesday it will investigate a French plan to impose a 3% tax on U.S. tech companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: This move escalates the administration's global trade fight, "stok[ing] tensions with the European Union," per the Times. It is "a step that could lead Washington to impose trade penalties," the Washington Post adds.

The big picture: If the administration pursues this probe into France — a U.S. ally — it will use the same legal mechanism that President Trump used to strike China with trade war tariffs last year.

  • The investigation intends to "...determine whether it is discriminatory or unreasonable and burdens or restricts United States commerce," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement on Wednesday.
  • French senators are scheduled to vote on the tax Thursday. Lighthizer anticipates it will pass.
  • Other countries are also considering implementing new levies on digital services, Bloomberg reports.

Our thought bubble from Axios' technology reporter Ina Fried: How you see this depends largely on where you sit. In France and other places, this feels like a way to derive tax revenue from companies that are making a lot of money off people in their country. For the tech companies, this seems like an added and unique tax aimed at punishing U.S.-based companies

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Iran rejects nuclear talks with U.S., for now

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at Iran/EU talks in 2015. Photo: Carlos Barria/POOL/AFP via Getty

A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that conditions are not ripe for informal nuclear talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers.

Why it matters: The Biden administration had proposed the talks as part of its efforts to negotiate a path back to the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House expressed disappointment with Iran's response, but said it remained willing to engage with Tehran.

2 hours ago - Health

U.S. sets weekend records for daily COVID vaccinations

A driver waits to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in Inglewood, California on Feb. 26. Photo: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just over 2.4 million coronavirus vaccinations were reported to the CDC on Sunday, matching Saturday's record-high for inoculations as seen in Bloomberg's vaccine tracker.

Why it matters: Vaccinations are ramping up again after widespread delays caused by historic winter storms. Over 75 million vaccine doses have been administered thus far, with 7.5% of the population fully vaccinated and 15% having received at least one dose.

GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy: "We will lose" if we continue to idolize Trump

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday he does not believe that former President Trump will, or should, be the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

What he's saying: Cassidy pointed out that "over the last four years, [Republicans] lost the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency. That has not happened ... since Herbert Hoover."

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