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President Trump with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in April. Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images


President Donald Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had lunch at the White House the day the FCC won a major legal battle over its repeal of net neutrality regulations, according to two people familiar with the gathering.

Why it matters: Interactions between FCC leaders and the White House have drawn intense scrutiny because the FCC is an independent agency. Both people described the gathering as a "family" event.

Details: The timing of the Oct. 1 lunch was a coincidence, both people said. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that morning upheld most of the FCC’s repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules, in a victory for Pai and the telecom industry.

  • Trump on Monday publicly praised Pai and the FCC for having “Just WON the big court case on Net Neutrality Rules!”
  • The federal appeals court also overruled the FCC’s attempt to broadly override state net neutrality regulations, which means many more legal battles ahead for the policy. Net neutrality advocates claimed victory for this part of the judgment.

What they're saying:

"The mere fact that he’s meeting with the chairman is not nefarious, but if the president — who has been known to direct his agency heads to do various and sundry things — directed the chairman to do something and the chairman does it, that’s very troublesome."
— Gigi Sohn, a distinguished fellow at Georgetown Law and former FCC official
  • An FCC spokesman declined comment and the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.

Biden's two-step negotiating process

President Biden departs Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/Pool/AFP via Getty

President Biden's summit "reset" was less about trying to make a friend out of Russia than reframing what the U.S. believes can be accomplished by engaging with President Vladimir Putin.

Driving the news: The Geneva meeting yielded no immediate breakthroughs beyond agreements about ambassadors returning to work and plans to launch talks on nuclear security. But in classic Biden fashion — aviators on, jacket off and a one-liner about invading Russia he had to clarify was a joke — the U.S. president used a post-summit news conference to explain his approach.

Scoop: NRCC to accept cryptocurrency donations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Republicans' House campaign arm will begin accepting contributions in cryptocurrency, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The National Republican Congressional Committee is the first national party committee to solicit crypto donations. That puts it at the forefront of a disruptive financial technology that could test campaign finance rules.