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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Despite recommendations from career staff, a federal watchdog for the Secret Service last year declined to take up probes into the agency's handling of Black Lives Matter protests in D.C., and on the spread of COVID-19 among Secret Service members, according to the Project On Government Oversight.

Flashback: Law enforcement agencies used tear gas and physical force to remove protestors from Lafayette Square last year, allowing the Secret Service to take then-President Trump across the street to a photo-op in front of a church.

What we know: Department of Homeland Security inspector general Joseph Cuffari rejected a recommendation by career staff to look into Secret Service's role in the incident.

  • Cuffari also declined to investigate Secret Service protocols on COVID-19 and how they apply to agents and officers who are in close proximity to the president.
  • "An investigation would also likely have examined Secret Service protocols last October when Trump, presumably still contagious with COVID-19, ignored medical advice and rode around waving to supporters from a presidential SUV as Secret Service agents were sealed inside with him," POGO notes.

What they're saying: “Our office does not have the resources to approve every oversight proposal,” a spokesperson for Cuffari’s office told POGO.

  • “We have to make tough strategic decisions about how to best use our resources for greatest impact across the Department. In both of these cases, we determined that resources would have a higher impact elsewhere.”

Of note: Cuffari still holds his role three months into the Biden administration.

Go deeper

Trump's Republican critics rake in cash

Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger during the first Jan. 6 hearing. Photo: Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images

Republican critics of Donald Trump have raked in campaign cash this year as their votes to impeach the former president and investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack have put them in the crosshairs of Trump and his allies.

Why it matters: The 2022 midterms won't just determine which party controls Congress. They're also shaping up to be a test of Trump's continued hold on the GOP. The few remaining Republican dissenters in Washington need to put up big fundraising numbers if they hope to stave off a purge.

The Republicans' mixed mandate message

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans have expressed selective rage amid the rise of the Delta variant: They rail against the return of indoor masking but are far less vocal about vaccine requirements.

Why it matters: Masking may help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but the real solution to the pandemic is getting more Americans vaccinated. Increased support for that — including the use of heavier-handed methods like mandates — will only increase its chance of succeeding.

Mitch’s Sinema secret

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging his fellow Republicans to buck up Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — a Democrat, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans view Sinema and her moderate Democratic colleague Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia as their last line of defense against sweeping progressive laws — ranging from a $3.5 trillion social welfare bill to potentially irreversible structural changes like eliminating the filibuster and adding new states to the union.