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Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Trump on Tuesday included some of his most loyal defenders in more than three dozen appointments to federal board seats, including former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, former acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell and former National Security Council staffer Ezra Cohen-Watnick.

Why it matters: The president is still refusing to publicly acknowledge his election loss but such appointments are a typical means for outgoing presidents to extend their legacy. The positions are usually unpaid, have little political power and do not require Senate confirmations.

  • Bondi, who helped lead Trump's effort to stop vote counting in Pennsylvania, will serve on the board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Grennell, who also served a stint as U.S. ambassador to Germany, will serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
  • Other Trump allies including Corey Lewandowski, Kellyanne Conway and David Bossie have received appointments in recent weeks.
  • Conway was appointed to the board of visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy, while Lewandowski and Bossie were sent to the Pentagon Defense Business Board.

The big picture... Other high-profile names announced include:

  • Hope Hicks, former White House communications director, to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
  • Stephanie Grisham, former White House press secretary, to the board of directors for the National Board for Education Sciences.
  • Russ Vought, Trump's current director of the Office of Management and Budget, to the board of visitors to the United States Naval Academy.

Of note: Cohen-Watnick, who is currently serving as the acting undersecretary for Defense Intelligence, also was named to be a member and the chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board.

  • His tenure in the Trump administration has been marked by controversy after he was brought to the National Security Council by Michael Flynn before clashing with Henry McMaster when he ran the NSC, Axios Hans Nichols notes.

The bottom line: The appointments are parting gifts to Trump's confidants and have the effect of extending his impact into Biden's term, just as President Obama did with similar appointments before leaving office in 2017.

Go deeper

Acting director of ICE resigns

ICE headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 2020. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Jonathan Fahey, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has resigned after leading the agency for two weeks, though it is unclear what prompted his departure, an ICE spokesperson confirmed to Axios Wednesday night.

Why it matters: Fahey's exit, first reported by Buzzfeed's Hamed Aleaziz, comes after the previous acting director, Tony Pham, abruptly left the post in December and amid a wider shakeup in the Department of Homeland Security.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.