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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

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Big Tech is outsourcing its hardest content moderation decisions

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Faced with the increasingly daunting task of consistent content moderation at scale, Big Tech companies are tossing their hardest decisions to outsiders, hoping to deflect some of the pressure they face for how they govern their platforms.

Why it matters: Every policy change, enforcement action or lack thereof prompts accusations that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are making politically motivated decisions to either be too lax or too harsh. Ceding responsibility to others outside the company may be the future of content moderation if it works.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.