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The Capitol of Cuba in Havana. Photo: Ramon Espinosa/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration has designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism, the State Department said Monday.

Why it matters: The announcement is part of President Trump's latest effort to force controversial policies through before he leaves office. It could complicate President-elect Biden's plans to improve relations with Cuba.

The big picture: The Obama administration lifted the designation in 2015 in a push to thaw Cuba-U.S. relations.

  • Trump, however, has undone a number of Obama-era policies on Cuba since he became president.
  • In 2017, he banned financial transactions with businesses owned by Cuba's military and intelligence services and tightened its trade embargo to force Cuba to take greater action in protecting human rights.
  • The U.S. also blocked all flights to Cuba outside Havana in December 2019 to curb tourism.

What they're saying: "We condemn the US announced hypocritical and cynical designation of #Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism," Cuba's Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla tweeted Monday afternoon. "The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims."

The Cuba announcement came after the State Department designated Yemen's Houthi rebels as a terror group over loud objections from Congress and humanitarian groups.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2021 - World

Trump administration launches foreign policy blitz in final days

Pompeo leaves the stage. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Yemen's Houthi rebels a terror group, labeled Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism and risked provoking China by lifting restrictions on interactions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials — all within 48 hours, and with less than two weeks left in President Trump's term.

Why it matters: The administration, and in particular Pompeo, has made little secret of the fact that it's trying to tie President-elect Biden's hands, in particular when it comes to Trump's hardline policies on Iran and China.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.