Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Trump administration officials expect to announce on Monday that the State Department will designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). The Wall Street Journal first reported this expected move — the latest in Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign against the Iranian regime.

Why this matters, per the Journal: "The decision ... would mark the first time that an element of a foreign state has been officially designated a terrorist entity." (The IRGC is an important element within Iran's armed forces.)

  • "The IRGC has a ground force of 100,000 for national defense and runs Tehran’s ballistic missile programs, according to a study by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service."
  • "The IRGC's Quds Force, a specialized division, has arranged weapons deliveries and advised pro-Iranian militias in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East."

Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert and hawk from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, gave me his take on the Trump administration's anticipated action:

  • "Designating the IRGC as an FTO is both politically and economically impactful, as it deters business and builds on the existing sanctions structure against the group. The IRGC is already subject to secondary sanctions. An FTO designation will tighten the noose.

"Placing the IRGC on the U.S. FTO list is consistent with the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy on Iran for three reasons:

  1. "It ratchets up on the economic pressure on those who perpetuate malign activities at home and abroad."
  2. "It adds to the political stigma surrounding Iran's terrorist apparatus."
  3. "By embracing actions other administrations have not, the current administration is signaling their resolve against Iran."

The other side, per the Journal: "Opponents of the move say it may not be decisive in weakening Iran due to the IRGC's persistent efforts to camouflage its ownership of other entities. Designating a major element of Iran’s military forces as a terrorist organization, the opponents add, also would set a precedent that ... Washington's adversaries may now draw on by applying the label to elements of U.S. armed forces."

  • Taleblu, who supports the move, counters: "In the low-probability, high-impact chance Iran does resort to a terror or harassment attack, they would be relying on the IRGC to carry it out, thus highlighting the group's true terrorist nature."

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Kellyanne Conway's parting power pointers

Kellyanne Conway addresses the 2020 Republican National Convention. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has seen power exercised as a pollster, campaign manager and senior counselor to President Trump. Now that his term in office has concluded, she shared her thoughts with Axios.

Why it matters: If there's a currency in this town, it's power, so we've asked several former Washington power brokers to share their best advice as a new administration and new Congress settle in.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP holdouts press on with plans to crush Cheney

Screenshot of emails to a member of Congress from individuals who signed an Americans for Limited Government petition against Rep. Liz Cheney. Photo obtained by Axios

Pro-Trump holdouts in the House are forging ahead with an uphill campaign to oust Rep. Liz Cheney as head of the chamber's Republican caucus even though Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told them to back down.

Why it matters: What happens next will be a test of McCarthy's party control and the sincerity of his opposition to the movement. Cheney (R-Wyo.) is seen as a potential leadership rival to the California Republican.

Democrats aim to punish House GOP for Capitol riot

Speaker Nancy Pelosi passes through a newly installed metal detector at the House floor entrance Thursday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Democrats plan to take advantage of corporate efforts to cut funding for Republicans who opposed certifying the 2020 election results, with a plan to target vulnerable members in the pivotal 2022 midterms for their role in the Jan. 6 violence.

Why it matters: It's unclear whether the Democrats' strategy will manifest itself in ads or earned media in the targeted races or just be a stunt to raise money for themselves. But the Capitol violence will be central to the party's messaging as it seeks to maintain its narrow majorities in Congress.