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 the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

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!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of 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!

Neomi Rao. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

President Trump’s nominee to fill Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the nation’s second-highest court — faced criticism during her confirmation hearing Tuesday from some members of both parties on the Senate Judiciary Committee over her controversial past writings on gender equality, sexual assault and race.

The backdrop: Neomi Rao, who currently serves as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, attended Yale University and wrote often about date rape. In an October 1994 column, she suggested that sexual assault at college parties could be avoided if women didn’t drink too much. She also wrote articles that characterized sexual and racial oppression as “myths.”

  • Rao told senators that looking back at some of her columns, she cringes at some of the language she used. She also said that with respect to her comments on race, she now realizes she was too “idealistic” as an undergraduate, prompting questions about how she could refer to her controversial writings as both "cringeworthy" and "idealistic."

What they said:

  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who disclosed to Bloomberg last month she was sexually assaulted while in college: "I’m not going to mince words. I’ve had a chance to review a number of your writings while you were in college and they do give me pause. Not just from my own personal experiences, but regarding a message that we are sending young women everywhere."
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pressed Rao on her comments about racism being "a myth" after she referenced Martin Luther King Jr. in one of her answers: "I would really struggle to reconcile what you said about racial oppression as a myth with the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. I can't understand that brand of 'idealism.'"
  • Ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) voiced skepticism on how Rao, 45, would handle certain cases if confirmed, including regulations she has reviewed in her position at the White House. "The D.C. Circuit hears most challenges to federal regulations. Thus, if confirmed, Ms. Rao could be in a position to decide cases about many of the very regulations that she has personally worked on."

Yes, but: Some senators defended Rao, drawing connections to Kavanaugh’s contentious nomination hearings last year.

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas): "People go back 25, 30 years and look at things like that and try to criticize people for maybe some of their youthful indiscretions or opinions they expressed back then that are not particularly politically correct today."
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Rao has been unequivocal both in the past and present that anyone who commits a crime of violence should be prosecuted. He also said that her suggestion that college students should avoid excessive drinking is "very good advice" and that he intends to give it to his two daughters.

Go deeper

24 mins ago - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The new digital extortion

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

If you run a hospital, a bank, a utility or a city, chances are you'll be hit with a ransomware attack. Given the choice between losing your precious data or paying up, chances are you'll pay.

Why it matters: Paying the hackers is the clear short-term answer for most organizations hit with these devastating attacks, but it's a long-term societal disaster, encouraging hackers to continue their lucrative extortion schemes.

53 mins ago - Health

CDC mask guidance sparks confusion, questions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The CDC's surprise guidance last week freeing the fully vaccinated to go maskless sowed plenty of concerns across the country— even earning the "Saturday Night Live" treatment for all the questions it spurred.

Why it matters: With plenty of Americans still unvaccinated — and without any good way to confirm who has been vaccinated — some experts worry this could put many at increased risk.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

In photos: Israel-Hamas aerial bombardments enter second week

A ball of fire and a plume of smoke rise above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave, early on May 17. Photo: Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images

Israel and Hamas continued aerial bombardments into Monday morning, as fighting entered a second week.

Why it matters: The worst violence in the region since 2014 has resulted in the deaths of 197 people in Gaza, ruled by Hamas, and 10 in Israel. 58 Palestinian children and two Israeli children are among those killed since the aerial exchanges began on May 10, Reuters notes.