Apr 24, 2018

Trump nominee Ric Grenell breaks through Senate gridlock

Ric Grenell will almost certainly be confirmed this week as President Trump's ambassador to Germany after months of being stalled in the Senate.

Details: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has moved to end debate on Grenell and a senior Republican aide told me he'll almost certainly be confirmed into the position before the end of the week.

Behind the scenes: Marc Short, the director of White House Legislative Affairs, told me Trump made it clear he wanted Grenell confirmed by the Senate before German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Washington on Friday.

  • Flashback: We reported in Axios' Sneak Peek newsletter on Sunday that Grenell "was seen at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night talking to Trump... the president has let it be known he's impatient with the hold-up in the Senate over Grenell's confirmation and has told people he had wanted to get it done before Merkel's visit this week.

Background: Last month, the NYT's Maggie Haberman dove into the unusually loud and sustained campaign to confirm Grenell:

  • "Few drives for a confirmation vote have turned into a cause — supported by groups often on opposite sides of the political spectrum...
  • "Grenell, a Republican who worked with the incoming national security adviser, John R. Bolton, at the United Nations...[is] the president’s most prominent openly gay appointee.

Go deeper

Italy becomes site of largest coronavirus outbreak outside of Asia

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Italy's government announced emergency measures — including quarantines for several northern towns — as it confirmed a spike from three to 132 coronavirus cases in a matter of days, making it the largest outbreak outside of Asia.

The big picture: The coronavirus has spread to more countries, with both South Korea and Italy stepping up emergency measures amid rising case numbers on Sunday. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,467 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

TSA bans employees from using China-owned TikTok for social media outreach

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Sunday that it is banning employees from using the Chinese-owned app TikTok for social media outreach, after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent the agency a letter raising security concerns, AP reports.

The big picture: Schumer had previously requested that the U.S. government investigate whether TikTok poses any "national security risks. The app already has more than 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, and it could become a Chinese vacuum for coveted American data as tensions between the countries continue to escalate.

Bernie's juggernaut

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks in San Antonio last night with his wife, Jane. Photo: Eric Gay/AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders won so big in the Nevada caucuses that Democrats are hard-pressed to sketch a way he's not their nominee.

Driving the news: With 60% of precincts counted (slow, but better than Iowa!), Sanders is running away with 46% of delegates — crushing Joe Biden's 20%, Pete Buttigieg's 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren's 10% and Sen. Amy Klobuchar's 5%.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy