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Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Department of Energy approved the transfer of nuclear information from U.S. companies to Saudi Arabia seven times under President Trump, including twice after the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government, according to a statement from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Details: The transfer of nuclear technical expertise overseas must be approved by the DOE in consultation with the State Department and other government bodies "to protect against the proliferation of nuclear weapons programs," according to Kaine. Following demands from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Trump administration revealed that it approved one such transfer on Oct. 18, 2018 — 16 days after Khashoggi's death — and another on Feb. 18, 2019.

The big picture: The close relationship between the administration and the Saudi government came under heightened scrutiny in the aftermath of Khashoggi's death, especially after U.S. intelligence officials determined that the assassination was likely ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

  • In November, Trump said in a statement that the U.S. would stand by Saudi Arabia regardless of whether MBS ordered Khashoggi's murder.
  • Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Trump would invoke an emergency provision allowing him to bypass Congress to sell nearly $8 billion worth of weapons that would benefit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Go deeper: Kushner noncommittal on whether MBS should account for Khashoggi's body

Go deeper

Updated 39 mins ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by the Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.