Apr 21, 2017

Trump to open diplomatic channel with Putin aide

Mikhail Klimentyev / Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Trump is about to appoint a special envoy to communicate directly with one of Putin's top aides, Vladislav Surkov, according to a BuzzFeed News report.

The precedent: Obama also had a direct channel with Surkov to work out agreements, and German and French diplomats are supportive of the connection. Surkov serves as the head of the administration of the president, which is akin to the White House chief of staff, according to The Daily Beast, and some say he has long been the mastermind behind Putin's political strategy.

It's because of Ukraine: A pair of ceasefire deals have been largely unsuccessful in brokering peace between Russia and Ukraine, which have been clashing in the Donbass region since 2014. This is the US' way of supporting a move toward peace. Surkov has been the political supervisor of the disputed Donetsk and Luhansk regions for the Kremlin since September 2014, according to the International Crisis Group.

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Biden: George Floyd's last words are "a wake-up call for our nation"

Former Vice President Joe Biden meets with clergy members and community activists during a visit to Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del. on June 1, 2020. Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden is calling George Floyd’s dying words “a wake-up call for our nation,” and criticized President Trump’s decision to unleash tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House, in a civil rights speech from Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Biden in the address drew a sharp contrast between himself and Trump, whose first remarks addressing nationwide unrest Monday highlighted law and order, extreme demonstrations of militarized “strength” and other blustery threats.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 6,302,318 — Total deaths: 376,322 — Total recoveries — 2,716,924Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,812,125 — Total deaths: 105,192 — Total recoveries: 458,231 — Total tested: 17,340,682Map.
  3. Public health: Protests against police brutality threaten coronavirus response.
  4. Business: Coronavirus could lower GDP by $15.7 trillion — More than 1 in 6 black workers lost jobs between February and April.
  5. Climate: The alarm over climate financial risk gets louder because of coronavirus.
  6. Media: Interest in the George Floyd protests has soared past the coronavirus.

The business of tear gas

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. forces yesterday used tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House gates, prior to a declared curfew, clearing a path for President Trump to visit a riot-damaged church for a photo opportunity.

The state of play: Two of the largest U.S. producers of tear gas are owned by private equity firms, but those firms have no interest in discussing their ownership.