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The Trump transition team has built a Hollywood-worthy stage set so Cabinet nominees can practice confirmation hearings, which begin tomorrow and will dominate Washington's week.

A chandelier hangs above the wood-paneled rostrum. Photos of the real senators are tacked beneath the volunteers who play questioners during the "murder boards" — 30 so far, lasting a total of 70 hours, with an average of 120 questions apiece. Fake "Code Pink" demonstrators occasionally interrupt a "hearing."

  • Trump's nominees face an unusual hurdle: They don't just have to defend themselves — they'll be barraged with questions about their boss's tweets and campaign statements. The hearings are the highest profile chance Democrats have had to bash the president-elect, and they plan to take advantage.
  • People prepping the nominees tell me that the strategy is to answer the topic not the question, and let Trump fight his own fights. On the border wall, for example, nominees are coached to say they understand the role Congress has to play, "and we look forward to working with you."
  • The one absolute rule: Don't say anything bad about Trump.
  • Republicans are proudly "flooding the zone" — two hearings tomorrow and four on Wednesday, when coverage of Trump's news conference in New York will distract from the hearings. "You can't kill four people in one day," a transition team member said. Democrats can't stop the hurry-up hearings, but say they'll drag their feet when the nominees are ready for a floor vote.
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Go deeper

Updated 46 mins ago - World

U.S. releases report finding Saudi prince approved Khashoggi operation

Photo: Bandar Algaloud / Saudi Kingdom Council / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has released an unclassified report assessing that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) approved the operation to "capture or kill" Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Driving the news: The White House also announced sanctions on entities implicated in the murder, though not on MBS directly. Officials also announced a new "Khashoggi ban" under which individuals accused of harassing journalists or dissidents outside their borders can be barred from entering the U.S.

About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says

Joe Biden speaks during an event commemorating the 50 million COVID-19 vaccine shots. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Nearly 1 in 5 adults and nearly half of Americans 65 and older have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, White House senior adviser Andy Slavitt said on Friday.

The big picture: The Biden administration has previously said it has secured enough doses to vaccinate most of the American population by the end of July.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Employers mull COVID vaccine requirements — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategyPfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.

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