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U.K. and E.U. fail to reach Brexit deal

Photo: Virginia Mayo / AP

The European Union and the United Kingdom failed to reach a Brexit deal today after a round of negotiations in Brussels. However, E.U. Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May both expressed optimism during a joint press appearance that a deal could be reached as talks continue later this week.

The impasse: Most of the buzz surrounding today's negotiations centered on the Northern Ireland/Ireland border, with concerns that a potential deal might involve Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., remaining within the E.U.'s single market and customs union. That led to backlash from both May's allies in government, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, who vehemently oppose such a deal, and leaders in remain-heavy Scotland and London, who would want such a deal for themselves.

Mike Allen 15 hours ago
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A huge clue about Mueller's endgame

Robert Mueller testifies before Congress in 2013. Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Axios has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller has focused on events since the election — not during the campaign — in his conversations with President Trump's lawyers. The top two topics that Mueller has expressed interest in so far: the firings of FBI director James Comey and national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Why it matters: That suggests a focus on obstruction of justice while in office, rather than collusion with Russia during the campaign. But both sagas are interwoven with Russia: Trump himself has linked Comey's firing to Russia, and Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador during the transition.

Amy Harder 16 hours ago
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Column / Harder Line

The swamp’s tug-o-war over America’s ethanol mandate

American eagle with corn in its claws
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

A biofuels standard Congress passed more than a decade ago in the name of rural development, energy security and climate change has devolved into an arcane fight over market share that has nothing to do with those initial three goals.

Why it matters: The law — called the renewable fuel standard that requires refineries to blend biofuels into gasoline — is a textbook example of how regulations create winners, losers and unintended consequences.