Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

An Afghan border forces soldier stands guard at a U.S. forces base, which has been handed over to Afghan border forces in Dih Bala district of Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, inj July. Photo: Saifurahman Safi/Xinhua via Getty Images

National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Wednesday the U.S. would cut its number of troops in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early 2021, per Reuters.

Details: "When President Trump took office, there were over 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan," O’Brien said at a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, event. "As of today there are under 5,000 and that will go to 2,500 by early next year."

Of note: Trump contradicted O'Brien later on Wednesday, tweeting, "We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!"

  • The president did not elaborate.

The big picture: The U.S. struck a deal with the Taliban in February to begin a gradual drawdown of American troops from the country.

  • U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan under the peace agreement the following month.
  • The Trump administration did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

Trump defies Congress, vetoes $740 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Al Drago via Getty

President Trump defied Congress on Wednesday, vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Why it matters: The House and Senate passed the $740 billion defense spending bill with veto-proof majorities, setting up a potential override fight.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

Kevin McCarthy's rude awakening

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!