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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Michael Pack, a conservative filmmaker who was nominated by Donald Trump to lead the government's foreign media arm, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), left the agency Wednesday at the request of President Biden.

Why it matters: Pack's eight-month tenure was filled with controversy. Most recently, he was accused of fraud, as well as misuse of office. Observers and whistleblowers have alleged throughout his tenure that he was abusing his power in an attempt to transform the agency into a pro-Trump propaganda arm.

Details: Pack's actions, including abruptly firing the heads of the agencies he oversaw and withholding funds from nonprofits he managed — among other controversies — drew serious bipartisan backlash from Capitol Hill.

The big picture: USAGM, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, oversees five government-funded media arms that are intended to promote democracy around the world via factual reporting. It is also responsible for funding the Open Technology Fund, an internet freedom nonprofit.

  • The most famous of the five agencies it oversees is Voice of America, which was created nearly 80 years ago to combat Nazi propaganda during WWII. It also manages Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Network.

What they're saying: "The U.S. Agency for Global Media's mission is to further press and internet freedom around the world," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). "In conjunction with the Open Technology Fund, the agency has a track record of success in providing internet access and other vital support to those in China, Iran, Russia and other authoritarian countries.

  • I hope the next CEO will focus on expanding the agency's efforts around the world to promote a free and open press," McCaul, who has long been critical of Pack added.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.