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Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

An uncomfortable pair of stories for the White House:

  1. "Russia’s dirty tricks ... And why the West’s response is inadequate" — The Economist cover editorial
  2. "A Russian oligarch [who was indicted by Mueller last week and is] believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin ... in the days and weeks before and after the assault," according to the Washington Post.

Economist:

  • What happened: Special counsel Robert "Mueller alleges that in 2014 Russia launched a conspiracy against America’s democracy, and he believes he has the evidence to withstand Russian denials and a court’s scrutiny."
  • Trump "should have spoken out against Mr Putin and protected America against Russian hostility. "
  • "Republican leaders in Congress are failing their country: at the least they should hold emergency hearings to protect America from subversion in the mid-term elections."
  • Why it matters: "[W]ith Mr. Trump obsessively blaming the FBI and Democrats, it looks as if America does not believe democracy is worth fighting for."
  • Zing: "Were Mr. Trump to sack [Mueller] now, it would amount to a confession."

WaPo:

  • "In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had 'secured permission' from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a 'fast and strong' initiative that would take place in early February.
  • Why he matters: The oligarch — nicknamed "Putin's chef" — "is known to have close ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, forged when [the oligarch] was a restaurateur in St. Petersburg and expanded through what became Prigozhin’s wide-ranging business empire, including extensive contracts with Russia’s Defense Ministry."
  • Why this news matters: "[T]he attack marked the biggest direct challenge to the U.S. military presence in eastern Syria since U.S. Special Operations forces began deploying there in 2015 in support of their Syrian allies in the fight against the Islamic State."

Go deeper

McConnell says he'll "absolutely" support Trump if he's 2024 GOP presidential nominee

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told Fox News on Thursday that he would "absolutely" support Donald Trump if the former president is the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.

The big picture: Trump has not officially said whether he will run in 2024, but as Axios' Mike Allen reports, the former president "plans to send the message [during his CPAC speech on Sunday] that he is the Republicans' 'presumptive 2024 nominee' with a vise grip on the party's base."

Updated 44 mins 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: Pfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains — Republicans are least likely to want the coronavirus vaccine
  3. U.S. news: California surpasses 50,000 deaths COVID-19 deaths, more than any other state — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter return to church after receiving COVID-19 vaccines
  4. Local: Public transit ridership in Twin Cities dropped 53% amid pandemic — Data firm predicts "complete chaos" in next phases of Florida's vaccine rolloutAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for the coronavirus

Behind GameStop's latest stock surge

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Back in focus: The meme stock trade.

By the numbers: GameStop finished up 19%, after a wild day that saw shares spike as much as 80%.