Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Democrats expressed concern after Michael Pack, the new Trump-appointed CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, dismissed the heads of at least three news outlets he oversees and disbanded boards to install allies Wednesday, per AP.

Driving the news: Pack fired Bay Fang, head of Radio Free Asia, Jamie Fly, who headed Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, and Alberto Fernandez, who was the head of the Middle East Broadcasting Network, Alberto Fernandez, according to AP.

Why it matters: There are fears Pack, a conservative filmmaker with ties to Steve Bannon, may turn Voice of America and other outlets he oversees "into Trump administration propaganda machines," AP notes. (VOA journalists have rejected such claims.)

  • After Senate Republicans voted last Friday to confirm him to the position, Voice of America director Amanda Bennett and deputy director Sandy Sugawara both resigned from their posts at the state-sponsored international news agency.
  • Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday that Pack's actions were an "egregious breach" and confirm he's "on a political mission to destroy the USAGM’s independence."

What they're saying: The Trump administration did not respond to a request for comment.

  • Pack vowed earlier on Wednesday to uphold the mandated role of Voice of America in "providing independent worldwide journalism even though it is a U.S. government-funded agency," according to VOA — which later carried AP's report of the reshuffle on its website.

Of note: The White House accused VOA in April of promoting Chinese propaganda during its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: Broader concerns about VOA's independence arose after an Obama-era legal provision changed governance over the agency from a board of non-partisan directors to a CEO selected by the president, Axios' Sara Fisher notes.

Go deeper: VOA journalists fight claims that it is Trump propaganda

Go deeper

Updated Jul 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump administration notifies UN of intent to withdraw from WHO

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Trump administration informed the United Nations and Congress on Tuesday that the U.S. is officially beginning the process of withdrawing from the World Health Organization. The UN is now "in the process of verifying with the WHO whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met," according to a spokesperson.

Why it matters: President Trump's decision to formally withdraw from the UN's global health agency — which will take effect on July 6, 2021 — comes as the pandemic continues to accelerate both in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. is by far the largest donor to the WHO out of any country, contributing more than 14% of its total budget.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 12,772,755 — Total deaths: 566,036 — Total recoveries — 7,030,749Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 3,269,531 — Total deaths: 134,898 — Total recoveries: 995,576 — Total tested: 39,553,395Map.
  3. Politics: Trump wears face mask in public for first time.
  4. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000.
  5. Public health: Trump's coronavirus testing czar says lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table" — We're losing the war on the coronavirus.
  6. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."
2 hours ago - Health

Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases

Data: Covid Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

Florida reported 15,299 confirmed coronavirus cases on Sunday — a new single-day record for any state, according to its health department.

The big picture: The figure shatters both Florida's previous record of 11,458 new cases and the single-state record of 11,694 set by California last week, according to AP. It also surpasses New York's daily peak of 11,571 new cases in April, and comes just a day after Disney World reopened in Orlando.