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Alex Brandon / AP

Sean Spicer did a phone check on White House communications staffers last week after several leaks about the administration painted a poor picture of the Trump team in the media. That crackdown on leaks was then leaked to Politico.

Spicer warned that using encrypted texting apps that delete messages — such as Confide, the use of which by DC Republicans was first covered by Axios — violates the Federal Records Act. He consulted with White House counsel Don McGahn before the meeting and White House lawyers were present during the meeting. The Federal Records Act pertains to federal agencies, while the Presidential Records Act covers the president and his or her staff.

Per Politico's Annie Karni: "Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media."

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.

The deplatforming fight shifts to the courts

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Capitol riot and tech firms' sweeping attempt in its wake to dislodge the online far right are kicking up efforts to have the courts settle knotty questions about online speech and power.

Why it matters: Legal battles could force the people angry at Big Tech to bring more rigor to arguments that have often devolved into messy sideshows.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
5 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.