Rahmat Gul / AP

The U.S. dropped the "Mother of all Bombs" (MOAB) on ISIS militants in Afghanistan on Thursday, but the White House has so far deferred all questions about the decision to do so.

What they're saying: "This was the right weapon for the right time," Gen. John W. Nicholson told reporters about the MOAB. He explained that ISIS militants in Afghanistan are using caves and tunnels, and our military's ground forces would not have been enough.

Between the lines: Although the White House hasn't said dropping the bomb was a form of retaliation, keep in mind there has been a series of ISIS attacks in the last few weeks that could have fueled the fire.

  • March 22 - Westminster Bridge Attack
  • April 7 - Truck attack in Stockholm, Sweden
  • April 8 - Special Forces Sgt. Mark De Alencar killed in Afghanistan during counter-ISIS operations.
  • April 9 - Palm Sunday attacks in Egypt

Why now? The attack comes at a time when the Pentagon has more autonomy to pursue military operations, granted by President Trump. He has yet to say if he signed off on the attack, but has praised the action as an example of the military's "total authorization" to act strategically with little political interference.

Go deeper

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 32,870,631 — Total deaths: 994,534 — Total recoveries: 22,749,163Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 a.m. ET: 7,079,689 — Total deaths: 204,499 — Total recoveries: 2,750,459 — Total tests: 100,492,536Map.
  3. States: New York daily cases top 1,000 for first time since June — U.S. reports over 55,000 new coronavirus cases.
  4. Health: The long-term pain of the mental health pandemicFewer than 10% of Americans have coronavirus antibodies.
  5. Business: Millions start new businesses in time of coronavirus.
  6. Education: Summer college enrollment offers a glimpse of COVID-19's effect.

How the Supreme Court could decide the election

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Supreme Court isn't just one of the most pressing issues in the presidential race — the justices may also have to decide parts of the election itself.

Why it matters: Important election-related lawsuits are already making their way to the court. And close results in swing states, with disputes over absentee ballots, set up the potential for another Bush v. Gore scenario, election experts say.

Graham hopes his panel will approve Amy Coney Barrett by late October

Sen. Lindsey Graham during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News Saturday he expects confirmation hearings on Judge Amy Coney Barrett's nomination to the Supreme Court to start Oct. 12 and for his panel to approve her by Oct. 26.

Why it matters: That would mean the final confirmation vote could take place on the Senate floor before the Nov. 3 presidential election.