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Alexander Vindman to retire from military following "retaliation" from Trump impeachment

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who served as a key witness in President Trump's impeachment trial, announced Wednesday that he has moved to retire from the military after 21 years of service amid fears that he will "forever be limited" due to political backlash over his testimony.

The big picture: The president fired Vindman in February as the leading Ukraine expert on the National Security Council for being "insubordinate," but top military leaders including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper claim Vindman had not been politically targeted.


  • In his testimony, Vindman called Trump's push for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden "inappropriate" and said he reported his concerns on the matter due to a "sense of duty."
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) vowed last week to block the promotions of 1,123 senior military officers until Esper confirmed that Vindman's promotion would go through.

What they're saying: "Through a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation, the president of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a president. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers, " Vindman's lawyer, Amb. David Pressman, said in a statement.

  • "These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it," Pressman added.

The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals

Some states are seeing dangerous levels of coronavirus hospitalizations, with hospitals warning that they could soon become overwhelmed if no action is taken to slow the spread.

Why it matters: Patients can only receive good care if there's enough care to go around — which is one reason why the death rate was so much higher in the spring, some experts say.

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Scoop: The Lincoln Project is becoming a media business

The Lincoln Project is looking to beef up its media business after the election, sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: The group recently signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) to help build out Lincoln Media and is weighing offers from different television studios, podcast networks and book publishers.

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Trump, Biden strategies revealed in final ad push

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

President Trump is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Facebook ads on the Supreme Court and conservative judges in the final stretch of his campaign, while Joe Biden is spending over a million on voter mobilization, according to an analysis by Axios using data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

The big picture: Trump's Facebook ad messaging has fluctuated dramatically in conjunction with the news cycle throughout his campaign, while Biden's messaging has been much more consistent, focusing primarily on health care and the economy.

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How NASA and the Space Force might fare under Biden

Joe Biden hasn't gone out of his way to talk about outer space during his presidential campaign. That could be bad news for NASA's exploration ambitions, but good news for the Space Force.

The big picture: NASA faces two threats with any new administration: policy whiplash and budget cuts. In a potential Biden administration, the space agency could get to stay the course on the policy front, while competing with other priorities on the spending side.

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Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal coronavirus response has only gotten worse

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans believe the federal government's handling of the pandemic has gotten significantly worse over time, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Every other institution measured in Week 29 of our national poll — from state and local governments to people's own employers and area businesses — won positive marks for improving their responses since those panicked early days in March and April.

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Republicans and Democrats react to Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences at the rush to confirm a replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
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CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

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Ted Cruz doesn't think the Hunter Biden attacks are working

Screenshot: "Axios on HBO"

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters.

The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter."

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