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Biden: Russia bounty issue shows Trump "doesn't seem to be cognitively aware of what's going on"

Joe Biden used President Trump's denials about intelligence on reported Russian bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan to question the president's mental ability during a campaign appearance on Tuesday.

What he's saying: "He talks about cognitive capability. He doesn't seem to be cognitively aware of what's going on. He either reads and/or gets briefed on important issues — and then forgets it — or he doesn't think it's necessary that he need to know it."


  • "So the idea that somehow he didn't know or isn't being briefed, it is a dereliction of duty if that's the case. And if he was briefed and nothing was done about this, that's a dereliction of duty," the former vice president added.
  • "I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive ability with the cognitive ability of the man I am running against."

Why it matters: Biden is trying to turn the tables on the president, who has taunted Biden about misspeaking on the campaign trail.

  • The attack comes as the Trump campaign plans to pivot its messaging to focus on the claim that Biden's mental faculties are diminished, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported.
  • A growing number of Trump's advisers say their best shot is to convince voters that Biden won't really run the show if elected.

The big picture: Biden took questions from reporters on a range of topics — from coronavirus to his future running mate.

  • On his running mate: He said the selection has moved into the "hard vet" phase and noted that "a number of women of color" were under consideration.
  • On whether he's been tested for coronavirus: He said he hasn't because he hasn't shown any symptoms, but will be "relatively soon."
  • On statues: Biden said "the government has a responsibility to protect" statues of George Washington and Christopher Columbus.
  • On his polling lead: "It’s much too early. We have a lot more work to do."

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

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House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is constitutionally required to begin the impeachment trial at 1 p.m. the day after the article is transmitted. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had been pushing for the trial to begin in mid-February, arguing that it will force the Senate to delay other important business.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.

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New Energy Department roles look to animate Biden's campaign themes

The burst of Biden administration staffing picks announced yesterday revealed that the Energy Department (DOE) has newly created roles that reflect what President Biden called campaign priorities.

Driving the news: One new position is "director of energy jobs," which is being filled by Jennifer Jean Kropke. She was previously the first director of workforce and environmental engagement with Local 11 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

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Stuart Haselden steps down as CEO of luggage startup Away

Stuart Haselden is stepping down as CEO of smart luggage-maker Away, Axios has learned. He'll be succeeded on an interim basis by company co-founder Jen Rubio, and an outside search firm has been retained to find a permanent successor.

Why it matters: Haselden, formerly with Lululemon, appeared to have established executive stability at Away, whose co-founder Steph Korey previously resigned as CEO before retaking the reins alongside Haselden and then resigning again.

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2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance as Japan's COVID-19 cases surge

10 months ago, the Tokyo Olympics were postponed. Now, less than six months ahead of their new start date, the dreaded word is being murmured: "canceled."

Driving the news: The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Games will have to be called off, The Times reports (subscription), citing an unnamed senior government source.

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Biden's centrist words, liberal actions

President Biden talks like a soothing centrist. He promises to govern like a soothing centrist. But early moves show that he is keeping his promise to advance a liberal agenda.

Why it matters: Never before has a president done more by executive fiat in such a short period of time than Biden. And those specific actions, coupled with a push for a more progressive slate of regulators and advisers, look more like the Biden of the Democratic primary than the unity-and-restraint Biden of the general election.

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Review of Trump ban marks major turning point for Facebook

Facebook's decision to ask its new independent Oversight Board to review the company's indefinite suspension of former President Trump is likely to set a critical precedent for how the social media giant handles political speech from world leaders.

What they're saying: "I very much hope and can expect … that they will uphold our decision," Facebook's VP of global affairs Nick Clegg tells Axios.

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