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John Walters to lead Hudson Institute

The Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank that's been a center for political dialogue and forums for both Democrats and Republicans during the Trump era, has tapped its longtime COO John Walters as its new leader, Axios has learned.

The big picture: Whileleft and center-left think tanks empty to help stock the incoming Biden administration, conservative groups are shuffling their leadership and welcoming back scholars and analysts who worked for President Trump.


Details: Walters, who was drug czar for President George W. Bush, has been serving as Hudson Institute's chief operating officer while also overseeing research and directing its substance abuse policy center. During the Bush administration his focus included countering narcoterrorism in Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan.

  • Hudson's outgoing president and CEO Ken Weinstein will stay at Hudson as its Walter P. Stern distinguished fellow. He'd stepped down from day-to-day operations last spring in what turned out to be an ill-fated effort to become U.S. ambassador to Japan. His nomination was voted out of committee but never received a vote on the Senate floor.

Flashback: Weinstein is credited with nearly tripling the institute's annual budget, from $7.5m in 2005 to $20m in 2019, with an endowment of more than $60m.

  • “Ken turned Hudson into the policy powerhouse that it is today,” said Sarah May Stern, chair of Hudson's board of trustees. "Under John's leadership, Hudson will continue to build on all that has been accomplished through his shared efforts with Ken."

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The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

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Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."

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Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

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Biden speaks to Mexican president about reversing Trump's "draconian immigration policies"

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The big picture: The Biden administration has already started repealing several of Trump’s immigration policies, including ordering a 100-day freeze on deporting many unauthorized immigrants, halting work on the southern border wall, and reversing plans to exclude undocumented people from being included in the 2020 census.

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