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“Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares”: Mark Meadows downplays RNC Hatch Act concerns

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday downplayed concerns that Republican National Convention events staged at the White House potentially violated the Hatch Act during a Politico virtual event.

Why it matters: The Hatch Act prevents executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activity, though it does not apply to the president and vice president. Previous administrations have avoided hosting campaign-style events at the White House in order to separate politics from governing.


What he's saying: "Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares. They expect that Donald Trump is going to promote Republican values, and they would expect Barack Obama, when he was in office, that he would do the same for Democrats," Meadows said.

  • "This is a lot of hoopla that's being made about things, mainly because the convention has been so unbelievably successful."

Worth noting: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) is launching an investigation into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's address to the convention violated the Hatch Act.

Flashback: Last June, the Office of Special Counsel found that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act by "disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in an official capacity during television interviews and on social media" and recommended firing her.

  • Conway ignored a subpoena from the House Ethics Committee to testify in connection with the violations.

Go deeper: The Trump White House has a record of violating the Hatch Act

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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