Show an ad over header. AMP

Republicans plot to sink potential anti-Trump nominees including Vindman, Yates

Republicans are making plans to torpedo some of President-elect Biden's prospective Cabinet, agency and judicial nominees if the GOP keeps its majority, aides involved in the discussions tell me.

What we're hearing: Top targets include political names and civil servants who spoke out loudest against President Trump, forced out his appointees or became stars in the impeachment hearings — like Sally Yates and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — as well as longtime targets of conservative media, like Susan Rice.


  • Targets also include more obscure potential nominees for federal judgeships, solicitor general and the Supreme Court. Republicans worry these nominees could blunt conservative moves on deregulation or social policy.

Driving the news: With Biden planning to announce his first slate of Cabinet picks this week, Senate GOP staffers are closely following reports of floated names, gathering opposition research and even planning potential hearing questions, staffers familiar with the processes in two separate Senate committees tell me.

  • If a news article contains several possible names for the next solicitor general, one source said, staff might research all and consider half of them "really objectionable" and begin circulating research to members to try to preempt their nomination altogether.
  • These preparations are very preliminary, given that Trump hasn't conceded, his GSA administration has blocked the transition from the beginningand Republicans haven't begun meeting with Biden's team.

Between the lines: Of course, this doesn't mean doom for such nominees. Even if the GOP did retain a bare majority of control after two remaining runoffs in Georgia in January, a few Republicans could cross party lines.

  • And several Republicans — including Sens. Mitt Romney, Susan Collins and Pat Toomey — still believe in the longstanding norm that presidents should get the cabinets they want unless there are truly legitimate concerns about a nominee.
  • This is particularly true in nominations that touch on two areas — national security and health care — one GOP leadership aide said, given Biden's immediate demands being driven by the pandemic.
  • "He's entitled to have those agencies running, especially at this time," the aide said. "It doesn’t seem sustainable nor politically smart to block someone in those roles."

Don Ritchie, the Senate's former historian, said presidents historically have gotten "about 95% of their nominations through."

What they're saying: "There is historic urgency for Republicans and Democrats to work together in this moment of unprecedented crisis," Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said.

What we're watching: Some Democrats have discussed the idea of Biden choosing a "sacrificial lamb" for Republicans to take down, thus easing the passage of other nominees.

  • That could give Republicans the opportunity to show they wield power, while simultaneously making Biden's other nominees look more agreeable in a hyper-partisan environment.
  • But some people around Biden say a move like that isn't his style.

Biden's presidency will have a bleak start

A dim, gloomy scene seems increasingly set for Joe Biden's debut as president.

The state of play: He'll address — virtually — a virus-weary nation, with record-high daily coronavirus deaths, a flu season near its peak, restaurants and small businesses shuttered by wintertime sickness and spread.

Keep reading... Show less

Apps are helping people of color stop deadly police encounters

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.

Keep reading... Show less

TikTok gets more time (again)

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more time to satisfy its national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to satisfy national security concerns raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Keep reading... Show less

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

Keep reading... Show less

Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.

Keep reading... Show less

Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the COVID-19 vaccine approval process

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing two emergency use authorization requests for COVID-19 vaccines, with an outside advisory committee scheduled to meet next Thursday to review data from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with former FDA commissioner Rob Calif about the EUA process, the science and who should make the final call.

The U.S. economic recovery needs rocket fuel

Data: BLS. Chart: Axios Visuals

Friday's deeply disappointing jobs report should light a fire under Congress, which has dithered despite signs the economy is struggling to kick back into gear.

Driving the news: President-elect Biden said Friday afternoon in Wilmington that he supports another round of $1,200 checks.

Keep reading... Show less

Insights

mail-copy

Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories