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Romney calls Trump's commutation of Roger Stone's sentence "historic corruption"

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Saturday tweeted a scathing response to President Trump's Friday night commutation of former associate Roger Stone's prison sentence, calling the move "[u]nprecedented, historic corruption."

Why it matters: Romney has emerged as the party's most prominent Trump critic. He sent shockwaves through Washington after announcing he would vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial — becoming the only Senate Republican to break ranks and vote for the president's removal from office. Now he is the first major GOP lawmaker to condemn Trump's Friday night call regarding Stone.


Meanwhile, other Republicans have defended the president's move.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted before Stone's commutation was official: "In my view it would be justified if President @realDonaldTrump decided to commute Roger Stone's prison sentence.Mr. Stone is in his 70s and this was a non-violent, first-time offense.
  • Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) wrote on Twitter that he supports the commutation, adding "Roger Stone’s prosecution by overzealous Special Counsel prosecutors was an outgrowth of the Obama-Biden misconduct."

The big picture: Stone was convicted as part of the Robert Mueller investigation for obstructing justice, tampering with witnesses and making false statements to Congress. The president's commutation cleared Stone's entire 40-month prison sentence.

Investors have nowhere to hide

The massive losses in oil prices and U.S. and European equities were not countered by gains in traditional safe-haven assets on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The unusual movement in typical hedging tools like bonds, precious metals and currencies means they are not providing investors an asset that will appreciate in the event of a major equity selloff.

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Sports owners have put $46 million toward federal political donations since 2015

Data: ESPN/FiveThirtyEight; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sports team owners in the four largest North American leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) have donated over $46 million in federal elections since 2015, according to research conducted by ESPN and FiveThirtyEight.

By the numbers: Over the past three elections, $35.7 million of that money (77.4%) has gone to Republican campaigns and super PACs, compared to $10.4 million (22.6%) to Democrats.

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Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates

Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Many of the states where coronavirus cases have recently skyrocketed are also seeing the highest death rates in the nation, a painful reminder that wherever the virus goes, death eventually follows.

Between the lines: Deaths usually lag behind cases by a few weeks. Given America's record-high case counts, it's reasonable to expect that death rates across the country will continue to rise in tandem.

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The pandemic has scrambled trust in science, with big implications for climate change

The pandemic is throwing a wrench into Americans' understanding of science, which has big implications for climate change.

Driving the news: Recent focus groups in battleground states suggest some voters are more skeptical of scientists in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, while surveys reveal the persistence of a deep partisan divide.

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Spotify has a Joe Rogan dilemma

Spotify is getting slammed for allowing Joe Rogan, one of its most popular podcasters, to host far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on his show.

Why it matters: The company, which still distributes mostly music, will begin to encounter more of these types of problems as it expands its podcast business.

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Coronavirus cases set a new record in the week before the election

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

In the final week before Election Day, new coronavirus infections have soared to an all-time high — virtually guaranteeing that the pandemic will be the most prominent issue in America as voters prepare to choose the next president.

The big picture: Cases are surging and local hospitals are straining at the very moment that voters are choosing between President Trump, who continues to insist that the pandemic is almost over, and Joe Biden, who has made the crisis a centerpiece of his campaign.

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Biden's closing ad campaign

Joe Biden's team is spending tens of millions of dollars on a national digital ad campaign in the final days before Election Day — but highlighting a plethora of voters from Pennsylvania in particular, underscoring how critically important the state is.

Why it matters: Biden's team is betting that COVID-19 is on the ballot, and amplifying the stories of those affected by the pandemic with an emphasis on persuading voters in key battlegrounds to support the former VP.

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Biden's China plan: Bring allies

Joe Biden is planning to confront China across the globe, embracing some of President Trump's goals but rejecting his means.

The big picture: By starting a trade war with China, Trump has fundamentally altered the U.S.- China relationship — and forced both Republicans and Democrats to accept a more confrontational approach towards Beijing.

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