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Schiff: Withholding election security intel allows Trump to "conceal the truth" about Russia

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) accused the Trump administration on CNN's "State of the Union" of ending in-person election security briefings to Congress to "conceal the truth" about Russian interference in the 2020 elections.

Driving the news: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence canceled future in-person briefings on election security issues to the congressional intelligence committees, announcing it will only provide written updates in order to minimize the potential for leaks.


  • Schiff denied that he or members of his staff have leaked classified information to the press, as President Trump has accused him of doing. But he rejected the notion that ODNI has stopped the briefings because they're concerned about leaks.
  • "What changed is the president, probably in another fit, saying I don't want Congress informed," Schiff argued. "Because the last time that Congress was informed, the director of national intelligence had to put out another statement to acknowledge the fact that the Russians are helping Donald Trump again."

The big picture: The director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William Evanina, said in early August that the Russian government is actively "using a range of measures" to "denigrate former Vice President Biden" before the November election.

  • The center has also assessed that China and Iran would prefer that Trump is not re-elected, but Democrats have argued that Russia is the only foreign adversary actively working to interfere in the election.

What he's saying: "He realizes if the country learns again that the Russians once again are intervening to try to help him in the election he feels that that takes away from their assistance," Schiff said about President Trump.

  • "So he doesn't want the American people to know about it, he doesn't want Congress to know about it. He wants to draw some false equivalence between what the Russians are doing and what others are doing."
  • "He knows that if, and when, they do come and brief Congress, we ask questions and we can get to the bottom of things and that's what he doesn't want. After all, he fired a director for doing exactly this."

U.K. clears Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

The United Kingdom became on Wednesday the first Western country in the world to license the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use.

What they're saying: "Today’s emergency use authorisation in the UK marks a historic moment in the fight against COVID-19," said Albert Bourla, the chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, per the Guardian.

  • "This authorisation is a goal we have been working toward since we first declared that science will win, and we applaud the MHRA for their ability to conduct a careful assessment and take timely action to help protect the people of the UK."

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

Biden tells NYT he won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

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Trump threatens to veto Defense spending bill over social media shield

President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Conress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

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The walls close in on Trump

With Bill Barr's "Et tu, Brute!" interview with AP, President Trump is watching the walls close in on his claims of fraud, hoaxes and conspiracies.

Why it matters: Trump and his legal team continue to claim election fraud. But the Republican governors of Arizona and Georgia have certified their elections, a loyalist like Barr has weighed in, and lower-ranking officials have taken potshots.

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Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.

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Trump applies extreme pressure on Bill Barr to release so-called Durham Report

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

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CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CDC panel: COVID vaccines should go to health workers, long-term care residents first

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line to get coronavirus vaccines in the United States once they’re cleared and available for public use, an independent CDC panel recommended in a 13-1 emergency vote on Tuesday, per CNBC.

Why it matters: Recent developments in COVID-19 vaccines have accelerated the timeline for distribution as vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna undergo the federal approval process. States are preparing to begin distributing as soon as two weeks from now.

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