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Trump-era Justice Department emerges as scandal of the summer

Washington has been served up an unprecedented controversy, and now officials from two branches of government are rushing to get a piece of the scandal spoils.

Driving the news: In the spotlight... the Trump-era Justice Department, which seized records from journalists and House Democrats during a leaks investigation over stories about the Russia probe.


  • Now Senate Democrats and the Biden-era Justice Department inspector general are separately launching investigations.

Back in 2017 and 2018, the DOJ obtained a gag order against Apple and subpoenaed the company to hand over data belonging to a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: "While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • The seized records contained no proof of leaks.

Michael Schmidt, one of four reporters on the N.Y. Times blockbuster, told "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on MSNBC:

"This is the first instance we know the Justice Department has done this. There could have been other leak investigations. We don't have full visibility into all of them. Those are conducted in secret.""Regardless of what went into the Justice Department's decision here, this is exactly what [then-President Trump] was calling for publicly and privately at a time that he was putting as much pressure as possible on the folks at the top of the department."

The bottom line: The slow drip, drip of stories has now turned into the potential big story of the summer.

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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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