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U.K. reports highest daily COVID-19 death toll since start of the pandemic

The U.K. on Thursday reported 1,325 new deaths on Thursday, marking its highest daily coronavirus death toll yet.

Why it matters: The massive spike in deaths is in part fueled by a highly transmissible COVID-19 variant that's spreading rapidly throughout the United Kingdom and threatening to overwhelm hospital systems.


Between the lines: The figure is even worse on a per capita basis than the record 4,000 COVID-19 deaths reported in 24 hours in the U.S. On Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a "major incident" because of the virus, which has infected 1 in 30 Londoners.

The big picture: The U.K, which is in full lockdown for at least the next six weeks, was the first country in the world to approve and begin administering both the Pfizer vaccine and Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine.

  • Earlier Friday, British regulators cleared the Moderna vaccine for emergency use.
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that while the new coronavirus variant is more transmissible, there is "no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy."

Collins helps contractor after pro-Susan PAC gets donation

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

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Cutting corporate cash could push GOP to embrace party's rightward fringe

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.

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Tim Kaine, Susan Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Donald Trump

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on-the-record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

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Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

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AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.

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Biden makes a down payment on racial equity with a series of executive orders

President Biden is making a down payment on racial equity in a series of executive orders dealing with everything from private prisons to housing discrimination, treatment of Asian Americans and relations with indigenous tribes.

The big picture: Police reform and voting rights legislation will take time to pass in Congress. But with the stroke of his pen, one week into the job Biden is taking steps within his power as he seeks to change the tone on racial justice from former President Trump.

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Most Senate Republicans join Rand Paul effort to dismiss Trump's 2nd impeachment trial

Forty-five Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday in an effort to dismiss former President Trump's second impeachment trial.

Why it matters: The vote serves as a precursor to how senators will approach next month's impeachment trial. The House impeached Trump for a second time for "incitement of insurrection" following events from Jan 6. when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.

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Texas judge temporarily halts Biden's 100-day deportation freeze

A federal judge in Texas has temporarily blocked the Biden administration's 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants.

Why it matters: Biden has set an ambitious immigration agenda, but could face pushback from the courts.

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