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U.S. institutions will be tested like never before in the 31 days until Biden's inauguration

It's a fitting end to a crappy year: White House officials are calling us in a panic about President Trump’s erratic behavior. England is panicking about a possible super-spreading virus strain. And vaccine distribution is hitting bumps.

Why it matters: Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain was right when he warned of a "very, very, very dark winter."


Winter technically starts tomorrow. But it's already clear that in the 31 days until the inauguration, American institutions will be tested like never before.

  • Axios yesterday sent two alerts with Jonathan Swan's jaw-dropping reporting from Trump's inner circle, with diehard loyalists now telling us they're alarmed about what Trump might try over the next month.

A senior administration official told Swan: "Most of us have rolled our eyes at the media histrionics the last few years about Trump’s supposed tyrannical ambitions."

  • "But when he's retweeting threats of putting politicians in jail, and spends his time talking to conspiracy nuts who openly say declaring martial law is no big deal, it’s impossible not to start getting anxious about how this ends."

On top of loose Oval Office talk about martial law first reported by the N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Trump tweeted yesterday that the cyberhack "is well under control."

  • Top administration officials tell me it's anything but — that the damage may take months and billions to detect and repair.

After Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned yesterday of a coronavirus strain that is 70% more transmissible, England finds itself increasingly cut off:

  • Italy, the Netherlands and Austria banned flights from the U.K., and Eurostar trains between London, Brussels and Amsterdam are being canceled.
  • The virus is out of control, regardless of any new variant.

With governors around the country complaining that they're being shorted on vaccine's they've been promised, a government official yesterday did something rare — admitted there was a problem, and took total blame.

  • Army four-star Gen. Gus Perna, COO of Operation Warp Speed, apologized for "miscommunication" with states and told reporters: "I failed. I'm adjusting."

The bottom line: In these times, even an optimist has no choice but to become a realist.

CES was largely irrelevant this year

Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

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The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.

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Off the rails: Inside Air Force One ahead of Trump's last stand in Georgia

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 6: Georgia had not backed a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 and Donald Trump's defeat in this Deep South stronghold, and his reaction to that loss, would help cost Republicans the U.S. Senate as well. Georgia was Trump's last stand.

On Air Force One, President Trump was in a mood. He had been clear he did not want to return to Georgia, and yet somehow he'd been conscripted into another rally on the night of Jan. 4.

If both David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — the two embattled Georgia senators he was campaigning for — lost their runoff elections the following day, the GOP would lose control of the U.S. Senate. And Trump did not want the blood of Georgia on his hands.

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Parler shows signs of life

Far-right-friendly social network Parler is beginning to resurface after going dark last week following a series of bans by Google, Apple and Amazon.

The big picture: By getting a new internet provider that's friendly to far-right sites, Parler — home to a great deal of pro-insurrection chatter before, during and after the Capitol siege — may have found a way to survive despite Big Tech's efforts to pull the plug.

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Historian Michael Beschloss: Trump has "no business" dictating who is an American hero

Data: Trump Executive Order and Axios reporting. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Delivering on a promise he made at Mount Rushmore this summer, President Trump yesterday released his 244 candidates for a "National Garden of American Heroes."

By the numbers: Men outnumber women nearly four to one (192 to 52). 86 of the nominees,nearly a third, were born between 1900 and 1950. 

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Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply — as expected

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

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First look: Mayors press Biden on immigration

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

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Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

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