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Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Sean Spicer held an off-camera gaggle with reporters (so that picture is clearly not from today), continuing a streak of off-camera press briefings. When asked why no cameras: "I said I might hold fewer on-camera briefings and more off-camera briefings, and I'm following through." Highlights of what we heard:

  • Wiretapping: Spicer refused to name Trump's source on the wiretapping allegations, but acknowledged that Trump is accusing Obama of committing a crime. He said it's appropriate for Congress to investigate the matter, but the White House won't necessarily believe Congress if their investigation finds otherwise; "on a lot of things we don't want to say we're going to accept every single thing they do."
  • Comey: Trump has total confidence in his FBI director even following reports that Comey wanted DOJ to say there was no evidence to back up Trump's wire-tapping claims.
  • Travel ban: "I think we kind of lost the element of surprise back when the court stopped [the ban]" said Spicer, explaining the now 10-day implementation period. He reiterated that the principles of the new order are the same as the initial one, emphasizing that the first order was constitutional. He also noted that the administration can add countries to the list as well as take any off.

Go deeper

25 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

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

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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.