Mike Pompeo and Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Handout / Handout/Getty Images

Lisbon — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a briefing to reporters in Lisbon that in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, they discussed the issue of Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank and they agreed to push the issue of a U.S.-Israeli defense treaty.

Why it matters: Both issues were prominent in Netanyahu's campaign last September and are expected to be focal points in his upcoming campaign that could launch in less than a week.

  • Netanyahu admitted it will be hard to implement both plans so long as Israel has an interim government, and that it will be problematic to pursue as the U.S. nears the 2020 presidential election over the next several months.

The state of play...

  • On annexation: Netanyahu only said he discussed the issue with Pompeo, and stressed that it will be legally impossible to annex the Jordan Valley before Israel has a new government.
  • On U.S.-Israel defense treaty: Netanyahu said he and Pompeo agreed to promote the issue moving forward. He said he will have to check if it is possible to legally sign a defense treaty with an interim government in place. Netanyahu said he will ensure the defense treaty will not limit the Israel Defense Forces' freedom of operation.
  • On Iran: Netanyahu added that he discussed the Iranian issue with Pompeo, and stressed that meeting with the secretary of state was "critical" for Israel's security.
"It's not a spin. We have to increase the pressure on the Iranians."
— Benjamin Netanyahu

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Robert Mueller speaks out on Roger Stone commutation

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday July 24, 2019. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

Former special counsel Robert Mueller responded to claims from President Trump and his allies that Roger Stone was a "victim" in the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, writing in a Washington Post op-ed published Saturday: "He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so."

Why it matters: The rare public comments by Mueller come on the heels of President Trump's move to commute the sentence of his longtime associate, who was sentenced in February to 40 months in prison for crimes stemming from the Russia investigation. The controversial decision brought an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars.

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Why it matters: This is the first known occasion the president has appeared publicly with a facial covering as recommended by health officials since the coronavirus pandemic began, AP writes.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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