Biden at a roundtable meeting on reopening the economy in Philadelphia June 11. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden lit into President Trump at a virtual fundraiser Monday night for his statement in an interview with Axios that he's open to meeting with Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro.

  • “He doesn’t think that Maduro is that bad of a guy?” Biden mused to donors on a Zoom call. “He’s not really a dictator, or something to that effect. Good Lord.”

The big picture: Trump had to backtrack today after he told Axios' Jonathan Swan that he had second thoughts about recognizing Juan Guaidó as the leader of Venezuela. Trump appeared to reverse U.S. policy by expressing a willingness to meet with Maduro, who has been labeled a "narco-terrorist" by his own administration.

  • Trump tried to clarify his administration’s position by tweeting today that he “would only meet with Maduro to discuss one thing: a peaceful exit from power!"

Between the lines: Biden continues to let Trump drive the news and then slice him for positions that have also been condemned by congressional Republicans.

Biden also seized on allegations in former national security adviser John Bolton’s new book, “The Room Where it Happened,” that Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for agricultural purchases that could help his reelection.

  • “That book Bolton did and the stuff that he is pointing out is just devastating,” Biden said.
  • “You hear what he said to Xi Jinping. He said the reason he didn’t say anything about a million Uighurs in concentration camps...He wanted his trade deal."

Go deeper

What to watch in tonight's debate

Joe Biden (left) and President Trump (right) are facing off in Cleveland for the first presidential debate. Photos: Alex Wong (of Biden) and David Hume Kennerly (of Trump)/Getty Images

President Trump will try to break Joe Biden's composure by going after his son Hunter and other family members in tonight's first presidential debate — a campaign source tells Axios "nothing will be off the table" — while Biden plans to stick to the economy, coronavirus and new revelations about how Trump avoided paying taxes.

Driving the news: Biden and Trump are set to debate at 9pm ET at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and it will be moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace.

Debate dashboard: Catch up fast

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

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