Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Donald Trump signed off on the surprise phone checks conducted last week by Sean Spicer during an investigation into leaks, multiple sources have told CNN. Trump also reportedly approved Spicer's decision to bar certain media outlets from a gaggle last week.

Spicer told CNN Trump was not involved in either decision.

The sources also said Trump gave Spicer the go-ahead to connect intelligence officials and Congressmen with reporters to deny reports of his campaign's contacts with Russia.

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Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 18,570,858 — Total deaths: 701,316 — Total recoveries — 11,163,388Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 4,771,846 — Total deaths: 156,839 — Total recoveries: 1,528,979 — Total tests: 58,239,438Map.
  3. Public health: Moderna skirts disclosures of coronavirus vaccine costs — There’s not much good news about kids and coronavirus.
  4. Business: Auto sales may have turned a corner.
  5. Sports: The return of high school sports hangs in the balance — UConn becomes first FBS team to cancel its football season.

Shale's struggles will persist despite a rise in oil prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

WTI, the benchmark U.S. oil future, traded Wednesday morning at its highest since early March — highlighting how shale's crisis is seemingly over, though more bankruptcies likely lie ahead.

Why it matters: Its price at the time — $43 — is still too low for many producers to do well, though it varies from company to company.

Facebook launches its TikTok rival, Instagram Reels

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook-owned Instagram on Wednesday launched its answer to the popular karaoke app TikTok, whose future remains in limbo.

The big picture: Facebook has a long record — sometimes successful, sometimes not — of adopting features that have proven popular on rival platforms and rolling them out to its billions of users worldwide in an effort to avoid being eclipsed by younger upstarts.