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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump said Thursday at a private event in New York that the whistleblower whose complaint is at the heart of a controversy involving Ukraine is "almost a spy," reports the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

"Basically, that person never saw the report, never saw the call, he never saw the call — heard something and decided that he or she, or whoever the hell they saw — they’re almost a spy. I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now."
— President Trump, via the Los Angeles Times

The LA Times later posted audio of Trump's comments from inside the room:

The big picture, per Axios politics editor Margaret Talev: Now and in times past, Trump has used language to suggest he wants to retaliate against people who don't do what he wants or question his actions.

  • By raising the complaint via an anonymous, statutory method rather than a media leak, the whistleblower seems to be trying to avoid some of the blowback experienced by past Trump enemies, like former FBI Director James Comey.
  • The whistleblower's anonymity keeps the focus on their concerns — and not on their background or intentions.
  • Not knowing their identity shields them from the full intensity of Trump's retaliation and forces Republicans and Democrats to take the complaint seriously.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

30 mins ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans infected with COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, less than 0.1% have been infected with the coronavirus, and 0.001% have died, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting some media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

Poll: Women of color highly motivated to vote

Voting rights activists, led by Congressional Black Caucus chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), protest recent passage of voter restriction laws at Hart Senate Office Building on July 15, 2021. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Women of color turned out to vote at record rates in the 2020 election, with almost nine in 10 agreeing that the stakes were too high not to vote, according to a new poll.

Why it matters: The findings in the poll, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of a group of reproductive rights organizations, appear to confirm the highly-motivated voting bloc's emerging power.

Updated 4 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky in Tokyo. Photo: Ding Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

🚨: Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars

🏊‍♀️: Katie Ledecky wins gold in women's 800m freestyle

🏊: Caeleb Dressel breaks world record in men's 100m butterfly, 3rd gold

🇬🇧: Britain wins gold in first-ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay

💻: Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage