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Right off the bat Spicer touched on the hot topic of the day: Trump's SCOTUS nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. "It was an unbelievable phenomenal evening," said Spicer. He said Gorsuch's first call after being announced was to Merrick Garland, who said Gorsuch has the right to a speedy confirmation process. Other takeaways:

  • Spicer got somber when asked about the weekend strike in Yemen — "It's hard to say something was a success 100% when you lose a life." But what the U.S. got out of that mission, "I truly believe and I know the president believes it's going to save lives."
  • Michael Flynn: Trump's National Security Advisor made a surprise appearance at Spicer's daily press briefing to say the administration is putting Iran on notice after its recent ballistic missile test.
  • How to get Chuck Schumer on board with Gorsuch: "Look at the support that's already come out... across the spectrum." Spicer said the real question should be directed to Schumer: "Why are you obstructing government at every step of the way?"
  • Why not take extreme vetting to Congress? Spicer said what Trump can do by executive action, he will.
  • Zero concerns about Besty Devos: "I am 100% sure" she will be confirmed for Secretary of Education.
  • Travel ban: Spicer said that Trump has been "very clear" that his goal is about security and preventing "radicalization" — not targeting any religion. He also noted that green card residents are once more permitted free travel.

One fun thing: The first Skype question — ever — went to Kim Kalunian from WPRI Rhode Island. Spicer also called on the other three Skype representatives: Natalie Herbec from Fox8 in Ohio; Lars Larson from "The Lars Larson Show" in Oregon (who referred to Spicer as "Commander Spicer"); and Jeff Jobe, publisher of six weekly community newspapers in South Central Kentucky.

Go deeper

Armin Laschet elected as leader of Merkel's CDU party in Germany

Armin Laschet. Photo: Christian Marquar - Pool/Getty Images

Armin Laschet, the centrist governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected on Saturday as the new leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeating the more conservative Friedrich Merz by a 521-466 margin.

Why it matters: Laschet is now the most likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as the standard bearer of the German center-right heading into September's elections. With Merkel preparing to step down after 16 years in power, Laschet is seen as a continuity candidate.

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy — Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.