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C-SPAN

Today marked the first daily State Department briefing of the Trump Administration. Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner, a holdout from Obama's administration, delivered remarks and said there will be another briefing tomorrow.

Questioned and answered: North Korean aggressions, Russian sanctions, potential budget cuts, and where Tillerson stands in Trump's Administration:

  • Tillerson's upcoming travel: Toner reported this week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be visiting in China, South Korea, and Japan.
  • On North Korean aggressions: Toner wouldn't say whether the U.S. is considering equipping South Korea with its own nuclear defensive option in light of North Korea's recent threat to the stability of the region. But, Toner said the U.S. told China deployment of THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea is in response to North Korea's aggressions and that it is not a threat to China.
  • On Russian sanctions: the U.S. will keep sanctions in place for Russia until the eastern Ukraine Donbass region and Crimea are no longer occupied.
  • On potential budget cuts: Tillerson is in conversations with people about what their priorities are, and Toner said "the budget process is still … in early days." There will perhaps be cuts, but there will be no limit to the function and efficacy of the State Department.
  • On Tillerson's influence in Trump's administration: the secretary speaks to the president "very frequently" and that Tillerson's voice will be heard "loud and clear" at national security meetings.
  • On Israeli settlements: Toner reiterated Trump's perspective that he would like to see Israel hold back on settlements. He said State is working with the White House to look at the situation to formulate next steps.
  • 1 fun thing: Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Ratney is taking over the bureau of Middle Eastern Affairs in addition to handling the Syrian conflict. Reporters sarcatistcally joked about that not being too much work for one person.

Go deeper

White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11

Charles Muro, 13, is inoculated at Hartford Healthcare's mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Wednesday released its plan to vaccinate children between the ages of five and 11, pending authorization from the Food and Drug Administration of the first COVID-19 shot for that age group.

The big picture: The White House said it has secured enough vaccine supply to equip more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care offices, hundreds of school and community health clinics, as well as tens of thousands of pharmacies, to administer the shots.

1 hour ago - Sports

Where it stands: Weed policies by U.S. sports league

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With public support for marijuana legalization nearing unanimity, and more athletes using cannabis to treat pain, the four major U.S. sports leagues continue to reduce restrictions and punishments.

Driving the news: NBA players won't be subject to random marijuana testing this season, an extension of an agreement between the league and its players' union that began ahead of the 2020 Orlando restart.

4 hours ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan discussed Saudi-Israel normalization with MBS

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.