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President Donald Trump yells to reporters as he walks to board Marine One Wednesday. Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah tried to downplay the significance of President Trump's anti-Muslim retweets by emphasizing Trump's commitment to national security and the safety of Americans. Even when reporters pointed to the outrage Trump's behavior ignited, specifically with U.K. leaders, Shah remained committed to his message.

The backdrop: This isn't the first time a White House spokesperson has tried to spin a seemingly impulsive action by President Trump into a broader policy directive.

Key quotes from Shah's gaggle on board Air Force One:

  • More on Trump's tweets of the Britain First: "The president has been talking about these security issues for years ... He's going to continue to talk about them on Twitter. He's going to talk about them in speeches. He's going to talk about them, you know, in policy discussions."
  • Spin on Democrats: "We are now looking at the possibility of a difficulty in passing government funding legislation because of disagreements on immigration policy. The Democrats' priority is amnesty. Our priority is safety and security."
  • Was Trump aware of the source of the tweets? How did they come to his attention. "I haven't talked to him about that ... we are not going to be focusing on process ... we are going to be focusing on the issues."
  • Does the president feel that Muslims are a threat to the U.S.? "No, look, the president has addressed these issues with the travel order," said Shah, noting that there are "plenty" of Muslim-majority nations not facing travel restrictions.

Go deeper: The darkest day of Trump's presidency

Go deeper

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New variants of the coronavirus circulating globally appear to increase transmission and are being closely monitored by scientists.

Driving the news: The highly contagious variant B.1.1.7 originally detected in the U.K. could become the dominant strain in the U.S. by March if no measures are taken to control the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.