President Trump ignited outrage when he absolved Kim Jong-un of responsibility for the death of American college student Otto Warmbier, who left jail in North Korea in a terminal state.

Catch up quick: "I don't believe that he [Kim Jong-un] would have allowed that to happen; it just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen," Trump said in a press conference after meeting with the North Korean dictator in Hanoi. "Those prisons are rough — they're rough places — and bad things happened. But I really don't believe that he — I don't believe that he knew about it."

  • "He tells me that he didn’t know about it," Trump also said, "and I will take him at his word."
  • Trump later said he'd been "misinterpreted," though his original words couldn't have been clearer.

Here's an exchange from today's Fox News Sunday between host Chris Wallace and Trump's national security adviser John Bolton:

  • Wallace: But this is not the first time that the president has taken the word of an autocrat over outside evidence. 
  • Bolton: It's not taking the word. He said I'm going to take — when he says, "I'm going to take him at his word," it doesn't mean that he accepted as reality, it means that he accepts that's what Kim Jong-un said. 
  • Wallace: So when he says "I take him at his word," it doesn't mean that he believes Kim Jong-un? 
  • Bolton: Well, that's what he said — I think one way to prove that is to give the United States a complete accounting. 

The bottom line: Working for Trump often involves claiming the president didn't mean what he clearly said.

Go deeper

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
6 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
7 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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