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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

McConnell circulates revised GOP coronavirus stimulus plan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) talks with reporters in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell circulated a new framework for coronavirus stimulus legislation to Republican members on Tuesday that would establish a fresh round of funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program and implement widespread liability protections, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The revised GOP relief draft comes after McConnell's meeting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, during which they went over in detail what provisions would get backing from President Trump.

Barr appoints special counsel to continue investigating origins of Russia probe

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told the AP on Tuesday he appointed veteran prosecutor John Durham as a special counsel on Oct. 19 to continue investigating the origins of the FBI's 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Why it matters: It's an extra layer of protection for Durham to continue investigating possible misconduct by Obama-era intelligence officials past Joe Biden's inauguration as president.

40 mins ago - Podcasts

Nasdaq exec Jeff Thomas on new diversity rules for listed companies

The Nasdaq today said it will ask federal securities regulators to approve new rules that would require its listed companies to regularly report on the demographic diversity of their boards, and also comply with board diversity requirements.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper with Jeff Thomas, Nasdaq's senior VP of corporate services, to learn why Nasdaq is enacting this policy, the internal discussions that led to it and what happens to companies that don't comply.