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Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), one of President Trump's most loyal Senate allies, told "Axios on HBO" it was a sign of "respect" from the president to not push for nationwide face mask adoption.

Why it matters: Face masks are a key part of controlling the spread of coronavirus, and many state and local officials clashed over implementing mask mandates.

  • Back in September, CDC director Robert Redfield said masks may be even more effective than a vaccine in stopping the pandemic.

The bottom line: Cramer defended the president's position as rooted in a preference for freedom.

  • Cramer said that "Trump's default position is generally for individual responsibility and individual outcomes. And so while he's said, 'It's up to you,' that's a respect."
  • "Part of the freedom that he supports so strong are states' rights, federalism. Now you may not like how he talks about it, but he does talk about individual freedoms, and local control of things in a meaningful way that frankly draws a lot of the support."

The big picture: Cramer told Axios CEO Jim VandeHei in the "Axios on HBO" interview that he doubted a mandate would have stuck.

  • "I know there are a lotta people that, if he created a mask mandate, wouldn't have worn a mask."

The bottom line: Many Trump supporters follow the president's cue, and the president could have spent time pushing people to wear masks.

Go deeper

L.A. becomes first county to surpass 1 million coronavirus cases

COVID-19 mass-vaccination of healthcare workers takes place at Dodger Stadium. Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Los Angeles County officials said Saturday they had detected the county's first case of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant first found in the United Kingdom.

Why it matters: The announcement came as L.A. became the first county to surpass 1 million COVID-19 cases, straining the area's already overwhelmed health care system.

59 mins ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.