Alex Brandon / AP

The loyalty pledge: The NYT reports that a week after taking office, Trump "summoned" Comey to the White House for a dinner in which he twice asked the FBI Director to promise to be loyal to him — and Comey declined. This tallies with earlier reports that Trump wanted and didn't receive an assurance of loyalty, and is shows the Comey camp clearly wants to get his side of the story out.

Russia on his mind: Trump told NBC's Lester Holt that before pulling the trigger on firing Comey he thought, "you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story."

Our full coverage: Trump blames press team but loves Sanders, Majority of Americans disagree with Comey firing, The White House's evolving explanations, Fallout is just beginning.

The full Trump/Russia quote: "Regardless of recommendation I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. In fact, when I decided to just do it I said to myself, 'you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.' And the reason they should have won it is the electoral college is almost impossible for a Republican to win."On the timing:"When I did this now I said, 'I probably maybe will confuse people. Maybe I'll lengthen the time, because it should be over with, in my opinion it should have been over a long time ago because all it is is an excuse. I told myself, I might even lengthen out the investigation. But I told myself, I have to do the right thing for the American people. He's the wrong man for the position."On Sally Yates and Michael Flynn:"My White House Counsel Don McGahn came back to me and didn't make it sound like an emergency, and she actually didn't sound that way either in the hearings the other day in the hearings the other day, like it had to be done immediately. This man has served for many years, he's a general, he's in my opinion a very good person. I believe it would be very unfair to hear from somebody who we don't even know and immediately run out and fire a general."

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 18,187,396 — Total deaths: 691,352 — Total recoveries — 10,841,436Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 4,711,323 — Total deaths: 155,379 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  4. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
  5. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.

In photos: Thousands evacuated as Southern California fire grows

A plane makes a retardant drop on a ridge at the Apple Fire north of Banning in Riverside County, which "doubled in size" Saturday, per KTLA. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A massive wildfire that prompted mandatory evacuations in Southern California over the weekend burned 26,450 acres and was 5% contained by Monday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The big picture: As California remains an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some 15 separate fires are raging across the state. About 7,800 people were under evacuation orders from the Apple Fire, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze. CalFire said Monday that a malfunction involving a "diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system" started the Apple Fire.

Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250 million over alleged privacy violations

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Twitter of using phone numbers and emails from its users to make targeted ads between 2013 and 2019, Twitter said in an SEC filing published Monday.

Why it matters: Twitter estimates that the FTC's draft complaint, which was sent a few days after its Q2 earnings report, could cost the company between $150 million and $250 million. The complaint is unrelated to the recent Twitter hack involving a bitcoin scam.