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McMaster. Photo: Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Speaking at an Atlantic Council event celebrating the U.S.-Baltic partnership, outgoing national security adviser H.R. McMaster denounced Vladimir Putin over what he called Russia's efforts to "undermine our open societies and the foundations of international peace and stability.“

Between the lines: McMaster's was some of the most blistering rhetoric toward Putin thus far from the Trump administration, and included an acknowledgement that the West has "failed to impose sufficient costs" on the Kremlin. It came in his last speech before being replaced by John Bolton.

  • "For too long, some nations have looked the other way in the face of these threats. Russia brazenly, and implausibly denies its actions, and we have failed to impose sufficient costs. The Kremlin’s confidence is growing, as its agents conduct their sustained campaigns to undermine our confidence in ourselves and in one another.”
  • “Mr. Putin may believe that he is winning in this new form of warfare. He may believe that his aggressive actions in Salisbury, in cyberspace, in the air and on the high seas can undermine our confidence, our institutions and our values. Perhaps he believes that our free nations are weak and will not respond to his provocations. He is wrong."
  • "We might all help Mr Putin understand his grave error. We might show him the beaches of Normandy, where lingering craters and bullet holes demonstrate the West’s will to sacrifice to preserve our freedom. We might bring him to our concert halls and theaters where the music and art of our people reveal our freedom to create, imagine, and to dream."

Worth noting: McMaster made no criticism of President Trump during his speech. He praised the recent sanctions against Russia and the expulsions of Russian diplomats, and cited some of Trump's speeches as examples of speaking the truth about authoritarianism.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to a report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.