Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer and fixer, denied portions of his February guilty plea in a private phone call recorded without his knowledge by actor and comedian Tom Arnold, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: "There is no tax evasion. ... And the Heloc? I have an 18% loan-to-value on my home. How could there be a Heloc issue? How? Right?… It's a lie," he reportedly said, referring to a criminal charge involving his home-equity line of credit. Cohen's comments are unlikely to have much, if any, effect on his 3-year prison sentence, set to start on May 6, for campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.

  • Cohen had pleaded guilty to criminal charges brought by New York federal prosecutors last August, explicitly stating that he acting knowingly. Since, he has been trying to reduce his sentence by helping with other congressional investigations.

Statement from Lanny Davis, Cohen's attorney:

"Nothing said by Mr. Cohen to Tom Arnold contradicts Mr. Cohen’s previous defense attorney, Guy Petrillo, in his sentencing memorandum to the presiding federal US District Court Judge William H. Pauley III back in December. I would also add the important words used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and others, in describing Michael Cohen’s cooperation and testimony as “credible” addressing the “core” issues involved in his investigation."

Go deeper: Recap: Michael Cohen's explosive public testimony

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Macron visits Beirut promising a "new political pact" for Lebanon

Macron visits the hard-hit Gemmayzeh neighborhood. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron walked through the blast-damaged streets of Beirut on Thursday, swarmed by people chanting for the fall of Lebanon's government and pleading for international aid.

Why it matters: Lebanon is at a breaking point. Its economy was collapsing and its government hardly functioning — all before a massive explosion destroyed swathes of the capital city, including its vital port.

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The PGA Championship is golf's first major in over a year

Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Even if Friday's jobs report shows a big number, it is becoming clear hiring slowed and likely even reversed course in July and real-time indicators suggest the employment situation worsened into August.

Driving the news: Payroll processor ADP's monthly jobs report showed private companies added 167,000 jobs last month, well below the 1.2 million expected by economists and far below June's 4.8 million jobs added.