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President Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Staff/Getty Images

Kash Patel, a senior National Security Council official accused of running a secret backchannel to President Trump on Ukraine matters, has categorically denied ever discussing Ukraine with the president.

What he's saying: "A number of media outlets have falsely reported that, as senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council, I have communicated with President Trump regarding Ukraine," Patel told Axios on Friday night. "At no time have I ever communicated with the president on any matters involving Ukraine.

  • "Any reporting to the contrary, and any testimony provided to Congress, is simply false, and any current or former staff who suggest I have raised or discussed Ukraine matters with President Trump, are similarly misinformed or spreading outright falsehoods."

Why it matters: Trump's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, told impeachment investigators that she heard Trump thought Patel was his Ukraine director and that Patel was slipping Ukraine-related "materials" to the president outside of the normal NSC channels. Patel has never been assigned to Ukraine on the NSC.

  • Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee seized on Hill's allegations about Patel, who previously worked for ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and who helped write a memo that accused the Russia investigators of bias.

Between the lines: Hill said that when she heard from another NSC staffer about Patel's supposed involvement on Ukraine, she considered it to be so "strange" and alarming that she reported it to her superior.

  • Hill said, however, that she never found out what actually went on with Patel and that her superior, Charles Kupperman, never got back to her after telling her he'd look into the matter.
  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an NSC official who testified before impeachment investigators, also mentioned Patel in his testimony.
  • Vindman testified that Hill told him that Patel was misrepresenting himself as an Ukraine expert and the president had come to believe Patel was in charge of Ukraine policy on the NSC.

In a statement Friday night, Patel categorically denied all of these allegations from his current and former colleagues.

  • "I pride myself on my record as a dedicated national security professional who is entrusted to handle our nation's most sensitive matters," he said. "At no time have I strayed from my mission to protect the homeland in service to President Trump and the National Security Council."

Go deeper: Vindman says Mulvaney coordinated plan to push Ukraine for Biden investigations

Go deeper

Biden calls Fox News reporter a "stupid son of a b---h" on hot mic

President Biden blasted Fox News' Peter Doocy on Monday after the reporter asked if the nation's soaring inflation is a political liability, saying, "what a stupid son of a b----h."

Driving the news: The Biden administration has faced rising inflation rates over recent months, which it has labeled as "transitory."

Hope King, author of Closer
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Investors reset their compass

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The endpoints of a stimulus-fueled market are being defined.

Why it matters: Conditions that drove excess pricing in riskier assets are steadily being removed, and big swings in the market like those seen today are inevitable as investors try to adjust to the new landscape.

3 hours ago - World

Soldiers seize power in Burkina Faso as global coup surge continues

Mutinous soldiers in Burkina Faso declared on state television Monday that they had deposed the government, closed the borders and taken control of the country. President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré has reportedly been arrested.

The big picture: This would be the third successful military coup in west Africa in eight months, after juntas took power last year in Guinea and in neighboring Mali.