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A stunning moment in today's House Intelligence hearing — the director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, acknowledged on live television that President Trump's loose talk has complicated relationships with Britain and Germany.

  1. On Britain: Rogers was asked about Trump's repetition of an unsubstantiated claim that Britain's top spy agency wiretapped Trump on behalf of President Obama. Rogers gave a forceful "no," said he agreed with the British that the claims were nonsense, and acknowledged that Trump's allegation was unhelpful and "clearly frustrates a key ally of ours."
  2. On Germany: Rogers was asked about Trump's suggestion to German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week that they both had something in common because they'd been wiretapped by Obama. Rogers said it was unhelpful for Trump to raise this controversial incident, which became public due to leaks by Edward Snowden. "It certainly complicates things," Rogers said.

Why this matters: Germany and Britain are two of America's key allies, with foundational shared interests and intimate national security relationships. Britain belongs to the "Five Eyes" — the crucial intelligence alliance with Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. These relationships — as Rogers acknowledged today — are incredibly resilient and will withstand these presidential hiccups. But for an NSA director to publicly state that the President is straining key relationships...that's extraordinary.

Go deeper

15 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.