Kash Patel, a senior National Security Council official, is interviewed on CBS. Photo: CBS

Kash Patel, a senior National Security Council official, told CBS News in an interview that aired Wednesday that his phone conversation with Rudy Giuliani documented in a draft impeachment report had nothing to do with Ukraine. He added he was "never a back channel to President Trump on Ukraine matters, at all, ever."

Why it matters: Call records included in an impeachment report released by House Democrats Tuesday show Patel spoke with Guiliani two months before the Trump administration suspended military aid to Ukraine.

  • Trump's former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill, told impeachment investigators that she heard the president thought Patel was his Ukraine director and that Patel was slipping Ukraine-related "materials" to him outside normal NSC channels, per Axios' Jonathan Swan, who notes Patel has never been assigned to Ukraine on the NSC.

The big picture: Following Hill's testimony last month, Patel categorically denied ever discussing Ukraine with Trump.

  • In his interview with CBS News, Patel said his conversation with Giuliani was "personal" and he was "delighted" to speak with the former mayor of New York City, where he grew up.
"If [Democrats] had any actual information as to the substance of those calls, then they would've put it in there," he said. "But they didn't. This is a standard operating procedure to castigate someone's name and reputation — especially when they work in the White House."

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Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

Roger Stone arriving at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

Which states have set single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 12,389,660 — Total deaths: 557,279 — Total recoveries — 6,830,596Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 3,169,611 — Total deaths: 133,885 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,856,341Map.
  3. Public health: The reality of the coronavirus bites.
  4. Trade: Trump says he's no longer considering phase-two trade deal with China because the pandemic damaged the two countries' relationship.
  5. 🎧 Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem.