Alex Brandon / AP

White House and intelligence officials worked to spread evidence of contacts between Donald Trump's associates and Russia, and of Russian interference in the election, within the government before Barack Obama left office, according to the New York Times.

The intel included intercepted communications in which Russian officials discussed their contacts with Trump's associates, and accounts of meetings in Europe between "people close to Trump" and Russian officials.

What they did: US officials included as much raw intel about the contacts and election meddling as possible into analyses, and raised specific topics in briefings knowing their comments would be archived.

Why they did it: to "leave a clear trail" for investigators, and preserve intelligence that might otherwise have been swept aside once Trump took office.

Who didn't do it: The Times says Obama was not personally involved.

Sean Spicer's response: "The only new piece of information that has come to light is that political appointees in the Obama administration have sought to create a false narrative to make an excuse for their own defeat in the election."

The context: FBI investigations into Russia's election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign are ongoing, and the House and Senate intelligence committees have also announced investigations.

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Trump considering order on pre-existing condition protections, which already exist

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President Trump announced on Friday he will pursue an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, something that is already law.

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. The Trump administration is currently arguing in a case before the Supreme Court to strike down that very law — including its pre-existing condition protections.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 19,266,406 — Total deaths: 718,530 — Total recoveries — 11,671,253Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 4,928,802 — Total deaths: 161,052 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid

President Trump. Photo: Jim watson/Getty Images

President Trump, speaking from a podium at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., on Friday announced that he is prepared to issue executive orders suspending payroll taxes and extending enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of 2020, and halting student loan interest and payments indefinitely.

Why it matters: The impending orders come after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon. But Trump said he remains committed to striking a deal with Congress on a broader stimulus package before signing the orders.