Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed President Trump's threat to target Iranian cultural sites, declining to disavow the president's tweet on the Sunday cable talk shows but stating repeatedly that the U.S. would behave within the rules of the system.

"George, I've seen what we are planning in terms of the target set. ... The American people should know that every target that we strike will be a lawful target, and it will be a target designed at the singular mission of protecting and defending America. President Trump has been diligent about that. He doesn't want war."
— Mike Pompeo on ABC's "This Week"

Why it matters: Trump's warning about cultural sites prompted immediate outrage from Iranian officials, who accused the president of flouting international law and threatening war crimes.

  • United Nations resolution 2347, which the U.S. supported in 2017, "condemns the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage," including religious sites and artifacts.

The big picture: The Trump administration has repeatedly emphasized that its principal goal is de-escalation and that the Qasem Soleimani strike was carried out to “stop a war.” Rhetoric like this suggests the off-ramp to a hot conflict may be fading.

  • Pressed on this by CNN's Jake Tapper, Pompeo said: "We have provided [Iran] clear guidance about what it is we have as an expectation. ... It is important that they understand that America will no longer behave the way that it did during the Obama/Biden administration. We will no longer appease."

Go deeper: Iran calls Trump a "terrorist in a suit" after attack threat

Go deeper

Fauci says White House effort to discredit him is "bizarre"

Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci told The Atlantic on Wednesday that efforts by certain White House officials to discredit him are "bizarre" and that it "ultimately hurts the president" to undermine a top health official in the middle of a pandemic.

Driving the news: Fauci's comments come on the heels of a USA Today op-ed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who claimed that Fauci has been "wrong about everything" related to the coronavirus that the two have interacted on. Fauci told The Atlantic: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself.”

2 hours ago - Health

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on Wednesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate, Tulsa World reports.

Why it matters: The 47-year-old Stitt is believed to be the first governor in the U.S. to test positive. He attended President Trump's rally in Tulsa last month, which the county's health department director said likely contributed to a surge in cases in the region.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 13,357,992 — Total deaths: 579,546 — Total recoveries — 7,441,446Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 3,432,307 — Total deaths: 136,493 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
  3. Public health: Florida's outbreak is getting worse — Testing is again overwhelmed by massive U.S. caseload.
  4. Business: UnitedHealth posts most profitable quarter in its history — Walmart will require all customers to wear masks.
  5. Politics: White House says it didn't clear Navarro op-ed that attacked Fauci.