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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

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy is here to stay

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Why Trump may still fire Barr

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Barr may be fired or resign, as President Trump seethes about Barr's statement this week that no widespread voter fraud has been found.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the president's thinking tells Axios that Trump remains frustrated with what he sees as the lack of a vigorous investigation into his election conspiracy theories.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Trump's spy chief plans dire China warning

Xi Jinping reviews troops during a military parade in Beijing last year. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Thursday will publicly warn that China's threat to the U.S. is a defining issue of our time, a senior administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: It's exceedingly rare for the head of the U.S. intelligence community to make public accusations about a rival power.

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