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Evan Vucci / AP

WH Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that President Trump "absolutely did not" take Vladimir Putin at his word when he denied Russia interfered in the U.S. election. Sums it up: Priebus alternated sentence to sentence whether Trump believes Russia "probably" interfered or "did" interfere.

The current position: "It doesn't mean they're off the hook, but what it mean is that we're not going to forgo progress simply because we have a disagreement in regards to this meddling in the United States election."

Priebus also said he has "no idea" why Donald Trump Jr, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner decided to meet a Kremlin-connected lawyer during the election to discuss adoption, adding, "there was nothing to it, it was a 20 minute meeting."

Quote of the day: "He was a star in Hamburg, and no one can take that away."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.