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Asked by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) to react to quotes by President Trump and Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 campaign praising stolen material published by WikiLeaks, special counsel Robert Mueller responded: "Problematic is an understatement."

Why it matters: Throughout his testimony, Mueller has been reluctant to answer questions that stray outside the contents of his 450-page report. His sharp criticism of Trump's praise of WikiLeaks, which he described as an "hostile intelligence service" whose founder Julian Assange is under indictment, is a rare rebuke of the president.

The exchange:

  • Quigley: "This is Donald Trump, Oct. 10, 2016: 'I love Wikileaks. This Wikileaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You got to read it.' Donald Trump, Oct. 12, 2016: 'This Wikileaks is like a treasure trove.' Donald Trump, Oct. 31, 2016: 'Boy, I love reading those Wikileaks.' ... How do you react to it?"
  • Mueller: "Well, problematic is an understatement in terms of giving some hope or boost to what is illegal activity."
  • Rep. Quigley: "And Donald Trump Jr. had direct electronic communications with WikiLeaks. On October 3, 2016, WikiLeaks sent another direct message to Trump Jr., asking 'you guys to help disseminate a link alleging candidate Clinton had advocated a drone to attack Julian Assange.' Trump Jr. responded that he had already done so. Same question. This behavior, at the very least, disturbing?"
  • Mueller: "Disturbing and also subject to investigation."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
19 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

Distrust in political, media and business leaders sweeps the globe

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Trust in government is collapsing, especially in democracies, according to a new global survey.

Why it matters: People also don't think media or business leaders are telling them the truth, and this suspicion of multiple societal institutions is pushing people into smaller, more insular circles of trust.