Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stone on Style / Twitter

Roger Stone is joining Donald Trump in swearing that he had nothing to do with pushing for the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Why Stone is speaking out: CNN, Politico and the NYT all reported that he was part of Trump's decision.

As the Times put it in a story last night: "Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime informal adviser to Mr. Trump who has been under F.B.I. scrutiny as part of the Russia inquiry, was among those who urged the president to fire Mr. Comey, people briefed on the discussions said."

Stone's quote: "With all due respect to the President, I am not the source of the New York Times, Politico or CNN stories and have never claimed I convinced the President to fire FBI Director Comey. Both Politico and the Times claim to have multiple credible sources for their reports. I offered no comment."

The rest of his statement:

"It has been my policy not to discuss the scope, subject or frequency of my occasional contacts with the President and I am not going to do so today. I remain a steadfast and loyal supporter of President Trump who I believe will be a great transformational President. I am certainly not going to contradict the President.
"I believe the source of this story is someone in the President's circle who thought that my longtime association with President Nixon would bring inevitable comparisons with the so-called Saturday Night Massacre and thus discredit the option of firing Mr. Comey.
"I have written posted and spoken in favor of the firing of Mr. Comey. It would be impossible for the White House not to know my views.
"No one who knows the President believes he is anything but his own man and is solely responsible for the decisions of his Administration.
"Now, let's make America Great Again."

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.