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Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Today's press briefing centered around President Trump's congratulatory phone call to Vladimir Putin, which Sen. John McCain had criticized, saying, “An American president does not lead the Free World by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections."

Asked whether the election had been free and fair, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the U.S. can't "dictate how other countries operate." She also said there were "no specific plans made at this time" for a meeting between Trump and Putin. Trump had said earlier Tuesday they'd be meeting in the "not too distant future."

  • Sanders said the issue of Russian election meddling did not come up on the call between Trump and Putin, nor did the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal with a Russian-made nerve agent in the U.K.
  • On the Russia investigation: "To pretend like going through this absurd process for over a year would not bring frustration seems a little ridiculous."
  • Sanders said Trump isn't considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, and that the White House doesn't "feel like that's the most productive step forward."
  • On the issue of human rights violations in Yemen, Sanders said she is "not aware that that came up specifically" with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer CEO feels "liberated" after taking COVID vaccine

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla tells "Axios on HBO" that he recently received his first of two doses of the company's coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Bourla told CNBC in December that company polling found that one of the most effective ways to increase confidence in the vaccine was to have the CEO take it.

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Ripple CEO: SEC lawsuit is "bad for crypto" in the U.S.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by U.S. regulators, it would put the country at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to cryptocurrencies.

Between the lines: The SEC in December sued Ripple, and Garlinghouse personally, for allegedly selling over $1.3 billion in unregistered securities. Ripple's response is that its cryptocurrency, called XRP, didn't require registration because it's an asset rather than a security.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Pfizer CEO: "It will be terrible" if COVID-19 vaccine prices limit access

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told "Axios on HBO" that it "will be terrible for society" if the price of coronavirus vaccines ever prohibits some people from taking them.

Why it matters: Widespread uptake of the vaccine — which might require annual booster shots — will reduce the risk of the virus continuing to spread and mutate, but it's unclear who will pay for future shots or how much they'll cost.