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Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dodged questions Monday on whether President Trump accepted Vladimir Putin's denial of Russian election interference, stating instead that Trump heard what Putin had to say, and "decided to move on from that part of the conversation."

Sanders also said that Trump had only learned about his eldest son's June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer "in the last couple of days," and described it as "very short" with "no follow up". She later added that "the only thing inappropriate" about the meeting is "the people who leaked" details, stating firmly that "Don Jr. did not collude with anybody to influence the election." Other highlights from the off-camera briefing:

Sanders:

  • Mixed messaging: "There were sanctions specific to election meddling that were discussed but not beyond that," said Sanders. Trump tweeted yesterday: "Sanctions were not discussed at my meeting with President Putin"
  • On other meetings like the one with Don Jr.: Sanders said she isn't sure whether other meetings, like the one with the Russian lawyer, have taken place.
  • On Ivanka taking Trump's seat at G20: "I think we should be proud to have Ivanka sitting in that seat."
  • The latest job's report: "Sadly, there wasn't a lot of coverage of these numbers," said Sanders before rattling off the improving statistics.

Marc Short, White House Director of Legislative Affairs, joined the briefing to discuss the Democrats' "unprecedented" obstruction of Trump nominees, as outlined in a a one-pager that was handed out beforehand:

  • On canceling August recess: "The president has every right to call Congress back" if key nominations affecting national security are not confirmed.
  • Senate health bill: "We're confident that it's going to pass," said Short, noting that the administration expects to repeal and replace the ACA before the August recess.
  • Tax reform: Short hopes to have the tax plan agreed upon by the House, Senate and WH before August recess.
  • Democrats' approach on ACA repeal: "The left... has been more organized in their messaging on this than I think collectively Republicans have."
  • Russia sanctions bill: "We support the sanctions in the bill on Russia and Iran... the administration is fully supportive of those sanctions."

Go deeper

2021 economy boomed at fastest rate in 37 years

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The U.S. economy surged ahead with a 6.9% annual growth rate in the final months of 2021 and achieved the strongest growth over an entire calendar year since 1984.

Driving the news: New GDP numbers from the Commerce Department show a remarkable acceleration in economic activity, much faster than the 5.3% growth rate analysts expected.

The Fed isn't the only problem investors are worried about

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Federal Reserve will be raising rates, just as the economy is slowing. The markets hate that.

Why it matters: The ugly start to the stock trading year doesn't just reflect Fed-induced agita — investors are also worried about a growth slowdown.

4 hours ago - Health

White House says Obamacare sign-ups hit record

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaking in the White House in December 2021. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The White House said Thursday that a record 14.5 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare marketplaces since Nov. 1, including more than 10 million enrollments through HealthCare.gov.

Why it matters: Last year's stimulus bill contained substantial investments in the program, including increased subsidies for people who don't receive health insurance from an employer or through Medicare or Medicaid.

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