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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

Updated 17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

Biden delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the Capitol. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: The Celebrate America event, with remarks by Biden and Harris.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

President Biden faces a deeply broken America

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As President Biden begins his term in office today, he'll be tasked with leading a country beset with deep, long-term problems.

Why it matters: Though the pandemic has made them worse, existential challenges around inequality, social alienation and political division in the U.S. were in place well before SARS-CoV-2 arrived on American shores. The country's future will depend in large part on whether the choices made over the next four years can flatten the curve of American decline.

Facebook, Instagram transfer accounts, followers to Biden administration

Screenshot of official White House Facebook account.

Facebook on Wednesday confirmed that it is transferring the millions of followers of the official Facebook and Instagram White House accounts to the Biden administration.

Details: The accounts for "@POTUS," "@VicePresident" ("@VP" on Instagram) and "@FLOTUS" are having the followers from their personal Pages and accounts be transferred over. It's unclear when that transition process will be complete.

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