Mar 11, 2019

Sarah Sanders refuses to say whether Trump believes Democrats hate Jews

In the first White House press briefing in 42 days, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders refused to directly answer whether President Trump believes Democrats hates Jews, following an Axios report that Trump made that comment in a speech to RNC donors this weekend.

NBC's Hallie Jackson: "Yes or no, does the president truly believe that Democrats hate Jews?
Sarah Sanders: "I am not going to comment on a potentially leaked document."
Jackson: "Does he think Democrats hate Jewish people as he said on the South Lawn?"
Sanders: "The president has laid out clearly his position on this matter. Democrats have had a number of opportunities to condemn specific comments and have refused to do that."
...
Jackson: "Does he really believe Democrats hate Jews? I'm just trying to get a sense of that."
Sanders: "I think that's a question you ought to ask the Democrats."

Other highlights:

  • China: Sanders said Trump has not set a date for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.
  • Personnel: Sanders would not comment on whether Trump would be nominating acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan to serve as the Pentagon’s secretary or whether acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney's role would become permanent. She also wouldn't comment on the White House's inquiry into Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's role in serial sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's sweetheart plea deal.
  • Paul Manafort: Sanders said Trump would make a decision on whether to pardon former campaign chairman Paul Manafort "when he's ready."

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Sign of the times: A pro-Warren super PAC

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a rally in Nevada. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of women progressives who back Sen. Elizabeth Warren has formed Persist PAC, a super PAC airing pro-Warren ads starting Wednesday in an effort to boost her performance ahead of Saturday's crucial Nevada caucuses, a spokesman told Axios.

Why it matters: Warren has spoken adamantly against the influence of unlimited spending and dark money in politics. But these supporters have concluded that before Warren can reform the system, she must win under the rules that exist — and that whether she likes it or not, their uncoordinated help may be needed to keep her viable through this weekend's contest and into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Pentagon policy chief resigns amid reported discord with Trump

John Rood. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

John Rood, the Pentagon's top policy official, will resign from his post at the end of the month, CNN first reported and President Trump confirmed.

The state of play: CNN said Rood "was perceived as not embracing some of the changes in policy the White House and senior Pentagon officials wanted," such as peace talks in Afghanistan with the Taliban and a decision to cut back on military exercises with South Korea as the president courted North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

Coronavirus cases rise, as warnings of global pandemic grow

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

We may be "at the brink" of a global pandemic, warns a top U.S. public health official, as cases continue to spread despite containment efforts. Meanwhile, the global economy is being affected, including the tech manufacturing industry.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed more than 2,000 people and infected over 75,000 others, mostly in mainland China, where the National Health Commission announced 136 new deaths since Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health