Sean Spicer was back behind the podium — which some predicted might not happen — after Trump's first foreign trip. But the questions quickly turned to focus on a country that Trump didn't visit: Russia.

The elephant in the briefing room: Spicer said that Jared Kushner's alleged outreach to the Russians to set up a backchannel was "not a confirmed action" and cited statements from Homeland Security head John Kelly and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster brushing aside concern. He added, "Mr. Kushner's attorney has said that Mr. Kushner has volunteered to share what he knows with Congress."

  • Delaying tactic: Spicer kicked things off with a detailed recap of Trump's trip that spanned nearly 10 minutes.
  • Trump's Senate nuclear option tweet: "He wants action. This president was elected to get things done."
  • The next FBI head: Spicer confirmed that Trump would be interviewing former FBI Deputy Director John Pistole and Chris Wray.
  • On Merkel's criticism: Spicer said Trump has a "fairly unbelievable" relationship with the German chancellor and added that her views on the changing nature of the U.S.-German relationship are a "good thing" because Trump wants more burden sharing.
  • Does Trump believe human activity causes climate change? "Honestly, I haven't asked him."
  • The possibility of a staff shakeup: "The president is very pleased with his team."

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
28 mins ago - Health

The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some states are seeing dangerous levels of coronavirus hospitalizations, with hospitals warning that they could soon become overwhelmed if no action is taken to slow the spread.

Why it matters: Patients can only receive good care if there's enough care to go around — which is one reason why the death rate was so much higher in the spring, some experts say.

Scoop: The Lincoln Project is becoming a media business

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Lincoln Project is looking to beef up its media business after the election, sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: The group recently signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) to help build out Lincoln Media and is weighing offers from different television studios, podcast networks and book publishers.

Trump, Biden strategies revealed in final ad push

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

President Trump is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Facebook ads on the Supreme Court and conservative judges in the final stretch of his campaign, while Joe Biden is spending over a million on voter mobilization, according to an analysis by Axios using data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

The big picture: Trump's Facebook ad messaging has fluctuated dramatically in conjunction with the news cycle throughout his campaign, while Biden's messaging has been much more consistent, focusing primarily on health care and the economy.

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