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

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump's Tucker mind-meld

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images and BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

If you want to understand the rhetorical roots of Trump's Independence Day speech at Mount Rushmore, go back and watch Tucker Carlson's monologues for the past six weeks.

Between the lines: Trump — or rather his speechwriter Stephen Miller — framed the president's opposition to the Black Lives Matter protest movement using the same imagery Carlson has been laying out night after night on Fox.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 11,366,145 — Total deaths: 532,644 — Total recoveries — 6,154,138Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 2,874,396 — Total deaths: 129,870 — Total recoveries: 906,763 — Total tested: 35,512,916Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity — Houston mayor warns about hospitals
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Former Trump official Tom Bossert says face masks “are not enough”
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: Sports return stalked by coronavirus
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.

Bolton's hidden aftershocks

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The news media has largely moved on, but foreign government officials remain fixated on John Bolton's memoir, "The Room Where It Happened."

Why it matters: Bolton's detailed inside-the-Oval revelations have raised the blood pressure of allies who were already stressed about President Trump's unreliability.