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AP

Although Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is the only person who can fire Russia Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, Sean Spicer said Monday, "I get there may be a technicality as to whom reports to whom. But the bottom line is, is that everybody who is in a status of that serves at the pleasure of the President of the United States." What Spicer was suggesting: Trump can't directly fire Mueller, but he can fire Rosenstein.

Why this matters: There has been a lot of discussion over the independence (or lack thereof) of Mueller's investigation. Rosenstein recently assured the Senate Intelligence committee that he would only fire Mueller if there was "good cause", regardless of Trump's orders. But Spicer is insinuating that the president can still determine the special counsel's fate.

Other highlights from Spicer's off-camera briefing:

  • Does Trump have confidence in Rosenstein? "The President has confidence in everyone who serves him in this administration."
  • Russia threatening to target U.S. planes in Syria: "We're going to do what we can to protect our interests... and keep the lines of communication open," said Spicer. He later added that the U.S. wants to de-escalate the tensions there, but "we will always preserve the right of self-defense."
  • Did Trump tape Oval Office conversations? "It's possible we will have an answer to that by the end of the week."
  • Progress of AHCA bill in Senate: The WH feels "very good" about the bill's progress, said Spicer. He later added that he doesn't know whether WH staff has seen text of the secret Senate bill.
  • Why hasn't Trump said anything about the latest London terror attack? The president has been "made aware of the attack", and senior White House staff have been tracking the situation and are in contact with their British counterparts.
  • Why is today's briefing off camera? "I've said it since the beginning -- the President spoke today, he was on camera. He'll make another comment today at the technology summit. And there are days that I'll decide that the President's voice should be the one that speaks, and iterate his priorities."
  • Today's tech roundtable: Spicer said the goal of the WH is to give the tech sector "the most opportunity to create jobs" and stated the administration "will work with individuals regardless of what their past political beliefs are."

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Health

Johnson & Johnson says booster shot increases efficacy of COVID vaccine

Syringes and a vial of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in French Polynesia on Sept. 8. Photo: Jerome Brouillet/AFP via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said in a press release Tuesday a global study showed that the protection offered by its coronavirus vaccine was strengthened by a booster shot.

Why it matters: While J&J has not formally applied for authorization to offer booster shots to the general public, it said it has shared the results of the study with the Food and Drug Administration and plans to share it with the World Health Organization and other health regulators.

1 hour ago - World

U.K. prosecutors charge third person in poisoning of former Russian spy

Emergency services members in biohazard encapsulated suits encasing the poisoning scene in a tent in Salisbury, England, in March 2018. Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

U.K. prosecutors said they had enough evidence to charge Denis Sergeev, a member of the Russian military intelligence service, in the 2018 Salisbury nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy, according to AP.

Why it matters: Sergeev is the third person to face charges for the nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, both of whom survived.

2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: More boycotts coming for Facebook

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Leaders of the Stop Hate For Profit social media boycott group are discussing whether to organize another campaign against Facebook in light of an explosive investigative series from the Wall Street Journal, Common Sense CEO Jim Steyer tells Axios.

The intrigue: Sources tell Axios that another group, separate from the Stop Hate For Profit organization, is expected to launch its own ad boycott campaign this week.