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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Sean Spicer again said that President Trump will "have an announcement shortly" on whether he taped his conversations with James Comey. Spicer also reaffirmed Trump's willingness to testify under oath on the Russia probe to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but said he hasn't spoken with the president about whether he would testify before Congress, and wouldn't speculate as to if and when Trump will follow through. Briefing highlights:

  • What role did Sessions play in the firing of Comey? Spicer said he won't comment on conversations between the attorney general and the president.
  • Is Trump on board with Sessions testifying publicly? "He's going to testify. We're aware of it," said Spicer. He also said that it would be "premature" to state whether the WH would invoke executive privilege to recuse Sessions from answering certain questions.
  • On the 9th Circuit upholding the travel ban block: "We continue to be confident the [travel ban] is lawful...will be upheld by the Supreme Court."
  • On DC/Maryland emoluments lawsuit against Trump: "It's not hard to conclude there are partisan motivations behind today's lawsuit," said Spicer.

Details of Workforce Development Week from Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta:

  • Apprenticeships: The WH's Workforce Development Week is focused on increasing apprenticeships and skill-based learning "across most if not all industries," said Acosta. He notes that there are 360K job vacancies in manufacturing and 200K in construction for workers if they learned the required skills.
  • Student-focus: WH is pushing for "private-private partnerships" between colleges and companies, said Acosta. "Apprentices earn while they learn and... avoid substantial student debt that you see with higher education today."
  • Business backing: "I have spoken to several CEOs. Ivanka Trump has spoken to several CEOs, and there's excitement in the business sector," said Acosta. "Every CEO that I have spoke with has made a personal commitment to pursuing these."
  • Nod to Ivanka: Acosta repeatedly thanked Ivanka Trump for her efforts in launching the program.

Go deeper

New Zealand prime minister announces vaccine mandate for businesses

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during an October COVID-19 briefing in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Robert Kitchin - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses as the government pushes to reach a 90% vaccination target for the country.

Why it matters: Under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, businesses in close contact with customers must require a vaccine certificate from them. Ardern said at a briefing Tuesday that in order for these venues, which include hair salons, bars, restaurants and gyms, along with events, to operate staff must also be vaccinated.

State Department to set up new cyber bureau to combat hack attacks

Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaks on the challenges during an October conference in Quito, Ecuador. Photo:y Felipe Stanley/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced Monday plans for the State Department to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy.

Why it matters: The establishment of the bureau and plans for a new envoy to oversee critical and emerging technology come after a series significant hack attacks and other online crimes, notably ransomware assaults on U.S. infrastructure.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.