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Sec. of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Sait Serkan Gurbuz / AP

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that he is offended by reports that the State Department is being "hollowed out," and he attributed the cuts to two things: that the 2016 budget was "a record high," and that the Department expects to be successful in conflict areas and able to decrease their level of support.

Why it matters: A New York Times op-ed from two former diplomats said "draconian budget cuts for the State department...threaten to dismantle a great foreign service."

Tillerson's full statement:

"I have been so proud of the acting assistant secretaries and people who have stepped into acting undersecretary roles, and when I read these articles that there's this hallowing out, I take offense to that on their behalf...when people say somehow we don't have a state department that functions."

Go deeper

Changing the inflation conversation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Inflation looks like it’ll run hot for longer than plenty of smart people thought it would. The conversation over just how much more Americans will have to pay for their stuff has taken on a new intensity, as supply problems show few signs of fading.

Why it matters: The rate of price growth has remained consistently strong in recent months — a time that some thought would bring cooling prices after an initial reopening spike. What goes on with prices will influence the decisions made by Congress, the Biden Administration, and the Federal Reserve.

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday, via Axios night owl Hans Nichols:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.