Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump retweeted a statement from Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) calling for the firing of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman on Friday as part of a larger tweetstorm against the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert.

Why it matters: With the retweet, the president is publicly endorsing the idea of removing a key national security official that testified during the House impeachment inquiry — a move that he has privately pushed for in recent days, per the Washington Post.

Flashback: Vindman testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — which he listened in on — was "improper."

  • Vindman, who was born in Ukraine, used his opening statement during that testimony to tell his father that his ability to speak freely during the proceedings was "proof that [he] made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union ... in search of a better life for our family."
  • Leading up to his testimony, Vindman faced unsubstantiated cable news attacks that questioned his loyalty to the U.S.

The state of play: Trump also retweeted Tom Fitton, the president of conservative activist group Judicial Watch, who said that Vindman should be fired as soon as possible "to protect our foreign policy from his machinations."

  • And before departing the White House for North Carolina on Friday, the president told the press corps that he was "not happy with" Vindman after being asked if he wanted him to be removed.
  • "They'll make that decision," Trump added.

The big picture: The Post first reported late Thursday that Trump was preparing to push Vindman out "after he expressed deep anger ... over the attempt to remove him from office because of his actions toward Ukraine."

  • Asked by reporters Friday about the report, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the Pentagon "[protects] all of our persons, service members from retribution or anything like that."

Go deeper: Vindman dismisses offer to become Ukraine's defense minister

Go deeper

Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence

Roger Stone arriving at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 20. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday evening commuted the sentence of his longtime associate Roger Stone, according to two senior administration officials. Stone in February was sentenced to 40 months in prison for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress.

Why it matters: The controversial move brings an abrupt end to the possibility of Stone spending time behind bars. He had been scheduled to report to prison on July 14.

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Which states have set single-day coronavirus records this week

Data: COVID Tracking Project and state health department data compiled by Axios; Map: Danielle Alberti and Naema Ahmed/Axios

13 states this week surpassed records set just last week for their highest number of coronavirus infections in a single day, according to the COVID Tracking Project and state health department data. 16 states in total reported new highs.

The big picture: The United States' alarming rise in coronavirus cases isn't just due to increased testing — particularly where the number of cases has grown fastest over the last month, Axios' Andrew Witherspoon and Caitlin Owens report.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 12,389,660 — Total deaths: 557,279 — Total recoveries — 6,830,596Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6:30 p.m. ET: 3,169,611 — Total deaths: 133,885 — Total recoveries: 983,185 — Total tested: 38,856,341Map.
  3. Public health: The reality of the coronavirus bites.
  4. Trade: Trump says he's no longer considering phase-two trade deal with China because the pandemic damaged the two countries' relationship.
  5. 🎧 Podcast: Rural America has its own coronavirus problem.