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Photo: Brendan Smailowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump denied there is any proof that Russia poisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny at a White House press conference on Friday, saying he would be "very angry if that is the case."

Why it matters: Trump, in his first public comments since Nalvany fell ill during a flight from Siberia to Moscow, said: "I don't know exactly what happened." The German government announced this week that the poisoning was conducted with Novichok, a chemical typically associated with Russian security services.

What Trump's saying: "So, I don't know exactly what happened. I think that it is tragic. It is terrible. It should not happen. We have not had any proof yet, but we will take a look. ... I would be very angry if that is the case."

Instead of backing the German government's analysis of Nalvany's illness, Trump spoke of his relationship with other countries around the world and noted ongoing negotiations with Russia on a non-proliferation agreement.

  • "I get along with almost all countries," Trump said. "I get along with North Korea ... If Hillary got elected, we would be in a war right now with North Korea. ... We have a great peace deal in the Middle East with UAE and Israel."

The president questioned why reporters frequently ask him about Russia and requested more questions on China.

  • "It is interesting that everybody is always mentioning Russia," Trump said. "I don't mind you mentioning them, but China at this point is probably a nation that you should be talking about much more so than Russia, because the things that China is doing are far worse."

Go deeper

Trump’s playbook for planting suspicion

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's effort to paint Joe Biden as corrupt — debunked by fact-checkers — fits a pattern of Trump's attacks on enemies: Raise deeply serious questions, regardless of what the facts say; hammer on those questions; never, ever seek finality.

Why it matters: Trump tries to plant seeds of suspicion and doubt, even if he doesn't actually prove a case. He incubates the attacks in perpetuity, rather than seeking an actual resolution. But in Biden's case, they've backfired in a way Trump couldn't have imagined.

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.