Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump defended his decision to move ahead with a controversial large-scale Tulsa rally this weekend amid the pandemic, saying in an interview Friday with Axios that "we have to get back to living our lives" and "we're going to have a wild evening tomorrow night at Oklahoma."

  • Pressed on why he wasn't using his presidential bully pulpit to encourage rally attendees to wear masks, Trump described masks as "a double-edged sword." When asked if he recommended people wear them, he added: "I recommend people do what they want."

Why it matters: Ahead of the rally expected to draw tens of thousands of supporters and protesters, the president's comments underscore his skepticism of the effectiveness of strict enforcement of masks and social distancing to combat the virus that has killed more than 118,000 Americans and devastated the U.S. economy.

  • And his advice flies in the face of warnings from Trump's own government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • Later in the interview, talking about China's renewed trouble with coronavirus, Trump said: "It's hard to stop it. It's the most contagious virus anyone's ever seen. I could look at you, and all of a sudden you have the virus. Or vice versa."

Driving the news: The president stood by his tweet earlier Friday warning protesters that law enforcement in Tulsa will not treat them "like you have been in New York, Seattle or Minneapolis." Trump said, "That's got to be the least controversial of my tweets."

  • "Oklahoma's much tougher on law and order" than some parts of the country, he said, and insisted that protests are packed with anarchists, agitators and looters. "They're all together."
  • He relished the lifting of a health and safety curfew in Tulsa for his supporters and said he has no intention of wearing a mask at the rally and that people should do what they want.
  • "I don't feel that I'm in danger," he said. "I've met a lot, a lot of people, and so far here I sit." (Everyone who meets with Trump, including this reporter, is tested beforehand.)

What's next: Trump says the rally in Oklahoma is part of a broader message that leaders have "got to open up our country" even as the pandemic continues.

  • "We have to get back to business. We have to get back to living our lives. Can't do this any longer," Trump said. "And I do believe it's safe. I do believe it's very safe."
  • He described seeing people handle masks unhygienically. "You know, there was a time when people thought it was worse wearing a mask," he said. "I let people make up their own decision."
  • Trump said they'll hand out masks at the rally.
  • Told that Fauci recommended people wear masks in these large gatherings, the president replied: "Fauci? I'm OK with that. If people want to wear masks I think that's great. I won't be. Not as a protest but I don't feel that I'm in danger."

Reality check from Axios health care editor Sam Baker: Although it's true that public health officials previously told the public not to wear masks, they never said masks made the virus worse. Their advice was motivated largely by a concern that there weren't enough masks at the time to protect health care workers, who could otherwise spread the infection widely.

  • That advice has changed as masks became more available and scientists learned more about how the virus spreads.

What's next: Read more from our interview this weekend in our Axios AM and Sneak Peek newsletters.

Go deeper

Trump says Supreme Court ending Obamacare would be "a big WIN"

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

President Trump on Sunday tweeted that the Supreme Court invalidating the Affordable Care Act would be "a big WIN for the USA!"

Why it matters: Democrats have argued that confirming a Trump-appointed justice to the Supreme Court would put the Affordable Care Act, which protects pre-existing conditions, in jeopardy. Trump's Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett, has written that she disagreed with Chief Justice John Roberts when he ruled to uphold the law.

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question — Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay.
  2. Health: Worsening crisis at Rikers Island jail spurs call for action — 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising.
  3. Politics: White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss vaccine — Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Students vandalize and steal from schools for viral TikTok challenge

TikTok logo displayed on a phone screen in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021. Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A viral TikTok challenge is leading students nationwide to shatter mirrors, steal fire alarms and intentionally clog toilets, The Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: Dubbed the the “Devious Licks challenge, students are showing off their "devious licks" on TikTok — with a sped-up version of "Ski Ski BasedGod" by rapper Lil’ B playing in the background.