President Trump defended his opposition to removing Confederate symbols in an interview with "Fox News Sunday," telling host Chris Wallace that the flag does not offend him and that for many people it "represents the South."

Why it matters: Trump has attacked organizations like NASCAR that have banned the Confederate flag, claiming it's an infringement on freedom of speech. He has also threatened to veto a defense bill that would rename military installations named for Confederate leaders, despite bipartisan support in Congress.

What he's saying: "When people proudly hang their Confederate flags, they're not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South," Trump said.

  • "I'm not offended either by Black Lives Matter, that's freedom of speech. You know the whole thing with cancel culture — we can't cancel our whole history. We can't forget that the North and the South fought."

Pressed on the issue of military bases, Trump again said he would consider vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act and dismissed the fact that military leaders support renaming them.

  • "I don't care what the military says. I'm supposed to make the decision," he said. "Fort Bragg is a big deal. We won two world wars — nobody even knows General Bragg. We won two world wars."
  • "What are we going to rename it? You going to name it after the Reverend Al Sharpton? What are you going to name it, Chris?"

Go deeper: Pentagon effectively bans Confederate flag from military installations

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Elliott Abrams to replace Brian Hook as Trump's Iran envoy

Brian Hook. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image

President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Thursday. He will be replaced with Venezuela envoy Elliott Abrams, a noted Iran hawk who will serve in both roles.

Why it matters: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive for coronavirus ahead of Trump visit

Photo: Justin Merriman/Getty Images

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has tested positive for COVID-19 and plans to quarantine at his home for the next 14 days, his office announced Thursday. He currently has no symptoms.

Why it matters: The 73-year-old DeWine was set to meet President Trump Thursday on the tarmac at an airport in Cleveland and was tested as part of standard protocol. He is the second governor known to have contracted the coronavirus, after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R).

Updated 43 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 18,860,908 — Total deaths: 708,676— Total recoveries — 11,394,821Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 p.m. ET: 4,834,546 — Total deaths: 158,445 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Fauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: July's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery — Teladoc and Livongo merge into virtual care giant.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.