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President Trump at the White House, Sept. 7. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump told reporters at a Labor Day briefing on Monday that he is "taking the high road" by not meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats to negotiate the next coronavirus stimulus package.

Why it matters: Unemployment benefits have expired for millions of Americans, but House Democrats and the White House are no closer to a deal — while nearly one in eight households are struggling to get enough to eat.

What he's saying: "I don't need to meet with them to be turned down," Trump told reporters. "They don't want to make a deal because they think if the country does as badly as possible ... that's good for the Democrats."

  • "I am taking the high road. I'm taking the high road by not seeing them," he added.

Of note: Trump said that the damaging article from The Atlantic's editor-in-chief, which reported that the president "has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members," was a "totally made-up story" and that "only an animal would say a thing like that."

  • He characterized a recent statement from former White House deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes as a denial of The Atlantic's story, although what Fuentes said is that he "did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather" and that sources in the article were "conflating stories."

Go deeper

Dec 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group releases details of 2-part stimulus package

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks alongside a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators has released the full legislative text for a two-part stimulus plan: a $748 billion package focusing on areas of agreement and a separate $160 billion bill that includes the most controversial provisions — additional funding for state and local government and liability protections.

Why it matters: While many lawmakers see this bill as the most realistic and concrete compromise on coronavirus relief that we've seen in months, House and Senate leadership currently view it as a marker for broader negotiations — not the final vehicle for aid.

Manchin: GOP leadership will use bipartisan bill as framework for stimulus deal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Va.). Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The bipartisan group of senators working on an economic stimulus deal have received assurances from Senate GOP leadership that their $748 billion proposal will be used as the framework for a relief package that Congress hopes to pass by the end of the week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) tells the Axios Re:Cap podcast.

Why it matters: This is the most compromise we've seen from Congress to date in trying to pass a new round of economic stimulus, as the country grapples with its worst-ever surge of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Dec 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: McConnell alerted White House before congratulating Biden

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called White House chief of staff Mark Meadows Tuesday morning to say he planned on congratulating Joe Biden on winning the Electoral College and would officially address him as president-elect on the Senate floor, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Senate leader had resisted public demands to acknowledge Biden's victory despite the president's losing court battles, holding off until electors had formally given Biden the 270 votes he needed to secure his win on Monday. The delay underscored that McConnell still needs President Trump to back must-pass legislation before leaving office, one of the sources said.