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

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President Trump denied a report from the New York Times that his top national security aides discussed a plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East in case of a fallout with Iran, adding that if they were planning to, "we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that."

"I think it's fake news, okay? Would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that. I think -- where was that story in the "New York Times"? Well, "The New York Times" is fake news."

The backdrop: The plan was reportedly drawn up by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and presented during a meeting about the Trump administration's broader Iran policy, attended — among others — by national security adviser John Bolton, CIA director Gina Haspel, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

  • It's unclear if President Trump was briefed on the details of the plan, which did not call for a land invasion of Iran, but requested a similar number of troops involved the U.S.' 2003 invasion of Iraq, per the Times.

The big picture: Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been warning of an unspecified "escalating threat" from Iran in recent weeks, after receiving intelligence from Israel about a possible Iranian plot to attack U.S. interests in the region. Trump told reporters Monday that he’d been “hearing little stories about Iran,” adding: “If they do anything, they will suffer greatly.”

Go deeper: Pentagon presented plan to deploy 120,000 troops in case of Iran escalation

Go deeper

20 mins ago - World

China crosses 1 billion vaccinations, with 500 million in one month

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

China has now administered 1 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines — 500 million of them in just the past month. That's half of the global total during that period.

The big picture: China's vaccine rollout started slowly, due in part to a low sense of urgency and also to the fact that the government was focusing on exporting doses.

1 hour ago - Sports

Raiders player becomes first active in NFL to come out as gay

Photo: Julio Aguilar via Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders player Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player in history to come out as gay on Monday.

Driving the news: Nassib said he was coming out now because "representation and visibility are so important" and he will be donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention service for LGBTQ youth in the U.S.

Airlines, unions want DOJ to prosecute unruly passengers

Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A coalition of airline industry partners asked the Justice Department on Monday to begin prosecuting disruptive passengers.

Why it matters: Increased political divisions and conflict over pandemic guidelines have led the Federal Aviation Administration to take some form of enforcement action over 400 times in the first five months of 2021, compared to 146 in all of 2019, according to the coalition.

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