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Photo: Rolex dela Pena / Pool Photo via AP

President Trump did not publicly discuss human rights or rebuke Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's endorsement of extrajudicial killings in The Philippines' drug war during a bilateral meeting at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

What happened: During the public portion of the meeting, Trump and Duterte both ignored repeated questions from the press pool about human rights as Duterte told the pool that the meeting "was not a press statement." Duterte then jokingly called the reporters in the room "spies," eliciting a laugh from Trump.

After the meeting, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that "human rights briefly came up" regarding the drug war, but Duterte's spokesman pushed back on that characterization, telling reporters that human rights was not discussed and Trump "did not have any official position" on the country's drug war.

The full statement from Sanders:

"The conversation focused on ISIS, illegal drugs, and trade. Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs."

The full statement from Harry Roque, Duterte's spokesman:

"The issue of human rights did not arise. It was not brought up...It was President Duterte who brought up with President Trump the drug menace in the Philippines, and the U.S. president appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter but was merely nodding his head."

Go deeper

Media giants back Bannon's bid to release Jan. 6 documents

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon at the FBI Washington Field Office in Washington, DC., in November. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A coalition of news outlets including the Washington Post is supporting Stephen Bannon's campaign for the release of documents related to his contempt of Congress charges, WashPost confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: WashPost, the New York Times, CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal's parent company and others filed a motion arguing that a proposed protective order seeking to prevent the documents from being released violates the First Amendment, per the Daily Mail, which first reported on the news.

Symone Sanders leaving VP's office

Vice President Kamala Harris and her press secretary Symone Sanders. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Symone Sanders, senior advisor and chief spokesperson to Vice President Kamala Harris, is leaving the VP’s office by the end of this year, three White House officials told Axios on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The VP has faced an onslaught of criticism in her first year centered on her leadership and staff, adding to the suggestion, she’s not the Democratic Party’s preferred nominee for 2024.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The travel bans and border closures prompted by the Omicron variant likely won't fully prevent its spread, but that won't stop countries from leaning on the measures.

Why it matters: The rapid speed at which countries turned to travel bans with the emergence of Omicron indicates border controls will increasingly become a weapon against infectious disease — whether or not public health experts agree they are effective.