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In a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition conference Saturday afternoon, President Trump described how he took the decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

What he's saying: Trump said he was talking on the phone with the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman about a different topic while his senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt were also in the room. At that time Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Israel, but Trump didn't mention him as being part of this specific discussion.

Trump said he heard about the Golan Heights issue for a long time but during the phone call with Friedman he asked to get a "quickie" about the history of the area and its importance. Trump said Friedman and others in the room explained the Golan was important for Israel because it was a high ground essential for security.

  • Trump said he then asked Friedman who was on the line and the others who were in the room: "How do you like the idea of me recognizing exactly what we are discussing?"
  • Trump said Friedman was surprised and he said: "You would actually do that, sir?". Trump said he told Friedman: "Yes I think I am doing it right now — lets write something up".

The bottom line: The next thing that happened, Trump said, was his tweet stressing it was time for the U.S. to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. "We make fast decisions ... and I went 'bing' and it was done... it was a big story for two days — no repercussions."

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”