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President Trump leaves the Oval Office Friday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump said he considered the ouster of his personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, to be virtually "automatic" after he found out about comments she made during an off-the-record dinner with reporters.

Why it matters: Westerhout, whose title was director of Oval Office operations, sat right outside the Oval Office, and had unique visibility into the president's calls, visitors and correspondence. She was one of very few West Wing officials who had been there from Day 1.

What he's saying: Trump, speaking Friday on the South Lawn before boarding Marine One, told reporters that Westerhout had called him moments earlier and "was very upset — she was down."

  • Trump tweeted Saturday morning: "While Madeleine Westerhout has a fully enforceable confidentiality agreement, she is a very good person and I don’t think there would ever be reason to use it. She called me yesterday to apologize, had a bad night. I fully understood and forgave her!"

Asked about a report by Politico concerning the contents of Westerhout's dish, Trump said the idea that he didn't want to be photographed with Tiffany Trump, his youngest daughter, was "just absolutely false."

  • "Tiffany is great," he said. "I love Tiffany. ...I look forward to talking to her."

Westerhout, whose access to the White House was revoked Thursday, made the off-the-record remarks at a dinner with reporters who were covering him during this month's summer break in New Jersey.

  • "Everything she said was off the record," Trump told reporters. "And that still doesn’t really cover for her. She mentioned a couple of things about my children."
  • "I think the press is very dishonest because it was supposed to be off the record," he added. "But, still, you don’t say things like she said, which were just a little bit hurtful to some people."

The president said Westerhout told him she had been drinking at the dinner.

  • "She’s a very ... good person," Trump said. "I always felt she did a good job. ... ... I really think she had a bad night. ... And I wish her well."
  • "[T]he press breaks off-the-records all the time because they are very dishonorable. Many of them. Not all of you, but many of them are very dishonorable."
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Go deeper

18 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: America looks for the exits after a year of COVID

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
18 mins ago - Health

Many vulnerable Americans have received the coronavirus vaccine

Data: CDC, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

More than two-thirds of Americans 75 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, as have more than half of those 65-74, per CDC data.

Why it matters: Any future surge in cases almost certainly wouldn't be as deadly as previous waves, because older people are the most likely to die from the virus.

2 hours ago - World

Report: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs

The scene in 2019 of a site believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained, north of Kashgar in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese authorities have breached "each and every act prohibited" under the UN Genocide Convention over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang province, an independent report published Tuesday alleges.

Why it matters: D.C. think-tank the Newlines Institute for Strategy and Policy, which released the report, said in a statement the conclusions by dozens of experts in war crimes, human rights and international law are "clear and convincing": The ruling Chinese Communist Party bears responsibility.

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