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Westerhout, whose access to the White House was revoked Thursday, made the off-the-record remarks at a dinner with reporters who were covering him during this month's summer break in New Jersey.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

Updated 27 mins ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 49 mins ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

Black Friday shopping up from 2020 but trails pre-pandemic levels

Shoppers carry their purchases during Black Friday shopping at Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont of Greater Chicago Area, Illinois on Nov. 26, 2021. Photo: Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty Images

More shoppers flocked to stores on Black Friday this year compared to last, but online shopping was lower than expected, according to data from Friday.

Driving the news: Online shopping was on the lower end of what was expected, largely because people had been ringing up their shopping carts earlier in the year in an effort to skirt potential supply chain issues, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.

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