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Russian President Vladimir Putin hands U.S. President Donald Trump a World Cup football. Photo: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

President Trump, who seemed to side with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki summit Monday rather than the U.S. intelligence community, doubled down on the leader's strong denial of election meddling and criticized the United States' poor state of relations with Moscow during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

"[Putin] said there's absolutely no collusion, which you know, and everybody who watches this show knows, and I think most of the country knows ... And I tell you, I thought it was a really amazing time ... I thought that President Putin was very, very strong."
— President Trump

After that, Hannity seemed to agree with Trump's dismissal of collusion and moved onto other topics, including nuclear proliferation and the eradication of ISIS.

Other highlights:

  • Mueller investigation: Trump characterized Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe as a "phony, witch hunt deal” that’s driven "a wedge" between the U.S. and Moscow. He added that Putin agrees that it's "a shame."
  • Trump said he and Putin discussed War and Peace, Syria, and Ukraine: “At the end of this I think we came to a lot of real, good conclusions." Trump added that the summit was "really good" for Israel, “he loves Bibi.”

The backdrop: The interview with Hannity comes after the president cast doubts on the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump. His refusal to confront Russia, a U.S. adversary, stunned lawmakers from both parties.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
38 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer, but picked up a new rival.

42 mins ago - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.

Mike Allen, author of AM
53 mins ago - Axios on HBO

GOP senator smacks Trump

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told “Axios on HBO” he’s not sure former President Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination if he ran in 2024 — a rare voice of criticism from within the party.

  • When I raised the conventional wisdom that Trump would be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in.“
  • I don't know that,” the senator said during our interview in Chalmette, La.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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