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Trump and HHS Sec. Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump told his health secretary yesterday that he regrets getting involved in the administration's policy on vaping, according to two sources familiar with the conversation. "I should never have done that f***ing vaping thing," Trump said during an impromptu call on speakerphone in an Oval Office meeting.

Why it matters: The administration's ban on flavored vapes is one of its most prominent health policy decisions, but trying to find a compromise between public health groups and the pro-vaping community caused massive political headaches.

Behind the scenes: Trump decided to call Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a campaign meeting, while discussing health care with his political team. He sometimes does that with cabinet secretaries, in an impromptu fashion, during meetings when their issues come up.

  • Azar got defensive after Trump expressed regret for the vaping policy, per a source familiar.
  • Both sources familiar with the conversation said Trump wasn't expressing regret for the specific vaping policy outcome, which the team believes is the right one, but rather for personally wading into vaping and e-cigarette policy in the first place rather than leaving it up to the Food and Drug Administration.

Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio was talking during the meeting about health care as a 2020 issue, including the importance of protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

  • Trump also ribbed Azar over drug prices, per two sources familiar, asking him, "When are you gonna get these drug prices lower?" and pressing him to "hurry up" on rules that would let people import cheaper drugs from Canada.
  • One source described Trump's tone as "play bantering." The New York Times' Maggie Haberman was the first to report the call between Azar and the president.

What they're saying: "President Trump has said this Administration will protect people with pre-existing conditions, lower drug prices even further, end surprise medical bills, and make sure Americans get the highest quality of care they deserve," White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

  • "There’s no daylight between the White House and HHS as we work to implement the President’s policies and improve the American healthcare system for everyone, not just those in the individual market," he added.
  • HHS declined to comment on the meeting.

Reality check: The administration hasn't accomplished much on health care. Congress did not repeal the Affordable Care Act — Trump's top priority — and it did not address surprise medical bills, either. The administration has done very little on drug prices, and is urging the courts to throw out protections for pre-existing conditions.

Go deeper: Trump's smoke-and-mirrors 2020 health care strategy

Go deeper

Court rejects Trump campaign's appeal in Pennsylvania case

Photo: Sarah Silbiger for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Friday unanimously rejected the Trump campaign's emergency appeal seeking to file a new lawsuit against Pennsylvania's election results, writing in a blistering ruling that the campaign's "claims have no merit."

Why it matters: It's another devastating blow to President Trump's sinking efforts to overturn the results of the election. Pennsylvania, which President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes, certified its results last week and is expected to award 20 electoral votes to Biden on Dec. 12.

Dave Lawler, author of World
24 mins ago - World

Belarus dictator Lukashenko says he'll leave post after new constitution

Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.

3 hours ago - World

Iran confirms assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadhe

The Iranian ministry of defense issued a statement on Friday confirming the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadhe, an Iranian scientist and the architect behind the Islamic Republic’s military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Fakhrizadhe was the head of the Amad project in the Iranian ministry of defense, which focused on developing a nuclear bomb until 2003.