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President Trump holds a MAGA rally in Winston-Salem, N.C. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

An aide to former Defense Secretary James Mattis heard President Trump say in a meeting, "my f---ing generals are a bunch of pu--ies," because they prioritized alliances over trade deals, according to Bob Woodward's new book "Rage," which was obtained ahead of its publication by CNN.

Why it matters: Trump and his allies have been on the defensive for the past week after anonymous sources alleged in The Atlantic that the president "has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members" — claims that the White House vehemently denies.

The big picture: During interviews with Woodward, Trump reportedly criticized military officials for viewing alliances with South Korea and NATO as the best bargains for the U.S.

  • "I wouldn't say they were stupid, because I would never say that about our military people," Trump said. "But if they said that, they — whoever said that was stupid. It's a horrible bargain ... they make so much money. Costs us $10 billion. We're suckers."
  • Mattis asked his aide to document Trump's comment from the overheard meeting in an email, according to Woodward.

Go deeper: Trump told Bob Woodward he intentionally played down coronavirus threat

Go deeper

Scoop: Trump lawyers to avoid Michigan lawmaker meeting after COVID exposure

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani and other key members of President Trump's outside legal team won't be attending today's meeting with two Michigan lawmakers because they've been exposed to the coronavirus, two sources familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: This added turmoil inside the president's legal operation comes at a time when the president is urging Republican state lawmakers to interfere with the electoral process and reverse Joe Biden's victory to a Trump win.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
5 mins ago - Science

Biden's military space future

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden should anticipate major and minor conflicts in space from even the earliest days of his presidency.

The big picture: President Donald Trump's military and civil space policies are well-documented, but Biden's record and views on space are less clear.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as New York's COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.