Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the coronavirus pandemic and arms control on Thursday, the Kremlin announced and the White House later confirmed.

Why it matters: The phone call comes amid recent warnings that hackers associated with Russian intelligence services have tried to steal information from researchers working to develop a coronavirus vaccine. It also follows reports that the Kremlin paid Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which the White House has insisted is uncorroborated intelligence.

What they're saying: President Trump "reiterated his hope of avoiding an expensive three-way arms race between China, Russia, and the United States and looked forward to progress on upcoming arms control negotiations in Vienna," White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a press release.

The big picture: Russia is reporting the fourth-most coronavirus infections in the world behind India, Brazil and the U.S, although experts doubt the authoritarian regime's official tally.

Go deeper: Russia tests anti-satellite weapon in space

Go deeper

Blumenthal calls classified briefing on Russian interference "absolutely chilling"

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) called on the Trump administration to declassify intelligence detailing Russian efforts to influence the 2020 elections, telling MSNBC on Sunday that the classified briefing lawmakers received about the Kremlin's activities last week was "absolutely chilling."

The big picture: National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina said in a statement Friday that the Russian government is "using a range of measures" to "denigrate" Joe Biden ahead of the election. China and Iran would prefer that Trump is defeated, according to Evanina.

Ben Sasse emerges as GOP Trump critic ahead of November

Sen. Ben Sasse walks to the Senate from the subway to vote in June. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has dialed up his spicy slams of President Trump, including this swipe at yesterday's signing ceremony: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."

Why it matters: Trump increasingly looks — to business and to fellow Republicans — like a loser in November. So they're more likely to create distance to save their own skins. Sasse also won his May primary, further freeing him.

A quandary for state unemployment agencies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

State agencies charged with paying unemployment benefits to jobless residents have their backs against the wall as they rush to parse President Trump's executive actions on coronavirus aid.

Why it matters: States are being asked to pitch in $100 per unemployed resident, but it’s a heavy lift for cash-strapped states that are still unclear about the details and may not opt-in at all. It leaves the states and jobless residents in a state of limbo.