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Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump attend a joint press conference following their meeting at Chequers. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

President Trump, speaking at a joint press conference with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Friday, dismissed the notion that his repeated criticism of NATO countries will help boost Russian President Vladimir Putin's position ahead of their upcoming meeting in Helsinki on Monday, adding that the U.S. has "been far tougher on Russia than anybody."

Axios’ Jonathan Swan emails from Chequers: Trump “has still not been specific about what he wants to achieve from his meeting with Putin. I asked Trump to tell us the three or four things he wanted to achieve from his meeting with Putin and he just listed topic areas — ‘Ukraine,’ ‘Syria,’ ‘non-proliferation,’ etc. A senior European official told me that when he tried to get an agenda or even goals for the meeting the White House response was very vague.”

Addressing Russia
"That's dishonest reporting ... We have been far tougher on Russia than anybody, than anybody. Look I’m not gonna go down 100 years, but we’ve been extremely tough on Russia."
— President Trump
  • Helsinki agenda: Trump, in addition to saying rattling off vague discussion topics, said he will "absolutely" bring up the question of election meddling in his conversations with Putin. "I'm not going in with high expectations, but we may come out with some very surprising things."
  • Theresa May said that both she and Trump "agree that it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity, and that we should continue to deter and counter all efforts to undermine our democracies."
  • "The Prime Minister would agree, if we have a good relationship with Russia, and with China, and with other countries, that's a good thing," said Trump.
  • "President Obama failed very badly with Crimea," Trump said, dodging questions on how Moscow's occupation of the territory affects U.S.-Russia relations. "I don’t think we would’ve done that if I were president…I’m not bad at doing things…so lets see what happens. But this was an Obama disaster."
NATO summit
  • From Swan in Chequers: “Trump all but confirmed he had been thinking of drawing down U.S. troops from Europe, [given several NATO countries' failure to meeting spending requirements] but had swung back in the other direction and now supports it.”
  • Spending requirements: “The UK is one of a handful of nations… in addition to the U.S. meeting the 2% GDP minimum defense spending commitment,” Trump said, adding that May was “right there with me” on pushing others to increase spending.
  • "I can't overestimate how big the meeting with NATO was," Trump continued. "I mean, they had spirit..I'll tell you what, every single person in that room was gung-ho to get it done, get the money in."
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "I have a great relationship with Angela," Trump said, before criticizing her on immigration: "It's not politically correct, but I'll say it, anyway. I think they better watch themselves because you are changing culture, you are changing a lot of things ... It’s a very sad situation. It’s very unfortunate."
  • Nord Stream II pipeline: To me, it's a tragedy. It's a horrific thing being done ... I believe Germany is going to be getting 50, 60, or even I've heard numbers of 70% of their energy from Russia. How can you be working for peace and working from strength when someone has that kind of power over your country?...You've given up all your strength."

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.