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Speaking to reporters before departing for his rally on Thursday, President Trump said he did not bring up the topic of Russian interference in his phone call with President Vladimir Putin, again casting aspersion on the warnings of the U.S. intelligence community.

REPORTER: Mr. President, Robert Mueller said last week that Russia is interfering in the U.S. elections right now. Is that --
TRUMP: "Oh you don't really believe this. Do you believe this? Ok, fine. We didn't talk about it. I spoke with President Putin of Russia yesterday. They are having massive fires in their forest. I've never seen anything like it. I just offered our assistance because we are very good at putting out forest fires frankly. If they should need it, I offered our assistance. We had a good talk, a short talk but a good talk, and I think he appreciated it."

Why it matters: The few moments in which special counsel Robert Mueller drifted from "yes," "no" or non-answers at last week's hearings were to explicitly warn lawmakers that Russia is continuing its election interference activities "as we sit here." Mueller's warning is also the consensus of the current U.S. intelligence community — including Trump's hand-picked FBI Director Christopher Wray, who testified earlier this month: "My view is until they stop, they haven’t been deterred enough."

  • And yet, President Trump continues to downplay concerns that Russia will insert itself into the 2020 presidential election, viewing Mueller's warnings through the lens of the "collusion" allegations that have dogged his presidency for the last two years.

Go deeper: Senate Intel releases 1st volume of report on 2016 Russian interference

Go deeper

7 mins ago - Podcasts

Bob Nelsen on AstraZeneca and his plan to revolutionize biotech

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford on Monday reported promising efficacy data for their COVID-19 vaccine, which has less stringent storage requirements than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and may be distributed earlier in developing countries.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of vaccine and therapeutics manufacturing with Bob Nelsen, a successful biotech investor who on Monday launched Resilience, a giant new pharma production platform that he believes will prepare America for its next major health challenges.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Updated 14 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Unpacking Joe Biden's decision to tap John Kerry as his climate envoy

Photo: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is naming former Secretary of State John Kerry as a special presidential envoy for climate change.

Why it matters: The transition team's announcement sought to show that it will be an influential role, noting that Kerry — a former Massachusetts senator and the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee — will be on the National Security Council.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries

Waiting, in New Delhi. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

While the 95% efficacy rates for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are great news for the U.S. and Europe, Monday's announcement from Oxford and AstraZeneca may be far more significant for the rest of the world.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca plan to distribute their vaccine at cost (around $3-4 per dose), and have already committed to providing over 1 billion doses to the developing world. The price tags are higher for the Pfizer ($20) and Moderna ($32-37) vaccines.