Evan Vucci / AP

In his second set of remarks to reporters on Thursday, President Trump said he would like to "thank" Vladimir Putin for ordering the U.S. to cut its embassy staff in Russia by 755, in response to U.S sanctions:

"I want to thank him because we're trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I'm concerned I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll. There's no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we've been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We're going to save a lot of money."

Other key quotes, per the USA Today's Gregory Korte:
  • On the FBI raid of Paul Manafort's home: "I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever. I know Mr. Manafort. Haven't spoken to him for a long time, but I know him…. I was very, very surprised to see it. I've always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He's like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don't know, but I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that's pretty tough stuff."
  • On whether he has confidence in McMaster: "Yes, I do. General McMaster?... He's my friend and he's a very talented man. I like him and I respect him."
  • On state of relationship with Sessions: "It is what it is. It's fine. He's working hard on the border."
  • On anti-missile defenses: He said he would be announcing a plan in the next week to add billions of dollars to missile defense.
  • On leaks: He said the leaks involving national security are serious. "And then you have the leaks where people want to love me, and they're all fighting for my love. Frankly, I'm somewhat honored."
  • On Afghanistan troop levels: "We're getting close. We're getting very close. It's a very big decision for me. I took over a mess and we're going to make it a lot less messy."

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. EST: 32,135,220 — Total deaths: 981,660 — Total recoveries: 22,149,441Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m EST: 6,975,980 — Total deaths: 202,738 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. Politics: House Democrats prepare new $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package.
  4. Health: Cases are surging again in 22 states — New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: America is closing out its strongest quarter of economic growth.
  6. Technology: 2020 tech solutions may be sapping our resolve to beat the pandemic.
  7. Sports: Pac-12 will play this fall despite ongoing pandemic — Here's what college basketball will look like this season.
  8. Science: Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China — During COVID-19 shutdown, a common sparrow changed its song.
8 hours ago - Sports

Pac-12 will play football this fall, reversing course

A view of Levi's Stadium during the 2019 Pac-12 Championship football game. Photo: Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Pac-12, which includes universities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington state, will play football starting Nov. 6, reversing its earlier decision to postpone the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: The conference's about-face follows a similar move by the Big Ten last week and comes as President Trump has publicly pressured sports to resume despite the ongoing pandemic. The Pac-12 will play a seven-game conference football season, according to ESPN.

Dave Lawler, author of World
9 hours ago - World

Global coronavirus vaccine initiative launches without U.S. or China

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A global initiative to ensure equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines now includes most of the world — but not the U.S., China or Russia.

Why it matters: Assuming one or more vaccines ultimately gain approval, there will be a period of months or even years in which supply lags far behind global demand. The COVAX initiative is an attempt to ensure doses go where they're most needed, rather than simply to countries that can produce or buy them at scale.

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