Evan Vucci / AP

By this point Americans have grown accustomed to President Trump's pattern of making wild claims, searching for justification, and even enlisting his surrogates as public defenders. Here are his most explosive claims so far...

Inauguration crowds
  • Trump's claim: That the media lied about the crowd size at Inauguration, which Trump said — in a speech at the CIA — was wildly underreported. His claim was amped up by Sean Spicer, who said "this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe."
  • His evidence: Sean Spicer was trotted out to cite photos and metro ridership. Spicer then claimed photographic evidence was unfair, because of ground coverings on the mall. Trump quietly inflamed the claims, reaching out to the head of the National Parks Service for any photographic confirmation. Those photos were eventually obtained by BuzzFeed.
Voter fraud
  • Trump's claim: That millions of people illegally voted in the 2016 election. Trump claimed this after his election, and again after Inauguration Day.
  • His evidence: Once again, Spicer came to the president's defense, saying in January: "It was a comment he made on a longstanding belief… He believes what he believes based on the information he's been provided." Trump has since doubled down, labeling double registration as an example of how people can commit such fraud. While voter fraud does happen in very isolated cases, there is no evidence of fraud on the scale described by Trump.
Obama wiretapping
  • Trump's claim: That Obama "wiretapped" Trump Tower.
  • His evidence: The president has yet to point at definitive evidence for his claims, which reportedly came after he read a Breitbart aggregation of a Mark Levin radio show. While those allegations date back to reporting that the Obama administration sought a FISA warrant to monitor members of the Trump campaign, FBI Director James Comey and NSA chief Michael Rogers both have shot down Trump's claims.
British spying
  • The claim: That British intelligence services helped with the alleged wiretapping operation.
  • His evidence: This one gets even more dicey, as it started with Fox News pundit Andrew Napolitano citing anonymous sources, and having his claims repeated by Spicer. Trump had his own say in the matter, joking about it in a press conference with Angela Merkel. There has thus far been no substantiated evidence that GCHQ played any role in monitoring the Trump team.

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Updated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Americans feel Trump's sickness makes him harder to trustFlorida breaks record for in-person early voting.
  2. Health: The next wave is gaining steam.
  3. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots.
  4. World: Ireland moving back into lockdown — Argentina becomes 5th country to report 1 million infections.

Meadows confirms Trump's tweets "declassifying" Russia documents were false

Photo: Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed in court on Tuesday that President Trump's tweets authorizing the disclosure of documents related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton's emails "were not self-executing declassification orders," after a federal judge demanded that Trump be asked about his intentions.

Why it matters: BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold cited the tweets in an emergency motion seeking to gain access to special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. This is the first time Trump himself has indicated, according to Meadows, that his tweets are not official directives.

2 hours ago - World

China embraces hostage diplomacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government is threatening to detain foreign citizens unless their home governments do what Beijing demands. In some cases, China has already made good on those threats.

The big picture: This marks a potential evolution of China's "wolf warrior diplomacy" to outright rogue state behavior, putting it in the company of countries like North Korea and Iran, which have also engaged in hostage diplomacy.