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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Those who speak in public on behalf of Donald J. Trump have all developed their own phrases to try to tread that tightrope between maintaining integrity and not angering or defying the boss. Sean Spicer's catchphrase was "the tweet speaks for itself." Sarah Sanders is understandably a big fan of "I'd refer you back to the president’s outside counsel."

What's happening: Now, it looks like John Bolton is developing a good one: "That's not the position of the United States."

From today's CBS interview between "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan and Trump's national security adviser:

  • Brennan: "On Air Force One this week, President Trump when he was speaking to reporters seemed to leave the door open to recognizing Russia's annexation of Crimea, saying we'll have to see what happens when the issue comes up in the meeting. Is the U.S. endorsing the idea that international borders can be redrawn by force? Is this actually a topic?"
  • Bolton: "No that's not the position of the United States. But I think —"
  • Brennan: "This is why it was newsworthy when he said it."
  • Bolton: "Well I don't know that that's what he said. ... I think the president often says 'we'll see' to show that he's willing to talk to foreign leaders about a range of issues and hear their perspective. President Putin was pretty clear with me about it and my response was, 'We're going to have to agree to disagree on Ukraine.'"
  • Brennan: "But that's not up for negotiation."
  • Bolton: "That's not the position of the United States."
  • Brennan: "Right. But saying 'we'll see' suggests it might be."
  • Bolton: "Well, we'll see."

Flashback: Axios, June 28 — In his private meeting with G7 heads of state, Trump told the leaders "NATO is as bad as NAFTA" after saying earlier in the conversation that Crimea probably should belong to Russia because everyone there speaks Russian.

Go deeper

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

4 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

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