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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

White House special assistant Kelly Sadler reportedly mocked Senator John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis during a meeting on Thursday led by deputy press secretary Raj Shah, after the Senator came out against CIA nominee Gina Haspel, according to The Hill's Jordan Fabian and Jonathan Easley.

Why it matters: This is a brutal leak from the White House communications team as Sadler said, "[i]t doesn't matter, he's dying anyway." The Hill reports that Sadler's comment "did not go over well with others at the meeting," but that "the conversation continued without addressing it." In a statement to the Hill, the White House responded to the claims saying, "[w]e respect Senator McCain’s service to our nation and he and his family are in our prayers during this difficult time."

Sen. McCain's wife responded:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Go deeper

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.