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President Donald Trump. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The White House responded to explosive claims in Bob Woodward's new book saying the allegations are "nothing more than fabricated stories." Chief of Staff John Kelly also refuted the notion that he called President Trump an "idiot" and "this is the worst job" he's ever had.

Key quotes: Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, "This book is nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees, told to make the President look bad." Gen. John Kelly explained, "The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true... This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration’s many successes."

Defense Sec. James Mattis issued a statement denouncing Woodward's claims:

“The contemptuous words about the President attributed to me in Woodward’s book were never uttered by me or in my presence. While I generally enjoy reading fiction, this is a uniquely Washington brand of literature, and his anonymous sources do not lend credibility...In serving this administration, the ideas that I would show contempt for the elected Commander-in-Chief, President Trump, or tolerate disrespect to the office of the President from within our Department of Defense, is a product of someone’s rich imagination.”

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

U.K. sends patrol ships to British island amid fishing dispute with France

The HMS Tamar, one of the two ships deployed to Jersey. Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it has deployed two Royal Navy patrol vessels to the island of Jersey "as a precautionary measure," as tensions over fishing rights escalate with France.

Why it matters: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement the government took the action to protect Jersey against threats of "a blockade" of French fishing boats at the island, which is off the coast of northwest France.

Social media's "in-kind contribution to Biden"

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Facebook's continued suspension of Donald Trump's account extends the silencing of Joe Biden's most potent critic — and the current president's control over the national political narrative into his second 100 days.

Why it matters: Biden has been able to successfully focus on COVID-19 relief, his infrastructure plan and fielding his new administration, in part, because Trump hasn't been able to shake his social media muzzle and bray about the migration crisis or any White House misstep.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney's long game

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is all but rolling out the red carpet for her own ouster as House GOP conference chair next week and her expected replacement with Trump defender Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Why it matters: Cheney’s political falling out with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the ultimate proxy war between Republicans who remain beholden to a former president who falsely claims the election was stolen from him, or breaking free from Donald Trump to refocus on traditional conservative values.