May 3, 2018

Sanders struggles to explain Trump's involvement in Stormy Daniels payment

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Facing a barrage of questions about President Trump's changing story on his knowledge of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders repeatedly told reporters Thursday that the White House gives "the very best information that we have at the time."

The big quote: "This was information the President didn’t know at the time but eventually learned," Sanders said, later adding that she doesn't think Sean Hannity's bombshell interview with Rudy Giuliani hurts Trump.

The backdrop: In April, Trump denied knowing about the payment. But, Giuliani said last night that the president has repaid his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, with his own funds. Trump also tweeted about the reimbursement this morning.

Other highlights:

  • Sanders said she first learned about the reimbursement during Giuliani's Fox News interview.
  • Asked if she was caught off-guard on Giuliani’s remarks, she said, "I'm not part of the legal team and would not be part of those discussions."
  • On the three American prisoners held in North Korea: “We can’t confirm the validity of any of the reports currently out about their release.” Note: Last night, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted links to stories that said the prisoners had been released.
  • She also declined to comment on the recent report about Cohen's phone being tapped.

Go deeper: Rudy Giuliani sends Trump into Stormy waters; Michael Cohen goes through the wringer for Trump

Go deeper

Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.