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Andrew Harnik / AP

The President has said unequivocally that he never told James Comey he hoped he could drop the FBI investigation of Mike Flynn. Trump even told ABC's Jon Karl that he'd be prepared to say so under oath.

But high-profile Republicans are lending credence to Comey's version of events, (even though some, like Ronna McDaniel, are nonetheless aggressively defending Trump):

  • RNC chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that even if Comey's testimony is true — that Trump told the former FBI director he "hopes" he let the Flynn investigation go — her personal experience as a mother tells her "there's a difference between saying 'I hope you do your homework' and 'Go do your homework.'"
  • Donald Trump Jr.: "When he tells you to do something, guess what? There's no ambiguity in it, there's no, 'Hey, I'm hoping' ... You and I are friends: 'Hey, I hope this happens, but you've got to do your job.' That's what he told Comey. And for this guy as a politician to then go back and write a memo: 'Oh, I felt threatened.' He felt so threatened — but he didn't do anything."
  • Paul Ryan: "He's new at government and so therefore I think that he's learning as he goes."
  • Sen. Susan Collins on CNN's State of the Union: "I found...former Director Comey's testimony to be candid, to be thorough, and he testified under oath."
  • Sen. Marco Rubio: "No one has either informed him, or he's been unwilling to be informed, about why the sort of requests like the one he made would be inappropriate."
  • Gov. Chris Christie also put Trump's comments to Comey down to inexperience in government. Christie said Trump would've considered his comments to Comey to be "normal New York City conversation."
  • Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, lavishly praised Comey at his hearing, making clear he considered him an honorable and truthful man.
  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), told CBS' "Face the Nation": "for the issue to come up about the Michael Flynn investigations, inappropriate ... [but] this looks more like an inappropriate conversation than obstruction."

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
30 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer, but picked up a new rival.

35 mins ago - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.

Mike Allen, author of AM
46 mins ago - Axios on HBO

GOP senator smacks Trump

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told “Axios on HBO” he’s not sure former President Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination if he ran in 2024 — a rare voice of criticism from within the party.

  • When I raised the conventional wisdom that Trump would be expected to win the nomination, Cassidy jumped in.“
  • I don't know that,” the senator said during our interview in Chalmette, La.