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William Barr. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A 2018 memo by now-Attorney General William Barr contradicts President Trump's legal argument that abuse of power is not alone an impeachable offense.

What we know: Barr issued the memo for the Justice Department and Trump's legal team while still in private practice. The 19-page document was written as Robert Mueller conducted his special investigation into whether Trump illegally interfered in the Russia probe.

  • Barr argued in the memo that Trump should not speak to investigators about his actions as president, even if subpoenaed. He based his recommendation "on a sweeping theory of executive power under which obstruction of justice laws do not apply to presidents, even if they misuse their authority over the Justice Department to block investigations into themselves or their associates for corrupt reasons," the New York Times writes.
  • However, Barr wrote that presidents who abuse their discretionary powers could be subject to penalties, including impeachment.
  • The memo posed that because the president "is ultimately subject to the judgment of Congress through the impeachment process means that the president is not the judge in his own cause."
  • The memo was made public during Barr's confirmation.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team argued in a 110-page brief this Monday that "House Democrats’ novel conception of ‘abuse of power’ as a supposedly impeachable offense is constitutionally defective."

  • "It supplants the framers’ standard of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ with a made-up theory that the president can be impeached and removed from office under an amorphous and undefined standard of 'abuse of power.'"

Read Barr's memo here:

Go deeper: Live updates: Senators debate rules of Trump impeachment trial

Go deeper

8 mins ago - World

UN rights chief: At least 54 killed, 1,700 detained since Myanmar coup

A Feb. 7 protest in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Police and military officers in Myanmar have killed at least 54 people during anti-coup protests, while "arbitrarily" detaining over 1,700 people, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said Thursday.

Why it matters: Protesters have demonstrating across Myanmar for nearly a month, demanding the restoration of democracy after the country's military leaders overthrew its democratically elected government on Feb. 1.

1 hour ago - Health

The danger of a fourth wave

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: Anomalous Arkansas case data from Feb. 28 was not included in the calculated change; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. may be on the verge of another surge in coronavirus cases, despite weeks of good news.

The big picture: Nationwide, progress against the virus has stalled. And some states are ditching their most important public safety measures even as their outbreaks are getting worse.

Sidewalk robots get legal rights as "pedestrians"

"We’ve got about 1,000 of them running around out there," Ryan Tuohy of Starship tells Axios. Photo courtesy of Starship Technologies.

As small robots proliferate on sidewalks and city streets, so does legislation that grants them generous access rights and even classifies them, in the case of Pennsylvania, as "pedestrians."

Why it matters: Fears of a dystopian urban world where people dodge heavy, fast-moving droids are colliding with the aims of robot developers large and small — including Amazon and FedEx — to deploy delivery fleets.