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The Defense Department wrote on Tuesday that it is unable to cooperate "at this time" with House committees' subpoena for documents related to President Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, Politico's Jake Sherman reports.

The big picture: The department's refusal to hand over documents is based largely on the executive privilege argument invoked by the White House over the unredacted Mueller report and the controversial Census citizenship question. The DOD also argues that the House has not yet held a full, formal vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

What's happening: The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees are investigating whether Trump froze U.S. military aid to Ukraine to pressure its government to investigate Biden and his son over unsubstantiated corruption allegations.

  • The White House has told House Democratic leaders that it will not comply with their impeachment inquiry, calling the probe "constitutionally illegitimate."

What they're saying: "The Department understands the significance of your request for information and has taken steps to identify, preserve, and collect potentially responsive documents. ... The Department is prepared to engage in that process consistent with longstanding practice and provide the responsive information should there be resolution of this matter."

Go deeper ... Trump-Ukraine scandal: The key players, dates and documents

Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.