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Trump and Giuliani in 2016. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Top House Republican sources tell Axios that one impeachment survival strategy will be to try to distance President Trump from any Ukraine quid pro quo, with Rudy Giuliani potentially going under the bus.

What they're saying: A Republican member of one of the impeachment committees told Axios: "[T]his is not an impeachment of Rudy Giuliani, it's not an impeachment of Ambassador Sondland. It's an impeachment of the president of the United States."

  • "So the point is as long as this is a step removed, he's in good shape. ... If it's a step removed from the president, he doesn't lose any Republicans in the House."

A top House GOP leadership aide said: "Substance is focus. [The co-leadoff witness, Bill] Taylor says [he had a] 'full understanding.' But from who? Not POTUS. That’s big."

  • An uber-connected Republican added: "Rudy will be cut loose because he was rogue."

What the president is thinking: "Trump is frustrated with the slippery slope it creates [by] saying it's bad but not impeachable," the GOP member added.

  • "Then it gets to bad but impeachable. I think the real problem becomes the slippery slope. ... It's more just a function that he believes there ought to be a strong defense based on the merits of what happened, not on the process."

A top Democratic aide told Axios the party's goal for the hearings is "Mueller on steroids": "Simpler crime witnessed by credible people. Mueller did exceptional work but nobody read his 400+ page report (except a few of us masochists)."

  • A Democratic official who helped shape the strategy told me the narrative will be: "The president abused his power to rig and fix elections in his favor. Our challenge is to keep it that simple: What kind of democracy do we want?"
  • Look for Democrats to say Trump would do it again if not held accountable.

P.S. ... Republican senators are "too busy" to watch today, per AP's Alan Fram:

  • Millions of Americans will be watching. But of eight Senate Republicans questioned, seven said they wouldn't be watching or that it wasn't a priority.
  • "Tomorrow I'm going to be paying attention to what we're doing in the Senate," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Go deeper:

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Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Rahm Emanuel floated for Transportation secretary

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Joshua Lott for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.

Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden turns to experienced hands for White House economic team

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Joe Biden plans to announce Cecilia Rouse and Brian Deese as part of his economic team and Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: These are experienced hands. Unveiling a diverse group of advisers also may draw attention away from a selection of Deese to run the National Economic Council. Some progressives have criticized his work at BlackRock, the world's largest asset management firm.

Biden taps former Obama communications director for press secretary

Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Jen Psaki, who previously served as Obama's communications director, will serve as President-elect Joe Biden's press secretary, the transition team announced Sunday.

The big picture: All of the top aides in Biden's communication staff will be women, per the Washington Post, which first reported Psaki's appointment.