George Kent, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, ended his opening statement in the House's public impeachment hearing on Wednesday by defending some of his colleagues against anti-immigrant attacks.

The big picture: Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and former Trump administration Russia expert Fiona Hill all were born abroad and immigrated to the U.S. — either as children or adults. Each will publicly testify in the impeachment inquiry in the coming days.

  • Vindman, a decorated Iraq War veteran and the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, especially faced cable news attacks over his Ukrainian birthplace.

What Kent said:

I would like to conclude my opening remarks with an observation about some of my fellow public servants who have come under personal attack — Ambassador Yovanovitch, LTC Vindman, and Dr. Hill — at least one of whom is going to appear before this body in the coming days. Masha, Alex, and Fiona were born abroad before their families or they themselves personally chose to immigrate to the United States. They all made the professional choice to serve the United States as public officials, helping shape our national security policy, towards Russia in particular. And we and our national security are the better for it.
In this sense, they are the 21st century heirs of two giants of 20th century U.S. national security policy who were born abroad: my former professor Zbigniew Brzezinski; and his fellow immigrant Henry Kissinger. Like the Brzezinskis and Kissingers, the Yovanovitches and Vindmans fled Nazi and communist oppression to contribute to a stronger, more secure America.
That honorable transatlantic tradition goes back to the very founding of our republic: our 18th century independence would not have been secured without the choice of European officers — the French-born Lafayette and Rochambeau, the German-born von Steuben, and the Poles Pulaski and Kosciuszko — to come to the New World and fight for our cause of freedom, and the birth of a new country free from imperial dominion. It is my privilege to sit next to Ambassador Taylor today, and it is my honor to serve with all of these patriotic Americans.

Go deeper: Follow along for live updates from Kent's impeachment hearing

Go deeper

Pelosi on state of coronavirus stimulus talks: "It's a chasm"

Democrats and the Trump administration remain "miles apart" on negotiations over a coronavirus stimulus deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday.

Driving the news, via Axios' Dion Rabouin: Congress' failure to renew enhanced unemployment measures for millions of Americans at the end of July is already affecting consumer spending patterns, holding down retail purchases and foot traffic, economists at Deutsche Bank say.

Updated 19 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of noon ET: 20,391,697 — Total deaths: 744,211— Total recoveries: 12,625,076Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 5,161,612 — Total deaths: 164,690 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits — U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018.
  4. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.
  5. Education: Gallup: America's confidence in public school system jumps to highest level since 2004.
  6. World: Lebanon reports coronavirus record, UN warns Beirut blast may drive cases higher
49 mins ago - World

U.S. threatens to veto UN peacekeeping in Lebanon over Hezbollah concerns

Peacekeepers with Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration is threatening to veto a resolution to extend the UN's long-standing peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon if its mandate isn't changed, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. is the main funder of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has an annual budget of $250 million. The veto threat is a tactical move, and part of a broader effort to put pressure on Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.