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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

Biden to sign 15 executive actions on Day One

President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to sign 15 executive actions upon taking office Wednesday, immediately reversing key Trump administration policies.

Why it matters: The 15 actions — aimed at issues like climate change and immigration — mark more drastic immediate steps compared with the two day-one actions from Biden's four predecessors combined, according to incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.