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White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images

The House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine issued a subpoena Thursday night for acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify on Friday morning as part of their impeachment inquiry, two sources familiar tell Axios.

Why it matters: Mulvaney is the highest-ranking White House official to be subpoenaed yet, and the midnight-hour move suggests the committees are reaching into the final phase of their private investigation as they prepare to take their inquiry public next week.

  • The committees first subpoenaed Mulvaney to turn over documents in October, but subpoenaing him to appear for a hearing is a further escalation, and signals the committees are determined to hear him describe firsthand his role in the Ukraine saga.

Background: Several current and former Trump administration officials have told House investigators that Mulvaney carried out Trump’s directive to suspend $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

  • An official working on the impeachment inquiry, emphasized Mulvaney's Oct. 17 press briefing, during which he said the Trump administration froze military aid to pressure Ukraine to open a political investigation, as a reason for the subpoena. Mulvaney later walked those comments back.
  • "Other testimony during this inquiry also has indicated that Mr. Mulvaney could shed additional light on the President’s abuse of the power of his office for his personal gain," the official added. 

The bottom line: It’s likely that Trump will exert executive privilege over his conversations with Mulvaney and argue that he has absolute immunity from complying with Congress’ requests — as he has done with other White House officials, such as Mulvaney aide Rob Blair and former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman.

  • Both Blair and Kupperman are waiting for the courts to determine whether they should comply with congressional subpoenas or White House orders blocking them from appearing.
  • The official working on the inquiry told Axios that Mulvaney "has the opportunity to uphold his oath to the nation and constitution by testifying tomorrow. We hope Mr. Mulvaney does not hide behind the President’s ongoing efforts to conceal the truth obstruct our investigation."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Assassination in Iran sets stage for tense final 50 days of Trump

The funeral ceremony in Tehran. Photo: Iranian Defense Ministry via Getty

Iranian leaders are weighing their response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known as the father of Iran’s military nuclear program, who was given a state funeral Monday in Tehran.

The big picture: Iran has accused Israel of carrying out Friday’s attack, but senior leaders have suggested that they’ll choose patience over an immediate escalation that could play into the hands of the Israelis and the outgoing Trump administration.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  3. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators seeks stimulus dealChuck Grassley returns to Senate after recovering from COVID-19.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. Economy: Wall Street wonders how bad economy has to get for Congress to act.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.