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Jim Jordan. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican members and staffers on the House Intelligence Committee spent the weekend planning how to undermine the witnesses' credibility and convince the viewing public that Democrats have wiped away their due process rights.

Driving the news: This week will see three key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry testify publicly for the first time. Republicans plan to unleash their top attack dogs — including Rep. Jim Jordan, who was just made a member of the committee on Friday, and his general counsel Steve Castor, who will lead their interrogation.

The big picture: A GOP committee aide said Republicans will focus on three main areas in their defense of the president. Two other GOP committee sources confirmed the first source's account:

1. Process arguments: Republicans plan to give "speeches" during their allotted time about what they will describe as the lack of due process rights for the House minority and the White House.

2. Counters to witnesses: They will argue that much of the evidence Democrats have gathered is largely based on "hearsay."

  • They'll harp on the fact that the anonymous whistleblower, who launched the Ukraine saga, based his or her complaint on second- and third-hand knowledge.
  • They'll also point to how some witnesses heard things third-hand. (For example, Taylor has described how former NSC staffer Tim Morrison told him about conversations that Morrison himself had overheard and not been privy to.)
  • They will highlight how Taylor and Kent have had virtually no communication with Trump. "That'll be a major point," the GOP aide said.

Worth noting: Democratic committee aides have already prepared a rebuttal to this attack.

  • Dems will say they see this as a non-issue. One aide said they'll characterize the whistleblower as someone who sounded the alarm, and that alarm led to a legitimate fire. 

3. Affirmative defense: Republicans will argue that the officials who had the most direct access to the president, such as former Ukraine adviser Kurt Volker, said there was no clear quid pro quo.

  • They will also argue that each witness has "pretty glaring flaws," the aide said, claiming that Yovanovitch's testimony was centered on her "political beef" with Trump.

Go deeper: Inside Democrats' preparations for the public impeachment battle

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Chargés d'Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and non-essential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten embassy's ability to assist Americans.

Perfect storm brewing for extreme politicians

Data: Axios research; Table: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Redistricting and a flood of departing incumbents are paving the way for more extreme candidates in this year's midterm elections.

Driving the news: At least 19 House districts in 12 states are primed to attract such candidates — hard partisans running in strongly partisan districts — according to an Axios analysis of districts as measured by the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voter Index (PVI).

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated".
  2. Vaccines: Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers COVID testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker