Former White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies event on Thursday that it's "absolutely not" appropriate for the president to solicit foreign election interference, but that it's up to Congress to decide whether he did so with Ukraine.

REPORTER: "Is it appropriate for the president of the United States to solicit foreign interference in our political process?"
MCMASTER: "Of course no. No, it's absolutely not. And of course, what has to happen here is seeing our democracy play out, our separation of powers play out. And for the American people, through their representatives in Congress, to make a judgment of whether that happened."

Why it matters: Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry over allegations that he pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden. McMaster, a 3-star general who served as the 2nd of Trump's 4 national security advisers, was widely considered one of the more responsible high-ranking officials to serve in the president's inner circle — part of a loose alliance in the early days of the Trump presidency that saw it as their duty to protect the nation from disaster.

Go deeper: Trump's trifecta of calling on foreign powers to interfere in elections

Go deeper

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
  6. World: Unrest in Italy as restrictions grow across Europe.

Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.