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As impeachment moves into its next phase, House Democrats lack testimony from major players in the Trump administration about allegations that the president withheld military aid and a coveted White House meeting to pressure Ukraine into investigating his domestic political rivals.

Expand chart
Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon, Aïda Amer/Axios

Why it matters: House Democrats have cited the White House's blanket refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry as evidence of obstruction for a potential article of impeachment.

  • At the House Judiciary Committee's first impeachment hearing on Wednesday, Democrats displayed a sign in which "obstruction of Congress" was listed as one of three impeachable offenses they say Trump has committed.
  • One of the main Republican criticisms of the inquiry has been that many of the witnesses do not have firsthand knowledge of Trump's decision-making and have relied on "hearsay" evidence. Many of those who would have that knowledge, however, have been blocked by the administration from testifying.
The key missing witnesses
  • Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said at a press conference in October that Trump froze military aid until Ukraine agreed to investigate a conspiracy theory about the DNC server hacked by Russia in 2016 — before walking the comments back entirely.
  • Former national security adviser John Bolton was “personally involved in many of the events” at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, according to a letter from his attorney. He told former Russia adviser Fiona Hill to alert White House lawyers about a possible Ukraine quid pro quo, calling it a "drug deal" cooked up by Mulvaney, Rudy Giuliani and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence were both "in the loop" about efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce the investigations, Sondland testified. "It was no secret," he added.
  • Giuliani has said he kept Trump apprised of his efforts in Ukraine, and multiple witnesses believe that he spoke for the president when it came to Ukraine matters. Call records obtained by the House Intelligence Committee show that Giuliani was on the phone with the White House more than a dozen times on the day that Trump forced out former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Between the lines: House Democrats won a major victory last month when a federal judge rejected the White House's claims that its aides are "absolutely immune" from congressional subpoenas.

  • The case is being appealed, however, and Democrats have stated that they have no intention of allowing the Trump administration to delay the impeachment process for months in court.

Driving the news: Law professor Jonathan Turley, the only witness invited by Republicans to testify on Wednesday, warned House Democrats that they would "leave half the country behind" if they rushed impeachment.

  • Turley argued that the House should wait for the courts to decide if key witnesses, like Pompeo, Mulvaney and Bolton, should testify.
  • Trump, meanwhile, said on Tuesday he would be open to those same officials testifying in the Republican-controlled Senate, where he said they'll "get a fair trial."

Editor's note: The graphic has been updated to reflect that Katie Wheelbarger did cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, but investigators decided they did not need her testimony.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.