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Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, arrives on Capitol Hill before attending a closed-door deposition in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense, told House impeachment investigators President Trump directed the freezing of military aid for Ukraine via the Office of Management and Budget over corruption concerns, a testimony transcript released Monday shows.

Why it matters: The issue of whether Trump withheld aid in an illegal abuse of power is central to the inquiry. Cooper indicated that officials were concerned about the legalities of withholding aid, testifying that at a meeting held the day after Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that "deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion."

What she's saying: Cooper testified last month that she knew from a conversation with Kurt Volker, the former U.S. envoy to Ukraine, and from "alarm bells that were coming from Ambassador [Bill] Taylor and his team that there were Ukrainians who knew" about the aid freeze in August.

  • "The context for the discussion that I had with Ambassador Volker related specifically to the path that he was pursuing to lift the hold would be to get them to make this statement, but the only reason they would do that is because there was, you know, something valuable," she said.
  • Cooper said she attended a July 23 meeting during which President Trump's "concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance," came up, relayed by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

What they're saying: Trump and has Republican allies deny any abuse of power took place over the aid issue or in his request for Zelensky to look into allegations that former Vice President Joe Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating his son, Hunter Biden.

The big picture: Cooper's testimony last month was delayed by a group of House Republicans, who attempted to force entry into her closed-door hearing protesting a lack of transparency in the impeachment process.

Read the full transcript:

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Systemic racism

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor (PA Images)/Getty Images

Advocates are pushing President-elect Biden to tackle systemic racism with a Day 1 agenda that includes ending the detention of migrant children and expanding DACA, announcing a Justice Department investigation of rogue police departments and returning some public lands to Indigenous tribes.

Why it matters: Biden has said the fight against systemic racism will be one of the top goals of his presidency — but the expectations may be so high that he won't be able to meet them.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Most Americans are still vulnerable to the coronavirus

Adapted from Bajema, et al., 2020, "Estimated SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence in the US as of September 2020"; Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

As of September, the vast majority of Americans did not have coronavirus antibodies, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: As the coronavirus spreads rapidly throughout most of the country, most people remain vulnerable to it.

Trump set to appear at Pennsylvania GOP hearing on voter fraud claims

President Trumpat the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump is due to join his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Wednesday at a Republican-led state Senate Majority Policy Committee hearing to discuss alleged election irregularities.

Why it matters: This would be his first trip outside of the DMV since Election Day and comes shortly after GSA ascertained the results, formally signing off on a transition to President-elect Biden.