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Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP/Getty Images

The pace of House Democrats' investigation into President Trump and Ukraine will accelerate this week with a series of hearings from key administration officials, including a highly anticipated appearance from a top official on the National Security Council.

What we're watching: Tim Morrison, the NSC's Russia and Europe director, will be the first currently serving White House official to testify before the committees on Thursday. He's also the first official who is believed to have been on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the crux of the Dems' inquiry.

  • Democrats are eager to ask Morrison about the explosive testimony of Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. Taylor said Morrison had been told that Trump insisted Zelensky publicly commit to investigating the 2016 election and the Bidens, and that hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine hinged on his willingness to do so.
  • Worth noting: Morrison's name appeared 15 times in Taylor's opening statement.

Meanwhile, the White House is being stymied in its efforts to prevent current and former officials from complying with the committees' requests, and Morrison appears to be no exception.

  • Morrison's lawyer told Politico that "If subpoenaed, Mr. Morrison plans to appear for his deposition.”

Trump, who compared the impeachment inquiry to a "lynching" this week, has been extremely frustrated with Democrats' investigation, and he has lashed out at the officials cooperating.

  • The president has specifically singled out Taylor — who was handpicked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — calling him a "Never Trumper" and adding that "Never Trumpers" are "human scum."

But three veterans who have served with Taylor defended him in powerful interviews with CNN's Jake Tapper and Kate Sullivan, describing him as a "man of honor," "public servant" and "role model" who "represents the best of our Department of State."

What's next: The following current and former administration officials are also scheduled to testify this week:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 9:30 am: National Security Council Director for European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 9:30 am: Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger.

Former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman was subpoenaed by the House committees to appear on Monday.

  • However, Kupperman filed a lawsuit on Friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, given that Trump has asserted that he is immune from the congressional process and instructed him not to testify.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

3 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.