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Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer at a press conference Sept. 9. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has told friends that impeachment now feels unavoidable, according to someone who discussed it with her last night. She hates the politics of it, but has succumbed to the inevitability, the source says.

The bottom line: Trump’s decision to release the transcript of a call with the Ukrainian president doesn’t appear to have stopped Democrats’ march toward impeachment.

Here's where it stands:

  • On the merits, Pelosi now sees a potential necessity for impeachment even if she dislikes the political impact it could have.
  • One key factor driving Pelosi's thinking is that the White House so far has refused to turn over the whistleblower's complaint about Trump's actions — something it is required by law to do.
  • That's the argument Joe Biden will make this afternoon, per his campaign: that the White House's refusal to uphold the law would be a tipping point, regardless of the contents of his July 25 call with the Ukranian president.
  • Pelosi is letting freshman members count the votes within their caucus, which enables them to be responsible for their own fates and insulates Pelosi from later blame.
  • It also gives her room to create space for any vulnerable Democrats who aren't on board with impeachment — assuming they get past the necessary 218 votes needed to initiate formal proceedings.

As of today, 154 members of the caucus support impeachment, and that number is rapidly growing.

  • Several members, including Rep. John Lewis, one of the most influential members to resist endorsing impeachment, announced on Tuesday that they support impeachment proceedings against Trump.
  • Lewis' endorsement will likely open the floodgates for other progressive members and those within the Congressional Black Caucus to join him.
  • Several members have told Axios that Lewis would not publicly support impeachment if Pelosi had advised against it.

Worth noting: This is the last week the House is in session before recessing for two weeks. That could slow down the momentum for impeachment.

The bottom line: The White House still has a potential way to halt the escalating momentum for impeachment: turn over the whistleblower report.

  • If the White House refuses to turn over the report to Congress by Thursday, when acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire appears before the House Intelligence committee, than Democrats will likely feel forced to move ahead with an impeachment inquiry.
  • But if the White House turns over, it could potentially give Democratic leaders an exit ramp.

Go deeper: Which House Democrats currently support impeachment

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.