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Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

Defense Department official Laura Cooper and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale testified Wednesday in the second impeachment hearing of the day.

Driving the news: Cooper testified that, after the transcript of her closed-door deposition was released on Nov. 11, members of her staff brought her two unclassified emails from the State Department revealing that the Ukrainian Embassy was inquiring about the military aid on July 25 — the same day as Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The backdrop: Cooper, the first Pentagon official that the public will hear from, testified in her closed-door deposition that the order to freeze military aid to Ukraine came from the White House. She was informed it was related to President Trump's "concerns about corruption" and testified that other officials raised questions about the legality of the decision.

  • Hale is the third-highest-ranking official at the State Department. He testified that agency leadership declined to put out a statement of support for former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed after a smear campaign promoted by Rudy Giuliani and right-wing media.

The highlights:

  • Cooper said that Ukrainian officials were aware "there was some kind of issue" with the aid on July 25 and that they were aware the aid had been suspended by August. This suggests Ukraine knew about the aid freeze earlier than previously believed, potentially undermining a key Republican defense.
  • Cooper testified that the Defense Department certified Ukraine as complying with anti-corruption requirements for security assistance in May, before Trump froze the aid. She stated that she did not know why the hold for the aid was lifted in September.
  • Hale testified that the smear campaign against ousted Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was "wrong" and that she "should have been able to stay in post and continue to do the outstanding work that she was doing."

Watch:

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The past hearings:

Go deeper:

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Netanyahu uses last speech as prime minister to attack Biden on Iran

Netnayahu addreses the Knesset. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

Hours before a vote to oust him, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused President Biden of endangering Israel's security by taking a soft line on Iran, and claimed the man who is about to replace him, Naftali Bennett, would be too weak to stand up to Washington.

Why it matters: Netanyahu had waged a desperate but apparently unsuccessful campaign to stop a "change coalition" from joining together to replace him after an inconclusive election in March. Facing an imminent demotion to opposition leader, he foreshadowed a willingness to damage the U.S.-Israel relationship to put his rival under pressure.

33 mins ago - World

G7 leaders agree to call out China's “nonmarket policies and human rights abuses"

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrive at Cornwall Airport Newquay to give a press conference on the final day of the G7 summit on June 13, 2021. Photo: Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images

Group of Seven leaders on Sunday announced they have agreed work together to challenge China’s “non-market economic practices” and to press Beijing to respect human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Why it matters: President Biden went into the summit hoping to present a united front against Beijing.

Study: Key Antarctic ice shelf is speeding up its collapse

Pine Island Glacier calves several new icebergs on Feb. 11, 2020, as seen via satellite. Photo: NASA Earth Observatory

The Pine Island Glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is responsible for more than a quarter of Antarctica's contribution to global sea level rise over the past decades. Now, a new study shows it is more vulnerable to rapid melting than thought, because climate change is weakening its natural braking system.

Why it matters: At stake is the future of a glacier containing about 160 trillion tons of ice, which if it were all to melt into the ocean would cause about 1.6 feet of global sea level rise.