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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:

Read:

The past hearings:

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

Exclusive: Meta's civil rights chief aims to "turn the knob" for good

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Meta

A year ago, Facebook brought in Roy Austin, Jr. to lead a new team focused on civil rights. Since then, he has assembled a squad of experts advising parent company Meta on everything from voting rights to hate speech to ensuring new products don't have discriminatory impact.

The big picture: Austin's team of nine must tackle those tough issues inside a company of nearly 70,000 employees serving more than 3 billion users around the world.

Momentum builds for salary transparency

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York City will soon require employers to supply a salary range when they're advertising a position — the biggest step yet in the growing but controversial movement for pay transparency.

Why it matters: Laws like New York's aim to give workers, particularly women and people of color, more power in job negotiations. But the rise in remote work is throwing a wrench into the effort.

3 hours ago - Health

Contact tracing fizzles across America

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

States across the country are scaling back their contact tracing efforts, often focusing on vulnerable communities and relying more on Americans to alert close contacts themselves after testing positive for COVID.

Why it matters: As vaccines have become available, the virus has become more infectious and life has slowly headed more toward normal, health officials have come to view contact tracing as a relatively inefficient use of resources.