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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:

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Top general: Calls to China were "perfectly within the duties" of job

Gen. Mark Milley. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley told the Associated Press on Friday that calls with his Chinese counterpart during the final months of Donald Trump's presidency were "perfectly within the duties and responsibilities" of his job.

Why it matters: In his first public comments on the calls that have prompted critics to question whether the general went too far, Milley maintained that such conversations are "routine," per AP.

The consumer's massive "war chest"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Economists expect the pace of economic growth to cool off now that government transfer payments like stimulus checks and emergency unemployment benefits are in the rearview mirror. But evidence suggests that the U.S. consumer is sitting on a lot of financial firepower that could be a key driver of growth in the quarters to come.

Why it matters: U.S. consumer spending is massive, representing about 70% of GDP.

The Fed takes on its own rules amid stock trading controversy

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New disclosures that showed Fed officials were active in financial markets set off a firestorm of criticism. Now the Fed may overhaul the long-standing rules that allow those transactions.

Why it matters: What officials actively traded was sensitive to the Fed decisions they helped shape, including the unprecedented support that underpinned a massive financial market boom.