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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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Updated 21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

49 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.