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Mitt Romney. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Image

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is standing as a maverick in his party, coming out as one of few Republicans to openly question President Trump's disputed conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Driving the news: Romney tweeted last Sunday: "If the President asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme." He also told NBC on Monday that Trump should make the whistleblower complaint available to Congress because it would be "very helpful to get [to] the bottom of the facts."

  • A summary of the call released by the Trump administration on Wednesday shows that the president asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me."
— President Trump

Shortly after the transcript's release, Romney spoke at The Atlantic Festival about why he's pushing back against the president, stating:

"I think it’s very natural for people to look at circumstances and see them in the light that’s most amenable to their maintaining power, and doing things to preserve that power."

Context: Trump and Romney have a rocky history. In 2016, Romney called Trump "a fraud" and attempted to rally voters behind one of Trump's primary competitors. But shortly after Trump's election, the 2 seemingly rekindled their relationship, as Trump met with Romney while mulling over Cabinet nominees and later endorsed him in Romney's 2018 Senate bid.

Between the lines:

  • Wednesday's transcript release and subsequent fallout comes after the announcement that the House will launch a formal impeachment inquiry against the president.
  • Articles of impeachment would ultimately be decided by a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate. For now, it seems unlikely the Senate will enter a judgment to convict.

Go deeper: How an impeachment inquiry works

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.