Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the testimony by acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor and State Department official George Kent was "devastating," and that it "corroborated evidence of bribery" that President Trump himself has admitted to.

Why it matters: In Pelosi's first press conference since the public phase of the impeachment inquiry began, the speaker claimed that what's already on the record about Trump's conduct "makes what Nixon did look almost small."

  • The bribery language, as opposed to "quid pro quo," reflects a pivot in messaging Democrats intend to deploy in order to make the allegations easier to understand.
  • Pelosi cautioned, however, that the party hasn't yet decided whether to impeach.
  • She also dismissed Republicans' criticism of secondhand testimony by witnesses as "fraudulent," pointing out that the White House has blocked all of the officials who would have firsthand knowledge of the allegations from testifying.

The exchange:

REPORTER: You talked about bribery a second ago. That's a very serious charge. 
PELOSI: It's in the Constitution. You know, we're talking Latin around here. E pluribus unum — from many, one. Quid pro quo — bribery. Bribery. And that is in the Constitution attached to the impeachment proceedings. 
REPORTER: What was the bribe here? 
PELOSI: The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That's bribery. 
REPORTER: Are you looking at an article of impeachment — ?
PELOSI: We haven't even made a decision to impeach. That's what the inquiry is about. And when the committees decide that, they will decide what the articles are. But I am saying that what the president has admitted to and says it's perfect. I said it's perfectly wrong. It's bribery. 

Go deeper: Highlights from the first public impeachment hearing

Go deeper

20 Republican former U.S. attorneys endorse Biden, call Trump "a threat to the rule of law"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Twenty Republican former U.S. Attorneys on Tuesday endorsed Joe Biden while saying that "President Trump's leadership is a threat to rule of law" in the U.S., the Washington Post reports.

What they're saying: In the letter, the former prosecutors criticize Trump's use of the Department of Justice, saying the president expects the DOJ to "to serve his personal and political interests."

  • "He has politicized the Justice Department, dictating its priorities along political lines and breaking down the barrier that prior administrations had maintained between political and prosecutorial decision-making," the letter says.
Updated 42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse — The swing states where the pandemic is raging.
  2. Health: The coronavirus is starting to crush some hospitals — 13 states set single-day case records last week.
  3. Business: Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes cable and satellite TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. States: Nearly two dozen Minnesota COVID cases traced to 3 Trump campaign events.
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Ted Cruz defends GOP's expected return to prioritizing national debt

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told "Axios on HBO" on Monday that he wishes reining in the national debt was a higher priority for President Trump.

Why it matters: Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to reduce the national debt and eliminate it entirely within eight years, though he also deemed himself "the king of debt" and said there were some priorities that required spending. In the fiscal year that ended in September, the deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion.

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