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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Although they still talk about it on-camera as an inquiry, some top House Democrats see the actual impeachment of President Trump as increasingly inevitable.

  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), reflecting the views of several members we talked to, said he thinks impeachment will happen by the end of 2019: "My hope is it is expeditious. I don't want the clock to run out."

Why it matters: With that, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a new conundrum: how to keep Democrats' other priorities from deteriorating amid an investigation of President Trump's dealings with Ukraine that could overshadow everything else.

  • Several lawmakers have privately told Axios they never expected Congress to pass meaningful legislation before the 2020 elections.
  • But Republicans will try to blame Pelosi for gridlock on the Hill, and they tell me they plan to use the same playbook on Pelosi as the one she crafted just a few weeks ago — demonizing Mitch McConnell as Washington's greatest obstructionist.

Behind the scenes: Pelosi's team developed a fall plan to escalate Dems' anti-McConnell messaging, with the goal of painting him as the party's prime antagonist blocking meaningful legislation.

  • But those plans were blown up by the stunning news reports about Trump and Ukraine, and the moderate Democrats Pelosi had tried to protect began jumping aboard the impeachment train.
  • "The votes were there," a senior Dem congressional aide said.

Republicans are eager to accuse Pelosi of failing to make progress on gun reform, the USMCA trade agreement and drug pricing.

  • "This Dem-led House has managed to accomplish nothing of substance," a Trump official said. "And now that they’re going down this path of impeachment, they're going to be even more distracted. ... You bet that we're going to make sure voters are constantly reminded of this."
  • “The NRA are probably the happiest people in Washington,” a former White House official said, who said this will make it harder for Dems to blame Trump for inaction on gun regulation.

The bottom line: Pelosi has relentlessly reminded her House colleagues that Democrats regained the majority in 2018 by focusing on the issues, not by bashing Trump.

Go deeper

Fed chair says he isn't concerned by Delta surge

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting in Venice last month. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

One of the country's most influential economic officials doesn't anticipate that surging coronavirus cases will knock the reopening recovery off course.

What he's saying: "There has tended to be less economic implications from each [coronavirus] wave. We'll see if that's the case for the Delta variety," Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters today.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ubisoft workers demand company accountability in open letter

Photo: Frederic Brown / Getty Images

Close to 500 current and former employees of “Assassin’s Creed” publisher Ubisoft are standing in solidarity with protesting game developers at Activision Blizzard with a letter that criticizes their company's handling of sexual misconduct.

Why it matters: Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard workers are framing the actions as part of a bigger movement meant to have lasting change in the industry and its culture.

Companies deploy tech to prevent retail crime

Customers in a Home Depot in Pleasanton, California, in February 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Retailers have a new edge for fighting theft: They're using technology to disable stolen goods — from iPhones to Black & Decker drills — and render them useless.

Why it matters: Organized retail crime has a considerable affect on retailers every year, costing them an average of $719,000 per $1 billion dollars in sales, according to estimates from the National Retail Federation.