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Pete Buttigieg. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The billionaire couple who hosted a December fundraising event for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in a California wine cave expressed their frustration with how they are being depicted, saying they are just political "pawns," The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday used the fundraising event to slam Buttigieg for taking campaign contributions from wealthy donors. Warren claimed politicians shouldn't be corrupted by money at the latest Democratic debate. Several 2020 hopefuls have shunned donations from wealthy individuals, PACs and lobbyists.

Who are the Halls: Craig and Kathryn Hall are the owners of the Hall Wines in Rutherford, California, a winery in Napa Valley.

  • Craig told the Times he made a chunk of his fortune in real estate when he started his own business at 18.
  • Kathryn is a lawyer and businesswoman, who previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Austria under former President Clinton after donating to his re-election campaign, the Times notes.
  • The couple has donated at least $2.4 million to Democratic candidates, committees and PACs since the 1980s.

What the Halls are saying:

  • They said caves are a common place to store wine in Napa Valley because of its ability to store wine at cool temperatures cost-efficiently, per AP.
  • The Halls also said the $900 bottle of wine that Warren said guests were served at the Buttigieg event is a misrepresentation of what the winery actually sells. It's actually one three-liter bottle, equivalent to four wine bottles. They added that this bottle was not served at the Buttigieg fundraiser, AP notes.
  • "It seems someone's intentionally trying to create a different image than the reality. And that's unfortunate," Hall told AP.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Trump confidante Matt Schlapp interviews Jared Kushner last February. Schlapp is seeking a pardon for a biotech executive. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A flood of convicted criminals has retained lobbyists since November’s presidential election to press President Trump for pardons or commutations before he leaves office.

What we're hearing: Among them is Nickie Lum Davis, a Hawaii woman who pleaded guilty last year to abetting an illicit foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Trump confidante Matt Schlapp also is seeking a pardon for a former biopharmaceutical executive convicted of fraud less than two months ago.