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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

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson e in the t figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

GOP to use Supreme Court fight to target vulnerable Dems

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Conservatives know they're unlikely to stop President Biden from filling a Supreme Court vacancy, but they plan to target Senate Democrats who face competitive re-election fights and are all but certain to vote for the successor to Justice Stephen Breyer.

Between the lines: The general strategy will be to tie those Democrats to positions seen as political liabilities in states like Arizona, Georgia and New Hampshire, where incumbents are seeking re-election this year, an operative briefed on early strategy talks told Axios.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. and NATO answer Putin in writing while bracing for Ukraine invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," even as they warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

Why it matters: This is a delicate diplomatic balancing act. The U.S. and NATO want to show they're serious about diplomacy but unwilling to compromise on "core principles" — all without providing Vladimir Putin with an additional pretext for escalation.