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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that he "never saw" the suspension of military aid to Ukraine as being tied to pressure to open investigations into Democrats, telling George Stephanopoulos that he'll leave it to acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to "explain what it is he said and what he intended."

The exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree then with Sen. Murkowski that it would have been inappropriate to withhold the military aid unless this political investigation was pursued? 
POMPEO: George, I'm telling you what I was involved with. I'm telling you what I saw transpiring and how President Trump was working to make the evaluation about whether it was appropriate to provide this assistance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What I'm asking is would it be appropriate to -- 
POMPEO: George, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals and secondary things based on what someone else has said. You would have never done it when you were the spokesman. 
STEPHANOPOULOS: Except it's not a hypothetical. We saw the chief of staff right there --
POMPEO: George, you just said if this happened. That is by definition a hypothetical.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The chief of staff said it did. 
POMPEO: George, you asked me if this happened. It's a hypothetical.

Why it matters: Pompeo and others in the administration, including officials in the Justice Department, have sought to distance themselves from Mulvaney's comments at a press conference on Thursday. Mulvaney himself appeared on "Fox News Sunday" to walk back his apparent admission that Ukraine's willingness to investigate a conspiracy theory involving a Democratic Party computer server was a factor in the suspension of military aid.

The big picture: Pompeo, who has defied a subpoena from House committees investigating Trump and Ukraine, was asked repeatedly about whether Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was carrying out a shadow foreign policy with his blessing. Pompeo said that it's his policy not to discuss internal deliberations publicly, despite the fact that Giuliani does not work for the administration.

  • Pompeo also refused to answer whether Giuliani was reviewed for potential conflicts of interest, amid revelations that he had business interests in Ukraine at the same time he was pushing officials to open an investigation into Joe Biden.
  • Giuliani is reportedly under criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in New York that he once ran.

Go deeper: EU ambassador testifies he was "disappointed" with Trump's Ukraine approach

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

6 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.