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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Vermont's Phil Scott became the first Republican governor to formally back an impeachment inquiry into President Trump amid the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint, AP reports.

Why it matters: Scott's stance is a departure from the party norm. Republican lawmakers have been almost entirely united in their support of Trump, who has maintained near-90% approval ratings among his own party throughout his presidency.

Between the lines: While Utah Sen. Mitt Romney has been critical of Trump, he has not stated his official support for an impeachment inquiry.

  • Scott noted that Congress has a "solemn responsibility" to conduct the inquiry as a matter of maintaining checks and balances.
  • On Thursday, the governor said he was unsurprised by Trump's request for Ukraine to investigate Biden because he's "watched him over the years."

Context: This is not the first time Scott has been critical of the president.

Go deeper

Dems race to address, preempt stimulus fraud claims

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Biden officials are working to root out the systematic fraud in unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program claims that plagued the Trump administration’s efforts to boost the economy with coronavirus relief money, Gene Sperling told House committee chairmen privately this week.

Why it matters: President Biden just signed another $1.9 trillion of aid into law, with Sperling tapped to oversee its implementation. And the administration is asking Congress to approve another $2.2 trillion for the first phase of an infrastructure package.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden close to picking Nick Burns as China ambassador

Nicholas Burns. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, is in the final stages of vetting to serve as President Biden’s ambassador to China, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Across the administration, there's a consensus the U.S. relationship with China will be the most critical — and consequential — of Biden's presidency. From trade to Taiwan, the stakes are high. Burns could be among the first batch of diplomatic nominees announced in the coming weeks.

Biden's Russian sanctions likely to achieve little

President Biden announces new sanctions against Russia. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there's little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin's behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it's true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia's sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.