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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Staff/Getty Images

Republicans formally made Rep. Jim Jordan a member of the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, a move that will allow him lead the party's defense of President Trump during public impeachment hearings next week.

Why it matters: Privately, GOP members have said they think Jordan — one of Trump's fiercest allies — is a stronger defender of the party and the president on impeachment than the current ranking member, Rep. Devin Nunes.

  • Jordan has quickly become House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff's counterpart as the face of Republicans' defense so far. Unlike Nunes, Jordan has been present at every deposition, according to transcripts he has already actively participated in questioning witnesses, and is among the first to speak in front of the cameras when the committees emerge from closed-door hearings.

Details: Jordan’s general counsel Steve Castor is now shared staff with the House Intelligence Committee, and will be leading the 45 minutes of staff questions Republicans get next week during public hearings.

What they're saying: GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted on Friday, "I am appointing @Jim_Jordan to the Intelligence Committee—where he will continue fighting for fairness and truth. @RepRickCrawford has been an exemplary member of the committee and will rejoin it when this Democrat charade is over."

Behind the scenes: McCarthy has been flirting for days with sliding Jordan, previously the ranking member on House Oversight, onto the Intelligence committee.

  • McCarthy also suggested he might loan some of Trump's other attack dogs, like Reps. Mark Meadows and Lee Zeldin, to the committee as well.

What's next: The committee will hear Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent, for the first day of public hearings next Wednesday.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

43 mins ago - Health

Florida records most new daily COVID cases in state since pandemic began

Nurses bring a portable x-ray machine to a treatment tent outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, set up to serve as an overflow area as the number of COVID-19 infections surges throughout Brevard County. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida reported 21,683 new COVID-19 cases — the most in the state in a single day since the pandemic began, per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday.

The big picture: Florida is now the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, with the Delta variant driving a surge, Axios Tampa Bay's Ben Montgomery notes.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans tested positive for COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC and state Covid dashboards. Dani Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, around 125,000 people have tested positive for breakthrough infections and 0.001% have died, according to state data compiled from state dashboards by NBC and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

Biden officials celebrate infrastructure deal in fuel-cell big rig

White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm celebrated progress on President Biden's infrastructure package by taking a spin in a Kenworth fuel-cell, zero-emissions Class A truck.

What they're saying: "We have a deal, a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework deal," Granholm said. McCarthy responded: "it's big and it's beautiful."