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Personal lawyer to President Trump and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Siavosh Hosseini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Rudy Giuliani has abruptly decided to cancel a paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed, anti-Western conference in Armenia next week, telling the Washington Post: "I didn’t know [Vladimir] Putin was going. Discretion is the better part of valor."

The big picture: The personal lawyer to President Trump attended the event last year as a "private citizen" and was paid to be on a panel led by Putin adviser Sergey Glazyev, who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Giuliani has played a role in promoting unsubstantiated allegations about Joe Biden and Ukraine at the heart of a whistleblower complaint that has prompted an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

Go deeper: Giuliani responds to Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint

Go deeper

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

Scoop: Conservative group puts $700k behind Hawley

Sen. Josh Hawley explains his objection to certifying the 2020 election results hours after the U.S. Capitol siege. Photo: Congress.gov via Getty Images

A Republican group is raising and spending huge amounts of money defending Sen. Josh Hawley after he was ostracized for early January’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Why it matters: The Senate Conservatives Fund is plugging Hawley's ideological bona fides and backfilling lost corporate cash with needed political and financial support, helping inoculate him as he weighs reelection or a possible presidential campaign in 2024.