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Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to voters in Iowa. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse requested documents and communications from the Justice Department on Nov. 8 related to President Trump's reported call for Attorney General Bill Barr to hold a press conference exonerating the president of any wrongdoing on the July 25 Ukraine call, according to a letter first given to Axios.

“These reports raise serious concerns about the president’s perception of the Justice Department as a partisan political instrument and his willingness to use the power of federal law enforcement in pursuit of his own objectives."
— Sens. Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse in a Nov. 8 letter

Why it matters: The White House continues to defy congressional subpoenas related to the impeachment inquiry. This document request is one attempt to work around that resistance and collect more information.

  • The senators are requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This is the second time these senators made a FOIA request for Trump-Ukraine information in less than three weeks.

Yes, but: FOIA requests can take months, or even years to process, meaning the lawmakers might not get the documents any time soon.

Between the lines: They're also using Trump's tweets against him after the president recently denied a Washington Post story about the Barr press conference request, calling it "MADE UP" and "pure fiction."

“If President Trump’s passionate assertion that such reports are ‘pure fiction’ and ‘Fake News’ is indeed correct, then the Department of Justice should have no problem in expeditiously processing our request. Accordingly, we seek expedited treatment of our request for the following records.”
— the Democratic senators wrote

The big picture: Harris has gained national attention for her questioning of Trump nominees like Barr and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She's now proactively trying to get involved in the impeachment inquiry before the trial even makes its way to the Senate — which would pull her away from the 2020 campaign trail.

Read the letter:

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”