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Pressed on whether it was appropriate for President Trump to solicit foreign interference from Ukraine and China, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said on ABC's "This Week" that the president is a "human" and that "things happen."

The exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: I asked if it was okay to solicit. We've seen the president in public ask the Ukrainians to get involved, ask the Chinese to get involved.
SHELBY: Well, those were just statements, political. They make them all the time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So it's okay?
SHELBY: I didn't say it was okay, I said people make them. People do things. Things happen.

Why it matters: There has been a range of responses from Republicans on the question of whether Trump's conduct toward Ukraine was appropriate, with some arguing that it was improper but not impeachable — and others disputing the claim that he was soliciting foreign interference.

  • Shelby's response reflects the discomfort some Republicans have with admitting they had issues with Trump's behavior, when the president himself has insisted he did nothing wrong.
  • Shelby, who has been sworn in as an "impartial juror" in the Senate impeachment trial, said he doesn't believe Trump's conduct "rises to the standard of an impeachable offense," but added: "I still think we should wait and see what comes out in the trial itself."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

8 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.