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House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that the Trump administration officials who have expressed concerns about the president's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff's witnesses and that there are other officials who have "countering views."

Why it matters: Scalise's argument echoes one deployed by President Trump himself, who has called several of the witnesses who have testified in the impeachment inquiry "Never Trumpers."

  • However, top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor was personally appointed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and others like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman served on the White House National Security Council.
  • Jennifer Williams, a top national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence, also testified that Trump's phone call with Zelensky was "unusual and inappropriate."

The big picture: Scalise is correct that some of the witnesses that Republicans want to testify in the inquiry, such as the whistleblower and Hunter Biden, have been rebuffed by Schiff. Former NSC official Tim Morrison, however, was on the Republicans' list of witnesses and is expected to testify in public next week.

The exchange:

CHRIS WALLACE: First of all, a dozen people listened in on the phone call and a number of them were immediately upset because what the president said about Burisma —
SCALISE: Those were Schiff's witnesses. 
WALLACE: No, sir, they are career foreign service officers, and these are people who worked in the Trump administration. 
SCALISE: They are Schiff's witnesses. 
WALLACE: Wait a minute, sir, you had a woman yesterday who was on Vice President Pence's staff. She said it was inappropriate. Tim Morrison, who was on the NSC staff, who said that he — alarm bells immediately went off for him. Alexander Vindman immediately went to see — these are all people — you say they are Schiff's witnesses, they all were working in the Trump administration.
SCALISE: They were not all Trump administration folks. 
WALLACE: Are you saying that the person working — Alexander Vindman wasn't part of the National Security Council?
SCALISE: The inspector general said that the whistleblower had political motivations.
WALLACE: We are not talking about the whistleblower. 

Go deeper: Trump attacks Marie Yovanovitch as she testifies at impeachment hearing

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.