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White House counsel Pat Cipollone and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Trump officials say they feel especially bullish about one key argument against calling additional impeachment witnesses: It could compromise America's national security.

The big picture: People close to the president say their most compelling argument to persuade nervous Republican senators to vote against calling new witnesses is the claim that they're protecting national security.

Why it matters: They're banking on it to speed up the trial, according to people close to the president.

What we're hearing: White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who considers himself a civil libertarian, is expected to argue that the obstruction of Congress article is dangerous and could forever undermine the power of the executive office to protect privileged information.

  • Cipollone will likely frame the Senate trial as a defining moment to set the precedent for executive privilege, especially on national security matters, per a source familiar with his thinking.
  • This approach is something Cipollone is particularly proud of, and one that he is happy to test in court, the source said.
  • The argument: Presidential claims of executive privilege are especially strong when they involve conversations about national security.
  • Weakening that privilege would make presidents less candid when they seek counsel from their advisers on national security (think John Bolton).

The bottom line: Sources close to Trump's legal team have privately expressed confidence that former national security adviser Bolton will ultimately honor Trump's assertion of executive privilege.

Go deeper: Trump's concede-nothing defense

Go deeper

20 mins ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran "plan B"

Bennett and Biden. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran last week to discuss a possible “plan B” if nuclear talks are not resumed, two senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time a top-secret U.S.-Israel strategic working group on Iran has convened since the new Israeli government took office in June.

52 mins ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE next week

Sullivan. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan is planning to travel to the Middle East next week, including a stop in Saudi Arabia. He would be the most senior Biden administration official to visit the kingdom.

Why it matters: Sullivan's first trip to the region since taking office is expected to include stops in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, sources briefed on the plans tell Axios. All three countries are longtime U.S. partners who have faced some early tensions with Biden.

2 hours ago - World

WHO revises air quality guidelines to reduce deaths from pollution

Smoke from California wildfires over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in August 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Wednesday updated air quality guidelines it set roughly 15 years ago, saying that negative health effects from air pollutants can begin at lower levels than it previously thought.

Why it matters: The changes are meant to reduce deaths from pollutants that cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and prematurely kill an estimated 7 million people around the world annually, according to the WHO.

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