Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

President Trump referred to Mitt Romney as a "pompous ass" on Saturday in response to the Republican senator's criticism of Trump for his "brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine" to investigate the Bidens.

Why it matters: Romney, who criticized the Trump-Ukraine allegations after reading the whistleblower complaint, is one of the first Republican senators to denounce Trump's calls for China or Ukraine to investigate one of his top 2020 rivals.

Background: Trump told reporters this week that China should launch an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden, though he noted he hasn't yet asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to do so. Trump argued on Saturday that his previous statement "pertained to corruption, not politics."

  • Trump is currently facing a House impeachment inquiry following a whistleblower complaint that alleges the president used "the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election."
  • Officials named in the whistleblower complaint drafted a statement in August committing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Ukrainian energy company for which Hunter Biden previously served on the board.

Go deeper ... Senate's new maverick Republican: Mitt Romney and the whistleblower complaint

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Tokyo in the time of coronavirus. Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty

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Reality check: While some countries have thus far managed to keep cases under control after opening up, dozens of countries that had initially turned a corner are now seeing a worrying rebound. They have to decide if and how to return to lockdown — and whether their populations will stand for it.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 12,128,406 — Total deaths: 551,552 — Total recoveries — 6,650,675Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 3,088,913 — Total deaths: 132,934 — Total recoveries: 953,420 — Total tested: 36,979,745Map.
  3. Public health: More young people are spreading the virus Cases rise in 33 statesFlorida reports highest single-day death toll since pandemic began.
  4. Science: World Health Organization acknowledges airborne transmission of coronavirus.
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