Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff Robert Blair walks on the South Lawn of the White House in May. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Robert Blair, senior advisor to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, will not appear before House impeachment inquiry committees under a White House directive, the Financial Times first reported Saturday night.

What they're saying: Blair's attorney Whit Ellerman said in a statement to news outlets including the FT and CNN, "Blair is caught between the assertions of legal duty by two coequal branches of government, a conflict which he cannot resolve."

"In light of the clear direction he has been given by the executive branch, Mr. Blair has respectfully declined to appear and testify. Nevertheless, he will fulfill all his legal duties once that conflict is appropriately resolved."

The big picture: Blair was requested to appear on Friday before three House committees investigating President Trump and Ukraine.

  • He has yet to receive a subpoena, but Ellerman told CNN the "direction from the White House" and advice from the Justice Department "on which it is based, covers subpoenas."

Go deeper: The coming appearances in House Democrats' impeachment probe

Go deeper

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Chris Christie: Wear a mask "or you may regret it — as I did" — Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted relief bill.
  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
  5. Education: Boston and Chicago send students back home for online learning.
  6. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.