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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

Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategy

Biden signs executive orders on Jan. 21. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday signed a slew of executive orders to address the coronavirus pandemic, including an interstate face mask mandate and an order to renew supplies of PPE, testing materials and vaccines through the Defense Production Act.

Why it matters: The stakes are highest for Biden’s vaccination effort. Several states cannot keep up with demand.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.