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President Trump tweeted Tuesday that the media is "reading far too much" into Monday's decision by a federal judge that would force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify in the House impeachment inquiry.

Why it matters: Though the decision is being appealed, the judge rejected in harsh terms the argument that White House aides are "absolutely immune" from congressional subpoenas, blasting the theory as "exactly backwards" in terms of the principles of separation of powers.

  • Trump claimed that he would actually like his aides to testify but argued that "absolute immunity" is a matter of protecting the powers of the presidency.

What he's saying:

"The D.C. Wolves and Fake News Media are reading far too much into people being forced by Courts to testify before Congress. I am fighting for future Presidents and the Office of the President. Other than that, I would actually like people to testify. Don McGahn’s respected lawyer has already stated that I did nothing wrong. John Bolton is a patriot and may know that I held back the money from Ukraine because it is considered a corrupt country, & I wanted to know why nearby European countries weren’t putting up money also. Likewise, I would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney and many others testify about the phony Impeachment Hoax. It is a Democrat Scam that is going nowhere but, future Presidents should in no way be compromised. What has happened to me should never happen to another President!"

Reality check: The claim that McGahn would testify that Trump "did nothing wrong" is dubious. The former White House counsel appears on 66 pages of the 448-page Mueller report — and appeared to prevent Trump from obstructing justice effectively by ignoring presidential orders at every turn.

  • Likewise, former national security adviser John Bolton, whom Trump also claims would exonerate him in the impeachment inquiry, met privately with Trump in August to try to convince him to release frozen military aid to Ukraine, one former official testified.
  • Bolton, who supposedly called the scheme to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Biden family a "drug deal," was the most prolific note taker at the top level of the White House — and could know more details than any impeachment inquiry witness about Trump's machinations with Ukraine.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
25 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's plan to upend Trump's environmental legacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
26 mins ago - Health

The public health presidency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden will take office today facing a challenge none of his modern predecessors have had to reckon with — his legacy will depend largely on how well he handles a once-in-a-century pandemic that's already raging out of control.

The big picture: Public health tends to be relatively apolitical and non-controversial. The limelight in health care politics typically belongs instead to debates over costs and coverage. But that will all change for the Biden administration.

D.C. braces for economic hit from scaled-back inauguration

Photo: Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The days leading up to and including Inauguration Day typically generate $31.4 million in additional sales for D.C. businesses — but not this year.

Why it matters: Washington's economy is already suffering from pandemic-induced closures, and could very much use the revelry and tourist dollars that Inauguration Day brings — instead of the large bills that will pile up if there's further mayhem or if visitors continue to stay away.

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