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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

In late August, White House lawyers briefed President Trump on the now-infamous whistleblower complaint about his dealings with Ukraine, the New York Times reports, citing "two people familiar with the matter."

Why it matters: The report suggests Trump knew officials had raised alarms about his July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president two weeks prior to his decision to unfreeze military aid, which Democrats allege he was using as leverage to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.

Between the lines: The bombshell report could undermine a key Republican defense used throughout the public impeachment hearing — that there couldn't have been a "quid pro quo" because the aid was ultimately released on Sept. 11.

  • House Democrats have long claimed that the aid was only released because Trump knew he had been "caught" after they launched an investigation in September into allegations that Rudy Giuliani was leading a campaign to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.
  • The revelation that Trump knew about the whistleblower complaint in August would bolster that argument. The Times reports that it's not clear how much detail White House lawyers went into when briefing Trump on the complaint.

The revelation may also shed light on why President Trump denied any "quid pro quo" involving aid and the investigations to EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland — which, as the Times notes, came before the phrase had "entered the public lexicon" due to the Ukraine scandal.

  • Sondland is one of several witnesses who testified that he believed both a White House meeting and military aid had been conditioned on the announcement of investigations.
  • Sondland notably refused to say whether he believed Trump's assertion in a Sept. 9 phone call that there was no quid pro quo involving the military aid.
  • Days after reportedly learning about the whistleblower complaint, Trump also denied to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that there was a quid pro quo. Johnson said in a letter to House Republicans that Trump was "adamant, vehement and angry" when asked the question.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: 2 budget officials allegedly resigned over handling of Ukraine aid freeze

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.