Oct 23, 2019

Reports: Ukraine felt early Trump pressure and knew of military aid freeze

Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, Sept. 25. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

A pair of anonymously sourced reports published Wednesday indicate that the Ukrainian government felt pressure from the Trump administration to pursue investigations into the president's political rivals in the U.S. earlier than previously known.

Driving the news: AP reports that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met with advisers on May 7 to discuss how to navigate requests from Trump and Rudy Giuliani that would effectively push Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. The New York Times reports that high-level Ukrainian officials were aware that Trump was withholding nearly $400 million in military aid by August, and that they were told to reach out to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to address it.

Why it matters: Zelensky's May 7 meeting came two weeks before he was inaugurated and more than two months before the July 25 phone call with Trump that set off the whistleblower complaint and ensuing impeachment inquiry.

  • The fact that officials knew about the aid freeze by August, if true, would undermine the argument by Trump and his allies that the Ukrainians could not have been bullied into opening these investigations because they weren't aware that security assistance was being withheld.

Go deeper: U.S. envoy testifies Trump tied Ukraine aid to Biden, DNC investigations

Go deeper

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.