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

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8 hours ago - Health

Fauci says if people won't wear masks, maybe it should be mandated

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Graeme Jennings- Pool/Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN on Friday evening that if "people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it."

Why it matters: Fauci made the comments the same day the U.S. hit its highest daily COVID-19 case count since the pandemic began.

Harris to Black voters: Casting a ballot is about honoring your ancestors

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris speaks at a "Get Out The Vote" rally at Morehouse College. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris appealed to Black voters in Georgia on Friday, urging them to "honor the ancestors" by casting ballots, and again calling President Trump a "racist."

Why it matters: The U.S. saw a significant decline in African-American voter turnout between 2012 and 2016, reaching its lowest point since 2000. Higher turnout among Black Americans this year could tip the balance in favor of Democrats in key battleground states, including Georgia.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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