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Trump at a MAGA rally in Tupelo, Mississippi, on Nov. 1, 2019. Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Several Senate Republicans discussed a strategy shift on the impeachment inquiry into President Trump on Wednesday, per the Washington Post: acknowledging that Trump withheld Ukraine's military aid to encourage an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The big picture: Trump has denied that there was any "quid pro quo" between himself and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in their July 25 phone call, in which the whistleblower accused Trump of trying to "pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President's 2020 reelection bid."

What they're saying: Republicans acknowledging the possibility of a quid pro quo are emphasizing that they believe the president's request was legal and standard foreign policy that doesn't constitute an impeachable offense.

  • Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) "argued that there may have been a quid pro quo but said that the U.S. government often attaches conditions to foreign aid and that nothing was amiss in Trump’s doing so in the case of aid to Ukraine," multiple people familiar with the session told the Post.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said that "a quid pro quo is not illegal unless there is 'corrupt intent' and echoed Kennedy’s argument that such conditions are a tool of foreign policy."

Between the lines, per the Post: "Republicans are frantically seeking a new strategy and talking points to defend the president" after House Democrats on Thursday voted to formalize and open their impeachment investigation.

Go deeper: Mulvaney walks back claim that DNC investigation was reason for Ukraine aid freeze

Go deeper

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.

U.S. Chamber decides against political ban for Capitol insurrection

A pedestrian passes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters as it undergoes renovation. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce revealed Friday it won't withhold political donations from lawmakers who simply voted against certifying the presidential election results and instead decide on a case-by-case basis.

Why it matters: The Chamber is the marquee entity representing businesses and their interests in Washington. Its memo, obtained exclusively by Axios, could set the tone for businesses debating how to handle their candidate and PAC spending following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

CDC lets child migrant shelters fill to 100% despite COVID concern

Intensive care tents at overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control is allowing shelters handling child migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border to expand to full capacity, abandoning a requirement that they stay near 50% to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The fact that the country's premier health advisory agency is permitting a change in COVID-19 protocols indicates the scale of the immigration crisis. A draft memo obtained by Axios conceded "facilities should plan for and expect to have COVID-19 cases."

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