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

Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,328,238 — Total deaths: 964,839— Total recoveries: 21,503,496Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,857,967 — Total deaths: 199,884 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

Texas and Louisiana face fresh flood threat from Tropical Storm Beta

Tropical Storm Beta slowly approaching the Texas coast on Monday. Photo: National Weather Service/Twitter

Tropical Storm Beta crossed the Texas coast near the southern end of the Matagorda Peninsula late Monday, the National Hurricane Center said, bringing with it the risk of "life-threatening storm surge" and flooding to parts of Texas and Louisiana.

What's happening: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) made a disaster declaration and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency, as the states began feeling the impact of the slow-moving storm — which was causing coastal flooding along the bays including those near Houston and Galveston in Texas Monday, per the National Weather Service.

Louisville police declare state of emergency as Breonna Taylor decision looms

A demonstrator holds up a sign of Breonna Taylor during a protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Louisville police chief declared in a memo obtained by news outlets a "state of emergency" for the department on Monday to prepare for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron's expected announcement on the Breonna Taylor case.

Of note: Louisville has witnessed more than 115 days of protests over the police killing of Taylor, an unarmed Black woman, with calls for all the officers involved to be charged.

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