Photo: Sergei Chuzavkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a meeting in early May with his top aides to seek advice on how to navigate pressure from the Trump administration to investigate Joe Biden, two people with knowledge of the briefings told AP.

Why it matters: The sources said Zelensky was concerned that the White House wanted him to take action that could influence the 2020 presidential race — well before the July 25 call with President Trump that's at the heart of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Details: Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were briefed on the meeting, meaning that U.S. officials knew early on that Zelensky felt pressured to investigate Biden.

  • The sources said that notes on the meeting that circulated at the State Department indicate that Zelensky tried to hide the purpose of the May 7 meeting by claiming it was about energy policy.

The big picture: Zelensky later denied that he felt pressured while talking to reporters at the UN General Assembly meeting in September.

  • House Republicans have defended Trump in impeachment hearings with Zelensky's public statements that he felt no pressure to open investigations.
  • Democrats have argued that Ukrainian officials can't admit they felt pressured because they still rely on aid from the Trump administration.

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Trump signs 4 executive orders on coronavirus aid

President Trump speaking during a press conference on Aug. 8. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday signed four executive orders to provide relief from economic damage sustained during the coronavirus pandemic after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed Friday afternoon.

Why it matters: Because the Constitution gives Congress the power to appropriate federal spending, Trump has limited authority to act unilaterally — and risks a legal challenge if congressional Democrats believe he has overstepped.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2. p.m. ET: 4,968,413 — Total deaths: 161,858 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective.
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  5. Schools: How back-to-school is playing out in the South as coronavirus rages on — Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Howard to hold fall classes online.
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What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.