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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hand with President Trump. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The whistleblower whose allegations about President Trump and Ukraine have sparked an impeachment inquiry "never worked for or advised a political candidate, campaign, or party," and spent their entire government career in apolitical positions, according to a statement released by the whistleblower's lawyers Wednesday night.

Why it matters: Republicans and the White House have been ramping up their attempts to discredit the whistleblower, seizing on an Aug. 26 letter from Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson in which he disclosed the whistleblower showed "some indicia of an arguable political bias ... in favor of a rival political candidate."

  • CNN later reported that one example of potential bias that Atkinson was referring to was that the whistleblower is a registered Democrat. On Wednesday, Axios confirmed that Atkinson told lawmakers that the whistleblower previously had "some type of professional relationship" with one of the 2020 Democratic candidates.
  • However, Atkinson still concluded that the whistleblower's allegations appeared credible.

Details: The whistleblowers' attorneys, Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid, clarified in their Wednesday statement that during their client's tenure as a career government official, the whistleblower has "come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties in their roles as elected officials – not as candidates."

  • They note that the whistleblower "voluntarily provided relevant career information" to Atkinson to help validate his or her complaint, and Atkinson concluded that the complaint was both "urgent and credible."

The bottom line: "[T]he whistleblower is not the story," the attorneys argue. "To date, virtually every substantive allegation has been confirmed by other sources. For that reason the identity of the whistleblower is irrelevant."

Go deeper: July 26 whistleblower memo claims White House official was "visibly shaken" by Ukraine call

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.