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J. David Ake / AP

Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates will testify before Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism at 2:30 PM this afternoon in a hearing for its investigation of Russian interference in last fall's presidential election. It's widely expected to be one of the investigation's biggest moments thus far.

The big thing: Per CNN, Yates is expected to confirm her January warning to the White House that ousted Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn might have compromised himself via contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, which would directly contradict the Trump administration's version of events.

The pushback: As Axios' Jonathan Swan reported last night, the White House is expected to push the Russia story as "fake news" — and drive home that Flynn received his security clearance under President Obama. And POTUS has already delivered this morning with a pair of tweets:

"General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration - but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that. Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council."

The senators:

  • Republicans: Lindsey Graham (chairman), John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse, John Kennedy
  • Democrats: Sheldon Whitehouse (ranking), Dick Durbin, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Coons

Graham's aims: "The bottom line is if there were any contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russian intelligence services that were inappropriate, I want to find out about it, and I want the whole world to know about it."

A caveat: As with FBI director James Comey's two prior widely-publicized rounds of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee, many details of Yates' Flynn tale remain classified, so some of her more explosive details might be reined in.

Go deeper

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Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

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Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.