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Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday arguing that former communications director Hope Hicks is "absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as a senior adviser to the President."

Why it matters: The White House has asserted executive privilege in an effort block Hicks and all other current and former Trump officials from complying with subpoenas from House Democrats. Hicks is the first official who will testify — albeit in a closed-door setting — in the committee's investigation into Trump's potential obstruction of justice.

  • Cipollone argues that Hicks' testimony "creates an inherent and substantial risk of inadvertent or coerced disclosure of confidential information." He also contends that questions about Hicks' work on the transition team are covered by executive privilege because they relate to decisions that Trump would later make as president.
  • It's unlikely that this last-ditch effort by the White House to block Hicks' testimony will have any impact on how House Democrats on the committee proceed. Per CNN, a White House official will be in the room during the testimony, and Democrats plan to engage in an "on-the-spot" negotiation if executive privilege is asserted for a particular question.

In a closed-door interview on Wednesday, the committee plan to question Hicks about five incidents of potential obstruction, Politico reports. Hicks, who has already turned over some documents to the committee, was a key witness to several of the most explosive episodes detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report, including the firing of FBI director James Comey and Trump's efforts to remove Mueller.

  • A transcript of the interview could be made public within 48 hours, aides told Politico.

Read the letter:

Go deeper

Fintech's record year

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Massive venture rounds into fintech companies have ballooned this year, pushing up total dollars invested — in just the first three quarters of 2021 — to nearly double the amount in all of 2020, per new PitchBook data.

Why it matters: The maturing of fintech startups means a growing number of companies are able to raise huge later-stage funding rounds as investors look to lock-in their bets.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Democrats' clean power outlook is very muddy

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Here are two big questions as a key Democratic proposal to slash emissions from power generation flounders: how much its demise would sap climate protections, and what might replace it.

Catch up fast: New financial carrots and sticks for utilities to deploy zero-carbon power — the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP) — look unlikely to stay in Democrats' big social spending and climate bill.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC: Unvaccinated are over 11 times more likely to die from COVID

Expand chart
Reproduced from CDC; Note: Data represents 30% of Americans across 16 jurisdictions: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York City, Seattle/King County, Wash., Utah and Wisconsin; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The CDC recently published data evaluating Americans' rate of coronavirus cases and deaths by vaccine status, providing more data on which vaccines are working best and how much protection they offer relative to being unvaccinated.

What they found: As of August, unvaccinated people had a more than six times higher risk of testing positive for the coronavirus, and were more than 11 times more likely to die from the virus.