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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

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.