1/ The former White House adviser on Russia opened her testimony before the impeachment inquiry by accusing Republican lawmakers of weaponizing "falsehoods" with the "fictional narrative" that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election. Fiona Hill called Rep. Devin Nunes attempts to sow doubt that Russia interfered in the election a myth "perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services." She added that it's "beyond dispute" that "Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions" in 2016. Hill and foreign service officer David Holmes appeared together as public impeachment witnesses, testifying about efforts by Gordon Sondland and Rudy Giuliani to convince Ukraine's president to announce investigations that would benefit Trump politically around the time Trump froze security aid to Ukraine. Hill testified that she warned Sondland at the time that his efforts in Ukraine on behalf of Trump would "blow up." She added: "And here we are." (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • MORE:

  • Hill said Sondland was "involved in a domestic political errand" and that he was "carrying out what he thought he had been instructed to carry out." (New York Times)

  • Holmes testified that Russian intelligence was trying to "drive a wedge" between the U.S. and Ukraine to give the Kremlin more influence in the region. Hill added that Russia's interest "is to delegitimize the president," and that Russia's goal in 2016 was to put the next president – Trump or Clinton – "under a cloud."

  • Holmes explained that he was able to overhear Trump ask Gordon Sondland about getting Ukraine to launch an investigation, because Trump's voice was "quite loud" and "quite distinctive." Holmes said that when Trump came on the line, Sondland "sort of winced" and "held the phone away from his ear." (CNBC)

  • READ: Fiona Hill's opening statement

  • READ: David Holmes' opening statement

  • READ: Adam Schiff's opening statement

  • READ: Devin Nunes' opening statement

  • LIVE BLOGS: Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / ABC News

2/ The deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia testified that Ukrainian officials asked her staff about the military aid on July 25 – the same day as Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Laura Cooper said Ukrainian officials were aware "there was some kind of issue" with the aid on July 25. Cooper testified that the military aid was critically important and that she had no idea why it was held up, despite Congress authorizing the money and the Defense Department having assured that Ukraine had met the qualifications for receiving it in May. Trump, White House officials, and Republican members of Congress, however, have argued that Kiev wasn't aware of the delay until it was publicly reported in late August, insisting that there could be no wrongdoing if the Ukrainians weren't aware the aid was being held up. (CNN / Axios / Washington Post / Politico)

3/ White House officials and Senate Republicans agreed that a full trial should be conducted if the House impeaches Trump. The White House reportedly wants Trump's GOP allies in the Senate to hold a trial, but limit it to about two weeks as a way of showing a commitment to due process. Three Republicans, however, can block any impeachment vote on the Senate floor. Trump, meanwhile, is reportedly "miserable" about the ongoing impeachment inquiry and has pushed to dismiss the proceedings outright. (Politico / Washington Post)

⚡️ Public Impeachment Hearing Recap: More than a dozen witnesses have testified publicly before the House Intelligence Committee. No other witnesses are scheduled to testify and the committee will now write a report documenting its findings. The report will be sent to the Judiciary Committee, which is in charge of drafting and voting on articles of impeachment. A Judiciary Committee vote on impeachment would be followed by a vote in the full House vote to send the matter to the Senate for a trial, where it would require a two-thirds majority vote to remove Trump from office.


Notables.

  1. The Justice Department's inspector general report about the FBI investigation into Trump's 2016 campaign ties to Russia will be released next month. The year-and-a-half long investigation examined whether the FBI violated surveillance laws or policies when it obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to look into Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

  2. Rudy Guiliani's indicted business associate helped Rep. Devin Nunes arrange meetings and calls in Europe in 2018 related to Nunes' investigative work into the origins of Robert Mueller's probe. Nunes and three of his aides traveled to Europe from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, 2018 to attend meetings arranged by Lev Parnas. Nunes is the top Republican on the House committee in charge of the impeachment inquiry, where Parnas has been a recurring figure. (Daily Beast)

  3. Federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed several Trump fundraisers as part of their investigation into Giuliani and his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Prosecutors sent subpoenas to Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm run by Brian Ballard, a top Trump fundraiser. One subpoenas was for communications and documents related to Parnas and Fruman, who were arrested last month on campaign finance charges, Kelly Sadler, a spokeswoman for America First Action, and Giuliani. (CNN)

  4. Trump signed a short-term spending bill to keep the government open through Dec. 20. The stop-gap spending bill came after the Senate passed the legislation on a bipartisan 74-20 vote earlier in the day. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

  5. Trump met privately with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for an undisclosed dinner at the White House in October – the second such meeting between Trump and Zuckerberg in a month. Facebook board member Peter Thiel also attended the dinner. Zuckerberg was in D.C. to testify before Congress about Facebook's new cryptocurrency. It is unclear what Trump, Zuckerberg, and Thiel discussed or why the dinner was not made public. (NBC News)

  6. A federal judge blocked the scheduled executions of four federal prisoners set to begin next month. In granting the injunction, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan said that permitting the executions would deprive the inmates of their ability to pursue their legal challenges (Editor's note: duh). In July, Attorney General William Barr announced that the government would resume executions of death row inmates after nearly two decades. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

  7. Trump overruled a decision by the Navy to strip a Navy SEAL accused of murder of his status as a member of the elite force. Earlier this year, a military court acquitted Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher of the majority of war crimes charges, including charges of murdering a militant captive. He was convicted, however, of posing for a photo with the man's corpse. Trump recently rolled back other disciplinary actions against Gallagher and two other service members accused of war crimes. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

  8. Trump promised to "release my financial statement" "sometime" before the 2020 election. He called it "my decision" despite facing multiple lawsuits and political demands to release his tax returns and other financial information. (Reuters)

  9. The Secret Service spent more than $250,000 at Trump's private businesses in the first five months of his presidency – paying Trump's company an average of nearly $2,000 per day. (Washington Post)


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