Nov 13, 2019

The impeachment surprise on Day 1

Bill Taylor and George Kent are sworn in. Photo: Joshua Roberts - Pool/Getty Images

In a surprise revelation during a day with more drama than news, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine testified during the House impeachment hearing that he learned about another Trump phone call last week.

Driving the news: Bill Taylor learned last week that a staffer overheard President Trump discuss "the investigations" in Ukraine with EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland the day after Trump's July 25 call with the president of Ukraine, he told the House Intel Committee today.

Why it matters: It’s an example of Trump personally involving himself at the ground level with the push to have the Ukrainian president announce these investigations.

  • It would tie Trump more directly to the pressure campaign and make it more difficult to say it was Rudy Giuliani going rogue, or just Sondland’s interpretation of what Trump wanted.
  • Trump responded at a presser: "I know nothing about that. First time I've heard." (Video).

The big picture: No one's expecting to learn much from these hearings, which feature witnesses who've already been deposed behind closed doors.

  • Democrats hope the public will be galvanized by a stream of public servants speaking out about abnormal behavior.
  • Republicans hope they can keep the discussion focused on improprieties by people who aren't named Donald J. Trump, including even alleging wrongdoings by prior administrations.

Between the lines: Taylor and George Kent said they had never had contact with the president.

  • Reality check: The White House is blocking most of the people who've had contact with Trump from testifying.
  • Instead, Taylor and Kent emphasized, their presence was to answer questions and express their alarm at the abnormality of the actions they witnessed from their own government this year in Ukraine.

What they're saying: House Democratic aides think this went better than Robert Mueller's hearing, but are worried that no matter what happens in these hearings, viewers will continue to see this through a partisan lens, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • "The contrast of Taylor to Mueller ... is jarring. ... Taylor is in full command," the N.Y. Times' Maggie Haberman wrote on the Times live blog.

The bottom line: History is unfolding before us, but due to the splintering of modern media, expect people to walk away with very different impressions of what they're seeing — depending on where they see it.

Go deeper: More highlights from today's testimonies

Go deeper

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

Protesters gather at Hennepin County Government Plaza on Thursday in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Protests in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man who died shortly after a police encounter in Minneapolis, are ongoing as the nation waits to see if the officers involved will be charged with murder.

The state of play: Minnesota's governor on Thursday activated the state's national guard following violent outbreaks throughout the week.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has a single novel coronavirus case after reporting a week of no new infections, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Friday local time.

By the numbers: Nearly 6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 357,000 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.6 million.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 5,803,416 — Total deaths: 359,791 — Total recoveries — 2,413,576Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8:30 p.m. ET: 1,720,613 — Total deaths: 101,573 — Total recoveries: 399,991 — Total tested: 15,646,041Map.
  3. Public health: The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders.
  4. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  5. World: Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S.
  6. 2020: The RNC has issued their proposed safety guidelines for its planned convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  7. Axios on HBO: Science fiction writers tell us how they see the coronavirus pandemic.
  8. 🏃‍♀️Sports: Boston Marathon canceled after initial postponement, asks runners to go virtual.
  9. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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