🍷 Good Thursday morning from Charlottesville. When I flew in from our event in Dallas, I went straight to Little Star, opened on West Main this year by Ryan Collins, formerly a José Andrés chef in D.C.
Former White House official Fiona Hill will tell today's impeachment hearing that a "fictional narrative" about Ukraine, driven by partisan politics, distracted President Trump from the real threat that Russia poses to America's democracy.
A "John Dean moment"? Ambassador Gordon Sondland declared at yesterday's hearing that Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani explicitly sought a "quid pro quo" with Ukraine, leveraging an Oval Office visit for political investigations of Democrats, AP writes in its recap.
Sondland testified that it was also his understanding Trump was holding up $400 million in military aid, which Ukraine badly needed with an aggressive Russia on its border, in exchange for an announcement of Biden investigations.
Why he matters, per the N.Y. Times: "Sondland linked the most senior members of the Trump administration to the effort — including the vice president, the secretary of state, the acting chief of staff and others."
How it's playing:
Today's top witness:
My favorite zinger from last night's Democratic debate in Atlanta came from Amy Klobuchar:
During the Dems' fifth debate, the Pete Buttigieg pile-on landed more softly than expected, Axios' Zach Basu writes.
In the shadow of the day's impeachment hearings, the candidates agreed that President Trump should be impeached on a charge of abuse of power.
Five of the candidates — Warren, Sanders, Harris, Klobuchar and Cory Booker — would sit as jurors if articles of impeachment went to the Senate.
Milestone: The debate had a greater focus on women's issues than earlier ones, with questions about abortion rights, paid family leave and the cost of child care.
What to watch: Booker, the highest-profile candidate who hasn't qualified for the next debate, began his closing statement with a plea for donations to get on the December stage.
The bottom line: Biden, still atop most national polls, had gaffes (the nation needs to "keep punching at" sexual violence and harassment against women), but showed command of foreign policy.
Go deeper, issue-by-issue: See what the candidates said on voting rights, legalizing marijuana, health care, climate, a wealth tax and more.
"Slightly better growth, limited recession risk, and friendly monetary policy should provide a decent background for financial markets in the early part of 2020," Goldman Sachs Economics Research says in a 21-page forecast by Jan Hatzius, Daan Struyven and Ronnie Walker.
Axios thought bubble: If you're the Trump campaign, you heart this forecast.
"In 2019 America's 1% behaved badly — and helped bring about a reckoning with capitalism," writes TIME editor-at-large Anand Giridharadas, author of "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World":
This year, America’s ultra-elites [including Jeffrey Epstein] seemed to bend over backwards to lend support to the idea that maybe the system they superintend needs gut-renovating. As a political movement challenging their wealth and power bubbled up, the elite’s own misbehavior trickled down. And where the two met, ideas that once seemed unutterable started, to many, to sound like the future. ...
The Overton window was moving [with the 2016 election]. Then came the 2018 midterms and a new wave of Democratic candidates — most prominently, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — questioning capitalism-as-capitalism in a way that seemed unfamiliar and fresh.
As the 2020 campaign approached, Warren jumped into the race, a beneficiary of the opening Sanders had helped carve for capitalist-critical aspirants to America’s highest office. ...
Warren detailed an agenda that would put American business in a headlock. That she and Sanders, both veritable enemies of Big Business, are among the top candidates shows how much the politics of capitalism has changed.
These were the contrasting headlines on MSNBC and Fox News as yesterday's impeachment hearing broke at 11:03 a.m. after explosive morning testimony:
CNN's "lower third" chryon at the same moment: "SONDLAND TIES TRUMP, PENCE, POMPEO TO UKRAINE PRESSURE CAMPAIGN."
Here's the N.Y. Times' front page for the ages:
An AP investigation of Catholic mandatory review boards across the country found that they have broadly failed to uphold commitments to investigate sexual abuse allegations fairly and kindly.
The investigation found dozens of cases in which review boards rejected complaints from survivors, only to have them later validated by secular authorities.
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