Nov 19, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Tuesday. We're in the midst of a historic day — in the midst of a historic week.

  • Today's PM — edited by Shane Savitsky — is 593 words ... a 2-minute read.
1 big thing: Double dose of impeachment testimony
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

We've already had a few hours of impeachment testimony today — and there are a few hours still left before things wrap up on Capitol Hill.

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Jennifer Williams sat down before the House Intelligence Committee this morning, becoming the first people to directly listen in to the July 25 call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

The big picture: The pair agreed that the call — at the heart of Democrats' allegations that Trump pressured Zelensky to open an investigation into the Bidens' business dealings in Ukraine — was out of the ordinary.

  • Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert and a decorated Army veteran, said the call was "inappropriate" and "improper."
  • Williams, a top aide to Vice President Pence, said that she thought the call was "unusual" and that it struck her as "political in nature."
  • Worth noting: Both testified that they are not aware of evidence suggesting any misconduct by Joe Biden in Ukraine.

What's next: Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and former National Security Council official Tim Morrison are set to start their own hearing around 3:15 p.m. ET.

  • Volker is at the center of the alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine; he's one of the "three amigos" who worked to advance Trump's agenda in the country alongside European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
  • Morrison said in his closed-door impeachment testimony that he didn't find the July 25 call inappropriate, but testified that Sondland said that military aid for Ukraine was conditioned on the investigations that Trump wanted.

Today's hearings kick off a packed week — where we'll hear from five more witnesses across three hearings. (The schedule.)

🐼 Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Bye, bye, Bei Bei! "A specially equipped Boeing 777 jet took off from Dulles International Airport ... carrying a true Washington celebrity: Bei Bei, a 4-year-old giant panda," writes the AP.

  • "Under terms of the zoo’s agreement with the Chinese government, any panda born here must be sent to China when they reach age 4."
2. What you missed

Photo: NASA

  1. A new report shows that NASA is well behind in its exploration goals, calling into question a timeline it set out to return to the Moon by 2024. Go deeper.
  2. The White House's Twitter account tweeted a quote attacking Alexander Vindman in the midst of his impeachment testimony. What it said.
  3. Two federal prison guards, on duty when Jeffrey Epstein was found dead, were charged in connection with their alleged failure to properly check on him as ordered. Details.
  4. Disney+ accounts showed up for sale on the dark web almost immediately after the streaming service went live, thanks to users reusing their passwords. Stay safe.
  5. Israel's Benny Gantz had a heads up on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's announcement yesterday on the legality of Israeli settlements. Why it matters.
3. 1 fun thing

Screenshot via YouTube

Screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard writes in the L.A. Times about how recent developments in Hollywood finally ended his 25-year struggle to bring Harriet Tubman's story to the big screen.

  • "#OscarsSoWhite, DiversityHollywood and the other pushes and protests for inclusion and diverse storytelling had moved the needle: The climate had changed."
  • "And out of this sea change came not only 'Harriet' but the movie that ushered in this new era: 'Black Panther.' It’s no accident that 'Harriet' went into production nine months after the release of 'Black Panther.'"
  • "I am enjoying the warmth of the Hollywood climate change, and the diverse stories that are bathing in that sunlight, happy that Harriet’s other journey is now finally complete."

Watch the trailer.

Mike Allen