Nov 15, 2019

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

👋 Happy Friday as we close out this historic week.

  • Today's PM — edited by Shane Savitsky — is 503 words ... a 2-minute read.
1 big thing: Split-screen impeachment

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Today's impeachment hearing, featuring former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, turned into an unprecedented dual-screen viewing experience — as President Trump unleashed a real-time Twitter blast at her opening testimony.

  • "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad," Trump rage-tweeted. "She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him."
  • "It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors. They call it 'serving at the pleasure of the President.'"

That prompted House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff to take the striking step of reading the tweets aloud for Yovanovitch's reaction just 23 minutes later, with millions tuned in around the country.

  • Her response: "It's very intimidating. ... I mean, I can't speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is trying to be intimidating."
  • Schiff replied: "Some of us here take witness intimidation very seriously."

Why it matters: Multiple House Democrats said during a break in the hearing that Trump's tweets could trigger an additional article of impeachment, Axios' Alayna Treene reports from the hearing room.

  • She adds that Trump's tweet is exactly the type of attack on Yovanovitch's character that Republicans said they were hoping to avoid during today's testimony.
  • Trump pushed back against the criticism while speaking to reporters at the White House, saying that he doesn't believe it constituted witness tampering: "I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech just as other people do."

Other big moments:

  • Yovanovitch said she felt threatened by the fact that Trump said she would "go through some things" during his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Video.)
  • The former ambassador offered a defense of the State Department and its employees as those who "advance and protect the interests of the United States." (Video.)

Go deeper: Highlights from Marie Yovanovitch's impeachment hearing

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Luca Bruno/AP

People cross a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy.

  • The lagoon city was battered by a new high tide of five feet today, flooding more than 80% of the city, reports the BBC.
  • The Grand Canal's water was level with sidewalks across the city.
2. What you missed

Roger Stone leaves the D.C. federal courthouse. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

  1. Trump associate Roger Stone was found guilty on seven counts, including obstruction, giving false statements to a House committee and witness tampering. Details.
  2. The NFL suspended the Cleveland Browns' Myles Garrett indefinitely after he ripped off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's helmet and hit him with it. Go deeper.
  3. Federal prosecutors are investigating whether Rudy Giuliani expected to personally profit from a Ukrainian natural-gas business backed by two colleagues who pushed for investigations into Joe Biden, WSJ reports.
  4. Democratic lawmakers are disputing the legality of Chad Wolf's appointment as acting Homeland Security secretary. What's happening.
  5. Twitter announced updates to its new political ad ban on Friday, clarifying how it will define political ads and what exceptions exist. Details.
🎮 3. 1 fun thing

Screenshot via YouTube

"Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order," focused on the last surviving Jedi Knight, hits video game consoles today, per Reuters.

  • Electronic Arts "expects to sell 6 million to 8 million units" of what is considered the "biggest single-player focused game" in the holiday season.

It'll be boosted by the releases of "The Mandalorian," a TV series based in the Star Wars universe from new streaming service Disney+, and "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," the ninth film in the popular series.

Mike Allen