The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Vindman defends witnesses from 'cowardly' attacks at third day of hearings

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The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Day three of public impeachment hearings | Vindman defends witnesses from 'cowardly' attacks | Thanks father for bringing family to US | Army monitoring safety of Vindman family | Guide to this week's nine witnesses | Trump calls Pelosi 'crazy' before hearing | Bei Bei the panda leaves for China |  Best sandwiches in DC



Today in, ‘People Having A More Stressful Morning Than Most’:

Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanImpeachment sets up Ukrainian Americans for 2020 political role Director of National Intelligence Maguire should stand for the whistleblower Adam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings MORE, a Ukraine specialist on the National Security Council (NSC), and Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Pence, are testifying before the House Intelligence Committee this morning in the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE

Livestream of this morning’s hearing:

At 2:30 p.m. EST — here’s a livestream of today’s second hearing:

Live blog of testimony highlights:



Vindman thanks his father for leaving the Soviet Union: “Dad, I'm sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol, talking to our elected professionals, [it’s] proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”

Vindman on attacks of the impeachment witnesses: “I want to state that the vile character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible. It is natural to disagree and engage in spirited debate, this has been our custom since the time of our Founding Fathers, but we are better than callow and cowardly attacks.” He did not mention specific attacks though.

Vindman on his concerns about Trump’s Ukraine call: “I was concerned by the call, what I heard was improper, and I reported my concerns to Mr. Eisenberg. It is improper for the President of the United States to demand a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and political opponent,” referring to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the National Security Council.

Vindman was asked whether he would leak information: "I never did. I never would. That is preposterous that I would do that.”

Williams declined to answer about Pence’s call: When asked about a call between Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence: It's not a 'foregone conclusion' that lawmakers impeach Trump Pence's office questions Schiff's request to declassify more material from official's testimony: report The House Judiciary Committee's fundamental choice MORE and the Ukrainian president, Williams’s lawyer interjected. “Given the position of the vice president’s office on classification, I’ve advised Ms. Williams not answer further questions about that call in an unclassified setting.”


It’s Tuesday. I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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Behind the scenes: Here is live video before the hearing:

The classic ‘wow, that’s a lot of photographers getting the same shot’: Photo:

Photo of Vindman arriving: Note that he is in uniform.

Video of Vindman going through security as he arrives: Now if this were me, I’d realize I had forgotten to take things out of my pockets.

By the way, Vindman has a twin brother: Here’s a photo of his brother at the hearing:

The view for the witnesses:

Republicans created graphics for the room:



Primer on where we stand now in the impeachment inquiry:

Testifying this morning:

–      Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, the leading Ukraine expert on the national security council

–      Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Pence


On Tuesday afternoon:

–      Former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary How Democrats' missing witnesses could fill in the Ukraine story MORE

–      Timothy Morrison, a Ukraine and Russia expert on the national security council 


On Wednesday:

–      Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandTop Zelensky aide refutes Sondland testimony Mulvaney: 'Politics can and should influence foreign policy' Controversy on phone records intensifies amid impeachment MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union

–      Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs

–      Diplomat David Hale


On Thursday:

–      Fiona Hill, a former top NSC staffer who covered Europe and Russia

–      David Holmes, an embassy staffer in Kyiv

Short explainer on why each witness is important:



Via The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus, Dustin Volz and Gordon Lubold, “the U.S. Army is prepared to move Col. Vindman and his family onto a military base in the area to ensure their security if it is determined that they are in physical danger, according to U.S. officials ... Army security officials have also been monitoring Col. Vindman and his family around the clock to make sure there aren’t any imminent threats, officials said.”




She cray:

Late last night, President Trump called Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial The Memo: Pelosi-Trump trade deal provokes debate on left MORE (D-Calif.) crazy.

He tweeted:Nancy Pelosi just stated that ‘it is dangerous to let the voters decide Trump’s fate.’ @FoxNews In other words, she thinks I’m going to win and doesn’t want to take a chance on letting the voters decide. Like Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenDemocrats reach cusp of impeachment Feehery: Losing faith in the people and the Constitution Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race MORE, she wants to change our voting system. Wow, she’s CRAZY!”



Baby, bye Bei Bei:

Bei Bei the panda just left the National Zoo and is flying to China.

Omg: “He will be the precious cargo on a FedEx plane dubbed the ‘Panda Express.’”

His travel itinerary: The panda left Dulles International Airport at noon.

Video of zookeepers getting Bei Bei’s final breakfast ready: Via WJLA-TV’s Kristen Powers:

The puns have been on fire today: NPR’s “Morning Edition” assured followers that “in-flight he'll have all the bear necessities.”

Livestream of the National Zoo this morning:

Video of Bei Bei rolling down the hill for entertainment: Sigh, I will miss that ball of fun.


Why #fartgate is trending on Twitter — That is it. I’ve had enough of Twitter for 2019. Goodbye.: 

Via Time’s Joelle Goldstein, “During Monday’s episode of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, [Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests Democrats could introduce articles of impeachment next week MORE (D-Calif.)], 39, appeared on the political analysis show to discuss whether President Donald Trump had used taxpayer dollars to cheat in the election. However, viewers were quickly distracted from the issue when an enormous farting noise was heard as Swalwell, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, spoke to Matthews on-air from the Capitol.”

The clip in question — I cannot believe this is in the news today…:

‘Hardball’ then clarified what the sound *actually* was: “Sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists - it was the #hardball mug scraping across the desk. Get yours today and let’s get back to the news!”

Swalwell then retweeted, adding: “TOTAL EXONERATION!” Well played. See Swalwell’s actual tweet:  



Wow, that man is stone-faced

(Thank you and goodnight, folks!):



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The House and Senate are in.

11:30 a.m. EST: President Trump held a Cabinet meeting in the White House.

12:30 p.m. EST: Senators meet for weekly caucus luncheons. 

12:45 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence

1 p.m. EST: Votes in the House. The House’s full schedule today  

2:15 p.m. EST: The Senate holds votes on nominations. The Senate’s full schedule today: 

3 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence meets with former Polish President Lech Wałęsa.

3 p.m. EST: Last votes in the House. 



2 p.m. EST: Senate Republicans hold a press conference. Livestream:

2:30 p.m. EST: Senate Democrats hold a press conference. Livestream:



Today is National Macchiato Day.


Because I’m hungry:

Here is Washingtonian’s list of the best sandwich and burger spots in Washington, D.C. The list:


And because Bei Bei is on his way to China, here are some of the most memorable moments of this goofy panda:


Only a panda could make falling out of a tree funny and cute!