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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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


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 VindmanAmerica's diplomats deserve our respect White House withdraws nomination for Pentagon budget chief who questioned Ukraine aid hold Juan Williams: Will the GOP ever curb Trump? 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 TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools 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 PenceTrump digs in on criticism of Democratic governors Trump signs T coronavirus relief package Arizona lawmaker warns Pence state may end coronavirus testing due to shortage 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 VolkerGOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe Yovanovitch retires from State Department: reports Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial MORE

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


On Wednesday:

–      Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandWhite House withdraws nomination for Pentagon budget chief who questioned Ukraine aid hold Juan Williams: Will the GOP ever curb Trump? House wants documents on McEntee's security clearances 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 PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike 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. GreenOvernight Energy: Iconic national parks close over coronavirus concerns | New EPA order limits telework post-pandemic | Lawmakers urge help for oil and gas workers Bipartisan lawmakers urge assistance for oil and gas workers Lawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank 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 SwalwellKey House chairman cautions against remote voting, suggests other options amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Congress tiptoes toward remote voting 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!