The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Sondland affirms quid pro quo for Ukraine in public testimony

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The Hill's 12:30 Report -- Presented by Johnson & Johnson -- All eyes on Sondland | Envoy testifies that quid pro quo was widely known | Sights and sounds from third day of public hearings | Trump says Pelosi putting trade deal at risk | 10 Dems to take debate stage in Atlanta tonight | Five things to watch for | Buttigieg set up for clash with Biden | Buttigieg surges to 10 point lead in NH poll | National Peanut Butter Fudge Day



Smile for the cameras:

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandPompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map Pompeo to meet with Zelensky in Ukraine amid impeachment trial Video becomes vital part of Democrats' case against Trump MORE is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee this morning in the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE.

Why Sondland's testimony is important: Sondland first testified behind closed doors that he did not know why U.S. military aid to Ukraine was held up, but he later changed his testimony to say that he "presumed" it was conditioned on political investigations.

Keep in mind about Sondland: He is a Trump donor and appointee, so he is an important witness for both Republicans and Democrats.  

Livestream of this morning's hearing:

Live blog of updates: 

At 2:30 p.m. EST -- livestream of the second impeachment hearing: Laura Cooper, the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian affairs and diplomat David Hale are testifying.



This is key -- Sondland said the 'quid pro quo' was real and widely known: "I know that members of this Committee have frequently framed these complicated issues in the form of a simple question: Was there a 'quid pro quo?' As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and White House meeting, the answer is yes," Sondland said.

Schiff accused Trump, Pompeo of obstructing the inquiry: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Schiff says Justice Roberts should rule on witnesses Schiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line MORE (D-Calif.) accused President Trump and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map Huawei endangers Western values The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats turn to obstruction charge MORE of a "concerted" effort to obstruct in the impeachment inquiry.

Sondland said Ukraine just had to announce an investigation: "[Ukrainian President Zelensky] had to announce the investigations, he didn't actually have to do them as I understood it," Sondland, talking about his conversations with Trump's lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiParnas says he has turned over tape of Trump calling for diplomat's firing Pompeo explodes at NPR reporter, asks if she could find Ukraine on a map ABC: Recording apparently captures Trump discussing Yovanovitch ouster with Parnas, Fruman MORE.

Read Sondland's opening statement:


It's Wednesday! 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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I hope they're getting his good side: Here are the dozens of cameras getting close-up shots of Sondland. Smile! Photo of what Sondland was seeing in that moment:

Photo of the committee seated and ready to go:

Photo of Sondland walking to his seat:

This is worth watching -- check out Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesDemocratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' House Democrats release second batch of Parnas materials Democratic lawmaker says Nunes threatened to sue him over criticism MORE's body language at the break:


I love the behind-the-scenes photos:

Photo of Republicans huddling during the break:

Interesting tidbit -- length of the opening statements: Via C-SPAN's Jeremy Art:

Adam Schiff: 12:32

Devin Nunes: 8:33

Gordon Sondland: 42:37



Actual *eyewitnesses* testified for the first time -- Republicans had been arguing for weeks that the witnesses testifying have been too far removed to know anything. But that changed on Tuesday when three of the four witnesses listened to the actual July 25 call in question.

Volker, Morrison raised stakes for Sondland -- "Volker testified that Gordon Sondland ... spoke of 'investigations' during a July 10 meeting between U.S. and Ukrainian officials at the White House ... That was a break from Volker's Oct. 3 closed-door deposition where he replied 'no' when asked whether anything about the two investigations was raised at that July meeting." And Morrison's testimony adds to the pressure.

GOP attacked the media -- "Facing witnesses with years of military and national security experience, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the top Intelligence Committee Republican, turned to a favorite GOP punching bag: the media." 

The two sides fought over 'bribery' -- "Democrats have dropped references to a 'quid pro quo' in favor of allegations of 'bribery,' a term adopted by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) last week -- and one cited explicitly in the Constitution's impeachment clause. That shift was not overlooked by Republicans, and it sparked one of the most notable exchanges Tuesday."

Republicans tried to out the whistleblower -- Republicans tried to get one of the witnesses to out the whistleblower, accusing the official of being partisan. 

Context and details for each from The Hill's Scott Wong and Mike Lillis:

Quick catch-up on Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanPresident Trump's intelligence community security blanket Whistleblower's lawyer questions GOP senator's whistleblower protection caucus membership White House limits number of officials allowed to listen to Trump calls with foreign leaders: report MORE's testimony yesterday:



Just now — Trump reacts to Gordon Sondland’s testimony:

Speaking to reporters, President Trump said he does not know U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

In Trump’s words: "I don’t know him very well. I have not spoken to him much," Trump told reporters. "This is not a man I know well. He seems like a nice guy though."


What else is on Trump’s mind:

This morning, President Trump went after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), accusing her of putting a trade deal with Canada and Mexico at risk.

He tweeted: "Nancy Pelosi will go down as the least productive Speaker of the House in history. She is dominated by AOC Plus 3 and the Radical Left. Mexico and Canada, after waiting for 6 months to be approved, are ready to flee - and who can blame them? Too bad!"



Don't forget about the debate!:

10 Democratic presidential candidates will debate tonight in Atlanta, Ga.



Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Poll shows tight general election battle between Trump and top Democrats MORE

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected MORE (D-Mass.)

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Conservative reporter on Sanders: He's not a 'yes man' Human Rights Campaign president rips Sanders's embrace of Rogan endorsement MORE (I-Vt.) 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' Panel: Is Kamala Harris a hypocrite for mulling a Joe Biden endorsement? The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE (D-Calif.)

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa MORE (D-Minn.)

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBlack caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' MORE (D-N.J.)

Former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangJohn Leguizamo joins the 'Yang Gang' CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Joe Rogan says he's probably voting for Bernie Sanders MORE

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardJoe Rogan says he's probably voting for Bernie Sanders Gabbard tells Fox that Clinton's 'Russian asset' remark is 'taking my life away' Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill MORE (D-Hawaii)

Billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Steyer's advice from son after overhearing Warren-Sanders hot mic dust-up: 'Don't be a snitch' MORE



  1. Can Warren quell concerns about her candidacy?
  2. Will rivals go after Buttigieg?
  3. Will moderates have their moment?
  4. Do the progressives fight back?
  5. Do the 2020 newcomers weigh on the debate?

Context and details for each from The Hill's Max Greenwood:



Via The Hill's Amie Parnes, "South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg is rising in polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, putting himself in position to surpass former Vice President Joe Biden as the leading centrist in the Democratic race."




South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg surged to a 10-point lead for the first time in New Hampshire, according to a new Saint Anselm College poll.

The numbers: Twenty-five percent of likely Democratic primary voters polled said they support Buttigieg. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are tied with 15 percent, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 9 percent.

The full poll:



The Washington Post has a quiz to find out which Democratic presidential candidate aligns best with your views. Take the quiz:






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The House and Senate are in. President Trump is in Texas this afternoon. Vice President Pence is in Wisconsin, then heads to Indiana.

9 a.m. EST: Vice President Pence leaves for Green Bay, Wis.

10:45 a.m. EST: President Trump left for Austin, Texas.

11:30 a.m. EST: Votes in the Senate. The Senate's full schedule today:

12:30 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence tours the USS Cooperstown.

3:20 p.m. EST: President Trump tours the Apple Manufacturing Plant in Austin, Texas.

4:15 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence leaves for Indianapolis.

5 ­– 6 p.m. EST: The House votes. The House's full schedule today:

7:50 p.m. EST: President Trump arrives at the White House.

9:05 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence gets back to Washington, D.C.



1:10 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks at Fincantieri Marinette Marine. Livestream:

6:30 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks at Strada Education Network's National Symposium in Indianapolis. Livestream:



Today is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day.


And because you made it this far, here's a husky mom teaching her puppies how to howl: