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 SondlandAmerica's practice of 'pay-to-play' ambassadors is no joke Graham's 'impeach Kamala' drumbeat will lead Republicans to a 2022 defeat GOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' MORE is testifying before the House Intelligence Committee this morning in the impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies 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: https://cs.pn/2XAJmdU

Live blog of updates: http://bit.ly/2r8ON7G 

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. https://cs.pn/2OAPO0q



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. http://bit.ly/2pERai8

Schiff accused Trump, Pompeo of obstructing the inquiry: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGroups see new openings for digging up dirt on Trump Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE (D-Calif.) accused President Trump and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoFive takeaways from Biden's climate summit UK Parliament declares China's treatment of Uyghurs a genocide If Trump runs again, will he be coronated or primaried? MORE of a "concerted" effort to obstruct in the impeachment inquiry. http://bit.ly/2Xy2s4f

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 GiulianiAndrew Giuliani to meet with Trump before potential New York gubernatorial campaign MyPillow files countersuit against Dominion Voting Systems Guilfoyle named as national chair of Greitens' Senate campaign in Missouri MORE.

Read Sondland's opening statement: http://bit.ly/2pEFXhy


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 cmartel@thehill.com -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and  Facebook.

Did someone forward this to you? Want your own copy? Sign up here to receive The Hill's 12:30 Report in your inbox daily: http://bit.ly/2kjMNnn




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: http://bit.ly/2r7GGrU

Photo of the committee seated and ready to go: http://bit.ly/2QzGEUo

Photo of Sondland walking to his seat: http://bit.ly/2CXf4sf

This is worth watching -- check out Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesFormer GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns Sunday shows preview: Russia, US exchange sanctions; tensions over policing rise; vaccination campaign continues Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE's body language at the break:

Watch: http://bit.ly/2O80Ye5

I love the behind-the-scenes photos: http://bit.ly/2CXsSTs

Photo of Republicans huddling during the break: http://bit.ly/345Ey2n

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  http://bit.ly/37nZBPT



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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Allow a vote on the 'Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act' Female Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report 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: http://bit.ly/2QBIW5x

Quick catch-up on Lt. Col. Alexander VindmanAlexander VindmanVindman says he doesn't regret testimony against Trump Esper: If my replacement is 'a real yes man' then 'God help us' Ukrainian president whose call with Trump sparked impeachment congratulates Biden MORE's testimony yesterday: http://bit.ly/35lLTv3



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. https://politi.co/2DdhfIp

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. http://bit.ly/2O5S6pd

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!" http://bit.ly/2D2JU2u



Don't forget about the debate!:

10 Democratic presidential candidates will debate tonight in Atlanta, Ga. http://bit.ly/2XGr0Ix



Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden administration takes step toward allowing California to set its own tailpipe emissions standards Republicans unveil 8 billion infrastructure plan DOT appoints chief science officer for first time in 40 years MORE

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden plan would nearly double capital gains tax for wealthy: report Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave Progressives divided over efforts to repeal SALT cap MORE (D-Mass.)

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi pushes for drug pricing measure amid uncertainty from White House White House sees GOP proposal as legitimate starting point The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (I-Vt.) 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisGOP sees immigration as path to regain power Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote Earth Day 2021: New directions for US climate policy rhetoric MORE (D-Calif.)

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSharpton eulogizes Daunte Wright: 'Tags of racism' have expired Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing MORE (D-Minn.)

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform New signs of progress emerge on police reform MORE (D-N.J.)

Former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangYang gets key endorsement from former opponent in NYC mayor race Yang expands lead in NYC mayor race: poll Evelyn Yang pens children's book on sexual abuse, reveals she was sexually assaulted as a child MORE

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardNew co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials Tulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 MORE (D-Hawaii)

Billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom SteyerTop 12 political donors accounted for almost 1 of every 13 dollars raised since 2009: study California Democrats weigh their recall options Why we should be leery of companies entering political fray 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: http://bit.ly/2XGr0Ix



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." http://bit.ly/2CYTumX

Op-ed: http://bit.ly/335Txbt



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. http://bit.ly/2rczaMg

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: http://bit.ly/2XvgovG



The Washington Post has a quiz to find out which Democratic presidential candidate aligns best with your views. Take the quiz: https://wapo.st/333F1kk






We’re helping to solve America’s urgent health issues by developing a vaccine to prevent HIV, fighting cancer, relieving depression and making personalized joint replacements.  Read our latest Health for Humanity Report.



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: http://bit.ly/2OnJIjy

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: http://bit.ly/2KEUIrY

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: http://bit.ly/3303Jlz

6:30 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence speaks at Strada Education Network's National Symposium in Indianapolis. Livestream: http://bit.ly/334clYz



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: http://bit.ly/2QyWj6e