The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — GOP, Democrats square off at final impeachment hearing

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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 UANI — GOP, Dems square off at final impeachment hearing | Sights and sounds | Trump supporter disrupts proceeding | Senate braces for fight over impeachment rules | Bombshell report details how leaders misled public on Afghan War | Trumka says White House, Dems close to trade deal | Former Fed chief Volcker dies | 71 new species discovered in 2019 | National Pastry Day



This is the moment. Tonight is the night, we'll fight 'til it's over. So we put our hands up like the ceiling can't hold us: 


The House Judiciary Committee is holding the House's final impeachment hearing this morning where Democrats and Republicans are both hoping to win the battle on public opinion.

Who is testifying: Democratic counsels Barry Berke and Daniel Goldman; Republican counsel Stephen Castor

Hearing livestream:

Live blog with hearing highlights:



It has not been boring...: Committee Republicans accused Democratic counsel Berke of disputing the truth of President TrumpDonald John TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' MORE's motives. Read the back and forth -- it got pretty testy:

From Republican counsel Castor: "The impeachment inquiry is clearly an orchestrated effort to upend our political system ... On Jan. 3, 2019, on the very first day that Democrats obtained a majority in the House, Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanTrump-Pelosi trade deal creates strife among progressives The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — GOP, Democrats square off at final impeachment hearing Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing MORE (D-Calif.) introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump. That same day, Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Michigan governor urges Zuckerberg to enforce community guidelines after hate speech, threats surface Ayanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia MORE (D-Mich.) said 'we are going to go in there and we are going to impeach the mother****er.'"

From Democratic counsel Goldman: "President Trump's persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security." 

Goldman on the witnesses: "To the extent that other witnesses would be able to provide more context and detail about this scheme, their failure to testify is due solely to the fact that President Trump obstructed the inquiry and refused to make them available." 


It's a foggy Monday in Washington. 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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For reference, the hearing started at 9 a.m. EST.

At 10:11 a.m. EST: "Witch Hunt!"

At 10:15 a.m. EST: "The best Economy ever!" Trump tweeted, responding to a CNBC tweet about the economy.

At 10:20 a.m. EST: "The Do Nothing Democrats are a disgrace!"

At 10:25 a.m. EST, Trump retweeted: Radio host Buck Sexton tweeted: "Simply mind boggling that here we are, heading into year 4 of the Trump presidency, in a time of tremendous American economic prosperity and relative peace, and Democrats are *STILL* trying to ram Russia/Ukraine hysteria down the throats of normal Americans, like total psychos"  Trump responded: "True!"

At 10:47 a.m. EST: "Read the Transcripts!"



A protester was arrested at the start of the hearing: A pro-Trump protester yelled that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMcConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial Pelosi: Trump's impeachment 'cannot be erased' House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate MORE (D-N.Y.) committed "treason." Video of the protester getting escorted out: 

Photo of staffers and journalists gathering in the room before the hearing:

This photo always gets me: Here are all the cameras getting shots of the witness seats:

Republican signage: "Where's Adam?" the sign reads. Photo:

Steve Castor's briefcase is a reusable bag -- 'Live. Eat. Shop. Reuse.": And here's an close-up photo

Interesting observations about today's hearing -- a small crowd: Via PBS's Lisa Desjardins: "NOTES from inside the hearing:

- smallest crowd yet in the audience of any impeachment hearing 

- no line! (Come on down if in DC.)

- but looking at committee members, I do sense more somber, serious and focused looks than at the start of last week's academic hearing." Photos to prove it:



How the Senate is bracing for a brawl on impeachment rules:

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney, "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Senate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it MORE (D-N.Y.) will try to negotiate a deal on ground rules, similar to the arrangement made before the 1999 trial of then-President Clinton. Talks haven't started yet as lawmakers wait for the House to write and vote on any articles of impeachment. But senators, pointing to the increasingly partisan atmosphere in the chamber, are skeptical the two leaders will reach an accord."

What to expect:



We're all in this *clap* together

--> ;) 

Via The Washington Post's Erica Werner and David J. Lynch, the White House and House Democrats are close to finalizing a new North American free trade agreement, according to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Speculation: "Support from the AFL-CIO, which opposes the existing North American Free Trade Agreement and blames it for destroying millions of good-paying manufacturing jobs, would likely ensure support from a majority of House Democrats if the deal is brought up for a vote. Backing from the AFL-CIO would also indicate that Democrats had succeeded in negotiated stronger enforcement mechanisms and protections for labor than existed in the agreement signed by Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Canada a year ago." 



Holiday laundry list:

Surveillance probe: "As the House impeachment effort rolls on, Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz is set to testify on his long-awaited report into alleged surveillance abuse during the 2016 election." 

Timing: The report is expected to be released today and Horowitz will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Government funding fight: Lawmakers have until Dec. 20 to fund the government to avoid another shutdown. Negotiators are hoping to finalize negotiations this week. If not, they will have to pass another short-term continuing resolution (CR). Where spending talks stand coming out of the weekend:

NDAA: "The House could take up a final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week after lawmakers reached a deal over the weekend."

Nominations: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has teed up votes on two Ninth Circuit nominees: Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke ... In addition to judicial picks, the Senate is expected to vote on John Sullivan's nomination to be ambassador to Russia, Stephen Hahn to be Food and Drug Administration commissioner and Aurelia Skipwith to be director of the Fish and Wildlife Service." 

Prescription drugs: "The House is slated to take up a Democrat-led bill aimed at lowering drug prices this week."

Context and details for each from The Hill's Jordain Carney and Juliegrace Brufke:



The Washington Post publishes 'Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war':

The Washington Post obtained secret government documents outlining the war in Afghanistan over the past 18 years.

What the documents reveal, according to the Post: "Senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable." 

U.S. officials were brutally honest about the money and strategy of the war: "With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation." 

How the Post got access to these documents: The paper won a three-year legal battle for the release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act. 

Read the full report from The Washington Post's Craig Whitlock:



Former Fed Chair Paul Volcker dies at 92:

"Paul A. Volcker, who helped shape American economic policy for more than six decades, most notably by leading the Federal Reserve's brute-force campaign to subdue inflation in the late 1970s and early '80s, died on Sunday in New York. He was 92."

Read his full obituary from The New York Times's Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert D. Hershey Jr.:



Thousands of civilians flooded the streets of Tehran to protest conditions under the regime’s leadership – and they were met with a massacre. The U.S. and Europe must condemn this human rights crisis. Learn more.



What a time to be alive:


By the way: That's Bill WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldWeld says Trump wants reporters to 'roam free' in Iran, but not US Trump primary challengers left off Wisconsin ballot Bannon: 'We need the Republican establishment on board' to reelect Trump MORE, George ConwayGeorge Thomas ConwayTrump suggests LBJ is in hell: 'He's probably looking down — or looking up' George Conway group releases ad targeting GOP senator: 'You're just another Trump servant' George Conway group releases first anti-Trump ad aimed at evangelicals MORE and Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson drops out of 2020 race Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy 2020 Democrats: Iran airstrike 'reckless,' 'could cost countless lives' MORE



Noon: The House meets.

12:30 p.m. EST: President Trump has lunch with Vice President Pence.

1:30 p.m. EST: President Trump holds a roundtable on education choice.

3 p.m. EST: Vice President Pence swears in the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. 

3 p.m. EST: The Senate meets.

4:15 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE participate in a Christmas reception in the Grand Foyer.

5:30 p.m. EST: The Senate holds a vote on a nomination. The Senate's full schedule today:

6:30 p.m. EST: Votes in the House. The House's full schedule today:

8:15 p.m. EST: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in another Christmas reception in the Grand Foyer.



Today: The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the impeachment probe. Livestream:



Today is National Pastry Day!


Everyone has a favorite:

Via CNN's Ashley Strickland, "Scientists discovered 71 new species this year. Here are some of their favorites." The list


And because you made it to the end, here's a dog who definitely does not want any of his friend's food. No way.: