The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached

The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached
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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits MORE (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that the House is left with “no choice” but to move forward with impeachment of President TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE, citing the evidence laid out by House Intelligence Committee’s report, as the House Judiciary Committee readies formal articles that may be introduced next week.


The Democratic caucus is expected to vote to make Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached (The Hill).  

"The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution," Pelosi said during a televised address in the Speaker’s balcony hallway in the Capitol. "Our democracy is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act."

The California Democrat’s announcement and her description of Congress’s duty to act were not surprises. A little more than two work weeks remain before lawmakers break for Christmas, with votes on the articles of impeachment expected to be among the House’s final actions prior to recess. Congress has yet to decide how to keep the government operating beyond Dec. 20, when current funding instructions expire.  

The Associated Press: Democrats take big new step toward impeaching Trump.

The Washington Post: “The president gave us no choice”: Pelosi resisted Trump’s impeachment, now she’s the public face. 

Four sources told The Hill’s Scott Wong and Olivia Beavers that formal impeachment articles will be introduced and potentially marked up next week. At Wednesday’s Judiciary panel hearing, alleged high crimes and misdemeanors tied to Trump’s actions with Ukraine were unveiled as placards with wording about abuse of power and bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice. 

With Pelosi’s announcement, the Judiciary panel is moving swiftly. It will hold its second hearing on Monday during which lawmakers will hear presentations from Democratic counsels as the lawyers seek to lay out the evidence uncovered since September. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPelosi names 9 impeachment managers Republicans gauge support for Trump impeachment Clyburn blasts DeVos and Chao for 'running away' from 25th Amendment fight MORE (D-N.Y.) told his Democratic colleagues on the panel to remain in Washington over the weekend to hold mock hearings and prep sessions ahead of Monday’s hearing. 

“There is a lot of work to do,” Nadler said.

The Wall Street Journal: Pelosi rebuts idea that she hates Trump.

CNN: Pelosi tries to move town hall discussion beyond questions about impeachment.

On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump argued that if House Democrats are going to move ahead with an impeachment vote, they should do so with expediency to allow a “fair” trial in the GOP-held Senate, anticipated early in 2020. 

The president also said that he wants Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffBiden to keep Wray as FBI director Biden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis Angus King warns of 'grave danger' of Trump revealing classified information MORE (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 MORE and his son Hunter Biden to be called as witnesses to testify at a Senate trial (The Hill).   

"The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House,” Trump tweeted. “They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy."   

As Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write, Trump and his allies have spent weeks hammering the same narrative about House impeachment. The president argues it’s a partisan “sham” that failed to produce evidence of his wrongdoing.  


Throughout the past two-plus months, the White House has refused to comply with subpoenas, blocked documents and declined to participate at every turn. Those close to the White House say the president’s refusal to participate or to allow other officials to do so has worked to his advantage, pointing as proof to teetering support for impeachment among independents in recent polling. They also maintain that cooperation with the inquiry would lend it legitimacy. 

“The situation in the House is a foregone conclusion and the process has been stacked against the president — why legitimize that by playing their game? Any success would be marginal and wouldn’t alter the outcome. Democrats made up their minds on impeachment on Nov. 9, 2016,” said one former White House official. 

The Hill: Both sides have reason to want a speedy Trump impeachment trial.

The Washington Post: Senators face a collision between presidential ambitions and an impeachment trial.

RealClearPolitics: White House: Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiLawyers group calls for Giuliani's suspension from law practice, ethics probe Would Trump have gotten away with a self-pardon? History will never know Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon MORE never contacted the Office of Management and Budget. House Intelligence Committee Democrats disagree.




POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The Democratic presidential field is training its fire at South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden signs order to require masks on planes and public transportation Senators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden hits the ground running on COVID MORE, whose meteoric rise ahead of the February Iowa caucuses has ignited progressive anger and questions from his rivals about whether the 37-year-old is ready to be commander-in-chief. 

Julia Manchester and Jonathan Easley write that progressives are intent on bringing down, or at least slowing, the college town mayor’s upstart presidential bid as he remains opposed to some of their loftier goals — namely, Medicare for All and tuition-free college. 

Progressives, however, are not the only ones going after Buttigieg as Democrats try to put the squeeze on him. Recently, the Biden campaign has gone on the offensive against the mayor as the two candidates compete for supremacy among moderate voters, especially in Iowa. On Monday, Biden criticized Buttigieg by alleging that he “stole” his public option proposal, an accusation Buttigieg refuted shortly after.

With Buttigieg facing incoming on both sides, the attacks are expected to continue with a focus on his consulting work, the racial controversies he's experienced as mayor and his inability thus far to attract key significant support from African American voters.

NBC News: Buttigieg slams disruption of black supporters’ rally that turned into chaos.

The New York Times Editorial Board: Buttigieg’s untenable vow of silence.

The Wall Street Journal: States’ shift from caucuses is challenge for Sens. Bernie  Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-Mass.).

> Biden in Iowa: It was an eventful day for the former vice president as he campaigned in the Hawkeye State as part of his “No Malarkey” bus tour on Thursday. Biden, 77, found himself in a shouting match with an 83-year-old man in the audience who raised debunked claims, asserting that as vice president, Biden sent his son, Hunter, to work for Burisma, a Ukraine-based energy company (The Hill). 

"You're a damn liar, man. That's not true," Biden fired back.

The questioner, who identified himself only as a non-Republican Iowa farmer, also told Biden he was “too old” to be president (Politico). The candidate then challenged the man to a push-up contest, adding, “By the way ... I'm not sedentary.”

Politico: Joe Biden defends son Hunter but acknowledges Ukraine work “may have looked bad.”

Outside of the back-and-forth that made its way into social media, Biden received a high-profile endorsement from former Massachusetts senator John KerryJohn KerryKerry promises Europeans Biden will seek to make up time on climate action OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord | Biden nixes Keystone XL permit, halts Arctic refuge leasing | Interior secretary rescinds wilderness protection order before leaving office Biden recommits US to Paris climate accord MORE, who worked alongside Biden in the Capitol and while Kerry served as secretary of State in the Obama administration. Kerry told The Washington Post that he backs Biden for president because he has the character, experience and leadership skills necessary to do the job.  

“The world is broken,” Kerry told The Washington Post’s Dan Balz in an interview. “Our politics are broken. The country faces extraordinary challenges. And I believe very deeply that Joe Biden’s character, his ability to persevere, his decency and the experiences that he brings to the table are critical to the moment. The world has to be put back together, the world that Donald Trump has smashed apart. 

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will campaign alongside Biden in New Hampshire on Sunday (The Hill). 

Also on the Biden front on Sunday, “Axios on HBO” will air a sit-down interview with the former vice president. Biden sat down with Axios co-founder Mike Allen on Sunday in Iowa and discussed the state of the Democratic Party among other things.

“The party’s not there. The party’s not there at all,” Biden told Allen about where the party stands on Medicare for All in a clip released late Thursday night. 

“You guys got it all wrong about what happened. … You all thought the party moved extremely to the left after [Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSamantha Power's Herculean task: Turning a screw with a rubber screwdriver Beau Biden Foundation to deny lobbyist donations, make major donors public Whoopi Goldberg wears 'my vice president' shirt day after inauguration MORE’s loss], that AOC was the new party,” Biden said referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez spent inauguration evening supporting striking workers in New York Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation MORE (D-N.Y.). “She’s a bright wonderful person, but where’s the party? Come on, man.”

The New York Times: Do Democrats really want an all-white field in 2020? Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration Officials brace for second Trump impeachment trial MORE (D-N.J.) hopes not.

The Atlantic: Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader Biden faces tall order in uniting polarized nation Senators vet Mayorkas to take lead at DHS MORE: The Kingmaker.



> Bloomberg: Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergEverytown calls on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign Biden selects Gina Raimondo for Commerce chief: reports 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE sat for his first major television interview as a candidate, appearing with CBS News’s Gayle KingGayle KingAmanda Gorman wore ring gifted by Oprah, honoring Maya Angelou at inauguration Sanders defends his inauguration outfit: In Vermont, 'we're not so concerned about good fashion' Woman who accused Black teen of stealing her phone charged with attempted assault MORE. Bloomberg told the host that he supports the House’s push to impeach the president (CBS News).   

“I think it's a very serious thing but it — and I was before opposed to it but after looking at all of the evidence, I think yes. Sad, but yes,” Bloomberg said. “He does not seem to understand that he is an elected official whose job it is to work for the public rather than for himself.”  

The full interview, conducted on Thursday, will air at 7 a.m. on “CBS This Morning.”  

The Hill: Michael Bloomberg releases gun control plan.  

Politico: Democrats woo Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBiden's identity politics do a disservice to his nominees Senate Democrat: Party's message to rural voters is 'really flawed' Ducey to lead Republican governors MORE for Senate, give up on former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to block a subpoena for his financial documents, which are sought by the House separate from the impeachment inquiry, arguing that Congress exceeded its authority when it ordered the president’s longtime personal accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over his records. 

The justices have already put a temporary freeze on the subpoena while they consider whether to take up the appeal. The court could say as early as next week whether it will hear and decide the cases by the end of June (The Associated Press).

The Supreme Court will ultimately determine the fate of Trump's attempts on multiple fronts to shield his financial records from public view. The justices have already said they will meet behind closed doors on Dec. 13 to discuss a similar petition concerning a New York grand jury subpoena for Trump's tax returns. In addition, the president’s lawyers are likely to appeal a separate case they lost concerning a House subpoena to Deutsche Bank for similar documents (CNN).

> Defense Department: Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood confirmed to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump administration official Norquist sworn in as acting Pentagon chief Watch Out: Progressives are eyeing the last slice of the budget Biden needs to fill the leadership gaps on Day One MORE and the president’s national security team are considering recommending as many as 14,000 additional U.S. troops be deployed to the Middle East to guard against potential aggression by Iran. Rood’s comments confirmed reporting by The Wall Street Journal, which the Pentagon initially tried to knock down (Politico).

Separately on Thursday, Esper (pictured below) told Reuters during an interview that the U.S. military completed its pullback from northeastern Syria. The secretary said the troop level would hover around 600 in Syria, with the leeway to move in and out smaller numbers of forces as needed.



> Customs and Border Protection (CBP): The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP, on Thursday reversed course from the government’s written plans and said it will not force U.S. travelers to show photographs for purposes of using biometric, or facial recognition technology. The government said U.S. travelers may opt out (TechCrunch).

NextGov reported in August that CBP “already uses facial recognition technology to keep tabs on international travelers at more than a dozen nationwide airports and multiple checkpoints along the U.S.-Mexico border. … CBP officials expect to deploy facial recognition and other biometric identification tools more extensively in the years ahead.”  

> U.S. vs. Iran: The State Department on Thursday announced new sanctions against Iran in response to its bloody crackdown on protesters, saying it believes more than 1,000 people, some as young as 13, have been killed. The administration announced it is pursuing sanctions against two Iranian prisons for gross human rights violations in which they say at least 7,000 demonstrators have been detained following mass protests in the country triggered by a steep rise in fuel prices last month (The Hill). 


MORE CONGRESS: Impeachment is not the only legislative business capturing the imaginations of House Democrats. Pelosi is working behind the scenes to remove legal protections from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that benefit technology companies as lawmakers in both parties seek to ratify the hemispheric trade accord this year (The Wall Street Journal). 

Shutdown deadline looms: The contentious issue of Immigration and Enforcement Control (ICE) has not thawed within House and Senate negotiations. Lawmakers are still at loggerheads over how they will fund the government (or kick their differences into 2020) as they eye a deadline on Dec. 20. Lawmakers insist ICE is a tougher hurdle than trying to resolve funding for Trump's border wall (The Hill).   

Drug prices: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFinance Committee vote on Yellen nomination scheduled for Friday Democrats swear in three senators to gain majority Yellen champions big spending at confirmation hearing MORE (R-Iowa) are at odds over a bipartisan measure to lower drug prices. McConnell has said privately that he thinks Grassley's bill is bad policy, according to sources who heard his comments. Grassley, meanwhile, is trying to increase the pressure on McConnell, arguing his bill is good politics. "Eventually McConnell's going to realize that this is very important for Republicans maintaining control of the Senate," Grassley told reporters this week. Nonetheless, Grassley’s measure is stalled despite White House efforts to help build support for it (The Hill).   

China - human rights & trade: Congress is poised to hand Trump a second chance in less than a month to anger Beijing and attack China’s record on human rights. Senators said Thursday they expect to pass legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials and other measures to address the brutal crackdown on the ethnic Uighur minority in China’s northwest. The House passed its version in a 407-1 vote on Tuesday (voting against the measure was Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse conservatives plot to oust Liz Cheney GOP lawmaker on Capitol protesters: 'I will not be deterred' by 'mob demand' Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges MORE). The Senate’s approval is expected within the next two weeks and could be unanimous. The White House has not commented on the legislation, but Trump may have no choice but to sign it, similar to his recent decision to sign a bill opposed by China that supports Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators (The Associated Press). … On trade today, China said it will waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States, as the two nations continue trying to work out an enforceable “phase one” accord (Reuters).

21 and done: Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGeorgia House to consider replacing Confederate statue with statue of John Lewis Biden calls for the nation to 'unite, heal and rebuild in 2021' Lawmakers share New Year's messages: 'Cheers to brighter days ahead' MORE (R-Ga.) announced on Thursday that he will retire from Congress at the end of 2020. The 49-year-old congressman who is a close ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy supports Cheney remaining in leadership amid calls for her to step down The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden hits the ground running on COVID Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear MORE (R-Calif.) is the 21st Republican lawmaker to announce retirement in the 116th Congress (The Hill).

House to Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterPresidential pardons need to go Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Pardon talk intensifies as Trump approaches final 24 hours in office MORE: “Stop voting”: The House Ethics Committee urged Hunter (R-Calif.) in a letter on Thursday to quit voting on legislation and other matters on the House floor after he pleaded guilty earlier this week to campaign finance violations.

The committee notified him that his plea triggers a non-mandatory House rule stating that members convicted of certain crimes should refrain from voting. Hunter, who cast his ballot on the floor on Wednesday, is expected to resign but has not said when he plans to exit (CNN).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley, by James D. Zirin, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2r91yzz 

Trump’s tariffs are spooking markets while the economy slows, by Robert E. Scott, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/33Qwfqb


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features a discussion about impeachment with Rep. Ben ClineBenjamin (Ben) Lee ClineREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Parties collide over police reform House GOP urge Trump against supporting additional funding for state and local governments MORE (R-Va.); Richard Wolff, an economics professor and co-founder of Democracy at Work; and David Pakman, host of the The David Pakman Show, with his analysis of how endorsements of Buttigieg for president could help Biden. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.  

The House convenes at 9 a.m. and will continue working  on a resolution regarding a negotiated two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (The Hill).

The Senate meets on Monday at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Patrick Bumatay to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The president participates in a roundtable discussion in the Roosevelt Room at 2 p.m. about small business and reduction of federal red tape. Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpScorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE will host an invitation-only Christmas reception on the State Floor of the White House at 3:15 p.m.

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the closely watched jobs report for November at 8:30 a.m. Analysts expect to see job growth in the report (The Wall Street Journal).

The Justice Department at 9 a.m. convenes government officials to describe ambitions to “modernize” the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), along with the administration’s concerns about what it calls the “administrative state.” Speakers include Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Prim Escalona and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Mascott. They will be joined by Transportation Department Acting Deputy Secretary and General Counsel Steven Bradbury, Health and Human Services Department Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and White House National Economic Council deputy director Andrew Olmem. The event will take place in the Justice Department’s Great Hall.



Russia: President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinOvernight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' MORE, abandoning a previously defiant tone, said on Thursday that he would extend a key nuclear treaty with the United States immediately without preconditions. “Russia is ready to extend the New START treaty immediately, before the year’s end and without any preconditions,” he said during a meeting of military officials. “Our proposals have been on the table, but we have got no response from our partners,” he added (Reuters).

State Watch: A commission assigned to research racist laws from Virginia’s past recommended Thursday that dozens of laws be repealed, including statutes that resisted desegregation, prevented black voters from casting ballots and prohibited interracial marriage. While most of the measures are outdated and “have no legal effect,” they remain enshrined in law (The Associated Press). … The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Thursday heard arguments involving a transgender student, bathroom rights and a Florida school district, which is appealing a lower court ruling that supported the student’s argument that he has a right to use a restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. The 11th Circuit could become the first federal appeals court to issue a binding ruling on the issue, which has arisen in several states. The ruling would cover schools in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and could carry the issue to the Supreme Court (The Associated Press). 

France: Paris police fired tear gas at demonstrators Thursday as the Eiffel Tower shut down, France’s high-speed trains came to a standstill and hundreds of thousands of people marched nationwide in a strike over the government’s plan to overhaul the retirement system. At least 90 people were arrested in Paris. Police said 65,000 people took to the streets of the French capital and more than 800,000 nationwide during demonstrations aimed at forcing President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronKerry promises Europeans Biden will seek to make up time on climate action The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Macron to Biden and Harris: 'Welcome back to the Paris Agreement!' MORE to abandon pension reform (The Associated Press). Explainer: What the French pension unrest is all about.



And finally … Congratulations to trivia masters who aced the Morning Report Quiz about Christmas decor of yore at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Readers in the winner’s circle this week: Betty Ralph, Patrick Kavanagh, BJ Ford, Luther Berg, Rose DeMarco and John Donato. 

They knew that Jacqueline Kennedy launched the White House tradition of selecting a decorative theme for the official Christmas tree displayed in the Blue Room. She chose ornaments tied to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” ballet.

Barney, the terrier beloved by former President George W. Bush, was the White House dog that set a record for the most-watched White House video at the time by dashing and prancing through White House rooms decorated for Christmas. 

North Carolina, more than any other state, lays claim to the largest number of evergreens chosen for the coveted Blue Room displays at the White House over the years.  

Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMcConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' The Memo: Biden strives for common ground after Trump turmoil MORE publicly but cheerfully suffered from allergies, which he said were aggravated in winter by the fresh Christmas trees displayed throughout the White House. “I have to be careful how much I am around the greenery at the White House, and we put up our Christmas tree late, like just a few days before Christmas,” Clinton once explained to an interviewer. “But I love it, so we put it up and I manage it the best I can.”   

It was Grover Cleveland who took early advantage of electricity at the White House at Christmas. He replaced candles with red, white and blue electric lights on the family tree, delighting his children. (The White House Historical Association has a photo HERE.)