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8:15 AM ET, November 18, 2019


 Top Items: 
Sheryl Gay Stolberg / New York Times:
Republicans Shift Defense of Trump While He Attacks Another Witness  —  With Gordon Sondland prepared to testify this week, Republicans backed away from complaints about secondhand information and instead offered a blunter defense: The president did nothing wrong.
Erin Banco / The Daily Beast:
Gordon Sondland Stepped In ‘and Things Went Really Off the Rails’  —  “Erratic,” “very emotional,” and “lots of yelling.”  Those are some of the words used to describe Sondland's performance in a White House meeting with top Ukrainian officials.  —  Ukrainian officials arrived at the White House …
Rishika Dugyala / Politico:
Trump labels top Pence aide a ‘Never Trumper’  —  President Donald Trump on Sunday labeled one of his vice president's top national security aides a “Never Trumper,” a day after it was disclosed that she had said the president's July call with Ukraine was “unusual and inappropriate” in a deposition to Congress.
Devan Cole / CNN:
Republican congressman calls new details about Trump revealed in impeachment testimony ‘alarming’  —  Tapper to GOP lawmaker: How is this not witness intimidation?  —  Washington (CNN)A Republican member of one of the House committees involved in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump …
Discussion: Salon, Raw Story, PEN and WTVR-TV
Jill Colvin / Associated Press:
Pelosi vows to protect whistleblower in impeachment inquiry
Discussion: The Week
Washington Post:
Sen. Johnson says whistleblower's sources 'exposed things that didn't need to be exposed'
Discussion: CNBC, The Week and Slate
Will Sommer / The Daily Beast:
Conservative Group Fires Michelle Malkin Over Support for Holocaust Denier  —  Malkin's firing from Young America's Foundation marks the latest battle between supporters of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and more establishment conservative figures.  —  A conservative group cut ties …
New York Times:
President Trump Bet Big This Election Year.  Here's Why He Lost.  —  In Louisiana and Kentucky, Mr. Trump's political pleas appeared to energize Democrats and political moderates as much as his own base, sending turnout in cities and suburbs soaring.  —  WASHINGTON — When President Trump showed …
Alexander Burns / New York Times:
How Moderates Are Seizing the Moment in the Democratic Primary
David Nakamura / Washington Post:
Back-to-back losses in key governors' races send additional warning to Trump and GOP ahead of 2020
Discussion: Raw Story and Outside the Beltway
Kendall Karson / ABC News:
70% of Americans say Trump's actions tied to Ukraine were wrong: POLL  —  An overwhelming 70% of Americans think President Donald Trump's request to a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, which sits at the heart of the House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry, was wrong, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds.
Discussion: Political Wire, Mediaite and 6abc
New York Times:
The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power in Iraq  —  Hundreds of leaked intelligence reports shed light on a shadow war for regional influence — and the battles within the Islamic Republic's own spy divisions  —  In mid-October, with unrest swirling in Baghdad …
The Intercept:   Leaked Iranian Intelligence Reports Expose Tehran's Vast Web of Influence in Iraq
New York Times:
Trump Retreats From Flavor Ban for E-Cigarettes  —  Advisers say the president pulled back from proposed restrictions intended to curb teenage vaping after he was warned of the political fallout among voters.  —  WASHINGTON — It was a swift and bold reaction to a growing public health crisis affecting teenagers.
Discussion: CNN, The Hill, KTLA and The Week
Washington Post:
Trump pulls back from flavored vaping ban  —  Everything seemed ready to go: President Trump's ban on most flavored e-cigarettes had been cleared by federal regulators.  Officials were poised to announce they would order candy, fruit and mint flavors off the market within 30 days …
Discussion: Slate, The Week and Axios
Kim Tong-hyung / Associated Press:
North Korea says it won't give Trump a summit for free  —  In this undated photo provided on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, poses with North Korean air force sharpshooters and soldiers for a photo at an unknown location in North Korea.
Discussion: Political Wire
NBC News:
Trump's impeachment ire turns on Pompeo amid diplomats' starring roles  —  Impeachment hearings have created a rift between the president and one of his staunchest allies in the administration.  —  WASHINGTON —The Ukraine impeachment inquiry has created the first rift between President Donald Trump …
Discussion: Raw Story and Political Wire
Will Bunch / staff:
Marie Yovanovitch, impeachment, and America's last stand for playing by the rules
Discussion: Politico
Osita Nwanevu / New Republic:
Joe Biden's Frantic Defense of the Status Quo  —  The former vice president's unending promises of reconciling with Republicans may be designed to forestall a future of radical demands.  —  Add to Pocket  —  With the entry of former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick into the Democratic primary race …
Jason Easley / POLITICUSUSA:   Joe Biden Leads By 8 In Georgia As Trump's Red State Collapse Grows
Byron York / Washington Examiner:
Democrats don't want public to know origins of Ukraine probe like they didn't want public to know origins of Russia probe  —  Why are House Democrats stonewalling questions about the identity of the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower?  —  Start by taking them at their word.
CBS News:
Possible pay-to-play scheme for ambassador role in Trump administration uncovered by CBS News  —  A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump's nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas.
Karen Tumulty / Washington Post:
We need a second opinion on the president's health  —  The only thing of which we can be fairly certain about President Trump's mysterious Saturday-afternoon trip to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is this: The White House is not telling the truth when it claims the president was there …
Discussion: Raw Story
Justin Baragona / The Daily Beast:
Chris Wallace Accuses Top Republican of ‘Very Badly’ Mischaracterizing Impeachment Testimony  —  “No, sir, they are career foreign service officers and these are people who worked in the Trump administration,” Wallace snapped back at Scalise.  —  Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly …
Discussion: Occupy Democrats and Contemptor
Margaret Talev / Axios:
White House plans counterprogramming to distract from impeachment hearings  —  President Trump's public schedule next week is designed to keep him distracted from the televised hearings — and to counterprogram Week 2 of those hearings.  —  The big picture: Trump's schedule for the coming week shows …
Discussion: Breitbart and Raw Story
Alayna Treene / Axios:   Inside Democrats' Week 2 impeachment strategy
Caitlin Owens / Axios:
Warren's path to Medicare for All is rocky  —  Sen. Elizabeth Warren's two-part plan to pass a public option as a transition into Medicare for All — and then full-blown Medicare for All a few years later — has revealed the difficulty of appealing to both the pragmatic and progressive wings of the party.
National Review:
Bloomberg, Once a Tough Talker, Becomes a Pander Bear  —  His recent apology for stop-and-frisk probably won't win him the nomination.  —  We now know Michael Bloomberg is going to run for president.  He's turning himself into a pander bear.  —  During his three terms as New York City's mayor …
Discussion: Mike Bloomberg and Axios
Emily Badger / New York Times:
230 Years and Zero Presidents: Why Mayors Haven't Jumped Straight to the White House  —  A cultural suspicion about big cities seems to be part of the problem, but that attitude might be changing.  —  In the history of American politics, one fact distills the nation's enduring suspicion of cities …
Discussion: HuffPost, Washington Post and Axios
David Leonhardt / New York Times:
Mueller and Comey Failed Their Tests.  She Passed Hers.  —  Marie Yovanovitch chose her country over what others might think of her.  —  To understand the courage that witnesses like Marie Yovanovitch have shown during the Ukraine investigation, it's worth looking back on a couple of the other signature moments of the Trump era.
Abigail Hauslohner / Washington Post:
The Trump administration's immigration jails are packed, but deportations are lower than in Obama era  —  It has been nearly 700 days since Bakhodir Madjitov was taken to prison in the United States.  He has never been charged with a crime.  —  Madjitov, a 38-year-old Uzbek national …
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 More Items: 
Los Angeles Times:
Ukraine scandal is a microcosm of what we already know: Trump's presidency is a failure
Mark Landler / New York Times:
Prince Andrew Talks About His Ties to Jeffrey Epstein, and Britain Is Appalled
New York Times:
A Sad Last Gasp Against Criminal Justice Reform
Michelle L. Price / Associated Press:
Reid: Iowa, NH not diverse enough to provide Dems' guidance
William J. Burns / The Atlantic:
Trump's Bureaucratic Arson
Eli Artman / Must Read:
Kosher Food Drive Violates “Will of the Membership,” Student Union Suggests
Discussion: Jewish Insider
 Earlier Items: 
Josie Ensor / Telegraph:
Kurds watch their homes burn from afar as picture of ‘ethnic cleansing’ emerges
Jonathan Swan / Axios:
Trump forces offer president clashing advice on Roger Stone pardon
Michael Scherer / Washington Post:
Democrats fear a long primary slog could drag into summer
Discussion: Politico and Associated Press
Garry Kasparov / New York Daily News:
The truth in front of our noses: Donald Trump's behavior is disgustingly corrupt and impeachable …
Days of Our Impeachment Cold Open - SNL
Discussion: The Wrap
Anna Louie Sussman / New York Times:
The End of Babies  —  In the fall of 2015, a rash of posters appeared around Copenhagen.