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Trump associate Roger Stone found guilty on all counts.

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Ex-Ambassador to Ukraine testifying the Trump impeachment inquiry.

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National Govt & Politics

    Democrat Elizabeth Warren says that if she’s elected president, she won’t immediately push to give every American government-funded health care and will work to pass a “Medicare for All” plan by her third year in office. That’s a significant step away from a proposal she’s spent months championing. The Massachusetts senator is pledging to build on existing programs to expand public insurance options in her first 100 days as president. The public option is backed by Warren’s more moderate rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden. She says she’d work with Congress to pass universal coverage “no later than” her third year. Warren has been trying to show she’d pay for Medicare for All without raising middle-class taxes. Experts have criticized her approach for underestimating the proposal’s costs.
  • The Latest on Roger Stone’s conviction on witness tampering and other charges (all times local): 12:30 p.m. President Donald Trump is reacting to news that his longtime friend and confidant Roger Stone was convicted of lying to Congress and witness tampering. The president tweeted Friday, just minutes after the jury handed down its verdict in federal court in Washington. He called Stone’s conviction “a double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country,” because his frequent nemeses, including Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey and “including even Mueller himself,” have not been convicted. “Didn’t they lie?,” Trump’s tweet said. Stone was convicted on a seven-count indictment brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election tampering. Prosecutors alleged he lied to lawmakers about WikiLeaks, tampered with witnesses and obstructed a House intelligence committee probe. __ 12:05 p.m. A judge says can Roger Stone can remain free pending his sentencing in February. Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected prosecutors’ request that Stone be jailed following his conviction Friday for lying to Congress and other charges stemming from the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Jackson said Stone will be subject to the same conditions he faced following his arrest, including a gag order preventing him from talking to media. She set Stone’s sentencing for Feb. 6. Stone, 67, could face up to 20 years in prison. __ 11:52 a.m. Roger Stone, a longtime friend and ally of President Donald Trump, has been found guilty at his trial in federal court in Washington. Stone was convicted Friday. He was charged in a seven-count indictment that alleged he lied to lawmakers about WikiLeaks, tampered with witnesses and obstructed a House intelligence committee probe. His trial highlighted how Trump campaign associates were eager to gather information about emails hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton that were released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Prosecutors say Stone lied to Congress about his conversations about WikiLeaks with New York radio host Randy Credico and conservative writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. He’s also accused of trying to intimidate Credico and threatening to take his dog. Stone had denied the allegations and decried the case as politically motivated.
  • New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is on the ballot in New Hampshire, where he hopes his patience will pay off. The Democratic presidential hopeful signed up for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary on Friday, the final day of the filing period. Though he lags behind in polls, Booker says he's not one to switch strategies or states to focus on, as some other candidates have done. Booker’s latest trip to New Hampshire comes a day after former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick jumped into the race. Booker says it's good to have robust competition, and that he doesn't take it personally that some of his close friends are also running.
  • A State Department official who has drawn praise for speaking out in the past about problems in the Foreign Service is set to testify to House impeachment investigators about a conversation he overheard President Trump having about “investigations” in Ukraine. David Holmes, a career diplomat, is testifying Friday afternoon to lawmakers behind closed doors and is expected to discuss his recollection of a July 26 call between Trump and Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union. The conversation came the day after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the U.S. president pressed his counterpart to find information that could help his campaign. This second call was revealed in congressional testimony by Bill Taylor, the acting head of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, who said a staff member overheard while Trump spoke to Sondland by phone at a restaurant in Kyiv. Holmes, now the political counselor at the embassy in Kyiv, joined the Foreign Service in 2002 and has served in Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Kosovo and Russia as well as on the National Security Council staff. He won an award for constructive dissent from the American Foreign Service Association in 2014 for complaining about problems that an alternate diplomatic channel had caused in South Asia and recommending organizational changes to the State Department’s bureaucratic structure for the region. Holmes believed that rivalry between the Office of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs was hurting efforts to promote American interests in the region. The special representative post, known as SRAP, was created in 2009 under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and held until his sudden death in late 2010 by the late, legendary diplomat Richard Holbrooke. While he held the job, Holbrooke gradually expanded its authorities and responsibilities in ways that continued after he passed away. The expansion of the SRAP office outside the usual chain of command caused consternation within the South and Central Asia bureau, which had traditionally held the entire portfolio. Holmes said competing interests between the two, notably the “non-business as usual approach” of Holbrooke’s former office had “hindered our diplomatic effectiveness” in South Asia. Holmes made his concerns known through the State Department’s so-called “Dissent Channel,” which provides diplomats with a confidential way of registering serious concerns. It’s similar to but distinct from the method — a personal cable to the secretary of state — that Taylor used to register his objections about Ukraine policy. Taylor revealed the call between Trump and Sondland when he testified Wednesday to Congress. The Associated Press later learned that a second U.S. Embassy staffer in Kyiv overheard the call between Trump and his ambassador to the European Union as they discussed a need for Ukrainian officials to pursue “investigations.”
  • Roger Stone, a longtime friend and ally of President Donald Trump, was found guilty Friday of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election bid. Stone was convicted of all seven counts in a federal indictment that accused him of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election. He is the sixth Trump aide or adviser to be convicted of charges brought as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Stone has denied wrongdoing and consistently criticized the case against him as politically motivated. He did not take the stand during the trial and his lawyers did not call any witnesses in his defense. Stone, 67, showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read aloud, count by count. He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6. He could face up to 20 years. Another former Trump campaign aide, Michael Caputo, was removed by the courtroom by security officers after he turned his back on the jury after the verdict was read. Stone smirked at reporters as he left the courtroom, holding hands with his wife. As he walked out of the courthouse, Stone was asked if he had any comment on the verdict and replied: “none whatsoever” before he hopped into a waiting SUV with his wife. Trump tweeted minutes after the verdict, calling the conviction “a double standard like never seen before in the history of our Country,” because his frequent nemeses, including Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey and “including even Mueller himself,” have not been convicted. “Didn’t they lie?” In a trial that lasted about a week, witnesses highlighted how Trump campaign associates were eager to gather information about emails the U.S. says were hacked by Russia and then provided to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Steve Bannon, who served as the campaign’s chief executive, testified during the trial the trial that Stone had boasted about his ties to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, alerting them to pending new batches of damaging emails. Campaign officials saw Stone as the “access point” to WikiLeaks, he said. After the verdict was read, prosecutors asked for Stone to be jailed as he awaits sentencing, arguing that he may have violated a judge’s order that prohibits him from communicating with the media about his case. But Judge Amy Berman Jackson rejected that request and said Stone will be subject to same conditions he faced following his arrest, including the gag order. Throughout the trial, prosecutors used Stone's own text messages and emails — some of which appeared to contradict his congressional testimony — to lay out their case that he lied to Congress and threatened a witness. Stone did not testify, and his lawyers called no witnesses in his defense. On Tuesday, a top Trump campaign official, Rick Gates, who was a key cooperator in the Mueller probe, testified that that Stone tried to contact Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, to 'debrief' him about developments on the hacked emails. Prosecutors alleged Stone lied to Congress about his conversations about WikiLeaks with New York radio host and comedian Randy Credico — who scored an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016, when he was avoiding prosecution by sheltering in the Ecuadoran embassy in London — and conservative writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. During the 2016 campaign, Stone had mentioned in interviews and public appearances that he was in contact with Assange through a trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of WikiLeaks' plans. But he started pressing Credico to broker a contact, and Credico testified that he told Stone to work through his own intermediary. Earlier testimony revealed that Stone, while appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, named Credico as his intermediary to Assange and pressured Credico not to contradict him. After Credico was contacted by Congress, he reached out to Stone, who told him he should 'stonewall it' and 'plead the fifth,' he testified. Credico also testified during Stone’s trial that Stone repeatedly told him to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lies before Congress. Prosecutors said Stone had also threatened Credico's therapy dog, Bianca, saying he was “going to take that dog away from you.” ___ Follow Michael Balsamo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MikeBalsamo1 and Ashraf Khalil at www.twitter.com/ashrafkhalil.
  • A federal judge has ruled the U.S. government was correct when it determined a woman who joined the Islamic State group was not an American citizen despite her birth in the country. Lawyers for the family of the woman said Friday that they plan to appeal the ruling. “While we are disappointed with and disagree with the Court’s ruling today, this is not the end of our client’s legal options,” said Christina Jump, a lawyer with the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America. Hoda Muthana was born in New Jersey in October 1994 to a diplomat from Yemen and grew up in Alabama. In 2014, she left the U.S. to join IS apparently after becoming radicalized online. While she was overseas the government determined she was not a U.S. citizen because her father was a diplomat at the time of her birth and revoked her passport. She surrendered in January to U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces as the Islamic State began losing the last of its self-declared “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria and has been in refugee camps ever since. Muthana said she regretted her decision to join the group and wanted to return to the U.S. with her toddler child, the son of a man she met while living with the group and later died. Her family filed suit to enable her return to the United States. Children of diplomats are not entitled to birthright citizenship but the family’s lawyers argued that her father's status as a diplomat assigned to the U.N. ended before her birth and she was automatically a citizen. The U.S. says it wasn't notified that his status had changed until February 1995, apparently because of a delay in reporting it by the U.N., and therefore he was still a diplomat. U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton upheld that determination Thursday. Jump said the judge ruled from the bench that he believes he is bound by the Department of State’s representation as to when the government received notice that the father’s diplomatic position had ended, and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss on that basis. Her case has drawn widespread attention because President Donald Trump tweeted about it in February, saying he had directed the secretary of state not to allow her back into the U.S. The decision to revoke her passport was made under President Barack Obama.
  • President Donald Trump will try to convince U.S. allies that they should increase defense spending when he attends a meeting of NATO leaders next month in London, the White House said Friday. Trump, who met this week at the White House with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, has long pushed allies to reduce their reliance on the United States for security assistance. ``We are making real progress,” Stoltenberg told The Associated Press in an interview on Thursday. “Before allies were cutting defense budgets. Now, they are adding billions to their budgets and by the end of next year, NATO allies in Europe and Canada will have added $100 billion or actually more than $100 billion to their defense spending” since 2016. Trump’s press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said Trump will attend the NATO meeting from Dec. 2 to Dec. 4, and will also stress NATO’s readiness to respond to terrorist threats and cyberattacks that target infrastructure and telecommunications networks. She said the president and first lady Melania Trump will also go to a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
  • New rules from the Trump administration on Friday would require insurers and hospitals to disclose upfront the actual prices for common tests and procedures to promote competition and push down costs. But the sweeping changes face stiff pushback from the health care industry and a coalition of major hospital groups quickly announced that hospitals will sue to block the changes. Even in an ideal world where information flows freely, patients and their families would have to deal with a learning curve to become comfortable with the intricacies of health care billing. “This shadowy system has to change,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said. “The patient has to be in control.” A final rule would apply to hospitals and a proposed regulation would apply to insurance plans. Disclosure requirements for hospitals would not take effect until 2021; for insurers, the timing is unclear. The requirements do not directly affect doctors. Officials say the rules would shine a spotlight on the confusing maze of health care prices, allowing informed patients to find quality services at the lowest cost. Prices for an MRI scan for example can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on where it’s done. Insurers would have to create individualized estimates of what patients would owe out-of-pocket due to deductibles and copayments. Insurers and hospitals say the push for disclosure goes too far. They say the government would force them to publicly disclose rates they negotiate as part of private contracts normally beyond the purview of authorities. “This rule will introduce widespread confusion, accelerate anticompetitive behavior among health insurers, and stymie innovations,” the American Hospital Association and three other major hospital groups said in a statement. “Our four organizations will soon join with member hospitals to file a legal challenge to the rule on grounds including that it exceeds the administration’s authority.” Insurers also contend the plan could backfire, prompting providers that are accepting a bargain price to try to bid up what they charge if others are getting more. Azar called such criticism “a canard,” saying transparency does not lead to higher prices in any other area of the economy. With the industry going to court, it could be a long time before the complex litigation is resolved and consumers might see changes. For hospitals, the rule would require: —publication in a consumer-friendly manner of negotiated rates for the 300 most common services that can be scheduled in advance, such as a knee replacement, a Cesarean-section delivery or an MRI scan. Hospitals would have to disclose what they’d be willing to accept if the patient pays cash. The information would be updated every year. —publication of all their charges in a format that can be read on the internet by other computer systems. This would allow web developers and consumer groups to come up with tools that patients and their families can use. For insurers, the rule would require: —creating an online tool that policyholders can use to get a real-time personalized estimate of their out-of-pocket costs for all covered health care services and items, from hospitalization, to doctor visits, lab tests and medicines. —disclosure on a public website of negotiated rates for their in-network providers, as well as the maximum amounts they would pay to an out-of-network doctor or hospital. The disclosure requirements would carry out an executive order President Donald Trump signed this summer.
  • President Donald Trump on Friday released the summary transcript of his April congratulatory call with Ukraine’s president-elect, the latest salvo in the White House effort to blunt Democratic allegations that Trump abused his power by pressuring a foreign leader to get involved in U.S. politics. The new account of Trump’s call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy differs significantly from the initial summary of the conversation that the White House released in April. While the first readout of the call said Trump had expressed his commitment to help Ukraine 'root out corruption,' there is no mention of corruption in the rough transcript released on Friday. The release of the April call came as the House held a second day of public impeachment hearings with U.S. diplomats who have raised concerns that Trump may have misused his presidential powers by withholding military aid to Ukraine as he called on Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a top political rival. The 16-minute call, placed from Air Force One at Trump flew back to Washington after a weekend in Florida, is filled with flattery for Trump from Zelenskiy, and invitations from the new Ukrainian leader for Trump to visit Kiev. There is no reference to Biden or his son, or to Trump’s interest in having the Eastern European leader launch an investigation into the Bidens. National security officials who listened to the call had said in advance that this first conversation between Trump and Zelenskiy was not considered problematic. The House impeachment inquiry was spurred by Trump’s second conversation with Zelenskiy, on July 25, in which the U.S. president urged Zelenskiy to look into the Bidens and Democrats in the 2016 election. According to the White House account of the April call, Zelenskiy told Trump: “You are, as I said, a great example. We are hoping we can expand on our job as you did. You will always, also, be a great example for so many.” Pressing Trump to visit Ukraine, Zelenskiy added: “I know how busy you are but if it’s possible for you to come to the inauguration ceremony, that would be a great, great thing for you to do to be with us on that day.” Trump in recent days has attempted to shift the spotlight from his July conversation with Zelenskiy to the April call, in in which he spoke to Zelenskiy soon after he won a landslide victory over Ukraine’s then-President Petro Poroshenko. Trump, in comments to reporters last week, called the April call transcript “very important.” Referring to the April call, he urged reporters to read the transcript and “tell me if there's anything wrong with it.” The rough transcript as released minutes before former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch began her testimony before impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill. The top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes, read the rough transcript aloud into the congressional record. “The President took the unprecedented steps to declassify and release the transcripts of both of his phone calls” with Zelenskiy “so that every American can see he did nothing wrong,” said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. In that first call, Zelenskiy, taking power against the backdrop of Russian menace, urgently tried to build a relationship with Trump, extolling Ukraine’s food and people while repeatedly asking the president to come visit. Trump demurred but pledged that a high-level delegation would attend Zelenskiy’s inauguration. Vice President Mike Pence was slated to attend the Kyiv ceremony but his trip was canceled. In the end, Energy Secretary Rick Perry led the delegation. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, an Army officer assigned to the National Security Council, said during a closed-door deposition last month that the two calls between the president were starkly different in tone. “What I could say is the tone in the call on the 21st of April was very positive, in my assessment,” Vindman said. “The call, the tone of the call on July 25th was not. It was...I'm struggling for the words, but it was not a positive call. It was dour. If I think about it some more, I could probably come up with some other adjectives, but it was just — the difference between the calls was apparent.” Fiona Hill, the former top Russia policy specialist at the National Security Council, in her deposition described the April exchange between the two presidents was a “short congratulatory call.” The first call was marked as unclassified, for official use only. The second call was classified as Secret/Originator Controlled/No Foreign Nationals and was placed on a highly classified National Security Council server. The rough transcript released Friday appeared to show some warmth between the two leaders with Trump extending congratulations on the electoral victory. “I think you will do a great job. I have many friends in Ukraine who know you and like you. I have many friends from Ukraine and they think — frankly — expected you to win,” Trump said. “I have no doubt you will be a fantastic president.” Democrats have said that Trump withheld military aid and the possibility of a White House visit, a clear symbol of alliance between the two governments, unless Zelenskiy investigated the Bidens. Trump, in the April call, did offer a visit to Washington. “When you’re settled in and ready, I’d like to invite you to the White House,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of things to talk about, but we’re with you all the way.” Zelenskiy has yet to visit Washington, though the two men met in September in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. In the April call, the Ukrainian leader vowed to practice his English for their eventual meeting — Trump responded with a laugh, “I could not do that in your language!” — and repeatedly extolled his country and asked Trump to come visit, even if not for the inauguration. “Well, I agree with you about your country, and I look forward to it,” Trump said. “When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people.” ___ Follow Madhani on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@AamerISmad and Lemire at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire
  • With President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress continuing to denounce investigative proceedings led by Democrats, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee was holding a second day of impeachment hearings on Friday, continuing to focus on efforts by the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to undermine American diplomats in Ukraine. After hearing on Wednesday from the acting U.S. Ambassador and a top State Department official, the focus in this hearing is the ex-Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who was forced out of her post earlier in 2019, after a campaign which she - and other State Department officials - have blamed on Giuliani. 'I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me,' Yovanovitch said in a closed door deposition in October. Follow here for updates on today's hearing. - 12:45 pm.  In a lengthy line of questioning, Castor is allowing Yovanovitch to more fully explain how Giuliani was trying to push her out. 12:30 pm.  The GOP committee counsel continues to make the case that since Yovanovitch was not the Ambassador after May 20, she has no evidence to offer.  12:25 pm.  The 45 minutes of time for Rep. Nunes begins, as Republicans press the argument that she knows nothing about the events related to impeachment. 'I'm not exactly sure what the Ambassador is doing here today,' said Nunes. 12:15 pm.  President Trump is not pleased with the Stone verdict. 12:00 pm.  Stone guilty of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and more. 11:55 am.  Meanwhile, just a few blocks away, news is breaking, as Trump confidant Roger Stone has been found guilty on seven counts stemming from the Mueller investigation.  Some of the still photographers in the hearing room here are scrambling to grab their gear and run down to get pictures. 11:45 am.  From Fox News about today's events.  The President's tweets have clearly derailed whatever GOP messaging plans Republicans had for today's hearing. 11:40 am.  Critics of the President see his tweets this morning about Yovanovitch as yet another marker for impeachment efforts in the House. 11:20 am.  House Republicans grabbed one of my tweets this morning, and it has become a hot property for GOP voices on Twitter in the last hour. 11:15 am.  Don't expect an avalanche of negative reaction from the GOP over today's tweets from the President. 11:05 am.  There are a number of votes on the House floor. We are being told not to expect the hearing to reconvene for maybe another hour or more. 10:55 am.  It seems that viewers on Fox News are getting a different portrayal than usual today. 10:50 am.  The President's tweets are quickly frowned on by one member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik R-NY. 10:45 am.  The President's tweets are getting a lot of attention.  This from Fox News. 10:25 am.  It is an extraordinary moment.  Yovanovitch is testifying, and at the same time the President is attacking her on Twitter.  Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA interrupts questioning to read the new tweets.  “It's very intimidating,” says Yovanovitch.  “The effect is to be intimidating.” 10:15 am.  Asked about the President's comments about her in his July 25 phone call with the leader of Ukraine, Yovanovitch said she was alarmed. “She's going to go through some things,” Yovanovitch quotes the President from the call transcript.  “It didn't sound good.  It sounded like a threat.” 10:10 am.  As Yovanovitch tells her story to the impeachment hearing, President Trump is attacking her on Twitter. 10:05 am.  Yovanovitch says State Department officials asked her in early March to stay through July of 2020 as Ambassador.  Six weeks later, they told her to get on the next flight out of the country. 9:55 am.  As on Wednesday, most of the initial 45 minutes of questioning by Democrats will be done by the Democratic counsel on the House Intelligence Committee. 9:55 am.  Not only is Yovanovitch talking about why she was ousted, but she is also sticking up for fellow diplomats - and basically skewering Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for not standing up for those in the Foreign Service. 9:45 am.  Yovanovitch repeatedly says she did nothing wrong as U.S. Ambassador in Ukraine.  And she repeatedly returns to the efforts of Rudy Giuliani to target her.  “I do not understand Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me.”  Yovanovitch also said she had done nothing to undermine President Trump.  “The Obama Administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign or harm the Trump campaign.” 9:37 am.  Yovanovitch details her diplomatic career.  She joined the Foreign Service during the Reagan Administration.  Like the two witnesses on Wednesday, she stresses the importance of serving the U.S. overseas, no matter who is President, as Yovanovitch said she had no 'agenda' as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. 9:28 am.  Schiff follows Nunes by calling on President Trump to release documents withheld from investigators.  Also asks the White House to reveal why - after this April call - Vice President Pence was not sent to attend the inauguration of the new Ukraine leader. 9:25 am.  Nunes is now reading from a rough transcript of the first phone call between President Trump and the leader of Ukraine in April. 9:20 am.  The top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes R-CA, starts his statement with another blistering attack on the impeachment investigation, arguing Democrats are engaged in an effort to 'fulfill their Watergate fantasies.' 9:15 am.  Democrats begin by going after Rudy Giuliani, asking why the President's lawyer had coordinated a concerted campaign to undermine the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. 'Why did Rudy Giuliani want her gone?' asked Rep. Adam Schiff D-CA. 9:07 am.  The hearing is underway. 8:55 am.  Normally, I would have a perfect view of the dais and witness table.  But the Intelligence Committee has brought in giant television screens to be used for visuals during the hearing.  And they planted one between me and the lawmakers on the panel.  So, this is my view. 8:45 am.  Lots of familiar faces are here in terms of my colleagues, as we work shoulder-to-shoulder in the hallways of the Capitol.  There are a series of press tables in the room behind the witness table.  Right across from me, Manu Raju of CNN and Chad Pergram of Fox News. 8:35 am.  Most of you would not know the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine if she were sitting next to you.  And that was her life until late 2018 and 2019, when something changed.  She says it was a campaign run against her by President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani - and State Department officials agree. 8:25 am.  Most of the electronics in this room are set out by C-SPAN, which is running the “pool” television coverage.  I'm seated in an area by some of the C-SPAN technical personnel, along with the still photographers, who have a very high tech operation to take photos, quickly edit, them, and then send them out immediately across the world. 8:15 am.  I am in the room along with other reporters, producers, still photographers, and press people.  There is a lot of elbowing going on as photographers try to get the best shot of the witness arriving for testimony.