Pivotal testimony in the impeachment hearings
The American ambassador to the E.U. delivered blunt testimony that implicated President Trump and top U.S. officials — including the vice president, the secretary of state, the acting chief of staff and others — in the pressure campaign on Ukraine.
“Everyone,” the ambassador, Gordon Sondland, said, “was in the loop.” And he affirmed that there was a quid pro quo over Mr. Trump’s desire for investigations by Ukraine into his political rivals.
Mr. Sondland said he reluctantly worked with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to pressure Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating Joe Biden “at the express direction of the president.”
Response: Mr. Trump, reading from a notepad of talking points scrawled in Sharpie, seized on part of Mr. Sondland’s testimony in which he said that Mr. Trump did not explicitly tell him about conditions on a White House meeting coveted by Ukraine’s president or the release of security assistance to Kyiv.
Prince Andrew steps down from public duties
The Duke of York announced he was stepping back from his royal duties in the wake of a catastrophic televised interview about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex offender.
The duke also said he was willing to help law enforcement agencies in their investigations and “unequivocally” regrets the “ill-judged association.”
The fallout: On Monday, a woman who has accused Mr. Epstein of sexually abusing her as a child called on the prince to speak to the American authorities. Companies with ties to the prince’s charities also distanced themselves from him.
Related: Two guards were charged with failing to check on Mr. Epstein regularly the night he killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August, and then lying about it on official forms.
2 elections, 3 tries, and no government in Israel
Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top rival, was unable to form a coalition government, pushing the country toward its third election in a year. The task now falls to Parliament for the first time.
What happens next: Lawmakers have 21 days to come up with a candidate — any candidate, including Mr. Gantz or Mr. Netanyahu — who could command a majority of seats in the 120-seat Parliament.
And if that doesn’t work: Israel would have to face a third election, most likely in the spring.
More chaos: There were reports that Mr. Netanyahu could be indicted on long-expected corruption charges as soon as Thursday, and tensions are expected to escalate along the northern border after an Israeli airstrike against Iranian forces near Damascus, Syria, killed at least 21 people.
Tesla’s winding road to Berlin
Elon Musk’s announcement that he will build the carmaker’s first major European factory in Grünheide, a village just outside Berlin, took the auto industry by surprise last week.
But the decision was months in the making and involved an elaborate courtship by local officials eager to attract not only the jobs it would bring but also the prestige.
The incentives: Tesla was promised building permits in four weeks rather than the customary 11 months. Company executives were also taken on a biplane tour of the site.
Details: A recent government study concluded that the auto industry’s transition to battery-powered cars, like those made by Tesla, could cost Germany 114,000 jobs by 2035. Tesla’s assembly plant would offset some of the job losses, and the company also plans to make batteries in Germany.
If you have some time, this is worth it
What it means to be home
“To love, to laugh, to live, to work, to fail, to despair, to parent, to cry, to die, to mourn, to hope: These attributes exist whether we are Vietnamese or Mexican or American or any other form of classification,” writes the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen in an introduction to our Opinion section’s collection of five short documentaries about the immigrant experience.
The stories, Mr. Nguyen writes, “testify to both the depth of our shared humanity and the height of the walls separating us.”
Here’s what else is happening
Democratic debate: Candidates grappled with the impact of the impeachment inquiry at the fifth primary debate, but largely shied away from clashing directly on ideological differences.
Britain elections: The governing Conservative Party sparked a backlash after it temporarily changed the name of its Twitter account to “factcheckUK,” attempting to counter Jeremy Corbyn’s statements during his debate with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Twitter called it misleading.
And more U.K. news: The Labour Party announced a plan to provide free broadband service to every British household and business in the country by 2030, the latest topic to be injected into the election. Is it even possible?
Snapshot: For decades, the elaborately decorated metro stations in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, were largely hidden from the outside world. The long-running ban on photography was lifted last year. We finally had a look inside, above.
Greece: The new conservative government plans to replace overcrowded migrant camps on the Aegean Islands with new centers that would be more restrictive of the migrants’ movements.
Word of the Year: Oxford Dictionaries named “climate emergency” as its 2019 Word of the Year, choosing it from an all-environmental shortlist.
Venice flooding: The high water that devastated the Italian city this month flooded streets, squares and landmark churches. Here’s what tourists need to know (bring your waders).
The case of the missing gold toilet: There is still no sign of Maurizio Cattelan’s “America,” which went missing from a palace in England two months ago. But locals have their theories.
What we’re watching: This Vogue 73 Questions video with Cardi B. From her grandmother’s New York City apartment, the hip-hop superstar talks openly and bluntly about everything from her views on the 2020 presidential race to the first time she heard herself on the radio, writes Melina Delkic on the Briefings team.
Now, a break from the news
Smarter Living: Research shows that just three hours of exercise a week may help to ward off depression, even in those with a genetic susceptibility.
And now for the Back Story on …
‘In the loop’
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, repeatedly testified on Wednesday that a number of top officials were “in the loop” about the White House pressure campaign against Ukraine.
“Everyone was in the loop,” he told the House Intelligence Committee. “It was no secret.”
It’s a uniquely American turn of phrase, even serving as the title for a glossary of idioms published by the State Department. But where does “in the loop” — which in its simplest form simply means “informed” — come from?