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We’re covering blunt testimony in the impeachment hearings, Prince Andrew’s retreat from public duties and Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year.
‘We followed the president’s orders’
The American ambassador to the E.U. implicated President Trump and top U.S. officials — including the vice president, secretary of state, acting chief of staff and others — in the pressure campaign on Ukraine.
“Everyone,” the ambassador, Gordon Sondland, said on Wednesday, “was in the loop.” Affirming that there was a quid pro quo, Mr. Sondland added that he had reluctantly worked with Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating Joe Biden “at the express direction of the president.”
Response: Mr. Trump, reading from talking points scrawled in Sharpie, seized on one detail of Mr. Sondland’s testimony and said that he had wanted “no quid pro quo.”
Analysis: Democrats called Mr. Sondland their smoking gun, but Republicans think his testimony could help the president, our chief White House correspondent writes.
Scene: Certain days on Capitol Hill have an extra crackle. Yesterday was one of them, our correspondent writes.
What’s next: The final House impeachment hearing of the week is today, with joint testimony by Fiona Hill, Europe and Russia expert, and David Holmes, an embassy official in Ukraine.
The long days of homeless students
Darnell, 8, lives in a shelter and commutes 15 miles a day to school. He loves football practice but struggles to read. Sandy, 10, has moved seven times in five years. She loves school, but her teachers worry about her.
They are just two of the 114,000 homeless students in New York City. Our reporter and photographer followed them for one day, from sunrise to sunset, to capture how much effort, help and luck it takes for a chance at a decent education.
Voices: “I feel like a failed parent,” said Darnell’s mother. “I should have been able to provide everything.”
Details: The number of school-age children in New York in temporary housing has ballooned more than 70 percent over the past decade. Here’s how our story came together.
How to help: Eliza Shapiro, who wrote the article, shared ideas on Twitter.
Tesla’s road to Berlin
Elon Musk’s announcement last week that the carmaker’s first major European factory would be built in a village near the German capital took the auto industry by surprise.
But the decision was months in the making, and it involved an elaborate courtship by local officials eager to attract thousands of jobs.
Go deeper: The news has quieted alarm that the industry that powers the German economy faces serious disruption from a transition to battery-powered cars. But questions remain, particularly about how Tesla’s high-intensity work ethic will adapt to Germany, where labor laws give workers a say in management and limit overtime.
If you have time, this is worth it
What it means to belong
“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,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen writes in an introduction to our Opinion section’s five short documentaries about the immigrant experience.
The stories include that of Vietnam War refugees, above, who reinvented themselves on the dance floor. Mr. Nguyen, a refugee himself, says they “testify to both the depth of our shared humanity and the height of the walls separating us.”
Here’s what else is happening
Ousting a SEAL: An admiral began the process of ejecting a platoon leader at the center of a high-profile war crimes case when the White House did not oppose the move, officials said.
Snapshot: Above, a group of Native Americans sailing to Alcatraz Island in 1969, when activists occupied the former federal penitentiary. We look back at that protest.
Reference point: Oxford Dictionaries named “climate emergency” as its 2019 Word of the Year, choosing from an all-environmental shortlist.
National Book Awards: Susan Choi took the fiction prize for “Trust Exercise,” a novel about a group of young drama students. Sarah M. Broom won in the nonfiction section for her memoir “The Yellow House.”
Grammys: Lizzo received eight nominations, leading a slate of young and diverse performers. Her competition includes Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X.
Late-night comedy: It wasn’t all political punch lines. Samantha Bee hosted a dinner to thank some of the main figures of the #MeToo movement.
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 about topics like her views on the 2020 presidential race and the first time she heard herself on the radio, writes Melina Delkic of the Briefings team.
Now, a break from the news
Smarter Living: Just three hours of exercise a week may help to ward off depression.
And now for the Back Story on …
‘In the loop’
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, testified on Wednesday that top officials were “in the loop” about the White House pressure campaign against Ukraine.
“Everyone was in the loop,” he told the inquiry. “It was no secret.”
It’s a common American-English 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 means “informed” — come from?
The earliest examples date from the 1950s and ’60s, when it was used to describe aerospace and military systems that kept a human operator “in the loop” of decisions being made by computers. Usage began to surge in about 1980. One key moment: Vice President George Bush’s insistence that he was “out of the loop” in the Iran-contra scandal.
“Now to be in the loop is to be in the circle of power, and to be out of the loop is not to have to worry about a special prosecutor coming after you,” wrote the Times columnist William Safire in 1987.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Remy Tumin helped compile today’s briefing. Mark Josephson, Eleanor Stanford and Chris Harcum provided the break from the news. Adam Pasick, on the Briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is on Gordon Sondland’s testimony.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Muscle on the back of your leg, slangily (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, about the history and impact of slavery in America, is being turned into a series of books by Random House.