Here are the top highlights from transcripts released in the impeachment inquiry

Image: President Donald Trump walks from the Oval Office on Nov. 1, 2019.
President Donald Trump walks from the Oval Office on Nov. 1, 2019. Copyright Tom Brenner Reuters file
Copyright Tom Brenner Reuters file
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — House Democrats have now released some 2,700 pages of transcripts from the depositions in their impeachment inquiry.

And ahead of this week's public testimony, here are all of the highlights you need to know:

  • Security assistance was tied to Ukraine pursuing an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma

"That was my clear understanding, security assistance money would not come until the President [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation," said Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.

  • There was "no doubt" Trump was asking for a deliverable in his July 25 call with Ukraine's president

Question: "You were listening in real time to this call along with President Zelenskiy when President Trump was speaking?"

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (the National Security Council's top expert on Ukraine): "Correct."

Question: "And was there any doubt in your mind as to what the President, our President, was asking for as a deliverable?"

Vindman: "There was no doubt."

  • Having Ukraine pursue investigations wasn't in the United States' national security interests

Question: "And is it fair to say that encouraging Ukraine to conduct investigations related to domestic U.S. politics was not in the U.S. national security interests?"

Vindman: "In my view, I don't think it was. And it had inherent risks in that—it had inherent risks in that, frankly, if Ukrainians took a partisan position, they would significantly undermine the possibility of future bipartisan support. Losing bipartisan support, they would then lose access to potentially, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance funds."

  • Russia's Putin and Hungary's Orban helped shape Trump's negative view of Ukraine

"[T]hose two world leaders, along with former Mayor Giuliani, their communications with President Trump shaped the President's view of Ukraine and Zelenskiy, and would account for the change from a very positive first call on April 21 to his negative assessment of Ukraine when he had the meeting in the 0val 0ffice on May 23," said State Department official George Kent.

  • The whole episode has damaged U.S. relations with Ukraine

"I perceive that that our relationship is damaged. I think as this process wears on, I think the relationship will continue to be damaged and undercut. It undercuts U.S. resolve to support Ukraine and certainly puts a question into their mind whether they in fact have U.S. support," Vindman said.

Taylor and Kent testify in public on Wednesday.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testifies on Friday.

Quid pro no?

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Rep. Jim Himes, a member of the House Intel Committee, argued to stop using the Latin words "quid pro quo" in describing the allegation that the Trump administration wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in return for security assistance.

"I have two problems with 'quid pro quo,'" Himes said. "Number one, when you're trying to persuade the American people of something that is really pretty simple, which is that the president acted criminally and extorted, in the way a mob boss would extort somebody, a vulnerable foreign country, it's probably best not to use Latin words to explain it."

More from Himes: "But the other thing I object to is that this is where the Republicans went. Extortion doesn't require a 'you give me this and I'll give you that' kind of quid pro quo. It's simply requires using your muscle to get something that you don't have a right to."

2020 Vision: Sherrod Brown wants Dems to build on Obamacare — not start over

Also on "Meet" yesterday, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, argued that Democrats should focus on protecting and building on Obamacare.

And not starting over.


"I have said publicly that I think people should, should say, 'I want to — don't want to destroy Obamacare and start over. I want to build on it,'" he said.

Brown added, "But I think the issue — step back for a second, Chuck. All the Democrats want universal coverage. Some want to get to it at different speeds, on a different path. Contrast that where this president went to Congress, lost by one vote trying to wipe away the Affordable Care Act."

On the campaign trail today

Tons of Veterans Day events on the trail: Pete Buttigieg, remaining in New Hampshire, attends a Vets Day ceremony in Boscawen and then delivers a major Veterans Day speech in Rochester… Kamala Harris holds a "Justice for Veterans" conversation in Greenwood, S.C…. Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro celebrate the holiday in Iowa… Joe Biden holds a town hall in Oskaloosa, Iowa… Elizabeth Warren does her own town hall in Exeter, N.H…. And Cory Booker raises money in New York City.

Talking policy with Benjy

The Dems' looming battle with hospitals and doctors: If you've been watching the Democrats debate health care, you've probably heard versions of the same line from candidates over and over: We're going to take on the big insurers and the drug companies, NBC's Benjy Sarlin observes.

But lost in the mix are what their plans would mean for doctors, specialists, and especially hospitals, many of which could take a revenue cut under either Medicare for All or various public option proposals. Elizabeth Warren's new Medicare for All plan is paid for in part with trillions in expected savings from health care providers. The main reason: Private insurance pays more - sometimes well over twice as much - for the same services as Medicare.


U.S. health-care prices are the highest in the developed world, and single-payer advocates argue that hospitals will save so much from efficiency under a Medicare system that they'll be able to treat more patients for less.

But health-care providers are also famously effective and well-financed interest groups, and there are already signs of them flexing their muscle against Democratic plans. If Democrats are going to pass Medicare for All, or even a strong public option, they need to prepare supporters for a fight with local physicians and hospital administrators who are a lot more popular with voters than insurance CEOs.

Data Download: The number of the day is … 31


That's the number of consecutive home football games the Alabama Crimson Tide had won at home before Saturday's Alabama-vs.-LSU game, which President Trump attended in person.

LSU won the game, 46-41.


Tweet of the day

The Lid: The Runaway Brides?

Don't miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at whether Democratic voters will ditch their current field for another suitor (Michael Bloomberg) - or whether they'll stick with what they already have.

ICYMI: New clips you shouldn't miss

NBC's Allan Smithprofiles Rep. Lee Zeldin, one of Trump's biggest defenders in the impeachment inquiry,

Nikki Haley claims in a new book that Rex Tillerson and John Kelly tried to recruit her into undermining the president.

Democrats are pushing back onGOP efforts to call Hunter Biden to testify.

Are e-cigarette users a key new political bloc? (And what might that mean for the president?)


Here's the latest in the resignation of Bolivia's president.

Trump Agenda: Basic Instincts

POLITICO examines Trump's impeachment messaging style: Relying, as usual, on his instincts.

Mick Mulvaney is joiningthe lawsuit that could determine whether Trump aides have to testify — and John Bolton's allies aren't happy about it.

2020: Klobuchar knocks Buttigieg's experience

Amy Klobuchar says a woman with Pete Buttigieg's experience wouldn't have made it onto the debate stage.

Here's the uphill battle Mike Bloomberg faces with Democratic voters, per a new poll.


Buttigieg says he hopes to name the first female secretary of the VA.

The New York Times reports onwhat Joe Biden actually did in Ukraine.

Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigned togetherin Iowa this weekend.

The AP reports on how 2020 longshot candidates saythere's still hope for them

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