Good morning, I’m Tim Walker with today’s essential stories.

2020 presidential hopefuls criticise ‘criminal’ Trump

Amid the drama of the impeachment hearings, the candidates at the Democratic debate in Atlanta on Wednesday largely refrained from attacking one another, in favour of attacking Donald Trump. Despite strong showings from the likes of Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, that will probably leave the field in much the same shape as before, with top-tier candidates Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders threatened by the rise of Pete Buttigieg, whose campaign got a boost from polls showing him leading in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sondland blows Trump’s impeachment defence wide open

Trump impeachment inquiry: key moments from Sondland’s explosive testimony – video

The US ambassador to the EU dismantled the White House’s core impeachment defence on Wednesday, telling Congress there was indeed a quid pro quo, with Trump offering the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an Oval Office meeting on one condition: that he announce an investigation into the Bidens. Gordon Sondland not only implicated the president, but also threw several other senior administration officials under the bus – not to mention Trump’s personal lawyer and Ukraine policy proxy, Rudy Giuliani. But Republicans seized on the fact he acknowledged he never heard directly from Trump that the security assistance hinged on an announcement of investigations.

Interim rightwing government blamed for Bolivia ‘massacre’

Mourners with the bodies of those killed in clashes between Evo Morales supporters and security forces in El Alto this week.

Mourners with the bodies of those killed in clashes between Evo Morales supporters and security forces in El Alto this week. Photograph: Natacha Pisarenko/AP

At least eight Bolivians were killed on Tuesday when supporters of the country’s exiled former president, Evo Morales, confronted troops after blockading a fuel storage depot in the city of El Alto. Morales described the events as a “massacre”, blaming the rightwing interim government that took power after he was ousted this month. But the defence minister, Fernando López, said “not a single bullet” had been fired by the security forces.

  • Political unrest. At least 31 people have been killed during the political unrest in Bolivia, triggered by a dispute over the result of the presidential election on 20 October, in which Morales claimed victory only to resign under pressure from the military.

Epstein victims’ lawyers hint at subpoena for Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew has been in effect suspended from royal duties.

Prince Andrew has been in effect suspended from royal duties. Photograph: Ian Hinchliffe/Alamy

Prince Andrew’s public disgrace has intensified after the Duke of York announced on Wednesday that his mother, the Queen, had “given her permission” for him to step back from royal duties for the foreseeable future as he attempts to weather the storm over his relationship with the late financier and convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing five of Epstein’s victims, suggested she was prepared to subpoena the prince to ensure he cooperated with her investigations.

  • PR disaster. The BBC interview about the prince’s involvement with Epstein was intended to halt speculation but instead has increased it. Kevin Rawlinson explains how the royal’s questionable PR strategy unraveled.

Cheat sheet

Help the Guardian to cover another momentous year

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Mark Ruffalo in Dark Waters, Keira Knightley in Official Secrets and Adam Driver in The Report.

Mark Ruffalo in Dark Waters, Keira Knightley in Official Secrets and Adam Driver in The Report. Composite: AP/Allstar/Amazon

Why 2019 is the year of the whistleblower on film

From documentaries to political and corporate dramas set on both sides of the Atlantic, 2019 has seen multiple on-screen portrayals of true-life heroes who called out corruption. The whistleblower who dares to challenge the system has become a pop cultural myth, says Charles Bramesco.

A shocking murder in the north Pacific

in 2015, the lawyer Rachelle Bergeron moved from the US to Yap, a sleepy Pacific island community where gun violence was rare. Yet this October, while working to prosecute a human trafficking ring, she was gunned down outside her home, as Bernadette Carreon and Lauren Aratani report.

Can Louisville re-green itself out of a heat emergency?

The biggest city in Kentucky is also one of the US’s fastest-warming “urban heat islands”, with city temperatures averaging almost 5F hotter than the surrounding countryside. Josh Wood asks whether a plan to replant tens of thousands of lost trees could help Louisville keep its cool.

Trudeau puts his trust in new deputy prime minister

The Canadian leader Justin Trudeau has appointed a deputy prime minister for the first time since 2006. While Chrystia Freeland’s new role is traditionally ceremonial, Trudeau has given her the added responsibility of managing his government’s fractious relationship with the provinces, as Leyland Cecco explains.


Last week Brazil’s leftwing former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva walked free from prison, in a clear threat to president Jair Bolsonaro’s authority. But as the dangers to the far-right populist’s rule grow, writes Brazilian activist David Miranda, so too do the chances that he will subvert democracy to cling to power.

Bolsonaro and his movement know they cannot end Brazilian democracy without pretexts. They need disorder, protests and violence to justify a restoration of dictatorship-era measures.


Despite rumours that he wants to sign Real’s Gareth Bale, among others, Tottenham’s new manager Jose Mourinho has been told he has no money to spend on players in January, and will have to make do with the club’s existing squad for the time being.

The NBA Hall of Fame honoree Charles Barkley has apologised for making an “inappropriate and unacceptable” joke to a female reporter, after telling her: “I don’t hit women, but if I did, I would hit you.”

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