“When Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Thursday that the U.S. had been involved in a quid pro quo, it was, then, a classic Kinsley gaffe: a politician accidentally telling the truth. Mulvaney tried to take back his admission, but Taylor’s account shows he was right the first time—as though the testimony of other diplomats and a plain reading of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky weren’t already evidence enough. Taylor’s testimony reportedly elicited ‘sighs and gasps’ in the closed-door hearing, and it’s clear why.” The Atlantic: William Taylor Delivers the Smoking Gun. (Trump’s last defense: Taylor’s testimony was delivered in a non-smoking area…)

+ “His testimony was laden with precision — names, dates, places, policy statements and diplomatic nuance, not typically the stuff of intrigue.” AP: The diplomat took notes. Then he told a story.

+ But Trump was merely trying to stop the scourge of corruption! Nope. WaPo: Trump administration sought billions of dollars in cuts to programs aimed at fighting corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere. Still, Volodymyr Zelensky didn’t feel any pressure from Trump and his shadow diplomats! Well, actually… AP: Ukrainian leader felt Trump pressure before taking office. Yeah, but, as the president asked on Twitter this morning, “Where’s the whistleblower?” Uh, they’re basically everywhere at this point. Long story short: Trump’s defense on Ukraine has completely collapsed.

+ How do we known the substance battle is over? Because a group of House Republicans barged into an impeachment deposition: “The protest was part of a Republican effort to change the narrative from the substance of the allegations against Trump to complaints about the process.” Who greenlit the effort to obstruct justice? Seriously, are you people paying attention at all? (Sidenote: “The group alleges that they are being shut out of the impeachment process, but there are Republicans on the three panels conducting the investigation.” Oh, the list of Republicans in on the highly secretive hearings includes the Veep’s brother.) Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here’s the latest from WaPo.