Impeachment, Boris Johnson, Marie Fredriksson: Your Wednesday Briefing

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Good morning.

We’re covering the articles of impeachment against President Trump, tomorrow’s general election in Britain, and the life and times of the singer Marie Fredriksson.

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Credit…The New York Times

The impeachment articles accuse Mr. Trump of “corruptly soliciting” election assistance from the government of Ukraine in the form of investigations that would smear his domestic political rivals in the 2020 presidential election. Democrats say he used two “official acts” as leverage: $391 million in security assistance for the country, and a White House meeting for Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Response: The president has said there was no “quid pro quo” linking the meeting or the aid to his demand that Ukraine announce the investigations. His press secretary accused Democrats on Tuesday of “forcing unfounded accusations down the throats of the American people.”

Catch up: We explain the impeachment process and how the U.S. Constitution defines impeachable offenses.

What’s next: The House Judiciary Committee could vote by Thursday to recommend the charges to the full chamber for final approval. If the House follows through next week, as expected, Mr. Trump could stand trial in the Senate early in the new year.

Tomorrow’s British election — one of the most important in a generation — comes as the bitterly divided country sits on the precipice of a decisive break with the European Union.

National polls show the governing Conservative Party with a tight and narrowing lead, and the opposition Labour Party gaining more support. Yet predictions are perilous: Narrow swings in voter preferences can produce major shifts in places where victory margins will be small.

As the campaign hurdles to a finish, we’re chasing these threads:

Health care: Strains on Britain’s beloved National Health Service — and the question of whether Brexit would exacerbate them — have jolted the national conversation at the last minute. The N.H.S. has deteriorated in recent years under the Conservatives’ watch, and Labour argues that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan would undermine the system further.

Disinformation: The campaign is awash in doctored videos, dodgy websites and manipulated Twitter accounts. Some of the material comes not only from shadowy groups or Russian operatives, but also the political parties and candidates themselves, particularly the Conservatives.

Sick boy scandal: During a television interview on Monday, Mr. Johnson at first refused to look at a picture of a 4-year-old boy lying on the floor of an overcrowded Yorkshire hospital. The picture and the boy’s story — first reported by a local newspaper — were real. But Mr. Johnson’s interview spawned a social media campaign to discredit the boy’s family.


On the seventh day, they listened.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government is set to roll out the details today of a planned pension overhaul that has already incited six days of nationwide demonstrations.

How the crisis ends is anyone’s guess. Union leaders have vowed to continue marching until the government withdraws its plan. But on Tuesday, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe offered no public hint that Mr. Macron might back down. (And in private, he warned his party’s lawmakers that there would be “no magic announcements” to stop the strikes.)

Looking back: France’s labor movement hopes to achieve a repeat of the general strike of 1995 that forced the government to suspend a planned pension overhaul — a concession that Mr. Macron wants to avoid making.

Opinion: Mr. Macron “may not be able to avoid being loathed by a large portion of the French public,” a writer on French politics argues, but if he outlasts the current strikes he could be the strongest contender in France’s 2022 elections.


When the Russian Federation first went to war in the rebellious region of Chechnya 25 years ago today, it expected a swift victory.

Instead, Russia was humiliated, and tens of thousands of people were killed.

We look back at how war became a turning point that left Russia open to the ascent of Vladimir Putin, a former K.G.B. agent who vowed to restore order and avenge the defeat.

Obituary: Yuri Luzhkov, a pugnacious politician who died on Tuesday in Munich, served as Moscow’s mayor from 1992 to 2010. He transformed the city into a gleaming modern metropolis, but was accused of creating a post-Soviet model of authoritarianism that was later imposed on the rest of Russia.

As the year draws to a close, our critics A.O. Scott and Wesley Morris discussed the onscreen performances that they found captivating, challenging, shocking and inspiring.

Among the featured actors: Antonio Banderas, above, who plays a Spanish filmmaker in “Pain and Glory,” a film by the Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar. Our roundup is part of The New York Times Magazine’s annual Great Performers issue, with photographs by Jack Davison.

Czech Republic: In the country’s deadliest shooting since 2015, a gunman killed six people on Tuesday in a hospital waiting room in the eastern city of Ostrava.

New Zealand: The question of why visitors were allowed to tour the mouth of an active volcano that erupted on Monday, killing at least six people, is at the center of a criminal investigation.

Finland: Sanna Marin, 34, was sworn into office on Tuesday, becoming the world’s youngest prime minister. She’s been a rising star ever since she entered Parliament in 2015.

Libya: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the last significant patron of the beleaguered Tripoli government, raised the possibility that he might send troops to counter a tightening siege by the Russian-backed forces closing in on the capital.

Israel: The country appears headed for a record third straight election, on March 2, if neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his chief rival, Benny Gantz, backs down from brinkmanship before midnight tonight — the deadline for lawmakers to nominate an alternate candidate.

Climate change: A report on Tuesday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that temperatures in the Arctic region remained near record highs in 2019. The Arctic is of interest to researchers because it is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

U.S. election: While meeting with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Moscow not to interfere in American elections.

Snapshot: Above, a 30-foot-tall Weihnachtspyramide (German for Christmas pyramid) on display in Cullman, Alabama. The town of 16,000 people was founded by a German immigrant in 1873.

In memoriam: Marie Fredriksson, the lead singer of the hugely successful Swedish pop duo Roxette, died on Monday. She was 61.

What we’re reading: This Guardian Q. and A. with Lucy Ellmann, the British-American author of the novel “Ducks, Newburyport.” She discusses, among other things, “when resilience appalls her” and how thankless and enraging parenthood is, says Andrew LaVallee, an editor on our Books desk.

Smarter Living: Keep your emails concise and clear, and don’t forget the CC rule: People who are expected to reply go in the “to” field, and people not expected to reply in the “CC” field. Read our tips for digital etiquette.

Pull one thread of the news, and you can find a tapestry of history that leads right back to the present.

For instance: The U.S. impeachment inquiry has focused on the Trump administration’s delay of aid meant to help Ukraine deal with an assault by Russian militias in its east.

Some say the delay violated a 25-year-old agreement, the Budapest Memorandum. In it, Ukraine got reassurances of territorial sovereignty from Russia, the U.S. and Britain in exchange for giving up the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal — its inheritance from the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Back to the present: The START treaty is set to lapse in 2020, and Russia and the U.S. have been discussing an extension, most recently on Tuesday, when President Trump met the Russian foreign minister at the White House.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Mike


Thank you
To Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford for the break from the news. Will Dudding, an assistant in the Standards department, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword puzzle, and a clue: Actor Willem (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Lynsey Addario, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Times photographer, wrote about one of the most emotional assignments — and friendships — of her life: covering the Belgian Paralympic athlete Marieke Vervoort over three years, as she prepared to die by choice.

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