Hong Kong, Christine Blasey Ford and Prince Andrew: The Morning Rundown

Hundreds are believed trapped as Hong Kong police lay siege to university.
Image: Protesters clash with riot police in the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong
Protesters attempt to leave the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University during clashes with police on Monday. Thomas Peter / Reuters

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The impeachment hearings are taking a toll on President Donald Trump's relationship with his closest cabinet secretary, a Hong Kong university has become the nucleus of violent clashes between police and protesters, and Prince Andrew puts himself back in the spotlight with a controversial interview.

Here's what we're watching today.


Trump's impeachment ire turns on Pompeo

The Ukraine impeachment inquiry has created the first rift between President Donald Trump and one of his closest allies: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The impeachment inquiry has put Pompeo in what one senior administration official described as an untenable position: trying to manage a bureaucracy of 75,000 people that has soured on his leadership and also please a boss with outsized expectations of loyalty.

"He feels like he's getting a bunch of blame from the president and the White House for having hired all these people who are turning against Trump," an official familiar with the dynamic said of Pompeo,

A crack in the seemingly unbreakable bond between Trump and Pompeo is striking because the former Kansas congressman has survived — and even thrived — in the tumultuous administration. Michael Reynolds / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Hong Kong police lay siege to university where protesters are trapped

Police blockaded a Hong Kong university Monday, forcing back anti-government protesters armed with Molotov cocktails and bows and arrows as some tried to escape the campus where hundreds are believed to be holed up.

Police had the campus of Hong Kong’s Polytechnic University surrounded most of Sunday and into Monday, using water cannons, tear gas and heavy police vehicles in a dramatic escalation of the demonstrations that have swept the semi-autonomous Chinese territory since June.


White House defends Trump's surprise medical exam amid skepticism online

The White House said there was nothing unusual about

Trump making a surprise trip to Walter Reed Medical Center on Saturday to undergo what he called "phase one" of his annual physical.

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But the ordeal was met with skepticism online, where some felt the White House and the president weren't being upfront about his hospital visit.

Meantime, the impeachment hearings will continue this week with Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and former Ukraine special envoy Kurt Volker expected to testify publicly Tuesday, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland slated for Wednesday, and former Russia adviser Fiona Hill on Thursday. See our live blog for all the latest updates and analysis.


Prince Andrew addressed photo with Jeffrey Epstein accuser in BBC interview

In a interview with the BBC that was broadcast Saturday, the Prince Andrew said he has “no recollection" of ever meeting a young Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims Jeffrey Epstein directed her to have sex with the member of the royal family.

The Duke of York, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, said he had "absolutely no memory" of the photograph showing them with Epstein associate, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell.

When asked by the BBC how he could explain the photo, Andrew said, "I can't because I don't...I have no...again I have absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken."


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Plus


THINK about it

"The Crown" totally changed its cast for season three — and it got even better, critic Ani Bundel writes in an opinion piece.


Live BETTER

From the foodie who dares to explore new tastes to vegans and even those with no time to cook, check out the best cookbooks to give (and get) this holiday season.


One fun thing

"Saturday Night Live" couldn't resist casting its satirical eye on the characters America has come to know over the first week of impeachment hearings by presenting them as the soap opera "Days of Our Impeachment."

Actor Jon Hamm made a cameo appearance as Ambassador Bill Taylor, who testified at the real hearings in Washington.

Taylor, as a soap opera star, says, "I don’t just kiss and tell. I kiss and tell and I take notes."

We apologize, this video has expired.

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If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com

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Thanks, Petra