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Navy Secretary forced out, Hong Kong's pro-democracy win, and Taylor Swift AMAs sweep: The Morning Rundown

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was pushed out over his handling of the controversial SEAL case.
Image: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift won six American Music Awards on Sunday to surpass Michael Jackson's record for the number of honors from the prestigious group.Chris Pizzello / AP

Good morning, NBC News readers.

The Navy Secretary was forced out over a sharp disagreement with the White House, Hong Kong was hit with a "democracy tsunami," and "Frozen 2" burns up the box office.

Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.

Navy Secretary fired over SEAL case controversy

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer was fired Sunday in the wake of a dispute over whether former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher should be stripped of his Trident pin after being acquitted of war crimes.

The Defense Department said Esper had lost "trust and confidence" in Spencer, the Navy's top civilian leader, and asked for his resignation.

In a letter to the president acknowledging his “termination,” Spencer wrote: "Unfortunately ... I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline.”

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Democrats dream about defeating Mitch McConnell. Can they do it?

After defeating Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky Democrats now have their sights set on Sen. Mitch McConnell, who has become their party's public enemy No. 2, behind only President Donald Trump.

But they know ousting the Senate majority leader will be much tougher.

Many Democrats loathe McConnell not only for what they charge is his complicity in enabling Trump, but for packing the judiciary with conservative judges.

Republicans, however, are not breaking a sweat. GOP leaders in Washington and Kentucky see few viable paths for the Democrats to topple McConnell.

Republicans acknowledge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unpopular, but they still believe no Democrat can unseat him.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

A 'democratic tsunami' in Hong Kong

After months of protest, marked by cries for reform and clashes with police, a record number of pro-democracy candidates were elected in Hong Kong Sunday in what one former protest leader called a “democratic tsunami.”

Residents turned out in droves for district elections widely seen as a test of public opinion amid increasingly violent protests that have consumed the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for six months.

"This is the power of democracy,” said former student Tommy Cheung, who won a seat in the Yuen Long district close to China’s border.

But China did not see it that way. Beijing issued a stern response to the pro-democracy forces' landslide victory.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that no matter how the situation in Hong Kong changes, the semi-autonomous region is part of China.

"Any attempt to disrupt Hong Kong and damage [its] stability and prosperity will not succeed," Wang told reporters.

Special Report: Secret Chinese documents reveal inner workings of Muslim detention camps

Experts estimate that more than a million Muslims have been detained in what Beijing calls "vocational centers."

But a cache of leaked records show these centers are designed to be run like prisons.

Preventing escapes is paramount, the documents say, and a chief goal of the camps is “ideological transformation.”

The documents — most of which were dated 2017 when the internment campaign was gaining momentum — detail how the camps are meant to be run, from the banality of monitoring bathroom breaks to the importance of having in place “one-button alarms” and other security measures.

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THINK about it

Devin Nunes' impeachment defense of Trump and possible Ukraine collusion redefines partisan hackery, Charlie Sykes, editor-at-large of the conservative news and opinion website “The Bulwark,” writes in an opinion piece.


How to save time and money on Thanksgiving, according to Martha Stewart and other pros.

Quote of the day

"I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took."

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer in a letter to the president acknowledging his termination

One fun thing

Taylor Swift took the high road as she won six American Music Awards on Sunday to surpass Michael Jackson's record, avoiding any direct mention of a bitter dispute with her old record company.

Swift won the top award, artist of the year, and four others. She was also given an honorary artist of the decade award, taking her total to 29 American Music Awards, organizers said.

"All that matters to me is the memories that I have had with you guys, with you, the fans, over the years," Swift, 29, told the audience at the ceremony in Los Angeles after performing a medley of her old hits.

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Thanks, Petra