Buttigieg takes on far-left at debate as Biden stumbles; Sondland helps both sides at Trump impeachment hearing

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Pete Buttigieg fends off attacks, takes on far-left at debate; Biden stumbles on domestic violence, Harris gaffe 
Pete Buttigieg, whose popularity has surged in the polls in recent weeks, suddenly found himself the target of attacks at Wednesday night's fifth Democratic primary debate. However, he stayed focused on appealing to the country's political middle with a blunt rebuke of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders' "Medicare-for-all" plan.

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Several other candidates joined Buttigieg in going after the health care overhaul plan, putting the party's far-left candidates on their heels over what he called their "divisive" and unrealistic approach.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Reflecting the ever-shifting dynamic in the race, meanwhile, Joe Biden had a mixed performance -- projecting foreign policy strength and siding with Buttigieg against the liberal wing on health care, while also suffering some stumbles. Until recently he was the unrivaled front-runner in the race. However, on Wednesday, Biden had to compete for attention with three other top-tier candidates -- Warren, Sanders and Buttigieg -- but flubbed when he erroneously stated in front of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., that he had the support of the "only" black woman elected to the Senate.

And in a moment that raised eyebrows, Biden also said it's important to "keep punching at" the problem of domestic violence, noting that it's "rarely" needed for men to hit women in self-defense. Click here for more on our top story. Also check out our analysis of the winners and losers in Wednesday's debate.

Sondland paradox: implicates top officials on Ukraine but says he 'never heard' quid pro quo from Trump
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, tied top officials to the “potential quid pro quo” involving U.S. military aid to Ukraine and investigations desired by President Trump during his highly anticipated impeachment hearing testimony on Wednesday. Still, Sondland testified he never heard the president himself mention any preconditions involving Ukraine.

Sondland claimed he kept Secretary of State Mike Pompeo aware of what was going on and said he specifically told Vice President Pence he "had concerns" the military aid to Ukraine "had become tied" to investigations. And he repeatedly lambasted Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s leading role in the administration’s Ukraine dealings. Aides to Pence and Pompeo denied Sondland's claims Wednesday. Giuliani pushed back on the ambassador's testimony, tweeting he “came into this” at the request of then-Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker. “Sondland is speculating based on VERY little contact," Giuliani tweeted. "I never met him and had very few calls with him, mostly with Volker."

One of the key witnesses in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry against Trump, Sondland was seen as a wild card going into Wednesday's hearing. He had given testimony behind closed doors that conflicted with others' and recently offered amended statements that contradicted his previous testimony. Taken in their entirety, Sondland's statements Wednesday are likely to fuel the narratives of both Democrats and Republicans. Click here for more.

The next witnesses: The public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump are scheduled to continue Thursday with testimony from Fiona Hill, a former top National Security Council expert on Russia, and David Holmes, a State Department official.

It is believed Hill played a central role in a July 10 meeting at the White House in which Sondland and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney allegedly told Ukrainian officials that Trump would meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- if Zelensky would agree to investigate the Ukraine business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. At that meeting, Hill said, former national security adviser John Bolton "immediately stiffened and ended the meeting."

In his closed-door testimony, Holmes told lawmakers he overheard a phone call between Trump and Sondland in which he heard the president ask the ambassador how the "investigation" was going.

Stay with Fox News for live team coverage of today's public hearing in the Trump impeachment inquiry on all platforms.

Sen. Lindsey Graham: DOJ watchdog's FISA report will be released Dec. 9
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on allegations of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant abuse during the 2016 election will be released on Dec. 9, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News on Wednesday. During an appearance on "Hannity," host Sean Hannity noted Horowitz will be coming before Graham's committee Dec. 11 to testify on the matter and went on to ask Graham not to allow a Friday night “document dump" that could muffle the coverage of the news.

In response, Graham smiled and nodded. "It'll be December 9th -- you'll get the report," the South Carolina lawmaker said. "That's locked." Click here for more.

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SOME PARTING WORDS

Tucker Carlson says the Trump impeachment saga is boring, hard to understand and never ending ... and America is ignoring it.

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