On the Impeachment Beat, but in Your Inbox

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As the author of The Times’s daily impeachment briefing newsletter, I have the task of organizing a complicated process that is not very familiar to most people. But the way I approach it is simple: Think of each day’s news narrowly, like an episode of television in a monthslong series, taking the threads that a reader with only a few minutes — and without the time during the day to follow the news — can use as new puzzle pieces for the larger story.

Impeachment, like few other stories, is a beat in and of itself. Its relentless pace dictates my day. I start late in the morning, checking in with the daily Washington bureau story list and my colleagues covering the story to see what news might break by the evening, when every edition of the newsletter goes out. Many mornings I have woken up to tune into a hearing, by scanning coverage from other organizations, or by reading books about impeachment.

The briefing, which goes to millions of people, is a daily care package of Washington bureau journalism, a survey of the many desks — the Congress, White House, national security and investigative teams — that cover some part of a sprawling story that reaches across the American government. On the same day, I could be interviewing one colleague who covers the State Department and another who covers the C.I.A. The impeachment-related meetings in my office are often so full that they require colleagues to sit on the floor.

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The story has had less to do with the president than one would think. It has been rich with characters, whether those directly involved in the inquiry or the tertiary figures like Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Many of the witnesses were Washington insiders readers don’t typically hear from, several of them immigrants with inspiring stories. The newsletter had to reveal them as people while also explaining the news they were making.

In around 1,000 words, we look for ways to partition the news into miniature features that expand on an idea we present in one of the top news bullets. I’ve found that the best way to communicate is through a question-and-answer session with a colleague, using the structure of conversation to highlight a point in a way that a traditional article might not avail me.

That means that I often wander the office juggling my laptop, interrupting my colleagues at their desks as they’re filing stories on tight deadlines, or racing through the hallways of the Capitol or to the airport after covering a member of Congress’s impeachment town hall.

The investigative portion of impeachment featured a dramatic mix of short bursts of activity — calls on a Kyiv restaurant patio and in the White House residence, text messages between diplomats — and long days of testimony and committee argument. It was heavy on documents. The newsletter was an ideal format for intermingling those elements.

Impeachment news on some days has been almost too cinematic to be true: an elaborate screenwriter’s ruse that we have all fallen prey to, I would think to myself.

One day, I devoted most of the briefing to a West Wing scene involving a chase, taken from a transcript of testimony by Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former adviser on Russia and Europe. I incorporated analysis from a seven-person cast of colleagues, like an annotated script.

One story I remember most: when William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Kyiv, testified privately to House investigators about a trip to the front line of Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

“The commander thanked us for security assistance, but I was aware that this assistance was on hold, which made me uncomfortable,” he said in his testimony.

Mr. Taylor said he could see the Russian-backed forces on the other side of a damaged bridge, and that more Ukrainians would die without American help. It was a reminder that the impeachment story has been about a lot more than subpoenas.

And there is one image that sticks. The morning after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified publicly about the risks of speaking out against the president, who had disparaged him, he returned to his job on the National Security Council. A reporter captured him posing for a selfie outside the White House, probably in disbelief at returning to ordinary work life.

Before taking the photo, Colonel Vindman noticed a video camera, a coy and knowing expression on his face. After taking the photo, he walked up a steep flight of stairs, turned around and took in the expanse.

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