The Hill's 12:30 Report: Questions swirl around Trump whistleblower complaint

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Questions swirl around Trump whistleblower complaint
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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump defends talks with foreign leaders amid whistleblower complaint | What we know | Pelosi unveils drug pricing proposal | GOP cautious over Barr gun plan | Lawmakers hit funding roadblocks as deadline nears | New Dem rift over impeachment | How Warren's base is broadening | Biden rivals search for best attack | EPA to cite San Francisco for pollution from homeless people | Starbucks plans app-only store | Talk Like a Pirate Day



Ta-dah! Here is it:

Via The Hill's Peter Sullivan, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-Calif.) released her long-awaited plan to lower prescription drug prices.

The gist of the plan: It "would allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate the price of up to 250 drugs per year, and the lower prices would apply to people both with private insurance and those on Medicare." 

Chances of it becoming law: The plan is pretty left of center and would likely be difficult to pass in the GOP-controlled Senate. "Pelosi's office, though, hopes that if President Trump supports the plan it would put pressure on congressional Republicans to support the measure as well. Trump has railed against high drug prices, but his support of the Speaker's plan is far from assured." 

Read Pelosi's plan:


It's Thursday. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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Everyone, close your eyes and raise your hand if you have something you want to say:

Via The Washington Post's Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris, an official in the U.S. intelligence community filed a whistleblower complaint with the inspector general after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE reportedly promised to a foreign leader something troubling.

What we know about the interaction: "It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president's handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call." 

Read the initial Washington Post report:



The president defended his handling of calls with foreign leaders and called the story "fake news."

He tweeted: "Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem! Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!" Read his full tweets:



Via The New York Times, the intelligence community's inspector general Michael Atkinson declined to disclose any details of the complaint during a briefing on Capitol Hill.


Homeless violation:

Yesterday, President Trump said he expects the Environmental Protection Agency to give San Francisco a violation notice for the pollution stemming from the city's homeless population.

Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One: "There's tremendous pollution being put into the ocean because they're going through what's called the storm sewer that's for rainwater. And we have tremendous things that we don't have to discuss pouring into the ocean. You know there are needles, there are other things. ... It's a terrible situation -- that's in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. And we're going to be giving San Francisco, they're in total violation, we're going to be giving them a notice very soon."



The deadline is Oct. 1, you said??:

Via The Hill's Jordain Carney and Niv Elis, "Efforts to fund the government hit multiple stumbling blocks on Wednesday, inching lawmakers closer to a potential shutdown."

Do lawmakers think the government will shut down: "Most lawmakers don't think the standoff will reach the point of a government closure, but with just eight working days to come up with a plan to avoid the second shutdown of the year, they are running out of time."

From Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyGOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial GOP senator says it looks like House has 'weak hand' MORE (R-Ala.): "We're trying to find a path forward, a way to go. I think we're talking to each other, but I don't know if either one is listening."

What needs to happen to avoid a shutdown: "To keep the government running, Congress needs to either approve this fiscal year's spending bills by the end of the month or approve a stopgap funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), that would run through Nov. 21. The stopgap would give Republicans and Democrats time to work out differences on the larger measures." 



Via The New York Times's Nicholas Fandos, "This Picture Tells You Everything You Need to Know About Impeachment." The photo:


Things are just peachy over here. Nothing to see.:

House Democrats have been bickering on the strategy of impeachment as the rift between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMcConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial Pelosi: Trump's impeachment 'cannot be erased' House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate MORE (D-N.Y.) widens.

The event that highlighted the differences: Tuesday's chaotic hearing with President Trump's former campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiLewandowski decides against Senate bid Georgia ready for unpredictable Senate race Trump on Harris dropping out of race: 'We will miss you Kamala!' MORE. "While some lawmakers touted the hearing as a win for their impeachment efforts -- Lewandowski confirmed certain damning details of Mueller's report -- others voiced disappointment with the outcome." 


The official strategy: avoid eye contact and buy more time:

Via The Hill's Alexander Bolton and Jordain Carney, "Senate Republicans are treading cautiously on a background checks plan floated by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Pentagon to place new restrictions, monitoring on foreign military students Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' MORE that has been decried as a 'non-starter' by the National Rifle Association (NRA)."

From Barr: "I'm up here just kicking around some ideas, getting perspectives so I can be in a better position to advise the president. But the president has made no decision yet."



Getting on that Warren train:
Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.) is showing signs that her support base is broadening, especially with black voters, who have been slow to warm to her campaign.

Yeah, but: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE still dominates that voter bloc. 

For example: "A new poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found Warren in second place among black voters with 13 percent support, her best showing in any poll to date. That's up from 8 percent in the previous survey from July, although the 5-point swing is within the poll's margin of error." 

How this could play out:


Meanwhile -- Democrats are looking for a left lane to pass:

Via The Hill's Niall Stanage, former Vice President Joe Biden's Democratic rivals are looking for a way to pass him but are struggling so far.



Attack, attack: "Candidates who have attacked him vigorously, notably Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, have suffered a backlash." 

Highlight policy differences: "Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (I-Vt.) has focused on policy differences with the former vice president, advocating for his own more-sweeping approach over Biden's incrementalism on several topics, particularly Medicare for All.' "

Joe who?: "The challenger who has made the most headway against Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), has largely avoided direct attacks on him, preferring instead to remain above the fray."



Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE's (D-Calif.) support is fading at a particularly inopportune time.



Overheard from Kamala Harris -- OK then:



The House and Senate are in.

President Trump is in Washington, D.C. with no public events on his schedule.

Vice President Pence is in New York City for the day.

11:40 a.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at the ninth annual Delivering Alpha 2019 Conference in New York City.

Noon: Votes in the Senate. The Senate's full schedule today:

1:15 p.m. EDT: First votes in the House. The House's full schedule today:

3 p.m. EDT: Last votes in the House. 

3:20 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence participates in a Current Terrorism Threats Overview and Domain Awareness System Demonstration at the New York Police Department.

5:30 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks at a Trump campaign roundtable discussion.

7:40 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence gets back to Washington, D.C.



This morning: A confirmation hearing for Labor Secretary nominee Eugene Scalia. Livestream:



Today is National Butterscotch Pudding Day.


What a weird, though entertaining, tradition:

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Here's the back story: "The idea for the day was born in 1995 on a YMCA racquetball court in Albany, Oregon. John 'Ol' Chumbucket' Baur and his friend Mark 'Cap'n Slappy' Summers began throwing around insults, just like pirates. They selected September 19, simply because Summers had recently divorced, it was his ex-wife's birthday, and he figured 'the date was stuck in my head, and I wasn't going to do anything with it anymore,' he told CNN in 2009."  


Short Starbucks: Get the app or else:

Via CNN's Jordan Valinsky, Starbucks is building a store exclusively for mobile orders from the app. Where: Near Penn Station in New York City.  


And because you made it this far, here's a dog and a cat hanging out. You must watch until the very end -- and with the sound on. Omg.: