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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems look to repackage BBB into salvageable bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden clarifies his remarks on Russia Democrats hope to salvage Biden's agenda on Manchin's terms MORE (D-Calif.) announced on Tuesday a formal impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald TrumpJudge rules Alaska governor unlawfully fired lawyer who criticized Trump Giuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE following a rapid and seismic eruption by House and Senate Democrats seeking to defend the Constitution and challenge the president, despite political risks.
“The actions of the Trump presidency have revealed the dishonorable fact of the president’s betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in her remarks. “Therefore, today, I am announcing the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.”
Pelosi’s announcement came after months of infighting on the topic within the caucus, which split largely between those in safe districts and those who helped hand the House to the Democrats in November, with Pelosi siding with the latter group throughout. However, north of two dozen House Democrats have come out in support of an inquiry since news emerged that Trump allegedly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York woman arrested after allegedly spitting on Jewish children Former Sen. Donnelly confirmed as Vatican ambassador Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case MORE and his son Hunter Biden (The Hill).
Her announcement also came shortly after Rep. John LewisJohn LewisLawmaker arrested amid voting rights protest says he'd 'do it again' Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE (D-Ga.) announced his support for the impeachment effort, a sign that Pelosi was likely to follow shortly after.
Pelosi’s remarks came on the heels of a caucus meeting in the basement of the Capitol, where she announced the decision to wide support among members. Multiple lawmakers present described the meeting as a unifying event for a conference plagued for months by intraparty battles.
"The American public is going to get an education about this president,” said Rep. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyLobbying world Progressives cheer, moderates groan as Biden visit caps chaotic week House Democrats urge Pelosi to prioritize aid for gyms MORE (D-Ill.) “The most important part to me in this is a president who's never been held accountable to anything he's done wrong in his life. This is that first opportunity to be held accountable.”
In her prepared remarks, Pelosi said the six committee chairmen investigating the president will continue under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry, posing a new question: What’s different now? According to lawmakers, it’s a “big step forward,” as Quigley put it.
"If you want to put a name to it, call it 'Phase 2,’” said Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyDemocrats urge IRS to start with lowest-income Americans in clearing tax return backlog Biden to sign order to streamline government services to public Proposed Virginia maps put rising-star House Democrats at risk MORE (D-Va.) “I think it has an imprimatur … that we didn't have before."
Democratic lawmakers said there was no concrete timeline laid out for the impeachment inquiry, although Pelosi wants it completed expeditiously. Some said it could move ahead within weeks. Others said it might continue to next year’s election.
While nearly 200 House lawmakers support Pelosi’s move to open the inquiry, some remain skeptical and view it as a risky move. When asked by reporters whether he supports the push, Rep. Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderHouse passes bill to strengthen shipping supply chain Five takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill House passes giant social policy and climate measure MORE (D-Ore.), a Blue Dog Democrat, said he is “still trying to figure that out.” Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.), who represents a South Jersey district won by Trump in 2016, disagreed with Pelosi’s step forward, arguing that the country still isn’t behind impeachment.
According to a Monmouth University poll taken in August, 59 percent of voters were against impeaching Trump, with 35 percent in favor of doing so. However, the poll was taken well before the Ukraine information came to light and in the aftermath of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE’s testimony in late July.
Reuters poll: Interest in impeachment drops, 37 percent support inquiry, 47 percent against. 44 percent say they have heard little or nothing about the Ukraine story.
Opening an inquiry was as far as Pelosi would go on Tuesday. According to three House Democrats, she would not promise a floor vote on impeachment, a step some House Democrats have sought.
The swirl of anticipation and Pelosi’s eventual historic announcement electrified the Capitol on Tuesday as lawmakers and communicators prepared for a no-holds-barred political war.
Depending on next steps in the House, Trump could be ushered into a small club in American history. The House impeached former President Andrew Johnson and former President Clinton (both were acquitted by the Senate) and had been marching down that path with former President Nixon when he decided to resign.
Many lawmakers are preparing for Thursday, when the House and Senate Intelligence committees expect to hear from acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and the intelligence community’s inspector general. The State Department also faces a Thursday deadline to produce related documents and information tied to the president, his personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani led fake electors plot: CNN Giuliani associate sentenced to a year in prison in campaign finance case Tlaib blasts Biden judicial nominee whose firm sued environmental lawyer MORE and contacts with Ukraine.
Across the Capitol, the Senate passed a resolution by unanimous consent to demand the whistleblower’s complaint from the executive branch for examination by the intelligence committees. The White House is expected to release requested documents to Congress by the end of the week (The Hill).
The New York Times: White House seeks deal for whistleblower testimony to Congress and redacted release of whistleblower’s complaint.
Trump also announced he will send lawmakers today the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript” of his July 25 phone call with Zelensky, although it is likely to be a summary drawn from official notes (Reuters).
The Hill: Senate Democrats hesitant to go all-in on impeachment probe.
The Hill: Senate GOP vows to quash impeachment articles.
Niall Stanage: Democrats plunge into politics of impeachment.
Peter Baker: Trump makes clear he’s ready for a fight he has long anticipated.
Trump, who juggled a full schedule at the United Nations on Tuesday as the impeachment controversy gripped the Capitol, escalated both his protests of innocence and evolving assurances of cooperation with Congress.
The president protested that he had every right to discuss the issue of corruption with the president of Ukraine and had temporarily held back on sending $400 million in foreign assistance to Ukraine because “other countries should also pay because, frankly, it affects them more.”
Trump accused House Democrats of opening an impeachment inquiry as a political maneuver that he predicted would boomerang to his benefit in next year’s election. “Our country's doing the best it’s ever done and they're going to lose the election and they figured this is a thing to do,” he told reporters trailing after him in New York.
“It's the craziest thing anybody's seen,” he added.
Trump is scheduled to hold a news conference this afternoon at the conclusion of the U.N. General Assembly.
The president’s campaign manager issued a statement asserting that “Democrats can’t beat President Trump on his policies” so they are “trying to turn a Joe Biden scandal into a Trump problem.” Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE predicted the president’s supporters would instead mobilize to ensure Trump’s reelection.
Reuters: Explainer: What it would take for Congress to impeach Trump.
The Washington Post Fact-Checker: Trump’s claims about Biden, Ukraine and polls (four Pinocchios).
The New York Times: During calls with foreign leaders, few in the Trump administration have access to what is said.
The Washington Post: Giuliani pursued shadow Ukraine agenda as key foreign policy officials were sidelined.
The Hill: GOP campaign chief: Backing impeachment will cost House Dems their majority in 2020.
The New York Times: The List - Where House members stand on the impeachment inquiry.
LEADING THE DAY
POLITICS: As he keeps an eye on impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, Biden is repeating his message that he is a fighter and strong enough to take on the president next November as the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer.
The former vice president has been boosted in recent days by the recent whistleblower and Ukraine controversy, which served up a platform from which to take on the president directly. Speaking at a fundraiser Monday night, Biden signaled that he would not allow Trump to take shots at him without firing back.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m not going to take a punch and not punch back,” he said. The comments came two days after Biden said Trump is coming after him “because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum.”
While speaking to supporters via conference call in Maryland on Tuesday, Biden went so far as to debut a new nickname for Trump: “Former President Trump.”
> Wealth tax: While much of the political universe focused on impeachment, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFilibuster becomes new litmus test for Democrats Gallego says he's been approached about challenging Sinema Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (I-Vt.) released a new proposal on Tuesday to enact a wealth tax on the richest Americans, one that would attempt to wipe out vast amounts of their fortunes.
“I don’t think that billionaires should exist,” Sanders told The New York Times in an interview. “This proposal does not eliminate billionaires, but it eliminates a lot of the wealth that billionaires have, and I think that’s exactly what we should be doing.”
With the announced plan, Sanders is wrapping himself in an idea announced months ago by Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Biden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Trump by the numbers: 2024 isn't simple MORE (D-Mass.), who proposed her own wealth tax to pay for myriad items, including universal childcare and the cancellation of student loan debt. However, Sanders’s plan goes far further than Warren’s. As The Times writes, “His wealth tax would apply to a larger number of households, impose a higher top rate and raise more money.”
> Can Warren win?: Trump World insiders see reasons to worry about Warren as she rises in the 2020 primary race and attracts massive crowds at campaign stops.
Jonathan Easley interviewed more than half a dozen current and former campaign or White House advisers, and those who view Warren as a formidable general election opponent described her as a “movement” candidate with crossover appeal between the left and center.
Additionally, they argue her populist streak fits the moment and view a general election campaign as a wildcard, believing Trump is likelier to win in a rematch against an establishment candidate, such as Biden. Still, most Trump insiders believe he’d prevail over either Biden or Warren, although more than 13 months stands between all parties and Election Day.
The Associated Press: Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMeet the Democrats' last best hope of preserving a House majority Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour MORE to make return on weekly SiriusXM radio show.
MORE FROM THE HILL: Senate Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a spending bill allocating $5 billion for Trump’s proposed border wall. Funding the president’s campaign commitment is a partisan hurdle that could lead to a partial government shutdown if not resolved. The funding controversy over barriers and wall (Trump promises 500 miles will be built at the southern border by the end of 2020) previously derailed other spending measures (The Hill).
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are trying to squeeze Republicans over funding for the wall. Democrats may force a second vote as soon as today, seeking to nix the president's emergency declaration at the southern border. That would require more than a dozen Republicans, including some in crucial swing states, to decide between supporting Trump or backing sought-after funding for military projects in lawmakers’ home states.
Politico: House GOP weighs easing term limits on committee chairs.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
INTERNATIONAL: The U.K. Parliament will resume its deliberations at 11:30 a.m. for emergency debates following the U.K. Supreme Court’s ruling that the government’s suspension of Parliament was illegal and void. The court’s ruling means the suspension initiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and approved by Queen Elizabeth II effectively did not happen. The deadline for the UK’s exit from the European Union remains Oct. 31, Johnson said (The Associated Press).
> Israel: Is the country headed for a shared, rotating system of leadership in the wake of an inconclusive second election this year? Another meeting today will be followed by a decision to be announced by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (The Associated Press).
> Iran: Trump on Tuesday at the United Nations denounced Iran’s “bloodlust” and called on other nations to join the United States in pressuring Iran following attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The president said there is a path to peace (Reuters). Iran President Hassan Rouhani told Fox News’s Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceWolf Blitzer will host an evening newscast on CNN's streaming service Audie Cornish hired by CNN, will host show and podcast on streaming service The five biggest media stories of 2021 MORE during a Tuesday interview from New York that Iran abided by the requirements of the 2015 international nuclear agreement that Trump abandoned “without a valid reason or cause.” Rouhani said “the most basic needed issue is trust, and Mr. Trump damaged the trust between the two countries. ...Trust must be restored, and the restoration of trust consists [of] taking away the pressure imposed upon the nation and the people of Iran.”
> Zimbabwe: More than 2 million residents of the capital city of Harare and its surrounding towns were without water on Tuesday after authorities shut down the main treatment plant as parts of Zimbabwe’s infrastructure and economy collapse. Officials in Harare have been unable to raise $2.7 million in foreign currency needed per month to import water treatment chemicals. Meanwhile, water levels in polluted reservoirs are dropping because of drought and officials worry about the outbreak of disease, especially cholera (The Associated Press).
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The growing threat to journalism around the world, by A.G. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times, op-ed from a Monday speech at Brown University. “Let me tell you a story I’ve never shared publicly before. Two years ago, we got a call from a United States government official warning us of the imminent arrest of a New York Times reporter based in Egypt named Declan Walsh. … The official believed the Trump administration intended to sit on the information and let the arrest be carried out. ...Unable to count on our own government to prevent the arrest or help free Declan if he were imprisoned, we turned to his native country, Ireland, for help. Within an hour, Irish diplomats traveled to his house and safely escorted him to the airport before Egyptian forces could detain him.” https://nyti.ms/2kHDctn
The New York Times is too important to not perform better, by Jeffrey McCall, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2mnof07
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Jane Goodall, a primatologist, to discuss the climate crisis; Morgan Chalfant, who covers the White House for The Hill; Trita Parsi, a professor at Georgetown University and founder of the National Iranian American Council, to react to Trump's U.N. speech on Tuesday; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, to talk about her United Automobile Workers picket line visit. Find Hill.TV programming at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m.
The House meets at 10 a.m. The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. on assault weapons used in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in August. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee at 10 a.m. questions Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Norman Sharpless about e-cigarettes and vaping products and the more than 500 reported cases of illnesses and deaths.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. The Judiciary Committee meets this morning to consider nominees, as well as a statutory change to give the Supreme Court marshal and police the authority to protect the chief justice of the United States, any associate justice “and other individuals in any location.”
The president is at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for a third day, where he will meet with Western Hemisphere leaders to talk about the situation in Venezuela, hold a bilateral discussion with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, sit down for the first time with Zelensky, and meet with President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador. Trump will conclude with a 4 p.m. press conference at the United Nations. The president will later turn his attention to a GOP fundraising dinner in New York City at 7:40 p.m. (The Hill).
Vice President Pence meets with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert WilkieRobert WilkieIt's clearer than ever VHA must remain the primary provider of veteran care Former VA secretaries propose National Warrior Call Day to raise military suicide awareness Biden's nominee for VA secretary isn't a veteran — does it matter? MORE at 3:45 p.m. in the West Wing.
Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPence to deliver keynote at fundraising banquet for South Carolina-based pregnancy center Russia suggests military deployments to Cuba, Venezuela an option The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Winter is here for Democrats MORE at 8:30 a.m. speaks at United Against Nuclear Iran’s 2019 Iran Summit in New York City and follows the president’s U.N. schedule all day. At 7 p.m., the secretary hosts a “Transatlantic Dinner” at the Palace Hotel in New York City.
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➔ State Watch: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Tuesday declared a public health emergency and ordered a four-month ban on the sale of vaping products in the state, apparently the first such ban of its kind in the country. Michigan and New York previously took action to ban flavored vaping products (The Associated Press). … The Trump administration is threatening to withhold highway funding from California over the state’s air pollution — the latest move in a political showdown as California battles Washington to maintain tougher vehicle emissions standards (The Hill).
➔ Tech privacy: If you want your past to be deleted on the internet, it might be best to move to Europe. Google will not have to apply Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law worldwide. That means the tech giant has to remove links to sensitive personal data from its internet search results in Europe when required, but it does not have to scrap them from searches elsewhere in the world (Reuters).
➔ Nature: How much is a whale worth? According to a new economic analysis by the International Monetary Fund, the world’s whales perform an ecosystem service that may be worth millions of dollars per whale (National Geographic).
And finally … We want to import a French innovation that could get us around Washington on the Potomac River! SeaBubbles!
“Oblong and glassy, with the ability to glide across water without making a sound, the SeaBubble looks like a vehicle straight out of a James Bond film” (The Washington Post).
Akin to a large water bug gliding along the Seine in Paris, dwarfed beneath the stalwart tower imagined by Gustave Eiffel … the “flying taxi” is a new form of electric, urban transportation that could be an alternative to hailing a taxi, driving a car or hopping on an electric scooter. The silent craft can reach 20 miles per hour as it rises nearly 30 inches above the water, helped by wing-like structures to transport up to four passengers.