The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Association of Manufacturers - Trump, Congress draw battle lines on impeachment

Presented by National Association of Manufacturers

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Thursday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the up-early co-creators. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!



House Democrats on Wednesday got their first look at a whistleblower complaint detailing President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE’s actions and a summary of the president’s conversation in July with Ukraine’s president and said a day-old impeachment inquiry raised many more questions.

 

Trump on Wednesday denied any “quid pro quo” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he interjected a request for “a favor” involving information about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and mentioned political rival Joe BidenJoe BidenBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Obama cautions 2020 hopefuls against going too far left MORE. The president rejected the House impeachment probe as a “tremendous hoax” and described it as a left-wing effort to avenge the Democratic Party’s loss in 2016.

 

Zelensky, who met with Trump at the United Nations on Wednesday, told reporters the president did not push him to investigate Biden. The transcript shows Zelensky assenting to Trump’s requests in July.  “I think you read everything,” he said. “I think you read [the] text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections, elections of U.S.A. … Nobody pushed me.”

 

House and Senate Intelligence committee members, who made their way to classified rooms in the Capitol to read the complaint by a still-unidentified whistleblower, expect today to question acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and the intelligence community’s inspector general about their handling of the intelligence official’s information following its filing last month.

 

The document was declassified late on Wednesday after members of the House Intelligence Committee reviewed its contents. Public release or leaks are anticipated this morning (The Hill). 

 

After reading the complaint, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action MORE (D-N.Y.) told  reporters that he was, “even more worried about what happened than when I read the memorandum of the conversation. There are so many facts that have to be examined. It’s very troubling” (The Hill).

 

In the edited notes presented as a five-page transcript of the phone call with Zelensky, Trump asked the new  president to contact Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrGOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse DOJ watchdog won't let witnesses submit written feedback on investigation into Russia probe: report Bill Clinton advises Trump to ignore impeachment: 'You got hired to do a job' MORE and Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiNew witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Giuliani associate said he was on a 'secret mission' for Trump: report Pelosi: Trump tweets on Yovanovitch show his 'insecurity as an imposter' MORE, one of his lawyers, to discuss information he sought about the former vice president’s activities in Ukraine, and about Hunter Biden, who had been a board member with a Ukrainian energy company at the time his father served in the Obama administration.

 

There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump told Zelensky, according to the notes of the call.

 

“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me,” Trump added (The Hill).

 

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the president, at the time of the call, had “not spoken with [Barr] about having Ukraine investigate anything related to former Vice President Biden or his son,” nor had the attorney general discussed Ukraine with Giuliani (The Washington Post).

 

The president’s advisers invited a select group of House and Senate GOP lawmakers to the White House Wednesday morning to preview the transcript before its release, and Trump called in from New York. Later, the White House mistakenly distributed its written talking points for Republicans to the offices of Democratic lawmakers, and the spin quickly emerged on Twitter.

 

Trump’s decision to release the Zelensky transcript to Congress, which he said was necessary because “I was getting such fake news, and I just thought it would be better,” astonished Democratic lawmakers, worried those who safeguard such conversations between world leaders, and prompted some uncomfortable shrugs from Republican members. 

 

The Washington Post reported that Maguire threatened to resign this summer when he was told by higher-ups in August not to forward the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress. He denied the report on Wednesday, and Trump read Maguire’s statement aloud to reporters during a United Nations event that at times sounded like a subdued version of Trump’s customary boasts about the economy and his election victory, along with criticisms of Democrats and news outlets.

 

 “There was no quid pro quo, but there was with Biden and with these senators,” the president said, reading from notes to name Democratic senators he claimed had “threatened” Ukraine to curb corruption. 

 

Pelosi told a group of lawmakers the focus of the impeachment inquiry should remain on matters related to Ukraine. Some House Democrats want the probe to encompass a broader range of issues, which they also believe to be impeachable offenses supported by evidence (The Washington Post). 

 

The Hill: Democrats debate scope of Trump impeachment inquiry.

 

The Hill: Whip List - Majority of House members now back the impeachment inquiry.

 

Trump said he asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHarris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires McCarthy says views on impeachment won't change even if Taylor's testimony is confirmed House Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay MORE (R-Calif.) to press for “transparency,” not only to release the whistleblower’s complaint but also to seek disclosures “from Joe Biden and his son Hunter, on the millions of dollars that have been quickly and easily taken out of Ukraine and China.”

 

The president told reporters he was somewhat taken aback that his dealings with Ukraine cascaded into an impeachment battle after the two-year Russia probe conducted by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE ended. “I thought we won. I thought it was dead,” Trump said.

 

The president volunteered that he’s prepared to release to Congress additional transcripts, including one of an earlier conversation with Zelensky and even Vice President Pence’s conversations with Ukrainian leaders to demonstrate he and his administration did nothing wrong.

 

“They were all perfect,” Trump said.

 

The New York Times: Whistleblower is said to allege concerns about the White House handling of the Ukraine call; intelligence community watchdog interviewed witnesses.

 

As Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report, House and Senate centrist Democrats are embarked on a significant political gamble before next year’s election. After months of hand-wringing, disagreements and second-guessing, Democrats remain nervous about impeachment, which polls this week show is unpopular with most Americans. Republicans who recall their own party’s woes after trying and failing to remove former President Clinton from office, believe Democrats could lose their House majority.

 

Senators from both parties said they expect the impeachment probe to further polarize the electorate. The deep partisan fractures could spell trouble for key Republicans running in states that went heavily for Democrats in 2018 and supported Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhat are Democrats going to do once Donald Trump leaves office? Trump to hold campaign rally in Florida later this month Krystal Ball accuses Democrats of having 'zero moral authority' amid impeachment inquiry MORE in 2016, such as Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: Study This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' MORE (R-Colo.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-Maine), Alexander Bolton reports

 

However, the inquiry could mobilize Trump voters and benefit candidates in states where the president maintains high levels of support, including Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' Trump rules out total rollback of Chinese tariffs MORE (R-N.C.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Turkish media paints White House visit as Erdoğan triumph over Trump Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators at White House MORE (R-Iowa), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' Advocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths MORE (R-Ariz.), along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Trump asks Supreme Court to block Dem subpoena for financial records | Kudlow 'very optimistic' for new NAFTA deal | House passes Ex-Im Bank bill opposed by Trump, McConnell Top House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments Warren promises gradual move toward 'Medicare for All' in first 100 days MORE (R-Ky.), who would pull the strings on the Senate operation if a vote ever takes place in the House.

 

The Washington Post: Cracks emerge among Senate Republicans over Trump’s request to Zelensky to investigate Biden.

 

The New York Times: Trump meets with Ukraine’s president and denies pressuring him.

 

The Hill: GOP senators talk of launching a Biden probe.

 

The Hill: Senate Democrats ask the Pentagon to investigate delays in delivery of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. 

 

The Hill: Acting intel chief Maguire inherited plenty of challenges.

 

The Associated Press and The New York Times: Attorney General Barr again in the political fray.

 

NBC News: Kurt Volker, an unpaid, part-time U.S. special envoy to Ukraine played a role in outreach to Giuliani, according to the former New York mayor and the State Department.

 

Paul Kane: “The speaker speaks for us now”: How reluctant freshman Democrats endorsed impeachment of Trump.

 

 

 





LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS:  Presidential candidate former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) celebrates his 47th birthday on the campaign trail.

 

> Impeachment addendum: Biden’s placement at the center of the president’s impeachment inquiry poses serious risks for his presidential campaign as he continues to try to maintain his frontrunner status along with the surging Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states Obama cautions 2020 hopefuls against going too far left What are Democrats going to do once Donald Trump leaves office? MORE (D-Mass.). 

 

As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes report, despite his recent slip in the polls, Biden finds himself in direct conflict with Trump, a position he has relished in the past and one allies say puts him in a great spot, elevating him above the other challengers for the nomination and putting his fighting spirit on display. 

 

However, as the impeachment situation unfolds, it ensures that conservatives will take shot after shot and will keep his son’s business dealings front and center in the media. While there is no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Joe or Hunter Biden, Trump’s team is eager to press on with its own investigations and will be muddying the waters where they can in hopes of turning the issue into an anchor on his campaign. 

 

Allies of the former vice president have been aggressive in parrying the story away, taking shots at reporters they believe have given too much credence to allegations of impropriety. But some Democrats worry Biden’s issue could turn into the 2020 version of Clinton’s emails at a key moment in the campaign when he’s never seemed so vulnerable.

 

The New York Times: Biden’s strategy for managing the Ukraine story.

 

The Associated Press: GOP on political tightrope as impeachment talk heats up.

 

 

 

 

> Polling: With impeachment in full view, Warren has eclipsed Biden in the 2020 Democratic race, according to a new poll released on Wednesday.

 

A new national poll by Quinnipiac University shows Warren leading Biden narrowly, 27 percent to 25 percent, another sign that the race has turned into a two-horse contest. 

 

“After trailing Biden by double digits since March in the race for the Democratic nomination, Warren catches Biden,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement. “We now have a race with two candidates at the top of the field, and they’re leaving the rest of the pack behind.”

 

The poll comes after a week showing Warren ahead of the former vice president in both Iowa and New Hampshire by narrow margins (Politico). 

 

In addition to her lead on Biden in the key early states, Warren also holds a substantial lead in California. The Massachusetts senator leads by 9 points over Biden, but perhaps more notably, she leads by more than 20 points over Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump to hold campaign rally in Florida later this month Overnight Health Care: Warren promises gradual move to 'Medicare for All' | Rivals dismiss Warren plan for first 100 days | White House unveils rules on disclosing hospital prices | Planned Parenthood wins case against anti-abortion group Harris introduces bill to prevent California wildfires MORE (D-Calif.), the home state lawmaker who has seen her poll numbers tank over the past two months. 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CONGRESS: The Senate voted on Wednesday to end Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S. southern border to build a wall with reprogrammed federal funds, a prominent challenge to the president during a politically fraught week, and one that teed up a veto showdown.

 

Senators voted 54-41 for a resolution to end Trump’s action, which he used as a way to shift billions of dollars from military appropriations to funding for wall construction. Eleven Republican senators voted to end the president’s declaration.

Under the National Emergencies Act, the resolution on Wednesday needed only a simple majority to clear the Senate, making it likely to be approved. And Democrats can bring it up every six months, much to Republicans’ chagrin. Democrats urged GOP senators to support the resolution but were realistic about the chances of picking up more Republican votes. Republicans were able to keep the majority below 67, the amount needed to override a veto.

 

“Let me be clear: The question before us is not whether to support or oppose the wall, or to support or oppose the President. Rather, it is: Do we want the executive branch — now or in the future — to hold a power that the Founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?” said Collins, a co-sponsor of the resolution and a senator facing voters next year, said recently.

 

> Trade and the Senate: The preoccupation in the House with impeachment this fall promises to swamp other legislative issues, including Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The signed deal, nicknamed NAFTA 2.0, if ratified by Congress, would hand the president and congressional Republicans a policy win. Pence will again be on the road this week to try to urge its adoption. GOP senators, however, think the narrow opening for the hemispheric trade pact has slammed shut, at least before the presidential election. Trump, during a news conference on Wednesday, offered no assurances of its ratification. “That’s going to be a very interesting question,” he said (The Hill). 



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Pelosi's impeachment conundrum, by Albert Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2nitC0R 

 

Trump's Ukraine transcript: Unwise words but no proof of a crime, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2mGl6Zj 



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardSaagar Enjeti: Yang's plan to regulate big tech misses the mark The Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Panel devolves over new Russian accusation about Tulsi MORE (D-Hawaii); news analysis from Rep. Darin LaHoodDarin McKay LaHoodHouse Republican: 'It's a mistake to withdraw from NAFTA' Republican Congressman breaks with Trump and says the U.S. should not pull out of NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report - Bipartisan uproar over Trump's Syria move MORE (R-Ill.) and Rep. Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderHouse Democrat pushes back against concerns that impeachment inquiry could spark political backlash Dem Congressman discusses plan to keep the house blue The Hill's Morning Report - New impeachment battle: Pompeo vs. House Dems MORE (D-Ill.); and Tom LoBianco, author of “Piety & Power: Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceWhite House releases rough transcript of early Trump-Ukraine call minutes before impeachment hearing RNC to host winter meetings at Trump's Doral resort Two dead, at least four others hospitalized in Southern California high school shooting MORE and the Taking of the White House.” 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 Intelligence Committee meets at 9 a.m. to hear from Maguire about a whistleblower complaint involving the president. 

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The Senate Intelligence Committee meets at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. behind closed doors. The committee expects to question Maguire and Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson regarding the whistleblower complaint, officially filed in August and shared with Congress on Wednesday.

 

The president headlines a political fundraising breakfast in New York City at 10:40 a.m. He departs New York at 12:15 p.m. to return to Washington.

 

Pence travels to Indianapolis to tout the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement at 1:10 p.m. He is scheduled to remain in Indiana overnight.

 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony MORE hosts a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at 8:30 a.m. at the Palace Hotel in New York City. At 10 a.m., the secretary speaks at a New York event hosted by his department’s Energy Resources Governance Initiative. Pompeo will hold a press conference at 12:15 p.m. at the Palace Hotel.

 

The Hill hosts a “Future of Mobility Summit” from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington. The roster of speakers includes transportation experts; corporate leaders; state and local officials; and Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisNew hemp trade group presses lawmakers on immigration reform, regs Shimkus says he's reconsidering retirement Shimkus says he's been asked to reconsider retirement MORE (R-Ill.), ranking member of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneModerate Democratic lawmakers back privacy bill favored by businesses The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Association of Manufacturers - Trump, Congress draw battle lines on impeachment Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game MORE (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the House Women’s High-Tech Coalition. From the administration: Paul Dabbar, under secretary for science at the Department of Energy, and Finch Fulton, Transportation Department assistant secretary for policy. Information is HERE.

 

The Library of Congress has a calendar of Hispanic Heritage Month events, which wrap up on Oct. 15. Information about author readings, mural making and exhibits HERE.



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ELSEWHERE

Israel: President Reuven Rivlin of Israel tapped Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE to form the country’s next government, setting off weeks of political jockeying as Netanyahu tries to hold onto power. Rivlin’s announcement came as Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz failed to make progress to form a broad unity government after last week’s inconclusive election. Rivlin met again on Wednesday with Gantz and Netanyahu to try to pressure them into reaching a power-sharing pact by an Oct. 24 deadline (The Wall Street Journal).

 

E-cigarettes: Juul Labs, the dominant e-cigarette company and target of public and regulatory criticism, said on Wednesday it will not fight the Trump administration’s proposal to ban flavored vaping products. Chief executive Kevin Burns stepped down and will be replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, an executive from tobacco company Altria, which owns a 35 percent stake in Juul. The company said it would end one of its campaigns, “Make the Switch,” which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criticized as an effort to portray its e-cigarettes as safer than traditional cigarettes (The New York Times). … The FDA chief told House lawmakers on Wednesday his agency “should have acted sooner” to try to halt the spread of the trend. Teen vaping rates doubled in the past two years, according to recent preliminary federal data, and 25 percent of U.S. high school students reported they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days (The Hill). … The nationwide death toll attributed to vaping rose to 11 people on Wednesday (CNN).

 

Genius grants: The recipients of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowships, who each year appear shocked when $625,000 with no strings attached falls out of the sky and into their bank accounts, this year include visual artist Jeffrey Gibson, poet and novelist Ocean Vuong, landscape and public artist Walter Hood, choreographer Sarah Michelson, composer and jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson, theater director Annie Dorsen, and writer Valeria Luiselli (The Washington Post). A complete list of 2019 awardees, including lawyers, academics and scientists, is HERE.  



THE CLOSER

And finally …  It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the 25th anniversary of “Friends,” we’re eager for some smart guesses about the award-winning NBC sitcom that ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.

 

Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will be showered with newsletter fame on Friday.

 

The show made the most of comic guest performances over the years. Which of these actors did NOT make an appearance on “Friends”?

 

  1.   Sean Penn
  2.   George Clooney
  3.   David Bowie
  4.   Susan Sarandon

 

What was the occupation of “Friends” character Phoebe Buffay, played for all 236 episodes by Lisa Kudrow?

 

  1.   Newsstand clerk
  2.   Coffee shop waitress
  3.   Masseuse and Central Perk musician
  4.   Cat sitter

 

Character Ross Geller was known for his multiple marriages throughout the series. Who was his first wife? 

 

  1.   Susan Bunch
  2.   Carol Willick
  3.   Rachel Greene
  4.   Emily Waltham 

 

How many sisters did character Joey Tribbiani have? 

 

  1.   1
  2.   3
  3.   5
  4.   7

 

Phoebe gave birth to triplets on “Friends.” After which character did Phoebe name one of the babies? 

 

  1.   Monica Geller
  2.   Rachel Greene
  3.   Joey Tribbiani
  4.   Chandler Bing