The Hill’s Morning Report – Giuliani subpoenaed as Trump rages against Schiff, whistleblower
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Jimmy Carter, the oldest living former president in U.S. history, turns 95 years old today.
House Democrats fired their latest salvo in their impeachment battle with President Trump on Monday, subpoenaing Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, for documents related to their investigation into Trump’s push for the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Three House Democratic committee chairmen called for Giuliani to comply with the subpoena by Oct. 15. The subpoena requires the former New York City mayor to hand over communications about Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, and efforts by Giuliani or his associates to pressure current or former Ukrainian officials to investigate matters regarding the Bidens or any other American.
“Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction or behest of the president or the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the president,” the three chairmen told Giuliani in a joint letter (The Hill).
Giuliani recently said in interviews that he saw the merits and downsides of cooperating with the investigation but would ultimately follow the advice of Trump as to whether he would do so.
“It would give me a chance to explain what was really happening,” he said. Giuliani has also put the spotlight on the State Department further into the Ukraine discussion, saying that he possesses texts from them asking for his involvement in the matter.
“I have 40 texts from the State Department asking me to do what I did,” Giuliani said (The Washington Post).
The subpoena came as the president raged against the continued push by House Democrats, with much of his ire directed at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Trump accused Schiff of committing treason for exaggerating parts of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump was likely referring to Schiff’s remarks at last week’s hearing with Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, where he paraphrased what he considered actions of wrongdoing by the president, including to “make up dirt on my political opponent” (The Hill).
Along with Schiff, Trump has continued to zero in on the whistleblower, whom the president has derided as a “#FakeWhistleblower.” He told reporters on Monday that he wants to know the identity of the whistleblower despite laws that protect their identity.
“We’re trying to find out about a whistleblower,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office a day after tweeting that he deserves to “meet my accuser” and asserting that whistleblower laws were changed before the report was submitted, which is inaccurate (The Hill).
The Hill: Five things to know as Ukraine fallout widens for Trump.
The Associated Press: What’s next as House committees launch impeachment probes.
The Washington Post: Trump amps up attacks on whistleblower as some Republicans call for more strategic response to impeachment.
Amid the president’s airing of grievances, multiple new reports emerged on a number of different investigative fronts. On Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on the July 25 phone call, which puts the State Department more directly in the impeachment line of fire.
Additionally, The New York Times reported shortly thereafter that Trump pressed Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to help Attorney General William Barr investigate the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The Department of Justice said in a statement on Monday night that the president contacted foreign countries at Barr’s request to ask them for assistance in an ongoing investigation into the origins of the probe (The Hill).
In Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed that the Senate would have “no choice” but to take up articles of impeachment if the House eventually passes them. However, he noted that how much time the Senate spends on the articles is another discussion.
“I would have no choice but to take it up. How long you’re on it is a whole different matter,” McConnell told CNBC.
Meanwhile, Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill are following his pugnacious lead and are casting doubt on the entire saga. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the No. 3 House Republican, said that the Ukraine call appears to her like “a political set up” (The Hill).
Others have been pushing back on the whistleblower’s account and have attacked the individual’s credibility.
“It doesn’t come from a person with personal knowledge. It’s like I heard these people say this, and now I’m reporting it. I think that is pretty bizarre,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “Secondly, after a certain point, it doesn’t just allege facts, it really is kind of a dossier or political diatribe, so I think there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Having said that, we are in the process of talking to the director of National Intelligence and the inspector general” (The Hill).
With impeachment front and center in Congress now, some Democrats, especially those from more moderate states, are growing concerned that the inquiry and process could drag out and divert focus from the party, even though Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) remains intent on limiting the scope and time of the process. As Alexander Bolton reports, Democrats in the upper chamber are urging Pelosi and her colleagues to keep a “laser-like” focus on the Ukraine call and not drift into other areas.
Politico: Trump grievance machine reaps millions off impeachment.
LEADING THE DAY
CONGRESS: House Republicans saw two more of their members announce their planned retirements or imminent resignations on Monday as the party continues to see a shake-up in its ranks ahead of what is expected to be a tenuous 2020 cycle for the party.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, announced Monday his retirement from Congress at the end of his term. The announcement from Thornberry, a well-respected House GOP member, came only a week after telling The Hill that he did not intend to leave the chamber.
However, Thornberry is term-limited atop the committee, an issue that has plagued House Republicans the past two cycles. Politico reported last week that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) floated the possibility of changing the term limit rule for committee chairmen and ranking members during a meeting with GOP leadership last week.
While some of the Texas seats are in reach for Democrats in 2020, the 13th Congressional District is considered a safe GOP seat. Trump pulled 80 percent from the district in his 2016 win, while Thornberry won reelection in 2018 with 81 percent (The Hill).
On the other side of the ball, Rep. Chris Collins’s (R-N.Y.) resignation from Congress is expected to be official today after he pled guilty to insider trading charges in federal court.
The resignation of Collins, who was one of the first GOP members to endorse Trump in 2016, allows the House GOP to breathe a sigh of relief, as his ruby red district is less likely to remain competitive with him out of the picture and off the ballot.
“I’m glad to see this resolved. The seat should now be off the competitive list as it is Trump territory,” said one New York Republican closely watching Collins’s case. “This saves us a lot of money and resources which can now go elsewhere in the country to further the cause” (The Hill).
Including Thornberry and Collins, 20 House Republicans will have left office or announced their intention to leave office at the end of the cycle.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
POLITICS: Presidential candidates scrambled until just before midnight Monday to close out the third quarter of the Federal Election Commission fundraising year with as large a haul as possible. Candidates have until Oct. 15 to officially report their war chest totals (if they don’t reveal them beforehand). With just 125 days until the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, presidential candidates are running out of time to raise sufficient resources to chase their top-tier rivals.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced early Tuesday that he raised $25.3 million in the third quarter from 1.4 million donations, and $61.5 million overall during the cycle. The campaign’s average donation is $19.
Sanders made his announcement only minutes after South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg revealed his own total. Buttigieg posted $19.1 million for the past three months, a solid follow-up after he raised nearly $25 million in the second quarter. In total, Buttigieg has raised more than $51 million this cycle and has attracted more than 580,000 individual donors, including 182,000 new donors in the third quarter. The average donation in the third quarter was roughly $32.
The total “positions us solidly as one of the top three fundraisers in this race,” said campaign manager Mike Schmuhl in a memo. “We will have the resources to go the full distance, and to win, the 2020 nominating contests.”
Neither campaign revealed how much they retained in cash on hand.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced on Monday his campaign hit his down-to-the-wire goal of raising at least $1.7 million, which he said will allow him to remain in the presidential contest. Booker’s campaign manager said the contributions would go toward ballot access and hiring staff, among other needs. The senator raised $4.5 million during the second quarter, but spent nearly $1 million more than that (The Associated Press).
Trump’s team worked last week, through the weekend and on Monday to turn impeachment and the president’s assaults on Democrats into prominent themes in fundraising entreaties to supporters online. By Monday afternoon, the emails from Trump claimed his campaign was $243,250 short of a $3 million goal it outlined on Sunday. Trump and the RNC previously reported pulling in more than $210 million since the start of 2019, more than his Democratic rivals combined (The Associated Press).
Politico reports how successful and prepared Trump’s campaign has been for months to capitalize on impeachment in its fundraising. Tara McGowan, a Democratic digital strategist who worked for a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC in 2016, marveled at Trump’s “ability to very quickly define any event or issue on his terms and energize his base.” The online advertising “provides him with a huge competitive advantage over Democrats [and] enables Trump to set the narrative on his terms.’” Trump’s campaign and the RNC reported raising more than $13 million last week in the three days following the launch of the House impeachment inquiry.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) said he will apply to receive public financing for his struggling presidential campaign. In a memo Monday, Bullock’s campaign manager cast the decision to seek out public funds for his presidential bid as a show of the governor’s commitment to campaign finance reform, an issue that he has put at the center of his campaign since announcing his candidacy in May. Bullock has lagged in polls and was shut out of the last Democratic primary debate under Democratic National Committee rules that gauge fundraising and early public support (The Hill).
Joe Biden’s campaign scaled back investment in digital ads before the quarterly deadline. While the campaign’s spending on traditional television ads in Iowa picked up. It is considered rare in modern presidential races to pull back from online campaign advertising, even among nationally known candidates with access to voter lists, advantages Biden can claim. One explanation, which was dismissed by Biden’s team, is that the campaign is seeing weak digital results, including from its ads on Facebook and Google. The former vice president enjoys stronger support among older voters, which may help explain his campaign’s targeted digital spending on certain swaths of the electorate (The New York Times).
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Tired of political corruption? Demand an ‘Integrity New Deal,’ by Kevin R. Brock, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2mpjNhH
The policy-driven presidential campaign could be drowned out by impeachment, by Brad Bannon, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2nYD3D0
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features James Risen, senior national security correspondent for The Intercept, who talks about his findings years ago after reporting on the Bidens and Ukraine; freelance journalist Zaid Jilani, who unpacks whether Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is a conventional or anti-establishment White House contender; Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), on China and Iran; and Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi, on his new book, “Hate Inc.” Find Hill.TV programming at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m.
The House will meet at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session while in recess for two weeks. House committees continue to work on the Trump impeachment inquiry during the fall break. The next roll call votes are expected on Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m.
The Senate convenes at noon for a pro forma session.
The president will meet with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at 4 p.m.
➔ Drug safety: CVS on Monday became the latest retailer to pull Zantac and its generic heartburn tablets from store shelves following a government warning to consumers in early September about a dangerous contaminant in prescription and over-the-counter versions. CVS said customers who bought Zantac products can return them for a refund (The Associated Press).
➔ State Watch: California defied the NCAA on Monday and encouraged college athletes to hire agents and make money from endorsement deals with sneaker companies, soft drink makers and other sponsors. The first-in-the-nation law, signed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and set to take effect in 2023, could upend U.S. amateur sports and trigger a legal challenge (The Associated Press).
➔ Business: Reality set in with tech initial public offerings. Uber, Lyft and the home-exercise bike maker Peloton dropped below their debut prices, and WeWork pulled its planned offering on Monday. Experts talk about a “reset” and Wall Street skepticism. Irrational exuberance met the realities of earnings and gross margins (The New York Times DealBook).
➔ Breaking in the leather: “It is the quirkiest craft in baseball. … Some players run over their gloves with trucks; others place balls inside the pocket and wrap the glove tight with a rope, belt or rubber bands. Buckets of water, steamers and hydrocollators are employed; so are creams, oils and conditioners. Mallets are in vogue; pitching machines can also be used to pummel the leather. Some gloves now come with tags warning against placing them in microwave ovens, but even major leaguers still use them to soften their leather.” Read more in The New York Times.
And finally … There’s always someplace in the United States that experiences the first blast of winter weather as summer gives way to autumn. Over the weekend and on Monday, that place was the Northern Rockies. They called it “preseason snow” because it’s unusual to see blizzard-like conditions in September. Gov. Bullock declared an emergency and at least eight school districts remained closed on Monday. In parts of Montana, four feet of snow sent vehicles skidding on interstates, felled heavy tree limbs and interrupted power (The Weather Channel).