The Hill's Morning Report - New impeachment battle: Pompeo vs. House Dems




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Wednesday! 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!

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling Russian diplomat says election meddling wasn't discussed at White House, contradicting Trump MORE and House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE waged a war of words on Tuesday. 


Pompeo objected to demands from three House committees to State Department diplomats to give depositions this week. The secretary, who is traveling in Italy, wrote to House Democrats to say the demands were “an act of intimidation” and did not allow enough time for the department to prepare and for diplomats to get legal counsel. Pompeo tweeted that the department will officially respond to a subpoena on Friday.


The committee chairmen shot back that Pompeo was intimidating the department’s employees “in order to protect himself and the president.” They added that blocking State employees from giving depositions to Congress would “constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry” (The Hill). 


“In response, Congress may infer from this obstruction that any withheld documents and testimony would reveal information that corroborates the whistle-blower complaint,” wrote Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Trump rails against FBI, impeachment during Pennsylvania rally Democrats reach cusp of impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelBombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump request for Ukrainian 'favor' tops notable quote list Impeachment can't wait Adam Schiff's star rises with impeachment hearings MORE (D-Md.).


The back-and-forth was the latest sign that the administration and congressional Democrats will draw public relations battle lines over impeachment. Despite Pompeo’s suggestion that no one is prepared to appear, multiple former diplomats are expected to do so, headlined on Thursday by Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, who resigned his post last week after his name appeared in a whistleblower complaint sent to the intelligence community’s watchdog. 


The State Department’s inspector general has requested an “urgent” briefing this afternoon with staffers from House and Senate committees about documents obtained from the department’s Office of the Legal Adviser and involving Ukraine, according to ABC News.


Volker’s appearance will take place behind closed doors and it is unknown whether a transcript of the deposition will be released to the public (The Washington Post).


Meanwhile, as the State Department responds, Trump’s allies are growing increasingly uneasy about Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Giuliani: Trump asked me to brief Justice Department, GOP lawmakers on Ukraine trip The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE, the president’s personal lawyer, and his role at the heart of the Ukraine controversy, Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels report. 


Giuliani’s involvement has implicated the State Department, frustrated former administration officials and GOP lawmakers, and placed the former New York mayor, the president and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Giuliani: Trump asked me to brief Justice Department, GOP lawmakers on Ukraine trip Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling MORE in jeopardy. However, Giuliani, who now has his own lawyer, is defiant that his strategy is the right one.


“If they don’t like my strategy, I really don’t give a damn. They didn’t like my strategy when I was defending him against [former special counsel Robert] Mueller,” Giuliani told The Hill in an interview. “When it’s over, the same thing will happen. If I go into the White House when this is over, they’ll clap for me like they did last time.”


The Wall Street Journal: Tense relationship between Barr, Giuliani complicates Trump impeachment defense.


The New York Times: Impeachment rules say Senate must act, but its act might be a swift dismissal.


Elsewhere, Democrats are fuming at the president’s attempt to reveal and discredit the unidentified whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment probe. As Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report, Democrats, who are arranging to gain information or testimony from the intelligence official, say they will do everything possible to protect his or her identity. They have criticized Republicans and Trump, who publicly denigrates the whistleblower, arguing he wants to face his accusers.


However, Democrats are joined by at least one high-profile Republican defender of whistleblowers: Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyLighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal Bottom line Graham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a 'criminal conspiracy' MORE (R-Iowa). Grassley defended the official who filed the complaint in August and said the government employee is covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act, regardless of whether the official’s information was firsthand. 


“This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers’ requests for confidentiality,” Grassley said in a statement. “No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts.”


When it comes to public opinion and the unknowns lurking ahead in the impeachment inquiry, the GOP is staring at multiple warning signs. As Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo:


“President Trump is in new and dangerous territory this week, as some Republicans and administration veterans express unease about his actions, and polls show rising support for impeachment. Voices that are normally supportive of the president have fallen silent, partly out of fear that new revelations could be around the corner.”


The Hill: Impeachment threatens to drown out everything.


The Daily podcast, The New York Times: The impeachment dilemma for Republicans.





CONGRESS: A two-week legislative break and Washington’s preoccupation with the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry put many policy debates on hold as the end of the year fast approaches. A pending bipartisan push in the House to pass specific gun proposals in the wake of mass shootings this summer lost momentum, especially after Trump expressed his misgivings and heard private warnings from Republicans that his endorsement of any restrictions on guns would cost the party next year.


An analysis by The Hill found that a third of all House members represent districts where a mass shooting occurred this year, underscoring the geographic expanse of the killings and public awareness of the problem. About two-thirds of those shootings in 2019 took place in areas represented by Democrats. Many of those lawmakers represent cities ravaged by gun violence, while a third occurred in Republican-held districts, including suburbs and rural communities.


Cannabis & Congress: A bill to give the financial sector legal cover to provide services to cannabis businesses may be the rare overhaul with a chance to clear Congress. An unusual coalition of financial sector lobbyists, progressives, federal government skeptics and law enforcement officials back a bill that could be headed to Trump’s desk (The Hill).





POLITICS: Given the chance to show off its campaign strength, the president’s reelection team did just that on Tuesday evening by revealing an eye-popping $125 million raised in the third fundraising quarter, giving Trump as many resources as he likely needs for his reelection fight next year. 


The total is the joint amount raised by Trump’s 2020 reelection team and the Republican National Committee, with the sister operations sitting on $156 million in cash on hand combined — twice the amount held by former President Obama’s reelection team and the Democratic National Committee in the 2012 cycle (The Associated Press). 


The reelection team did not reveal how much each operation raised.


The president’s fundraising efforts received a major boost last week after House Democrats formally launched their impeachment inquiry, having raised $8.5 million in the two days immediately following the announcement. 


On the Democratic side, four 2020 candidates wasted no time and announced their third quarter fundraising figures on Tuesday shortly after the end of the quarter. The Biden campaign, however, offered no early indication of donor support from July through September. The former vice president, who officially entered the race in late April, reported contributions of $22 million in the second quarter.


Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Buttigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE (I-Vt.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Buttigieg says he doubts consulting work for insurer led to layoffs Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll MORE announced their third-quarter hauls of $25.3 million and $19.1 million, respectively, before the sun rose on the East Coast on Tuesday.


Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisPoll: Buttigieg slips into fourth place as Biden widens lead Yang qualifies for December Democratic debate The media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? MORE (D-Calif.), who has seen her polling numbers fall substantially in recent months, continued to keep pace with her fundraising from the first six months, taking in $11.6 million between July and September as she figures out if she can climb back into the top tier of the nomination race. Politico reported on Monday that Harris’s team is shaking up the upper management of her campaign (The Hill). 


Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Shooting in Jersey City leaves multiple people dead, including police officer Schumer to colleagues running for White House: Impeachment comes first MORE (D-N.J.) was the only other 2020 candidate to release a third-quarter total, posting a $6 million haul, his highest total in any quarter, after he warned in recent weeks that his campaign would be in peril if he didn’t reach certain fundraising benchmarks. 


Despite being able to qualify for all of the debates, Booker has been unable to breakthrough in the 2020 race and remains mired in the low-single digits (The Hill). 


> Keeping the faith: In an exclusive interview with The Hill’s Reid Wilson, Buttigieg opened up regarding his continued discussion about faith on the campaign trail, which he sees as a key way to speak to voters who have leaned in the GOP’s direction for cycles consistently.


Buttigieg, a practicing Episcopalian, says Democrats have a chance to win over religious voters who have formed the core of the Republican base in recent decades, if only his party would make the case to those voters that President Trump’s policies run counter to their own Christian faith.


“What I see right now is a lot of religious voters who are looking for options, because what's happening in Washington and especially in this White House is an affront to any number of religious traditions, including somewhat conservative ones,” Buttigieg said during a campaign swing through Nevada.


“There's just so many people in America who are sitting in the pews thinking, wait a minute, am I supposed to be on board with family separation, with policies that benefit the wealthiest only, with the behavior of a president like this one, and wondering who's going to speak to them and let them know that they have a choice and that they are welcome in the coalition we're trying to build,” he said. 


> Lewandowski a no-go?: Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiGeorgia ready for unpredictable Senate race Trump on Harris dropping out of race: 'We will miss you Kamala!' Key takeaways from first public impeachment hearing MORE, a former campaign manager for the president, indicated on Tuesday that he may not launch a Senate bid in New Hampshire after all, telling a local radio host that “it’s fair” to say he is reconsidering that option, citing the need to defend the president from impeachment and help secure his reelection. 


"As much as I think I would be a great fighter for the people of New Hampshire, and one U.S. senator can make a difference, it is my priority to make sure the president of United States is reelected," Lewandowski said. "That's a top priority” (Politico).


The Texas Tribune: Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsTexas GOP rep predicts heavy Democratic presence in state ahead of 2020 Bottom Line The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - GOP snags mic with impeachment protest MORE expected to announce a run for open Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresDemocrats push to end confidentiality for oil companies that don't add ethanol The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising The Hill's Morning Report — Trump broadens call for Biden probes MORE seat.


> Trump’s obsession: There is no more potent political issue in Trump’s mind than stopping migrants from entering the United States. In a detailed article drawn from a new book by reporters with The New York Times, the president is described as agitating in March to take a harder line on legal and illegal immigration with orders to officials and senior staff to shut the entire U.S. southern border. Trump shouted, “You are making me look like an idiot!” adding a profanity. “I ran on this. It’s my issue.” The president also suggested shooting migrants in the legs, stocking water trenches with alligators and electrifying the border wall, according to the book to be released Tuesday. … In a related interview, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan tells The Washington Post he maintains “operational” leadership at the department, but “what I don’t have control over is the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarized time.” He calls the situation “uncomfortable.”







INTERNATIONAL: Prime Minister Boris Johnson today plans to unveil his final Brexit offer to the European Union and make clear that if Brussels does not engage with the proposal, Britain will not negotiate and will depart on Oct. 31. With less than a month until Britain is due to leave the EU, the future of the country’s biggest trade and foreign policy shift in more than 40 years is uncertain. Britain could leave with a deal, without one or not exit at all (Reuters). According to The Telegraph, Johnson’s plan proposes to leave Northern Ireland in a special relationship with the EU until 2025 (Reuters).


North Korea: Pyongyang and the Trump administration agreed to resume working-level nuclear negotiations on Friday and Saturday following months of jockeying over international economic sanctions still in place as well as North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs (The Associated Press). Trump and Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnBolton rips Trump administration's move to block UN meeting on North Korea South Korea: North tested rocket engine The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE last met in June (Reuters). In advance of talks, North Korea today fired a ballistic missile, possibly from a submarine. If confirmed, it would be the most provocative test by North Korea since it started the talks with the United States in 2018 (Reuters and NKNews). The State Department called on North Korea to “refrain from provocations.”


Hong Kong: Hong Kong office workers and high-school students turned out under a sweltering midday sun today to denounce a policeman for shooting and wounding a teenager on Tuesday during the most violent clashes in nearly four months of unrest (Reuters). During clashes, police shot a teenage protester in the chest at close range, leaving the 18-year-old in stable condition today and sending more than 70 other people to the hospital. Twenty-five police were wounded (The Associated Press and AFP).

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Donald Trump's Fifth Avenue moment, by Maria Cardona, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


 After 70 years, Chinese Communism threatens the world more than ever, by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features 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.), to delve deep into how Democrats can keep the House in 2020; Jimmy Dore, host of “The Jimmy Dore Show,” to talk about Sanders’s need to push his authenticity in the 2020 race; and Neri Zilber, journalist and adjunct fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, for the latest on the Israeli election. Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.


The House anticipates its next roll call votes will take place on Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m. 


The Senate convenes on Friday at 4:30 p.m. for a pro forma session.


The president welcomes President Sauli Niinistö of Finland at noon for meetings, a working lunch and a joint news conference at 2 p.m. 


Vice President Pence is in Arizona today to headline a political fundraising reception for Republican Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGroup of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 MORE in Phoenix at 6:30 p.m.


Pompeo is traveling in Rome, where he will visit the Vatican with U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich for a religious freedom event. Pompeo will also venture to the Abruzzo region, where his ancestors originated, to meet with local leaders, according to the department. His itinerary through Thursday also includes stops in Montenegro, North Macedonia and Greece. 


Higher education: Harvard University does not discriminate against Asian Americans in its admissions process, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a lawsuit that reignited a national debate over affirmative action (The Associated Press). 


Opioid settlements: Johnson & Johnson late Tuesday announced a $20.4 million settlement involving two Ohio counties to resolve claims about the company’s role in creating the nation’s opioid crisis. The company would pay Cuyahoga and Summit counties $10 million, reimburse their legal fees, contribute to opioid recovery programs at non-profits and admit no liability (The Hill). 


Net neutrality: A federal appeals court on Tuesday let stand the repeal of net neutrality ordered by the Federal Communications Commission in 2017, but the court struck down a key provision that blocked states from implementing their own open internet rules (The Hill).


MLB playoffs: The Major League Baseball playoffs kicked off last night on Tuesday night in grand fashion as the Washington Nationals pulled off a come-from-behind, 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card playoff. After the Nats struggled much of the night, Juan Soto came through in the 8th inning with a bases loaded hit that squirted by the right fielder, clearing the bases and handing Washington the game and a ticket to the National League Divisional Series. The playoffs continue on Wednesday night with the American League Wild Card playoff between the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays. 


News Media: It’s been one year since the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a writer with The Washington Post who disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul (The Washington Post). PBS’s “Frontline” presented a new documentary, “The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” on Tuesday (clip is HERE). Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, during a CBS News interview broadcast on Sunday, again denied he ordered Khashoggi’s murder. The writer’s remains have not been recovered. 





And finally … Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterRemembering Paul Volcker, the man who tamed inflation Jimmy Carter released from hospital Booker notes 'anger' over more billionaires than black candidates in 2020 race MORE celebrated his 95th birthday quietly at home on Tuesday, setting the record for the longest-living former U.S. president while preparing with former first lady Rosalynn Carter, 92, to head to Nashville in a few days for their 35th annual participation in building homes with Habitat for Humanity. It’s now called the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. The 39th president, who lives in Plains, Ga., recovered from a broken hip in May and survived treatment for melanoma in 2015.


“There's nothing more devastating to a human being than to have one life to live on this Earth and not be able to expend that life or use that life in a productive way to serve oneself, to serve one's family, to serve one's community, and, indeed, to serve one's nation,” Carter said in 1980.