The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's impeachment woes mount

 

 

 

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE was dealt another blow on Sunday when a second whistleblower announced plans to call into question his dealings with the Ukrainians, potentially fortifying the House Democrats’ impeachment probe.

 

According to ABC News, the second whistleblower is an intelligence official who has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined by the original whistleblower and is being represented by lawyer Mark Zaid. Zaid’s team is also defending the individual who filed the original complaint in August, which was declassified and publicly released.

 

Over the past week, Trump’s team and allies have worked to try to discredit the first whistleblower, arguing the individual is a “deep state” partisan.

 

As the inquiry climbs to the highest levels of government, some Republican lawmakers have distanced themselves from Trump, while others have publicly defended his actions or waved off arguments that Trump’s remarks calling on China and Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSupport for impeachment inches up in poll Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Democrats say they have game changer on impeachment MORE and his son Hunter Biden were impeachable offenses. 

 

When pressed in his home state, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHouse passes bill taking aim at anonymous shell companies Turkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours MORE (R-Fla.) said he didn’t believe Trump was serious when he asked China to get involved and was simply egging on the media. Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTrump 'lynching' comparison draws backlash from lawmakers Trump urges GOP to fight for him Trump embarks on Twitter spree amid impeachment inquiry, Syria outrage MORE (R-Ohio), former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, went a step further while appearing on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

 

"You really think he was serious about thinking that China is going to investigate the Biden family?” Jordan asked host George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosWhite House officials work to tamp down controversies after a tumultuous week Democratic senator: Pompeo 'lives in a parallel alternate universe' on Syria Pompeo on Mulvaney admission of quid pro quo: 'I never saw that in the decisionmaking process' MORE. “Remember, this is the president who's been tougher on China than any other president." 

 

The remarks from all corners came after the president admitted to reporters on Friday that he is likely to be impeached in the House even though he is expected to be acquitted after any Senate trial, given the GOP majority and need for 67 votes to convict (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Key Republicans split with Trump on Biden investigation push.

 

The Washington Post: “Out on a limb”: Inside the Republican reckoning over Trump’s possible impeachment.

 

Axios: Trump's private concerns of an impeachment legacy.

 

The Associated Press: Trump allies sought changes at Ukraine utility.

 

The Hill: House Democrat: Impeachment inquiry “likely to stay narrowly focused.”

 

The Hill: Trump's GOP challengers split on impeachment vote.

 

With the focus on the president, Republicans have sought to create new political boogeymen on the left as the impeachment push moves on. As Jordain Carney writes, with the party facing growing headaches, Republicans are trying to shift the focus to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe strange case of 'Dr. Trump' and 'Mr. Tweet' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump faces backlash for comparing impeachment to 'lynching' House Republican: Schiff 'should not be leading this whole inquiry' MORE (D-Calif.), the Bidens and the origins of the Russia probe.

 

Other Republicans have their eyes squarely on the impeachment process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Overnight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Partisan squabbles endanger congressional response to Trump's course on Syria MORE (R-Ky.) is perhaps the most important one.

 

In a social media campaign ad, McConnell said he will “block” any Democratic effort to oust Trump, using the blitz to raise funds for his reelection campaign. Speaking to supporters in the video, McConnell emphasized that the Senate GOP is the firewall to thwart any House effort to indict the president through the impeachment process for high crimes and misdemeanors (The Associated Press). 

 

"All of you know your Constitution," McConnell, who is up for reelection next year, says in the video. "The way that impeachment stops is with a Senate majority with me as majority leader."

 

Trump’s White House advisers are struggling to contain the fallout from the president’s invitations to foreign governments to investigate one of his political rivals, as Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write. The allegations, corroborations, witness testimony and  leaks considered damaging to Trump and his lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOvernight Defense: Trump's Syria envoy wasn't consulted on withdrawal | McConnell offers resolution urging Trump to rethink Syria | Diplomat says Ukraine aid was tied to political investigations Democrats say they have game changer on impeachment READ: Diplomat describes pressure put on Ukraine to open 'investigations' MORE snaked from the White House to the Cabinet, reaching the departments of State, Energy, and Justice and the CIA. 

 

The Hill: Pentagon distances itself from Ukraine controversy.

 

NBC News: Back home, battleground Democrats encounter support — but not hunger — for impeachment.

 

Reuters: Three diplomats are scheduled to testify in the impeachment inquiry this week.

 

The Hill: News from the Sunday shows.



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — ObamaCare premiums dropping for 2020 | Warren, Buttigieg shift stances on 'Medicare for All' | Drug companies spend big on lobbying Mellman: Trumping peace and prosperity Tlaib to join Sanders at campaign rally in Detroit MORE (I-Vt.) and his campaign face questions on multiple fronts after the senator suffered a heart attack last week, which the campaign decided not to disclose until three days later and after he had been released from a hospital in Las Vegas to return to Burlington, Vt. 

 

The questions surrounding Sanders, who is off the campaign trail and is expected to remain that way in the coming days, take many different forms, including regarding the transparency — or lack thereof — as well as the larger issue of whether the 78-year-old can stand up to the rigors of the presidency in the wake of the health scare.

 

 

 

 

Throughout his campaign, Sanders has pitched himself as a picture of health and has kept up an intense public schedule since announcing his 2020 bid. Sanders Biden and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — ObamaCare premiums dropping for 2020 | Warren, Buttigieg shift stances on 'Medicare for All' | Drug companies spend big on lobbying Mellman: Trumping peace and prosperity On The Money: Waters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing finance plan | Dems jump into Trump turf war over student loans | House passes bill targeting anonymous shell companies MORE (D-Mass.), are septuagenarians, and questions swirl about physical health as well as ageism (The Washington Post). 

 

Looking ahead to the campaign schedule, Sanders’s team still expects him to take part in the Oct. 15 Democratic debate, which occurs less than two weeks after Sanders’ hospitalization and surgery. If the debate stage is his next public appearance, his performance will be heavily scrutinized and Warren continues to climb in voter surveys.

 

The Washington Post: Uncertainty takes over the lead in the Democratic presidential race.

 

> Passive Biden: Biden allies are worried that the former vice president is being too passive as Trump readies to deliver a knockout blow with the ongoing mess surrounding Ukraine. 

 

As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes report, Trump’s campaign is going all-in against Biden, spending millions to meddle in the Democratic primary with the specific aim of taking Biden down. Although Biden has hit back, he has also signaled that he’ll stay the course with an issues-based campaign. Some close allies are warning that this isn’t enough — that Biden faces an existential threat in the attacks from Trump and that he must repurpose his campaign as a one-on-one fight against the president or risk becoming another in Trump’s long list of political casualties. 

 

The new worries come as Biden’s campaign faces challenges on multiple fronts, including in polling as Warren has either caught or surpassed him in many national and state surveys. Another concern is on the fundraising side as Biden posted a subpar total in the third fundraising quarter, which fell roughly $10 million behind both Warren and Sanders, while also trailing South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — ObamaCare premiums dropping for 2020 | Warren, Buttigieg shift stances on 'Medicare for All' | Drug companies spend big on lobbying Poll: Biden holds 2 point lead over Sanders nationally Saagar Enjeti: Warren, Buttigieg don't stand a chance against Trump MORE. The total has been a trouble sign for some allies who worry Biden has begun an irreversible fade.

 

On the Ukraine side, while there is no evidence that Biden did anything wrong, the scandal has become a drag on his campaign. Republicans are firing political missiles at his campaign, hoping it sinks in the process.

 

Additionally, questions are inevitable in the coming weeks about Biden’s health in the wake of Sanders’s heart attack. Since launching his bid, Biden has faced questions about whether he is physically up to snuff, and given that he would be 78 on inauguration day, the questions are likely to continue. 

 

The New York Times: Biden faced his biggest challenge, and struggled to form a response.

 

NBC News: Biden said he was prepared for Trump attacks, but now he's struggling to respond.

 

Politico: Trump piles up Florida enemies.

 

 

 

 

> Labor: Warren’s extensive labor plan to raise wages and strengthen the rights of workers has created nervy times for the business community, which is becoming increasingly worried about her candidacy as she continues to rise in the 2020 Democratic primary race. 

 

“It’s not an understatement to say that Elizabeth Warren’s plan could eradicate the franchise business model and put 733,000 small business owners out of existence,” said Matt Haller, the International Franchise Association senior vice president of government relations and public affairs. 

 

Warren's plan, unveiled Thursday, argues that workers’ wages have “largely stagnated” while corporate profits and worker productivity have risen. The Chamber of Commerce called her plan unconstitutional, echoing the rhetoric used to take aim at her proposed tax on corporations and organizations that spend over $500,000 lobbying the federal government (The Hill).

 

The Associated Press: Warren aims to build appeal in Republican strongholds.

 

Politico Magazine: The rise and fall of Donald Trump’s mini-me.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION & WHITE HOUSE: Trump on Sunday dramatically shifted U.S. policy toward Kurdish fighters, long backed by the United States as allies, and endorsed Turkey’s plan to use military force to jettison the Kurds, which it views as a terrorist insurgency, near the border in Syria. The president’s decision goes against advice from top officials inside the Pentagon and the State Department and will result in the pullback of 100 to 150 U.S. military personnel deployed to the area. Trump spoke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey about the plan (The New York Times).   

 

> Immigration: The administration attracted attention Friday with its announcement that it will begin denying visas on Nov. 3 to people who are unable to pay for health insurance while in the United States (The New York Times). Immigrants rights activists and Democratic lawmakers immediately raised objections to the administration’s new policy (The Hill).

 

> Federal contractors: Activist groups want Congress to adopt legislation to protect federal contractors who earn low wages, seeking to protect them should there be a future government shutdown, during which compensation can be placed on hold for days or even a month, creating dire financial hardships (The Hill).

 

> IRS presidential audits: A whistleblower allegation about possible misconduct in the presidential tax return audit program managed by the IRS and overseen by the Treasury Department has received new attention amid House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump. Some of the president’s critics want congressional leaders to disclose more information and argue it could be crucial to the House majority’s oversight of the White House and the executive branch (The Hill).

 

> E-cigarette regulation: The administration’s recent regulation of flavored vaping products is being met with resistance among some conservative interest groups and Republican lawmakers who complain about executive overreach. But so far, Trump is listening to his advisers who say clearing the market of all flavors except tobacco is the effective way to cut down on an epidemic of youth vaping (The Hill).

 

> Trade: Trump set this month’s tariff deadlines on some imported goods, and now those deadlines are closing in. With a resilient but slowing economy as the backdrop, Trump is staring down a tough two-week sprint in talks with China and the European Union before a new round of costly tariffs kicks in. Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are set to resume trade talks on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11, less than a week before a sharp increase in U.S. tariffs is slated to take effect on Oct. 15. Here’s what to watch (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

Presidential race runs front and center in impeachment politics, by Douglas SchoenDouglas SchoenUkraine scandal shows that foreign influence is a bipartisan affair Trump taps Monica Crowley to be Treasury spokeswoman The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Deadline approaches for 2020 Dems MORE, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2oVDuhV

 

New York state threatens fines to force people to help block immigration enforcement, by Nolan Rappaport, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2MmdLqP



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Linda Richter, director of policy research and analysis for the Center on Addiction, to react to the Food and Drug Administration and regulation of flavored vaping products; journalist Michael Tracey discusses the impeachment drama; Charles Lehman, staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon, describes falling life expectancy in Missouri and what’s behind it. Find Hill.TV programming at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m.

 

The House meets on Tuesday at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session; members are expected to return on Oct. 15 for votes.

 

The Senate convenes Tuesday at noon for a pro forma session.

 

The president has lunch with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump hotel cancels Christian aid group's event to support the Kurds: report Pence on Syria: 'Our troops are coming home' House calls on Russia to release Paul Whelan or else provide evidence of wrongdoing MORE. Trump participates in a briefing with senior military leaders at 6 p.m. Then he and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump breaks ground on new White House tennis pavilion Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Buttigieg unveils aggressive plan to lower drug prices | Supreme Court abortion case poses major test for Trump picks | Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown Kroger to stop sales of e-cigarettes at stores MORE host a social dinner with senior military leaders and spouses at the White House. 

 

Vice President Pence heads to a Tyson Foods facility in Nashville today to advocate for the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He’ll also headline a Trump reelection fundraising dinner in Franklin, Tenn. 

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will speak at 1 p.m. in Salt Lake City at a premiere screening for the KUED film "Marriner Eccles: Father of the Modern Federal Reserve." 



ELSEWHERE

Supreme Court: As justices get back to work, here are five big cases to watch this term (The New York Times). …The Supreme Court decision on Friday to take up a Louisiana abortion case poses the first big test for Trump's judicial picks for the Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The case, which will likely be decided next summer, will elevate the abortion debate in the heat of a presidential election (The Hill). … It’s been a year since the Senate confirmed Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump urged to hire chief strategist for impeachment fight Anita Hill: Kavanaugh's confirmation filled me with 'profound sadness and disappointment' Majority disapprove of Trump Supreme Court nominations, says poll MORE (The Hill). … Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgGinsburg says she never stopped working out after latest cancer diagnosis Majority disapprove of Trump Supreme Court nominations, says poll Buttigieg defends court-packing proposal at Democratic debate MORE last week offered her assessment of current political turmoil in the context of U.S. history — “an aberration,” she said (The Boston Globe).

 

Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump faces backlash for comparing impeachment to 'lynching' Jimmy Carter hospitalized after fall Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases MORE: The former president, who recently celebrated his 95th birthday, fell at his home in Plains, Ga., on Sunday and needed several stitches above his brow. His spokesman said in a statement that Carter “feels fine” after receiving medical attention (The Associated Press).

 

North Korea: Pyongyang said talks with the United States fell apart on Saturday, but the Trump administration denied any collapse and seeks to resume talks in two weeks in Stockholm (Reuters). North Korea said Sunday it is unlikely the United States would have anything new to bring to the negotiations in two weeks (Reuters). Five things to know about North Korea’s firing last week of a submarine-launched ballistic missile during yet another provocative test (The Hill).

 

 

 

 

State Watch: The Montana-based National Center for Unwanted Firearms helps interested gun owners around the country find safe disposal of their weapons through sales, donation or destruction. Bruce Seiler co-founded the organization four years ago. “I’m like the Rain Man of guns,” he explained. Show him any gun and he can recite the make, model, gauge, and something interesting or unique about its provenance. After his time in the Secret Service as an ordnance specialist, he worked in weapons sales to law enforcement for the gun manufacturer SigArms. He even owned a gun shop at one point. “We need to get rid of some of these guns,” Seiler said. “There’s no junkyard for guns, so we’re trying to be the junkyard” (The California Sunday Magazine).



THE CLOSER

And finally …  The United States showed off the speed and depth of its squad to win three gold medals on the final day of the world track championships on Sunday. U.S. runners won the men’s and women’s 4x400-meter relays, and U.S. women finished first and second in the 100-meter hurdles. The U.S. finished with 14 gold medals — its best result at a world championships in 12 years — in the last major global competition before next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.

 

Allyson Felix won a record 13th world championship gold as part of the relay team, though she only ran in the heats. The United States used Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin, the gold and silver medalists in the 400-meter hurdles, on the relay team. 

 

Notably, Nia Ali wrapped herself in the U.S. flag and celebrated a victory lap with her two young children after taking gold in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 12.34, a personal best, beating fellow American Kendra Harrison