The Hill's Morning Report - Trump grapples with Turkey controversy




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

In the course of a week, President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE’s acquiescence to Turkey as it invaded Syria with the intention of annihilating U.S.-allied Kurds produced a cascade of disastrous results, placed U.S. forces and 50 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons at a Turkish air base at risk, and strengthened Russia, Iran, Syria and the Islamic State.


The president, careening through explanations and fact-challenged assertions, responded on Monday to alarm from Republican lawmakers, foreign policy advisers and NATO allies by imposing economic sanctions on Turkey and on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and halting a $100 billion trade deal with the NATO ally by executive order


The New York Times: Trump followed his gut on Syria. Calamity came fast.


The Washington Post: Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad retake northeastern territory long held by U.S. allies as Erdoğan warns of a wider offensive.


The New York Times: The Syrian War: Top developments.


Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe Schumer: GOP should 'stop sitting on their hands' on coronavirus bill MORE (R-S.C.) — a Trump supporter who had bluntly warned the president he would regret moving U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria without trying to protect the ISIS-fighting Kurds — is taking the lead in the Senate on sanctions legislation he said Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (D-Calif.) also wants to enact in the House as a forceful rebuke to Turkey.


“As we find ourselves in a situation where the president gave a green light to the Turks to bomb and effectively unleashed ISIS, we must have a stronger sanctions package than what the White House is suggesting,” Pelosi said as the House returned on Monday from a two-week recess.


The Hill: Fury grows over Trump’s decision.


Vice President Pence told reporters outside the White House that Trump “pressed [Erdoğan] very strongly” in a phone call Monday to broker a ceasefire with Kurdish forces in Syria immediately.


Pence said he’ll soon lead a delegation to Turkey to work toward a halt in violence between Ankara and the Kurds, joined by White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien. The new U.S. sanctions on Turkey will remain or “worsen” until the government “embraces an immediate ceasefire, stops the violence and agrees to negotiate a long-term settlement of the issues along the border,” he added (The Hill).





POLITICS: 2020 Democratic candidates will take part in the fourth primary debate tonight as the field continues to take shape and focus on the party heavyweights who have dominated the campaign so far. 


As Niall Stanage writes, unless someone on-stage tonight can deliver a knockout performance that allows them to make the jump into the top tier, the primary contest is shaping up to be a two-horse race as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCOVID-19 workplace complaints surge; unions rip administration Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign cancels fundraiser with Mueller prosecutor Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE continue to separate themselves from the rest of the field. 


Until recently, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities MORE (I-Vt.) was the third top-tier candidate, but while polling and fundraising put him in the same ballpark as Warren and Biden, he has his own challenges to deal with two weeks after suffering a heart attack and subsequently staying off the campaign trail. 


Meanwhile, outside of Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Police killing in Minneapolis puts new scrutiny on Biden pick MORE’s (D-Calif.) brief flirtation with the top-tier after the first Democratic debate, no one else has proved able to make a move, leaving Biden and Warren to pace the field and speculate how other candidates expect to make their mark in the debate. One option is attacking Biden over the ongoing Ukraine saga — something the former VP has warned the field against doing — but the move could be too risky.


“Is anyone going to attack Biden on Ukraine? If they do, then by definition they are basically taking Trump’s side,” said Democratic pollster Paul Maslin


The New York Times: Can Biden deliver the debate performance he needs?


Gerald F. Seib: Biden vs. Warren: A difference of philosophy, not just policy.


The New York Times: Ohio was set to purge 235,000 Voters. It was wrong about 20 percent.


Another question, as Julia Manchester notes in her preview of tonight’s debate: Will anyone will go after Warren as she continues her climb in the primary field, with some polls recently showing that she has eclipsed Biden? 


In recent weeks, the most prominent 2020 primary foe to do so has been Sanders. Most recently, he derided her as a “capitalist,” arguing further that he is “the only candidate” who’s going to push back against “the ruling class of this country.” Other candidates could, but none have showed a willingness to take an overt shot at the current queen of the field.





Another major question heading into tonight is the role the ongoing impeachment inquiry could have on the primary, especially in the coming months as Democrats go further down that road. As Amie Parnes reports, some Democrats are worried about what it could mean for the primary contest and that it could serve as a shadow looming over the campaign. 


“It’s a really bad move,” said one Democratic strategist. “It’s going to loom large over the primary season. And the candidates are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they miss the impeachment proceedings, it won’t look good either.” 


One thing to watch ahead of the debate is an interview ABC News is releasing with Hunter Biden. The conversation is expected to air on “Good Morning America” today as the Bidens continue to face headwinds and attacks from the right on the Ukraine issue. 


On top of the debate, Tuesday also marks a major deadline for the 2020 field as they must file their third-quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission. While most of the 2020 candidates have revealed their fundraising totals, some have not, and most of those who have not are holding back some key numbers, including cash on hand. 


The Associated Press: Biden, Warren, Sanders face scrutiny at Democratic debate.


CNBC: Michael BloombergMichael BloombergIt's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Liberals embrace super PACs they once shunned .7 billion expected to be spent in 2020 campaign despite coronavirus: report MORE keeps talking to allies about running for president as Biden struggles against Warren.




CONGRESS & IMPEACHMENT: House investigators deposed Fiona Hill, the president’s former top Russia aide, on Capitol Hill on Monday as lawmakers move forward with an impeachment push and look to uncover information about Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden Democrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo MORE’s work with Ukrainian officials (The Hill). 


According to The Wall Street Journal, Hill told investigators that she, along with other White House officials, grew alarmed by the administration’s prodding of the Ukrainians to open certain investigations to the point where they brought their concerns to a White House lawyer. After Hill told John BoltonJohn BoltonHave the courage to recognize Taiwan McConnell says Obama administration 'did leave behind' pandemic plan Trump company lawyer warned Michael Cohen not to write 'tell-all' book: report MORE, the former national security adviser, of what Giuliani was doing, Bolton instructed her to talk to the lawyer (The New York Times).


“I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and [White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE] are cooking up,” Bolton said, according to Hill’s testimony.


A former special assistant to the president, Hill was expected to testify that Gordon Sondland and Giuliani went around the National Security Council and official White House protocol to speak directly with the president about Ukraine, which NBC News reported prior to her appearance (The Hill).


Additionally, Hill was expected to testify about the objections by her and other administration officials to the president’s removal of Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, back in May (The New York Times). 


Reuters: Exclusive: Trump lawyer Giuliani says he was paid $500,000 to consult on indicted associate's firm, Fraud Guarantee, based in Boca Raton, Fla.


The Hill: Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong.


The Washington Post: House Democrats express greater confidence about impeachment showdown with Trump.


While Hill testified inside, Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections Trump to order review of law protecting social media firms after Twitter spat: report On The Money: US tops 100,000 coronavirus deaths with no end in sight | How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response | Tenants fear mass evictions MORE (R-Fla.) tried to stir the pot early in the day, attempting to sit in on her testimony despite not being on any of the three investigatory committees. Gaetz tried appealing to the House parliamentarian to no avail. 


"I went into the committee room and [House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers House punts on FISA, votes to begin negotiations with Senate MORE (D-Calif.)] told me I had to leave," Gaetz told reporters in the Capitol. "And we waited for a ruling from the parliamentarian. And at that time, I had to depart" (The Hill).


Hill’s appearance was the start of a busy week for investigators. On Wednesday, investigators are slated to interview Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Government watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips Inspector general fired over leaks had been cleared of wrongdoing before ouster: report MORE, as House Democrats look into Pompeo’s involvement and impact on the State Department (The Washington Post). 


One day later, investigators are expected to depose Sondland a week after the State Department blocked him from testifying. Additionally, House investigators have multiple deadlines for administration figures to comply with subpoenas, including Pence and Giuliani. 


Politico: Trump's former Russia aide testifies in impeachment probe.


The Washington Post: “Disruptive diplomat” Sondland, a key figure in Trump impeachment furor, long coveted ambassadorship.


Jonathan Allen: Why Democrats are sure Adam Schiff is the perfect person to take on Trump.


INTERNATIONAL: Japan: A powerful typhoon on Saturday forced tens of thousands of Japanese to evacuate towns that are now underwater after more than 35 inches of rain was reported. Typhoon Hagibis, perhaps the worst storm of its kind since 1958, killed at least 56 people and another 15 were reported missing, while at least 211 were injured, according to NHK on Monday. Tens of thousands of rescue workers and a fleet of helicopters fanned out to affected areas, officials said. “Damage has been made in an extremely wide range of areas, and more than 30,000 people are still being forced to remain in the state of evacuation. It is our urgent task to offer meticulous support to those who have been affected,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said (Reuters). 


Reuters Graphics: In a swirl of satellite images, watch the anatomy of a monster typhoon.


> United Kingdom: Queen Elizabeth II, who like her countrymen is in a third year of suspense about how Great Britain will split from the European Union by an Oct. 31 deadline, on Monday delivered an address about proposed legislation and policies, including Brexit. The Queen’s Speech, an annual event of tiaraed pageantry and national curiosity, was scripted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government. With Brexit in limbo and another unpredictable election likely in the near future, Johnson’s critics said he misused the politically neutral queen by asking her to set out his election agenda (Reuters).





> China-U.S. trade: Trump on Friday hailed a “phase one” trade deal between the United States and China as “by far the greatest and the biggest deal ever made,” but by dawn on Monday, investors and businesses expressed misgivings that nothing specific had been committed to paper and most tariffs on Chinese imports remained in effect. Beijing indicated that further talks were needed to build on the phased approach to deal-making Trump suddenly hailed last week. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinCoronavirus guidelines sent to every American cost USPS M The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities House Democrats press Treasury on debit cards used for coronavirus relief payments MORE said the next round of tariffs on imports from China are set to take effect on Dec. 15 if negotiators do not achieve results (Reuters).


In the midst of a 15-month trade war between the world’s two largest economies, the original sticking points remain. Largely unaddressed are the persistent U.S. complaints about China’s state-dominated economic model (Reuters).


The Associated Press: Trade analysts located few details while China made no public commitments. “A nothing-burger,” concluded one China watcher.

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


'Bernie or bust' remains a potent force despite his health concerns, by Jessica Tarlov, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Trump's decision on Syria is nothing short of disaster, by Dov. S. Zakheim, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Paul Steinhauser, New Hampshire political reporter, and Julia Manchester, political reporter for The Hill, both live from Ohio to preview tonight’s Democratic debate; and former presidential candidate and former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) to weigh in on the 2020 race and the debate at Hill.TV will also host special debate pre- and post-shows live tomorrow on YouTube. The pre-show is 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the post-debate coverage begins at 11 p.m.


The House returns to work at 2 p.m.


The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Barbara McConnell Barrett to be secretary of the Air Force.


The president will have lunch with Pence at 12:30 p.m. Trump will hold a photo opportunity with the VIPs connected to the St. Louis Blues at 3 p.m. at the White House, followed by Trump’s meet-and-greet with the 2019 Stanley Cup champion players. At 4 p.m., the president will meet with Secretary of Defense Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Trump extends deployment of National Guard troops to aid with coronavirus response | Pentagon considers reducing quarantine to 10 days | Lawmakers push for removal of Nazi headstones from VA cemeteries No time to be selling arms to the Philippines Pentagon considers cutting coronavirus quarantines to 10 days MORE.


Pence will meet with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly at 11 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room. The vice president join the president for lunch and to meet with the St. Louis Blues champions at the White House.


Stanley Cup on Capitol Hill! The National Hockey League, in conjunction with the Missouri congressional delegation, will bring the Stanley Cup to Capitol Hill on Wednesday. Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice MORE (D-Mo.) hosts a trophy viewing from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in room 2220 of the Rayburn House Office Building, while proud Blues fans Missouri Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntWashington prepares for a summer without interns GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill Senators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day MORE (R) and Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections Trump to order review of law protecting social media firms after Twitter spat: report Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  MORE (R) share the honors from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in room 301 of the Russell Senate Office Building, known as the Kennedy Caucus Room.  


You’re invited to The Hill's upcoming newsmaker event, Innovation Runway: The Cutting Edge of Aviation, at the Newseum on Oct. 23 at 8 a.m. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Money: Trump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections | 2M more Americans file new jobless claims, pushing total past 40M | White House to forgo summer economic forecast amid COVID-19, breaking precedent Trump signs order targeting social media firms' legal protections Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear projects | Top Dems says State working on new Saudi arms sale | 34-year-old Army reservist ID'd as third military COVID-19 death MORE (R-Texas), Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenHouse GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting House passes massive T coronavirus relief package House adopts historic rules changes to allow remote voting MORE (D-Wash.) and Daniel Elwell, deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, will discuss changes in American aviation that affect consumers and the nation. Information is HERE


Flu season: If you’re about to roll up a sleeve for a seasonal influenza shot (and that describes about 45 percent of the U.S. population), you might want to read some of the latest scientific findings to answer frequently asked questions. For example, if you get your shot today and the flu season hits in January or February, chances are good that some of the protection will wear off in those intervening months (STAT News).   


Employment: 350 people lost their jobs with Uber Technologies Inc. on Monday as the company continues to cut costs in the face of huge losses and investor pressures to find a revenue model that can turn a profit. Eight hundred employees were jettisoned in July and September (Bloomberg).  


➔ ⚾ Nats: The Washington Nationals are one win away from the World Series after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-1, in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. The Nats were powered by 7 innings of 1-run baseball by Stephen Strasburg, who struck out 12, and NLDS hero Howie Kendrick, who went 3-4 with 3 RBIs. Patrick Corbin will take the mound tonight as they go for the sweep at Nationals Park tonight. First pitch is slated for 8:05 p.m. (The Washington Post).





And finally … Fans of the Los Angeles Kings are having a hard time shaking off the thought that Taylor SwiftTaylor Alison SwiftFashion designer Christian Siriano's face mask operation started with a tweet to Cuomo Facial recognition: The other reason we may need a face mask Taylor Swift sends thank you gift to nurse who volunteered in New York MORE may have cursed their team’s success in recent seasons. 


Ever since a banner appeared in Staples Center, the Kings’ home arena, commemorating Swift’s sold-out concerts at the venue in 2015, the Kings have been unable to make it out of the first round of the playoffs after winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014. This has led some fans to take their frustrations out on Swift, who they blame for their lack of playoff wins in the last five seasons. 


In response, the Kings announced the team will cover up the banner during home games after some fans “made it clear that the banner shouldn't be part of their Kings game experience,” according to Michael Altieri, senior vice president of marketing, communications and content for the Kings (ESPN).