The Hill’s Morning Report – Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren
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Democratic presidential contenders took aim at President Trump during Tuesday night’s primary debate while tugging hard at Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s recent ascent, arguing that the liberal from Massachusetts has not come clean with voters about plans they see as so expensive and potentially disruptive they could further divide the nation if she’s elected.
Unblinking, Warren saved her barbs on the Ohio debate stage for Trump rather than her competitors, championing a dramatic “restructuring” of the health care system and a middle-class economy but sounding more practical about legislative tools to curb gun violence, for instance. “I want to get what works done,” she said.
That theme of practical, legislatively viable ideas dominated some of the scrappiest moments during exchanges in which some of the second-tier contenders skewered Warren’s pitch to do away with private health insurance while also declining to answer questions about costs and repercussions. Warren, for example, again refused to answer whether the high price tag for her “Medicare for All” plan would mean tax hikes for middle-income Americans.
The Hill: Surging Warren draws Democrats’ fire.
The Hill: Warren takes fire from rivals over costs of “Medicare for All.”
The Hill: Warren again plays defense on her wealth tax plan.
The Hill: Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) accuses Warren of being “punitive” in her proposals.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden wasn’t forced to fend off nearly as many attacks as Warren. However, he did find himself answering questions about his son Hunter Biden’s past work in Ukraine. The former vice president defended himself and his son, saying they did “nothing wrong” (The Hill).
The Hill: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.): “So offensive” that Joe Biden had to defend himself against Trump attacks on debate stage.
Biden also took his chances to swing at the president, especially over the recent move to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria, saying Trump “knows not a damn thing about foreign policy.
“We have an erratic, crazy president who knows not a damn thing about foreign policy and operates out of fear for his own reelection,” Biden said, calling the move “the most shameful thing any president has done in modern history in terms of foreign policy.”
The Hill: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, tangled over Syria during the debate.
The Hill: Democratic candidates unleash on Trump over Turkey and Syria, arguing he is weakening the United States.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the other top-tier candidate, made his return to the campaign trail on Tuesday night two weeks after he suffered a heart attack, which meant questions about whether he is physically fit to serve as president. Sanders, who will be 79 on Inauguration Day, said he is “feeling great,” adding that he will continue to keep up a “vigorous campaign.”
The Washington Post: Sanders to be endorsed by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
The Hill: Sanders: “Damn right we will” have a job for every American.
While the front-runners drew most of the attention, Buttigieg repeatedly created openings to challenge other candidates, including a sharp back-and-forth with O’Rourke.
While debating the Texan’s plan for an automatic, mandatory buyback program for assault weapons — which Buttigieg does not support — the former Texas congressman accused Buttigieg of kowtowing to “polls and the consultants and the focus groups,” drawing the ire of his 2020 rival (The Hill).
“The problem isn’t the polls. The problem is the policy,” Buttigieg responded. “And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.”
The Hill: Warren, Andrew Yang clash on automation.
The Hill: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) calls for more debate questions about reproductive rights. “People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies.”
NBC News: A graphic shows who was targeted and who was attacked during the Ohio Democratic debate.
ABC News: Hunter Biden hits back at Trump taunt in interview.
The Hill: Tuesday night’s debate shrank the Democratic field.
Politico: Cash crunch splits Dem field. Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg are all flush with funds, but Biden could be badly outspent leading into Iowa.
The fifth Democratic presidential primary debate will take place on Nov. 20 in Georgia, to be co-hosted by MSNBC and The Washington Post. Eight candidates appear to have qualified thus far under rules set by the Democratic National Committee (The Washington Post).
More Politics: Trump for a second time vetoed a resolution that would block the national emergency he declared to build a border wall (The Hill). …Democratic lobbyists find themselves in a tough spot, eager for their party to recapture the White House in 2020, but also bristling at the party’s attacks on K Street, led by Warren and Sanders. The influence world’s ranks are packed with lobbyists with ties to Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill or who work for issues or industries aligned with the left (The Hill). … The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee reported raising more than $125 million in contributions from July to September (Fox News).
LEADING THE DAY
IMPEACHMENT & CONGRESS: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Tuesday she will not stage a vote on the House floor to officially launch an impeachment inquiry into the president.
Pelosi’s announcement came after a meeting with House Democrats, where she reportedly surveyed rank-and-file members about a possible vote (The Associated Press).
“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time we will not be having a vote,” Pelosi said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
Republicans have repeatedly derided the investigation as “illegitimate,” and Trump’s allies continue to press for an official vote. The speaker clearly has the votes to pass an impeachment inquiry but the roll call vote would have been a tough one for some Democrats who represent districts supportive of Trump. The Democratic defections would have been under a dozen, but would likely have included GOP targets in 2020, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).
Elsewhere, top Trump World figures are refusing to cooperate with House investigators in their ongoing push for testimony and documents as part of the impeachment inquiry effort. Vice President Pence announced Tuesday evening that he would not comply with a subpoena issued by Democrats and their “self-proclaimed” inquiry, keeping up with the administration’s plan not to cooperate with the investigation as laid out in a recent letter by the White House counsel’s office (Axios).
Additionally, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, also declined to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking documents and communications related to Ukraine. In a letter, Jon Sale, Giuliani’s now-former attorney, argued that the subpoena is “overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry.” Sale also pointed to the same letter Pence’s counsel cited, keeping with the administration’s stance that the inquiry is not valid (The Hill).
The Wall Street Journal: Ex-Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) subpoenaed over interactions with Giuliani, Giuliani associates
While Pence and Giuliani plan to sidestep the probe, investigators have set their sights on a potentially explosive witness: John Bolton, the former national security adviser, who they believe could have intimate knowledge about the Ukraine situation, particularly after the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council aide, according to Mike Lillis and Olivia Beavers.
“When [Bolton] calls Giuliani a ‘live hand grenade,’ that says something. He speaks from experience. He’s someone who should know,” said Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, referring to Hill’s testimony on Monday.
Meanwhile, the probe continued on Tuesday as lawmakers deposed George Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy, who raised concerns earlier this year regarding the concerted effort by the president and Giuliani to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son (The Hill).
“What I can say is he was clearly bothered by the role Mr. Giuliani was playing, and the disinformation he was spreading,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) of Kent’s testimony.
According to The New York Times, Kent expressed concern in March about Giuliani’s role tied to a “disinformation” campaign that targeted the former vice president and Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
The Washington Post: White House directed “three amigos” to run Ukraine policy, senior State department official tells House investigators.
Later today, Michael McKinley, a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will testify behind closed doors before the three investigatory committees as House Democrats look into Pompeo’s involvement in events and his impact at the State Department. Investigators are also expected to hear from Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, on Thursday.
The Associated Press: Sondland prepared to deny he was warned about Ukraine work.
The Hill: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tees off on Democrats over impeachment.
The Hill: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) opens door to calling Hunter Biden to testify.
> Health care: Senate Democrats plan to force Republicans to vote on a resolution overturning a Trump administration regulation to loosen health insurance regulations under the Affordable Care Act, as Alexander Bolton reports.
The strategy shows Democrats will continue playing offense on the healthcare law, which for years was a political liability for the party. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) this month will make targeted GOP incumbents such as Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Martha McSally (Ariz.) take a tough vote.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
INTERNATIONAL: Turkey and Syria: Pence and Pompeo will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on Thursday and are expected to push for a cease fire and pullback of military forces from northeastern Syria (The New York Times). …A decision by the Kurds to seek protection from Syrian forces this week against Turkish invaders was actually an adaptation in the works for a year. The switch in allegiances underscored how U.S. foes such as Russia and Syria worked to fill the vacuum left by Trump’s orders to exit the region. The ISIS-fighting Kurds also demonstrate the rising anxiety felt by U.S. allies across the globe as they experience Trump’s abrupt foreign policy shifts (The Associated Press). Russia is now eager to cement its role as the power broker in Syria (The Associated Press).
The U.S. military is carrying out a hasty, risky withdrawal from Syria. The exodus of forces to new deployments in Iraq, Jordan or back to the United States might actually require that the number of U.S. troops in Syria be increased, at least temporarily. The Pentagon is preparing to send hundreds of additional American forces to help secure bases where U.S. Special Forces have been operating with their Syrian Kurdish partners — many of whom have now left to fight the Turks — and safely evacuate those U.S. forces in the coming weeks (The New York Times).
The Hill: Senate Republicans softened their criticism of Trump’s approach to Turkey’s assault on Syrian Kurds after the president announced economic sanctions aimed at punishing Ankara.
The Hill: Five unintended consequences from Trump’s Syria decision.
The Hill: Trump is improvising responses to his Syria decision and its aftermath, pushing back against critics of his policy at the same time he’s battling an impeachment probe he describes as an attempted political “coup.”
> Brexit: European Union and British negotiators failed to reach a breakthrough in Brexit talks during a frantic all-night session and are continuing to seek a compromise on the eve of Thursday’s crucial EU summit (The Associated Press). British negotiators today sent the European Union a draft text of a Brexit political declaration (Reuters).
> Hong Kong: The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James is a new target among young, basketball-loving pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong after his apparent swipe that free speech has consequences and presents “a lot of negatives” (The Associated Press).
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A Democrat and a Republican ask, ‘Can we be friends again?’ by former Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.), opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/31hYOM7
The beginning of the end of a US role in the Middle East? By Robert A. Manning, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2MIOvLN
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Julia Manchester, political reporter for The Hill, Adam Green co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for Trump’s reelection campaign, all are live from Ohio to react to last night’s debate. Watch at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv, or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.
The House meets at 10 a.m.
The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Barbara McConnell Barrett to be secretary of the Air Force.
The president welcomes Italian President Sergio Mattarella to the White House for meetings and a joint press conference. Trump will have lunch with Pompeo. Trump will meet with congressional leaders at 3 p.m. In the evening, the president will speak during an Italian-American reception he will host at the White House for Mattarella.
Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, will speak to reporters beginning at 9 a.m. during a roundtable newsmaker event sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor in Washington.
Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, will lead a roster of speakers to mark the 10th anniversary of the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Location: Justice Department at 1:30 p.m.
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 Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Rick Larsen (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.
➔ NASA: The space agency unveiled gender-neutral space suits in pumpkin orange plus red, white and blue on Tuesday as breakthrough survival wear and the cutting edge for “the next man and the first woman” heading to the moon. Upgrades seemed overdue, right? Runway photos (The Hill).
➔ Tech: Amazon Web Services now runs state and county election websites, stores voter registration rolls and ballot data, facilitates overseas voting by U.S. military personnel and helps provide live election-night results. More than 40 states now use one or more of Amazon’s election offerings, as do the two main political parties, the Federal Election Commission and Biden’s campaign (Reuters).
➔ Economy: The trade war between the United States and China will reduce global expansion by nearly a percentage point by the end of 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (The Hill). The global economy is on pace for the weakest growth since the financial crisis, and tariffs are a big reason (The Wall Street Journal). But these were not reports Trump had in mind on Tuesday as he hailed median household income and employment in the United States as “numbers for the Radical Left Democrats to beat!”
➔ ⚾️ Nationals ⚾️: The Washington Nationals clinched their first World Series bid in history on Tuesday night by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-4, sweeping the series in the process. The Nats posted a 7-run 1st inning, a crooked number the Cardinals were never able to recover from. Washington will now sit by and wait for the American League champion to emerge, where the Houston Astros lead the New York Yankees in the series, 2-1. Game 4 of the American League Championship Series will take place in New York on Wednesday night. The World Series is slated to kick off on Tuesday.
And finally … On this day in 1901, former President Theodore Roosevelt stirred public controversy by inviting educator and writer Booker T. Washington to dine with him and his family at the White House. Segregation was the law in 1901, and while other presidents had previously invited African Americans to meetings at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. (black workers built the White House), a president eating a meal with a former slave sparked national outrage. Roosevelt’s hospitality inspired biting commentary from columnists and cartoonists and fed one of American history’s many, many national conversations about race (NPR).
Author Deborah Davis in 2012 published “Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation,” explaining the seismic repercussions of Roosevelt’s impulsive invitation to a man he admired.
–This report was updated at 7:16 a.m.