The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Diplomat's 'powerful' testimony and 'lynching' attract headlines

 

 

 

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!



A top U.S. diplomat offered House impeachment investigators his notes, documents and lengthy testimony on Tuesday, which Democratic lawmakers described as potentially compelling evidence that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE abused his powers while delaying U.S. military aid in an attempt to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival.

 

William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d'affaires in Ukraine and a veteran diplomat, testified under subpoena behind closed doors that he believed the Trump administration held up nearly $400 million in aid as leverage to encourage Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch politically motivated investigations sought by Trump, according to multiple sources familiar with his testimony (The Hill).

 

Democratic lawmakers said the ambassador, who appeared before them for nearly 10 hours, delivered the most damning and detailed information heard to date by members of three investigative committees focused on Trump’s actions this year tied to Ukraine.

 

"Without question the most powerful testimony we've heard," said Rep. Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchElection security, ransomware dominate cyber concerns for 2020 Hillicon Valley: Groups file appeal over net neutrality ruling | Lawmakers raise concerns over foreign apps | Payroll data stolen from Facebook House Democrat questions Google, Apple over handling of foreign-linked apps MORE (D-Mass.), a member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

 

“He drew a very specific direct line from President Trump to the withholding of foreign aid and the refusal of a meeting” between the president and Zelensky, said Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzAppropriators fume over reports of Trump plan to reprogram .2 billion for wall American Cancer Society says Trump doesn't get credit for drop in cancer deaths Joe Kennedy mentions kids in impeachment address MORE (D-Fla.) (The Washington Post).

 

The Washington Post: Taylor’s written opening statement.

 

A string of current and former U.S. officials with diplomatic roles in Ukraine and Europe have presented texts, conversations and concerns about Trump’s pursuit — referenced in publicly released notes of his July 25 conversation with Zelensky — of damaging information about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' MORE, his son Hunter Biden and as well as the 2016 U.S. election.

 

House investigators today will hear testimony from Laura Cooper, who oversees Ukraine and Russia issues at the Pentagon. Next week, the House committees may hear from five more witnesses who hold senior positions in the government.

 

The Hill: Democrats say Taylor testimony a game changer.

 

Trump denies any wrongdoing. “President Trump has done nothing wrong — this is a coordinated smear campaign from far-left lawmakers and radical unelected bureaucrats waging war on the Constitution. There was no quid pro quo,” the White House said in a statement.

 

On Tuesday, the president created a new distraction while continuing to rail against House Democrats and the impeachment process.

 

Trump compared the inquiry to “a lynching” on Twitter (The Hill), immediately sparking outrage and rebuke in the Capitol, along with a few GOP expressions of sympathy for the president’s evident anger at Democrats’ efforts to build a case to try to remove him from office.

 

“I don’t agree with that language,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE (R-Calif.) said.

 

“‘Lynching’ brings back images of a terrible time in our nation’s history, and the President never should have made that comparison,” tweeted Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution MORE (R-Maine), who is up for reelection next year.

 

“Unfortunate,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump admin releases trove of documents on Ukrainian military aid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions What to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.), when asked about the president’s tweet (The Associated Press).

 

The Hill: McConnell tells GOP colleagues to defend Trump on process.

 

The Hill: Public support for impeaching Trump climbs in new survey, especially among political independents.

 

The Hill: Supporters urge Trump to hire new West Wing chief strategist as impeachment inquiry intensifies.

 

Niall Stanage: From “coup” to “lynching,” a sign of things to come.

 

W. James Antle III: Trump's manic impeachment dance with the GOP.

 

Dan Balz: New testimony undercuts Trump’s claim of no quid pro quo on Ukraine. How will Washington respond?

 

 

 





LEADING THE DAY

INTERNATIONAL: Turkey & Syria: A five-day cease-fire negotiated between Turkey and Syrian Kurds ended Tuesday night, but Turkey signaled today it will not immediately resume its military offensive (The Associated Press). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules Don't assume Iran will be behind the next big cyber attack Vladimir Putin will not be president for life but he is sure to have power MORE negotiated a deal on Tuesday outlining what comes next inside a buffer zone sought by Erdoğan along Turkey’s border with Syria, to be jointly patrolled by Turkey and Russia following the expulsion of U.S.-allied Kurds (The Associated Press).

 

The agreement between Russia and Turkey, reached between the two leaders during a meeting in Sochi, removed the United States as a player in Syria’s future (CNN). It took just two weeks for the power dynamics in the region to shift dramatically following a telephone conversation between Erdoğan and Trump in which the U.S. president said he would pull American forces out of northeastern Syria while Turkey initiated military strikes against the Kurds.

 

Kurdish fighters on Tuesday completed their pullout from a section of the Syrian-Turkish border, as required by a U.S. brokered cease-fire (The Associated Press), only to discover there is no welcome mat for them in neighboring Iraq (CBS News). And there are pleas worldwide to rescue women and children tied to ISIS fighters and held in detention camps once controlled by Kurds near the border (The New York Times).

 

Putin on Tuesday called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to describe the agreement struck with Turkey. Assad, who has been waging a civil war against the Syrian people for more than eight years, voiced support for the deal and said Syrian guards are ready to deploy to the Turkish border along with Russian troops, a spokesman for the Kremlin said (The Associated Press).

 

A White House spokesman said Tuesday that Trump expected “the temporary cease-fire … to transition into permanent by the end of the afternoon.”

 

 

 

 

> Brexit: British lawmakers on Tuesday approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in principle. But they rejected the government’s fast-track attempt to pass the bill within three days. Johnson says he will “pause” the government’s planned Brexit legislation (The Associated Press) as an extension of days or up to three months is under consideration by members of the European Union as leeway for the British government to try to complete the legislative process after more than three years (The Associated Press).

 

> Chile: Chileans who believe they are not sharing in the advances of a country considered one of the wealthiest in Latin America have sparked five days of riots, arson and unrest that are crippling the economy, have caused 15 deaths and are undermining global confidence in the country (The Associated Press). Santiago is scheduled to play host in mid-November to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, at which world leaders annually convene, including Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: Although 19 Democrats are wrestling in the 2020 presidential primary race, Republicans remain fixated on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE nearly three years after Trump defeated the former secretary of State in the Electoral College.

 

With Clinton back on the scene in recent weeks to promote a new book, rumors emerged from some GOP circles that she might run for president for a third time. Among those who have fanned that flame are Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonBannon says Trump should delay State of the Union until after impeachment trial Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers mull Trump's war power, next steps with Iran Authorities prepared to hand over Roger Stone records to media: report MORE, the former White House chief strategist and Breitbart chief, and Michael Goodwin, a New York Post columnist; and with multiple members of Congress and GOP strategists.

 

However, Democrats and those in Hillaryland tell Amie Parnes that there’s no truth to the rumblings, arguing a 2020 bid by Clinton is a figment of the GOP’s imagination. Democrats dismiss it as Republican troublemaking.

 

"The Republican Party has made such a long-term investment in obsessing about Hillary Clinton that they literally can't stop," said Tracy Sefl, a 2016 Clinton campaign surrogate. "In some ways, she's all they know. 

 

“She's the permanent Mad Libs subject matter of the GOP,” she added.

 

The Hill: Biden apologizes for likening Clinton impeachment to 'partisan lynching' in 1998.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that national Democrats are wondering if Clinton, former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions MORE or another high-profile Democrat will launch a late 2020 bid if Biden continues to falter, with his lackluster third quarter fundraising serving as the source of much of the concern. 

 

As Jonathan Martin of The New York Times reports

 

“Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Bloomberg have both told people privately in recent weeks that if they thought they could win, they would consider entering the primary — but that they were skeptical there would be an opening, according to Democrats who have spoken with them.  

 

“Former Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who associates say has wondered aloud about whether he should have run and has found it hard to watch Mr. Biden’s missteps, has also been urged to get in. But he still thinks the former vice president, who was once his longtime Senate colleague, is the party’s best nominee.  

 

“Another Obama administration official who weighed a campaign at the start of the year, former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEnd impeachment's government shutdown Parties to wage census battle with outside groups Welcome to third-world democracy and impeachment MORE, is considering a last-minute entry but has conceded it may be too late, according to a Democrat familiar with his thinking.  Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Senate Democrat: 'Fine' to hear from Hunter Biden Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (D-Ohio), who nearly entered the race earlier this year, said the pressure on him to reconsider from labor leaders, Democratic officials and donors has ‘become more frequent.’

 

“And Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, who also weighed a campaign run before deciding not to, said he too has been nudged by friends to reconsider. ‘It’s nice to be rumored about,’ he said, before notably refusing to rule out a last-minute entry. ‘Don’t ask me that question,’ he said.”

 

The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s rallies aren’t a sideshow. They are the campaign.

 

The Hill: Red-state governor races put both parties on edge.

 

The Associated Press: Pennsylvania’s gas politics churn as Trump embraces industry.

 

Politico: Dick’s Sporting Goods CEO quietly tests presidential bid.

 

Elsewhere on the political scene: Biden will sit down for an interview with “60 Minutes” set to air on Sunday night, CBS News announced on Tuesday. Biden, along with his wife Dr. Jill Biden, talked to CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell at their home in Delaware and discussed “the state of his campaign.” … Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats press Trump administration to stop DNA collection from detained migrants Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Jayapal endorses Sanders MORE (D-Mich.) is expected to attend a campaign rally with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' MORE (I-Vt.) in Detroit on Sunday and endorse the Vermont senator. With the endorsement, Tlaib will become the third member of “the squad” to support Sanders after Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHillary Clinton responds to backlash: 'I will do whatever I can to support our nominee' Klobuchar dismisses White House lawyer's jab about Democrats wanting to be in Iowa The Hill's 12:30 Report: Rules fight sets stage for first day of Trump trial MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarJayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Jayapal endorses Sanders MORE (D-Minn.) did so over the weekend (The Hill).

 

***

 

CONGRESS: Senators broke a months-long stalemate over funding the government on Tuesday, but major hurdles remain to avoid a shutdown next month. 

 

House and Senate lawmakers are stuck over issues related to a mammoth defense bill and GOP demands for Trump’s border wall, and the divisions are raising the prospect of another stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating once the current one runs out on Nov. 21. 

 

The package advanced in the Senate on Tuesday includes the funding measures for agriculture; interior; commerce, justice and science; and transportation and housing and urban development — four largely noncontroversial bills — and senators in both parties say they are optimistic the package will pass. The House, by comparison, has passed 10. Republicans are hoping that this week’s votes could help end the logjam over funding the government.   

 

“Hopefully the Democrats will play ball and we can actually get the appropriations process moving,” said John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate fails to get deal to speed up fight over impeachment rules Senate to vote on Trump's Canada, Mexico trade deal Thursday Senate braces for Trump impeachment trial MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican (The Hill). 

 

> Syria: McConnell and other top Republicans on Tuesday introduced a resolution warning the Trump administration against withdrawing U.S. troops from northern Syria. According to the GOP leader, the measure is backed by Sens. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Senators take oath for impeachment trial MORE (R-Okla.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrJuan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Hillicon Valley: Apple, Barr clash over Pensacola shooter's phone | Senate bill would boost Huawei alternatives | DHS orders agencies to fix Microsoft vulnerability | Chrome to phase out tracking cookies Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech MORE (R-N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenator-jurors who may not be impartial? Remove them for cause Broad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa What to watch for as Senate organizes impeachment on day one MORE (R-S.C.) and Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenate vote on Trump's new NAFTA held up by committee review Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike MORE (R-Idaho) — the chairmen of the Armed Services, Intelligence, Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, respectively.

 

"Withdrawing from Syria will invite more of the chaos that breeds terrorism and creates a vacuum our adversaries will certainly fill,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.   

 

The resolution calls on Trump to halt the pullback of U.S. forces and warns that a “precipitous withdrawal” would “create vacuums.” It also urges Trump to rescind his invitation for Erdoğan to visit the White House next month and opposes Turkey’s military action.

 

"The Senate needs to speak up. We cannot effectively support our partners on the ground without a military presence,” McConnell added (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate MORE (R-Ky.) blocks vote on House-passed Syria resolution for second time.

 

> Housing: A hearing Tuesday highlighted the deep divide between House Democrats and the Trump administration over housing policy as lawmakers pressed officials on their plans and accused them of ignoring what they said was a housing affordability crisis.

 

Three top Trump administration officials testified before the House Financial Services Committee to explain efforts to reform the federal housing finance system. But the hearing was a contentious affair, as Democrats challenged Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Apple reportedly dropped plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups | Justices decline facial recognition case | Critics fear Facebook losing misinformation fight | Truce on French tech tax On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Trump at Davos warns Europe on trade | President boasts about US economy to global elite | Experts say Trump trade victories may yield little growth MORE, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump administration ending delay on over B in Puerto Rico disaster aid HUD to roll back Obama-era housing desegregation rule Trump tells California, New York to 'politely' ask him for help with homeless population MORE and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria over the rise in housing costs and its devastating results.   

 

“The Trump administration's housing finance reform plan would be disastrous for our housing system,” Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersGearing up for a chaotic year on K Street Maxine Waters: Republicans 'shielding' Trump 'going to be responsible for dragging us to war' Green says House shouldn't hold impeachment articles indefinitely MORE (D-Calif.) said (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

Separation of powers requires impeachment's separation from politics, by J.T. Young, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2JgZzyW 

 

Americans must set aside their obsessions to fix immigration, by Peter Morici, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2W3ORRv 



SPONSORED CONTENT — BETTER MEDICARE ALLIANCE

The Health Insurance Tax would impact seniors on Medicare Advantage (MA). MA keeps costs low, provides additional benefits & protects seniors. Co-sponsor H.R. 1398 & S. 172. Talk to leadership. Learn more.



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierThe administration banned many flavored vaping products — but it's not enough Democratic lawmaker laments Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine House Democrat expects impeachment vote before 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) to discuss the impeachment inquiry; Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi describes how Biden might be helped in his presidential bid by the Ukraine controversy; and Matt Karp, contributing editor with Jacobin magazine, about his piece, Is This the Future Liberals Want? 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. to consider a bill to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections. Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Michigan governor urges Zuckerberg to enforce community guidelines after hate speech, threats surface Smaller companies testify against Big Tech's 'monopoly power' MORE testifies at 10 a.m. before the House Financial Services Committee about Libra, the company’s cryptocurrency project, and other issues (The Hill).

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. for possible consideration of fiscal 2020 spending bills.

 

The president heads to Pittsburgh this afternoon to speak at the ninth annual Shale Insight conference, the annual meeting of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association. The president returns to Washington this evening.

 

Vice President Pence will travel to Menominee, Mich., to tour the USS St. Louis while visiting Fincantieri Marinette Marine to speak about workforce development. He’ll then head to Waukegan, Ill., to speak about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Pence will return to Washington in the evening.

 

This morning, you’re invited to The Hill's newsmaker event, Innovation Runway: The Cutting Edge of Aviation, at the Newseum at 8 a.m. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhat to watch for on Day 2 of Senate impeachment trial Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Cruz: White House not expected to push motion to dismiss impeachment articles MORE (R-Texas), Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenAviation chairmen cite safety, new tech among concerns for the future The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Diplomat's 'powerful' testimony and 'lynching' attract headlines The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Trump's impeachment plea to Republicans 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



ELSEWHERE

Tell-all books: The Trump presidency has been a boon for authors and the publishing world, aimed at both critics and fans. “A Warning,” a book drawn from an anonymous op-ed written last year by an unnamed Trump critic working inside the administration, will hit bookstores next month. The author, known to the publisher and The New York Times but not publicly, has described trying to thwart the president’s agenda and “his worst inclinations” from inside the bureaucracy (The Washington Post). ...Separately, “Holding the Line: Inside Trump's Pentagon with Secretary Mattis,” by former Navy Cmdr. Guy M. Snodgrass, who spent 17 months as former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book MORE's chief speechwriter and communications director before quitting four months before the secretary resigned, serves up a buffet of anecdotes about Trump and Mattis. "Seriously, who gives a shit about Afghanistan?" Trump is quoted as asking during a meeting in January 2018. "We should follow China's policy — just go into Afghanistan and take out all that wealth" (NPR).

 

Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterPolitical science has its limits when it comes to presidential prediction Mellman: Democrats — Buckle up for a wild ride Trump and Obama equally admired? Eight things popularity polls tell us MORE: The 95-year-old former president was hospitalized with a pelvic fracture after a fall on Monday night, the second such accident this month for the nation’s oldest living president, the Carter Center said. He expects to complete his recuperation at his home in Plains, Ga., when he is discharged from a hospital in Americus, Ga. (Reuters).

  

Black heritage: Award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill, who co-anchored “PBS NewsHour” for 17 years and was managing editor and moderator of WETA’s “Washington Week” during the same period, has been memorialized on a “forever” stamp to appear next year as part of the U.S. Postal Service’s Black Heritage series. Ifill, a trailblazer in the news business, died in 2016 at age 61 of complications from cancer (Canvas).

 

 

 



THE CLOSER

And finally …  ⚾  Game 1 of the World Series is in the books, and the Washington Nationals took early control and a 1-0 series lead.

 

But for those in the District looking for where to watch Game 2 with fellow Nationals fans, you are in luck, as there are multiple options. Just as it did for Game 1 and during the first two rounds of the playoffs, Nationals Park will be hosting a watch party. The gates will open at 7 p.m., ahead of first pitch at 8:08 p.m. For parking information, WTOP is here to help.

 

If you don’t want to watch at the park, there are other options, including The Wharf, where a giant screen on the floating stage at Transit Pier will be showing the game. And if you’re looking for a bar with good specials, Washingtonian has the low-down.