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 TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 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 LynchBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Overnight Defense: Dems release first impeachment probe transcripts | White House officials refuse to testify Monday | US, Iran mark 40th anniversary of hostage crisis White House officials refusing to testify Monday 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 SchultzDem rep defends calling Ken Cuccinelli a white supremacist Both sides claim win in White House official's impeachment testimony Ex-Rep. Livingston pressed for Ukraine ambassador's firing, says witness 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 BidenGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides 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 McCarthyHouse Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine House Republicans prepare for public impeachment proceedings with mock hearing 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 CollinsLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official MORE (R-Maine), who is up for reelection next year.

 

“Unfortunate,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Graham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' Graham says Schiff should be a witness in Trump 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 PutinAmid impeachment hearings, it's worth remembering why Ukraine matters Trump says he'll meet with dictators if it helps the US Biden expresses shock that Trump considers attending Russia May Day event 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 Clinton2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Manafort sought to hurt Clinton 2016 campaign efforts in key states: NYT 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 BannonJury set to begin deliberating in Stone trial The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Bannon: Pelosi's impeachment strategy 'actually quite brilliant' 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 BloombergThe Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Budowsky: A Biden-Michelle Obama ticket in 2020? Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy 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 HolderKrystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Obama celebrates 'great night for our country' after Democrats' victories in Virginia and Kentucky After Obama-era abuses, Republican hysteria over impeachment process is absurd 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 — New impeachment phase dominates Brown confirms he won't enter 2020 race: 'I think it's a good field' GM officially sells Ohio plant, months after Trump touted sale 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 TlaibKrystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Sanders: Fighting anti-Semitism 'is very personal' Bloomberg run should push Warren to the center — but won't MORE (D-Mich.) is expected to attend a campaign rally with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary 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-CortezSanders says Ocasio-Cortez will play a 'very important role' in his administration if he's elected Top Sanders adviser suggests polling underestimates campaign support Omar renews claim Stephen Miller is a 'white nationalist' amid calls for him to step down MORE (D-N.Y.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarKrystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Omar renews claim Stephen Miller is a 'white nationalist' amid calls for him to step down Sanders 'very concerned about what appears to be a coup' in Bolivia 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 GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump 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 InhofeGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (R-Okla.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Graham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' GOP chairman says Senate impeachment trial could last 6-8 weeks MORE (R-N.C.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Graham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' Graham says Schiff should be a witness in Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-S.C.) and Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischTrump holds chummy meeting with Turkey's Erdoğan Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Erdoğan at White House | Says Turkish leader has 'great relationship with the Kurds' | Highlights from first public impeachment hearing GOP senators to meet with Turkey's Erdoğan, Trump amid tensions 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 PaulSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges McConnell discounts quick dismissal of Trump impeachment articles: 'We'll have to have a trial' GOP motions to subpoena whistleblower 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 MnuchinNew book questions Harris's record on big banks On The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Democrats ramp up oversight efforts over 'opportunity zone' incentive MORE, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonTrump launches effort to boost support among black voters Zoning is not the answer to all our housing problems Freer housing is 'fairer housing' — HUD should tie funding to looser zoning 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 WatersDivides over China, fossil fuels threaten House deal to reboot Ex-Im Bank Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers unleash on Zuckerberg | House passes third election interference bill | Online extremism legislation advances in House | Google claims quantum computing breakthrough On The Money: Lawmakers hammer Zuckerberg over Facebook controversies | GOP chair expects another funding stopgap | Senate rejects Dem measure on SALT deduction cap workarounds 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 



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WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Rep. Mark DeSaulnierMark James DeSaulnierDemocratic lawmaker laments Hunter Biden's business dealings in Ukraine House Democrat expects impeachment vote before 2020 Democratic congressman talks latest developments in impeachment inquiry 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: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day A book can explain why Elizabeth Warren's ideas bother billionaires so much Facebook says it removed millions of posts over hate speech, child exploitation violations 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 CruzWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement Trump holds chummy meeting with Turkey's Erdoğan Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Erdoğan at White House | Says Turkish leader has 'great relationship with the Kurds' | Highlights from first public impeachment hearing 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 MattisFormer Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy Former staffer hits back at Mattis's office over criticism of tell-all book Former speechwriter for General James Mattis: Has the national security state grappled with Donald Trump? 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 CarterThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems, GOP dig in for public impeachment hearings Jimmy Carter recovering from brain surgery with 'no complications' 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.