The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems shift strategy on impeachment vote




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!

The House will hold its first formal vote on the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE’s actions regarding Ukraine as House Democrats look to enter a new phase of their investigation and move to take it public.


Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP lawmaker: Democratic Party 'used to be more moderate' White House not optimistic on near-term stimulus deal Sunday shows - Stimulus debate dominates MORE (D-Calif.) made the announcement in a letter to House Democrats amid complaints from across the aisle that the behind-the-scenes nature of the inquiry has made the process a “sham.” The vote will take place on Thursday.


“This resolution establishes the procedure for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and sets forth due process rights for the president and his counsel,” Pelosi told her caucus.  


As Cristina Marcos writes, the resolution will not launch the impeachment investigation, as Democrats continue to say there is no reason to hold such a vote. It will, however, affirm the ongoing investigation and establish procedures for public hearings, authorize the release of witness deposition transcripts and outline the process for transferring evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, which would be tasked with drafting and approving articles of impeachment. 


The move marks a shift in thinking on the Democratic side as many had thought there was no reason to vote on anything at this point, and doing so could harm members in battleground districts (The New York Times). 


Pelosi said in the letter that claims by the GOP that the investigation is not valid have “no merit,” noting that a federal district court judge confirmed that the House did not need to hold a vote. Republicans, however, continued to argue that the Democratic process is flawed.


“It’s been 34 days since Nancy Pelosi unilaterally declared her impeachment inquiry. Today’s backtracking is an admission that this process has been botched from the start. We will not legitimize the Schiff/Pelosi sham impeachment,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDon't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency Overnight Health Care: Five takeaways from Fauci's testimony | CDC: Children might play 'important role' in spreading COVID-19 | GOP leader wants rapid testing at Capitol GOP leader wants to make rapid testing available at Capitol MORE (R-Calif.) said


With the vote on Thursday looming, investigators are expected to continue their witness interviews behind closed doors today. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the director for European affairs at the National Security Council, is scheduled to speak before the relevant committees at 9:30 a.m. This will take place after they were spurned by Charles Kupperman, the former deputy national security adviser who defied a House subpoena for testimony.


The New York Times: Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council, is expected to tell Congress he raised concerns with his superiors after hearing Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president: "I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen."


The Washington Post: John BoltonJohn BoltonThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence Senate-passed defense spending bill includes clause giving DHS cyber agency subpoena power Bolton defends Cheney amid clash with House conservatives MORE’s former deputy fails to show up for Hill deposition as he seeks court ruling to resolve dispute over testifying.


The Wall Street Journal: White House brings lessons of Mueller investigation to impeachment response.


Over in the Senate, the impeachment fight is taking a toll and presents a fresh challenge to the GOP’s hold on the chamber. 


As Alexander Bolton reports, the non-stop negative headlines for the president have already presented issues for a number of Republican senators, including Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP GOP fears Trump attacks on mail-in vote will sabotage turnout Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (Colo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Frustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Shaheen, Chabot call for action on new round of PPP loans MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock McConnell tees up showdown on unemployment benefits MORE (Ariz.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP The Hill's Campaign Report: Who will Biden pick to be his running mate? Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection MORE (Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOn The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP Chamber of Commerce endorses Ernst for reelection GOP under mounting pressure to strike virus deal quickly MORE (N.C.). Of the five, Collins is the only one who did not sign onto a resolution condemning the House impeachment effort and calling for a vote in the lower chamber (Politico).  


Democrats would have to gain three seats and the White House to take back the majority, and would have to gain four seats if Trump wins reelection. That hurdle would become five seats if Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) loses in deep red Alabama. Still, Democrats believe their chances are rising given growing support for impeachment, and the difficult choices GOP senators will have to make in terms of backing the president.


The Washington Post: “It feels like a horror movie”: Republicans feel anxious and adrift defending Trump.


The New York Times: How a month of impeachment ads foreshadow the 2020 ad wars. 


CONGRESS: Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive Trade negotiations mustn't short-circuit domestic debate Hillicon Valley: Democrats request counterintelligence briefing | New pressure for election funding | Republicans urge retaliation against Chinese hackers MORE, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Oregon’s only Republican in Congress, announced Monday that he will retire in January 2021 (The Oregonian). Walden is the 19th GOP House member who has announced a desire to exit. In some cases, House Republicans want to retire because rules limit their time as committee chairmen, but Walden said if his party recaptured the House next year, he could have served two more years as chairman. GOP House members profess confidence in the party’s chances to seize control of the House in next year’s elections, but privately most give that prospect long odds (The Hill).


> No sooner had freshman Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillRepublicans face worsening outlook in battle for House The Hill's Campaign Report: Cook shifts 20 House races toward Democrats Cook shifts 20 House districts toward Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) announced her resignation this week under the dual pressures of a nasty divorce and a House ethics investigation of accusations that she had relationships with subordinates than politicians expressed interest in the upcoming special election. California state lawmaker Christy Smith, a Democrat, announced she will run to fill the seat (The Hill). Roll Call’s Nathan Gonzales explained there’s “scant evidence that the political environment in California or nationally has improved for Republicans since Hill won her seat in 2018 by unseating Rep. Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Pelosi touts T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings The Hill's Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter MORE by 9 points. And history is working against the GOP. Republicans haven’t taken over a Democratic House seat anywhere in California since 1998. (Republicans won two open seats that cycle.)”


> Beefs over briefings: Democrats in Congress are furious the administration did not advise them in advance about Saturday’s commando raid in Syria, which resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the most wanted terrorist in the world. Lawmakers asked for after-action details following Trump’s Sunday announcement to the nation, and Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperDemocrats demand Esper explicitly ban Confederate flag and allow Pride, Native Nations flags Trump's revenge — pulling troops from Germany — will be costly Africa Command ordered to plan headquarters move as part of Trump's Germany withdrawal MORE and Gen. Mark Milley briefed reporters on Monday, describing two men taken into U.S. custody on Saturday and the subsequent disposal of al-Baghdadi’s remains following DNA verification (Bloomberg). Democrats commend the Pentagon and the intelligence community for a successful mission but continue to argue the U.S. withdrawal of troops from northern Syria and the forced exodus of ISIS-fighting Syrian Kurds into territory defined by Turkey hand the Islamic State openings to recover (The Hill).


> Mining in the Grand Canyon? Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) wants the House to pass legislation to stave off what he says is “an imminent threat” of mining in the Grand Canyon. He says a White House advisory group could soon recommend that commercial mining be restarted near one of the country’s most visited national parks (The Hill).





> Former North Carolina Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven HaganThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's job approval erodes among groups that powered his 2016 victory MORE (D), 66, died Monday in her home state. Hagan, who lost her Senate seat in 2014 to Tillis and served one term, was diagnosed two years later with Powassan virus, a type of encephalitis linked to tick bites (NBC News).


POLITICS: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Warren4 reasons why Trump can't be written off — yet Here are top contenders to be Biden's VP Kamala Harris to young Black women at conference: 'I want you to be ambitious' MORE (D-Mass.) has taken a cautious approach with the press throughout her presidential bid, but it’s paid off, as she sits in the top tier of the Democratic primary with wind at her back as she seeks the party’s nomination.


As Amie Parnes reports, while Warren has done gaggles repeatedly on the campaign trail, she has largely steered clear of the kind of big sit-down interviews that are often part and parcel of a presidential campaign, including the Sunday show circuit. She hasn’t sat down for one Sunday show since announcing she was running for president.


“She’s been smart about picking and choosing her spots,” said one Democratic strategist who is unaffiliated with a campaign. “But she hasn't done many interviews where she’s been pressed in great detail about her positions. … I think that’s 100 percent intentional.”


Additionally, Warren has stopped for impromptu chats with reporters at airports and train stations while on the trail. But more importantly, the strategy has been a rousing success for her campaign trail, as she continues to be the recipient of favorable media coverage.   


“For the past several months, I think Warren’s gotten the most friendly stretch of media coverage of any presidential candidate since Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama2020 Democratic Party platform endorses Trump's NASA moon program Davis: My recommendation for vice president on Biden ticket Statehood for Puerto Rico and the obstruction of justice MORE in 2008,” FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver said in a chat on the website this month.





The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGOP lawmaker: Democratic Party 'used to be more moderate' 4 reasons why Trump can't be written off — yet Progressives lost the battle for the Democratic Party's soul MORE (I-Vt.) floats leveraging aid to Israel to push for policy changes with Palestinians.


The Hill: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Democratic Party platform endorses Trump's NASA moon program Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency Abrams: Trump 'doing his best to undermine our confidence' in voting system MORE staffs up in Super Tuesday states.


Politico: “The West barely exists”: California primary falls flat.


> Alabama: Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Tuberville breaks DC self-quarantine policy to campaign MORE, 72, is considering a bid to win back his old Senate seat in Alabama, according to sources.    


Sessions, who departed the administration almost a year ago, is considering a run in what has turned into a crowded primary to challenge Democrat Jones. Multiple sources indicated there has been increased chatter in recent weeks about a possible bid by the longtime former senator.


It does not appear Sessions is being courted by national Republicans, and the former Cabinet member departed the administration on rocky terms with Trump. According to one GOP source, Sessions has not discussed entering the race with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Meadows: Election will be held on November third Don't let Trump distract us from the real threat of his presidency MORE (R-Ky.) or the National Republican Senatorial Committee. 


"No poll that's taken today reflects the actual views of the electorate after the president ruins his credibility,” one GOP strategist said of the impact of a Sessions bid. “If the president decides not to do it, that's a different dynamic, but Jeff Sessions's fate is entirely in President Trump's hands if he decides to run."


The last time Sessions was on the ballot in 2014, he won reelection unopposed.  


Sessions has until Nov. 8 to file paperwork to become a candidate. Among those in the primary race are Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneJerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne Jeff Sessions loses comeback bid in Alabama runoff Sessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff MORE (R-Ala.), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Secretary of State Jim Merrill and Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Judge allows Roy Moore lawsuit over Sacha Baron Cohen prank to proceed Senate outlook slides for GOP MORE


A person familiar with Sessions’s considerations declined to comment. Politico was the first to report news of a possible run. 


> North Carolina: A state court on Monday threw out North Carolina's congressional map, labeling the state's 13 districts as an example of "extreme partisan gerrymandering" in a decision that is likely to have major ripple effects in the 2020 elections.


The panel of three judges imposed a preliminary injunction on the state using the map, saying the current congressional districts could violate the "fundamental rights" of certain voters. The ruling also allows the state’s general assembly to redraw the map for the upcoming election in an “expeditious” fashion.


"The Court respectfully urges the General Assembly to adopt an expeditious process ... that ensures full transparency and allows for bipartisan participation and consensus to create new congressional districts that likewise seek to achieve this fundamental constitutional objective," the ruling said (The Hill).


The Hill: Expensive Virginia elections set stage for redistricting fight.




WHITE HOUSE: Political experts on the right and left appear to agree that Trump’s success in achieving the demise of Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi on his watch is unlikely to change his domestic political fortunes, reports Niall Stanage.


> Trump ventured to heavily Democratic Chicago on Monday, his first trip to the Windy City as president. He did some political fundraising and told an international conference of chiefs of police that Afghanistan is safer than Chicago, slamming the city for a high crime rate. The president also announced that the Justice Department will begin a “surge” to crack down on violent crime, targeting gang members and drug traffickers in high-crime areas (The Associated Press).





> Trump said Monday he is considering releasing portions of classified video of the U.S. military raid in Syria conducted on Saturday. “We’re thinking about it. We may,” he told reporters. “We may take certain parts of it and release it, yes.”


Trump described the raid in northwest Syria in great detail when announcing al-Baghdadi’s death on Sunday. Trump said he watched much of the Delta Force operation in the White House Situation Room, likening it to “watching a movie.” Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters he had no direct knowledge of “crying” and “whimpering” by al-Baghdadi before his death, as described by the president (The Hill).


NBC News: Officials wince as Trump spills sensitive details from weekend raid in Syria.


> The president’s assertions on Sunday that Syrian oil, now safeguarded by a small number of U.S. troops, could be confiscated and the petroleum wealth “shared” are legally dubious, according to experts interviewed by The Washington Post. “The United States will retain control of oil fields in northeast Syria,” Esper said on Monday, adding that at the height of al-Baghdadi’s rule, the oil fields provided the bulk of the Islamic State’s income. “We’re keeping the oil,” Trump said Monday during his Chicago speech. “Remember that, I’ve always said that. Keep the oil. We want to keep the oil — $45 million a month — keep the oil. We’ve secured the oil.” Esper said the purpose of securing Syria’s oil region is to deny income to the Islamic State. But a reporter asked whether the mission includes preventing Russian and Syrian government forces from entering that area east of the Euphrates River. “The short answer is yes, it presently does,” he responded (The Associated Press).

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There is no prize in Syria for the United States, by Jerrod A. Laber, opinion contributor, The Hill.


It’s Joe Biden versus the Trump economy, by Liz Peek, opinion contributor, The Hill.


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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Charlie Kirk, founder and president of Turning Point USA; author Seth Siegel, who talks about his book, “Troubled Water: What's Wrong with What We Drink”; Omeed Malik, founder and CEO of Farvahar Partners, who offers some insight about presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFinancial firms facing serious hacking threat in COVID-19 era Gabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE’s (D-Hawaii) Wall Street fundraiser; and Claire Tacherra-Morrison, organizer with the Sunrise Movement, who shares some thoughts about Biden’s candidacy. Watch at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House will begin work at 10 a.m. with plans to debate and vote on imposing sanctions on Turkey. The House is also expected to consider a resolution about the 1915 Armenian genocide.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of fiscal 2020 appropriations. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hear testimony about the safety of the Boeing 737 Max plane from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, chief engineer for the company John Hamilton, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt and former NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart.


The president will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP scrambles to fend off Kobach in Kansas primary Pompeo: Trump taking action on Chinese software firms 'in coming days' Navarro: 'Don't fall for' message from TikTok lobbyists, 'puppet CEO' MORE. Trump will greet this year’s recipients of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking at 1:45 p.m. The president meets this evening with GOP supporters and will deliver remarks at a joint fundraising committee reception held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. 


Pompeo will chair the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at 2 p.m.


Vice President Pence is in Texas, where he will visit the U.S. Army Fort Hood base today. He’ll talk with veterans, deliver remarks and observe a training exercise this morning with U.S. Army uniformed and civilian personnel. He’ll fly to Austin this afternoon to headline a Trump reelection fundraising luncheon. The vice president will return to Washington tonight.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhite House not optimistic on near-term stimulus deal Sunday shows - Stimulus debate dominates On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP MORE is traveling through Nov. 5 to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India and Qatar.


The Business Forward Foundation will release a report focused on five Midwestern states titled “Answering America: The Business Case Against Trump’s Agenda” from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in Washington with Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden: I'll have a running mate picked next week The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Divided GOP to unveil COVID-19 bill Biden strikes populist tone in blistering rebuke of Trump, Wall Street MORE (D-Wis.). The event, open to the public, includes a panel discussion with Business Forward Foundation President Jim Doyle, Center for American Progress President and CEO Neera Tanden, and Roche Enterprises founder and President Robert Roche. Information is HERE.


Wildfires: High winds are battering both ends of California and threaten to turn any spark into a devastating inferno. Celebrity homes in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles have not been spared. Schools have temporarily closed. One firefighter was seriously injured in the Sonoma County fire, which exploded in size to 103 square miles. Tens of thousands of residents evacuated their residences, and additional deliberate blackouts are possible this week (The Associated Press). Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned that property losses could rise, urging residents in the mandatory evacuation zone, which encompasses more than 10,000 homes and businesses, to get out quickly (Reuters).


Federal Reserve: The nation’s central bank is poised to cut interest rates on Wednesday for the third time in three straight meetings, which is expected to have economic and political impacts. Here’s what to look for (The Hill).


Cloud computing: Amazon is likely to take the Pentagon's decision to award a $10 billion “war cloud” contract to Microsoft to court. Democrats and industry watchers suggest the government’s review was inappropriately swayed by Trump, who dislikes Amazon owner Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosHillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom Amazon reports surge in revenue as pandemic sparks online retail boom Matt Stoller: Big tech House grilling the most important hearing on corporate power since the 1930s MORE and publicly called on the Defense Department over the summer to investigate the pending contract (The Hill). Amazon’s challenge could come as early as next week (Reuters). Analysts called the contract a major boon for Microsoft. “We expect a degree of hand wringing among congressional Democrats, given the political and practical dimensions of this issue, but our sense is that lawmakers are unlikely to wade too deeply into these waters,” Compass Point’s Marshall Senk said (Reuters).


Facebook: The company’s hands-off stance toward the content of political advertising, which CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergNYT media columnist Ben Smith calls Facebook's self-proclaimed patriotism 'very implausible' Facebook reports 11 percent revenue growth as usage surges amid pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Gohmert tests positive; safety fears escalate on Capitol Hill MORE described in a recent speech in Washington and during testimony before Congress, has sparked a bitter backlash within Facebook. More than 250 employees among the company’s 35,000 workers objected in an internal letter, arguing that acceptance of political advertising on the platform — including ads that are false or misleading — poses “a threat” to the company (The New York Times). 





And finally … We may not know the Army’s Delta Force commandos who flew low into northwestern Syria through tense darkness on Saturday, but we have one tongue-drooping official snapshot of a member of the special operations team, thanks to a tweet on Monday from the president.


The Pentagon reported that a slightly injured, specially trained military canine, which had been sent into an escape tunnel to chase ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, has returned to service. Trump on Sunday described the dog, whose name remains classified, as hurt when the most-wanted terrorist detonated his suicide vest inside a “dead-end tunnel” (Task and Purpose).


“The dog is a war veteran and a valued member of the team," a currently serving soldier assigned to Delta Force told The Washington Examiner. "The injury to the dog is an injury to one of us. These dogs are a special breed of courageous."