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 TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race 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 PelosiSpending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 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 McCarthyRichmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight Drastic cuts proposed to Medicare would hurt health care quality 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 BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' 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 GardnerHillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities Democrats vent to Schumer over Senate majority failure MORE (Colo.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol McSally's final floor speech: 'I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field' MORE (Ariz.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' MORE (Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid 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 WaldenHillicon Valley: Leadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns | Snapchat launches in-app video platform 'Spotlight' | Uber, Lyft awarded federal transportation contract Lawmakers urge FCC to assist in effort to rip out, replace suspect network equipment OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight 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 HillKatie Hill to launch 'Naked Politics' podcast Katie Hill claims hackers used government account to accuse her of 'workplace abuse' Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta endorses California Democratic House challenger 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 EsperOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Brennan takes final shot at Trump: 'I leave his fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, & his legacy to a trash heap' 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 Hagan10 under-the-radar races to watch in November The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate 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 WarrenBiden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus 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 ObamaBiden teams to meet with Trump administration agencies Biden says he'd meet with Trump 'if he asked' Biden-Harris ticket the first in US history to surpass 80 million votes MORE in 2008,” FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver said in a chat on the website this month.





The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far MORE (I-Vt.) floats leveraging aid to Israel to push for policy changes with Palestinians.


The Hill: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE staffs up in Super Tuesday states.


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


> Alabama: Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms 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 McConnellImmigration, executive action top Biden preview of first 100 days Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report 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 ByrneLawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump's Germany drawdown Bottom line Jerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne MORE (R-Ala.), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Secretary of State Jim Merrill and Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Long-shot Espy campaign sees national boost in weeks before election Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video 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. https://bit.ly/36ct3rj


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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 GabbardSix people whose election wins made history Next Congress expected to have record diversity Native Americans elected to Congress in record numbers this year 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 http://thehill.com/hilltv 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 PompeoBiden's State Department picks are a diplomatic slam dunk Kissinger tells Biden to go easy on China Saudi-Israeli diplomacy progresses amid looming Middle East challenges 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 MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience On The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed 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 BaldwinSenate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  Next Congress expected to have record diversity Infrastructure, energy investments urgently needed to create U.S. jobs 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 BezosElon Musk passes Bill Gates to become world's second-richest person in Bloomberg rankings How space exploration will help to address climate change Bezos makes first donations from billion Earth Fund 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 ZuckerbergDemocrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Hillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote 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."