The Hill's Morning Report - Transcripts expected to heat up impeachment battle

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Monday! 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!



This week, three House impeachment committees begin a new chapter in what has become a starkly divisive political pursuit. Democratic lawmakers expect to release transcripts unveiling some of what 13 witnesses told Congress, an exercise that will ignite ferocious spinning by both parties as Democrats talk about evidence and Republicans focus on the process.

 

Conservatives will continue to complain that Democrats are poised to hold televised hearings without providing “due process.” They argue 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 and his allies are unable to mount an adequate defense against allegations of abuse of power, obstruction of justice and, as House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierDemocrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing Live coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees MORE (D-Calif.) added on Sunday, potential evidence of bribery.

 

The timetable remains murky for public hearings to be convened by the House managers of the impeachment probe. The word “soon” was echoed by Democrats on Sunday. 

 

Trump spent part of the weekend urging anew that the anonymous whistleblower – whose concerns went up the chain at the CIA, on to the intelligence community’s inspector general and then to the House Intelligence panel – must be unmasked.

 

The president and his allies, who appear to know the whistleblower’s identity, have for weeks been eager to publicly discount the official as partisan, akin to an enemy who because of bias accused Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival in exchange for the U.S. release of military aid.

 

“The whistleblower should be revealed because the whistleblower gave false information,” Trump told reporters on Sunday, adding that he’s a “radical.”

 

The president’s handling of the complaint filed under the Whistleblower Protection Act, including his repeated attacks on the official’s information, motives and background is considered highly unusual and has been criticized by some House and Senate Republicans.

 

The whistleblower offered to communicate directly with Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, the official’s lawyers said on Sunday (Reuters). Republicans have “sought to expose our client’s identity which could jeopardize their safety, as well as that of their family,” attorney Mark Zaid wrote on Twitter.

 

Trump’s congressional allies are mounting a whisper campaign about the suspected identity of the whistleblower. In closed-door depositions, in private hallway conversations, during public hearings and on Twitter, the president’s allies tease the rumored identity of the federal official, even as they acknowledge they have not independently verified it (The Hill).

 

The loop of rumors and suggestions sluiced through Trump’s Twitter feed over the weekend, creating the social media version of a distracting whodunit: “The Fake News Media is working hard so that information about the Whistleblower’s identity, which may be very bad.”

 

Trump has sidestepped or dismissed as inaccurate testimony from multiple witnesses inside the White House and the State Department who have corroborated elements of the whistleblower’s complaint.

 

The Hill: Trump is unlikely to cooperate with the impeachment proceedings.

 

White House spokeswoman Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamDemocrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing More Democrats in poll say Trump will finish first term amid impeachment inquiry The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings MORE said the president will not create a White House war room, as suggested by numerous Republicans, to respond to the impeachment inquiry. “He is the war room,” she told Fox News on Friday.

 

The Washington Post: An Office of Management and Budget official, Russell Vought, a protege of acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyKent, Taylor say they're not 'Never Trumpers' after Trump Twitter offensive GOP counsel acknowledges 'irregular channel' between U.S. and Ukraine The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings MORE, intends to defy House Democratic subpoenas seeking information about the delayed release of military aid appropriated for Ukraine. Two of his OMB subordinates are expected to follow suit. 

      

Senators are increasingly persuaded that the House will adopt one or more articles of impeachment, which would then be sent their way as indictments. In the Senate Intelligence Committee, divisions are emerging over whether to hear from the whistleblower, and when. Chairman 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.) told The Hill he wants to speak with the whistleblower as part of his committee’s inquiry.  

 

In an exercise of wishful thinking they’ve shared multiple times with Trump, Republican senators tell Alexander Bolton they want the president to focus less on impeachment and instead sell voters on the GOP’s policy agenda headed into the election year.  

 

The Hill: On Sunday, Trump allies assailed the impeachment process while House Democrats promised public hearings “soon.”

 

The Hill: Next impeachment phase dominates in Washington (highlights from the Sunday shows).

 

The Associated Press: The week ahead in the impeachment probe: Democrats prepare for public hearings and seek testimony from former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonAre Democrats building a collapsible impeachment? Live coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE.

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: The U.S. political universe is focused on the big election a year from now, but plenty of eyes are trained on critical contests around the country tomorrow. Democrats and Republicans will be poring over those voter choices in search of clues about the future. As Reid Wilson reports, Mississippi and Kentucky have important gubernatorial contests. And Virginia, a state in which Democrats have gained traction in the last few cycles, could be a bellwether: The last time Democrats won control of the state Senate in Virginia was in 2007, a year before then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary George Conway: 'If Barack Obama had done this' Republicans would be 'out for blood' George Conway to take part in MSNBC impeachment hearing coverage MORE of Illinois won the presidency. And elsewhere there are some intriguing initiatives, propositions and local elections to consider, Wilson writes.

 

More than anywhere else, Virginia’s state legislative elections tomorrow will test the magnitude of the Republican Party’s suburban slide. Democratic victories this week could reshape the national political landscape in 2020, and politics for decades across the South (The Associated Press).

 

The New York Times: Trump remains highly competitive in the battleground states likeliest to decide his reelection, according to a set of new surveys from The New York Times Upshot and Siena College.

 

As voters head to the polls, election officials and election experts say they’re confident about the headway being made with improvements adopted around the country to prevent hacking and disinformation attacks like those experienced in 2016 and 2018. That optimism is a backdrop for lawmakers in Congress, who split along party lines about how to legislatively tackle election security (The Hill).

 

The 2020 Democratic presidential contest is a three-way race, according to voters participating in a new survey, even as lower-tier candidates with anemic standings in poll after poll attempt to hang on for the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses.

 

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul Buttigieg2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (D) are less well known than 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, 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.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (D-Mass.), all of whom enjoy high name recognition and generally favorable assessments among Democrats, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (The Associated Press). But a quarter of respondents say they don’t know enough about Harris and 40 percent say the same about the South Bend mayor.

 

Over the weekend, Harris, who is managing her cash-on-hand and fundraising to focus on Iowa, said she’s “all in” for the Hawkeye State caucus, the first-in-the-nation primary. Niall Stanage explores the “restructuring” that the senator’s campaign envisions amid her sagging polls and tepid fundraising and asks the key question, especially after former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) decided there was no path for him to the White House, is there a plausible way back for Harris?

 

CBS News: Reporter Ed O’Keefe interviewed Harris in Des Moines on Saturday about her strategy in Iowa. “We’re going to do well in Iowa, and I’m sure of that,” she said.

 

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro made nice on Sunday. Recall that his breakout moment during the first Democratic debate came when he attacked O'Rourke over immigration policy. With his fellow Texan out of the race, Castro says the disagreement is behind them. Castro told The Hill on Sunday in Indianola, Iowa, that he had called O'Rourke to offer him good wishes. They didn't connect, but Castro said he left a message — and predicted that O'Rourke still has a future in politics.

 

The New York Times: The end of Betomania.

 

Meanwhile, Warren has all the name recognition, campaign cash, and Iowa staffing and infrastructure an emerging front-runner could hope for. She’s also dogged, mocked and skewered over her $20.5 trillion invoice to cover the costs of public health care for every American through higher taxes on the wealthy and on businesses, but without “a penny” in higher taxes for the middle class, she says. Analysts maintain Warren’s big challenge with her “Medicare for All” plan is political, not mathematical (Reuters).

 

John F. Harris, Politico: There are at least seven big bets that will decide who wins the White House in 2020. One wager, made by Warren, who is “the greatest disrupter of Democratic politics this year” is that it’s “time for progressives to play a much more aggressive and undiluted brand of offense.”

 

 

 

 

And speaking of progressive policies and 2020, the Democratic presidential contenders are zeroing in on “environmental justice,” which pleases green activists. Candidates have ambitious plans to tackle decades of pollution and harmful practices that are concentrated in poor neighborhoods and communities of color (The Hill). 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Immigration: Over the weekend, the administration’s requirement that prospective immigrants must prove in advance they’d have health coverage within 30 days of their arrival in the United States hit a hurdle when a federal judge in Oregon issued a 28-day restraining order. The policy was to take effect on Sunday. Numerous legal challenges to Trump’s immigration and refugee policies are in the courts. The White House issued a statement on Sunday saying the administration will continue to argue that Trump may “impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate” (Reuters).

 

> Paper chase: Departments and agencies that implement Trump’s science and environmental policies have refused to respond to more than 50 separate Democratic requests for documents and information, underscoring the administration’s reluctance to provide information to Congress and to the public. The agencies behind the blockade include the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture. Administration officials say the Democratic complaints are unfounded and that information relevant to some requests has been shared with lawmakers (The Hill).

 

> Adieu, Paris: Beginning today, Trump has the rules-based opening to act on his pledge to withdraw the United States from the landmark Paris climate agreement signed by close to 200 nations in 2015, and binding with pledges to cut carbon pollution for the past three years. Withdrawal would begin with a letter from the administration to the United Nations, but the separation would not become official for a year, which in Trump’s case could occur soon after the 2020 election. If the president loses his bid for reelection, the 46th U.S. president could return to the Paris accord with 30 days’ notice (The Associated Press).   

 

Personnel announcements: Trump last week said he will nominate Texas cancer researcher Stephen Hahn to lead the Food and Drug Administration (The New York Times). …Trump on Friday sparked confusion when he announced that Chad Wolf is the acting secretary at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), although the department said acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan is still on the job into next week. McAleenan resigned in October pending the appointment of a successor. Complications: Wolf must be confirmed for his current job as undersecretary for policy before he can take the acting job atop DHS (Politico). Wolf is on record advocating for the separation of immigrant families, a controversial Trump policy the administration was forced by courts to reverse. His Senate confirmation hearings will be rough.

 

 

 



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

The government protects our food and cars. Why not our data? Natasha Singer, technology reporter, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/36qyOSp

 

In California in 1994, Prop. 187, which denied certain benefits to illegal aliens, roused a generation, by Gustave Arellano, The Los Angeles Times. https://bit.ly/2JJb3vm



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Guy Snodgrass, the former communications director for 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, discussing his new book, “Holding the Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon.” Also on the program: Kyle Kulinski, host of The Kyle Kulinski Show. 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 meet at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session and lawmakers return to work on Nov. 12.

 

The Senate convenes at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session.

 

The president this morning will meet with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoProtests serve as backdrop to Erdoğan's visit to White House Chris Wallace: Taylor testimony 'very damaging to President Trump' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings MORE. Trump welcomes the World Series champion Washington Nationals to the South Lawn at 1:30 p.m. He will depart this afternoon to hold a reelection rally at 7 p.m. at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., to campaign for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) before returning to Washington (USA Today). The president wielded his Twitter account to stump for Bevin before the flight (The Hill).

 

Vice President Pence flies to Gulfport, Miss., to speak to Republicans at a rally hosted by Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) in Biloxi at noon. Pence will return to Washington this evening.

 

Pompeo will meet with the president in the morning at the White House and in the afternoon sit down with Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Moreno at the State Department. The secretary at 3 p.m. will headline an event marking the 40th anniversary of Iran’s taking of U.S. hostages in the embassy in Tehran (The Associated Press). 

 

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 is in Doha, Qatar, for a second day, holding bilateral meetings with his counterparts. He returns to Washington tomorrow. 

 

White House Fellows: The application process is open through Jan. 8 for the 2020-2021 White House Fellows program, founded in 1964. Selected individuals spend a year in Washington, D.C., working as full-time, paid government employees aiding Cabinet secretaries, senior White House staff and other top-ranking government officials. Application info: https://fellows.whitehouse.gov/. Program info: https://www.whitehouse.gov/get-involved/fellows/. Contact for questions: whitehousefellows@who.eop.gov.



ELSEWHERE

Airbnb: The shooting deaths on Halloween of five people at a large party at an Airbnb property in Northern California resulted in the company’s decision to ban “party houses” nationwide that are booked through the short-term rental platform. "We are redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct, including conduct that leads to the terrible events we saw in Orinda," Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced on Saturday. He said an Airbnb executive will oversee a new rapid response team and initiate a "10 day sprint" to implement new safety initiatives adopted by the company (USA Today). Airbnb is attracting negative publicity in major cities that are destinations for large numbers of tourists and visitors, including Miami Beach.

 

Law enforcement: Breathalyzer tests, a bedrock of the criminal justice system, are often unreliable, a New York Times investigation found. Judges in Massachusetts and New Jersey have thrown out more than 30,000 breath tests in the past 12 months alone, largely because of human errors and lax governmental oversight. Across the country, thousands of other tests also have been invalidated in recent years.

 

Economy: A resilient job market and steady consumer spending have helped push the U.S. economy through a mix of global threats. Without a significant downturn in hiring or consumer spending, the economy may hold up favorably into the 2020 election season, potentially insulating Trump from political blowback (The Hill). 

 

Baked goods in space: It’s one giant leap for chocolate chip cookies! If you remember the Easy Bake Oven method of cooking something the size of a hockey puck with a lightbulb, you’ll want to read this: A Zero G Oven was packed among supplies sent into space over the weekend to astronauts on the International Space Station. If all goes according to plan, in a few weeks, the warm, sweet aroma of a single cookie baked at a time using electric heating elements will waft through the space station’s lab (The Associated Press). 

 

 

 



THE CLOSER

And finally This is the kind of smile we all like to see on Monday morning! The New York City Marathon included a dazzling debut finish on Sunday by first-time-marathoner Joyciline Jepkosgei of Kenya, 25, who ran 26.2 miles like a veteran when she won among female racers in 2:22:38, just seven seconds off the course record. In the 23rd mile, Jepkosgei broke away from four-time race winner Mary Keitany, also of Kenya, who came in second in 2:23:32. Desiree Linden, who set a fast early pace, was the top American, crossing the finish line in sixth place in 2:26:46. It was the fourth-fastest time ever run by an American woman on the course (Runners World). 

 

Among the men, Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya won the marathon in 2:08:13, followed by Albert Korir of Kenya and Girma Bekele Gebre of Ethiopia. Gebre, who speaks no English and has no agent or shoe contract, slashed an astonishing five minutes from his personal record with his 2:08:38 third-place achievement on Sunday (Runners World).