The Hill's Morning Report - Dems poised to air alleged Trump abuses on TV

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Thursday! 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 officially kick off public impeachment hearings next week, marking a new turn in the ongoing inquiry being led by House Democrats into President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE’s dealings with Ukraine and questions about a possible quid pro quo. 

 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy READ: Top NSC aide Tim Morrison's closed-door impeachment inquiry testimony Top NSC aide puts Sondland at front lines of Ukraine campaign, speaking for Trump MORE (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that public hearings will begin with testimony from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, on Wednesday. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is expected to testify on Friday.

 

The public nature of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry will come just over a month after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLouisiana governor wins re-election Dynamic scoring: Forward-thinking budgeting practices to grow our economy Pelosi: Trump tweets on Yovanovitch show his 'insecurity as an imposter' MORE (D-Calif.) announced the initial push, which has been characterized by closed-door interviews with witnesses, an attempted stonewalling by the Trump administration and cries from Republicans that the process is a sham. The final claim has not slowed down since the House voted to take the process public.

 

The Hill: House to hold public impeachment hearings beginning Wednesday.

 

The Hill: Democrats set stage for Watergate-style TV hearings.

 

The Washington Post: Trump wanted Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr defends Trump's use of executive authority, slams impeachment hearings GOP eager for report on alleged FBI surveillance abuse DOJ watchdog won't let witnesses submit written feedback on investigation into Russia probe: report MORE to hold a news conference to say the president broke no laws in the call with the Ukrainian leader. Instead, Barr has publicly steered clear of the Ukraine controversy. 

 

Along with Schiff’s announcement, House investigators continued to release transcripts from witness interviews on Wednesday, headlined by Taylor’s Oct. 22 testimony. 

 

As Olivia Beavers and Mike Lillis report, the transcript of Taylor’s deposition provides new layers of detail about Trump’s efforts to find dirt on political rivals — and the extent to which it alarmed veterans in the State Department.    

 

“By mid-July, it was becoming clear to me that the [White House] meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian influence in the 2016 elections,” Taylor testified. 

 

Taylor also told House investigators it was “clear” that this “irregular” foreign policy channel was led by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGrowing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide Top NSC aide puts Sondland at front lines of Ukraine campaign, speaking for Trump Bloomberg, Patrick take different approaches after late entries into primary race MORE, Trump’s personal lawyer, whom Taylor considered to be operating on the president’s behalf.

 

➔ Read the Taylor transcript HERE.

 

The Hill: Taylor testimony shows concern about Giuliani influence, “irregular” foreign policy channel.

 

Politico: Impeachment transcripts reveal a consistent, damaging narrative for Trump.

 

The Associated Press: “I would quit”: Takeaways from diplomat Taylor’s testimony.

 

Today, investigators are expected to hear from Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence who was on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that kicked off the inquiry (ABC News). 

 

Her likely testimony will come a day after Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale appeared on Capitol Hill, breaking a string of days where the investigatory panels were snubbed by administration officials.

 

Hale was expected to provide insights into the campaign by Trump and his allies to remove Yovanovitch from her ambassadorial post, which upset many veterans of the State Department who were concerned that the agency's top officials did little to protect a career diplomat (The Hill).

 

 

 

 

Paul Kane: Election results reassure House Democrats as they pursue impeachment inquiry of Trump.

 

The Hill: White House doubles down on “no quid pro quo.”

 

The Hill: Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Trump: 'Everybody knows who the whistleblower is' Johnson opens door to subpoenaing whistleblower, Schiff, Bidens MORE (R-Ky.) blocks Senate resolution backing protection for whistleblowers.

 

Other investigations: A federal prosecutor on Wednesday told a jury that Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneGates sentencing set for next month The Hill's 12:30 Report: Former Ukraine envoy offers dramatic testimony Trump bemoans 'double standard' in Stone conviction MORE, a long time confidant of the president, lied to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign in order to protect the president.  

 

The accusation by Aaron Zelinsky, a Department of Justice prosecutor and a member of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE’s legal team, made the accusation during opening arguments in Stone’s trial over charges of making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering.

 

“The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad — the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” Zelinsky said (The Hill).



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS: Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWhite House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations The Hill's Campaign Report: Late bids surprise 2020 Democratic field Sessions vows to 'work for' Trump endorsement MORE is expected to announce today that he is running for his old Senate seat in Alabama, throwing a big wrench into the primary contest to take on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) next fall. 

 

The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke and Al Weaver first reported news of Sessions’s plans on Wednesday, with two sources saying he hired OnMessage, a GOP consulting firm, to handle his race and that he was set to make the announcement on “Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonCBS employee fired for allegedly leaking Robach hot mic clip denies she leaked the tape Megyn Kelly teases interview with woman reportedly fired after leak of hot mic Epstein video Former AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race MORE Tonight” later today.

 

Sessions’s announcement will come exactly a year after Trump fired him from his post atop the Justice Department and as the president continues to express regret about bringing the former Alabama senator on as his first attorney general. According to one GOP source, while Sessions has not spoken to Trump about a Senate bid, the White House made it clear to Sessions’s inner circle that Trump will regard his candidacy “extremely unfavorably.” 

 

Sessions is jumping into an already crowded primary, headlined by Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneSessions vows to 'work for' Trump endorsement Trump attends football game with Jeff Sessions' Alabama Senate race opponent Bradley Byrne The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race MORE (R-Ala.), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreFormer AG Sessions enters Alabama Senate race Campaign ad casts Sessions as a 'traitor' ahead of expected Senate run Doug Jones on potential challenge from Sessions: Alabama GOP primary will be 'really divisive' MORE.

 

 

 

 

Presidential candidates are still digesting Election Day returns to understand emerging trends and trip wires, including Trump and his campaign team. But among Democrats, a debate is raging about whether the most effective approach to defeat the incumbent president next year is to die on the hill of big change or campaign to unite Americans who say they’re overdosed on national divisiveness (The Hill).

 

Former President Obama weighed in on Twitter following Tuesday’s election returns, reprising his 2008 and 2012 themes, tailored for 2019, natch: Proud of all the Americans who showed up to vote yesterday, electing a set of hopeful, forward-thinking leaders primed to protect Medicaid, draw fair voting maps, and reduce gun violence. A great night for our country — one that’ll leave a lasting legacy.

 

The Hill: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBudget official says he didn't know why military aid was delayed: report Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide READ: Foreign service officer Jennifer Williams' closed-door testimony from the House impeachment inquiry MORE wants to point to Tuesday night's Democratic victories in Kentucky and Virginia to argue he's the only top-tier candidate who can appeal to moderate voters his party must woo in order to defeat Trump.

 

The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSinger Neil Young says that America's presidents haven't done enough address climate change New poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide MORE (I-Vt.) pledges to undo all of Trump's executive actions on immigration on Day One if he wins the White House next year, part of a comprehensive immigration policy plan.

 

Trump headlined a reelection rally in Monroe, La., on Tuesday night, preaching from an un-Obama script. Democrats are “rip[ping] the guts out of our country,” he said, calling a House impeachment inquire an “illegal act” (The Hill).

 

The president also sought to give a boost to Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone, who is trying to unseat incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in a Nov. 16 runoff. It was Trump’s third effort in a red state to try to pull a GOP candidate for governor to victory. His efforts may have helped in Mississippi on Tuesday, but in Kentucky, where Republican Gov. Matt Bevin narrowly lost to Democrat Andy Beshear, the wisdom of Trump’s decision to nationalize the races is hotly debated (USA Today).

 

The Associated Press: Bevin seeks a recanvass of votes in Kentucky as Beshear begins to transition as governor-elect.

 

The Washington Post analysis: Tuesday’s results were “a bad election for the GOP. And it cements three years of undeniable backward electoral momentum for the party under Trump. … The momentum is clearly in the wrong direction for Republicans.”

 

Tuesday’s election returns made other headlines:

 

The Hill: Democrats win big in Philadelphia suburbs, raising red flags for the GOP.

 

The Hill: Democratic victories on Tuesday marked a setback for the Trump administration’s efforts to impose Medicaid work requirements at the state level.

 

The Washington Post: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), speaking during a Cabinet meeting following his party’s victories in capturing majorities in the House of Delegates and state Senate, said his state would change its gun laws. He mentioned universal background checks, banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, restoring the law that limits purchases to one gun a month, and a “red flag” law that would empower a court to temporarily remove a gun from a person deemed to be a risk to himself or others. “We will at least start with those,” he said.

 

In the U.S. Capitol, Republican senators are examining Tuesday’s election returns and worrying about holding their majority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy On The Money: Trump asks Supreme Court to block Dem subpoena for financial records | Kudlow 'very optimistic' for new NAFTA deal | House passes Ex-Im Bank bill opposed by Trump, McConnell Top House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments MORE (R-Ky.), who is unpopular in his state and now faces a Democratic governor as he seeks reelection, understands the challenges. McConnell earlier this year told reporters the political winds in America’s suburbs would be key, and those winds blew in favor of Democratic candidates on Tuesday (The Hill).

 

In Alabama, however, Sessions, 72, who has an ice-cold relationship with Trump and chilly ties with McConnell, has decided to ignore the naysayers. 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump made it official: He will meet at the White House on Wednesday with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey. The red-carpet treatment is controversial because of Turkey’s military attack in October on U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds, including women and children, across the border in Syria. The House last week passed a resolution recognizing and rebuking the Ottoman Empire's genocide against the Armenian people and a bill to place additional sanctions on Turkey. The Senate is still mulling its own sanctions legislation (The Hill).

 

> Military justice: Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperHillicon Valley: Twitter shares more details on political ad rules | Supreme Court takes up Google-Oracle fight | Pentagon chief defends Microsoft cloud contract Overnight Defense: Ex-Ukraine ambassador offers dramatic day of testimony | Talks of 'crisis' at State Department | Trump tweets criticism of envoy during hearing | Dems warn against 'witness intimidation' | Trump defends his 'freedom of speech' Esper: Pentagon contract fairly awarded to Microsoft over Amazon MORE said he appealed to Trump on Tuesday not to intervene in ongoing military justice cases through any public comments or presidential actions. Pentagon leaders are “acutely” concerned that Trump could circumvent the military system and undermine “good order and discipline” and military morale. Earlier this week, Fox News reported that Trump was likely to issue pardons or take other action to assist three current and former service members charged with war crimes and other instances of wrongdoing. Esper called the discussion with the president “robust,” adding, “we’ll see how things play out” (The Washington Post). 

 

> USAID: Being “Penced” is a verb. Officials in Pence’s office over the past two years interceded in U.S. international assistance decisions to reroute federal funds to favored Christian groups working abroad, according to U.S. Agency for International Development information obtained by ProPublica. The Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed have previously reported Pence’s interest in increasing foreign aid to Christians and his displeasure with USAID’s activities in Iraq. Officials in the vice president’s office and at USAID did not comment for the report.

  

> FDA: The Trump administration may set separate rules for vape shops when it unveils expected federal requirements governing e-cigarette flavors, White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayNBC signs Mueller 'pit bull' prosecutor Andrew Weissman as legal analyst George Conway and Trump Jr. trade personal insults during impeachment hearing Conway: Trump reacted 'pretty well' to impeachment hearing because 'there was nothing new' MORE said. Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, Conway separated tobacco and menthol products from mint, fruit and all other flavors. The latter group appeals to youngsters and the White House seeks to curb vaping and product use by minors, she said (Bloomberg).



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

Closing the school-to-prison pipeline for good, by presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Bloomberg, Patrick take different approaches after late entries into primary race Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne MORE (D-Mass.), opinion contributor, Essence magazine. https://bit.ly/2WLPrUk

 

In Tuesday’s election, Americans voted their values. That’s bad for Trump, by Bill Schneider, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/36Ijsc0



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Chuck Rocha, a senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) campaign, to discuss Sanders’s immigration reform plan; Antony Loewenstein, an Australian journalist based in Jerusalem, talking about his new book, “Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs”; and Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.

 

The House returns to work on Tuesday.

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m.

 

The president participates in an Oval Office event in recognition of the National Day for the Victims of Communism at 2:15 p.m. He will present the Presidential Citizens Medal at 6 p.m. Trump will headline a GOP fundraising committee reception at 8 p.m. at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. 

 

Pence will travel to Manchester, N.H., to officially file the paperwork to place the Trump-Pence ticket on the 2020 state ballot. Later, Pence will visit the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library at Saint Anselm College to speak at the New England Council’s “Politics & Eggs” event, to be covered by C-SPAN. Pence will return to Washington this evening. 



ELSEWHERE

Spying for the House of Saud: The Justice Department on Wednesday unveiled charges against two former employees of tech giant Twitter, alleging they spied for Saudi Arabia by digging into the accounts of the kingdom’s critics. The case raises concerns about the ability of Silicon Valley to protect the private information of dissidents and other users from repressive governments. Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen who is alleged to have spied on the accounts of three users, including one whose posts discussed the inner workings of the Saudi leadership, was arrested on Tuesday, accused of operating on behalf of the government in Riyadh. Abouammo is also charged with falsifying an invoice to obstruct an FBI investigation. The second former Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen, is accused of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Analysts said it is the first time federal prosecutors have publicly accused Saudis of spying in the United States (The Washington Post).

 

Health care: A federal judge in New York on Wednesday struck down a Trump administration rule set to take effect on Nov. 22 that would make it easier for health care providers to refuse to perform health services, such as abortion, claiming such care conflicts with their personal religious beliefs (The Hill).

 

CEOs: A record number of corporate chief executives — 1,332 — left their jobs in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 13 percent from last year. Reasons: Most top executives studied by the Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. placement firm departed because of customary executive succession plans. But in October alone, six top execs departed following professional misconduct allegations (The Hill). 

 

News media: The New York Times saw a surge in the number of online subscribers in the third quarter, the company reported on Wednesday. But it also experienced a drop in digital advertising revenues, which the company chalked up to “continued turbulence” in the digital ad world. The Times has a total of 4.9 million subscribers, both print and digital (The New York Times). … Many journalists who ventured to ground zero on and after 9/11 to cover the World Trade Center attacks in New York City now suffer from cancer and other health problems similar to the impact experienced by first responders. Journalists, who also provided a public service with their work in 2001, are eligible to apply for assistance to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (CNN). 



THE CLOSER

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the ongoing impeachment inquiry, we’re eager for some smart guesses about a few insiders and whistleblowers in the United States.

 

Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

 

In which year did FBI agent Mark Felt officially reveal himself through his attorney to be the main source of Bob Woodward and Carl BernsteinCarl BernsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems poised to air alleged Trump abuses on TV Worried about fake political news? Just don't repost Carl Bernstein: 'Increasingly unstable' Trump 'a danger to national security' MORE’s Watergate reporting, known to the world as Deep Throat? 

  1. 1996
  2. 1999
  3. 2002
  4. 2005

 

To what entity did Daniel Ellsberg initially give the “Pentagon Papers” before handing them over to The New York Times and other news outlets? 

  1. Senate Foreign Relations Committee 
  2. House Intelligence Committee
  3. FBI
  4. Democratic National Committee

 

How many separate times did Harry Markopolos, a former securities industry executive and a forensic accounting and fraud investigator, report suspected fraud by Bernie Madoff to the Securities and Exchange Commission prior to the former financier’s arrest in 2008?  

  1. Two
  2. Three
  3. Four
  4. Five

 

From where did Edward Snowden fly to Russia before being granted asylum after he leaked National Security Agency documents to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald

  1. Taiwan
  2. Hawaii 
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Singapore