The Hill’s Morning Report – Impeachment drama will dominate this week
***A salute to all those who served and are serving, and Happy Veterans Day!***
Capitol Hill braces for a monumental week as the House impeachment inquiry moves toward a trio of hearings that will mark the public phase of the investigation into President Trump, his actions regarding Ukraine and a possible quid pro quo.
House Democrats are facing a landmark moment as they attempt to make the case to voters that Trump should be ousted from the Oval Office. As Mike Lillis writes, the push has enormous stakes within Congress and in a country that are both bitterly divided as the 2020 elections close in and become a referendum on the president.
On Wednesday, House investigators expect to hear publicly from William Taylor, the chargé d’affaires ad interim for Ukraine and a longtime diplomat, followed by testimony from George Kent, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs. Both men already gave depositions to the House.
The process of witnesses moving in and out of a secret basement room in the Capitol now moves into televised view following weeks of evidence-gathering since House proceedings officially began Sept. 24. Lawmakers have questioned 15 witnesses brought before three investigatory panels. Lengthy transcripts were released last week.
The Associated Press: Watergate redux? Trump impeachment inquiry heads for live TV.
Axios: Trump aides fear John Bolton’s secret notes.
The Washington Post: Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s move to join impeachment testimony lawsuit rankles Bolton allies.
Ahead of the first hearings, John Kruzel and Olivia Beavers set the table and give an in-depth rundown on the three key witnesses who are slated to testify publicly this week.
Over the weekend, House Republicans presented their witness wish list for the public phase of the inquiry, headlined by their interest in hearing from Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, who at one time served on the board of a Ukraine energy company. The pair is at the epicenter of the witness-corroborated push by Trump for a Ukraine probe to dig up political dirt on the Bidens.
Republicans also want the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the House Democrats’ Ukraine probe to testify. Democratic lawmakers are expected to decline both requests. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) says public testimony by the whistleblower, an intelligence community official who seeks to remain anonymous, would be “redundant and unnecessary” (The Hill).
Axios: Inside Republicans’ defense strategy for impeachment.
NPR: The whistleblower complaint has largely been corroborated. Here’s how.
Among the other potential witnesses House Republicans would like to question: Alexandra Chalupa, a former staffer at the Democratic National Committee; David Hale, the under secretary of State for political affairs, and Tim Morrison; a former senior director for Russian and European affairs on the National Security Council. GOP lawmakers believe the private testimony from Hale and Morrison in recent weeks bolstered the president’s case against impeachment.
While Democrats focus on this week’s three witnesses, the timeline for impeachment proceedings is clearer. As Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos report, Democratic lawmakers want to wrap before 2020, setting up consideration of one or more articles of impeachment against Trump before Christmas.
Politico: The unsolved mystery of frozen Ukraine aid.
The New York Times: What Joe Biden actually did in Ukraine.
The Hill: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on the impeachment inquiry: “I made my mind up. There’s nothing there.”
The Hill: Sunday shows — New impeachment phase dominates.
LEADING THE DAY
POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: With less than three months standing between the 2020 field and the Iowa caucuses, Democrats are on edge as focus intensifies on the four top-tier candidates in the field, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s possible entrance in the race could toss a major wrench into a chaotic contest.
As Jonathan Easley writes, the crowded field of contenders has made it difficult for a single contender to move into the lead, with the latest Quinnipiac University poll of the first-in-the-nation caucuses showing a three-way statistical tie for pole position.
For months, Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), have pace the field, with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s emergence in Iowa adding a new dimension to the ongoing fight for the nomination. However, Bloomberg’s potential entrance has added another dimension to the race — particularly, the financial might he could inject, especially as Biden continues to struggle on that front.
Bloomberg’s looming presence has also brought forth criticism from some corners of the party. While Democrats realize the financial power he could inject as a candidate, many believe he could have a more effective role as an outsider deploying resources in support of left-wing causes, including climate change — a pet issue of the former three-term mayor.
Niall Stanage notes in his latest memo that Bloomberg’s entrance would also bring another billionaire into the candidate ranks for the party, along with Tom Steyer. Some activists view Steyer’s campaign similarly to a possible Bloomberg bid, if not more serious.
Dan Balz: Can Bloomberg’s unconventional strategy win a Democratic nomination?
The Associated Press: 2020 Watch: Bloomberg escalates doubts about front-runners.
Axios: Why Bloomberg might not run.
As Bloomberg ponders his future, Senate Democrats are pressing that the results of Tuesday’s election, headlined by their wins in the Kentucky gubernatorial contest and at the local level in Virginia and Pennsylvania, show why it’s smarter to nominate a moderate such as Biden or Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) instead of a progressive candidate.
They say the victories were won by moderates like Kentucky Gov.-elect Andy Beshear, who declined to push for progressive pet issues such as universal health care. Additionally, Senate Democrats also dismiss the idea that Warren, who has been on the rise since early summer, has any lock on the nomination, arguing there’s still a lot of time left before the party decides on its standard-bearer.
The Hill: Strategists say Warren’s “Medicare for All” plan could appeal to centrists.
The Atlantic: Biden is Schrödinger’s candidate.
The Hill: Democratic women continue to sweep into office in 2019.
> Iowa: As he continues to struggle to attract support for his 2020 bid, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro called on Sunday for Democrats to rejuggle their primary schedule in the future, arguing that Iowa and New Hampshire should not go first moving forward because they are not diverse enough states.
Castro told MSNBC on Sunday that the two states are not “reflective of the United States as a whole, certainly not reflective of the Democratic Party,” adding that other states should have the opportunity to go first in the primary process.
“[W]e need to find other states — and that doesn’t mean that Iowa and New Hampshire still can’t play an important role, but I don’t believe that forever we should be married to Iowa and New Hampshire going first, and that’s the truth of the way I see it,” Castro said (WMUR).
> Anniversary: The Hill’s Reid Wilson marked a key anniversary over the weekend: The 25th anniversary of California passing Proposition 187, which denied publicly-funded medical services and education to undocumented immigrants.
The push to pass the measure, which was supported by California Republicans and then-Gov. Pete Wilson (R), brought a vicious campaign that played on white angst in a state with a rapidly growing immigrant population, castigating the new residents as the root of all that was wrong in California.
Proposition 187 passed, but while Wilson won reelection by a comfortable margin and Republicans captured control of the state legislature, the measure’s passage helped to accelerate the GOP’s long slide into obscurity in the nation’s most populous state.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The Food and Drug Administration is preparing as soon as this week to unveil a regulatory response to a vaping surge among teenagers and a rise in illnesses, some fatal, in e-cigarette users. On Friday, Trump said part of the administration’s plan calls for raising the age limit to purchase vaping products from 18 to 21.
“We’re going to be coming out with an important position on vaping. We have to take care of our kids, most importantly, so we’re going to have an age limit of 21 or so,” Trump said, adding that manufacturers of such products have also created jobs in what has become a “pretty big industry” (The Hill).
The Wall Street Journal: FDA is expected to ban all e-cigarette product flavors other than tobacco and menthol. A ban would include mint flavor, a favorite among teens.
The federal regulatory moves pose political risks for the president’s reelection, and demonstrators showed up Saturday at the White House to bring that message home (NBC News).
Meanwhile, marijuana advocates have seized on vaping illnesses to call for federal regulation of cannabis, arguing that the government can make people safer (The Hill).
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection believe it discovered at least part of the answer behind some vaping illnesses: vitamin E acetate. In a report released Friday based on lung samples taken from 29 patients, including two who died, the CDC found “evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury in the lungs.”
It is believed that vitamin E acetate is used by bootleg vaping manufacturers as a thickener along with THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana (The New York Times). Vitamin E acetate is sticky and clings to lung tissue, government researchers said. They do not know exactly how the additive harms the lungs, but studies in animals are being considered.
> At the Energy Department, impeachment has shattered Secretary Rick Perry’s hoped-for quiet exit from the administration. Transcripts show his involvement in meetings at the center of the controversy (Bloomberg).
> Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodğan’s visit to Washington on Wednesday raises red flags about a repeat of street violence seen during his 2017 trip to the nation’s capital. Recent court documents provide new details about the clashes between U.S. and Turkish security personnel. High definition video and cellphone recordings captured brazen attacks showing Turkish security officers sprinting at protesters, surrounding them and beating women, elderly men — even U.S. Secret Service personnel. At least 11 people were taken to the hospital and plaintiffs in a lawsuit detail long-term injuries, including physical pain, memory loss and post-traumatic stress disorder (The Hill).
> Trump’s recent announcement that the administration officially began the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord underscores questions about leverage the United States will forfeit by exiting the global pact, and how quickly it could be regained if a future president opts to reenter the agreement. Experts argue the United States under Trump created a leadership vacuum by refusing to address climate change, a situation they expect will worsen (The Hill).
> Attorney General William Barr, after 11 months on the job, is viewed by many as one of the most polarizing figures in Washington. He’s also one of Trump’s most trusted Cabinet officials. Some legal experts believe Barr took steps that undermine the Justice Department’s political neutrality, a condition they argue now undercuts his efforts to assert independence from Trump after Barr’s name became linked with Ukraine and the president’s zeal to see a political rival investigated (The Hill).
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
As impeachment goes forward, the public will forget conventional wisdom, by Albert Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2ryd0EJ
What last week’s Election Day results signify for both parties in 2020, by Douglas Schoen, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/32A2fy8
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features technologist John McAfee, who talks about Facebook’s proposal to launch cryptocurrency Libra, and the future of the technology; writer Jacob Bacharach, who talks about his Outline.com piece,“OK President Boomer; and Reveal senior reporter Aaron Glantz, who describes his book, “Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream.” Coverage starts at 9 a.m. EST at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.
The House returns to work Tuesday at 2 p.m.
The Senate will convene Tuesday at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Chad Wolf to be under secretary for strategy, policy, and plans at the Department of Homeland Security.
The president is in the Big Apple today and will deliver a speech at the opening ceremony of the 100th annual New York City Veterans Day Parade.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who served in the U.S. Army from 1986 to 1991, is in South Carolina to deliver a speech at 10 a.m. on “Lessons from a Lifetime of Service” to the cadets at The Citadel in Charleston.
CNN hosts a televised town hall at 9 p.m. featuring Biden, who will be questioned by Iowa voters. Steyer will be featured Tuesday night.
➔ Supreme Court: On Tuesday, justices will hear oral arguments in cases triggered by Trump’s move to end Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The cases are at the heart of a two-year, high-stakes political fight and could impact more than 700,000 people. A ruling is expected next summer, just months before the 2020 election (The Hill). SCOTUSblog has background HERE on the court’s consideration of three consolidated cases.
➔ Boeing: In at least six court filings and in-person appearances over the past year, Boeing made clear it seeks to move victim lawsuits abroad. If successful, Boeing could save millions of dollars in damages and limit how much information about 737 Max crashes the company has to make public. Lawmakers asked Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg about the strategy last month. He said he was unaware of his company’s legal filings (The New York Times).
➔ Hong Kong & Bolivia: During continued unrest in Hong Kong today, police shot and critically wounded a 21-year-old protester while another man was doused with gasoline and lit on fire as violence entered a new phase on the island. Chinese troops remained in their barracks (Reuters). … In Bolivia, President Evo Morales on Sunday announced his resignation, after weeks of protests and unrest over a disputed election that he had claimed to have won. Morales announced he would step down after the Organization of American States called for a new presidential election, citing irregularities in the Oct. 20 vote (The Associated Press). In the resulting power vacuum, violence and looting today gripped the capital of La Paz as Morales’s whereabouts are said to be unknown (The New York Times).
➔ GOP tax law: Criticism of the GOP tax law enacted in 2017 has flared anew because the law was touted as a way to supercharge the economy. Instead, U.S. business investment has contracted in the past two quarters. Republicans who supported the law say the culprit is Trump’s trade war with China, not the tax law. Critics maintain the GOP misjudged purported benefits from the outset (The Hill).
➔ Crime and passion (with vodka), Moscow-style: Russia’s greatest Napoleonic reenactor was found drunk in a river with the severed arms of his lover in his backpack. Oleg Sokolov, 63, is suspected of killing his 24-year-old student, Anastasia Yeshchenko (The Washington Post).
And finally … Carrots not sticks! Chicago’s Public Library system began a new policy last month doing away with all fines for overdue books and materials, a change implemented by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The no-fines-policy has been a huge initial success, with hundreds of books returned to the library system along with patrons who said they had been avoiding their local libraries because of their overdue debts (Fox News). Next up: Lightfoot wants to phase in limited Sunday hours at many libraries next year and finance the costs with higher property taxes (The Chicago Tribune).
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