The Hill's Morning Report - Fallout from day one of Trump impeachment hearing

 

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House Democrats received a major boost during the first public testimony of the impeachment inquiry hearings on Wednesday as they continue to press the case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE over his withholding of military aid from Ukraine for investigations into his political rivals. 

 

While not much new was unearthed during the five hours of testimony from a pair of witnesses, William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d'affaires for Ukraine, told lawmakers that a member of his staff overheard a conversation between the president and U.S.

 

Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandGOP chairman vows to protect whistleblowers following Vindman retirement over 'bullying' Top Democrat slams Trump's new EU envoy: Not 'a political donor's part-time job' Trump names new EU envoy, filling post left vacant by impeachment witness Sondland MORE, who has been at the center of the Ukraine situation, a day after the president’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

 

The staffer told Taylor that Trump was interested in the news on “the investigations,” according to the longtime diplomat’s testimony, referring to the probes sought by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGrand jury adds additional counts against Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and and Igor Fruman Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates Giuliani criticizes NYC leadership: 'They're killing this city' MORE, Trump’s personal attorney, into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE, his son Hunter Biden and 2016 election interference. Sondland replied that the Ukrainians “were ready to move forward,” Taylor said (The Hill).  

 

Taylor said that after the conversation, the staffer asked Sondland what the president thought about Ukraine.

 

“President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden,” Sondland replied, according to the testimony (The Hill).   

 

Taylor told investigators that he did not bring up the episode during his Oct. 22 private deposition because he did not know about it then.

 

The Washington Post: Ambassador’s cell phone call to Trump placed from a Kyiv restaurant was a breach of security, former officials say.  

 

For Democrats, the information led them to request a closed-door deposition with David Holmes, the staffer in question. Holmes, who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine under Taylor, is expected to testify on Friday. Investigators also requested private testimony on Saturday from Mark Sandy, an official at the Office of Management and Budget. 

 

Trump denied any knowledge of the call when pressed about it by Fox News’s John Roberts after the revelation. 

 

“I know nothing about that. First time I’ve heard it,” Trump said. “I don’t recall [a July 26 call with Sondland]. … “There was no quid pro quo” (The Hill).

 

Trump, during a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said he will release on Thursday a transcript of another phone call he had with Zelensky, which he said was, like his July 25 call, “perfect.”

 

John F. Harris: Trump exposed: A brutal day for the president.

 

The Washington Post: On Day One of the impeachment, the Trump Show continues to disrupt Washington.

 

Elsewhere, The Hill’s Scott Wong and Mike Lillis break down the opening day of public hearings and give their top takeaways. Among them was House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies MORE (D-Calif.) and his firm grip on the hearing, which turned out to be a relatively civil event. 

 

Democrats prepared for distractions of all kinds, including audience protests, outbursts from lawmakers and other demonstrations of dissent from Trump’s GOP allies. However, they were far and few between. 

 

The questioning from the GOP side of the dais yielded mixed results. While Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Republicans call for Judiciary hearing into unrest in cities run by Democrats MORE (R-Ohio) was lauded by many on the right for his back-and-forth with Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent, others were not as successful, headlined by Steve Castor, the Republican counsel. 

 

The Hill: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMomentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Trump expects to nominate woman to replace Ginsburg next week Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral MORE (R-Ky.) discounts quick dismissal of Trump impeachment articles: “We'll have to have a trial.”

 

With today’s hearing in the rearview mirror, attention will now turn to Friday when Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify publicly before the panel about her removal from the post in Kyiv. Yovanovitch came up during today’s hearing as Kent described a “smear campaign” by Giuliani against her prior to her ouster.

 

The Associated Press: Next up in the impeachment hearings.

 

Reuters: In interviews, voters in two key states say impeachment hearings won’t change their views of Trump. 

 



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The 2020 Democratic field is set to expand. Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickRalph Gants, chief justice of Massachusetts supreme court, dies at 65 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden MORE is expected today to announce a White House bid, The New York Times reports, leaping into the contest while some Democrats publicly fret about the party’s chances of defeating Trump next year.

 

According to multiple reports, Patrick told allies he will file for the New Hampshire primary ahead of the state’s deadline on Friday. The former two-term governor will play catch-up in a rollicking race with less than three months before the first caucus goers and primary voters head to the polls. 

 

While Democrats view Patrick favorably and consider him a formidable contender, some suggest the time crunch to raise money and build a campaign organization in key early primary states poses a steep challenge. Patrick faces only weeks to qualify under the Democratic National Committee rules for a debate in mid-December, as well as the debates that follow — events intended  to winnow the party’s crowded field.

 

“I think that Gov. Patrick is an incredibly talented politician, but I think it’s a hard road to put together the kind of staff and operations and raise the money in 100 days. … I think it’s a hard task,” said Rep. Katherine ClarkKatherine Marlea ClarkRep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race Races heat up for House leadership posts MORE (D-Mass.), who has endorsed fellow Bay State Democrat Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon MORE (Mass.). “He’s always formidable. … He was a very successful governor. He’s a very talented politician. I think it’s really a question of timing.” 

 

Massachusetts Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Markey defeats Kennedy; Trump lauds America's enforcers in Wisconsin Moulton fends off primary challenges in Massachusetts Portland: The Pentagon should step up or pipe down MORE (D), who ended his own presidential bid in late August, said on Wednesday that while he had not spoken with Patrick, he will consider a possible endorsement of the former governor. Moulton is one of three members of his state’s congressional delegation who has not endorsed a contender in the 2020 race. 

 

“We need someone who can win, and I’ve said from the very beginning: Beating Trump is not going to be as easy as people think, and I think that Gov. Patrick can make a compelling case there,” Moulton said, adding that he believes Patrick also has the ability to “bring the country together.

 

“It’s something that I’ll look at very carefully,” Moulton said of an endorsement, adding that he is also a fan of Biden and is close with his team.

 

With an announcement expected, Patrick is slated to appear on “CBS This Morning” at 8 a.m. today. 

 

Patrick’s entrance is another sign there is no clear front-runner for the nomination. Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergTop Democratic super PAC launches Florida ad blitz after Bloomberg donation The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Latest with the COVID-19 relief bill negotiations The Memo: 2020 is all about winning Florida MORE, like the former governor from Massachusetts, is testing his theory that there’s room to influence a contest built around challenging Trump, according to Niall Stanage’s latest memo

 

The Hill: Warren goes local in race to build a 2020 movement.

 

 

> Settling an election: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is facing a critical moment today, as every county board of election in the state will convene and recanvass the results of his expected loss to Gov.-elect Andy Beshear on Nov. 5. 

 

Bevin, who has not conceded, is holding out hope that the recanvass, which involves officials looking at each voting machine to ensure that totals were correctly added, will help him narrow the gap against Beshear, who topped Bevin on election night by 0.38 percentage points. 

 

As the Lexington Herald Leader writes, the recanvass is unlikely to change the result.

 

“I would be very surprised if even one vote changes,” said Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins, adding that the process is the main reason. “It’s roughly the equivalent to checking to make sure a spreadsheet can add correctly.”

 

The Associated Press: Kentucky governor faces big decision in contested election.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump greeted Erdoğan on Wednesday for their first meeting following a month-long saga of hostilities and attempted reconciliation in the wake of Turkey's Oct. 9 attacks on Syrian Kurds in northeastern Syria (The Hill). 

 

The president and Republican lawmakers who participated in a White House meeting with the two leaders took issue with Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds and its purchase of an air defense system from Russia. Erdoğan said during a joint news conference that he rejected recent House actions meant to punish Turkey, arguing the rebukes damage his country’s relations with the United States. Trump sought to patch things up, noting he wants to seal a bilateral agreement that would increase U.S. trade with Turkey to as much as $1 billion (The Associated Press).

 

 

> Eight years of Trump’s tax returns can be obtained by Congress, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled on Wednesday. The decision will be appealed by the president’s lawyers, pushing the challenge a step closer to the Supreme Court, where the president and his attorneys want it to be decided. The case on which the D.C. Circuit Court ruled centers on a House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoena from March seeking the president’s accounting firm records (The Hill). 

 

> Justice Department: “Project Guardian” is the name of a new administration initiative that Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMichigan resident puts toilet on front lawn with sign 'Place mail in ballots here' Barr says Ginsburg 'leaves a towering legacy' Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties' MORE said on Wednesday would add tougher federal enforcement to the U.S. gun background check system (The Associated Press). Barr said the improvements would better coordinate federal, state and local gun cases and help prosecutors who want to quickly update databases and determine when a defendant cannot possess a firearm because of mental health issues. 

 

The attorney general said Congress is unlikely to vote on gun legislation this year because of the pace of the impeachment inquiry, although he sidestepped the president’s reluctance to challenge the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, during his bid for reelection. 

 

“We are going forward with all the operational steps that we can take that do not require legislative action,” Barr said.



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

Time to stop talking ‘quid pro quo’ and start looking at actual crimes, by Allan Lichtman, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2qOBWaA

 

Amid impeachment hearings, it’s worth remembering why Ukraine matters, by Daniel Fried, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2rCI06g



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Donald Trump Jr.Don John Trump'Tiger King' star Joe Exotic requests pardon from Trump: 'Be my hero please' Zaid Jilani discusses Trump's move to cancel racial sensitivity training at federal agencies Trump International Hotel in Vancouver closes permanently MORE to discuss his new book, “Triggered”; Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HicePelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership House Republicans investigating California secretary of state's contract with Biden-linked firm GOP lawmakers want answers from Disney on Mulan, China MORE (R-Ga.) to react to the impeachment hearings; and Ryan Clancy and Margaret White, senior advisers for No Labels, on their new book, “The Ultimate Guide to the 2020 Election.” 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 meets at 10 a.m.

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m.

 

The president begins his public schedule at 2 p.m. when he meets with Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Trump leaves the White House at 4 p.m. to headline a reelection rally in Bossier City, La., at 8 p.m. ET. He’ll return to the White House after midnight.

 

Vice President Pence, who is in California today, will visit the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View and speak to employees in the morning before returning to Washington.

 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Trump steps up Iran fight in final election stretch MORE meets with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud at 8:30 a.m. The secretary meets with Syria Small Group Ministerial participants at the State Department at 9 a.m. An hour later, Pompeo delivers a speech to the participants of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Small Group Ministerial held at the department. Pompeo meets with NATO’s Stoltenberg at 11 a.m., and at noon, he meets with New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters, followed by a working luncheon for the participants of the ISIS Small Group Ministerial. At 1 p.m., Pompeo meets with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will testify about the economic outlook to the House Budget Committee at 10 a.m. The Hill’s Sylvan Lane reports that lawmakers continue to ask Powell about economic headwinds including tariffs, a future recession and a few bemoan rising federal deficits and debt.

 

The Hill hosts a newsmaker event, “America’s Veterans: The Next Mission,” at 8:30 a.m. at the Newseum with guests Sen. Todd YoungTodd Christopher YoungSenate GOP eyes early exit Why the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (R-Ind.), a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps; Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterPence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race This World Suicide Prevention Day, let's recommit to protecting the lives of our veterans Filibuster fight looms if Democrats retake Senate MORE (D-Mont.), the ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee; and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., former U.S. Army chief of staff. Information and registration are HERE.

 

The National Archives hosts a World War II photography event at 7:30 p.m. in Washington at the McGowan Theater, showcasing 1945 U.S. Army Pictorial Center Signal Corps photographs from the Archives’s collection. The photos are part of the book, “Aftershock: The Human Toll of War.” Panelists include the authors, Richard Cahan and Mark Jacob; Erik Villard, historian with the U.S. Army Center of Military History; Rebecca Raines, author of, “History of the U.S. Army Signal Corps”; and the Archives’s Kaitlyn Crain Enriquez. The program is free; info  HERE.



ELSEWHERE

Cyber: Disinformation circulating on social media targeting veterans has increased, prompting lawmakers and tech platforms to talk about ways to tackle the trend (The Hill).

 

Space: It’s going to take a year for a return trip, but a Japanese spacecraft is headed home after successfully completing its mission to gather soil samples from the asteroid Ryugu (“Dragon Palace”), which is about 180 million miles from Earth. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, cheering an endeavor carried out over 18 months by the unmanned Hayabusa2 spacecraft, believes the data could provide clues to the origins of the solar system (The Associated Press).

 

 

Venice: Italy’s beautiful city on canals is “on its knees” after the second-worst flood ever recorded. Water reached higher than six feet above the average sea level on Tuesday, climbing to within two inches of the historic flood of 1966. The submerged piazzas, walkways and tourist attractions remained sodden on Wednesday. In Venice, the crypt beneath St. Mark’s Basilica was inundated for only the second time in its history. Damage was also reported at the Ca’ Pesaro modern art gallery, where a short circuit sparked a fire, and at La Fenice theater, where authorities turned off the electricity as a precaution after the control room was flooded (The Associated Press).

 



THE CLOSER

And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Riveted by impeachment proceedings, we’re eager for some smart guesses about the Constitution and Congress’s role in the attempted removal of presidents from office.

 

Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers find their reward in newsletter fame on Friday.

 

How does the U.S. Constitution describe impeachable offenses?

 

  1. Treason
  2. Bribery
  3. Other high crimes and misdemeanors
  4. All of the above

 

Two-part question: How many U.S. presidents have been impeached by the House, and how many have been removed from office following impeachment and conviction?

 

  1. One and one
  2. Two and none
  3. Two and one
  4. Three and none

 

How many votes are needed to convict a president of articles of impeachment approved by the House and sent to the Senate, as specified in the wording of the Constitution?

 

  1. Majority
  2. Majority plus Supreme Court chief justice
  3. Two-thirds of the members present
  4. Two-thirds supermajority plus chief justice

 

What punishment does the Constitution specify as a judgment following a president’s impeachment and conviction?

 

  1. Removal from office and forfeiture of federal pension
  2. Removal from office and disqualification to hold any U.S. office
  3. Removal from office and imprisonment with a sentence determined by the Supreme Court
  4. Removal from office along with a financial penalty that must be recommended by the House impeachment managers and approved by a Senate majority, payable to the U.S. Treasury