The Hill's Morning Report — Public impeachment drama resumes today

The Hill's Morning Report — Public impeachment drama resumes today
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The House impeachment effort will roll along this morning as Marie YovanovitchMarie YovanovitchBlinken tells State Department staff 'I have your back' Trump has discussed possible pardons for three eldest children, Kushner: report Former Giuliani associates plead not guilty to new fraud charges MORE, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify before the House Intelligence Committee as it continues to probe President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE’s actions regarding Ukraine. 

Yovanovitch, a longtime diplomat, will be the third witness to testify publicly before investigators. Last month, Yovanovitch told the three investigatory committees in private about the “dangerous precedent” set by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMyPillow CEO says boycotts have cost him M Dominion targets MyPillow's Mike Lindell with .3B defamation suit Trump legal troubles may not be over despite Senate acquittal MORE, corrupt Ukrainian officials and disreputable media figures to oust an ambassador they believed was standing in the way of their business and political interests. 

Ahead of the hearing, Scott Wong and Olivia Beavers lay out their five things to watch, including whether any new information comes to light in her testimony.  

The main takeaway from Wednesday’s hearing was far and away when William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, dropped a new detail that he did not reveal during his closed-door testimony: That a staffer of his overheard U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon SondlandGordon SondlandGraham's 'impeach Kamala' drumbeat will lead Republicans to a 2022 defeat GOP 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' MORE on a phone call with Trump where the president reportedly said that he cared more about possible investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.  

The Hill: Trump knocks testimony from “Never Trumpers” at Louisiana rally. 

Taylor’s revelation has taken on a life of its own over the past two days. The Associated Press reported Thursday that David Holmes, who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine under Taylor, was not the only person who overheard the call. According to the report, Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer based in Kyiv, also heard the phone call. 

Holmes is expected to testify behind closed doors to investigators on Friday afternoon following the Yovanovitch hearing. Jayanti was scheduled to be deposed privately in late October, but her deposition was postponed due to the funeral of the late Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse Democrats reintroduce bill to reduce lobbyist influence Trump voters and progressives have a lot in common — and Biden can unite them We must act on lowering cost of prescription drugs MORE (D-Md.). 

Reuters: Impeachment witnesses scheduled next week.

With those hearings upcoming, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House House Republican attempts to appeal fine for bypassing metal detector outside chamber MORE (D-Calif.) escalated her criticism of the president on Thursday, arguing that with Ukraine Trump committed bribery — to “grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections. That’s bribery.” However, the Democratic leader said House members had not determined whether or how many articles of impeachment Trump might face (The Hill).

The Hill: Trump files to dismiss lawsuit from Bolton aide on impeachment testimony. 

The Hill: Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMellman: White working-class politics Judge rejects Biden request for delay in Trump environmental rollback case Considering impeachment's future MORE advises Trump to ignore impeachment: “You got hired to do a job.”

Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic: Trump is surrounded.

The Hill: Day One of impeachment hearings attracts 13.1 million viewers. 

Bloomberg News: Giuliani faces U.S. probe on campaign finance, lobbying breaches.

With impeachment taking center stage, it may be hard to believe, but lawmakers are actually working on other items. Chief among them: trying to avoid a government shutdown over the next month and change.  

Top appropriators met on Thursday as they look to make progress toward avoiding a government shutdown either next week or ahead of the Christmas holiday. The government is funded through Nov. 21, and it remains likely that lawmakers will pass a stopgap measure to extend funding through Dec. 20. Negotiators are working toward a deal on top-line spending figures by next week as they look to also hammer out the larger fiscal 2020 spending bills (The Hill).

Risks of a shutdown diminished on Thursday as Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE told reporters following a meeting with Pelosi that the administration has “no intention” of letting federal funding lapse (The Hill). 

Lawmakers also are pushing toward a deal on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Pelosi touted bipartisan progress during remarks to reporters on Thursday. She said an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is “imminent” (The Hill). However, some Democrats tossed some cold water on that characterization (The Hill). 

Finally, as Jordain Carney reports, Senate Republicans are eagerly awaiting the Justice Department’s report on alleged surveillance abuse of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. The findings are expected to be released in the near future. 

Republicans, including some of Trump’s best known allies, believe the findings will address their long-held suspicions of wrongdoing within the Obama administration, and help fuel follow-up investigations on Capitol Hill.

The New York Times: Multiple lawmakers under investigation over ethical misconduct.

The Washington Post: Besieged on all sides, Sondland clings to power.




POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSenate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary Biden to detail 'roadmap' for partnership with Canada in meeting with Trudeau Biden's infrastructure plan needs input from cities and regions MORE is surging in the 2020 primary, capitalizing on a Democratic Party that continues to wrestle with its political identity heading into an election year.  

As Amie Parnes reports, in a year when Democrats have struggled to choose between a string of septuagenarian candidates and a nonstop fight over moderate and progressive labels, Buttigieg has become the alternative choice, according to Democratic strategists. 

Political analysts believe Buttigieg has tapped into a desire within the party for a fresh face to send to Washington who is able to appeal to both moderates and progressives, and argue that’s the reason Buttigieg is on helium watch.  

“He’s trying to be the Goldilocks ‘just right’ candidate in between everyone,” said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale, who added he believes it is “definitely possible” for Buttigieg to capture the nomination. 

Most notably, Buttigieg pulled ahead of the field in Iowa, according to a recent Monmouth University poll. 



The Hill: Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickBiden faces pressure to take action on racial justice issues Biden selects Susan Rice to lead Domestic Policy Council, McDonough for Veterans Affairs Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment MORE enters the 2020 race.

The Associated Press: For former President Obama and Patrick, a long friendship and political bond.

> Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is fighting for his political survival as he looks to fend off a GOP challenger in his bid for reelection in the final major election contest ahead of 2020. 

Edwards, the last Democratic governor in a Deep South state, is polling slightly ahead of businessman Eddie Rispone (R), a first-time candidate who has spent more than $12 million on the contest, but has found himself under siege in the final days heading into Saturday’s face-off in the Pelican State (The Hill).

Trump rallied his supporters in Bossier City, La., on Thursday night in a last ditch effort to push Rispone across the finish line and blasted Edwards, arguing that his first four years in office should not earn him four more.

“He lied to you. He double-crossed you and you can never trust him, he will never vote for us,” Trump said of the Democratic governor. 

The Hill: Pro-Trump group hunts for “hidden” supporters.

The Hill: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) concedes governor's race.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Vice President Pence says he “couldn’t be more proud” of “decisive action” taken by the Health and Human Services Department to permit adoption groups and foster care to qualify for federal funding if they elect to deny services to LGBTQ parents based on religious objections.

The administration proposed last month to roll back a rule implemented under the Obama administration that expanded anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation (The Hill). 

We will stand for the freedom of religion," Pence said at HHS on Tuesday, adding the administration supports “the vital role that faith-based organizations play in adoption in this country.” 



> Trump is so determined to keep his tax filings hidden from view, he appealed on Thursday to the Supreme Court to try to thwart a prosecutors’ efforts to obtain his returns (The Hill). The president’s action is based on an expansive assertion of presidential power and seeks a landmark ruling from the nation’s highest court (The Washington Post). 

Trump’s decision to take his case to the Supreme Court comes after a federal appeals court in New York last week said Manhattan prosecutors could enforce a subpoena against Trump’s accounting firm Mazars USA for his personal and corporate financial records from 2011 to 2018.

Trump has asserted since he was a presidential candidate that he was willing to disclose his personal and business tax returns but could not because he was under IRS audit, a claim that remains unsubstantiated. The New York Times was able to assemble documentation about Trump’s business taxes during an early phase of his real estate and investment career from 1985 to 1994 to show he “lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying any federal income taxes for eight of the 10 years.”  

During his 2016 campaign, Trump said, "I pay as little as possible. It's an expense, right? That's the American way. I mean, do you want stupid people?"

> New invoice for South Korea: The Trump administration is pressing for a substantial increase in cost-sharing from Seoul for U.S. defense and assistance, a topic that has become an irritant in U.S.-South Korea relations. 

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperFemale generals' promotions held back over fears of Trump's response: report Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command New Army hair and grooming standards allow for ponytails, buzz cuts and earrings MORE, traveling today in the region, said during a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, “This is a very strong alliance we have, but Korea is a wealthy country and could and should pay more to help offset the cost of defense” (The Associated Press).

This year, South Korea is paying $1 billion to the United States for the presence of 28,000 U.S. troops. Esper would not confirm South Korean news reports that the Trump administration wants $4.7 billion for 2020. Esper confirmed the administration seeks a “substantial increase” in contributions.

> Defense Department contract: The Pentagon's $10 billion cloud-computing contract, awarded by the administration to Microsoft and not Amazon, will be challenged in federal court by the company that lost out. Amazon's cloud-computing arm wants to take objections to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, an Amazon spokesperson told The Hill on Thursday (The Hill).  

> Farms: Despite the administration’s efforts to dole out federal payments to farmers hurt by Chinese tariffs and other challenges, farm finances deteriorated last summer and during early fall across agricultural states, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City reported on Thursday. The report underscores the mounting economic pressure on a key Trump constituency as he campaigns for a second term (Bloomberg News in The Los Angeles Times). Data indicate it will get harder for struggling farmers to qualify for loans while other reports show farm bankruptcies on the ascent. 

> Trump’s border wall & eminent domain: White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office MORE has convened a meeting today with military and administration officials to discuss the government’s takeover of private land, a legal process known as eminent domain, to build more sections of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, NBC News reports.

The Trump administration is preparing court filings to begin taking over private land as early as this week to build its long-promised border wall. The administration will not tell landowners how much the government will compensate them for their property until after it is seized.

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!


Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyBiden administration seeking return to UN Human Rights Council Juan Williams: The GOP is a party without ideas Is the 'civil war' in the Republican Party really over? MORE fires the first shot in the GOP's post-Trump war, by J.T. Young, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2qdvWYV 

What are Republicans going to do after Donald Trump leaves office? By Michael Starr Hopkins, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/33PcdgP


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Rep. Bruce WestermanBruce Eugene WestermanOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change MORE (R-Ark.) on impeachment and news of the week; Aaron Maté, contributor to The Nation, who offers his take on impeachment hearings; and The Hill’s editor-in-chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackTrump legal switch hints at larger problems The Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today Incoming lawmakers stress coronavirus relief, economy as first priority of new session MORE, with his weekly DeBrief segment. 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 9 a.m. to complete action on the United States Export Finance Agency Act. The House Intelligence Committee will hear from Yovanovitch during a public impeachment hearing at 9 a.m.

The Senate convenes on Monday at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Robert Luck to be a judge for the United States Circuit Court for the Eleventh Circuit.

The president will speak about healthcare prices at 2 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room. 

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChina labels human rights criticism 'groundless' Trump to attend private RNC donor retreat On China, is Biden channeling Trump or Trump's administration? They're not the same MORE delivers a speech in Houston at 10:30 a.m. at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. His remarks are expected to be live-streamed on www.state.gov

Economic indicators: Separate government reports will be released this morning on retail sales and industrial production in October.


U.S.-China trade: Global markets were not cheered on Thursday when The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese negotiators were reluctant to commit to the size of purchases of U.S. farm goods in an interim agreement aimed at ending a tariff war. They had assumed the weeks of restarted talks had progressed beyond soybean sales (The Associated Press). 

Vaping: Federal health officials on Thursday reported that lung injury illnesses and deaths tied to e-cigarette products continue to climb. U.S. deaths rose to 42 and confirmed cases of illness were 2,172, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Reuters). A 17-year-old Michigan teen who faced “certain death” from vaping-related lung injury received a double lung transplant in October and is recovering (The New York Times).  

Old dogs, new tricks: Scientists want to identify 10,000 pet dogs that are pawfectly suited for the largest-ever study of canine aging, hoping to learn more about human longevity too. The project, designed to study the influence of genes, environment and lifestyle, will collect doggie data: vet records, DNA samples, gut microbes and information about food and walks. Five hundred dogs will test a pill that could slow the aging process. For the study, the dogs will live at home and follow their usual routine. All ages and sizes, purebreds and mutts will be part of the project (The Associated Press). Want your Jackson or Peaches to join up? Find info HERE about the Dog Aging Project.



And finally … Kudos to readers who nailed this week’s quiz questions about impeachment. We received responses from more than 60 readers, so thanks for playing!

Morning Report puzzle champs: Patrick Kavanagh, Stephen Nickels Simpson, Tim Burrack, Candi Cee, Terry Pflaumer, Lorraine Lindberg, William Chittam, Joseph Webster, Phil Kirstein, Dennis M. Prebensen, Donna Minter, Greg Stetson, Rose DeMarco, Ken Stevens, Bob Salmon, John Sondheim, John Donato, Allyson Foster, Carol Katz and Luther Berg. 

They knew that the Constitution describes “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors” as impeachable offenses, thus the answer is “all of the above.”

Two U.S. presidents have been impeached by the House (former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton) while none was convicted and removed from office. Former President Richard Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974, before the House impeachment process concluded.

The Constitution states that Senate conviction and removal of a president from office requires two-thirds of the members present, or a supermajority. 

The judgment following a president’s impeachment and conviction, according to the Constitution, is removal from office and disqualification to hold any U.S. office. (The wording: “judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”