The Hill's Morning Report - Intel panel readies to hand off impeachment baton




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The House Intelligence Committee is set to vote tonight to advance the impeachment inquiry to phase three and hand it off to the House Judiciary Committee as lawmakers continue to review a report about evidence drawn from a two-month investigation.


The Intelligence panel is set to vote on the majority’s report at 6:30 p.m. after allowing for a 24-hour committee review at the same time that Democrats and Republicans continue dueling over the investigation into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE’s dealings with Ukraine.  


House Republicans issued the first salvo of the post-Thanksgiving break by releasing a report of their own shortly before lawmakers were able to start viewing the Intelligence Committee’s official report. In the 123-page document, they argued that the president’s decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid was driven by “reasonable skepticism” rather than politics (The Hill). 


“Understood in this proper context, the President’s initial hesitation to meet with President Zelensky or to provide U.S. taxpayer-funded security assistance to Ukraine without thoughtful review is entirely prudent,” the report says. 


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers Trump defenders argue president can't be removed for abuse of power MORE (D-Calif.) poured cold water on the minority’s report. The California Democrat said in a statement that the report was written “for an audience of one,” referring to Trump.


“The Minority’s rebuttal document, intended for an audience of one, ignores voluminous evidence that the president used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rival by withholding military aid and a White House meeting,” Schiff said, adding that Trump’s actions constituted a “violation of his oath of office.”


With Democrats outnumbering Republicans on the panel 13 to nine, the vote to advance the report is expected to pass easily. 


The Hill: Trump on Monday praised Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsMedia's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle The five dumbest things said about impeachment so far Pelosi accepts Collins's apology for saying Democrats are 'in love with terrorists' MORE (Ga.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Collins is walking into the spotlight as Republicans argue his state’s governor made a mistake in not appointing him to the Georgia Senate seat about to be vacated by retiring Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonOvernight Health Care: New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight | Conservative group to spend M attacking Pelosi drug plan | Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states New Georgia senator takes spot on health committee Loeffler sworn in to Georgia seat MORE (R-Ga.) (The Hill).  


The New York Times: House GOP impeachment defense claims Trump’s Ukraine pressure was apolitical.


The Hill: House Judiciary announces impeachment witnesses.


The Washington Post: Democrats quietly debate expanding impeachment articles beyond Ukraine.


Looking ahead to a full House vote, Olivia Beavers scoops that Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-Calif.) is starting to put out feelers to various lawmakers to see if they are interested in serving as impeachment managers. Pelosi’s office has quietly reached out to some members she believes could do the job, while others have volunteered their interest in the role. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted that he wants the Supreme Court to stop the impeachment proceedings (The Hill).


House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote on Iran war powers bills sought by progressives Khanna: Timing of Iran bill being weighed against getting bigger majority MORE (D-Md.) made the December schedule official for lawmakers: The House will be in session during the week of Dec. 16, when it is expected to wrap up impeachment proceedings in the lower chamber, culminating with the expected vote (or votes) on the House floor. 


Impeachment, however, will not be the only item on the agenda as appropriators look to nail down a government funding agreement for fiscal 2020 ahead of a Dec. 20 deadline. 


Politico: Judge denies DOJ request for stay on Don McGahn testimony.


The New York Times: Ukraine knew of aid freeze in July, says ex-top official in Kyiv.


Politico: Senate panel look into Ukraine interference comes up short.





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump, who is in London for a two-day NATO summit, launched some barbs today at France and President Emmanual Macron during a 52-minute question and answer session with journalists, arguing that his counterpart’s assertion during a November interview that NATO is experiencing “brain death” was insulting and a “very nasty” statement about the military alliance’s member countries. “Nobody needs NATO more than France,” said Trump, who is to meet Macron today on the sidelines of the gathering. 


Trump, whose penchant for off-script disruption during previous NATO meetings has aggravated his counterparts, is persistent in arguing that too many NATO members are remiss in meeting the alliance goal of spending at least 2 percent of each country’s GDP on defense by 2024.


Trump also assailed France for a digital service tax that the United States argues hurts U.S. tech companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE, the chief U.S. trade representative, on Monday recommended the U.S. respond with $2.4 billion in new tariffs on French cheese, wine and other products (The Associated Press). France immediately responded to the U.S. threat with a denial that its tax discriminates against U.S. companies and vowed retaliatory tariffs (Reuters). The rift ended a temporary truce reached in August between the two countries (The New York Times).


Here’s what to watch today and Wednesday during a NATO gathering that some analysts describe as a “minefield” of friction, both domestic and global (Slate).


Trade: Trump surprised financial markets on Monday with an announcement that the United States will reimpose tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Brazil and Argentina (The Hill). "Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers. Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries," Trump tweeted.


He also repeated his familiar assertion that China wants to make a trade deal, while at the same time asserting along with Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossDesperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Trump scheduled to attend Davos amid impeachment trial Let's remember the real gifts the president has given America MORE that if Beijing won’t finalize a trade accord, the United States will again raise tariffs on China (Reuters). Trump said U.S. legislation backing Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters did not make the ongoing trade talks any easier. China suspended visits by U.S. Navy ships and aircraft to Hong Kong after Trump signed the measure (BBC).


Energy Department: Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette received a Senate promotion on Monday, winning confirmation to succeed Secretary Rick PerryRick PerrySunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Overnight Energy: Appeals court tosses kids' climate suit | California sues Trump over fracking | Oversight finds EPA appointees slow-walked ethics obligations MORE, who departed the administration on Sunday. Brouillette first served at the agency during the George W. Bush administration, working as an assistant secretary between 2001 and 2003. He has also worked as a chief of staff to the House Energy and Commerce Committee (The Hill). 


Lebanon: The administration, acting without an announcement before the Thanksgiving holiday, released $105 million in military assistance to Lebanon after months of unexplained delay that led some lawmakers to compare it to the aid for Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry (The Associated Press).





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The Trump campaign is escalating its attacks on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE, arguing he is past his prime and that Democrats would be unwise to nominate him as the party’s standard bearer next year.  


As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes write, Trump campaign officials spent the weekend circulating Biden’s latest perceived lowlights from the campaign trail, headlined by a photo of him nipping at the fingers of his wife, Jill Biden, onstage at a campaign rally in Iowa. The picture went viral on social media and was endlessly derided by conservatives.


The reaction to the photo and the criticism of Biden naming his Iowa swing the “No Malarkey” tour show that despite the former vice president’s fall in the polls, he remains in prime focus for the Trump team. Trump insiders said they will continue to attack Biden, as most still view him as the likeliest Democrat to win the nomination and the most competitive in a one-on-one match-up against the president.  


“He’s still the front-runner and the likeliest to win the nomination,” said one former Trump campaign official. “And I think of all the Democrats, he’s still the most likely to have a competitive race against Trump. Of course, that comes with the massive asterisk that he could totally implode at any moment.”


Biden continued his barnstorming of Iowa on Monday, culminating with a wide-ranging interview with reporters aboard his campaign bus. Among other things, Biden said that he doesn’t need an endorsement from former President Obama even if the contest comes down to a three-horse race, dismissed chatter that Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.) is building momentum in Iowa and claimed that South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina Sanders says gender 'still an obstacle' for female politicians Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders MOREstole” his health care plan (Politico).


Biden also played the role of prognosticator, predicting that if he wins the Iowa caucuses, it would be “awful hard to stop me from winning the nomination.”


The New York Times: Four charts show how Biden could win the nomination.


Politico: Buttigieg tries to reset struggling outreach to black voters.


> Bloomberg: The latest battle between the president and the press emerged on Monday as the Trump campaign announced that it will not credential reporters from Bloomberg News to cover its signature campaign rallies or other events. 


Campaign manager Brad ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE cited the announcement by the outlet last week that it will not do any investigative work into former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergTrump slams Bloomberg over comments on man who shot Texas gunman Bloomberg: 'My story might have turned out very differently if I had been black' Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements MORE, the owner of the site, or any of his opponents for the Democratic nomination but will continue to do so into Trump and his administration (The Hill). 


The news follows similar actions by the Trump team in 2016, when they stopped credentialing The Washington Post, BuzzFeed and other outlets from their campaign events.


The Hill: Trump attacks “Mini Mike Bloomberg” after his campaign bars the namesake news outlet.


> Kansas Senate: Trump weighed in from London this morning about the ongoing chatter that Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoCountries reach agreement in Berlin on Libya cease-fire push, arms embargo Trump Jr.: If 'weaker' Republicans only call for certain witnesses, 'they don't deserve to be in office' House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't MORE could potentially enter the race to replace outgoing Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP hopes to move new NAFTA deal before impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report - Worries about war in world capitals, Congress Pompeo tells McConnell he's not running for Senate MORE (R-Kan.). The president told reporters that while he lauds the job Pompeo is doing at the State Department, he would confer with the former Kansas congressman about the race if he thought the seat appeared to be at risk. 


“He’s a tremendous guy doing a tremendous job and I would say this: If I thought we were going to lose that seat because we shouldn’t lose that seat, it’s a great state, it’s a state that I won overwhelmingly, as you know, we shouldn’t lose that state, then I would sit down and talk to Mike,” Trump said. “But you could never find anybody that could do a better job as secretary of State. … If you look at polling, MIke would walk away with that seat.”


The Hill: GOP set for all-out battle over Michigan Senate seat.






CONGRESS: As lawmakers in both parties throw accusations at one another about not doing enough of the people’s business in Washington as 2019 comes to a close, legislation to require more online privacy for users remains stalled (The Hill). 


House Republicans criticized Pelosi for pursuing impeachment to the detriment of election security legislation (The Hill), while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public George Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial GOP senator 'open' to impeachment witnesses 'within the scope' of articles MORE (R-Ky.) picked up the GOP talking point in a tweet, arguing that government funding, national defense and a major hemispheric trade accord are harmed because House Democrats are preoccupied with impeachment. 


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report Senate begins preparations for Trump trial Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat MORE (R-Iowa), however, looked to the White House for some action, warning Trump on Monday that congressional ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement will drift into the 2020 presidential election year, when little legislating is expected, unless the White House and Democrats can reach a deal this week (The Hill).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: and We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Trump's Russia scorecard, by Janusz Bugajski, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Thanks to President Trump, major tests loom for Chief Justice Roberts, by Brianne Gorod, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang's wife, Evelyn Yang, calls for 'big structural change' at 4th annual Women's March DNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE to talk about his drug policy; Wendell Potter, a former health insurance executive and president of Medicare for All Now, on lobbyists helping state lawmakers to crowd anti-Medicare for All op-eds; and Charles Lehman, staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube


The House reconvenes at 2 p.m. The House Intelligence Committee will vote on the impeachment inquiry report this evening. 


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of Eric Ross Komitee to be a judge with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Isakson will deliver a farewell address at 2:30 p.m. on the floor of the Senate, marking the end of 45 years in public service with a planned Dec. 31 retirement from the upper chamber because of ill health. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is under intense pressure as he weighs a successor to fill the upcoming Senate vacancy (Politico). 


The president is in London attending a NATO summit and a Buckingham Palace reception with Queen Elizabeth II. Pompeo is with Trump and will meet with his U.K. counterpart today and during a working dinner.


Vice President Pence will attend a Senate luncheon for Isakson in the Capitol, and return to his White House office to meet with Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at 4:15 p.m. 


Economic indicators: The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted for a fourth consecutive month in November, according to industry figures released Monday by the Institute for Supply Management (The Hill). Manufacturing “is stuck in a mild recession with little prospect of a real near-term revival. This will weigh on job growth … over the next few months, to the point where we are not ready to rule out a further [Federal Reserve] easing in January,” predicted Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics (CNBC).


Monday’s data did not cheer Trump, who tweeted while traveling across the Atlantic that Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and central bank monetary policy, rather U.S. tariffs on imported goods, are to blame.


“Manufacturers are being held back by the strong Dollar, which is being propped up by the ridiculous policies of the Federal Reserve - Which has called interest rates and quantitative tightening wrong from the first days of Jay Powell!” Trump tweeted.


… On a brighter economic note, American consumers remain the undisputed engine behind U.S. growth. Exhibit A: Cyber Monday sales broke records (CNN).





Supreme Court: Justices on Monday sounded reluctant to wade into a Second Amendment gun restriction case after hearing oral arguments in a dispute in which New York City repealed a requirement after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case (The Hill). The city says the case is now moot (NBC News). 


Lobbying: Meet Michael Herson, CEO and co-owner of American Defense International, one of Washington’s top defense industry lobbyists (The Hill). … Lobbyists helped craft opinion articles by state lawmakers critical of Democrats’ Medicare for All plans. It’s a behind-the-scenes example of how the healthcare industry works to shape public opinion at the local level to oppose big changes in U.S. medical care and coverage (The Washington Post).


And finally … Many people will be especially generous and charitable today. They will donate, contribute, join up and volunteer. It’s #GivingTuesday around the world, an event launched in 2012 as a “global movement” to harness the power of people and organizations to “transform their communities” and to help others.