The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today

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House Democrats are set to introduce articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE at a press conference this morning as they move ahead with plans to hold votes before the full House next week.

 

Multiple sources told The Hill that Democratic leaders will unveil two articles of impeachment after working throughout the night on Monday. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) and the chairs of the investigatory committees announced late Monday a press conference to reveal “the next steps in the House impeachment inquiry,” declining to offer any further details. The press conference is set for 9 a.m.

 

The two articles, which will focus on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are expected to be marked up on either Wednesday or Thursday, setting the stage for a House vote ahead of the planned Christmas recess. 

 

The expected votes will serve as the culmination of nearly three months of investigations by House Democrats and likely make Trump the third president to be impeached.

 

The impeachment announcement comes after Pelosi met with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden backs effort to include immigration in budget package Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Britney Spears's new attorney files motion to remove her dad as conservator MORE (D-N.Y.) following a lengthy public hearing where counsels on both sides of the aisle delivered presentations outlining evidence for and against the removal of Trump from office (The Washington Post).

 

The hearing repeatedly grew heated as lawmakers listened on while the Democratic counsels argued that Trump represented a clear threat to the country. Meanwhile, the GOP counsel took aim at the impeachment process as Judiciary staff members questioned one another (The Hill).

 

The hearing, which may turn out to be the final one held in the House, was the latest political food fight between the two parties as Democrats move ahead with the impeachment inquiry, which anticipates a Senate trial. 

 

The Associated Press: Impeachment witness: Trump poses election “danger.”

 

Peter Baker: Lies, damned lies and Washington.

 

Jonathan Allen: The GOP's bottom-line Trump defense: Get over it.

 

With hearings likely out of the way and votes expected to start soon, Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo that Democrats face a communications challenge: How to hold the public's attention as much of the evidentiary suspense ebbs. 

 

The process is expected to shift over to the Senate in the new year, where it remains a near-certainty that the president will be acquitted of any and all impeachment charges. Unless some key witnesses testify unexpectedly in the near future, the most damning evidence against the president has already been made public. 

 

Adding to that issue, Trump and his allies continue to blast the process as a “sham” and “illegitimate,” having refused to cooperate with the House investigation but anticipating a vigorous defense in the Senate. The timing has forced Democrats to gauge out how to keep repeated GOP attacks from breaking through with the public. 

 

On another front, House Republicans are escalating their feud with Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffA new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign Officers offer harrowing accounts at first Jan. 6 committee hearing Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Calif.), accusing the California Democrat of abusing his position by publishing phone records of Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Tucker Carlson claims NSA leaked private emails to journalists MORE (R-Calif.) the top Republican on the panel, in the Intel Committee’s lengthy impeachment report last week     

 

Schiff included some phone records for various Trump allies, including Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiCapitol insurrection hearing exposes Trumpworld delusions DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Bob Dole: 'I'm a Trumper' but 'I'm sort of Trumped out' MORE, the president’s personal lawyer, along with some associates of the former New York City mayor. Some of those calls included Nunes, drawing the ire of GOP lawmakers in the chairman’s direction and increasing calls from Trump allies to highlight Schiff’s actions as they push for him to be called as a witness in a Senate trial (The Hill).

 

Politico: Senate looks for holiday truce on impeachment trial.

 

The Hill: Potential Democratic defectors face pressure on impeachment.

 

 

 





LEADING THE DAY

Many Americans and a majority of lawmakers in both parties concluded long ago that the government unearthed persuasive evidence across two administrations, from every U.S. intelligence agency, from congressional probes and the work of a special counsel that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. election.

 

But how the Department of Justice launched its examination in the first place into ties between Trump campaign associates and Moscow in 2016 is the subject of a long-awaited, 434-page report issued by the department’s internal watchdog on Monday.

 

Judging from reactions in Washington, the report failed to settle a distracting political and procedural debate about a topic Trump believes is an attempt to delegitimize his election victory.

 

Inspector General Michael Horowitz determined the FBI had “an authorized purpose” to launch its investigation to “obtain information about, or to protect against, a national security threat or federal crime, even though the investigation also had the potential to impact constitutionally protected activity.”

 

Horowitz (pictured below) concluded that FBI agents were not motivated by political bias, a finding Trump again rejected on Monday, arguing, “This was an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it, and they got caught” (The Hill).

 

Offering conclusions that were immediately cherry-picked by political factions on all sides, Horowitz affirmed FBI agents’ motives but sharply criticized the law enforcement agency for flawed handling of applications to a special court to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page

 

The findings set the stage for a partisan showdown on Capitol Hill, where Horowitz is scheduled to testify before a Senate panel on Wednesday. 

 

“We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions to open the four individual investigations,” the report says, referring to investigations into people on Trump's campaign, including low-level adviser George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosTrump supporters show up to DC for election protest Trump pardons draw criticism for benefiting political allies Klobuchar: Trump 'trying to burn this country down on his way out' MORE; national security adviser Michael Flynn; former Trump campaign manager Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortLobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei Former bank CEO convicted of bribery in scheme to land Trump admin job Trial begins for Chicago banker who exchanged loans with Manafort for Trump job MORE; and Page, who maintained extensive ties with Russia at the time (The Hill).

 

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrTrump called acting attorney general almost daily to push election voter fraud claim: report Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote Native Americans are targets of voter suppression too MORE, who earlier this year ordered a separate investigation — still being conducted by a hand-picked prosecutor — offered a blistering assessment of the FBI’s decisions under former Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom MORE, without mentioning him by name: “the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

 

Comey, however, said the Horowitz report vindicated the FBI, which he said in a Washington Post op-ed had “fulfilled its mission.” Swiping at Barr for what he said was “sliming” his own law enforcement team, Comey underscored a central inspector general conclusion that the Russia probe began with legitimate tips about Moscow’s actions, was justified in its launch and broke no laws while it was conducted.

 

“The allegation of a criminal conspiracy was nonsense,” Comey wrote, referring to Trump’s repeated charges. “There was no illegal wiretapping, there were no informants inserted into the campaign, there was no `spying’ on the Trump campaign.”

 

During a CNN interview on Monday, Comey defended the FBI: “We conducted a professional investigation, which is what the American people would have expected of us.” 

 

And he accused Trump of misleading the public. “The things the President Trump has been telling the country and been echoed by his followers all turned out to have been lies about people, about an institution, about the techniques we use. It was all lies.”

 

But Comey also conceded that the inspector general documented FBI errors during one of its highest-profile and most sensitive probes. 

 

“Yes, that’s really concerning,” the former director told Anderson Cooper. “He found 17 significant errors in collecting information, sharing information, in checking information and that’s a problem. That’s one of the good things that comes out of I.G. reports is you find problems, and he found problems that have to be fixed.”  

 

FBI Director Christopher Wray, whom Barr praised, echoed the Justice Department’s watchdog in affirming that the Russia threat in 2016 placed U.S. national security at risk and warranted an investigation. In an ABC News interview, Wray said the election threat from Moscow continues into 2020.

 

We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election,” Wray told ABC.

 

"As far as the [2020] election itself goes, we think Russia represents the most significant threat," he added.

 

The Hill: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with Trump at the White House this afternoon and with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNoem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions MORE at the State Department this morning.

 

 

 

 

***

 

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump and House Democrats are nearing approval of a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, racing to finalize a significant (and rare) win-win legislative victory that would please Republicans and Democrats.

 

A senior House Democratic aide urged caution on Monday, telling The Hill that the caucus is “still studying the proposal.” But AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was upbeat after speaking with the president. The support of Big Labor could prompt the House Ways and Means Committee to hold a hearing on the deal as soon as this week and line up a vote on final passage before the end of the year. Democratic lawmakers, accused by Trump of neglecting legislative priorities in their zeal to remove him from office, have sought to counter that criticism by showing constituents they are improving a trade accord to meet Democrats’ “values” (The Hill). A House vote could occur on Dec. 18, according to CNBC reporting.

 

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' MORE and White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerBlack community group loses bid to acquire downtown LA Mall despite highest offer Kushner launching investment firm in move away from politics: report Washington Post calls on Democrats to subpoena Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Meadows for testimony on Jan. 6 MORE are expected to fly to Mexico today to discuss completion of the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement and its enforcement mechanisms (Politico).

 

> Meet Trump’s science adviser, Kelvin Droegemeier, 61, a former meteorologist close to his first anniversary as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “My ultimate, uber priority is to make sure that America leads the world in science and technology,” Droegemeier said during a recent interview with The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Sunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Chasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' MORE received good news on Monday in the face of attacks from his Democratic primary rivals as McKinsey & Co., his former employer, is allowing him to disclose his clients.

 

The announcement came amid attacks from progressives, including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election MORE (D-Mass.), over the lack of transparency from his time at the consulting firm, which Buttigieg worked at from 2007 until 2010. Buttigieg had been unable to reveal his clients due to a nondisclosure agreement he signed when he began his employment. 

 

“We recognize the unique circumstances presented by a presidential campaign,” McKinsey & Co. said in a statement. “Any description of his work for those clients still must not disclose confidential, proprietary or classified information obtained during the course of that work, or violate any security clearance.”

 

Lis Smith, a top Buttigieg adviser, said that the full list of clients will be released soon (The Hill). The mayor had come under fire from the left for what they deemed a lack of transparency by the campaign as he declined to break his nondisclosure agreement.

 

Buttigieg also announced that his campaign will make his high-dollar fundraisers open to reporters and disclose the names of his campaign bundlers. The move came in reaction to similar cries from progressives, with the campaign saying in a statement the move was part of a “continued commitment to transparency." 

 

“From the start, Pete has said it is important for every candidate to be open and honest, and his actions have reflected that commitment. He is the only current presidential candidate who has released the names of people raising money for his campaign, and we will continue to release additional names as more people join our growing effort,” said campaign manager Mike Schmuhl. “Moreover, he will be one of the few candidates to allow reporters access to his fundraising events."  

 

While Buttigieg released names of his bundlers early in the campaign, he has not since April. The move to allow reporters into his fundraisers makes him only the second to do so along with former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory READ: The .2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE. As for Warren and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Bipartisan infrastructure win shows Democrats must continue working across the aisle 'The land is us' — Tribal activist turns from Keystone XL to Line 3 MORE (I-Vt.), neither candidate holds high-dollar fundraising events (The Hill).  

 

The Washington Post: Memo from 1990s pollution case shows Elizabeth Warren in action as corporate consultant.  

 

The Hill: On the trail: Forget the pundits, more electoral votes could be in play in 2020.

 

Gerald F. Seib: Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharManchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation | Amazon fined 6M by EU regulators Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation MORE (D-Minn.) approaches her now-or-never Iowa moment.

 

Politico: Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBipartisan infrastructure win shows Democrats must continue working across the aisle WHO leader issues warning on 'harmful' e-cigarettes Six months in, two challenges could define Biden's presidency MORE lands former Harris backer as first major California endorsement.

 

 

 

 

> House 2020: Ronny Jackson, the former White House physician and previously a nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), announced on Monday that he is running for Congress, launching a bid to replace outgoing Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUnnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Lobbying world Senate poised to override Trump's defense bill veto MORE (R-Texas). 

 

Jackson will run against roughly a dozen other candidates to replace the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, including Pierce Bush, the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush. The district, located in the rural Texas Panhandle, is heavily Republican as the president won nearly 80 percent of the vote there in 2016.

 

Jackson was tapped to lead the VA in March 2018, but he withdrew his nomination in the face of allegations that he improperly handed prescription drugs during his time at the White House (The Hill). 

 

The Hill: Ex-Rep. Scott TaylorScott William TaylorElaine Luria endorses McAuliffe for governor in Virginia Democratic primary Luria holds onto Virginia House seat Chamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch MORE (R) to seek old Virginia seat.

 

*** 

INTERNATIONAL: In Paris, Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinIs Ukraine Putin's Taiwan? Democrats find a tax Republicans can support Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky for the first time on Monday at a summit with the leaders of France and Germany, which was aimed at advancing efforts to restore peace to eastern Ukraine. 

 

Diplomats believe the chances of peace are bleak, considering Zelensky’s weakened political position at home and Putin’s continued play to Russian nationalism. French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrench parliament approves COVID-19 passes for restaurants, domestic travel WhatsApp chief: US allies' national security officials targeted with NSO malware US athletes chant 'Dr. Biden' as first lady cheers swimmers MORE has made overtures to Putin to reset relations with Russia’s neighbor (Reuters), telling reporters on Monday that the meeting made progress, adding he hopes another such session can take place early in 2020 (Reuters). 

 

> North Korea: The United Nations Security Council will meet on Wednesday at the request of the United States to discuss missile launches by North Korea and the possibility of an “escalatory” provocation after Pyongyang conducted what it said was a key test at a satellite launch site. North Korea could next year resume nuclear and long-range missile testing that it suspended in 2017, some diplomats believe. Trump and Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnKim's sister rips US-South Korea drills Koreas in talks over possible summit: report The Koreas are talking again — Moon is for real, but what about Kim? MORE have met three times but no progress toward a denuclearization deal has been reached. Kim has given the United States until the end of the year to meet its demands (Reuters).

 

> Brexit: Prime Minister Boris Johnson, campaigning down to the wire before Thursday’s general election in the United Kingdom, borrowed from the film, “Love, Actually,” portraying a nearly silent suitor who knocks on a woman’s door with hand-written placard messages about Brexit and a boom box. The prime minister’s gimmicky campaign video is HERE

 

> New Zealand: Eight people were missing and presumed dead one day after a volcano suddenly erupted off the coast of New Zealand's North Island, killing six people and injuring more than 30 (The Associated Press and CNN). Authorities decided it was too dangerous to land on the island and remove bodies because of the risk of additional eruptions (Reuters). … Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday that 11 Australians remained unaccounted for and 13 had been hospitalized after the eruption on the island that has a population of 20,000. Three Australians were suspected to be among the initial victims. The injured and unaccounted for, ranging in age from 17 to 72, had been part of a tour group from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Ovation of the Seas (The Associated Press).

 

> Women rule in Finland: The Nordic nation’s new prime minister, who is 34 and about to become the world’s youngest serving premier, will work with a finance minister two years her junior in a new women-led coalition Cabinet, officials said on Monday (Reuters).



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

Horowitz report is damning for the FBI and unsettling for the rest of us, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/356MUaC. (Turley will attend a Senate GOP luncheon as a guest today in the Capitol).

 

Senate acquittal would be nothing but a stay of execution for Trump, by Brad Bannon, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/36m0maC 



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NEW STUDY: Nonpartisan Tax Foundation says more than 21,000 Americans will lose their jobs if Congress doesn’t repeal the medical device tax before Jan 1. Learn more about the looming tax on Americans’ health care.



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Emma Vigeland, correspondent for The Young Turks, on the Biden v. Buttigieg dispute on healthcare; Tim Black, host of “The Tim Black Show,” analyzes Bloomberg and African American voters; and Jennifer Holdsworth, senior vice president of issues management for MWWPR Public Affairs, also discusses Buttigieg’s 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 will meet at 10 a.m. On the floor, lawmakers are focused on climate change legislation to protect coastal and Great Lakes communities, and a measure to extend the requirement that cable/satellite distributors negotiate transmission agreements with broadcast stations.

 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and is expected to work on nominations.

 

The president meets with Lavrov at 2:30 p.m. in the Oval Office before flying to Hershey, Pa., for a reelection rally at 7 p.m. He’ll return to Washington tonight.

 

Vice President Pence heads to Pittsburgh for a Pennsylvania bus tour with stops in Rochester (for a meeting with Veterans for Trump supporters) and in Hershey for the Trump-Pence reelection rally this evening.

 

Pompeo meets with Lavrov at 10:30 a.m. at the State Department. The secretary hosts a working lunch at noon with the foreign minister, then holds a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart at 1:15 p.m.

 

The Wall Street Journal CEO Council newsmaker event in Washington includes remarks from White House acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE at 9:25 a.m., White House national economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE at 10:50 a.m., Barr at 12:50 p.m. and a discussion about Democratic politics with Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesMcCarthy jokes it'll be hard not to 'hit' Pelosi with gavel if he is Speaker Jeffries: 'Sick and cynical' for GOP to blame Pelosi for Jan. 6 Democrat unveils bill to allow only House members to serve as Speaker MORE (D-N.Y.) at 2:45 p.m. Information is HERE.

 

Politico Playbook’s 2019 Women Rule Summit in Washington includes a discussion at 11:45 a.m. with Pelosi. Info is HERE

 

The “Axios Cities” newsmaker event in Washington, focused on technology and metropolitan areas, includes insights from Reps. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeHouse passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks Haiti Caucus: Forging path out of crisis will not be quick, but necessary to avoid false 'democracy' US lawmakers express shock at Haitian president's assassination MORE (D-N.Y.) and Susan BrooksSusan Wiant BrooksThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Bold leadership is necessary to curb violence against youth Here are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act MORE (R-Ind.),  the co-chairwoman of the Congressional Caucus on Smart Cities. The event will be held from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Info is HERE.



ELSEWHERE

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, 92, died on Monday, leaving a legacy as a warrior against inflation in the 1970s and 1980s and as a respected economic adviser to U.S. presidents, including former President Obama. “The Volcker Rule,” a federal regulatory response to the 2008 financial crisis (relaxed this year under pressure from the banking industry) was his idea to protect investors and taxpayers by barring financial institutions from making speculative market bets using their clients’ funds (The New York Times).

 

 

 

 

Courts: The Department of Justice argued before a federal appeals court on Monday that the only way for Congress to take action against Trump over alleged violations of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause would be to pass legislation (The Hill). ... The Supreme Court today will hear oral arguments in the latest ObamaCare case to hit the justices, this time in a $12 billion dispute over payments insurers say they were promised by the federal government (The Hill). ...U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, appointed by former President George W. Bush, will hear oral arguments today on former White House deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman’s question about whether he has to testify before Congress if the president ordered him not to. The House dropped its subpoena to Kupperman. Leon says he will rule quickly (CNN and The Associated Press). … Trump is trying to kill subpoenas in three cases that involve investigations of the president’s finances but are not directly tied to the impeachment inquiry. In all three cases, Trump is trying to prevent banks and accounting firms he employs from turning over tax, banking and other financial records. The Supreme Court could decide as soon as next week whether to review any or all of them.

 

Health care costs: A congressional effort to protect patients from surprise medical bills received a burst of bipartisan support on Sunday but faces opposition from powerful industry groups as supporters aim to attach it to a must-pass government funding bill that faces a Dec. 20 deadline (The Hill).



THE CLOSER

And finally … The World Series MVP is returning to the district. The Washington Nationals backed up the Brinks truck for Stephen Strasburg on Monday, agreeing to a seven-year, $245 million deal — the largest for a starting pitcher in MLB history — with the star free agent to keep him with the organization that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009. 

 

Strasburg was nearly unhittable in the playoffs this fall, going 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA, leading the Nationals to their first World Series title. 

 

We would not have won the 2019 World Series or accomplished everything we have these last 10 seasons if not for Stephen’s many contributions,” Nationals owner Mark Lerner said in a statement (ESPN).