Overnight Defense: Trump fumes about impeachment inquiry | Dems say State watchdog turned over 'packet of propaganda' on Ukraine | North Korea tests missile days before talks to resume

Overnight Defense: Trump fumes about impeachment inquiry | Dems say State watchdog turned over 'packet of propaganda' on Ukraine | North Korea tests missile days before talks to resume
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Happy Wednesday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.


THE TOPLINE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE fumed Wednesday about House Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry into him.

The anger was on full display when he grew testy with a reporter who was pressing him about what he was seeking from Ukraine in relation to Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Congress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' MORE, demanding that the reporter ask a question to Finnish President Sauli Niinisö at a joint press conference.

"Listen, are you ready? We have the president of Finland, ask him a question," Trump shot back to Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason. "Did you hear me? Ask him a question."

The exchange came toward the end of a combative press conference that was unusually heated even by Trump standards.

The press conference followed a day in which Trump tweeted that Democrats are wasting their time on "bullshit" and ratcheted up his attacks on House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffNewsom says he has already received a number of pitches for Harris's open Senate seat Here's who could fill Kamala Harris's Senate seat if she becomes VP Democrats ramp up warnings on Russian election meddling MORE (D-Calif.) by describing him as a "low-life" who is inferior to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUN Security Council rejects US bid to extend Iran arms embargo Overnight Defense: US seizes Iranian fuel bound for Venezuela | Progressives cool on Biden's foreign policy | Takeaways from Israel, UAE opening diplomatic ties Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire MORE.

"There is an expression, he can't carry his blank-strap," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, an apparent reference to the phrase that usually ends with "jockstrap."

House presses on: Trump lashing out followed a morning in which Schiff appeared at House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump says he'll sign USPS funding if Democrats make concessions Pelosi calls Trump attacks on mail-in voting a 'domestic assault on our Constitution' MORE's (D-Calif.) weekly press conference and three House Democratic chairmen threatened to subpoena the White House for Ukraine documents.

"Over the past several weeks, the Committees tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents, but the White House has refused to engage with--or even respond to--the Committees," reads a memo from House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump rips Bill Maher as 'exhausted, gaunt and weak' Bill Maher delivers mock eulogy for Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden comes to Washington to honor John Lewis MORE (D-Md.), who is leading the impeachment inquiry with Schiff and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Trump reportedly considering replacing Esper after election | FBI, Air Force investigating after helicopter shot at in Virginia | Watchdog says UK envoy made inappropriate comments on religion, race, sex Watchdog: Trump's UK envoy made inappropriate remarks on religion, race, sex Allegations roil progressive insurgent's House bid MORE (D-N.Y.).

"The White House's flagrant disregard of multiple voluntary requests for documents --combined with stark and urgent warnings from the Inspector General about the gravity of these allegations -- have left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena," it added, saying the subpoena would be issued Friday unless the White House complies with document requests.

At the press conference, Schiff said efforts by the Trump administration to "stonewall" the inquiry will be taken as evidence of obstruction of justice.

"We are concerned that the White House will attempt to stonewall our investigation," Schiff said during a joint press conference with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"Any action like that, that forces us to litigate, or have to consider litigation, will be considered further evidence of obstruction of justice." 

IG briefs committee staff: Later on Capitol Hill, the State Department's inspector general briefed staff from several House and Senate committees on what Democrats are saying covered "conspiracy theories" tied to Ukraine, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former Vice President Biden. 

"It's essentially a packet of propaganda, and disinformation and spreading conspiracy theories. Those conspiracy theories have been widely debunked and discredited," Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinCongress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe Five takeaways from Fauci's testimony GOP lawmakers comply with Pelosi's mask mandate for House floor MORE (D-Md.) told reporters after an hour-long briefing with State Department inspector general Steve Linick. 

The closed-door briefing was part of a hastily assembled meeting requested by the State Department watchdog. 

Ahead of the meeting, there had been speculation that it could be tied to a whistleblower complaint about Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine's president, which is at the forefront of the impeachment probe. 

Instead, Democrats say the packet of documents handed over by the State Department watchdog mentions Biden, Yovanovitch and CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that investigated breaches at the DNC in the lead up to the 2016 election.

"They appear to contain long-debunked theories and false statements about the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and one of President Trump's political opponents," said Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage Bottom line MORE (D-N.J.), whose staff attended the briefing. 

"These documents provide further evidence of a concerted, external effort to conduct a disinformation campaign against a career U.S ambassador, who has been the subject of baseless attacks, including by the President himself," he added. 

It's unclear where the documents came from, though Democrats quickly made clear after the briefing that they suspect Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' Feehery: Weak mayors destroy America's great cities Coronavirus concerns emerge around debates MORE, Trump's personal attorney, was involved. 

A Democratic source familiar with the briefing said that the material appeared to come from the White House. 

"Those folders contained notes from interviews that took place at Rudy Giuliani's NYC office with various Ukrainians about debunked conspiracies related to Ukraine. This was just another attempt by the White House to peddle Rudy Giuliana conspiracy theories," the source added.

Pompeo confirms he was on call: Pompeo confirmed Wednesday he was on the call between Trump and Ukraine's president that's at the center of the impeachment inquiry.

"I was on the phone call," he said at a press conference in Rome.

News reports had previously said he on the call, but Wednesday was the first time Pompeo himself acknowledged it.

Pompeo also continued to tangle with House Democrats over their demand for testimony from five current and former State Department officials, arguing Wednesday that Democrats' conditions "deeply violate fundamental principles of separation of powers."

"So the response that I've provided to them was one that acknowledged that we will of course do our constitutional duty to cooperate with this co-equal branch, but we are going to do so in a way that is consistent with the fundamental values of the American system, and we won't tolerate folks on Capitol Hill bullying, intimidating State Department employees," Pompeo said. "That's unacceptable and it's not something that I'm going to permit to happen."


MISSILES TESTS HERE AND THERE: Just a day after announcing the resumption of working-level nuclear talks with the United States, North Korea was back to testing missiles.

On Wednesday morning North Korea time, or Tuesday night Washington time, North Korea launched a missile from near Wonsan that landed into the Sea of Japan.

The Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday evening the missile was a submarine-launched ballistic missile, and released photos that appeared to show the missile launched from a submerged barge.

South Korea said the missile reached a height of 910 kilometers, or 570 miles, and traveled a distance of 450 kilometers, or 280 miles.

That's a lofted trajectory, meaning it flew higher than normal. If flown on a standard trajectory, the missile would have a maximum range of about 1,900 kilometers, or 1,200 miles, David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote online. That would make it a medium-range missile, he said.

Working-level nuclear talks are supposed to resume this weekend for the first time since they stalled after Trump and Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnTrump dismisses forthcoming Woodward book as 'fake' New Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un Overnight Defense: Trump pushed to restore full National Guard funding | Watchdog faults Pompeo on civilian risk of Saudi arms sales MORE's February summit.

Test of our own: Hours later, the U.S. Air Force conducted its own missile test.

The test was not in response to any world events, a news release stressed, but the timing was still uncanny. Launch calendars are scheduled three to five years in advance and planning for specific launches start six months to a year in advance.

The U.S. test was of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Wednesday, Air Force Global Strike Command said in the release.

The Minuteman III was launched with reentry vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:13 a.m. local time, according to the release. The reentry vehicle traveled about 4,200 miles to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.



Marine Corps. Commandant Gen. David Berger will speak at 9 a.m. at the Heritage Foundation. https://herit.ag/2n0ahRZ



-- The Hill: Top Foreign Relations Democrat calls on Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters

-- The Hill: Trump sanctions chief leaving administration: report

-- Associated Press: US impeachment drama ensnares Ukraine at a crucial moment

-- Reuters: Iran's Rouhani says French plan for talks broadly is acceptable

-- Yahoo News: Trump tweeted 'billions of dollars' would be saved on military contracts. Then the Pentagon fired the official doing that.