Overnight Defense: Pelosi suggests impeachment inquiry could go beyond Ukraine | Warren 'Medicare for All' plan includes defense cuts | Nuclear commander confirmed

Overnight Defense: Pelosi suggests impeachment inquiry could go beyond Ukraine | Warren 'Medicare for All' plan includes defense cuts | Nuclear commander confirmed
© Greg Nash

Happy Friday 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: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Speaker Pelosi, it's time to throw American innovators a lifeline Why Americans must tune in to the Trump impeachment hearings MORE (D-Calif.) said Friday it's possible that controversies beyond Ukraine could be part of the impeachment case against President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE.

House Democrats have recently sought to narrow their impeachment inquiry to the allegations stemming from an intelligence community whistleblower complaint that said Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to initiate politically charged investigations in return for the release of congressionally approved security aid.

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Trump's dealings with Ukraine have united nearly all House Democrats around their impeachment probe, though many had previously pushed for impeachment over the president's efforts to undermine former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE's investigation into Russia's election interference.

Pelosi on Friday emphasized that the decision on articles of impeachment will be up to the committees handling the inquiry. She did not rule out the possibility that the obstruction of justice allegations against Trump in Mueller's report could come up.

"What we're talking about now is taking us into a whole other class of objection to what the president has done. And there may be other -- there were 11 obstruction of justice provisions in the Mueller report. Perhaps some of them will be part of this," Pelosi said during an interview with Bloomberg Television. "But again, that will be part of the inquiry, to see where we go."

Mueller's report did not conclude whether Trump obstructed justice but laid out 10 instances in which he may have done so, including firing James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThere are poor ideas, bad ones and Facebook's Libra Trump has considered firing official who reported whistleblower complaint to Congress: report Broadcast, cable news networks to preempt regular programming for Trump impeachment coverage MORE as FBI director, pressuring then-Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSanford: 'It carries real weight' to speak against Trump 'while in office' Medill dean 'deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering' of student journalists Trump has considered firing official who reported whistleblower complaint to Congress: report MORE not to recuse himself from the Russia investigation and attempting to remove Mueller as special counsel.

For now, though, Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry are focused on uncovering Trump's dealings with Ukraine and whether he instituted a quid pro quo for U.S. military aid.

"This is not about his personality, his policies. That's for the election. This is about the Constitution. This is about defending our democracy," Pelosi said.

Open hearings this month: Pelosi also said Friday she expects the House to hold public hearings this month in its impeachment inquiry into Trump.

"I would assume there would be public hearing in November," Pelosi told Bloomberg, adding that the case against Trump "has to be ironclad."

Pelosi's remarks came a day after the House voted mostly along party lines to formally begin the process of holding public hearings in its impeachment investigation.

The vote establishes rules for the open hearings and the questioning of witnesses by House members and staff.

White House prepared for impeachment: Meanwhile, White House aides said Friday they are prepared for Trump to be impeached by the House.

"We are prepared for an impeachment to happen," White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamDemocrats seize on new evidence in first public impeachment hearing More Democrats in poll say Trump will finish first term amid impeachment inquiry The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings MORE said in an interview on Fox News. "Nancy Pelosi has made it very, very clear that the House Democrats are going to vote."

Grisham said she hoped Democrats would "come to their senses" but described them as intent on impeaching Trump despite him doing "nothing wrong."

"As we're preparing in the White House, this is what has been shown," Grisham said. "They have made their intentions very clear."

Grisham's remarks seemed to suggest that the White House views impeachment to be likely if not inevitable. However, when pressed, she pushed back on the notion that she believes impeachment to be a foregone conclusion but said the White House is "expecting" it.

Grisham also reiterated that Trump believes the impeachment inquiry to be a "sham," pointing to criticisms he has voiced on his Twitter feed.

"I wouldn't say it is a foregone conclusion, I would say it's what we're expecting it, yes," Grisham said.

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Senators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban George Conway: 'If Barack Obama had done this' Republicans would be 'out for blood' MORE later told reporters that impeachment "certainly is possible" and that she is "prepared" for the result, while noting it could go the other way depending on what evidence was presented by Democrats.

"[Democrats] know the votes are not there in the Senate. So, if you're going to impeach the president are you going to remove him? Unlikely. But I'm prepared for the president to be impeached and I'm prepared for the votes to not go that way depending on what the evidence says," Conway told reporters at the White House.

"I would hope that we are going to have a process that we haven't had so far," she added, saying the White House would like to see open hearings and be able to cross-examine witnesses.

 

WARREN HEALTH PLAN INCLUDES DEFENSE CUTS: It's not the focal point of the plan, but the "Medicare for All" proposal released Friday by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (Mass.) includes cuts to defense spending.

Specifically, Warren wrote that she wants to eliminate the war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

The OCO account has been criticized for years by lawmakers in both parties as a slush fund. The Pentagon has increasingly relied on the account to fund base budget items to get around budget caps from the Budget Control Act, which expires in 2021.

In a Medium post on her plan, Warren said she would get rid of the OCO account by "responsibly bring[ing] our combat troops home" from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and then "forcing" the Pentagon to fund base budget items through its regular budget.

Linking to an Economic Policy Institute study, Warren argued closing the OCO account would save $798 billion over a ten-year period she could use to help fund her $20.5 trillion Medicare for All plan.

 

NUKE COMMANDER CONFIRMED: The Senate has confirmed President Trump's nominee to lead the U.S. military command in charge of nuclear weapons.

The Senate confirmed Vice Adm. Charles Richard to be commander of U.S. Strategic Command by unanimous consent Thursday night as part of a batch of military nominees. Richard will also be promoted to a four-star admiral as part of the confirmation.

Richard has served as commander of Submarine Forces, Submarine Force Atlantic and Allied Submarine Command since August 2018. He previously served as deputy commander of Strategic Command.

His confirmation comes just a week after his hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Background: At the hearing, Richard was pressed on two treaties that are said to be on Trump's chopping block.

Richard would not say whether he thinks the United States should leave the New START Treaty or Open Skies Treaty. He pledged to give the president his "best military advice" and listed several pros and cons with each agreement.

"I will support any arms control or other treaty that enhances the security of this nation," Richard said generally when asked about both treaties. 

 

ICYMI

-- The Hill: Turkey, Russia begin joint patrols in northeast Syria

-- The Hill: Syria's Assad: Trump is 'the best' because he's 'most transparent president'

-- Reuters: Islamic State's presence evolved worldwide despite Syria defeat: U.S. State Department

-- Stars and Stripes: US Air Force expands mission out of Niger hub

-- Associated Press: Iraqis defy crackdown to hold biggest protests yet

-- The Washington Post: Everyone loves the war dog in the Baghdadi raid. But the dog's predecessors used to be killed.