Morning Consult Washington: Week in Review & What’s Ahead


Week in Review

Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry

  • The White House announced in a letter to House Democratic leaders that it will not cooperate with their impeachment inquiry, arguing that it violates precedent and denies President Donald Trump due process rights. Democrats made clear that Trump’s refusal to cooperate could be the basis of its own article of impeachment, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saying the move would be “regarded as further evidence of obstruction.”
  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry was subpoenaed by House Democrats for documents related to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Perry reportedly encouraged the president to make the phone call, and among other things, Democrats want to know whether the former Texas government leaned on the Ukrainian government to shake up the advisory board of its state-owned oil and gas company.
  • Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told House impeachment investigators that her departure from the post was a result of pressure from President Donald Trump. In her prepared testimony, she said Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani accused her of criticizing the president in private and trying to protect former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, which she denied.
  • Attorneys for the Central Intelligence Agency officer who filed a whistleblower complaint regarding Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president that sparked the impeachment inquiry said they now represent multiple whistleblowers. According to a statement from one of the lawyers, at least one additional whistleblower with firsthand knowledge of the circumstances of the call has come forward with information and has been interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general.
  • The whistleblower’s lawyers said their first client never worked for or advised any political candidate, campaign or party, rebutting allegations that the person may be politically motivated. The statement was an unusual step from the lawyers, who have been reluctant to provide information about their client.
  • House Democrats are considering special measures to prevent GOP lawmakers from identifying the intelligence committee whistleblower, including having the person testify from a remote location and obscuring the person’s appearance and voice, according to three sources. The whistleblower’s attorney has said he feared for his client, noting that certain individuals have issued a $50,000 “bounty” for information on the whistleblower’s identity.
  • The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees subpoenaed the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget for documents related to the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine.
  • Two Florida businessmen who helped Giuliani try to get the Ukrainian government to investigate former Biden and his son were arrested on charges that they helped funnel foreign money into American elections and lobbied U.S. politicians on behalf of Ukraine and other foreign officials. The two men — Soviet-born U.S. citizens, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — have also been subpoenaed by three House committees as part of the impeachment probe.
  • Giuliani’s financial information is being scrutinized by federal prosecutors following the indictment of two of his associates, according to a law enforcement official. According to the indictment, the men were involved in pressing for Yovanovich’s ouster.

The Trump administration

  • Trump said he is replacing Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. McAleenan had become frustrated with Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles, and has said he struggled to control DHS’ messaging.
  • Trump defended his decision to remove U.S. troops out of northern Syria, a major U.S. policy shift, but said the United States does not endorse Turkey’s attack on America’s Kurdish allies and called the country’s operation a “bad idea.”
  • A federal judge in Manhattan blocked a Trump administration regulation that would have allowed immigration officials to deny green cards to immigrants who receive or are likely to receive public benefits, such as food stamps. The judge said the Trump administration exceeded its authority when expanding the guidelines for determining who is labeled a public charge, which had been set to go into effect Tuesday.
  • North Korea’s Foreign Ministry called recent negotiations with the United States “sickening” and gave the Trump administration until the end of the year to change its approach to the nuclear talks if it wants them to continue. The United States described the talks in Stockholm, the first between the two countries since Trump met in February with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, as “good discussions.”
  • Trump said the United States and China have reached a “phase one deal” that would delay his scheduled Tuesday tariff increase in exchange for China’s increased purchases of American agricultural products and agreement to measures to protect intellectual property. The agreement — which Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could sign as soon as next month — marks the first breakthrough in trade talks between the two countries in 18 months.
  • Nearly 1 million migrants were arrested along the U.S.-Mexico border during fiscal year 2019, which ended Sept. 30, according to new data released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The figure marks the highest number in a dozen years, with more than 52,000 migrants taken into custody in September, down 18 percent since August.

Congress

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized Trump’s plan to withdraw American troops from northeast Syria, saying in a statement that a supermajority in the Senate disagreed with the move. McConnell’s rare rebuke joined the critiques of several other Republican lawmakers, raising the possibility of a veto-proof action by Congress to oppose Trump’s decision.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced sanctions legislation against Turkey.
  • A federal appeals court in Washington upheld a lower court ruling that ordered Trump’s longtime accountant to turn over eight years of his tax documents in response to a House subpoena. Trump could appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
  • House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said she will not seek re-election in 2020 after more than three decades in Congress. Her district — which includes Westchester, Rockland, Queens and the Bronx — is viewed as reliably blue and could see a competitive Democratic primary to replace her, with Chelsea Clinton said to be a potential candidate for the seat.
  • Richard Trumka, president of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO, warned House Democrats not to speed up passage of Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, saying if there were a vote before Thanksgiving as some have suggested, “the agreement would be defeated.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not publicly laid out a timeline for passing the agreement, but told reporters that her chamber is “on a path to yes.”
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report detailing Russia’s efforts to support Trump’s 2016 campaign, corroborating earlier findings that the Kremlin used social media in an effort to harm Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Among its recommendations, the report — the second installment of a five-part study on Russia’s 2016 meddling — urged the Trump administration to “reinforce with the public the danger of attempted foreign interference in the 2020 election” and called for tech companies to share more information with the government to combat foreign disinformation efforts.

2020

  • Biden called for Trump’s impeachment, saying the president “indicted himself” when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden and his son and that Trump convicted “himself” when he publicly called for Ukraine and China to investigate the Biden family. Trump almost immediately responded on Twitter, dubbing the former vice president “Sleepy Joe Biden,” and accusing Biden and his son of ripping “off at least two countries for millions of dollars.”
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he will “change the nature” of his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president after suffering a heart attack, telling reporters he will have to reduce the number of campaign events he holds because of his health. He later said he “misspoke,” and vowed to undertake a “vigorous” campaign.
  • Amy McGrath, who’s seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) next year, said she raised $10.7 million in the third quarter of 2019 after launching her campaign in July.

What’s Ahead

  • The House and Senate are in session this week.
  • Twelve Democratic candidates have qualified to participate in Tuesday night’s presidential primary debate.
  • Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top aide on Russia and Europe, is set to testify as part of the House’s impeachment investigation on Monday. Hill, who is not viewed as a Trump loyalist, is reportedly set to tell them that Giuliani and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, circumvented normal White House processes — including then-national security adviser John Bolton — to pursue policy on Ukraine.
  • Sondland is expected to testify to lawmakers on Wednesday, “notwithstanding the State Department’s current direction not to testify,” according to his lawyer.
  • Imprisoned former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen is expected to meet this month with state prosecutors in New York who are investigating whether Trump and the president’s company violated a New York law involving false business records, according to a law enforcement official.
  • Trump is set to nominate Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan as the next U.S. ambassador to Russia, according to a source, and he reportedly has the blessing of Moscow.
  • Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) will face GOP businessman Eddie Rispone in a runoff on Nov. 16.

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

10/15/2019
Hudson Institute hosts event on U.S.-Syria policy 9:15 am
Atlantic Council hosts event on Iran public opinion under U.S. sanctions 10:00 am
Commerce Secretary Ross participates in Federalist Society event on trade 12:00 pm
CNN and The New York Times host Democratic presidential debate 8:00 pm
10/16/2019
NASA administrator testifies to House Appropriations subcommittee 9:45 am
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace holds event on U.S.-China trade 10:00 am
House Financial Services Committee holds hearing on CFPB 10:00 am
House Appropriations subcommittee holds hearing on e-cigarettes 10:00 am
Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds hearing on U.S.-Iran policy 10:00 am
10/17/2019
The Atlantic hosts event on health care 8:00 am
CFPB director testifies to Senate Banking Committee 10:00 am
House Ways & Means Committee holds hearing on drug prices 10:00 am
Senate Agriculture Committee holds hearing on the 2018 farm bill 10:00 am
Trump holds campaign rally in Dallas, Texas 7:00 pm
10/18/2019
Rep. Cuellar, Mexican finance secretary participate in Atlantic Council event 9:00 am
View full calendar

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