What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 1029: Not even a little bit.

1/ A federal appeals court ruled that Trump's accounting firm must comply with a congressional subpoena for eight years of Trump's tax returns. The U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. voted 8-3 to reject Trump's arguments that Congress didn't have the authority to request his business records because the House Oversight and Reform Committee only needed them to determine whether Trump broke existing laws – not whether to enact a new law. The House committee subpoenaed Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, in March demanding a broad set of Trump's financial records. (Reuters / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

2/ Trump asked the Supreme Court to block Mazars USA from turning over eight years of his tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors, who are investigating hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Trump has argued he has "temporary presidential immunity" not just from prosecution, but also from investigation while in office. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1019: Trump's accounting firm must turn over eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors. A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court Appeals unanimously ruled that Trump is not immune from investigative steps taken by state prosecutors. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed the documents from Mazars USA as part of an investigation into the pre-election payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Trump then sued the DA's office to block the subpoena, arguing that as president he is immune not only from prosecution but from investigations. A district judge dismissed the argument in October, which Trump then appealed. Today, the appeals court said because Trump's accounting firm – not Trump himself – was subpoenaed for the documents, it didn't matter whether presidents have immunity. Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said Trump would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NBC News / Associated Press / BuzzFeed News / CNBC)

  • 📌Day 970: The Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed eight years of Trump's "personal and corporate tax returns" as part of its investigation into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael Cohen for the $130,000 Cohen he paid Stormy Daniels just before the election to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump. Cyrus Vance's office is exploring whether the reimbursements violated New York state laws and whether the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. The subpoena was served last month to Mazars USA, which prepares Trump's tax returns. (New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / Axios)

3/ A second U.S. official overheard the July 26 phone call between Trump and the ambassador to the European Union discussing the need for Ukrainian "investigations." Suriya Jayanti, a U.S. foreign service officer based in Kiev, was sitting at the table in a Ukraine restaurant when Sondland called Trump to tell him that "the Ukrainians were ready to move forward" on the investigations. Yesterday, Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, testified that one of his staffers, David Holmes, could hear Trump on the phone asking Sondland about "the investigations." Trump, meanwhile, claimed he doesn't recall the July 26 conversation – "not even a little bit." (Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 1028: The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified that Trump asked about "the investigations" during a call with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union on July 26 – the day after Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son while he was holding U.S. military aid from Ukraine. Bill Taylor told the House Intelligence Committee that a member of his staff overheard Trump mention "the investigations" to Sondland, and that "Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward." Taylor called Trump's decision to withhold "security assistance in exchange for help" with investigations to benefit his personal political interests both "alarming" and "crazy," because Ukraine is a "strategic partner" and supporting them against Russian aggression is "clearly in our national interest." Taylor also testified that "Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine. The staffer who heard the conversation, David Holmes, will testify behind closed doors Friday in the House's impeachment probe. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News)

4/ The Trump International Hotel in Washington's sales pitch to investors suggests that new owners could "capitalize on government related business." The Trump Organization has claimed that its refusal to solicit foreign business has cost it more than $9 million, though they project hotel to have operating revenues of $67.7 million next year – a 65% jump from 2018 to 2020. The hotel is also subject to multiple lawsuits accusing Trump of violating the emoluments clause by using the property to profit off his presidency. The company hopes to sell the hotel for more than $500 million. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 967: A federal appeals court revived a previously-dismissed lawsuit that accused Trump of violating the Constitution's emoluments clause. The lawsuit claimed that Trump's "vast, complicated and secret" business arrangements violate the Emoluments Clause, which bars presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments without the permission of Congress. The case was originally dismissed by a lower-level federal judge in December 2017. Earlier this year, Trump won a separate emoluments suit by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia when the case was dismissed by another federal appeals court's. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Axios)

5/ Trump suggested classifying all migrants who enter the U.S. without permission as "enemy combatants" and sending them to Guantanamo Bay, according to a forthcoming book by an anonymous senior Trump administration official. Trump proposed changing the classification as a way of deterring them from coming to the U.S. The book says Trump's idea was quickly and quietly opposed "Before the president could make a public case for the concept." (The Guardian)

6/ Lindsey Graham blocked a resolution in the Senate that would have formally recognized the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire hours after meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey does not recognize the killing of 1.5 million Armenians. The resolution passed the House in a 405-11 vote. Graham claimed the bill was an attempt to "sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it." (The Hill / Fox News / BBC)

7/ Trump made 67 false claims last week – 27 of them related to Democrats' impeachment inquiry. (CNN)

poll/ 47% of Americans believe it's difficult to identify true and factual information, compared with 31% who find it easy to do so. 50% of WTFJHT readers love WTFJHT 100% of the time. (Associated Press)

Day 1028: "The investigations."

tl;dr The first public hearings in the Trump impeachment inquiry started today as the House Intelligence Committee heard testimony from Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a senior State Department official. Taylor, in closed-door testimony, previously linked Trump to the quid pro quo at the heart of the impeachment probe. Kent previously told investigators that he was uneasy with attempts by Rudy Giuliani to influence Ukraine policy and smear the now-ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.


1/ The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testified that Trump asked about "the investigations" during a call with the U.S. ambassador to the European Union on July 26 – the day after Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son while he was holding U.S. military aid from Ukraine. Bill Taylor told the House Intelligence Committee that a member of his staff overheard Trump mention "the investigations" to Sondland, and that "Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward." Taylor called Trump's decision to withhold "security assistance in exchange for help" with investigations to benefit his personal political interests both "alarming" and "crazy," because Ukraine is a "strategic partner" and supporting them against Russian aggression is "clearly in our national interest." Taylor also testified that "Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine. The staffer who heard the conversation, David Holmes, will testify behind closed doors Friday in the House's impeachment probe. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News)

2/ George Kent testified that Rudy Giuliani conducted a "campaign to smear" the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine by leading an effort to "gin up politically motivated investigations." Kent testified that Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman tried oust Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, by "peddling false information" and that he "became alarmed" during the late spring and summer of 2019 as those efforts "bore fruit." Kent also said that by mid-August, Giuliani's efforts to pressure Zelensky to open investigations into Trump's rivals were "infecting" the Trump administration's relationship with Ukraine." Kent – a career State Department foreign service officer – also rejected the notion that Joe Biden improperly interfered in Ukrainian domestic politics for the benefit of his son’s company. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

3/ Adam Schiff referenced Mick Mulvaney's "get over it" admission of a quid pro quo during his opening statement. The House Intelligence chairman opened the hearing by laying out what he called a "simple" and "terrible" case that would show "impeachable conduct" by Trump, asking "must we simply 'get over it?'" Last month during a White House briefing, Mulvaney told "everybody" to "get over it" while confirming that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange "absolutely appropriate" and that "we do that all the time with foreign policy." (New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

4/ Devin Nunes accused career diplomats testifying of working against Trump as part of a "politicized bureaucracy." During his opening statement, Nunes also called the hearings a continuation of the "Russia hoax" that were one-sided and unfair to Republicans. Nunes claimed – without evidence – that the witnesses had been chosen after a "closed-door audition process in a cult-like atmosphere" and they had been convinced, "wittingly or unwittingly," to be part of what he called a "televised theatrical performance, staged by the Democrats." (Politico / New York Times)

5/ Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is scheduled to testify before the same committee on Friday. David Holmes, an official working at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and Mark Sandy, an official working in the Office of Management and Budget are also scheduled for closed-door depositions this week. The House Intelligence Committee also announced eight witnesses for public appearances next week: On Tuesday, Jennifer Williams, a national security aide to Pence, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a top Ukraine aide on the NSC, Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, and Timothy Morrison, a Europe and Russia aide on the NSC, will testify. On Wednesday, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Laura Cooper, a senior Pentagon official who handles Russia and Ukraine matters, and David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs, will testify. And, on Thursday, Fiona Hill, the former Russia chief on the NSC, is expected to testify. (Politico / Axios)


😳 Impeachables.

  1. Trump attacked House Democrats on Twitter hours before the first public impeachment hearings were set to commence, complaining that Democrats have "stacked the deck" against him and accusing House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff of being a "corrupt politician." White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, meanwhile, called the impeachment hearing "not only boring" but also "a colossal waste of taxpayer time & money" in a tweet. Trump later told reporters that he was "too busy" to watch the impeachment hearings. (Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

  2. Rudy Giuliani wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal arguing that Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wasn't an impeachable offense. Giuliani argued that the focus of the call was only "Ukrainian corruption broadly" and that only a fraction of the call was spent asking Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son. "Out of a five-page transcript," Giuliani wrote, "Mr. Trump spent only six lines on Joe Biden." (Wall Street Journal / HuffPost)

  3. Republicans want to distance Trump from his association with Giuliani as one of their defensive strategies in the House impeachment inquiry. "So the point is," said a Republican on one of the impeachment committees, "as long as [Giuliani] is a step removed, [Trump]'s in good shape." (Axios)

  4. Trump's senior advisers have been trying to convince him not to fire acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Trump, who has been threatening to fire Mulvaney for weeks, was especially upset by Mulvaney's Oct. 17 press conference, during which Mulvaney admitted that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was withheld as a way to pressure Zelensky to launch investigations that could benefit Trump politically. (Washington Post)

  5. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Trump at the White House. It is the first time Erdogan has visited the U.S. since Turkey attacked U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria following Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region. Trump and Erdogan are expected to discuss how to maintain the tentative ceasefire that exists in Syria, as well as the fate of the Islamic State fighters who remain detained in that country. (NPR / Associated Press / NBC News / CNN)

  6. Erdogan threatened purchase Russian military fighter jets ahead of his White House meeting with Trump. Turkey, a NATO ally, discussed purchasing the fighter jets Putin two weeks ago in Sochi. The Trump administration previously banned the sale of U.S.-made F-35 jets to Turkey in response to Erdogan’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system. (NBC News)

  7. Jared Kushner wants to set up webcams along the U.S.-Mexico border so people can livestream the construction of Trump's border wall. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and senior U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials object to the plan because it will make contractor's "proprietary" construction techniques visible to their competitors. Officials were also concerned that the cameras would show U.S. work crews violating Mexican sovereignty if they stray south of the border to maneuver vehicles and equipment. (Washington Post)

  8. poll/ 81% of voters say there's little or no chance they'll change their minds about impeachment after the public hearings. 50% of voters support the impeachment inquiry, compared with 41% who oppose it. (Politico)


📅 Timeline regarding Trump's call with Zelensky:

Source: Washington Post

July 25

  • 7:54 a.m. – Sondland called U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who was in Ukraine having lunch with Andriy Yermak, a senior aide to Zelensky.

  • 8:36 a.m. – Volker sent a text message to Yermak to say he "Heard from White House," and "Assuming President [Zelensky] convinces trump he will investigate / 'get to the bottom of what happened' in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck!"

  • 9:03 a.m. – Trump and Zelensky spoke with Zelensky promising Trump that "all the investigations will be done openly and candidly." Trump replied "Good […] I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call […] Whenever you would like to come to the White House feel free to call." The call ended about 9:30 a.m.

  • 10:15 a.m. – Yermak texted Volker to say the call "went well" and that Zelensky had picked three dates in September "for the White House visit." Volker then updated Sondland to say he "think[s] everything in place."

July 26

  • Sondland traveled to Ukraine and during a TV interview linked to the Ukrainian government said he spoke with Trump "just a few minutes before he placed the call" with Zelensky. Sondland called it "a nothing call."

  • Acting Ukraine ambassador Bill Taylor and Volker met with Zelensky, who said "he was happy with the call but did not elaborate."

  • Sondland called Trump to tell him about the meetings in Kiev. A member of Taylor's staff heard Trump on the phone asking Sondland about "the investigations." The staffer, David Holmes, asked Sondlan what Trump thought about the meeting. Sondland, according to Taylor's testimony, said that "Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for."

Day 1027: Another state of mind.

1/ Trump considered firing the intelligence community's inspector general for reporting the whistleblower's complaint to Congress after concluding it was credible. Trump reportedly doesn't understand why Michael Atkinson shared the complaint, which outlined how Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate Trump's political rivals as he was withholding military aid from the country. Trump believes Atkinson, whom he appointed in 2017, has been disloyal. Trump publicly criticized James Comey, the former FBI director, and Jeff Sessions, the former attorney general, before he dismissed them for perceived disloyalty. (New York Times)

2/ House Republicans plan to argue that "the President's state of mind" made it impossible for Trump to have committed an impeachable offense during his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to an 18-page staff memo outlining their strategic approach to the House impeachment inquiry. The memo highlights "four key pieces of evidence" to defend against impeachment: the lack of conditionality on the July 25 call; that Zelensky said there was no pressure from Trump; Ukraine didn't know about the freeze on U.S. military aid; and that the aid was released without investigation into the Bidens. (Axios)

3/ Mick Mulvaney withdrew his request to join a federal lawsuit seeking a decision on whether top Trump officials can be compelled to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Mulvaney's legal team first notified the court that he planned to file his own lawsuit seeking court guidance on how to respond to a subpoena for his testimony. Mulvaney's lawyers later said in a court filing that "after further consideration," the acting White House chief of staff will instead obey the White House instruction to refuse to cooperate with the House of Representatives. (Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)


👀 Impeachment Watch FYI.

  1. The first public presidential impeachment hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday before the House Intelligence Committee.

  2. Bill Taylor, the Trump administration's top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs will testify.

  3. Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is scheduled to testify before the same committee on Friday.

  4. Watch on C-SPAN.


4/ Roger Stone first told one of Trump's top aides as early as spring 2016 that WikiLeaks would release materials that could damage Hillary Clinton – and that the campaign viewed the materials as "a gift." Rick Gates, who served as Trump's deputy campaign manager, also testified that he was with Trump in July 2016 when he received a phone call from Stone. After Trump hung up, he told Gates that more information would be coming – in reference to additional email releases that would hurt Democrats. Gates also said his boss, Paul Manafort, told him to stay in touch with Stone about WikiLeaks and that Trump would need to be updated on WikiLeaks' plans to release Democratic campaign emails — which authorities concluded were hacked by Russia. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post)

5/ The Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the Trump administration can shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. At question is whether Trump improperly tried to end DACA by calling it illegal without considering how it would affect immigrants. Lower courts ruled that the administration's decision was "arbitrary and capricious" in violation of law. The court's Republican-appointed justices, however, seemed to agree that the Trump administration had the authority to cancel DACA, which would affect the roughly 800,000 "dreamers" brought to the U.S. as undocumented children. On Twitter, Trump – without evidence – called DACA recipients "very tough, hardened criminals," adding that he would be open to making a deal with Democrats. DACA provides enrollees a chance to work legally in the U.S. as long as they follow the rules and have a clean record. More than 90% of DACA recipients are employed and 45% are in school. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News)

  • Nearly 70,000 migrant children were held in U.S. government custody this year — up 42% in fiscal year 2019 from 2018. The U.S. government also separated 69,550 migrant children from their parents over the past year – more than any other country according to United Nations researchers. (Associated Press)

6/ The Trump administration is preparing to restrict the amount of scientific and medical research the EPA can use to inform public health regulations. A new draft of the Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science proposal would also require scientists to disclose all raw data, including confidential medical records, before the EPA could consider the conclusions of an academic study. The new proposal would also apply retroactively to all current public health regulations. (New York Times)

7/ Trump's economic advisers are exploring a "tax cut 2.0" – a proposed 15% tax rate for the middle class. While any new plan is unlikely to pass Congress before the 2020 election, the proposal would provide Trump with a simple tax message for the campaign focused on the middle class. Tax cuts for individuals and families from the 2017 tax law will expire in a few years, but the reductions for businesses are permanent. (Washington Post)


🐊 Dept. of Swamp Things.

  1. Former national security adviser John Bolton suggested that Trump's foreign policy is motivated by financial interests. During a private speech, Bolton said he believes there is a business relationship dictating Trump's position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with him on the issue. The Trump Organization owns a property in Istanbul and Ivanka Trump attended the opening with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2012. Bolton left the administration on Sept. 10. Erdogan is set to visit the White House this week. (NBC News)

  2. At least eight former White House, transition team, and Trump campaign officials were hired as contractors by Health and Human Services and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. The Trump allies were hired as contractors to provide "strategic communications" support, charging up to $380 per hour. (Politico)

  3. Trump claimed Ivanka Trump personally created 14 million new jobs – and then repeated the claim twice more. The entire U.S. economy has created fewer than 6 million new jobs since Trump took office. (New York Magazine)

  4. A senior Trump administration official embellished her resume with misleading claims and even created a fake Time magazine cover with her face on it. State Department official Mina Chang claimed to be a Harvard Business School "alumna" who ran a nonprofit that worked in 40 countries. (NBC News)

  5. Trump's senior policy adviser promoted story ideas about white nationalism, "white genocide," xenophobic conspiracy theories, and eugenics-era immigration laws to Breitbart News in the run-up to the 2016 election, according to a review more than 900 previously private emails Stephen Miller sent Breitbart editors from March 4, 2015, to June 27, 2016. Miller would later help architect Trump's immigration policies, including setting arrest quotas for undocumented immigrants, an executive order banning immigration from five Muslim-majority countries, and a policy of family separation. (Southern Poverty Law Center / Mother Jones)

Day 1026: "This issue."

1/ A senior defense official told House impeachment investigators that Trump directed the mid-July freeze in military aid to Ukraine through the Office of Management and Budget. Laura Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, said she attended a meeting on July 23, where "this issue" of Trump's "concerns about Ukraine and Ukraine security assistance" were shared by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Cooper also told House impeachment investigators that she discussed the frozen aid with Kurt Volker, the then-U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, on Aug. 20. Volker told her that he was attempting to lift the hold on the aid by having the Ukrainians publicly launch investigations being sought by Trump. Trump, meanwhile, accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of doctoring the transcripts from closed-door depositions conducted by House investigators. (Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / Politico)

  • Read: Laura Cooper's testimony. (NBC News)

  • Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will be removed from his post at the White House National Security Council after testifying that "there was no doubt" that Trump was seeking investigations into political rivals. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Vindman and several dozen other policy roles will be removed as a part of the White House's "streamlining" efforts. (Talking Points Memo / Politico)

2/ The State Department had released some military aid to Ukraine days before Trump announced that he authorized the funds. In a classified memorandum to Mike Pompeo, State Department lawyers said they had determined that Trump and the White House Office of Management and Budget had no legal ground to freeze the money to Ukraine. On Sept. 11, Trump claimed that he had released $141 million in funds, but the process was started by at least Sept. 7, and that the State Department's Legislative Affairs office told congressional appropriators on Sept. 9 that there was no hold on the money. Then-National Security Advisor John Bolton had also told the State Department on Sept. 9 that the funding could go through. (Bloomberg / Axios)

3/ A Rudy Giuliani associate told the incoming Ukraine administration in May that unless they investigated the Bidens, the U.S. would freeze aid and Mike Pence would not attend Volodymyr Zelensky's swearing-in ceremony. Lev Parnas claimed that he traveled to Ukraine in May with his business partner, Igor Fruman, to pressure the Zelensky administration at Giuliani's direction. While no one disputes that the meeting occurred, Fruman disagrees that the intention was to present an ultimatum to Ukraine's new leadership. The meeting, however, occurred after Giuliani had canceled his planned trip to Kiev with the intention of urging Zelensky to pursue the investigations. Giuliani claimed at the time that he canceled his trip at the last minute because he was being "set up." (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1023: Two Rudy Giuliani associates urged Ukraine's prior president to announce investigations into Biden and 2016 election interference in exchange for a state visit to Washington. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman urged then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a late February meeting in Kiev. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 841: Rudy Giuliani is encouraging Ukraine to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden's son and his involvement in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. Trump's personal lawyer is meeting with the incoming government in Kiev to press them to try to discredit Mueller's investigation and undermine the case against Paul Manafort. "We're not meddling in an election," Giuliani said. "We're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do." (New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Mick Mulvaney asked to join a federal lawsuit over whether Congress can compel senior Trump advisers to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry. One of Trump's former top national security advisers, Charles Kupperman, filed the suit last month, saying that he faces conflicting orders from Congress and the White House regarding his obligation to participate in the inquiry. Mulvaney's attorneys said the acting White House chief of staff faces the same dilemma, which is why he skipped his scheduled deposition last week and claimed that he was protected by "absolute immunity." (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

  • John Bolton filed a motion to keep Mick Mulvaney from joining a separation-of-powers lawsuit filed against Trump and the House leadership. The former national security adviser's lawyers argued that Mulvaney should not be allowed to join the lawsuit as a plaintiff because Mulvaney is considered a key player in the effort to get the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations into Trump's political opponents. Bolton previously said he's willing to testify in the impeachment inquiry if the judge rules in favor of the House. (New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Two supporters of Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured an energy and gas contract from Ukraine after Perry recommended one to be Zelensky's energy adviser. Perry attended Zelensky's inauguration in May, where he gave Zelensky a list of possible Ukrainian energy secretaries, which included longtime Perry supporter Michael Bleyzer. A week later, Bleyzer and his partner, Alex Cranberg, submitted a bid for a 50-year drilling contract in Ukraine, which was awarded to the two about a month after Perry's visit. The recommendation was made as Zelensky was attempting to secure the nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid. (Associated Press)

6/ A federal judge dismissed Trump's lawsuit to block New York from providing his state tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. Trump's lawyers argued that New York officials were "co-conspirators" with Democrats in Washington when the state enacted a financial disclosure law that makes tax records available to certain congressional committees. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled that his court in Washington was not the proper jurisdiction to sue New York officials and that Trump could continue his fight by filing the lawsuit in New York. (CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 900: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing congressional committees to access Trump's New York state tax returns. The bill requires state tax officials to release the state returns for any "specified and legitimate legislative purpose" on the request of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation. Trump's personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, called the bill "more presidential harassment." The House Ways and Means Committee has unsuccessfully tried to access six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. The House sued the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service last week to try to force them to release the returns. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 915: Trump sued the House Ways and Means Committee and the New York state officials to block his state tax returns from being turned over to the committee. In May, New York passed a bill that allowed the Ways and Means Committee chairman to obtainTrump's state tax returns. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to would block the application of the new state law. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

7/ Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley claimed that two senior Trump advisers approached her about helping them "save the country" by undermining Trump, according to her new memoir, "With All Due Respect." Haley said that former secretary of state Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John Kelly tried to recruit her to ignore Trump and help them work around him. She refused. "Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the president," Haley writes, "they weren't being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country." (Washington Post / CBS News / ABC News / NPR / CNBC)

Day 1023: No doubt.

1/ The top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council testified that "there was no doubt" that Trump was seeking investigations into political rivals, according to a transcript of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's deposition. Within an hour after Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, Vindman told White House lawyers that Trump had made a "troubling and disturbing" request for an investigation. Vindman also testified that "there was no ambiguity" that Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, told him the idea of tethering a White House meeting to the Ukrainians investigating the Bidens "had been coordinated with White House Chief of Staff Mr. Mick Mulvaney." (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Politico)

2/ Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney refused to comply with a subpoena. Mulvaney informed investigators "one minute" before his scheduled deposition that he would not appear, citing "absolute immunity." During an Oct. 17 press conference, Mulvaney admitted that Trump froze military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country to open a political investigation. Mulvaney is the highest-ranking White House official to be subpoenaed for testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry. (Axios / Politico / CNN / Reuters / Associated Press / The Hill / ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ A State Department official testified that Trump wanted the Ukraine president "to go to microphone and say investigations, Biden, and Clinton." Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent's assessment came from a summary of a conversation that Trump had with Gordon Sondland. (Axios / Washington Post)

  • Ukraine planned to publicly announce investigations into Trump's political in an interview on Sept. 13. However, two days before the scheduled interview, the Trump administration released the assistance after news of the hold on military aid had leaked. Zelensky's office then canceled the interview. (New York Times)

  • Two Rudy Giuliani associates urged Ukraine's prior president to announce investigations into Biden and 2016 election interference in exchange for a state visit to Washington. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman urged then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during a late February meeting in Kiev. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

4/ A former National Security Council official testified that there was a "good chance" Russia had compromising materials on Trump during the 2016 election, according to closed-door testimony made public by House impeachment investigators. Fiona Hill, who served until July as the White House's top expert on Russia and Europe, also told lawmakers that she was "shocked" when she read the transcript of Trump's call with Zelensky. Hill also testified that then national security adviser John Bolton "repeatedly" told staff "that nobody should be talking to Rudolph W. Giuliani, on our team or anybody else should be." (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • READ: Fiona Hill's testimony. (NPR)

  • John Bolton reportedly knows about "many relevant meetings and conversations" regarding the Trump administration's campaign against Ukraine. The former national security adviser didn't appear for his deposition scheduled on Thursday, because he and his former deputy, Charles Kupperman, are asking for a court ruling on competing demands by the executive branch and the legislative branch. (New York Times)

5/ Republicans intend to subpoena the whistleblower to testify in the House's impeachment investigation. Democrats, however, have rejected the idea citing safety concerns. They also hold veto power over any GOP subpoena requests for witness testimony. The whistleblower's attorney, meanwhile, issued a cease and desist letter to the White House due to Trump's "rhetoric and activity that places" the whistleblower "in physical danger." Trump has repeatedly attacked the credibility of the whistleblower, demanded to "meet his accuser," and called for the identity of the whistleblower to be revealed publicly. (The Hill / CNN)

  • Ivanka Trump called the identity of the whistleblower "not particularly relevant" compared to the "motivation behind all of this." (Associated Press)

  • Trump Jr. worried about "all the sacrifices we'd have to make to help my father succeed" after visiting Arlington National Cemetery the day before Donald Trump's inauguration. Trump Jr. wrote in his new book that his family had already suffered because they had to "voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were 'profiting off the office.'" (Washington Post)

6/ House Democrats established three parameters for their public impeachment hearings, which begin next week. Investigators will follow "three interrelated lines of inquiry" to determine if Trump asked a foreign leader to initiate investigations to benefit his personal political interests, used the power of the Office of the President to apply pressure on Ukraine, and whether the Trump administration tried to conceal information from Congress about Trump's actions and conduct. (Politico)

7/ Trump is "not concerned" about the impeachment inquiry. He called it a "hoax" because "I never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are." (Reuters)


Notables.

  1. Trump will not impose new tariffs on European cars next week. Trump previously argued that imports of European autos pose a national security threat to the U.S. (Sueddeutsche Zeitung / CNBC)

  2. The EPA's chief of staff refused to disclose to the EPA inspector general how he obtained an advance copy of a witness's testimony. The agency's independent watchdog is investigating Ryan Jackson's efforts to influence a scientist ahead of her congressional testimony. (Washington Post)

  3. Trump wants attend Russia's military parade celebration in May, but his only hesitation is that the parade falls during the "middle of political season." (Politico / Reuters)

  4. Senior Trump administration officials considered resigning en masse last year in a "midnight self-massacre" over concerns about Trump's "misguided impulses." In the new book, "A Warning" by "a senior Trump administration official," officials ultimately rejected the idea because they believed it would further destabilize the government. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1022: A campaign of lies.

1/ Trump asked Attorney General William Barr to hold a press conference and say that he didn't break the law during his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Barr, however, declined. Trump's request was made around Sept. 25 – shortly after the Trump administration released a summary of the July 25 call. Trump denied he asked Barr "to hold a news conference," instead saying people "MADE UP the story" and that "the Justice Department already ruled that the call was good." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

2/ Former national security adviser John Bolton is willing to defy the White House and testify in the House impeachment inquiry. Bolton, however, skipped his scheduled deposition today, wanting a federal court to first rule on a lawsuit between the Trump administration and Congress. House impeachment investigators intend to continue their inquiry without delay and plan to use Bolton's refusal to testify as evidence of Trump's attempt to obstruct Congress. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

  • A national security aide to Mike Pence testified behind closed doors in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into Trump. Jennifer Williams is the first person from Pence's office to testify and is one of a handful of U.S. officials who listened in on Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky in which Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to open an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The White House tried to prevent Williams from attending the deposition. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)

  • A State Department official told House investigators that he kept notes of the White House's attempted quid pro quo with Ukraine. George Kent said he witnessed an "effort to initiate politically motivated prosecutions that were injurious to the rule of law." Kent also accused Rudy Giuliani of conducting a "campaign of lies" about the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, that led to her early recall from Kiev. (NBC News / Politico / NPR)

  • A senior National Security Council official who attended meetings at the center of the congressional impeachment inquiry will leave his post this week. Earl Matthews traveled with John Bolton to Ukraine in August and Poland in September, sitting in on meetings with Zelensky and senior American officials, including Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and senior NSC Russia expert Tim Morrison. (Politico)

3/ The Government Accountability Office is reviewing the Trump administration's hold on security assistance to Ukraine to see if the freeze violated appropriations law. At a Senate Budget Committee hearing last week, Sen. Chris Van Hollen asked the U.S. comptroller general if the administration's failure to formally inform Congress about the hold ran afoul of legal notification requirements. The money was released in mid-September after bipartisan pressure on Capitol Hill, but lawmakers and aides never received a clear answer about the reason for the hold. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Intelligence officials want CIA director Gina Haspel to protect the whistleblower from Trump. Haspel has avoided making any statements about the whistleblower or the complaint. U.S. intelligence officials, meanwhile, say that while they have taken steps to protect the identity of the whistleblower, neither Haspel nor Joseph Maguire, the director of national intelligence, have urged Trump behind the scenes to stop trying to out the whistleblower's identity. (NBC News)

4/ The $500,000 Rudy Giuliani was paid to investigate Trump's political rivals came from a Long Island attorney investing in Fraud Guarantee, a company owned by a Ukrainian-American businessman. Charles Gucciardo, a Republican donor and Trump supporter, gave the money to Lev Parnas as part of a deal that would make Gucciardo an investor in Parnas' company, Fraud Guarantee, which does not appear to have any customers. Gucciardo paid Giuliani $250,000 in September and October 2018 on behalf of Fraud Guarantee. Giuliani is currently under federal investigation for possible foreign lobbying violations, and Parnas has been indicted for alleged campaign finance and foreign money-laundering violations. (New York Times / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 999: Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 to consult for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges. Lev Parnas' company – Fraud Guarantee (!) – engaged Giuliani Partners around August 2018 to consult on technologies and provide legal advice on regulatory issues. Giuliani said the money came in two payments made within weeks of each other, but that he couldn't remember the dates. He also said most of the work he did for Fraud Guarantee was completed in 2018, but that he has been doing follow-up work for more than a year. Federal prosecutors have been "examining Giuliani's interactions" with Parnas and Igor Fruman, who was also indicted on campaign finance charges, since at least early 2019. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are also investigating whether Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled on Trump's orders in May. Giuliani also denied that he was planning to visit Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who is currently wanted on corruption charges in the U.S., during a trip to Vienna he planned last week. (Reuters / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / USA Today / NBC News / Axios / ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 1013: An indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani can be questioned under oath about financial transfers he made to Republican political campaigns. Lev Parnas' defense attorney previously argued that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege. Parnas owes a family trust more than $500,000, which alleges that Parnas transferred the money to his corporate accounts, to the Trump PAC America First Action, to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and to Pete Sessions for Congress – defrauding the family trust in the process. (CNN)

5/ Trump must personally pay $2 million in damages for unlawfully coordinating with the Trump Foundation charity to further his 2016 presidential campaign. A New York state judge found that "Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation" by "allowing his campaign to orchestrate" a televised fundraiser for the foundation in January 2016, and then allowing the campaign to direct the distribution of the money raised from that event "to further Mr. Trump's political campaign." The settlement included an admission of misconduct, including that he used the foundation to settle the legal obligations of his companies, including Mar-A-Lago and the Trump National Golf Club in New York. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

6/ A forthcoming book by an anonymous senior Trump administration claims that high-level White House aides were certain that Mike Pence would support using the 25th Amendment to have Trump removed from office. The author of "A Warning" – the same official behind the 2018 op-ed that declared there was a "resistance" within the administration – claimed that White House officials put together a list of Cabinet secretaries who were open to the idea of removing Trump because of mental incapacity and that "there was no doubt in the minds of these senior officials that Pence would support invoking the 25th Amendment if the majority of the Cabinet signed off on it." Pence, meanwhile, said he never heard about any discussion of using the 25th amendment in the White House. (HuffPost / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 1019: The Justice Department is trying to "intimidate and expose" the anonymous author of "A Warning"– the same senior Trump administration official behind a 2018 op-ed who claimed cabinet members discussed removing Trump from office early in his presidency "given the instability many witnessed." The DOJ claimed that the author may be violating "one or more nondisclosure agreements" by writing the book, which is set to come out on November 19. (CNN / New York Times)

7/ Trump and "The Apprentice" creator have discussed shooting "The Apprentice: White House" after Trump leaves office. Trump and Mark Burnett reportedly still keep in touch by phone with Trump confiding to close associates that he misses his job as a reality-TV host. (Daily Beast)

Day 1021: A clear understanding.

1/ The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that it was his "clear understanding" that military aid would not be sent to Ukraine until the country pursued investigations that could benefit Trump, according to a transcript of his testimony made public. Bill Taylor said he "sat in astonishment" during a July 18 call after a White House Office of Management and Budget official said that Trump had ordered a hold on military assistance to Ukraine. Taylor detailed how U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland had told him that Trump was "adamant" that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announce the Biden and 2016 investigations. Taylor also testified that Rudy Giuliani was the "originator" of the idea to have Zelensky make the statement. (NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times/ Politico)

  • Trump promised "unwavering support" for Kiev in a May 29 letter congratulating Ukraine's newly elected president. The letter also includes an invitation to the White House, held up as a sign of the United States' enduring "commitment" to Ukraine. The letter was sent before the U.S. withheld nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine. (Daily Beast)

  • The State Department's third-ranking official testified behind closed-doors before House impeachment investigators. David Hale told Congress that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was reluctant to defend his then-Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch because it would hurt efforts to get Ukraine military aid. Hale is the first administration official to appear as scheduled this week. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • House impeachment investigators dropped their subpoena to compel a former National Security Council official to testify before Congress. Charles Kupperman served as a deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton. Kupperman was subpoenaed in late October, but he did not appear for testimony because he wanted to wait for the courts to rule on whether he had to comply after Trump directed him to not appear citing immunity. (Talking Points Memo / The Hill)

  • Analysis: Four takeaways from Bill Taylor’s full transcript. (Washington Post)

  • Read: The full transcript of top diplomat Bill Taylor's impeachment testimony. (NBC News)

2/ The House will begin holding public impeachment hearings next week. Bill Taylor, the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of State, will appear on Nov. 13. Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine after a smear campaign backed by Trump, will testify two days later, on Nov. 15. Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET. (Politico / CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The White House added two staffers to help coordinate a "proactive impeachment messaging" response to the House inquiry. Trump is temporarily bringing in former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and ex-Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh. (NBC News / New York Times)

3/ Senate Republicans are discussing whether to use the impeachment inquiry to scrutinize Joe Biden and his son. Some of Trump's allies want to call Biden and Hunter to testify as witnesses in the inquiry to counter the Democrats' scrutiny of Trump. Rand Paul and John Kennedy raised the idea at a private lunch last week to summon Hunter Biden to testify. Paul reiterated that call publicly at a rally in Kentucky earlier this week. (Washington Post)

  • Mitch McConnell said the Senate would acquit Trump if an impeachment trial were held today. McConnell also warned that the longer the impeachment process takes, the longer presidential candidates who are also senators would have to spend on the Senate floor instead of on the campaign trail. McConnell has yet to speak with Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about how the Senate would handle an impeachment trial, but he said they would likely model the trial off the Clinton impeachment. (Politico)

  • Lindsey Graham is refusing to read any of the transcripts released this week as part of the House impeachment inquiry despite demanding that they be made public. Graham said he has "written the whole [impeachment] process off" as "a bunch of B.S." Graham also downplayed Gordon Sondland's revised testimony, during which Sondland acknowledged that he told a Ukrainian official that the release of U.S. military aid to Ukraine would "likely not occur" unless Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announced an investigation into Joe Biden and his son. Last month, however, Graham said, "If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing." Yesterday, Graham reiterated his blanket defense of Trump, adding: "I don't think the president did anything wrong." (Axios / WKYC)

4/ A federal judge overturned the Trump administration's "conscience" rule that would have made it easier for doctors and other health care workers to refuse care on religious or moral grounds. The judge ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its authority, "acted arbitrarily and capriciously" in promoting it, and that the agency's "stated justification for undertaking rule making in the first place — a purported 'significant increase' in civilian complaints relating to the conscience provisions — was factually untrue." Under the rule, health care providers that forced workers to perform work, such as abortions, despite their objections would have been subject to having their federal funding withdrawn. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post)

5/ Roger Stone lied to Congress about his efforts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign because "the truth looked bad for Donald Trump," a federal prosecutor said in his opening statement at Stone's trial. Prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky said the case wasn't about who hacked the Democratic National Committee, or who communicated with Russians, but "about Roger Stone's false testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to obstruct the investigation and to tamper with evidence." (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodğan will visit the White House next week. The visit comes about a month after Trump withdrew U.S. forces from northern Syria, allowing Turkish forces to attack Kurdish forces – a U.S. ally in the fight against ISIS. (Bloomberg / Axios)

poll/ 56% of voters expect Trump to be reelected next year, including 85% of Republicans, 51% of independents, and 35% of Democrats. (Politico)

  • A panel of Pennsylvania voters from swing districts said they'd still vote for Trump even "if he shot someone on 5th avenue," because "you'd have to know why he shot him." (Mediate)

Day 1020: Orchestrated efforts.

1/ A key witness in the impeachment inquiry acknowledged that there was a quid pro quo linking U.S. aid to Ukraine with an investigation into Trump's political rival. In revised testimony, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, said he told Andriy Yermak, a Ukrainian national security adviser, that Ukraine "would likely not" receive military aid until it publicly committed to investigating the 2016 election and Joe Biden. Sondland told Congress that his memory was "refreshed" after reviewing the opening statements by Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a former adviser to Trump on Russian and European affairs. Sondland's addendum also recounted a Sept. 1 meeting in Warsaw where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky raised his concerns to Mike Pence about the suspension of military aid. Sondland said he believed that withholding the $391 million in security assistance was "ill-advised," but claimed he didn't know "when, why or by whom the aid was suspended." The revelation comes after House committees leading the impeachment inquiry released transcripts of witness testimony by Sondland and Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Analysis: Five takeaways from the Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker testimonies. (Washington Post)

  • Excerpts: Sondland's and Volker's testimonies. (New York Times)

  • READ: U.S. Ambassador to the European Union House testimony on Ukraine investigation. (CNN)

  • READ: Former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker's House testimony on Ukraine investigations. (CNN)

2/ House Democrats requested that Trump's acting White House chief of staff appear for a deposition in the impeachment probe. Mick Mulvaney is unlikely to comply with the request, however, as the White House has directed senior officials to not participate in the impeachment investigation. Lawmakers leading the inquiry believe Mulvaney "may have been directly involved in an effort orchestrated" by Trump and Rudy Giuliani to withhold a "White House meeting and nearly $400 million in security assistance" in order to pressure Ukraine to pursue investigations that would benefit "Trump's personal political interests, and jeopardized our national security." (CNBC / Politico / ABC News / New York Times)

  • A senior adviser to Mike Pence will likely comply with a request to testify. Jennifer Williams was listening to the phone call on July 25 in which Trump asked for a "favor" of his newly-elected Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelensky. Williams would be the first person on Pence's national security team to appear. (CNN)

3/ An associate of Rudy Giuliani will cooperate with a subpoena issued by House investigators as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump. Lev Parnas, who helped Giuliani dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter at Trump's request, initially ignored the House Intelligence Committee's request for documents last month, but now intends to comply with the subpoena. The change in strategy reportedly occurred when Trump denied knowing Parnas after he was arrested. Parnas was also charged last month with campaign finance violations. (Reuters / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Phone records show that Trump made at least six phone calls to a woman who says he sexually assaulted her at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Summer Zervos, a former candidate on "The Apprentice," claims that Trump forced himself on her with unwanted kissing and groping while she visited him for lunch in his hotel room on Dec. 21, 2007. Trump's Verizon cellphone bills over a three-month period in 2007 and 2008 shows that Trump called Zervos on the day that his private calendar said he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Trump called Zervos and other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct of being "liars," prompting Zervos to sue him for defamation. That hotel stay is a key part of the defamation lawsuit against Trump in New York State Supreme Court. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 468: A former contestant on "The Apprentice" is suing Trump for defamation after he called her a liar for accusing him of sexual assault. Summer Zervos was among the more than 10 women who came forward during the 2016 presidential campaign and accused Trump of sexual assault and misconduct. He denied all of their claims. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 784: A New York appellate court ruled that a former contestant on The Apprentice can proceed with her defamation lawsuit against Trump. Summer Zervos is one of about a dozen women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct before the 2016 election. Trump called Zervos and the other women "liars," prompting Zervos to file a lawsuit in 2017. The New York State Appellate Division’s First Department turned down Trump's argument that the case should be delayed until he is out of office because, as a sitting president, he was immune from a lawsuit brought in state court. The decision means Trump may have to sit for a sworn deposition. (ABC News / Washington Post / Politico)

5/ Roger Stone's trial began today. Stone faces charges related to his alleged efforts to exploit the hacked Hillary Clinton emails for his own political gain. Stone is accused of lying to lawmakers about WikiLeaks, tampering with witnesses, and obstructing a House Intelligence Committee probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to tip the 2016 election. The indictment says a senior Trump campaign official "was directed" to contact Stone after WikiLeaks released hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in July 2016 to find out about additional releases and "what other damaging information" WikiLeaks had "regarding the Clinton campaign." The indictment does not name the official or say who directed the outreach to Stone. Jury selection began with an observer being taken out of the courtroom on a stretcher after appearing to have a seizure, followed by Stone leaving due to what he said was food poisoning. (Associated Press / NBC News)

poll/ 62% of Trump supporters say there is nothing Trump could do that would cause him to lose their support. Among those who disapprove of the job Trump is doing, 70% say there's nothing the president could do to gain their support. (Monmouth University)

Day 1019: Threatened.

1/ Interview notes from Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation were released after CNN and BuzzFeed News sued the government to see all the work that Mueller's team kept secret. In response to a court order, the Justice Department released the first installment of documents, known as 302s, which memorialize interviews conducted by the office with witnesses and include hundreds of pages of FBI interview summaries. Per the judge's order, the Justice Department will continue to release new tranches of Mueller's investigative notes every month for at least the next eight years. (CNN / BuzzFeed News)

  • ⚡️ Takeaways from the memos:

  • Paul Manafort pushed the unproven theory that Ukrainians might have been responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee at least five months before the 2016 election. Deputy campaign manager Rick Gates told Robert Mueller's office in an April 2018 interview that Manafort had shared his theory that Ukraine, not Russia, was responsible for hacking the DNC with him and other campaign aides shortly after the stolen emails were published in June 2016. Gates said Manafort's theory echoed one that had been pushed by Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian businessman that Mueller's office said had ties to Russian intelligence. Three years later, Trump brought up the same conspiracy theory during his July 2019 call with the Ukrainian president when he asked for a "favor," which is now at the heart of Democrats' impeachment inquiry. (BuzzFeed News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Michael Cohen "had to keep Trump out of the messaging related to Russia" in preparation for his testimony to Congress under oath and that the false testimony was "not his idea." Cohen later pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress about when discussions related to the Trump Tower Moscow deal had ended.

  • Rick Gates said the campaign was "very happy" when a foreign government helped release the hacked DNC emails. After the hacked DNC emails, Trump told Gates that "more leaks were coming." (BuzzFeed News)

  • READ: Interview notes from Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation. (CNN / DocumentCloud)

2/ The former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that she felt "threatened" by Trump and his suggestion to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the July 25 phone call that she would be "going to go through some things." Marie Yovanovitch, who was abruptly recalled by Trump in May, told investigators that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were working with Rudy Giuliani to smear her and had orchestrated her removal as ambassador to Kiev. The revelation comes after House Democrats released the first two interview transcripts with Yovanovitch and Michael McKinley, a former senior State Department adviser. McKinley described to investigators how he pressed top State Department officials to publicly support Yovanovitch, but that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied the request because he did not want to "draw undue attention" to Yovanovitch. (New York Times / BuzzFeed News / Politico / CNN / ABC News)

  • Excerpts and analysis from the first two impeachment inquiry transcripts. (New York Times)

3/ Four White House officials scheduled to give depositions today as part of the House's impeachment inquiry refused to show up and testify. National Security Council attorneys John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, along with Robert Blair, assistant to the president, and Brian McCormick, an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget, did not comply with congressional subpoenas for their testimony. Eisenberg claimed executive privilege, while Blair, Ellis, and McCormick didn't appear because they weren't able to have a Trump administration attorney present. Two other officials from the OMB, Michael Duffey and Russell Vought, also plan to skip their depositions later this week. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is scheduled to appear for a closed-door deposition on Wednesday, but will not be participating either. (CNN / Politico / ABC News / Reuters)

  • One of Mick Mulvaney's top allies is attempting to rally other administration officials to collectively defy Congressional subpoenas from Democrats involved in the House impeachment inquiry. Russel Vought, who leads the Office of Management and Budget, and two of his subordinates are attempting to demonstrate their loyalty to Trump while also creating a firewall around Trump's alleged use of foreign aid to obtain political favors from a U.S. ally. The OMB is at the center of the impeachment inquiry because Democrats want information about why the office effectively froze U.S. military aid to Ukraine even though Congress had already appropriated for that country. (Washington Post)

  • The whistleblower's attorney offered to answer written questions under oath and with penalty of perjury. Mark Zaid said his client was willing to respond in writing "in a bipartisan manner" so long as questions "cannot seek identifying info, regarding which we will not provide, or otherwise be inappropriate." Trump, however, rejected the offer, tweeting that "Written answers not acceptable!" and that the whistleblower "must be brought forward to testify." (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

4/ Trump's accounting firm must turn over eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors. A three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court Appeals unanimously ruled that Trump is not immune from investigative steps taken by state prosecutors. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance subpoenaed the documents from Mazars USA as part of an investigation into the pre-election payoffs to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. Trump then sued the DA's office to block the subpoena, arguing that as president he is immune not only from prosecution but from investigations. A district judge dismissed the argument in October, which Trump then appealed. Today, the appeals court said because Trump's accounting firm – not Trump himself – was subpoenaed for the documents, it didn't matter whether presidents have immunity. Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said Trump would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NBC News / Associated Press / BuzzFeed News / CNBC)

5/ The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations that the U.S. is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement. The withdrawal will not be finalized until a day after the presidential election in November 2020. The U.S. is now the only country to withdraw from the pact between nearly 200 countries. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. (NPR / The Guardian / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 64% of Americans say their financial situation has not gotten better under Trump, while 35% say they're better off. (Financial Times)

poll/ 53% of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president, while 45% approve, and 2% are not sure. (NBC News)

poll/ 49% of voters want Trump impeached and removed from office, 4% say he should be impeached but not removed, and 41% oppose impeaching Trump. (Fox News)

  • Trump called the Fox News poll "fake" and "lousy," claiming that he has "the real polls," and that the "people don't want anything to do with impeachment. It's a phony scam. It's a hoax." (Rolling Stone)

Notables.

  1. Trump attacked California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Twitter and blamed him for the wildfires in the state. Trump tweeted that Newsom has "done a terrible job of forest management." Of the 33 million acres of forest in California, 57% is controlled by the federal government. (Los Angeles Times)

  2. The Justice Department is trying to "intimidate and expose" the anonymous author of "A Warning" – the same senior Trump administration official behind a 2018 op-ed who claimed cabinet members discussed removing Trump from office early in his presidency "given the instability many witnessed." The DOJ claimed that the author may be violating "one or more nondisclosure agreements" by writing the book, which is set to come out on November 19. (CNN / New York Times)

  3. E. Jean Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, saying he lied when he denied her claims that he had raped her in the dressing room of an upscale department store in the 1990s. After the writer and advice columnist came forward with the allegation in June, Trump denied raping Carroll, said he had "never met that person in my life," and accused her of "totally lying" because she was "not my type." (New York Times / Politico / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

  4. Children were encouraged to help "Build the Wall" at a White House Halloween party. Officials had been instructed to put together kid-friendly displays for trick-or-treaters that were supposed to be interactive and inspiring. Instead, the mural featured red paper bricks, each bearing the name of a child, with large letters on the display spelling out "Build the Wall" and signs alongside the wall that read "America First." (Yahoo News)

  5. Smugglers have repeatedly cut through new sections of Trump's border wall, opening gaps large enough for people to pass through. Trump has repeatedly called his $10 billion wall "virtually impenetrable" and likened the structure to a "Rolls-Royce" that border crossers cannot get over, under or through. (Washington Post)

  6. Trump would not commit to keeping the federal government open past a November 21 funding deadline, raising the possibility of a government shutdown as House Democrats expand their impeachment inquiry. Congress passed a short-term spending bill in September and would need to pass 12 appropriations bills to keep all federal agencies funded. (Washington Post)

Day 1016: Sensitive.

1/ A senior White House lawyer instructed the national security official who heard Trump's July 25 conversation with the Ukraine president to keep his concerns secret. Following the call, in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a "favor" to investigate the Bidens, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman went to John Eisenberg to register his concerns about the call, who recorded Vindman's complaints in notes on a yellow legal pad. Eisenberg also restricted access to the rough transcript of the call by moving it into the NSC's top-secret codeword system. Eisenberg then directed Vindman to not discuss his concerns with anyone after the White House learned on July 29 that a CIA employee had anonymously filed a whistleblower complaint about the call. Vindman also testified that he conferred with his deputy Michael Ellis at the time about how to handle the conversation because it was clearly "sensitive." (Washington Post / Politico)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she expects the impeachment inquiry to begin public hearings this month. (Bloomberg)

2/ Trump wants to host a live "fireside chat" and read the White House's version of the transcript from his July 25 call with Zelensky. Trump said he would broadcast the reading on television in order to prove that he did nothing wrong and that the substance of the call was not cause for alarm. "At some point, I'm going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television," Trump said in an interview, "and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it's a straight call." (Washington Examiner / The Hill / Fox News / Reuters)

3/ Democratic leaders directing the impeachment investigation see the Trump administration's stonewalling as obstruction of Congress. Trump and the administration have tried to stop subpoenaed witnesses from testifying, blocked the executive branch from turning over documents, attacked witnesses as "Never Trumpers," badgered the anonymous whistleblower, and have tried to publicly discredit the investigation as a "scam" overseen by "a totally compromised kangaroo court." Democrats argue that the efforts infringed on the separation of powers and undermines congressional oversight duties as laid out in the Constitution. (Washington Post)

4/ A judge is expected to reconsider whether an associate of Rudy Giuliani should remain on house arrest while awaiting trial for charges of illegally funneling money into a pro-Trump election committee and to other politicians. Igor Fruman's attorney is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan to argue that Fruman should not be subject to house arrest or electronic GPS monitoring as conditions of his bail, calling the restrictions "onerous." Fruman was arrested at the airport while attempting to leave the country with his alleged co-conspirator, Lev Parnas, but Fruman's attorney argues that Fruman does not pose a flight risk because he has already paid his $1 million bond and agreed to have his travel restricted. (Reuters)

5/ Trump declined to defend acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. When asked if he is happy with the job Mulvaney is doing, Trump replied: "Happy? I don't want to comment on it." (Washington Examiner)

  • 📌 Day 1001: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange "absolutely appropriate" and that "we do that all the time with foreign policy." Mulvaney added: "I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." Mulvaney also told reporters the funds were withheld in part because of a request to have Ukraine investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries assisted Democrats in the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a quid pro quo arrangement linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC)

6/ Trump nominated Chad Wolf to be the acting Homeland Security Secretary. Wolf served as the chief of staff to former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Kevin McAleenan, who most recently served as acting secretary, submitted his resignation letter to in early October and said he would leave by the end of the month. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ Trump's personal pastor joined the Trump administration in an official capacity. Paula White is a Florida-based televangelist and a controversial figure even among evangelical Christians, but she will now be in charge of overseeing a White House division that conducts outreach to key parts of the president’s base. White's work in the Public Liaison Office will include advising the administration's Faith and Opportunity Initiative, which Trump established last year to give religious groups more of a voice in government programs involving religious liberty and fighting poverty. (New York Times)

8/ The White House is discussing a second round of tax cuts to announce during the 2020 presidential campaign. Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic aide, said the plan will be released next year to help Republicans run on the message of a strong economy and contrast their Democratic rivals, who are proposing tax increases to pay for expanded government services. (Bloomberg)

9/ The number of non-farm jobs rose by 128,000 in October, despite the loss of 42,000 motor vehicle and parts industry jobs. The growth of new jobs last month exceeded the 75,000 estimate by Dow Jones economists. The lost of 42,000 jobs was also less than the 50,000 or more that many economists had anticipated. The unemployment rate rose to 3.6%, but is still at its lowest rate in 50 years. (CNBC / New York Times)

10/ Trump changed his state of residence from New York to Florida, declaring that Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach was his permanent residence. Melania Trump also changed her residence to Palm Beach. Trump confirmed the decision on Twitter, saying "I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state," and that moving to Florida would be "best for all concerned." (New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 49% of Americans agree that Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 47% disagree. 82% of Democrats support removing Trump from office, while 13% are opposed. 18% of Republicans think he should be removed, while 82% say he should not be. (Washington Post-ABC News)

Day 1015: "Nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president."

1/ The House approved a resolution to formally authorize and set ground rules for its impeachment inquiry into Trump. The resolution passed 232-196 almost entirely along party lines and outlines how the House will make the investigation more public, authorizes the House Intelligence Committee to release transcripts from past interviews, and gives Republicans the right to call witnesses, though those requests are subject to approval by Democrats. Before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said "Today, we are further down the path of our inquiry," calling it a "sad day," because "nobody comes to Congress to impeach a president." Minutes after the vote, the White House press secretary denounced the resolution as "a sham impeachment" and "a blatantly partisan attempt to destroy the president." (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / ABC News)

  • Two Democrats voted against the impeachment inquiry resolution. Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Collin Peterson both voted "nay" on the resolution. (CNN)

  • What is impeachment and how does it work? 10 facts to know. (NBC News)

  • The full Trump-Ukraine timeline. The House is engaged in a formal impeachment inquiry of Trump. It's focused on his efforts to secure specific investigations in Ukraine that carried political benefits for him — with indications that there might have been an explicit or implicit quid pro quo involved. (Washington Post)

  • ⚡️ Impeachment.wtf – The historian's guide to the Trump impeachment inquiry. Maintained by the community. Updated daily.

2/ Trump's former top National Security Council advisor on Russia and Europe corroborated testimony by the acting ambassador to Ukraine that Trump tried to withhold military assistance until Ukraine committed to investigating Trump's political rivals. Tim Morrison told impeachment investigators today that he spoke to Bill Taylor at least twice in early September. One call was about Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who told the Ukrainians that no U.S. aid would be released until they announced an investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company that had hired Joe Biden's son Hunter. Morrison also spoke with Taylor on Sept. 7 to share his "sinking feeling" about a conversation between Trump and Sondland, during which Trump demanded that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky publicly announce investigations and a debunked conspiracy theory about the 2016 election. Morrison, however, told impeachment investigators he "was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed," but he did see the episode as problematic for U.S. foreign policy. Morrison's testimony comes a day after he announced his resignation. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / NPR / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / NBC News / Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 1006: The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that Trump held up security aid and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine's president until he agreed to investigate Tump's political rivals. Bill Taylor said he was told that "everything" Ukraine wanted — a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and nearly $400 million in security aid — was dependent on publicly announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company that hired Joe Biden's son Hunter, and Ukraine's alleged involvement in the 2016 election. Taylor provided an "excruciatingly detailed" opening statement that described "how pervasive the [quid pro quo] efforts were" by Trump and his allies, which they have denied. People in the closed-door deposition described Taylor's testimony as a "very direct line" between American foreign policy and Trump's own political goals. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 1008: Trump's top envoy to Ukraine testified that the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. not only knew of a quid pro quo, but had also communicated the threat to Ukraine. William Taylor said he understood that on Sept. 1st, Gordon Sondland warned Andrey Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's aide, that security assistance "would not come" unless Zelensky committed to pursuing the investigation into Burisma, the energy company where Joe Biden's son held a board seat. On Sept. 9th, Sondland texted Taylor to say there was "no quid pro quos" of any kind authorized by Trump. Sondland's attorney added that his client "does not recall" such a conversation. By Taylor's account, however, Sondland already knew the terms of the quid pro quo and had relayed them to Zelensky's aide a week earlier. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 1009: A top adviser on Trump's National Security Council is expected to corroborate testimony that Trump pushed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son, using the military aid as leverage. Tim Morrison's testimony is expected to be significant because he was named 15 times during Bill Taylor's deposition, which Democrats view as damning for Trump. Morrison was also listening in on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Morrison is also expected to say that he didn't see anything wrong with what the Trump administration did with regard to Ukraine. Morrison would also be the first currently serving White House official to testify. (CNN)

3/ The deputy White House counsel moved the transcript of Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky to the highly classified server after Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman raised concerns about Trump's behavior. Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, had listened in on the call when Trump asked Zelensky to "do us a favor" by pursuing an investigation into Biden and the debunked conspiracy theory that a Democratic National Committee server was transported to Ukraine after it was hacked in 2016. After the call was over, Vindman, an ethics attorney on the National Security Council, and a deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council met with John Eisenberg to raise concerns about the conversation. Eisenberg then ordered the transcript of the call moved to the NSC Intelligence Collaboration Environment, which is normally reserved for code-word-level ­intelligence programs, to ensure that people who were not assigned to handle Ukraine policy could not read the transcript. Vindman also told House impeachment investigators that the White House transcript of the July call omitted crucial words and phrases, including Trump's assertion that there were recordings of Biden discussing Ukraine corruption and a mention by Zelensky about Burisma. Vindman was also given a hard copy of the rough transcript to make written edits, which he then gave to his boss, Tim Morrison. (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Two separate federal judges in Washington will consider whether to force two witnesses close to Trump to testify in the House's impeachment inquiry. The first hearing centers on former White House counsel Don McGahn's refusal to testify this spring in the House Judiciary Committee's criminal probe into whether Trump obstructed justice by attempting to impede the Russia investigation. The White House blocked McGahn's testimony, claiming he was "absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony." The second hearing involves former National Security official Charles Kupperman, who did not appear for his subpoenaed testimony on Monday. Last week, Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit to resolve conflicting orders from Congress and the White House about his participation in the impeachment investigation. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / Washington Post)

poll/ 61% of Americans say Trump has little or no respect for the country's democratic institutions and traditions. 42% of Americans approve of Trump's job performance. (Associated Press)

poll/ 54% of Americans say the Trump administration's policies have made the United States less respected around the world, while 28% say the policies have made the U.S. more respected. (Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Rudy Giuliani needed an Apple Genius to unlock his iPhone after he was named Trump's cybersecurity adviser in 2017. Giuliani was locked out of his iPhone because he had forgotten the passcode and entered the wrong one at least 10 times. (NBC News)

  2. The EPA will weaken regulation that limits heavy metals like arsenic, lead and mercury from coal-fired power plants. The new rules are expected to go into effect in November. (New York Times)

  3. The American Bar Association deemed Trump's new judicial nominee "not qualified" for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The ABA found Lawrence VanDyke to be "arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice." When asked during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing about his past positions on issues such as gun control, environmental protections, abortion, and LGBTQ rights, he started to cry. (Washington Post)

  4. The Senate passed four spending bills to fund operations at the Agriculture, Transportation and Interior departments. Current government funding lasts through Nov. 21 and the majority of government spending is locked in a dispute over how to pay for Trump's border wall. (Politico)

Day 1014: Out of step.

1/ Two career diplomats testified before House impeachment investigators behind closed doors that Trump and Rudy Giuliani's view of Ukraine were out of step with other White House and State Department officials. Catherine Croft told lawmakers, who worked as an adviser to Kurt Volker, explained that "throughout" her time in the Trump administration she heard Trump "describe Ukraine as a corrupt country," both "directly and indirectly." Christopher Anderson, who served as assistant to Volker, told lawmakers that in a June 13th meeting, John Bolton had supported "increased senior White House engagement" with Ukraine, but was concerned that Giuliani "was a key voice with the president on Ukraine." Anderson also testified that his attempts as a Foreign Service officer to show support for Ukraine were quashed by the White House. (Washington Post / CNN / Politico / ABC News / New York Times)

  • 📝 READ: Christopher Anderson's written testimony. (NPR)

  • 📝 READ: Ukraine Specialist Catherine Croft's written testimony. (NPR)

2/ House impeachment investigators asked former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify on Nov. 7th after Anderson and Croft testified that Bolton was concerned about America's stance toward Ukraine. Fiona Hill testified earlier this month that Bolton was so disturbed by efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Trump's political opponents that he called it a "drug deal," and that Bolton had told her to report the situation to John Eisenberg, the top lawyer for the National Security Council. Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, another lawyer for the NSC, are scheduled testify next Monday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg)

3/ The National Security Council's top Ukraine expert testified that a Devin Nunes associate "misrepresented" himself to Trump as the NSC's Ukraine expert. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told lawmakers that Kashyap Patel circumvented NSC process to provide Trump with disinformation that Ukraine was corrupt and had interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democrats. Vindman was also told not to attend a meeting following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration, because Trump's advisers worried his perspective might confuse Trump. Patel is a longtime Nunes staffer who joined the White House in February. He has no Ukraine experience or expertise. (Politico)

  • 📌 Day 1007: House impeachment investigators are scrutinizing a National Security Council aide suspected of operating a second Ukraine backchannel. Fiona Hill, the National Security Council's former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, testified last week that she believed Kashyap Patel was improperly getting involved in Ukraine policy by sending information about Ukraine to Trump that could warp American policy. Senior White House officials reportedly grew concerned when Patel became so involved in the issue that at one point Trump wanted to discuss the documents with him, referring to Patel as one of his top Ukraine policy specialists. Patel is assigned to work on counterterrorism issues, not Ukraine policy, and was part of the Republican effort to undermine the Russia investigation. (New York Times / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 923: A former congressional staffer who tried to discredit Robert Mueller's investigation has been promoted on the National Security Council staff. Kash Patel spearheaded the efforts with Devin Nunes to call the court-approved surveillance of former Trump adviser Carter Page into question. Now, Patel has been promoted to a leadership position focused on counterterrorism at the NSC's Directorate of International Organizations and Alliances. (Daily Beast)

4/ A former Republican congressman turned lobbyist repeatedly attempted to get the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine fired for her association with Democrats. Robert Livingston told Croft on multiple occasions that Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, was an "Obama holdover" "associated with George Soros" who "should be fired." Croft testified that she "documented" multiple appeals by Livingston to oust Yovanovitch while she was working at the National Security Council from mid-2017 to mid-2018. Croft also said she informed Fiona Hill, then the senior director for Europe and Russia on the council, and George Kent, a Ukraine expert at the State Department, about the efforts at the time. (New York Times / Bloomberg)

5/ Trump's pick for ambassador to Russia told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it would not be "in accord with our values" for a president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan also agreed that Yovanovitch had "served capably and admirably" and that he believed Rudy Giuliani was "seeking to smear" Yovanovitch. Sullivan said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told him "the president had lost confidence with [Yovanovitch]" and that he was the one who informed Yovanovitch that she was being recalled early from her post as the ambassador to Ukraine. (Politico / Washington Post)

6/ Attorneys for the anonymous whistleblower at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry have received multiple death threats. At least one of the death threats led to an investigation by law enforcement. None of the threats, however, have been deemed credible. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ Bill Taylor is willing to return to Capitol Hill to testify publicly in the impeachment probe. Taylor documented how he believed the White House had linked Ukraine announcing an investigation that could help Trump to the U.S. releasing security aide and setting up a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Zelensky. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1006: The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that Trump held up security aid and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine's president until he agreed to investigate Tump's political rivals. Bill Taylor said he was told that "everything" Ukraine wanted — a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and nearly $400 million in security aid — was dependent on publicly announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company that hired Joe Biden's son Hunter, and Ukraine's alleged involvement in the 2016 election. Taylor provided an "excruciatingly detailed" opening statement that described "how pervasive the [quid pro quo] efforts were" by Trump and his allies, which they have denied. People in the closed-door deposition described Taylor's testimony as a "very direct line" between American foreign policy and Trump's own political goals. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 1008: Trump's top envoy to Ukraine testified that the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. not only knew of a quid pro quo, but had also communicated the threat to Ukraine. William Taylor said he understood that on Sept. 1st, Gordon Sondland warned Andrey Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's aide, that security assistance "would not come" unless Zelensky committed to pursuing the investigation into Burisma, the energy company where Joe Biden's son held a board seat. On Sept. 9th, Sondland texted Taylor to say there was "no quid pro quos" of any kind authorized by Trump. Sondland's attorney added that his client "does not recall" such a conversation. By Taylor's account, however, Sondland already knew the terms of the quid pro quo and had relayed them to Zelensky's aide a week earlier. (Washington Post / Politico)


Notables.

  1. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney didn't know about the raid to assassinate Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi until after the raid was already underway. The White House chief of staff is typically central to any major action by a president, taking charge of coordinating logistics, public statements, and notifying congressional leaders and allies. Rather than sitting alongside Trump in the Situation Room as the raid unfolded, Mulvaney was at home in South Carolina when Trump tweeted that "Something very big has just happened!" Mulvaney was briefed on the raid later that night. (NBC News)

  2. Trump tweeted that "American troops" have "terminated" ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's "likely" replacement. The White House and the national security council did not say whether it is accurate that "American troops" were responsible for the death of Abu Hasan al-Muhajir. (CNN)

  3. The Senate rejected an effort to roll back a Trump administration rule that allowed states to ignore parts of the Affordable Care Act. The resolution would have overturned a Trump administration rule that made it easier for states to opt-out of certain ACA requirements and prioritize cheaper "junk plans" than ones offered under the ACA. (The Hill)

  4. Georgia will cancel about 315,000 voter registrations ahead of the 2020 presidential and the state's Senate election, where both Senate seats are up for grabs. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office will send notices to inactive voters who and give them 30 days to return the notice if they don't want their voter registrations canceled. The number of potential cancellations constitutes roughly 4% of Georgians on the voter rolls. (NBC News)

  5. Russian groups spent more than $87,000 on Facebook ads to test new disinformation tactics in parts of Africa. The three Russian-backed influence networks were linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch was indicted by the United States and accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. Facebook said it removed the networks. (New York Times)

  6. Twitter banned all political advertisements. The new policy will go into place in November and applies worldwide. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  7. The Federal Reserve reduced interest rates by a quarter-percentage point – the third time this year – but signaled that it will weigh incoming data before adjusting rates again. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  8. Trump made 96 false claims last week – including 53 last Monday alone. (CNN)

Day 1013: "Extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing."

1/ House Democrats released their impeachment resolution, which outlines the next steps by the six committees that are pursuing investigations of the Trump administration. The resolution doesn't limit the scope of their ongoing probes and does not set a timeline for potential articles of impeachment. Under the proposed rules, the House Intelligence Committee will take the lead on planning public hearings as the inquiry advances and establish rules for Republicans to hear testimony from certain witnesses, but that those requests will be declined or approved by Adam Schiff. The House plans to vote on the resolution Thursday. (New York Times / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

2/ The top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council registered objections on two separate occasions regarding Trump's handling of Ukraine. Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman told impeachment investigators during a closed-door deposition that he heard Trump asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son as a "favor" after Zelensky brought up the defense cooperation between the U.S. and Ukraine. Vindman said he was so "concerned by the call" and that Trump's request could be seen as "a partisan play" that could "undermine U.S. national security" that he reported it to the NSC's lead counsel out of a "sense of duty." Vindman is the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25th phone call between Trump and Zelensky, and reportedly told impeachment investigators that he took notes during the call and made recommendations to the White House to correct the memo summarizing the conversation. They weren't used. Vindman said the White House transcript left out Zelensky saying the word "Burisma" — the name of the energy company that Hunter Biden had worked for – as well as Trump saying there were recordings of Biden. (New York Times / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / NBC News)

  • READ: White House Ukraine expert's opening statement, which says he reported concerns about Trump-Zelensky call. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Who is Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian refugee who became a soldier, scholar, and official at the White House. (New York Times / CNN)

3/ Vindman's sworn statement contradicted Gordon Sondland's testimony, who told House investigators that no one had raised concerns about Trump's actions. Vindman testified that he confronted Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, after Sondland, Kurt Volker, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and then-national security adviser John Bolton met with senior Ukrainian officials at the White House about "Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with the president." Vindman testified that he told Sondland "that his statements were inappropriate, that the request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push." Rep. Joaquin Castro, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, accused Sondland of perjuring himself during his closed-door testimony to impeachment investigators earlier this month. Vindman's testimony also appears to contradict Perry's denials that he ever heard the Bidens discussed in relation to U.S. requests that Ukraine investigate corruption. (Washington Post / The Guardian / New York Times / The Hill / Politico)

  • Acting House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney called Vindman's deposition "extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing." (NBC News)

4/ Trump's allies accused Vindman of being loyal to Ukraine because he was born there. Vindman came to the United States at age 3, was awarded a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq, and now serves as a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council. Fox News host Laura Ingraham and her guests, however, suggested that Vindman had engaged in "espionage" on behalf of Ukraine against the U.S. Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, accused Vindman of being a "Never Trumper," tweeting that the colonel "has reportedly been advising two gov's." Republicans, however, joined Democrats in defending Vindman, calling the attacks "despicable," "absurd, disgusting, and way off the mark." (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

5/ The White House has not made a decision on whether to make the details of Mike Pence's call with President Zelensky public – three weeks after Pence said he had "no objection" to releasing a reconstructed transcript of the call. White House officials have debated whether releasing the call details will help or hurt their attempts to push back against accusations that Trump made U.S. military aid to Ukraine contingent on the country launching an investigation into his political opponents. (NBC News)

6/ A top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes has been trying to unmask the anonymous whistleblower at the heart of the House's impeachment inquiry by releasing information about him to conservative journalists and politicians. Derek Harvey has provided notes to House Republicans identifying the whistleblower's name ahead of the depositions of Trump appointees and administration employees in the impeachment inquiry. His goal is to get the name of the whistleblower into the records of the proceedings, which could then be made public. Harvey was also "passing notes [to GOP lawmakers] the entire time" during ex-NSC Russia staffer Fiona Hill's testimony. (Daily Beast / Washington Post)

7/ The House Judiciary Committee argued that it has an "urgent" need for access to Robert Mueller's grand jury secrets. The Trump administration appealed an earlier decision to grant the House access to the details, and is asking the courts to stop the handover of grand jury transcripts. The House argues it wants to see the details both for its Ukraine impeachment investigation and in examining whether Trump attempted to obstruct the Russia investigation. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1009: A federal judge directed the Justice Department to hand over Robert Mueller's secret grand jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, which Attorney General William Barr has withheld from lawmakers. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell rejected the Trump administration's claim that the impeachment probe is illegitimate, saying the material could help the House Judiciary Committee substantiate "potentially impeachable conduct" by Trump. The materials must be disclosed by Wednesday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 1012: The Trump administration appealed a judge's ruling requiring the Justice Department to give the House Judiciary Committee grand jury material related to Robert Mueller's report. Chief Judge Beryl Howell's ruling granted the Judiciary Committee access to portions of Mueller's report and underlying grand jury information that were redacted. (Politico / CNBC)

poll/ 78% of Fox News viewers say they agree that the impeachment inquiry is like a "lynching." Overall, 66% of registered voters believe the White House should comply with House subpoenas demanding testimony and documents, while 26% disagreed, and 8% were undecided. (USA Today)


Notables.

  1. General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, and Toyota have sided with the Trump administration in its escalating battle with California over fuel economy standards for automobiles. The decision to intervene on behalf of the Trump administration puts them at odds with their leading competitors, including Honda and Ford, who reached a deal this year to follow California’s stricter rules for emissions instead of the much weaker federal auto emissions standards set by the Trump administration. The auto industry has "historically taken the position that fuel economy is the sole purview of the federal government," said the CEO of the automakers association. (New York Times)

  2. An indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani can be questioned under oath about financial transfers he made to Republican political campaigns. Lev Parnas' defense attorney previously argued that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege. Parnas owes a family trust more than $500,000, which alleges that Parnas transferred the money to his corporate accounts, to the Trump PAC America First Action, to the National Republican Congressional Committee, and to Pete Sessions for Congress – defrauding the family trust in the process. (CNN)

  3. Attorney General William Barr issued two decisions limiting immigrants' options to fight deportation. The decisions removes paths for legal immigration status people with old criminal convictions or multiple drinking and driving convictions. (NBC News)

  4. The United States will not admit any refugees in October. Travel for refugees who were told they could come to the U.S. was postponed through October 21st, and then later to October 28th. The moratorium now runs through November 5th. About 500 flights have been cancelled this month at the expense of federal taxpayers. (CNN)

  5. A federal judge temporarily blocked a restrictive Alabama law that prohibits almost all abortions and makes performing the procedure a felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison. The only exception allowed is for pregnancies that pose a "serious health risk" for women. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson granted a preliminary injunction, saying the law violated precedent set by the U.S. Supreme Court that determines the right to an abortion before a fetus reaches viability, and that the measure also violated the Constitution and would leave many patients in the state without options. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1012: "Eliminate any doubt."

1/ The House of Representatives will vote on the Trump impeachment inquiry. The resolution "affirms the ongoing, existing investigation," "establishes the procedure for hearings," and "ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. It will mark the first floor vote on impeachment since Democrats formally launched their inquiry. Representative Jim McGovern, chairman of the House Rules Committee, will introduce the resolution on Tuesday with a full House vote scheduled for Thursday. Pelosi added: "We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives." (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

2/ A former deputy national security adviser and one of Trump's "closest confidential" advisers defied a congressional subpoena and failed to appear for a scheduled closed-door deposition before House impeachment investigators. Charles Kupperman filed a lawsuit seeking guidance from a federal judge about whether he should listen to the executive branch, which has invoked "constitutional immunity," or to Congress. "Given the issue of separation of powers in this matter, it would be reasonable and appropriate to expect that all parties would want judicial clarity," Kupperman said. Since there has not yet been a ruling, Kupperman declined to appear. Leaders of three House committees said his lawsuit is "lacking in legal merit and apparently coordinated with the White House," and failure to appear for his deposition "will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding." Kupperman listened in to the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / NPR)

  • Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's Europe and Eurasia director, still plans to appear if subpoenaed. (Washington Post / CBS News)

  • 📌 Day 1009: A top adviser on Trump's National Security Council is expected to corroborate testimony that Trump pushed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son, using the military aid as leverage. Tim Morrison's testimony is expected to be significant because he was named 15 times during Bill Taylor's deposition, which Democrats view as damning for Trump. Morrison was also listening in on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Morrison is also expected to say that he didn't see anything wrong with what the Trump administration did with regard to Ukraine. Morrison would also be the first currently serving White House official to testify. (CNN)

3/ The White House knew as early as mid-May — earlier than previously known — that Rudy Giuliani and the ambassador to the European Union were pressuring the new Ukrainian president. Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, was told in a White House meeting the week of May 20th about a campaign by Giuliani, two of Giuliani's associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and Gordon Sondland to pressure President Zelensky with unsolicited advice on who should be elevated to influential posts within his new administration. Sondland had no official role overseeing Ukraine, and Giuliani isn't a government employee. (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 999: The White House's former top Russia adviser told impeachment investigators that Rudy Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit Trump. Fiona Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, testified for about nine hours before three House panels regarding a July 10th meeting she attended with senior Ukrainian officials, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and other U.S. officials in which the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who was working with Giuliani, raised the issue to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, Joe Biden, and his son. Hill said she confronted Sondland about Giuliani's actions, which were not coordinated with officials responsible for U.S. foreign policy. Hill resigned days before Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian / NBC News / Vox / NPR)

  • 📌 Day 1000: A former top White House foreign policy adviser told House impeachment investigators that she viewed Sondland as a national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job. Fiona Hill did not accuse Sondland of acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk, but described him as and Trump donor-turned-ambassador. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1007: House impeachment investigators are scrutinizing a National Security Council aide suspected of operating a second Ukraine backchannel. Fiona Hill, the National Security Council's former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, testified last week that she believed Kashyap Patel was improperly getting involved in Ukraine policy by sending information about Ukraine to Trump that could warp American policy. Senior White House officials reportedly grew concerned when Patel became so involved in the issue that at one point Trump wanted to discuss the documents with him, referring to Patel as one of his top Ukraine policy specialists. Patel is assigned to work on counterterrorism issues, not Ukraine policy, and was part of the Republican effort to undermine the Russia investigation. (New York Times / Politico)

4/ A senior State Department official testified that he appealed to leadership for a public show of support for the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine when she was targeted in a smear campaign by Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Philip Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for Europe, said he pushed State Department leadership to make a statement of support for Marie Yovanovitch to counter Giuliani's push to get her recalled. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, however, wouldn't back the ambassador to Ukraine. Reeker also testified that he did not find out the Trump administration's efforts to push Ukraine into publicly announcing investigations into Joe Biden and the 2016 election until the whistleblower complaint was made public. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

5/ The Trump administration appealed a judge's ruling requiring the Justice Department to give the House Judiciary Committee grand jury material related to Robert Mueller's report. Chief Judge Beryl Howell's ruling granted the Judiciary Committee access to portions of Mueller's report and underlying grand jury information that were redacted. (Politico / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 1009: A federal judge directed the Justice Department to hand over Robert Mueller's secret grand jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, which Attorney General William Barr has withheld from lawmakers. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell rejected the Trump administration's claim that the impeachment probe is illegitimate, saying the material could help the House Judiciary Committee substantiate "potentially impeachable conduct" by Trump. The materials must be disclosed by Wednesday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico)

6/ Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died after detonating a suicide vest during a raid by U.S. special forces in northwestern Syria. Hours later, Islamic State spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, described as al-Baghdadi's right-hand man, was killed in a separate raid by Kurdish-led and U.S. forces in northern Syria. Trump described al-Baghdadi's death as a man "running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering, screaming and crying all the way," who "died like a dog" and a "coward." al-Baghdadi was one of the most wanted suspected terrorists in the world, with a $25 million bounty issued by the U.S. for his capture. (New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post)

  • Trump did not give House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Congress advance notice of the raid that killed Baghdadi. Trump, instead, informed Russia about the operation before telling congressional leadership. Trump said he knew about plans for the top-secret mission for three days, but claimed that he kept Congress in the dark because he worried they would leak the information to the public and put the lives of American forces at risk. (USA TODAY / Washington Post / ABC News / Associated Press)

  • Trump knew the CIA and Special Operations commandos were zeroing in on the location of Baghdadi when he ordered American troops to withdraw from northern Syria earlier this month. Trump's abrupt withdrawal order disrupted the planning and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies, and reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout. (New York Times)


Notables.

  1. Trump was booed during game five of the World Series in Washington D.C. The crowd chanted "Lock him up!" as Trump and several Republican lawmakers made an appearance during the fourth inning. (New York Daily News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Washington Post)

  2. The Trump administration banned all flights to Cuba – other than those to Havana. The ban goes into effect on Dec. 10th. (NBC News)

  3. The White House explored cutting off taxpayer funding for charter schools affiliated with a political opponent of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The debate over funding for the schools came a few weeks ahead of Erdogan's first visit to the U.S. in May 2017. (Bloomberg)

  4. Trump directed Defense Secretary James Mattis during summer 2018 to "screw Amazon" out of the opportunity to bid on a $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Pentagon. The contract was awarded to Microsoft last week. (CNN / CNBC / The Verge / New York Times)

  5. A company tied to Trump's brother received a $33 million contract from the U.S. Marshals Service earlier this year. The contract to provide security for federal courthouses and cellblocks went to CertiPath that has been owned in part by a firm linked to Robert S. Trump since 2013. (Washington Post)

Day 1009: "Potentially impeachable conduct."

1/ A federal judge directed the Justice Department to hand over Robert Mueller's secret grand jury evidence to the House Judiciary Committee, which Attorney General William Barr has withheld from lawmakers. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell rejected the Trump administration's claim that the impeachment probe is illegitimate, saying the material could help the House Judiciary Committee substantiate "potentially impeachable conduct" by Trump. The materials must be disclosed by Wednesday. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico)

  • Attorney General William Barr's review of the origins of the Russia probe is now considered a criminal investigation. Barr tapped Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham in May to review the FBI's investigation and look at whether the U.S. government's "intelligence collection activities" in the probe of possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia were "lawful and appropriate." The shift gives Durham the power to issue subpoenas for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury, and to file criminal charges. Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal operation conducted by an illegitimate special counsel. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • A Russian agent and gun rights activist was released from federal prison and is expected to be immediately deported to Russia after serving her 18-month sentence. Maria Butina pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with a senior Russian official to act as an agent of a foreign government without registering with the U.S. Justice Department after she tried to infiltrate conservative political groups and the National Rifle Association to promote Russian interests during the 2016 presidential campaign. Butina intends to return to her hometown in Siberia. (Politico / NPR / Washington Post / CNN)

2/ A top adviser on Trump's National Security Council is expected to corroborate testimony that Trump pushed for Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son, using the military aid as leverage. Tim Morrison's testimony is expected to be significant because he was named 15 times during Bill Taylor's deposition, which Democrats view as damning for Trump. Morrison was also listening in on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Morrison is also expected to say that he didn't see anything wrong with what the Trump administration did with regard to Ukraine. Morrison would also be the first currently serving White House official to testify. (CNN)

3/ Lawyers for former national security adviser John Bolton have discussed a possible deposition with the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry. Bolton was reportedly so disturbed by efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Trump's political opponents that he called it a "drug deal," calling Rudy Giuliani a "hand grenade." Fiona Hill, Trump's former top Russia adviser, told lawmakers last week that she saw "wrongdoing" and that Bolton encouraged her to report her concerns to the National Security Council's attorney. (CNN / CNBC)

4/ The House Intelligence Committee issued subpoenas to three of Trump's top officials. Acting budget director Russ Vought, Michael Duffey, a senior official in the Office of Management and Budget, and T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, counsel at the State Department, all previously declined requests by investigators to testify voluntarily. (Politico / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • Federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed the brother of one of the indicted associates of Rudy Giuliani. Since the October 9th arrests of Igor Fruman and his associate Lev Parnas, federal agents visited the New York home of Steven Fruman and served him with a subpoena from Manhattan federal prosecutors. (CNN)

5/ The Trump administration attempted to persuade a Pentagon official to not cooperate with the House's impeachment inquiry. The day before Laura Cooper was scheduled to give voluntary, private testimony, she received a letter warning her that the White House had ordered executive branch officials not to give documents or testimony to Congress "under these circumstances." Cooper nevertheless provided testimony to Congress about what she knew about Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals. (New York Times / Politico)

  • Lindsey Graham introduced a resolution condemning how House Democrats have conducted the impeachment investigation into Trump. The measure calls on House Democrats to hold a formal vote to open an impeachment inquiry to give the "same rights to Trump as Clinton and Nixon" had during their investigations. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said they will eventually release the transcripts of the closed-door proceedings and hold public testimonies. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has said that such a vote, however, is unnecessary under House rules. (USA Today)

6/ The White House is looking for a communications specialist to lead impeachment messaging efforts. Two people are currently under consideration for the job: Tony Sayegh, a former top Treasury aide, and Pam Bondi, the former Florida Attorney General. Sayegh was previously a candidate to become White House communications director after Hope Hicks left the White House last year. (Politico / CNN)

poll/ 49% of Americans think Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 49% percent are against it. Nine in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are against impeachment and 89% of Democrats and Democratic-leaners are in favor of impeachment. (NBC News / SurveyMonkey)


Notables.

  1. A federal judge held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt for violating an order to stop collecting loans from former students at a defunct for-profit college. Judge Sallie Kim of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco fined the Education Department $100,000 for violating a preliminary injunction against collecting loans from former students at Corinthian College. Money from the fine will be used to compensate the 16,000 people harmed by the Department of Education's actions, which includes garnishing former students' paychecks and seizing their tax returns. The Trump administration was forced to admit earlier this year that it erroneously collected loans from thousands of former Corinthian students despite being ordered to stop doing so. (Washington Post / Politico)

  2. The U.S. federal budget deficit jumped 26% to nearly $1 trillion in 2019. The $984 billion deficit is the highest level in seven years, and is projected to top $1 trillion in 2020. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. Trump has asked the full DC Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear his attempt to stop a subpoena of his accounting firm Mazars USA. Trump previously lost his attempt to stop the House subpoena for eight years of documents held by Mazars. (CNN)

  4. The Trump Organization is exploring selling the lease to the Trump International Hotel in Washington. The company leases the building, the Old Post Office Pavilion, from the federal government's General Services Administration. The hotel could fetch more than $520 million. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times)

  5. Rudy Giuliani butt-dialed a reporter and can be heard discussing overseas dealings and saying "The problem is we need some money" to an unidentified man during the three minute call. The Oct. 16th call came in at 11:07 p.m. and went to voicemail; the reporter was asleep. Trump, meanwhile, defended Giuliani, calling his personal attorney a "great gentleman" and a "great crime fighter."(NBC News / Politico)

Day 1008: Human scum.

1/ House Democrats could take the impeachment inquiry public as soon as mid-November. Moving the largely closed-door investigation toward the public spotlight comes as the Trump administration has tried to block witnesses and withhold documents while his allies have cast the inquiry as a smear campaign against Trump. Yesterday, House Republicans delayed proceedings for more than five hours when about two dozen of them entered and refused to leave a secure room where Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper was set to testify about what happened to the military aid Trump ordered withheld from Ukraine. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

2/ The White House's trade representative withdrew Ukraine's trade privileges as Trump was withholding $391 million in military aid and security assistance. In late August, Robert Lighthizer pulled Ukraine's trade privileges from a global trade program after John Bolton, then-national security adviser, warned him that Trump would probably oppose anything that benefited Kiev. (Washington Post)

  • The White House trade adviser declined to say whether investigating the Bidens came up during trade talks with China. Peter Navarro said answering the question would "violate a principle here" and "I'm not going to talk about that stuff." (CNN)

3/ Trump's top envoy to Ukraine testified that the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. not only knew of a quid pro quo, but had also communicated the threat to Ukraine. William Taylor said he understood that on Sept. 1st, Gordon Sondland warned Andrey Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's aide, that security assistance "would not come" unless Zelensky committed to pursuing the investigation into Burisma, the energy company where Joe Biden's son held a board seat. On Sept. 9th, Sondland texted Taylor to say there was "no quid pro quos" of any kind authorized by Trump. Sondland's attorney added that his client "does not recall" such a conversation. By Taylor's account, however, Sondland already knew the terms of the quid pro quo and had relayed them to Zelensky's aide a week earlier. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Zelensky was concerned about pressure from the Trump administration to investigate Biden before before his July 25th call with Trump. Zelensky met with a small group of advisers on May 7th for a meeting that was supposed to be about Ukraine's energy needs. Instead, the group spent three hours talking about how they were going to handle the calls for investigations coming from Trump and Giuliani, as well as how to avoid getting wrapped up in the U.S. election process. The meeting occurred before Zelensky was inaugurated, roughly two weeks after Trump called to congratulate him the night he won the April 21st election in Ukraine. (Associated Press / Axios)

5/ An inspector general report revealed that a Veterans Affairs office designed to protect whistleblowers instead stifled claims and retaliated against employees. The VA's Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection – created by Trump in 2017 – had "significant deficiencies," according to the report, including poor leadership, skimpy training of its investigators, a misunderstanding of its mission and a failure to discipline misconduct. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

6/ The White House said Trump would veto a bill requiring federal election campaigns to report "illicit offers" of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents. Earlier in the day, the House approved legislation to better protect the country's elections from foreign interference. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans blocked three other election security bills. (Law and Crime / CBS News / The Hill)

  • The Department of Homeland Security warned that "Russian influence actors almost certainly will continue to target" the U.S. in 2020 election. The DHS Cyber Mission Center called the election a "key opportunity" to "advance Russian interests." (Yahoo News)

  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said his intelligence services told William Barr that they played no role in the events leading to the Russia investigation, contradicting an unsubstantiated theory pushed by Trump and his allies that the Mueller probe was launched with the help of a Western intelligence asset working with the Obama administration to spy on the Trump campaign. "Our intelligence is completely unrelated to the so-called Russiagate and that has been made clear," Conte told reporters. Prior to the briefing, Conte spent hours explaining Italy's discussions with Barr to Italy's parliamentary intelligence committee. Barr met twice with Italy’s intelligence agencies after asking them to clarify their role in a 2016 meeting between George Papadopoulos and a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud, who told Papadopoulos that Russia had obtained damaging information about Hillary Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails." (New York Times)


Notables.

  1. Trump plans to order all federal agencies not to renew their subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed that "not renewing subscriptions across all federal agencies will be a significant cost saving – hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars will be saved." (Wall Street Journal / Axios)

  2. 📌 Day 1006: The White House confirmed that it will cancel its subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Trump appeared on Fox News' "Hannity," calling the Times "a fake newspaper" and saying that "we don't even want it in the White House anymore." Trump added: "We're going to probably terminate that and the Washington Post. They're fake." (Politico)

  3. Trump bragged that he's building a wall along Colorado's border with Mexico. Colorado does not share a border with Mexico. Trump told a crowd in Pittsburgh that the wall will be "a big one that really works — you can't get over, you can't get under." Later, Trump tried to claim that he was only joking about building a wall in Colorado. (CNN)

  4. A senior student-loan official resigned and called for canceling most of the nation's outstanding student debt. Arthur Wayne Johnson, appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, called the student loan system "fundamentally broken." (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  5. The National Archives is investigating Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' use of private email for official business. Ross sent or received official correspondence about discussions with the European Commission for Trade, a U.S. ambassador's meeting with German car manufacturers, a dinner with the ambassador of Japan, an event related to billionaire businessman Bill Koch, and meeting requests from a far-right Internet troll. The nonprofit watchdog Democracy Forward obtained the emails through a Freedom of Information Act request and is asking the government for a direct search of Ross’s personal email. (Politico / Washington Post)

  6. Trump wants to nominate Ken Cuccinelli to be his next Homeland Security secretary, but doesn't think Republican senators will support the nomination. Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia and an immigration hardliner, has made enemies within the GOP after leading a group that raised money to primary incumbent Republican senators, including Mitch McConnell. Cuccinelli has also supported some of Trump's harshest immigration policies, including the new "public charge" rules, which would make it harder for immigrants to obtain legal permanent residency by denying green cards to people who use or are likely to use government benefits. (NPR)

  7. The White House press secretary agreed with Trump that those "against" him are "human scum." Stephanie Grisham appeared on Fox & Friends to defend Trump, who had tweeted earlier in the day that "The Never Trumper Republicans […] are human scum" and "worse and more dangerous for our Country than the Do Nothing Democrats." (Daily Beast)

  8. Rudy Giuliani is looking for a defense attorney. Last week, Giuliani parted way with his previous lawyer, John Sale, saying, it would be "silly to have a lawyer when I don't need one." (CNN)

Day 1007: "This whole thing is about corruption."

1/ Ukraine knew that Trump had frozen $391 million in security assistance by early August. The disclosure that the Ukrainians knew of the freeze by early August corroborates the claim made by the CIA whistleblower complaint. Trump and his allies have repeatedly claimed there could not have been any quid pro quo because the Ukrainians didn't know the assistance had been blocked. The Ukrainians, however, were advised by the first week of August to address it with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff. At the same time, Rudy Giuliani, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt Volker, then the State Department's special envoy to Ukraine, were pressing Zelensky to make a public commitment to the investigations for Trump's political benefit. (New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration repeatedly tried to cut foreign aid programs tasked with combating corruption in Ukraine, according White House budget documents. In 2019, the administration tried, but failed, to cut $30 million in aid directed to Ukraine down to $13 million under a program called International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement. In the 2020 budget request, the administration again tried to cut the program's spending on Ukraine down to $13 million. "I don't care about politics, but I do care about corruption. And this whole thing is about corruption," Trump told reporters earlier this month." This whole thing — this whole thing is about corruption." Trump, Mulvaney, and other administration officials have insisted that their goal in delaying the military aid package to Ukraine was to ensure corruption was addressed in that country — not to produce political benefit to Trump. (Washington Post)

3/ Roughly 30 House Republicans forced entry into a closed-door deposition and refused to leave the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility – a secure House Intelligence Committee space. The GOP lawmakers, who do not sit on the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry, demanded that they be allowed to see the closed-door proceedings. After five hours, the Republicans left and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper began her testimony. (Politico / CNN / Axios / Wall Street Journal)

4/ House impeachment investigators are scrutinizing a National Security Council aide suspected of operating a second Ukraine backchannel. Fiona Hill, the National Security Council's former senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, testified last week that she believed Kashyap Patel was improperly getting involved in Ukraine policy by sending information about Ukraine to Trump that could warp American policy. Senior White House officials reportedly grew concerned when Patel became so involved in the issue that at one point Trump wanted to discuss the documents with him, referring to Patel as one of his top Ukraine policy specialists. Patel is assigned to work on counterterrorism issues, not Ukraine policy, and was part of the Republican effort to undermine the Russia investigation. (New York Times / Politico)

5/ A federal judge ordered the State Department to release Ukraine-related records within 30 days, including the communication records between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Giuliani. (CNN)

6/ Two of Rudy Giuliani's associates pleaded not guilty to charges of illegally funneling foreign donations to U.S. political candidates. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman face charges of conspiring to violate the ban on foreign donations and contributions related to federal and state elections, and with making false statements and falsifying records. A defense lawyer for Parnas told the judge that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege. Edward MacMahon Jr. said the potential for the White House to invoke executive privilege stemmed from the fact that Parnas had used Giuliani as his own lawyer at the same time Giuliani was working as Trump's lawyer. (NPR / New York Times)

  • Federal prosecutors flagged Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman and their possible ties to a Ukrainian gas tycoon fighting extradition. Parnas had been working as an interpreter for the lawyers of Dmytro Firtash, who was charged with bribery in Chicago in 2013, since late July. At the same time, Parnas and Fruman were assisting Giuliani's hunt for damaging information about Democrats in Ukraine. Firtash – at Parnas's recommendation – hired Victoria Toensing and Joseph diGenova, two conservative attorneys who frequently appear on Fox News to defend Trump. They have also served as informal advisers to Trump's legal team, including Giuliani. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump's lawyer argued that Trump is immune from prosecution while in office – even if he shot someone. William Consovoy, Trump's lawyer, made the claim while arguing before a federal appeals court in their suit against Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, who has subpoenaed for three years' worth of financial records from the Trump Organization and for Trump-related business records, including his personal tax record from the accounting firm Mazars USA. Consovoy argued that while in office, Trump "enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind," but conceded that "once a president is removed from office" he could then be subject to a criminal investigation. Judges on the three-member panel expressed skepticism about the argument, with Judge Denny Chin asking whether "nothing could be done" while Trump remains in office, to which Consovoy replied: "That is correct." As a candidate in 2016, Trump claimed he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and not "lose any voters." (Vox / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 55% of voters support the impeachment inquiry, while 43% disapprove. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 45% of independents support impeachment, while 32% said they oppose it. (Reuters)


Notables.

  1. Russia and Turkey reached a deal to push Kurdish fighters out of northeastern Syria, allowing Russian ally Bashar al-Assad to regain control over more of the country's territory. Under the agreement, Russia and the Syrian government will remove Kurdish militias from the border that extends from the Euphrates River to Iraq. Once completed, Turkey and Russia will control territory formerly held by Kurdish forces, who were allied with the U.S. before Trump ordered an abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region. (Washington Post / Al Jazeera)

  2. Turkey halted its incursion into Kurdish-run Syria hours after reaching a deal with the Russian government to retake territory from the Kurds. "At this stage," the Turkish defense ministry said in a statement, "there is no further need to conduct a new operation outside the present operation area." The Kurds previously agreed to completely withdraw from a central stretch of the Syrian border with Turkey and allow Russian and Syrian government troops inside their area of control. (New York Times / Reuters)

  3. Trump will lift sanctions on Turkey, saying that the Turkish government promised to abide to a "permanent" cease-fire along the border with Syria. Trump called the agreement a "breakthrough" and that sanctions would be lifted "unless something happens that we're not happy with." (ABC News / Washington Post)

  4. Trump's G7 and trade adviser is leaving the White House for a job in the private sector. Kelly Ann Shaw announced that she will be leaving her posts as deputy assistant to the president for international economic affairs and deputy director of the National Economic Council. Shaw played a key role in leading the U.S. through the G7 and G20 and was part of the team advising Trump during trade talks between the U.S. and China. "It just felt like the right time to go for me," Shaw said. "I am ready for my next and new adventure." Shaw will leave her post on Friday. (Reuters)

Day 1006: Direct line.

1/ The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told House impeachment investigators that Trump held up security aid and refused a White House meeting with Ukraine's president until he agreed to investigate Tump's political rivals. Bill Taylor said he was told that "everything" Ukraine wanted — a one-on-one meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and nearly $400 million in security aid — was dependent on publicly announcing an investigation into Burisma, the company that hired Joe Biden's son Hunter, and Ukraine's alleged involvement in the 2016 election. Taylor provided an "excruciatingly detailed" opening statement that described "how pervasive the [quid pro quo] efforts were" by Trump and his allies, which they have denied. People in the closed-door deposition described Taylor's testimony as a "very direct line" between American foreign policy and Trump's own political goals. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • READ: Opening statement of Ambassador William B. Taylor (Washington Post)

2/ Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine came as he was being urged to adopt a hostile view of that country by Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who reinforced Trump's perception of Ukraine as corrupt. Trump met with Orban on May 13th – and 10 days before a key meeting on Ukraine – over the objections of his national security team, who believed that Orban – an autocratic leader who has been ostracized by many of his peers in Europe – did not deserve the honor of an Oval Office visit. Trump then met on May 23rd with Rick Perry, Kurt Volker, and Gordon Sondland, who had returned from Zelensky's inauguration. They assured Trump that Zelensky was a reformer who deserved American support. Trump, however, claimed that Ukrainians were "terrible people" who "tried to take me down" during the 2016 presidential election. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 845: Trump praised Hungary's authoritarian prime minister Victor Orbán and called him "highly respected." "Probably like me a little bit controversial, but that's okay," Trump said, because "you've done a good job and you've kept your country safe." (Axios)

  • 📌 Day 1000: Mick Mulvaney put Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry in charge of managing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship instead of diplomats at the National Security Council and the State Department. The State Department's Ukraine expert, George Kent, testified during a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees that Mulvaney was responsible for stripping control of the country's relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most expertise. Kent also told lawmakers that he had been told by a supervisor to lie low after he raised complaints about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. Current and former officials said Mulvaney met frequently with Sondland and that details of their discussions were kept from then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and other officials who were raising internal concerns about the hidden Ukraine agenda. Mulvaney was also the one who, at Trump's direction, placed a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine leading up to Trump's July 25 phone call to pressure Zelensky to pursue Giuliani’s agenda against the Bidens. (Washington Post / CNN)

3/ Trump compared the House impeachment inquiry to a "lynching." Trump has previously called the investigation a "coup," a "witch hunt" and a "fraud." (The Guardian / NBC News / ABC News / Washington Post)

4/ Trump lectured reporters for more than 70 minutes during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, during which he made at least 20 false or misleading statements. Trump lied about the number of times Obama unsuccessfully attempted to call Kim Jong Un, crowd sizes at his rallies, his position on the Iraq War, and the ongoing impeachment. He also claimed that he was personally responsible for the capture of Islamic State soldiers, complained that people were criticizing him for receiving "emoluments" from foreign governments, and insinuated that Adam Schiff gave information to the whistleblower, who raised concerns about his administration's actions toward Ukraine. Trump's press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, later tweeted: "I hope we see honest reporting from today's mtg." (CNN / Washington Post)

poll/ 50% of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Overall, 41% approve of Trump's handling of the presidency while 57% disapprove. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. Trump privately floated the idea of replacing Mick Mulvaney with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or Kellyanne Conway. Trump has also tested the idea of replacing Mulvaney with Chris Liddell, a deputy chief of staff at the White House. For almost a year, Mulvaney has served as Trump's "acting" chief of staff because Trump has withheld the permanent title from him. (Bloomberg)

  2. The Pentagon began drafting plans for an abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in case Trump orders an immediate withdrawal, like he did in Syria. The contingency plan includes the possibility that Trump orders all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan within weeks. (NBC News)

  3. Mitch McConnell will introduce his own resolution urging Trump to end the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Senate Republicans last week rejected a House resolution condemning Trump's move, saying they should do something more substantial. (Politico)

  4. More than a million children disappeared from Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program between December 2017 and June 2019. Some state and federal officials claim the 3% drop in enrolled children is a success story, arguing that more Americans are getting coverage from employers. State officials, however, have increased paperwork requirements. (New York Times)

  5. The White House confirmed that it will cancel its subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post. Trump appeared on Fox News' "Hannity," calling the Times "a fake newspaper" and saying that "we don't even want it in the White House anymore." Trump added: "We're going to probably terminate that and the Washington Post. They're fake." (Politico)

  6. The anonymous senior Trump administration official behind a 2018 New York Times op-ed that declared there was a "resistance" within the administration is writing a book. The book – "A Warning" – will be published Nov. 19th and will list the author as "Anonymous." (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

Day 1005: "We prefer peace to war."

1/ Mick Mulvaney – again – tried to deny his public assertion of a quid pro quo in which the Trump administration held up an aid package to Ukraine because Trump wanted an investigation that could politically benefit him. During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney insisted that he "didn't speak clearly maybe on Thursday" and that there couldn't have been a quid pro quo, because "the aid flowed." Mulvaney also claimed that the administration only held up military aid to Ukraine because of the country's corruption and because other countries weren't giving more aid as well. On Thursday, however, Mulvaney told reporters to "Get over it," calling quid pro quo "absolutely appropriate" and that "we do that all the time with foreign policy." Mulvaney also claimed at the press conference last week that the Trump administration withheld military aid in part to secure cooperation with a Justice Department investigation into the origins of Robert Mueller's Russia probe. (Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast)

  • Trump's allies are assembling a list of possible Mulvaney replacements. Among those said to be on the list are former acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and veteran political operative Wayne Berman. (Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 1002: Mick Mulvaney tried to walk-back his claim that Trump's decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was in exchange for an investigation of the hacked Democratic National Committee server. Trump has repeatedly claimed his decision to hold up the aid was due to concerns about corruption in Ukraine and that European nations weren't doing enough to help Ukraine. Trump was reportedly "not happy" with Mulvaney's press briefing, in which his acting chief of staff said "We do that all the time with foreign policy" and that every one should "Get over it," because "There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." Mulvaney later issued a statement, which was first reviewed by Trump, saying that "There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election." When Trump was asked to clarify Mulvaney's statement, Trump responded: "I think he clarified it." Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mulvaney's comments a "confession." (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1001: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange "absolutely appropriate" and that "we do that all the time with foreign policy." Mulvaney added: "I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." Mulvaney also told reporters the funds were withheld in part because of a request to have Ukraine investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries assisted Democrats in the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a quid pro quo arrangement linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC)

2/ Rudy Giuliani asked the State Department and the White House to grant a visa to the former Ukrainian official who Joe Biden had pushed to have removed when he was vice president. Career diplomat George Kent told congressional investigators in his closed-door testimony that around January 2019 Giuliani requested a visa for Viktor Shokin, who had been pushed out as Ukraine's top prosecutor in 2016 over concerns that he was not pursuing corruption cases. Giuliani, however, previously said he wanted to interview Shokin in person because the Ukrainian promised to reveal dirt on Democrats. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 987: Giuliani personally gave Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a file of documents of unproven allegations against Biden on March 28th and claimed that he was told that the State Department would take up an investigation of those claims. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick gave Congress the 79-page packet Wednesday, which included nearly 20 pages of communications between State Department employees working to push back against the "fake narrative" that Giuliani was pushing. Linick told Congress that the department's office of legal counsel had provided the documents to him in May, which he gave to the FBI. The documents were in Trump Hotel folders and included "interview" notes Giuliani conducted with Viktor Shokin, the former General Prosecutor of Ukraine who was pushed out at the urging of Biden because he didn't prosecute corruption. (NBC News / CNN)

3/ The Justice Department confirmed that Trump Jr. and former White House counsel Don McGahn were never called to testify in front of a grand jury as part of Robert Mueller's investigation. Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. said it was perplexing why Trump Jr. and McGahn were never subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury. "The reason is not that the individuals were insignificant to the investigation," Judge Howell wrote, "To the contrary, both of the non-testifying individuals named in paragraph four figured in key events examined in the Mueller Report." (Politico)

  • Instagram profiles originating in Russia since the beginning of the year have been building a network of accounts designed to look like political groups in swing states. The profiles are linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-backed troll group indicted by the U.S. for its alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election. (CNN)

4/ Trump won't host next year's G7 summit at his Trump National Doral Resort after all. Instead, Trump said his administration "will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately." Trump abandoned his plan to host the summit at his private golf club after the decision alienated Republicans and became part of the impeachment inquiry. During calls with conservative allies over the weekend, Trump was told that Republicans are struggling to defend him. (Washington Post / Associated Press / Daily Beast / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Politico)

  • Trump claimed he's the victim of the "phony emoluments clause," as he defended his previous decision to host next year's G7 summit at his Doral resort in Miami. (Politico / New York Times)

5/ Trump insisted that he's "trying to get out of wars," but that "we may have to get in wars, too." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, said "We prefer peace to war," but Trump is prepared to use military force if "needed." The confusing and conflicting statements come as Trump weighs a Pentagon plan to keep a small contingent of American troops in eastern Syria to combat the Islamic State, and block the advance of Syrian government and Russian forces into the region's oil fields. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that nearly all of the troops ordered to leave northeastern Syria will move to western Iraq and conduct operations against the Islamic State extremist group from there. (Politico / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Trump's top two picks to fill the Homeland Security Secretary job aren't eligible under federal law. Ken Cuccinelli, head of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Mark Morgan, the lead at Customs and Border Protection are Trump's two favorites for the job, but both men are serving on an acting basis and have not been confirmed by the Senate for a permanent role. The federal statute that governs vacancies states that acting officials in cabinet-level positions must either be next in line for a position or hold a Senate-confirmed position. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

7/ The first House Republican expressed openness to voting to impeach Trump on Friday. On Saturday, however, Rep. Francis Rooney announced his retirement. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 51% of Americans support Trump's impeachment and removal from office – up from 47% in September before the impeachment inquiry was announced. (Public Religion Research Institute)

Day 1002: White House confessional.

1/ Mick Mulvaney tried to walk-back his claim that Trump's decision to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was in exchange for an investigation of the hacked Democratic National Committee server. Trump has repeatedly claimed his decision to hold up the aid was due to concerns about corruption in Ukraine and that European nations weren't doing enough to help Ukraine. Trump was reportedly "not happy" with Mulvaney's press briefing, in which his acting chief of staff said "We do that all the time with foreign policy" and that every one should "Get over it," because "There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." Mulvaney later issued a statement, which was first reviewed by Trump, saying that "There was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election." When Trump was asked to clarify Mulvaney's statement, Trump responded: "I think he clarified it." Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mulvaney's comments a "confession." (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1001: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange "absolutely appropriate" and that "we do that all the time with foreign policy." Mulvaney added: "I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." Mulvaney also told reporters the funds were withheld in part because of a request to have Ukraine investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries assisted Democrats in the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a quid pro quo arrangement linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC)

2/ Associates of an indicted Ukrainian oligarch tried to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for Rudy Giuliani helping the oligarch avoid extradition to the U.S. Dmitry Firtash changed lawyers in July to Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who were supporters of Trump and associates of Giuliani. They hired Lev Parnas, also a Giuliani associate, as a translator. Parnas was arrested last week along with several associates and accused of conspiring to violate campaign finance laws. The Justice Department has described Firtash as an associate of "Russian organized crime." (Bloomberg)

  • A career diplomat told congressional investigators he was ignored when he raised concerns in January 2015 about Hunter Biden working for a Ukrainian natural gas company that he believed could look like a conflict of interest. George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, testified that he had concerns that Ukrainian officials would view Hunter Biden as a conduit for currying influence with Joe Biden. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Rick Perry won't comply with a subpoena from the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Relations committees, saying he would defer to Energy Department counsel, which said it was "unable to comply" with the subpoena for documents. (CNBC / Politico / CNN)

  • Trump will nominate Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette to replace Rick Perry, who will leave at the end of the year. (Washington Post)

4/ The Trump administration imposed new tariffs on a record $7.5 billion worth of goods from the European Union, including Airbus, French wine, and Scottish whisky. The tariffs went into effect just after midnight after talks between U.S. and European trade negotiators failed to reach a deal. Civilian aircraft will now cost 10% more when imported to the U.S., while the cost of wine, olives, certain cheeses, butter, and other consumer goods will also rise. (CBS News / MarketWatch / CNBC)

  • Trump's top economic adviser warned Trump that continued escalation of the U.S.-China trade war could hurt the economy and his chances for re-election. Trump instead the Federal Reserve should share blame for any economic downturn, and that it should be doing more to stimulate growth. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Kurds say Turkey is violating the ceasefire brokered by the U.S. in northeastern Syria. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Turkish shelling and artillery fire has continued despite Pence's announcement that he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had brokered a five-day ceasefire in the region. (CNN / Associated Press)

  • Mitch McConnell called Trump's withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria a "grave strategic mistake," but never mentions Trump by name. (Washington Post)

6/ House Democrats are preparing a resolution to condemn Trump's decision to select the Trump National Doral Miami for the next G7 summit, calling the selection inconsistent with the emoluments clause of the Constitution. (CNBC)

Day 1001: "Get over it."

1/ Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed that Trump blocked military aid to Ukraine to force Kiev to investigate his political rivals. Mulvaney called the quid pro quo exchange "absolutely appropriate" and that "we do that all the time with foreign policy." Mulvaney added: "I have news for everybody: Get over it. There's going to be political influence in foreign policy." Mulvaney also told reporters the funds were withheld in part because of a request to have Ukraine investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries assisted Democrats in the 2016 election. Trump has repeatedly denied that there was a quid pro quo arrangement linking his demand for an investigation that could politically benefit him to the release of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 978: Trump admitted that he withheld military aid from Ukraine, but blamed it on the United Nations for not contributing more to the Eastern European nation, naming Germany and France among the countries that should "put up money." Trump also suggested he did nothing wrong, because "As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid. They were fully paid." Trump told reporters that in addition to Mulvaney, he also told Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hold the funds to encourage other nations to pay, but claimed, "there was no quid pro quo. There was no pressure applied, nothing." Trump added that despite trailing the leading Democratic candidates in most polls, "I'm leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 977: Trump admitted that he discussed getting dirt on Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that he is withholding the whistleblower complaint from Congress. Trump pressed Zelensky to dig up potentially damaging information against Biden during a July 25th phone call, baselessly accusing the former vice president of corruption related to his son Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine and whether they affected his diplomatic efforts. Trump said that "it doesn't matter" what he discussed with Zelensky and that while the he would "love" to release a transcript of the call, "you have to be a little bit shy about doing it." Trump's phone call with Zelensky occurred while Ukraine was awaiting $250 million in security aid, raising the possibility Trump was attempting a quid pro quo arrangement. The phone call led to the whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community due to a "promise" that Trump made to Ukraine. Trump eventually agreed to release the money after coming under bipartisan pressure from Congress and immediately before the existence of the whistleblower complaint was revealed. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)

2/ The U.S. ambassador to the European Union told House impeachment investigators that Trump delegated American foreign policy on Ukraine to Rudy Giuliani. Gordon Sondland said he and other officials were "disappointed" by Trump's directive for U.S. diplomats to work with Giuliani on matters related to Ukraine. Sondland testified that he contacted Giuliani at Trump's direction after a May 23rd meeting at the White House and that Giuliani told him Trump wanted Ukraine's new government to investigate both the 2016 election and a natural gas firm tied to Hunter Biden. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • Sondland met privately with Ukrainian officials inside the White House, where he explicitly mentioned the Ukrainian gas company linked to Hunter Biden during negotiations over granting Ukrainian President Zelensky an audience with Trump. Sondland's meeting just outside the Situation Room took place minutes after a larger West Wing meeting that included then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who had been noncommittal about scheduling a meeting between Trump and Zelensky. Sondland directly contradicted Bolton during the larger meeting by telling the Ukrainians that Trump was in fact committed to meeting with Zelensky, but on the condition he open a corruption investigation. Bolton abruptly ended the meeting, but Sondland invited the Ukrainian officials to continue the conversation separately in a private room in the White House basement, where Sondland was overheard discussing Burisma Holdings and Hunter Biden. (NBC News)

  • Five more Trump administration officials are scheduled to be deposed next week as part of the impeachment inquiry: Kathryn Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, Philip Reeker, acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian affairs, Alexander Vindman, director of European affairs at the National Security Council, Timothy Morrison, Russia adviser at the National Security Council, and Suriya Jayanti, a foreign service officer in Kiev. (NBC News)

3/ Rick Perry spoke with Giuliani at Trump's direction earlier this year about Ukraine. Perry said he called Giuliani to get a better understanding of Trump's concerns about alleged Ukrainian corruption. Perry said that while Giuliani didn't make any explicit demands during the May call, Giuliani did blame Ukraine for the Steele dossier, claimed that Ukraine had Hillary Clinton's email server, and accused Ukraine of helping send Paul Manafort to prison. Mulvaney confirmed that Trump asked Perry to work with Giuliani on policies related to Ukraine. (Wall Street Journal / CNN / MarketWatch)

  • Rick Perry informed Trump that he plans to resign. Perry had been expected to resign by the end of the year. (New York Times / ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 993: Trump ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry and two top State Department officials to deal directly with Giuliani when setting up a May 23 meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump. Trump said that if Zelensky wanted to meet with him, they should circumvent official diplomatic channels and go strictly through Giuliani. Giuliani's role in setting up Trump's meeting with Zelensky was more direct than what was disclosed last week by one of the meeting's participants in his statement to the House. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 991: Trump blamed Energy Secretary Rick Perry for his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He told House Republicans that he made the call to Zelensky at the urging of Perry, claiming that he never wanted to make the call in the first place and that "the only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to." Until now, Trump has repeatedly referred to his call with Zelensky as a "perfect phone call" and has insisted that he did nothing wrong. (Axios)

4/ The U.S. and Turkey agreed to a five-day ceasefire in Syria to allow Kurdish troops to withdraw. Trump sent Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Turkish capital to broker the deal with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Politico / The Guardian / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Erdogan tossed Trump's letter in the trash. In the letter dated October 9th and sent after U.S. troops were pulled out of Syria, Trump urged Erdogan not to launch a military offensive against Kurdish-led forces in northern Syria, saying: "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" (BBC)

  • Mitch McConnell said he wants the Senate to pass an "even stronger" resolution condemning Trump's decision to pull troops from Syria than the one that passed by the House. (CNN)

5/ Trump decided that the U.S. will host next year's G-7 summit at the Trump National Doral Miami Golf Club. The decision was announced by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who said Trump "has made it clear since he's been here that he hasn't profited since he's been here." (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Politico / CNN / Axios)

poll/ 54% of Americans support the House's decision to open impeachment inquiry, while 44% disapprove. (Pew Research Center)

Day 1000: Meltdown.

1/ The White House is conducting its own investigation into why a rough transcript of Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Zelensky was placed into a secret server for secure storage. Trump's advisers and White House lawyers began the fact-finding review to find out why deputy White House counsel, John Eisenberg, placed the rough transcript of the call in a computer system typically reserved for the country's most closely guarded secrets. Eisenberg has said he limited access to the transcript over concerns about leaks. It is unclear who asked for or initiated the review, though acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has encouraged it and his aids are helping with it. Some officials fear the review is intended to assign blame for the impeachment inquiry. (New York Times)

2/ Mick Mulvaney put Gordon Sondland, Kurt Volker, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry in charge of managing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship instead of diplomats at the National Security Council and the State Department. The State Department's Ukraine expert, George Kent, testified during a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees that Mulvaney was responsible for stripping control of the country's relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most expertise. Kent also told lawmakers that he had been told by a supervisor to lie low after he raised complaints about Rudy Giuliani's efforts to undermine U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine. Current and former officials said Mulvaney met frequently with Sondland and that details of their discussions were kept from then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and other officials who were raising internal concerns about the hidden Ukraine agenda. Mulvaney was also the one who, at Trump's direction, placed a hold on nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine leading up to Trump's July 25 phone call to pressure Zelensky to pursue Giuliani’s agenda against the Bidens. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • A former top White House foreign policy adviser told House impeachment investigators that she viewed Sondland as a national security risk because he was so unprepared for his job. Fiona Hill did not accuse Sondland of acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk, but described him as and Trump donor-turned-ambassador. (New York Times)

  • Michael McKinley, who resigned as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, testified that he quit because career diplomats had been sidelined on Ukraine. During his closed-door deposition to the House Intelligence Committee, McKinley testified about how experts had been sidelined as Trump pursued his own agenda on Ukraine. McKinley also testified that he repeatedly asked Pompeo for a show of support for the Marie Yovanovitch after she was abruptly removed from her post following a monthslong push by Trump to get rid of her on the basis of "unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives." Pompeo was silent. (New York Times / CNN)

  • House Democrats requested that Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor appear for a deposition in the investigation into Trump's alleged misconduct involving Ukraine. (NBC News)

3/ The federal investigation into Giuliani's business dealings with two men indicted last week on campaign finance charges in Ukraine includes a counterintelligence probe, suggesting that FBI and criminal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking at a broader set of issues. The counterintelligence probe relates to whether a foreign influence operation was trying to take advantage of Giuliani's business ties in Ukraine and with wealthy foreigners to make inroads with the White House. New York attorney Kenneth McCallion said he was approached by federal investigators earlier this year about Giuliani's connections to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two men indicted last week on campaign finance violation charges. McCallion said he was approached this spring about Giuliani's business dealings again by FBI counterintelligence agents. (USA Today / CNN)

  • A Giuliani business associated was arrested and charged with participating in a scheme to use foreign money to build political support for a recreational marijuana business. David Correia is the fourth defendant arrested in a campaign finance case involving Giuliani. The business relationship between Giuliani and Correia, Lev Parnas, and Igor Fruman is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation being conducted by federal authorities in New York. (ABC News / New York 4 / Washington Post)

  • A grand jury issued a subpoena seeking documents from former Rep. Pete Sessions about his dealings with Giuliani. The subpoena seeks documents related to Giuliani's business dealings with Ukraine, his involvement in efforts to remove the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, and any interactions between Sessions, Giuliani and the four Giuliani associates who were indicted last week on campaign finance and conspiracy accounts. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • Giuliani privately urged Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the U.S., a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Before he would go on to become Trump's personal attorney, Giuliani repeatedly told Trump that the U.S. should eject Fethullah Gulen from the country. Gulen is a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania, and Turkey has demanded that the U.S. turn him over to Turkey to face charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Gulen denies any involvement in the coup attempt. (Washington Post)

4/ The House voted to condemn Trump's withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria. The nonbinding resolution passed 354 to 60 – shortly before a bipartisan group of congressional leaders were scheduled to meet with Trump to discuss the incursion, and hours before Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were to travel to Turkey to call for a cease-fire. Trump, meanwhile, attempted to distance himself from the ongoing conflict "between Turkey and Syria" and his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region, saying that Turkey and the Kurds are fighting "over land that has nothing to do with us." (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

  • Democratic leaders walked out of a White House meeting with Trump after he had a "meltdown" and called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "third-grade politician." The White House called the meeting to discuss Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which came shortly after House Democrats and Republicans voted to oppose his action and urge the administration to contain the fallout from Turkey's incursion into Syria. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Trump sent a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week urging him to make a deal with the Kurds, saying: "Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" Trump also warned Erdogan not to "let the world down" by invading northern Syria. The letter was sent on October 9th – three days after the two had spoken by phone and the same day the Turkish incursion into Syria began. (CNN / Vox / CNBC / New York Times / NBC News)

  • Turkey dismissed a U.S. call for an immediate ceasefire in northeast Syria. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump vetoed a bill that would have ended his national emergency declaration at the southern U.S. border. The veto, which was expected, sends the bill back to Congress, where it is unlikely to meet the two-thirds majority needed to override Trump's veto. Trump vetoed a nearly identical version of the bill seven months ago. (New York Times / Reuters)

6/ The Trump administration has hired a lobbyist for every 14 political appointments made. The 281 lobbyists working in the administration is four times more than the Obama administration had six years into office. And former lobbyists serving Trump are often involved in regulating the industries they worked for. (ProPublica)

7/ Trump's businesses reported some expenses, profits, and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings to make them appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the tax authorities. (ProPublica)

poll/ 52% of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 46% say he should not be. (Gallup)

Day 999: An abomination.

1/ The White House's former top Russia adviser told impeachment investigators that Rudy Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit Trump. Fiona Hill, who served as the senior official for Russia and Europe on the National Security Council, testified for about nine hours before three House panels regarding a July 10th meeting she attended with senior Ukrainian officials, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and other U.S. officials in which the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who was working with Giuliani, raised the issue to press Ukraine to investigate Democrats, Joe Biden, and his son. Hill said she confronted Sondland about Giuliani's actions, which were not coordinated with officials responsible for U.S. foreign policy. Hill resigned days before Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian / NBC News / Vox / NPR)

  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff indicated that the whistleblower at the heart of the impeachment inquiry might not testify over concerns about their safety. Schiff, however, said the whistleblower's testimony might not be needed given that a rough transcript of the call with Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a "favor" is already public. (Politico)

  • House impeachment investigators questioned a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy about his knowledge of the Ukraine scandal. George Kent was questioned behind closed doors despite being directed by the State Department not to do so. Earlier this year, Kent raised concerns to colleagues about the pressure being directed at Ukraine by Trump and Giuliani to pursue investigations into Trump’s political rivals. (New York Times)

  • A former State Department adviser who resigned last week is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the congressional committees leading the House impeachment investigation. Michael McKinley will meet with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight Committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into Trump. (CNN)

2/ John Bolton was so alarmed by Giuliani's politically motivated activities to get the Ukrainians to investigate Trump's political opponents that he called it a "drug deal." Hill testified that Bolton told her to report the situation to the top lawyer at the National Security Council, John Eisenberg, about the effort by Sondland, Giuliani, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to extract damaging information about Democrats from Ukraine on Trump's behalf. Hill testified that she met with Eisenberg briefly on July 10th, and that she had a longer meeting with Eisenberg on July 11th. Bolton referred to Giuliani as a "hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up." Trump fired Bolton in September. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

3/ The former U.S. ambassador to the European Union intends to tell Congress that Trump personally assured him that there was no quid pro quo relationship between military aid for Ukraine and Trump's request that the Ukrainians open investigations including into Joe Biden and his son. Sondland plans to tell lawmakers he doesn't know why U.S. military aid to Ukraine was held up, nor who ordered it, and that he has no knowledge of whether Trump was telling him the truth, and that he relied on Trump's assurances when he told a State Department colleague that there were "no quid pro quo's of any kind" linking U.S. security assistance to Ukrainian investigations. Sondland is scheduled to appear for a closed-door deposition today. He was originally supposed to testify October 8th, but the Trump administration initially blocked him from appearing. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Vox)

4/ Rudy Giuliani was paid $500,000 to consult for a company co-founded by the Ukrainian-American businessman arrested last week on campaign finance charges. Lev Parnas' company – Fraud Guarantee (!) – engaged Giuliani Partners around August 2018 to consult on technologies and provide legal advice on regulatory issues. Giuliani said the money came in two payments made within weeks of each other, but that he couldn't remember the dates. He also said most of the work he did for Fraud Guarantee was completed in 2018, but that he has been doing follow-up work for more than a year. Federal prosecutors have been "examining Giuliani's interactions" with Parnas and Igor Fruman, who was also indicted on campaign finance charges, since at least early 2019. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are also investigating whether Giuliani broke lobbying laws in his efforts to undermine the American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled on Trump's orders in May. Giuliani also denied that he was planning to visit Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who is currently wanted on corruption charges in the U.S., during a trip to Vienna he planned last week. (Reuters / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / USA Today / NBC News / Axios / ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 995: Giuliani's business relationship with the two men accused of running an illegal campaign finance scheme is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. The investigation by federal authorities in New York became public after Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested while attempting to flee the U.S. yesterday and named as witnesses in the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump. Parnas has also been working for the legal team of Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who's currently facing bribery charges in the U.S. Both Parnas and Fruman had worked in an unspecified capacity for Firtash before Parnas joined the Ukrainian’s legal team. (ABC News / New York Times / Vanity Fair / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 994: Two men who worked with Giuliani to find damaging information about Biden and his son have been charged with conspiring to violate campaign finance laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to U.S. campaigns. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are two key subjects in the House's impeachment inquiry. They were indicted and accused of making "secret agreements" to hide the fact that they were laundering foreign money into U.S. campaigns through a range of corporate identities by using "straw donors" to make the contributions. The indictment alleges that on one occasion, they lobbied a then-sitting member of Congress at the request of "one or more Ukrainian officials." (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Reuters / Associated Press / NBC News)

5/ Giuliani won't comply with a congressional subpoena for documents related to the impeachment investigation. He called the impeachment inquiry an "abomination" and dared House Democrats to take him to court, saying "if they enforce it, then we will see what happens." Giuliani's lawyer, Jon Sale, sent a letter to Congress, saying Giuliani wouldn't comply with the subpoena because it was "overbroad, unduly burdensome and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry." Sale, however, is no longer representing Giuliani, because, according to Giuliani, it would be "silly to have a lawyer when I don't need one." (ABC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Daily News)

  • Trump told reporters that he doesn't know if Giuliani is still his attorney. Trump, however, praised Giuliani, saying: "He's a very good attorney, and he has been my attorney." (Washington Post)

6/ Pence said he would not comply with a request from House impeachment investigators for documents related to Trump's July 25th call with Zelensky. Pence's lawyer accused the committees of requesting material that is "clearly not vice-presidential records." The House investigators had asked for documents to be produced by October 15th. (New York Times / NBC News)

  • The Office of Management and Budget won't comply with a congressional subpoena over documents about withholding military aid to Ukraine. The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees asked the budget office on October 7th to provide the documents by Tuesday. The official also indicated that acting budget director Russell Vought won’t comply with the committees' request to testify on October 25th. (CNN / Bloomberg)

7/ Trump authorized "powerful" sanctions against Turkey for its invasion into northeast Syria and called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to implement an immediate ceasefire. The executive order also stated that the Commerce Department would suspend negotiations on an unknown trade deal worth $100 billion. (Politico / Axios / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 991: Trump announced that he plans to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and allow the Turkish military to launch an attack against Kurdish militias in the area. Trump made the decision Sunday evening during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Early Monday morning, the 50–100 special forces troops currently operating in northeastern Syria received an urgent, unexpected alert ordering them to pull back from their posts in preparation for "departing the field." The move surprised not just U.S. Kurdish partners in the fight against ISIS in northeastern Syria, but also senior officials at the Pentagon, State Department, and White House, as well as U.S. lawmakers from both parties. U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe were also unaware of Trump's decision until after he agreed to pull the troops out during his call with Erdogan. On Twitter, Trump warned Turkey not to do "anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits," during any military incursion against the Kurds or he will "totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)." (New York Times / NBC News / USA Today / Associated Press / NPR / CBS News / The Independent)

8/ Trump faces bipartisan criticism for his decision to order a withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria. Lawmakers in both chambers plan to put forward a joint resolution urging Trump to undo his decision and "to do everything he can to protect the Kurds, to do everything that we must do to prevent ISIS terrorists from escaping, and make sure that Turkey respects existing agreements related to Syria and with the United States." (Washington Post)

  • Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, saying he'd rather "let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land." Trump added: "I hope they all do great." Officials said Trump was "doubling down" and "undeterred" despite pushback from congressional Republicans. (Washington Post / Axios)

  • More:

  • Behind the scenes of the Trump bluff that kicked off Turkey's invasion. (Axios

  • U.S. Forces Leave ‘High Value’ ISIS Detainees Behind in Retreat From Syria (New York Times)

  • Syrian troops enter towns in northeast as Erdogan warns of wider offensive. (Washington Post)

  • Military leader of Syrian Kurds tells US 'you are leaving us to be slaughtered' (CNN)

  • Pullback Leaves Green Berets Feeling ‘Ashamed,’ and Kurdish Allies Describing ‘Betrayal’ (New York Times)

  • Russia patrolling between Turkish and Syrian forces after U.S. troops withdraw. (Washington Post)

poll/ 46% of voters say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 48% say he should not be impeached and removed. 51% call the impeachment inquiry a legitimate investigation, while 43% call it a political witch hunt. 59% disapprove of the way Trump is responding to the inquiry, while 32% approve of the way he's responding. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ The majority of likely Democratic primary voters in early voting states believe that Trump should be impeached and put in jail. 53% of respondents in Iowa, 50% in New Hampshire, and 54% in South Carolina agreed with the statement: "Some members of Congress have stated that President Trump should not only be impeached, but also imprisoned." (Axios)


Notables.

  1. Trump – again – repeated his assertion that because he is president, he cannot be investigated by any prosecutor. Trump's personal attorneys made the argument in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York, seeking to overturn a lower court's dismissal of a suit Trump filed in an effort to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from obtaining his tax returns. (Washington Post

  2. Trump wanted to release his taxes in 2013 as part of a presidential bid to show how smart he was for paying so little in taxes. Trump, however, changed his mind after an adviser convinced him not to release his taxes. Since then, Trump has spent years claiming he can't release them because he's under audit by the IRS. (CNN)

  3. Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court that it does not have Trump's personal tax returns. Trump sued the bank to block it from complying with congressional committees subpoenas for his financial records, his companies, and his family. For nearly two decades, the German bank was the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to lend to Trump. (New York Times)

  4. Attorney General William Barr privately met with Rupert Murdoch days before Shepard Smith abruptly left Fox News. Smith's departure followed attacks by Trump on Twitter in recent weeks and months. (New York Times / Politico)

  5. China wants to continue negotiating the details of Trump's "phase one" trade deal before Xi Jinping will agree to sign it. China also wants Trump to cancel a planned tariff hike in December, as well as a scheduled hike for this week. (Bloomberg)

  6. A fake video depicting Trump shooting, stabbing, and assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was played at a conference for his supporters at Trump National Doral Miami. The organizer of the event said that the video was part of a "meme exhibit." (New York Times)

  7. The acting secretary of homeland security resigned. Kevin McAleenan – who spent his six-month tenure after Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April trying to curb asylum seekers at the southwestern border – is the fourth person to serve in that post since the Trump presidency began. Trump said McAleenan resigned so he can "spend more time with his family and go to the private sector." McAleenan complained last week about the "tone, the message, the public face and approach" of Trump's immigration policy. Trump said he plans to name a new acting DHS secretary this week. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / NBC News / PBS)

  1. The Trump administration proposed allowing logging on more than half of the largest intact temperate rainforest in North America. Trump instructed federal officials to reverse long-standing limits on tree cutting in Alaska's 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest on the grounds that it would boost the local economy. About 40% of wild salmon along the West Coast spawn in the Tongass. (Washington Post)

  2. Manufacturing output in the U.S. shrank over two consecutive quarters, slipping into a recession. Numbers from the Federal Reserve match up with a separate index drawn from purchasing managers, which shows September's contraction in manufacturing was the steepest since June 2009, with production, inventories, and new orders all falling. Manufacturing employment has also stalled after adding nearly half a million jobs during the previous two years. Layoff announcements have also surged this year, especially in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan, and Friday's jobs report showed a slight drop in total factory jobs. (Los Angeles Times)

  3. Ronan Farrow claims in his forthcoming book that American Media, Inc. and the National Enquirer shredded sensitive Trump-related documents held in a top-secret safe right before Trump was elected in 2016. The book claims then-Editor-in-Chief of the National Enquirer Dylan Howard ordered a staff member to "get everything out of the safe" and said "we need to get a shredder down there." The order came the same day a reporter from the Wall Street Journal asked for a comment for a story about how AMI paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep her story about having an affair with Trump quiet before the election. (Politico)

  4. Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims over 993 days. Check the WTFJHT archive for all of them. (Washington Post)

Day 995: "Repugnant to the American Dream."

1/ Trump lost his appeal to stop a House subpoena requiring him to turn over his tax documents to investigators. The 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. upheld a lower court ruling that required Trump's longtime accountant Mazars USA to turn over eight years of Trump's personal tax returns. The judges ruled that the courts "lack the power to invalidate a duly authorized congressional subpoena merely because it might have been 'better [if]…the full House' had specifically authorized or issued it." Courts, the ruling continues, don't get a say in how each chamber conducts itself unless Congress "adopts a rule that offends the Constitution." The case is the first major dispute between Trump and the House to have reached the appeals court level – one level below the Supreme Court. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Politico / BuzzFeed News / CNN / CNBC / Axios / Bloomberg)

2/ A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from enforcing the "public charge" rule, which would've made it easier to reject green card and visa applications from immigrants whom the government determines are or might become a financial "burden" on U.S. taxpayers. U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels in Manhattan issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against the rule days before it was set to take effect on Oct. 15. Daniels said the government failed to explain why it was changing the definition of a "public charge" or why the change was needed. Daniels said the rule is "simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification," calling it "repugnant to the American Dream." (New York Times / The Hill / NPR / CBS News)

3/ A federal judge ruled that Trump's national emergency declaration to fund construction of his border wall is unlawful. U.S. District Court Judge David Briones in Texas agreed with the complainants, who argued that the declaration doesn't qualify as an "emergency" under the definition in the National Emergencies Act. They also argued that Trump overstepped his authority by issuing the declaration in order to gain access to additional funding for the wall from the military, even though his administration already received $1.375 billion in funding from Congress. Briones asked complainants to propose the scope for a preliminary injunction against the declaration. (CNN / New York Post / The Hill)

4/ Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch told lawmakers that Trump personally pressured the State Department to have her ousted from her position. Yovanovitch defied Trump’s ban on cooperating with the House impeachment inquiry and spoke to Congress during a closed-door deposition. She said she was "abruptly" recalled in May and told the president had lost confidence in her. Yovanovitch said she'd done nothing to deserve her dismissal and that she was confused when Trump "chose to remove an ambassador based, as best as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives," referring to Giuliani and a group of former Ukrainian officials who saw her as a political and financial threat to their interests. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • More whistleblowers have come forward to speak with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. Two congressional sources say these new whistleblowers were emboldened by the actions of the original intelligence community whistleblower who raised concerns about Trump's dealings regarding Ukraine. Congressional investigators are currently vetting the new whistleblowers' credibility. No information is currently available about the departments or areas of government from which these new whistleblowers originated or what they've said. (Daily Beast)

  • At least four national security officials raised alarms about Ukraine policy before and after Trump's call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood. (Washington Post)

  • The White House accidentally sent Democrats a list of talking points related to Yovanovitch’s deposition, the second time in a month that Trump administration officials have accidentally sent Ukraine-related talking points to Democrats. (The Hill / The Week)

5/ Giuliani's business relationship with the two men accused of running an illegal campaign finance scheme is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. The investigation by federal authorities in New York became public after Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were arrested while attempting to flee the U.S. yesterday and named as witnesses in the House's impeachment inquiry into Trump. Parnas has also been working for the legal team of Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian oligarch who's currently facing bribery charges in the U.S. Both Parnas and Fruman had worked in an unspecified capacity for Firtash before Parnas joined the Ukrainian’s legal team. (ABC News / New York Times / Vanity Fair / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 994: Two men who worked with Giuliani to find damaging information about Biden and his son have been charged with conspiring to violate campaign finance laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to U.S. campaigns. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are two key subjects in the House's impeachment inquiry. They were indicted and accused of making "secret agreements" to hide the fact that they were laundering foreign money into U.S. campaigns through a range of corporate identities by using "straw donors" to make the contributions. The indictment alleges that on one occasion, they lobbied a then-sitting member of Congress at the request of "one or more Ukrainian officials." (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Reuters / Associated Press / NBC News)

6/ Turkey accidentally attacked a contingent of U.S. Special Forces in northern Syria during its ongoing bombing campaign against U.S.-allied Kurdish militias in the region. U.S. troops operating in the majority-Kurdish city of Kobani were bombarded by Turkish artillery fire. The Turkish Defense Ministry denied that its military intentionally targeted U.S. forces. A senior Pentagon official later confirmed the incident, saying Turkish forces should have precise knowledge of American positions. No injuries have been reported. (Newsweek / Washington Post / Yahoo! News)

7/ Trump is sending thousands of U.S. troops to protect Saudi Arabia's oil fields days after withdrawing U.S. troops and allowing Turkey to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish forces. The U.S., European, and Saudi Arabian governments blame Iran for a September attack on Saudi oil facilities, but Tehran insists they had nothing to do with it. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the deployment of 3,000 service members, two fighter squadrons, one air expeditionary wing, two Patriot Missile batteries, and one THAD missile defense system to protect the facilities. While plans for the deployment were first announced in Sept. shortly after the attack, they included "modest" reinforcements rather than the "thousands" announced today. (NBC News)


Notables.

  1. Trump's former top aide on Russia and Europe will give testimony about Giuliani and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland next week. Fiona Hill will testify about how Giuliani and Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and standard White House protocols in order to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine. The Trump administration is expected to attempt to prevent her from testifying, a key test for whether congressional committees pursuing an impeachment inquiry can obtain testimony from other former officials who have left the administration. (NBC News)

  2. A senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo resigned amid rising dissatisfaction and plummeting morale inside the State Department over Pompeo’s failure to support personnel who have become ensnared in the Ukraine controversy. McKinley was closely involved in the Trump administration's policy on Venezuela, Mexico, Southeast Asia, and Afghanistan. (Washington Post)

  3. Shepard Smith announced that he is stepping down as lead news anchor and leaving Fox News. Smith seems to have signed a non-compete agreement. "Under our agreement, I won't be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near feature," he said. (CNN Business / New York Times)

  4. Trump said the U.S. has come to a "very substantial phase one deal" with China. "Phase two will start almost immediately" after the first phase is signed, Trump said while standing alongside Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office. (CNBC)

Day 994: "Oh well, I’m president!"

1/ Two men who worked with Giuliani to find damaging information about Biden and his son have been charged with conspiring to violate campaign finance laws that prohibit foreign nationals from contributing to U.S. campaigns. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are two key subjects in the House's impeachment inquiry. They were indicted and accused of making "secret agreements" to hide the fact that they were laundering foreign money into U.S. campaigns through a range of corporate identities by using "straw donors" to make the contributions. Parnas and Fruman allegedly used the agreements to hide their scheme from candidates and federal regulators. The indictment alleges that on one occasion, they lobbied a then-sitting member of Congress at the request of "one or more Ukrainian officials." (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Reuters / Associated Press / NBC News)

  • Parnas and Fruman spent lavishly as they dug for dirt on Biden. BuzzFeed News obtained unprecedented access to scores of bank records from private business accounts controlled by Lev Parnas and his partner Igor Fruman as they carried out a campaign now at the center of the first presidential impeachment inquiry in a generation. (BuzzFeed News)

2/ Trump and Giuliani pressured then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a meeting in 2017 to persuade the DOJ to drop a criminal case against one of Giuliani's clients. The client was an Iranian-Turkish gold trader named Reza Zarrab, who was facing federal prosecution in New York on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. Zarrab also had ties to top Turkish government officials. Tillerson refused to help Trump and Giuliani make the case go away, arguing that doing so would be illegal and constitute interference in an ongoing investigation. Tillerson told then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about the incident during a conversation in the hallway after the meeting ended, emphasizing that following through with Trump's request would be a crime. "Suppose I did talk to Trump about it," Giuliani said after initially denying that he ever raised Zarrab's case with Trump. "So what?" Giuliani was not Trump's personal lawyer at the time Trump made the request. (Bloomberg / CNN / Esquire / Vanity Fair)

  • Lindsey Graham fell for a prank phone call in August from Russian pranksters posing as the Turkish defense minister. Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov are Russian comedians with suspected ties to Kremlin intelligence services who go by the stage names "Lexus and Vovan." During the call, Graham labeled the Kurds a "threat" to Turkey, contradicting public statements he's made in the wake of Turkey's invasion of Kurdish strongholds in northeastern Syria. Graham also mentioned Trump’s personal interest in a "Turkish bank case" during the call, an apparent reference to the DOJ's case against Giuliani's client Reza Zarrab. (Politico)

3/ Trump gave a politically appointed official the authority to withhold nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine after career staff at the Office of Management and Budget questioned the legality of delaying the funds. Trump shifted the authority over the funds to Michael Duffey, who serves as associate director of national security programs at OMB. The aid in question is at the center of the House's impeachment inquiry, and it was put on hold just days before the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. Duffey was also allowed to oversee the apportionment of funds for other foreign aid and defense accounts. "It is absurd to suggest," said an OMB spokesperson in a statement, "that the president and his administration officials should not play a leadership role in ensuring taxpayer dollars are well spent." (Wall Street Journal)

  • Zelensky said for the first time that Ukraine will "happily" investigate the conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that it was Ukrainians, not Russians, who interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. He also encouraged U.S. and Ukrainian prosecutors to discuss investigating Biden's son, despite the lack of any evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Biden or his son. (ABC News / Associated Press)

4/ Rick Perry was subpoenaed by the House as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump. The three House committees conducting the inquiry gave Perry until Oct. 18 to turn over "key documents" related to Trump’s Ukraine dealings. The committees want him to turn over a series of documents related to Perry's knowledge of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, which Perry reportedly encouraged Trump to make. The House also wants to know whether Perry tried to press the Ukrainian government to make changes to the advisory board of its state-owned oil and gas company Naftogaz. (The Guardian / Fox News / Politico / Washington Post)

5/ Trump said he "does not endorse" Turkey's military offensive in Syria, despite giving Turkey the green light to launch the attack and withdrawing U.S. forces from the region. Trump released a statement and claimed that he "does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea." He also called on Turkey to make sure "all ISIS fighters being held captive remain in prison and that ISIS does not reconstitute in any way, shape, or form." Trump again defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region by saying the Kurds "didn't help us in the Second World War; they didn't help us with Normandy." He added: "With all of that being said, we like the Kurds." (The Independent / Business Insider)

  • The Kurdish death toll from the ongoing Turkish air and ground assault in northeastern Syria now includes at least 23 dead, including one infant, and 70 wounded. The Turkish Defense Ministry said Turkish forces had conducted 181 airstrikes as of Thursday morning. Turkish-backed Syrian Arab rebel fighters said they had taken at least one formerly Kurdish-held village that lies just yards from the border. (New York Times)

Notables.

  1. Deutsche Bank doesn't have Trump's tax returns. Democrats in the House subpoenaed the bank for tax returns and financial records related to Trump, his children, and their various Trump business entities. But a federal appeals court said the bank doesn't have them after reviewing an unredacted letter filed by the bank. A new ruling from the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York denied a request to unseal the letter, but commented on the redactions. "That letter reports that the only tax returns [the bank] has for individuals or entities named in the subpoenas are not those of the President," Judge Jon Newman wrote. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. Trump is reportedly calling Mitch McConnell up to three times per day in order to make sure he can maintain the loyalty of the GOP as he faces an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats. (CNN)

  3. Trump lashed out at Fox News over a recent poll showing that 51% of respondents want him impeached and removed from office. "From the day I announced I was running for President," Trump tweeted, "I have NEVER had a good @FoxNews Poll." Trump added: "Oh well, I’m President!" (The Independent / NBC News / The Hill)

Day 993: "Nothing to see here."

1/ Turkey launched a bombing campaign against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria following Trump's decision to abruptly withdraw U.S. forces from the region. The attacks are aimed at crushing Kurdish militias, which have been fighting for their independence from Turkey. The Turkish bombing campaign, which is being conducted in coordination with the Syrian National Army, immediately drew criticism and calls for restraint from European leaders. Kurdish-led forces in the area have been key U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his military is targeting both Kurdish fighters and ISIS extremists. "The Turkish Armed Forces," Erdogan tweeted, "together with the Syrian National Army, just launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh [Isis] terrorists in northern Syria." (New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / The Guardian)

  • A Kurdish commander says the militia will attack Turkish forces if they enter northeastern Syria. "We have been at war for seven years," he said, "so we can continue the war for seven more years." The threat of armed resistance from the militia, a force trained and armed by the United States, raises the risks for Turkey as it weighs sending troops into Syria, and for the United States, which could find itself on the sidelines of a new front in Syria's war — this time between two of its allies. (New York Times)

2/ Trump invited Erdogan to visit the White House a day after giving Turkey the green light to attack the Kurds. Trump defended his decision on Twitter and insisted that "in no way have we abandoned the Kurds," whom he described as "special people and wonderful fighters." Trump also brought up the trade relationship between the U.S. and Turkey. "So many people conveniently forget," he tweeted, "that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet." Trump said Erdogan will visit the White House on Nov. 13. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / MarketWatch / Washington Post / MSNBC)

  • Lindsey Graham: "Nobody besides Trump believes the president's claim that the U.S. is not abandoning the Kurds." Graham said Trump's decision on Syria represents the biggest mistake of his presidency. He also said Trump is putting his presidency at risk by going against the advice of his national security team. "If I hear the president say one more time, 'I made a campaign promise to get out of Syria,' I'm going to throw up," Graham said. (Axios)

  • Trump's decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria shortly after his phone call with Erdogan is raising alarm bells from policymakers and government ethics watchdog groups who see Trump's extensive business interests as potential conflicts of interest. Trump and his family have longstanding business ties in and with Turkey, including the Trump Towers Istanbul. (NBC News)

3/ Trump ordered Energy Secretary Rick Perry and two top State Department officials to deal directly with Giuliani when setting up a May 23 meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump. Trump said that if Zelensky wanted to meet with him, they should circumvent official diplomatic channels and go strictly through Giuliani. Giuliani's role in setting up Trump's meeting with Zelensky was more direct than what was disclosed last week by one of the meeting's participants in his statement to the House. (CNN)

  • Read the whistleblower's memo about Trump's Ukraine call, as described to CBS News. The memo, dated July 26, is based on a conversation the whistleblower had with an unnamed White House official who listened to the call. (CBS News)

4/ American diplomats who pushed for the restoration of U.S. security aid to Ukraine were told by the White House to downplay the release of the money once it was finally approved. "Keep moving, people, nothing to see here," wrote the acting deputy assistant secretary overseeing issues in Europe and Eurasia in a Sept. 12 email. The previously unreported internal State Department emails reveal that diplomats were frustrated with the unexpected freeze on funding that had already been approved by Congress. (New York Times)

5/ A new book by journalists Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy reveals another 43 allegations of inappropriate behavior by Trump, including 26 previously unreported allegations of unwanted sexual contact. The book, "All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator," includes an allegation by Karen Johnson that Trump committed what amounts to an attack on her at a New Year's Eve party in the early 2000s. Johnson says she was on her way to the bathroom when she was "grabbed and pulled behind a tapestry, and it was him." Johnson says Trump grabbed her, pulled her close to him, "and he just kissed me." (VICE / Esquire)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump accused the mayor of Minneapolis of trying to "stifle free speech" and announced that the Trump campaign will not be paying $530,000 in security fees associated with a Trump campaign rally scheduled for later this week. In a letter, the Trump campaign accused the city of trying to pass on the city's public safety bill. The campaign also threatened "court action" if the Target Center doesn't let Trump use the arena for the upcoming rally. The campaign said the Secret Service is "solely responsible" for security at Trump's rallies. (Washington Post / WUSA 9)

  2. Trump's tariffs have cost U.S. companies roughly $34 billion, not including the 15% tax on $112 billion worth of Chinese imports that went into effect on Sept. 1. U.S. tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods are scheduled to rise to 30% from 25% starting next week. (Axios)

  3. The Trump campaign has spent $718,000 on impeachment-related Facebook ads. The House and Senate Republican committees are also putting the majority of their digital ad dollars behind impeachment. (Axios)

Day 992: "Further acts of obstruction."

1/ A new bipartisan Senate report found that Russian actors were directed by the Kremlin to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election. The Senate Intelligence Committee released the 85-page report, which is the second volume of the committee’s investigation into election interference by Moscow. The report concludes that Russia deliberately singled out African Americans and the black community as prominent targets of its disinformation and social disruption campaign. "By far," the panel concluded, "race and related issues were the preferred target of the information warfare campaign designed to divide the country in 2016." The report's findings mirror those of former special counsel Robert Mueller's own report from earlier this year, which also found that the Kremlin directed Russian actors to help Trump win in 2016. The Senate report also includes recommendations for Congress: it urges lawmakers to pass new legislation to increase the transparency of political advertisements on social media and calls on Congress to examine "whether any existing laws may hinder cooperation and whether information sharing should be formalized" between U.S. counter-interference efforts. (The Hill / Daily Beast / NBC News / The Independent / Reuters / Washington Post / Politico)

  • The Kremlin’s best-known propaganda arm increased its social media activity in the wake of the 2016 election, adding to concerns about foreign meddling in the current 2020 campaign. Activity by the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency "increased, rather than decreased, after Election Day 2016," the report concluded. (Reuters)

  • Russia's propaganda campaigns focused heavily on race relations in the U.S., report finds. Using Facebook pages, Instagram content, and Twitter posts, Russian information operatives working for the Internet Research Agency had an "overwhelming operational emphasis on race… no single group of Americans was targeted… more than African Americans." (NPR)

  • Senate report says Russian trolls tried to stoke racial divisions long after the 2016 election by exploiting the debate over Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel in protest against police brutality. Russia's online disinformation campaign extended well beyond 2016 and focused heavily on the NFL kneeling controversy as part of a broader effort to stoke racial tensions. (Business Insider)

  • Read the full report from the Select Senate Intelligence Committee. "Russian active measures campaigns and interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Volume 2: Russia's use of social media, with additional views." (U.S. Senate)

2/ The Trump administration ordered the U.S. ambassador to the European Union not to appear before House lawmakers for a planned deposition as part of the impeachment inquiry. Lawmakers want information about Ambassador Gordon Sondland's activities related to Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden and his son. Sondland said he was willing and happy to testify, but he did not appear as scheduled this morning after he was ordered not to by the State Department. Sondland's attorney said that, as a State Department employee, Sondland had no choice but to comply with the order. House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff called the White House’s move to block Sondland from testifying "further acts of obstruction of a coequal branch of government." (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico / CNBC)

  • Sondland called Trump before telling the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine that there had been "no quid pro quo” regarding the administration's attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden and his son. Sondland spoke to Trump directly by phone on Sept. 9 before responding to acting Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor's text that it would be "crazy" to condition U.S. military aid to Ukraine on the country helping to investigate Trump's political rivals. (NBC News)

3/ The White House announced it will not cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry, calling it an illegitimate and partisan effort "to overturn the results of the 2016 election." White House counsel Pat Cipollone sent an eight-page letter to House Democratic leaders, declaring the impeachment inquiry a violation of historical precedent. The letter says the inquiry represents such an egregious violation of Trump’s due process rights that neither Trump nor the executive branch will willingly participate by providing testimony or documents going forward. The letter was sent hours after the State Department blocked Gordon Sondland from appearing at a deposition in front of House Democrats, and it sets the stage for a constitutional crisis between the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters / NBC News / Associated Press)

4/ House Democrats plan to subpoena Sondland in order to compel him to testify and provide emails and text messages from one of his personal devices. The device and the corresponding documents and texts have already been turned over to the State Department, which has refused to release them to the three committees leading the impeachment inquiry. Trump said on Twitter that he "would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify," but Trump won't let him because he "would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s [sic] rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see." (Washington Post)

5/ A White House aide who listened in on Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the call as "crazy," "frightening," and "completely lacking in substance related to national security," according to a memo written by the whistleblower at the center of the Trump-Ukraine scandal. The memo was written a day after the call took place, and it says the official who listened to the call was "visibly shaken by what had transpired." The memo also says White House attorneys were already trying to figure out how to deal with documentation from the call, because they knew "the president had clearly committed a criminal act by urging a foreign power to investigate a U.S. person for the purposes of advancing his own re-election bid." (New York Times / ABC News)

6/ Turkey’s vice president said his country would "not react to threats," as it prepares to attack U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria. The statement comes a day after Trump warned Turkey via Twitter that he would "totally destroy and obliterate" Turkey’s economy if Turkish forces do anything that Trump "considers to be off limits" during the attack on the Kurds. "When it comes to the security of Turkey," Vice President Fuat Oktay said in a speech, "as always, our president emphasized Turkey will determine its own path." Erdogan and other Turkish officials have suggested for days that the military incursion could begin at any moment, and troop convoys have already started staging at the Syrian border. (Washington Post)

  • What does Turkey want? "Our aim is, I underline it, to shower east of the Euphrates with peace," Erdogan declared. His advisor Ibrahim Kalin was more specific on Twitter: "The safe zone plan has two purposes, to secure our borders by eliminating terror elements and to ensure the safe return of refugees." Turkey is facing growing domestic pressure to deal with the millions of Syrian refugees in the country. Though they were initially welcomed, public sentiment has begun to turn against them. (Foreign Policy)

  • 📌 Day 725: Trump threatened to "devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds" following the U.S. troop withdrawal in Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu blasted Trump's "threatening language" saying that his country was "not going to be scared or frightened off," adding: "You will not get anywhere by threatening Turkey's economy." (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ A majority of Americans support House Democrats' decision to launch an impeachment inquiry against Trump. Nearly half of all adults also say the House should take the additional step of recommending that Trump be removed from office. (Washington Post / Schar School)

poll/ A majority of Americans say the allegations that Trump asked a foreign leader to investigate his 2020 rival Joe Biden are serious and need to be fully investigated. They also believe Trump hasn’t been honest and truthful about his actions, but are divided mostly along partisan lines when it comes to removing Trump from office: 43% supporting his removal given what they know today, while 49% oppose it. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


Notables.

  1. The Trump Organization is refusing pay a legal bill after it lost a lengthy court battle with the Scottish government. A Scottish court ruled earlier this year that the Trump Organization must pay the Scottish government’s legal costs after Trump attempted and failed to block the construction of an 11-turbine wind farm in Aberdeen Bay. Scottish government officials say the Trump Organization has refused to accept the bill, which amounts to tens of thousands of pounds. (The Guardian)

  2. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is facing possible sanctions or contempt of court over her decision to continue collecting payments on the debt of former students at bankrupt Corinthian Colleges Inc. Under DeVos, the agency has already seized tax refunds and wages from at least 1,808 students. "I’m not sure if this is contempt or sanctions," U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim told Department of Education lawyers at a hearing on Monday. "At best it is gross negligence, at worst it’s an intentional flouting of my order." (Bloomberg)

  3. The Treasury Department is considering rolling back a tax rule aimed at preventing American companies from moving money offshore to avoid paying taxes. The Treasury could narrow regulations aimed at preventing U.S. firms from lowering their U.S. tax bills by borrowing from an offshore branch of the company. The department is also contemplating repealing them entirely to replace them with something more business-friendly. The move could make it easier for companies to use accounting tactics to minimize their U.S. earnings and inflate their foreign profits, which are frequently taxed at rates lower than the current 21% domestic corporate levy. (Bloomberg)

Day 991: "Devastating for the good guys."

1/ Trump announced that he plans to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and allow the Turkish military to launch an attack against Kurdish militias in the area. Trump made the decision Sunday evening during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Early Monday morning, the 50–100 special forces troops currently operating in northeastern Syria received an urgent, unexpected alert ordering them to pull back from their posts in preparation for "departing the field." The move surprised not just U.S. Kurdish partners in the fight against ISIS in northeastern Syria, but also senior officials at the Pentagon, State Department, and White House, as well as U.S. lawmakers from both parties. U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe were also unaware of Trump's decision until after he agreed to pull the troops out during his call with Erdogan. On Twitter, Trump warned Turkey not to do "anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits," during any military incursion against the Kurds or he will "totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)." (New York Times / NBC News / USA Today / Associated Press / NPR / CBS News / The Independent)

  • Turkey has worked with the U.S. in its fight against ISIS forces near Turkey's border with Syria amidst Syria's ongoing civil war, but Kurdish soldiers have also been working with American forces in the northeastern part of Syria. Turkey and the Kurds are enemies and the Kurdish forces are in the process of fighting for their independence from Turkey. Erdogan is set to meet with Trump in Washington, D.C. in the next few weeks and has expressed displeasure with the support the U.S. has given to the Kurds. (Politico / The Intercept / Esquire)

2/ Leaders from both parties publicly criticized Trump for breaking promises the U.S. made to the Kurds by pulling U.S. troops out of the region. Lindsey Graham said the decision was "devastating for the good guys" and warned that "to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids." Mitch McConnell cautioned that a "precipitous withdrawal of US forces from Syria would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime." In response, Trump defended himself at a press conference where he said he was merely fulfilling a campaign promise by withdrawing U.S. forces, reminding reporters that he "got elected on that." He added that the U.S. is "not a police force," and reiterated that he "fully understand[s] both sides but I promised to bring our troops home." (Washington Post / Axios / Fox News / Politico / Al Jazeera English / The Intercept / Associated Press / NPR)

  • Fox News host blasts Trump's move: Are you kidding me? Fox News host Brian Kilmeade slams President Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Northern Syria. (CNN)

3/ Another whistleblower has come forward regarding Trump's dealings with Ukraine. Attorneys representing the first whistleblower say "multiple" whistleblowers have come forward and that they are now representing at least one other whistleblower. "I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General," Andrew Bakaj said in a tweet. The second whistleblower is also someone who works in the intelligence community and has already spoken to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson, but they have not yet filed a complaint. The newest whistleblower has "first-hand knowledge" that supports the allegations outlined in the original complaint, according to Mark Zaid, another member of the original whistleblower’s legal team. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / New York Times / The Guardian / NBC News)

  • ‘We absolutely could not do that’: When seeking foreign help was out of the question. Trump insists he and AG Barr did nothing wrong by seeking damaging information about Biden and his son from Ukraine, Australia, Italy, Britain, or China. But for every other White House in the modern era, the idea of enlisting help from foreign powers for political advantage has been seen as unwise and politically dangerous, if not unprincipled. (New York Times)

  • Trump orders cut to national security staff after whistleblower complaint. The White House wants to make the council leaner under its incoming leader. The cuts come after the whistleblower’s report on Trump's call with Ukraine. (Bloomberg)

4/ The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees subpoenaed the Department of Defense and the White House Office of Management and Budget for documents related to Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. The committees want to know whether Trump froze U.S. military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure its government to investigate Biden and his son over unsubstantiated corruption allegations. The agencies are required to turn over the documents by Oct. 15. (New York Times / Yahoo! News / Reuters / Axios)

5/ Trump blamed Energy Secretary Rick Perry for his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He told House Republicans that he made the call to Zelensky at the urging of Perry, claiming that he never wanted to make the call in the first place and that "the only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to." Until now, Trump has repeatedly referred to his call with Zelensky as a "perfect phone call" and has insisted that he did nothing wrong. (Axios)

  • Former Trump officials and lobbyists dined with the Zelensky campaign at one of Trump's hotels months before the July 25 phone call. Zelensky’s closest advisors were attempting to establish contact with political power players in D.C., including former senior administration officials. One of the meetings took place at the Trump International Hotel on April 16, where former Trump campaign advisor and former HHS representative Mike Rubino and State Department employee Matt Mowers met for dinner with representatives from Zelensky's campaign. A little-known U.S.-based attorney named Marcus Cohen helped coordinate these private gatherings. (CNBC)

  • A top advisor to Zelensky said he spent weeks attempting to reassure American officials that the U.S. had no enemies among the Ukrainian leadership, even before he learned of the decision to suspend U.S. military aid to Ukraine. Andriy Yermak said in an interview that U.S. political leaders peddled ill-informed accounts about the situation in Ukraine. And although he stressed that he did not believe these false narratives ever threatened U.S.-Ukrainian relations, Yermak said he believes they may have given Trump cover for suspending the aid. (Los Angeles Times)

6/ A federal judge rejected an argument from Trump's legal team that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, allowing the Manhattan district attorney’s office to subpoena eight years of Trump's personal and corporate tax returns. In a 75-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero called Trump's argument "repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values," and said that a president's families and businesses are not above the law. In response, Trump's lawyers filed an emergency notice of appeal in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which granted Trump a temporary administrative stay pending an expedited review of the case by a panel of the 2nd circuit. (Bloomberg / Yahoo! Finance / WNYC / Washington Post)

Day 988: Smoking texts.

1/ Text messages reveal how two U.S. ambassadors coordinated with Rudy Giuliani and a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to leverage a potential White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky into persuading Kiev to publicly commit to investigating Joe Biden. The House Intelligence Committee released the documents and text messages provided by Kurt Volker, a former special envoy to Ukraine, which show Volker and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland repeatedly stressing that a White House meeting depended on getting the Ukrainians to agree to the exact language that Zelensky would use in announcing an investigation. In August, Volker proposed to Sondland that they have Zelensky cite "alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians" in interference in U.S. elections when announcing an investigation. Democrats say the texts are clear evidence that Trump conditioned normal bilateral relations with Ukraine on that country first agreeing "to launch politically motivated investigations." (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Reuters / USA Today)

  • Volker told congressional investigators that Giuliani demanded Ukraine specifically commit to investigate involvement in the 2016 election and the firm tied to Joe Biden's son. Volker said Giuliani rejected a draft statement by Ukraine in which the country committed to fighting corruption generally. Instead, Giuliani said the Ukraine statement "should include specific reference to 'Burisma' and '2016.'" (New York Times)

  • Volker: Trump told him he was "skeptical" of Ukraine's leadership because the country "tried to take me down," a reference to the unproven allegations that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election meddling. In Volker's statement, which he delivered during closed-door testimony, he said that Trump believed "Ukraine was a corrupt country, full of 'terrible people.'" Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, also told Congress "at no time" did he take part in an effort to investigate Biden. (CNN / BuzzFeed News)

  • Trump said the Democrats "unfortunately have the votes" to impeach him in the House, but predicted the he would "win" in a trial in the Republican-led Senate. Trump, however, insisted he had said nothing inappropriate during the July call in which he pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden. (Washington Post)

  • READ the text messages between U.S. diplomats and Ukrainians released by House Democrats. (CNN / New York Times)

2/ The CIA's general counsel made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about the whistleblower's allegations that Trump abused his office weeks before the complaint became public. Courtney Simmons Elwood first learned about the matter because the whistleblower, a CIA officer, passed his concerns about Trump on to her through a colleague. In a Aug. 14 conference call, Elwood told John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser to the White House National Security Council and the chief of the Justice Department's National Security Division, John Demers, that the allegations merited examination by the Department of Justice. Attorney General William Barr was made aware of the call with Elwood and Eisenberg. Later, Justice Department officials said they didn't consider the conversation a formal criminal referral because it was not in written form. The Justice Department later declined to open an investigation. (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 980: The whistleblower is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed in the White House at one point. The man has since returned to the C.I.A., but his complaint suggests he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics. The C.I.A. officer did not work on the communications team that handles calls with foreign leaders, but learned about Trump's conduct "in the course of official interagency business." (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 981: The White House and the Justice Department learned about the whistleblower complaint against Trump before the formal complaint was passed from the intelligence community. The whistleblower, reportedly a CIA officer, lodged the formal complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community on Aug. 12th. The whistleblower also shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the CIA's top lawyer, Courtney Simmons Elwood, through an anonymous process. Elwood, following policy, told White House and Justice Department officials on Aug. 14th that she received anonymous information detailing concerns about a call between Trump and a foreign leader. The following day, John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's national security division, went to the White House to review a rough transcript of the call. Demers alerted the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and Brian Benczkowski, the head of the department's criminal division, to discuss how to handle the information. The Justice Department then blocked sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress. The inspector general presented the matter to the acting director of national intelligence on Aug. 26th. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The Treasury Department's inspector general is investigating how the department handled requests for Trump's tax returns, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to turn over. Acting Inspector General Rich Delmar said he will investigate who was consulted and how the department came to reject Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal's demands for the records. Neil's committee received information from a federal employee at the end of July alleging that there was "possible misconduct" and "inappropriate efforts to influence" the presidential audit program. (New York Times / Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 985: The House Ways and Means chairman is consulting lawyers about allegations regarding "possible misconduct" and "inappropriate efforts to influence" the Internal Revenue Service's auditing of Trump's taxes. Chairman Richard Neal told reporters that a decision on releasing the complaint depends on the advice he receives from lawyers for the House of Representatives. (CNN / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 987: An Internal Revenue Service official filed a whistleblower complaint that he was told at least one Treasury Department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of either Trump's or Pence's tax returns. The whistleblower, a career official at the IRS, confirmed that he filed a formal complaint and sent it to the tax committee chairs in both houses of Congress and to the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration on July 29th. The existence of the complaint was revealed in a court filing months ago, but little about it has become public. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump blocked Sen. Ron Johnson in August from telling Ukraine's president that U.S. aid was on its way. Johnson raised the issue with Trump in a phone call on Aug. 31, shortly before the senator was due to meet with Zelensky. In the call, Trump rejected the notion that he directed aides to make the nearly $400 million military aid to Ukraine contingent on Kiev investigating the 2016 presidential election and Biden. Johnson said he learned of a potential quid pro quo from Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Trump ordered the hold on the military aid a week before his July 25 call with Zelensky. (Wall Street Journal / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

5/ Ukraine's prosecutor general's office is now reviewing a criminal case involving the owner of a natural gas company that employed Biden's son. Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka said he intended to review 15 cases in all, including investigations of wealthy Ukrainians, like the owner of the natural gas company Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served on the board until earlier this year. Ryaboshapka said the decision to review the closed cases came after he took office in August – after a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ryaboshapka didn't say how long the audit would last, but at a news conference in Kiev he said "the key words were not Biden and not Burisma." (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

6/ House Democrats subpoenaed the White House for documents about Trump's efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to target his political rivals. The subpoena was sent to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney by three Democratic committee chairmen, who now has a two-week deadline of Oct. 18 to comply with the document demand. "Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the direction or behest of the President or others at the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President," wrote chairmen Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff, and Eliot Engel. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press / Axios)

7/ House Democrats demanded that Pence turn over documents as part of their impeachment investigation into Trump and his call with the Ukrainian president. A letter from the chairmen of the House committees on Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Oversight requested all of Pence's records related to Trump's calls with Zelensky, his communications about the calls with federal agencies, and Trump's decision to cancel Pence's trip to Zelensky's inauguration in May. Pence has until Oct. 15th to comply. (CNN / The Guardian / CNBC)

8/ The White House plans to reject Democrats' request for documents as part of the impeachment inquiry, arguing that until there is a formal vote by the House to begin impeachment proceedings, Congress doesn't have the right to the information. (NBC News)

9/ Energy Secretary Rick Perry will step down from his post by the end of the year, pledging to cooperate with lawmakers investigating a whistleblower's allegations about Trump's communications with Zelensky. Perry met with Zelensky at least three times while in office. Perry is expected to return to the private sector once he resigns in November. He is among the longest-serving members of Trump’s Cabinet. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

10/ The Pentagon's chief legal officer ordered Defense Department agencies to identify, preserve, and collect all documents related to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which included the $250 million in military aid to Ukraine that the Trump Administration froze in June. (CNN)

11/ Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department have intervened in lawsuits where Trump has personally sued those investigating him. The department recently took Trump's side in a federal lawsuit against the Manhattan district attorney attempting to block a subpoena for Trump's tax returns. In other cases, the Justice Department supported Trump's attempt to block a House Oversight Committee subpoena to his accountants, Mazars USA, seeking his tax returns, and subpoenas to two of Trump's banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One, seeking documents related to his loans. (Washington Post)

12/ The Supreme Court agreed to review a restrictive Louisiana abortion law that requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The Louisiana law, enacted in 2014, would leave the state with only one doctor eligible to perform abortions. The requirement is similar to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016, finding it posed an undue burden on a woman's constitutional right to access an abortion. A decision is expected in the summer of 2020. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News)

13/ Iranian hackers targeted Trump's re-election campaign. Earlier in the day, Microsoft said that hackers, with backing from Iran's government, had attempted to identify, attack, and breach 241 email accounts associated with current and former U.S. government officials, journalists, prominent Iranians outside Iran, and one U.S. presidential campaign. Microsoft said it had seen "significant cyber activity" from a group it believes "originates from Iran and is linked to the Iranian government," who made more than 2,700 attempts to identify e-mail addresses between August and September. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

Day 987: "China, if you're listening."

1/ Trump urged China to investigate Joe Biden and his son despite already facing impeachment for using the office of the presidency to press Ukraine to investigate a political rival. Trump said he hadn't directly asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to investigate the Bidens, but it's "certainly something we could start thinking about." Trump, Pence, and Attorney General William Barr have now solicited help from Ukraine, Australia, Italy, Britain, and China for assistance in discrediting Trump's political opponents. Trump also doubled down on pressuring the Ukrainian president, saying that "if it were me, I would recommend that [Ukraine] start an investigation into the Bidens." Trump's efforts to persuade Ukraine to investigate Biden in a July phone call set off the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, who are looking at whether Trump abused the power of his office for political gain. (New York Times / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / Axios / CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff: Trump's call for China to investigate the Bidens is "repugnant" and "ought to be condemned by every member" of Congress. (Axios)

  • Ukraine's former President said Biden never asked him to open or close any criminal cases. Petro Poroshenko refuted Trump's claims that Biden abused his power to pressure Kiev to dismiss a federal prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas company of which Biden's son was a board member. "The former vice president, at least in personal conversations, didn’t raise any requests to open or close any concrete cases," Poroshenko said. (Bloomberg / The Hill)

  • Pence claimed that he did not discuss Biden during a September meeting with the Ukrainian President. Pence instead suggested that the unfounded allegations against Biden and his son should be investigated. (Reuters / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 986: Trump repeatedly involved Pence in his efforts to pressure the Ukraine president at a time when Volodymyr Zelensky was seeking recognition and support from Washington. In May, Trump instructed Pence not to attend Zelensky's inauguration, and, months later, Trump had Pence tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was being withheld while demanding for an investigation Biden and his son. Officials close to Pence insist that he wasn't aware of Trump's efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information. One of Pence's top advisers, however, was on the July 25th call and should have had access to the transcript within hours. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 986: Trump called Boris Johnson to ask for help discrediting the Mueller investigation. On July 26th – two days after the prime minister took office and one day after Trump spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky – Trump called Johnson to ask for help gathering evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign's links to Russia. Attorney General William Barr arrived in London days after Trump's call with Johnson and told British officials that he believed that information from British agencies led to the Mueller investigation. (The Times / Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 986: Attorney General William Barr traveled to Italy to meet with Italian secret service agents and listen to a taped deposition by the professor who promised George Papadopoulos he could deliver Russian "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Joseph Mifsud applied for police protection in Italy after leaving Link University, where he worked. He gave a taped deposition to explain why people might want to harm him. Since the completion of Mueller's probe in March 2019, Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut have worked to undermine the Mueller investigation and investigate the investigators behind it. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 984: Trump pressured Australia's prime minister to help Barr gather information for a Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Mueller investigation. Trump initiated the discussion – with Barr's knowledge and at his suggestion – in recent weeks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison explicitly for the purpose of requesting Australia's help in the Justice Department review that Trump believes will show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins. Similar to the call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, the discussion with Morrison shows Trump using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests. The White House restricted access of the transcript to a small group of Trump's aides. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / Associated Press)

2/ Trump brought up both Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 18th. The White House record of the call was moved to the highly secured electronic system used to also store the phone call with Ukraine's President. In that call, Trump also told Xi he would remain quiet about the Hong Kong protests as trade talks progressed. (CNN)

3/ House investigators questioned the State Department's former special envoy for Ukraine behind closed doors about his interactions with the Ukrainians and Rudy Giuliani. The whistleblower's complaint alleged that Kurt Volker went to Kiev to advise the Ukrainians on how to "navigate" Trump's demands and put Giuliani in touch with Zelensky aides. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wanted to know what Volker knew – and when – about Giuliani's work in Ukraine, Trump's decision to withhold $391 million in security assistance while pressing for investigations into political rivals, and the Trump administration's decision to recall the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Volker shared a September 9th text exchange with Congress in which Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, alluded to Trump's decision to freeze a military aid package to the country. Taylor told Gordon Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union and Volker: "I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." Volker resigned last week and has not been accused of taking part in Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine. (New York Times / ABC News / NBC News)

  • Trump dismissed the ambassador to Ukraine after complaints from Giuliani and allies outside the administration. Marie Yovanovitch was recalled in the spring for allegedly undermining and obstructing Trump's efforts to persuade Kiev to investigate Biden. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ Two of Trump's top envoys to Ukraine drafted a statement in August that would have committed Ukraine to investigating Hunter Biden. The statement, drafted by Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, would have also committed the Ukrainian government to look into what Trump and Giuliani believe was interference by Ukrainians in the 2016 election to benefit Hillary Clinton. The statement was written with the awareness of a top aide to the Ukrainian president, as well as Giuliani, but it's unclear if it was delivered to Zelensky. (New York Times)

5/ Giuliani personally gave Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a file of documents of unproven allegations against Biden on March 28th and claimed that he was told that the State Department would take up an investigation of those claims. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick gave Congress the 79-page packet Wednesday, which included nearly 20 pages of communications between State Department employees working to push back against the "fake narrative" that Giuliani was pushing. Linick told Congress that the department's office of legal counsel had provided the documents to him in May, which he gave to the FBI. The documents were in Trump Hotel folders and included "interview" notes Giuliani conducted with Viktor Shokin, the former General Prosecutor of Ukraine who was pushed out at the urging of Biden because he didn't prosecute corruption. (NBC News / CNN)

6/ Giuliani was told that Ukrainian claims about the Bidens' alleged misconduct were not credible. Volker told House investigators that he tried to caution Guiliani that his sources were unreliable and that he should be careful with believing stories by Shokin, Ukraine's former top prosecutor. Trump and Giuliani contend that, as vice president, Biden pushed for the firing Shokin as part of a corrupt plot to stop investigations into a Ukrainian natural gas company that employed Biden's son Hunter. (Washington Post)

7/ Giuliani consulted with Paul Manafort through the federal prisoner's lawyer about Ukraine. Giuliani was seeking information about a so-called "black ledger" to support his theory that the real story of 2016 was not Russian interference to elect Trump, but Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 83: $1.2 million in payments from a pro-Russian political party have been linked to Paul Manafort's firm in the US. A handwritten ledger surfaced in Ukraine last August with dollar amounts and dates listed next to the name of Manafort, who was then Donald Trump's campaign chairman. Manafort originally said the transactions in the ledger were fabricated. Now, he says the transactions corroborated are legal. A Ukrainian lawmaker said $750,000 received by Manafort was part of a money-laundering effort. (Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 256: Paul Manafort attempted to leverage his role on Trump's campaign team to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to Putin during the campaign. Emails turned over to investigators show how the former campaign chair tried to please Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men. Manafort was ousted from the Trump campaign after Manafort’s name was listed in a secret ledger of cash payments from a pro-Russian party in Ukraine that detailed his failed venture with Deripaska. At the time, Manafort was in debt to shell companies connected to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine for some $16 million. (The Atlantic)

  • 📌 Day 978: Ukraine will likely pursue the cases that Trump pressured Zelensky to look into. Valentin Nalyvaichenko, the former head of Ukraine's domestic intelligence agency and a member of Ukraine's parliament, said the country will pursue an investigation related to Burisma gas company's alleged multimillion-dollar corruption deals, but not because of Trump's pressure. Rather, Ukraine wants to know whether the founder, Ukraine's ex-minister of natural resources, had paid to quash earlier investigations into the way he acquired gas licenses. Nalyvaichenko said Ukraine should also be interested in an investigation into the "black ledger" that recorded slush-fund payments to Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager. (Daily Beast)

8/ An Internal Revenue Service official filed a whistleblower complaint that he was told at least one Treasury Department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of either Trump's or Pence's tax returns. The whistleblower, a career official at the IRS, confirmed that he filed a formal complaint and sent it to the tax committee chairs in both houses of Congress and to the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration on July 29th. The existence of the complaint was revealed in a court filing months ago, but little about it has become public. (Washington Post)

poll/ 45% of Americans support a vote by the House of Representatives to impeach Trump. Similarly, 44% said the Senate should convict Trump and remove him from office. (USA Today)


Notables.

  1. Trump told aides last year he wanted U.S. forces with bayonets to block people from crossing into the United States across the Mexico border. He also suggested the excavation of a border trench, or moat, that could be stocked with dangerous reptiles. The New York Times reported on Trump’s proposal for a moat filled with snakes and alligators, along with his suggestion that U.S. forces could open fire on migrants as they attempted to enter the country, which Trump denied on Twitter yesterday. The Washington Post independently confirmed that the president did, in fact, say those things during border security meetings, including when he demanded the wholesale closure of the Mexico border and appeared prepared to enforce the decree with violence. (Washington Post)

  2. The U.S. announced new tariffs on European goods in retaliation for illegal airplane subsidies from the European Union. The goods include 10% tariffs on Airbus planes and 25% duties on French wine, Scotch and Irish whiskies, and cheese from across the continent. The announcement came after the World Trade Organization gave Washington a green light to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of EU goods annually, a move that threatens to set off a tit-for-tat trade war between the U.S. and the EU. The tariffs are set to go into effect on Oct. 18. (Reuters)

Day 986: "BULLSHIT."

1/ The House threatened to subpoena the White House if it doesn't comply with its request for documents related to Trump's attempts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings notified committee members that the subpoena will be issued Friday, citing the White House's "flagrant disregard" of previous requests for documents. Cummings said the committee has "tried several times to obtain voluntary compliance with our requests for documents" over the last several weeks, but the White House hasn't responded. Separately, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said that any efforts by Trump and his administration to stonewall or interfere with their investigation "will be considered as evidence of obstruction of justice." Schiff joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi in condemning Trump's tweets and his demand to "meet" the whistleblower, calling it "a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses" and "an incitement of violence." Later in the day, Trump argued that whistleblowers should only be protected if they're "legitimate." (New York Times / ABC News / Axios / Associated Press / CNBC)

  • Read Cummings' full memo to the House Oversight and Reform Committee (New York Times)

2/ Trump complained that House Democrats' impeachment inquiry is "BULLSHIT" that's "wasting everyone's time." Trump also called Adam Schiff a "low life," and a "dishonest guy" who "couldn't carry" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's "blank strap" – an apparent reference to a "jock strap." Trump also blamed the impeachment inquiry for declines in the stock market and suggested staffers were inappropriately listening in on his phone calls. Trump's tweets came after he suggested that the impeachment inquiry amounted to an attempted coup. At a joint news conference later in the day with Finland's president, Trump attacked reporters who asked about the impeachment inquiry, calling it a hoax and a fraud, but said he would cooperate with the inquiry, claiming: "I always cooperate." (NBC News Reuters / Washington Post / Talking Points Memo)

3/ Trump repeatedly involved Pence in his efforts to pressure the Ukraine president at a time when Volodymyr Zelensky was seeking recognition and support from Washington. In May, Trump instructed Pence not to attend Zelensky's inauguration, and, months later, Trump had Pence tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was being withheld while demanding for an investigation Biden and his son. Officials close to Pence insist that he wasn't aware of Trump's efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information. One of Pence's top advisers, however, was on the July 25th call and should have had access to the transcript within hours. (Washington Post)

4/ The whistleblower first contacted the House Intelligence Committee for guidance before sending the complaint to the Trump administration. Adam Schiff learned about the outlines of the whistleblower's concerns that Trump had abused his power days before the whistleblower filed the complaint. Schiff's office denied seeing the complaint in advance, but it also explains how Schiff knew to press for the complaint when the Trump administration initially blocked lawmakers from seeing it. Trump – without evidence – claimed that Schiff "probably helped write" the whistleblower complaint, calling Schiff "a shifty dishonest guy" and the complaint "a scam." An attorney representing the whistleblower said that no one from House Intelligence Committee helped the whistleblower write their complaint. (New York Times / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 970: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accused the acting director of national intelligence of withholding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect a "higher authority" official. Adam Schiff said Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint prior to his decision to withhold the complaint – a departure from standard practice. Schiff added that the Committee "can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials." (Business Insider / CBS News)

  • 📌 Day 972: The acting director of national intelligence refused testify before Congress or hand over a whistleblower complaint to lawmakers. The complaint was submitted on Aug. 12 by a member of the intelligence community involving conduct by someone "outside the intelligence community" who does not involve intelligence activity under the supervision of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire had told Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, that he would not provide the complaint "because he is being instructed not to" by "a higher authority" who is "above" the cabinet-level position of the director of national intelligence. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 973: The whistleblower complaint by an intelligence officer was triggered by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader and involves a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion. The formal complaint was filed with Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who "determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent." The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, however, has refused to turn it over to Congress. While it's unclear to whom Trump was speaking at the time, White House records show Trump spoke to or interacted with Putin, Kim Jong Un, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the Emir of Qatar in the five weeks prior to the complaint being filed on August 12th. Trump, meanwhile, denied that he made any "promise" to a foreign leader, calling the formal complaint "Presidential Harassment!" and rhetorically asking if there is "anybody dumb enough to believe that [he] would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / NBC News)

5/ Trump threatened to personally sue people involved in Mueller's investigation into Russian inference in the 2016 election. While Trump did not name names, he said "I probably will be bringing litigation against a lot of people having to do with the corrupt investigation into the 2016 election. And I have every right to." Guiliani, meanwhile, texted a reporter to say they plan to sue "The swamp. Trump v The Swamp." When asked how he plans to sue "The Swamp," Guiliani replied: "In federal court." (Reuters / Vanity Fair / The Guardian)

6/ Mike Pompeo admitted that he was on the July 25th call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump asked Zelensky to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son. "I was on the phone call," Pompeo said during a news conference in Rome with Italy's foreign minister. Pompeo's admission was the first time he confirmed that he was on the call — after previously evading questions about what he knew about the conversation and news reports that revealed he was on the call. (CNN / New York Times)

  • Attorney General William Barr traveled to Italy to meet with Italian secret service agents and listen to a taped deposition by the professor who promised George Papadopoulos he could deliver Russian "dirt" on Hillary Clinton. Joseph Mifsud applied for police protection in Italy after leaving Link University, where he worked. He gave a taped deposition to explain why people might want to harm him. Since the completion of Mueller's probe in March 2019, Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham of Connecticut have worked to undermine the Mueller investigation and investigate the investigators behind it. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 984: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the administration officials who listened in on the July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Pompeo said that he hadn't yet read the whistleblower's complaint, but claimed that actions by State Department officials had been "entirely appropriate and consistent" with the Trump's administration efforts to improve relations with Ukraine. Three House committees subpoenaed Pompeo on Friday for documents related to the inquiry. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 985: Attorney General William Barr and Mike Pompeo personally participated in contacts between Trump and at least four foreign leaders. The goal those contacts was to produce stories that could damage Joe Biden or undermine the U.S. intelligence community's 2017 assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. (The Guardian / Reuters / Business Insider)

7/ Trump called Boris Johnson to ask for help discrediting the Mueller investigation. On July 26th – two days after the prime minister took office and one day after Trump spoke to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky – Trump called Johnson to ask for help gathering evidence to undermine the investigation into his campaign's links to Russia. Attorney General William Barr arrived in London days after Trump's call with Johnson and told British officials that he believed that information from British agencies led to the Mueller investigation. (The Times / The Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 984: Trump pressured Australia's prime minister to help Barr gather information for a Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Mueller investigation. Trump initiated the discussion – with Barr's knowledge and at his suggestion – in recent weeks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison explicitly for the purpose of requesting Australia's help in the Justice Department review that Trump believes will show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins. Similar to the call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, the discussion with Morrison shows Trump using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests. The White House restricted access of the transcript to a small group of Trump's aides. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 348: A drunk George Papadopoulos bragged about the political dirt Russia had on Hillary Clinton to Australia's top diplomat at a London bar in May 2016. Australian officials passed the information about Papadopoulos to their American counterparts two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online. The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into Russia's attempts to disrupt the election following the revelation that the Trump campaign had information about the DNC's hacked emails Trump and his advisers have dismissed Papadopoulos' campaign role as just a "coffee boy." (New York Times)

8/ The Justice Department told the White House that they must preserve all notes regarding Trump's meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders. In a two-page filing, the Justice Department told a judge in Washington that the Trump administration and executive office of the president "voluntarily agree […] to preserve the material at issue pending" litigation. The question of preserving the information arose in federal court following government transparency and historical archivist groups' emergency request to maintain the notes from the Trump-Volodymyr Zelensky July 25th call, as well as other Trump discussions with world leaders. (CNN / Washington Post)

poll/ 46% of voters said Congress should begin impeachment proceedings to remove Trump from office, compared to 43% who said they should not. 56% of voters disapprove of Trump's job performance. (Politico)

poll/ 40% of Republicans believe that Trump mentioned the possibility of an investigation into Biden during his call with the Ukraine president even though Trump acknowledged that he had. (Monmouth University Poll / USA Today)


Notables.

  1. The House Oversight Committee is investigating whether groups — including at least one foreign government — tried to curry favor with Trump by booking rooms at his hotels but never using them, and whether Trump broke the law by accepting money from U.S. or foreign governments at his properties. The investigation began after the committee received information that a trade association and a foreign government booked a large quantity of rooms but used only a fraction of them. (Politico)

  2. Eric and Donald Trump Jr. have sold off $110 million of Trump's real estate holdings since he took office. The Trump children have used the money to pay down an estimated $60 million in debt since the inauguration. (Forbes)

  3. Trump's agriculture secretary said that he doesn't know if the family dairy farm can survive. Sonny Perdue told reporters during a stop at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, WI that "In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I don't think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability." Wisconsin has lost 551 dairy farms in 2019 after losing 638 in 2018, and 465 in 2017. (Associated Press)

  4. A federal judge in California blocked a state law that required presidential candidates to release their income tax returns before appearing on the state's primary ballot. The judge said the law presents a "troubling minefield" and would set a dangerous precedent and become a slippery slope for other kinds of disclosures. (CNN)

  5. Senate Democrats asked the IRS to consider stripping the National Rifle Association of its tax-exempt status after a months-long investigation that found that the NRA worked closely with Russian nationals who wanted access to the American political system. (NBC News)

Day 985: Entitled.

1/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told House Democrats that the five State Department officials scheduled depositions before the committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not appear. Pompeo characterized efforts to depose officials as "an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State." Chairmen of the Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees responded to Pompeo, saying that "any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress – including State Department employees – is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry." Four of the five officials scheduled to be deposed over the next two weeks – Ambassador Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch, Ambassador Kurt Volker, Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl and Ambassador Gordon Sondland – were mentioned in the whistleblower complaint. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios)

  • Kurt Volker confirmed that he'll testify in private on Thursday in front of three House committees as part of their impeachment investigation. Volker resigned last week as U.S. special representative to Ukraine after he was named in a whistleblower's complaint. (Bloomberg)

2/ The State Department's inspector general is expected to give an "urgent" briefing on Ukraine to several House and Senate committees tomorrow regarding documents obtained from the Office of the Legal Adviser concerning the State Department and Ukraine. The briefing, expected to be conducted by Steve Linick, will be held in a secure location on Capitol Hill during a congressional recess, suggesting that it's connected to the whistleblower complaint. [Editor's note: This was late breaking news. More tomorrow!] (ABC News)

3/ Trump asked why he was not "entitled to interview" the whistleblower despite laws designed to protect the confidentiality of whistleblowers – a day after Trump said the White House was trying to find out the person's identity. The whistleblower said he heard of the July 25 call with Ukraine's president from multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of it, who said Trump was pressuring the Ukrainian leader to advance his own political interests, and that White House officials acted to conceal evidence of the president’s actions. In a tweet, Trump asked: "Why aren't we entitled to interview & learn everything about the Whistleblower, and also the person who gave all of the false information to him." The tweet prompted Michael Atkinson, the Trump-appointed intelligence community inspector general, to clarify that there is no requirement in federal law that a whistleblower possess first-hand knowledge of alleged misconduct. Atkinson added that he determined the whistleblower "had official and authorized access to the information and sources referenced in the complainant's letter and classified appendix, including direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct, and that the complainant has subject matter expertise related to much of the material information provided." The whistleblower is expected to testify before the House Intelligence Committee as soon as early next week. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump's first homeland security adviser said he repeatedly warned Trump that the theory that Ukraine – not Russia – intervened in the 2016 election and did so on behalf of the Democrats was "completely debunked." Thomas Bossert said he was "deeply disturbed" that Trump nonetheless tried to get Ukraine's president to produce damaging information about Democrats. (New York Times)

  • Attorney General William Barr and Mike Pompeo personally participated in contacts between Trump and at least four foreign leaders. The goal those contacts was to produce stories that could damage Joe Biden or undermine the U.S. intelligence community's 2017 assessment that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. (The Guardian / Reuters / Business Insider)

4/ The White House upgraded the security of the National Security Council's top-secret codeword system in the spring of 2018 to prevent leaks. The changes included a new log of who accessed documents in the NSC's system. The White House began using the codeword system to restrict the number of officials who had access to transcripts following leaks in 2017. (Politico)

5/ Lawyers for the House of Representatives believe that Trump lied to Robert Mueller about his knowledge of his campaign's contacts with WikiLeaks, citing the grand jury redactions in the Mueller report. The attorneys made the suggestion in a court filing as part of the Judiciary Committee's attempts to obtain the grand jury materials. The filing says the materials not only reveal Trump's motives for obstructing Mueller's probe, but "they also could reveal that Trump was aware of his campaign's contacts with WikiLeaks." To back up their claims, the legal team cited a passage in Mueller's report about Paul Manafort's testimony where he "recalled" Trump asking to be kept "updated" about WikiLeaks' disclosures of DNC emails. (Politico)

  • A federal judge ordered the Justice Department to produce 500 pages of memos documenting what witnesses told Mueller's office and the FBI during their investigation. The Justice Department is required to produce their first set of documents by November 1. (CNN)

6/ Rudy Giuliani hired a former Watergate prosecutor to represent him in the House Intelligence Committee's impeachment investigation. Giuliani tapped Jon Sale after the committee issued a subpoena on Monday demanding details about Guiliani's interactions with Trump administration officials. Giuliani will continue to represent Trump. (Politico / Axios)

  • Trump's trade adviser told Fox Business that the House impeachment inquiry is an "attempted coup d'etat" and likened House Democrats to Stalin's secret police. Peter Navarro also suggested that House Democrats could be "more dangerous" than China, Russia, or Iran. Yesterday, Navarro said that House Democrats "declared war on this president." (The Hill / CNBC)

poll/ 54% of voters say the House should cancel its current two-week recess and begin impeachment proceedings immediately, while 46% disagree. (The Hill)

poll/ 45% of voters believe Trump should be impeached – up 8 points since last week – while 41% believe he shouldn't be impeached and 15% said they don't know. (Reuters/Ipsos)

poll/ 44% of Americans feel that Trump should be impeached and forced to leave office, while 52% disagree with this course of action. Trump's overall job rating stands at 41% approve while 53% disapprove – similar to his 40% to 53% rating in August. (Monmouth University Polling Institute)


Notables.

  1. In March, Trump ordered advisers to price out the cost of fortifying his border wall with a water-filled trench stocked with snakes or alligators, and electrified with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. During the Oval Office meeting, Trump also suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. He was advised that that was illegal. Trump then ordered advisers to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico by noon the next day. "You are making me look like an idiot!" Trump shouted at officials in the room. (New York Times)

  2. U.S. manufacturing activity declined for the second straight month, falling to the lowest level in the Institute for Supply Management index since June 2009. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  3. Trump attacked the Federal Reserve for the slowdown in manufacturing, claiming the central bank is "pathetic" and doesn't have a "clue." (Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC)

  4. The House Ways and Means chairman is consulting lawyers about allegations regarding "possible misconduct" and "inappropriate efforts to influence" the Internal Revenue Service's auditing of Trump's taxes. Chairman Richard Neal told reporters that a decision on releasing the complaint depends on the advice he receives from lawyers for the House of Representatives. (CNN / Bloomberg)

  5. A federal appeals court on ruled in favor of the Federal Communications Commission and upheld its repeal net neutrality protections. The new guidelines would allow broadband providers to block or slow internet traffic or offer priority service where companies could pay for their content to reach internet users at faster speeds. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

Day 984: Fractures.

1/ Trump called the whistleblower "a fraud," suggested that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff be arrested for "Treason," and warned of a "civil war-like fracture" in America if he's removed from office. Trump accused Schiff of "illegally" misrepresenting him during acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire's testimony last week, saying "It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?" Trump also called for Schiff to be "questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason." In a series of tweets, Trump retweeted a conservative evangelical pastor's warning that a "civil war-like fracture" in America would happen "If the Democrats are successful in removing the President from office (which they will never be), it will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal." (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / The Guardian / Reuters / Associated Press / USA Today / CNN)

2/ The House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani for Ukraine-related documents as part of their impeachment inquiry. In a letter to Giuliani, the heads of three House committees asked for information going back to January 2017 related to efforts to get Ukraine's government to investigate the Biden family, noting "a growing public record" of information appearing "to have pressed the Ukrainian government to pursue two politically-motivated investigations." House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, and House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings also said they are investigating "credible allegations" that Giuliani "acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president." The chairmen gave Giuliani until Oct. 15th to comply. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)

  • Giuliani canceled his scheduled paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week, which Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend. (Washington Post)

3/ Attorney General William Barr privately met overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking help in a Justice Department investigation that Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr previously met with British intelligence officials, and last week traveled to Italy to ask the Italians to assist John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, who is tasked with reviewing CIA and FBI activities in 2016. It was not Barr's first trip to Italy to meet intelligence officials. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump pressured Australia's prime minister to help Barr gather information for a Justice Department investigation into the origins of the Mueller investigation. Trump initiated the discussion – with Barr's knowledge and at his suggestion – in recent weeks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison explicitly for the purpose of requesting Australia's help in the Justice Department review that Trump believes will show that the Mueller investigation had corrupt and partisan origins. Similar to the call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, the discussion with Morrison shows Trump using high-level diplomacy to advance his personal political interests. The White House restricted access of the transcript to a small group of Trump's aides. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / ABC News / Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 348: A drunk George Papadopoulos bragged about the political dirt Russia had on Hillary Clinton to Australia's top diplomat at a London bar in May 2016. Australian officials passed the information about Papadopoulos to their American counterparts two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online. The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into Russia's attempts to disrupt the election following the revelation that the Trump campaign had information about the DNC's hacked emails Trump and his advisers have dismissed Papadopoulos' campaign role as just a "coffee boy." (New York Times)

5/ The White House restricted access to Trump's calls with Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. With Putin, access to the transcript of at least one of Trump's conversations were restricted, though it's not clear if aides placed the Russian phone calls in the same highly secured electronic system that held the phone call with Ukraine's president. There were no transcripts made of the phone conversations between Trump and the Saudi king or crown prince, which came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The CIA concluded that bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi's assassination. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The attorney for the intelligence community whistleblower said he has "serious concerns" that Trump's comments could put his client "in harm's way." On Sunday, Trump claimed that he "deserves to meet my accuser," who he referred to as a "so-called 'Whistleblower'" that had "represented a perfect conversation with a foreign leader in a totally inaccurate and fraudulent way." And, earlier today, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that "we're trying to find out" the identity of the whistleblower. In a letter to Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, Andrew Bakaj, the whistleblower's lead attorney, said Trump's call for "the person who gave the whistleblower the information" to be publicly identified "have heightened our concerns that our client's identity will be disclosed publicly and that, as a result, our client will be put in harm's way." Bakaj also wrote that "certain individuals" had issued a $50,000 bounty for anyone with information relating to the whistleblower's identity. (NBC News / New York Times / Axios / CNN / USA Today / Axios)

  • The whistleblower agreed to testify before the House Intelligence Committee. Adam Schiff added that his committee is currently "taking all the precautions we can to make sure that we do so – we allow that testimony to go forward in a way that protects the whistleblower's identity." Mark Zaid, the attorney for the anonymous whistleblower, said "protecting whistleblower's identity is paramount" and that "discussions continue to occur to coordinate & finalize logistics but no date/time has yet been set." (CNN)

7/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the administration officials who listened in on the July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Pompeo said that he hadn't yet read the whistleblower's complaint, but claimed that actions by State Department officials had been "entirely appropriate and consistent" with the Trump's administration efforts to improve relations with Ukraine. Three House committees subpoenaed Pompeo on Friday for documents related to the inquiry. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 981: The House foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight committees subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to Trump's interactions with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The subpoena demands that Pompeo provide documents by Oct. 4th and was accompanied by a plan to also depose five State Department officials, including Ambassador Kurt Volker and Marie Yovanovitch. Volker reportedly arranged for Rudy Giuliani to meet with high-level Ukrainian officials, and Yovanovitch was removed as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine by Trump. In a joint letter to Pompeo, the chairmen of the three committees said a "failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry." (Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Zelensky said Kiev was unlikely to publish its version of a transcript from the July 25th with Trump. The White House published its summary of the call last week, but Zelensky said he felt it would be wrong to share the Ukrainian summary or transcript of the call. "There are certain nuances and things which I think it would be incorrect, even, to publish," Zelensky said. When asked whether Kiev would open an investigation into the claims against Biden and his son, Zelensky said Ukraine would not act solely at the behest of other nations. "We can’t be commanded to do anything," he said. "We are an independent country." (Reuters)

8/ Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he wasn't concerned about Moscow's interference in the 2016 election, because the U.S. did the same in other countries. A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to select officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep Trump's comments from being disclosed publicly. (Washington Post)

  • The Kremlin claimed that transcripts between Trump and Putin can only be published by mutual agreement, because there "is a certain diplomatic practice" and the “diplomatic practice doesn't envisage such publications." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia would be prepared to discuss the issue with Washington "If we receive some signals from the U.S., we will consider it." (Associated Press / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 111: Trump met with Putin’s top diplomats at the White House. The talks came one day after Trump fired the FBI Director, who was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sergey Lavrov met with Rex Tillerson earlier in the day and sarcastically acknowledged the dismissal of James Comey by saying "Was he fired? You're kidding. You're kidding." The Kremlin said Trump's firing of Comey will have no effect on bilateral relations between the two countries. Trump also met with Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the Flynn investigation. (Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post / NPR)

9/ The State Department's special envoy to Ukraine resigned. Kurt Volker tendered his resignation to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday – hours after three House committees announced that he was among the State Department officials who would be compelled to testify. The committees are expected to examine Volker's role in facilitating contacts between Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian officials on Trump's behalf this past summer. The unidentified intelligence official who filed the whistleblower complaint that brought the president’s actions to light identified Volker as one of the officials trying to “contain the damage” by advising Ukrainians how to navigate Mr. Giuliani’s campaign. The whistleblower also said Volker was one of the officials trying to "contain the damage" to U.S. national security from Giuliani's foreign policy efforts. Volker plans to appear at his deposition next Thursday in front of the Intelligence, Oversight and Reform and Foreign Affairs committees. (The State Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • Trump and other aides are frustrated with Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney for not having a strategy for defending and explaining the whistleblower complaint or the summary of Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's leader. (CNN)

10/ Mitch McConnell said the Senate would have "no choice" but to put Trump on trial and vote on removing him from office if the House votes to pass articles of impeachment, addressing doubts he may circumvent Senate procedures. The Republican-held Senate, however, is unlikely to vote to convict Trump and remove him from office. The Constitution gives the Senate the power to try the president if he is impeached by the House, but it does not set a timetable for the process. (CNBC / Axios / Wall Street Journal / Yahoo News / Reuters)

poll/ 55% of Americans approve of the impeachment inquiry into Trump, while 45% disapprove. 87% of Democrats approve of the inquiry, while 23% of Republicans feel the same. (CBS News)

poll/ 47% of voters think Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 47% disagree. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 47% of Americans support impeaching Trump and removing him from office, while 45% disagree. (CNN)

Day 981: Profound.

1/ The White House and the Justice Department learned about the whistleblower complaint against Trump before the formal complaint was passed from the intelligence community. The whistleblower, reportedly a CIA officer, lodged the formal complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community on Aug. 12th. The whistleblower also shared information about potential abuse of power and a White House cover-up with the CIA's top lawyer, Courtney Simmons Elwood, through an anonymous process. Elwood, following policy, told White House and Justice Department officials on Aug. 14th that she received anonymous information detailing concerns about a call between Trump and a foreign leader. The following day, John Demers, the head of the Justice Department's national security division, went to the White House to review a rough transcript of the call. Demers alerted the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, and Brian Benczkowski, the head of the department's criminal division, to discuss how to handle the information. The Justice Department then blocked sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress. The inspector general presented the matter to the acting director of national intelligence on Aug. 26th. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • More than 300 former U.S. national security and foreign policy officials signed a statement warning that Trump’s actions regarding Ukraine represent a "profound national security concern." The letter also calls for an impeachment inquiry by Congress to determine "the facts." Many of the signers are former Obama officials. But the list includes others who served as career officials in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Former officials from the intelligence community, the Defense Department, the National Security Council and the Department of Homeland Security also signed the statement. (Washington Post)

  • A Kremlin spokesperson said Russia hopes the U.S. doesn't release the transcripts of Trump’s conversations with Vladimir Putin like it did with the Ukrainian president's calls. "We would like to hope that things won’t come to such situations in our bilateral relations, which already have plenty of quite serious problems," said Dmitry Peskov. He called the move to release the information "a rather unusual practice," and said that as a rule, "materials from conversations on the level of the head of state are considered secret or top secret." (Bloomberg / NBC News)

2/ National Security Council attorneys directed the White House to move the Ukraine transcript to a highly classified system. The whistleblower said that moving the record of the call was unusual, because it was "used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive level" and evidence that "White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired" during the conversation. According to the whistleblower, "one White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective." The White House, meanwhile, claimed that because the transcript was already classified, there was nothing wrong with moving it to a highly classified system that contained intelligence secrets and military plans. (CNN / Associated Press)

  • The effort to conceal Trump's call with the Ukrainian president was part of a broader attempt to prevent information about Trump's calls with foreign leaders from becoming public. At one point in 2018, Defense Department officials were asked to send back transcripts of calls to the White House after Trump aides grew worried they could be disclosed. The number of aides allowed to listen on secure "drop" lines were also cut. (Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ The House foreign affairs, intelligence and oversight committees subpoenaed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to Trump's interactions with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The subpoena demands that Pompeo provide documents by Oct. 4th and was accompanied by a plan to also depose five State Department officials, including Ambassador Kurt Volker and Marie Yovanovitch. Volker reportedly arranged for Rudy Giuliani to meet with high-level Ukrainian officials, and Yovanovitch was removed as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine by Trump. In a joint letter to Pompeo, the chairmen of the three committees said a "failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House's impeachment inquiry." (Politico / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ Two House committees requested information from the White House justifying why nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was suspended as Trump was pressing the country to investigate Joe Biden. In a letter sent by the House Appropriations Committee and the House Budget Committee to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought, lawmakers said they were concerned that actions by the OMB to withhold military aid for Ukraine were "an abuse of the authority provided to the president to apportion appropriations." (Wall Street Journal)

5/ The House Intelligence Committee will continue working through a scheduled two-week congressional recess that ends Oct. 15th. The Intelligence Committee expects to have a hearing as soon as next Friday. (Politico / CNN)

poll/ Support for impeachment among Democrats jumped up 13 percentage points – from 66% to 79% – since the last poll. The general public is now evenly split between the 43% who think Congress should begin the impeachment process and 43% who don't. 13% of voters remain undecided. (Politico / Morning Consult)

  • Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont on Thursday became the first Republican governor to endorse the impeachment inquiry against Trump. Scott did not say he believed Trump should be impeached or removed from office. But he did say Congress should examine the full whistleblower report, and that it was appropriate for the House to proceed with the impeachment inquiry. (New York Times)

Notables.

  1. New York prosecutors temporarily agreed to not enforce a subpoena for eight years of Trump's tax returns. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance agreed to wait to enforce the subpoena until Oct. 7th – two business days after a judge rules on Trump's challenge to the subpoena. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / CNN / CNBC)

  2. A federal judge blocked the Trump administration from expanding family detention. In August, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules attempting terminate the Flores Settlement Agreenment and lift the 20-day limit for holding children in detention. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

  3. The House voted to overturn Trump's national emergency declaration to fund his border wall. The resolution, which passed also passed the Senate, now heads to the White House, where Trump is expected to veto it. (Washington Post)

  4. A Washington, D.C. police union rented the Trump International Hotel for its annual holiday party. The Fraternal Order of Police lodge for the District – an umbrella group for D.C. police unions – said they looked at other venues but Trump's hotel gave them the best rate. (Washington Post)

  5. The National Rifle Association acted as a "foreign asset" for Russia leading up to the 2016 election and may have violated numerous tax laws by ignoring the rules associated with nonprofit tax status, according to a new report by Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee. The NRA paid for lodging and travel of Russian nationals throughout 2015 and 2016, and underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known. (NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

Day 980: "The President abused his office for personal gain."

1/ The whistleblower complaint accused Trump of "abus[ing] his office for personal gain" by "[soliciting] interference" from Ukraine in the 2020 election and that the White House took steps to cover it up. Multiple White House officials were reportedly "deeply disturbed" by Trump's July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and tried to "lock down" all records of the call. The complaint notes that White House lawyers were "already in discussion" about "how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials' retelling, that they had witnessed the president abuse his office for personal gain." White House lawyers "directed" officials to "remove the electronic transcript from the computer system" for Cabinet-level officials and instead put them on a computer system "used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature" that is managed by the National Security Council Directorate for Intelligence Programs. According to White House officials who informed the whistleblower, this was "not the first time" a transcript was put on the computer system reserved for code-word-level intelligence information due to concerns about politics, rather than national security. The whistleblower also described Rudy Giuliani as a "central figure in this effort," which includes attempts at "pressuring a foreign country to investigate the President's main domestic political rivals." The complaint adds: "Attorney General William Barr appears to be involved as well." (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

2/ The acting Director of National Intelligence defended his decision not to immediately share the whistleblower complaint with Congress. Joseph Maguire told members of the House Intelligence Committee that he asked White House lawyers about the "urgent" whistleblower complaint involving Trump, saying it "seemed prudent" since conversations with foreign leaders are typically subject to executive privilege. Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community and a Trump-appointee, deemed the complaint "urgent" and credible. Maguire, however, consulted with the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which determined that the complaint did not meet the legal definition of "urgent" because it did not involve a member of the intelligence community and therefore fell outside his jurisdiction. Maguire also dodged questions about whether he spoke with Trump about the complaint, saying "My conversations with the president, because I'm the director of national intelligence, are privileged." (Politico / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)

3/ Trump accused the whistleblower of being "close to a spy" and threatened that "in the old days" spies were dealt with "a little differently than we do now," while labeling the complaint an act of "treason." Speaking at a private event in New York, Trump repeatedly referred to the whistleblower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as "crooked" "scum." Trump also sent three dozen tweets and retweets defending himself over a two-hour period Thursday morning, warning Americans that the stock markets would crash if congressional Democrats impeach him and claiming that "OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!" (New York Times / Los Angeles Times / NBC News / Politico)

4/ The whistleblower is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed in the White House at one point. The man has since returned to the C.I.A., but his complaint suggests he was an analyst by training with an understanding of Ukrainian politics. The C.I.A. officer did not work on the communications team that handles calls with foreign leaders, but learned about Trump's conduct "in the course of official interagency business." (New York Times)

5/ The whistleblower agreed to testify about the complaint to Congress, but only if Maguire gives the whistleblower's attorney the proper clearances to accompany their client. "This is a reasonable request that the Committee strongly supports and expects your office to fulfill immediately," Adam Schiff wrote in a letter to Maguire. (CNN)

  • Seven days: Inside Trump's frenetic response to the whistleblower complaint and the battle over impeachment. The helter-skelter way the administration handled the aftermath of the whistleblower complaint could be a harbinger of the coming impeachment fight, with the White House scrambling to respond to a mercurial and frustrated president, who is increasingly sidelining his aides and making decisions based on gut instinct. (Washington Post)

6/ Zelensky told Trump during the July phone call that he had stayed at Trump Tower in New York. "Actually, last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park, and I stayed at the Trump Tower," Zelensky told Trump, according to a rough transcript of the July 25 call. It's the first known example of a foreign leader trying to influence Trump by spending money at his properties and telling him about it. Other Ukrainian officials have also patronized Trump properties: A top Zelensky aide met Rudy Giuliani at Trump's D.C. hotel in July. A lobbyist who registered as an agent of Zelensky's with the U.S. government hosted a $1,900 event at the D.C. hotel in April. (Washington Post)

7/ Trump's part-time envoy for Ukraine set up an introduction between Giuliani and Zelensky so they could talk about having Ukraine investigate Joe Biden and his son. Ambassador Kurt Volker, who also worked at a lobbying firm that continued to represent the Government of Ukraine for almost two years after he started as special envoy, contacted Giuliani and put him "in direct contact" with Andriy Yermak, a top adviser to Zelensky. The two eventually met face-to-face in Spain. Giuliani said he never received a security clearance to meet with Yermak in Spain. (NBC News)

  • A former Ukrainian prosecutor who investigated the gas company tied to Hunter Biden said that there was no evidence the former vice president's son engaged in illegal activity. "From the perspective of Ukrainian legislation, he did not violate anything,” Yuriy Lutsenko said. (Washington Post / NBC News)

8/ A majority of the 435 members of the House of Representatives support impeachment proceedings against Trump. 218 lawmakers — 217 Democrats and Rep. Justin Amash — have indicated their support for some form of impeachment action. (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico)

poll/ 43% of voters support beginning impeachment proceedings to remove Trump from office – up 7 points since last week. Among those voters who support impeachment now, 59% said Trump committed an impeachable offense. (Morning Consult)


Notables.

  1. Trump cut the American refugee program by almost half. The administration will accept 18,000 refugees over the next 12 months – down from the current limit of 30,000. Obama allowed 110,000 in 2016. (New York Times)

  2. The U.S. population of immigrants declined more than 70% in 2018 – or by about 200,000 people from the year before. (New York Times)

  3. EPA notified California that the state is "failing to meet its obligations" to protect the environment. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler cited multiple instances of California failing to meet federal water-quality standards, attributing this to "the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities […] and the impact of this crisis on the environment." (Washington Post)

Day 979: "Do us a favor."

1/ Trump urged President Volodymyr Zelensky to "do us a favor" and "look into" potential corruption by Joe Biden's son, according to the White House readout of the July 25th call. Trump told Zelensky he'd have Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Guiliani contact him and help Ukraine "figure it out" and "get to the bottom of it." Trump, before asking Ukraine to investigate Biden's son, reminded Zelensky that the U.S. sends security aid to Ukraine. Trump also asked Zelensky to investigate Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election as it related to Ukraine, as well as to investigate whether he could locate a hacked Democratic National Committee computer server that contained some of Hillary Clinton's emails. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico / NPR / CNN / ABC News / CNBC / HuffPost)

  1. The director of national intelligence and the inspector general for the intelligence community each referred the complaint for a possible criminal investigation into Trump's actions after the whistleblower complaint raising concerns about Trump's call with Zelensky.

  2. The intelligence community's inspector general told the Director of National Intelligence that Trump's comments could be viewed as soliciting a foreign campaign contribution in violation of federal campaign finance laws despite there being no explicit reference to the $391 million in foreign aid that Trump directed Mick Mulvaney to block days before the call took place.

  3. The Justice Department, however, concluded that it "could not make out a criminal campaign finance violation" based on the summary of the call. Officials, however, didn't take into consideration that Trump was withholding aid to Ukraine at the time.

  4. The document, which the White House and Trump refer to as a transcript, isn't verbatim – it's a "memorandum of telephone conversation" based off the "notes and recollections" of Situation Room and National Security Council officials.

  5. Trump, meanwhile, accused Democrats and reporters of pursuing a "hoax" against him. Trump insisted that "we want transparency" while calling the impeachment inquiry "a joke." (New York Times)

  • Read the "transcript" of Trump's call with Zelensky. (PDF)

  • Five key takeaways from the transcript. (BuzzFeed News)

  • What we know and don't know about Trump and Ukraine. (New York Times)

  • Trump said the transcript released today was from the second call he had with Zelensky and that he would release the first phone call. Trump said Pence also has had "one or two" conversations related to the matter, and that his administration should release information about those calls, too. "They were perfect," Trump said. "They were all perfect." (CNN / Washington Post)

2/ The White House released the whistleblower complaint against Trump to the House and the Senate intelligence committees, according to Richard Burr and Devin Nunes. The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, until now had blocked Congress from seeing the complaint. Separately, White House officials are working with intelligence officials on a deal to allow the whistleblower to speak with congressional investigators. (CNN / Business Insider / New York Times / CBS News / Politico / NBC News)

3/ The acting Director of National Intelligence threatened to resign if he was not allowed to testify freely before Congress on Thursday about the whistleblower complaint regarding Trump's conduct according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter. Joseph Maguire warned the White House that he was not willing to withhold information from Congress, forcing the White House to make a legal decision on whether it was going to assert executive privilege over the whistleblower complaint. McGuire later denied reports that he threatened to resign, saying that "at no time have I considered resigning my position since assuming this role on Aug. 16, 2019." The White House also disputed the account. (Washington Post / CNBC)

4/ The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee called on Attorney General William Barr to recuse himself from overseeing any Justice Department's involvement from any Ukraine-related investigations. "The President dragged the Attorney General into this mess," Jerry Nadler tweeted. "At a minimum, AG Barr must recuse himself until we get to the bottom of this matter." (The Hill / Reuters / The Week)

5/ The House passed a resolution formally condemning Trump for initially refusing to share the whistleblower complaint. The nonbinding resolution criticizes the "unprecedented and highly inappropriate efforts" to question the whistleblower's credibility. The vote was 421 to 0 with two lawmakers voting present. More than 200 members of the Democratic caucus — nearly enough to form a majority of the House — had embraced impeachment proceedings. (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

6/ Trump called Nancy Pelosi shortly after she announced the start of a formal impeachment proceeding to see if they could "figure this out." Pelosi replied: "Tell your people to obey the law." Trump also told Pelosi that he wasn't responsible for the whistleblower complaint being withheld from Congress. (Business Insider / Mediate / Washington Examiner / The Week / Newsweek)

  • How impeachment works: Congress can remove presidents before their term is up if lawmakers vote that they committed "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors." The House Judiciary Committee – or a special panel – investigates and determines whether to recommended articles of impeachment to the full House. The House then votes on articles of impeachment and if a majority vote to impeach, the president is then impeached – the equivalent of being indicted. The Senate will then hold a trial, which is overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Lawmakers from the House are prosecutors, the president has defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury. If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president. There is no appeal. (New York Times)

7/ The White House accidentally emailed House Democrats a list of proposed talking points intended for Trump allies about how to spin Trump's July phone call with Zelensky. The White House then emailed Democrats a follow-up email recalling the message. (CNN / Washington Post)

8/ Trump met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the U.N. General Assembly today in New York. The pre-planned meeting with Zelensky comes less than 24 hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry. Senior White House officials said Trump is planning to congratulate Zelensky on his latest election win and his "energy and success" so far when it comes to fighting corruption in Ukraine. Trump is also expected to bring up "his concerns about what he sees as some predatory Chinese economic activity in Ukraine." (Axios / Washington Post / The Guardian / USA Today / CNBC)

poll/ Support for impeachment is at 36% – down one percentage point from last week. 49% of respondents say Congress should not begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, also down a point from last week. (Politico)


🚨 Dept. of We're all F*cked.

A United Nations report warned that ocean warming is accelerating and sea levels are rising "more than twice as fast" than in the 20th century – and faster than previously estimated. While sea levels rose by about a half-inch in total during the 20th century, they are now rising about 0.14 inches per year, driven by the rapid melting of ice in Greenland, Antarctica, and the world's smaller glaciers. The report predicts that sea levels will "continue to rise" – possibly reaching around 1-2 feet by 2100 – even if countries curb emissions and limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, which was the Paris Agreement's goal. Temperatures are already 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels However, "if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly," then the world could see 3.6 feet in total sea level rise by 2100. The report concludes that the world's oceans and ice sheets are under such severe stress that hotter ocean temperatures, combined with rising sea levels, threaten to create more destructive tropical cyclones and floods. (NPR / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 931: Climate change is putting pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to a new United Nations report that was prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and, unanimously approved. The report warns that the world's land and water resources are being exploited at "unprecedented rates" and "the cycle is accelerating." Climate change has already degraded lands, caused deserts to expand, permafrost to thaw, and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. "The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases," the report said. The report offered several proposals for addressing food supplies, including reducing red meat consumption, adopting plant-based diets, and eating more fruits, vegetables and seeds. As a result, the world could reduce carbon pollution up to 15% of current emissions levels by 2050. It would also make people healthier. (New York Times / Associated Press / Nature)

  • 📌Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌Day 676: The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 685: Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn't stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: "We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change." (Washington Post / New York Times)


Notables.

  1. The Senate voted – again – to block Trump's national emergency declaration to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build his proposed border wall. The Senate voted 54-41 – short of the two-thirds majority needed to overcome the Trump's likely veto. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

  2. The Trump administration signed a deal with Honduras to force immigrants to first seek asylum there before coming to America, regardless of whether they're seeking help from the U.S. under international torture agreements or the asylum system. The agreement is similar to the one made with El Salvador and Guatemala. (Vox)

  3. A Trump administration proposal could end free school lunches for about 500,000 children. The change would limit the number of people who qualify for food stamps, cutting an estimated 3 million people from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. (Washington Post)

  4. Trump's Turnberry resort is the only hotel named by Glasgow Prestwick Airport in promotional material distributed to U.S. military aircrews. The Scottish Government-owned airport handed out the document at "closed" meetings with U.S. Armed Forces personnel, emphasizing the "five star" status of Trump's property, noting how it has been "newly refurbished." (The Scotsman)

Day 978: "A betrayal."

1/ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed door meeting she will support a formal impeachment inquiry, believing that Trump pressuring the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden's son and his administration's subsequent refusal to share the whistleblower report with Congress has left the House with no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry. "It would be my intention with the consent of this caucus … to proceed with an impeachment inquiry," Pelosi said. "He is asking a foreign government to help him in his campaign, that is a betrayal of his oath of office." As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 166 Democrats supported some type of impeachment action — more than two-thirds of the 235-member caucus. Pelosi and top Democrats have privately discussed the creation of a special select committee – similar the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal – to conduct the impeachment inquiry, rather than leaving the task with the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats are also discussing a resolution condemning Trump's interaction with his Ukrainian counterpart to put lawmakers on the record. Trump, meanwhile, called the allegations a "witch hunt" and said impeachment will be "a positive for me in the election." (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Bloomberg / Politico / The Guardian / The Hill)

2/ Trump ordered Mick Mulvaney to withhold more than $391 million in military aid from Ukraine days before he pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden's son. Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, passed the order through the budget office to the Pentagon and the State Department during an interagency meeting in mid-July, explaining that Trump had "concerns" about whether or not the aid was necessary. White House officials were ordered to tell lawmakers that the delays in funding were part of an "interagency process," but were instructed to give them no additional information. Trump – despite confirming that he did indeed discuss Biden with Ukraine's president – denied that he withheld aid from Ukraine in an attempt to press President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden, saying "No, I didn't — I didn't do it." Trump also argued that releasing the transcript of the phone call public would set a bad precedent. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN / Associated Press / Reuters)

3/ Trump admitted that he withheld military aid from Ukraine, but blamed it on the United Nations for not contributing more to the Eastern European nation, naming Germany and France among the countries that should "put up money." Trump also suggested he did nothing wrong, because "As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid. They were fully paid." Trump told reporters that in addition to Mulvaney, he also told Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to hold the funds to encourage other nations to pay, but claimed, "there was no quid pro quo. There was no pressure applied, nothing." Trump added that despite trailing the leading Democratic candidates in most polls, "I'm leading in the polls and they have no idea how to stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Reuters)

4/ Trump authorized the release of the "complete, fully declassified and unredacted" transcript of the July phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he allegedly brought up investigating Biden and his son. Trump insisted that the call was "totally appropriate" and pledged to release the full text on Wednesday. (NBC News / Washington Post) / New York Times / Reuters)

5/ The whistleblower has requested to speak to both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. Adam Schiff said the whistleblower's lawyer informed him the official "has requested guidance" from the acting Director of National Intelligence on his appearance, with potential testimony taking place "as soon as this week." The Senate, meanwhile, opened its own inquiry and is seeking to interview the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint with the intelligence community's inspector general. It was not immediately clear whether the White House will agree to let the official be questioned. (Axios / Politico / Yahoo! News)

6/ The Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the whistleblower's complaint to be transmitted to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. The GOP-controlled Senate approved the nonbinding but symbolic resolution put forward by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer calling on the Trump administration to immediately provide the two intelligence committees with a copy of the whistleblower complaint involving Trump. (Axios / Washington Post / New York Times)

7/ Ukraine will likely pursue the cases that Trump pressured Zelensky to look into. Valentin Nalyvaichenko, the former head of Ukraine's domestic intelligence agency and a member of Ukraine's parliament, said the country will pursue an investigation related to Burisma gas company's alleged multimillion-dollar corruption deals, but not because of Trump's pressure. Rather, Ukraine wants to know whether the founder, Ukraine's ex-minister of natural resources, had paid to quash earlier investigations into the way he acquired gas licenses. Nalyvaichenko said Ukraine should also be interested in an investigation into the "black ledger" that recorded slush-fund payments to Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager. (Daily Beast)


Notables.

  1. Federal prosecutors in New York rejected Trump's claim that he has "sweeping immunity" from a criminal probe while he is in office. Trump made the claim in an attempt to block a subpoena for his tax returns, which is part of an investigation into hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who say they had affairs with Trump. Prosecutors argued in a court filing that Trump is "seeking to invent and enforce a new presidential 'tax return privilege,' on the theory that disclosing information in a tax return will necessarily reveal information that will somehow impede the functioning of a President." They added that Trump's claim is rendered moot by the fact that "every President since Jimmy Carter has voluntarily released his tax returns before or upon taking office," and doing so has never prevented anyone from fulfilling his obligations as president. (Politico / Associated Press)

  2. Trump is "telling people he's mad" about how Jared Kushner's push for criminal justice reform has turned out. Sources say Trump is "furious at Jared" because Jared has been telling him that criminal justice reform will result in more felons voting for Trump. But Trump no longer sees it as a viable issue heading into 2020. "He’s really mad that he did it," said one source. "He’s saying that he’s furious at Jared because Jared is telling him he’s going to get all these votes of all these felons." (Politico)

  3. The Trump administration threatened to withhold federal highway funding from California over its "failure" to submit a complete report on its implementation of the Clean Air Act. The move is part of the ongoing feud between the state government and the White House. EPA chief Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to state lawmakers, which states that California "has the worst air quality in the United States" and had "failed to carry out its most basic tasks." The letter says California's failure to address the backlog of about 130 incomplete or inactive plans may lead to penalties, including the withholding of federal highway funding. (Sacramento Bee / KTLA / New York Times / Washington Post)

  4. Trump used his address before the United Nations General Assembly to denounce "globalists" and "socialists" while promoting his "America First" approach. "The future does not belong to globalists," Trump said. "The future belongs to patriots." (CBS News / Washington Post / Axios)

Day 977: "It doesn't matter."

1/ Trump admitted that he discussed getting dirt on Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and that he is withholding the whistleblower complaint from Congress. Trump pressed Zelensky to dig up potentially damaging information against Biden during a July 25th phone call, baselessly accusing the former vice president of corruption related to his son Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine and whether they affected his diplomatic efforts. Trump said that "it doesn't matter" what he discussed with Zelensky and that while the he would "love" to release a transcript of the call, "you have to be a little bit shy about doing it." Trump's phone call with Zelensky occurred while Ukraine was awaiting $250 million in security aid, raising the possibility Trump was attempting a quid pro quo arrangement. The phone call led to the whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community due to a "promise" that Trump made to Ukraine. Trump eventually agreed to release the money after coming under bipartisan pressure from Congress and immediately before the existence of the whistleblower complaint was revealed. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • 💡 TL;DR

  • What is going with Trump, Biden, and Ukraine: Trump pressured Ukraine's government, both directly and indirectly, to investigate Biden's son and potentially did so using military aid as a means of leverage. (BuzzFeed News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • 🚨 TRUTH CHECK:

  • Did Joe Biden do anything wrong? The issue is whether Biden used his position as vice president to help a Ukrainian energy company that was paying Hunter Biden by pushing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor. The prosecutor's office had oversight of investigations into the oligarch who owned the company. As reported on May 1, 2019, no evidence has surfaced that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor’s dismissal. (New York Times)

  • Did Hunter Biden do anything wrong? Hunter Biden has not been accused of legal wrongdoing related to his work for Burisma, which paid him as much as $50,000 per month in some months for his service on the board of the directors. But he has been criticized by government watchdog groups in the United States and Ukraine for what they characterize as the perception of a conflict of interest, and trading on his family name by allowing it to be used to burnish the reputations of Burisma and Mr. Zlochevsky. (New York Times)

  • May 16, 2019: Ukraine's prosecutor general said that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son. Yuriy Lutsenko, the current prosecutor general, said that neither Hunter Biden nor Burisma Group, one of the country’s biggest private gas companies, were the focus of an investigation. (Bloomberg)

2/ Trump insisted that he did "absolutely nothing wrong" and denied that he had withheld security aid from Ukraine in an effort to pressure its president to investigate Biden's family. Trump repeated his debunked corruption claims against Biden and accused the media of being "crooked as hell" for not reporting the false accusations as fact. Trump added that "If a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they'd be getting the electric chair probably right now." Earlier, Trump defended his "perfect" conversation with the Ukrainian President about investigating Biden's family, saying there was "no quid pro quo, there was nothing." Trump previously suggested that he had withheld military aid from Ukraine because he wanted to "make sure that country is honest" and "If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?" (Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / New York Times)

3/ Rudy Giuliani "can't say for 100%" that Trump didn't threaten to cut off aid to Ukraine over an investigation into discredited allegations against Biden and his son. Trump asked Zelensky "about eight times" in the call to work with Giuliani to investigate the former vice president’s son Hunter over his past role with a Ukraine-based natural gas company. Throughout the spring and summer, Giuliani pressed the Ukrainian government behind the scenes to renew an investigation into Hunter Biden, gathering information about Biden and briefing Trump on his findings. (Bloomberg / NBC News / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 974: Trump pressured the leader of Ukraine eight times to investigate Joe Biden's son. Trump used a July 25th phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky to repeatedly pressure the recently elected leader to work with Rudy Giuliani on an investigation that Trump believed would deliver political dirt against Biden. Trump told Zelensky that Ukraine could improve its reputation and "interaction" with the United States by investigating a Ukrainian gas company with ties to Biden's son Hunter, who served on the board of directors. In June and August, Giuliani met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation. Toward the end of August, the White House considered blocking $250 million to support Ukraine's military in its war against Russian-backed separatists. On Sept. 12, however, that funding was released. Separately, lawmakers have been investigating whether Trump or Giuliani tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to pursue probes in an effort to benefit Trump's re-election bid. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast / CNN)

4/ The White House is considering whether to release the transcript of Trump's call with the Ukrainian President. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, however, said that releasing the transcript would set a "terrible precedent" and be "highly inappropriate," because Trump said "he said nothing inappropriate." (CNN / Talking Points Memo / HuffPost / The Hill)

5/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Trump's "grave new chapter of lawlessness" will "take us into a whole new stage of investigation" if acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire fails to deliver the whistleblower complaint when he testifies in front of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the House may have now have "crossed the Rubicon" when it comes to impeachment. Schiff added that "There is no privilege that covers corruption. No privilege to engage in underhanded discussions," and that the "only remedy" to such behavior is impeachment. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Axios)

  • The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees threatened to subpoena Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to allegations that Trump and Rudy Giuliani pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden. (Axios)

poll/ 69% of voters say they don't like Trump personally regardless of their feelings about his policies. 50% say they dislike him personally and dislike his policies, while another 19% say that they dislike him but approve of his policies. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


Notables.

  1. Trump's Twitter attacks on the Federal Reserve have had a "statistically significant and negative effect" on the markets, according to a new study. Trump's tweets have knocked 10 basis points off the expected fed funds futures contract – or about .30 basis points per tweet. (Bloomberg)

  2. A New York judge ordered Trump to "appear for a videotaped deposition" under oath for a civil suit involving his security guards. A group of protesters allege that they were assaulted by Trump's security guards outside Trump Tower during a 2015 protest over the then-candidate's comments about Mexican immigrants. (NBC News)

  3. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said that she is unlikely to conduct a White House press briefing anytime soon. Grisham suggested that reporters' criticisms of Trump's previous press secretaries, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played a role in Trump’s decision to discontinue the briefings. (Politico)

  4. The Republican National Committee paid more than $160,000 to a law firm that is defending Corey Lewandowski. The payment was made a month before Trump's former campaign manager testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee. (CNBC)

  5. Conservative leaders are circulating new polling data that suggests a ban on vaping would turn voters against Trump in the 2020 election. The number of adults who vape living in key battleground states vastly outweighs the margins by which Trump won in those states, and conservative leaders are worried that a ban may cost Trump the election. (Axios)

Day 974: "Totally appropriate."

1/ Trump pressured the leader of Ukraine eight times to investigate Joe Biden's son. Trump used a July 25th phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky to repeatedly pressure the recently elected leader to work with Rudy Giuliani on an investigation that Trump believed would deliver political dirt against Biden. Trump told Zelensky that Ukraine could improve its reputation and "interaction" with the United States by investigating a Ukrainian gas company with ties to Biden's son Hunter, who served on the board of directors. In June and August, Giuliani met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation. Toward the end of August, the White House considered blocking $250 million to support Ukraine's military in its war against Russian-backed separatists. On Sept. 12, however, that funding was released. Separately, lawmakers have been investigating whether Trump or Giuliani tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to pursue probes in an effort to benefit Trump's re-election bid. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 841: Rudy Giuliani is encouraging Ukraine to pursue an investigation into Joe Biden's son and his involvement in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. Trump's personal lawyer is meeting with the incoming government in Kiev to press them to try to discredit Mueller's investigation and undermine the case against Paul Manafort. "We're not meddling in an election," Giuliani said. "We're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do." (New York Times / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 945: Rudy Giuliani confirmed that the State Department helped him press the Ukrainian government to probe Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee. Giuliani has wanted Ukrainian officials to look into Biden's effort to crack down on corruption in Ukraine and his son Hunter Biden's involvement in a natural gas company there. Giuliani also wanted to know if Ukrainian officials and the DNC worked together to harm Trump's 2016 campaign by releasing damaging information about Paul Manafort. (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 952: Trump is considering a plan to block more than $250 million in foreign aid to Ukraine. Since 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in security assistance to bolster the country's military, which faces an ongoing conflict with separatists that the Pentagon believes are backed by Moscow. (CNN / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 964: Three House committees are investigating reported efforts by Trump and Rudy Giuliani "to pressure the government of Ukraine to assist" Trump's re-election campaign. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wrote to the White House and State Department seeking records related to what they described as efforts to "manipulate the Ukrainian justice system." (Reuters / CNBC)

2/ The whistleblower complaint about Trump made by an intelligence official involves Ukraine. In late July – two and a half weeks before the complaint was filed – Trump told Ukraine's new president that he could improve Ukraine's reputation and its "interaction" with the United States by investigating "corruption." The complaint involved communications with a foreign leader and a "promise" that Trump made. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 973: The whistleblower complaint by an intelligence officer was triggered by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader and involves a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion. The formal complaint was filed with Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who "determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent." The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, however, has refused to turn it over to Congress. While it's unclear to whom Trump was speaking at the time, White House records show Trump spoke to or interacted with Putin, Kim Jong Un, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the Emir of Qatar in the five weeks prior to the complaint being filed on August 12th. Trump, meanwhile, denied that he made any "promise" to a foreign leader, calling the formal complaint "Presidential Harassment!" and rhetorically asking if there is "anybody dumb enough to believe that [he] would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / NBC News)

3/ Rudy Giuliani denied asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden immediately before admitting that he actually had. In an interview on CNN, Chris Cuomo asked Giuliani if he had pressed Ukrainian officials to pursue investigations into Biden's son. "No, actually I didn't. I asked Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of Hillary Clinton," Giuliani said. "You never asked anything about Hunter Biden? You never asked anything about Joe Biden and the prosecutor?" Cuomo asked again. Giuliani replied that the "only thing" he asked was how the prosecutor got dismissed. "So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden," Cuomo said. "Of course I did," Giuliani said. (CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Trump dismissed the whistleblower complaint involving his conversations with Ukraine as a "ridiculous," "partisan" attack. He then admitted that he didn't know the identity of the whistleblower, but called a "political hack job" anyway. Trump then added that "It doesn't matter what I discussed [with Ukraine's president], but I'll tell you this, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement." Trump also defended his July conversation with Volodymyr Zelensky as "totally appropriate" while characterizing the conversation as "beautiful." (Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times / ABC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • Hillary Clinton accused Trump of asking "a foreign power to help him win an election. Again," referring to Trump's call during the 2016 race for Russia to look into Clinton's deleted emails. (CNN / The Guardian)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed changing federal law so sitting presidents can be indicted. "I do think that we will have to pass some laws that will have clarity for future presidents. [A] president should be indicted, if he's committed a wrongdoing — any president. There is nothing anyplace that says the president should not be indicted," Pelosi said. (NPR / Politico)

5/ California and 22 other states filed a lawsuit to stop the Trump administration from blocking California's authority to set emission standards for cars and trucks. Earlier this week, Trump revoked California's authority, contending that the waiver was improperly granted because greenhouse gases don't cause specific local or regional problems linked to traditional pollutants, like soot and smog. (New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 971: The Trump administration will revoke California's right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks than those required by the federal government. In July, California reached an agreement with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW to support the state's right to set its own fuel efficiency standards and to voluntarily produce cars averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026. The rollback of California's waiver will also affect 13 other states and the District of Columbia, which follow California's emissions regulations. Last summer, the EPA proposed weakening fuel economy standards put in place by the Obama administration by freezing standards at roughly 37 mpg from 2020 to 2026. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state intends to strike back with a lawsuit, which is expected to go to the Supreme Court. (Los Angeles Times / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Trump imposed terror-related sanctions on Iran's central bank and sovereign wealth fund following the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the U.S. has blamed on Iran. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the new sanctions would cut off the last source of funds for Iran. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

7/ Trump suggested that he could end the Afghanistan war "very quickly" but it'd require killing "tens of millions" of people. Trump made a similar claimed in July, saying he could win nearly 19-year war "in a week," but didn't want to go that route, because "I just don't want to kill 10 million people." (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 914: Trump claimed that he could easily "wipe" Afghanistan "off the face of the earth," but doesn't "want to go that route" because he'd have to "kill 10 million people." (Daily Beast/Vox)

8/ The Trump administration signed an asylum agreement with El Salvador. The deal could force Central American migrants who pass through El Salvador to first seek asylum there or be sent back to the country once they reach the U.S. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios)

Day 973: Credible and urgent.

1/ The whistleblower complaint by an intelligence officer was triggered by a "promise" Trump made to a foreign leader and involves a series of actions that goes beyond any single discussion. The formal complaint was filed with Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, who "determined that this complaint is both credible and urgent." The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, however, has refused to turn it over to Congress. While it's unclear to whom Trump was speaking at the time, White House records show Trump spoke to or interacted with Putin, Kim Jong Un, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and the Emir of Qatar in the five weeks prior to the complaint being filed on August 12th. Trump, meanwhile, denied that he made any "promise" to a foreign leader, calling the formal complaint "Presidential Harassment!" and rhetorically asking if there is "anybody dumb enough to believe that [he] would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader." (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 970: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accused the acting director of national intelligence of withholding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect a "higher authority" official. Adam Schiff said Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint prior to his decision to withhold the complaint – a departure from standard practice. Schiff added that the Committee "can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials." (Business Insider / CBS News)

  • 📌 Day 972: The acting director of national intelligence refused testify before Congress or hand over a whistleblower complaint to lawmakers. The complaint was submitted on Aug. 12 by a member of the intelligence community involving conduct by someone "outside the intelligence community" who does not involve intelligence activity under the supervision of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire had told Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, that he would not provide the complaint "because he is being instructed not to" by "a higher authority" who is "above" the cabinet-level position of the director of national intelligence. (New York Times)

2/ The White House and the Justice Department both advised the director of national intelligence that the whistleblower complaint is outside intelligence activities. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence told lawmakers on September 13th that the complaint "involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community." ODNI also noted that the agency would work toward "protecting Executive Branch confidentiality interests." (CNN)

3/ House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff threatened to sue the Trump administration over its refusal to turn over the whistleblower complaint that involves Trump's interactions with a foreign leader. Schiff accused the White House and Justice Department of "trying to manipulate the system" to prevent the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, from sharing the complaint with Congress. Schiff issued a subpoena for the complaint last week, which Maguire has refused to turn over. (Politico / Washington Post / Reuters / NBC News / )

4/ Trump sued his accounting firm and the New York district attorney to block eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns from being sent to state prosecutors. Trump's lawyers argued that he cannot be criminally investigated while in office, because the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House. Cyrus Vance's office issued a subpoena last month to Trump's accounting firm Mazars USA, which said in a statement this week that it "will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations." Vance's office is investigating the hush money payments made during the 2016 election to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, both of whom have alleged affairs with Trump, which he has denied. (NBC News / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 970: The Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed eight years of Trump's "personal and corporate tax returns" as part of its investigation into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael Cohen for the $130,000 Cohen he paid Stormy Daniels just before the election to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump. Cyrus Vance's office is exploring whether the reimbursements violated New York state laws and whether the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. The subpoena was served last month to Mazars USA, which prepares Trump's tax returns. (New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 925: State prosecutors in New York subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents related to its role in hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The investigation is examining whether senior executives filed false business records related to the $130,000 payment Michael Cohen made to Daniels, as well as the arrangement between Cohen and the National Enquirer to pay off McDougal. Falsifying business records would constitute a state crime. The Manhattan district attorney separately subpoenaed American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer. (New York Times)

5/ A federal judge temporarily blocked a California law requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the primary ballot. U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. said he'd issue a final ruling in the coming days but took the unusual step of issuing a temporary injunction, saying there would be "irreparable harm without temporary relief" for Trump and other candidates. (Los Angeles Times / ABC News / Politico / Axios)

6/ Mitch McConnell will now back a measure to provide states with an additional $250 million in election security funding. McConnell and Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked Democratic efforts to bring election security legislation to the floor, including a measures that would have authorized funding to update voting equipment. (Washington Post / Politico)

poll/ The latest Fox News poll shows Trump losing to every Democratic frontrunner including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris. 52% of voters said they would support Biden if the 2020 election were held today to 38% who said they'd support Trump. 48% would support Sanders, 46% would support Warren, and 42% would support Harris, while 40% would support Trump. (Fox News / Newsweek)

Day 972: Dastardly.

1/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of having carried out an "act of war" with strikes on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Trump, however, pushed back against American military response in the Middle East, saying wars are "very easy to start," but that "there are many options. There's the ultimate option and there are options a lot less than that." U.S. military leaders have, however, presented Trump with a range of options for a retaliatory strike against Iran, including a cyber attack or a strike on Iranian oil facilities. Another option includes a strike by Saudi Arabia, with the U.S. providing intelligence, targeting information, and surveillance capabilities, but the U.S. refraining from actually firing any weapons. Other options include strikes on missile launch sites, bases, or other assets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. There are currently no indications that any U.S. military action is imminent. Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the attack and "coordinate efforts to counter Iranian aggression in the region." (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / NBC News)

2/ Trump directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin "to substantially increase" U.S. sanctions on Iran. Trump's comment came after Iranian news agencies reported that Iran had warned the U.S. that it would retaliate against any attacks. Trump later told reporters that his administration will "be adding some very significant sanctions" on Iran within the next two days and that he's got time to devise a "dastardly" response to the attacks on Saudi oil facilities. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg)

3/ The White House fired the Department of Homeland Security's general counsel. John Mitnick will be replaced by Joe Maher, principal deputy general counsel. Mitnick's job was to push back against policies that could put Homeland Security in a legally dubious position, such as the time the White House proposed releasing migrants into sanctuary cities to send a message to Democrats who opposed his immigration agenda. Mitnick was fired in part due to his opposition to Stephen Miller and his immigration policies. (New York Times / CNN)

4/ The acting director of national intelligence refused testify before Congress or hand over a whistleblower complaint to lawmakers. The complaint was submitted on Aug. 12 by a member of the intelligence community involving conduct by someone "outside the intelligence community" who does not involve intelligence activity under the supervision of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire had told Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, that he would not provide the complaint "because he is being instructed not to" by "a higher authority" who is "above" the cabinet-level position of the director of national intelligence. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 970: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accused the acting director of national intelligence of withholding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect a "higher authority" official. Adam Schiff said Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint prior to his decision to withhold the complaint – a departure from standard practice. Schiff added that the Committee "can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials." (Business Insider / CBS News)

5/ Trump picked the State Department's top hostage negotiator to be his fourth national security advisor. Robert C. O'Brien will replace John Bolton and has no known experience managing an organization the size of the National Security Council. By Trump's recounting, O'Brien won him over in part by praising him in the job interview and in tweets. Trump also dispatched O'Brien to help free rapper A$AP Rocky from Swedish prison earlier this year. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNBC)

6/ The Federal Reserve cut interest rates by a quarter percentage point – the second time since July. Officials also left the door open for another rate cut this year if the economy continues to weaken. Major U.S. stock exchanges dropped after the decision was announced. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has been publicly pressured by Trump to reduce rates to "ZERO or less." The Federal Open Market Committee again cited "the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures" as the primary rationale for the cut. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

7/ Trump criticized Powell and the Fed for having "no 'guts,'" saying they "Fail[ed] Again." Trump has previously called the Fed policymakers "boneheads" for not lowering rates to help boost economic growth. At one point he asked whether Fed Chair Jerome Powell or China's president was "our bigger enemy." (Bloomberg)

8/ The military has spent nearly $200,000 at Trump's Turberry golf resort in Scotland since 2017. The spending paid for the equivalent of hundreds of nights of rooms over approximately three dozen separate stays since August 2017. The Air Force also confirmed last week that its crews had stayed up to 40 times at Trump's property since 2015. (Politico)

  • 📌 Day 963: An Air National Guard crew stayed at Trump's Turnberry golf resort in Scotland in March. The Air Force plane stopped at a nearby airport to refuel both en route to the Middle East and back, with the crew staying at the resort, which lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. The Air Force confirmed that crew members stayed at Turnberry, but said "it did not appear" that they stayed at the hotel on the way back. There are more than two dozen hotels, guesthouses and inns a few miles from the Prestwick airport with most of them much less expensive than the $380/night advertised rate at Trump Turnberry. The fuel would have also been cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. (Politico / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 967: The Air Force sent crews to Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland on 40 different occasions since 2015. That number is much higher than previously known, and it represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched last week after news reports about the Air Force sending crews to Trump's properties. The preliminary tally does not indicate how many of the stays at Trump properties occurred since Trump became president, but the Air Force significantly increased the number of stops in Scotland under Trump after signing a deal with the Prestwick Airport at the end of the Obama administration. (Politico)

  • 📌 Day 971: Some Air Force crews that stayed at Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland stayed for multiple nights and were given gifts during their stays. The resort gave high-ranking officers "Pride Pins," which are reserved for VIP members. Low-ranking airmen received other gifts and welcome packages, including Scottish shortbread and other treats. Instead of being restricted to single-night refueling stops, Air Force crews sometimes stayed for multiple nights while the weather cleared up or their planes were repaired. (Politico)

poll/ 56% of Democratic primary voters say they prefer a candidate who proposes "larger scale policies that cost more and might be harder to pass into law, but could bring major change" on issues like climate change, health care and economic opportunity. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Politico)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration claimed that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional because Congress limited presidential power to remove the agency's director before their five-year term expires. The CFPB was given stronger enforcement powers over the financial industry to help prevent another economic meltdown like the mortgage-lending crisis that began in 2007. Two federal appeals courts have also upheld the CFPB's structure, which is intended to insulate the director from political interference. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. The Trump administration proposed a new rule that would allow pork slaughterhouses to use fewer line inspectors from the Department of Agriculture and to run slaughter lines without any speed limit. The rule allows factory workers, instead of USDA inspectors, to remove unsuitable carcasses and trim defects in plants that are subject to the new inspection system. USDA inspectors will still examine the carcasses, but they will be stationed farther down the lines. The new rule is intended to modernize the inspection system, but consumer advocates say it will make food less safe and increase the risks to workers. (NBC News)

  3. House Joint Economic Committee estimated that gun violence costs the U.S. $229 billion a year, according to a new report using data from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Centers for Disease Control. Lost income, employer costs, police and criminal justice responses, and health care treatment account for the biggest costs to the economy. (CNBC)

  4. Attorney General William Barr is sharing a proposal on expanding background checks with senators. Lawmakers, however, don't know where Trump stands on potential new firearms restrictions. (Bloomberg)

  5. Mike Pence canceled a trip to meet with the leader of the Solomon Islands after the island government cut ties with Taiwan and switched its allegiance to China. The meeting was supposed to be an opportunity for the U.S. to discuss development partnerships with the Solomon Islands, and it was supposed to take place on the sidelines of or shortly after the upcoming U.N. General Assembly meeting. The Solomon Islands is the sixth country to switch its allegiance from Taiwan to China since 2016. (Reuters)

Day 971: Abuse of power.

1/ The Trump administration will revoke California's right to set stricter air pollution standards for cars and light trucks than those required by the federal government. In July, California reached an agreement with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW to support the state's right to set its own fuel efficiency standards and to voluntarily produce cars averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026. The rollback of California's waiver will also affect 13 other states and the District of Columbia, which follow California's emissions regulations. Last summer, the EPA proposed weakening fuel economy standards put in place by the Obama administration by freezing standards at roughly 37 mpg from 2020 to 2026. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state intends to strike back with a lawsuit, which is expected to go to the Supreme Court. (Los Angeles Times / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 560: The Trump administration plans to roll back Obama-era fuel efficiency and emissions standards on new cars. Under the Obama administration, the EPA and the Transportation Department set requirements for new cars to average at least 35 mpg by 2020 and to continue improving efficiency up to 50 mpg by 2025. The policy was intended to combat global warming. Trump's plan would freeze the fuel economy standards after 2021 at about 37 mpg and would revoke a waiver granted to California and 13 other states to set more aggressive tailpipe pollution standards. (Los Angeles Times / New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 943: The White House is attempting to block additional states from joining a pact with California and four automakers to oppose Trump's rollback of auto emissions standards. Toyota, Fiat, Chrysler, and General Motors were summoned to the White House last month and pressed by an adviser to stand by Trump's rollbacks. Meanwhile, Mercedez-Benz is preparing to join the agreement, which has reportedly "enraged" Trump. The five automakers account for more than 40% of all cars sold in the United States. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 960: The Justice Department opened an antitrust investigation into four automakers who rejected the Trump administration's relaxed air pollution and mileage regulations. Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda, and BMW instead struck a deal with California to reduce automobile emissions. Automakers have urged the administration not to drastically roll back Obama-era emissions levels, arguing that one national standard would be better than one weaker standard for most of the country and one tougher standard for California, plus the 13 other states that follow California's lead. Those 14 states account for about 40% of the U.S. population. The Justice Department is investigating whether the deal could potentially limit consumer choice. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

2/ Trump ordered two former White House aides not to testify at a House Judiciary Committee hearing about Trump's possible obstruction of justice. The White House asserted immunity for Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn, who were subpoenaed to appear in front of the committee today. Trump also ordered his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, not to answer questions about anything that happened after Trump was elected and to not provide any information beyond what is already in the Muller report. (CNN / Reuters / New York Times)

3/ Corey Lewandowski refused to answer dozens of questions about potential obstruction of justice during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Presidential Obstruction of Justice and Abuse of Power." Lewandowski did confirm that Trump asked him to pressure Attorney General Jeff Sessions to limit the scope of the Russia investigation, but he claimed he was never asked to do anything illegal. As the hearing started, Lewandowski demanded that Democrats read him the section of the Mueller report they were referring to. Democrats then gave Lewandowski a copy, who proceeded to read directly from the report. Republicans, meanwhile, forced a series of procedural votes. (Associated Press / Politico / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Trump administration officials suggested charging immigrants $975 to appeal an immigration judge's deportation ruling and $895 to request the Board of Immigration Appeals reconsider a case, according to a draft Department of Justice regulation. The current fee to apply for each of these requests is $110. (BuzzFeed News)

5/ Construction of Trump's border fence could damage or destroy up to 22 archaeological sites within Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The administration plans to convert an existing five-foot-high vehicle barrier to a 30-foot steel structure that could cause irreparable harm to the unexcavated remnants of Sonoran Desert people. (Washington Post)

6/ Some Air Force crews that stayed at Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland stayed for multiple nights and were given gifts during their stays. The resort gave high-ranking officers "Pride Pins," which are reserved for VIP members. Low-ranking airmen received other gifts and welcome packages, including Scottish shortbread and other treats. Instead of being restricted to single-night refueling stops, Air Force crews sometimes stayed for multiple nights while the weather cleared up or their planes were repaired. (Politico)

7/ Trump wants to put a proponent of torture in charge of U.S. human rights policy. Marshall Billingslea, who currently serves as assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing, was involved in Bush-era torture as a senior Pentagon official. During this tenure, Billingslea advocated for the use of torture techniques against the advice of top military lawyers, dismissed protests against the use of torture by the Army's Judge Advocate General, and advocated for Donald Rumsfeld to approve more torture tactics than Rumsfeld had already approved. If confirmed, Billingslea would become the top U.S. executive branch official directly responsible for human rights policy: undersecretary of State for civilian security, democracy and human rights. (Politico Magazine)

Day 970: Locked and loaded.

1/ The Manhattan District Attorney subpoenaed eight years of Trump's "personal and corporate tax returns" as part of its investigation into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael Cohen for the $130,000 Cohen he paid Stormy Daniels just before the election to buy her silence about an affair she had with Trump. Cyrus Vance's office is exploring whether the reimbursements violated New York state laws and whether the Trump Organization falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. The subpoena was served last month to Mazars USA, which prepares Trump's tax returns. (New York Times / NBC News / CNBC / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 925: State prosecutors in New York subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents related to its role in hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The investigation is examining whether senior executives filed false business records related to the $130,000 payment Michael Cohen made to Daniels, as well as the arrangement between Cohen and the National Enquirer to pay off McDougal. Falsifying business records would constitute a state crime. The Manhattan district attorney separately subpoenaed American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer. (New York Times)

2/ The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accused the acting director of national intelligence of withholding a whistleblower complaint in order to protect a "higher authority" official. Adam Schiff said Joseph Maguire, the acting DNI, consulted the Justice Department about the whistleblower complaint prior to his decision to withhold the complaint – a departure from standard practice. Schiff added that the Committee "can only conclude, based on this remarkable confluence of factors, that the serious misconduct at issue involves the President of the United States and/or other senior White House or Administration officials." (Business Insider / CBS News)

3/ A previously unreported story about Brett Kavanaugh in college echoes Deborah Ramirez's allegation that he pulled down his pants at a party and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Former Yale classmate Max Stier told senators and the FBI last year about a separate episode where Kavanaugh had his pants down at a dorm party while his friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. The FBI failed to investigate the incident Stier described. During his Senate testimony, Kavanaugh said that if the incident had occurred, it would have been "the talk of campus." Senate investigators at the time also concluded that Ramirez's account lacked corroboration. However, at least seven people corroborated the incident before Kavanaugh became a federal judge, including two classmates who heard about it days after the party occurred. Ramirez's lawyers also gave the FBI a list of at least 25 people who may have had corroborating evidence. The bureau declined to interview any of them. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 613: A second woman publicly accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both freshmen at Yale during the 1983-84 academic school year. Deborah Ramirez said Kavanaugh exposed himself and shoved his penis in her face without her consent at a dorm party. Kavanaugh's roommate at the time said he "cannot imagine [Ramirez] making this up" and that Kavanaugh was "frequently, incoherently drunk." After learning of Ramirez's allegation last week, Senate Republicans called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to accelerate its confirmation vote. (New Yorker)

  • 📌 Day 615: Kavanaugh's second accuser is willing to testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee, her attorney said. Deborah Ramirez's lawyer expressed concern about her testifying before the FBI is able to conduct an investigation into her claims, saying "we can't even talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee about what that would look like" because "they certainly haven't invited her" to testify. Senate Republicans blew off a scheduled phone call yesterday to discuss Ramirez's claims that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were in college. (Axios / The Hill / CNN / Good Morning America)

  • 📌 Day 622: The FBI has not contacted at least 40 potential corroborators or character witnesses about the allegations made against Kavanaugh by Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Two sources, however, say more interviews are happening with a focus on Kavanaugh's high school friends who are listed as attending a July 1, 1982, party. (NBC News / CNN)

4/ A Democratic senator told FBI Director Christopher Wray last fall of the sexual misconduct allegation against Kavanaugh by Max Stier. In a letter to Wray, Sen. Christopher Coons said "several individuals," including Stier, contacted his office wanting to share information with federal authorities about Kavanaugh, but said they had "difficulty reaching anyone who will collect their information." The FBI supplemental background investigation into Kavanaugh did not include Stier's allegation. (Washington Post / Los Angeles Times / Axios)

5/ Several Democratic presidential candidates called for Kavanaugh to be impeached after new information about Ramirez's allegations of sexual misconduct became public. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Julián Castro called for Kavanaugh to be impeached after the authors of a new book wrote that they had found new corroboration for accusations that Kavanaugh exposed himself to Ramirez, a classmate at Yale. (New York Times / CBS News / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • How impeaching a Supreme Court justice works: The House is responsible for voting on impeachment. Its members decide by a majority vote. The Senate then holds a trial for the underlying misconduct. A conviction requires two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes. If there is a conviction, the Senate would remove the individual from office. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump tweeted that Kavanaugh should "start suing people" or the Department of Justice "should come to his rescue." Trump also accused news outlets of trying to "scare [Kavanaugh] into turning Liberal!" and that he should sue people for "liable" – misspelling the word "libel." (Politico / CNBC)

  • Trump called on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate Obama's book deal and Netflix show. Trump complained about the time and money spent on the Mueller report and the investigations into him and his businesses, and said, "I have a better idea. Look at the Obama Book Deal, or the ridiculous Netflix deal." Barack and Michelle Obama have reportedly signed a "high 8-figure" deal with Netflix and a joint book deal reported worth $65 million. (Vice)

7/ The House Judiciary Committee is negotiating to secure Jeff Sessions' testimony as part of its impeachment investigation of Trump. Democrats on the committee hope Sessions' appearance will help bolster the inquiry, especially since Sessions has had a turbulent relationship with Trump. An attorney for Sessions said the former attorney general will not agree to testify unless he is subpoenaed. (Washington Post)

8/ Trump threatened military action in response to an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Trump said the U.S. is "locked and loaded" and ready to respond, but was waiting to consult with Saudi officials before taking any action. Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, however, blamed Iran, calling the incident "an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply." He insisted that there was "no evidence the attacks came from Yemen." A senior Trump administration official said Iran launched nearly a dozen cruise missiles and over 20 drones from its territory in the attack on a Saudi oil facility. In response to the attack, Saudi Arabia cut its daily oil output in half. Trump responded by saying, "We don't need Middle Eastern Oil & Gas," but said the U.S. "will help our allies!" (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / ABC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Reuters)

Day 967: Moral compass.

1/ A federal appeals court revived a previously-dismissed lawsuit that accused Trump of violating the Constitution's emoluments clause. The lawsuit claimed that Trump's "vast, complicated and secret" business arrangements violate the Emoluments Clause, which bars presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments without the permission of Congress. The case was originally dismissed by a lower-level federal judge in December 2017. Earlier this year, Trump won a separate emoluments suit by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia when the case was dismissed by another federal appeals court's. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / CNN / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 902: A federal appeals court dismissed an emoluments lawsuit against Trump. The judges rejected the premise of the case that the Trump International Hotel – blocks from the White House – had violated the domestic and foreign emoluments clauses of the Constitution by accepting money from state and foreign governments at Trump's hotel in downtown Washington. While Trump stepped back from day-to-day management of the businesses, he still maintains ownership. "Even if government officials were patronizing the hotel to curry the president's favor," the court said, "there is no reason to conclude that they would cease doing so were the president enjoined from receiving income from the hotel. After all, the hotel would still be publicly associated with the president, would still bear his name, and would still financially benefit members of his family." All three judges on the panel were appointed by Republican presidents. (NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 144: In a separate case, the Justice Department argued that Trump can accept payments from foreign governments while he is in office. Advocates from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought the suit against Trump in January, asserting that because Trump-owned buildings take in rent, room rentals and other payments from foreign governments he breached the emoluments clause. (Washington Post / Politico / The Hill)

2/ Trump plans to pay for his border wall using funds from more than four dozen Air Force construction projects poses a variety national security risks, according to a report composed by the Air Force. Some of the affected Air Force projects include money for a project to build facilities to store more than $1 billion in munitions at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, replacing a boiler at a base in Alaska, "whose failure is 'imminent'" and could result in the evacuation of the base, a new entry-control point at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to protect troops, and construction in support of the European Defense Initiative, a program to boost U.S. military presence and discourage Russian aggression. (NBC News / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 959: The Pentagon will divert funding from military construction projects in 23 states, three territories, and 19 countries to pay for Trump's border wall. Among the projects being defunded to pay for Trump's border wall, include nine schools for military children on bases in the U.S. and abroad, a daycare center at Joint Base Andrews, Hurricane Maria recovery projects at military installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, construction projects in Europe designed to help allies deter Russia. In total, $3.6 billion will be taken from 127 projects to fund 11 border barrier projects in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 957: The Trump administration will divert $3.6 billion this week from 127 military construction projects to build to build 175 miles of Trump's border wall. Trump declared a national emergency in February to draw funding from federal accounts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said about half of the funding will come from military construction projects outside the United States and half will come from projects within the country. (Politico / Washington Post)

3/ The Air Force sent crews to Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland on 40 different occasions since 2015. That number is much higher than previously known, and it represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched last week after news reports about the Air Force sending crews to Trump's properties. The preliminary tally does not indicate how many of the stays at Trump properties occurred since Trump became president, but the Air Force significantly increased the number of stops in Scotland under Trump after signing a deal with the Prestwick Airport at the end of the Obama administration. (Politico)

4/ Trump is not planning to name Mike Pompeo as national security adviser while also keeping him as Secretary of State. Trump confirmed that he spoke to Pompeo about the idea, but said that Pompeo "likes the idea of having somebody in there with him, and I do, too." Trump said he has 15 other candidates in mind to replace John Bolton, who Trump fired as national security adviser earlier this week. (Politico)

5/ The U.S. is preparing to send 150 troops to patrol northeastern Syria. Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria last December, but the new troop deployment is part of an expanding series of military and diplomatic steps the U.S. has taken in recent weeks to defuse tensions with Turkey, which opposes U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish fighters. The U.S. currently has around 1,000 troops in Syria. (New York Times / The Hill)

6/ Ivanka Trump told a crowd of high-end donors that she got her moral compass from her father after being asked to name the personality traits she inherited from her parents. Ivanka said that Melania gave her an example of how to be a powerful, successful woman. (Politico)

7/ Trump complained that energy efficient light bulbs make him "always look orange." Trump also complained that energy-efficient light bulbs are "many times more expensive than that old incandescent bulb." (CNN / Mediaite)

  • 📌 Day 958: The Trump administration relaxed requirements for energy efficient light bulbs that Congress passed in 2007. The Energy Department's filing in the Federal Register will now prevent new efficiency standards for inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs from going into effect on Jan. 1st. (New York Times)

poll/ 38% of Americans say climate change is a "crisis" – up from 23% five years ago. Another 38% say climate change is a "major problem." (Washington Post)


📺 Dept. of Dem Debates:

  1. Trump gave a bizarre speech during the Democratic debate. Trump talked about fake tax cuts while Democrats debated how to pay for their ambitious policies. (Vox / Politico)

  2. Andrew Yang announced a $120,000 giveaway during last night's Democratic primary debate. Yang said his campaign plans to randomly select 10 families and give them a total of $120,000 over the next year as part of a pilot program for his universal basic income plan. (Politico)

  3. Biden incorrectly claimed that the Obama administration didn't separate families at the border. The Obama administration did not separate families as a matter of policy, as the Trump administration did as part of its "zero tolerance" border policy in 2018, but separations occurred on a case-by-case basis for parents being prosecuted on more serious charges than illegally crossing the border or in cases when an adult was suspected of not being a child’s parent. (CNN / The Hill)

  4. Biden tried to clarify his record on Iraq War during Democratic debate. Biden is still struggling to explain his vote for the war and when his feelings about intervention evolved. (NPR)

  5. Beto O'Rourke: "Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." O'Rourke said that as president, he would prioritize mandatory buybacks of assault-style weapons. (NPR / CNN)

  6. Fact-checking Democratic candidates on the issues at the ABC News debate in Houston. (ABC News)

  7. Bernie Sanders said his administration will "cancel all student debt in this country." Sanders also pledged that under his administration every teacher in America will make at least $60,000 a year. (ABC7)

Day 966: Simply unacceptable.

1/ The Trump administration repealed Obama's landmark clean water protections that had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands, and other bodies of water. The Obama-era Waters of the United States rule was designed to limit pollution in about 60% of the nation's bodies of water, protecting sources of drinking water for about one-third of the U.S., and extended existing federal authority to limit pollution in large bodies of water. The EPA plans to also establish a stricter legal definition of what qualifies as "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act before the end of the year. The existing rules would be replaced with a much narrower definition of the types of tributaries, streams, and wetlands that are subject to protections. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CBS News)

2/ The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration can continue to deny most Central American migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S. while a legal battle over the issue plays out in the lower courts. The Court issued a brief, unsigned order that says the administration can enforce new rules that generally refuse asylum applications from migrants who failed to apply for it in another country after leaving home but before arriving at the southern border. For instance, migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador cannot seek asylum in the U.S. if they didn't first ask for it in Mexico. A separate lawsuit to overturn the new rules is still working its way through the lower courts. (New York Times / NBC News / Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

3/ The CEOs of 145 companies called on the Senate to pass "common-sense gun laws," stating that it is "simply unacceptable" to do nothing about gun violence in America. The letter urges the Republican-controlled Senate to enact bills already introduced in the House that would require background checks for all firearm sales and stronger "red flag" laws, which could prevent shootings in cases where family members or law enforcement report concerns about someone who may be at risk of harming themselves or others. (NPR / New York Times)

4/ The Trump administration discussed offering China a limited trade agreement that would delay or roll back some U.S. tariffs increases set to take effect in October and December in exchange for Chinese commitments on intellectual property and agricultural purchases. Several of Trump's top economic officials are reportedly trying to resurrect the deal they were previously negotiating with China that officials said was "90 percent" done. A senior White House official, however, said the U.S. is "absolutely not" considering an interim trade deal with China. (Bloomberg / Politico / CNBC)

5/ The FBI and other federal agencies accused Israel of placing cell phone surveillance devices near the White House within the past two years. The devices were likely intended to spy on Trump, according to senior U.S. officials, but it is unclear whether the attempts were successful. When Trump administration officials heard about the surveillance devices, however, they didn't rebuke Israel, which is usually the case when incidents of foreign spying are discovered on U.S. soil. A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy called the claims "absolute nonsense," and insisted that "Israel doesn't conduct espionage operations in the United States, period." (Politico)

6/ The U.S. deficit surpassed $1 trillion in the first 11 months of the fiscal year – up 19% from a year ago and exceeding $1 trillion for the first time since 2012. The government said it expects to borrow more than $1 trillion for the second year in a row in 2019. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

7/ The Justice Department recommended indicting former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe over his alleged "lack of candor" during an internal watchdog probe in 2017. McCabe authorized the FBI to investigate possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 election. The grand jury hearing the case was recalled this week after going months without meeting but left without revealing any immediate signs of an indictment. (Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / CNN / New York Times)

8/ The House Judiciary Committee approved a resolution defining the rules for its impeachment investigation into Trump. The measure also triggers a House rule that gives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler the ability to deem committee hearings as impeachment hearings, allowing staffers to question witnesses for an hour at the end of every hearing, gives Trump's lawyers the ability to respond in writing to public testimony, and allows the committee to collect information in secret "executive sessions." The Judiciary Committee believes it has identified five areas of potential obstruction in Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, in addition to the hush-money payments to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, and allegations that Trump has used his public office to benefit his private business. The resolution passed along party lines, 24-17. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Reuters)

Day 965: Boneheads.

1/ Trump ordered Mick Mulvaney to have NOAA repudiate a tweet by weather forecasters that contradicted his statement that Hurricane Dorian posed a significant threat to Alabama. Mulvaney then called Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to have the forecasters disavow their position that Alabama was not at risk. Ross, in turn, threatened to fire top employees at NOAA if the situation was not addressed. Trump, meanwhile, denied ordering Mulvaney to direct Ross to pressure NOAA to rebuke scientists who contradicted his hurricane claim, saying "I never did that — I never did that," dismissing the situation as "a hoax by the fake news media." (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

2/ The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology opened an investigation into Ross pressuring the acting administrator of NOAA into supporting Trump's false claim about Hurricane Dorian. The committee also demanded documents and information related to the unsigned statement that NOAA issued that was perceived as rebuking its own scientists for contradicting Trump's claim that Dorian would hit Alabama "harder than anticipated." (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 963: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire NOAA employees after the agency's Birmingham office contradicted Trump's claim that Alabama would be hit "harder than anticipated" by Hurricane Dorian. Ross directed Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president. Jacobs initially objected to the demand, but was told by Ross that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not resolved. NOAA then sided with Trump over its own scientists, stating that Alabama was in fact threatened by the storm at the time of Trump's tweet that Alabama would "most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated." NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Trump administration will not grant temporary protected status to Bahamians displaced by Hurricane Dorian. Temporary protected status would have let Bahamians work and live in the U.S. until it is deemed safe to return home. (NBC News)

4/ Trump's trade war with China has reduced U.S. employment by 300,000 jobs through a combination of eliminated jobs by companies struggling with tariffs and jobs that would have been created but weren't because of reduced economic activity. Moody's Analytics forecasts that the job toll from the trade war will hit about 450,000 by the end of the year, if there are no changes in policy. (Yahoo Finance)

5/ Trump called on the "boneheads" at the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to "ZERO, or less" and again blamed the Fed for a slowing U.S. economy. Trump also called on the Fed to "start to refinance our debt" despite there being no modern precedent for the refinancing of federal debt. The U.S. is currently $22.5 trillion in debt, $16.7 trillion of which is owed by the public. The federal debt burden has grown by 13% – $2.6 trillion – under Trump, due in part to the 2017 tax cut Trump pushed through Congress. (CNBC / Washington Post / Politico)

6/ Trump tweeted "never forget" to mark the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terror attacks, but after first attacking the "Amazon Washington Post/ABC" over an unfavorable poll, which he called a "phony suppression poll." Trump also tweeted about the Federal Reserve and pressuring it to lower interest rates, congratulating Republicans in a North Carolina special election, and ranting about China and his trade war. (HuffPost)

  • 📌 Day 964: 60% of Americans expect a recession in the next year. Trump's economic approval rating declined from 51% in July to 46% in September, with 47% disapproving. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 964: 38% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – down from a career-high 44% in July. 56% disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. Three of former national security adviser John Bolton's top aides submitted their resignations. Trump said Bolton was fired while Bolton said he resigned. (Reuters)

  2. The Trump administration plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavored electronic cigarettes following an outbreak of a vaping-related lung disease that has sickened 450 people and resulted in at least six deaths. (Politico / New York Times / CNBC / NBC News)

  3. Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire have promised not to cancel their caucus and primary for 2020 even as GOP leaders in other states have canceled party elections to help clear the way for Trump's reelection. GOP officials in New Hampshire said that "under no circumstances" will they ever cancel the state's primary election, "whether there’s token opposition or a serious contest." Iowa Republicans said it was "never even up for discussion." (Associated Press)

  4. Trump posted a photo of a "Trump 2024" campaign sign on Twitter and Instagram, joking once again that he is interested in serving more than two terms. Trump has made the joke in various forms on several different occasions, including earlier this year when he suggested that he would be president forever. (Newsweek / Fox News / Washington Post / HuffPost)

Day 964: Extremely complete.

1/ Trump announced that he fired his national security adviser, who insists that he resigned. John Bolton, disputing Trump's version of events, tweeted that "I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, 'Let's talk about it tomorrow.'" Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that "I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House." Trump added that he "disagreed strongly with many of [Bolton's] suggestions." The two have had a series of disagreements during Bolton's tenure, including how to handle sensitive foreign policy matters involving North Korea, Afghanistan, and Iran. Trump did not name Bolton's successor but said he plans to name a replacement "next week." Bolton was Trump's third national security adviser. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Associated Press / BBC / Axios)

2/ Trump called his second national security adviser and told him that he missed him. In phone calls with retired Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump has solicited advice on national security challenges, including asking McMaster whom he should nominate for Secretary of Defense. McMaster was also fired by Trump on Twitter. (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 421: Trump plans to remove national security adviser H.R. McMaster and is currently considering potential replacements. Trump plans to take his time with the transition in order to avoid humiliating McMaster and ensure he has a strong replacement. Other Trump officials, like Ben Carson and Mick Mulvaney, are also rumored to be on the chopping block. "There will always be change," Trump said. "I think you want to see change. I want to also see different ideas." Sarah Huckabee Sanders, meanwhile, disputed the story that Trump had decided to fire McMaster, tweeting: "Just spoke to @POTUS and Gen. H.R. McMaster — contrary to reports they have a good working relationship and there are no changes at the NSC." (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 428: Trump will replace H. R. McMaster with John Bolton as his national security adviser. Bolton is a Fox News commentator and a former United States ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster had reportedly been discussing his departure with Trump for several weeks. "The two have been discussing this for some time. The timeline was expedited as they both felt it was important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation," a White House official said. "This was not related to any one moment or incident, rather it was the result of ongoing conversations between the two." McMaster, a three-star Army general, also announced that he would retire from the military. Bolton will be Trump's third national security adviser in 14 months. Bolton was also passed over for a State Department job last year, because Trump didn't like his mustache. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ The purported high-level CIA source extracted from Russia in 2017 is currently living in Washington under his real name and under government protection. The CIA's Russian informant was active in the agency's conclusion that Putin ordered and orchestrated the campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The CIA then exfiltrated one of its top spies from Russia after officials became concerned he was in danger of being caught after Trump "mishandled" classified material. While NBC News is withholding the man's name and other key details at the request of U.S. officials, he fits the profile of the person who may have had access to information about Putin's activities, and who would have been recruitable by American intelligence officials. The NBC correspondent went to the man's house, rang the doorbell, and five minutes later two men in an SUV came up the street and parked immediately adjacent to the correspondent's car. (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 963: In 2017, the U.S. extracted one of its highest-level covert spies from inside the Russian government. The previously undisclosed secret mission was driven, in part, after Trump shared classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador in a May 2017 Oval Office meeting. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 111: Trump met with Putin’s top diplomats at the White House. The talks came one day after Trump fired the FBI Director, who was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sergey Lavrov met with Rex Tillerson earlier in the day and sarcastically acknowledged the dismissal of James Comey by saying "Was he fired? You're kidding. You're kidding." The Kremlin said Trump's firing of Comey will have no effect on bilateral relations between the two countries. Trump also met with Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the Flynn investigation. (Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post / NPR)

4/ Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about using foreign intelligence from covert sources, saying he doubts the credibility of the information they provide. Multiple senior officials who served under Trump, said he privately complained that foreign spies can damage relations with their host countries and undermine his personal relationships with their leaders. (CNN)

5/ Trump claimed he'll release an "extremely complete" report of his financial records in order to dispel the notion that he's profiting off of his administration. In response to questions from reporters about several instances of U.S. Air Force personnel staying at his Turnberry resort in Scotland, Trump said it was unfair to suggest that he played any part in the arrangement because he owns so many different properties. He offered no specifics about the report, nor did he give a timeline of when he plans to release it. (Politico)

6/ Trump played a direct role in setting up the arrangement between his golf resort in Scotland and officials at Glasgow Prestwick Airport with the goal of increasing private and commercial air traffic to the region. During Trump's presidential run, the Pentagon began using the airport to refuel Air Force flights, giving the local airport the job of finding accommodations for flight crews who had to remain overnight. Yesterday, Trump said that the deal had "NOTHING TO DO WITH ME," but documents show both Trump and the Trump Organization were directly involved in crafting the partnership. The Trump Organization worked to get Trump's resort on the list of hotels that Prestwick would routinely send aircrews to, even though Turnberry is 20 miles from the airport – farther away than many other hotels and with higher advertised prices. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 963: An Air National Guard crew stayed at Trump's Turnberry golf resort in Scotland in March. The Air Force plane stopped at a nearby airport to refuel both en route to the Middle East and back, with the crew staying at the resort, which lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. The Air Force confirmed that crew members stayed at Turnberry, but said "it did not appear" that they stayed at the hotel on the way back. There are more than two dozen hotels, guesthouses and inns a few miles from the Prestwick airport with most of them much less expensive than the $380/night advertised rate at Trump Turnberry. The fuel would have also been cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. (Politico / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 963: Trump denied being involved in the stays at Turnberry by Air Force crews, tweeting that "I know nothing," but that "they have good taste!" Air Force crews will typically stop at U.S. military bases in Europe to refuel, where it's cheaper to do so. Trump added: "NOTHING TO DO WITH ME." (Politico)

poll/ 60% of Americans expect a recession in the next year. Trump's economic approval rating declined from 51% in July to 46% in September, with 47% disapproving. (Washington Post)

poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – down from a career-high 44% in July. 56% disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president. (ABC News)

poll/ 60% of American say Trump does not deserve to be reelected. (CNN)


Notables.

  1. More Americans lack health insurance for the first time since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. About 27.5 million people, or 8.5% of the population, lacked health insurance for all of 2018, up from 7.9% the year before. (New York Times)

  2. The Trump administration promoted an immigration judge that threatened a 2-year-old Guatemalan boy with an attack dog if he didn't stay quiet in court. "I have a very big dog in my office," Judge V. Stuart Couch told the boy, "and if you don't be quiet, he will come out and bite you!" In August, the Trump administration promoted Couch and five other judges to the Justice Department's Board of Immigration Appeals, which often has the final say over whether immigrants are deported. (Mother Jones)

  3. Trump ordered White House officials to crackdown on homelessness in California. Trump has repeatedly attacked Democratic politicians in California over the state's homelessness issue, which he's called a "disgrace to our country." The Trump administration, however, may have exacerbated the problem by tightening immigrants' eligibility for federal assistance. (Washington Post)

  4. A federal judge set Michael Flynn's sentencing for Dec. 18th. Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to lying to the FBI about contacts with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (Washington Post)

  5. Three House committees are investigating reported efforts by Trump and Rudy Giuliani "to pressure the government of Ukraine to assist" Trump's re-election campaign. The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees wrote to the White House and State Department seeking records related to what they described as efforts to "manipulate the Ukrainian justice system." (Reuters / CNBC)

Day 963: "NOTHING TO DO WITH ME"

1/ An Air National Guard crew stayed at Trump's Turnberry golf resort in Scotland in March. The Air Force plane stopped at a nearby airport to refuel both en route to the Middle East and back, with the crew staying at the resort, which lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. The Air Force confirmed that crew members stayed at Turnberry, but said "it did not appear" that they stayed at the hotel on the way back. There are more than two dozen hotels, guesthouses and inns a few miles from the Prestwick airport with most of them much less expensive than the $380/night advertised rate at Trump Turnberry. The fuel would have also been cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. (Politico / New York Times)

2/ Trump denied being involved in the stays at Turnberry by Air Force crews, tweeting that "I know nothing," but that "they have good taste!" Air Force crews will typically stop at U.S. military bases in Europe to refuel, where it's cheaper to do so. Trump added: "NOTHING TO DO WITH ME." (Politico)

  • The Air Force ordered a review of how it chooses hotels after military personnel stayed at Trump properties on multiple occasions. In one case, air crews were found to have occasionally stayed at Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland while refueling at Prestwick Airport, a nearby commercial airport. Another time, the Maine Air National Guard also landed at Prestwick on its way back from Qatar and stayed at Turnberry. An Air Force spokesperson said the branch is reviewing "all associated guidance" related to personnel lodging because "lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable." (Politico)

3/ In 2017, the U.S. extracted one of its highest-level covert spies from inside the Russian government. The previously undisclosed secret mission was driven, in part, after Trump shared classified information with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador in a May 2017 Oval Office meeting. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 111: Trump met with Putin’s top diplomats at the White House. The talks came one day after Trump fired the FBI Director, who was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Sergey Lavrov met with Rex Tillerson earlier in the day and sarcastically acknowledged the dismissal of James Comey by saying "Was he fired? You're kidding. You're kidding." The Kremlin said Trump's firing of Comey will have no effect on bilateral relations between the two countries. Trump also met with Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the Flynn investigation. (Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post / NPR)

  • 📌 Day 112: The White House was misled about the role of the Russian photographer and were surprised to see photos posted online showing Trump not only with Sergey Lavrov but also smiling and shaking hands with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Russian officials described the person as Lavrov's official photographer without disclosing that he also worked for Tass, a Russian state-owned news agency. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 118: Putin offers to provide Congress with the transcript to prove Trump didn't pass Russia secrets, turning up the pressure on the White House to provide its own transcript of the meeting. Putin said Russia could hand over a transcript of Trump's meeting with Lavrov, if the Trump administration deemed it appropriate. (Reuters / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire NOAA employees after the agency's Birmingham office contradicted Trump's claim that Alabama would be hit "harder than anticipated" by Hurricane Dorian. Ross directed Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president. Jacobs initially objected to the demand, but was told by Ross that the political staff at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not resolved. NOAA then sided with Trump over its own scientists, stating that Alabama was in fact threatened by the storm at the time of Trump's tweet that Alabama would "most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated." NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • NOAA officials warned staff not to contradict Trump. The warning came nearly a week before the NOAA publicly backed Trump over its own scientists. After Trump claimed Alabama "would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated" by Hurricane Dorian, NOAA staff were told to "only stick with official National Hurricane Center forecasts if questions arise from some national level social media posts which hit the news this afternoon." They were also told not to "provide any opinion" on the matter. The order was understood internally as a reference to Trump and his false statements about Dorian. (Washington Post)

  • NOAA's acting chief scientist is investigating whether the agency's response to Trump's Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of policies and ethics. The director of the National Weather Service, meanwhile, broke with NOAA leadership, calling the agency's response "political" and a "danger to public health and safety." (Washington Post)

5/ Trump dismissed the idea of allowing Bahamians into the United States on humanitarian grounds following the destruction of Hurricane Dorian. Hours earlier, the acting Customs and Border Protection chief suggested that the idea was worth considering. Trump said that those struggling in devastated areas of the Bahamas should go to the "large sections" of their country that were not hit, because he's concerned that "bad people" could exploit the U.S. refugee process. (NBC News / Washington Post)

6/ The House Judiciary Committee will vote this week to define its ongoing "impeachment investigation." The vote would detail the parameters of its investigation and formalize procedures for an impeachment inquiry. Democrats say the move will allow the panel to work faster and potentially acquire more information about possible obstruction of justice and abuses of power by Trump. The resolution will also mark the first recorded vote related to impeachment by lawmakers, even though the committee has already informed federal courts and the public that it is currently in the midst of a full-scale impeachment inquiry. (New York Times) / Politico)

7/ Trump called off a secret meeting with Afghan and Taliban leaders at Camp David to negotiate a peace deal to end the 18-year-long war. Trump called off the meeting after the Taliban admitted to a suicide car bomb attack at a checkpoint near the American Embassy in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 others. The secret peace talks were slated to happen two days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / New York Times)

8/ Michael Flynn refused to cooperate with the House Intelligence Committee's subpoena for testimony and documents as part of its Russia investigation. The committee is now demanding that Flynn appear on September 25th and provide documents by September 18th. (Politico / CNN)

poll/ 58% of Americans have confidence that stricter gun laws would reduce mass shootings, while 41% remain skeptical. 76% think improved mental health monitoring and treatment would reduce mass shootings. 89% support background checks for gun purchases, including for sales at gun shows. 86% support "red flag" laws that allow police to take firearms away from people found by a judge to be a danger to themselves or others. (ABC News / Washington Post)

Day 960: Looking for acknowledgment.

1/ The Trump administration is considering a drastic reduction in refugee admissions for next year. One plan would zero out the refugee program altogether, while another would cut refugee admissions by half or more, to 10,000 to 15,000 people. Senior officials plan to discuss what Trump should set the refugee admissions at for the coming year in a meeting next week. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 911: The Trump administration is considering admitting zero refugees next year. The idea was floated during a recent meeting with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, State Department, and the Pentagon. Homeland Security officials at the meeting suggested making the level anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000. The Trump administration cut refugee admissions from 110,000 in fiscal year 2017 to 30,000 in 2018. (Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 944: The Trump administration is considering a plan to allow states and cities the ability to deny entry to refugees approved for resettlement in the United States. According to the draft order, "the federal government will resettle refugees only where both the relevant state and local governments have consented to participate" in the program. If a jurisdiction does not agree, the federal government will find another location. Trump, meanwhile, is debating whether to decrease refugee admissions starting on Oct. 1. In fiscal year 2016, the limit was 85,000 refugees; in fiscal year 2019, the number was 30,000. (NBC News)

2/ Four states are planning to cancel their Republican presidential primaries and caucuses. Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas are expected to complete the cancellation of their primaries at meetings this weekend. It is not unprecedented for state Republicans or Democrats to decide not to hold a presidential primary when an incumbent is running uncontested to save party money at the state level. Trump's challengers, however, say the moves are undemocratic and represent the latest illustration of Trump's takeover of the entire Republican Party. (Politico / CNN)

3/ Trump called a Fox News correspondent to the Oval Office to insist that he wasn't wrong when he claimed Hurricane Dorian could have hit Alabama. "He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone," said Fox News senior White House correspondent John Roberts. "He insisted that it is unfair to say Alabama was never threatened by the storm" and suggested that Trump was "just looking for acknowledgment that he was not wrong for saying that at some point" about Alabama being at risk. Trump later complained on Twitter that the media has not apologized to him for "four days of corrupt reporting" about his false claim that Alabama was among a handful of states that "will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated." Trump attempted to prove that his original claims about Alabama were accurate this week by showing a doctored and outdated hurricane map that had been altered with a black Sharpie to include Alabama in the storm's track forecast cone. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post)

  • A White House official said Trump was the one who drew on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map with a sharpie to make it look like Dorian was poised to strike Alabama. "No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie," said the official. (Washington Post / Politico / Talking Points Memo)

4/ The Justice Department opened an antitrust investigation into four automakers who rejected the Trump administration's relaxed air pollution and mileage regulations. Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda, and BMW instead struck a deal with California to reduce automobile emissions. Automakers have urged the administration not to drastically roll back Obama-era emissions levels, arguing that one national standard would be better than one weaker standard for most of the country and one tougher standard for California, plus the 13 other states that follow California's lead. Those 14 states account for about 40% of the U.S. population. The Justice Department is investigating whether the deal could potentially limit consumer choice. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN)

5/ The U.S. added 130,000 jobs in August – about 25,000 of which were temporary 2020 Census workers – signaling a slowdown in the pace of job growth. Economists had predicted 160,000 job gains in August. Job gains for the two previous months were also revised downward by 20,000. The unemployment rate remained at 3.7%. (Washington Post / Los Angeles Times / NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / CNBC)

6/ Congressional investigators identified possible failures in Deutsche Bank AG's money laundering controls in its dealings with Russian oligarchs. Investigators discovered the potential failures after going through a series of transactions, emails, and other documents turned over to Congress by the bank. The inquiry found instances where bank staff flagged concerns about new Russian clients and transactions but were ignored by managers. Congress is also looking into whether the bank allowed entities to funnel illegal funds into the United States as a correspondent bank by processing transactions for others. (Reuters / The Hill)

Day 959: The ultimate deal.

1/ The Pentagon will divert funding from military construction projects in 23 states, three territories, and 19 countries to pay for Trump's border wall. Among the projects being defunded to pay for Trump's border wall, include nine schools for military children on bases in the U.S. and abroad, a daycare center at Joint Base Andrews, Hurricane Maria recovery projects at military installations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, construction projects in Europe designed to help allies deter Russia. In total, $3.6 billion will be taken from 127 projects to fund 11 border barrier projects in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. (New York Times / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 957: The Trump administration will divert $3.6 billion this week from 127 military construction projects to build to build 175 miles of Trump's border wall. Trump declared a national emergency in February to draw funding from federal accounts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said about half of the funding will come from military construction projects outside the United States and half will come from projects within the country. (Politico / Washington Post)

2/ A federal judge ruled that 11 parents who were deported from the U.S. without their children will be allowed to return to the country. San Diego District Court Judge Dana Sabraw ruled that the Trump administration illegally prevented the parents from pursuing their asylum cases. In some cases, the judge found that agents coerced the parents into dropping their claims and accepting deportation by having them sign documents they didn't understand or lying and telling the parents that the asylum laws had changed. Sabraw refused to allow seven other parents listed in the original request to return to the U.S. (The Hill)

3/ A district court judge in Virginia ruled that the federal government's database of "known or suspected terrorists" violates the rights of American citizens who are on the watchlist. Judge Anthony Trenga said "the currently existing procedural safeguards are not sufficient" to address the risk of incorrectly depriving U.S. citizens of their freedom to travel or protect their reputation. The database is a major tool of the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and the ruling calls the constitutionality of the watchlist into question. As of 2017, roughly 2.1 million people were on the watchlist. (New York Times)

4/ The U.S. and China will resume trade talks aimed at ending the trade war. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He agreed to visit Washington in "early October" with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Stocks rose following the news that talks would resume. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump's Middle East peace negotiator will leave the administration. Jason Greenblatt didn't say when his resignation would take effect, but the departure leaves the Israel-Palestinian peace effort – team led by Jared Kushner – without its chief architect. Trump has called it the "ultimate deal," but the plan has been repeatedly delayed with Palestinian leaders rejecting it sight unseen. Trump officials, however, claimed that "The vision is now complete and will be released when appropriate," but that the plan will not be released before Israel's Sept. 17 election. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

Day 958: "I don't know."

1/ Trump displayed a doctored National Weather Service map to "prove" that Alabama would, in fact, be affected by Hurricane Dorian. The storm's projected path on the map was extended to include Alabama with a black marker in an apparent attempted to retroactively justify Trump's incorrect tweet over the weekend warning that Alabama could be affected. "This is original path that we thought – and everybody thought that this was about a 95 percent probably," Trump said. When asked whether the chart had been drawn on, Trump said: "I don't know; I don't know." By law, knowingly issuing a false weather report is a violation of the law subject to imprisonment and or fine. (Washington Post / NPR / ABC News / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 957: Trump refused to retract his claim that Hurricane Dorian was poised to hit Alabama, even though the National Weather Service said he was wrong. The NWS office in Birmingham rejected Trump's assertion that Alabama was in the storm's path, tweeting: "We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama." Trump, meanwhile, explained that it's "Always good to be prepared!" (CNN / New York Times / The Hill / Yahoo! News)

2/ The Trump administration relaxed requirements for energy efficient light bulbs that Congress passed in 2007. The Energy Department's filing in the Federal Register will now prevent new efficiency standards for inefficient incandescent and halogen bulbs from going into effect on Jan. 1st. (New York Times)

3/ The FBI is tracking people protesting U.S. immigration policy at the border and monitoring their social media. The FBI office in Phoenix sent an "external intelligence note" to other law enforcement and government agencies saying these groups are "increasingly arming themselves and using lethal force to further their goals." Almost all of the evidence cited in the report involved nonviolent protest activity. Civil rights advocates say that the government is classifying legitimate protests and legally protected speech as violent extremism or domestic terrorism. (Yahoo News)

4/ Mitch McConnell reiterated that he is open to bringing gun legislation to the floor of the Senate – but only if Trump supports it. Democrats are urging McConnell to bring the House's universal background checks bill to the Senate floor. McConnell said he would be happy to put the bill on the floor if Trump "is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it it'll become law." (Politico)

  • Trump said he hopes will Congress would reach an agreement on gun reform "soon," but didn't endorse the House-passed bill that would mandate universal background checks for all gun sales. (Politico)

  • San Francisco's Board of Supervisors labeled the NRA a terrorist organization, saying the organization intentional "spreads propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence." The NRA called the resolution a "ludicrous stunt." (KTVU)

5/ A former top Trump official at the Interior Department who oversaw oil and gas drilling on federal lands joined an oil and gas company less than a week after resigning from Interior. Joe Balash served as assistant secretary for land and minerals management for nearly two years, where he worked to open up the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development and expand drilling on the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska to the west of the refuge. Now, Balash will be working for Oil Search, a Papua New Guinea-based oil company that is currently developing one of Alaska's largest oil prospects in years on state lands that are nearby — but not inside — those same federal reserves. (Washington Post)

6/ The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security over Trump's alleged offer to pardon officials who break the law while carrying out his immigration agenda. Trump has denied making the offer while his allies claimed the closed-door comment was a joke. (Politico)

  • 📌 Day 951: Trump promised to pardon any official who breaks the law in order to get his border wall built by the 2020 election. Trump also directed officials to "take the land" necessary and "get it done" by eminent domain along the U.S.-Mexico border, ignore environmental regulations, and quickly approve billions of dollars' worth of construction contracts to fast-track his signature 2016 presidential campaign promise. "Don't worry, I'll pardon you," Trump reportedly told aides. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / CNN / The Independent)

7/ A federal judge blocked the White House's decision to revoke a Playboy reporter's press pass over a showdown in the Rose Garden with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka. U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras granted a preliminary injunction to restore Brian Karem's "hard pass," because reporters weren't given a clear set of rules governing press conduct at events like the one in question in the Rose Garden. Despite objections from the White House press secretary that reporters are required to adhere to general standards of "professionalism" and "decorum," Contreras said that "without any contextual guideposts, 'professionalism,' standing alone, remains too murky to provide fair notice here." (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 62% of voters said they're somewhat or very concerned that there will be a recession in the next six months. 57% said they would blame Trump should America enter recession by the end of the year. (Newsweek / Harvard CAPS/Harris)

Day 957: Always good to be prepared.

1/ The House Judiciary Committee is preparing to investigate Trump's alleged involvement in the 2016 hush-money payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. The committee plans to hold hearings and call witnesses involved in the scheme as soon as October, but say there is already enough evidence to name Trump as a co-conspirator. Michael Cohen previously pleaded guilty to two campaign finance crimes related to the hush-money payments. The renewed inquiry will serve as another aspect of the House's consideration of whether or not to draft articles of impeachment against Trump. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump "suggested" that Pence stay at his Irish golf club and hotel during a taxpayer-funded trip, despite the meetings taking place more than 150 miles away. Pence is traveling with his wife, sister, and mother, and was originally scheduled to end his trip at Trump's golf club in Doonbeg. Pence will now fly back and forth from Doonbeg to Dublin for his meetings – more than an hour flight each way. Both Pence and an aide defended the arrangement, claiming that the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel was "the one facility" in Ireland that could accommodate the delegation traveling with Pence. Since 2017, Pence's political group has spent about $224,000 at Trump properties. (NBC News / Daily Beast / Associated Press / New York Times / CNN /Washington Post)

3/ A company that Trump's campaign manager owns received more than $900,000 in business from a pro-Trump super PAC. Brad Parscale created Red State Data and Digital to act as a "firewall company" that allowed it to continue working with the America First super PAC during the midterm elections without violating election rules that prohibit coordination between a campaign and a super PAC. Red State was founded on March 2, 2018 – days after it was announced that Parscale would become Trump's 2020 campaign manager. (CNN / ABC News)

4/ A group of Trump's allies is trying to raise at least $2 million to investigate reporters and editors Trump doesn't like. In a fundraising pitch, the group claims it will provide damaging information about reporters and editors to "friendly media outlets," such as Breitbart, as well as traditional media when possible. GOP consultant Arthur Schwartz will be involved with the fundraising effort, along with several others associated with the "loose network" of operatives identified by the New York Times last week. The prospectus for the project says it is "targeting the people producing the news." (Axios)

5/ The Trump administration will divert $3.6 billion this week from 127 military construction projects to build to build 175 miles of Trump's border wall. Trump declared a national emergency in February to draw funding from federal accounts to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said about half of the funding will come from military construction projects outside the United States and half will come from projects within the country. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 757: Trump declared a national emergency at the border to circumvent Congress and fund his border wall with money lawmakers refused to give him, saying "I didn't need to do this," but "I just want to get it done faster, that's all." In a Rose Garden news conference, Trump said he would sign the declaration to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to his border wall and then use presidential budgetary discretion to redirect $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and another $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund. Between the $1.375 billion authorized for fencing in a spending package passed by Congress, and the roughly $6.5 billion in funding from executive action, Trump is will have about $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier – significantly more than the $5.7 billion that Congress refused to give him. Following the news conference, Trump signed the spending legislation. (New York Times / The Guardian / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News)

6/ Trump tweeted a detailed aerial photo of an Iranian launchpad from that appears to have come from a classified intelligence briefing. The photo shows the aftermath of an accident at Iran's Imam Khomeini Space Center. Some experts suspect that the image in Trump's tweet might have come from a drone or a spy plane, confirming that the U.S. is violating Iran's airspace to spy on the missile program. Amateur satellite trackers, however, say image was taken by one of the United States' most secretive surveillance satellites, USA 224. The capabilities of USA 224 are so closely guarded that people have been sent to prison for leaking photos from them. Trump denied responsibility for the extensive damage to the launchpad and defended his decision to tweet the photo, saying: "We had a photo and I released it, which I have the absolute right to do." (Washington Post / NPR / Los Angeles Times / CNBC)


Notables.

  1. Trump is "not sure that (he's) ever even heard of a Category 5" hurricane. Four such storms – including Hurricane Dorian – having threatened the U.S. since he took office. (CNN)

  2. London Mayor Sadiq Khan mocked Trump for "dealing with a hurricane out on the golf course." Trump cancelled his trip to Poland to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II to instead concentrate on Hurricane Dorian. Instead, he played golf at his private club in Virginia. (Politico)

  3. Trump refused to retract his claim that Hurricane Dorian was poised to hit Alabama, even though the National Weather Service said he was wrong. The NWS office in Birmingham rejected Trump's assertion that Alabama was in the storm's path, tweeting: "We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama." Trump, meanwhile, explained that it's "Always good to be prepared!" (CNN / New York Times / The Hill / Yahoo! News)

  4. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos scaled back an Obama-era federal student loan forgiveness policy for borrowers who claim they were misled or deceived by their colleges. The new rules will make it more difficult for federal student loan borrowers to cancel their debt on the grounds that their college defrauded them. (Politico)

  5. U.S. manufacturing contracted for the first time since 2016, heightening fears that the trade war with China could bring on a recession. The Institute for Supply Management's purchasing managers index fell to 49.1 in August. Figures below 50 indicate the manufacturing economy is generally shrinking. (Bloomberg / New York Times)

Day 953: Cone of uncertainty.

1/ Trump's longtime personal assistant was fired after bragging to reporters that she had a better relationship with Trump than Ivanka or Tiffany Trump – his own daughters. Madeleine Westerhout also told reporters that Trump did not like being in pictures with Tiffany because he thought she was overweight. Westerhout comments happened at an off-the-record dinner with reporters in Bedminster, N.J. (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

2/ Trump formally established the U.S. military's Space Command, which will be responsible for protecting American interests in what he called "the next war-fighting domain." Space Command will consist 287 personnel, but could draw troops from other branches of the military, as well as from Trump's proposed Space Force, the sixth branch of the military that is currently waiting to be approved by Congress. Space Command's location has yet to be determined, but the Pentagon is currently considering six locations at bases in Colorado, Alabama and California. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

3/ The Federal Election Commission no longer has enough commissioners to legally meet after the vice chairman resigned earlier this week. With Matthew Petersen gone, the FEC will be down to three members and won't have a quorum. The agency is supposed to serve as the watchdog over how money is raised and spent in American elections. (NPR / New York Times / USA Today)

4/ Trump canceled his planned trip to Poland to monitor Hurricane Dorian, which is threatening to strike Florida near Mar-a-Lago. The storm is projected to make landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Monday, with Melbourne as the most likely landing spot – about 115 miles north of where Trump's ocean-front hotel is situated. Mar-a-Lago remains in the "cone of uncertainty." Trump had been set to travel to Poland to participate in a World War II commemoration ceremony. Pence will make the trip instead. (NBC News / Tampa Bay Times / Washington Post / CNN)

Day 952: "A troubling pattern of corruption."

1/ The EPA plans to roll back regulation of methane emissions – a major contributor to climate change – by eliminating the federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to monitor and limit leaks from wells, tanks, and pipeline networks. Trump administration officials suggested that because the oil and gas industry can't profit from leaks, they already have an economic incentive to limit their methane emissions. Several of the world's largest fossil fuel companies, however, opposed the rollback and urged the Trump administration to leave the current standards in place. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / NBC News)

2/ The Trump administration started denying applications by immigrant families for permission to extend their stay in the for medical care not available in their home countries. Letters issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to those applying for medical relief that agency offices "no longer consider deferred action requests," except for members of the military, and their stay has been rescinded. They have 33 days to leave the country, retroactive to any requests filed on or before Aug. 7th. The policy has not been publicly announced. (NBC News / ABC News)

3/ The Justice Department inspector general found that James Comey violated FBI policies for sharing memos that detailed his interactions with Trump. Comey won't be charged. The inspector general determined that the memos were official records, which describe how Trump pressed Comey for loyalty and asked him to stop an investigation into Michael Flynn. (Washington Post / NPR / USA Today / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 104: Comey helped release details of his meetings with Trump. Comey acknowledged that he shared copies of his memos documenting his Trump meetings with a “close friend” — a professor at Columbia Law School — who could share the information with reporters. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 456: The Justice Department sent partially redacted copies of James Comey's memos – 15 pages in total – to Congress, which leaked to the public within hours. The memos cover the first three months of the Trump administration. Following the release, Trump tweeted that the memos "show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION." (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The House Judiciary Committee will investigate Trump's proposal to hold the 2020 G7 meeting at his Trump National Doral Miami golf resort, calling the move "only the latest in a troubling pattern of corruption and self-dealing" by Trump. Jerrold Nadler said that requiring foreign leaders to pay to stay at a Trump-owned property would be a direct violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 949: Trump floated the idea of holding the next G7 summit at his "magnificent" Doral golf resort in Miami. Trump said that while he hasn't made a final decision, "it's right next to the airport and it's a great place," and that his staff had determined that — of all the resorts in America — Trump's club was the best suited to host the international meeting. Trump also defended the possibility of hosting the summit at his golf club, claiming "I'm not going to make any money. I don't want to make money. I don't care about making money." The U.S. is next to host the G7 in 2020. Trump also refused to say whether he would invite Russia to the meeting, but said he thought it would be "advantageous" if they attended. Russia was kicked out over its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / CNN)

5/ Trump attacked Puerto Rico as it braces for Hurricane Dorian. He called the island "one of the most corrupt places on earth" and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz "incompetent." Trump then proclaimed himself "the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico." (ABC News / CNBC / Washington Post)

6/ Trump complained that Fox News "isn't working for us anymore" because the network is not sufficiently loyal to him. Trump urged his followers to "start looking for a new News Outlet" as an alternative to Fox. Several Fox News personalities, however, pushed back, saying: "Fox News isn't supposed to work for you," and "We don't work for you." (Politico / CNN / Daily Beast)

7/ MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell retracted his claim Russian oligarchs had co-signed Trump's Deutsche Bank loans. O'Donnell said that statements from a single source weren't ready to be reported, because he did not go through the network's "rigorous verification and standards process" before repeating it, and that "had it gone through that process, I would not have been permitted to report it." (Politico / NBC News)

8/ Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner discussed the possibility of replacing Pence with Nikki Haley on the 2020 Republican ticket. Haley, meanwhile, tweeted out a denial of the "false rumors" — which hadn't leaked beyond the White House — that she wanted to join Trump on the 2020 ticket. (Raw Story / Political Wire)

9/ Trump aides admitted that he lied about the "high-level" trade talks with Chinese officials in order to boost markets. Aides privately conceded that the calls didn't happen the way Trump said they did, and because Trump wanted to project optimism, he conflated comments from China's vice premier with direct communications from the Chinese. (CNN)

10/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin floated the idea of offering bonds with maturities of 50 to 100 years. Mnuchin said the idea was under "very serious consideration" after a meeting with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow earlier this month when the yield curve briefly inverted. (Bloomberg)

11/ Trump is considering a plan to block more than $250 million in foreign aid to Ukraine. Since 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in security assistance to bolster the country's military, which faces an ongoing conflict with separatists that the Pentagon believes are backed by Moscow. (CNN / Politico)

12/ Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said he had "no choice but to leave" the Trump administration after Trump announced plans to withdraw the U.S. military from Syria. Mattis has given a series of interviews and public statements in recent weeks indirectly criticizing Trump, but he has refused to directly address Trump's character and fitness for office, citing a "duty of silence" to the administration. "When you leave an administration over clear policy differences," Mattis said, "you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country." (CNN)

13/ Trump made 48 false claims between Tuesday and Sunday last week. He has averaged 7.7 false claims per day since July 8. (CNN)

14/ A press secretary for Trump's reelection campaign disputed that Trump frequently lies. Kayleigh McEnany said "No, I don't think the President has lied," and then accused some news networks of "lying to the American people." McEnany also dismissed Russia's interference in the 2016 election. (CNN)

Day 951: Dread.

1/ Deutsche Bank told a federal appeals court that it has some Trump-related tax returns. In a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Deutsche wrote that it "has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or as-filed form) responsive to the Subpoenas" from the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees seeking financial records for Trump, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, the Trump Organization, and other Trump-family-controlled entities. Deutsche redacted the names of individuals from the public filing due to privacy concerns about its relationship with clients and wouldn't publicly confirm whether it specifically had Trump's tax returns, but added it also has tax records "related to parties not named in the subpoenas but who may constitute 'immediate family'" of individuals named in the document request. The disclosure was made by Deutsche after appellate judges had asked if the bank actually had the records. Capital One, which was also subpoenaed by the House committees in April, said it "does not possess any tax returns responsive to the Capital One subpoena." Trump is currently suing to prevent Deutsche Bank and other banks from complying with the subpoenas. Deutsche Bank has been Trump's primary lender for years when other banks wouldn't lend to the Trump Organization. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Reuters / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 320: Robert Mueller issued a subpoena for the banking records of people affiliated with Trump. The move forced Deutsche Bank – Trump's biggest lender – to turn over documents related to certain credit transactions and the $300 million Trump owes the lender. Legal experts said it showed Mueller was "following the money" in search of links between the campaign and the Kremlin since Deutsche Bank may have sold some of Trump's mortgage or loans to Russian-owned banks, which could potentially give Russia leverage over Trump. Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's personal lawyers, denied that a subpoena had been issued. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Trump, which he used to build or purchase highest-profile projects in Washington, New York, Chicago and Florida. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / Reuters / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 356: The Trump administration waived fines for Deutsche Bank and four other multinational banks convicted of manipulating global interest rates. Trump owes Deutsche at least $130 million in loans that were originally worth $300 million. The German bank was also fined $425 million by New York State for laundering $10 billion out of Russia. (International Business Times / USA Today)

  • 📌 Day 526: Justice Anthony Kennedy's son, Justin, worked at Deutsche Bank for more than a decade, helping loan Trump more than $1 billion at a time when other banks wouldn't. Since 1998, Deutsche has helped loan Trump at least $2.5 billion, of which at least $130 million is still owed to the bank. In 2017, Deutsche Bank AG agreed to pay $425 million to New York's banking regulator over a money laundering scheme that helped Russian investors move $10 billion out of Russia. Trump later waived the fines for the bank after Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to Deutsche for the banking records of people affiliated with him. Following Trump's first address to Congress in February 2017, he stopped to tell Justice Kennedy: "Say hello to your boy. Special guy." (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 789: Deutsche Bank loaned more than $2 billion to Trump over nearly two decades during his time as a real estate developer at a time when other banks wouldn't lend to him. The bank repeatedly loaned money to Trump despite multiple business-related "red flags," including instances where Trump exaggerated his wealth by an extra $2 billion in order to secure additional loans from the bank. In 2010, Trump returned to Deutsche Bank for $100 million loan, even though it had concluded at the time that Trump had overvalued some of his real estate assets by up to 70%. (New York Times / New York Times / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 817: House Democrats subpoenaed Deutsche Bank for Trump's personal and financial records. Democrats also subpoenaed JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup for documents related to possible Russian money laundering. Maxine Waters said Trump's "potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern" and that the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees will "follow the facts wherever they may lead us." Deutsche Bank reportedly requested a so-called "friendly subpoena" from the committees before it would comply with their request. The Trump Organization, meanwhile, said it was looking at options to block Deutsche Bank from complying with the subpoena. (New York Times / CNN / Politico / Reuters / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 831: Trump, his family, and the Trump Organization are suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to block their compliance with subpoenas from House Democrats seeking his financial records. Trump's attorneys argue that the subpoenas serve "no legitimate or lawful purpose" and were issued to harass Trump and "rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses, and the private information of the President and his family." House Democrats called it a "meritless lawsuit" that was "only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible" in order to "obstruct Congress's constitutional oversight authority." The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Trump, Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and the Trump Organization. Deutsche Bank and Capital One intend to begin providing documents to the House on May 6th, absent court intervention. (New York Times / Politico / Axios / CNBC / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 851: Deutsche Bank staff identified multiple suspicious transactions made in 2016 and 2017 by legal entities controlled by Trump and Jared Kushner. A group of anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended that the bank report the transactions to a federal financial-crimes watchdog. But executives at the bank, from which Trump has borrowed billions of dollars, rejected the advice of their staff and chose not to file the reports with the government. The nature of the transactions in question is still unclear, but at least some of them involved money flowing back and forth between overseas entities or individuals, something the bank employees flagged as suspicious. Deutsche Bank has denied the report that its executives ignored the recommendations of its own anti-money-laundering specialists. (New York Times / Reuters / Reuters)

🚨 RUMOR MILL: MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell said that a "single source close to Deutsche Bank" said Trump had Russian oligarchs co-sign his loan documents. O'Donnell added that his source said Trump would not have been able to obtain his loans with Deutsche without the co-signers, which described as "Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin." (Washington Examiner / Business Insider / Twitter)

  • Trump's personal attorney threatened NBCUniversal and Lawrence O'Donnell with a defamation suit for reporting that "Russian oligarchs" co-signed loans to Trump. Charles Harder demanded that O'Donnell and NBCU "immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements." (Hollywood Reporter)

2/ Trump promised to pardon any official who breaks the law in order to get his border wall built by the 2020 election. Trump also directed officials to "take the land" necessary and "get it done" by eminent domain along the U.S.-Mexico border, ignore environmental regulations, and quickly approve billions of dollars' worth of construction contracts to fast-track his signature 2016 presidential campaign promise. "Don't worry, I'll pardon you," Trump reportedly told aides. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / CNN / The Independent)

3/ Children born to some U.S. military members and government employees working overseas will no longer automatically be considered United States citizens, according to policy alert issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Trump administration rescinded previous guidance that children of U.S. service members and government officials abroad are considered "residing in the United States" and automatically given citizenship under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The new policy, however, states that "these children will no longer be considered to have acquired citizenship automatically." The new policy will go into effect on Oct. 29th. (Task and Purpose / The Hill / Axios / Daily Beast)

4/ Trump instructed his Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to exempt Alaska's 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest from logging restrictions put in place nearly two decades ago. The move would open up more than half of the world's largest intact temperate rainforest to potential logging, energy, and mining projects. It would also undercut a policy put in place by the Clinton administration known as the "roadless rule." Forest Service officials had planned to phase out old-growth logging in the Tongass within a decade. (Washington Post / The Hill / Slate)

5/ Trump said he backs Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro in the struggle to contain the man-made fires in the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro is "working very hard on the Amazon fires," Trump tweeted, "and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil - Not easy. He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA!" Bolsonaro played a key role in pushing for the deforestation which directly contributed to the fires. He recently rejected $20 million in international aid to help fight the fires, before deciding on Tuesday to accept all foreign aid from organizations or countries — as long as Brazil can decide how to use the assistance. (Politico / New York Times / MSNBC / CBS News)

poll/ 56% of voters disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job as president. If the 2020 presidential election were held today, 54% of voters said they'd vote for Joe Biden, while 38% would vote for Trump. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 37% of Americans say the economy is declining, compared with 31% who continue to see improvement. (Bloomberg / Quinnipiac)

poll/ 81% of voters say the fundamental values of the United States are being tested in the 2020 election, including 87% of Democrats, 81% of Republicans, and 78% of independents. 58% added that the 2020 election will be the most important of their lifetimes. 6%, however, said the 2020 election is not at all important compared to other elections. 38% of Americans said they would have little or no confidence that the election had been conducted in a "fair-and-square way" if their candidate loses. (USA Today / Suffolk University)

Day 950: Downhill.

1/ The Trump administration is pulling $155 million from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund to temporarily pay for court hearing locations for asylum-seekers along the southern border who have been forced to wait in Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security will also lose $116 million previously allocated for Coast Guard operations, aviation security, and more in order to fund nearly 6,800 more beds for immigrant detainees. Combined with existing space, the funding would allow ICE to detain nearly 50,000 immigrants at one time. The Trump administrations sent the allocation changes to Congress as a notification rather than a request. Puerto Rico is currently under a hurricane watch, which Trump complained about as "yet another big storm" before overstating how much money Congress allocated for recovery in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

2/ The attorneys general for 19 states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration to block a new rule to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border illegally. The new rule would terminate the Flores agreement, which puts a 20-day limit on how long children can be held in immigration detention. (Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 924: The Trump administration will terminate the 20-day cap for detaining migrant children and allow the government to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border illegally. The new regulation, announced by acting Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan, requires approval from a federal judge before it can go into effect and could be in defiance of the 2015 Flores agreement, which limited the time families could be detained to 20 days. Trump and Republicans have repeatedly blamed the 20-day rule for encouraging migrants to arrive at the border with their children expecting to be released. Administration officials claim the new rule will serve as a deterrent against migrant families. The Trump administration proposed a similar rule in September 2018 that would have allowed the government to detain migrant children for longer periods of time, so long as they were treated with "dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors." (ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / New York Times)

3/ Homeland Security plans to launch a program aimed at protecting voter registration databases and systems from ransomware attacks ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The systems are used to validate the eligibility of voters before they cast ballots. They were compromised in 2016 by Russian hackers collecting voter information. Intelligence officials say that in 2020, however, foreign hackers will not only target the databases, but could also attempt to manipulate, disrupt, or destroy the data altogether. A senior U.S. official says the systems are classified as "high risk." (Reuters)

4/ Attorney General William Barr booked Trump's D.C. hotel for a 200-person holiday party in December. Trump's hotel will likely earn more than $30,000 in revenue from the event. Justice Department attorneys, meanwhile, are currently defending Trump's business in court, arguing that he has not violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump blamed "Radical Left Democrats" for spreading a "false and nasty rumor" about a bedbug infestation at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort. "No bedbugs at Doral," Trump tweeted, referring to a lawsuit over bedbugs that the resort settled in 2017. The hashtag "#TrumpBedBugs" was trending on Twitter yesterday after Trump floated the idea of hosting next year's G7 meeting at the hotel. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • 2017: Trump Doral settles lawsuit over biting bedbugs. (Miami Herald)

  • Trump called Baltimore "rat and rodent infested" four months after he tried ending the primary funding source for the city's public housing rat-elimination program. The Community Development Block Grant program funded $22 million worth of improvements in Baltimore last year and ensures "decent affordable housing," after-school programs to low-income children, and assistance on closing costs to purchase homes. (Baltimore Sun)

  • 📌 Day 921: Trump called Elijah Cummings a "brutal bully" and his Baltimore-based district a "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" that "is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there." Trump also called Cummings, a black civil rights icon, a "racist." Trump's tweets appeared to be in response to a Fox & Friends segment on the same topic that ran earlier in the day, which included images of rundown and neglected apartment buildings in Baltimore. As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings has initiated most of the investigations into the Trump administration. Last week, Cummings was authorized to subpoena work-related text and emails by White House officials, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Trump called Cummings' "radical 'oversight' […] a joke!" (Baltimore Sun / New York Times / Washington Post / Washington Post / The Hill)

6/ Trump said he refuses to jeopardize the wealth of the U.S. over climate "dreams" and "windmills" after skipping a G7 session on climate change. The Trump administration has rolled back several U.S. environmental protection policies put in place by the Obama administration, including weakening the Endangered Species Act. (Reuters)

7/ Farmers are losing patience with Trump's trade war with China and a growing number suggest it will not take much more to lose their vote. "We're not starting to do great again," said the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. "Things are going downhill and downhill quickly." American agricultural exports to China were $24 billion in 2014, but fell to $9.1 billion last year. Exports of farm products to China fell by another $1.3 billion in the first half of this year. Farm bankruptcy filings this year through June are up 13% from 2018 and loan delinquency rates are also on the rise. (New York Times)

  • China's foreign ministry said it hopes the U.S. can create the conditions for additional trade talks between the world's two largest economies. The ministry also reiterated that it had no knowledge of any recent phone call between the U.S. and China, as members of the Trump administration claimed. (Reuters)

poll/ Trump's net approval rating has dropped in every key battleground state since January 2017. (Axios / Morning Consult)

Day 949: Magnificent.

1/ Trump was the only world leader to skip a session devoted to climate change at the G7 summit, citing scheduled meetings with Germany and India. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, both attended the climate change meeting. When asked whether he had attended the climate session, Trump replied: "We're having it in a little while." (The Guardian / USA Today / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 931: Climate change is putting pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to a new United Nations report that was prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and, unanimously approved. The report warns that the world's land and water resources are being exploited at "unprecedented rates" and "the cycle is accelerating." Climate change has already degraded lands, caused deserts to expand, permafrost to thaw, and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. "The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases," the report said. The report offered several proposals for addressing food supplies, including reducing red meat consumption, adopting plant-based diets, and eating more fruits, vegetables and seeds. As a result, the world could reduce carbon pollution up to 15% of current emissions levels by 2050. It would also make people healthier. (New York Times / Associated Press / Nature)

  • 📌Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌Day 676: The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 685: Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn't stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: "We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change." (Washington Post / New York Times

2/ Trump floated the idea of holding the next G7 summit at his "magnificent" Doral golf resort in Miami. Trump said that while he hasn't made a final decision, "it's right next to the airport and it's a great place," and that his staff had determined that — of all the resorts in America — Trump's club was the best suited to host the international meeting. Trump also defended the possibility of hosting the summit at his golf club, claiming "I'm not going to make any money. I don't want to make money. I don't care about making money." The U.S. is next to host the G7 in 2020. Trump also refused to say whether he would invite Russia to the meeting, but said he thought it would be "advantageous" if they attended. Russia was kicked out over its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / CNN)

  • Trump told the G7 that Obama was "outsmarted" and embarrassed by Putin when Russia illegally seized Crimea from Ukraine. (Politico)

  • 📌 Revenue at the Trump National Doral has declined since 2015. The resort's net operating income fell by 69% from 2015 to 2017. (Washington Post)

3/ The Trump's hotels and resorts could save millions of dollars on outstanding loans if the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates as Trump has demanded. For every quarter-point reduction, Trump could save as much as $850,000 in annual interest rate payments. If the Fed dropped rates a full percentage point, which Trump has repeatedly urged Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to do, the Trump Organization could save more than $3 million annually. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 942: Trump urged the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by a full percentage point. The Fed cut rates last month for the first time in a decade, signaling it might further cut rates amid slowing global growth and uncertainty over Trump's trade war with China. Trump chastised the central bank's chairman, Jerome Powell, for a "horrendous lack of vision" and claimed that the U.S. economy "is very strong." (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 946: Trump called the Federal Reserve chairman an "enemy" of the United States after Jerome Powell said Trump's trade war is a "complex, turbulent" situation. Powell, whom Trump picked for the role, suggested the trade wars were contributing to a possible global slowdown and that the central bank was facing a "new challenge" as a result. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that the Fed "did NOTHING" and questioned who "our bigger enemy" is: Powell or China's President Xi Jinping. Trump also tweeted that he'll continue to "work 'brilliantly.'" [Editor's note: It's unclear why Trump quoted the word brilliantly in his tweet.] (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 937: Trump, meanwhile, called Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell "clueless" and blamed him for the "CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE!" Trump, deflecting criticism that his trade war with China is hurting the economic outlook, claimed that "China is not our problem" and that "we are winning, big time." Yesterday, Trump delayed imposing tariffs on some Chinese imports until December "just in case" there would be a negative impact on shoppers during the holidays. (CNBC / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump claimed that "China called last night" to resume trade talks because "They have been hurt very badly" by the trade war. Chinese officials, however, said they were "not aware" of any phone calls with Trump and that China was willing to resolve the trade dispute through "calm" negotiations and opposed further escalation of the conflict. Trump replied: "Sorry, it's the way I negotiate." (Politico / Reuters / Bloomberg / Associated Press / CNBC / Washington Post)

5/ Trump has repeatedly suggested dropping nuclear bombs on hurricanes to stop them from hitting the U.S. during meetings with senior Homeland Security and national security officials. "Why don't we nuke them?" Trump reportedly asked at one hurricane briefing at the White House. Government scientists have repeatedly said the idea will not work. A source in the room said "You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, 'What the f—? What do we do with this?'" Trump later denied the report, tweeting in third person that "President Trump […] never said this" and called the story "ridiculous." (Axios / CNN)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration won't say when the first mile of Trump's new border wall will be built. More than 60 miles of existing barriers and fences have been replaced with a new wall, but to date not a single mile of wall has been built where no barrier previously existed. (Axios)

  2. A network of conservative operatives and White House allies are attempting to discredit news organizations that Trump doesn't like by publishing damaging information about journalists who work for them. The group compiles dossiers of embarrassing social media posts and other public statements made by journalists who work at large news organizations, including CNN, Washington Post, and New York Times. The research also reportedly extends to the family members of journalists, liberal activists, and other political opponents of Trump. (New York Times)

  3. The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House staff secretary Rob Porter for public testimony. Porter was a key witness in Mueller's investigation into possible obstruction of justice by Trump and will now testify publicly about Trump's efforts to impede the Russia investigation. Porter is the third former Trump adviser to receive a subpoena in the last month. The committee is currently weighing whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump. Porter resigned last year amid allegations that he abused his ex-wives. (Politico / New York Times / NBC News / Reuters)

  4. Trump claimed that Melania Trump has "gotten to know" North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and that she agrees that Kim "is a man with a country that has tremendous potential." Melania Trump has never met Kim, which the White House later confirmed. (Politico / Washington Post)

Day 946: "Our bigger enemy."

1/ Trump called the Federal Reserve chairman an "enemy" of the United States after Jerome Powell said Trump's trade war is a "complex, turbulent" situation. Powell, whom Trump picked for the role, suggested the trade wars were contributing to a possible global slowdown and that the central bank was facing a "new challenge" as a result. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that the Fed "did NOTHING" and questioned who "our bigger enemy" is: Powell or China's President Xi Jinping. Trump also tweeted that he'll continue to "work 'brilliantly.'" [Editor's note: It's unclear why Trump quoted the word brilliantly in his tweet.] (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian / CNBC)

2/ China will retaliate with tariffs on $75 billion more of U.S. goods in two batches effective Sept. 1st and Dec. 15th, which match with 10% tariff the Trump administration said would go into effect on $300 billion worth of imports from China. Beijing will also impose 25% tariffs on U.S. cars and a 5% on auto parts and components, which will go into effect on Dec. 15th. China paused the tariffs in April. (ABC News / Bloomberg / CNBC / Axios)

3/ Trump "hereby ordered" U.S. companies via Twitter to leave China "immediately" after Beijing said it would impose tariffs on $75 billion worth of additional U.S. products. In a series of tweets, Trump demanded that U.S. companies "start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing our companies HOME and making your products in the USA," because "Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years." Trump also "ordered" the United States Postal Service and private American companies like FedEx, Amazon, and UPS to search packages from China for Fentanyl and refuse delivery. The White House does not have the authority to force companies to follow these "orders." Trump also promised to escalate the trade war, saying he would be "responding to China's Tariffs this afternoon" because "This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States." (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Bloomberg)

4/ The Dow dropped more than 600 points after Trump ordered U.S. manufacturers to find alternatives to China. The spread between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 2-year Treasury yield also inverted following Trump's tweets. A yield curve inversion is considered one of the most reliable leading indicators that recession is coming. (CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  • Trump joked that the stock market dropped because Rep. Seth Moulton dropped out of the presidential race. Moulton, meanwhile, reacted to Trump's tweet, saying "I'm glad he thinks I have more influence on the Dow than he does." (The Hill / Politico / New York Times)

5/ Trump tweeted that he'll raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods from 25% to 30% on Oct. 1. Trump also announced that the 10% tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods set to go into effect on Sept. 1st would be raised to 15%. Trump capped off his tweetstorm with: "Thank you for your attention to this matter!" (CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg / Axios / New York Times)


Notables.

  • The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to allow private companies to fire workers based only on their sexual orientation. An amicus brief filed by the Justice Department weighed in on two cases involving gay workers and what is meant by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination "because of sex." The administration argued that Title VII's ban on sex discrimination only prohibits unequal treatment between "biological sexes." (BuzzFeed News)

  • The Trump administration promoted six judges to the immigration appeals court who all have high rates of denying immigrants' asylum claims. All six were named by Attorney General William Barr. The immigration appeals court is responsible for setting binding policy for deportation cases. (San Francisco Chronicle)

  • Trump claimed that 94% of Republicans approve of the way he is handling his job. Trump's job approval among Republicans in recent nationally representative polls, however, found that his approval stands at 84% (Monmouth University), 79% (AP-NORC), and 88% (Fox News). (Washington Post)

Day 945: "Frankly ridiculous."

1/ The economy added 501,000 fewer jobs since 2018 than previously reported, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics revision. Trump's tax cuts resulted in fewer restaurants, hotels, retailers and professional business services jobs than it initially reported. Trump, meanwhile, recently exaggerated that "We've created over 6 million new jobs since the election." Since Trump took office, however, the country has added about 5.7 million jobs. (MarketWatch / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • The U.S. manufacturing contracted for the first time since September 2009. The purchasing managers' index was 49.9 in August. Any reading below 50 signals a contraction. (CNBC)

2/ Trump dropped his plan to eliminate more than $4 billion in foreign aid funding without congressional approval. The Trump administration wanted to decrease what it called wasteful spending by making foreign aid conditional on support of U.S. policies. Trump's decision to forgo a "rescission" comes after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and several Republican lawmakers warned that the move would be detrimental to national security. Acting budget director, Russ Vought, and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, however, both pushed Trump to pursue the plan. (Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 575: The White House budget office is attempting to cancel about $3 billion in foreign aid using an obscure budget rule to freeze the State Department's international assistance budget. (Politico)

  • 📌 Day 937: The Trump administration will shield funding for Ivanka Trump and Pence's programs as the White House looks to cancel billions of dollars in unspent funding already approved by Congress. The White House is expected to propose returning billions of dollars of unspent foreign aid funds to the Treasury in a process known as rescission. The Office of Management and Budget, however, has already ruled out canceling funds for Ivanka's Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, Pence's programs for Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East, and some global health programs. Republicans and Democrats say the review undermines Congress's authority to appropriate funds. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump said he's considering ending birthright citizenship in the U.S. for children of non-citizens and people who came to the U.S. illegally. Trump called it "frankly ridiculous" that someone can "have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby — congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen." The Constitution's 14th Amendment, however, guarantees citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States," which has been interpreted by the courts to grant citizenship to people born in the United States, regardless of the citizenship of their parents. (Reuters)

4/ The Justice Department sent all immigration court employees an article posted from a white nationalist website that "directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs." The Justice Department recently moved to decertify the immigration judges union. (BuzzFeed News)

  • 📌 Day 936: The Justice Department moved to decertify the union representing hundreds of U.S. immigration judges. The DOJ filed a petition asking the Federal Labor Relations Authority to review the certification of the National Association of Immigration Judges and determine whether it should be revoked "because the bargaining unit members are management officials under the statutory definition." The NAIJ represents some 440 immigration judges across the country. (NPR)

5/ Rudy Giuliani confirmed that the State Department helped him press the Ukrainian government to probe Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee. Giuliani has wanted Ukrainian officials to look into Biden's effort to crack down on corruption in Ukraine and his son Hunter Biden's involvement in a natural gas company there. Giuliani also wanted to know if Ukrainian officials and the DNC worked together to harm Trump's 2016 campaign by releasing damaging information about Paul Manafort. (NBC News)

6/ Sarah Huckabee Sanders will join Fox News as a contributor and will make her debut on "Fox & Friends" on Sept. 6th. Sanders left the White House in June and is the third former top White House communications official to join Fox after exiting the Trump administration. (CNN / Variety / Axios / CNBC)

7/ A top aide at the Department of Homeland Security resigned amid frustrations between the White House and DHS leadership. Andrew Meehan was a top aide and spokesman to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. (Axios / The Hill)

8/ Trump wanted to award himself a Medal of Honor, but his aides talked him out of it. "Nothing like the Medal of Honor," Trump said to the 75th annual national convention of American Veterans. "I wanted one, but they told me I don't qualify […] I said, 'Can I give it to myself anyway?' They said, 'I don't think that's a good idea.'" Trump never served in the military and received five draft deferments, including four for college and one for bone spurs in his foot. (Politico)

poll/ 62% of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president; 36% of Americans approve of the way Trump his handling his job. Trump's approval rating has never dipped below 32% or risen above 42% since he took office. (Associated Press)

Day 944: Absurd.

1/ The Trump administration will terminate the 20-day cap for detaining migrant children and allow the government to indefinitely detain migrant families who cross the border illegally. The new regulation, announced by acting Department of Homeland Security chief Kevin McAleenan, requires approval from a federal judge before it can go into effect and could be in defiance of the 2015 Flores agreement, which limited the time families could be detained to 20 days. Trump and Republicans have repeatedly blamed the 20-day rule for encouraging migrants to arrive at the border with their children expecting to be released. Administration officials claim the new rule will serve as a deterrent against migrant families. The Trump administration proposed a similar rule in September 2018 that would have allowed the government to detain migrant children for longer periods of time, so long as they were treated with "dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors." (ABC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ The Trump administration is considering a plan to allow states and cities the ability to deny entry to refugees approved for resettlement in the United States. According to the draft order, "the federal government will resettle refugees only where both the relevant state and local governments have consented to participate" in the program. If a jurisdiction does not agree, the federal government will find another location. Trump, meanwhile, is debating whether to decrease refugee admissions starting on Oct. 1. In fiscal year 2016, the limit was 85,000 refugees; in fiscal year 2019, the number was 30,000. (NBC News)

3/ Trump accused Jewish Democrats of "show[ing] either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty," repeating an anti-Semitic trope that Jews have a "dual loyalty" and are more devoted to Israel than they are to their own countries. Trump's comments came in response to a question about Rep. Ilhan Omar's suggestion that the U.S. should reconsider how much foreign aid it pays to Israel. Trump also tweet-quoted a conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist, who praised Trump as "the greatest President for Jews," that Israelis "love him like he is the second coming of God," and that Trump is "the King of Israel." (NBC News / New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / The Guardian)

4/ The federal budget deficit is growing faster than expected and the Congressional Budget Office forecasts the deficit will expand by about $800 billion more than previously expected over 10 years. The U.S. was already expected to hit about $1 trillion in annual deficits next year, but the shortfall will expand by $1.9 trillion in new spending over the next decade because of a budget deal to avoid the spending cliff and an emergency spending package for the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. It would be the first time the deficit exceeded the $1 trillion mark since 2012, when the economy was recovering from the financial crisis. By 2029, the national debt will reach its highest level as a share of the economy since the end of World War II. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump is no longer considering "a tax cut now," because – he claimed – "we don't need it. We have a strong economy." Yesterday, Trump confirmed that he is considering "various tax reductions," including a payroll tax cut, to stimulate a weakening American economy. Meanwhile, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney promised top GOP donors that if an election-year recession hits, it would be "moderate and short." (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

6/ Trump cancelled his trip to Denmark because the Danish prime minister would not sell him Greenland and had "no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland." Trump accused Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of making "nasty" comments and that "she blew me off" and made "not a nice statement" about his interest in purchasing Greenland. Frederiksen called Trump's idea of selling Greenland "absurd." (NPR / BBC / New York Times / New York Times / NBC News / NBC News /Washington Post / Washington Post)

poll/ 65% of Americans say current economic conditions are good – down five percentage points since May. The drop is the first significant decline in public perception about the economy during Trump's presidency. (CNN)

Day 943: Fundamentals.

1/ Trump confirmed that he is considering "various tax reductions," including a payroll tax cut, to stimulate a weakening American economy. The White House previously disputed that a payroll tax was under consideration. Trump said he'd "been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time," and that "it's not being done because of recession." Trump added that he's thinking about reducing capital gains taxes, which would largely benefit wealthy investors. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Kellyanne Conway insisted that "the fundamentals of our economy are very strong," despite a majority of economists expecting a downturn to hit by 2021 at the latest. The White House, meanwhile, is discussing ways to stimulate an economy that Trump claimed was "very strong." (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • U.S. Steel plans to lay off 200 workers at its facility in Michigan due to "current market conditions." Since Trump announced the tariffs in March 2018, U.S. Steel has lost about 70 percent of its market value, or $5.7 billion. (Crain's Detroit / CNBC / Reuters)

3/ Trump appeared to withdraw his support for additional background checks and gun legislation after speaking with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. LaPierre reportedly told Trump that expanded background checks wouldn't sit well with his supporters. In the wake of the recent back-to-back mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, Trump said "I think background checks are important. I don't want to put guns into the hands of mentally unstable people or people with rage or hate." Now, Trump says he is "very concerned" about the Second Amendment and claims "people don't realize we have very strong background checks right now." (New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The U.S. won't vaccinate migrant families and has no plans to do so ahead of this year's flu season. At least three children held in detention centers at the Mexican border have died from the flu. The U.S. had previously gone almost a decade without any children dying while under U.S. immigration custody. (CNBC)

5/ New York, Connecticut and Vermont sued to block Trump's public charge rule, which would limit pathways to citizenship for some legal immigrants. Under the new rule, immigrants enrolled in publicly funded programs, like food stamps and public health insurance, and seeking to change their legal immigration status can be deemed "public charge." Once labeled a "public charge," immigrants would be denied green cards, visas and other forms of legal immigration status. (NBC News)

6/ Trump is expected to name John Sullivan to be the next ambassador to Russia, replacing Jon Huntsman Jr. Sullivan is currently the deputy secretary of state and has limited diplomatic experience dealing with Moscow. (New York Times)

7/ The White House is attempting to block additional states from joining a pact with California and four automakers to oppose Trump's rollback of auto emissions standards. Toyota, Fiat, Chrysler, and General Motors were summoned to the White House last month and pressed by an adviser to stand by Trump's rollbacks. Meanwhile, Mercedez-Benz is preparing to join the agreement, which has reportedly "enraged" Trump. The five automakers account for more than 40% of all cars sold in the United States. (New York Times)

8/ Trump tweeted a doctored photo showing a Trump Tower in Greenland, apparently making light of his idea to buy the world's largest island. The photo shows a golden-clad Trump Tower looming over a small village in Greenland with the caption, "I promise not to do this to Greenland!" (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

9/ Trump inflated the value and profitability of his Scotland golf courses by $165 million. Trump claimed in his 2018 U.S. filing that his Turnberry and Aberdeen resorts were each worth more than $50 million. The balance sheets filed with the United Kingdom, however, show that two golf courses combined debt exceeded their assets by 47.9 million British pounds ― the equivalent of $64.8 million. Trump's 2018 "public financial disclosure" filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics also claimed the two resorts earned "income" of $23.8 million. The filings with the U.K. Companies House office in Edinburgh, however, showed the resorts had lost 4.6 million pounds ― equal to $6.3 million. Knowingly providing false or incomplete information on that form is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act punishable by up to a year in jail. (HuffPost)

Day 942: Damaging to our democracy.

1/ Trump claimed – without evidence – that Google "manipulated" votes in the 2016 election after a Fox Business segment aired Senate Judiciary Committee testimony in June of a psychologist claiming that "biased search results generated by Google's search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that gave at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton (whom I supported)." The authors of the study looked at search results for 95 people over the 25 days preceding the election and evaluated the first page for bias. They did not describe their process, provided no data on the searches, or discuss how Google personalizes search results on past searches, preferences, and location. Trump's tweet also appears to refer to documents leaked to conservative group Project Veritas. The documents, however, do not contain outright allegation of vote manipulation or attempts to bias the election. (CNBC / Washington Post / TechCrunch)

2/ The Federal Election Commission chairwoman called Trump's repeated allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 election unsubstantiated and "damaging to our democracy" because they "undermines people's faith" in the election system. Ellen Weintraub's comment came after Trump asserted at a rally in New Hampshire that voter fraud is the reason he lost the state's four electoral votes in the previous election. "There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in 2016," Weintraub added, "or really in any previous election." (Politico / CNN / Axios)

3/ Trump falsely claimed that he has the authority to make decisions about which TV networks can host the presidential debates during the general election. While complaining that Democrats had barred Fox News from hosting or televising the 2020 Democratic primary debates, Trump warned that he could do the same to Fox News in the general election if the polls about his reelection chances coming out of the network don't change for the better. "My worst polls have always been from Fox," Trump said. "And I think Fox is making a big mistake, because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots on that — on the really big debates." (Politico)

  • Trump is "not happy" with Fox News after a recent poll by the network showed him losing head-to-head matchups with four of the top Democratic candidates. Trump said he didn't "believe" the poll. (Politico)

4/ Thousands of union workers at a Shell plant in Pennsylvania were ordered to attend a Trump speech last week or lose some of their weekly pay. The rules given to workers stated that attendance was "not mandatory," but only those who arrived at 7 a.m., swiped in with their work IDs, and stood for hours waiting to hear Trump speak would be paid for their time. "NO SCAN, NO PAY," said the memo, which also prohibited the workers from doing "anything viewed as resistance" during the event. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette / NBC News / New York Times / Yahoo News)

5/ Trump and two of his senior economic advisers dismissed concerns of a recession. Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, and White House trade director Peter Navarro appeared on all five morning talk shows this weekend, arguing that Trump's tax cuts and trade war with China aren't harming Americans. The economy flashed some warning signs of a recession last week with the stock markets plunging as the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell below that of the two-year Treasury note, which is considered one of the most reliable leading indicators of recession. Consumer confidence has also dropped 6.4% since July. Trump, meanwhile, told reporters: "I don't see a recession." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / ABC News)

6/ Trump urged the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by a full percentage point. The Fed cut rates last month for the first time in a decade, signaling it might further cut rates amid slowing global growth and uncertainty over Trump's trade war with China. Trump chastised the central bank's chairman, Jerome Powell, for a "horrendous lack of vision" and claimed that the U.S. economy "is very strong." (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

7/ White House officials are discussing a temporary payroll tax cut to reverse a weakening economy and encourage consumer spending. Payroll tax cuts usually add to the deficit and – depending on how they're designed – take billions of dollars out of Social Security and Medicare. (Washington Post)

8/ Planned Parenthood pulled out of the federal family planning program rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that restricts clinics from referring patients for abortions. Forgoing Title X federal funding could affect more than 1.5 million low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for services like birth control, pregnancy tests, and sexually transmitted disease screening. Planned Parenthood serves about 40% of the four million patients under Title X. (New York Times / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

9/ Trump wants to set up a naval blockade along the Venezuelan coastline to prevent goods from coming in and out of the country. Trump suggested the blockade to national security officials as recently as a few weeks ago, and has been raising the idea periodically for the last year and a half. Senior Pentagon officials believe a naval blockade is impractical, has no legal basis, and would drain additional resources from a U.S. Navy that is already stretched in their attempts to counter China and Iran. "He literally just said we should get the ships out there and do a naval embargo," said one source who heard Trump's suggestion. (Axios)

10/ Trump still wants to buy Greenland. He confirmed that he asked his administration to explore the possibility of purchasing the island from Denmark, even though officials in Greenland have repeatedly said they're not for sale. Trump, however, called it "essentially […] a large real estate deal." (NBC News / Washington Post)

Day 939: Hate and war.

1/ The impact of Trump's 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which Trump called "the biggest reform of all time" to the tax code, has not generated an increase in overall economic growth, business investment, or worker pay. Half of corporate chief financial officers expect the economy to shrink by the second quarter of 2020 with two-thirds expecting a recession by the end of next year. Despite an uptick in the second quarter of 2018, growth declined the following two quarters to end up at 2.9% for the year – falling short of the promised 3% growth. (CNBC)

2/ Trump claimed that Americans – "whether you love me or hate me" – have "no choice" but to vote for him in 2020, because the stock market will collapse otherwise. Trump also baselessly accused the media of "doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election." Trump, meanwhile, recently attacked the Federal Reserve, forced Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to label China a "currency manipulator," and delayed tariffs on Chinese imports over concerns they could depress holiday sales. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Trump body shamed one of his supporters at a campaign rally, saying "That guy has got a serious weight problem. Go home, get some exercise!" Frank Dawson, who was wearing a "Trump 2020" shirt, was standing near a group of protesters holding two banners. Trump later called from Air Force One, and left a voice mail message for Dawson, but did not apologize for the insult. (Washington Post / New York Times / Daily Beast)

4/ The House Republican strategy on gun violence is to describe mass shootings as "violence from the left" while downplaying white nationalism, according to a talking points memo recently circulated. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 73% of extremist-related murders are committed by right-wing fanatics and white supremacists. No extremist-related murder in the United States last year was carried out by "the left." (Tampa Bay Times

5/ The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rolled back a nationwide injunction that blocked the Trump administration from denying most asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. The decision will now effectively block most Central Americans who cross into the U.S. – legally or illegally – in New Mexico or Texas from seeking asylum while allowing those who cross the border into California or Arizona to claim asylum. (ABC News / Axios)

6/ Trump and his national security advisers are considering a deal with the Taliban for a withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Afghanistan. In exchange, the Taliban would agree to renounce al-Qaeda and to prevent it from activities such as fundraising, recruiting, training and operational planning in areas under Taliban control. An initial withdrawal would include roughly 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and end America's longest military engagement abroad. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

7/ Greenland to Trump: "We're not for sale." (Reuters)

Day 938: Fantastic.

1/ The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to testify publicly about potential obstruction of justice by Trump. The committee also issued a subpoena to former White House deputy chief of staff for policy Rick Dearborn. House Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler said the two former Trump aides will testify publicly on Sept. 17th and expects their testimony "will help the Committee determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President or other Article 1 remedies." The Mueller report said Trump asked Lewandowski to convince then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to un-recuse himself from the investigation into Russian election interference, and publicly say Trump had not done anything wrong. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Axios)

2/ Trump thinks Lewandowski would be a "fantastic" senator if he ran in New Hampshire. Lewandowski has been reportedly considering a Senate run and is expected to make an appearance at a Trump rally in the state on Thursday. The House Judiciary Committee subpoena came hours after Trump told a local radio station that Lewandowski would make a "great senator," who would be "hard to beat" if he ran against Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)

3/ White House officials want to invoke executive privilege to limit or block Lewandowski's testimony despite Lewandowski never working in the administration. The White House previously invoked executive privilege to block Don McGahn, Hope Hicks, and Annie Donaldson – who all held titles in the West Wing – from complying with similar congressional subpoenas. Lewandowski, however, has only informally advised Trump since his work on the 2016 campaign ended. (CNN)

4/ A federal judge rejected the House Judiciary Committee's attempt to link Robert Mueller's grand jury evidence with compelling Don McGahn to testify. The committee contends that the two lawsuits will expedite its decision whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump. House General Counsel Douglas Letter argued that the two cases should be paired in front of the judge, because both seek evidence for a potential impeachment and are based on the same set of facts. D.C. federal District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell ruled that connections between the two suits are "too superficial." (Politico)

5/ Trump retweeted a criminologist who argued that there is no evidence that the United States is experiencing an "epidemic" of mass shootings. At least four people have been killed in a mass shooting, on average, every 47 days since June 17, 2015. (Washington Post)

6/ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting Israel after Trump lobbied Israeli leaders to block them from entering the country. Trump tweeted that allowing Omar and Tlaib to enter Israel "would show great weakness," because they're "a disgrace." Omar and Tlaib have been critical of Israel and outspoken about their support for Palestinians and the boycott-Israel movement. Under Israeli law, supporters of the movement can be denied entry. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Haaretz / Politico / BBC)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration wants to redirect money from Homeland Security accounts to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Last year, the Trump administration redirected $200 million from various Homeland Security accounts – including the Coast Guard and TSA –into ICE. Nearly $10 million was also diverted from FEMA at the start of hurricane season. Congressional appropriators are reviewing the request. (Politico)

  2. A correctional officer drove a truck into ICE protesters outside a private prison. Some were treated at a hospital, though none were severely injured. The officer was wearing a badge and a uniform and police officers at the protest did not intervene. The driver eventually walked into the prison after guards pepper-sprayed the protesters. (Washington Post)

  3. Trump administration asked Congress to reauthorize a law that lets the National Security Agency gain access to the logs of Americans' phone and text records. While the program is set to expire in December, the Trump administration is pushing to make gaining access to the logs of Americans' domestic communications permanently within the legal authority of the NSA. The program was indefinitely shut down after technical issues repeatedly caused the NSA to collect more records than it had legal authority to gather. (New York Times)

  4. In 2017, Fox Business host David Asman advised then-Treasury Department spokesman Tony Sayegh about how the administration should pursue tax cuts. Four days later, Asman emailed Sayegh to tell him that a significant portion of a Fox Business show would focus on the administration's tax policies. "You'll like it," Asman said. "Awesome David," Sayegh wrote back. "You're the man." Sayegh is a former Fox News contributor. (Hollywood Reporter)

  5. Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland to aides in meetings, at dinners, and in passing conversations. Trump has reportedly asked advisers whether the U.S. could acquire Greenland, which is a self-ruling part of the Kingdom of Denmark. (Wall Street Journal)

Day 937: Clueless.

1/ The Trump administration formally proposed regulation allowing some businesses to discriminate against workers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, and LGBTQ status by citing religious objections. The rule would apply to any organizations with federal contracts, including corporations, schools, and societies, provided they claim a "religious purpose," but that "this need not be the contractor's only purpose." (BuzzFeed News)

2/ Planned Parenthood will withdraw from the nation's family planning program because of new Trump administration rules that block Title X funds for organizations that provide or refer patients for abortion. Federal funding for abortion is already prohibited in most cases. The new rules, however, target any group involved in providing or counseling patients about abortions, blocking them from receiving Title X funding to pay for other services, such as contraception and health screenings. Planned Parenthood asked for a stay against the new rules. (NPR)

  • A Congressional Republican defended banning all abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. Steve King also argued that if it were not for rape or incest, there wouldn't "be any population of the world left." [Editor's note: Go fuck yourself Steve King.] (Des Moines Register / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)

3/ Trump claimed – without evidence – that being president will personally cost him $5 billion dollars due to the lawyers defending him in various lawsuits. (NBC News)

  • The Secret Service stayed at a Trump hotel in Vancouver while protecting Trump Jr. on a hunting trip to Canada in August 2017. They spent $5,700. The Secret Service also spent $20,000 at the same hotel in February 2017 when Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump attended the hotel's grand opening. Congress hasn't launched a formal investigation into federal spending at Trump properties, but the House Oversight Committee has focused on the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which forbids presidents from accepting gifts from foreign officials. (Politico)

4/ The Trump administration will shield funding for Ivanka Trump and Pence's programs as the White House looks to cancel billions of dollars in unspent funding already approved by Congress. The White House is expected to propose returning billions of dollars of unspent foreign aid funds to the Treasury in a process known as rescission. The Office of Management and Budget, however, has already ruled out canceling funds for Ivanka's Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, Pence's programs for Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities in the Middle East, and some global health programs. Republicans and Democrats say the review undermines Congress's authority to appropriate funds. (Washington Post)

5/ The Dow posted its largest decline of the year. The Dow dropped 800 points, or about 3.05%, while the S&P 500 fell 85.72 points, or 2.93%. For the first time since the the Great Recession, the yields on 2-year U.S. bonds eclipsed those of 10-year bonds. The yield curve inversion is considered one of the most reliable leading indicators of a recession in the U.S. It has preceded every economic decline in the past 60 years with a recession occurring, on average, 22 months following an inversion. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / NPR)

  • 👀 Recession watch: What is an "inverted yield curve" and why does it matter? (Washington Post)

6/ Trump, meanwhile, called Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell "clueless" and blamed him for the "CRAZY INVERTED YIELD CURVE!" Trump, deflecting criticism that his trade war with China is hurting the economic outlook, claimed that "China is not our problem" and that "we are winning, big time." Yesterday, Trump delayed imposing tariffs on some Chinese imports until December "just in case" there would be a negative impact on shoppers during the holidays. (CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • A recession next year could hurt Trump's attempt to win a second term and raises the potential for the 2020 election to look more like 2008 when a cratering economy dominated the political debate. (Politico)

Day 936: Just in case.

1/ Trump delayed imposing tariffs on some Chinese imports until December. Trump told reporters that he delayed tariffs "for the Christmas season" on cellphones, laptop computers, video game consoles, and certain types of footwear and clothing "just in case" there would be a negative impact on shoppers during the holidays. The 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports will be delayed until Dec. 15, instead of taking effect on Sept. 1 as Trump originally announced. The U.S. Trade Representative office said certain products will also be taken off the list based on "health, safety, national security and other factors." Markets rallied on the news. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / Axios)

2/ Trump's tax cuts, reduced regulation, and tariffs have been ineffective at drawing factory investment and jobs from abroad. Instead, Trump's trade policies have pushed factory activity to low-cost Asian countries, like Vietnam. Foreign and domestic business investment briefly accelerated after Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax-cut package in late 2017, but then slowed. In Trump's first two years in office, companies announced plans to relocate about 145,000 factory jobs to the U.S. However, more than half of those jobs were announced in 2017 – before Trump's tax cuts took effect. (New York Times)

3/ Trump tried to take credit for the construction of Shell's petrochemicals complex in western Pennsylvania, which will turn the natural gas deposits into plastics. "This would have never happened without me and us," Trump told a crowd of thousands of workers. Shell, however, announced its plans to build the complex in 2012, when Obama was in office. (Associated Press)

4/ A coalition of 22 states and seven cities sued to block the Trump administration from easing restrictions on coal-burning power plants, saying the EPA had no basis for weakening the Clean Power Plan that set national limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. The lawsuit argues that the Affordable Clean Energy rule ignores the EPA's responsibility to set limits on greenhouse gases and that the new rule would extend the life of dirty and aging coal-burning plants, increasing pollution instead of curbing it. (New York Times)

  • 🌡 America's fastest-warming places: Extreme climate change has arrived. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 931: Climate change is putting pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to a new United Nations report that was prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and, unanimously approved. The report warns that the world's land and water resources are being exploited at "unprecedented rates" and "the cycle is accelerating." Climate change has already degraded lands, caused deserts to expand, permafrost to thaw, and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. "The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases," the report said. The report offered several proposals for addressing food supplies, including reducing red meat consumption, adopting plant-based diets, and eating more fruits, vegetables and seeds. As a result, the world could reduce carbon pollution up to 15% of current emissions levels by 2050. It would also make people healthier. (New York Times / Associated Press / Nature)

  • 📌Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌Day 676: The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 685: Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn't stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: "We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change." (Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ The Justice Department moved to decertify the union representing hundreds of U.S. immigration judges. The DOJ filed a petition asking the Federal Labor Relations Authority to review the certification of the National Association of Immigration Judges and determine whether it should be revoked "because the bargaining unit members are management officials under the statutory definition." The NAIJ represents some 440 immigration judges across the country. (NPR)

6/ The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services suggested that only immigrants who can "stand on their own two feet" are welcome in the United States. Ken Cuccinelli's comment came after being asked if the words of the poem displayed on the Statue of Liberty's pedestal still remain "part of the American ethos." Cuccinelli replied: "They certainly are. Give me your tired and your poor — who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge." The Trump administration announced a "public charge" regulation yesterday, allowing federal officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who have received certain public benefits or who are deemed likely to do so in the future. (Politico / CNN / NPR)

  • 📌 Day 935: The Trump administration made it harder for legal immigrants who rely on government benefit programs to obtain permanent legal status as part of a new policy aimed at reducing legal immigration and cutting down the number of poor immigrants. The new regulation makes it easier for federal officials to deny green cards and visa applications to legal immigrants who have received public benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers, have low incomes, or little education, deeming them more likely to need government assistance in the future. Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a "public charge." (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 72% of Americans say there should be a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. Only a quarter of respondents said there should be a national law enforcement effort to deport all undocumented immigrants. 54% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree that there should be a legal way for undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, but that number is down 5% since March 2017. (Pew Research Center)

Day 935: Irregularities.

1/ The Trump administration made it harder for legal immigrants who rely on government benefit programs to obtain permanent legal status as part of a new policy aimed at reducing legal immigration and cutting down the number of poor immigrants. The new regulation makes it easier for federal officials to deny green cards and visa applications to legal immigrants who have received public benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers, have low incomes, or little education, deeming them more likely to need government assistance in the future. Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a "public charge." (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ The White House has ordered ICE officials to conduct more "workplace enforcement operations" this year. After the recent raids in Mississippi led to the arrest of at least 680 undocumented workers, ICE field offices across the country were told to identify at least two locations in their respective regions as potential targets for additional raids. (CNN)

  • "If you’re a good worker, papers don't matter": How a Trump construction crew has relied on immigrants without legal status. For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees at the company’s winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida. (Washington Post)

3/ The Trump administration weakened the Endangered Species Act, allowing the government to put an economic cost on saving a species. The changes will also make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife. Critics argue that the change will accelerate the extinction for some plants and animals and clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live. (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post)

  • The EPA dropped salmon protections after Trump met with with Alaska's governor. EPA scientists were planning to oppose a controversial Alaska mining project on environmental grounds that could devastate one of the most important wild salmon fisheries. In 2014, the project was halted because an EPA study found that it would cause "complete loss of fish habitat due to elimination, dewatering, and fragmentation of streams, wetlands, and other aquatic resources" in some areas of Bristol Bay. (CNN)

4/ Attorney General William Barr and several members of Congress called for an investigation following the apparent suicide of billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who faced federal sex trafficking charges before his death this weekend. Barr said Epstein's death while in federal custody "raises serious questions that must be answered." The FBI and the Justice Department inspector general both opened investigations. Epstein had been briefly placed on suicide watch leading up to his death, but was taken off six days later. Epstein had reportedly been alone in his cell and was not monitored by guards, who were supposed to check on him every 30 minutes. (NBC News / The Hill / CNN / CBS News / New York Times)

  • In the wake of Epstein's death, Trump retweeted several unsubstantiated conspiracy theories suggesting that the Clintons were involved in his death. (Business Insider / NBC News / Politico / Axios)

  • The day before Epstein's death, thousands of pages of court documents related to his activities were unsealed and released. The documents detail how hundreds of girls and young women were allegedly trafficked for sex to a range of wealthy business, political and world leaders by Epstein and his madam, Ghislaine Maxwell. (New York Magazine / Miami Herald)

  • Barr accused the Manhattan federal prison of "serious irregularities" and a "failure to adequately secure" Epstein. Barr did not provide details about the irregularities, but questioned why Epstein had been taken off suicide watch and left in a cell alone without supervision. Epstein was found hanging in his cell over the weekend. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump told advisers that he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should bar Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel because the two congresswomen support a boycott of Israel over the country's continued occupation of Palestine. Israel passed a law in 2017 that requires the interior minister to block foreign nationals from entering Israel if they have supported boycotting the Jewish state. Trump's reaction came days after the House passed a resolution condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which Omar and Tlaib supported. (Axios)

6/ The U.S. fiscal deficit has already exceeded last year's total. The deficit grew to $866.8 billion in the first 10 months of the fiscal year, up 27% from the same period a year earlier. At this point last year, the deficit was $684 billion. (Bloomberg)

7/ U.S. intelligence officials believe Russia tested a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile following an explosion that killed at least seven people, including scientists, and released radiation off the coast of northern Russia last week. Russian officials said "a small nuclear reactor had exploded during an experiment." (New York Times)

8/ Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims over 928 days and is averaging about 13 false or misleading claims a day. (Washington Post)

Day 932: "Not a photo op."

1/ The House Judiciary Committee is officially conducting an impeachment inquiry into Trump and will decide by the end of the year whether to refer articles of impeachment to the House floor. In a July court filing to get the full, unredacted Mueller report, the Judiciary Committee argued that it needed the information because it "is conducting an investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment." Today, chairman Jerry Nadler clarified that "This is formal impeachment proceedings." That timeline would put an impeachment battle in the middle of the Democratic presidential primary contests. (Washington Post / Politico)

2/ The El Paso shooter that killed 22 people told police that his target was "Mexicans" and confessed that "I'm the shooter" when he was arrested. Patrick Crusius also said he had used an AK-47-style rifle and brought multiple magazines with him to carry out the killings. Authorities believe Crusius was the author of a "manifesto" posted online shortly before the attack, saying he wanted to stop the "Hispanic invasion of Texas." (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Trumps posed for a photo with an orphaned two-month-old, whose parents were shot dead in El Paso. Melania Trump smiled broadly and held the baby, while Donald flashed a thumbs-up and grinned. The picture was circulated by Melania Trump and not the family. White House aides had not allowed journalists into the hospital during the visit, saying it was "not a photo op." (The Guardian / Yahoo)

4/ The State Department suspended a foreign affairs official in the energy bureau after his ties to a white nationalist group were revealed. The State Department refused to name the official, but the Southern Poverty Law Center identified him as Matthew Gebert. The SPLC published a report on Wednesday that Gebert hosted white nationalists at his home and published white nationalist propaganda online using a pseudonym. (Reuters)

  • 📌 Day 930: A U.S. State Department official oversaw a Washington, D.C.-area chapter of a white nationalist organization, hosted white nationalists at his home, and published white nationalist propaganda online. Matthew Gebert works as a foreign affairs officer assigned to the Bureau of Energy Resources. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

5/ The White House has prepared an executive order that would give the FCC oversight over tech companies and how they monitor and manage their social networks. "Protecting Americans from Online Censorship" tasks the FCC with developing new regulations to clarify how and when the law protects social networks when they remove or suppress content on their platforms. The draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when investigating or filing lawsuits against technology companies. (CNN / TechCrunch)

  • 📌 Day 931: The White House is preparing an executive order to address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies. While the contents of the order remain unknown, last month Trump said he would be exploring "all regulatory and legislative solutions" to deal with the supposed issue. (Politico)

6/ Trump walked back his statement that he was "strongly considering" commuting the 14-year sentence of the former Illinois governor who was convicted of essentially trying to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat for personal gain. A day after musing about commuting Rod Blagojevich's sentence, Trump was having second thoughts in response to pushback from conservatives and Illinois Republicans. Now, Trump says White House staff are merely "continuing the review of this matter." (New York Times)

7/ The DOJ official responsible for the Trump administration's failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is leaving the Justice Department. John Gore, who served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, said he wants to spend time with his family while "discerning next steps." Gore is currently facing allegations that he provided false testimony and concealed evidence as part of the lawsuits over the citizenship question. (NPR)

  • 📌 Day 813: The House Oversight Committee threatened to hold a Justice Department official in contempt after refusing to comply with a subpoena for testimony and documents related to the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Committee Chair Elijah Cummings said in a letter to AG William Barr that the committee would hold his principal deputy assistant AG, John Gore, in contempt of Congress if Barr didn't make him available to answer questions about Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision to add the question to the census. Gore was slated to testify on Thursday but he did not appear. The committee voted 23-14 earlier this month to compel Gore to testify and for the Trump administration to provide additional documents pertaining to the citizenship question. (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 825: The Justice Department refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for a Trump administration official to testify about the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating the addition of the citizenship question despite evidence that it could lead to millions of people being undercounted. John Gore's refusal to appear before the committee is at the direction of Attorney General William Barr. Gore is the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's civil rights division. (CNN / Washington Post)

Day 931: "Hostile actions."

1/ White House officials refused requests by the Department of Homeland Security for more than a year to make combating domestic terror a greater priority. While the National Strategy for Counterterrorism, issued last fall, stated that "Radical Islamist terrorists remain the primary transnational terrorist threat to the United States and its vital national interests," it included one paragraph about domestic terrorism and made no mention of white supremacists. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified in July that there have been almost as many domestic terror arrests in the last nine months – about 100 – as there have been arrests connected to international terror. Wray also noted that most of the domestic terrorism cases were motivated by white supremacist violence. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 803: The Department of Homeland Security quietly disbanded its domestic terrorism unit last year, saying that the threat of "homegrown violent extremism and domestic terrorism," including the threat from white supremacists, has been "significantly reduced." The branch of analysts in DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis were reassigned to new positions. (Daily Beast)

  • 📌 Day 854: The FBI has seen a significant rise in white supremacist domestic terrorism in recent months. No specific numbers were provided, but an FBI official said the cases generally include suspects involved in violence related to anti-government views, racial or religious bias, environmental extremism and abortion-related views. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 915: The FBI recorded about 90 domestic terrorism arrests in the past nine months and about 100 international terrorism arrests. Most of the domestic terrorism cases involved a racial motive believed to be spurred by white supremacy. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 928: FBI Director Christopher Wray ordered the agency to conduct a new threat assessment in order to identify and stop potential future mass shootings. A command group in Washington, D.C. will oversee the effort, during which FBI field offices will actively work to identify threats that are similar to the attacks last week at a food festival and over the weekend in Texas and Ohio. In recent congressional testimony, senior FBI officials said they were conducting about 850 domestic terrorism investigations — down from a year earlier, when there were roughly 1,000. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 930: The FBI warned that fringe conspiracy theories are a new domestic terrorist threat. The document specifically mentions QAnon, a network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against Trump, and Pizzagate, the theory that a pedophile ring involving Clinton associates was being run out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant, which doesn't have a basement. (Yahoo News)

2/ Twitter suspended Mitch McConnell's account after the campaign tweeted a profanity-laced video of protesters outside his home. According to Twitter spokesperson, Team Mitch "was temporarily locked out of their account for a Tweet that violated our violent threats policy, specifically threats involving physical safety." McConnell's campaign manager, however, called Twitter's action part of a "problem with the speech police in America today" and that "Twitter will allow the words of 'Massacre Mitch' to trend nationally on their platform but locks our account for posting actual threats against us." Following the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the hashtag "Massacre Mitch" trended on Twitter, in reference to two gun control bills that McConnell has refused to bring to a vote. (Courier-Journal / Axios)

  • The National Republican Senatorial Committee stopped advertising on Twitter after the social media platform temporarily locked McConnell's account for violating the company's "violent threats policy." The NRSC claimed Twitter's "hostile actions" were "outrageous" and said the committee would "not tolerate" or "spend our resources on a platform that silences conservatives." (Politico)

  • The White House is preparing an executive order to address allegations of anti-conservative bias by social media companies. While the contents of the order remain unknown, last month Trump said he would be exploring "all regulatory and legislative solutions" to deal with the supposed issue. (Politico)

3/ The NRA warned Trump against endorsing extensive background checks for gun sales, saying the legislation would not be popular among his supporters. Before visiting Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Trump claimed there "was great appetite for background checks," which the NRA opposes. About 9 in 10 Americans support background checks for all gun purchases, including more than 8 in 10 Republicans, Democrats, and independents. (Washington Post)

4/ McConnell promised that expanding background checks for all gun purchasers would "front and center" in the coming Senate debate on how to respond to gun violence. McConnell previously said he will not bring any gun control legislation to the floor without widespread Republican support. McConnell, however, rejected Democrats' calls to cancel the August recess and address the issue immediately, saying the proposals needed "discussions" before they were brought to the floor. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

5/ Wall Street banks turned over documents related to Russians who may have had dealings with Trump, his family or the Trump Organization. Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo all turned over documents to the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. Separately, Deutsche Bank has turned over emails, loan agreements and other documents related to the Trump Organization to the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ Andrew McCabe filed a lawsuit against the FBI and the Justice Department alleging that he was illegally demoted and fired in retaliation for not being sufficiently loyal to Trump. The former FBI deputy director alleged that Trump "purposefully and intentionally" pushed the Justice Department to fire him as part of an "unconstitutional plan" to discredit and remove Justice Department and FBI employees who were "deemed to be his partisan opponents." McCabe authorized the counterintelligence investigation into Trump's ties to Russia and obstruction of justice after Trump fired James Comey. McCabe was also the subject of a Justice Department inspector general report that accused him of violating bureau policy when he authorized the disclosure of information to the press and then misleading investigators about what he had done. McCabe's termination occurred less than two days before he was to retire and become eligible for full pension benefits. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ ICE raided seven poultry processing plants in Mississippi and arrested at least 680 people in "what is believed to be the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation's history," according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. Roughly 600 ICE agents fanned out across plants in Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastapol, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing. ICE Acting Director Matt Albence said the arrests were part of a year-long investigation. (KTVU / NBC News / Associated Press / The Hill / BuzzFeed News)

8/ An Iraqi man from Detroit died after the Trump administration deported him back to Iraq and was unable to get access to the insulin he needed to treat his diabetes in Baghdad. Jimmy Aldaoud was an Iraqi national, who was born in Greece and came to the U.S. as a young child. He never lived in Iraq and did not speak Arabic. (Politico)

9/ The deputy director of national intelligence resigned and will step down on Aug. 15 – the same day her boss, Dan Coats, is scheduled to leave. Sue Gordon was in line to replace Coats in an acting capacity until the Senate confirmed Trump's nominee for a permanent replacement. Several Trump allies outside the White House saw Gordon as too close to former CIA Director John Brennan, who has publicly criticized Trump's leadership. (Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 925: The White House will block the nation's No. 2 intelligence official from taking over as acting director of national intelligence when Dan Coats steps down. A federal statute requires that if the director of national intelligence role becomes vacant, the deputy director — currently Sue Gordon — will serve as acting director. The White House, however, can choose who to appoint as acting deputy if the No. 2 position is vacant, raising the question of whether Gordon will be ousted as part of a leadership shuffle. The White House, meanwhile, has asked the national intelligence office for a list of all its employees at the federal government's top pay scale who have worked there for 90 days or more. While it's unclear what the White House will do with the list, many of the people on it may be eligible to temporarily takeover as acting director of national intelligence. (New York Times / Daily Beast)

  • The assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere resigned, leaving a vacancy at the top diplomatic office in charge of Trump's efforts to deal with immigration from Mexico and Central America. The position is also in charge of building stronger relationships between the U.S. and South America. Kimberly Breier has held the position since October. She referred questions about her departure to the State Department press office, which refused to comment. (Washington Post)

10/ Climate change is putting pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to a new United Nations report that was prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and, unanimously approved. The report warns that the world's land and water resources are being exploited at "unprecedented rates" and "the cycle is accelerating." Climate change has already degraded lands, caused deserts to expand, permafrost to thaw, and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. "The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases," the report said. The report offered several proposals for addressing food supplies, including reducing red meat consumption, adopting plant-based diets, and eating more fruits, vegetables and seeds. As a result, the world could reduce carbon pollution up to 15% of current emissions levels by 2050. It would also make people healthier. (New York Times / Associated Press / Nature)

  • 📌 Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and "there is no documented historic precedent" for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 676: The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already "transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us." The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration's environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now "to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades." The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is "no convincing alternative explanation" for the changing climate other than "human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases." Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that "I don't know that it's man-made" and that the warming trend "could very well go back." (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 685: Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world's second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn't stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: "We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change." (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 740: Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax, calling for "global warming" to "come back fast" as a dangerous deep freeze hits the Midwest where a polar vortex is expected to drop temperatures to negative 30F with the wind chill driving temperatures as low as negative 50F or 60F — the lowest in more than two decades. Roughly 83 million Americans – about 25% of the U.S. population – will experience temperatures