WHY THE PRESIDENT SEEMS TO BE STRUGGLING WITH IMPEACHMENT …
— HIS RHETORICAL TRICKS ARE WORN OUT. Everyone knows he thinks the media is crooked and corrupt, we know he thinks Democrats are up to no good and don’t operate on the level, and he’s said before the government is rising up against him. Everything he doesn’t like is a “hoax” or a “scam” or “phony.” AP’s Kevin Freking and Jonathan Lemire: “‘Are you talking to me?’ Trump’s anger on impeachment erupts”
TO BELIEVE THE PRESIDENT’S SPIN at this point is to believe that every single news story printed is wrong.
— REPORTERS ARE GETTING MORE ADEPT at sidestepping his strong-arming. See JEFF MASON’S interaction with him Wednesday. The president tried to redirect Mason’s inquiries, and the Reuters correspondent calmly stood his ground. NYT’s Mike Grynbaum on Mason’s exchange with Trump… Video
— QUITE CURIOUSLY, TRUMP NO LONGER uses his White House press secretary to drive daily messaging. Ever. Think of how useful it might be to the White House for reporters to hear from the administration periodically, not just a president who is tweeting angrily from the residence or teeing off during pool sprays.
— PEOPLE AROUND HIM ARE LEAKING LIKE CRAZY. Today, The Washington Post has a story with details about VP MIKE PENCE’S involvement in all the comings and goings with the Ukraine matter. When the people you hire want to knife you, you have a problem.
— MOST ELECTED REPUBLICANS are unwilling to go on television to defend the president, because they don’t know where this story ends. THE SURROGATES who go on television are not to be believed, because it’s been proven time and time again that the only word that matters is the president’s.
NYT’S MAGGIE HABERMAN and ANNIE KARNI: “Impeachment War Room? Trump Does It All Himself, and That Worries Republicans”
NEW … THE NRCC is going to release a new polling memo today that, in their view, backs up the contention that impeachment is harmful for some Democrats.
–– THE MEMO says this: “Two-thirds (63%) of voters in NRCC target seats and 66% of voters in Republican-held battleground seats agree that Democrats in Congress are too obsessed with impeaching the president and should be working on issues they campaign on such as funding our military, improving the nation’s infrastructure, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and caring for our nation’s veterans.”
— REPUBLICANS TOLD US THIS is how they asked the question: “Below is a statement on the impeachment inquiry. After you’ve read it, please select whether you generally agree or disagree with that particular viewpoint: Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress are too obsessed with President Trump and instead should be working on the issues they were elected to do like funding our military, improving the nation’s infrastructure, lowering cost of prescription drugs, or caring for our nation’s veterans.”
— DETAILS: This is a poll of 800 respondents across 253 House districts — all GOP-held seats and 55 target seats. The polling memo
COOL TOOL: FiveThirtyEight has a new tracker for impeachment polls. The current breakdown: An average of 46.7% of Americans support impeachment, while 45.1% oppose it.
NOT BACKING DOWN — SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI on a call Wednesday afternoon with House Democrats: “I do think that this is a moment beyond Donald Trump. He’s almost not worth it, to do an impeachment, because he is so what he is, but the Constitution is worth it, and our democracy is worth it, and our ‘Republic, if we can keep it’ is worth it.”
— MUCH OF THIS CALL was about H.R. 3, the Democrats’ drug pricing bill.
Good Thursday morning. THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS are in Los Angeles for Game 1 of the NLDS tonight against the Dodgers. First pitch is at 8:37 p.m.
SPOTTED: Mick Mulvaney buying yogurt Wednesday night at the Streets Market on Massachusetts Avenue.
IMPEACHMENT CLIP PACKET …
— WAPO: “Trump involved Pence in efforts to pressure Ukraine’s leader, though officials say vice president was unaware of allegations in whistleblower complaint,” by Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Ashley Parker: “President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.
“Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.
“Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.” WaPo
— WAPO: “Giuliani consulted on Ukraine with imprisoned Paul Manafort via a lawyer,” by Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, Paul Sonne and Ros Helderman: “In his quest to rewrite the history of the 2016 election, President Trump’s personal attorney has turned to an unusual source of information: Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
“Rudolph W. Giuliani in recent months has consulted several times with Manafort through the federal prisoner’s lawyer in pursuit of information about a disputed ledger that would bolster his theory that the real story of 2016 is not Russian interference to elect Trump, but Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton.
“The relationship, which Giuliani acknowledged in an interview this week with The Washington Post, stems from a shared interest in a narrative that undermines the rationale for the special counsel investigation. That inquiry led to Manafort’s imprisonment on tax and financial fraud allegations related to his work in Kiev for the political party of former president Viktor Yanukovych.” WaPo
— BEN SCHRECKINGER: “Ukraine scandal ropes in the usual suspects”: “The Ukraine scandal engulfing Donald Trump’s presidency goes well beyond the core cast of characters at the heart of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. It’s now drawing in a duo familiar to anyone who has followed past Washington imbroglios: conservative lawyers and GOP operatives Joe diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing. And the scandal is beginning to reveal the opaque agendas of a pair of Ukrainian oligarchs whose legal troubles have led them to seek favors in Washington.” POLITICO
— HMM … WAPO: “Odd markings, ellipses fuel doubts about the ‘rough transcript’ of Trump’s Ukraine call,” by Carol Leonnig, Craig Timberg and Drew Harwell
— MARIANNE LEVINE: “Graham urges foreign leaders to assist Barr with investigation into 2016 election”: “Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham on Wednesday asked several foreign leaders to continue to assist Attorney General William Barr with his investigation into the 2016 election.
“In a letter to the prime ministers of Australia, Italy and Britain, the South Carolina Republican requested their ‘continued cooperation with Attorney General Barr as the Department of Justice continues to investigate the origins and extent of foreign influence in the 2016 election.’” POLITICO
ON THE ROAD, IMPEACHMENT EDITION … BOSTON GLOBE: “In a deep red Tennessee district, impeachment elicits sighs, not anger,” by Laura Krantz in Rutledge, Tenn.: “Many people are already weary of this new round of accusations against President Trump, who they say still deserves the benefit of the doubt. They sigh and call this latest controversy just another sign of partisanship and dysfunction in the nation’s capital — a far cry from the outrage heard from Democrats over the Ukraine whistle-blower complaint or the Civil War-type backlash that Trump has predicted from his supporters. …
“‘People are just burnt out on it,’ said U.S. Representative Tim Burchett, a first-term Republican who represents the area.” Boston Globe
2020 WATCH … NATASHA KORECKI: “With Warren gaining, Biden builds a Super Tuesday fortress”: “Joe Biden’s campaign is ramping up its investment in the Super Tuesday states, anticipating a Democratic race that narrows to two candidates by early March.
“The increase in staffing across the 14 states that will vote March 3 comes as Biden’s polling numbers have declined and Elizabeth Warren’s have surged, particularly in states like Iowa and New Hampshire where she’s heavily invested in field organization.
“The former vice president’s campaign is still counting on strong finishes in the four early nominating states. But in the event of weaker-than-expected performances, a built-out Super Tuesday organization would provide a fail-safe for Biden.”POLITICO
THE JUICE …
— NEW … CONVENTION 2020 WATCH: Veteran Republican operatives JEFF KIMBELL and JOHN GREEN have secured the Fillmore in Charlotte for the RNC Convention from Aug. 24-27. The duo, which have been putting on live music events at GOP conventions since 2004 through Magnum Entertainment Group Inc., have locked in “The Spazmatics” as their opening act for each night.
HAPPENING TODAY: Former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, who stepped down last week, testifies behind closed doors on Capitol Hill to members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees. NPR preview … What he’ll say
TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president will leave the White House at 10 a.m. en route to Ocala, Fla. He will travel to The Villages, a sprawling retirement community outside of Orlando, where he will give a speech at 1:10 p.m. and sign an executive order on health care for seniors at the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center. Afterward, Trump will take photos with supporters. He will depart at 2:45 p.m. en route back to Washington.
GARY FINEOUT in Tallahassee: “In adult Disney World, Trump will escape critics”
CONWAY VS. CONWAY … GEORGE in THE ATLANTIC: “Unfit for Office: Donald Trump’s narcissism makes it impossible for him to carry out the duties of the presidency in the way the Constitution requires.”
IMMIGRATION FILES … NYT’S CAITLIN DICKERSON: “U.S. Government Plans to Collect DNA From Detained Immigrants”: “The Trump administration is moving to collect DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people booked into federal immigration custody each year and to enter the results into a national criminal database, an immense expansion of the use of technology to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.
“Senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security said Wednesday that the Justice Department was developing a federal regulation that would give immigration officers the authority to collect DNA in detention facilities across the country that are currently holding more than 40,000 people.
“The move would funnel thousands of new records to the F.B.I., whose extensive DNA database has been limited mainly to genetic markers collected from people who have been arrested, charged or convicted in connection with serious crimes.” NYT
TRADE WARS — “Cheese, French wines, planes on Trump target list for $7.5B retaliation award,” by Jakob Hanke in Brussels and Doug Palmer: “President Donald Trump plans to slap punitive tariffs on about $7.5 billion worth of European aircraft, agricultural and industrial goods later this month after the United States won an important victory in a ruling before the global trade body that handles trade disputes.
“The action brings a 15-year-old case one step closer to resolution while allowing Trump to impose tariffs with the official blessing of the World Trade Organization. … Cheese and dairy products figure prominently on the retaliation of list to the delight of U.S. dairy producers who face substantial sales barriers in the EU.
“Imports of single-malt Scotch, Irish whiskey, liqueurs, French wines, sweaters, coffee, pipe cutters, various tools, sweet biscuits, olives and pork will also be slapped with 25 percent duties.” POLITICO Europe
POSTCARD FROM ROME … NYT’S JASON HOROWITZ: “First Barr, Now Pompeo: Italy Is Hub of Impeachment Intrigue for Trump Officials”: “As Washington seethes amid accusations of quid pro quos, conspiracy theories and abuses of power, Italy, with its brilliant early autumn light and amenable political leaders, has become a recent destination for two central officials in the Trump administration who are in the thick of the impeachment inquiry.
“Their comings and goings have provoked some consternation, and more than a little speculation, in the Italian media. The Italian government has so far refused to say a word about a trip to the capital last week by Attorney General William P. Barr to meet with Italian intelligence officers as part of President Trump’s efforts to discredit the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election.
“The Italian prime minister is Giuseppe Conte, whom Mr. Trump has called ‘my friend Giuseppe.’ In August, Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Conte in a Tweet, albeit one that misspelled his name, amid an Italian government crisis. … While the Italian government has gone officially silent on the issue, Mr. Conte seemed to be helping out, according to reports in the Italian news media.” NYT
HISTORY LESSON — “GOP veterans of Clinton’s impeachment urge caution on Trump,” by AP’s Andrew Taylor: “Then there’s former Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina who wasn’t an impeachment manager but forced a Judiciary Committee discussion on easily the most vulgar accusation levied against Clinton for his conduct. He seemed almost sheepish when encountered in the Capitol recently.
“‘We made a mistake’ impeaching Clinton, Inglis said, adding that the substance of the matter ‘wasn’t so very consequential.’
“‘I can say that now, in retrospect — I didn’t think that at the time — but I think that was because I was probably sort of blinded by my dislike of President Clinton, you know, and wanting to stop him,’ Inglis said. ‘So there may be some similarities there in this scenario.’” AP
ALL NEWS IS LOCAL — “Who is Gordon Sondland? Portland hotel magnate’s stunning climb to Trump inner circle lands him in impeachment scandal,” by The Oregonian’s Jeff Manning
VALLEY TALK — “The FBI is running Facebook ads targeting Russians in Washington,” by CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan and David Shortell: “One ad seen by CNN features a stock photo of a young woman at her graduation with her family. Russian text overlaid on the image reads, ‘For your future, for the future of your family.’ Another shows a picture of a chess set, with Russian text that translates to, ‘Isn’t it time for you to make your move?’’ CNN
MEDIAWATCH … MICHAEL CALDERONE: “Fox News emerges as Trump’s firewall”
— QUOTE DU JOUR … CNN’S JAKE TAPPER: “A parental advisory for you: In this block, I’m going to be quoting from things that the president of the United States has tweeted, so if you have kids in the room, you might want to mute the television.”
— YES, THAT HAPPENED — “Fox News Host Todd Starnes Out After Suggesting Democrats Worship Pagan God Moloch,” by The Wrap’s Lindsey Ellefson
— Longtime foreign correspondent Michael Slackman is joining the NYT masthead as assistant managing editor for international. He previously ran the international desk. Announcement
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Rachel Millard will be deputy director of public affairs at the CFTC, starting next week. She currently is communications director for the House Agriculture Committee Republicans.
OUT AND ABOUT — RIGHTNOW held a professional women’s speed mentoring event at Edison Electric Institution, sponsored by Maria Cino, Ashley Davis, Susan Neely and Beth Saunders. SPOTTED: Marlene Colucci, Lisa Spies, Shelley Hymes, Jean Card, Susan Hirschmann, Jane Adams, Lauren Maddox, Maddie Milam, Maura Gillespie.
TRANSITIONS — Bill McGinley is now a principal at the Vogel Group. He previously was assistant to the president and Cabinet secretary at the White House. … Matt Mazzone is now creative director at Ascent Media, a Republican advertising agency. He most recently was director of production at Poolhouse, and previously was director of film and visual media at the RNC during the 2016 cycle. …
… Casey Clemmons is now Iowa deputy state director for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign. He previously was Iowa caucus director for Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign. … Miles Taylor is now head of national security relations at Google. He previously was chief of staff at DHS.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Logan Dobson, managing director at Targeted Victory. How he’s celebrating: “I’ll be celebrating with a trip to the gym and a few drinks at my favorite neighborhood bar with friends tonight, and a larger gathering over the weekend. The real birthday highlight will be a trip with my sister to Las Vegas next month to see a major boxing fight — her gift to me this year. Chemical engineers make the real dough.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) is 66 … Rev. Al Sharpton is 65 … Asawin “Swin” Suebsaeng, White House reporter at The Daily Beast … Cristóbal Alex, senior adviser for Joe Biden’s campaign … AP’s Darlene Superville and Verena Dobnik … former Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is 76 … former Rep. Dave Obey (D-Wis.) is 81 … former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) is 48 … former Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) is 72 … former Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) is 71 … POLITICO’s Eric Wolff and Emma Kinnucan … J. Toscano, partner at 76 Words … Katie Whelan, senior adviser at Dewey Square Group … Jonathan Lamy … Pam Gilbert, partner at Cuneo Gilbert and LaDuca … Sally Painter, co-founder and COO of Blue Star Strategies (hat tips: Jon Haber) …
… Sarah Feinberg, principal and CEO of Feinberg Strategies … Bradley Tusk, founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings … Betsey Apple … Beth Jones … Sean Gibbons … Kimberly Leonard of the Washington Examiner … Edie Emery … Laura Brown … CNN’s Maegan Vazquez … Tim Albrecht, manager of strategic initiatives at Apple and a Kim Reynolds alum … Chelsea Radler … Maury Nolen … DISCUS’ Eric Reller … Deloitte’s Eden Joyner White … Kevin Kelley … Chris Michel … Mark Hamrick … former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is 75 … Peter Stegner … Jennifer Bland … Nancy Gabriner … Scott Richardson … Ben Adler … Josh Kinney is 31 … Darrell Brock Jr. … Joel Haubrich … Mariam Ehrari … Michael Medved
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