EVERY MAJOR INVESTIGATION has its breakout witness — someone who helps bury the target or changes the course of the investigation. Democrats think they might have that in Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who will testify today.
VINDMAN — a Ukrainian-born, two-decade veteran of the U.S. Army with a Purple Heart from fighting in Iraq — will testify today that “he believed President Donald Trump undermined U.S. national security when he appealed to Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rivals,” POLITICO’s summary of his dramatic opening statement says.
SHOULDN’T THIS END ALL DISCUSSION OF THE WHISTLEBLOWER? There is now a named person who heard the call with Volodymyr Zelensky, was concerned about its contents and reported it to a government attorney.
ANDREW DESIDERIO and KYLE CHENEY: “‘I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government’s support of Ukraine,’ Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official overseeing Ukraine policy, plans to tell investigators, referring to Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Joe Biden and his son.
“Vindman, who will become the first White House official to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry, also plans to say that he reported Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky to the NSC’s top lawyer after listening in on the conversation from the White House situation room alongside other U.S. national security officials.
“It was the second time Vindman had raised concerns to the NSC’s lead counsel about a campaign by Trump, his associates and some U.S. officials to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations intended to benefit Trump politically.
“‘I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained,’ Vindman plans to say. … ‘This would all undermine U.S. national security,’ Vindman adds. ‘Following the call, I again reported my concerns to NSC’s lead counsel.’” POLITICO … The opening statement
— BTW: NBC’S MONICA ALBA and CAROL LEE: “Internal White House debate stifles release of Pence-Zelenskiy call”: “It’s been almost three weeks since Vice President Mike Pence said he had ‘no objection’ to releasing a reconstructed transcript of his phone call with the leader of Ukraine. But as House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry continues moving swiftly into its second month, the White House still has not made a decision on whether to make those details of Pence’s call public.” NBC
DEMOCRATS’ NEW PLAY … SARAH FERRIS, HEATHER CAYGLE and KYLE CHENEY: “[A House Democratic resolution that will get a vote this week] will grant investigators authority to sidestep traditional time limits on questioning witnesses in public hearings and spell out specifics of the due process rights Democrats intend to provide Trump and his legal team once the probe moves into the public domain. …
“‘This is a resolution on how to proceed in the committee,’ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday evening. ‘This resolution gives us more opportunity in the committee, spells out protection of the rights for the president and his counsel. They should welcome this.’ …
“The Democrats’ move is in some ways an answer to the White House’s Oct. 8 letter declaring the president’s refusal to cooperate with an impeachment inquiry they describe as ‘constitutionally invalid’ and ‘a violation of due process.’” POLITICO
MAKE NO MISTAKE: THIS RESOLUTION will be positioned as a proxy vote for impeachment. Republicans say they will not vote for this, and instead will hang this vote around every Democrat’s neck. A vote for this, they tell us, will be viewed as a vote approving the entirety of the Democrats’ impeachment effort. The GOP will try to make Democrats who vote yes own every element of the impeachment process from here on out. Democrats tried to sidestep a vote just a week or so ago, and Republicans have been urging a vote, so both sides have reversed their positions here.
WE ARE TOLD THAT THIS RESOLUTION will also enumerate the findings of the probe so far — but that’s not certain because it’s not wrapped up yet.
DEMOCRATS ARE TAKING THIS VOTE in a very public and transparent way. If they wanted less attention on what they are terming a rule change, they could’ve tucked this into an unrelated bill and it probably would’ve gotten through the House with little fanfare.
WSJ ED BOARD: “Pelosi Concedes on Inquiry Vote”: “Vindication is overrated, but we’ll take it in the case of a House vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry. We’re referring to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s letter Monday to fellow Democrats that she’ll offer a resolution on the House floor this week that will set the terms of its impeachment investigation. …
“The Speaker’s letter asserts that no such vote is needed but nonetheless says the House will have one. This is what you say when you know your critics have been right but you don’t want to admit it. Thanks also to the Speaker for embarrassing the many media apologists for her previous skip-the-vote stance.” WSJ
BY THE WAY … IT’S PRETTY NOTABLE how quickly the news has turned from Trump directing the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi back to impeachment.
CAN-KICKING UPDATE … NYT: “Possible Impeachment Trial Could Complicate Congress’s Spending Debate,” by Emily Cochrane: “With just a handful of legislative days before the current short-term spending bill expires, lawmakers have begun to discuss extending that funding into early 2020 to avoid running out of money later this year if senators are mired in an impeachment trial with little time for legislative work.” NYT
POLITICO SCOOP: “Sessions strongly considering bid for old Senate seat in Alabama,” by James Arkin, Burgess Everett and Jake Sherman: “Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions is strongly considering jumping into the race for his old Senate seat in Alabama, according to multiple Republican sources familiar with the matter.
“Sessions would scramble the already crowded field of Republicans seeking to take on Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who won a 2017 special election to fill the remainder of Sessions’ term and is widely viewed as the most vulnerable senator on the ballot next year. …
“Five Republicans are already in the race: Rep. Bradley Byrne, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, Secretary of State John Merrill, state Rep. Arnold Mooney and Roy Moore, the former state Supreme Court judge who lost the special election in 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.” POLITICO
— HOW WILL THE PRESIDENT HANDLE THIS, and will it matter? By dint of his $2.5 million cash pile, SESSIONS will probably be the prohibitive favorite in this race. He’s a known entity in Alabama, a deeply red state, and has an identity outside his tumult with the president — we think! THE QUESTION to us: Does Trump try to sink him?
Good Tuesday morning. 1-0, ONE MORE TIME! THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS face a do-or-die game tonight in Houston, where they play the Astros after losing three straight at home. Stephen Strasburg is pitching for the Nats, and Justin Verlander gets the ball for the ’stros.
MEMORIES ARE SHORT! … ZACH WARMBRODT: “A decade after massive bailout, AIG celebrated on Capitol Hill”: “American International Group — once one of the most scorned corporations on Capitol Hill for its pivotal role in the financial crisis — got a Washington birthday bash on Monday night with help from House lawmakers.
“Little more than a decade after the U.S. government committed $180 billion to avert the collapse of the insurance giant, AIG used the hearing room of the House Ways and Means Committee to host a ‘centennial congressional reception’ to mark the New York-based company’s first century in business.
“Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) presided over the event, which featured AIG CEO Brian Duperreault and other company leaders. ‘We believe in the power of relationships to make a better world for everyone,’ AIG said in an invitation obtained by POLITICO.
“The packed reception had waiters offering trays of snacks, an open bar serving a signature ‘Centennial Smash’ cocktail and an a cappella group that closed with the Pharrell Williams hit ‘Happy.’” POLITICO
— SPOTTED at the event: Neal, Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), AIG CEO Brian Duperreault, Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall and CFTC Commissioner Dan Berkovitz.
WSJ: “Tough Questions, Anger Await Boeing CEO in Congress,” by Andrew Tangel: “Boeing Co. Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg is set to tell lawmakers the company made mistakes that contributed to two fatal airplane crashes, as the aerospace giant struggles to regain public trust.
“Ahead of Mr. Muilenburg’s appearance this week before two key U.S. House and Senate panels, Boeing released a draft of his planned remarks including an outline of steps Boeing is taking to return its 737 MAX jets to passenger service following the crashes that claimed 346 lives and left the aircraft grounded world-wide for more than eight months.
“The first hearing on Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation comes exactly a year after the crash of a Lion Air MAX into the Java Sea. It will be Mr. Muilenburg’s first congressional appearance as CEO. ‘We know we made mistakes and got some things wrong,’ he said in the prepared remarks. ‘We own that, and we are fixing them.’” WSJ
BURGESS EVERETT: “The new Democratic senator irritating the left and delighting the GOP”: “She rarely goes to party lunches and skipped Senate votes to run the Ironman. She endorsed a primary challenger against one of her own colleagues and hobnobs with Republicans at least as much as she does with her own caucus.
“Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t really fit in with her fellow Senate Democrats. Don’t even ask her whether she watches the Democratic presidential debates. ‘I’m not missing anything. I prefer happiness,’ Sinema declares in a 25-minute interview, a rare extended conversation with an outlet not based in Arizona. ‘Look how happy I am.’
“Arizona’s first Democrat to win a Senate race in 30 years has done little to raise her profile in Washington; she’s more focused on trying to balance her extreme workout regime with a moderate record on par with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s.
“Sinema has long cultivated a bipartisan posture. But her support for Donald Trump nominees like Attorney General William Barr and her lack of zeal for impeachment are part of a political profile drawing blowback from progressives and cheers from the GOP. Yet Sinema is also setting herself up to be a pivotal vote the next time the Democrats are in power. And her radical breed of centrism could be a headache for the party.” POLITICO
BIG HOUSE NEWS … CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: “New maps ordered for NC 2020 congressional races, in win for Democrats,” by Will Doran: “The legislature must now redraw the state’s 13 U.S. House districts. The judge — two Democrats and one Republican from different parts of North Carolina — wrote that the maps show signs of ‘extreme partisan gerrymandering’ which ‘is contrary to the fundamental right of North Carolina citizens to have elections conducted freely and honestly to ascertain, fairly and truthfully, the will of the people.’
“Monday’s ruling, a preliminary injunction, said the state may not hold any elections for Congress using the current maps passed in 2016. Those maps replaced a different set of maps from 2011, also drawn by the Republican-led legislature, which were struck down as unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. The judges ruled that if there aren’t new maps in time for the primary elections on March 3 then they could delay all or some of the primaries until later in 2020.” Charlotte Observer
2020 WATCH — DAVID SIDERS and JEREMY WHITE in Los Angeles: “‘The West barely exists’: California primary falls flat”: “Kamala Harris is running a distant fourth in her home state of California. Julián Castro, who rested much of his candidacy on making inroads in Nevada, remains a polling asterisk there. Three Westerners — former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and California Rep. Eric Swalwell — have already dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary, and two more — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet — are still trying to find their footing.
“In their wake, the region’s marquee contests in Nevada and California — one small early state, and one massive, Super Tuesday primary — have emerged as wide-open races. And the promise of an early California primary tilting the balance of the Democratic primary westward has fallen short.
“Most campaigns are still spending far more time — and resources — in Iowa, the first caucus state, leaving Westerners to watch the campaign unfold primarily on TV. When Harris joked last month that she was ‘f—ing moving to Iowa,’ it only underscored the uncertainty about what role — if any — the West will play in determining the nominee.
“For the purposes of the presidential election, said Jerry Brown, California’s former governor and a three-time presidential candidate, right now, ‘The West barely exists.’ ‘Iowa and New Hampshire and then South Carolina — that is going to reshape the race, or shape it in some way,’ Brown said, adding that the overall contest has not yet ‘sharpened in the way that those early elections sharpen it.’” POLITICO
TRUMP’S TUESDAY — THE PRESIDENT will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:45 p.m., and will meet with recipients of the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking at 1:45 p.m.
AT 6:20 P.M., the president will go to the Trump Hotel for a Take Back the House 2020 fundraiser. He’ll be back at the White House around 8:30 p.m.
— BTW: THIS FUNDRAISER is expected to net $13 million for the House GOP. There will be 315 people in attendance.
JARED IS ON IT — “White House Brings Lessons of Mueller Investigation to Impeachment Response,” by WSJ’s Mike Bender and Catherine Lucey: “Top White House officials have been urging a cautious approach to the escalating impeachment proceedings in the House, operating under the belief that because President Trump withstood the Mueller investigation he can overcome the threat posed by the latest round of scrutiny.
“That circumspect White House view, in the face of growing criticism from some Republican allies, has most clearly been articulated by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser and one of the few senior aides remaining in the West Wing since Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017. …
“During impeachment-related meetings inside the White House, Mr. Kushner has urged officials to remain calm, homing in on one of the president’s often repeated lines: that the impeachment inquiry is the latest in a long line of partisan attacks the West Wing has had to endure. Mr. Kushner’s message has been that the facts are in the White House’s favor, and that reduces the need to be on the defensive, according to White House officials familiar with the conversations.” WSJ
— NBC’S JOSH LEDERMAN and DAN DE LUCE: “The White House was alerted as early as mid-May — earlier than previously known — that a budding pressure campaign by Rudy Giuliani and one of President Donald Trump’s ambassadors was rattling the new Ukrainian president, two people with knowledge of the matter tell NBC News.
“Alarm bells went off at the National Security Council when the White House’s top Europe official was told that Giuliani was pushing the incoming Ukrainian administration to shake up the leadership of state-owned energy giant Naftogaz, said the sources. The official, Fiona Hill, learned then about the involvement of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Giuliani associates who were helping with the Naftogaz pressure and also with trying to find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son.
“Hill quickly briefed then-National Security Adviser John Bolton about what she’d been told, said the individuals with knowledge of the meeting.” NBC
BILL BARR SPEAKS: “Attorney General Bill Barr, in an interview with Fox News, defended the independence and integrity of the politically contentious probe being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham into the handling of the Russia investigation – while taking a swipe at James Comey’s past leadership of the FBI.
“Barr … rejected Democrats’ claims he is acting as Trump’s personal lawyer. ‘That’s completely wrong and there is no basis for it, and I act on behalf of the United States,’ Barr said.” Fox News
BEYOND THE BELTWAY … NYT’S CHRISTINA GOLDBAUM: “A Taco Truck in Buffalo Served Lunch to ICE Workers. Then Came the Backlash.”
BREXIT UPDATE — “Boris Johnson loses election vote — unveils plan B,” by POLITICO Europe’s Eleni Courea: “U.K. MPs have once again rejected a snap election — but Boris Johnson could still get the ballot he craves.
“The prime minister on Monday evening failed to get the House of Commons to support his call for an election, his third unsuccessful attempt since taking office in July.
“The latest defeat for Johnson came on the same day as EU leaders agreed to delay the Brexit deadline until January 31, removing the immediate threat that the U.K. would leave the bloc without a deal. The prime minister, who repeatedly promised to pull the country out by the previous deadline of October 31, now hopes to run on a platform that blames the U.K. parliament for blocking Brexit.” POLITICO Europe … London Playbook: “Anyone smell toast?”
FOR YOUR RADAR … REMEMBER IRAQ? … AP/BAGHDAD: “Iraqi security forces wearing masks and black plainclothes opened fire at protesters in the Shiite holy city of Karbala on Tuesday, killing 18 people and wounding hundreds, security officials said, in one of the deadliest single attacks since the country was engulfed by protests this month.
“The attack, which happened overnight, came as Iraqis took to the streets for a fifth consecutive day, protesting their government’s corruption, lack of services and other grievances. …
“At least 72 protesters — not including the latest fatalities in Karbala — have been killed since anti-government protests resumed across Iraq on Friday, after 149 were killed during an earlier wave of protests this month.” AP
HONG KONG LATEST — “Hong Kong Bars Pro-Democracy Icon Joshua Wong From Election,” by WSJ’s Natasha Khan: “In a letter dated Tuesday, Mr. Wong was informed that his candidacy in District Council elections had been declared invalid in accordance with the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. In a separate statement, which didn’t name Mr. Wong, officials said support for Hong Kong self-determination was inconsistent with the law.” WSJ
VALLEY TALK — “This man is running for governor of California so he can run false Facebook ads,” by CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan: “A San Francisco man is going to extreme lengths to call out Facebook’s controversial policy of allowing politicians to run false ads on its platform. On Monday morning, he registered as a candidate in California’s 2022 gubernatorial election — not with the primary goal of becoming governor, but so he can run false Facebook ads of his own. …
“Adriel Hampton, a political activist who runs his own marketing firm in San Francisco, registered at his local post office on Monday morning as a candidate for governor of California. Hampton told CNN Business that he will use his new status as a candidate to run false ads on Facebook (FB) about President Trump, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and other Facebook executives.” CNN
— NYT’S MIKE ISAAC: “Dissent Erupts at Facebook Over Hands-Off Stance on Political Ads”
— “China Investors Keep Making Deals in Silicon Valley Amid Washington Pushback,” by WSJ’s Heather Somerville: “Chinese investors are pressing ahead with investments into startups and venture-capital funds, emboldened in part by ambiguities in U.S. efforts to limit foreign access to technology deals.
“Key rules for implementing a 2018 U.S. law intended to curb foreign access to sensitive technologies are yet to be defined, often leaving investors and entrepreneurs to determine which deals are permissible. For their part, U.S. tech entrepreneurs want to nurture connections to China.
“Investment ties between the two countries thus remain tight despite political and trade tensions, say technology investors, entrepreneurs, attorneys, and current and former government officials.” WSJ
MEDIAWATCH — “What’s Left of Conde Nast,” by New York magazine’s Reeves Wiedeman: “As David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, put it to a fellow media executive in 2017, Condé was facing the same daunting challenges as the rest of the media business and seemed to be in ‘a dignified state of panic’ as it belatedly adapted to low-margin, constantly pivoting digital realities, closed and sold titles, and underwent a ‘restacking’ — the chosen euphemism for squeezing everyone onto fewer floors so Condé could sublet some of the fancy real estate it now realized it could no longer afford.” New York
— VANITY FAIR’S JOE POMPEO: “John Heilemann’s new venture is betting people want more political video on their phone”: “Recount Media is coming out of beta mode this week with eight seed investors kicking in nearly $10 million between them. The initial round was led by veteran New York financier Fred Wilson, who cofounded the company with Heilemann and Battelle. Other backers include Jay-Z’s Arrive venture fund, Kevin Durant’s Thirty Five Ventures, Robert Wolf’s 32 Ventures, Jon Callaghan’s True Ventures, Ron Conway’s SV Angel, and a couple of individuals whose names remain under wraps.
“In addition to Heilemann and Battelle, who are Recount Media’s editor in chief and CEO, respectively, the company’s leadership team includes Disney vet Kenny Miller as president, BuzzFeed vet James Burns as CTO, and Viacom vet Nomi Leidner, who becomes Recount’s executive vice president of programming and development after nearly five years running Vice Media’s struggling cable channel, Viceland. Slade Sohmer, formerly of Mic and CNN video startup Beme, manages the newsroom of roughly 20, overseeing the daily flow.” VF
— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Laura Jarrett — whose birthday is today — will be moving to New York to anchor CNN’s “Early Start” with Christine Romans starting in January. She currently is a correspondent for CNN covering the Justice Department. She will be replacing Dave Briggs, who will remain as a co-anchor until the end of the year.
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
TRANSITIONS — Josh Martin is joining American Defense International as VP for government affairs. He most recently was chief of staff to Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). … Claudia Sahm will be director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. She currently is a section chief at the Federal Reserve Board. … Gabe Ramos will be national press secretary at New Politics. He previously was press secretary at the New York City Department of Veterans Services.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Katherine Timpf, host of “Sincerely Kat” on Fox Nation. How she got her start in journalism: “I was in the journalism program in college and had some internships in print journalism during the summers. The plan was to go to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to learn broadcasting after I graduated. I was enrolled and everything, but ultimately decided that I could never afford to pay back the loan I’d have to take out. Instead, I took a series of internships in Los Angeles to learn those skills for free, and worked in restaurants to pay the bills. It was hard and tiring and I was so, so broke, but it was worth it.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Jim Messina is 5-0 … former acting A.G. Matt Whitaker is 5-0 (hat tip: Samantha Dravis) … David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, is 61 … Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) is 67 … CNN’s Laura Jarrett … Bob Stevenson … WaPo White House editor Dave Clarke … N.Y. Daily News’ Robert George … former Sen. Connie Mack III (R-Fla.) is 79 … Washington Examiner’s Jamie McIntyre … Geoff Turley … Andy Weitz, Aon’s chief marketing officer … POLITICO’s Steve Heuser, Nick Yaeger, Cam Debro and Safi Majid … former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is 68 … Nelson Cunningham, president and co-founder of McLarty Associates … WSJ editorial writer Kate Bachelder Odell … Isabelle James … Mike Saccone … Washingtonian’s Mimi Montgomery … Steve Smith, deputy chief communications officer at the ACLU (h/t Lauren Weiner) … Coby King is 59 …
… Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager and communications director for Joe Biden’s campaign (h/t Biden junior advisers Hugh and Margot) … Seth Schuster of the Biden campaign … Noah Dion, New Hampshire organizing director for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign … CNN’s David Siegel (h/t Kevin Bohn) … Justin McCartney of Rep. Jennifer Wexton’s (D-Va.) comms team is 23 (h/t Aaron Bennett) … Deloitte’s Jon Pool … Max Yoeli … Leigh Helfenbein … Susan Mercandetti … Daisy Letendre … Sonia Colin-Reed … Diana D’Abruzzo … Peter Albrecht, VP at DSPolitical … former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is 81 … Kerry Hannon (h/t Jon Haber) … Gary Gould … Nick Powell … Michael Slaby … Jeff Hillery … Yangyang Cheng … Bill Jaffee … Aaron Jacobs … WSJ’s Samantha Zeldin … Thompson Warren … Mark Olingy … Rachel Barinbaum … Steve Lynch … Sophie Bauer
- Kellyanne Conway: House Impeachment Inquiry Vote Doesn’t Apply Due Process Retroactively
- Clinton has a varied take on impeachment
- Is Kamala Harris next to go?: California Democrat on brink of exiting presidential race after firing dozens of campaign staff and dropping to three per cent in the polls
- Democrats out to destroy Trump’s gains
- House Democrats expand Russia probe, seeking more documents
- Trump’s anger fans impeachment flames
- Virginia Democrats float impeachment against lieutenant governor
- Voters lose as partisan impeachment heats up
- Ocasio-Cortez Defends Rashida Tlaib Calling Trump ‘Motherf**ker’: ‘I Got Your Back’
- Few politicians are talking about removing the president — but two TV shows are
- Insults flying, Pelosi hits Trump's fitness, he fires back
- Trump puts Senate GOP in no-win situation
- Trump slams 4 congresswomen; crowd chants, ‘Send her back!’
- Age not key factor keeping Sanders out of White House
- D-Day ceremony spotlights Trump’s complicated military ties
- Trump’s legal team breathes a sigh, takes a victory lap
- Why Robert Mueller’s report may remain a mystery
- Elizabeth Warren poses threat to Constitution
- Clarskon on: risk taking
- When will Warren unveil plan to tell the truth?
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