With Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: Most polls have asked Americans in specific terms what they think of President Trump requesting that his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky order an investigation into Joe Biden’s son. A new national survey from Grinnell College, conducted by the respected Iowa pollster Ann Selzer, probes public attitudes in more plain language – and gets revealing results.
“Is it okay with you or not okay for political candidates in the U.S. to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help them win an election?” In response to that question, only 7 percent of U.S. adults say it’s okay. Eighty-one percent say it is not okay.
A Washington Post-Schar School poll earlier this month asked whether it was appropriate for Trump to request that Ukraine investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. When the names Trump and Biden were included in the question, 32 percent of U.S. adults said it was okay and 62 percent said it was not. Predictably, in this era of tribalism, there was a stark partisan divide: 59 percent of Republicans said Trump’s request was appropriate, while 84 percent of Democrats said it was inappropriate.
The Grinnell poll, conducted Oct. 17-23, surveyed 1,003 adults. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The numbers of people who say it’s wrong to seek assistance from a foreign government are remarkably consistent across ages, demographic groups, education levels, income and even party lines. More than 80 percent of self-identified Republicans, evangelicals and rural dwellers say it’s not okay for a president to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help win an election.
“When it comes to foreign interference, having findings this close to a consensus are rare in polling these days,” said Selzer, who also conducts the gold-standard Iowa poll for the Des Moines Register. “The substance of the question at hand in the impeachment inquiry does not seem in dispute. What’s appropriate in terms of process and consequences is far less clear.”
This helps explain why Trump defenders on Capitol Hill have fixated more on complaining about the impeachment process than offering a substantive defense of Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine or his public call for China, from the White House lawn, to investigate the Bidens. The rough transcript of the July 25 call released by Trump shows the president asking explicitly for a “favor” right after Zelensky raised the subject of military aid to Ukraine. Additional reporting, along with sworn testimony from administration officials, has established that this was part of a broader campaign to compel Kyiv to help Trump tar Democrats generally and Biden specifically. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney even acknowledged in the briefing room that military aid to Ukraine was being held up to secure a politically advantageous investigation, though he later sought to walk it back.
-- Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that the House will take its first vote related to the impeachment inquiry this Thursday, dictating the rules for the next phase of the investigation. Her goal is to undermine what has been a central Republican line of attack and to create additional legal cover for ongoing court fights aimed at breaking through the administration’s stated policy of stonewalling. Pelosi said the resolution that the House votes on will lay out which hearings would be open and how the transcripts from witnesses who have testified in closed sessions would be released. It will also grant due process to the president and his attorney.
“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,” the speaker said in a Monday letter to her Democratic colleagues.
The Grinnell poll finds that 42 percent of Americans believe that Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 44 percent say he should not. On a separate question, 48 percent agree with the House’s decision to open an impeachment inquiry while 42 percent disagree. “While nearly all Republicans believe that asking for foreign help to win an election is the wrong thing to do, in this case, most don’t believe it rises to the level of an impeachable offense,” said Grinnell political scientist Peter Hanson, who directs the school’s polling project.
-- White House officials, who have justified noncompliance with the investigation by pointing to the lack of a formal vote, suggested that their approach won’t change even after Pelosi does what they’ve been demanding. Republican allies on the Hill coordinated their messaging and cited the planned vote as proof that the process was flawed. “Speaker Pelosi is finally admitting what the rest of America already knew — that Democrats were conducting an unauthorized impeachment proceeding, refusing to give the president due process, and their secret, shady, closed door depositions are completely and irreversibly illegitimate,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
-- A separate poll from USA Today and Suffolk University, also released this morning, shows that most Americans want Trump to cooperate with the investigation. Asked if the White House had an obligation to comply with subpoenas from the House committees demanding testimony and documents, 66 percent of those surveyed said yes and only 26 percent said no. Those who think the White House should comply with congressional subpoenas include 35 percent of Republicans.
The poll included the names of the relevant politicians and thus found more predictable partisan breakdowns on questions related to underlying conduct. To wit: Nearly four in 10 said Trump’s phone call pressuring Zelensky to meddle in U.S. politics is itself an impeachable offense, but three in 10 said there was nothing wrong with the conversation. The poll found that 46 percent of Americans support Congress voting to impeach and remove Trump from office. On the other end, 37 percent said the House should stop investigating the president and his administration altogether.
“Last week, even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the rare step of distancing himself from a tweet by Trump that likened his impeachment to ‘a lynching.’ In the poll, though, 40% say they agree with the racially charged tweet; 54% disagree,” Susan Page, Savannah Behrmann and Jeanine Santucci report in USA Today. “Trump’s strongest support comes from those who say Fox News is the TV network they trusted most; 78% of Fox viewers say they agree that Trump’s impeachment was like a ‘lynching.’ In contrast, just 2% of those who trust MSNBC most and 10% of those who trust CNN most agree with the statement. … The telephone poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken Oct. 23-26, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.”
-- Bad facts continue to emerge for the president: An Army officer who is assigned to the White House plans to tell House investigators today that he was disturbed by Trump’s demand that Ukraine investigate his political rivals. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, is the first person to testify who was actually on the line for Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky. His prepared testimony returns repeatedly to his fears that Trump’s manipulation of Ukraine policy to discredit Biden is unethical and damaging to U.S. national security. His six-page prepared statement bolsters previous testimony by Fiona Hill, his former boss at the NSC, and Bill Taylor, the acting ambassador to Ukraine.
“Vindman states that Trump’s initial call with the new Ukrainian president, made after Zelensky’s April election, was positive. … But within weeks of that initial promise, he grew worried that the policy was being hijacked by partisan politics,” Greg Jaffe reports. “Vindman cites a July 10 meeting in which Gordon Sondland, a major Trump donor and ambassador to the European Union, emphasized that to secure a meeting with Trump, the Ukrainians would have to ‘deliver investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma,’ a Ukrainian natural gas company that had controversially tapped Biden’s son to serve on its board. … Following the briefing, Vindman reported his concerns to the National Security Council’s top lawyer. Vindman’s statement notes that an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma would likely inject Ukraine’s new president into U.S. politics and cause the struggling democracy to lose bipartisan support in Congress. ‘This would undermine U.S. national security,’ Vindman writes.
“Vindman’s most direct contact with Trump came in the form of preparing documents for the president to sign regarding Ukraine. At the direction of his superiors at the NSC, including John Bolton, then the national security adviser, Vindman drafted a memorandum in mid-August that sought to restart $391 million in security aid that was being withheld from Ukraine … But Trump refused to sign it. He also drafted a letter in May congratulating Zelensky on his inauguration that Trump declined to sign.” (The New York Times has additional details on the memo and the letter.)
Vindman’s family fled the Soviet Union when he was 3. He describes himself as a patriot and proud immigrant. The lieutenant colonel was assigned to the White House in July 2018 after a tour in the Pentagon, where he helped prepare the U.S. military’s principal strategy for managing competition with Russia. “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,” Vindman writes in his opening statement. “It is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend OUR country, irrespective of party or politics … A strong and independent Ukraine is critical to U.S. national security interests because Ukraine is a front-line state and bulwark against Russian aggression.” (Read the full statement here.)
-- “Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said the House resolution would establish that his committee will conduct the open hearings, further solidifying his role as the Democrats’ point person,” John Hudson, Karoun Demirjian and Mike DeBonis report. “Republicans have complained the probe should be led by the Foreign Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the State Department. The resolution also would ensure that any evidence or a report would be provided to the Judiciary Committee, which would vote on articles of impeachment before sending them to the full House. …
“Word of the vote came as the investigation hit a new roadblock, with former deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman failing to show for his deposition Monday. Kupperman had asked a federal judge to referee a constitutional dispute between the House and the Trump administration over whether he should testify. Kupperman’s lawsuit threatened to slow down the probe and could affect the House’s ability to secure testimony from [Bolton], who has retained the same lawyer as Kupperman.
“But instead of waiting for courts to resolve the standoff, Democrats are pivoting to a new strategy and seeking to bring in lower-ranking government officials they hope can corroborate previous testimony alleging a quid pro quo. In recent days, they have fired off new letters requesting testimony from Robert Blair, a senior adviser to [Mulvaney]; two officials with experience at the Energy Department, Brian McCormack and Wells Griffith; and two State Department officials familiar with Ukraine policy, Catherine Croft and Chris Anderson … In a major victory for Democrats, an attorney for the White House’s senior director for Europe and Russia, Tim Morrison, said Monday that her client would testify if summoned by House investigators.”
-- A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for 3 p.m. on Thursday in the Kupperman case. Judge Richard Leon worked as both a congressional committee investigator and a Justice Department attorney before George W. Bush nominated him for the U.S. District Court in 2001, so he ostensibly understands the perspective of both parties. He pledged to move expeditiously because of “the time-sensitive nature of the issues raised in this case.”
-- Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Monday that they will join Mitt Romney in not co-sponsoring a resolution spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to condemn the House’s impeachment process.
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- “When U.S. forces found Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State militant group, he was not in some forgotten border town or remote patch of desert but in Syria’s Idlib province, a place where Baghdadi surely knew he was surrounded by enemies, and eyes,” Kareem Fahim and Sarah Dadouch report from the region. “The province, a major battlefield in Syria’s civil war, is dominated by an Islamist militant movement hostile to the Islamic State. In the skies, Syrian and Russian warplanes are ever-present, carrying out bombing raids to help the government of President Bashar al-Assad recapture Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held bastion. Observation posts manned by Turkish soldiers dot the province. Three million people live or shelter there, in a place only slightly larger than Delaware and nearly impossible to escape.
“It is unclear how long Baghdadi had been in Idlib or what he was doing there. But the province where he died — with its refugee camps, its front lines, its unshakable sense of dread — stands as a stark reminder of the misery and threats still radiating from Syria’s civil war. Western intelligence agencies are nervously monitoring the fighting in Idlib, which has become a proving ground for a new generation of extremists, in a war that has already bred thousands of hardened militants. Since late April, the Syrian government’s offensive to retake the rebel-held territory has killed or injured more than a thousand civilians, according to the United Nations and human rights groups. More than 500,000 have fled the fighting in southern Idlib and neighboring Hama province. Syrian and Russian warplanes have bombed hospitals and schools. ...
"The Islamic State has a low-key presence in Idlib as well, with its fighters forming ‘sleeper cells’ in the province ... There was no obvious reason Baghdadi would have felt safe in Idlib ... The Islamic State had been targeted in raids carried out by HTS and was seen as an adversary by other militant groups, including Hurras al-Din.”
-- Pentagon officials indicated that more operations targeting ISIS are possible now that Baghdadi is gone. Dan Lamothe and Karen DeYoung report: “Officials said two men were captured during the weekend raid who could provide intelligence about the group. Baghdadi’s remains, which were tested to confirm his identity, were buried at sea within 24 hours of his death in accordance with Muslim custom ... The new details emerged as Trump administration officials sought to place the operation in the context of an overall strategy to bring peace to Syria while ending the terrorism threat in the region."
-- U.S. government officials are worried Trump has shared too many sensitive details of the Baghdadi raid. From NBC News: “A robot had been on standby to aid in the hunt for al-Baghdadi if needed. U.S. Special Operations Forces arrived in eight helicopters and were on the ground for about two hours. They entered al-Baghdadi's compound within seconds by blowing holes in the side of the wall. They chased al-Baghdadi into a web of underground tunnels — many of them dead ends — that they already knew existed. Before the U.S. forces left for the 70-minute, ‘very low and very, very fast’ helicopter ride back along the same route from which they arrived, they captured some of al-Baghdadi's henchmen and seized ‘highly sensitive material and information’ outlining the origin of ISIS and plans for future plots. A few of those colorful details were wrong. Many of the rest were either highly classified or tactically sensitive, and their disclosure by the president made intelligence and military officials cringe, according to current and former U.S. officials.
“The al-Baghdadi raid is the most high-profile exhibit of a reality U.S. officials have had to contend with since Trump took office: a president with a background in show business who relishes delivering a compelling narrative and deals daily with the kind of covert, life-and-death sets of facts that inspire movie scripts. … Current and former senior U.S. officials said from the earliest days of his presidency that Trump consistently wants to make public more than his advisers think is legally sound or wise for U.S national security. ‘We agonized over what we would put in his briefings,’ one former senior White House official said, ‘because who knows if and when he's going to say something about it.’”
-- Trump has also fed intrigue about a classified military dog that was injured in the Baghdadi raid by posting a picture of the animal on Twitter. The raid was carried out by elite members of Delta Force and the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, per Lamothe: “The Pentagon kept most details about the covert canine, including its name and background, on a tight leash. … Three U.S. officials … said Monday that the dog’s identity was classified because of its affiliation with a classified unit. Releasing the name, they said, ran the risk of identifying the service members to which it was assigned.”
Pentagon sources tell us that the dog is a male Belgian Malinois, a common breed in Special Operations that is prized for its intelligence, athleticism and ferocity – when required: “The dog’s participation in the operation adds a new hero to military lore. It follows in the paw prints of Cairo, who participated in the 2011 raid by Navy SEALs that killed Osama bin Laden, but dogs have served in the military for decades. While the dog in the latest raid was wounded, it will not be eligible for a Purple Heart or valor medal. The U.S. military once recognized canines for such exceptional service but suspended the practice amid complaints that it diminished the service of humans, according to an Army history of military dogs. Other countries, such as Britain, still award dogs for valor.”
-- Trump said the U.S. will be “keeping the oil” in northeastern Syria, a move considered a war crime by some. From ABC News: “Trump has a long history of calling for the U.S. to ‘take the oil’ in the Middle East, in Iraq and Syria in particular. But any oil in both countries belongs to their governments, and according to U.S. law and treaties it has ratified, seizing it would be pillaging, a technical term for theft during wartime that is illegal under U.S. and international law. ‘We're keeping the oil,’ Trump said Monday to a conference of police chiefs in Chicago. ‘I've always said that -- keep the oil. We want to keep the oil, $45 million a month. Keep the oil. We've secured the oil.’ … Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed Monday that U.S. troops will remain in the eastern Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor ‘to secure the oil fields’ against ISIS. But the senior State Department official said the administration was ‘just beginning to look at the specifics of this,’ and downplayed a U.S. role in seizing any oil.”
-- There's a bear in the woods: Russia has been quietly building a low-profile infrastructure of political influence across Africa to challenge American power. From the Times: “Deploying its international propaganda arms, the television channel RT and the Sputnik news agency, the Kremlin is honing this message: While Western Europe and the United States are continuing a centuries-old tradition of exploiting Africa, Moscow is ready to engage with Africa on mutually beneficial terms. Russia is also benefiting from a desire by African countries to lessen their reliance on China, even as Moscow acknowledges that it cannot come close to matching Beijing’s financial firepower. …
"Moscow has already injected itself into the geopolitics of Libya and the Central African Republic. Now it is looking for inroads in public opinion and the political elite across the continent. … Perhaps the most prominent figure in Russia’s Africa push is Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the St. Petersburg businessman indicted by the United States for running the online ‘troll farm’ that sought to sway the 2016 American presidential election, who is said to run a military contractor called Wagner that is involved in several African countries. Another is Konstantin Malofeev, a nationalist banker under American sanctions who has cultivated ties with far-right politicians in Europe and the United States, as well as pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.”
-- A cyberattack affected 2,000 offices in the country of Georgia, including those of the president. Will Englund reports: “According to local news sites, it was the largest cyberattack in the country since 2008, when Russians are suspected to have launched an assault as the two nations were briefly going to war with each other. Analysts said that Monday’s action was not very sophisticated but that it shows the weakness of Georgia’s cybersecurity.”
-- Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he will resign from his post. Following nearly two weeks of countrywide protests over high prices, unemployment and poor services, Lebanon’s prime minister announced his resignation in a televised address. Over 10 days of protest, the dissolving of the government has been a key demand. (Developing.)
-- One day after announcing her resignation from Congress, Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) said she will become an advocate for victims of “revenge porn.” Michelle Ye Hee Lee reports: “In a message Monday to supporters, she apologized for her ‘imperfections’ and promised to ‘fight to ensure that no one else has to live through what I just experienced’ in connection with the release of the intimate photos. ‘Some people call this electronic assault, digital exploitation. Others call it revenge porn. As a victim of it, I call it one of the worst things we can do to our sisters and our daughters,’ Hill said in the video. … In her resignation announcement Sunday, Hill said she was considering legal options over the photos and that ‘as long as I am in Congress, we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt.’”
-- The conservative blogger who published a nude picture of the 32-year-old congresswoman is now promoting Republican candidates for the special election to fill her seat. From Politico: “‘If you want to help us flip @KatieHill4CA's former #CA25 seat BACK to RED, please learn more about [Republican Mike Garcia] and contribute to his campaign…' tweeted Jennifer Van Laar, a deputy managing editor at RedState. Later, Van Laar suggested that she’d back former Congressman Steve Knight if he decided to run for the seat he lost to Hill in 2018. … Van Laar’s views, like RedState’s leanings, are no secret: She’s worked in Republican politics and the site is conservative, as is its owner, Salem Media Group. But Van Laar’s shift from reporting on Hill, and publishing what some have deemed ‘revenge porn,’ to promoting Republicans for Hill’s old job is a blurring of roles that would be unacceptable in mainstream newsrooms.”
-- The top Republican on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee will not seek reelection next year — another sign that GOP lawmakers are pessimistic about retaking the House majority in 2020. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) served as chairman of the powerful panel for the first two years of the Trump presidency. "Walden is the 22nd House Republican to retire, resign or seek another office since the 116th Congress convened in January. Seven Democrats have retired or resigned in that time," Mike DeBonis reports. "Walden, 62, could have served as the committee’s top Republican through 2022 under party rules, but is opting instead to relinquish a chance to again wield one of Capitol Hill’s most powerful gavels … Walden has shown occasional discomfort with some of President Trump’s policies — voting with Democrats this year to cancel Trump’s border emergency declaration and to end the government shutdown that stretched into January — but he has strongly defended Trump amid the pending impeachment probe. His eastern Oregon district is heavily Republican, voting for Trump by 19 points in 2016.”
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) scheduled the special election for April to replace the late Elijah Cummings. Democrats are expected to easily hold the seat. (Erin Cox)
-- Former attorney general Jeff Sessions of Alabama is weighing a bid for his old U.S. Senate seat, meeting with consultants, retired senators and allies in recent weeks to plot out a potential 2020 campaign. This would likely infuriate Trump, who attacked Sessions dozens of times for recusing himself from Bob Mueller’s Russia probe and occasionally still complains about the former attorney general. “Sessions, 72, has joked in recent weeks that he was glad he was not shot by the president, and he has continued to give public and private remarks supporting him,” Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez report. “He has not taken any public positions since being fired from the administration. The move was first reported by Politico. A close Sessions ally said the former attorney general had not yet made a final decision....
“If he runs, Sessions would be joining a crowded field of Republicans seeking to face Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) … Among the Republicans who have already announced is Roy Moore, the party’s failed 2017 candidate. Other Republicans who have already joined the race are former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and state Rep. Arnold Mooney.”
-- North Carolina’s 2020 congressional elections must happen under new maps, a state court ruled last night, in a win for Democrats with implications for who controls the House. From the News & Observer: “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.”
-- Georgia is planning to purge about 300,000 voters from its rolls because they haven't voted in several years. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “The purge comes after Georgia canceled 534,119 registrations in July 2017, the largest single removal of voters in U.S. history. Under a new state law, election officials will notify voters before canceling their registrations, a step that didn’t exist two years ago. The voter list cleanup, announced Monday by the secretary of state’s office, reinforces Georgia’s role as a voting rights and political battleground ahead of next year’s elections.”
-- During a conversation about Israel policy, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) broached an issue he rarely mentions while campaigning: his identity. Sean Sullivan and David Weigel report: “The senator from Vermont spoke of relatives killed in the Holocaust and centuries of suffering before concluding that ‘if there is any people on earth who should do everything humanly possible’ to combat Trump’s divisiveness, ‘it is the Jewish people.’ The comments, at a conference in Washington hosted by the liberal Jewish organization J Street, were Sanders’s most direct attempt yet to fuse his heritage to his political approach and policy agenda. His participation also served as a stark reminder of the distinctive space he occupies in the Democratic field. Sanders is the only prominent Jewish candidate, a vocal critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch Palestinian defender and the preferred candidate of the nation’s first two Muslim congresswomen.”
-- While Trump and his allies have embraced the “Lock her up!” chants in campaign rallies, the seemingly spontaneous outburst of “Lock him up!” chants during Game 5 of the World Series ignited a debate among Democrats: Should they give Trump a taste of his own medicine, or should they stick to the high road? Annie Linskey reports: “One side of the debate — as represented Monday by figures like Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), a surrogate for the campaign of former vice president Joe Biden — argues that such coarse chants are inappropriate for a democracy, and that talk of jailing political opponents is the stuff of authoritarian regimes. … Other Democrats argue that Trump, a president they see as morally unfit for office and worthy of impeachment and removal, does not deserve the esteem that would be reserved for any other occupant of the White House. … Calls to the Democratic campaigns suggest the candidates are not inclined to embrace chants like the one Sunday night, though several chose not to address the issue. … The debate among Democrats over ‘Lock him up’ reflect a concern in some parts of the party that Trump has changed the nature of politics and it would be foolish to play by rules that no longer apply.”
-- “Andrew Yang was groomed for a high-paying job at an elite law firm. He lasted five months,” Kevin Sullivan writes in a profile: Yang’s “marquee policy — giving every U.S. adult $1,000 a month in guaranteed income — is the most unorthodox proposal of any major candidate. It’s the product of a nontraditional career, which began with his decision, in early 2000, to quit his law firm and walk away from all that money, prestige and comfort. He frequently refers to his lawyer days as ‘the five worst months of my life.’ ‘Working at a law firm was like a pie-eating contest, and if you won, your prize was more pie,’ Yang said in a recent interview on the Acela train from Washington to New York, between hurried bites of a turkey sandwich. The law jokes play well, especially because seven of the 12 candidates in the last televised Democratic debate have law degrees. But quitting law was not really about walking away from something. It was more about running toward something else that was calling to him with a sudden, urgent clarity.”
-- A new trend in the 2020 race: Donating to candidates you won’t vote for, just to keep their voices on the trail. From Medium’s Gen: “Julián Castro has a plea to voters: Help him raise $800,000 by October 31, or he will be forced to drop out of the Democratic presidential primary. … His plea elicited a rush of small donations — including some from people who say they have no interest in voting for him. ‘My preferred candidate is Cory Booker,’ says Lee Jolliffe, a journalism professor at Drake University in Iowa who says she’s donated around $40 to the Castro campaign. … ‘But I want Julián in the race, I want his voice on the stage for the debate. It’s wildly important to hear a voice that represents 20% of our population.’ Castro is the only Latino in the race and one just six candidates of color running for president.”
THE NON-IMPEACHMENT AGENDA THAT SHOULDN'T BE OVERSHADOWED:
-- The Trump administration said it will extend the temporary work permits of 200,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S., reversing course on Trump’s vow to deport them. Abigail Hauslohner and Maria Sacchetti report: “U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Ronald Johnson and Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said that the United States is extending El Salvador’s temporary protected status, a provisional residency granted to thousands of Salvadorans after the country was ravaged by an earthquake in 2001. The status had been renewed on an 18-month basis since, until the Trump administration announced its termination in 2018, saying TPS was no longer warranted for nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Sudan and Nicaragua. … In a statement, DHS said it arrived at its revised decision on TPS for Salvadorans after considering the possible consequences of mass deportations. …
“Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, disputed the U.S. ambassador’s description of the arrangement as a TPS extension. … DHS framed the TPS decision as part of a larger collaborative security package the United States and El Salvador signed Monday in Washington. … The U.S. government typically provides public justification for TPS extensions by explaining the conditions within a country that make it too dangerous for nationals to return, but the Trump administration offered no such explanation Monday. The Trump administration in September signed a separate deal with El Salvador that allows the U.S. government to divert asylum seekers from the southern border to El Salvador as part of a broader strategy to discourage would-be immigrants from seeking refuge in the United States. … Immigrant rights advocates celebrated the reprieve from deportation but criticized what they saw as the administration’s leveraging the safety of hundreds of thousands of immigrants as part of a ‘trade’ to keep new asylum seekers out of the United States.”
-- Case in point: The Trump administration will begin sending Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers to Guatemala as soon as this week. Nick Miroff reports: “The Trump administration is preparing to finalize an agreement this week to begin sending asylum seekers from the U.S. border to Guatemala, implementing a deal the two countries reached in July, according to three people with knowledge of the plan. … Guatemala’s highest court initially ruled that the asylum accord could not go forward without the approval of Guatemala’s congress, but a subsequent decision left open the possibility that outgoing President Jimmy Morales could implement the deal without lawmakers’ approval. … Kevin McAleenan, who plans to step down as acting DHS secretary as soon as Thursday, has secured similar agreements with Honduras and El Salvador, but those deals have not been implemented ... Trump suspended aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador this spring [and] announced that he would restore some of the assistance this month after the three countries agreed to accept U.S. asylum seekers.”
-- A new report by the Government Accountability Office finds mixed results for 370 projects funded by Americans to battle poverty and misgovernance in the three Northern Triangle countries. The projects cost $2.4 billion between 2013 and 2018. The GAO reviewed 190 of the projects and found that agencies provided uneven evaluations of their projects and collected inconsistent data needed to evaluate progress. In its report, the GAO recommended that the Department of State collaborate with the Departments of Defense and Agriculture to develop a more comprehensive approach to monitoring and evaluating these projects.
-- Google hired Miles Taylor, who served as a top aide to then-DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Facing a massive backlash from rank-and-file employees, company executives falsely claimed that he was not involved in Trump’s family separation policy, according to BuzzFeed News: “As Nielsen’s deputy chief of staff, Taylor was included on some of the DHS secretary’s emails and privy to her events schedule, often prepping his boss with reports and talking points ahead of public appearances between April and June 2018, when the family separation policy was in effect. In one email ... Taylor assisted Nielsen in preparing what he described as the ‘Protecting Children Narrative’ — the department’s spin on a policy that horrified Americans when images of abandoned, caged migrant children in squalid camps emerged. Other emails from Nielsen’s events planner show that he had been scheduled to participate in at least two weekly calls to ‘discuss Border Security and Immigration Enforcement’ in June 2018. Two former DHS officials dismissed Google’s claim that Taylor — who last month joined the company as a government affairs and public policy manager advising on national security issues — could have kept his hands clean from the policy."
-- In related news: More than 250 Facebook employees have signed onto a letter to chief executive Mark Zuckerberg that decries their company's decision to allow politicians to make false claims in ads. From the Times: “For the past two weeks, the text of the letter has been publicly visible on Facebook Workplace, a software program that the Silicon Valley company uses to communicate internally. ... While the number of signatures on the letter was a fraction of Facebook’s 35,000-plus work force, it was one sign of the resistance that the company is now facing internally over how it treats political ads. Many employees have been discussing Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision to let politicians post anything they want in Facebook ads because those ads can go viral and spread misinformation widely. The worker dissatisfaction has spilled out across winding, heated threads on Facebook Workplace."
-- A San Francisco man registered as a candidate in California’s 2022 gubernatorial election just so he can run false Facebook ads of his own. (CNN)
-- Juul Labs is planning on cutting about 500 jobs by the end of the year as the company braces for a proposed ban on flavors of e-cigarettes that make up more than 80 percent of its U.S. sales. (WSJ)
-- As fires continue raging, Californians are refining an important skill: Evacuating. Heather Kelly, Scott Wilson and Joy Lanzendorfer report: “Memories of the fires in Sonoma County a mere two years ago — which claimed 22 lives — are still fresh here in this area which saw an exodus of 200,000 residents over the weekend. In interviews, businesses, families and others expressed a remarkably similar sentiment: this time, the evacuation went much smoother. … It is too early to tell whether the current blazes will be as deadly as two years ago. But some authorities attribute the lack of deaths to the way Californians are adapting. As if to punctuate this new normal, authorities said Monday that the fires in Northern California, which are burning more than 66,000 acres, may not be contained until Nov. 7, according to officials. And PG&E has said its rolling power outages to prevent fires may continue happening for a decade. Fires also burned in Southern California on Monday, forcing the evacuation of 10,000 people and destroying several homes.”
-- Hurricane-force winds have been fanning the blazes across the state, raising fears that this seemingly annual onslaught of fires is the new normal. Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman report: “In Northern California, this year’s windstorms have shocked forecasters for happening so closely packed together. After being bombarded by a windstorm on Wednesday and Thursday last week, and a stronger ‘historic’ blast this weekend, the area is bracing for a third surge Tuesday and Wednesday. ‘I’ve been in this business for 28 years. I’ve never seen anything like this,’ said Steve Anderson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s forecast office serving the San Francisco Bay area. Meanwhile, Southern California is bracing for its second dangerous wind storm in three days on Wednesday.”
-- A coalition of international automakers, including General Motors, Toyota and Chrysler, announced an effort to intervene on the side of the Trump administration in its ongoing fight with California over fuel standards. Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report: “The move could pit the powerful auto manufacturers against other industry giants such as Ford, Honda and Volkswagen, which this summer struck a deal with California regulators to produce more fuel-efficient cars and trucks through 2025. It underscores carmarkers’ desire to achieve some sort of regulatory certainty, at a time when the Trump administration and the nation’s most populous state remain at a standoff.”
-- Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg plans to acknowledge that his company made mistakes with the 737 Max Jet that led to a pair of deadly crashes. Ian Duncan has a sneak peek at his upcoming congressional testimony: "We know we made mistakes and got some things wrong," Muilenburg plans to say. "We own that, and we are fixing them."
-- U.S. stock indexes reached record highs as the busiest week of the earnings season kicked off. Thomas Heath reports: “The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed at 3,039, up almost 0.5 percent, eclipsing the broad market’s previous high of 3,025 from July 26. The Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq composite index were close behind, sending stocks upward in what is historically a bumpy month for markets."
-- The president of the AFGE, the largest union representing federal workers, is taking a leave of absence as the union investigates sexual harassment claims made against him. Eli Rosenberg reports: “J. David Cox Sr., who has led the American Federation of Government Employees since since 2012, disclosed the investigation against him as well as his decision to take a leave of absence in a letter to a union’s leadership council. … The allegations against Cox were outlined in a report by Bloomberg Businessweek. Ten men and women told the news outlet that they either witnesses or experienced inappropriate conduct by Cox on the job. One man, one of Cox’s subordinates, described Cox telling him that he loved him repeatedly and at one point licking his ear.”
-- Jarrod Ramos admitted that he killed five people in the Annapolis newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper. Now a jury must decide whether Ramos was so mentally ill at the time that he should not be held legally culpable. Lynh Bui, Erin Cox and Paul Duggan report: “In court Monday, as survivors of the shooting and loved ones of the dead looked on, Ramos appeared before the judge, clad in green jail clothing, with a flowing beard and his hair tied in a ponytail. He listened for an hour as State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess recounted previously undisclosed details of the attack. … If Ramos had not admitted committing the crimes outlined in the 23-count indictment, Leitess said, survivors would have testified that they had to step over the bodies of slain co-workers as they evacuated the building after police arrived.”
-- Charles J. Ogletree Jr., 66, the dazzling legal mind who inspired Barack and Michelle Obama at Harvard Law, represented Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’s Senate confirmation hearings and became a crusader for civil rights, is now leading a quiet life at home with his wife, Pa,m following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. From the Boston Globe: “Three years ago, at 63, Ogletree went public with his battle. He named his nemesis and vowed to fight it, the way he’d fought injustices so many times before. He is fighting still, holding onto what is left. But so much of who he was has been taken from him: Reading and writing. Traveling the world. Debate and discussion and his first great passion, fishing. The losses happen without ceremony. One day things are possible, another they are gone. They had told themselves they would not dwell on that. ‘I want to focus on what I have,’ Charles told Pam when he was diagnosed, ‘not on what I’m losing, or on what I had.’ They pledged to stay in the moment, savor it. To spend their time living. And so as his world closes in, she pushes back. She plays the music he loved, tells him the old stories. In almost any kind of weather, they go walking. Charles always liked to walk, she says, but now he walks as if his life depends on it.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Here's the declassified picture of the military pup that aided the Baghdadi raid:
We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi! pic.twitter.com/PDMx9nZWvw— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2019
To be clear, the dog's name is NOT "Classified":
Confirmed with a second source: As of this morning, at least, the dog's name is classified.— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) October 28, 2019
Mind you, the dog's name is not "Classified." But it's classified. https://t.co/35NttyX909
The Times says the dog has already received an invite to visit with Trump at the White House:
DOG UPDATE: The dog who aided the ISIS raid has an invitation to the White House “whenever he can get over here,” per senior official. The president wants to meet him.— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) October 28, 2019
And its first front-page treatment:
After Pelosi gave congressional Republicans what they have been demanding, they quickly moved the goal posts:
It’s been 34 days since Nancy Pelosi unilaterally declared her impeachment inquiry.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) October 28, 2019
Today’s backtracking is an admission that this process has been botched from the start.
We will not legitimize the Schiff/Pelosi sham impeachment.
Jordan sort of answers his own question: pic.twitter.com/249wIg4zSU— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 28, 2019
A Democratic senator from Connecticut said that Trump defenders' arguments about process might not be on the level:
Newsflash: there is nothing Pelosi can do to satisfy the “process” concerns of Republicans.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 28, 2019
They will change their demands, over and over and over, shamelessly, because guess what...
(whisper voice) this isn’t really about the “process”...
Two MSNBC anchors were criticized for defending the president against the "Lock him up" chants heard during the Nationals game he attended:
I confess I felt a little guilty pleasure in the chant, but then I thought of kids in cages and my guilt morphed into rage. Give me the key; I’d love to lock him up. https://t.co/4MChH26xhm— Jennifer Granholm (@JenGranholm) October 28, 2019
Joe Scarborough, the MSNBC host and former Republican congressman, weighed in on the impeachment process debate:
So, let’s break this down:— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) October 29, 2019
1. Trump Republicans oppose the whistleblower because it wasn’t a first-hand account. NOW they oppose a first-hand account.
2. Trumpists demanded a vote on impeachment inquiry. NOW they oppose the vote on the impeachment inquiry.
They’re desperate. https://t.co/FSFNEukg6K
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Trump had this to say about a former Illinois governor, who is still in prison:
At fundraiser today in Chicago, Trump told the crowd to clap if they believed he should commute Rod Blagojevich's sentence, per person in room. Lots of claps. He also joked that he should label the Halloween White House party "the Witch Hunt."— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) October 28, 2019
And the chef aboard Air Force One seems to have a sense of humor:
Per pool report, here is the food on AF1 today pic.twitter.com/8VA6n2euDp— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) October 28, 2019
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "[Chicago] is embarrassing to us as a nation. All over the world, they're talking about Chicago. Afghanistan is a safe place by comparison, it's true," Trump said during his first visit to the city as president. (Anne Gearan, John Wagner and Mark Berman)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Stephen Colbert noted that Trump can't help but overshare:
Trevor Noah pointed out that the president compares all his achievements to Barack Obama's:
And Seth Meyers can't believe Rudy Giuliani butt-dials reporters: