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🚨: "Britain’s highest court dealt a major blow on Tuesday to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, ruling that his controversial decision to suspend Parliament was unlawful, in a landmark decision that will have immediate implications for Britain’s departure from the European Union," our colleagues in London, Karla Adam and William Booth, report.
- "In one of the most high-profile cases to come before Britain’s Supreme Court, the 11 judges ruled unanimously that Johnson had not acted lawfully in shuttering Parliament."
THE POINT OF NO RETURN: Pressure is mounting on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to open the formal impeachment inquiry she has so long resisted.
And then there were 146: On Monday night, seven House Democrats with national security and military backgrounds who won competitive House districts in 2018 came out to back launching an impeachment inquiry — bringing the total count of Democrats in favor of opening an inquiry to 146.
In an op-ed in The Post, freshman Democratic Reps. Gil Cisneros of California, Jason Crow of Colorado, Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia write:
- “If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly, and we call on our colleagues in Congress to consider the use of all congressional authorities available to us, including the power of “inherent contempt” and impeachment hearings, to address these new allegations, find the truth and protect our national security.”
- They are referring to allegations Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to reopen an investigation into unsubstantiated claims of corruption by Joe Biden and his son. Trump did so while the United States was withholding promised aid from Ukraine.
House Dem just now: “the dam is breaking” on impeachment.— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) September 24, 2019
More than a majority: Pelosi, who has said impeaching Trump is “just not worth it,” is now “sounding out top allies and lawmakers about whether the time has come to impeach President Trump,” multiple Democratic officials told my colleagues Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis.
- “Pelosi, according to multiple senior House Democrats and congressional aides, has asked colleagues whether they believe that Trump’s own admission that he pressured a Ukrainian leader to investigate a political foe is a tipping point,” Rachael and Mike report. “She was making calls as late as Monday night to gauge support in the caucus, and many leadership aides who once thought Trump’s impeachment was unlikely now say they think it’s almost inevitable.”
From a Pelosi ally: Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), a close Pelosi ally, also has changed her tune, writing in a statement that an impeachment inquiry “may be the only recourse Congress has” to hold Trump accountable.
“Congress must meet this pivotal moment in our nation’s history with decisive action,” she tweeted.
On today's docket: Pelosi has summoned House leaders to a 4 p.m. meeting to discuss the matter.
“Mindful that Democrats may have only a brief window to decide their course, [Pelosi] summoned the leaders of six House committees involved in investigations of the president to meet on Tuesday, telling the lawmakers to come without aides. Afterward, she planned to convene a special meeting of the Democratic caucus to discuss impeachment,” the New York Times's Maggie Haberman, Nick Fandos, Michael Crowley and Ken Vogel report. A full meeting of the Democratic caucus will take place afterward.
Rachael and Mike report that House leadership has discussed “the possibility of a special select committee that would combine House Judiciary with other panels such as Intelligence” to handle a hypothetical impeachment inquiry.
In the meantime though, Pelosi still faces some political obstacles:
- “Voters still overwhelming disapprove of Democrats impeaching the president — though those polls where conducted before last week’s reports about the whistleblower complaint. In the Senate, Republicans have made it clear that they are standing with Trump and are unlikely to convict him if a trial occurs,” per Rachael and Mike.
But Trump seems impervious to the growing political firestorm — indeed, he appeared to be stoking it yesterday with incendiary comments targeting Biden at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York.
“What he’s learned is you can get away with just about anything if you’re willing to gamble and you have zero shame,” Gwenda Blair, a biographer of the Trump family, told the New York Times's Peter Baker. “He had just outbluffed the old-school way of holding people to account, so what the heck, why not go for it in the phone call to the new, young and vulnerable Ukrainian president?”
“It’s difficult to imagine a purer example, even on the president’s own account of his conduct, of why the Constitution’s framers thought it essential to include the impeachment power,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard law professor, told Baker.
THE FACTS ARE COMING OUT: As the White House refuses to release the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky, reporters unearthed important details fueling suspicions Trump may have sought to leverage and withhold congressionally approved aid to Ukraine.
The latest: “President Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid for Ukraine at least a week before a phone call in which Trump is said to have pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the son of former vice president Joe Biden, according to three senior administration officials,” per our colleagues Karoun Demirjian, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Carol Leonnig.
“Officials at the Office of Management and Budget relayed Trump’s order to the State Department and the Pentagon during an interagency meeting in mid-July, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. They explained that the president had 'concerns' and wanted to analyze whether the money needed to be spent.”
Key: “Administration officials were instructed to tell lawmakers that the delays were part of an 'interagency process' but to give them no additional information — a pattern that continued for nearly two months, until the White House released the funds on the night of Sept. 11,” per Karoun, Josh, Ellen and Carol.
'A perfect phone call': That's how Trump has described the July phoner with Ukraine's president. But Zelensky spoke with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) during an early September visit to Ukraine and “'directly' expressed concerns at their meeting that 'the aid that was being cut off to Ukraine by the president was a consequence' of his unwillingness to launch an investigation into the Bidens,” per our colleagues.
Trump took his attacks on Biden and the press to a whole new level:
- “If that ever happened, if a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair right now,” Trump told reporters on Monday from a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly.
So release the transcript of the call then. https://t.co/pWD7xmVLQO— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 23, 2019
DNC RAISES DEBATE THRESHOLDS: “The Democratic National Committee announced new qualification rules for the November debates,” our colleague Michael Scherer writes of the decision “that could kick more candidates off the stage, as party leaders continue to push to shrink the field in the presidential nomination fight.”
The new rules: " … candidates will have to demonstrate they have 165,000 unique donors, an increase of 30,000 from the October qualification levels. They will also have to meet a new polling criteria, either by scoring 3 percent in at least four national or state polls approved by the party, or by receiving at least 5 percent in two approved single-state polls from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada,” Scherer reports.
- Who is in trouble: Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Rep. John Delaney (Md.) have yet to qualify for the October debate. They've so far failed to rank in a single qualifying poll.
- Who might be at risk: Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro, businessman Tom Steyer and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) have yet to hit the new polling threshold in either of the three approved polls released so far. Politico's Zach Montellaro reports. Gabbard has also yet to qualify for October's debate, but Castro and Steyer are in. The deadline for that is next week.
- Just fine: Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.).
We’re back on the bus— asked how he’ll win the blue wall, Pete Buttigieg says, “It helps to live by I-80, and to have a candidate whose native language is midwestern.” He’s snacking on pizza and beer. pic.twitter.com/FCqIzitVRU— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) September 24, 2019
Shades of McCain: "Pete Buttigieg was inside his campaign bus, with reporters an arm's length away all looking directly at him, their notebooks, pens and recorders in hand," the Des Moines Register's Barbara Rodriguez reports. Bus tours across Iowa are quite common, but in a modern day twist on the late Sen. John McCain's "Straight Talk Express," Buttigieg's team welcomed reporters to join him for the entirety of his four-day trip, everything on-the-record.
- Some of the questions he's answered so far: "What does he think about growing calls for an impeachment investigation against President Donald Trump?" Rodriguez writes. "Did he have a comment on the Republican Party's talking points about the presidential race? How does he assess the current psyche of American voters? What does he miss about home? How many of his signature white shirts and jeans had he packed for his four-day bus tour across Iowa? And was he ironing" (4 shirts, he ironed himself; one pair of jeans).
THIS BOMBSHELL STORY FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES PUBLISHER: A.G. Sulzberger, the Times publisher, spoke at Brown University about the state of journalism. He discussed for the first time a story that shows how much the Trump administration “has retreated from our country’s historical role as a defender of the free press.” It is simply jaw-dropping.
- What happened: “Two years ago, we got a call from a United States government official warning us of the imminent arrest of a New York Times reporter based in Egypt named Declan Walsh,” Sulzberger said. “Though the news was alarming, the call was actually fairly standard. Over the years, we’ve received countless such warnings from American diplomats, military leaders and national security officials.”
- But this time was different: “We learned the official was passing along this warning without the knowledge or permission of the Trump administration. Rather than trying to stop the Egyptian government or assist the reporter, the official believed, the Trump administration intended to sit on the information and let the arrest be carried out. The official feared being punished for even alerting us to the danger,” Sulzberger said.
- Luckily, they figured out another way: “Unable to count on our own government to prevent the arrest or help free Declan if he were imprisoned, we turned to his native country, Ireland, for help,” Sulzberger said. “Within an hour, Irish diplomats traveled to his house and safely escorted him to the airport before Egyptian forces could detain him. We hate to imagine what would have happened had that brave official not risked their career to alert us to the threat.”
TRUMP POPS INTO CLIMATE SUMMIT: The president unexpectedly dropped by the U.N climate summit in New York yesterday for 14 minutes. “He did not speak and left after listening to remarks from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Angela Merkel, the outgoing German chancellor,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim and Anne Gearan report.
- What Trump missed: “Leaders from France, Germany, India and other countries made public their commitment to increase renewable energy consumption and curb fossil fuel burning,” our colleagues write. He also missed an impassioned plea from teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg.
"Thunberg had one question for the global leaders assembled at the United Nations: 'How dare you?'" our colleagues Kayla Epstein and Juliet Eilperin report. But it wasn't just her speech that was noticed:
Trump responded late last night.