IT'S FRIDAY! Make it a good one. Thanks for waking up with us — see you on Monday

🚨This just in: “Two missiles struck an Iranian tanker traveling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia on Friday, Iranian officials said, the latest incident in the region amid months of heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S.,” per the Associated Press’s Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell.

  • And: “Ethio­pian Prime minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his dogged pursuit of democratic reforms and regional peacemaking efforts,” per our colleague Max Bearak who is on the ground in Addis Ababa.

The Campaign

THREADING THE NEEDLE: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez doubled down on the committee's decision not to directly counter Republican attacks on former vice president Joe Biden, arguing that its role is not to be any individual candidate's defender. 

  • Key: “The DNC in 2020 is running a campaign process to make sure that every single person has an opportunity to demonstrate that they are most qualified to be president, and I don’t believe it would be our role to be airing ads every time there is misinformation,” Perez told C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers.” That role, Perez said, is “up to the campaign."
  • As the Trump campaign runs ads that promulgate unsubstantiated accusations about Biden and his son's dealings in Ukraine, Perez said: “What we are doing forcefully — and will continue to do forcefully — is to call out misinformation and make sure networks aren’t aiding and abetting in the dissemination of misinformation. I think that's a critically important role.”

Perez is in a tricky spot: He's under pressure to uphold the national party committee's neutrality as a historic number of Democrats run for the high office — an especially sensitive task in after leaked emails from top DNC officials suggested the committee sought to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the 2016 presidential primary. 

At the same time, the DNC chair has been pressed to take a stand as Trump’s push to foreign leaders to investigate Biden sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House — and spawned a crop of misleading counterattacks, in particular an ad currently running on social media and broadcast networks that the Biden campaign claims “spreads false, definitively debunked conspiracy theories.” 

  • Intraparty tensions between Biden's camp and committee staffers were first reported last week by the New York Times: “The strain grew so acute that some of Mr. Biden’s advisers lashed out at their own party, taking the unusual step of urging campaign surrogates to criticize the [DNC] for not doing more to defend Mr. Biden,” Jonathan Martin, Alexander Burns and Katie Glueck reported. 

A compromise: The DNC has called for Facebook and networks to refuse to carry the 30-second ad called “Biden Corruption," which alleges without evidence that Biden promised Ukraine $1 billion to fire a prosecutor looking a Ukraine gas company to protect his son Hunter Biden and accuses “media lap dogs” of helping Democrats with their impeachment push. 

  • So far, just CNN has said the ad does not meet its standards and NBC is reportedly demanding changes. 
  • Facebook declined to remove it, and broadly exempts politicians' speech or ads from third-party fact-checkers: “We don’t believe that it's an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician's speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny,” Facebook vice president Nick Clegg wrote in a recent blog post

Perez, however, insisted that the narrative Trump and his allies are pushing will not hurt Biden going into 2020. “I think people are smarter than this,” he said.

CASH BATTLE: Perez also claimed he's not concerned by the Republican National Committee's historically large war chest — which our colleagues Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy reported has “given [Trump] a head start over the eventual Democratic nominee." 

  • By the numbers: “Trump’s overflowing coffers have allowed him to spend lavishly early in the race. For instance, the committees recently launched $10 million ad offense targeting Democrats, including [Biden].” 
  • $$$: “There are six main committees working to secure his second term, including the official campaign, the Republican National Committee and a super PAC. Together, they have already raised over $736 million — more than any previous presidential candidate at this point in the campaign.”
  • Perez called Republicans outraising Democrats “the quintessential dog bites man story” — and insisted that Democrats frequently win despite Republicans historically outspending them. “I've never made the goal to match the other side dollar for dollar, and by the way — they have more rich people than we do."
  • But he declined to say that the DNC would make a pledge to reject corporate PAC money, which several candidates, such as Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have done: “We have a resolution in place where we don't take money from entities who are inconsistent with our values and we will continue to abide by that." 

2016 ON THE BRAIN: Perez said that the committee is not “bulletproof” in terms of digital security as it seeks to protect its systems from repeat cyberattacks in 2020. 

He blamed part of the difficulty on the president for effectively giving adversaries the green light to go ahead and hack U.S. entities by refusing to accept the findings of Republican-led congressional committees, intelligence agencies and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation that Moscow tried to help Trump win in 2016. 

  • “You have a president right now, sending his attorney general around the world to try to debunk what the Senate Intelligence Committee — on a bipartisan basis — just said, which is that the Russians tried to influence our election,” said Perez. 
  • Perez said that his priority at the committee is building a “robust infrastructure” to prevent a hack with the helped of outside partners — but “unfortunately one of them is not the federal government and that is tragic for our democracy." 
  • “They are compromised”: Perez said that to invite over career staffers from the Department of Homeland Security to help secure DNC systems — “when their boss is actively soliciting aide to undermine his perceived opponents" — would be “committing political malpractice … They are compromised.”

At The White House

THE ATTACKS CONTINUED AT A RAUCOUS MINNEAPOLIS RALLY: Trump “leveled some of his most personal attacks yet against Joe Biden and his family at his first campaign rally since House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry, highlighting unsubstantiated claims about his potential 2020 rival’s son and using profanity to describe Biden’s tenure as vice president,” our colleagues Seung Min Kim and Aaron Blake report.

  • On blast: Biden “was never considered smart,” Trump said. “He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice president because he figured out how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”
  • “I’d love to run against him, to be honest,” Trump added. 

Trump repeated inaccurate claims about Hunter Biden and his involvement in an investment fund in China and mocked him for his personal substance abuse issues. 

  • “Hunter, you know nothing about energy, you know nothing about China, you know nothing about anything, frankly,” Trump said before a near-capacity crowd. “Hunter, you’re a loser.” 
  • New line of attack: “Whatever happened to Hunter? Where the hell is he? … I have an idea for a new T-shirt … Where’s Hunter?”

The president also took aim at Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) -- and elicited boos after mentioning the Somali refugee community in the Minneapolis district more broadly. 

  • “Leaders in Washington brought large numbers of refugees to your state from Somalia,” Trump said, at which point a sizable portion of the crowd booed, “without considering the impact on schools and communities and taxpayers.”
  • “How hell did that ever happen?” Trump said of Omar, the first Somali-American elected to Congress, adding: “Congresswoman Omar is an America-hating socialist.”

In other rally news: Prince’s "Purple Rain" played shortly before Trump took the stage "even though his estate asked a year ago that the president stop using the late musician’s music," the Star Tribune's Emma Nelson reports.

  • Prince's estate was not happy: “The Prince Estate will never give permission to President Trump to use Prince’s songs.

The Investigations

THE LATEST ON IMPEACHMENT: Here's everything you need to know for a newsy Friday. 

👀: Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine, is still expected to appear for a closed-door deposition later this morning, despite the Trump White House’s insistence it will not cooperate with House Democrats’ impeachment probe. 

Concerns about Trump's Ukraine policy predated the whistleblower: "At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after [Trump’s] July 25 call with that country’s president, according to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter," our colleagues Greg Miller and Greg Jaffe scooped last night.

  • Why concerns came before the call: “Officials were unnerved by the removal in May of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine," our colleagues write, adding that worries were already beginning to surface over Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, efforts to obtain dirt on Joe Biden.
  • But the call only heightened those feelings: “Within minutes, senior officials including national security adviser John Bolton were being pinged, our colleagues write. “Bolton and others scrambled to obtain a rough transcript that was already being ‘locked down’ on a highly classified computer network.”
  • The reactions seem to contradict Trump’s depiction of the call as a "perfect" exchange: When people were listening to this in real time, there were significant concerns about what was going on — alarm bells were kind of ringing,” one person familiar with the sequence of events inside the White House told our colleagues.

Giuliani associates were indicted on campaign finance charges: Federal prosecutors alleged that two donors to a Trump super PAC, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, “were engaged in political activities in the U.S. on behalf of one or more Ukrainian government officials,” the Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha, Rebecca Ballhaus, Sadie Gurman and Byron Tau first reported. The pair, who "made a brief appearance in federal court in Virginia Thursday, dressed in T-shirts," were arrested at Dulles International Airport with one-way international tickets on their way to Vienna.

  • What Parnas and Fruman were up to: Quite a bit, according to the 21-page indictment. "Their political giving—aimed at Republicans—was funded in part by an unnamed Russian donor," per the Journal. "Federal law bans foreigners from contributing to U.S. elections. A limited liability company created by the men was used to disguise the source of some of the money, the indictment alleges." 
  • Prosecutors did not name the true source nor America First itself. But: "In May 2018, the men separately gave $325,000 to the primary pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, through the LLC Global Energy Producers, according to the indictment and FEC records." 
  • The pair also had a hand in Yovanovitch’s ouster: The indictment says that they gave $20,000 to an unnamed congressman later identified as then-Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). They then pressed Sessions on removing the ambassador. Sessions later wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo complaining Yovanovitch was not pro-Trump enough.
  • Sessions said he didn’t know if he was the unmentioned congressman but denied in any wrongdoing in a statement. The indictment does not allege any wrongdoing by Trump or his campaign.
  • ​​​Parnas also had another company: Fraud Guarantee. Giuliani told the New York Times’ Kenneth P. Vogel that he advised it in 2018, but later backtracked on that claim. Its name, in light of the recent allegations, is rather unfortunate: 

There are more subpoenas and possible witnesses: 

  • Former Trump aide to allege 'shadow foreign policy’: Fiona Hill, formerly the White House’s top Russia official, “plans to tell Congress that Rudy Giuliani and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine, NBC News’s Josh Lederman, Carol E. Lee and Kristen Welker report. She is tentatively set to appear next week.
  • Sondland might testify after all: The White House blocked Sondland’s testimony at the last minute earlier this week and the White House later announced its “halt” on cooperation. Fox News’s Chad Pergram reports though that Sondland will appear next Wednesday.
  • Rick Perry subpoenaed: The Energy secretary became the latest official to be subpoenaed over broader questions regarding the administration’s Ukraine policy and handling of aid.
  • And we're watching more details on potential efforts to dig for dirt in China, too: Michael Pillsbury, one of Trump's China advisers, told the Financial Times, “I got a quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese" during a visit to Beijing shortly after Trump called on China to investigate. He has since tried to change his story. Pillsbury played coy with our colleagues David J. Lynch and Josh Dawsey when asked if he would report back to Trump with what he found: "What a wonderful, hypothetical question" is about all he would say.

Global Power

TRUMP UNDER INCREASING PRESSURE TO RESPOND TO TURKEY'S OFFENSIVE: As there are reports of significant casualties in northern Syria, "one senior administration official said that sanctioning Turkey was the leading option, another said that mediation was “the path the president would most prefer to do," our colleague Karen DeYoung reports. Separately, another senior Trump adviser "described the president as indecisive and said that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had warned him that he was getting 'boxed into a complete corner' by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan." 

  • What would cause Trump to change his mind: "Trump has said he would strike back if Turkey took action that he disapproved of. That, the official said, 'would include ethnic cleansing' of Kurdish areas in northern Syria and 'in particular, indiscriminate artillery, air and other fires directed at civilian populations. That is what we’re looking at right now.' The official said that 'we have not seen significant examples' of such abuses, 'but we’re very early.'"
  • U.S. and Russia block U.N. Security Council resolution: The countries differed on why they blocked a resolution put forth by European nations condemning Turkey's actions --- part of the U.S.'s objection was over the word "condemn," which is being used by U.S. lawmakers of both parties and allies in Europe. "The second administration official said a policy decision had been made to describe the Turkish operation as 'a bad idea,'" Karen writes. 

    More details on the Tillerson-Giuliani story: Giuliani's efforts to get Trump to help stop the prosecution of a Turkish Iranian gold trader included an Oval Office meeting and a visit to the Justice Department, our colleagues Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and Matt Zapotosky report. "Trump urged [then Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson in an Oval Office meeting to try to craft a diplomatic 'deal' to stop the U.S. case against Reza Zarrab on corruption charges in exchange for concessions from Turkey."

    • At the meeting in the Oval: Trump was joined "by two of Zarrab’s attorneys, Giuliani and Michael Mukasey, a former attorney general under President George W. Bush who proposed swapping the trader for an American pastor in Turkish custody, according to two people familiar with the meeting," our colleagues write. “The president says, ‘Guys, give Rex your pitch,’ ” according to one of the people.
    • Tillerson was aghast at the request: The episode also shows sheds some light on the entire Ukraine saga. "In both cases, Trump bypassed standard government procedures and turned to Giuliani — a private lawyer with separate interests — to take part in discussions about U.S. policy," our colleagues write.

    YOU'RE INVITED: Come have lunch with Tom Sietsema at 11:30 a.m. today. Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a food critic? Now's your chance to find out! Join Washington Post food video host and editor, Mary Beth Albright, as she conducts a live interview of The Post's food critic. Watch live at wapo.st/lunch. 

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    THEY RAN IT BACK: Congrats to the Washington Mystics on their first ever WNBA title.