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BREAKING: Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) is retiring, per Fox News's Chad Pergram. That makes it 20 House Republicans who have announced they are not seeking reelection at the end of the term.
IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM: Republicans couldn't keep the impeachment inquiry into President Trump at bay — so now they're trying to steer the discussion by throwing out their own list of witnesses they'd like to testify as congressional investigators start holding public hearings this week.
Some of the witness requests are likely to be nonstarters with Democrats, though House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff is still considering whether to grant them. The only decision so far: Schiff this weekend told the committee's top Republican, Devin Nunes, that the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the inquiry has a right to remain anonymous.
But the brewing tensions show how Republicans are eager to portray Democrats as stonewallers conducting a “sham” impeachment process — even as the White House fights to prevent key witnesses called by Democrats to show up on the Hill. Republicans took to Sunday shows to apply pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Schiff:
- “ … Speaker Pelosi's decision and Adam B. Schiff's decision to prevent the Republicans from calling their own witnesses in the live testimony is just doubling down on stupid,” Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) told Margaret Brennan on CBS News's Face the Nation. “The American people, I think, are going look at this and go, 'I get it.' They're going to give the president a fair and impartial firing squad.”
- “If you can't call Hunter Biden and you can't call the whistleblower, that's sort of a sham,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Chuck Todd on NBC News's Meet the Press. “That's not really even a trial.”
- Trump even falsely asserted that Schiff was blocking all Republican requests:
Corrupt politician Adam Schiff wants people from the White House to testify in his and Pelosi’s disgraceful Witch Hunt, yet he will not allow a White House lawyer, nor will he allow ANY of our requested witnesses. This is a first in due process and Congressional history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2019
Focus on the Bidens: Republicans are trying to keep the focus on former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, even though there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either, rather than accusations that Trump pressured Ukraine to open investigations into his domestic political rivals. The official request to bring in Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma, comes as 2,500 pages of witness interview transcripts released in the past week reveal how GOP lawmakers have focused considerably on Democratic political targets and baseless conspiracy theories.
- The argument: Paul added on NBC that “it’s unfair to treat Trump under one standard and Joe Biden under a different standard.”
- Counterpoint: “What Republicans are trying to do with Hunter Biden … is clearly to deflect attention from the impeachable offenses of Donald Trump,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in an ABC News interview.
Republicans also requested:
- Devon Archer, Hunter Biden’s business partner
- Nellie Ohr, a researcher at the firm Fusion GPS which commissioned a dossier that linked Russia and Trump
- Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian American who worked with the Democratic National Committee
- Tim Morrison, a former top adviser at the National Security Council, David Hale, the State Department's third-ranking official, and Ambassador Kurt Volker, Trump's former special envoy to Ukraine. Morrison, Volker, and Hale have already testified privately before House investigators.
Nunes argued in his request to Schiff that witnesses such as Biden and Archer would “assist the American public in understanding the nature and extent of Ukraine’s pervasive corruption, information that bears directly on President Trump’s long-standing and deeply-held skepticism of the country.”
Yet Schiff warned that the impeachment probe “will not serve … as a vehicle to undertake the same sham investigations' into the Bidens or the 2016 campaign, or to retaliate against the whistleblower,” our colleagues Felicia Sonmez, Joel Achenbach, and Paige Winfield Cunningham report.
WON'T LET IT GO: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went so far as to say Sunday that the impeachment inquiry is “invalid” unless the identity of the whistleblower is identified and that the process is “dead on arrival” if the whistleblower doesn't testify before Congress, per CNN's Devan Cole. Some experts agree that it would not be a crime for Trump to unmask the whistleblower.
“If Trump thinks he knows the name, he can come out and say it, and he's probably as protected as anyone is,” Robert Litt, former general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence under President Barack Obama, told NPR News's Bobby Allyn.
But Nunes has not yet responded to an offer from the whistleblower's legal team to submit written questions directly from Republicans, Allyn also reports. The offer was made by the whistleblower's attorneys last weekend.
“Crickets,” Mark Zaid, an attorney for the whistleblower, told Allyn.
Democrats argued that the whistleblower's complaint and testimony is now irrelevant at this point: “The only thing that the whistleblower can say is that he was told by other people about the phone call,” Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.) said on ABC News’s “This Week.” “We have the other people coming forward to actually testify. So you have direct evidence, not indirect evidence.”
There was at least one Republican who broke with members of his party on the whistleblower: Texas Rep. Will Hurd, who is not seeking reelection next year, told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace that “we should be protecting the identity of the whistleblower.”
“Having this whistleblower law on the books is important; it's important checks and balance are not only in the intelligence committee, but in our government,” Hurd added.
What a House leadership aide told CNN: "The first hour of a hearing and the first hearing has got to be a blockbuster."— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 10, 2019
MORE COUNTERPROGRAMMING: The White House announced that Trump will have a joint news conference on Wednesday — the same day that the public impeachment hearings commence on Capitol Hill — with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- And on Tuesday, Trump will “probably” release the transcript of another phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in April, per CNN's Nikki Carvajal.
“They want to have a transcript of the other call, the second call, and I'm willing to provide that,” Trump told reporters this weekend. “You'll read the second call, and you'll tell me if there's anything wrong with it.”
Drip, drip: Meanwhile Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, says he personally delivered a warning to Ukraine's new leadership that "it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump’s political rival [Joe Biden] and his son, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing-in of the new president, and the United States would freeze aid," per the New York Times's Ben Protess, Andrew E. Kramer, Michael Rothfeld and William K. Rashbaum. It's an indication the Soviet-born businessman, who was indicted last month on campaign finance charges, has turned on Trump and Giuliani, they write, though his account was not corroborated by others in the meeting.
BUCKLE UP: The other side of Wednesday's split screen will feature public testimony from Ambassador Bill Taylor, the current top diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, the State Department's Europe expert.
- And the former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is scheduled to testify publicly on Friday.
- See here for the entire impeachment calendar.
An earlier version of this article had the incorrect date for testimony from Yovanovitch. She is testifying on Friday.
BOLIVIA’S PRESIDENT IS OUT: Evo Morales resigned as president of Bolivia amid an increasingly violent uprising that reached a tipping point after the military pulled its support, our colleagues Anthony Faiola and Rachelle Krygier report.
- It’s unclear who will take charge: Other officials in the line of succession, including the country’s vice president, also resigned, our colleagues report. “Under the Bolivian constitution, elections after such a crisis must be held within 90 days.”
- Morales, the longest-serving leader in Latin America, said he was ousted by a coup orchestrated by former president Carlos Mesa, and other opposition leader. Mesa rejects those charges and said it was “the end of tyranny.”
What happened: Morales was swept into office with a landslide victory, but he increasingly sought a tighter grip on power culminating in October elections that left international observers aghast, the New York Times’s Ernesto Londoño reports.
- The final straws: Weeks of violent protests culminated in Williams Kaliman, the head of the armed forces, calling for Morales to immediately step down. That call came after a crucial report from the Organization of American States that found “clear manipulation” in the October election.
- Pompeo steps in: “Before Morales resigned, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo backed the OAS findings and seemed to suggest that Morales should not stand for reelection,” our colleagues write.
What’s next: Latin America is divided over how to respond. “The action divided the region, with right-leaning governments remaining largely quiet, while the left-leaning governments blasted his ouster, calling it an unwelcome reminder of the days of military coups,” our colleagues write.
- What's clear is that there’s a new balance of power: “The ouster of Morales, a highly public supporter of authoritarian, hard-left governments in Venezuela and Cuba, changes the balance of power for the left in Latin America, which has now abruptly lost one of its most visible heads of state.”
SHOTS FIRED AGAIN IN HONG KONG: "At least one pro-democracy protester was shot by Hong Kong police Monday morning as the city braced for a general strike to mark the death of another protester killed during a police operation the previous weekend," Ryan Ho Kilpatrick and Anna Kam report for The Post.
- Tensions were already high: "A protester who fell from a parking garage during a police dispersal operation a week earlier died of his injuries on Friday, escalating tensions between police and the public that have been increasingly strained over the months of worsening violence," our colleagues write. "Public anger has grown as Hong Kong authorities, backed by Chinese officials, have deployed increasingly forceful tactics to try to quell the anti-government unrest."
- Protesters are demanding independent probes into officer's actions: Chief Executive Carrie Lam is not allowing such investigations to occur and "in recent days, a panel of experts brought in by the Hong Kong government found that the city’s police watchdog was unfit to carry out an independent investigation of the police force," our colleagues write.
From the Courts
SCOTUS HEARS DACA CASE THIS WEEK: “The Supreme Court is taking up the Trump administration’s plan to end legal protections that shield 660,000 immigrants from deportation, a case with strong political overtones amid the 2020 presidential election campaign,” the Associated Press's Mark Sherman reports.
- All eyes are on Roberts: “They have found ammunition in his own words, from a Supreme Court ruling last June, when he sided with the court's four liberals to cast the decisive vote against the Trump administration plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census,” CNN's Joan Biskupic reports of lawyers for undocumented immigrants tailoring their arguments to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
- On their arguments: " … The new challengers suggest the administration's reasons for rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are not 'true' or 'genuine,'" CNN reports. “Instead, they argue, using language from the census case, the reasons were 'pretextual' and would require the justices 'to exhibit a naivete' to buy what the administration is selling."
- Some plaintiffs are marching to Washington: “Eliana Fernández has blisters on her feet and her legs ache. She's been walking for nearly two weeks,” CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet reports of Fernández, a DACA recipient and one of the plaintiffs. She will have walked 230 miles by the time she arrives.
WHAT VETERANS ARE SAYING: On this Veterans Day, we're reviewing a recent Pew Research Center survey of veterans that had some striking findings:
- Post-9/11 veterans have different experiences than those who served in earlier eras: “Post-9/11 veterans are also more likely than their predecessors to bear some of the physical and psychological scars of combat,” the center's Ruth Igielnik writes. “Roughly half (47%) of post-9/11 veterans say they had emotionally traumatic or distressing experiences related to their military service, compared with one-quarter of pre-9/11 veterans.”
- Veterans say the military is still not doing enough to prepare them for civilian life: “Roughly nine-in-ten veterans (91%) say the training they received when they first entered the military prepared them very or somewhat well for military life,” the center writes. “By contrast, about half (52%) say the military prepared them very or somewhat well for the transition to civilian life.”
- The difficulties of readjusting are staggering: “The challenges some veterans face during the transition to civilian life can be financial, emotional and professional. About a third of veterans (35%) say they had trouble paying their bills in their first few years after leaving the military, and roughly three-in-ten (28%) say they received unemployment compensation. One-in-five say they struggled with alcohol or substance abuse.”
HALEY TORCHES TILLERSON, KELLY: Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley writes in her new memoir out Tuesday that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House chief of staff John Kelly "confided in me that when they resisted the president, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country," our colleague Anne Gearan reports after obtaining a copy of "With All Due Respect" before its release.
Fmr. UN Amb. Nikki Haley tells @CBSNews she was asked to take sides against the president by Rex Tillerson and John Kelly.— Norah O'Donnell🇺🇸 (@NorahODonnell) November 10, 2019
“To undermine the president is a really dangerous thing. And it goes against the Constitution ... and it was offensive.” pic.twitter.com/Eahe7yncaX