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🚨: Uber's European operations are facing a major setback: London authorities just announced that the ride-hailing company's license will not be renewed after they “identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.”
From the Courts
THE SUPREME COURT LOOPHOLE?: Washington is expecting a court ruling today that might compel the biggest name yet to testify in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said she would rule no later than the end of the day on Monday on whether Trump's former White House counsel Donald McGahn is compelled to appear after a subpoena from Congress.
House Democrats are considering whether articles of impeachment should also include obstruction of justice allegations detailed in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report — and the Judiciary Committee wants McGahn to testify for hearings that extend beyond the Ukraine probe. Jackson fast-tracked the hotly-anticipated ruling in the lawsuit filed by the House after the committee asked for a decision on McGahn, whom Democrats call one of the “most important” witnesses of Trump's possible obstruction of justice, before the end of the impeachment investigation.
Tea leaves: Jackson, an appointee of former president Barack Obama, expressed frustration during oral arguments in October over the Trump White House's blanket claim that Congress cannot force current and former top presidential aides to answer questions or turn over documents — and suggested that she'd rule in favor of the House.
- “So what does checks and balances mean?” Jackson asked a Department of Justice lawyer at one point. “How can the legislative actually exercise oversight with respect to the executive, unless it has some ability to enforce its inquiries?”
Next steps: The decision is likely to be appealed by either side, which means months more of litigation that would likely land in the Supreme Court, which “has never addressed the issue of executive privilege in the face of a congressional demand for information,” per the congressional Research Service.
Cue the umpire: But there might be a workaround. House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff acknowledged Democrats might get more impeachment witnesses despite the White House's objections if impeachment moves to the Senate for a trial at which Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts Jr. presides.
- Schiff told CNN's Jake Tapper that there was “merit to the idea that [they] may get a quicker ruling from a Chief Justice in a Senate trial,” as opposed to “months and months” of litigating.
- Schiff, who has said Democrats would not hold up impeachment proceedings to wait on the courts, has sought to downplay the absence of potential headline-grabbing witnesses such as McGahn; Trump's Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; former national security adviser John Bolton; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; Energy Secretary Rick Perry and others the White House has refused to allow to come forward.
Schiff on why Democrats aren't waiting to call more witnesses: "We're not willing to simply allow them to wait us out, to stall this proceeding when the facts are already overwhelming ... We're going to continue our investigation" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/RpFk5fWuMF— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 24, 2019
Roberts will be under pressure from all sides. “Ultimately though one thing is clear, because we have adduced so much evidence of guilt of this President, so much evidence of serious misconduct, any privilege the President would have would be vitiated by this crime fraud exception. So that will give way,” Schiff said. “And if it doesn't, to quote my colleague Chairman (Jerry) Nadler, it will mean that either Justice Roberts or the Supreme Court itself is not really a conservative justice or court, merely a partisan one. And I have to hope that is not the case for the country's sake.”
And least one of Trump's conservative allies has already started beating the drum for Roberts to recuse himself from presiding over the Senate trial.
- John Cardillo, a conservative radio personality and host on Newsmax TV, said that Roberts should recuse himself for “making comments that are derogatory to the president of the United States.”
- Roberts and Trump publicly clashed last year after the chief justice defended the independence of the federal judiciary after Trump attacked a judge who ruled against the administration's asylum policy.
The wild card from today's ruling: Bolton is apparently willing to defy the White House, as our colleagues Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hambuger reported earlier this month. But the former national security adviser, who left the White House under acrimonious circumstances and just accused the White House of holding his personal Twitter account hostage, would not come forward unless “a federal court clears the way.”
- Bolton's lawyer released a letter earlier in November that claimed his client has “personal knowledge” of conversations “that have not yet been discussed in testimonies thus far” as it relates to Ukraine.
- Bolton “was personally involved in many of the events, meetings, and conversations about which you have already received testimony, as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far,” per the letter.
A ruling could provide broad political cover for other witnesses who may want to come forward: Lawyers told Reuters's Jan Wolfe that Bolton and others could use a ruling “to justify talking to Congress if they decide doing so would be in their self-interest.”
- The ruling “could be a warm embrace for those who want to testify but need a reason to do,” Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, told Jan. “It would give political cover to those who want to come forward.”
MORE ON IMPEACHMENT: The White House Counsel's Office has conducted their own confidential review of Trump's decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine that has turned up hundreds of related documents, our colleagues Josh Dawsey, Carol Leonnig and Tom Hamburger report.
- “ … White House lawyers are expressing concern that the review has turned up some unflattering exchanges and facts that could at a minimum embarrass the president. It’s unclear whether the Mulvaney discussions or other records pose any legal problems for Trump in the impeachment inquiry, but some fear they could pose political problems if revealed publicly,” per Josh, Carol and Tom.
At the Pentagon
HOT MESS: Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer was ousted after his handling of the of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, our colleagues Ashley Parker and Dan Lamothe. But as has become common with departures from the administration, the central players are giving conflicting reasons for why Spencer had to go.
- The Pentagon says Spencer made a private offer to Trump and didn't tell his boss about it: Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Spencer secretly proposed to White House officials that he would ensure that Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was accused of committing war crimes during a 2017 deployment, to retire with his Trident insignia, "if the White House did not interfere with a review board convened to determine his fitness to stay in the elite force."
- "Spencer’s proposal to the White House — which he did not share with Esper during several conversations about the matter — contradicted his own public position on the case, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement," our colleagues reported.
- Trump seemed to have a different take: The president on Twitter accused the Navy of mishandling the Gallagher case and mentioned cost overruns in unspecified contracts. “Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer’s services have been terminated by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper,” Trump wrote. “I thank Richard for his service & commitment.”
The details of the case: “Spencer’s proposal came after Trump intervened in the cases of Gallagher and two soldiers on Nov. 15,” our colleagues write. "Countering Pentagon recommendations, the president issued pardons to Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who faced a murder trial next year, and former 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, who was convicted in 2013 in the murder of two unarmed men in Afghanistan.”
- Trump also restored Gallagher's rank after he was demoted for posing for a photograph with a corpse. Then “Rear Adm. Collin Green, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, moved to convene review boards for him and three other Navy SEALs to determine whether they should be ejected from the force,” our colleagues write. "That prompted speculation that Spencer might resign or be fired for standing up to Trump, and angry reactions from Gallagher and advocates for him."
What happens now: Due to the debacle, the Pentagon said Esper will allow Gallagher to keep the Trident and there will be no further review. In case you're wondering why the Trident is such a big deal: The Times's John Ismay writes that “the pin is the most tangible sign of membership in a famously exclusive community."
- Key quote: “This case is bananas,” Tim Parlatore, Gallagher's lawyer, told our colleagues. “Yes, you can quote that.”
NUNES UNDER SCRUTINY: Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, is facing allegations that he worked to gather dirt on former vice president Joe Biden by allegedly meeting with Ukrainian prosecutors while on a taxpayer-funded trip.
Nunes strongly denied the report and threatened to sue CNN for the story that is based on statements by Joseph Bondy, a lawyer for Lev Parnas, a currently indicted former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, our colleagues Elise Viebeck and Felicia Sonmez report.
- The details: Nunes is alleged to have met with former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin in Vienna last year during a discussion that may have occurred, according to congressional travel records, during a trip “Nunes and three aides traveled to Europe from November 30 to December 3, 2018,” CNN's Vicky Ward scooped over the weekend.
Some Democrats are saying Nunes might face an ethics probe over the reports: House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said Saturday that it was “quite likely, without question” that Nunes would face an ethics probe. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who serves with Nunes on the Intel panel, added on Twitter that an ethics investigation should occur “if Devin Nunes was using taxpayer money to do 'political errands' in Vienna for his puppeteer, [Trump]."
More: Late last night, CNBC's Christina Wilkie reported that Nunes's staff was preparing to go to Ukraine to investigation unsubstantiated allegations of the country's interference in the 2016 election. But the staffers canceled the trip to keep Schiff in the dark after their work and opted for Skype conversations instead, Bondy told CNBC.
BLOOMBERG IS OFFICIALLY IN: “Former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest people, announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination by promising to 'rebuild America' and defeat [Trump]," our colleague Michael Scherer reports.
He's already flexing his wealth: Bloomberg is starting off with the largest one-week broadcast and cable T.V. ad-buy in history. The former mayor is spending more than $33 million to blanket almost two-dozen state with 60-second ads about his bios in media markets that stretch from California to Maine, the New York Times's Shane Goldmacher reports.
- The previous record holder?: President Obama, whose reelection campaign spent $30.4 million on the final week of ads before the 2012 election, according to Advertising Analytics.
- The size of the buy, which starts today, is over 25 times larger than that of the next nearest candidate: Tom Steyer, a wealthy financier and another late announcer, who is set to spend $1.2 million on ads this week. Put another way, Steyer has spent $38 million total on T.V. ads since July, the most in the entire field.
- And Bloomberg is just getting started: He also announced a $100 million ad campaign to criticize Trump in key battleground states and a $15 million voter registration effort in those same places.
Here's a look at the sheer amount of markets Bloomberg will hit:
What states are missing: Bloomberg's advisers has previously said that the former mayor will not seriously contest any of the four early states, beginning with the Iowa caucuses, and instead focus on Super Tuesday and beyond.
But Bloomberg won't be able to make the debate stage: Bloomberg's team has said he would not accept political donations. “He has never taken a political contribution in his life. He is not about to start,” Bloomberg chief adviser Howard Wolfson told the AP. "The decision to refuse contributions would make it impossible for Bloomberg to participate any sanctioned Democratic debates... The rules of entry, as set by the Democratic National Committee, currently require participants to meet a polling threshold and raise donations from tens of thousands of voters," per the AP.
- He'll also face other challenges, especially since experts say the 2020 field is not “weak”: As Patrick Murray, the director the Monmouth University poll, pointed out, Democratic voters have told pollsters that they are largely happy with the most diverse and largest field in the party's history: The reason the race remains so open is partially due to voters and caucusgoers saying they like so many candidates, not their apathy toward entire slate.
- And his media company is going to be under a microscope: Bloomberg's first ad makes clear he'll rely on the success story of his media company, but less clear is how the organization is going to grapple with the task of covering their founder. Already, a top editor has said the publication will not investigate Bloomberg or any of his Democratic opponents and suspend publishing unsigned editorials, our colleague Paul Farhi reports. Two of the opinion section's top editors are also taking a leave of absence to work on Bloomberg's campaign.
THIS TRUTH DOESN'T HURT: