WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW … Speaker NANCY PELOSI and House Intelligence Chairman ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) spoke to a packed crowd of reporters this morning, and SEVERAL IMPORTANT THINGS HAPPENED:
— PELOSI and SCHIFF said they take very seriously President DONALD TRUMP’S hunt for the whistleblower, and said Congress will do everything it can to protect him. SCHIFF on Trump’s tweets about the whistleblower: “This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses. It is an incitement of violence.”
— SCHIFF made clear that non-cooperation with congressional committees will be considered obstruction of Congress’ duties, and could figure in prominently in impeachment articles. This is a step to punish the administration’s stonewalling of the Hill. SCHIFF: “We want to make it abundantly clear that any effort by [Secretary of State Mike Pompeo], by the president or anyone else to interfere with the Congress’ ability to call before it relevant witnesses will be considered as evidence of obstruction of the lawful functions of Congress.” Andrew Desiderio and Heather Caygle with a POLITICO ledeall … The memo on the request for documents on Ukraine
— PELOSI and SCHIFF — and their staffs — seem to be keenly aware they need to drive a message. Pelosi spoke about Democrats’ legislative priorities — drug pricing, USMCA and infrastructure — while Schiff spoke about his investigations. (Pelosi said this on USMCA: “The quiet you hear is progress.”) PELOSI is taping an interview for ABC’s “Good Morning America” today in her ceremonial office in the Capitol.
— LOOK WHO WASN’T AT THE NEWS CONFERENCE: House Judiciary Chairman JERRY NADLER (D-N.Y.).
— TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: SCHIFF said, “We’re not fooling around here. We don’t want this to drag on for months and months, which appears to be the administration’s strategy.”
— THE PRESIDENT HIGHLIGHTED what Republicans told us for Playbook this morning: that the White House has no real strategy to handle the impeachment process, except trying to undermine it with bursts of anger. @realDonaldTrump at 11:48 a.m.: “The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it!”
TRUMP, during a pool spray with the Finnish president: On Adam Schiff: “He should resign from office in disgrace and frankly they should look at him for treason … There’s an expression: they couldn’t carry his blank strap … But [Schiff] couldn’t carry [Pompeo’s] blank strap.” … TRUMP was asked what he could learn from Finland, which is the world’s happiest country: “If you got rid of Pelosi, and you got rid of Shifty Schiff.” … On the whistleblower: “That person’s a spy in my opinion” … On the Bidens: “Biden’s son is corrupt, and Biden is corrupt.”
— NYT’s MICHAEL GRYNBAUM (@grynbaum): “CNN just cleared its staff to use ‘BULLSHIT’ in graphics, banners & headlines, per memo from network head of standards. ‘We should show and say it because the President sent it out just that way,’ memo says.”
— THE CAPITOL is getting more media coverage than any time in recent memory. Check out these photos of the packed House Visitors Center media room … Full news conference
THERE IS A DEM CAUCUS CONFERENCE CALL at 2 p.m. today. With the House out for two weeks, it’s expected to be a get-on-the-same-page call.
EARLIER THIS MORNING … THE KYIV DRIP DRIP — “Pompeo confirms he was on Trump’s Ukraine call,” by Quint Forgey: “Pompeo said the call ‘was in the context of’ U.S. foreign policy goals for the Eastern European nation that have been ‘remarkably consistent,’ including countering Russian aggression in the region, bolstering the Ukrainian economy and ‘helping the Ukrainians to get graft out and corruption outside’ their bureaucracy.” POLITICO
LEGISLATING WHILE INVESTIGATING … AP’S RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR on Tuesday: “Trump and Pelosi aides talk drug costs despite impeachment”
LEV PARNAS LAWYERS UP — “Giuliani associate retains Trump lawyer John Dowd over Ukraine work,” by Ben Schreckinger
Good Wednesday afternoon.
ROOM FOR NONE — “A Trump hotel mystery: Giant reservations followed by empty rooms,” by Anita Kumar: “House investigators are looking into an allegation that groups — including at least one foreign government — tried to ingratiate themselves to President Donald Trump by booking rooms at his hotels but never staying in them.
“It’s a previously unreported part of a broader examination by the House Oversight Committee, included in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, into whether Trump broke the law by accepting money from U.S. or foreign governments at his properties. … The investigation began after the committee received information that two entities — a trade association and a foreign government — booked a large quantity of rooms but only used a fraction of them.” POLITICO
CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: “Ex-GOP boss Robin Hayes admits to lying to FBI. ‘He might be able’ to avoid jail time,” by Jim Morrill: “The former head of North Carolina’s Republican Party formally pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday for his role in one of the state’s biggest political corruption cases.
“Former GOP Chairman Robin Hayes agreed to plead guilty to lying to federal investigators. He faces up to six months in prison though prosecutors are likely to ask for less time. No sentencing date has been set. Hayes, 74, is a Concord native who served in Congress for a decade. The former lawmaker also once ran for governor.” Charlotte Observer
BRIGHT SIDE? … JEFF SESSIONS in Alabama, per AL.com: “‘But there was one problem as attorney general, that’s for sure as you well know. I like to say a lot of people get fired from their work but mine was a little more public than most. You do the best you can. At least they don’t shoot you when they fire you.’” AL.com
RESPONDING TO THE NYT BORDER BOMBSHELL — @realDonaldTrump at 11:02 a.m.: “Now the press is trying to sell the fact that I wanted a Moat stuffed with alligators and snakes, with an electrified fence and sharp spikes on top, at our Southern Border. I may be tough on Border Security, but not that tough. The press has gone Crazy. Fake News!” Buy Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Mike Shear’s new book, “Border Wars,” $28 on Amazon
TRADE VICTORY FOR TRUMP — “U.S. Can Recoup $7.5 Billion in Airbus Subsidies Case at W.T.O.,” by NYT’s Ana Swanson: “The ruling is the largest authorized retaliation in the WTO’s history, and it brings to an end a roughly 15-year dispute over the financial assistance that Europe provides to its major plane maker. But it could tip off a further escalation, worsening tensions between the United States and the European Union …
“The United States Trade Representative has already prepared two lists of up to $25 billion worth of products that it might tax, including airplanes, fish, wine, leather purses, carpets and clocks. It has yet to announce its final decision.” NYT
THE LATEST ON IRAN — “Trump, Rouhani agreed 4-point plan before Iran balked: French officials,” by POLITICO Europe’s Rym Momtaz in Paris: “While the U.S. and Iranian presidents agreed on the document, which has been seen by POLITICO, they ended up not meeting after Rouhani insisted that Trump first declare he would lift U.S. sanctions …
“According to the document, Tehran would agree that ‘Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon’ and will ‘fully comply with its nuclear obligations and commitments and will accept a negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear activities.’ It would also ‘refrain from any aggression and will seek genuine peace and respect in the region through negotiations’ — language that mirrors remarks made by Trump before the General Assembly last week. Also as part of the plan, the United States would agree to ‘lift all the sanctions re-imposed since 2017’ and ‘Iran will have full ability to export its oil and freely use its revenues.’” POLITICO Europe
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Schumer, Wyden request IRS audit of the NRA’s tax exemption,” by Aaron Lorenzo: “The IRS needs to examine whether the National Rifle Association should lose its tax-exempt status, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said today.
“A recent report by Wyden’s committee investigators raised questions about some NRA activities and social welfare requirements for its tax exemption, the senators wrote in a letter to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. The report alleged some NRA members used a 2015 NRA trip to Moscow for their own personal business reasons rather than for tax-exempt purposes. Misuse of tax-exempt funding for private gain would violate tax laws.” POLITICO … The letter
HE IS JOKING, RIGHT? — CNN’S @AnaCabrera: “NEW: Asked about 2020 interference, Putin joked: ‘We’ll definitely do it.’ This was during a panel at Russian Energy Week. ‘I’ll tell you a secret: Yes, we’ll definitely do it,’ Putin said, adding in a stage whisper: ‘Just don’t tell anyone.’”
2020 WATCH — NYT: “Republicans Changing Delegate Rules to Prevent Discord at Convention,” by Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni: “On Tuesday, state Republican parties submitted to the national committee their delegate allocation plans, the methods by which they will choose and bind delegates who attend the convention as their representatives. In 37 states and territories, there have been changes to the rules that will all but stamp out the possibility of any raucous divide on the convention floor. …
“The new delegate guidelines are the culmination of a 10-month effort by Trump advisers to strengthen the president’s grip on the Republican Party ahead of the general election. It means that even if the three candidates challenging Mr. Trump in the Republican primary gain vote shares, they almost certainly won’t translate into speeches or jeers from supporters of these candidates when the convention is taking place.” NYT
— HOLLY OTTERBEIN: “Sanders has heart stent surgery after chest discomfort”: “Bernie Sanders experienced chest discomfort during a campaign event on Tuesday and had two stents inserted to address a blockage in an artery, his campaign announced.
“‘Sen. Sanders is conversing and in good spirits. He will be resting up over the next few days,’ senior adviser Jeff Weaver said in a statement. ‘We are canceling his events and appearances until further notice, and we will continue to provide appropriate updates.’” POLITICO
— “Warren gets ‘dramatic shift’ in support from black voters,” by Maya King
— “How the Arizona Senate Race Could Be a Test for the Gun Control Debate,” by NYT’s Jennifer Steinhauer in Phoenix: “[Mark] Kelly’s Senate campaign in a state with some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation could be a test of the enduring potency of the gun control debate, which for years proved toxic for Democrats, especially in states with large rural swaths.
“Even after the horrific shooting that nearly killed [Gabrielle] Giffords and left six others dead, gun policy falls below health care, immigration and education as front-of-mind issues for voters here, the candidates and political experts agree, presenting more pitfalls than opportunities. … But as the White House and the Republican-controlled Senate contemplate new laws … the issue of gun control is one Mr. Kelly and [Sen. Martha] McSally will not be able to escape.” NYT
CASH DASH — “Andrew Yang raises $10 million in third quarter,” by Zach Montellaro: “The haul is more than triple the $2.8 million Yang raised in the second quarter, as he has started to outpace sitting senators and other elected officials in polls. Yang finished September with more than $6 million in the bank, his campaign said. …
“Yang’s cash haul puts him firmly amid the top fundraisers in the Democratic field, likely cementing his place in the campaign through at least the first caucuses and primaries next year. He is just the sixth Democratic candidate to break the eight-figure mark in a quarterly fundraising period this year … The Yang campaign said nearly 300,000 supporters have contributed so far, almost double the donor threshold required for candidates to qualify for the November debate.” POLITICO
THE POLICY PRIMARY — “How Joe Biden would address gun violence,” by Matthew Choi: “Biden revealed his plan Wednesday, and it involves tackling loopholes that favor gun owners and barring the sale of assault weapons. Framing gun violence as a public health crisis, he also proposed setting up special programs to tackle urban gun violence and to study the ties between violence against women and guns. …
“He also wants to launch a federal buyback program for those who opt not to register their weapons with the National Firearms Act. Online sales of guns would be banned. Background checks would also be required for all gun purchases, though some rare exceptions could be made for gifts between close family members.” POLITICO … The plan
BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Planned Parenthood has been building a secret abortion ‘mega-clinic’ in Illinois,” by CBS’ Kate Smith: “The new location is just 13 miles away from Missouri’s last remaining abortion clinic, a facility in St. Louis fighting to keep its license. Since August 2018, Planned Parenthood has used a shell company to construct the facility, leaving no public trace that the former medical office would become one of the largest abortion clinics in the country.” CBS
WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE — “Democrats chastise liberal judicial group for ‘way out of line’ attacks,” by Marianne LeVine: “A liberal judicial group [Demand Justice] is haranguing Democrats for greenlighting President Donald Trump’s judges — even taking out ads against them. And Democratic senators are getting fed up. …
“The senators’ frustration highlights a broader tension between lawmakers and progressive groups that seek to push Democrats further to the left on issues ranging from income inequality to climate change. It also demonstrates renewed attention on the left to the federal judiciary.” POLITICO
EYES ON THE SKIES — “Boeing Engineer, in Official Complaint, Cited Focus on Profit Over Safety on 737 Max,” by NYT’s Natalie Kitroeff, David Gelles and Jack Nicas: “A senior Boeing engineer filed an internal ethics complaint this year saying that during the development of the 737 Max jet the company had rejected a safety system to minimize costs, equipment that he felt could have reduced risks that contributed to two fatal crashes.
“Boeing has provided the complaint, which was reviewed by The New York Times, to the Department of Justice as part of a criminal investigation into the design of the Max … Federal investigators have questioned at least one former Boeing employee about the allegations.” NYT
SPOTTED: Former British PM David Cameron in the American Airlines Admirals Club in Terminal C of DCA this morning.
MEDIAWATCH — Aamer Madhani will be a White House reporter for the AP. He is currently a 2020 campaign correspondent for USA Today. … Ed Forgotson is joining “CBS Sunday Morning” as a senior producer. He previously was a senior producer for “Face the Nation.”
TRANSITIONS — Edward O’Keefe will be CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in North Dakota. O’Keefe previously was SVP of content development at CNN. O’Keefe is also writing a book, “The Loves of Theodore Roosevelt,” which will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2022. … Alex Lepore is now a senior policy analyst in the office of the chairman of the FDIC. He previously was director of regulatory affairs at the Financial Services Forum.
BIRTHWEEK (was Tuesday): Liberian President George Weah
BONUS BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Michelle Sara King, president and CEO at King Consults. An interesting book she’s been reading: “I love reading and I read several books at a time, so this is a challenging question! I am in the midst of reading and enjoying Ruth Reichl’s memoir, ‘Save Me the Plums,’ which is a fascinating story about her career in journalism, food reporting and publishing. When reflecting about books and reading, I am so thankful for the amazing D.C. library system and the bookstores in our city!” Playbook Q&A