/POLITICO Playbook: We’ve read the transcripts. Do they help Trump?

POLITICO Playbook: We’ve read the transcripts. Do they help Trump?

ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION: Since the release of the first two transcripts from the impeachment inquiry Monday, have you seen a single stitch of information that helps President DONALD TRUMP? Have you found any information exculpatory for him? Can you name one single fact that’s changed the basic arc of this story?

IN FACT, as WaPo’s RACHAEL BADE and KAROUN DEMIRJIAN point out in today’s paper, “Republicans have used their time to complain that testimony has become public, going after their colleagues who were quoted in media reports commenting on witness appearances, and quizzing witnesses themselves on how their statements had been released.” WaPo story

OTHER CRITICAL ELEMENTS TO KEEP AN EYE ON …

— TRANSCRIPTS from depositions of U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. GORDON SONDLAND and KURT VOLKER come out today. On Monday, they came out just before noon.

— LEV PARNAS, a Rudy Giuliani associate, is signaling he might cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. NYT: “An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani who was involved in a campaign to pressure Ukraine into aiding President Trump’s political prospects has broken ranks, opening a dialogue with congressional impeachment investigators and accusing the president of falsely denying their relationship. …

“The lawyers also signaled on Monday that Mr. Parnas, who was arrested last month on campaign finance charges, is prepared to comply with a congressional subpoena for his documents and testimony. … Mr. Bondy said that given the federal criminal charges, his client may invoke his right under the Fifth Amendment not to incriminate himself.” NYT

— BUT, BUT, BUT … JOSH GERSTEIN: “It’s unclear whether the complexities surrounding possible testimony from Parnas can be ironed out on a timetable that would allow him to speak to lawmakers when given Democrats plan to hold open hearings later this month and potentially vote on articles of impeachment soon after that.

“Granting immunity to a witness requires a two-thirds vote of a congressional committee and is subject to a delay by the Justice Department. Lawmakers have been exceedingly reluctant to offer witnesses immunity since criminal cases against Lt. Col. Oliver North and John Poindexter were dismissed in the Iran-Contra affair in the wake of court rulings that cited their Congressional testimony.” POLITICO

THE NYT SAYS THE STATE DEPARTMENT is in chaos … ED WONG and DAVID SANGER: “It was Mr. Pompeo who helped Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani oust the respected American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, in April. Both Michael McKinley, a senior adviser to Mr. Pompeo and a four-time ambassador, and Philip T. Reeker, the acting assistant secretary for Europe, testified that they asked State Department leadership to defend Ms. Yovanovitch from false accusations, only to be rejected.

“Mr. McKinley said he personally urged Mr. Pompeo three times to issue a defense; the revelation of that detail in a transcript released on Monday undercut a declaration Mr. Pompeo made in an interview last month that he ‘never heard’ Mr. McKinley ‘say a single thing’ about Ms. Yovanovitch’s ouster.” NYT

— BTW: If Pompeo leaves Foggy Bottom for a Senate run — which is widely expected — who would TRUMP get to run State?

WHAT DOJ IS UP TO … “Justice Dept. Asks for Identifying Details on Anonymous Op-Ed Author,” by NYT’s Maggie Haberman: “The Justice Department is demanding identifying details about the senior Trump administration official who denounced the president in a New York Times Op-Ed last year under the byline Anonymous, according to a letter from a senior law enforcement official on Monday ahead of a forthcoming book by the still-unnamed writer.

“Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt asked the book’s publisher and the author’s book agents for proof that the official never signed a nondisclosure agreement and had no access to classified information. Absent that evidence, Mr. Hunt asked that they hand over information about where the person worked in the government, and when.

“If the author is, in fact, a current or former ‘senior official’ in the Trump administration, publication of the book may violate that official’s legal obligations under one or more nondisclosure agreements,” Mr. Hunt wrote to Carol Ross of the Hachette Book Group, which is publishing Anonymous’s book, and to Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn, the agents for the former self-described senior official.” NYT

WSJ on the SHUTDOWN THREAT, by Andrew Duehren and Lindsay Wise: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) last Monday and agreed to try to pass by Dec. 31 each of the 12 spending measures that would fund the government for the full year, according to two people familiar with the conversation. House and Senate Appropriations Committee staffers met with White House budget and legislative staffers last week, two different people familiar with the meeting said. How long the next funding extension would last remains an open question, however.

“Mr. McConnell has also spoken with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), who has told House committee chairs he would prefer the next stopgap measure not to last beyond the end of this year, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. McConnell doesn’t want the next funding extension—known as a continuing resolution, or CR—to last after December, according to one of the people familiar with the discussion between Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. McConnell.

“But House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D., N.Y.) and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) have said negotiations might last into 2020. ‘It would be a wonderful thing to do,’ Mr. Shelby said of finishing spending legislation by the end of the year. ‘Could it be done? It could be done. The question is: Will it be?’” WSJ

Good Tuesday morning. There are key elections in Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia today. Republicans and Democrats are closely watching the results as a barometer for how the House impeachment is affecting races and for the status of Trump’s sagging popularity in suburban areas. Steven Shepard on the 7 things to watch on Election Day

ABOUT LAST NIGHT … “Trump rallied for Kentucky governor, but impeachment was on his mind,” by Steven Shepard in Lexington, Ky., and Matthew Choi: “President Donald Trump came here Monday night to rally for Kentucky’s vulnerable Republican governor, but the impeachment inquiry back in Washington was foremost on his mind.

“In a rambling speech lasting an hour and 20 minutes, the president railed against his political rivals, ramping up the invective. Democrats are ‘trying to tear our country apart,’ he told a raucous crowd here, ‘trying to nullify the ballots’ of the 63 million Americans who voted for him in the 2016 election.

“Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Trump’s onetime rival for the Republican nomination who has become a close ally, angrily defended the president from the stage. Addressing the genesis of the impeachment investigation, which centers on a pressure campaign involving Ukraine, Paul said that ‘we also now know the identity of the whistleblower,’ and he urged the media to out the individual and Congress to issue a subpoena, despite the legal protections guaranteed to government whistleblowers. ‘I say tonight to the media, do your job and print his name,’ Paul said.” POLITICO

— TRUMP ON RAND: “He’s a little bit different. It’s OK.”

TRADE WARS — “U.S., China Consider Rolling Back Tariffs as Part of Initial Trade Deal,” by WSJ’s William Mauldin and Alex Leary: “U.S. and Chinese officials are actively considering rolling back some tariffs to clinch the partial trade deal under negotiation, according to people familiar with the talks. ‘If there’s a deal, [removing] tariffs will be part of it,’ a senior administration official said late Monday.” WSJ

FOR KEVIN MCCARTHY AND THE CALIFORNIA GOP … L.A. TIMES: “California conservatives leaving the state for ‘redder pastures,’” by Sarah Parvini: “Just over half of California’s registered voters have considered leaving the state, according to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times.

“Republicans and conservative voters were nearly three times as likely as their Democratic or liberal counterparts to seriously have considered moving — 40% compared with 14%, the poll found. Conservatives mentioned taxes and California’s political culture as a reason for leaving more frequently than they cited the state’s soaring housing costs. …

“Between 2007 and 2016, California lost 1 million residents to domestic migration — about 2.5% of its total population, according to a 2018 report from the state Legislative Analyst’s Office. Texas was the most popular destination. A 2019 relocation study by Texas Realtors found that 63,175 Californians moved to Texas in 2017, while California was the top destination for Texans to move — nearly 41,000 relocated here.” LAT

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Iranian president announces another break from nuclear deal,” by AP’s Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell in Tehran, Iran: “Iran’s president announced on Tuesday that Tehran will begin injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges, the latest step away from its nuclear deal with world powers since President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord over a year ago.

“The development is significant as the centrifuges previously spun empty, without gas injection, under the landmark 2015 nuclear accord. It also increases pressure on European nations that remain in the accord, which at this point has all but collapsed.

“In his announcement, President Hassan Rouhani did not say whether the centrifuges, which are at its nuclear facility in Fordo, would be used to produce enriched uranium. The centrifuges would be injected with the uranium gas as of Wednesday, Rouhani said.” AP

2020 WATCH …

— IOWA’S GOT BUTTIGIEG FEVER … “Pete Buttigieg Is an Iowa Front-Runner. Will That Help Him Anywhere Else?” by NYT’s Astead Herndon: “Mr. Buttigieg’s critics say he is offering voters feel-good platitudes without a proven track record of electoral success. But his supporters say his vision, and his identity as an openly gay candidate, make him an inherently transformative figure.

“He has successfully built a sustainable ground game throughout the state, generating buzz among voters and turning out crowds of several hundred people in towns of just a few thousand. For growing numbers of likely caucusgoers, he is emerging as the moderate front-runner in the race, ahead of even former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. And he is clearly worrying some of his top rivals in the state, like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who has recently started taking implicit shots at Mr. Buttigieg by needling candidates who have teams of consultants and centrist ideas.

“National polls still have Mr. Buttigieg firmly behind Mr. Biden, Ms. Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and questions remain over Mr. Buttigieg’s ability to cobble together a coalition diverse enough to win the Democratic primary. But the goal of the bus tour, timed to take place after the same Iowa dinner that famously helped create Barack Obama’s presidential mojo in 2007, was to project Mr. Buttigieg as the closest analogue to Mr. Obama currently in the race.” NYT

— BUT, BUT, BUT … DAVID SIDERS in Des Moines: “Iowa reclaims its dominance in 2020”

— NEXT ONE DOWN? … “Julián Castro to lay off New Hampshire, South Carolina teams,” by Alex Thompson and Nolan McCaskill: “Julián Castro’s campaign will fire its staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina, a source familiar with the campaign told POLITICO. The campaign notified the state teams on Monday and their final day will be next week.

“The source said the campaign will continue focusing on Iowa and Nevada with a $50,000 television ad buy in Iowa beginning Tuesday morning. The moves amount to a long-shot attempt to remain in the presidential contest in the hopes of catching fire before the first contests begin next February.” POLITICO

“How Kamala Harris Went From ‘Female Obama’ to Fifth Place,” by Christopher Cadelago

TRUMP’S TUESDAY — The president has nothing on his public schedule.

PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION — WAPO: “D.C. lawmaker Jack Evans used office to benefit private clients, probe finds,” by Fenit Nirappil: “D.C. Council member Jack ­Evans repeatedly used his office on behalf of private clients who paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars, failing to recognize the conflicts and never properly disclosing the payments, according to an investigation by a law firm hired by the council.

“The confidential report by O’Melveny & Myers, distributed Monday to lawmakers and reviewed by The Washington Post, identified 11 instances since 2014 in which Evans violated the council’s rules governing ethics.

“It marks the first time the D.C. Council has detailed ethical lapses by Evans, the Ward 2 Democrat and the city’s longest-serving lawmaker. His business interests and his public actions have been the target of a federal investigation, as well as a probe by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit ­Authority.” WaPo

AFTER PARIS — “U.S. starts climate pact exit — now what?” by Zack Colman: “The Trump administration’s move Monday to start the clock on pulling out of the Paris climate agreement places the U.S. at odds with the entire rest of the world — once again — when it comes to committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The move has little practical effect for energy policy in the United States, where President Donald Trump is already dismantling Obama-era regulations on major sources of heat-trapping emissions such as power plants and automobiles.

“But it hands a ready talking point to the Democrats running to replace him, all of whom have pledged to rejoin the agreement if Trump pulls out. And Trump’s action is symbolically striking in the realm of international climate diplomacy, coming just weeks before nations are due to gather for yet another climate conference in Madrid.” POLITICO

— NYT’S LISA FRIEDMAN: “Around the world, a shift in diplomatic strategy has already begun. Making the accord work without the United States will require other major polluters like China and India to step up. China, now the largest emitter of planet-warming pollutants, has made significant promises but Beijing’s ability to deliver is still in question.” NYT

HAPPENING TODAY … ROGER STONE TRIAL KICKS OFF — “The Idiot’s Guide to the Roger Stone trial,” by Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein … NYT’s Sharon LaFreniere: “Trial of Roger Stone Will Revive Saga of Trump and Russian Interference” … WSJ’s Byron Tau and Shelby Holliday: “Roger Stone Trial Likely to Be a Spectacle”

NATASHA BERTRAND: “‘Thin to win’: How Democrats are building the case against Trump”: “[A]rmed with the clarity of the president’s demands that Ukraine investigate a political rival, investigators led by House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff are methodically building their case with a strategy that mirrors the preparation of an indictment, ex-prosecutors say—primarily by telling a very simple story with more than a dozen corroborating witnesses to back it up.” POLITICO

— FUN READ … KYLE CHENEY and ANDREW DESIDERIO in POLITICO MAG: “Inside, But Mostly Outside, the Impeachment Chamber of Secrets”

MEDIAWATCH — “Commissioners call New York Times ‘fake news,’ deny library funding for digital subscriptions,” by the Tampa Bay Times’ Josh Fiallo: “The Citrus County Commission came to a consensus at the end of October: The county should not spend roughly $2,700 annually to buy digital subscriptions to the New York Times for the 70,000 library-card holders who reside in the county.

“The commissioners were not shy in sharing why they thought it was a waste of money, according to the Citrus County Chronicle. ‘Do we really need to subscribe to the New York Times?’ one commissioner asked. ‘Why the heck would we spend money on something like that?’ asked another.

“Commissioner Scott Carnahan appeared the most passionate against approving the funding, alluding to political reasons as part of his decision. ‘Fake news, I agree with President Trump,’ Carnahan said. ‘I don’t want the New York Times in this county. I don’t agree with it, I don’t like ’em, it’s fake news and I’m voting no. They can take that money and do something else with it … I support Donald Trump.’” TBT

— Chris Matthews celebrated 20 years on MSNBC’s “Hardball” with this tribute video.

— SET YOUR TIVO: Don Jr. goes on “CBS This Morning” to discuss his new book, “Triggered.”

Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at politicoplaybook@politico.com.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Caitlin Hayden is joining BAE Systems as SVP of communications. She most recently was VP of communications for the Aerospace Industries Association and is an Obama White House alum.

TRANSITIONS — Suzanne Struglinski is now a manager of media relations at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She most recently was director of membership engagement at the National Press Club and is a former Regional Reporters Association president. … Chapin Fay is now SVP and corporate counsel working at Goldin Solutions. He previously was SVP at Mercury. … Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, will transition to senior fellow at the end of the year. Current EVP Steve Ellis will become the new president.

ENGAGED — Donovan Harrell, a writer for the University Times at the University of Pittsburgh and a Tampa Bay Times and POLITICO alum, proposed to TyLisa Johnson, a freelance journalist and entrepreneur. They met while studying journalism at Florida A&M University. Pic

— Ben Kamisar, a staff writer with the NBC News political unit, and Shelby Lopez, a senior event manager at The Atlantic, got engaged Friday. They met in college at Northwestern University. Pic

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is 45. How he’s celebrating: “Being a governor born on Election Day, you’d think my birthday would be all about campaigning, but the reality is we make it all about family. The typical birthday menu in our house includes lobster rolls, homemade chocolate cake and a good movie.” Playbook Q&A

BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) is 77 … John Harwood … NBC News D.C. bureau chief Ken Strickland … Valerie Biden Owens, vice chair of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware … POLITICO’s Nolan McCaskill and Katy O’Donnell … Jason Calabretta, producer at “NBC Nightly News” … Autumn VandeHei … Casey Smith … Heather Stone … Steve Pfister … Annie Kelly Kuhle, SVP at FP1 Strategies … Stephen Rubright … WaPo senior correspondent Kevin Sullivan … Moira Whelan, founding partner at BlueDot Strategies (hat tip: Ben Chang) … Richard Parker … Trudy Vincent (h/ts Jon Haber) … Keith Castaldo, general counsel to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) … Matt Nicholson, government relations senior manager at Accenture …

… Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow at Brookings and editor-in-chief of Lawfare … Max Eden … Steve Caldeira, president and CEO of the Household & Commercial Products Association … Jane Timken, chair of the Ohio GOP … Camille von Kaenel … Jeremy Ravinsky … Curtis Skinner … Betsy Wiley … Tom Guthrie … Zack Marshall is 4-0 … Kristin Bodenstedt … John Procter, managing director at Signal Group, is 4-0 … Ben Quayle is 43 … former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.) is 71 … Jenny Mueller … Chris Mewett … Ryan Mewett … Susan Arbetter … Malik Haughton … former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski … Kate Throneburg … Meryl Holt Silverman … Jessica Harris … Rick Leach … Karen Mulhauser … Janice Griffin … Craig Kirby