PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP IN LONDON this morning, sitting alongside NATO Secretary-General JENS STOLTENBERG during a 52-minute photo-op/press conference:
SIREN! … TRUMP said on the CHINA DEAL: “I have no deadline, no. In some ways I think it’s better to wait until after the election, if you want to know the truth. … In some ways I like waiting until after the election for the China deal.”
— TRUMP will meet with British PM BORIS JOHNSON: “I have no thoughts on [his election], it’s going to be a very important election for this great country. But I have no thoughts on it. I will be meeting wIth him, yes.” … WHY IS TRUMP STAYING OUT OF THE ELECTION? “Because I don’t want to complicate it.” POLITICO Europe’s Emilio Casalicchio: “Trump timebomb lands in U.K. election campaign”
— ON EMMANUEL MACRON’S STATEMENT THAT NATO IS BRAIN-DEAD: “You have a very high unemployment rate in France. France is not doing well economically at all. They’re starting to tax other people’s products. So, therefore, we’re going to tax them, that’s just taking place right now on technology, and we’re doing their wines and everything else. It’s a very tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France. …
“I would say that nobody needs NATO more than France. You look back at the last long period of time, nobody needs NATO more than France. And frankly, the one that benefits really the least is the United States.”
— ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MACRON, with whom he’s meeting later today: “I think it’s fine. I’ve always had a good relationship with Emmanuel. Sometimes he’ll say things that he shouldn’t say and I disagree with some of his policies with respect to France, but he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.”
— ON IMPEACHMENT: “It’s a hoax, the impeachment thing is a hoax, it’s turned out to be a hoax. It’s done for purely political gain — they’re going to see whether or not they can do something in 2020 because otherwise they’re going to lose.”
— TRUMP SAYS NO TO A CENSURE OFFRAMP: “Unacceptable. I did nothing wrong. … You don’t censure somebody when they did nothing wrong.”
— WILL HE SANCTION TURKEY OVER BUYING RUSSIAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT?: “I like Turkey and I get along very well with the president … And he’s a very good member of NATO or will be.” Ahem … Reuters: “Turkey threatens to block NATO plan on summit eve”
— POMPEO FOR SENATE? “I would say this: If I thought we were going to lose that seat, because we shouldn’t lose that seat, it’s a great state, it’s a state that I won overwhelmingly, as you know … then I would sit down and talk to Mike. But you can never find anybody who could do a better job as secretary of State.”
FOR MARTY BARON: TRUMP referred to reading a story in The WASHINGTON POST at least once. This comes after his White House said they were cancelling WaPo subscriptions.
FIRST LOOK THIS MORNING … BOTH PARTIES’ strategy going into the HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE phase of impeachment:
— HOUSE DEMOCRATS have released a two-minute-thirty-nine-second video that opens with this: “Two weeks of testimony … One story of betrayal.” It then ticks through most of the witnesses’ most damning testimony, describing their role in the impeachment. For example, this appears on the screen before Bill Taylor speaks: “The revered ambassador and decorated veteran … Who saw the pressure campaign up close.” The video
REPUBLICANS’ PLAN FOR BATTLE WITH NADLER … AFTER TWO WEEKS of impeachment hearings, one thing seems beyond a doubt: House Intelligence Chairman ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) ran a tight ship. Republicans say it was too tight, and patently unfair. And Democrats say Schiff weaved together a tight tale of intrigue, and put a bow on a package of criminality that implicated the president — all while keeping other members of the committee in line.
ON WEDNESDAY, THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE will take over. JUDICIARY was sidelined once, so there’s a lot at stake for the panel, led by Rep. JERRY NADLER (D-N.Y.), and filled with some of the most conservative and liberal members of Congress.
REPUBLICANS FEEL THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO SLOW DEMOCRATS’ MOMENTUM. … And here’s how they think they’re going to do it.
— PROCEDURAL ROADBLOCKS: Rep. DOUG COLLINS (R-Ga.) — the top Republican on Judiciary — is going to force procedural arguments with NADLER and fight when Democrats try to bat them away. This is a marked difference from how Rep. DEVIN NUNES (R-Calif.) conducted himself — remember the Steele dossier? Collins is an attorney, and these hearings aren’t investigative in nature — so Republicans will focus on the definition of terms like “bribery” and the standard of proof.
— COLLINS VS. NADLER: Republicans believe that, unlike Schiff, Nadler can be knocked off kilter easily. Whereas Schiff spoke extemporaneously in complete sentences, Nadler — according to Republican research — tends to rely on notes.
— BIG PLAYERS TO WATCH: Republicans are, again, going to rely on Reps. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) and JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-Texas), who are also on Judiciary.
— PROCESS, PROCESS, PROCESS: Watch for Republicans to complain a lot about what they consider an unjust process. They’ll talk about documents they didn’t get and the inability for them to talk to fact witnesses, and, when it comes time, they’ll seek to discredit the SCHIFF REPORT as being part of what they consider a broken process.
— COLLINS WILL TALK TO THE PRESS: NUNES has an almost blanket rule that he will not speak to most reporters. COLLINS is expected to gaggle frequently, as he did during the Robert Mueller process.
— REPUBLICANS WILL RELY ON LAWMAKERS MORE THAN COUNSEL: Collins anticipates using professional staff, but also look for an active dose of member participation.
— DON’T EXPECT FIREWORKS: Intel set a high bar — Fiona Hill and the other witnesses were explosive. But Republican Judiciary insiders make this point: Judiciary’s witnesses are not going to be fact witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the issues at hand, and they expect them to be a bit dull. Case in point: Wednesday’s hearing is a bit of an academic exercise, with professors lining up to discuss the finer legal points of impeachment and high crimes and misdemeanors. Even the professors the Democrats called were not household names to most people outside the legal community.
— The witnesses: Noah Feldman of Harvard Law, Pamela S. Karlan of Stanford, Michael J. Gerhardt of UNC and Jonathan Turley of GW. Republicans called Turley.
INTEL ISN’T DONE YET … SCHIFF to MSNBC’s RACHEL MADDOW on Monday night: “Even while Judiciary does its work, we will continue investigating. We’re continuing to issue subpoenas. We’re continuing to learn new information. That work goes on.”
COMING ATTRACTIONS … NYT’s NICK FANDOS: “House Democrats pressed forward on Monday with the next phase of their impeachment inquiry, putting the final touches on an Intelligence Committee report expected to form the basis of their case that President Trump’s effort to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals was an abuse of power that warrants his removal from office.
“Lawmakers from the panel reviewed the staff-written report for the first time on Monday evening, ahead of its public release and a scheduled Tuesday evening vote to transmit it to the Judiciary Committee. It will conclude that Mr. Trump, working with allies inside and outside his administration, used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine to do his bidding in order to gain an advantage in the 2020 presidential race.” NYT
THE MINORITY REPORT … “Republicans launch impeachment rebuttal ahead of Judiciary hearing,” by Andrew Desiderio, Melanie Zanona and Kyle Cheney
OF INTEREST TO SCHIFF & CO. … NYT’S ANDREW KRAMER in Kyiv: “Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze in July, Says Ex-Top Official in Kyiv”: “As deputy foreign minister, it was Olena Zerkal’s job to read incoming diplomatic cables from embassies around the world. One from Washington caught her eye back in July, she recalled: It said the Trump administration had frozen military aid for Ukraine. ‘We had this information,’ Ms. Zerkal said in an interview. ‘It was definitely mentioned there were some issues.’” NYT
Good Wednesday morning. NEW … Speaker NANCY PELOSI will sit down with ANNA for a keynote conversation a week from today at the 2019 Women Rule Summit in D.C. There are still a few remaining seats for the Dec. 10 event. Request your ticket here … The full agenda
MAIN JUSTICE VS. ITSELF … WAPO’S DEVLIN BARRETT and KAROUN DEMIRJIAN: “Barr disputes key inspector general finding about FBI’s Russia investigation”: “Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’s inspector general on one of the key findings in an upcoming report — that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
“The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, is due to release his long-awaited findings in a week, but behind the scenes at the Justice Department, disagreement has surfaced about one of Horowitz’s central conclusions on the origins of the Russia investigation. The discord could be the prelude to a major fissure within federal law enforcement on the controversial question of investigating a presidential campaign.”
— NYT adds: “Mr. Barr has privately praised Mr. Horowitz for his work and has not made clear whether he will publicly disagree with the report. It is standard practice for the Justice Department to submit to the inspector general a written response to his findings, which is then included in the final assessment. Mr. Barr could use that opportunity to issue a formal rebuttal, or he could make a public statement of some other kind.”
TRADE POLITICS … “Trump conquers Republicans on trade,” by Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine: “President Donald Trump is winning at least one trade war: The one with his own party. Free-trading Republicans have feuded with the president for years now, and his decision on Monday to reimpose tariffs on Brazil and Argentina brought new criticism from GOP senators — right as he needs them to fend off the impeachment inquiry threatens his presidency.
“Yet despite the complaints from Senate Republicans that Trump is eroding his party’s free trade bona fides, the GOP seemingly can’t — or won’t — rally the votes to handcuff the president. Competing proposals that would give Congress more sway over certain tariffs have been languishing in the Senate Finance Committee, leaving more establishment-minded Republicans little option but to sit back and gripe and wonder what just hit them.” POLITICO
— “Trump’s latest trade war: French champagne vs. Google taxes,” by Doug Palmer and Mark Scott
— WSJ EDITORIAL BOARD: “Mount Tariff Erupts Again: Trump hurts his re-election chances with more trade uncertainty”
2020 WATCH …
— BIDEN ON FIRE … NATASHA KORECKI in Emmetsburg, Iowa: “Biden says he doesn’t need Obama’s endorsement”: “Former Vice President Joe Biden on Monday said he didn’t need Barack Obama’s endorsement in the Democratic primary, even if the field were down to three people. He also scoffed at the notion that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is building enthusiasm and accused Mayor Pete Buttigieg of stealing his plans.
“In a wide-ranging interview aboard his campaign bus during an eight-day tour through Iowa, Biden talked to reporters about his prospects in Iowa, the likely strength of his campaign going into Super Tuesday and his relationship with the former president.
“Biden reiterated that he asked Obama not to endorse him, and he stuck by that stance even when asked whether he’d want Obama’s backing if the field narrowed to three people. ‘No, because everyone knows I’m close with him,’ Biden said. ‘I don’t need an Obama endorsement.’” POLITICO
— “Buttigieg tries to reset struggling outreach to black voters,” by Elena Schneider in Allendale, S.C.: “Having failed to gain traction with African American voters so far this campaign, Buttigieg’s campaign is taking a different approach to his three-day swing through South Carolina: Keep it small. The South Bend, Ind., mayor opted for largely invitation-only roundtables and private sit-downs with African American leaders in the state, where the Democratic electorate is majority-black.
“It’s a strikingly different approach to the one Buttigieg takes in the first two early states, where he has surged into a group of four frontrunners in recent polling — and where he has seven public town halls scheduled over four days later this week, for example. But as Buttigieg tries to break in with African American voters, he’s leaning on ‘very, very intimate’ settings, said Matt Bowman, who hosted Buttigieg at his vineyard in Round O, S.C., for a conversation on black entrepreneurship with two dozen people.” POLITICO
TRUMP’S TUESDAY — The president participated in a one-on-one meeting and later had breakfast with Stoltenberg in London. He will leave Winfield House at 11 a.m. local time for the InterContinental London Park Lane, where he will participate in a roundtable with supporters. Afterward, Trump will return to Winfield House. He will participate in a restricted bilateral meeting and then an expanded bilateral meeting with Macron at 2 p.m. Trump will meet with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau at 3:30 p.m.
TRUMP and first lady MELANIA TRUMP will leave Winfield House at 4:55 p.m en route to Clarence House. They will have tea at 5:15 p.m. with the prince of Wales and the duchess of Cornwall. Afterward, they will head to Buckingham Palace, where they will attend a NATO reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth. The two will leave for No. 10 Downing Street at 7:35 p.m. and attend a NATO leaders’ reception hosted by Johnson. Afterward, they will return to Winfield House.
CLICKER … POLITICO EUROPE: “The 28 people shaping, shaking and stirring Europe”
FROM RUSSIAGATE WITH LOVE … TAKEAWAYS FROM BUZZFEED’S JASON LEOPOLD ET AL: “Here Are The Latest Secret Memos From Mueller’s Report”: “Michael Cohen said Trump family lawyers kept him from telling the truth. … In February 2017, Trump wanted Comey to know ‘I really like him.’ … Christie laughed when Trump said ‘the Russia thing is over’ after Michael Flynn left office … Hope Hicks said Trump was ‘angry, surprised, and frustrated’ when Mueller was appointed … Hicks believed that Obama’s warning about Michael Flynn ‘sat with’ Trump … Hicks told the FBI she was ‘shocked’ by emails about the Trump Tower meeting.” BuzzFeed
— SCOOP … NATASHA BERTRAND: “Senate panel look into Ukraine interference comes up short”
MEGATRENDS — “U.S. Dominance in Global Services Weakens,” by WSJ’s Paul Kiernan: “Exports of services barely rose in the first nine months of 2019, while imports rose 5.5%, the Commerce Department said.
“The services surplus, at $178.5 billion through September, was down 10% from a year earlier, on pace for its steepest annual decline since 2003. October data are due out Thursday.
“The services pullback is significant because in the last half-century the U.S. has evolved from an industrial superpower into the undisputed champion of the global services economy. From 2003 to 2015, the U.S. trade surplus in services such as medical care, higher education, royalties and payments processing nearly sextupled to $263.3 billion.” WSJ
MEDIAWATCH — “Giuliani Threatens to Sue Fox News Host for Calling Him Part of the ‘Swamp,’” by The Daily Beast’s Andrew Kirell
— Chris Bedford will be senior editor at The Federalist. He previously was editor-in-chief at The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at email@example.com.
TRANSITIONS — Michael Moran has rejoined Credit Suisse as head of U.S. policy. He previously was head of federal affairs for Zurich North America. … Loryn Wilson Carter is now director of communications and media at the Raben Group. She most recently was a senior strategist at Meridian Solutions and is an NAACP and Center for Community Change alum.
BIRTHWEEK (was Saturday): Amijah Townsend-Holmes of the Joe Biden campaign’s comms team, who celebrated with a trip to New Orleans (h/t Andrew Bates)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Mike Inacay, comms director for Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). A trend that he thinks deserves more attention: “Because of the hard work of leaders and activists from around the world, we’re seeing more attention on the urgent need for climate action, but the full scope of its impact is still widely underreported. Climate change is hurting every community and every industry in every part of the world.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) is 84 … Robby Mook, senior fellow at the Kennedy School and president of House Majority PAC … Tom Oppel (h/ts Teresa Vilmain) … Ali Zelenko, SVP for comms at NBC News … Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is 69 … WaPo’s Scott Higham … Cody Sanders of the White House … POLITICO’s Bruce Ritchie and Thomas Good … Bill Sternberg, editorial page editor at USA Today, is 63 … Jesse Lee is 4-0 … Jamie Carroll … Margaret Mulkerrin … Diane Cardwell … Kevin Baron, executive editor of Defense One … Lance Trover, consultant at Tusk Strategies … Bill Tighe, VP of federal government affairs at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, is 42 … Meg Hilling …
… Laura Howard of Sentinel Strategic Advisors … Robert Pondiscio … Katelyn Rieley Johnson … Jacqueline Quasney … Lizzie Edelman, managing partner at E:SIX Strategies … Missy Jenkins … former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) is 61 … former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) is 49 … Daniel Chao, COS for Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) … Sara Elnusairi … Danielle Filson … Mandi Critchfield, communications director for the Senate Banking Committee … Neal Ungerleider … David Meyers, publisher and executive editor at The Fulcrum … Colin Hanna … Chris Kelaher … Rich McFadden … Miles Doran, producer for “CBS This Morning” … John Toohey