POLITICO Playbook: More whistleblowers, more mudslinging

POLITICO Playbook: More whistleblowers, more mudslinging
By: Liberal Analysis Posted On: October 06, 2019 View: 10

POLITICO Playbook: More whistleblowers, more mudslinging

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DRIVING THE DAY

SNEAK PEEK … THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD: MONDAY: The president will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He will participate in a briefing with senior military leaders. He and First Lady Melania Trump will have dinner with senior military leaders and their spouses. TUESDAY: Trump will have lunch with VP Mike Pence. He will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Edwin Meese.

THURSDAY: Trump will hold a campaign rally in Minneapolis. FRIDAY: The president will participate in a photo op with the Little League Baseball World Series champions and the Little League Softball World Series champions.

BREAKING THIS MORNING … ABC NEWS is reporting that the legal team for the first whistleblower account is now representing a second whistleblower: “Mark Zaid, the attorney representing the whistleblower who sounded the alarm on President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine and triggered an impeachment inquiry, tells ABC News that he is now representing a second whistleblower who has spoken with the inspector general.

“Zaid tells ABC News' Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the second person -- also described as an intelligence official -- has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations outlined in the original complaint and has been interviewed by the head of the intelligence community's internal watchdog office, Michael Atkinson.” ABC

NBC NEWS’ KELLY O’DONNELL (@KellyO) tweeted this morning: “Attorney Andrew Bakaj tells me his legal team is representing MULTIPLE officials who will be making disclosures to the Intelligence Community Inspector General. He says "No further comment at this time."

ALREADY ON THE DEFENSE: President DONALD TRUMP tweeted about the second whistleblower last night: “The first so-called second hand information ‘Whistleblower’ got my phone conversation almost completely wrong, so now word is they are going to the bench and another ‘Whistleblower’ is coming in from the Deep State, also with second hand info. Meet with Shifty. Keep them coming!”

ANOTHER SENATOR SPEAKS OUT: Sen. SUSAN COLLINS (R-Maine) became the latest Republican to call out Trump for asking for China’s help in investigating Joe Biden.

-- BANGOR DAILY NEWS: “‘I thought the president made a big mistake by asking China to get involved in investigating a political opponent,’ Collins said. ‘It’s completely inappropriate.’ … Collins reiterated that she would not offer comment on the evidence, saying that not all of it is in yet, and that she hopes the impeachment process ‘will be done with the seriousness that any impeachment proceeding deserves.’ ...

“‘Should the articles of impeachment come to the Senate — and right now I’m going to guess that they will — I will be acting as a juror as I did in the Clinton impeachment trial,’ Collins said.” BDN

-- SHE JOINS Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who have also criticized the president’s comments about China.

BUT, BUT, BUT … In case there was any confusion of what’s going to happen in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL is out with a new campaign ad on Facebook where he says directly into the camera that he is the backstop to Trump’s impeachment.

"Nancy Pelosi's in the clutches of a left wing mob. They finally convinced her to impeach the president,” he said. "All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader.” More from the Louisville Courier Journal

STILL NO UNIFIED GOP IMPEACHMENT REBUTTAL -- There was not a single member of the Trump administration on the Sunday shows defending the president.

AND THIS: “Facing Fresh Revelations, Republicans Struggle to Mount a Defense of Trump,” by NYT’s Catie Edmonson: “Republican leaders are struggling to settle on a clear message and effective strategy for responding to Democrats’ aggressive and fast-moving impeachment investigation of President Trump, thrown off by early stumbles and a chaotic White House that have upended efforts to set a steady tone.

“With Mr. Trump effectively functioning as a one-man war room — doling out a new message, and provocative statements, almost by the hour — top Republicans have labored to find a unified response to push back against the inquiry and break through a near daily cascade of damaging information.

“Instead, they have tried to avoid tough questions about Mr. Trump’s conduct, staying mostly silent. Few defended Mr. Trump’s declaration on Thursday that China, as well as Ukraine, should investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a leading Democratic presidential candidate, and his son Hunter Biden.

“Fewer still have commented on text messages released as part of Democrats’ inquiry that show that envoys representing Mr. Trump sought to leverage the power of his office to prod Ukraine into opening investigations that would damage his Democratic opponents — and that some of them viewed it as a clear quid pro quo.” NYT

-- A NEW GOP TALKING POINT? Rep. JIM JORDAN (R-Ohio) to GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: “You really think he was serious about China’s going to investigate the Biden family?"

STEPHANOPOLOUS pressed Jordan several times about whether he thought it was appropriate for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden. Jordan did not directly respond to the question. The full transcript

MEANWHILE, President DONALD TRUMP went on a Twitter rant yesterday, blasting out nearly two dozen tweets and retweets where he called for Sen. MITT ROMNEY’S impeachment (Note: a senator cannot be impeached), attacked House Intel Chairman ADAM SCHIFF and HILLARY CLINTON. More on the Romney tirade

-- WALLACE asked Utah Rep. CHRIS STEWART (R-Utah) on FOX NEWS’ “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” about the president’s criticism of his home state senator: STEWART: “I’m shocked that you’d ask me this question (laughs), right? I know that the media loves for republicans to criticize each other, to fight --” WALLACE: “I’m not, I’m not criticizing another Republican. It's the president who called Mitt Romney a pompous ass.”

STEWART: “I know you’re not, but you’re hoping that I will. I’ll criticize one or the other--” WALLACE: “I’m just [asking] you – ok – I’m just asking you what you think.” STEWART: “I’m just gonna say, You know what? Mitt Romney’s a big boy. The president’s a big boy. They can settle their differences. I’m not going weigh in on that.”

Good Sunday morning.

WHAT DEMOCRATS ARE FACING BACK HOME: “For House Democrats, impeachment probe widens the divide they hoped to bridge,” by WaPo’s Mike DeBonis and Amber Phillips in Hartland, Mich.: “What hasn’t emerged is clear evidence of a political backlash, according to visits to nine lawmaker events and interviews with dozens of voters last week: Pro-Trump protesters picketed outside some of the events while pro-impeachment Democrats cheered inside, but swing voters mostly appeared to steer clear.

“Instead, echoing recent polling, the move toward impeachment appears only to have widened the existing partisan divide — and plunged the Democrats who ran on rising above it straight into the split.” WaPo

-- HEATED EXCHANGE: NBC NEWS’ CHUCK TODD had a heated back and forth with Sen. RON JOHNSON (R-Wis.) over attacking the press and pushing conspiracy theories. TODD: “Can we please answer the question I asked you instead of trying to make Donald Trump feel better here that you're not criticizing him?" Watch here

-- GEORGE STEPHANOPOLOUS interviewed House Caucus Chairman HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.) on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: STEPHANOPOULOS: “So you think there's enough evidence to impeach right now?” JEFFRIES: “No, I'm not saying that. There's enough evidence to proceed with the serious nature of the impeachment inquiry that is under way. At the end of the process, we're just going to follow the facts. We're going to apply the law. We're going to be guided by the Constitution. And we're going to see where that leads in order to present the truth to the American people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: “We saw Jon Karl report that the White House is saying they're not going to comply with subpoenas until there is that formal House vote. Why not call their bluff? And if they do, indeed, refuse to comply with the subpoenas, is that an obstruction article?”

JEFFRIES: “Well, Chairman Schiff and Chairman Engel and Chairman Cummings have made clear that the failure to comply with a lawfully issued congressional subpoena undermines a congressionally and constitutionally mandated process as it relates to the impeachment inquiry and itself could lead to a negative inferences as relates to the information that's being hidden.

“And the question has to be asked, if Donald Trump has nothing to hide, why does he continue to hide information, hide documents, hide evidence from the American people?” More from Rishika Dugyala

ABOUT THOSE SUBPOENAS -- “Pompeo: State Dept. will follow law as Dems seek documents,” by AP’s Jill Colvin and Matthew Lee: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the State Department intends to follow the law in the House impeachment investigation and vigorously defended President Donald Trump, dismissing questions about the president’s attempts to push Ukraine and China to investigate a Democratic political rival. …

“Pompeo, speaking Saturday in Greece, said the State Department sent a letter to Congress Friday night as its initial response to the document request and added, ‘We’ll obviously do all the things that we’re required to do by law.’ He has allowed Democrats to interview a series of witnesses next week. Among them is Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, another key figure in the probe.” AP

JAKE TAPPER spoke with GOP presidential candidates MARK SANFORD and JOE WALSH on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION”: TAPPER: “You have said the impeachment inquiry is justified. Would you vote to support such an inquiry if you were in the House of Representatives?”

SANFORD: “You know, I don't know. I suspect so. Again, I think we need to take this incrementally. I mean, I think, to your point, there ought to be a vote before we go into the inquiry. If you look at the last three impeachments -- and, in fact, one in which I actually took the vote -- you formalize the process, as opposed to having an open-ended process, which is the route that Pelosi is taking right now.”

WALSH: “I don't understand that, with all due respect, Mark. This president deserves to be impeached. Jake, nobody from the White House and no high-level Republicans are on this show today because there is nothing to defend. This president betrayed his country again this week. Would I vote if I were in Congress on the inquiry? There is enough we know now to vote to impeach this president.”

JOE BIDEN in WaPo editorial: “Enough is enough. Every day — every few hours, seemingly — more evidence is uncovered revealing that President Trump is abusing the power of the presidency and is wholly unfit to be president. He is using the highest office in the land to advance his personal political interests instead of the national interest.

“The president’s most recent violation of the rule of law — openly calling for China to interfere in our elections, as he stood on the South Lawn of the White House — is so outrageous, it’s clear he considers the presidency a free pass to do whatever he wants, with no accountability.” WaPo

JOSH GERSTEIN: “Judge orders White House to preserve records of Trump's dealings with foreign leaders”: “A federal judge has ordered the White House to preserve a wide range of evidence about President Donald Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders, including his interactions related to Ukraine that have fueled an impeachment investigation in the House.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued the order Thursday, directing that White House officials not destroy records of “meetings, phone calls, and other communications with foreign leaders.”

“The judge’s order also appears to specifically address reports that the Trump White House set up a special system to limit access to certain records of presidential conversations with foreign leaders. Jackson, an appointee of President Barack Obama, instructed the White House to preserve “all records of efforts by White House or other executive branch officials to return, ‘claw back,’ ’lock down’ or recall White House records” about dealings with foreign officials.

2020 WATCH …

-- THE STATE OF PLAY: “Uncertainty takes over the lead in the Democratic presidential race,” by WaPo’s Michael Scherer and Matt Viser: “The top fundraiser in the Democratic presidential field was hospitalized with a heart attack, the longtime polling leader and his son sit at the center of an impeachment inquiry, and the one candidate with clear momentum faces persistent doubts among some party leaders that she is too liberal to win the general election.

“With breathtaking speed, the events of the past two weeks have created huge uncertainty for the candidates who have dominated the Democratic nomination race, shaking a party desperate to defeat President Trump next year and deeply fearful of any misstep that risks reelecting a president many Democrats see as dangerously unfit for office.” WaPo

-- “Top Biden Donors Gather Amid Storm Clouds Over Campaign,” by NYT’s Shane Goldmacher in Philadelphia

TRUMP’S SUNDAY -- The president has nothing on his public schedule.

PLAYBOOK READS

WASHINGTON INC. -- “Jumbo Shrimp and Lobster Tails: D.C.’s Fund-Raising Hot Spots,” by NYT’s Jennifer Steinhauer and Mark Walker: It’s President Trump’s town, at least for the Republican Party. The Trump hotel is the most popular place in Washington for political fund-raisers, although unlike other spots that pride themselves on bipartisan service, only Republican committees and groups spend money here.

“The biggest spenders have been the Republican National Committee and America First Action, a Republican super PAC. Supporters of Representative Greg Pence, an Indiana Republican who is the vice president’s brother, spent more than $30,000 at the hotel raising money for his campaign. Attorney General William P. Barr has booked the hotel for a $30,000 holiday party in December.” NYT

THE LATEST ON NORTH KOREA TALKS -- AP: “North Korea decries breakdown of talks US says were ‘good’,” by Jari Tanner and Matthew Lee in Helskinki “The North Korean negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, said the talks in Stockholm on Saturday had ‘not fulfilled our expectations and broke down. I am very displeased about it.’ Speaking outside the North Korean Embassy, he said that negotiations broke down ‘entirely because the U.S. has not discarded its old stance and attitude’ and came to a negotiating table with an ‘empty hand.’ ...

“State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Kim’s comments did ‘not reflect the content or the spirit’ of the ‘good discussions’ that took place over 8 ½ hours, adding that the U.S. accepted an invitation from Sweden to return to Stockholm in two weeks to continue discussions. Kim, the North Korean negotiator, said North Korea proposed a suspension of talks until December.” AP

PROTESTS RAGING IN HONG KONG: “Hong Kong Emergency Law Fails to Stop Masked Protesters Taking Over Streets,” by WSJ’s Dan Strumpf and Joyu Wang in Hong Kong: “Scenes of anarchy spread across the city as protesters rampaged and battled with police, after tens of thousands again took over the streets to protest the government invoking emergency powers to ban people from wearing face masks.

“Protesters set fires, smashed banks and subways and erected barricades on major roads in demonstrations against the new regulation. Police, outnumbered at many locations, fired numerous volleys of tear gas and projectiles and made arrests as firefighters worked to extinguish blazes. A taxi driver was beaten bloody by a mob in one district.” WSJ

BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman (@dlippman):

-- “What if Your Abusive Husband Is a Cop?” by The New Yorker’s Rachel Aviv: “Police departments have become more attentive to officers’ use of excessive force on the job, but that concern rarely extends to the home.” New Yorker

-- “‘Active Interest’: Insurance Tycoon Spied on Women Who Caught His Eye,” by WSJ’s Mark Maremont and Leslie Scism: “Dozens of surveillance operatives working for Greg Lindberg tailed actual and prospective romantic partners, assembling dossiers along the way.” WSJ

-- “The Shaw Family Admission Plan,” by Ava Kofman and Daniel Golden in NYMag: “Starting in 2011, when the oldest of their three children was about two years away from applying to college, the Shaw Family Endowment Fund donated $1 million annually to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford and at least $500,000 each to Columbia and Brown. ... The total donations for ‘general’ purposes across seven years and seven elite schools are $37.3 million, which represents 62 percent of the foundation’s giving over that period.” NY Mag

-- “‘We’re trying to be the junkyard,’” by Marin Cogan in California Sunday Magazine: “The few ways to get rid of a gun.” California Sunday Magazine

-- “‘You Won’t Believe What Happened’: The Wild, Disturbing Saga of Robert Kraft’s Visit to a Strip Mall Sex Spa,” by May Jeong in November’s Vanity Fair: “After the Patriots owner made two trips to Orchids of Asia Day Spa, where a half-hour ‘massage’ costs $59, he was charged with soliciting a prostitute. What happened next was not what anyone expected.” VF

-- “‘Everything That You’re Feeling Is Okay,’” by Ann Givens in GQ: “Las Vegas' death investigators witnessed the atrocities of the Route 91 shooting, then had to grapple with the difficult task of healing themselves.” GQ (hat tip: Longform.org)

-- “He ‘Was Struggling Not to Laugh’: Inside Netflix’s Crazy, Doomed Meeting with Blockbuster,” by Marc Randolph in Vanity Fair: “When Netflix execs Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings met with Blockbuster brass in 2000, they wanted to sell for $50 million. Blockbuster all but laughed them out of the room, writes Randolph in ‘That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea.’ So they decided to ‘kick their ass.’” VF ... $17.59 on Amazon

-- “The Beating Heart,” by WaPo’s Gene Weingarten: “A tragic crime. A medical breakthrough. A last chance at life.” WaPo Magazine (h/t Longreads.com)

-- “The West Is Open for Dirty Business,” by Ben Judah and Nate Sibley in Foreign Policy: “The European Union and United States need a joint front against poisonous kleptocracy.” FP

-- “Radical warming in Siberia leaves millions on unstable ground,” by WaPo’s Anton Troianovski and Chris Mooney on the Zyryanka River, Russia: “For the 5.4 million people who live in Russia’s permafrost zone, the new climate has disrupted their homes and their livelihoods. Rivers are rising and running faster, and entire neighborhoods are falling into them. Arable land for farming has plummeted by more than half, to just 120,000 acres in 2017.” WaPo

-- “The Crypto Family Farm,” by Gabriel Nicholas in Logic Magazine: “The children, who range from first grade to college, help with both sides of the business. The oldest daughter has been in charge of keeping the miners cool since she was fifteen. In exchange for fixing the fans and maintaining the airflow, she gets a cut of the profits. Other kids help with the trading. Those who aren’t legally old enough to have their own accounts use Cassie’s spreadsheets to simulate swapping crypto.” Logic (h/t Longreads.com)

-- “How Derren Brown Remade Mind Reading for Skeptics,” by Adam Green in The New Yorker: “The mentalist’s manipulation techniques give people too sophisticated to believe in the paranormal something quasi-scientific to hang on to.” New Yorker

-- “The Sum of Life: Zora Neale Hurston,” by Michael Adno in The Bitter Southerner – per TheBrowser.com’s description: “[B]y the time Hurston died in Florida in February 1960, her fame had indeed fallen far from its 1930s peak. Her novels were out of print, her royalties had dried up. She supported herself by working as a librarian, a maid, and a teacher, while continuing to write. She devoted her last 15 years to a biography of Herod The Great; her publisher, Scribner’s, rejected the manuscript.” The Bitter Southerner

PLAYBOOKERS

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

SPOTTED: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) at DCA for a Delta flight to Milwaukee. … Pat Sajak in a front-row glass seat at the Capitals home opener Saturday night. Pic … Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) speaking on campus Saturday night at THRIVE, a conference of black Princeton alums. … Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) at Players Club on Saturday night.

TRANSITION -- OBAMA ALUMNI -- Marie Harf is now executive director of Seth Moulton’s Serve America PAC, which aims to elect Democratic military/national security veterans. She is a Fox News contributor and previously worked on Moulton’s presidential campaign.

WEDDINGS -- Katie Grant, comms director and senior adviser to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Justin Drew, lecturer of horn at the University of Maryland, got married Saturday at Foundry United Methodist Church. Hoyer toasted the couple. Pic SPOTTED: Brian and Hannah Romick, Brad Howard, Kristen Hawn, Mary Frances Repko, Mariel Saez, Courtney Fry, Jamie Fleet, Claudia Urrabazo, Annaliese Davis, Yuri Beckelman, Corey Tellez, Erin Doty, Natalie and Rene Muñoz, and Mike Lukso.

-- Josh Randle, CEO of Randle Strategies and a senior adviser at Haddad Media, and Alexandra Peters, an event producer at J Street Group, got married Saturday at the First Congregational Church on Nantucket, with a sunset reception at Galley Beach. They were introduced to each other by their respective roommates while living in Georgetown. PicSPOTTED: Tammy Haddad, Ryan Williams, Debi Schiff, Russ and Norma Ramsey, Todd Ruppert, Ryan Richardson, Charles Woods, Kent Ford, Zoe Jackman, William and Arden Crozer, Austin Harrison, Eli Popicg, Bobby Morgan, Davis Pace and Stephen Worley.

-- “Patrick Roberts, Jose Del Real,” via NYT: “Mr. Roberts, 44, is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization in Santa Monica, Calif. He is an associate professor at Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs in Arlington, and the author of ‘Disasters and the American State: How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Public Prepare for the Unexpected.’ … Mr. Del Real, 29, is based in Los Angeles as a domestic correspondent for the national desk of The New York Times.” With pic: NYT

WELCOME TO THE WORLD -- Anup Rao, a senior analyst at E3/Sentinel and a contractor for the Office on Trafficking in Persons at HHS, and Sneha Antani, an engineering assistant at Verizon, welcomed Avi Antani Rao. Pic

BIRTHDAYS: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is 54 … Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) is 73 … Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) is 6-0 … WSJ’s Eliza Collins … Jonathan Alter is 62 … Tracy Sefl, Democratic communications consultant … Ted Osthelder … Sara Rogers … Brenda Wood (hat tips: Teresa Vilmain) … Darrell West is 65 … Tucker Martin … Artur Orkisz, president of American Polish Forum and senior adviser for congressional affairs and public diplomacy at the Polish Embassy, is 41 … Ben Kenney, senior adviser for external affairs and director of strategic comms at CMS … The Daily Beast’s Will O’Connor … Adam Sneed … Evan Williams of Rep. Scott Tipton’s (R-Colo.) office … Ashley O’Sullivan … Taylor Kiland … Brett Gerson … Aric Newhouse, NAM’s SVP of policy and government relations … TIAA’s David Nason … Stephanie Genco of Forbes Tate Partners … Jeff Ostermayer … Lynette Gilliam … Gerry Adams is 71 … Llewellyn King is 8-0 … Mollie Glick is 4-0 … POLITICO’s Alex Panetta and Caroline Collins … Ruby Mellen …

… Tara DiJulio, executive director of corporate comms and reputation at GE (h/t AshLee Strong) … Kristen Gentile, COS for Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) … Haley Guion, assistant legal counsel at the Illinois state Senate Democratic Caucus (h/t Lindsay Bednar) … Jen Rokala … David A. Andelman is 75, celebrating at the Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where his son’s film is screening at the Woodstock Film Festival … Miles Radcliffe-Trenner … Ansley Lacitis, deputy COS for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) (h/t Bobby Mattina) … BBC’s Rowan Bridge is 47, celebrating by doing the Army Ten-Miler … Kathleen Connery Dawe … Lauren Whittington … WaPo’s Amy Gardner … George Onuorah … Veronica Wong … Jonathan Wilcox … Edelman’s Megan Humphries … Debora Murray … Carlos Diaz Barriga … Steve Grand … Megan Piwowar … Robert Stacy McCain is 6-0 … Anjani Nadadur … GOP pollster Wes Anderson … Nolan Treadway … Brenda Larsen Becker … Tony Marcano … Matt Brock … Patrick O’Connor of the U.S. Chamber … Doug McPherson

CORRECTION: Quotes attributed to Adam Schiff on “Meet the Press” actually came from his appearance one week ago today.

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