“Democrats who favor impeachment proceedings against President Trump showed new signs of life Thursday even after former special counsel Robert Mueller’s uneven testimony this week failed to sway reluctant House leaders,” Politico reports. “Five Democrats publicly endorsed an impeachment inquiry post-Mueller, joining more than 90 lawmakers who had already come out in favor.”
“Even though some had anticipated a more significant groundswell of new support after Mueller’s appearance, these lawmakers insist the impeachment effort isn’t dead.”
CNN: “House Democrats who are publicly and privately agitating to begin impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump are growing worried that their time is running short — and that they are missing key opportunities to give them a clear opening to mount a formal probe.”
“The House Judiciary Committee on Friday said it would ask a federal judge to unseal grand jury secrets related to Robert Mueller’s investigation and use the court filing to make the most explicit declaration yet that lawmakers are weighing whether to impeach President Trump,” the New York Times reports.
“In a significant escalation, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the Democratic chairman of the committee, said at a news conference that the application to the court would declare that the panel needs access to Mr. Mueller’s grand-jury evidence — such as witness testimony — to decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the president.”
Key point: “There is no formal rule that says the full House must formally authorize an impeachment inquiry for the committee to conduct one.”
Washington Post: “Nadler said favorable court orders on those matters would ‘open the floodgates’ for enforcement of other subpoenas he considers key to ongoing investigations of President Trump that have been stymied by the White House’s refusal to cooperate.”
“The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016, largely undetected by the states and federal officials at the time, but at the demand of American intelligence agencies the committee was forced to redact its findings so heavily that key lessons for the 2020 election are blacked out,” the New York Times reports.
“While details of many of the hackings directed by Russian intelligence, particularly in Illinois and Arizona, are well known, the committee’s report describes a Russian intelligence effort more far-reaching than the federal government has previously acknowledged.”
Washington Post: It’s not just the Russians anymore as Iranians and others turn up disinformation efforts ahead of 2020 vote.
“The day after President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands last month at Korea’s demilitarized zone, Pyongyang’s official report hailed the meeting as delivering a ‘new breakthrough in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,’” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“But not even a month later, the goodwill generated by the DMZ diplomacy appears to have soured. Pyongyang has grown angrier in recent weeks, sapping its apparent enthusiasm for jump-starting stalled talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear program. The Kim regime’s fury culminated Thursday in the launch of two short-range missiles, the North’s first weapons test since May.”
The Wall Street Journal also reports that “Analysts who pore over satellite images of the isolated country paint a different picture: North Korea’s scientists have ramped up production of long-range missiles and the fissile material used in nuclear weapons.”
Daily Beast: “All committee chairs and House speakers have disagreements over jurisdiction, power, and strategic direction. But the relationship between Nadler and Pelosi is particularly sensitive now given the stakes of the issues they’re tackling. The special counsel’s office has closed, its report made public, and its director, Mueller, has testified on Capitol Hill about its contents. Now that the Russia investigation, as the American public understands it, has all but come to an end, both leaders are left answering questions about what comes next.”
“For Pelosi, the answer is simple: Stay the course. For Nadler, that course is becoming increasingly difficult to trek with members from his own committee, and constituents back home, calling not only for impeachment proceedings but for tougher posture toward a White House that seems hell-bent on making his oversight work impossible.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that a decision on whether the House pursues the impeachment of President Trump will be made in a “timely fashion” and denied the idea that she is trying to “run out the clock” on the issue, NBC News reports.
She added: “Everybody has the liberty and the luxury to espouse their own position and to criticize me for trying to go down the path in the most determined, positive way. Again, their advocacy for impeachment only gives me leverage.”
“The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled details of a $16 billion aid package to help farmers hurt by President Trump’s trade war with China, as soybean growers from around the country converged on Washington to tell lawmakers that rural America is ready for a cease-fire,” the New York Times reports.
“Farmers have been among the biggest casualties of the trade fight, with Beijing slowing — and in some cases ending — purchases of American agricultural goods as retaliation for Mr. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. They have also suffered from retaliatory tariffs that the European Union, Canada and Mexico placed on American farm goods after Mr. Trump slapped levies on foreign metals.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke briefly about her morning meeting with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) Friday, calling the freshman congresswoman “gracious” and comparing their disagreements to “differences” within a “family.”
“We had a good meeting,” Pelosi said. “And the congresswoman is a very gracious member of Congress, so we had a very positive conversation about our districts and how we represent our country and how we need to meet the needs, the diversity of America and the challenges we face in terms of issues and how immigration and people are respected.”
“It’s just like you’re in a family,” she continued. “In a family you have your differences, but you’re still family.”
She also said that she has “confidence” and “joy” in the diversity of her caucus, but emphasized her role as a “unifier” no matter her personal progressiveness.
“Economic growth slowed last spring, but don’t panic — the decade-long expansion has lost some momentum, but there’s little reason to think it is about to stall out,” the New York Times reports.
“Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the economy, rose at a 2.1 percent annual rate in the second quarter… That represents a significant deceleration from the 3.1 percent growth rate in the first quarter. But the big swings in the quarterly data are almost certainly exaggerated.”
In a nearly seven-minute harangue, Joe Scarborough used the dismissive sobriquet “Moscow Mitch” roughly 16 times as he lit into Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for what he deemed as “un-American” lack of action on election security, Mediaite reports.
The Morning Joe host then suggested that McConnell may be benefiting from a Russian oligarch’s investment in his home state: “I understand that there’s an oligarch that I have read is going to be setting up a big aluminum plant in Moscow Mitch’s home state.”
He added: “I don’t know if that’s it. But how can Moscow Mitch so willingly turn a blind eye not only this year to what his Republican chairman of the Intel committee is saying, to what Robert Mueller is saying what the FBI director is saying what the DNI is saying, to what the CIA is saying, to what the United States military Intel community is saying. How can Moscow Mitch keep denying that Vladimir Putin continues to try to subvert American democracy?”
Jonathan Bernstein: “One is that it’s no coincidence that extended government shutdowns have happened in 1995-1996, 2013, and 2018-2019. They all began with Republican majorities in the House. So did the debt-limit brinkmanship of 2011. Although Democrats bargained hard for spending they wanted in this deal, they never really threatened to disrupt the government or the economy over it. Perhaps they’re more responsible than Republicans. But Democratic majorities have also always had substantive goals that they were out to achieve in these negotiations.”
“Republicans? Not so much. They’re after confrontation for its own sake.”
Edward Luce: “A few days ago a psychologist friend told me something that was at once startling and unsurprising; she is seeing far more patients than before Donald Trump was elected — and they tend to be suffering from deeper anxiety. Some people call this the Trump Anxiety Syndrome (TAD), or Post Trump Stress Syndrome (PTSD). People of a more Trumpian flavour might dismiss it as Liberal Snowflake Disorder (LSD), or old-fashioned anecdotal exaggeration. I concede that there is no definitive data to back it up. Other than rising anti-anxiety Xanax prescriptions and surveys such as this from the American Psychiatric Association, it is hard to find incontrovertible statistics.”
“Blaming everything on Trump is facile. Yet omitting him from the equation would be just as mistaken. My own view is that Trump will leave America considerably less mentally healthy than how he found it. His election was the product of an increasingly anxious society. But we find ourselves collectively far more anxious as a result. Trump is a rocket-booster to our toxic stress. He is a cure worse than the disease.”
President Trump lashed out at Democrats over their ongoing investigations into his administration, suggesting there should instead be probes into former President Obama’s book deal and other activities under his predecessor, The Hill reports.
Said Trump: “It’s a disgrace. We want to find out what happened the last Democrat president. Let’s look into Obama the way they’ve looked into me. From day one they’ve looked into everything we’ve done.”
He added: “They could look into the book deal that President Obama made. Let’s subpoena all of his records. Let’s subpoena all of the records having to do with Hillary Clinton and all of the nonsense that went on with Clinton and her foundation and everything else.”
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to the defense of her more conservative colleagues on the bench, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, CNN reports.
Said Ginsburg: “I can say that my two newest colleagues are very decent and very smart individuals.”