“The impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump, personally and acting through agents within and outside of the U.S. government, solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection.” — From the House impeachment report, neatly summarizing the case against President Trump in one sentence.
“The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released a report documenting the impeachment case against President Trump, laying out the conclusions of its inquiry into allegations that he abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election and then impeded attempts by Congress to investigate,” the New York Times reports.
“The report’s approval, expected on Tuesday evening, will set in motion the next phase in the impeachment of Mr. Trump, accelerating a constitutional clash that has happened only three times in the nation’s history.”
“Call records included in an impeachment report released by House Democrats Tuesday show that House Intelligence Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) had a number of contacts in April with Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas, an associate of Giuliani’s who has since been indicted for campaign finance violations,” Axios reports.
“The call records constitute some of the only new revelations from the report, which mostly relies on witness testimony that has been released to the public.”
“House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler had a blunt message as he privately addressed Democrats the day before his panel assumes a starring role in the impeachment inquiry,” Politico reports. Said Nadler: “I’m not going to take any shit.”
“Nadler’s warning shot referred to likely GOP antics to try to undermine the first impeachment hearing in the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. But it wasn’t lost on Democrats that Nadler’s message could also apply to those in his own party who have closely scrutinized his role in the House’s impeachment probe.”
“With the impeachment inquiry charging forward, President Trump’s allies have defended his demand for political investigations from Ukraine by claiming that the government in Kyiv tried to sabotage his candidacy and boost Hillary Clinton in 2016,” Politico reports.
“But the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee thoroughly investigated that theory and found no evidence that Ukraine waged a top-down interference campaign akin to the Kremlin’s efforts to help Trump win in 2016.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN that he is “1,000% confident” that Russia, not Ukraine, meddled in the 2016 presidential election, breaking from President Trump and others in his party who have pushed the discredited conspiracy theory.
Said Graham: “It was the Russians. I’m 1,000% confident that the hack of the DNC was by Russian operatives, no one else.”
He added: “I’ve got no doubt that it was the Russians who stole the DNC emails. It wasn’t Ukraine. Russia was behind the stolen DNC emails and Podesta and all that good stuff.”
“House Democrats are debating whether to expand articles of impeachment to include charges beyond abuse of power in the Ukraine controversy, setting up a potential internal clash as the party races to impeach President Trump by Christmastime,” the Washington Post reports.
“President Trump has denied knowing Prince Andrew, despite multiple photos of the two together, including several of them meeting in June this year,” the Daily Beast reports.
Asked about his thoughts on the allegations against Prince Andrew and the royal’s decision to step back from public life, Trump responded: “I don’t know Prince Andrew, but it’s a tough story, it’s a very tough story.”
“A once-cordial relationship between President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France devolved in a dramatic fashion Tuesday, as the two leaders publicly sparred over their approach to containing the threat of terrorism and a shared vision for the future of NATO, a 70-year-old alliance facing existential threats on multiple fronts,” the New York Times reports.
“In a lengthy appearance before reporters, the president met a cool reception from Mr. Macron, who earlier in the day Mr. Trump derided as ‘very insulting’ for his recent remarks on the ‘brain death’ of the alliance. When asked to address his earlier comments on the French leader, Mr. Trump, a leader averse to face-to-face confrontation, initially demurred, but Mr. Macron was direct.”
Said Macron: “My statement created some reactions. I do stand by it.”
“What followed was an extended, terse back-and-forth over trade, immigration, and Mr. Trump’s relationship with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey… The meeting continued to devolve as the two discussed the containment of ISIS fighters in Syria.”
Washington Post: “On the first day of the NATO 70th anniversary summit in London, Trump pronounced, prodded and pushed America’s allies into a state of unbalance — seizing the global stage to both bully and banter, all while keeping himself at the center of attention.”
“To watch Trump perform alongside other world leaders was to witness his use of disequilibrium as political strategy, deployed throughout his presidency to keep everyone slightly off-kilter.”
“Over the course of three one-on-one meetings with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Macron and Trudeau, Trump turned what were expected to be brief photo opportunities into his own personal daytime cable show.”
“The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that Deutsche Bank and Capital One must comply with a congressional subpoena for President Trump, his children and his company’s financial records,” Axios reports.
New York Times: “The decision was a victory for House Democrats as they investigate Mr. Trump and his businesses. It means that extensive information about Mr. Trump’s personal and business finances — which the president has spent years fighting to keep secret — has moved a step closer to becoming public.”
The Atlantic: “The surreal story of how a comedian who played the Ukrainian president on TV became the president in real life — then found himself at the center of an American political scandal.”
Playbook: “We’re hearing murmurs out of the Hill and White House that there’s a chance President Trump will not sign any government funding bills until he knows how the DHS funding bills will be worked out — presumably to see how immigration policy/the wall is handled.”
“Why does this matter? Because the government shuts down in 17 days unless Congress acts. There was some plan to pass some non-controversial bills this month, and then deal with the more difficult items like Defense and DHS later on. But if the president is unwilling to sign any spending bill until he sees how DHS is worked out, that complicates this strategy. It could lead to a yearlong stopgap — which would preserve the president’s abilities to reprogram money for his wall, but cancel the planned $100 billion increase in spending. Or Congress could fall back on a series of short-term bills while the president fights.”
Julia Ioffe: “Previously unpublished data from the AFSA shows that the foreign service is losing people at an alarming clip. In the first two years of Trump’s presidency, nearly half of the State Department’s Career Ministers retired or were pushed out. Another 20 percent of its Minister Counselors, one rank level down, also left.”
“There are no official numbers yet for 2019, but one former career foreign service officer I spoke with offered a telling piece of data that speaks to the unease. Last December, this ex–foreign service officer created a Facebook group aimed at connecting fellow FSOs looking to transition out of the service and into the private sector. In less than a year, this former FSO told me, the group has accumulated over 1,000 members.”
Associated Press: “The $105 million in Foreign Military Financing funds for the Lebanese Armed Forces was released just before the Thanksgiving holiday and lawmakers were notified of the step on Monday.”
“The money had languished in limbo at the Office of Management and Budget since September although it had already won congressional approval and had overwhelming support from the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council. The White House has yet to offer any explanation for the delay despite repeated queries from Congress.”
CNN: “After raising concerns over the summer, the whistleblower met in November with Republican and Democratic staffers on the committee but has declined an invitation to appear for a follow-up.”
“The whistleblower declined the transcribed interview after an official informed the whistleblower that it could be considered a violation of IRS code to provide the committee with any information related to an individual taxpayer. Under IRS code 6103, IRS employees can be fired, fined or even jailed for disclosing taxpayer information. It is unclear what next step the committee will take. One option would be to issue a subpoena, but it is not clear that is the route the committee would take.”
“Call records obtained by impeachment investigators revealed new details about Rudy Giuliani’s interactions with the White House, his associates and Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The phone records suggest Mr. Giuliani’s deep involvement in several key episodes that have become a focus of the impeachment probe. The frequent contacts between Mr. Nunes and two figures at the center of the inquiry—Mr. Giuliani and one of his indicted associates—are highly unusual and likely to renew calls from Democrats for Mr. Nunes to face an ethics inquiry.”
President Trump said that it might be better to wait until after the 2020 election to strike a trade deal with China, CNBC reports. Said Trump: “In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right,”
Bloomberg: “Stocks dropped in Europe and U.S. equity futures sold off as Trump’s comments indicated no urgency to reach a deal by Dec. 15.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC that delaying a trade deal with China until after the 2020 election could make sense, as it “takes leverage away” from Beijing.
Politico: “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.”
“A company that President Trump urged military officials to hire for border wall construction has been awarded a $400 million contract to build a span of new barrier across an Arizona wildlife refuge,” the Washington Post reports.
“Trump has repeatedly pushed for Fisher to get a wall-building contract, urging officials with the Army Corps of Engineers to pick the firm — only to be told Fisher’s bids did not meet standards. Trump’s entreaties on behalf of the company have concerned some officials who are unaccustomed to the president getting personally involved in the intricacies of government contracting.”