I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, December 12, 2019. 53 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 327 days until Election Day 2020. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Impeachment inquiry: The latest
Happening today: The House Judiciary Committee continues to consider the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump today. The panel met late into the night on Wednesday and will pick up at 9 a.m. this morning. Later today, the committee is expected to vote on each article of impeachment separately, sending them to the House floor and setting up a final impeachment vote next week.
Democrats expect handful of defections in impeachment vote: "Democratic leaders are privately expecting no more than a half-dozen defections on next week’s vote to impeach President Donald Trump," according to Politico. Some centrist members in vulnerable districts, including the two Democrats who opposed the impeachment inquiry rules resolution in September, are likely to oppose the articles of impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has said she won't "whip" the impeachment vote, can afford to lose 18 Democrats in the final vote, with the support of Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI).
Senate trial preview: A split has emerged between President Trump and Senate Republicans on how to format the January trial considering the impeachment charges drafted in the House. According to the Washington Post, GOP senators "are coalescing around a strategy of holding a short impeachment trial early next year that would include no witnesses," while Trump is hoping for a "public defense of his actions toward Ukraine that would include testimony the White House believes would damage its political rivals."
Per CNN, the legal team intelligence community whistleblower is preparing for potential Senate testimony, as the White House has signaled desire for their client to participate in the trial. However, the growing preference within the Senate GOP seems to be in favor of simply allowing the House Democratic managers to present their case and then voting on whether to acquit or convict the president.
Trump legal team considers new addition: According to ABC News, "President Donald Trump and his top advisers are considering expanding his legal team and bringing on controversial attorney and professor Alan Dershowitz."
Inside Congress: Don't look now, but Congress is . . . actually legislating? "Over the next 12 days or so, the House and Senate expect to reel off a litany of last-minute legislating that will attempt to make up for months of institutional inaction."
"The other initiatives will include everything from the predictably overdue items that must pass every year — funding bills for federal agencies and Pentagon policy — to the more sweeping plans to create a new Space Force and approve the most important trade deal in at least two decades."
"Time is so short, as lawmakers set a tentative goal of exiting town Dec. 20, that leaders now only expect a day of formal debate on the House floor for the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement." (Washington Post)
--- Amid the bitter impeachment squabble, the House passed a $738 billion defense policy bill in a 377-48 vote on Wednesday. The bipartisan package includes measures to authorize the Space Force as the sixth branch of the military and to implement paid parental leave for federal workers. Today, the House will vote on a Democratic bill that aims to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
IG testimony: "The Justice Department's internal watchdog sharpened his criticism of the FBI on Wednesday, telling lawmakers he was alarmed that 'so many basic and fundamental errors' occurred in the early months of the FBI's probe into potential Trump-Russia collusion."
"'I think the activities we found here don't vindicate anybody who touched this,' DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivering a stinging rebuke to the former FBI leaders who claimed victory when his sweeping report was released on Monday."
"Horowitz also backed up his major conclusion: that the FBI was justified when it launched the Russia probe in July 2016, and senior FBI officials weren't motivated by political bias against candidate Donald Trump."
"In a remarkable display of disunity within the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr publicly rejected some of these findings and backed up Trump's insistence that the investigation should have never happened. Asked about the split, Horowitz stood by his conclusions." (CNN)
Trump signs executive order on anti-Semitism: "President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday targeting what his administration describes as a growing problem with anti-Semitic harassment on college campuses."
. . . "Under the order, the Department of Education will consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism — which can include criticism of Israel — when evaluating discrimination complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The department could withhold funding from schools that it finds in violation of Title VI." (Associated Press)
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Today at the White House
At 11:15 a.m., President Trump delivers remarks at the White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave. At 12 p.m., he receives his daily intelligence briefing. At 7 p.m., he and First Lady Trump attend the Congressional Ball.
Today in Congress
--- At 10 a.m., the Senate convenes. At 11:45 a.m., the chamber votes on confirmation of Aurelia Skipwith to be Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and John Sullivan to be U.S. Ambassador to Russia. At 1:45 p.m., the chamber vote on confirmation of Stephen Hahn to be U.S. Commissioner of Food and Drugs.
--- At 9 a.m., the House convenes. The chamber is expected to vote on the passage of H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019.
Today at the Supreme Court
--- The Supreme Court has no conferences or oral arguments scheduled today.
Today on the trail
--- Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) attends fundraisers in Palo Alto and San Francisco, California.
--- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) attends fundraising events in Saddle River, New Jersey, and Baltimore, Maryland.
--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) attends a breakfast at a church and has dinner with local veterans in Columbia, South Carolina.
--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) delivers an economic policy speech at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.
--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson (D) makes stops in Council Bluffs and Fairfield, Iowa.
--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang (D) makes stops in Ames, Iowa, as part of his "A New Way Forward" bus tour. He will attend a field office opening, play in a basketball game against Democratic congressional candidate J.D. Scholten, and attend the Iowa–Iowa State basketball game.
*All times Eastern