I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Tuesday, November 26, 2019. 69 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 343 days until Election Day 2020. Have any comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at email@example.com!
Editor's note: Barring any breaking news, this will be the last newsletter of the week. I will be back in your inbox on Monday. I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving! — Gabe
Judge rules Don McGahn must comply with House subpoena
Former White House counsel Don McGahn must testify before House investigators about his time in the Trump administration, a federal judge ruled on Monday. In a 120-page decision, Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the Justice Department's broad claim that top presidential aides have "absolute immunity" from being forced to testify before Congress.
"The primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings," wrote Judge Jackson, an Obama appointee. "This means that they do not have subjects, bound by loyalty or blood, whose destiny they are entitled to control. Rather, in this land of liberty, it is indisputable that current and former employees of the White House work for the People of the United States."
A Justice Department spokesperson said that the agency will appeal the decision, meaning no testimony will be coming from McGahn any time soon. House Democrats have issued a subpoena for McGahn to testify on President Trump's efforts to obstruct special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation; McGahn was cited 157 times in the Mueller report, more than any other witness.
Although the McGahn case relates to the Mueller investigation, it could also have implications for the ongoing House impeachment inquiry into President Trump. According to CNN, House Democrats are embroiled in a behind-the-scenes debate over whether their articles of impeachment against the president should focus solely on the Ukraine scandal or also touch on potential misconduct outlined in the Mueller report or allegations of violating the Emoluments Clause.
The Democrats' victory in court on Monday "will only add to the push to pursue obstruction and additional Trump administration witnesses," the network reported.
However, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday that the evidence Democrats have collected against Trump is "already overwhelming," adding that his committee wouldn't wait for court battles to play out over potential testimony from additional witnesses.
Schiff penned a letter to his House colleagues on Monday, signaling that the Intelligence panel's report on impeachment will be transmitted to the House Judiciary Committee "soon after Congress returns from the Thanksgiving recess," as early as next week. The Judiciary panel will then move forward with drafting and voting on articles of impeachment.
The Trump investigations, contd.
New polls out this morning show that the past two weeks of public impeachment hearings didn't do much to move the needle for or against the inquiry into President Trump. Both Politico/Morning Consult and CNN/SSRS recorded support for impeaching and removing the president at 50% in polls released this morning, a two-point increase since last week for the Politico poll and a flat line from last month for the CNN poll.
Federal prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office are pursuing a broad investigation into President Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. According to the report, subpoenas indicate that prosecutors are looking into "possible money laundering, obstruction of justice, and campaign-finance violations" as well as "Giuliani’s consulting businesses and other sources of income."
According to the Washington Post, federal investigators are also considering additional charges against Giuliani's Ukrainian-American associates, Les Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were already indicted last month. Prosecutors are digging into "the pair's interactions with the president's personal lawyer and the main pro-Trump super PAC," America First Action, according to the Post.
The Supreme Court issued a brief order on Monday temporarily blocking an appeals court ruling that required President Trump's account firm, Mazars USA, to turn over eight years of his business and personal tax returns to House investigators. The high court decision gives Trump's lawyers until December 5 to file a formal petition urging the justices to hold full oral arguments on the case. If the justices agree, it could set up a high-profile case pitting the branches of government against each other in the months ahead.
David Pecker, the chairman of the company that publishes the National Enquirer tabloid, "has spoken with prosecutors with the New York district attorney's office as part of its investigation into the Trump Organization's handling of hush money payments to women who alleged affairs with President Donald Trump," CNN reported on Monday. Prosecutors have also interviewed Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, three times from federal prison, as they continue to probe his role in negotiating a $130,000 payment to buy adult film actress Stormy Daniels' silence concerning her allegation of an affair with the future president.
Gallagher case: "Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Monday that President Donald Trump had directed him to allow a Navy SEAL acquitted of war crimes to retire without losing his elite status."
"Esper told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon that Trump gave him a direct order to drop disciplinary action against Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher, who was prosecuted by the Navy and later acquitted of the majority of the war crime charges against him. The decision means Gallagher will be allowed to retire without losing his gold eagle Trident emblem, which signifies that a service member is part of one of the Navy's elite Special Warfare Navy Sea, Air and Land units, or SEALs." (NBC News)
--- "Under fire over his insistence that a Navy SEAL convicted of misconduct not be punished, Mr. Trump sought to defend actions that have roiled the Pentagon, angered senior military leadership and led to the firing of the Navy secretary. Mr. Trump said that his refusal to allow the Navy to oust Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher from the SEALs showed he was sticking up for 'warriors,' and not traitors." (New York Times)
--- "Even before Navy Secretary Richard Spencer’s forced ouster this weekend, a handful of the Pentagon's highest-ranking officials have been debating just when they would feel compelled to resign over what they see as Trump's disregard for the chain of command, two current senior officials told POLITICO in recent days." (Politico)
--- President Trump has told allies he would like Gallagher and two other service members he pardoned of war crime charges to campaign with him at 2020 rallies or even appear at the Republican National Convention last year, the Daily Beast reported.
Dead head in New Hampshire, new poll finds: "A new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters shows a tight, four-way contest, with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on top but statistically tied with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and former vice president Joe Biden."
"It has been decades since this many candidates have jostled for the lead so soon before a New Hampshire presidential primary. "
. . . "The survey found Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary in 2016, leading the field with 16 percent [a 1-point decrease from August]. . . Warren had 14 percent [no change], Buttigieg had 13 percent [a 7-point increase], and Biden had 12 percent [a 9-point decrease]."
Recommended read: "Waiting for Obama" (Politico Magazine) A deep dive into Barack Obama's post-presidential political machinations
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--- There were two errors concerning presidential candidates' party identifications or home states in the "Today on the Trail" section of Friday's newsletter. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a Democrat of Minnesota, and former Gov. Bill Weld is a Republican of Massachusetts.
My apologies, and thanks to the readers who pointed them out!
Today at the White House
--- At 11 a.m., President Trump signs an executive order establishing a "Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives." At 12:45 p.m., he has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At 2 p.m., he pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey.
President and First Lady Trump will then travel to Florida for a campaign rally in Sunrise. The president will speak at 7:10 p.m. The Trump campaign has dubbed the event a "Homecoming Rally" for the president, who formally became a Florida resident last month.
The Trumps will spend the night at Mar-a-Lago, the president's Palm Beach resort.
--- At 12 p.m., Vice President Pence meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He then travels to Florida to join President Trump at his campaign rally in Sunrise. Pence will deliver remarks at the rally at 6:50 p.m. He will then return to Washington, D.C.
--- At 11 a.m., First Lady Melania Trump speaks at the B'More Youth Summit at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. The event, hosted by the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation, aims to educate students on the nation's opioid crisis.
Today in Congress
--- The House and Senate are both on recess today.
Today at the Supreme Court
--- The Supreme Court has no conferences or oral arguments scheduled today.
Today on the trail
--- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN) holds town halls in Denison, Storm Lake, and Sioux City, Iowa.
--- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) stops in Des Moines, Iowa, visiting the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families and her local campaign headquarters to call supporters.
--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) campaigns in Iowa, attending a coffee in Northwood, holding a house party in Forest City, participating in a Children's Policy Coalition "Caucus for Kids" event in Garner, holding an event in Clarion, and hosting a meet and greet in Hampton.
--- Former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA) campaigns in South Carolina, visiting Clinton College in Rock Hill and stopping for dinner at Kiki's Chicken and Waffles in Columbia.
--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) visits Iowa, sitting down for a meeting with the Des Moines Register editorial board and holding a community meeting in Knoxville.
*All times Eastern