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Wake Up To Politics - October 10, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, October 10, 2019. 26 days until Election Day 2019. 116 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 390 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Impeachment: The latest

--- Breaking: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two foreign-born businessmen who assisted Rudy Giuliani's efforts to persuade the Ukrainian government to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, "arrested late Wednesday on criminal charges of violating campaign finance rules and are expected to appear in court on Thursday," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The exact nature of the charges couldn't immediately be determined," according to the newspaper. Both men have donated thousands of dollars to Trump's presidential campaign and to a pro-Trump super PAC.

--- Coming soon: House Democrats plan to issue "additional subpoenas for witness testimony and records" related to the Trump administration's dealings with Ukraine as soon as today, according to the New York Times, determined to push ahead with the inquiry despite White House counsel Pat Cipollone's declaration on Tuesday that the administration would not cooperate with the probe.

Per CNN, the "flurry of subpoenas" coming down the pike are expected to target Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, and associates of Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney. Yovanovitch is scheduled to be interviewed in a deposition on Friday, but it is unclear if she will appear since she is still employed by the State Department, which has so far refused to make its personnel available for the investigation.

The network also reported that Fiona Hill, who served as senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council until August, will be interviewed behind closed doors on Monday.

--- New fodder for Democratic investigators: Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that President Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017 "to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani." According to the report, "other participants in the Oval Office [meeting] were shocked by the request," which Tillerson refused.

--- New impeachment polling: "Just over half of voters want President Trump impeached and removed from office, according to a Fox News Poll released Wednesday."

"A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment. " (Fox News)

--- 2020 implications: Former Vice President Joe Biden made his strongest call yet for Trump's impeachment at a campaign event Wednesday. "Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts," Biden said, adding later, "He should be impeached." Biden and his family are at the center of the impeachment inquiry into the president, which was launched after a CIA whistleblower revealed that Trump urged the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden in a July phone call.

The Biden campaign's response to the inquiry has received criticism in Democratic circles, underlining worries about potential vulnerabilities the former VP could carry in a general election.

--- Big picture: "Trump’s broad claims of executive immunity lead to criticism he is acting above the law" (Washington Post)... "Trump’s Sweeping Case Against Impeachment Is a Political Strategy" (New York Times)

Trump tests GOP support with Syria decision

Turkey launched an offensive against the U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria on Wednesday, just days after President Trump withdrew troops from the region and announced that the U.S. would not stand in Turkey's way. At least 16 Kurdish fighters have already been killed, according to one independent monitoring group.

Trump's decision and its implications sparked loud criticism from many Republican lawmakers, whose support he needs now more than ever as Democrats accelerate their impeachment inquiry. More, from the Washington Post:

"President Trump’s decision to suddenly withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria has angered evangelical Christian leaders and Republican hawks, cleaving his political coalition at the very moment he is trying to fortify his standing to survive the intensifying impeachment inquiry in Congress."

"Instead of enjoying uncontested GOP support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown with House Democrats and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his party."
"The president simultaneously has been laboring to silence dissent over his conduct in pressing Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival and over his Syria decision — a move critics blame for Wednesday’s Turkish offensive."

"The past few days have tested the bounds of Trump’s Republican support at an unusually frenzied political crossroads that has brought uncertainty for elected officials. While GOP lawmakers have been skittish about directly engaging the subject at the heart of the impeachment debate — the president’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart — many have felt free to loudly condemn Trump’s Syria decision, underscoring the fluidity within GOP ranks."

"Consider Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most loyal defenders, whose Twitter feed has neatly illustrated this dynamic this week. In the span of 15 hours, he parroted Trump’s points by accusing House Democrats of 'destroying' the Constitution with their impeachment proceedings and condemned the Trump administration for having 'shamelessly abandoned' Kurdish allies. 'This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS,' Graham added." (WaPo)

--- Related: "Trump warns GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell about disloyal Republicans" (CNN)

--- Congressional response: Graham announced on Wednesday that he had reached an agreement with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on a bipartisan sanctions package against Turkey, which is expected to pass both chambers of Congress in the coming weeks.

--- Implications of Trump's decision: "Intel officials say ISIS could regroup after U.S. 'betrayal' of Kurds in Syria" (NBC News)

--- On-the-ground perspective: Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin tweeted about a phone conversation she had with a U.S. Special Forces soldier in Syria who has been serving alongside the Kurdish forces and is now being ordered to desert them. "I am ashamed for the first time in my career," he told Griffin.

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Today at the White House

--- At 11:45 a.m., President Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing. At 4:30 p.m., he departs Washington, D.C., en route to Minneapolis, Minnesota. At 8 p.m., he delivers remarks at a campaign rally in Minneapolis. At 10:05 p.m., he departs Minneapolis en route to Washington, D.C. At 12:35 a.m., he arrives back at the White House.

More: "Trump Is Serious About Carrying Minnesota, the One That Got Away in 2016" (New York Times)

--- At 2 p.m., Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence depart Washington, DC., en route to Minneapolis, Minnesota. At 5:15 p.m., they visit Safety Signs, LLC, a family-owned business that specializes in traffic control equipment and services. At 7 p.m., the vice president participates in a meet and greet with the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis. At 7:50 p.m., he delivers remarks at Trump's campaign rally in Minnesota.

Today in Congress

--- The House and Senate are on recess through October 15.

Today at the Supreme Court

--- The justices of the Supreme Court will not meet for oral arguments or a conference today.

Today on the trail

--- Nine Democratic presidential candidates will participate in a CNN town hall on LGBTQ issues today. The four-hour event, which will take place in Los Angeles and is being co-hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, coincides with the 31st annual National Coming Out Day, which is tomorrow. Here is the schedule of candidates: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (7:30 p.m.), former Vice President Joe Biden (8 p.m.), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (8:30 p.m.), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (9 p.m.), California Sen. Kamala Harris (9:30 p.m.), former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (10 p.m.), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (10:30 p.m.), former HUD Secretary Julián Castro (11 p.m.), and businessman Tom Steyer (11:30 p.m.).

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was also scheduled to participate but has canceled all campaign events after suffering a heart attack last week.

--- Three Democratic presidential candidates will address the Coös County Democratic Party's Truman Dinner in Whitefield, New Hampshire, today: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

--- Biden also attends two fundraisers in Los Angeles.

--- Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) attends a town hall hosted by New Hampshire Open Democracy in Manchester, New Hampshire.

--- Gabbard also holds a town hall in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

--- Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, campaigns in New Hampshire. He will participate in a "Candidate Cafe" event in Manchester, go on a walking tour of Hanover, and attend a local GOP meeting in Salem.

--- Sestak also attends a town meeting organized by local Democrats in Andover.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Willaimson joins a watch party for the CNN LGBTQ town hall in Chicago, Illinois.

*All times Eastern