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Wake Up To Politics - October 11, 2019

I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, October 11, 2019. 25 days until Election Day 2019. 115 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 389 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at gabe@wakeuptopolitics.com.

Giuliani Ukraine associates indicted on campaign finance charges

"Federal prosecutors unsealed charges on Thursday against two men who have aided President Trump’s efforts to gather damaging information in Ukraine about his political opponents, a criminal case that signaled growing legal exposure for the president’s allies as Mr. Trump tries to blunt an impeachment inquiry in Congress."

"The indictment of the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, sketched a complex scheme to violate campaign finance laws and did not accuse Mr. Trump of wrongdoing. But it revealed new details about the push to pressure Ukraine: a campaign encouraged by Mr. Trump, led by his private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and assisted by obscure figures like Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman."

"Mr. Trump continues to defend the effort, which is the focus of the impeachment inquiry that House Democrats opened last month. The new indictment, however, suggests the first criminal implications of the shadow foreign policy that Mr. Giuliani pushed on behalf of the president." (New York Times)

--- "In an indictment unsealed Thursday, federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleged Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were engaged in political activities in the U.S. on behalf of one or more Ukrainian government officials—including a lobbying campaign, targeted at a Republican congressman [reported to be former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions], to remove the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv. President Trump ordered the ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, removed from her post in May."

"The two men were charged with four counts, including conspiracy, falsification of records and lying to the Federal Election Commission about their political donations, which included a $325,000 donation through a limited liability company to a super PAC formed to support Mr. Trump, according to the indictment. Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said Thursday the investigation was continuing." (Wall Street Journal)

--- Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport on Wednesday with one-way tickets for an international flight. The pair reportedly had lunch with Giuliani at the Trump International Hotel in Washington hours earlier.

---- The pair were known for touting their connections to President Trump, posting several photographs with Trump or members of his family as they assisted Giulaini "with his representation of President Trump," according to their lawyer, John Dowd. But the president denied having any connection to them in comments to reporters on Thursday. "I don't know those gentleman," Trump said.

More news in the impeachment inquiry...

Impeachment: The latest

--- "At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president, according to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter."

"The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood — including before the call that precipitated a whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the president." (Washington Post)

--- "The White House gave a politically appointed official the authority to keep aid to Ukraine on hold after career budget staff members questioned the legality of delaying the funds, according to people familiar with the matter, a shift that House Democrats are probing in their impeachment inquiry." (Wall Street Journal)

--- "Michael Pillsbury, an informal White House adviser on China, told the Financial Times that he secured information about the business activities of Hunter Biden during a visit to Beijing in the same week Donald Trump urged China to probe the son of Joe Biden."

"'I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese,' Mr. Pillsbury told the FT in an email exchange on Wednesday that he later denied had occurred." (Financial Times)

What's next...
--- Happening today: Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine earlier this year, is slated to testify behind closed doors today, although it is possible the State Department could block her from appearing at the House deposition. Yovanovitch, who is still employed by the department, was removed from her ambassadorial position by President Trump at Rudy Giuliani's urging.

--- Subpoena deadlines next week: House Democrats issued subpoenas to Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman Thursday, just hours after they were indicted, demanding documents related to their Ukraine work as part of the impeachment inquiry. The investigators also issued a subpoena to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, requesting his Ukraine-related communications.

Those subpoenas all have deadlines next week, along with previously-issued requests for documents from Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence, the White House, the Pentagon, and OMB.
--- Depositions next week: Fiona Hill, who served as the top National Security Council aide on Russia and Europe earlier in the Trump administration, is scheduled appear before lawmakers on Monday. According to NBC News, she "plans to tell Congress that Rudy Giuliani and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine." Sondland, meanwhile, is now expected to testify before the House on Thursday, in defiance of the State Department, which blocked him from appearing at a deposition earlier this week.

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Today at the White House

--- At 1:45 p.m., President Trump participates in a photo opportunity with the Little League Baseball World Series Championship Team and the Little League Softball World Series Championship Team. At 2:45 p.m., he meets with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, as U.S.-China trade negotiations continue.

The president will then travel to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he will hold a campaign rally at 8 p.m., ahead of the gubernatorial election in the state on Saturday. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is seeking a second term; he faces Republican Rep. Ralph Abraham and Republican businessman Eddie Rispone in an open primary tomorrow. If no candidate receives over 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff on November 16. Recent polls have shown Edwards just below the 50% mark.

Today in Congress

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

Today at the Supreme Court

--- The Supreme Court justices meet for their Friday conference today.

Today on the trail

--- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) visits Arizona today, holding an education roundtable and a town hall in Tempe and headlining the Arizona Democratic Party's Hall of Fame Dinner in Phoenix.

--- Former Vice President Joe Biden attends a fundraiser in Los Angeles, California.

--- Gov. Steve Bullock speaks at a "Politics and Eggs" event in Manchester, New Hampshire, and headlines a town hall in Medford, Massachusetts.

--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) holds town halls in Berlin and Durham, New Hampshire.

--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) participates in a roundtable discussion on domestic violence in Los Angeles, California.

--- Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) campaigns in New Hampshire, speaking at Great Bay Community College and attending the Milford Pumpkin Festival.

--- Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) meets homeless veterans in Nashua, New Hampshire.

--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson participates in a live interview in Chicago, Illinois.

--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds a meet and greet in Manchester, New Hampshire.

*All times Eastern