I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Friday, October 25, 2019. 11 days until Election Day 2019. 101 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 375 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOJ opens criminal inquiry into Russia investigation origins: "Justice Department officials have shifted an administrative review of the Russia investigation closely overseen by Attorney General William P. Barr to a criminal inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter. The move gives the prosecutor running it, John H. Durham, the power to subpoena for witness testimony and documents, to convene a grand jury and to file criminal charges." (New York Times)
Impeachment latest: "Republican Senator Lindsey Graham introduced a resolution co-sponsored by more than three dozen of his colleagues, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, condemning the House for a lack of transparency in the impeachment inquiry."
..."The measure calls on Democrats in the House to hold a formal vote to initiate an impeachment inquiry, allow the president to call witnesses in his defense and give Republicans in the House minority the ability to issue subpoenas. Graham's office said the resolution had 44 Republican co-sponsors as of Thursday afternoon." (CBS News)
--- "Republicans Fight Trump’s Impeachment by Attacking the Process" (New York Times)
--- "Democrats say whistleblower’s testimony is unnecessary as other witnesses come forward" (Washington Post)
2020 Central: "Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) announced on Thursday that he dropped out of the 2020 presidential race."
"Ryan had hoped to win back white, working class Democrats who flipped for President Trump in 2016. But in the face of an increasingly progressive party, his bid failed to gain momentum, resulting in lukewarm debate performances and flat polling numbers." Ryan will instead seek re-election to Congress in 2020. (Axios)
--- "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced in a video and email to supporters on Friday she would not seek re-election to her congressional seat and would continue running for president." (USA Today)
--- "Allies of Joe Biden are laying the groundwork for a potential super-PAC to support his presidential campaign, as the former vice president’s fundraising lags behind other Democrats, and as Republicans amass a record war chest for 2020."
"The Biden campaign suggested in a statement Thursday that the Democratic candidate would no longer oppose having donors provide unlimited amounts of money to a super-PAC designed to support him."
..."Biden had rejected earlier efforts by his supporters to launch a super-PAC. But his campaign has struggled to keep up with the fundraising by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg." (Bloomberg)
Syria update: "The White House is considering options for leaving about 500 U.S. troops in northeast Syria and for sending dozens of battle tanks and other equipment, officials said Thursday, the latest in an array of scenarios following President Trump’s decision this month to remove all troops there."
The Trump administration: "A federal judge held Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court on Thursday and sanctioned the Education Department with a $100,000 fine after it said DeVos refused to comply with a court mandate to cease collection of loans from students who were defrauded by now-defunct Corinthian Colleges." (Fox News)
--- "The National Archives and Records Administration has launched an investigation into Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ use of private email for official business, according to a letter made public this week." (Politico)
--- "Trump’s heralded whistleblower office at VA is failing in its most basic mission, watchdog says" (Washington Post)
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Today at the White House
--- President Trump travels to Columbia, South Carolina, today. At 2:15 p.m., he delivers remarks at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum, a criminal justice-focused event which many Democratic presidential contenders will also address this weekend, at Benedict College. Trump will then travel to Camp David, where he will spend the weekend.
--- At 11 a.m., Vice President Pence participates in the ceremonial swearing-in of Stephen Akard as Director of the Office of Foreign Missions at the State Department.
Today in Congress
--- Neither the House nor the Senate is in session today, as many lawmakers attend the funeral of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who passed away last week. Speakers will include former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Today at the Supreme Court
--- The Supreme Court has no oral arguments or conferences scheduled today.
Today on the trail
--- Three candidates will address the Manchester Democrats "Countdown to Victory" Dinner in Manchester, New Hampshire: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).
--- Two candidates will attend Elijah Cummings' funeral in Baltimore, Maryland: former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
--- While in New Hampshire, Bennet also participates in a "Politics and Eggs" event in Goffstown and attending the Stonyfield Organics Presidential Candidate Forum on Climate and Agriculture in Londonderry.
--- Buttigieg also holds a town hall in Durham, New Hampshire.
--- Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro delivers the keynote address at the Iowa Safe Schools Queer College Conference in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
--- Former Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) attends a "Pints & Politics" event in Charleston, South Carolina.
--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar also holds a town hall in Nashua, New Hampshire.
--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) speaks at a high school in Des Moines, Iowa.
--- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continues his "End Corporate Greed" tour through Iowa, holding a press conference in Newtown, a town hall in Toledo, and a rally in Iowa City. The rally will feature Linn County Board of Supervisors chairman Stacey Walker, whose sought-after endorsement Sanders is receiving.
--- Spiritual author Marianne Williamson continues her "Spirit of America" tour with a stop in New Haven, Connecticut, where she hosts a meet and greet and speaks at Yale University.
--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds a town hall in Las Vegas, Nevada.
*All times Eastern