I'm Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP World HQ in my bedroom. It’s Thursday, October 3, 2019. 33 days until Election Day 2019. 123 days until the 2020 Iowa caucuses. 397 days until Election Day 2020. Have comments, questions, suggestions, or tips? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Democrats threaten subpoenas as Trump erupts at investigators, media
As House Democrats threatened his administration with additional subpoenas as part of their impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump's anger towards his political rivals and members of the media was on full public display Wednesday.
Trump's day of fulminations began with a pair of tweets labeling the House impeachment probe as "BULLSHIT" and its top inquisitor, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), as a "lowlife."
Then, as the president of Finland sat by his side in the Oval Office, Trump continued to rage against the California Democrat, calling on "shifty Schiff" to "resign in disgrace" and declaring that the congressman "couldn't carry" Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's "blank strap," a reference to "jock strap."
Later, at a joint press conference with the Finnish leader, Trump seized on a report from The New York Times revealing that Schiff learned about the outlines of the intelligence community whistleblower's concerns before the CIA officer formally filed a complaint. The president alleged that Schiff "probably helped write" the whistleblower complaint, although The Times merely reported that the CIA officer approached one of Schiff's aides with his concerns, but the aide advised him to find a lawyer and file a formal complaint with the intelligence community inspector general, following committee procedures.
Contrary to Trump's claims, Schiff was aware of the broad outline of what the whistleblower would later describe in his complaint — which alleged that President Trump pushed the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden in a July phone call and that the White House attempted to cover up records of the call — but he never met with the CIA officer or knew his identity, according to The Times.
The whistleblower-to-be approached an Intelligence Committee staff member after first taking his concerns to CIA general counsel Courtney Simmons Elwood, but he became nervous after learning that Elwood had contacted a member of the White House counsel's office as part of her preliminary inquiry.
Trump responds to questions from reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
At the joint press conference, Trump also lashed out at reporters, after once again calling them "the enemy of the people" at the earlier Oval Office photo-op. In one noteworthy exchange, Trump snapped at Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason when the journalist pressed Trump to answer his question about what he had wanted the Ukrainian president "to do with regard to Joe and Hunter Biden," the former vice president's son who did business in Ukraine.
"Are you talking to me?" the president replied, instructing Mason to instead ask the Finnish president a question. "Ask this gentleman a question," Trump said. "Don’t be rude."
Trump declined to answer Mason's central question about his conversation with the Ukrainian president, even as he insisted that it was a "perfect" call and described the controversy surrounding it as a "hoax."
The president's rage on Wednesday was perhaps sparked by a memorandum from the trio of House Democratic chairman leading the impeachment inquiry into him, in which the investigators signaled plans to issue a subpoena on Friday compelling the White House to hand over documents relating to the Trump's contacts with Ukraine.
"We're not fooling around here," Schiff declared at a joint press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), once again stating that any attempts by the White House to "undermine our ability to find the facts around the president’s effort to coerce a foreign leader to create dirt that he can use against a political opponent" would only "be strengthening the case on obstruction."
Trump's repeated broadsides on Wednesday exemplified a quagmire that is increasingly "making many Republicans anxious," according to The New York Times: the president seems to be the "only empowered communicator" in the White House, shunting aside his press secretary and other aides and instead operating as "a one-man war room responding to developments almost hour by hour."
As Trump finds himself enveloped in the most serious threat to his presidency yet, "the White House has no organized response to impeachment, little guidance for surrogates to spread a consistent message even if it had developed one, and minimal coordination between the president’s legal advisers and his political ones," The Times reported.
"What’s left is Mr. Trump acting alone," the Times article continued, "and poised to live-tweet his own impeachment."
More impeachment news:
--- The State Department inspector general briefed Congress on Wednesday about a packet of documents sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo which contained misinformation about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, Hunter Biden, and other figures connected to the impeachment probe. Sources described the briefing to Politico as "bizarre and confusing," despite the IG's insistence Tuesday that it was "urgent." Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney, later confirmed to CNN that some of the documents in the packet originated with him. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the lone lawmaker who attended the staff-level briefing, told reporters that the IG shared "essentially a packet of propaganda and disinformation spreading conspiracy theories."
--- Three revealing Washington Post stories to read: "Trump involved Pence in efforts to pressure Ukraine’s leader, though officials say vice president was unaware of allegations in whistleblower complaint" (WaPo)... "Giuliani consulted on Ukraine with imprisoned Paul Manafort via a lawyer" (WaPo)... "Odd markings, ellipses fuel doubts about the ‘rough transcript’ of Trump’s Ukraine call" (WaPo)
--- Happening today: Kurt Volker, who resigned as the Trump administration's special envoy to Ukraine last week, will be deposed behind closed doors by the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs Committees.
2020 Central: "Bernie Sanders’ campaign said Wednesday that the Democratic presidential candidate had a heart procedure for a blocked artery and was canceling events and appearances 'until further notice.'"
"The 78-year-old Vermont senator experienced chest discomfort during a campaign event Tuesday and sought medical evaluation. Two stents were 'successfully inserted,' and Sanders 'is conversing and in good spirits,' according to the campaign. He’s recovering at a Las Vegas hospital." (The Associated Press)
--- "Andrew Yang Raises $10 Million, in a Display of Fundraising Strength" (The Wall Street Journal)
--- "With Warren gaining, Biden builds a Super Tuesday fortress" (Politico)
Trump administration to collect DNA samples from immigrants: "The Trump administration is moving to collect DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of people booked into federal immigration custody each year and to enter the results into a national criminal database, an immense expansion of the use of technology to enforce the nation’s immigration laws." (The New York Times)
DOJ joins Trump tax lawsuit: "Officials from the US Department of Justice and Manhattan US attorney's office asked a federal judge Wednesday to temporarily block a subpoena by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office for eight years of President Donald Trump's tax returns to allow time for 'appropriate briefing of the weighty constitutional issues involved.'"
..."The Department of Justice hadn't participated in the lawsuit prior to Wednesday's filing. Trump sued the Manhattan District Attorney's Office after it sent his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, a grand jury subpoena seeking tax returns and related documents going back to 2011." (CNN)
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Today at the White House
--- President Trump travels to The Villages, Florida, today. At 1:10 p.m., he delivers remarks and signs an "Executive Order Protecting and Improving Medicare for our Nation's Seniors." At 2:25 p.m., he participates in a photo opportunity with supporters. He will then return to Washington, D.C.
--- Vice President Pence is in Arizona today. At 10:45 a.m., he participates in a Southwest Hispanic Leaders roundtable discussion in Phoenix in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month. At 2:30 p.m., he delivers remarks on the United-States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in Tucson. He will then return to Washington, D.C.
--- First Lady Melania Trump visits national parks and landmarks in Wyoming today as part of her "Be Best" initiative focused on young people.
Today in Congress
The House and Senate are on recess through October 15.
Today at the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court's October sitting begins next week.
Today on the trail
--- Former Vice President Joe Biden attends fundraisers in Palo Alto and San Francisco, California.
--- Mayor Pete Buttigieg participates in the opening of a Pete for America field office in South Bend, Indiana, his hometown.
--- Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) visits New Hampshire, holding a house party in Bow and town halls at Franklin Pierce University in Ringe and Keene State College in Keene.
--- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) joins a strike with United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2162 in Reno, Nevada, and holds a "Dude Gotta Go" town hall at the University of Nevada, Reno.
--- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) campaigns in Iowa, touring the TradeWorks Academy at Abraham Lincoln High School in Council Bluffs, holding a meet and greets in Greenfield and Des Moines, and attending a house party in West Des Moines.
--- Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) visits Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
--- Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) continues his swing through New Hampshire, headlining town meetings organized by local Democrats in Epsom and Milford and addressing veterans at the Pelham VFW post.
--- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) hosts a town hall in San Diego, California.
--- Entrepreneur Andrew Yang holds a "canvass launch" in Las Vegas, Nevada.
*All times Eastern