AND PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP REACTS …
— L.A. TIMES’ ELI STOKOLS: “Trump at private breakfast: ‘Who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s almost a spy’”: “President Trump expressed disgust Thursday morning with the explosive whistleblower complaint, slamming the intelligence officer and those White House aides who helped him or her as ‘almost a spy’ and suggested it was treason.
“Speaking at a private breakfast in New York, Trump described reporters as ‘scum’ and raged at the Democrats’ new impeachment proceedings, which were spurred by the whistle blower’s complaint alleging that Trump tried to strong arm Ukraine’s leader to interfere in the 2020 election. …
“‘I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information? Because that’s close to a spy,’ he continued. ‘You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.’” LAT
— NYT’S MAGGIE HABERMAN: “The remark stunned people in the audience, according to a person briefed on what took place, who had notes of what the president said. Mr. Trump made the statement about several minutes into his remarks before the group of about 50 people at the event intended to honor the United States Mission. At the outset, he condemned the former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s role in Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.” NYT
TRUMP, speaking to reporters after getting off Air Force One: “What these guys, Democrats, are doing to this country is a disgrace and it shouldn’t be allowed. There should be a way of stopping it, maybe legally through the courts, but they’re going to tie up our country.
“We can’t talk about gun regulation, we can’t talk about anything because, frankly, they are so tied up, they’re so screwed up, nothing gets done except when I do it. I’m using Mexico to protect our border, because the Democrats won’t change loopholes in asylum.”
— THERE WAS A WAY OF STOPPING IT: Trump would have none of these problems if Republicans kept the House. Instead, they lost it, and he told us that he thought he would be able to get more done with Democrats. He seems to have miscalculated.
EVERYONE IS GOING TO HAVE their own partisan view of whether TRUMP should or should not be impeached. But Democrats are, in fact, seeking to impeach him, so it’s important to view the whistleblower complaint — and the letter from Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, which was also released today — in that light. And, without a doubt, the report and the IG’s letter provide ammo for Democrats.
— WHY DEMOCRATS BELIEVE IT’S BAD FOR TRUMP: The report alleges that transcripts of some foreign calls that TRUMP made were moved into a secret storage system so people couldn’t see them. The IG report clearly states that the president asked the Ukrainians for help in his reelection campaign. The report implicates RUDY GIULIANI and A.G. BILL BARR.
— WHAT REPUBLICANS ARE DOING TO TRY TO DISCREDIT THE WHISTLEBLOWER: They’re calling it hearsay and a collection of second- and third-hand accounts. And they’re saying the whistleblower is a partisan. The IG letter … The whistleblower complaint
ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE JOSEPH MAGUIRE was on the Hill this morning, testifying before the House Intel Committee.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FROM THE HEARING …
— SIREN … Rep. JIM HIMES (D-Conn.) got MAGUIRE to dodge questions about whether he spoke to TRUMP about this whistleblower complaint: “My conversations with the president — because I am the director of national intelligence — are privileged.”
— Rep. MIKE TURNER (R-Ohio) on the TRUMP conversation with the Ukrainian president: “That conversation is not OK.”
— MAGUIRE to Rep. DENNY HECK (D-Wash.): “It is unwarranted, it is unwelcome, it is bad for the nation to have outside interference” in an election.
— House Intelligence Chairman ADAM SCHIFF (D-Calif.) focused on whether MAGUIRE went to the White House before DOJ to seek guidance on how to deal with the whistleblower complaint. Note: Schiff started the hearing with an imagined conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president. Republicans continually brought this up, saying he was trying to mislead people.
— Rep. DEVIN NUNES (R-Calif.) focused on leaks — how the media got hold of the complaint, and who leaked it.
— MAGUIRE told the committee he never threatened to resign, contradicting a Washington Post story saying he did.
— Rep. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-Ill.) asked MAGUIRE about GIULIANI. MAGUIRE said all he knows about his role comes from TV and media.
— MAGUIRE told Rep. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-Texas) that the rough phone call transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky, released Wednesday, was “in line” with the whistleblower report.
THE POLITICO LEDEALL, from Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney
THE BIGGEST REVELATION … KYLE CHENEY: “Whistleblower says White House officials tried to ‘lock down’ details of Trump’s Ukraine call”
Good Thursday afternoon. JAKE and ANNA will be in Austin this weekend at the Texas Tribune Festival for a Playbook Exchange. We’ll be talking with House Freedom Caucus Founding Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. Central time.
RON JOHN ALERT! … BURGESS EVERETT: “Ron Johnson troubled by whistleblower allegation of records ‘lock down’”: “In an interview, the Wisconsin Republican, pointed to a reporter’s copy of the whistleblower report, singling out page three, which alleged that White House officials treated records of the Zelensky call differently than other calls.
“According to the whistleblower complaint, White House officials ‘had intervened to lock down all records of the phone call’ and were directed to move electronic transcripts to a more secure electronic system. ‘I would not be happy. We’ll find out exactly what transpired here. To me, of all this stuff, that’s the part that concerns me,’ Johnson said. ‘I’ve been around the president enough [the call summary] is just classic Trump.’ ‘I was led to believe [that summary] was all that’s available,’ Johnson added. ‘I would be a little upset to find out there’s a completely verbatim one.’” POLITICO
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI at her weekly news conference said the White House’s reported efforts to “lock down” records of the call amounts to a “cover-up.” She added: “Whatever other explanation there might be, an explanation is also that it is a cover-up.”
“How the president thinks this is exculpatory — maybe he doesn’t know that word — that the president thinks this proves his innocence,” Pelosi said of Trump’s decision to release a summary of the call, “only goes to further show how further he doesn’t understand right from wrong.” Later: “We are at a different level of lawlessness that is self-evident to the American people.”
MEANWHILE … ON TO CINCINNATI: “In case anyone is interested, we’re moving ahead on USMCA,” Pelosi said, unprompted. “We hope to be on a continued path to ‘yes.’” Full news conference
SPOTTED: CBS’ Scott Pelley at Pelosi’s news conference. … Dr. Drew and Phillip Stutts entering the White House together this morning. … Patrick Dempsey having breakfast at Le Bon Café this morning.
THE PRESIDENT’S LATEST IMPEACHMENT THOUGHTS — @realDonaldTrump at 7:14 a.m.: “If they actually did this the markets would crash. Do you think it was luck that got us to the best Stock Market and Economy in our history. It wasn’t!”
… at 8:41 a.m.: “THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ALL THAT IT STANDS FOR. STICK TOGETHER, PLAY THEIR GAME, AND FIGHT HARD REPUBLICANS. OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!”
… at 12:43 p.m.: “A whistleblower with second hand information? Another Fake News Story! See what was said on the very nice, no pressure, call. Another Witch Hunt!”
THE FALLOUT — “All the president’s loyalists: Impeachment net snares Trump’s top advisers,” by Darren Samuelsohn: “They all face a long road ahead with the prospect of hefty legal bills, reputational scars and damaged political prospects hanging over them for years.” With a breakdown of ramifications for Mike Pence, Barr, Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney and Giuliani: POLITICO
— DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK … CNN’S DANA BASH, KAITLAN COLLINS, VICKY WARD and KEVIN LIPTAK: “Lewandowski may lead White House impeachment team”: “Corey Lewandowski, the political operative who helped elect Donald Trump, has had conversations with White House officials in recent days about potentially taking a position inside the administration to help the President confront a looming impeachment fight. …
“The list of potential players on the team includes David Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager who angered the President earlier this year by soliciting funds using Trump’s name. Bossie served as the chief investigator of the House Oversight Committee in 1997, helping scrutinize [Bill] Clinton.” CNN
— WAPO’S JONATHAN O’CONNELL and DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: “Trump’s other Ukraine problem: New concern about his business”: “Buried in the controversy over President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was an effort by the Ukrainian leader at currying favor with Trump through his business. ‘Actually, last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park, and I stayed at the Trump Tower,’ Zelensky told Trump, according to a rough transcript of the July 25 call …
“Zelensky’s comments mark the first known example of an interaction Democrats and government ethics experts warned about when Trump took office: that foreign leaders would try to influence Trump by spending money at his properties and telling him about it.” WaPo
MBS SPEAKS — “Saudi Prince Accepts Responsibility for Khashoggi Killing, but Denies Involvement,” by NYT’s Ben Hubbard in Beirut, Lebanon: “The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, said he bears ‘all the responsibility’ for the killing of a dissident writer by Saudi agents in Istanbul last year, but denied he had prior knowledge of the plot …
“‘It happened under my watch,’ Prince Mohammed told Martin Smith, a reporter for the PBS program Frontline, according to a trailer released on Tuesday for a documentary to be aired on Oct. 1. ‘I get all the responsibility. Because it happened under my watch.’” NYT … The trailer
SENATE SNAG — “Senate Judiciary shelves vote on Trump judicial pick after conservative opposition,” by Burgess Everett: “The committee postponed its vote on Halil Suleyman ‘Sul’ Ozerden to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals shortly after Sen Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) informed Republicans he was opposed. Hawley joined Sen. Ted Cruz in opposition. Hawley began informing colleagues of his decision on Thursday morning …
“Ozerden is a friend of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and has been strongly supported by both Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.). But conservatives have been skeptical of his credentials, specifically his ruling in favor of dismissing a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, which he deemed premature.” POLITICO
THERE’S STILL LEGISLATING HAPPENING! — “Marijuana expected to get traction in Senate — as a banking bill,” by Natalie Fertig and Zach Warmbrodt: “The Senate is poised to take up legislation to boost the nation’s booming cannabis industry, with its backers feeling bullish and selling it as a bill that is more about banking than marijuana.
“Their confidence follows action in the House on Wednesday, where Democrats and Republicans joined forces to pass an historic bill that would give legalized marijuana businesses access to banking services. … The strongest indicator has come from the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), who after months of weighing the issue said he wants to advance the legislation.” POLITICO
TRUMP VS. CALIFORNIA — “EPA tells California it is ‘failing to meet its obligations’ to protect the environment,” by WaPo’s Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Josh Dawsey: “Trump officials will notify California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday that the state is ‘failing to meet its obligations’ to protect the environment, just days after the president mocked its biggest cities for their ‘tremendous pollution.’
“The unusual move by the Environmental Protection Agency ratchets up the Trump administration’s ongoing battle against the nation’s largest state … In an oversight letter, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler cites multiple instances of California failing to meet federal water-quality standards, attributing this in part to the state’s homelessness problem.” WaPo … The letter
2020 WATCH … LOOK WHO’S BACK! — “Tom Price joins the hunt for Georgia’s Senate seat,” by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein and Tamar Hallerman: “Former Health Secretary Tom Price entered the sweepstakes to be Georgia’s next U.S. Senator by submitting his resume with Gov. Brian Kemp’s office for the soon-to-be-vacated seat held by Johnny Isakson. …
“That strained relationship between Price and Trump looms large, particularly since the president is close with other potential contenders – most notably [Rep. Doug] Collins.” AJC
VALLEY TALK — “‘Ready to kick it into fifth gear’: Democratic regulators lay out a nightmare future for tech,” by Nancy Scola: “Tech companies think Washington is hard on them now, but they may face even worse the next time a Democrat takes the White House. To see why, just read the blueprints laid out by the two Democrats on the Federal Trade Commission.
“In a pair of unusually blunt dissents in recent cases involving Facebook and Google, Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter argued for much tougher financial penalties for companies that break their promises and abuse their users’ privacy. They also urged the commission to demand fundamental changes to the companies’ advertising-driven business model and hold CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg personally liable for violations … [T]he dissents lay the groundwork for a profound shift in how the commission approaches the giants of the tech industry, should it eventually go back to Democratic control.” POLITICO
IN MEMORIAM — “Ex-French President Chirac, who stood up to U.S., dies at 86,” by AP’s Elaine Ganley in Paris: “Jacques Chirac, a two-term French president who was the first leader to acknowledge France’s role in the Holocaust and defiantly opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, died Thursday at age 86.
“Chirac was long the standard-bearer of France’s conservative right, and mayor of Paris for nearly two decades. … As president from 1995-2007 he was a consummate global diplomat but failed to reform the economy or defuse tensions between police and minority youths that exploded into riots across France in 2005. Yet Chirac showed courage and statesmanship during his presidency.” AP
SPOTTED at a screening of the new TV series “Unbelievable” and panel discussion about the Debbie Smith Act at the Hart Senate Office Building on Wednesday night: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.) and Max Rose (D-N.Y.), Kaitlyn Dever, Susannah Grant, Sarah Timberman, Nancy Oglesby and Mike Milnor.
SPOTTED at “Atlantic After Hours,” following the second day of the Atlantic Festival, on Wednesday night at Dirty Habit at Hotel Monaco: Jeffrey Goldberg, Mitch Landrieu, Emily Landrieu, Meridith McGraw, Jemele Hill, Jamil Smith, Justin Tinsley, Adrienne LaFrance, Peter Lattman, Hogan Gidley, Hayley Romer, Aretae Wyler, Michael Finnegan, Katelynne Cox, Margaret Low, Elaina Plott, Nikki Schwab, John Tass-Parker, Sena Fitzmaurice, Michael Cole, Chris Kelley, Walt Cronkite, Indira Lakshmanan and Ramesh Srinivasan.
SPOTTED at a National Clean Energy Week VIP reception and banquet at the Mayflower Hotel on Wednesday night: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Kelly Ayotte, Michael Dubke, James Dozier, Heather Reams, Brian Sailer, Charles Hernick, Matt Wise, Liz Johnson, Dave Banks, Brian Jones, Lisa Jacobson, Bree Raum, Emily Duncan and Jeremy Harrell.
TRANSITIONS — Jared Smith is now a principal at Precision Strategies. He most recently was communications director at the DCCC and previously was deputy COS to Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.). … Gregory Wendt has been appointed to the White House Historical Association board of directors. He is a longtime partner at Capital Group.
BONUS BIRTHDAYS: Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (hat tip: Ninio Fetalvo) … Ian DeValliere, executive assistant to the W.H. Domestic Policy Council director
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine