Thursday, September 26, 2019

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Scheduled for Thursday:

*At 9am acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testifies publicly in front of the House Intelligence Committee.

*Maguire and Michael Atkinson, the U.S. government’s intelligence inspector general, speak in closed session to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

*The president has no public events scheduled, but he could gab to the press pool as he moves around Gotham City for a meeting with U.S. U.N. staffers and for a fundraiser — or on the way back from New York to DC.

*Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy hold their regular Thursday press availabilities.

Could happen Thursday:

*The whistleblower report is released publicly.

*The date for the whistleblower’s public testimony is announced.


In this fast-moving story, developments happen quickly, but the implications of those developments come into focus more slowly.

Fact: Impeachment is more likely today than it was yesterday.

Fact: The central question today is the same as it was yesterday – will the whistleblower’s story and presentation skills be more or less powerful than Team Trump’s efforts to paint him (it seems to be a him) as a partisan, anti-Trump member of the Deep State.

Fact: This nugget about the whistleblower is going to get more attention today than it did yesterday: “The complaint also alleges a pattern of obfuscation at the White House, in which officials moved the records of some of Trump’s communications with foreign officials onto a separate computer network from where they are normally stored.”

Fact: So will this nugget: “The whistle-blower identified multiple White House officials as witnesses to potential presidential misconduct who could corroborate the complaint.”

Fact: So will this one: “The second concern Mr. Atkinson identified, according to the Justice Department memo, was that Mr. Trump’s potential misconduct might expose him ‘to serious national security and counterintelligence risks.’”

Fact: Democrats are slightly more united about the political implications of impeachment today than they were yesterday.

Fact: House Democrats are less divided today than they were yesterday on whether to focus their impeachment efforts just on Ukraine or to expand them to other areas – with a significant move towards the only-Ukraine approach.

Fact: Adam Schiff is more the face of the Democratic investigation today (at the expense of Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler) than he was yesterday – to the liking of the media and the Speaker, and to the annoyance of the president.

Fact: The exact timing of the move towards impeachment is no more clear today than it was yesterday – but Team Pelosi believes faster is better.

Fact:Neal Katyal‘s New York Times op ed makes today’s strongest case for impeachment and against the actions of the Justice Department.

Fact: From different perspectives about Donald Trump’s presidency, Bret Stephens and Karl Rove argue that Speaker Pelosi might well be making a major political error that helps Trump in 2020.

Fact: Members of Team Trump are no longer as confident today that impeachment would be good for the boss’s reelection chances as they were yesterday. (The Wall Street Journal on reactions to the account of the July phone call: “’Pretty damning,’ said one Republican close to the White House. ‘Not great,’ another Trump political adviser said.”)

Fact: The president himself is more concerned about the wildfire today than he was yesterday.

Fact: Leaking out of the Trump White House is (even) more rampant today than it was yesterday – including this beauty from the Washington Post: “Morale inside the White House is low, current and former officials said. There is a growing sense that this new controversy will echo the Mueller probe, consuming all of the White House’s bandwidth for the coming months and dashing hopes of pushing through even Trump’s modest legislative agenda.  With the president already acting as his own adviser, it was difficult to attract new talent to join the White House, several current and former senior administration officials said. And now, there is concern that some staffers may leave, eager to avoid the morass of impeachment proceedings.”

Fact: The roles of Vice President Pence, Attorney General Barr, Secretary of State Pompeo, and presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani are all under more scrutiny today than they were yesterday.

Fact: More Republican Senators today are on the record expressing concern about what the president did than were yesterday – Romney joined by Sasse, Roberts, Portman, and a few others.

Fact: Whether Senate Republicans would possibly vote to remove Trump from office is equally likely today as it was yesterday.

Fact: What Mitch McConnell really thinks of all this is no more clear today than it was yesterday. (Politico)

Fact: More members of the Gang of 500 today believe Elizabeth Warren is the political winner of this galloping swirl than believed that yesterday.

Fact: Democratic presidential candidates will have a harder time today than they did yesterday getting media attention on any topic besides impeachment.

Opinion: Trade honcho Bob Lighthizer claims to be just as certain now that the new North American trade deal will pass as he was before the launch of the impeachment probe.  His boss, Donald Trump, seems to disagree.

Top sports story: Saban, Parcells … car sales? Inside Freddie Kitchens’ road map to Cleveland

Top business story: UAW and GM close in on tentative deal to end strike

Top entertainment story: Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige Will Develop A ‘Star Wars’ Movie

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