Dems dig for answers on mysterious whistleblower complaint — Pelosi puts pressure on Trump over drug prices — GOP surrenders to Trump on gun control

THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR -- House Democrats are desperately searching for ways to get their hands on the mysterious whistleblower complaint that the Director of National Intelligence is withholding from Congress. The Intelligence Community’s Inspector General refused to answer questions about the complaint during a closed-door briefing on Thursday, and a public hearing with acting DNI Joseph Maguire slated for next week is unlikely to yield any better results.

So House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is threatening to sue the Trump administration or even withhold funding from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence if they don’t turn over the complaint. Schiff already issued a subpoena for the information last week. “Someone is trying to manipulate the system,” the California Democrat told reporters after the briefing. “There is no privilege that covers whether the White House is involved in trying to stifle a whistleblower complaint.” Andrew and Kyle with the story: https://politi.co/2lYHmxa.

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But Democrats may not have to wait long to learn what’s in the complaint, as new explosive details keep trickling out in the press: WaPo reported last night that the complaint centered on Trump’s communications with Ukraine. As you’ll recall, Trump spoke with Ukraine’s president in July – two weeks before the complaint was filed. Democrats are already looking into that conversation, as lawmakers are worried that the Trump administration was withholding $250 million in military aid in order to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Biden family. (The aid, however, was released just last week.) Much more from Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, Greg Miller and Carol D. Leonnig: https://wapo.st/2krelK6.

Related Reads: “Chris Cuomo and Rudy Giuliani had a 28-minute shouting match over the whistleblower complaint, and Giuliani acknowledged telling Ukraine to investigate Biden,” via Lauren Frias of Business Insider: http://bit.ly/2kKbV9O; and “House Judiciary Committee weighs holding Lewandowski in contempt,” by CNN’s Manu Raju: https://cnn.it/2mqAWHs.

TAKING THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new drug pricing plan is heading straight for Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard. The majority leader told Burgess that he would not even consider the measure, which calls for Medicare to negotiate drug prices for a minimum of 25 medicines. Pelosi unveiled the legislation Thursday and progressives are still seeking changes to the bill. “Socialist price controls will do a lot of left-wing damage to the healthcare system. And of course we’re not going to be calling up a bill like that,” McConnell said in an interview. The story: https://politi.co/2kK7b41.

But, but, but … That puts him at odds with Trump, who gave a far more positive reaction to Pelosi’s plan. “I like Sen. Grassley’s drug pricing bill very much, and it’s great to see Speaker Pelosi’s bill today." he tweeted. "Let’s get it done in a bipartisan way!” Remember: Trump, who has been scrambling for another legislative victory ahead of 2020, ran on lowering prescription drug prices and constantly berates the drug makers. So Pelosi’s plan ramps up pressure on Trump to put his money where his mouth is. The analysis from Sarah Karlin-Smith and Adam Cancryn: https://politi.co/2kmXVCq

Related: “Senate eyes e-cigarette crackdown,” from Burgess: https://politi.co/2m4tama.

GUN SHY -- Senate Republicans are refusing to take the lead on gun control, completely surrendering to Trump and outsourcing their legislative duties to the White House. And the president, meanwhile, appears to be in no hurry to make a move on the issue. But for the GOP, they have reason to be wary of getting out ahead of Trump: they’ve been burned before. “First time ever in history when the president sets the agenda every day when he tweets at 4 in the morning,” said retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Much more from Burgess: https://politi.co/2lZmOEM.

Meanwhile… Beto O’Rourke took a swipe at Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over gun control. (Guess he’s not planning on dropping out of the presidential race to run for Senate anytime soon?) “I was asked about Chuck Schumer’s criticism of my plan to buy back assault weapons. My response is: What has he been able to get done?” he tweeted. “The American people are with us on this. They’re just waiting on Congress to do the right thing."

Related: “For Trump, a Time of Indecision,” by The NYT’s Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman: https://nyti.ms/2mqx9d9.

IT’S FINALLY FRIDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this September 20, where your host is taking a poll: can you really call a picture a "selfie" if you don't take it yourself? (Looking at you, Elizabeth Warren.)

THURSDAY’S MOST CLICKED: The New York Post’s report on AOC’s primary challenger was the big winner.

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU -- Elizabeth Warren finds herself caught in the crossfire of a brewing primary battle in her home state. She already endorsed longtime Sen. Ed Markey, a leading progressive in Massachusetts, in his reelection bid. But Rep. Joe Kennedy, Warren’s former law student who hails from a political dynasty, is planning to launch a primary challenge this week. That puts Warren in an awkward position, to say the least. "I endorsed Sen. Markey back in February. I couldn't ask for a better partner in the Senate than Ed Markey,” she said. “He is a good friend. Joe Kennedy is also a good friend. I have nothing but the highest respect for him and I have no criticism.” Stephanie Murphy with the dispatch from Boston: https://politi.co/2lWvewF.

How others in the state are responding: Progressive Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who herself came to Congress by toppling a longtime Democratic incumbent, is declining to weigh in on the match up, per TIME’s Alana Abramson. But Kennedy has at least picked up one endorsement from a presidential candidate, although perhaps not the one he wanted: former Republican Gov. and 2020 hopeful Bill Weld. More from Annie Linskey of WaPo: https://wapo.st/2mqyMrh.

Related: “Ted Cruz backs 2016 N.H. chairman in Senate race that embattled Trump aide Corey Lewandowski may join,” by Todd J. Gillman of The Dallas Morning News: http://bit.ly/2krFahn; and GOP Rep. Doug Collins applies for Georgia Senate seat, per Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: https://on-ajc.com/2m4iDaE.

ISSA VIBE -- Former Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) political prospects have hinged in part on whether he’s confirmed to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. That possibility receded a bit yesterday when Issa’s hearing was delayed after Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) raised concerns about “potentially disqualifying” information in Issa's background and pushed to get more information from his FBI file.

Issa denounced Menendez for a baseless “smear” and said Menendez is referring to something on his record from when he was 17 years old. Issa deflected questions about whether he still thinks the appointment could be his next job. But he’s certainly not giving up on trying to return to the House by challenging indicted GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter: “Whether I’m confirmed or not is up to other people,” he said, “but the 50th congressional district deserves to have a choice of electable conservatives.” Marianne with more: https://politi.co/2kWmFlc.

Related: “Sen. Menendez stalls Issa nomination over fake ID flap from youth,” via Brooke Singman of Fox News: https://fxn.ws/2kTxrZB.

FARM FIGHT -- Things got heated at a recent House Agriculture Committee hearing, with members trading jabs and then taking their insults to Twitter. Members on the committee were fighting over the House’s short-term spending bill, which ended up maintaining USDA's ability to continue paying farmers for losses brought on by Trump's trade war. “The good news is the Democrats failed in their effort to use our hard-working farm and ranch families as pawns in their obsessive vendetta against the president,” said ranking member Mike Conaway (R-Texas.). Rep. Filemón Vela (D-Texas) fired back by calling Conaway a "racist Christian pretender." Liz Crampton has the latest: https://politi.co/2m0MrVI.

Related: “House approves bill to avoid shutdown — but wall fight looms,” by Sarah and Caitlin Emma: https://politi.co/2kuAoja.

R.I.P. -- Some sad news for House Majority Whip James Clyburn: his wife of 58 years passed away Thursday morning. The beautiful obit from McClatchy’s Emma Dumain: “To those unversed in South Carolina politics and civic life, she was the wife of 58 years to Democrat Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress. To everyone else, she was known, with great reverence, as Ms. Emily — a driving force behind her husband’s political rise, a civil rights demonstrator who went to jail for her activism and a fixture in the community in her own right,” Dumain writes.

“Emily England Clyburn — who died Thursday morning, at the age of 80 — was a longtime librarian who helped raise tens of thousands of dollars to help students afford college... At S.C. State, she will be remembered through the Emily England Clyburn Honors Scholarship Fund and the Dr. Emily England Clyburn Pedestrian Bridge. She helped raise three daughters who are now also fixtures of their community — a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, a career educator currently at the University of South Carolina and the political director of the state Democratic Party. And the history of “Jim Clyburn’s World-Famous Fish Fry” fundraiser will recount how she always harangued her husband onto the dance floor.” The full story: http://bit.ly/2m4y1no.

GET WELL SOON … “NY Rep. Tom Reed collapses on Capitol Hill before interview,” via Marissa Schults of New York Post: http://bit.ly/2m5so8t; and “Congressman Elijah Cummings Misses Hearing On D.C. Statehood To Undergo Medical Procedure,” from The Baltimore Sun: https://cbsloc.al/2kuC6RC.

WEEKLY WINNERS AND LOSERS -- It’s only the second week back from recess, and your Huddle host is already counting down the days until the next one. Until then… here are our picks for who came out on top and who came out on bottom:

L: The House Judiciary Committee, whose circus-like hearing with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi has been panned by Democrats. And POLITICO also reported this week that Pelosi took a swipe at Judiciary staff for aggressively pushing impeachment.

W: Gun rights advocates, who quickly mobilized against an early leaked draft of the Trump administration’s proposal to expand background checks, all but killing the effort on Capitol Hill.


TRANSITIONS

Christina Mandreucci is now press secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs. She previously was press secretary for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and is also a Marco Rubio alum.

Adam “Buck” Buckalew, a top aide for Energy and Commerce Republicans, is joining the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions as a deputy health policy director.

TODAY IN CONGRESS

The House gavels in at 9 a.m., with first and last votes expected 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. Today’s agenda: http://bit.ly/2mrItWv.

The Senate is out.

AROUND THE HILL

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) hosts a press conference on mental health and suicide prevention at 9:30 a.m. on the House Triangle.

Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.) and Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) hold a news conference on next steps to Puerto Rico's recovery to mark the second anniversary of Hurricane Maria at 12:15 p.m. on the House Triangle.

Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) Darren Soto (D-Fla.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) hold a news conference to urge the Veterans Affairs Department to "overturn its decision to evict Members of Congress from their offices inside VA facilities” at 10 a.m. in HVC Studio B.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) holds a news conference on "the state of local news” at 10:30 a.m. on the House Triangle.

TRIVIA

THURSDAY’S WINNER: Joe Bookman was the first person to guess that 10 women have given birth while serving in Congress, with the first one being Yvonne Braithwaite Burke.

TODAY’S QUESTION: Which president was taller than his opponent by the greatest height? And what was the height difference? First person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess my way: mzanona@politico.com

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