SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI has led a fairly unified Democratic charge toward impeachment. She’s said consistently that Democrats don’t need a formal vote to move forward, but a few cracks have started to show. Rep. JOHN GARAMENDI, a Democrat who represents a district in Northern California, was on CNN this morning and said Democrats should hold a formal impeachment inquiry vote, as Republicans have been demanding. He predicted that’s what would eventually happen.
-- BETO O’ROURKE told NBC’S HALLIE JACKSON that he supports a vote as well. “I would love to remove that as a talking point or a reason for the kind of obstruction you’re seeing from the president,” he said.
OF COURSE, this is just a few Democrats. And Rep. RO KHANNA (D-Calif.) also told Jackson this morning that he didn't think a vote would work because the White House will stonewall. So, it’s hard to get a real sense if the process argument that both House Minority Leader KEVIN MCCARTHY and the WHITE HOUSE have been making is penetrating Democratic lawmakers’ thinking, since they are scattered across the country and haven’t had a chance to discuss the issue in person.
A FINAL DECISION will be made by Pelosi, who hasn’t ruled it out. But Pelosi advisers continue to argue that it’s unnecessary. They also point out that it was months before the House engaged in a similar vote during the Nixon impeachment process. And, even if Pelosi does move to vote on a formal impeachment inquiry, it’s unclear if the White House would participate. On a conference call Tuesday night, a senior administration official would not commit to cooperating with Democrats.
SYRIA FALLOUT -- “Turkey Begins Syria Attack, Targeting Militia Backed by U.S.,” by NYT’s Ben Hubbard in Beirut, Lebanon: “Mr. Erdogan said the operation aimed to ‘prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border,’ but provided no other information about whether Turkish ground troops had entered Syria or how far in they would go.
“A spokesman for the United States-backed militia, the Syrian Democratic Forces, said that Turkish warplanes had begun carrying out airstrikes. Civilians were reported to be fleeing the border towns of Ras al Ain and Tel Abyad, which were being pounded by airstrikes and shelling … Earlier Wednesday, the Syrian Democractic Forces had mobilized and warned of a ‘humanitarian catastrophe.’” NYT
-- REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) sends a message directly to President DONALD TRUMP on Twitter this morning: “News from Syria is sickening. Turkish troops preparing to invade Syria from the north, Russian-backed forces from the south, ISIS fighters attacking Raqqa. Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS.”
-- AND THIS … SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.): “Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration. This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS.”
THE PRESIDENT’S RESPONSE -- @realDonaldTrump at 7:36 a.m.: “Fighting between various groups that has been going on for hundreds of years. USA should never have been in Middle East. Moved our 50 soldiers out. Turkey MUST take over captured ISIS fighters that Europe refused to have returned. The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”
Good Wednesday afternoon, and a meaningful fast to those observing Yom Kippur.
VANITY FAIR Q&A: “Two Days in the Life of Nancy Pelosi, Political Grandmaster,” by Abigail Tracy with Annie Leibovitz pics -- including one of the red coat: Vanity Fair
TRUMKA THROWING COLD WATER ON TRUMP’S TOP PRIORITY … “Trumka says fast action on trade pact with Canada and Mexico would be ‘colossal mistake,’” by WaPo’s Erica Werner: “‘If there was a vote before Thanksgiving, the agreement would be defeated,’ AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told The Washington Post this week in an interview. Support from the 12.5 million-strong AFL-CIO would be critical in persuading many House Democrats to back the new trade deal, giving Trumka enormous sway in negotiations.”
SCOOP -- “‘Nothing to See Here’: Diplomats Urged to Play Down Release of Ukraine Aid,” by NYT’s Lara Jakes: “American diplomats who had pushed for the Trump administration to restore security funding to Ukraine were advised by the White House to play down the release of the money when it was finally approved, documents show.
“‘Keep moving, people, nothing to see here …’ Brad Freden, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary overseeing issues in Europe and Eurasia, wrote in a Sept. 12 email obtained by The New York Times. He said the National Security Council would not publicly announce that $141 million in State Department assistance was being restored after being held up in what the White House described as a normal review.” NYT
DEEP DIVE -- “Two Key Players In The Ukraine Controversy Spent Lavishly As They Dug For Dirt On Biden,” by BuzzFeed’s Michael Sallah and Emma Loop: “There was a $1,410 charge to a Palm Beach limousine service and nearly $20,000 in expenses at Trump hotels in Washington, DC, and New York. There were bills running to hundreds of dollars at exclusive restaurants such as Novikov in London and BLT Prime in Washington. During one of his many trips to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, there was a $657 charge at Tootsie, the popular strip club in the heart of the city. …
“BuzzFeed News obtained unprecedented access to scores of bank records from private business accounts controlled by [Lev] Parnas and his partner, Igor Fruman, as they carried out a campaign now at the center of the first presidential impeachment inquiry in a generation.” BuzzFeed
NBC’S ANDY ECKARDT and DAVID LI: “At least 2 dead in shooting in Germany in possible ‘right-wing extremist crime’”: “The country's federal prosecutor’s office took over the investigation of the shooting due [to] its ‘extraordinary importance’ because of the possibility of extremism. A police spokesperson in the city of Halle told NBC News that shots were fired ‘at several locations’ in that community, about 100 miles south of Berlin. ‘Kebab restaurants and a synagogue are located in the area where the shots were fired,’ a police spokesperson said.” NBC
BEYOND THE BELTWAY -- “Millions in California Begin Losing Power as PG&E Tries to Avoid Wildfire: Seeking to limit fire risk amid high winds, PG&E cuts electricity across Northern California,” by WSJ’s Jim Carlton and Katherine Blunt in San Francisco
WHAT ELSE IS ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND -- @realDonaldTrump at 10:32 a.m.: “President Obama said that he did not have the right to sign DACA, that it will never hold up in court. He signed it anyway! If the Supreme Court upholds DACA, it gives the President extraordinary powers, far greater than ever thought. If they do what is right and do not let DACA stand, with all of its negative legal implications, the Republicans and Democrats will have a DEAL to let them stay in our Country, in very short order. It would actually benefit DACA, and be done the right way!”
-- C’MON … THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that a DACA deal is in the works, and it’s hard to even fathom that it would have any chance of passing in an election year. And the president has argued in other contexts that his powers are virtually unlimited.
THE INVESTIGATIONS … JOSH GERSTEIN: “Feds, bank battle over Manafort’s assets”: “The Justice Department and a Chicago bank are still fighting over former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s real estate and cash, more than a year after he pleaded guilty in the investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“Who wins the unfolding battle could have a significant impact for the ongoing political debate over the cost of Mueller’s probe and claims that it broke even financially. In a court filing Tuesday, Justice Department attorneys and lawyers for The Federal Savings Bank said they’re at odds about how to proceed over the bank’s claim of ownership interests in three Manafort assets: his swanky Long Island estate valued at about $10 million, a Brooklyn, N.Y. brownstone worth about $4 million, and a $2.5 million bank account.” POLITICO
2020 WATCH -- ALLY MUTNICK: “Impeachment threat is helping GOP recruit new candidates”: “House Republicans have been struggling mightily to recruit candidates in key battleground districts, given the likelihood of serving in the minority, possibly with a new Democratic president. But the Democratic impeachment drive is delivering a much-needed jolt to their efforts to retake the chamber.
“Once-wary potential candidates are preparing to come off the sidelines, according to party recruiters, and the GOP’s small-dollar donor base is stepping up to help the party compete against Democrats who are practically awash in money … Only 11 of the 31 Democrats in districts Trump carried in 2016 had a challenger who had raised more than $100,000 by the end of the second quarter. Impeachment could provide a means to play catch up.” POLITICO
-- “In Shift, Warren Says She’ll Forgo Big Money Events if Nominated,” by NYT’s Shane Goldmacher: “From the day [Elizabeth] Warren announced her plan to skip traditional fund-raisers in February, she had said the pledge only applied to the primary. ‘I do not believe in unilateral disarmament,’ she said then on MSNBC.
“But she told CBS News in an interview posted on Tuesday evening that, even as President Trump has set fund-raising records, she would not change how her campaign raises money if she won the Democratic nomination.” NYT
-- AMISH FOR TRUMP? -- “The famously secluded Amish are the target of a Republican campaign to drum up Pennsylvania votes for Trump,” by WaPo’s Julie Zauzmer in Manheim, Pa.: “Amish PAC aims to win more votes for Trump in 2020 in a state both the president and the Democrats are desperate to win. Amish people tend to align strongly on policy with Republicans, who share their opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. But making voters out of the Amish, who forgo technology like television and the Internet and who believe fiercely in the separation of their religious community from government intrusion, may be a steep goal.” WaPo
HISTORY LESSON -- “What Joe Biden Learned at the Last Two Impeachments,” by NYT’s Matt Flegenheimer: “Decades before he moved from ensemble figure to leading character in the nation’s impeachment theater, friends and peers from his Senate days say those episodes made plain to Mr. Biden just how damaging and unseemly the proceedings could be for all involved.
“In both public remarks and private conversations with colleagues, Mr. Biden conveyed his discomfort with overturning the will of the voters, regardless of the executive transgression. He suggested that public opinion should be taken into consideration, even for senators who preferred to vote their conscience, since it was the choice of the electorate that lawmakers presumed to override.” NYT
THE POLICY PRIMARY -- “How Elizabeth Warren would address environmental justice,” by Eric Wolff: “Warren’s plan calls for cleaning up pollution that disproportionately affects low-income communities, building wealth and improving access to health care for affected areas, and helping at-risk areas adapt to global warming. Her plan leans heavily on the Green New Deal, which calls for a rewiring of the U.S. economy as part of the effort to fight climate change.
“Warren’s plan calls for spending at least $1 trillion on vulnerable communities over the next decade to address the decades of pollution that has harmed low-income and minority communities.” POLITICO ... The plan
-- “Beto O’Rourke unveils sweeping women’s rights plan,” by Salon’s Shira Tarlo: “O'Rourke calls for repealing the Hyde Amendment — which bans federal funding for most abortions — and guaranteeing private insurance coverage for abortion. He vows to make the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade a part of federal law, so that it would stand even if Roe is overturned …
“[T]he former Texas congressman promises to champion the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment … O’Rourke proposes to allow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission the ability to require large employers to ‘automatically impose a remedy to close gaps, fining companies that fail to correct disparities.’ He also wants to sign the ‘Paycheck Fairness Act.’” Salon … The plan
VAPING UPDATE -- “U.S. Army Is Treating Two Soldiers for Vaping-Related Lung Illness,” by WSJ’s Ben Kesling and Jennifer Maloney: “The U.S. Army is treating two active-duty soldiers in its medical facilities for vaping-related lung illness, officials said days after most of the military banned e-cigarette sales at base exchanges. The Army is the first branch of the U.S. military to report cases of an ailment that has been linked to at least 23 deaths in the U.S. … Army officials said they are still investigating the cases of the two soldiers and haven’t determined the substances they used.” WSJ
VALLEY TALK -- “Zuckerberg expected to testify at hearing on cryptocurrency plan,” by Steven Overly and Zachary Warmbrodt: “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to testify this month before the House Financial Services Committee as the social networking giant tries to ease concerns from lawmakers and regulators about its embattled cryptocurrency project Libra, according to two people familiar with the matter.
“The hearing, which is also expected to focus on Facebook's impact on financial services and housing, is scheduled for Oct. 23, according to a committee member’s aide. The committee, chaired by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), had been pressing for Zuckerberg to testify, though its initial talks with Facebook centered on Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg as a possible witness.” POLITICO
-- “Marco Rubio to seek U.S. government probe of TikTok over Chinese censorship concerns,” by WaPo’s Tony Romm and Drew Harwell
AFTERNOON READ -- STEPHANIE BEASLEY in San Luis, Ariz.: “Big brother on the U.S. border?”: “Customs and Border Protection has been scanning the faces of every one of the more than 200,000 people who cross the border by foot here, one of its busiest land crossings, each month. The agency is adapting facial recognition technology first used at airports to two land crossings in Arizona – San Luis and Nogales – as part of a pilot program set to conclude this month. …
“If it works, it could make crossing into and out of the United States easier and faster and give CBP a powerful new tool to identify the small minority of border crossers who pose a security threat. But not everyone is convinced that facial recognition technology is ready for the real world.” POLITICO
MEDIAWATCH -- “Ronan Farrow Strikes Again: A New Book Targets NBC News and How Harvey Weinstein May Have Leveraged Matt Lauer,” by The Hollywood Reporter’s Marisa Guthrie: “In his first interview about the explosive ‘Catch and Kill,’ the journalist reveals fresh claims of secret payouts and how Lauer may have played a role in the network’s decision to kill his 2017 Harvey Weinstein exposé: ‘I’m very clear about the fact that Harvey was laying siege to NBC.’”
-- Eleni Courea is now a reporter for POLITICO Europe, covering British politics and Brexit. She previously reported for The Times.
TRANSITION -- Joe Britton will be EVP for public affairs at the Federation of American Hospitals. He is currently COS to Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).