What to Know in Washington: Trump Takes Campaign to Minnesota

Donald Trump goes back on offense today with his first campaign rally since the impeachment inquiry began, seeking to expand his margin of victory in 2020 even as lawmakers mull removing him from office.

Trump will address supporters in Minneapolis — the home district of a frequent target of his: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). It’s a venue ripe for some of Trump’s favorite attacks regarding issues like immigration and urban crime as he grapples with polls that show rising support for impeachment.

The standoff between Trump — who has refused to cooperate with the House inquiry — and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promises to dominate political discourse at least in the near term and could turn into a prolonged court battle throughout the 2020 campaign.

Trump looks poised to use today’s rally — and two others over the next week in Louisiana and Texas — to discredit the Democrats’ investigation and denigrate one of his chief Democratic rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“This is a con being perpetrated on the United States public, and even the world,” Trump said yesterday when asked about the investigation that was triggered by his July call with Ukraine’s president. “This is a fraud, because that call was perfect.”

Trump often holds rallies on friendly soil and in smaller communities, but this time he’ll take the stage in liberal Minneapolis. Trump sparred this week with the city’s mayor, Jacob Frey, over whether police officers could wear uniforms to his rally, and his campaign threatened to sue the city in a dispute over policing costs.

Trump’s bid to woo Minnesota is similar to his efforts in New Mexico and New Hampshire, a campaign official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The president plans to argue that Democratic health-care proposals could upend the hard-earned health plans for union members, whose votes Trump believes he can win. He’ll also highlight his record on supporting the fossil-fuel industry, the official said. Read more from Josh Wingrove.

Photographer: Alex Edelman/Bloomberg
Trump at the White House on Wednesday.

Latest on the Impeachment Inquiry

Pelosi Confronts Decision on Impeachment Vote: Trump is pushing Pelosi to hold a formal vote on impeachment, a move that would change the politics of the probe more than its legal standing.

A decision whether to call the president’s bluff is likely to be a main topic when Pelosi convenes a conference call with House Democrats at the end of the week. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), one of the leadership’s vote counters, said Democrats could easily pass a resolution authorizing the impeachment inquiry with as many as 230 votes.

But Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), a member of a committee leading the inquiry, said there are plenty of reasons not to hold that vote. “Caving to their phony demands could — in an odd way — have unintended consequences of actually empowering their various arguments,” he said of the White House and Republicans. Connolly also pointed to shifting public opinion, as evidenced in polls, in favor of the inquiry even without a House vote. Billy House and Erik Wasson have more.

Fox News Poll Shows 51% Want Trump Removed: A Fox News poll shows that 51% of voters want Trump impeached and removed from office, up from 42% in July. According to the Fox poll published online yesterday, 4% want him impeached but not removed, and 40% don’t want him impeached. In addition, 51% of voters said they think the Trump administration is more corrupt than previous administrations, up from 46% in September.

Trump Urged Top Aide to Help Giuliani Client: In a new development, Bloomberg News reports that Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office. Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.

Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations. Nick Wadhams, Saleha Mohsin, Stephanie Baker and Jennifer Jacobs have more.

Ukrainian President Says There Was No Blackmail: Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy rejected any suggestions he was blackmailed by Trump during the now infamous phone call. “There was no a blackmail,” Zelenskiy told reporters at an all-day press event in Kyiv. “It wasn’t a subject of our talk.” Zelenskiy said he wasn’t aware when he spoke by phone with Trump that the military aid at the center of the scandal had been frozen. He said he discussed the assistance at a later meeting in Warsaw with Vice President Mike Pence. Read more from Daryna Krasnolutska and Volodymyr Verbyany.

Gowdy, Pompeo Change Sides on Congress Probes: Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who joined Trump’s legal team on Tuesday, were both staunch defenders of congressional oversight as members of the House select committee on the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Now, they are defending a president who has barred a key witness from testifying and whose lawyers told Pelosi in a letter Tuesday that they will not cooperate with the inquiry because there hasn’t been a formal vote on impeachment, an act that i s not required under the Constitution. During the two-and-a-half year congressional inquiry into the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, the two Republicans harshly criticized the Obama administration, arguing that it was stonewalling when it failed to turn over documents to Congress or limited access to witnesses. Read more from Ryan Teague Beckwith.

Happening on the Hill

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a bipartisan measure yesterday to sanction Turkey in response to Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria, which left Kurdish fighters in Syria vulnerable to a Turkish invasion. Graham is partnering with Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on a bill that would trigger sanctions unless the Trump administration “certifies to Congress—every 90 days” that Turkey is not operating in Syrian territory. Turkish ground forces invaded Syria yesterday.

Syria Update: Turkey Mounts Assault as U.S. Threatens Sanctions

The sanctions would target Turkish leaders including the president, vice president and ministers of defense, finance, trade and energy, as well as any foreign national who provides support to the Turkish military. The measure would also prohibit foreign entities from supporting Turkish energy production used by its armed forces and would require a report on Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s net worth. Read more from Anna Edgerton and Evan Sully.

U.S. lawmakers of both parties strongly opposed Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops back from Syria’s border where they were supporting Kurdish allies:

  • Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that Turkey’s “unilateral military intervention in Syria is unacceptable,” while ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said that Trump’s decision to “acquiesce” to Erdogan is “absolutely horrible,” urging Defense Secretary Mark Esper to testify to Congress. “The blood of our partners in the fight against ISIS will be on President Trump’s hands,” Reed said.
  • In the House, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a member of Republican leadership, called the withdrawal a “catastrophic” mistake. “Impossible to understand why @realDonaldTrump is leaving America’s allies to be slaughtered and enabling the return of ISIS,” she tweeted. House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said “the scene unfolding in Syria” is “unacceptable” and that he’s “working with my colleagues in the House to address this dynamic situation in a bipartisan way,” Ben Livesey reports.

Medicare Eye, Dental, Hearing Coverage Next Front for Democrats: Democratic leaders in the House are eyeing an expansion of Medicare benefits and ways to cut costs for seniors in the program as part of their drug-pricing legislation. The leaders have asked congressional scorekeepers to look at the cost of giving Medicare beneficiaries vision, dental, and hearing coverage as part of their Medicare negotiation measure (H.R. 3), according to a health-care lobbyist briefed on the issue. Read more from Alex Ruoff.

Elections & Politics

Georgia Is Suddenly in Play for Democrats: Republicans have had a hammerlock on Georgia for a generation. It could slip away — if Democrats decide to make it a fight. The state is a must-win for Trump. Republicans are defending two U.S. Senate seats that may swing control of the chamber. Democrats remain underdogs, but population growth in the diverse and booming Atlanta area, along with the exodus of educated women from the GOP, have made them competitive in a state they’ve carried just once since 1980.

The Democratic National Committee announced this week it would hold the fifth presidential debate in Georgia. Party spokesman David Bergstein proclaimed that Georgia is “a defensive liability for Republicans and it’s rapidly emerging as a battleground state.” Read more from Sahil Kapur.

Sanders’s Heart Attack Puts Him in Uncharted Territory: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has so far muscled past questions about his age by keeping a grueling campaign schedule, bouncing between ice cream socials, private meetings, rallies or town halls in a single day — with aides decades his junior struggling to keep up. But the 78-year-old’s heart attack last week hinders a candidacy already faltering as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), his rival for the progressive mantle, edges into a statistical tie for frontrunner status in the Democratic presidential race. His campaign is now facing an acute dilemma without precedent in modern American politics. No candidate has experienced and disclosed a potentially life-threatening health incident while running for a major party’s White House nomination. Read more from Laura Litvan.

Booker Proposes New Rights for College Athletes: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) wants to use the power of the presidency to ensure that college and professional athletes are “free from exploitation and harm.” Under Booker’s plan, college athletes could be paid for the rights to their name, image or likenesses. Last week, California became the first state to allow college athletes to receive payment for playing. Booker played on Stanford University’s football team as an undergraduate. Read more from Emma Kinery.

Biden Jabs at Warren: Seeking to draw a contrast with Warren, Joe Biden said yesterday that the country is “not electing a planner.” Warren, who is statistically tied with Biden in recent state and national polls, has released a flurry of policy proposals, a practice that has developed into a campaign slogan: “Warren’s got a plan for that.” For the most part, Biden has refrained from criticizing his rivals, but his rebuke of Warren may signal a more aggressive approach as he seeks to regain his lead in the polls. “Mo re important than my plan is my promise: I will get this done,” Biden said in New Hampshire. Read more from Tyler Pager.

Trump Would Win Based on Economy: If the 2020 election is decided on the economy, historic trends suggest that Trump would win by 5 percentage points, according to an analysis by the economic forecasting firm Oxford Economics. “A record-low unemployment rate, subdued inflation and only moderately cooler income growth will favor the incumbent party despite some party fatigue,” the analysis says. Trump could even survive a slight downturn, it concludes. Oxford Economics reached that conclusion based on a model by Yale University’s Ray Fair, who’s studied the economic factors that best predict presidential elections dating to 1916. But the analysis carries a big caveat: “Non-economic factors are likely to play an outsized role in this election.” Read more from Gregory Korte.

Foreign Affairs

U.S. Weighs Currency Pact With China: The White House is looking at rolling out a previously agreed currency pact with China as part of an early harvest deal that could also see a tariff increase next week suspended, according to people familiar with the discussions. The currency accord, which the U.S. said had been agreed to earlier this year before trade talks broke down, would be part of what the White House considers to be a first-phase agreement with Beijing. It would be followed by more negotiations on core issues like intellectual property and forced technology transfers, the people said. Read more from Jenny Leonard.

Apple Reverses Course on Hong Kong App: Apple has pulled the plug on an app that shows police activity in Hong Kong, reversing course yet again as violent pro-democracy protests wrack the city. The U.S. company said today it’s now decided to remove HKmap.live from its App Store after consulting with local authorities, because it could endanger law enforcement and city residents. That marks a return to its original position, where it initially rejected the app. After an outcry, the iPhone maker allowed it to run for a few days before today’s decision. The see-sawing is unusual for Apple, which exercises rigid control over its app store, the foundation of its global iPhone ecosystem.

Apple joins other foreign companies struggling to navigate the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong as protests that began in June show no sign of abating. The issue has become a red line for those doing business in China, most recently drawing the NBA into a firestorm over a tweet that’s caused partners to stop doing business with the league and state television to halt airing its games. A growing number of American giants, including Activision Blizzard, find themselves embroiled in controversies over the extent to which their actions are influenced by economic considerations in a vast Chinese market. Read more from Vlad Savov and Mark Gurman.

China’s role in Hong Kong may have reached a breaking point for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). “Chinese Communist Party has been trying to suppress the protestors in Hong Kong for months. Now they’re trying to censor Americans and stop us from speaking out,” Hawley tweeted last night. “I will travel to Hong Kong myself to learn the latest on the ground and report the facts”.

Europe Says It’s Ready for a Trade War: France’s finance minister said he doesn’t want the European Union to become the latest front in the global trade war, but that the bloc would hit the U.S. with sanctions if a settlement isn’t reached in a long-running dispute over aircraft aid. “We are all aware of the dramatic consequences of this trade war between China and the U.S. on the level of growth,’’ minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters in Luxembourg on today. “Do we really want to add a trade war between the U.S. and Europe to the Chinese and American trade war?’’ Read more from Maria Tadeo and Stephanie Bodoni.

Trump Says He’ll Look Into U.K. Car Incident: Trump said he would “see what we can come up with” to mollify anger in the U.K. over an American woman with diplomatic immunity who killed a motorcyclist in a car accident. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressed Trump in a call yesterday to waive the woman’s immunity and make her return to Britain to face justice, his office said in a statement. “We’re going to speak to her, the person driving the car,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “We’re going to speak to her and see what they ca n come up with so there can be some healing.” Read more from Jennifer A. Dlouhy.

Around the Administration

Trump Orders Limit Effect of Agency Guidance: Trump signed a pair of executive orders intended to reduce the impact of agency guidance the White House believes has become a back-door means of regulation. Industries often seek guidance from agencies to help them comply with complex rules. These agency policy statements—memorandums, circulars, bulletins, and letters—aren’t legally binding but often can serve as the basis for enforcement. Critics view such guidance as an improper shortcut around formal rulemaking. The new limits on guidance co uld have a broad, if uncertain, effect across multiple agencies that routinely use guidance and other documents to provide clarity to industry. Read more from Cheryl Bolen, Shira Stein, Chris Opfer, Lydia O’Neal, Ellen M. Gilmer and Amena H. Saiyid.

Dow Jones Report: Trump to Sign Executive Order Requiring Agencies To Offset Administrative Spending Increases

EPA to Unveil New National Lead-in-Water Standards: The Environmental Protection Agency will unveil the first updates to its regulations on lead in drinking water in nearly three decades at an Oct. 10 event in Green Bay, Wis., according to a person invited to attend the event. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is scheduled to attend the event, along with David Ross, the agency’s top water official, and Cathy Stepp, the head of its Midwestern regional office. The agency’s lead regulations, officially known as the Lead and Copper Rule, went into effect in 1991 and haven’t been substantially updated since then. Read more from David Schultz.

Trump Taps Ex-Industry Attorney to OSHA Panel: Trump nominated Amanda Wood Laihow to be a member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission for a six-year term expiring April 27, 2023. The commission weighs in on disputes between regulators and companies on Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations and the appropriateness of civil penalties assessed for health and safety issues. Laihow currently serves as the chief counsel to OSHRC Chairman James J. Sullivan Jr., who is currently the only member of the three-member panel. Read more from Fatima Hussein.

Amazon’s Carney Blasts White House: Amazon’s top spokesman Jay Carney criticized the Trump administration yesterday, questioning the patriotism and honesty of the current White House and criticizing it for trying to influence the Federal Reserve. In a 30-minute interview at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle, Carney drew distinctions between the current administration and those of former Presidents Barack Obama, George Bush and Bill Clinton. Carney used to be Obama’s press secretary and worked as a political reporter before that.

“Virtually with no exception, everyone I dealt with in those administrations, whether I personally agreed or disagreed with what they thought were the right policy decisions or the right way to approach things, I never doubted that they were patriots,” he said. “I don’t feel that way now.” Carney also said he never lied on behalf of the White House and “there doesn’t seem to be that standard today.” Read more from Spencer Soper.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com

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