What to Know in Washington: Trump Takes Western Campaign Swing

President Donald Trump heads to New Mexico for a campaign rally today, even though some Republicans concede he is unlikely to win the state in the 2020 election.

New Mexico has voted Republican only once in the last seven presidential elections — in 2004 — and the victor receives a mere five electoral college votes. That’s prompted questions about whether Trump’s visit, which must be paid for at least partly by his campaign, will take resources from swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania that the president will likely need to win a second term.

“I think New Mexico is going to be a stretch for him under the best of circumstances,” said Colin Reed, a Republican strategist who called New Mexico a blue state that has “gotten bluer.”

“There are other states that I think will be more competitive come the general election,” he added.

Making matters more difficult for Trump, roughly half of the people who live in New Mexico are Hispanic, a population that tends to vote Democratic. His crackdown on immigration — and on immigrants already living in the U.S. — may make him an even harder sell.

The president plans to speak in the Albuquerque suburb of Rio Rancho today, before continuing on to California for two days of campaign fundraising. When Trump campaigned in Albuquerque in 2016, an event was marred by violence between his supporters and opponents.

The visit could force Democrats to dedicate resources to a state they believe they have in their column, Reed said. Trump could even gain ground for the GOP if he attacks Democrats over the Green New Deal, he said. New Mexico, which has had a surge of oil and gas production, is debating new restrictions on methane emissions proposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) as part of her efforts to confront climate change. Read more from Jordan Fabian and Justin Sink.

Photographer: Elizabeth Frantz/Bloomberg
Trump at a rally last month in New Hampshire.

Happening on the Hill

Democrats Subpoena DNI Over Whistleblower: The acting director of national intelligence is refusing to turn over a whistle-blower complaint in response to a subpoena because he is “answering to a higher authority,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said. While Schiff declined to discuss the subject of the complaint in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday, he said “it’s fair to assume” it involves Trump “or people around him or both.” The House panel issued the subpoena to acting Director Joseph Maguire “to compel the production of a whistle-blower complaint that the Intelligence Community” inspector general “determined to be credible and a matter of ‘urgent concern,”’ the committee said in a statement on Friday night. Read more from Mark Niquette.

Lawmakers’ Tech Probe Seeks Customer Intel: A House panel investigating big tech companies for potential antitrust violations is seeking information from customers of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook about the state of competition in digital markets and the adequacy of existing enforcement, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. It’s the latest development in the bipartisan congressional investigation being conducted by House antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.). Read more from Spencer Soper.

Surprise Billing Negotiations: Two Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Republicans plan to meet this week to iron out differences on surprise billing legislation. Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a committee member and gastroenterologist, will discuss protections for individuals who have health insurance but then get stuck with large, unexpected medical bills, Cassidy told Bloomberg Law. The difference between the two Republican senators’ approach to resolving billing disputes for non-network services is at the heart of the battle over the bipartisan legislation. Read more from Stephen Joyce and Sara Hansard.

Grijalva Eyes Changes to Puerto Rico Promesa Law: House Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said he’ll propose substantial changes to a federal law that’s being used to guide restructuring of Puerto Rico’s debt. Speaking in San Juan yesterday at the end of a visit to the island, Grijalva said that at a committee hearing in October, he’ll present a draft proposal regarding the 2016 law, known as Promesa, which created a financial oversight board that exercises considerable control over the commonwealth’s finances. Read more from Michael Deibert.

Omar Confident Trump Will Be Impeached: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said it’s a matter of when, not if, Trump will be impeached and she’s not worried about Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and others not moving ahead right now. “It is OK for some people to have hesitations, for other people to catch up to where some of us have been for a very long time,” she said yesterday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” billed as her first one-on-one network interview. Read more from Mark Niquette.

Elections & Politics

Warren Stumps on Electability: Fresh off a debate performance that may have bolstered her standing in the 2020 Democratic race, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) returned to Massachusetts focused on strengthening her electability against Trump. Speaking at the Massachusetts Democratic Convention on Saturday, Warren said the Trump administration is “one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s modern history” and called on Democrats to unite toward a common goal: beat Trump in 2020. Warren has largely avoided directly attacking Trump or her Democratic competitors on the campaign trail. Read more from Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.

Related:Warren’s Harvard Ties Are Asset in Democratic ‘Brainiac’ Primary

New Warren Plan Would Build a Wall Between Lobbyists and Policy: Warren rolled out a sweeping anti-corruption plan today that would toughen rules for wealthy and influential figures seeking to influence policy, hours before she intends to pitch it to voters in Wall Street’s back yard. The plan seeks to build a proverbial wall between lobbyists and policy making, the latest plank in the Massachusetts senator’s platform of radical change to the U.S. political and economic system.

Warren’s proposal would ban all lobbying for foreign entities and prohibit lobbyists from donating to — or fundraising for — political candidates. It would also enhance required disclosures and tax entities that spend $500,000 or more per year on lobbying. If enacted, the plan would expand the definition of a lobbyist to include “everyone who is paid to influence lawmakers.” It’d restrict their ability to work in government, prohibit elected officials and senior appointees from ever becoming lobbyists, and bar large companies and banks from hiring top ex-government officials for at least four years. Read more from Sahil Kapur.

Biden on Domestic Terrorism: Joe Biden yesterday drew a direct line between the violence of groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and recent mass shootings in a speech on race and domestic terrorism in Birmingham, Ala., seeking to unify the congregation – and the country – in a fight against hatred and injustice. “The domestic terrorism of white supremacy has been the antagonist of our highest ideals from before our founding,” Biden said at the 56th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, where four black girls we re killed and more than a dozen others were injured after Klansmen bombed the church in 1963. Read more from Tyler Pager.

Separately, Biden praised pharmaceutical companies on Saturday, offering a line that drew pushback from Democratic opponents who have demonized the industry’s focus on profits. “By the way, great drug companies out there — except a couple of opioid outfits,” the former vice president told donors at the Dallas home of David Genecov, a craniofacial surgeon. Biden’s comment came during a discussion of medical research and the cancer “moonshot” initiative he launched during the Obama administration following the death of his son, Beau Biden, in 2015. That effort included his push for companies to collaborate more on research. Read more from Jennifer Epstein.

Trump Challenger Calls for Referendum on the President: One of Trump’s Republican challengers, Joe Walsh, said he’s running against the “bigotry and cruelty” of the president, not necessarily his policies. “We’ve got a king and a dictator in the White House,” Walsh said on MSNBC’s “Up with David Gura” yesterday. “It’s a referendum on Trump,” a man he said “lies virtually every time he opens his mouth.” The former Illinois representative said he believes in strong national borders but welcomes those who want to enter the U.S. legally. “Donald Trump ha s turned that into some bigoted, cruel, dark thing that the Republican Party right now is saddled with,” Walsh said. Read more from Hailey Waller.

More Defense & Foreign Affairs

Trump Says U.S. ‘Locked and Loaded’ on Iran: Trump said the U.S. is “locked and loaded depending on verification” that Iran staged the attack on major Saudi Arabian oil facilities, an assertion already made by his secretary of state and backed by administration officials. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification,” Trump said on Twitter yesterday without mentioning Iran or specifying what the response would entail. He said he’s awaiting word from Saudi Arabia about who it believe d caused the attack and “under what terms we would proceed!”

Several administration officials said yesterday that they had substantial evidence that Iran was behind the attack, not the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen who claimed responsibility. On Saturday, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said unequivocally in a tweet that Iran was to blame. Two administration officials who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations told reporters that cruise missiles may have been used in the attacks on a Saudi oil field and the world’s biggest crude-processing facility in Abqaiq. The range from Yemen was also far beyond the distance of anything the Houthis have ever done, the officials said. Read more from Jordan Fabian, Nick Wadhams, David Wainer and Glen Carey.

Related: Trump Authorizes SPR Oil Release After Saudi Supply Disruption

Trump Meets NSA Contender: Trump interviewed a presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Robert C. O’Brien, on Friday as part of his search for a new national security adviser, two people familiar with the meeting said. Trump has said he has about 15 candidates to replace John Bolton, which include O’Brien and Brian Hook, Pompeo’s senior policy adviser, Nick Wadhams and Josh Wingrove report. Pompeo backs both, as well as Ricky Waddell, a former national security official, according to one person familiar with his thinking.

Kim Jong Un Invited Trump to Visit Pyongyang: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited Trump to visit Pyongyang, Joongang Ilbo reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter. The offer to hold another summit was made in a letter delivered on the third week of August, the report said. It came shortly after a separate letter from Kim that Trump made public in the first week of August. Read more from Jihye Lee.

U.S., Israeli Pact Weighed: A defense pact with the U.S. would act as a strong deterrent to Israel’s enemies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. Netanyahu’s comments yesterday came a day after Trump said in a tweet that he had discussed with the prime minister the possibility of moving forward with a mutual defense treaty, Alisa Odenheimer reports. The two leaders will continue that discussion at a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, Netanyahu said.

Bin Laden’s Son Hamza Killed: The White House has confirmed that Hamza bin Laden, son of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, is dead. He was killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, Trump said in a statement on Saturday without providing further details. The elder Bin Laden used a family inheritance to build the global terrorist network that killed almost 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001. His son, believed to be between 28 and 30, was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups, Trump said. Read more from Hailey Waller.

What Else to Know

Trump Defends Kavanaugh After New Allegation: Trump defended Brett Kavanaugh yesterday after the New York Times reported fresh revelations about the Supreme Court justice’s alleged behavior as a student at Yale University in the 1980s. “Such lies about him,” Trump said of the newspaper’s report in two early-morning Twitter messages. “Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue.”

The Times wrote Saturday about lewd behavior attributed to Kavanaugh while at Yale, including more details of an alleged incident that had come to light during his 2018 confirmation process and a second alleged incident of sexual assault at a party. The report describes allegations from a fellow Yale student that Kavanaugh had pulled down his pants at a drunken party and “thrust” his penis at her, causing her to “swat it away.”

The new allegations reopened a debate about whether Kavanaugh was properly vetted in 2018 after being nominated by Trump to a lifetime position on the top U.S. court. Read more from Ros Krasny and Mark Niquette.

Supreme Court Eyes Major Job-Bias Case: Gerald Bostock says he’s convinced his participation in a gay softball league was why he was fired from his job running the child-advocate program at the juvenile court in Clayton County, Ga. The Atlanta-area county’s decision sent “a homophobic message that we do not approve of your sexual orientation,” Bostock said. But Bostock might never get to test his allegations in court. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to use his case to consider whether federal law gives gay people any protection against employment discrimination. The court will hear arguments on Oct. 8, the second day of its new nine-month term.

The case will tackle a central irony in the fight over gay rights. Even though the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, gay people can still be fired from their jobs in much of the country. Lower courts are split on whether federal law permits anti-gay discrimination, and fewer than half of the states bar it through their own civil rights statutes. Read more from Greg Stohr.

Gorsuch Says Justices Aren’t Liberal, Conservative: Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch said he doesn’t view the court’s justices as liberal or conservative, characterizing his “originalist” approach toward the Constitution as an apolitical way to keep personal preferences from influencing rulings. Gorsuch, the first of Trump’s two Supreme Court appointees, said during an interview Friday in his Washington chambers that originalism is supported by people of “all kinds of different political persuasions.” Greg Stohr and Kimberly Robinson have more.

Trump Closer to Flipping Appeals Court: Trump plans to nominate two Florida Supreme Court justices to the federal appeals court for Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. It’s a move that could “flip” yet another appeals court to a majority of judges confirmed by Republican presidents. That’s already happened in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Virgin Islands. Republicans this week also got a step closer to flipping the Second Circuit, which covers New York, Connecticut , and Vermont, following a contentious hearing on one of the president’s nominees there. Read more from Jessie Kokrda Kamens and Jordan S. Rubin.

Trump to Meet With Indian, Australian Leaders: Trump will travel to Texas and Ohio on Sept. 22 to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, according to a statement from the White House. The White House said they’ll emphasize strong ties, reaffirm strategic partnerships and discuss ways to deepen energy and trade relationships, Melissa Cheok reports.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@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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