THE BIG WEEK … THE HOUSE’S IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS go public next week. Next WEDNESDAY, Nov. 13, the Intelligence Committee will interview BILL TAYLOR, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and GEORGE KENT, the deputy assistant secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia. (Intel will release the Taylor transcript today.)
ON FRIDAY, Nov. 15, the committee will interview MARIE YOVANOVITCH, the former ambassador to Ukraine.
— REPUBLICANS ARE MOST WORRIED about these types of witnesses — career diplomats who have served America for decades under presidents of both parties. Andrew Desiderio and Kyle Cheney on the hearings
— WATCH FOR REPUBLICANS to try to request their own witnesses from Democrats. … ALSO: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), whom Republicans want to put on the Intelligence Committee, has to be formally swapped onto the panel.
WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT TO FOCUS ON … IN THE LAST FEW DAYS, a few figures on the right have begun to out the person they believe to be the whistleblower. We’re not going to get into that. But the whistleblower, at this point, is somewhat irrelevant. The whistleblower flagged a conversation for a lawyer, and later the inspector general, after he found it troubling. Since then, pretty much everything the whistleblower said has been confirmed and expanded on.
THE WHISTLEBLOWER, though, has become a symbol for the Republicans: a shadowy figure — think “Deep State” — who ratted out the president. Nevermind that we are now in possession of hundreds of pages of documents confirming the outline of the whistleblower’s complaint.
— WHISTLEBLOWER ATTORNEY MARK ZAID on outing the whistleblower: “Identifying any suspected name for the whistleblower will place that individual and their family at risk of serious harm. We will not confirm or deny any name that is published or promoted by supporters of the President. Disclosure of any name undermines the integrity of the whistleblower system and will deter any future whistleblowers.
“We will note, however, that publication or promotion of a name shows the desperation to deflect from the substance of the whistleblower complaint. It will not relieve the President of the need to address the substantive allegations, all of which have been substantially proven to be true.” (h/t Kyle Cheney)
UKRAINE OR SHINE — “Exclusive: Trump Letter Promised Zelensky ‘Unwavering’ Support,” by The Daily Beast’s Betsy Swan and Erin Banco: “Trump’s [May 29] letter, which a senior congressional aide shared with The Daily Beast, points to a sharp contrast between Trump’s official, warm communications with Zelensky and the moves he actually wanted from Kyiv.” Daily Beast
SARAH FERRIS and CONNOR O’BRIEN: “Senior Democrat and powerful appropriator Rep. Pete Visclosky to retire”: “Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), the third most senior Democrat in the House, announced Wednesday he will not be seeking reelection in 2020. The Indiana Democrat, who has served for over three decades, chairs the powerful defense appropriations panel, where he oversees a budget of more than $700 billion.
“Visclosky has remained enormously popular in his district — which includes declining former manufacturing hubs like Gary, Indiana — despite a high-profile ethics scandal nearly a decade ago. … Visclosky’s seat is unlikely to be competitive, as he represents a solidly blue district in the northwestern corner of Indiana … But his departure will set off a scramble within the Appropriations committee.” POLITICO
Good Wednesday afternoon.
SPOTTED waiting to get into the Roger Stone trial’s opening arguments: former Mueller team members Aaron Zebley and James Quarles.
— JOSH GERSTEIN AT THE COURTHOUSE: “President Donald Trump played a role in Roger Stone’s effort to prod WikiLeaks to release damaging emails for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race, federal prosecutors argued Wednesday in an extraordinary act of defiance toward the White House.
“During opening statements at Stone’s trial for lying to Congress in Washington, the prosecution — which ultimately answers to Trump — stopped short of accusing the president of a crime, but alleged he was in direct contact with Stone as the political provocateur sought to unleash a torrent of hacked emails.
“The prosecution also bluntly alleged that Stone’s motive in covering up his activities was to benefit Trump and his campaign. It was a remarkable start to what is expected to be a spectacle-heavy trial. Stone is also facing charges that he tampered with a witness in the congressional probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
“Stone’s lawyers will deliver their opening arguments Wednesday afternoon. So far, Stone’s attorneys have mostly argued that special counsel Robert Mueller selectively targeted the GOP provocateur because of his politics — a charge Stone trumpeted on social media before being hit with a gag order.” Darren Samuelsohn and Josh on what to expect
ANOTHER LEGAL DEFEAT — “New York judge tosses Trump administration’s conscience rule,” by WaPo’s Yasmeen Abutaleb: “A federal judge on Wednesday voided the Trump administration’s “conscience rule” that would have allowed health-care providers to refuse to participate in abortions, sterilizations or other procedures they disagree with on religious or moral grounds. U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan declared the so-called ‘conscience rule’ unconstitutional.” WaPo
YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN … “Trump, After Snubbing N.Y.C., Will Return Again for Veterans Day,” by NYT’s Azi Paybarah: “Organizers of New York City’s Veterans Day Parade announced on Wednesday that Mr. Trump would help kick off the event on Monday at Madison Square Park in Manhattan, the first president to do so. … The president will give an address at the park. He was also slated to lay a wreath at a memorial inside the park, but the White House decided that he would not after all … Mr. Trump will not march in the parade.” NYT
THE LATEST IN MEXICO — “Mexico family shooting: Suspect arrested in connection with ‘incomprehensible’ attack,” by USA Today’s Adrianna Rodriguez and Kristin Lam: “Criminal investigators in northern Mexico say a suspect has been arrested and is under investigation for a possible connection with the deaths of nine family members — three women and six children — slaughtered Monday when cartel gunmen ambushed their vehicles.
“In a statement posted on Facebook, the Agency for Criminal Investigation for the state of Sonora said Tuesday the suspect was found in the town of Agua Prieta, close to Arizona’s border, holding two hostages who were gagged and tied inside a white pickup truck. The suspect, whose gender was not specified in the release, was also found in possession of four assault rifles and ammunition, as well as various large vehicles including a bullet-proofed SUV. One of the vehicles was connected with a robbery in Phoenix, Arizona.” USA Today
DISINFORMATION DIGEST — “False attacks on Facebook could bring ‘a Titanic-sized disaster’ in 2020,” by Mark Scott: “False news reports that attack U.S. politicians have been viewed more than 150 million times on Facebook since the beginning of 2019, according to an analysis published Wednesday that points to a growing threat of deception swamping next year’s elections.
“The analysis, from the activist group Avaaz, highlights how misinformation — often targeting political figures like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump — is still widely accessible on the world’s largest social network. … The study also notes a growing sophistication in how people are being targeted on Facebook: Political actors are moving away from a strategy that focuses solely on bombarding individuals with paid-for partisan messages, toward more complex tactics that rely on presenting would-be voters with traditional shared content that does not face the same scrutiny as political ads.” POLITICO
VALLEY TALK — “Leaked documents show Facebook leveraged user data to fight rivals and help friends,” by NBC’s Olivia Solon and Cyrus Farivar: “A cache of leaked Facebook documents shows how the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip. The documents were obtained and are being published by NBC News.
“This trove comprises approximately 7,000 pages in total, of which about 4,000 are internal Facebook communications such as emails, web chats, notes, presentations and spreadsheets, primarily from 2011 to 2015. … Taken together, they show how Zuckerberg, along with his board and management team, found ways to tap Facebook users’ data — including information about friends, relationships and photos — as leverage over the companies it partnered with. In some cases, Facebook would reward partners by giving them preferential access to certain types of user data while denying the same access to rival companies.” NBC
2020 WATCH — “Joe Biden’s Sister Isn’t Running The Campaign This Time — And It’s ‘Damn Frustrating,’” by BuzzFeed’s Henry Gomez in Okatie, S.C.: “The first two times Joe Biden ran for president, his younger sister served as ‘campaign chair,’ with an in-name-only campaign manager working under her. … The family — The Bidens — always ran Joe’s campaigns, from the fundraising to the organizing. …
“This campaign is different, though. [Valerie] Biden Owens remains close by — as her recent surrogate work suggests — and in touch with her brother’s top aides. But for the first time, she has no role or title or official decision-making authority. … ‘I have been his campaign manager since high school — class president,’ Biden Owens told the small group that gathered to hear her in Beaufort. ‘This is the first time I haven’t managed the campaign, and I want to tell you, it’s damn frustrating!’” BuzzFeed
— “Biden digs in on ‘elitist’ attacks against Warren,” by Abbey Marshall … Biden’s Medium post
— NYT’S ASTEAD HERNDON: “Representative Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts, the only member of the group of progressive first-term congresswomen nicknamed ‘the squad’ who had not yet backed a Democratic presidential candidate, has endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a longtime ally.” NYT … Pressley’s video
THE POLICY PRIMARY — MOTHER JONES’ KARA VOGHT: “The School Day Is Two Hours Shorter Than the Work Day. Kamala Harris Wants to Change That: The 2020 candidate is introducing a bill to modernize the school day.”
AFTERNOON READ — “EXCLUSIVE: This Is How the U.S. Military’s Massive Facial Recognition System Works,” by OneZero’s Dave Gershgorn: “[A] newly obtained presentation and notes written by the [Defense Forensics and Biometrics Agency]’s director, [Glenn] Krizay, reveals how the organization functions and how biometric identification has been used to identify non-U.S. citizens on the battlefield thousands of times in the first half of 2019 alone.
“ABIS also allows military branches to flag individuals of interest, putting them on a so-called ‘Biometrically Enabled Watch List’ (BEWL). Once flagged, these individuals can be identified through surveillance systems on battlefields, near borders around the world, and on military bases.” OneZero
MEDIAWATCH — “New York Times Co. Says It’s on Pace for 10 Million Subscribers, but Ads Decline,” by NYT’s Edmund Lee: “The publisher added 273,000 new online subscribers in the third quarter, for a total of four million digital readers, the company reported Wednesday. The number of total subscribers, including print and digital, hit 4.9 million, a high. Advertising was the weak spot, falling 6.7 percent over all, with digital ad revenue dropping 5.4 percent.
“The decline in print advertising was not unusual, as readers continue to prefer getting their news on screens. The drop in digital ads, however, was more surprising for The Times, an established publisher with a growing base of online readers.” NYT
WHITE HOUSE ARRIVAL LOUNGE — Joanna Miller is now a policy analyst at the White House.
TRANSITIONS — Brian Roehrkasse is now a VP at Facebook’s policy communications team, focusing on legal policy matters. He previously was VP of comms at BAE Systems and is a Bush White House, DOJ and DHS alum. … Trey Pollard is leaving the Sierra Club, where he’s deputy comms director. He’ll be a media and public affairs strategist/consultant based in Charlottesville, Va.
SPOTTED at the D.C. premiere of “The Report” at the Newseum on Tuesday night: Daniel J. Jones, Scott Z. Burns, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Angus King (I-Maine), Malcolm Nance, Rear Adm. Donald Guter, Natasha Bertrand, Francesca Chambers, Kevin Robillard, Jeremy Herb, Igor Bobic, Wendy Cohen, Renee Tsao, Tom McMahon …
… Eddie Vale, Keith Stern, Rita Siemion, Raha Wala, Hans Nichols, Tom LoBianco, Jill Colvin, Mark Fallon, Cameron Joseph, Julian Borger, Patricia Stottlemyer, Frank Kendall, Suzanne Spaulding, Andy Wright, Mieke Eoyang, Viola Gienger, Elisa Massimino, Charles Otstott, Paul Fagan and Stephen Rickard.
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