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POLITICO Playbook PM: Impeachment just got real

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) unveil articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump during a news conference on Tuesday, Dec. 10. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

HERE WE GO … THE HOUSE IS IMPEACHING THE PRESIDENT. You know this already, but we wanted to add a bit of context here. This process — the hearings, the testimony and the drafting and passage of the articles — will come to define both this HOUSE DEMOCRATIC majority and DONALD TRUMP’S presidency. Read the articles of impeachment — just over eight pages

THIS DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY came into power looking to avoid this at all costs. And here we are. TRUMP, who once said he would not do business with the Democrats if they were investigating him, is now getting impeached and will get his top trade deal passed at the same time. TRUMP won in 2016 in part because he dumped all over NAFTA. Now he’s just cut a new deal that experts say is not dissimilar to NAFTA.

THERE’S A LOT OF TALK about how all of this will affect the election. Fair enough — but the election is 11 months away. A lot will happen between now and then. Anyone who tells you they know how the politics of all this will play in 2020 is selling you something.

WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT NOW …

— THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE will move to mark up the two impeachment articles on THURSDAY. We anticipate this will be a full-day affair, but we don’t expect it to be interesting enough for cable/networks to take it all day.

— USMCA will come up for a vote next week. We expect it to get 350 or more votes in the House. It likely will not pass the Senate until early 2020.

USMCA … FOOTBALL SPIKE … SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: “There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA. But in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.”

— REP. RICHIE NEAL (D-Mass.) notes that DEMS FOUGHT: “These were intense, angry, hot negotiations. I think we set a world record for hanging up on each other, myself and the trade rep. But at the same time, we also knew that this was an opportunity that we couldn’t let get away from us.”

THE DEAL will be signed today in Mexico City. The POLITICO story, by Sabrina Rodríguez and Megan Cassella

THE PRESIDENT TWEETS at 9:35 a.m.: “Looking like very good Democrat support for USMCA. That would be great for our Country!”

BTW … WE FORGOT a few names in our impeachment manager roundup this morning. One is Rep. VAL DEMINGS (D-Fla.), who is on both Judiciary and Intel, but is not an attorney. Another wild card is Rep. JUSTIN AMASH (I-Mich.), a former Republican who says he will vote for impeaching Trump. He’s a constitutional law buff, and would certainly be an eyebrow raiser for the Dems.

— NOTABLE NUGGET FROM THE IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES, via Darren Samuelsohn (@dsamuelsohn): “Notable on p. 5 is a line that Trump shouldn’t just be impeached, face trial and removal from office. There’s also the death blow of ‘disqualification to hold and enjoy and office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.’ That requires a separate Senate majority vote.”

— SARAH FERRIS and MELANIE ZANONA: “Small group of Democrats floats censure instead of impeachment”

FLAGGING FOR DEMS … TIME’S SIMON SHUSTER in Kyiv: “When TIME asked [top Zelensky adviser Andriy Yermak] whether he had ever felt there was a connection between the U.S. military aid and the requests for investigations, Yermak was adamant: ‘We never had that feeling,’ he says. ‘We had a clear understanding that the aid has been frozen. We honestly said, “Okay, that’s bad, what’s going on here.” We were told that they would figure it out. And after a certain amount of time the aid was unfrozen. We did not have the feeling that this aid was connected to any one specific issue.’” Time

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NEW … LIVE FROM THE WOMEN RULE SUMMIT IN WASHINGTON … ANNA spoke with HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI:

— PELOSI on the speed with which the impeachment process is moving: “It’s not about speed. It’s about urgency. … If we allow one president, any president, no matter who she or he may be, to go down this path, we are saying goodbye to the republic and hello to a president king.”

IF SHE’S WORRIED ABOUT LOSING THE HOUSE: “If we believe that our Constitution is being violated, that our very democracy is at stake, that as [Benjamin] Franklin told us, ‘a republic if you can keep it,’ and this very person is jeopardizing that, what are we there for? Just to continue to have a job? We take an oath to protect and defend. If we did not do that, we would be, again, delinquent in our duties.”

ON CRITICISM OF GIVING TRUMP A WIN ON USMCA: “If somebody gets a collateral benefit from something, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have the benefit that is for our country, pass up that opportunity. Some of these things are very perishable.”

HOW IS HER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PRESIDENT? “Professional. He’s the president of the United States, I respect that. I try to be cooperative when I can. But I also have to honor the Constitution of the United States when I must, so that has an impact on the relationship, you might say.”

ON QUESTIONS OF HER RETIREMENT: “I don’t care. … I know my purpose, I know why I’m there, I know what I’m there to do.”

ON THE GOVERNMENT FUNDING CRUNCH: “We’re not going to have a shutdown.”

— LARA TRUMP — to Anita Kumar — on whether she will run for the seat that Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is vacating: “I am not running for Congress. … I would say, listen, you can’t rule anything out, you never know what could happen. I don’t live in that district, but I am truly honored that anyone would consider me. … I could never say never.”

TRUMP was asked to name a female Democratic lawmaker that she admires: “I think you do have to admire Nancy Pelosi. She’s been in the game a long time. … She has tenacity. She certainly is willing to put down and throw down when she needs to. … You certainly can admire somebody for spending their life here in Washington, D.C., and trying to serve the country.”

ASKED IF SHE WAS SURPRISED by that comment from Lara Trump, Pelosi told Anna: “Nothing surprises me. Surprise is not a word in my vocabulary.”

Good Tuesday afternoon. KATY TUR is hosting her 2 p.m. MSNBC hour from HERSHEY, PA., where THE PRESIDENT is holding a rally tonight.

BARR SPEAKS — “Barr thinks FBI may have acted in ‘bad faith’ in probing Trump campaign’s links to Russia,” by NBC’s Pete Williams and Ken Dilanian: “In an exclusive interview with NBC News, [A.G. Bill] Barr essentially dismissed the findings of the Justice Department’s inspector general that there was no evidence of political bias in the launching of the Russia probe, saying that his hand-picked prosecutor, John Durham, will have the last word on the matter.” NBC

TRADE WARS — “U.S. and Chinese Trade Negotiators Planning for Delay of December Tariffs,” by WSJ’s Lingling Wei in Beijing and Bob Davis: “U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are laying the groundwork for a delay of a fresh round of tariffs set to kick in on Dec. 15 … as they continue to haggle over how to get Beijing to commit to massive purchases of U.S. farm products President Trump is insisting on for a near-term deal.

“In recent days, officials in both Beijing and Washington have signaled that Sunday is not the final date for reaching a so-called phase-one deal—even though that is the date President Trump has set for tariffs to increase on $ 165 billion of Chinese goods. That date could be extended, as has happened several times when the two sides thought they were on the verge of a deal. … [O]fficials involved in the talks say they don’t have a hard deadline.” WSJ

— AP: “World trade without rules? U.S. shuts down WTO appeals court,” by Jamey Keaten and Paul Wiseman: “The terms of two of the last three judges on the WTO’s appellate body end Tuesday. Their departure will deprive the de facto Supreme Court of world trade of its ability to issue rulings. Among the disputes left in limbo are seven cases that have been brought against Trump’s decision last year to declare foreign steel and aluminum a threat to U.S. national security and to hit them with import taxes. …

“The panel is supposed to have seven judges. But their ranks have dwindled because the United States – under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump – has blocked new appointments to protest the way the WTO does business.” AP

ANOTHER GOP RETIREMENT — GAINESVILLE SUN: “Ted Yoho announces plans to retire from Congress”: “U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho has announced his retirement from Congress at the conclusion of his fourth term — a limit he set for himself at the outset of his political career eight years ago. There had been speculation that Yoho, a Republican from Alachua County, was considering a fifth term and he filed a statement of candidacy for the 2020 [election] with the Federal Election Commission as he quietly reestablished his Ted Yoho for Congress committee.” Gainesville Sun

GETTING CALLED TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE — “White House summons Azar, Verma to meeting that Trump may join,” by Axios’ Caitlin Owens and Jonathan Swan: “Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has arranged a conflict resolution session at the White House between the nation’s two top health officials, according to three administration officials. President Trump himself is likely to join, one of the officials said. …

“Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma are engaged in a bitter feud that has exploded into the public eye over the last few weeks. The meeting — scheduled for Thursday but subject to change — was described by one of the officials as an ‘assessment of whether or not both of them are capable of working together like adults.’” Axios

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “Trump unveils slew of sanctions over human rights abuses overseas,” by Halley Toosi: “The Trump administration is imposing sanctions on at least 20 more people accused of human rights abuses, targeting government officials, businessmen and others in countries from Myanmar to Pakistan — but still avoiding penalizing some world leaders deemed critical partners.

“The new sanctions, announced Tuesday, are the latest in a cascade of such penalties unveiled in recent days by the Treasury and State Departments, and just another example of how much the Trump administration relies on sanctions as a tool of coercion in its foreign policy.” POLITICO

HMM … JEWISH INSIDER’S JACOB KORNBLUH: “Former Trump campaign aides could join Netanyahu’s campaign”: “Two former Trump campaign aides are visiting Israel this week to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel is likely heading for another election in March … Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie … are being considered to join Netanyahu’s campaign as the embattled prime minister assembles a new strategy team. …

“Republican pollster John McLaughlin served as Netanyahu’s campaign pollster in the last two elections this year, and is currently working for Trump’s re-election campaign. JI has learned that Netanyahu is no longer using McLaughlin’s services following two failed campaigns.” Jewish Insider

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VALLEY TALK — “Facebook Tells Barr It Won’t Open Up Encrypted Messages,” by NYT’s David McCabe: “Will Cathcart and Stan Chudnovsky wrote that creating a so-called backdoor into their services would make their users less safe. … Mr. Barr has said that Facebook’s moves toward end-to-end encryption, which shields the content of messages from everyone but the sender and recipient, makes it harder for law enforcement officers to track malicious behavior online.” NYT

2020 WATCH — HOLLY OTTERBEIN: “Bernie scores big progressive endorsement, besting Warren”: “Bernie Sanders has won the endorsement of the Center for Popular Democracy Action, a victory in his long-running battle with Elizabeth Warren to become the progressive standard-bearer in the Democratic presidential primary. The group, an alliance of more than 40 left-wing organizations across the country, said it represents 600,000 members.

“It plans to use an independent expenditure to fundraise, direct a field operation, and do other organizing in the primary, including in states such as Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. … Sanders, Warren and Julián Castro were the three finalists for the group’s nod, and none of those candidates won the necessary 60 percent in the first vote count. On a second ballot between Sanders and Warren, the Vermont senator secured 75 percent of the tally.” POLITICO

— NYT: “Elizabeth Warren Seeks a Second Act After Slip From the Top,” by Shane Goldmacher: “Ms. Warren and a Boston-based campaign team that has long resisted snap reactions to the day-to-day developments of the primary are nodding to the reality of a reshuffled race with no true front-runner. …

“The new, aggressive phase amounts to an acknowledgment that Ms. Warren’s penchant to pull her punches for much of the year has run its course. It is also an effort to move past damaging questions about her plan to pay for Medicare for all, a sweeping transformation of health care that would abolish private insurance. … Behind the tactical maneuvering is the search to answer a simple, urgent question: How does Ms. Warren, who captured the imagination of progressives with her ambitious policy plans, continue to drive the political conversation now that she has rolled out all of her biggest plans?” NYT

— AP: “A free pass for Trump? GOP presses edge in key battlegrounds,” by Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller: “A full year before Election Day 2020, Republicans quietly executed a ‘dry run’ of President Donald Trump’s massive reelection machine. They activated tens of thousands of volunteers and tested phone bank capabilities and get-out-the-vote operations in every state in the nation. Before and after the sprawling exercise, GOP officials coordinated thousands of so-called ‘MAGA Meet ups’ to organize and expand their network of Trump loyalists, paying close attention to battlegrounds like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. …

“Defiant Democrats insist that Trump is not getting a free pass in the nation’s top general election battlegrounds. They note that the ‘dry run’ played out on the same week that Republicans suffered embarrassing losses across several states. But others are willing to acknowledge the reality: Much of the Democratic Party’s energy and star power will ignore critical swing states like Pennsylvania for much of the next six months.” AP

— “‘It hurt’: Women of color from rival campaigns lament Harris’ exit,” by Caitlin Oprysko: “Speaking at a ‘Women Behind the 2020 Campaign’ panel at POLITICO’s Women Rule Summit in Washington, three high-ranking women of color serving on different 2020 campaigns opened up about what [Sen. Kamala] Harris’ candidacy — which ended last week — meant for diversity in politics.”

SPOTTED: Jason Mraz near the subway in the Senate basement today.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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