SIREN … “Trump Orders Cut to National Security Staff After Whistle-Blower,” by Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and Justin Sink: “President Donald Trump has ordered a substantial reduction in the staff of the National Security Council, according to five people familiar with the plans, as the White House confronts an impeachment inquiry touched off by a whistle-blower complaint related to the agency’s work.
“Some of the people described the staff cuts as part of a White House effort to make its foreign policy arm leaner under new National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.The request to limit the size of the NSC staff was conveyed to senior agency officials by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and O’Brien this week. …
“Two of the people familiar with the decision to shrink the NSC insisted it was largely rooted in both the transition to O’Brien’s leadership as well as Trump’s desire to increase efficiency at the agency, which grew under former President Barack Obama. About 310 people currently work at the NSC. All of the people asked not to be identified because the plan to reduce the NSC’s size hasn’t been made public.” Bloomberg
ANOTHER WHISTLEBLOWER COMING FORWARD? — “2nd Official Is Weighing Whether to Blow the Whistle on Trump’s Ukraine Dealings,” by NYT’s Michael Schmidt and Adam Goldman: “A second intelligence official who was alarmed by President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine is weighing whether to file his own formal whistle-blower complaint and testify to Congress, according to two people briefed on the matter.
“The official has more direct information about the events than the first whistle-blower, whose complaint that Mr. Trump was using his power to get Ukraine to investigate his political rivals touched off an impeachment inquiry. The second official is among those interviewed by the intelligence community inspector general to corroborate the allegations of the original whistle-blower, one of the people said.
“The inspector general, Michael Atkinson, briefed lawmakers privately on Friday about how he substantiated the whistle-blower’s account. It was not clear whether he told lawmakers that the second official was considering filing a complaint.” NYT
MEANWHILE… SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI was on the stump raising money and selling House Democrats’ impeachment effort this week. On Friday, she was down in South Carolina. to headline a party dinner and in Georgia to raise money for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who recently came out in support of the effort. This comes after she was in Florida on Thursday, holding fundraisers in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
PELOSI returned familiar themes when it comes to impeachment, noting that defending the “constitution” is worth moving forward with impeachment at the party dinner in Greenville, S.C. Local Fox News coverage
— HOW IT PLAYED: “AJC EXCLUSIVE: Pelosi defends impeachment, Dems’ plans for Georgia,” by Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Tamar Hallerman and Greg Bluestein: “U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed Friday to protect Georgia’s most vulnerable Democratic lawmaker and flip another suburban Atlanta seat in next year’s election, even as the push for impeachment poses new challenges for her party’s candidates.
“In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s editorial board, the California Democrat vehemently defended her recently launched inquiry against President Donald Trump, framing it in sweeping moral and ethical terms as she described the U.S. Constitution as ‘hanging by a thread.’ ‘Nobody came to Congress to impeach a president,’ Pelosi said, ‘but we do take an oath to protect and defend our Constitution and to protect our Republic if we need it.’” AJC
UP NEXT — “House Democrats subpoena White House for Ukraine documents,” by Andrew Desiderio, John Bresnahan, and Heather Caygle: “Three top House Democrats subpoenaed the White House on Friday night seeking documents related to President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials to target his political rivals, a dramatic escalation of the impeachment fight with the president. …
“Democrats gave the White House a two-week deadline of Oct. 18 to comply with their demand, and they warned [White House chief of staff Mick] Mulvaney — a former House member himself — that his “failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena, including at the behest of the President or others at the White House, shall constitute evidence of obstructing the House’s impeachment inquiry and may be used as an adverse inference against you and the President.” POLITICO
Good Saturday morning.
WHAT’S ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND THIS A.M.: @realDonaldTrump: “The so-called Whistleblower’s account of my perfect phone call is ‘way off,’ not even close. Schiff and Pelosi never thought I would release the transcript of the call. Got them by surprise, they got caught. This is a fraud against the American people!” …
— AND HITTING BACK AT ROMNEY: “Somebody please wake up Mitt Romney and tell him that my conversation with the Ukrainian President was a congenial and very appropriate one, and my statement on China pertained to corruption, not politics. If Mitt worked this hard on Obama, he could have won. Sadly, he choked!” …“Mitt Romney never knew how to win. He is a pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning, except when he begged me for my endorsement for his Senate run (I gave it to him), and when he begged me to be Secretary of State (I didn’t give it to him). He is so bad for R’s!”
ABOUT THOSE PHONE CALLS … “Trump’s calls with foreign leaders have long worried aides, leaving some ‘genuinely horrified’,” by WaPo’s Carol Leonnig, Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey: “Starting long before revelations about Trump’s interactions with Ukraine’s president rocked Washington, Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders were an anxiety-ridden set of events for his aides and members of the administration, according to former and current officials. They worried that Trump would make promises he shouldn’t keep, endorse policies the United States long opposed, commit a diplomatic blunder that jeopardized a critical alliance, or simply pressure a counterpart for a personal favor.
“‘There was a constant undercurrent in the Trump administration of [senior staff] who were genuinely horrified by the things they saw that were happening on these calls,’ said one former White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversations. ‘Phone calls that were embarrassing, huge mistakes he made, months and months of work that were upended by one impulsive tweet.’” WaPo
HOW RICK PERRY FIGURES INTO UKRAINE — “Perry pressed Ukraine on corruption, energy company changes,” by Ben Lefebvre and Daniel Lippman: “Energy Secretary Rick Perry urged Ukraine’s president to root out corruption and pushed the new government for changes at its state-run oil and gas company, people familiar with his work said Friday — indications that he was more deeply involved than previously known in President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure officials in Kiev.
“The people said they have no indication that Perry explicitly called on Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the issue that has spawned a House impeachment inquiry into Trump. But at the very least, they said, Perry played an active role in the Trump administration’s efforts to shape decisions by the newly elected government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Among other changes, Perry pushed for Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz to expand its board to include Americans, two people familiar with the matter said. Two long-time energy executives based in Perry’s home state of Texas were among those under consideration for that role, one source familiar with the administration’s dealings with the company said.” POLITICO
SCOOP: NATASHA BERTRAND: “Justice Department hasn’t interviewed key Russia probe witnesses”: “For months, President Donald Trump’s allies have been raising expectations for prosecutor John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, predicting that he will uncover a deep state plot to stage a ‘coup’ against the president. …
“But in the five months since Attorney General Bill Barr tapped Durham to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, and whether any inappropriate ‘spying’ occurred on members of the Trump campaign, he has not requested interviews with any of the FBI or DOJ employees who were directly involved in, or knew about, the opening of the Russia investigation in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter. The omission raises questions about what, exactly, Durham—alongside Attorney General Bill Barr—has been investigating.” POLITICO
2020 WATCH — “‘You built the nation’: Trump courts black voters in White House mini-rally,” by Nolan D. McCaskill: “President Donald Trump held what amounted to a mini-rally with nearly 300 young black supporters inside the White House on Friday, replete with campaign-style chants of ‘USA!’ and ‘four more years!’ ‘You broke the sound barrier,’ Trump told the audience of African American students and young professionals, who greeted him with chants and cheers inside the White House’s East Room. ‘I’ve never heard it quite like that, and I appreciate it. We love you.’
“With an eye on the 2020 election, the president delivered his pitch to black voters — and aired his grievances — in true Trumpian fashion. He not only touted historically low unemployment among black Americans but also conducted a roll call of his top black supporters, calling out some of his African American critics while slamming Democrats and the news media along the way. At one point, Trump also credited African Americans for building the country, a seeming reference to their ancestors’ role as slaves.” POLITICO
— “Joe Biden calls Trump ‘unhinged’ in first new ad of $6 million early-state push,” by CNN’s Eric Bradner
— “Sanders and Warren put big donors on notice with massive hauls,” by David Siders: “The latest batch of fundraising reports released this week confirmed a new reality of presidential politics: the traditional, big-dollar model of funding a presidential campaign is going the way of landlines and the VCR.
“With Elizabeth Warren’s announcement Friday that she had raised nearly $25 million in the last three months — slightly less than Bernie Sanders reported Tuesday — two candidates who didn’t hold traditional donor events became the top two fundraisers in Democratic primary. And they both blew past the ones who did.” POLITICO
TRUMP’S SATURDAY — The president has no public events on his schedule.
BORDER WATCH — “Trump Will Deny Immigrant Visas to Those Who Can’t Pay for Health Care,” by NYT’s Michael Shear and Miriam Jordan: “The Trump administration will deny visas to immigrants who cannot prove they will have health insurance or the ability to pay for medical costs once they become permanent residents of the United States, the White House announced Friday in the latest move by President Trump to undermine legal immigration.
“Mr. Trump issued a proclamation, effective Nov. 3, ordering consular officers to bar immigrants seeking to live in the United States unless they ‘will be covered by approved health insurance’ or can prove that they have ‘the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs.’” NYT
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Hong Kong ‘semi-paralyzed’ as ban-defying marches persist,” by AP’s John Leicester and Eileen Ng in Hong Kong: “With subway services shut down, the wearing of face masks criminalized at rallies and Hong Kong’s leader reaffirming her determination not to let rioters get the upper hand, anti-government protests that have shaken the city diminished in intensity Saturday but didn’t stop.
“Marchers still came out to defy the new ban on face coverings that the government of the semi-autonomous Chinese territory says have made the identification of violent protesters difficult for police. Shielded under umbrellas, many wearing masks, several hundred demonstrators clogged a thoroughfare in the central business district, carrying a yellow banner marked ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ and shouting, ‘Hong Kong, resist!’” AP
VALLEY TALK — “How Tim Cook Won Donald Trump’s Ear,” by WSJ’s Tripp Mickle: “With the threat of tariffs on iPhones approaching in August, Apple Inc.stood to lose billions of dollars in profit. Chief Executive Tim Cook reached out to one of his most important contacts in Washington, Jared Kushner.
“Mr. Kushner arranged a call between Mr. Cook and his father-in-law, President Trump, people familiar with the call said, giving the Apple chief a chance to explain how tariffs would increase iPhone prices and impair Apple’s ability to compete against rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co.
“Within days, the Trump administration scaled back its tariff plan to exempt a swath of electronics products, including iPhones, saying it wanted to protect consumers ahead of the holiday shopping season. The call from Mr. Cook influenced the decision, a person close to the administration said.” WSJ
CLICKER – “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker — 14 funnies
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman (@dlippman):
— “Was it Worth It? Is It Still? Will It Ever Be?” by Irin Carmon and Amelia Schonbek on the cover of NY Mag: “The women (and men) who came forward about sexual assault and harassment tell about everything that came after.” NY Mag
— “The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?” by NYT’s Michael H. Keller and Gabriel J.X. Dance: “Online predators create and share the illegal material, which is increasingly cloaked by technology. Tech companies, the government and the authorities are no match.” NYT
— “Abandoning a Cat: Memories of my father,” by Haruki Murakami in The New Yorker: “All we can do is breathe the air of the period we live in, carry with us the special burdens of the time, and grow up within those confines. That’s just how things are. … We live our lives this way: viewing things that came about through accident and happenstance as the sole possible reality.” New Yorker
— “Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers,” by The Atlantic’s Joe Pinsker – per Longreads.com’s description: “Studies show a link between reading and a child’s home environment, but personality, class, and role models all play a complex role, as well as certain factors outside parents’ control.” The Atlantic
— “The Mysterious Death Of The Hacker Who Turned In Chelsea Manning,” by NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston: “‘He was like the Tony Robbins of the hacking world,’ Lorraine Murphy, an old friend of his, said. ‘It is one thing to be gifted at hacking and another to be able to tell the world about it.’ Lamo did both. In happier times, he had legions of followers — long before Twitter made that a thing — and he loved the attention.” NPR
— “How ICE Picks Its Targets in the Surveillance Age,” by McKenzie Funk in the N.Y. Times Magazine: “After two officers came to a Pacific Northwest community, longtime residents began to disappear — a testament to the agency’s quiet embrace of big data.” NYT Magazine
— “The Failed Political Promise of Silicon Valley,” by Kim Phillips-Fein in TNR – per ALDaily.com’s description: “Computers were the best thing since psychedelics — early Silicon Valley had a cheery, hippie vibe. How things have changed.” TNR
— “Jimmy Hoffa and ‘The Irishman’: A True Crime Story?” by Jack Goldsmith, author of “In Hoffa’s Shadow,” in the N.Y. Review of Books: “Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran … repeats the public conventional wisdom since 1975 that a man named Charles ‘Chuckie’ O’Brien drove the car that picked up Hoffa from the suburban parking lot and delivered him to his killers. O’Brien was Hoffa’s closest aide for decades. He is also my stepfather. I was twelve years old when Hoffa disappeared, and I lived through the bedlam of the Hoffa investigation.” NYRB … $25.20 on Amazon
— “Darkness on the Edge of Cougartown,” by Sarah Miller in The Cut – per Longreads.com’s description: “On the brink of 50, Sarah Miller makes peace with being 10 years older than her boyfriend, and stops wasting time wishing she were younger.” The Cut
— “I Worked at Capital One for Five Years. This Is How We Justified Piling Debt on Poor Customers,” by Elena Botella in TNR: “The subprime lending giant is a textbook case in creating a corporate culture of denial.” TNR
— “‘The Fast And The Furious’ Director Rob Cohen Accused Of Sexual Assault,” by Sara Boboltz and Jessica Schulberg: “The alleged victim says Cohen assaulted her when she was unconscious. In February, his daughter accused him of assaulting her when she was a child.” HuffPost
— “How Employers Make It Impossible For Working Women To Breastfeed,” by HuffPost’s Dave Jamieson: “A HuffPost investigation shows many low-wage workers are confined to filthy bathrooms, can’t get breaks and even lose their jobs trying to pump.” HuffPost (h/t Longform.org)
MEDIAWATCH — “US Customs Officer Harasses Defense One Journalist at Dulles Airport,” by Defense One’s Ben Watson: “A U.S. passport screening official held a Defense One journalist’s passport until he received an affirmative answer to this repeated question: ‘You write propaganda, right?’
“The incident took place about 4 p.m. on Thursday at Dulles International Airport. News Editor Ben Watson was returning from an assignment in Denmark when he entered permanent resident reentry aisle No. 17 at Dulles. After the Customs and Border Protection official asked the usual question about undeclared fruit or meat, the interaction took an unusual and unsettling turn.
“Watson recalls the conversation: CBP officer, holding Watson’s passport: ‘What do you do?’ Watson: ‘Journalism.’ CBP officer: ‘So you write propaganda, right?’” Defense One
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].
SPOTTED at a book party for Bryan Rafanelli’s new book, ‘A Great Party’ hosted by Gregory Connors in Georgetown: Mark Walsh, Tipper Gore, David Adler, Hilary Rosen, Steve Elmendorf, Natalie Jones Hallahan, Dan Merica, Joe Paulsen, Peter Selfridge, Samantha Tubman, Joel Wolke and Steve Clemens.
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Erick Sanchez, traveling press secretary for Andrew Yang and principal at Quixotic. A fun fact about him: “One day, last year, I got really bored so I decided to scratch something off my bucket list and wrote and recorded an R&B song dedicated to sandwiches called ‘Lettuce, Tomatoes & Roses’ under the stage name Caramel. It’s available on Spotify thanks to the guidance of Tom Manatos, which I’m sure he now regrets offering. I look forward to thanking POLITICO when I win a Grammy next year.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is 76 … Mark Paoletta, general counsel for OMB, is 57 … Alexandra Pelosi … Thomas Roberts is 47 … Catherine Hicks, executive at the Brunswick Group and a Trump WH alum, is 26 … Mandy Grunwald (hat tip: Jon Haber) … Teresa Heinz Kerry … Jon Banner, EVP at PepsiCo, is 52 … Samsung’s Megan Pollock … Carolyn Weyforth Glanville … former Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) is 64 … Sloane Potter … Amanda Harris … Josh Althouse, public policy manager at Facebook … Peter Schottenfels, comms manager at Google … Jim Demers … Jonathan Darche … Karina Petersen, comms director for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) … Obama NEC alum Brayden McCarthy … Banks Woodruff …
… James Hamblin, staff writer at The Atlantic … Matt Parker, a Bush 43 WH alum … Elisabeth Leoni … AEI’s Joseph Kosten … Emily Gribble … Alison Young … John Schwegman … AP’s David Klepper … Caitlin Offinger of BerlinRosen … Farrah Hassan … Andrea Samuelsen … Fabien Levy … CBS’ Whitney Bright … Kevin Hall, a Mark Warner alum … Michael Petruzzello of Qorvis … Matt Well, partner at the Herald Group … Chris Michel … Ashton Theodore Randle … Will Keesee … Blanchi Bettina Cosio … John Herzog … Hasib Alikozai … Michael Tardif … John Jasik … Doug Bailey … Peggy Suntum … Jess Vilsack … Jim Cavanaugh (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)… Tyler Goldberg of Dukas Linden (h/t Rachel Glasberg)
SUNDAY SHOWS by Matt Macowiak, filing from Pittsburgh:
— NBC’s “Meet the Press”: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) … Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) … John Brennan. Panel: O. Kay Henderson, Rich Lowry, Richard Stengel and Kristen Welker.
— ABC’s “This Week”: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) … Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Legal panel: Jonathan Karl, Pierre Thomas, former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) and Kate Shaw. Panel: Matthew Dowd, Terry Moran.Yvette Simpson and Alice Stewart.
— CBS’s “Face the Nation”: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) … Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) … Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) … Bob Woodward … Peter Baker. Panel: Ramesh Ponnuru, Susan Page, Julie Hirshfeld Davis and Jamelle Bouie.
— “Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Val Demmings (D-Fla.) … Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah). Panel: Karl Rove, Julie Pace, Josh Holmes and Juan Williams … “Power Player of the Week” segment with John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts president Deborah Rutter.
— CNN’s “State of the Union”: Mark Sanford and former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) … Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Panel: Linda Chavez, Mitch Landrieu, Amanda Carpenter and Karen Finney.
— CNN’s “Inside Politics”: Panel: Julie Hirshfeld Davis, Jeff Zeleny, Seung Min Kim and Toluse Olorunnipa.
— Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures”: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) … Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) … George Papadopoulos … Jonathan Ward.
— Fox News’ “MediaBuzz”: Rudy Giuliani … Emily Jashinsky … Mo Elleithee … Kristina Partsinevelos.
— CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS”: (SUN 10am ET): Author and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (“Fascism: A Warning”) and former Secretary of State Colin Powell … author and Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum (“Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine”) … Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.
— CNN’s “Reliable Sources”: Panel: Masha Gessen, Juliet Huddy and Oliver Darcy … Barbara Res … Robert Leonard … Michael Shear … Douglas Heye andJess McIntosh.
— Univision’s “Al Punto”: Angélica Vale … Rep. Adriano Espillat (D-N.Y.) … Blanca Rosa Vinchez … Dr. Juan Rivera … Guillermo Arriaga … Eugenio Derbez.
— Gray TV’s “Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren”: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) … Lee Zurik and Annie Linskey
— C-SPAN: “The Communicators”: Michael O’Rielly, questioned by CQ Roll Call’s Gopal Ratnam … “Newsmakers”: Biotechnology Innovation Organization president and CEO James Greenwood, questioned by The Hill’s Peter Sullivan and Politico’s Sarah Karlin-Smith … “Q&A”: The Smithsonian Institution’s Peter Liebhold.
— MSNBC’s “Kasie DC”: Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) … Senate candidate Jaime Harrison (D-S.C.) … Ashley Parker … Bob Costa … Susan Page … Catherine Lucey … Susan Davis … Brittany Shepherd … former State Rep. Don Calloway (D-Mo.) … Michael Steel … Greg Little … Kristin Totten … Mike Memoli (substitute anchor: Geoff Bennett).
— Washington Times’ “Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or Stitcher or listen at MackOnPoliticsPodcast.com: Michael Steel.
- White House National Security Council to reduce staffing by a third
- Republican senator attacks National Security Council aide who testified in impeachment probe
- National Security Council warned Bolton not to publish manuscript, citing classified information
- Trump, National Security Council Discuss Protecting Elections From Hackers
- O'Brien says National Security Council officials did not leak Bolton transcript
- Devin Nunes: National Security Council should be 'quarantined' to Virginia
- Huawei: National Security Council to discuss access to 5G network
- Trump’s Pick to Replace Flynn As National Security Adviser Turns Down the Job
- The National Security Adviser Has No Heart
- Donald Trump's former national security official says the CIA has violated the President's trust
- Now Donald Trump's ex-chief of staff John Kelly calls impeachment 'half a trial' unless Republicans call witnesses and doubles down on praising John Bolton saying he was 'a copious notetaker'
- After Trump's Former Chief of Staff Says 'I Believe John Bolton,' Nancy Pelosi's Daughter Wonders if He'll Testify Against President
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