SNEAK PEEK … THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD … Tuesday: THE PRESIDENT will have lunch with VP Mike Pence and will meet with the St. Louis Blues, which won the Stanley Cup. The president will also meet with Defense Secretary MARK ESPER. Wednesday: PRESIDENT TRUMP will host the president of Italy, and the two will hold a news conference. He will also have lunch with Secretary of State MIKE POMPEO. TRUMP will speak at an “Italian-American reception.”
Thursday: THE PRESIDENT will travel to Texas. He will participate in a roundtable and speak at a luncheon in Fort Worth. He will visit and cut an opening ribbon at the Louis Vuitton-Rochambeau Workshop in Johnson County, Texas. And he’ll hold a rally in Dallas.
DRIVING THE WEEK … WAPO’S AARON DAVIS and JOHN HUDSON: “Trump’s envoy to testify that ‘no quid pro quo’ came from Trump”: “The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, intends to tell Congress this week that the content of a text message he wrote denying a quid pro quo with Ukraine was relayed to him directly by President Trump in a phone call, according to a person familiar with his testimony.
“Sondland plans to tell lawmakers he has no knowledge of whether the president was telling him the truth at that moment. ‘It’s only true that the president said it, not that it was the truth,’ said the person familiar with Sondland’s planned testimony, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters. …
“The person familiar with Sondland’s testimony said the ambassador ‘believed Trump at the time and on that basis passed along assurances’ that Trump was not withholding military aid for political purposes.
“But Sondland’s testimony will raise the possibility that Trump wasn’t truthful in his denial of a quid pro quo as well as an alternative scenario in which the president’s interest in the scheme soured at a time when his administration faced mounting scrutiny over why it was withholding about $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine and delaying a leader-level visit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.” WaPo
NYT’S KEN VOGEL and MAGGIE HABERMAN: “In Show of Support, Trump Meets With Giuliani Over Lunch”: “President Trump had lunch on Saturday with Rudolph W. Giuliani amid revelations that prosecutors were investigating Mr. Giuliani for possible lobbying violations, and speculation that his position as the president’s personal lawyer was in jeopardy.
“The lunch, at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Sterling, Va., was among several shows of the president’s support for Mr. Giuliani on Saturday. They seemed meant to tamp down questions about Mr. Giuliani’s status with a client famous for distancing himself from advisers when they encounter legal problems of their own.” NYT
— MARC CAPUTO: “Giuliani bungling gives Biden a new punchline”
— READ THE WHOLE STORY … WAPO: “How two Soviet-born emigres made it into elite Trump circles — and the center of the impeachment storm,” by Ros Helderman, Josh Dawsey, Paul Sonne and Tom Hamburger: “By spring 2018, the two men had dined with Trump, breakfasted with his son and attended exclusive events at Mar-a-Lago and the White House, all while jetting around the world and spending lavishly, particularly at Trump hotels in New York and Washington. That May, a pro-Trump super PAC reported receiving a $325,000 donation from an energy company the duo had recently formed.” WaPo
THE MESS IN SYRIA … WAPO: “U.S. troops withdraw from another Syrian town as Turkish forces block supply lines,” by Liz Sly and Louisa Loveluck in Beirut
— AP: “IS supporters escape as Turkish troops near key Syrian town,” by Lefteris Pitarakis and Sarah El Deeb in Akcakale, Turkey: “Turkish forces approached a key Kurdish-held town in northern Syria on Sunday, setting off clashes that allowed hundreds of Islamic State supporters to escape from a camp for displaced people near a U.S.-led coalition base, Syrian Kurdish officials said.
“A U.S. military official said the situation across northeastern Syria was ‘deteriorating rapidly’ and that American forces no longer control ground communications with the Syrian Kurdish fighters they had previously partnered with. The official, who was not authorized to disclose operational details and spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. troops on the ground are at risk of being “isolated” and could clash with Turkey-backed Syrian forces.
“The camp in Ain Eissa, some 35 kilometers (20 miles) south of the border, is home to some 12,000 people, including 1,000 wives and widows of Islamic State fighters and their children. The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria said in a statement that 950 IS supporters escaped after attacking guards and storming the gates. It was not immediately possible to confirm that figure.” AP
NBC’S @RichardEngel: “Turkey’s conflict in Syria took a major turn [Saturday]. First alleged atrocities by Turkish-backed Arab militias, executing Kurds. US military officials tell me it’s true, and they are DEEPLY concerned it opens the door to BOTH ethnic cleansing of Kurds and return of ISIS/Al-Qaeda”
BIG NEWS … DEFENSE SECRETARY MARK ESPER told MARGARET BRENNAN on CBS’S “FACE THE NATION” that all U.S. troops are being evacuated from Syria: ESPER: “We find ourselves as we have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it’s a very untenable situation. So I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria.”
— ALSO IMPORTANT, from “Face the Nation”: BRENNAN: “Very quickly, are you going to comply with the subpoena that the House provided you and provide documents to them regarding to the halt to military aid to Ukraine?”
ESPER: “Yeah we will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress. Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note as we typically do in these situations to ensure documents are retained.”
BRENNAN: “Is that a yes? ESPER: “That’s a yes.” BRENNAN: “You will comply with the subpoena?” ESPER: “We will do everything we can to comply.”
ESPER on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: WALLACE: “We’re going to pull out and allow the Kurds to go to the Russians and the Syrians? That doesn’t seem to make much sense.” ESPER: “The United States, first of all, doesn’t have the forces on hand to stop an invasion of Turkey that is 15,000 strong, if you will, preceded by air strikes and artillery and mechanized forces. Gotta keep in mind, too: We didn’t sign up to fight Turkey, a longstanding NATO ally on behalf of the SDF.”
CHUCK TODD spoke to JIM MATTIS on NBC’S “MEET THE PRESS”: TODD: “Are we still doing this fight now? Or have we just pulled back, and it’s now up to the Kurds on their own?”
MATTIS: “Well it’s — it’s in a, it’s in a situation of disarray right now. Obviously, the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. And we’ll have to see if they’re able to maintain the fight against ISIS. It’s going to have an impact. The question is, how much?
TODD: “How concerned should we be about abandoning an ally like the Kurds that maybe twenty years down the road this comes to bite us?”
MATTIS: “Right. I think Secretary of State Pompeo, the intelligence services, the foreign countries that are working with us have it about right that ISIS is not defeated. We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don’t recover. We may want a war over, we may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out, as President Obama learned the hard way, out of Iraq but the ‘enemy gets the vote’ we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on then ISIS will resurge. It’s, it’s absolutely a given that they will come back.”
CNN’S JAKE TAPPER spoke to SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-N.D.) on “STATE OF THE UNION”: TAPPER: “Well, Senator, Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced this morning that the president is now ordering most of the remaining U.S. forces in Syria to withdraw because the situation in the border area has gotten so dangerous, after he ordered that smaller withdrawal earlier this week. You’re on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Were you informed of this? Did you — were you briefed about it?
CRAMER: “No, I was not. No, we were briefed, again, after the — the last withdrawal announcement and received more information. I felt, at that time, more comfortable than I did prior to the briefing. I hope that I feel better after I get briefed this — now this week when we return to Washington, and learn more of the details, because, while there’s a withdrawal, what I’d like to know is, a withdrawal to where?”
CHRIS WALLACE spoke to SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Md.) on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: VAN HOLLEN: “You just heard the current Secretary of Defense essentially say the Trump Administration is doing nothing. They’re asking Turkey, ‘Oh, please, please, stop what you’re doing.’ That is nothing. So that’s why you’re gonna see a strong, bipartisan response from the congress. First of all, we want to insist that President Trump actually step up and do something. He said he’s gonna destroy the Turkish economy if Erdogan did this kind of thing. And yet, he’s doing absolutely nothing.”
CHINA 1, U.S. 0? … WSJ: “China Emerges With Wins From U.S. Trade Truce: U.S. shelves new tariffs against Beijing while leaving many demands to be worked out later,” by Chao Deng in Washington and Lingling Wei in Beijing: “For now the truce opens an opportunity for Beijing to kick down the road concessions that it doesn’t want to make. Whether those hard issues ever get resolved is a question.
“The Chinese leadership feels that time is on its side, believing President Trump is under pressure to make compromises as part of his re-election bid next year. But by trying to drag out the negotiations, Beijing also risks the prospect that Mr. Trump may harden his position again to show he is being tough on China—or that it may have to start over with a new Democratic president.” WSJ
POLITICO EUROPE: “Merkel tells Erdoğan to halt Syrian offensive” by Joshua Posaner: “Turkey’s military offensive in Syria threatens to destabilize the region and boost ISIS, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a phone call Sunday.
“‘The chancellor spoke in favor of an immediate end to the military operation,” said Ulrike Demmer, a spokesperson for Merkel, adding that the Turkish leader had requested the call.” POLITICO EU
Happy Sunday morning. The WASHINGTON NATIONALS beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1 to take a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is tomorrow at 7:38 p.m. at Nats Park. Read Tom Boswell
BLOOMBERG: “Hunter Biden Steps Down from Chinese Board Amid Trump Attacks,” by Stephanie Baker: “Hunter Biden is stepping down from the board of a Chinese-backed private equity company and promising to forego all foreign work if his father, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is elected president in 2020. …
“According to a statement released on his behalf by his lawyer George Mesires, Biden said he’ll resign at the end of the month from the management company of a private equity fund that’s backed by Chinese state-owned entities. He also pledged that he wouldn’t work for any foreign-owned companies or serve on their boards during a potential Biden administration. He reiterated that he never discussed his business activities with his father.
“Hunter always understood that his father would be guided, entirely and unequivocally, by established U.S. policy, regardless of its effects on Hunter’s professional interests,” the statement said. ‘He never anticipated the barrage of false charges against both him and his father by the President of the United States.’” Bloomberg
BOSTON GLOBE’S “BACK TO THE BATTLEGROUND” SERIES … “They helped Trump win Michigan, then his immigration crackdown split their community,” by Liz Goodwin in Madison Heights, Michigan
2020 WATCH …
— JON KARL spoke to SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.) on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: KARL: “So let me ask you a blunt question that I’ve heard others ask. What do you say to those who say that they would pick her because she’s eight years younger than you, she didn’t just have a heart attack. And look, in the positions you’re pretty much the same.”
SANDERS: “Well look. Everybody, every American is gonna make his or her own choice about the candidate that they want. And Elizabeth Warren has been a friend of mine for some 25 years. And I think she is a very, very good senator. But there are differences between Elizabeth and myself. Elizabeth I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I’m not. I think the situation today that we face in this country of the greed and the corruption that is existing in Washington, that is existing at the corporate elite level. Where you have massive amounts of price fixing going on in the drug companies. Where we’re the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people. Where we have right now as we speak in the fossil fuel industry, you got companies making billions of dollars a year in profit doing what?
“Oh, by the way, they’re destroying the planet. Alright. And I think business as usual and doing it the old fashioned way is not good enough. It’s not regulation. Now what we need is in fact, I don’t want to get people too nervous, we need a political revolution. I am, I believe, the only candidate who’s gonna say to the ruling class of this country, the corporate elite, enough, enough with your greed and with your corruption. We need real change in this country.”
THE PRESIDENT’S SUNDAY … No events scheduled
NOLA ADVOCATE: “Gov. John Bel Edwards to meet Eddie Rispone in runoff for Louisiana governor’s race,” by Mark Ballard: “Republican millionaire Eddie Rispone, making his first bid for public office, edged his way into a Nov. 16 runoff with incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
“By a margin of about 50,000 votes, Rispone, of Baton Rouge, beat his Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, to face off with Edwards, who led the field Saturday night but not by enough to win outright.
“Edwards garnered 626,000 votes, 47% of the total cast, according to the Secretary of State’s complete but unofficial results. Rispone, who spent about $11.5 million — mostly of his own money — on the campaign, came in second with 368,318 votes, or 27%, followed by three-term Congressman Abraham, of Alto, with 317,115, or 24% of the vote.” The Advocate
BONUS GREAT HOLIDAY WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman (@dlippman):
— “Top Military Officers Unload on Trump,” by Mark Bowden in The Atlantic’s November issue: “The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?” The Atlantic
— “The Often Perilous, Sometimes Lucrative, and Ever-Evolving Business of Being a YouTube Star in 2019,” by Richard Lawson in Vanity Fair’s November issue: “YouTube has helped to fundamentally remake the way we think about fame, clout, and the very idea of entertainment. As the site prepares to turn 15, a generation of creators are discovering their cultural power and (sometimes) their limits.” VF
— “Cows Need Friends to be Happy,” by Rebecca Giggs in The Atlantic’s November issue: “But modern farms deprive them of meaningful companionship.” The Atlantic
— “Nietzsche’s Eternal Return,” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross: “Why thinkers of every political persuasion keep finding inspiration in the philosopher.” New Yorker
— “The Obamanauts: What is the defining achievement of Barack Obama?” by Corey Robin in Dissent’s fall issue: “In retrospect, it seems obvious that such a smallness of vision could never withstand the largeness of the right. But, for Obama, opposing largeness with smallness was the point.” Dissent (hat tip: Longreads.com)
— “An Unseen Victim of the College Admissions Scandal: The High School Tennis Champion Aced Out by a Billionaire Family,” by Daniel Golden and Doris Burke in ProPublica: “One teammate made tennis his whole life. The other had a grandfather whose company invented Hot Pockets. Guess which one went to Georgetown as a Division I recruit.” ProPublica
— “The teenager married too many times to count,” by BBC’s Nawal al-Maghafi: “A BBC investigation has uncovered a secret world of sexual exploitation of children and young women by religious figures. Clerics are grooming vulnerable girls in Iraq and offering them for sex, using a controversial religious practice known as ‘pleasure marriage.’” BBC (h/t Longreads.com)
— “The Next Word,” by The New Yorker’s John Seabrook: “Where will predictive text take us?” New Yorker
— “Why Everything is Getting Louder,” by Bianca Bosker in The Atlantic’s November issue – per Longreads.com’s description: “Noise is never just about sound; it is inseparable from issues of power and powerlessness. It is a violation we can’t control and to which, because of our anatomy, we cannot close ourselves off. ‘We have all thought of killing our neighbors at some point,’ a soft-spoken scientist researching noise abatement told me.” The Atlantic
— “This DC Restaurant Is Full of Goyard Totes and $500 Sneakers. Our Brave Reporter Journeys Into the Dark Heart of Judgey Moms in Range Rovers,” by Washingtonian’s Mimi Montgomery: “The Spring Valley spot is the brainchild of Bo Blair, the preppy overlord of a Northwest fiefdom that includes spots like Jettie’s and Surfside (and formerly the now-defunct Smith Point, the HQ for the WASP-y glitterati of the Bush Twins Era). This DC Millie’s is an offshoot of Blair’s original Millie’s, which sits nestled on that remote stretch of New England land that swoops upward through the sea like a patrician nose—Nantucket.” Washingtonian
— “Bong Joon-ho’s Dystopia Is Already Here,” by E. Alex Jung in Vulture: “The Korean director’s ruthless, bleak new film ‘Parasite’ is the most fun you’ll have in theaters this fall.” Vulture (h/t Longreads.com) … Trailer
— “My Family Story of Love, the Mob, and Government Surveillance,” by Jack Goldsmith in The Atlantic’s November issue: “In the early 1960s, the paranoid [Jimmy] Hoffa asked Chuckie [O’Brien] to buy thousands of copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and distribute them to union locals around the country. ‘Some of these poor guys, the only thing they knew was how to drive a truck or work at a warehouse,’ Chuckie told me. ‘They didn’t have the knowledge of the electronic s***. Mr. Hoffa wanted them to read that book and said that this is what’s going to happen to not only us but to everybody—and exactly what he’s predicted has happened.’” The Atlantic
Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPOTTED: Former Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and his wife, Supriya, walking the streets of Milan today. Pic … Former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on a flight from Dulles to San Francisco on Saturday. … Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on the Delta shuttle from DCA to LGA Friday evening.
ENGAGED — Stephen Gordon, a professional staff member for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Daisy Letendre, adviser for federal government affairs for FirstEnergy Corp, got engaged at the Amanyara Resort in Turks and Caicos. The couple met as political appointees at the EPA in 2017. Pic
WEEKEND WEDDINGS – “Kaitlin Oujo, Niels Lesniewski,” via NYT: “Ms. Oujo, 30, is a foreign-affairs specialist in Washington, working on nonproliferation issues, at the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration. She graduated cum laude from George Washington University and received a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia. … Mr. Lesniewski, 34, is the senior Senate reporter at Roll Call, a newspaper and website in Washington that covers Congress and politics. He graduated magna cum laude from Hamilton College.” With a pic, NYT
— “Allegra Kirkland, Daniel Graf,” via NYT: “Ms. Kirkland, 29, is the senior politics editor at Teen Vogue in Manhattan [and is a TPM alum]. She graduated from Oberlin College. … Mr. Graf, also 29, is a producer at Trollbäck & Company, an international branding and design studio in Manhattan. He graduated from Boston University.” With a pic, NYT
— “Heather Long, Andrew Park,” via NYT: “Ms. Long, 37, is an economics correspondent in Washington for The Washington Post, and is also a governor of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, which has its headquarters at Arizona State University’s journalism school. … Mr. Park, 33, is a senior editor and writer, covering the leveraged finance industry and collateralized loan obligations, at Leveraged Commentary and Data, a daily online publication of the industry-news division of S&P Global, the financial information company; he works in the company’s Washington office.” With a pic, NYT
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Tyler Jones, CEO of Speak Strategic and senior adviser for Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) and Beto O’Rourke, and Lauren Jones, a pharmacist at the VA in Charleston, S.C., welcomed Afton Margaret Jones, coming in at 7 lbs 15 oz on Wednesday, Oct. 9. Pic
BIRTHWEEK (was Saturday): NYT’s Mikayla Bouchard (hat tip: Rachel Hicks)
BIRTHDAYS: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is 61 … Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is 3-0 … Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) is 59 … Tiffany Trump is 26 … Harris Faulkner, Fox News anchor … Ari Fleischer is 59 … Billy Bush is 48 … Glover Park Group’s Nedra Pickler and Jack Krumholtz … Gregg Rothschild is 54 (hat tip: dad Herb) … Bill Schuette … Cathy Rubin … Josh Etter is 38 … PBS NewsHour’s Candice Norwood … WaPo research editor Alice Crites … Christopher Colford … Emily Cadei, correspondent for the SacBee in McClatchy’s D.C. bureau … Nate Brand, NRSC press secretary … Rebecca Shabad is 3-0 … Lilian Lin Yigu … Rick Davis, EVP of standards and practices at CNN, is 67 … Richard D. Siegel …
… Gerrit Lansing, partner at IMGE, is 36 … twin brothers Nic and Nate Breeding … David Willkie … Shawn Yancy … CAP’s Jerry Parshall … Michael Tomasky is 59 … Clarence Wardell … Emily Gould … Dawn Le … Corinne Falotico … Regina Hing … Bev Lindsey … Judy Pino … POLITICO’s Lily Lancaster … Edelman’s Michael Newell … Carrie Adams … Steven Gutkin is 55 … Ashley Prime Gula … Paul Williams … Lauren Lyster … Jeffrey Kimbell … Lucy Weber … Chris Jankowski … Fran Person is 37 … Kris Anderson … Christen Linke Young … Josh Friedmann … Daryl Muller … Craig Smith … Andrew Hosea … Joanna Burgos … Michael Lemonick … Sarah Stevens … Carl Wiederaenders
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine