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Two days after Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) conference expressed mixed reactions to an impeachment inquiry into President Biden in three House committees, the decision has won over even the most reluctant Republicans. The Speaker opened and closed a private meeting Wednesday of House Republicans justifying his reasoning for the inquiry sought by former President Trump.
Some GOP lawmakers want swift action while others expect the proceedings to drag into the next year (The Associated Press and The New York Times).
“There’s a lot of accusations out there you just want the answers to,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday.
TWO OF THE CHAIRMEN LEADING THE PROBE, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), on Wednesday highlighted dozens of suspicious activity reports filed by multiple banks in connection to companies that funneled millions of dollars to Hunter Biden and said they would seek bank records to delve more deeply into the Biden family’s businesses.
But their audience — Senate Republicans — may not be easy to convince. Some have privately dismissed the inquiry as “a waste of time” and publicly questioned whether there is enough evidence to pursue one at all (The Hill and NBC News).
“There’s enough smoke there that I think, you know, there are legitimate questions that they need to get answers to which they probably aren’t going to get because they can’t,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the GOP whip, said after the briefing. “They get stonewalled on a lot of the information they need.”
▪ CNN: Fact-checking McCarthy’s claims while launching the Biden impeachment inquiry.
▪ The Washington Post analysis: Seven skeptical Republicans to watch on impeaching Biden.
THE WHITE HOUSE MOBILIZED to fight what it called the “unprecedented, unfounded claims” against the president regarding his son and family finances, sending a letter to top U.S. news executives on Wednesday that urged them to intensify their scrutiny of the proceedings (CNN). Top Democrats, meanwhile, are coalescing around a strategy to oppose the GOP’s inquiry: separating Hunter Biden’s conduct from his father. As Politico reports, they think they have the facts to back it up, since the GOP probe has yet to find any evidence directly linking the younger Biden to any wrongful conduct by the president.
WHAT REMAINS UNCLEAR is how McCarthy’s decision will impact his future and grip on the gavel. The Speaker is already working with an ultra-thin majority in a chamber where his own party’s conference is fractious — and right-wing GOP members have threatened to call votes to vacate him from his post (The Hill).
In addition to the intraparty difficulties, McCarthy is staring down a Sept. 30 government funding deadline and a potential shutdown, which is looking likelier by the minute as the House and Senate appropriations processes hit snags along the way. House Republicans already forced McCarthy to pump the brakes on the chamber’s annual $826 billion defense funding bill Wednesday, with no guarantee party leaders will find the votes to advance it (The Hill and Politico).
The Hill: Senate’s initial batch of funding bills overcomes first procedural hurdle.
A HIGH-RANKING FBI OFFICIAL involved in the Hunter Biden investigation on Wednesday refuted key testimony from an IRS whistleblower who claimed the top prosecutor on the case was stymied by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in bringing charges outside Delaware.
▪ Politico: The IRS whistleblower at the heart of the Hunter Biden probe took notes. Here they are.
▪ The Associated Press: The White House’s strategy for the impeachment inquiry: Dismiss. Compartmentalize. Scold. Fundraise.
👉 3 Things to Know Today:
▪ The United Auto Workers union may strike at a small number of factories if it can’t reach contract deals with automakers before a Thursday night deadline (The New York Times and The Associated Press). Risks for Biden (The New York Times).
▪ A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program unlawful, though he did not order officials to terminate deportation protections and work permits for 580,000 immigrant “Dreamers” (CBS News).
▪ Vast stretches of coastal New England face hurricane and tropical storm watches in anticipation of hurricane Lee’s possible impact on Friday and through the weekend (CNN).
LEADING THE DAY
© The Hill / Madeline Monroe/Greg Nash/Associated Press-Susan Walsh/Associated Press-Lynne Sladky | Former President Trump and President Biden.
Trump gloated and some Democrats expressed regret when Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Wednesday he won’t seek reelection in 2024 (The New York Times). The 76-year-old former 2012 GOP presidential nominee said he would step aside to make way for younger leaders and strongly suggested that Biden, 80, and Trump, 77, should do the same. Romney broke with his party in 2021 and voted to impeach the former president, who is the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination.
“There’s no question that the Republican Party today is in the shadow of Donald Trump,” Romney said, noting that the far right of the GOP is less concerned with policy and more focused on “resentment and settling scores and revisiting the 2020 election.”
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and the son of a former Michigan governor, is the subject of a new biography by McKay Coppins, titled “Romney: A Reckoning.” An excerpt appears in The Atlantic.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, during a NewsNation town hall on Wednesday, said “I’m running to win” the presidency, turning aside a reluctant prediction by Romney that Trump would win the GOP nomination (The Hill). Pence said his alliance with Trump “didn’t end the way I wanted it to, but I’m very proud of the relationship I had with President Trump during our four years” (The Hill). An Iowa voter called Pence’s position on transgender youth “appalling” during the event (The Hill). (The Hill and NewsNation are owned by Nexstar Media.)
2024 ROUNDUP: As Florida governor in 2018, Ron DeSantis took at least six undisclosed trips on private jets and accepted lodging and dining provided by wealthy donors, which were not reported as gifts or campaign contributions. A spokesman said the travel, accomodations and food “were compliant and received proper payment” (The Washington Post). … Half of Biden supporters are open to another candidate, according to a new Quinnipiac University national poll of adults and self-identified registered voters (The Hill). … Trump will be interviewed at noon on SiriusXM Triumph channel 111 by radio host Megyn Kelly (The Hill). … Trump will appear in a pretaped interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” moderated by Kristen Welker (Deadline). … The Democratic National Committee is set to meet today about proposed changes to the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation designation (The Hill). … How redistricting is shaping the 2024 House map (The Hill).
➤ MORE IN CONGRESS
© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Microsoft founder Bill Gates at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Tech executives, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, appeared in the Capitol on Wednesday to brief lawmakers about AI behind closed doors as House and Senate members hunt for ways to mitigate dangers of the emerging technology. Elon Musk called for a “referee,” or regulator, confirming he called artificial intelligence (AI) “a double-edged sword” during the forum organized by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Musk said the meeting, which included AI detractors, was a “service to humanity” and said it “may go down in history as very important to the future of civilization” (Reuters and The Hill).
Schumer said the two dozen attendees loosely agreed that the government should play a role. Among ideas discussed: whether there should be an independent agency to oversee certain aspects of the technology, how companies could be more transparent and how the United States can stay ahead of China and other countries (The Associated Press).
RAPID RETHINK: Schools are dropping their initial bans on OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot and adding AI to education platforms, The Hill’s Lexi Lonas reports.
HOUSE ADDENDUM: The husband of Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska) died in a plane crash on Tuesday in Alaska (The Washington Post). Biden called the loss “cruel and unfair” (The Hill). … Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, a member of the House GOP Freedom Caucus, appeared in headlines after being bounced from a Denver musical theater performance after creating a disturbance on Sunday (The Associated Press), and Politico reports she’s carefully calibrating her hard-charging MAGA persona when she’s in her home state.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will convene at 10 a.m.
The Senate will meet at 10 a.m. to resume consideration of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal 2024.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. Biden will travel to Prince George’s Community College’s Center for the Performing Arts in Largo, Md., to deliver a speech at 2:45 p.m. to contrast his economic policies with those of Republicans. He will warn against “MAGAnomics” (The Hill). Biden will return to the White House and at 6:15 p.m. speak with rabbis by phone to mark the Jewish High Holidays.
Vice President Harris will travel to Hampton University in Hampton, Va., to kick off her “Fight for Our Freedoms,” 12-campus college tour aimed at mobilizing young people, at 1:05 p.m. She will fly from Virginia to New York City and remain there for four hours before returning to Washington.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host a 7 p.m. dinner for German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in Washington.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will speak at 9 a.m. during the second annual Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) Conference.
First lady Jill Biden is in Atlanta through Friday. She will speak at 6 p.m. during a fundraiser for the Biden Victory Fund.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on claims for unemployment benefits filed during the week ending Sept. 9. The Bureau of Economic Analysis will report at 8:30 a.m. on producer prices. … What to know about the August inflation spike (The Hill).
The White House Historical Association’s quarterly lecture series continues with a Washington, D.C., panel discussion at 5:30 p.m., “Black Voices in the Media.” Information is HERE.
© The Associated Press / Sevastopol Governor Mikhail Razvozhaev telegram channel | Sevastopol Shipyard in Russian-annexed Crimea on fire after a Ukrainian missile attack early Wednesday damaged two Russian warships.
Ukraine’s counteroffensive appeared to take a new turn Wednesday against Russian targets inside Crimea, reportedly with Western-supplied cruise missiles.
The Ukrainian Air Force launched 10 Storm Shadow cruise missiles and damaged two Russian warships in the Sevastopol shipyard in Russian-controlled Crimea, according to news accounts and information from a prominent Russian military blogger. The extensive assault, which Russia said injured 24 people, appeared to be Kyiv’s most ambitious strike on the port since the war began. Russia said the damage would be repaired (CNN). Ukraine implied without confirming that western-supplied cruise missiles were used in the attack (BBC).
▪ The New York Times: After overcoming wartime sanctions, Russia’s missile production now exceeds prewar levels, officials say, leaving Ukraine especially vulnerable this coming winter.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Russia’s offensive to reverse Ukraine’s gains is stalling.
AMMO FOR TECH? Reports from a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia have hinted at Pyongyang exchanging ammunition for technology from Moscow — despite U.N. Security Council resolutions that would ban such a deal. Analysts say North Korea may have tens of millions of aging artillery shells and rockets based on Soviet designs that could bolster Russian forces in Ukraine (The Associated Press).
“Any form of cooperation of any country with North Korea must respect the sanctions regime that was imposed by the Security Council,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said during a news conference.
Kim used his first meeting with Putin in four years to state that his country views relations with Russia as a “first priority,” and offered a complete endorsement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and violation of recognized international borders (The Washington Post). Kim’s whereabouts in Russia remain unclear as of this writing; he was set to tour a Russian aircraft plant that builds fighter jets and then visit the country’s Pacific Fleet (The Associated Press).
▪ Reuters: Russia-North Korea summit: “Comrades” Putin and Kim send rivals a warning.
▪ The Washington Post: Kim’s visit to Russia hints at grim battlefield math for Putin.
CAUTION, BRAKING: Trump on Wednesday waived his right to a speedy Georgia trail as he and his lawyers plan a defense against racketeering charges tied to the 2020 election. Prosecutors want to try Trump and 18 other defendants together in Fulton County, Ga.; two defendants face trial on Oct. 23. Trump and his legal team want to stretch out the Georgia case beyond the 2024 election, if possible. The former president faces prosecution in a state case in New York, as well as federal cases in Washington and Florida (The Associated Press).
The Hill: A Georgia judge will hold a hearing today to consider a batch of defense motions from Trump-aligned attorneys Kenneth Chesebro and Sidney Powell, both defendants in the Fulton County case.
In the government classified documents prosecution, a federal judge in Florida ruled Wednesday in favor of the government and said Trump and his lawyers must discuss case information and evidence in a secured location. Where that will be based, exactly, was murky. The judge’s order bars Trump and his attorneys from disclosing any classified information to people not explicitly authorized. She noted that Trump and the lawyers may face “criminal and/or civil penalties” if they violate the terms of her order (CNBC).
▪ The Hill: Appeals court limits special counsel Jack Smith’s access to Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Scott Perry’s cell phone contents as part of the Jan. 6 investigation.
▪ The Hill: Tribal company hits ex-lawyer and legal giant with lawsuit.
■ Michael Gerson’s words make the case for saving the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), by former President George W. Bush, guest essayist, The Washington Post.
■ Ukraine is at a critical juncture in its battle for independence, by Patrick Drennan, opinion contributor, The Hill.
© The Associated Press / Brady-Handy photograph collection/Library of Congress via AP | 1865-1880 photograph of former President Andrew Johnson.
Take Our Morning Report Quiz
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by House Republicans’ calls to impeach Biden, we’re eager for some smart guesses about presidential impeachment.
Be sure to email your responses to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org — please add “Quiz” to your subject line. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
The House has officially commenced impeachment proceedings against how many presidents?
After President Andrew Johnson was impeached by the House in 1868, no other president was impeached for how many years?
In 1867, Rep. Joseph Clay Stiles Blackburn (D-Ky.) introduced an impeachment resolution against President Ulysses S. Grant that never gained momentum. What did the resolution concern?
- How many days Grant was absent from the White House
- Grant’s attempt to annex the Dominican Republic to the U.S.
- Scandals within Grant’s administration
- Grant’s criticism of President Johnson
Which of these presidents resigned from office before he could be impeached by the House?
- Grover Cleveland
- Thomas Jefferson
- John Tyler
- James Buchanan
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