Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 14, 2019

Harold Maass
Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes
SAUL LOEB/POOL/AFP via Getty Images


First public impeachment testimonies describe Trump's pressure on Ukraine

The House Intelligence Committee held the first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump's Ukraine dealings on Wednesday. William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent testified, revealing new details on Trump's handling of an alleged push to force Ukraine to announce investigations into Trump's political opponents. Taylor said he heard Trump was more concerned with "the investigations" into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son than Ukraine. Kent said "politically motivated investigations" were "infecting" the Trump administration's foreign policy decisions. Republicans on the committee questioned Taylor's and Kent's abilities to testify accurately, characterizing their recollections as hearsay. Trump has maintained his dealings with Ukraine were "perfect." [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


Appeals court backs House request for Trump taxes

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday allowed an earlier ruling to stand requiring President Trump's accounting firm to comply with a House subpoena to hand over eight years of Trump's taxes and other financial records. In an 8-3 vote, the court turned down Trump's request to rehear his argument that the subpoena was not legitimate. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow said Trump would appeal the case to the Supreme Court. The House Oversight Committee called for the accounting firm, Mazars LLP, to hand over the documents to help determine how Trump built his fortune and clarify his business interests after Trump broke with a decades-old tradition among presidential candidates to release their federal tax returns. [Reuters]


Trump thanks Erdogan for 'wonderful' meeting

President Trump had what he described as "wonderful and productive" talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House on Wednesday. At a news conference after the meeting, Trump thanked Erdogan for "his cooperation" in the tentative cease-fire in northern Syria, and said the two countries were making progress toward dramatically increasing bilateral trade. Trump said Turkey was a "great NATO ally" but that Turkey's purchase of a Russian missile defense system posed a "very serious challenge" to bilateral ties. Lawmakers had urged Trump to rescind his invitation to Erdogan, whom they said had failed to meet his obligations under an Oct. 17 agreement negotiated with Vice President Mike Pence to ease up on his military's incursion into Syria to drive out Kurdish fighters who fought with the U.S. against the Islamic State. [The Washington Post]


Barr: DOJ report on Russia inquiry's origins 'imminent'

A Justice Department watchdog's report on the origins of the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling and Moscow contacts with Trump associates is "imminent," Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday. The review, spearheaded by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, was intended to determine whether agents violated rules on surveillance of U.S. citizens, among other things. It came after President Trump and his supporters tried to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Barr's announcement confirms reports indicating Horowitz told Congress last month that his investigation was almost complete. In an Oct. 24 letter to Congress, Horowitz said he was asking the report's subjects for comments, and believed it "will be released publicly with few redactions." [Politico]


October deficit jumped 34 percent over same month last year

The federal deficit rose to $134 billion in October, a 34 percent increase over last October, according to Treasury Department data released Wednesday. The Treasury Department estimated that the full 2020 fiscal year deficit would be greater than $1 trillion for the first time since 2002. President Trump promised during his 2016 campaign that he would eliminate the deficit while in office, but the shortfall has jumped due to the GOP tax cuts and several bipartisan spending deals that have increased defense and domestic spending. A bigger deficit and rising overall federal debt can push up interest rates and limit actions leaders can take to avoid a recession. [The Hill]


Ginsburg misses oral arguments due to illness

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was ill on Wednesday, and was not on the bench to hear oral arguments. Chief Justice John Roberts said she was "indisposed due to illness," which is reportedly a stomach virus. A spokesperson said Ginsburg would read the briefs despite her absence. She announced in August that she was dealing with pancreatic cancer, and she also missed court after suffering a fall that fractured three ribs. Ginsburg is 86, and is the oldest Supreme Court justice. She is one of the court's more liberal justices. The court is hearing arguments on cases related to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, gun rights, and abortion this session. [CNN]


Deval Patrick tells top Democrats he's entering presidential race

Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick confirmed to senior Democrats on Wednesday that he plans to launch a campaign for the party's 2020 presidential nomination. Patrick plans to formally enter the race on Thursday and file paperwork at New Hampshire's State House to enter that state's primary. Patrick said last year that he would not run, but he is jumping in as the Democratic race remains fractured with less than three months to go before the Iowa caucuses kick off the primary season. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg also had ruled out a run only to decide last week that he would enter the primary field led by former Vice President Joe Biden with progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.) close behind. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a moderate, led a recent poll in Iowa. [The New York Times]


Islamic Jihad announces ceasefire with Israel

Islamic Jihad said Thursday it reached a cease-fire with Israel to end two days of fighting that followed the targeted killing of one of the Iranian-backed militant group's senior commanders, Baha Abu al-Ata, and his wife. Israel had accused Abu al-Ata of being behind several rocket attacks. The agreement to end the fighting, which included Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and rocket fire from the Palestinian territory, came after the worst escalation of violence in months left at least 34 Palestinians dead, including eight children. Hours after the Egyptian-brokered deal took effect early Thursday, Gaza militants fired rockets into southern Israel, where restrictions on residents had been lifted after the Israeli military declared that the Gaza operation was "over." No group immediately claimed responsibility for the post-truce barrage of rockets. [The Associated Press]


Disney shares jump after Disney+ signs up 10 million subscribers on 1st day

Walt Disney Co. shares surged to a record high on Wednesday, jumping 7.3 percent after the entertainment giant's new streaming service Disney+ signed up 10 million subscribers within a day of its launch. The figure was "eye popping," far exceeding Wall Street's expectations and suggesting that Disney+ could instantly be considered a legitimate competitor for streaming powerhouse Netflix, Dan Ives at Wedbush said in a note. Disney had aimed to line up 60 million to 90 million subscribers for the service in five years, but the first-day success suggested it could reach its goals faster, Ives said. Disney was the top stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which gained 0.3 percent to close at the latest in a string of record highs. [MarketWatch]


Verlander, deGrom win Cy Young Awards

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander won his second American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday, taking 17 first-place votes to beat out teammate Gerrit Cole, who got 13 votes. Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom won the National League balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America with 29 of 30 first-place votes. DeGrom was the 11th player to win the top pitching award in consecutive years. He and Verlander were just the 20th and 21st pitchers to win the award more than once. Verlander, 36, won his first Cy Young in 2011 when he played for Detroit, and has since been runner-up three times. Verlander led Major League Baseball this year with 21 wins. He also posted his first 300-strikeout season, including the 3,000th of his career. [The Associated Press]