October 11, 2019

President Trump's very open wallet doesn't exactly seem to be paying off.

So far in this campaign, pro-Trump committees have spent a whopping $531 million on his 2020 re-election campaign, The Washington Post reports. That's more than eight times what Trump's campaign spent by the time he effectively secured the GOP nomination in 2016, but in polls matching him up with Democratic contenders, he's still falling behind.

Trump has had no trouble raking in funding throughout the 2020 race, raising a combined $125 million in tandem with the Republican National Committee in the third fundraising quarter. For comparison, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) topped the Democrats with $25.3 million that quarter. That haul has allowed Trump to pour dollars into Democratic attack ads, with committees spending $10 million on them already, per the Post. Trump is also increasing his consulting power, hiring just 19 consultants to work on his campaign in 2016 but employing more than 200 today.

But all that spending doesn't mean Trump will be able to secure the swing states he scored last time around. A national Fox News poll in August put former Vice President Joe Biden, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) over Trump by at least six points each, while a Quinnipiac University poll in October maintained Biden, Sanders and Warren's success.

Biden has meanwhile been beating Trump in Texas since April of this year, per a poll, while a September poll showed five other Democrats were topping Trump as well. Of course, if there's anything we learned in 2016, it's that polls involving Trump aren't always on target. Kathryn Krawczyk

7:30 p.m.

Republican voters say they prefer more progressive tax plans, at least when the plans are anonymous, a new poll from a progressive think tank shows.

Data for Progress, whose goal is to "show how a progressive agenda can win nationwide," worked in tandem with YouGov Blue to conduct a survey which pitted the tax plans of President Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) against one another. Those polled were presented with a graph that showed prospective income tax rates for people of different incomes under each plan, but the candidates' names were nowhere to be seen.

Per the poll, Warren's plan — which would aggressively tax the wealthy at higher rates than lower-income people — was the most popular and considered the fairest overall, even among Republican voters, 35 percent of whom preferred Warren's compared to 29 percent who favored Trump's regressive tax rate.

Among Democrats, Sanders' and Warren's plans were effectively tied. Biden, meanwhile, appears to be lost in the wilderness on this one. YouGov conducted a survey of 1,024 U.S. voters online. No margin of error was reported. Read more at Data for Progress. Tim O'Donnell

6:53 p.m.

Let's not forget that the record-breaking 12 candidates set to appear on the debate stage Tuesday night are somehow not even all of the people who are running for president. There is also, apparently, some guy named Wayne Messam, who is the mayor of Miramar, Florida.

You might be excused for not knowing Messam's name; he hasn't appeared on the debate stage quite yet. And, well, he is perhaps not doing the best job self-promoting, either; according to his Federal Election Commission filing on Tuesday, his campaign spent exactly $0 in the third quarter.

Even more surprising, though, is his fundraising haul. Between July and September, Messam reported raising just five dollars.

Take that number with a grain of salt. Adds The New York Times, "It is possible that the numbers Mr. Messam submitted are incorrect. That wouldn't be unprecedented; he submitted a corrected first-quarter report earlier this year after an accounting error led him to report raising nearly twice as much as he actually had." Jeva Lange

6:53 p.m.

If the video depicting a fake President Trump massacring members of the media — which was condemned by the White House — wasn't too much to handle already, ProPublica and WNYC released more disturbing audio from the conference where the footage was originally shown.

While speaking at the pro-Trump conference in Miami, Florida, at the Trump National Doral Miami, Mark Burns, a pastor, told the crowd multiple times that "we've come to declare war." As he continued, he reportedly asked if anybody was "read to go to war for Donald J. Trump, this nation?" as the audience reportedly cheered him on.

Additionally, radio host Wayne Allyn Root reportedly boasted about a time in his childhood when, as one of the few white students at a predominantly black high school, he knocked one classmate unconscious and shattered another kid's teeth. "My buddies and I were high-fiving and laughing," Root reportedly said during his speech. "Man, it was funny."

Root reportedly went on to say that "you've got to be a natural-born killer" to win in politics. Listen to the audio clips at ProPublica. Tim O'Donnell

6:43 p.m.

As part of a federal investigation into Rudy Giuliani, a grand jury has issued a subpoena for documents from former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), a longtime friend who has also interacted with two Giuliani associates who were arrested last week, people with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are reportedly looking into Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine and his role in the removal of Marie Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine. They are asking Sessions to turn over documents related to both matters, as well as interactions with Giuliani and his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested last week for conspiracy and campaign finance violations.

Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, is the primary focus of the subpoena, people familiar with the investigation said, and there is nothing pointing to Sessions being the target of the probe; Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for Sessions said he is cooperating and will start turning over documents. The Journal reported on Monday that federal prosecutors have looked at Giuliani's bank records and have been questioning witnesses since at least August. Catherine Garcia

6:32 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence announced Tuesday that he will not comply with a House impeachment inquiry subpoena for documents related to his possible involvement in President Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine into investigating his potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Pence's decision was described by White House reporters as "not shocking." Matthew E. Morgan, the counsel to the vice president and author of the letter announcing Pence's intentions, additionally slammed the House over its request for "a wide-ranging scope of documents, some of which are clearly not vice-presidential records."

Morgan addressed the letter to the chairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Intelligence Committee; the investigators had requested Pence produce the documents by Tuesday.

"Please know that if the committees wish to return to the regular order of legitimate legislative oversight requests, and the committees have appropriate requests for information solely in the custody of the Office of the Vice President, we are prepared to work with you in a manner consistent with well-established bipartisan constitutional protections and a respect for the separation of powers," wrote Morgan, additionally noting "never before in history has the speaker of the House attempted to launch an 'impeachment inquiry' against a president without a majority of the House of Representatives voting to authorize a constitutionally acceptable process."

Read the full letter below. Jeva Lange

5:31 p.m.

The Southern District of New York has yet another blow for President Trump.

On Tuesday, the Manhattan branch of the U.S. attorney's office charged the Turkish state-run bank known as Halkbank with six counts of fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses. The move comes after Turkey spent years trying to get the U.S. to drop the case in question, and after Trump himself tried to get the Justice Department to help Turkey out with that goal.

Halkbank's case began in 2012 when it allegedly began trying to "undermine" U.S. sanctions on Iran by "illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars' worth of funds," a SDNY press release reads. Bloomberg reported last week that Trump in 2017 pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to get the DOJ to drop a case against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who had been previously charged in what the SDNY calls the Halkbank "scheme." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) tried to tell Turkey's minister of defense that Trump still opposed the Halkbank case in August, though it turned out he was on a call with two Russian pranksters and not the minister, Politico reported.

In other negative news for Graham, or at least his ego, he confirmed in a tweet that he was listening in on a Monday phone call between Trump and Erdogan in which Trump "received a commitment" to stay out of Kurdish-held Syria. Erdogan didn't know Graham was on the phone, and reportedly complained about him during it, people brief on the call told The Washington Post's Josh Dawsey. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:15 p.m.

A Brexit deal, in which Northern Ireland would "de jure be in the U.K.'s customs territory but de facto in the European Union's," is in the works The Guardian reports,

A draft text of the agreement — which allegedly includes a customs border in the Irish sea — could reportedly be published as early as Wednesday if Downing Street signs off on the concessions, sources told The Guardian. Even if that does happen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will still have to usher the agreement through British Parliament, which was a difficult task for his predecessor, Theresa May. But there has not yet been any public criticism from Brexit hardliners.

In fact, Steve Baker, the leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, said he emerged from a Downing Street meeting "optimistic that it is possible to reach a tolerable deal that I am able to vote for." Johnson's ally and the leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said he believes Johnson has the numbers he needs in Parliament, though Northern Ireland's conservative Democratic Unionist Party could still be a tough get. Meanwhile, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, though more cautious, told reporters that "initial indications are that we are making progress, that the negotiations are moving in the right direction."

Still, there's some nervousness among EU nations that negotiations are being rushed ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline, The Guardian reports. It's time to wait and see. Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

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