Politico: “President Trump had a quiet Sunday schedule, with just one afternoon event in the Blue Room. But by midnight, he had fired off 105 tweets and retweets, going for the usual suspects — Democratic rivals, the impeachment inquiry and allegations of fake news by the mainstream media.”
New York Times: “There is little to show for it. The Taliban control much of the country. Afghanistan remains one of the world’s largest sources of refugees and migrants. More than 2,400 American soldiers and more than 38,000 Afghan civilians have died.”
“Still, life has improved, particularly in the country’s cities, where opportunities for education have grown. Many more girls are now in school. And democratic institutions have been built — although they are shaky at best.”
“A long-awaited report by the Justice Department’s inspector general to be released on Monday is expected to criticize aspects of the early stages of the FBI’s Russia investigation but essentially exonerate former bureau leaders of President Trump’s accusations that they engaged in a politicized conspiracy to sabotage him,” the New York Times reports.
“The report is broadly expected to reject Mr. Trump’s allegations that the inquiry was a ‘deep state’ plot to take him down for political reasons… Investigators are said to have found no evidence of political bias in official actions, determined that the F.B.I. had sufficient suspicions in 2016 to lawfully open the investigation and concluded that officials never tried to infiltrate the Trump campaign itself, such as by placing any informants or undercover agents inside it.”
“Amazon said President Trump exerted ‘improper pressure’ on the Pentagon to keep a lucrative cloud-computing deal from going to his perceived political enemy, company founder Jeff Bezos,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Microsoft won the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract, which is valued at up to $10 billion over the next decade. Amazon had long been considered the favorite.”
Just Security: “Not everything in the report is a lie. In many instances, it is clear that, where possible, there was great care taken to avoid outright mistruths, through the careful phrasing of arguments to suggest a more sweeping defense than is actually offered, or through focusing on irrelevant and ambiguous witness testimony while ignoring direct and clear testimony to the contrary.”
“But staying within the bounds of the factual record – or even within the bounds of reasonable subjective interpretation of the record – could only get House Republican staff so far, and much of the report doesn’t just dance around the truth so much as it strides into deliberate falsehood. In order to depict the events at the heart of the Trump-Ukraine impeachment inquiry in a light that could at all be construed as a defense of President Trump’s conduct, it appears that some outright lies were needed.”
“President Trump is planning to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday in Washington, an encounter that is sure to draw significant scrutiny amid several ongoing controversies involving Trump and Russia,” CNN reports.
“Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told CNN on Monday that the two plan to meet. The White House has not yet confirmed the meeting to CNN.”
North Korea took its most personal swipe at President Trump in more than two years, saying the U.S. leader’s recent comments made him sound like a “heedless and erratic old man,” Bloomberg reports.
A protester at the House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing shouted at chairman Jerry Nadler, accusing him and Democrats of committing “treason” in their inquiry, CNN reports.
As the impeachment process heats up in Washington, a new Firehouse Strategies (R) poll finds President Trump is seeing a boost in support in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Across the board, Trump is polling well against the Democratic field in each of these battleground states. Notably, Vice President Biden has seen a sharp decline in support in our surveys as he currently runs behind the president in each of the three states.
Axios: “Trump won by an average of six percentage points in hypothetical match-ups against all current Democratic candidates, including Joe Biden, who was performing well in head-to-head contests against Trump in polling conducted earlier in the year.”
Ohio state Rep. Timothy Ginter (R), who said he had “no knowledge” of a right wing Christian bill mill called Project Blitz is, in fact, the co-chair of the state branch of an organization behind the campaign, The Guardian reports.
Ginter sponsored a bill called the Student Religious Liberties Act, which “would provide students with a religious exemption to facts, and would frighten teachers and school administrators into including religion in school functions.”
The bill is nearly identical to one promoted by Project Blitz.
Michelle Obama opened up to the Today Show about the current impeachment hearings exclusively saying: “It’s surreal I think… I don’t think people know what to make of it. But do I think we can come back from it? Oh yeah.”
She added: “We’ve seen worse times. We’ve seen tough times in this country. You know we’ve gone through depressions and wars and bombings and terrorist attacks and we’ve gone through Jim Crow and we’ve always come out stronger. And that’s what we have to continue to believe because what’s our choice? To ball up in a corner and call it a day? Well that’s not fair to this next generation that’s coming before us, that are counting on us to get this right. It’s not an us or them. It’s not an R or a D. We are all here as part of this country. We all want the same things, it’s just sometimes that gets lost in the noise.”
“The House Judiciary Committee is convening Monday morning for a crucial hearing at which lawyers for Democrats and Republicans plan to make the case for and against the impeachment of President Trump based on his conduct toward Ukraine,” the Washington Post reports.
“Following opening statements by Judiciary Committee lawyers, lawyers for the House Intelligence Committee — Daniel Goldman for the Democrats and Stephen Castor for the Republicans — will present evidence from its investigation that yielded a report by Democrats alleging that Trump compromised national security by putting his personal political interests above the national interest.”
Playbook: “So lawmakers will have their crack at a congressional staffer, which can create a unique dynamic. They can be much more firm, direct and, to be frank, rude with someone who works on the Hill. This committee has 41 members, so it could take a while.”
The hearings begin at 9 a.m. ET.
Joe Biden was asked about his son’s work on the board of a Ukraine company by Mike Allen on HBO:
BIDEN: I don’t know what he was doing.
ALLEN: Well, you’ve had a lot of time. Isn’t this something you want to get to the bottom of?
BIDEN: No. Because I trust my son.
Wall Street Journal: “House Democrats and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are nearing a deal for Congress to pass a modified U.S. trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, though hurdles remain.”
“House Democrats and Mr. Lighthizer have been meeting for months to hammer out a deal to amend the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, and have narrowed differences over key sticking points in recent days, the people said. The biggest divide is over revising the agreement on the enforcement of labor rules, a priority for Democrats.
Politico: “Roger Stone’s supporters are making a pardon pitch everywhere President Trump looks: Fox News, InfoWars, Twitter, even the White House driveway. Michael Flynn abruptly hired a bombastic lawyer who spouts Trump-friendly theories about FBI duplicity that are widely seen as a pardon play.”
“Paul Manafort has kept himself on Trump’s radar from behind bars in a federal penitentiary by feeding the president’s personal attorney a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, and not Russia, interfered in the 2016 campaign.”
“In any other administration, and in any other time, it’d be shocking to consider that three men with such deep personal ties to the president might get their legal troubles expunged in an election year — not to mention from a president facing impeachment proceedings. But this is not any other administration.”
“A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.”
“The documents contain more than 400 interviews with insiders who offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.”
Joe Biden told Axios that Elizabeth Warren would be on his list of potential vice presidential nominees, although he claims she’d be “very angry at my having said that.”
He quickly added: “The question is would she add me made to her list.”
“Elizabeth Warren said Sunday she believes Americans are ready for a presidential ticket with two women at the top, rejecting concerns from some Democrats that a woman can’t beat President Trump,” the AP reports.
Said Warren: “Sure, why not? I think voters would support a lot of different combinations.”