Cover: U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California. Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
Welcome to America’s Newsletter from Tag The Flag, the best morning newsletter on the internet, bringing you nonpartisan news and every view of the Red, White, and Blue. Here’s what you need to know to start your day.
📌 BULLETIN BOARD
⚡ Breaking: The U.S. and China are moving closer to agreeing on the amount of tariffs that would be rolled back in a phase-one trade deal despite tensions over Hong Kong and Xinjiang. No matter how this week shakes out we’ll have a full debrief in our weekend newsletter, The Street Sheet. Sign up here if you haven’t already.
😬 Yikes: World leaders were caught on camera making fun of Donald Trump behind his back at the NATO summit. Justin Trudeau, Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron appeared to pass comment on the US leader’s idiosyncratic approach to international diplomacy.
🦅 U.S. NEWS
Report Cards: First the Republicans, Then the Democrats
On Monday Republican House members turned in their report card of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine saying the president made “entirely prudent” decisions driven by a “reasonable skepticism” about corruption in the country. Yesterday House Democrats submitted theirs. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the draft report concluded that Trump abused his office for personal and political gain by pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations that could benefit him. More specifically, the report is broken down into two sections, one on Ukraine and the other on obstruction of Congress — both of which are expected to be separate articles of impeachment. What to watch: The Judiciary panel, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, is holding its first impeachment hearing today with legal experts. What to read: how the report’s release played on the right, left, and center. – Fox News / CNN / The Hill
- Related from CNN: Democrats obtained phone records showing how Trump allies coordinated ‘false narratives’.
- Related from Fox News: Devin Nunes sues CNN for $435M over ‘false and defamatory’ Ukraine story.
Kamala KO’s Her Campaign
Senator Kamala Harris of California, once dubbed the “female Obama” by former Today Show anchor Matt Lauer, dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday after months of low poll numbers and a series of missteps that crippled her campaign. Why it matters per POLITICO: it was “a premature departure for a California senator once heralded as a top-tier contender for the nomination.” – Fox News / POLITICO / NYT / LA Times
- From the right via Arnon Mishkin on Fox News: “If I had to pick the one candidate whom this benefits, I’d pick Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who is now the last remaining woman among the moderates. I’d also look closely at the two remaining Democratic candidates who, like Harris, are African-American: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.”
- From the Left via Miriam Pawel of the New York Times and John Healey of the LA Times, respectively: “Her candidacy appeared to have no real rationale and no clear constituency” and “a bigger problem for Harris seemed to be the lack of a coherent message.”
- From Harris herself: “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign… But I want to be clear with you: I will keep fighting every day.”
- From the Trump War Room Twitter account: “Congratulations, Tulsi!”
The Return of the Tax Returns
On Tuesday the debate over President Trump’s tax returns resurfaced. What’s happening: the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One must comply with a congressional subpoena for President Trump, his children, and his company’s financial records. Refresher: in our November 15th newsletter we laid out both sides of the argument for whether or not they should be released. Big picture: There are other legal battles pending over Trump’s financial records including a grand jury subpoena from Manhattan state prosecutors, who would like to review 10 years of the president’s personal financial records, including his tax returns from Mazars USA, Trump’s accounting firm. What’s next: Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said in a statement that the president’s legal team does not believe the subpoenas are valid most likely indicating this argument will end up in front of the Supreme Court. – NPR
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🌎 WORLD NEWS
NATO talks are wrapping up in London today and chances are you might’ve heard about President Trump’s confrontational conversation with France’s president, Emmanuel Macron (video). What you may not have heard about, however, is another NATO ally that flies under the radar at big events like these: Turkey. Katie Williams of Defense One notes that Turkey has long felt underappreciated and disrespected in NATO. Context: Washington and Ankara remain in a standoff over the latter’s purchase of a Russian air-defense system. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also sent forces into Syria to attack Kurds whom the United States considers partners in the fight against ISIS. What to watch: Turkey, like all countries, acts in self-interest but keep an eye out for the Trump administration to attempt to bring Turkey back “in sync” with NATO. Why Turkey matters according to Ben Hodges, a former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe: “We look at Turkey as the cork in the bottle of the Black Sea” – Defense OneAmid Breakdown In Nuclear Talks, North Korea Threatens U.S. With ‘Christmas Gift’
North Korea is threatening to give the U.S. a “Christmas gift” unless Washington abides by an end-of-year deadline set by Pyongyang for concessions in exchange for a possible deal to curb its nuclear weapons program. NPR notes that this could be a reference to a new missile test. When President Trump heard the news at a NATO meeting he said, Kim “likes sending rockets up, doesn’t he? … That’s why I call him Rocket Man,” dusting off the old nickname he used for the leader of the hermit kingdom. – NPR / Washington Examiner / CBS
- On the right, Tom Rogan wrote for the Washington Examiner that “North Korea will spark a new crisis in January, responding to the Trump administration’s absent appeasement.”
- On the left CBS pointed out that after the North tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in July 2017, Kim called the missile a “package of gifts” to the Americans for their Fourth of July holiday.
In a detailed report from the Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials cite new intelligence suggesting Tehran’s finances are more dire than previously thought and are bringing it closer to a financial crisis. Keep in mind that Iran’s sanction-battered economy has sparked protests across the nation which have led to hundreds of deaths (or “thousands”, according to President Donald Trump). Why it matters: “The new U.S. assessment suggests Iran is approaching a point where it confronts a choice between returning to negotiations or lashing out with new attacks on U.S. allies and global energy supplies”. The Long Read: Will Iran Become the Next Soviet Union? – WSJ / National Interest / The Hill
Trump Says Trade War With China Could Drag On, But Be Smart
President Donald Trump said Tuesday it might be better to wait until after the 2020 election to strike a trade deal with China causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to fall 280 points. Be smart from the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Trump’s remarks probably indicated an effort to gain leverage during the last two weeks before a Dec. 15 deadline for new tariffs on consumer goods to take effect, rather than signaling a fundamental breakdown in talks, said U.S. officials and close allies of Mr. Trump.” Remember: “During the past two years, Mr. Trump has often amped up his rhetoric shortly before a tariff deadline, only to strike a deal that put the trade battle on hold. So far, however, those truces haven’t held.” – WSJ / CNBC
You’re Fired: Two Coaches Are Out
It was a tough Tuesday for professional sports coaches. In Charlotte, North Carolina the Ron Rivera era came to an abrupt end. Why it matters: The Panthers fired their all-time winningest head coach with the team on a four-game losing streak and headed to its third non-playoff season in four years. Up north, the news wasn’t much better in New Jersey where the Devils, an NHL team, fired John Hynes Tuesday after a 9-13-4 start that left the team in last place in the Metropolitan Division. Why it matters: New Jersey has three No. 1 overall draft picks in the lineup but currently has the NHL’s second-worst record. – AP
See You Later Larry, Say Hello to Sundar
Alphabet CEO Larry Page announced Tuesday that he will step down from the position. Google CEO Sundar Pichai will take over as CEO of the parent company in addition to his current role. Co-founder Sergey Brin will also step down as president of Alphabet and the role will be eliminated. Zoom out: Billionaires Larry Page and Sergey Brin who founded Google in 1998 have essentially been invisible in recent years. The Verge notes that “the duo have rarely made public appearances, spoken on investor calls, or shown their faces at product launches.” Why it matters: it’s an inflection point for not only Google but Big Tech right now in the wake of data and privacy scandals, antitrust arguments being made at home and abroad, and increasing employee activism. Pichai will now be the captain steering the massive company through an already stormy climate. – The Verge
📅 ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY
2009: Amanda Knox convicted of murder in Italy
On this day in 2009, 22-year-old American exchange student Amanda Knox is convicted of murdering her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, in 2007 in Perugia, Italy. Knox spent almost four years in an Italian prison following her conviction and then in 2015 was definitively acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation. The Netflix documentary on Knox is certainly worth a watch if you haven’t seen it already.
🇺🇸 TOP TAGS
Yesterday’s top tag was from cheery Charleston, South Carolina. We included a fun factoid about how the city got its name. Check it out and be sure to follow.Click here to join and upload your own Tags of The Flag.
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