Inside Trump - November 21st, 2019

Inside Trump (Nov 21st, 2019)

Dems unite against Trump in debate / Zuckerberg and Trump's secret dinner / Fiona Hill's testimony 

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1. President Trump's impeachment inquiry took center stage at the fifth Democratic primary debate Wednesday night. The candidates were united in voicing support for the investigation, which took a critical turn yesterday in the wake of EU ambassador Gordon Sondland's testimony tying the president closer to a quid pro quo. "We have a criminal living in the White House," Sen. Kamala Harris explained in one of the most talked-about responses of the night. Sen. Bernie Sanders argued "Congress can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time," suggesting lawmakers can focus on passing legislation and impeachment simultaneously. -- NEW YORK TIMES

2. President Trump distanced himself from Gordon Sondland in the wake of the EU ambassador's impeachment testimony. "I don’t know him very well," the president claimed to reporters on the White House lawn on Wednesday. "I have not spoken to him much." In his testimony, Sondland — a mega-donor to Trump's 2016 campaign — tied Trump even closer to a quid pro quo scheme forcing the Ukrainians to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in order to receive critical military aid. -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

3. President Trump hosted a previously undisclosed dinner at the White House with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last month, NBC News reported. Facebook board member and close Trump ally Peter Thiel also attended the gathering, which took place during Zuckerberg's trip to Washington, D.C., to testify to lawmakers about his platform's new cryptocurrency, Libra. It's unclear why the dinner was never announced publicly by Facebook or the White House. -- NBC NEWS

4. President Trump is expected to sign legislation showing solidarity with pro-democracy efforts in Hong Kong — a move that could threaten a new trade deal with China. The legislation, which passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support, would put sanctions on those in China charged with human rights abuses in the wake of mass protests in Hong Kong. But Trump's signing could complicate trade talks with the Chinese, who've promised to take "strong countermeasures" if the bill becomes law. -- NEWSWEEK

5. As impeachment heats up, President Trump is courting Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, who could play critical roles in the fate of his presidency. Trump is having lunch with Collins and Romney on Thursday along with fellow Senate Republicans Chuck Grassley, James Lankford, Rand Paul, and John Hoeven. Should Trump be impeached by the House, he will need the support of more moderate Republicans like Romney and Collins in the Senate. -- POLITICO

6. On Wednesday, President Trump took credit for opening an Apple facility that's been in operation since 2013. "Today I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high paying jobs back to America," the president wrote on Twitter amid a day of high-stakes impeachment hearings. "Today Nancy Pelosi closed Congress because she doesn’t care about American Workers!" As The Verge reported, the president also repeated falsehoods about Apple avoiding tariffs because the company manufactures its products in the U.S., which is not true. -- ENGADGET

7. Democratic presidential hopefuls discussed whether "lock him up" chants directed at President Trump are warranted. During Wednesday's debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders didn't seem fazed by the message the chants send, noting many of his supporters are acknowledging the president's alleged criminal behavior. Former Vice President Joe Biden struck a different chord with his answer, suggesting the tone of the chants isn't productive or unifying. Trump supporters began "lock her up" chants directed at 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton during the last presidential cycle. -- M-LIVE

8. President Trump's former top Russia adviser Fiona Hill will round out a consequential week of impeachment hearings alongside foreign service officer David Holmes today. Hill will likely express concerns she had regarding the Trump administration's communications with Ukraine, while Holmes is expected to discuss a key phone call he overheard between EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland and President Trump in which the two allegedly discussed investigations into the Biden family. -- NPR

9. Despite damning new impeachment developments, President Trump claimed in a Thursday morning tweet that yesterday had been "GREAT" for him and the Republican party. EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland's potentially game-changing testimony may have upended Republican defenses of the president, but Trump is putting on an optimistic face — at least publicly. In his tweet, Trump went on to call the impeachment inquiry a "hoax" and blamed the "FAKE & CORRUPT NEWS" media for reporting on the inquiry. -- THE HILL

10. It's clear that "Trump doesn't want me to be the nominee," former Vice President Joe Biden said during Wednesday night's debate. Biden claimed the fact that the president allegedly withheld military aid to Ukraine to get dirt on his family was evidence showing how much Trump feared Biden as a political foe in the general match-up. For several months, Biden has consistently beaten the president in hypothetical head-to-head polls, both nationally and in several key swing states.  -- REAL CLEAR POLITICS

Robbie Couch is a writer and reporter whose work has been published on HuffPost, GOOD magazine, Upworthy, and more. In previous roles, Robbie has written about politics, pop culture news, and social issues.

Editor: Kim Lyons, Inside Managing Editor and Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist.

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