The TAKE with Rick Klein
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That's not lost on the president. But what he may be losing over time is the ability to convince GOP leaders that loyalty is worth its increasingly evident risks.
Revelations in the Ukraine investigation pile onto poll numbers that show growing support for Trump's impeachment and removal from office. Now it's the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine testifying to Congress about arrangements that point toward the quid pro quo the president insists didn't exist.
Trump is responding with complaints about the process that are awkward for Republicans to defend -- his "lynching" Tweet is Exhibit A -- and thinly veiled political threats at GOP leaders who dare defy him.
The next few weeks with test the president's political sway. Three red states -- Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi -- will elect governors on Nov. 5, with at least two of those races competitive for Democrats.
As the president exhorts his party to "get tougher and fight," Trump's ability to move voters one way or the other could be tied to his ability to hold votes back in Washington.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
First, Taylor described a series of events in which he was routinely cut out of top-level meetings despite his appointment, and, more, he argued, "official foreign policy was undercut by the irregular efforts led by [Rudy] Giuliani," the president’s personal attorney
Second, Taylor indicated that Trump was at the center of decisions to condition both an Oval Office meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as well as the withholding of congressionally approved security aid. According to Taylor, the conditions were that Zelenskiy publicly stated that he was investigating both the energy company former Vice President Joe Biden’s son worked for and a conspiracy theory about whether Ukrainians were involved in 2016 election interference instead of -- or as well as -- the Russians. Taylor said at one point he talked to colleagues about the possibility of having another Ukrainian official, aside from the president, make a statement about conducting investigations.
Third, Taylor argued that the Ukrainians were "confused" by having to deal with two competing teams of U.S. intermediaries: the official State Department ones and the other team with private citizens, such as Giuliani, and government officials, such as Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
Fourth, though he was "chief of mission," in Ukraine, Taylor claimed he was not given a readout of Trump’s call with Zelenskiy in late July or at any point before the memo of the call was made public from the White House.
Fifth, at the end of August -- a month after the call -- Taylor said the Ukrainians were asking about the withheld security assistance and he did not have an "explanation."
And last, Taylor made the case that the U.S. aid to Ukraine was essential for fighting off very real, imminent and lethal Russian aggression, something Republicans have long said as well.
The TIP with Jeffrey Cook
Sen. Amy Klobuchar is launching a new TV ad campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire titled, "Whiner in the White House." She turned heads at last week's debate in Ohio, most notably by challenging the more progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren's "pipe dream" promise to pay for universal health care. Since then -- in just seven days -- Klobuchar raised $2.1 million in donations. The campaign had raised a total of $4.8 million over the previous three months.
The ad will air for a week on televisions across Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the presidential primary. Audiences will see the ad begin with Trump speaking animatedly to cameras as Klobuchar says, "Americans are tired of having a whiner in the White House.
I'm Amy Klobuchar. As president, I won't govern by tweet."
She goes on to list some of her top issues: infrastructure, prescription drug prices and rural challenges.
Since the debate, the senator from Minnesota has visited 10 counties in New Hampshire and 12 in Iowa. In order to make the next debate, Klobuchar will need two more qualifying polls as she and fellow Midwestern moderate Mayor Pete Buttigieg attempt to maneuver themselves into the top-tier, hoping that any loss of momentum by Biden will be their gain.
ONE MORE THING
The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine told members of Congress during a closed-door deposition Tuesday that he believed it was "crazy" to withhold aid to Ukraine only if the country's leadership agreed to open an investigation into 2016 election interference and business matters related to former Vice President Joe Biden's family. Read his opening statement to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, who tells us how lawmakers are reacting to President Donald Trump's tweet comparing the impeachment inquiry to a "lynching," and what we learned from diplomat William Taylor's testimony on Tuesday. Then, New York Magazine writer Brian Feldman previews Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday. http://apple.co/2HpocUL
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