WORLD NEWS Morning Report — Zelensky lobbies Speaker for Ukraine aid 

Morning Report — Zelensky lobbies Speaker for Ukraine aid 

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet President Biden today and make a personal appeal to senators and the Speaker in an effort to salvage U.S. support for additional military assistance this year. 

Zelensky and the Ukrainian military are simultaneously fighting Russia, working to keep European allies united behind a war seemingly caught in a stalemate and scrambling to rescue U.S. legislative support for more weapons and ammunition this year.  

The New York Times: U.S. and Ukraine military leaders search for a new strategy for 2024 after a failed counteroffensive. 

Biden, reacting to growing public impatience with spending on Ukraine and angst about Israel after the Hamas attacks, in October asked for another $61.4 billion for Ukraine as part of a larger package that included funding for Israel, Taiwan and for increased security at the U.S. border with Mexico. 

BIDEN’S REQUEST IS STUCK, even as the president says he’s willing to cut a deal with Republicans over immigration in exchange for the rest of his international security request to Congress. “The president has said he is open to compromise,” a White House spokesperson repeated. 

The Hill: Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Monday that additional Ukraine assistance is likely to be delayed until 2024. 

The White House says the government will exhaust funding for Ukraine by the end of the year if the House and Senate do not act. The president and his supporters warn that foot-dragging and political leveraging could “kneecap” Ukraine on the battlefield, in essence handing Russian President Vladimir Putin what he wants.  

THE UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT today will confer with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who before his rise to lead the House voted to oppose funding for Ukraine. Zelensky is also scheduled to meet with senators this morning (The Hill). In the fall when Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was Speaker and met with the Ukrainian president, McCarthy expressed support for additional U.S. aid to Kyiv, but noted there were fierce opponents in his conference. 

Lawmakers, many of whom are eager to wrap up work in Washington this week for the remainder of the year, say they back Ukraine funding in theory — but first want to approve changes to immigration law, including changes Democrats would oppose. Bottom line: Congress has not approved major immigration law in three decades (The Hill).  

“If I were a cynic, I’d say that Republicans have decided to tie support for Ukraine to immigration reform because they want Ukraine aid to fail. But I’m not a cynic,” Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.), the lead Democrat in negotiations, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. 

The Hill: Immigrant advocates are furious at Biden over the Ukraine-Border talks. 

“It was the White House — officials at the White House — who proactively engaged and reached out to Republicans on the Hill to suggest that it would be perhaps not a bad idea to have their arm twisted on restricting asylum and making it harder. And that was the opening act that led us to this point,” an advocate close to the negotiations, who asked for anonymity to speak candidly, told The Hill. 


3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

▪ A new survey underscores partisan divisions about continued aid to Ukraine. Sixty-five percent of Republicans, 32 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of independents say the U.S. is spending too much on supporting Kyiv in its war against Russia, according to a Financial Times-Michigan Ross poll of registered voters. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.  

Alexei Navalny, an imprisoned Putin foe and opposition figure, has been missing for a week after being ill, prompting concern in Washington and among allies in Russia. His whereabouts are unknown. He was sentenced in August to an additional 19 years in prison on top of a sentence of 11-1/2 years he was serving.    

▪ The new leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus is Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.). Good is one of eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy as Speaker. He also endorsed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for president. 


👉Coming Wednesday: The Hill’s Changemakers, our inaugural list recognizing the major players and under-the-radar staffers of Washington who have made a difference shaping the conversation on Capitol Hill and beyond. Whether in Congress, the media, the White House, advocacy or philanthropy, this year’s Changemakers are making an impact and leaving their mark. View the full list and read more Wednesday morning at TheHill.com


LEADING THE DAY 

© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), pictured Nov. 29, are behind a House vote expected this week to formalize a Biden impeachment inquiry that includes a probe of the president’s son Hunter Biden. 

MORE IN CONGRESS 

A House vote to formalize an impeachment probe of Biden is expected this week, and getting a resolution through the House with a razor-thin GOP majority would amount to an opening salvo. The GOP’s push to launch formal impeachment proceedings after months of unsupported allegations that Biden and Hunter Biden profited from the elder Biden’s government position is tied to Republican efforts to get the younger Biden to sit for a closed-door deposition Wednesday rather than let him speak publicly, as he and his lawyer have requested.  

The Hill’s Emily Brooks reports a vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry is intended to bolster the GOP’s legal arguments to compel testimony. It’s also political. Trump, the GOP presidential primary front-runner, has long urged Biden’s impeachment ahead of their anticipated rematch next year. Conventional political wisdom dictates that members in swing districts would face electoral risk by voting to authorize the inquiry. But many of those members — even some who were previously critical of the investigation — are expressing support for the official inquiry resolution, arguing that authorizing more investigation is distinct from a vote on impeachment articles. 

“We must be very methodical and careful and follow the facts where they lead,” Johnson said on Fox News over the weekend. 

The Hill: Inside the House GOP’s key Biden impeachment claims. 

REPUBLICANS HOSTILE TO HIGHER EDUCATION are smelling blood in the water after last week’s disastrous House hearing on college antisemitism. “One down. Two to go,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said after University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned over the weekend following her testimony, writes The Hill’s Lexi Lonas. The pushback to the initial hearing was swift and bipartisan, but Republicans are looking past the controversial comments of the school presidents, with lawmakers going after the legitimacy of these universities as a whole. And the announcement of a full investigation from the House Education Committee signals GOP lawmakers have no intention of letting the issue quiet down anytime soon.  

The future of Harvard President Claudine Gay was uncertain Monday as the board convened behind closed doors, with an announcement on her fate expected today. Congress has opened an investigation into the three universities, with Republicans threatening to subpoena school administrators (The New York Times). More than 700 members of Harvard University’s faculty have signed a letter urging administrators to resist calls to remove Gay from her post (NBC News). 

“I think this is as difficult a moment for elite higher education as any moment since the Vietnam War period. Perhaps more difficult,” Former Treasury Secretary and former Harvard President Larry Summers said on Bloomberg TV’s “Wall Street Week” last week. “Even when the concerns are warranted, it’s very important for us to remember that if universities start being run by politicians or by small groups of large donors, that’s going to be a very problematic thing over time for the American university system, which is a huge source of strength for our country.” 

▪ The Hill: Antisemitic incidents in the United States have jumped 337 percent since Hamas launched its deadly attack on Israel more than two months ago, according to new statistics from the Anti-Defamation League. 

▪ The Hill: The House GOP’s Judiciary and Intelligence Committee chairs are preparing for a head-to-head debate over whose bill will reform the government’s warrantless surveillance powers as Johnson committed to have both weighed on the House floor.  

DISCORD LEAKER: In a Monday report to Congress, the Air Force blamed Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira’s superiors for failing to restrict his access to classified systems and facilities and alert appropriate authorities when he was alleged to have been illegally sharing government secrets. The Air Force completed its investigation in August, and disciplined 15 members of the Air National Guard after an internal investigation found that a “lack of supervision” and a “culture of complacency” helped enable Teixeira’s leaks in the spring. The Washington Post is publishing a multipart investigation into the Discord leaks, and a documentary jointly produced with PBS “Frontline” will premiere tomorrow. 


WHERE AND WHEN 

The House meets at 10 a.m. 

The Senate will convene at 10:30 a.m. 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will headline a campaign reception in Washington at 11:45 a.m. He will meet with Zelensky in the Oval Office at 2:45 p.m. They will hold a joint press conference in the Indian Treaty Room at 4:15 p.m. 

Vice President Harris will speak at a campaign reception at 11:25 a.m. She and husband Doug Emhoff will host a holiday reception at the Naval Observatory at 5:30 p.m.

The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting. 

Economic indicators: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will report at 8:30 a.m. on the Consumer Price Index and real earnings, both in November. 


ZOOM IN 

© The Associated Press / Rafiq Maqbool | A demonstrator Monday during the U.N. Climate Summit in Dubai protested the use of fossil fuels. 

POLITICS 

NO PHASEOUT: The United Nations’s climate body on Monday published its latest draft text of the deal it hopes to reach at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, which includes a range of actions countries could take to reduce emissions. Crucially, the list does not refer directly to a phaseout of fossil fuels, which was a key demand by the European Union and many developing countries that are especially vulnerable to climate change. 

Many climate experts and observers have blasted the draft for its vague language — including the use of the nonspecific “could” — and a lack of concrete timelines. More than 100 countries came to the Dubai talks supporting language to phase out fossil fuels, and many are likely to voice their opposition in coming sessions. Others, such as Saudi Arabia, which have pushed against the inclusion of any reference to fossil fuels, may attempt to water the text down further. Climate advocate and former Vice President Al Gore said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the summit “is now on the verge of complete failure” (Reuters and CNN). 

“The world desperately needs to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible, but this obsequious draft reads as if OPEC dictated it word for word,” Gore said. “It is even worse than many had feared.” 

Among the attendees at COP28 is a surprising delegation: Republicans, who plan to promote natural gas, nuclear energy and mining. The Hill’s Rachel Frazin reports that the GOP is known as a party that has not embraced climate solutions — voting against the Democrats’ major climate bill last year — making their appearance at the global conference as part of bipartisan delegations somewhat surprising.  

💊 Biden is leaning into lowering health care costs and picking fights with the drug industry to showcase what he could bring to a second term and provide a direct contrast with Trump, The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports. Biden is embracing aggressive policies to tackle high drug prices and campaigning as someone willing to take on the pharmaceutical industry. Health care has consistently been a winning issue for Democrats in recent elections, and the president’s reelection campaign wants to highlight both present and future ways he is lowering costs for Americans.   



ELSEWHERE 

MIDDLE EAST 

The United Nations General Assembly is expected to hold an emergency session today at the request of Egypt and Mauritania, focused on a United States’ veto last week of a cease-fire resolution covering Gaza, which was backed by the majority of the Security Council. The General Assembly is likely to vote today on a demand for a formal halt in fighting to work on a diplomatic solution and aid more than a million displaced civilians. 

Meanwhile, Israel’s attacks in southern Gaza rage in Khan Younis. Under U.S. pressure, Israel is allowing Palestinian Americans to enter Israel from the occupied West Bank for the first time since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week reportedly told a Knesset panel that the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates would foot the bill for Gaza’s post-war reconstruction, despite contrary statements from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.  

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Israel’s response to recent attacks waged by Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon has been questioned following reports by The Washington Post that Israel used U.S.-supplied white phosphorus in a Lebanon attack. The substance can be used to cloud and disguise military movements, but use of the chemical could violate international law if used as a weapon against civilians. It sticks to skin and can cause potentially fatal burns and respiratory damage. White House national security spokesman John Kirby expressed “concern” when asked about the reports Monday and said the U.S. would ask questions.  

▪ The New York Times: Israel wants to respond to attacks at the Lebanon border waged by Iran-backed Hezbollah. But how? 

▪ The New York Times: Released Israeli hostages begin to tell their stories on their own terms, and mostly on social media.  

▪ The Wall Street Journal POLL: A majority (55 percent) of U.S. registered voters said they back Israel in its war with Hamas. A minority (25 percent) said Israel’s military action is disproportionate and going too far. A majority (52 percent) disapprove of Biden’s handling of the conflict, according to the survey conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 4. 

© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Special Counsel Jack Smith, pictured in August, sent a Justice Department request to the Supreme Court Monday to proceed with the election interference case against former President Trump. 

COURTS 

Special counsel Jack Smith on Monday asked the Supreme Court to take up former President Trump’s federal 2020 election criminal case, urging the justices to immediately weigh in on the former president’s immunity defense to keep the trial schedule on track. Trump is attempting to toss the case by arguing he has presidential immunity from the four-count indictment, which accuses him of entering multiple criminal conspiracies to subvert the 2020 election results. 

Smith on Monday urged the nation’s highest court to take up the issue before the D.C. Circuit issues its ruling on Trump’s appeal, citing a fast-approaching March 4 trial date. Trump’s maneuver threatens to upend his trial date, the first scheduled of any of his four criminal cases. “It is of imperative public importance that respondent’s claims of immunity be resolved by this Court and that respondent’s trial proceed as promptly as possible if his claim of immunity is rejected,” Smith wrote in the filing (The Hill). 

In a brief order issued just hours after the filing, the court asked Trump’s legal team to respond by Dec. 20. The court also said it would consider on an expedited basis whether to hear the case, an indication that it takes Smith’s request seriously (NBC News). 

HUNTER BIDEN’S LEGAL TEAM on Monday asked a Delaware judge to dismiss the federal gun charges filed against him, arguing that prosecutors violated key promises they made as part of a previous agreement that would have allowed the president’s son to avoid felony charges. The dismissal request marks the latest chapter in the long-running investigation into Hunter Biden, which has resulted in high-profile court hearings, massive political interest among Republican politicians — and two federal indictments (The Washington Post).  

▪ CNN: Hunter Biden’s latest indictment brings an uncomfortable ordeal to the forefront for his father. 

▪ The Washington Post: A timeline of the tangled life, career and legal woes of Hunter Biden. 

Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani will be ordered to pay damages for defaming two Georgia election workers. The question in front of a jury selected Monday is how much. The plaintiffs, mother and daughter, are seeking $43.5 million after Giuliani was found guilty by a judge of baselessly accusing them of tampering with the 2020 elections results, which they documented led to violent threats and public harassment (The Washington Post). Giuliani sat throughout the morning a dozen feet away from the plaintiffs at separate tables in the courtroom. The jury of eight selected Monday will only decide how much he should pay in damages for violent threats and harassment the pair received, after a judge earlier found him liable for more than a dozen defamatory statements against them (The Hill). 

THE TEXAS SUPREME COURT on Monday overturned a lower court order allowing an abortion for Kate Cox, a pregnant woman whose fetus was diagnosed with a fatal condition. The ruling came hours after her lawyers said she had decided to leave Texas for the procedure in the face of the state’s abortion bans. The court ruled that the lower court made a mistake in ruling that Cox, who is more than 20 weeks pregnant, was entitled to a medical exception. 

In its seven-page ruling, the Supreme Court found that her doctor, Damla Karsan, “asked a court to pre-authorize the abortion yet she could not, or at least did not, attest to the court that Ms. Cox’s condition poses the risks the exception requires.” Texas’s overlapping bans allow for abortions only when a pregnancy seriously threatens the health or life of the woman (The New York Times). 


OPINION 

■ The U.S. must change course on Gaza today, by Michelle Nunn, Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Jan Egeland, Abby Maxman, Jeremy Konyndyk and Janti Soeripto, guest essayists, The New York Times. 

■ The Texas abortion case blows up the abortion ban rationale, by Jennifer Rubin, columnist, The Washington Post. 


THE CLOSER 

© The Associated Press / Chris Pizzello | Movies “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” led Golden Globe nominations Monday. 

And finally … From an iconic doll to a scientist behind the bomb, the Oscar season began Monday with the Golden Globes and a sequel of sorts for this summer’s “Barbenheimer” box office blast.  

“Barbie,” the highest grossing film of the year (pulling in more than $1.4 billion worldwide at the end of October) led the roar with nine nominations, including best comedy or musical and best actress for Margot Robbie. Atomic bomb biopic “Oppenheimer” followed with eight Golden Globe nods, including best drama. 

The awards show will air Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and Paramount+, kicking off the 2024 awards season in an industry filled with its own subrosa drama. A complete list of nominations is HERE.  


Stay Engaged 

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