10 things you need to know today: November 5, 2019

1.

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that President Trump’s accounting firm must hand over his tax returns to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. The New York prosecutor subpoenaed Trump’s financial records in an investigation of hush money payments made just before the 2016 presidential election to two women, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who said they had affairs with Trump years before. Trump denies the affairs. The three-judge panel rejected Trump’s argument that state authorities can’t investigate a sitting president. Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said he would appeal the appeals court decision to the Supreme Court. “The issue raised in this case goes to the heart of our republic,” Sekulow said. “The constitutional issues are significant.” [NBC News]

2.

The Trump administration formally notified the United Nations that the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris climate accord, it announced Monday. President Trump said in 2017 that he planned to withdraw from the landmark climate change agreement. The withdrawal will take effect in a year. “President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. Democrats said Trump was shirking his responsibility to lead. “Future generations will remember this president’s failure to lead on the greatest environmental challenge of our time,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. [The New York Times, The Hill]

3.

The House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry into President Trump released transcripts Monday from the depositions of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and former State Department official Michael McKinley. Yovanovitch, in her testimony, said she felt “threatened” by Trump when he said in a call with Ukraine’s president that Yovanovitch was “bad news” and was “going to go through some things.” Yovanovitch said Trump’s comments made her feel like “I really needed to watch my back.” Yovanovitch also said the State Department was afraid to speak out to support her because they thought Trump might “undermine” that support, while McKinley said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was unresponsive when he tried to persuade him to show solidarity with the ambassador. [The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal]

4.

E. Jean Carroll, a writer who accused President Trump of raping her two decades ago in a New York City department store, is suing Trump for defamation. Trump has denied ever meeting Carroll and said her accusation was an effort to promote her book, prompting Carroll’s lawsuit. “I am filing on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed, and belittled,” Carroll said. Carroll, who is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, added that “no person in this country should be above the law — including the president,” who she alleges “brutally raped her.” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham called Carroll “a fraud,” and said her lawsuit was “frivolous.” [Mother Jones, The Washington Post]

5.

Four senior White House officials, including top national security lawyer John Eisenberg, defied subpoenas from House impeachment investigators and refused to testify on Monday. Eisenberg drew attention in the inquiry after other witnesses, including Trump’s top Russia and Ukraine experts at the National Security Council, testified they had told Eisenberg they had concerns about President Trump’s apparent effort to use congressionally approved military aid as leverage to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democrats. NSC lawyer Michael Ellis, national security aide Robert Blair, and budget official Brian McCormack also ignored subpoenas to give depositions on Monday, marking a win for the White House in its effort to discourage federal officials from cooperating with the impeachment inquiry. [Politico]

6.

Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is prepared to comply with impeachment investigators’ requests for his testimony, Parnas’ lawyer told Reuters on Monday. “We will honor and not avoid the committee’s requests to the extent they are legally proper, while scrupulously protecting Mr. Parnas’ privileges including that of the Fifth Amendment,” said the lawyer, Joseph Bondy. Parnas, a Ukrainian-American businessman, allegedly helped Giuliani search for negative information on former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Parnas is considered a potential key witness in the investigation into whether Trump abused his office by pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and other Democrats. [Reuters, The New York Times]

7.

China is pressing President Trump to lift tariffs he imposed in September under “phase one” of a deal to end the U.S.-China trade war, Reuters reported Monday, citing people familiar with the negotiations. The U.S. is reportedly considering removing the 15 percent September tariffs as a goodwill gesture. “If there’s a deal, [removing] tariffs will be part of it,” a senior administration official said. The initial agreement also is expected to include a pledge by the Trump administration to drop plans to impose higher tariffs on another $156 billion worth of Chinese imports, including cell phones, laptops, and toys, on Dec. 15. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping hope to sign the deal this month at a location still being determined. [Reuters, The Wall Street Journal]

8.

Oklahoma authorities released more than 450 inmates from state prisons on Monday in the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history. The mass release came after state lawmakers passed a law this year making it easier to review the cases of inmates previously charged with crimes no longer considered felonies, such as simple drug possession and low-level property crimes. The legislation is part of a reform effort aimed at easing prison overcrowding and helping low-level offenders rebuild self-sufficient lives. The state commuted 527 inmates’ sentences Friday and released all but 65 of them Monday. “Now is the first day of the rest of your life,” Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) told inmates on Monday. “We really want you to have a successful future.” [CBS News, CNN]

9.

U.S. stocks hit record highs on Monday as all three of the main U.S. indexes gained amid rising hopes that the U.S. and China would reach a deal to end their trade war. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 gained 0.4 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.6 percent. Futures for all three of the indexes rose by 0.3 percent or more early Tuesday ahead of the release of key economic data, including import and export figures, and key measures of factory activity. The Dow is now up by about 18 percent this year, while the S&P 500 has gained 22 percent and the Nasdaq 27 percent. [CNN, CNBC]

10.

Apple announced Monday that it would provide $2.5 billion to address California’s lack of affordable housing. The commitment includes a $1 billion statewide fund giving the state an “open line of credit” to build homes for families with low to moderate incomes. Another $1 billion will be used to provide mortgage assistance to first-time home buyers. Apple also plans to make $300 million worth of land it owns in San Jose available for affordable housing. “It’s a recognition that the San Francisco Bay Area is in a major housing crisis,” said David Shulman, a senior economist with the Anderson Forecast at the University of California, Los Angeles. Fellow Silicon Valley powerhouses Google and Facebook have made pledges to address the crisis. [The Associated Press]

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