Breaking News Emails
Good morning, NBC News readers.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is duking it out with House Democrats over their request to interview State Department officials as part of the impeachment inquiry. Johnson & Johnson reached another major opioid settlement. And there's one thing to cheer about: Baseball playoff season is officially underway.
Here's what we're watching today.
Pompeo accuses House Democrats of trying to ‘bully’ State Department officials
In a letter to House Democrats on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed back against Democrats' request to interview five current and former State Department officials as part of the impeachment inquiry.
"I am concerned with aspects of your request … that can be understood only as an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly the distinguished professionals of the Department of State," Pompeo wrote.
Democrats had also subpoenaed Pompeo for documents as he faces growing scrutiny over his role in the Ukraine scandal engulfing the Trump administration.
In a major admission, Pompeo confirmed Wednesday that he was on the telephone call between President Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
"I was on the phone call," Pompeo told reporters during a news conference in Rome with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio.
And despite his earlier tough talk, House committee aides told NBC News that Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine who resigned his post last week after his name appeared in the whistleblower complaint, will testify before the House on Thursday.
Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly ousted from her post in May, will also sit for a joint deposition next week. Her deposition was originally scheduled for this Wednesday.
In another surprise move, the State Department’s Office of Inspector General scheduled a last-minute briefing on the issue for Wednesday with staffers from a group of House and Senate committees.
Sen. Grassley defends whistleblower, breaking with GOP and Trump
"This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected. We should always work to respect whistleblowers' requests for confidentiality," the head of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and the former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
Meantime, Trump escalated his attacks against the Democrats' impeachment inquiry calling it a "COUP" in a tweet.
Fact check: Trump and his allies have advanced a theory over the last few days alleging that whistleblower rules were changed before the Ukraine complaint. Is that true?
Analysis: At the heart of impeachment, a potential dagger for Trump's re-election
President Trump's problem right now isn't just that the Ukraine affair has potentially provided the House with the substance of an impeachable offense, NBC News' Jonathan Allen writes in an analysis.
It's the fact that the "America First" president is accused of putting America second.
The existential risk for him — beyond impeachment — is that voters might agree.
An unexpected player in high-tech surveillance is helping the government monitor people
Motorola, a brand typically associated with cellphones, isracing to develop new ways of monitoring the public.
The tech firm has spent $1.7 billion since 2017 on companies that make cameras and artificial intelligence to track people, cars and other objects for the government.
Jay Stanley, an analyst with the ACLU, called Motorola’s acquisitions and government contracts "a scary prospect."
"Your privacy is more protected when information about you is scattered among agencies and entities," Stanley said. "When all that is unified under one roof, that sharpens the privacy issues."
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- Johnson & Johnson settled with two Ohio counties for $20 million ahead of a federal trial about the opioid addiction epidemic.
- Joe Biden’s 2013 trip to Beijing with his son Hunter is coming under new scrutiny amid Trump’s efforts to dig up dirt on the former vice president.
- Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger wasfound guilty of murdering her neighbor in his apartment.
- The Nationals stunned the Brewers in the National League wild card game.
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have sued a tabloid for publishing a private letter written by the duchess, ripping the "ruthless" media campaign against the new royal and citing Princess Diana's death.
THINK about it
Forever 21's downfall is the end of the sparkly, thoughtless era of fast fashion, writer Lily Burana argues in an opinion piece.
Science + Tech = MACH
Aliens may have bugged space rocks to spy on Earth, one scientist says.
NBC's Stephanie Ruhle: I'm a feminist, but my mom's not. I asked her why.
Quote of the day
"No one should be making judgments or pronouncements without hearing from the whistleblower first and carefully following up on the facts."
— Seven-term GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley defending the Ukraine whistleblower.
One fun thing
A Major League Baseball player of American Samoan descent is about as rare as, well, a Samoan in a small Indiana town.
Yet both descriptions apply to Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Manaea, 27.
Manaea, a left-hander with a career record of 35-28, became the 12th pitcher in Athletics franchise history to throw a no-hitter last season.
That's one of many achievements that earned him the honor of starting the A's elimination wild-card game on Wednesday at home against the Tampa Bay Rays.
He took some time off the mound to talk to NBC News' about small towns and his heritage.
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Thanks, Petra Cahill