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For Trump, it was some kind of Day 1,000 on the job

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: President Donald Trump is silhouetted against a U.S. flag as he holds a campaign rally in Lake Charles, Louisiana
President Donald Trump is silhouetted against a U.S. flag as he holds a campaign rally in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Oct. 11, 2019.Leah Millis / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Yesterday was Day 1,000 of the Trump presidency, as the Washington Post’s Dan Zak notes (if you count Inauguration Day as Day 1).

And what a day it was.

The House of Representatives voted — by a 354-to-60 margin — to condemn Trump’s withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria.

In a meeting with Italy’s president, Trump repeated the conspiracy theory that somehow Russia wasn’t responsible for the hack into DNC emails in 2016: “Where is the server? How come the FBI never got the server from the DNC? Where is the server? I want to see the server. Let's see what's on the server.”

In a later press availability with Italy’s president, Trump falsely said that the PKK — a separatist group of Turkish Kurds — is perhaps worse than ISIS: “Now, the PKK, which is a part of the Kurds, as you know, is probably worse at terror and more of terrorist threat, in many ways, than ISIS.”

The president got into a spat with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., over the senator questioning his handling of Syria and Turkey: “I think Lindsey should focus on judiciary. He ought to find out about what happened with Comey, what happened with McCabe, Lisa, what happened with Peter Strzok, what happened with President Obama, what happened with Brennan. That’s what Lindsey ought to focus on.”

The White House confirmed that Trump had sent this letter to Turkey’s Erdogan, which was dated Oct. 9 (after Trump had already green-lighted Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria): “Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will… Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool. I will call you later.” (Erdogan reportedly threw the letter into the trash bin.)

House Democrats stormed out of a White House meeting with Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi accusing Trump of having a “meltdown.”

And Trump tweeted a picture of Pelosi standing up to Trump at the White House meeting, and said she was the one having “an unhinged meltdown.” (Pelosi inserted the picture into her Twitter profile.)

Outside of the president’s behavior, what continues to stand out are the GOP members of Congress who compartmentalize all of it.

The pressure points they once could have used — like holding up his priorities and nominees — are gone.

Sondland’s quid pro quo?

Gordon Sondland, President Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, is scheduled to appear for his closed-door deposition in the impeachment inquiry at 9:30 am ET, per NBC’s Geoff Bennett.

And it comes as NBC’s Josh Lederman reports that Sondland, on July 10, explicitly mentioned the Ukrainian gas company linked to Joe Biden’s son over negotiations about granting Ukraine’s new president an audience with President Trump.

“Sondland’s meeting with the Ukrainians just steps away from the White House Situation Room came minutes after a larger West Wing meeting that included then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, who had been noncommittal about scheduling a meeting between Trump and new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.”

“Sondland directly contradicted Bolton by telling the Ukrainians that in fact, Trump was committed to meeting with Zelenskiy on the condition he open a corruption investigation, two people told about the matter tell NBC News. Bolton abruptly ended the meeting.”

“But, the individuals say, Sondland then invited the Ukrainian officials to continue the conversation separately, escorting them to a private room in the White House basement, the individuals said. That’s when Sondland was overheard discussing Burisma Holdings, whose board of directors former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden joined in 2014.”

That certainly seems to contradict that text from Sondland on Sept. 9: “Bill [Taylor], I believe you are incorrect about President Trump’s intentions. The President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind… I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Biden’s cash-on-hand situation doesn’t look like a frontrunner’s

We continue to vacillate on Joe Biden’s position in the 2020 Democratic race.

Is his frontrunner status more durable than the conventional wisdom suggests?

Or is he in more trouble than anyone thinks?

The cash on hand that Biden revealed in his 3rd quarter fundraising report — just $9 million, behind Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Harris — was evidence for the latter.

On the campaign trail today

President Trump holds a rally in Dallas at 8:00 pm ET… Beto O’Rourke holds a counter-rally in Grand Prairie, which is right outside of Dallas… Elizabeth Warren addresses a DNC Women Will Vote gala in DC… Kamala Harris and Julian Castro are in Iowa… And Amy Klobuchar remains in New Hampshire.

Dispatches from NBC’s embeds

Pete Buttigieg held a health-care roundtable in Iowa, where he highlighted the differences between his plan and others’ – mainly in comparison to Medicare for All after his debate performance. NBC’s Priscilla Thompson reported that Buttigieg received a question centered on the middle class being unable to afford more taxes: “Buttigieg assured her neither his prescription drug plan nor his health care plan in general would require a tax increase. ‘That's an advantage over the Medicare for All idea,’ he said. ‘That not only involve a higher tax rate on the middle class, but also there's still a hole that nobody has been able to explain and it's trillions of dollars.’ As a reminder Buttigieg says his drug plan is cost neutral paid for by taxes and penalties against drug companies.”

Joe Biden said President Trump led American leadership into “a free fall” while in Iowa, per NBC’s Maura Barrett. Biden said Trump is the “most reckless and incompetent commander-in-chief we’ve ever had.” Barrett reports he “laid out the timeline in which Trump ‘greenlighted Turkey’s invasion,’ but said ‘the damage has been done. You don’t get do-overs when it comes to national security.’” Biden also took a swipe at Elizabeth Warren, saying he was “surprised last night in the debate when one of my colleagues said she'd remove all troops from the Middle East. You know we can be strong and smart at the same time.”

Data Download: The number of the day is … $47.6 million

$47.6 million.

That’s how much billionaire Tom Steyer contributed to his OWN presidential campaign in the 3rd fundraising quarter.

Outside contributions in the same amount of time totaled just $2 million.

The staggering sum was enough for Steyer to purchase enough TV time in early nominating states to help him (barely) each the polling criteria for the October and November debates. But he’s still polling at just around 1.5 percent on average in national Democratic primary polls.

The Lid: Burn notice

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we took a deep dive into how much the Democratic candidates are raising and spending.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

NBC’s Ben Kamisar and Melissa Holzberg have a thorough look at everything we learned from the Q3 fundraising reports.

A leading gun control group is worried about the politics of mandatory buybacks.

Here’s our team’s look at just what happened in that contentious meeting between Trump and congressional Democrats.

Mitch McConnell is telling Senate Republicans to prepare for an impeachment trial.

Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo are set to meet Erdogan amid fallout from a letter Trump sent to the Turkish leader warning him not to be a “tough guy.”

Trump Agenda: It’s Sondland Day

EU ambassador Gordon Sondland will be questioned behind closed doors today in the congressional impeachment inquiry.

(And the New York Times looks at how Sondland got into the Ukraine mess in the first place.)

Trump has largely failed to keep witnesses from talking to Congress.

The House overwhelmingly passed a condemnation of Trump’s Syria moves.

What’s up with Karen Pence?

There might actually be movement in the Brexit negotiations.

2020: About Pete and Medicare for All

Pete Buttigieg is critical of Medicare for All now, but he has previously voiced support for it.

Texas Republicans are worried behind the scenes about the state trending blue, a secret recording shows.

Marianne Williamson says she’s not dropping out.

Democratic rivals aren’t letting up on Elizabeth Warren after the debate.

In case you were wondering… Chelsea Clinton isn’t running for Congress.