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Ukrainian story broadens into Trump's State and Justice departments

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.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife Susan Pompeo arrive in Rome on Oct. 1, 2019.Andrew Medichini / AP

WASHINGTON — This Ukraine story already didn’t look great for Mike Pompeo’s State Department and William Barr’s Justice Department.

And today it looks a lot worse.

For starters, we now know Pompeo was ON that July 25 phone call, in which President Trump asked Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and his son.

Here’s what Pompeo said about the incident when ABC News asked him about it back on Sept. 22:

ABC: "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Trump pressed the president of Ukraine eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden's son. What do you know about those conversations?"

Pompeo: "So, you just gave me a report about a I.C. whistle-blower complaint, none of which I've seen."

Additionally, the transcription memo of the July 25 call has Trump asking Ukraine’s president to help him with “Crowdstrike” and “the server” — meaning the effort to discredit Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“I would like to have the attorney general [Barr] call you or your people, and I would like you to get to the bottom of it,” Trump said on the call.

And guess what we’ve learned Barr has been doing.

“Attorney General William P. Barr has held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies’ examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Washington Post writes.

More: “Barr has already made overtures to British intelligence officials, and last week the attorney general traveled to Italy.”

The travel by Barr comes as we’ve also learned that Trump asked Australia’s prime minister to investigate the origins of Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Now there is a potentially legitimate reason for the United States to reach out to Australia — if you want to understand how the Russia probe all began with George Papadopoulos.

But there’s also a not-so legitimate reason.

“Barr’s conversations with foreign counterparts have raised concerns among some intelligence officials that he may be seeking to substantiate conspiracy theories raised by some on the political right to defend Trump,” the Post adds.

Giuliani suggests he might not comply with subpoena

Hours after Democratic committee chairmen subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani for Ukraine documents relating to their impeachment inquiry, Giuliani suggested he might not comply.

“I have received a subpoena signed only by Democrat Chairs who have prejudged this case. It raises significant issues concerning legitimacy and constitutional and legal issues including, inter alia, attorney client and other privileges. It will be given appropriate consideration,” Giuliani tweeted.

But remember what House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff said on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday: Refusals or prevention to comply with subpoenas and testimony might be treated as obstruction of justice.

Data Download: The number of the day is … 47 percent

47 percent.

That’s the share of registered voters who say President Trump should be impeached *and removed from office* in a new Quinnipiac poll, up 10 points from the same poll’s results last week.

The new survey, which was in the field September 27-29, found 47 percent in favor of impeachment and removal, while 47 percent disagreed.

That’s compared to a just 37 percent who supported impeachment and removal in a poll fielded September 19-23.

The movement has largely been among Democrats. The previous poll showed support for impeachment and removal at 73 percent among Democrats, 34 percent among independents and 4 percent among Republicans.

The new poll shows it at 90 percent among Democrats, 42 percent among Independents and 7 percent among Republicans.

2020 Vision: Bernie outraises Pete in the 3rd quarter

NBC’s Gary Grumbach and Shaquille Brewster report that Bernie Sanders raised $25.3 million in the third fundraising quarter — up from $18 million in the second quarter.

The other campaign to release its numbers this morning is Pete Buttigieg’s, which said it hauled in $19.1 million — down from $24.9 million last quarter.

So here are the numbers so far for the third quarter:

  • Sanders $25.3 million
  • Buttigieg $19.1 million

On the campaign trail today: Tom Steyer stumps in Iowa, hitting Council Bluffs… And Tulsi Gabbard is in New Hampshire, where she visits Nashua and Londonderry.

Dispatches from NBC’s embeds

Bernie Sanders cast doubt on who he might be competing against in a general election. NBC’s Amanda Golden and Gary Grumbach report that at a campaign stop yesterday in New Hampshire, Sanders said, “But given the impeachment process that is now taking place, if it's not Trump, we're gonna beat Mike Pence more – even worse. So I don't know who the Republicans will bring forth, but whoever it is, we're gonna beat them.”

And Golden, who’s covered Sanders and Warren in New Hampshire, has noticed some key differences between how the two candidates promote their progressive messages: “Both Sanders and Warren hit similar points in their stump speeches, though they perform them differently. Sanders tends to hit his points back-to-back with little embellishment (health care, climate, etc.), whereas Warren tells more of a personal story to narrate how she came to hold the positions that she does.”

Tweet of the day

The Lid: Apples and oranges

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at all the most recent impeachment polling and tried to sort out what’s real and what’s noise.

ICYMI: News clips you shouldn’t miss

Russia says Trump can’t release transcripts of any calls between Trump and Vladimir Putin without the Kremlin’s permission.

The New York Times explains what’s going on with that secret White House computer system.

Some Republicans are pleading for a more strategic response to the impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Chris Collins has resigned ahead of an expected guilty plea for charges related to insider trading.

Trump Agenda: Subpoena time

The House is subpoenaing Giuliani for Ukraine documents.

NBC confirmed reports that Trump asked the Australian prime minister for help investigating the origins of the Mueller probe.

2020: Shake it up

Is Kamala Harris shaking up her campaign staff?

Democrats are starting Nevada caucus training in Spanish.

Trump’s primary challengers are struggling to raise cash.

The Louisiana governors’ race could be over before Republicans even pick their candidate.

The Washington Post checks in with a controversial Virginia state senator who could mix up this November’s high-stakes elections.

The New York Times looks at how top Democratic wealth tax proposals would reshape the economy.