Slew of House Dems back impeachment amid reports Trump withheld Ukraine aid

Good morning and welcome to Fox News First. Here's what you need to know as you start your day ...

Flurry of House Dems back Trump impeachment inquiry as reports say Trump froze Ukraine aid
Just a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi strongly suggested she was now warming to the idea of impeaching President Trump, a slew of key swing-district Democrats late Monday threw their support en masse behind opening a formal impeachment inquiry. The rapid-fire declarations by the influential Democrats, after seemingly months of teetering on the brink, came as the New York Times, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported in the evening that Trump personally ordered acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine "in the days before he pressed the new Ukrainian president to investigate the Democrats’ leading presidential candidate," Joe Biden.

Fox News has not confirmed that report, which was attributed to two senior administration officials. An official told the Wall Street Journal that the Trump administration internally maintained at the time that Ukraine's corruption problems were a consideration in the aid decision. Trump's decision to freeze Ukraine funding reportedly came more than a week before his call with Zelensky.

Leaders of the House Democrats, meanwhile, scheduled a meeting for Tuesday afternoon on how to handle the explosive whistleblower complaint concerning the president's phone call with the Ukrainian president this past July. Click here for more on our top story.

Ukraine controversy sparks battle on Capitol Hill as source says whistleblower didn't have 'firsthand knowledge'
The escalating controversy over President Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has ignited a battle on Capitol Hill over Democrats’ demands for a copy of the whistleblower complaint against Trump, as some liberal lawmakers threatened subpoenas while Republicans called for restraint while they gather facts.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, but Democrats have been moving full steam ahead, calling for the whistleblower complaint to be released to lawmakers. Republicans say Democrats are playing politics, seizing on allegations that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate dealings involving Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to revive the push for impeachment.

Meanwhile, a source told Fox News that the whistleblower who sparked a mounting controversy did not have “firsthand knowledge” of the conversation between Trump and the Ukrainian president. In an exclusive interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Vice President Mike Pence blasted the media over its coverage of the Ukrainian controversy. The media, Pence said, have been relentless in their condemnation Trump while ignoring the allegations of "quid-pro-quo" against Joe Biden. Click on the video above to watch the interview. 

Trump to call for multinational response to growing Iranian aggression in address before UN General Assembly
As the Ukrainian whistleblower controversy brews, President Trump is preparing to call for a multi-national response to Iran's escalating aggression when he goes before the U.N. General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday. While Trump wants allies to join the U.S. in further isolating Iran, he also seems to be holding to his go-it-alone strategy of using economic sanctions to pressure Tehran to give up its nuclear program and stop attacks that are rattling the Middle East. On Monday, the president praised British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for a new deal to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear pact from which Trump walked away.

Trump was expected to use his speech to blame Iran for recent strikes against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. Iran has denied orchestrating the attack, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has deemed "an act of war." Britain, France and Germany joined the United States on Monday in blaming Iran for the attacks. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for his part, pointed to claims of responsibility by Yemeni rebels. - Reported by the Associated Press

FILE - Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

FILE - Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

DNC raises qualifying thresholds for November debate
The Democratic National Committee is raising the bar for presidential candidates to qualify for November’s fifth-round primary debate. The DNC announced on Monday that to qualify for the November showdown, candidates must reach at least 3 percent in four approved national or early-voting-state polls. That’s up from the 2 percent needed to reach the stage at the September and October debates and up from the 1 percent needed in three approved surveys for the June and July debates.

But, the upping of polling and donor thresholds – more modest than the doubling of the criteria from July’s second round to this month’s third round – may not significantly winnow the field of White House contenders still standing after October’s debate.

Federal prosecutors investigating e-cigarette maker Juul: report
Federal prosecutors in California are conducting a criminal investigation into e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc., the Wall Street Journal reports. The probe by the U.S. attorney’s office of the Northern District of California is in its early stages, sources told the Journal. Juul has been blamed for a rise in vaping among teenagers. The Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and several state attorneys general are investigating its marketing practices.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is scheduled to have a hearing Tuesday on vaping and the recent rise of related lung diseases.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

TODAY'S MUST-READS
Ex-Dallas cop who fatally shot neighbor distracted by sexting police partner, prosecutors say.
Three sailors assigned to USS George H.W. Bush commit suicide in same week.
'Joker’ star Joaquin Phoenix leaves interview after being asked if movie will ‘inspire’ violence.
Cats actually do bond with humans, study finds.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Is America's $23 trillion national debt a problem?
US, Canada and Mexico business leaders say tariffs are impacting business expansion.
WeWork co-founder could soon give up his role at CEO.

#TheFlashback: CLICK HERE to find out what happened on "This Day in History."

SOME PARTING WORDS

Laura Ingraham gives her take on "climate change hysteria" and how adult activists are manipulating children to carry out their agenda.

Not signed up yet for Fox News First? Click here to find out what you're missing.

Click here to find out what's on Fox News today.

Fox News First is compiled by Fox News' Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Enjoy your day! We'll see you in your inbox first thing on Wednesday morning.