The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats' first debate night

The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Democrats' first debate night
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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.


The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court rules against Trump census citizenship question | Sights and sounds from first debate night | What we learned | Key takeaways | Strong performance from Warren | Candidates break out their Spanish | Inslee becomes a meme | Trump kept on the sidelines | What to watch on night two | NBC tech issues spark Twitter jokes | Border bill fight heats up in Congress | Latest from Trump G-20 trip



No citizenship question on the 2020 census -- well, for now...:

On the last day of the Supreme Court's term, the court ruled that the Trump administration did not give enough of a reason for adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The ruling: 5-4. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices.

From Roberts's majority opinion: "The decision to reinstate a citizenship question cannot be adequately explained in terms of [the Department of Justice's] request for improved citizenship data to better enforce the [Voting Rights Act] ....  Several points, considered together, reveal a significant mismatch between the decision [Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossDesperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Trump scheduled to attend Davos amid impeachment trial Let's remember the real gifts the president has given America MORE] made and the rationale he provided."

Was this ruling expected?: No, this was a surprise win for those who are opposed to adding the citizenship question. 

Keep in mind about this case: This was one of the most highly anticipated rulings of the term. 

Full explanation of the ruling from The Hill's Jacqueline Thomsen:



Watch NBC News's Justice Correspondent Pete Williams read and analyze the ruling in real time: 


Gerrymandering cases -- Not your job, courts:

The Supreme Court ruled this morning that courts cannot rule on political partisan gerrymandering cases.

The cases: The ruling was made on two cases involving political maps, one in Maryland and one in North Carolina.

The ruling: 5-4 along ideological lines. 

The gist of Chief Justice John Roberts's majority opinion: "Roberts acknowledged that the maps at issue 'are highly partisan, by any measure,' but he said courts were ill-equipped to step in when legislators went too far when it comes to the politically sensitive task of drawing districts."

In Roberts's words: "Excessive partisanship in districting leads to results that reasonably seem unjust. But the fact that such gerrymandering is 'incompatible with democratic principles,' does not mean that the solution lies with the federal judiciary."


It's a steaming hot Thursday in Washington, D.C. I'm Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what's coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to -- and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

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10 down, 10 to go:

Theme music for today's newsletter: It'll get you in the zone, I promise.



  1. A big night for Warren: "The one-sentence summary: Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (D-Mass.) won." More on how Warren shined last night:
  2. Castro has a breakout moment: "Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has made immigration the central issue of his candidacy."
  3. Democrats want red meat: "Moderates always face a challenge in primaries, and that problem is especially acute during the tenure of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE, an intensely polarizing figure."
  4. Minor candidates struggle: "With the exception of Castro, few second-tier candidates made much of a mark. De Blasio perhaps did next best."
  5. Trump was kept on the margins: "One of the more surprising elements of the debate was that Trump was not particularly central to it." More on Trump's limited role:

Context and details for each from The Hill's Niall Stanage:

Who wasn't mentioned last night (!): Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE. Why this was surprising:

Final speaking times: Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial DNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate MORE talked more than any other candidate last night, followed by Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden calls for revoking key online legal protection Trump mocks Booker over suspended presidential campaign Julián Castro endorses Warren in 2020 race MORE and Elizabeth WarrenThe full chart:

^Tidbit: FiveThirtyEight compiled a word count for the debate. Notably in fourth: NBC's Chuck ToddCharles (Chuck) David ToddGOP senator 'open' to impeachment witnesses 'within the scope' of articles Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial GOP senator, Chuck Todd spar over whether Lev Parnas should testify in Senate impeachment trial MORE, who co-moderated the second half of the debate. Todd spoke just four fewer words than Elizabeth Warren in third.

Video of the debate:

Live blog of the debate:



The talk of the night: Lol, Cory Booker's facial expression when Beto O'Rourke started speaking Spanish. Photo:

^Reactions from two candidates who will be on stage tomorrow: Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang's wife, Evelyn Yang, calls for 'big structural change' at 4th annual Women's March DNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE tweeted, "My Spanish is terrible" and Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson drops out of 2020 race Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy 2020 Democrats: Iran airstrike 'reckless,' 'could cost countless lives' MORE tweeted, " I need to learn Spanish by tomorrow night at 9." 

This is your time to shine, Mayor Pete: "[Pete] Buttigieg needs to speak Norwegian tomorrow night." Tweet from CNN's Chris Cillizza: Throwback to Buttigieg breaking into Norwegian:


Getting traction -- I laughed:

The crowd loved this moment -- I have a plan for that: NBC's Chuck Todd asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.): "Do you have a plan to deal with Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public George Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial GOP senator 'open' to impeachment witnesses 'within the scope' of articles MORE?" Warren: "I do." Her plan:

Watch -- Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOur government and public institutions must protect us against the unvaccinated Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far 2019's political winners and losers — on both sides of the aisle MORE was happy as a clam when climate change came up: He looks SO happy. Video:

Omg, I'm crying -- Jay Inslee is a meme now:


The drinking game of the night: Chad Livengood of Crain's Detroit Business tweeted, "At this point in the #DemDebate, I'm drinking every time @JohnDelaney tries to talk."



Security didn't recognize John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperMitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate Hickenlooper raised .8 million for Colorado Senate bid in fourth quarter of 2019 George Conway group releases ad targeting GOP senator: 'You're just another Trump servant' MORE :( 

"Security person outside debate site just now: 'are you here to pick up press credentials?'

John Hickenlooper: '...I'm a candidate'" (Via NPR's Scott Detrow)

Live footage of 2020 candidates deciding who goes on stage first:;)

OK, OK, here is ~actual~ footage of the candidates lining up backstage:

If you click one lighter tidbit -- Oh man, this is great: "Dem candidates as Airplane! cast members" Photos -- some of these are pretty funny:

Tidbit during the commercial break: "A Democrat in the room tells me that during the commercial break, Beto walked over and shook de Blasio's hand, after de Blasio interrupted him during the first heated exchange of the night." (Via The Hill's Jonathan Easley)

On de Blasio repeatedly jumping in: Slate's Will Saletan tweeted, "My son is groaning at De Blasio's repeated interjections. 'New Yorkers, am I right?'"

Video of the crowd laughing during the technical difficulties: Time went by SO slowly during these moments. Watch:

Practical takeaway from the tech difficulties: "I hope you'll all watch these technical difficulties and finally understand why it's so important to mute your phone BEFORE joining the conference call" (Via IJR's Josh Billinson)



Booker explained why he gave Beto that look: "I just knew he had laid a gauntlet down," Booker told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "And I was talking a little bit with Castro. Both he and I knew, as people who can speak Spanish, that now we were gonna bring it as well."

^ Overheard: "Booker in an aside to an aide about why he was giving Beto THAT look: 'He kind of butchered his Spanish in the beginning'" (Via The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jonathan Tamari

This is always an interesting measure of the evening: Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThe Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment trial a week away; debate night Trump mocks Booker over suspended presidential campaign Thousands take to New York streets in solidarity after anti-Semitic attacks MORE has a big media crowd around him in the spin room. (Via The New York Times's Shane Goldmacher) Photo:

Julián Castro also got a lot of attention: Photo of Castro being interviewed in the spin room:

^Twins!: "Imagine you had a solid debate night and you got to send a second identical surrogate to the spin room" Photo:

From former Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade McCaskill: 'Mitch McConnell has presided over absolutely destroying Senate norms' Claire McCaskill: Young girls 'are now aspiring' to be like Warren, Klobuchar after debate MORE (D-Mo.): "We saw some presidential candidates tonight that would make great candidates for Senate"

Observation from CNN's Eric Bradner: "I thought Beto O'Rourke was bad in his first [Texas Senate] debate against Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Cruz: Hearing from witnesses could extend Senate trial to up to 8 weeks Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE. His timing seemed off and he wasn't ready for the barrage he faced. In their second debate, he was much more assertive and aggressive. Can he make a similar leap by late July? He might have to."

Reaction to Booker/Castro's performances: "Booker & Castro both impressed a lot of folks I've spoken to but impressed them in a 'I'd like to see Elizabeth Warren consider him for VP' kind of way." (Via Vox's Matthew Yglesias)

Well played. 

What Team Tulsi tweeted from her official account during the debate: "It's clear who MSNBC wants to be president: Elizabeth Warren. They're giving her more time than all the other candidates combined. They aren't giving any time to Tulsi at all. -V (Tulsi's sister)"


Bernie SandersBernie SandersNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Biden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina MORE (who was not on stage!) used the first debate to fundraise: Sanders sent out a fundraising email, "Candidates are actually talking about raising taxes on the rich ... Make no mistake about it -- they are talking about these issues because we have led the way."

*Breaks into song* 'Why can't we be friends?!': MSNBC's Donny Deutsch got into a heated argument with MSNBC's Lawrence O'DonnellLawrence Francis O'DonnellTrump points to stock market gains: 'How are your 409K's doing?' Buttigieg: Harris 'deserves to be under anybody's consideration' for vice president Lawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump MORE after Deutsch said he didn't "see anybody" on stage who could beat Donald TrumpWatch the back and forth -- this is pretty awkward:



That was fun. Let's do it again sometime. 

Say, tonight?:

The other 10 qualifying Democratic presidential candidates are debating in Miami tonight.


Who is debating tonight, in order of the podiums:

Marianne Williamson

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)

Andrew Yang

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden breaks away from 2020 pack in South Carolina Sanders says gender 'still an obstacle' for female politicians Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders MORE (D)

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-Calif.)

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (D-N.Y.)

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans Klobuchar on missing campaigning for impeachment: 'I can do two things at once' MORE (D-Colo.)

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Enes Kanter sees political stardom — after NBA and WWE Swalwell pens op-ed comparing Trump impeachment to XYZ Affair MORE (D-Calif.)

How to watch: Same time, same place -- 9-11 p.m. EDT on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo

Who is moderating: The same moderators from night one -- Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, Chuck Todd, Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowGOP senator, Chuck Todd spar over whether Lev Parnas should testify in Senate impeachment trial House Democrats may call new impeachment witnesses if Senate doesn't Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE and José Diaz-Balart.



1. How much incoming fire will Joe Biden face?

2. Will Bernie Sanders deliver?

3. Can Pete Buttigieg reset his campaign?

4. Can Kamala Harris reignite her campaign?

5. Will a low-polling candidate break through?

Context and details for each from The Hill’s Jonathan Easley:



What would be an upcoming recess without a showdown first?:

Via The Hill's Cristina Marcos, "the partisan showdown over a $4.5 billion border aid package rumbled on Thursday morning, as Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public Schiff huddles in Capitol with impeachment managers Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-Calif.) and House Democrats planned a vote on an amended proposal providing explicit protections to migrant children in the face of opposition from the White House and Senate Republicans."

The tight deadline: Lawmakers are leaving for a long July 4 recess at the end of the week.

The disagreement: "President Trump and Senate Republicans are urging immediate enactment of the Upper Chamber's bill -- passed Wednesday with overwhelming bipartisan support -- while House liberals are demanding additional language ensuring the administration uses the allotted money to safeguard the children and families crossing the border."



Our allies are lucky to have us, IMHO:

Earlier today, President Trump had a working dinner with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and was asked by a member of the Australian media if his "America First" agenda had a negative effect on allies.

Trump's response: "I think I can say very easily that we've been very good to our allies. We work with our allies. We take care of our allies. Generally speaking, I've inherited massive trade deficits with our allies. And we even help our allies militarily."



The future of health care:

The Hill published a series of articles looking at the future of health care. The special report: 

Spotted in D.C.: 

"Just saw a DC cop riding a scooter. What is happening." (Via The Huffington Post's Igor Bobic)







The House and Senate are in. President Trump is in Osaka, Japan. Vice President Pence is in Washington, D.C.

7 a.m. EDT: President Trump had dinner with the prime minister of Australia in Osaka, Japan.

Noon: Vice President Pence speaks at a closed press Great America Committee lunch in Washington, D.C.

Noon: Two roll call votes in the Senate. The Senate's full schedule today:

1:45 p.m. EDT: Roll call votes in the Senate. 

3 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence swears in the chairman of the National Credit Union Administration Rodney E. Hood.

4:30 p.m. EDT: Vice President Pence speaks to National Intrepid Center of Excellence staff and patients at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. 

July 17: Former Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE will testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.



This morning: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held her weekly news conference. Livestream:



Today is National Onion Day.


And because it's been a long morning, here are ducks leading an airplane to the runway: