The Hill’s Morning Report — Trump heads to Arizona, Nevada as legal troubles mount
As Arizona and Nevada gear up to start their early voting processes in the coming days and weeks, both states are also expecting visits from former President Trump, who in the past has been a vocal opponent of mail-in voting (Time).
Trump is scheduled to speak in Minden, Nev., on Saturday to support Republican candidates, including Senate candidate Adam Laxalt and gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo. Trump’s rally coincides with the planned mass mailing out of ballots to most rural counties in the state — including Douglas County, where Minden is located. Two weeks later, Nevada will start its early voting process (The Nevada Independent).
On Sunday, the former president will hold a rally in Mesa, Ariz. to boost Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters, who is running for the Senate, and Kari Lake, who is running for governor. Three days later, on Oct. 12, Arizona will begin early voting.
Trump has repeatedly said mail-in voting is rife with fraud, despite proof to the contrary. But as states were expanding access to mail-in ballots during the pandemic, the former president stuck by his message and successfully convinced large numbers of Republicans not to trust the method. The MIT Election Lab found that in 2020, 59 percent of Democrats voted by mail, compared to only 30 percent of Republicans.
The former president’s legal team on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to intervene in its legal battle to have a third party review the thousands of pages of government records he stored at Mar-a-Lago, The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch and John Kruzel report.
The filing from the Trump team asks the Court to lift a stay granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit that allowed the Justice Department to review more than 100 classified records taken from Mar-a-Lago during its August search.
Meanwhile, new revelations that Trump himself reportedly packed the initial 15 boxes returned to the National Archives and ignited a criminal Justice Department probe could strengthen the government’s case should it choose to prosecute, writes The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch.
The detail, which was first reported by The Washington Post, was revealed because Alex Cannon, a former Trump Organization lawyer who worked for the campaign and for the former president after he left office, told Trump he could not tell the National Archives all the materials it requested had been returned, even as Trump instructed him to do so.
Cannon told others he was not sure if there were still documents at Mar-a-Lago, people familiar with the matter told the Post.
“The fact that he packed them is very significant because I imagine the Justice Department is trying to resolve how much evidence they have that Trump personally knew and personally was involved in hiding the documents,” Ryan Goodman, co-director of the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law, told The Hill.
▪ Bloomberg News: Inside Mar-a-Lago: Pardons, White House emails, legal bills.
▪ Politico: Arizona GOP chair pleaded the Fifth, Jan. 6 committee attorney says.
▪ NBC News: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.): Calling Jan. 6 an “armed insurrection” is not accurate.
▪ Politico: Texts, recordings show Oath Keepers’ early talk of armed resistance to Biden presidency.
In Georgia, Republican Herschel Walker’s Senate campaign was thrust into turmoil on Monday when The Daily Beast published a report alleging the former football star paid for his then-girlfriend’s abortion more than a decade ago. Walker has said he opposes abortion, including in cases of rape and incest. As The Hill’s Max Greenwood and Al Weaver write, the news account stirred Republicans’ worries about Walker’s chances of ousting Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) in an increasingly tight race.
Walker has denied the report and threatened to sue the outlet. The GOP appears to be closing ranks around the candidate.
“Democrats are losing in Georgia and are on the verge of losing the majority, so they and their media allies are doing what they always do — attack Republicans with innuendo and lies,” Chris Hartline, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told The Hill in a statement. “Democrats and the media have tried to stir up nonsense about what has or hasn’t happened in Herschel Walker’s past because they want to distract from what’s happening in the present.”
▪ Politico: Republicans rally around Walker’s imperiled candidacy.
▪ The Guardian: Walker vows to sue over report he says is false that he paid for abortion.
After publishing a series of tweets attacking his father on Monday, Christian Walker on Tuesday explained his relationship with and criticism of his father further in a video. The 23-year-old conservative TikTok influencer called his father a liar and a hypocrite and alleged that he and his mother had to move often to escape his father’s violence.
“This is a candidate issue; this is not a me issue,” his son said in the video. “I wouldn’t have spoken out if there weren’t all these lies every day.”
Meanwhile, the GOP is grilling Pennsylvania Senate candidate Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) on the issue of crime, capitalizing on a rising rate in Philadelphia (The Hill). Republicans cite the recent ransacking of a Wawa store and the shooting of five students outside a Philadelphia high school this past week.
While Fetterman played defense by erasing statements of support for Black Lives Matter from his website, Republicans see the crime issue as one of their best opportunities to drive a wedge between Democrats and suburban swing voters, especially in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina.
Fetterman on Tuesday rebuked the GOP attacks. Speaking with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, he said, “It’s absurd, and it’s the Oz rule. You know, when he’s on TV, he’s lying.”
▪ The New York Times: A Republican group’s ads take on Fetterman over a 2013 gun incident involving a Black jogger.
▪ The Philadelphia Inquirer: Republican Senate candidate and physician Mehmet Oz is facing accusations of animal abuse tied to his medical research.
▪ Politico: As the midterms approach, election officials must confront a new problem: Whether they can trust their own poll workers.
▪ The Washington Post: The Supreme Court on Tuesday debated Alabama’s refusal of a second Black voting district in another major test of the Voting Rights Act.
▪ Bloomberg News: An effort to challenge thousands of voter signups, backed Trump ally Michael Flynn, failed in Georgia.
▪ Politico: Inside the GOP’s heated, leaky race to lead the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
▪ Bloomberg News: Trump is using his lawsuit against CNN to raise money.
▪ The Hill: President Biden will head to New York, New Jersey on Thursday to visit IBM and meet with Democratic donors.
LEADING THE DAY
➤ STATE WATCH
Biden today flies to hurricane-pummeled Florida to meet with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials while surveying the federal response and repeating that all available recovery and rebuilding assistance will be on its way from Washington (The Hill).
Biden and DeSantis will receive a briefing in Fort Myers, Fla., where part of the subplot will be the body language between two men who have clashed in the past over DeSantis’s recent transport of migrants from Texas to Massachusetts and the governor’s early pandemic-response rebukes aimed at the Biden White House. DeSantis is eyeing a possible presidential bid and has eagerly campaigned for Republican candidates outside his state.
Hurricane Ian devastated Florida, leaving the outspoken governor no option but to seek the maximum natural disaster resources available from Uncle Sam. The president has not hesitated to approve his requests and has coordinated with DeSantis directly.
▪ Politico: Because the hurricane damaged infrastructure in many Florida counties and communities, safely conducting elections on Nov. 8 may require fixes.
▪ The Hill: An analysis of recent hurricanes (before Ian blew through Florida and the Carolinas) corroborates warnings from the Federal Emergency Management agency that fatalities too often occur because of post-storm circumstances. The data tell that story: 371 indirect deaths versus 324 direct deaths.
▪ The Hill: Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is seeking reelection, on Monday extended the existing suspension of the state’s tax on gasoline until after the elections. He cited economic strains from Hurricane Ian.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
The White House is debating internally how and when to jump into the immigration reform policy arena. NBC News reports a West Wing push in that direction could come after the midterm contests. The policy details of any immigration agenda, as well as its scale and scope depend on the makeup of Congress and the political climate, according to NBC sources.
If Republicans control one or both chambers next year, intense GOP oversight of border security and management of immigration is a sure bet. Some House Republicans are threatening to impeach the Homeland Security secretary, the president, or both.
If Biden prepares to run for reelection in 2024, his advisers know that any GOP presidential nominee would challenge the incumbent on immigration. With or without Democratic majorities, the White House will be pressured to frame a constructive agenda that’s politically sustainable if Congress continues to duck legislation to repair the nation’s immigration laws.
On another potent election-year issue, abortion, Biden on Tuesday during a White House event touted reproductive healthcare equity, including new federal guidance to universities to urge them to protect access to abortion (CNBC).
More than a dozen red states have effectively banned abortions since the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that sent the issue to the states to decide. The resulting state legislative changes have affected nearly 30 million women of reproductive age, including 22 million barred from accessing abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, according to the White House.
Biden, a Catholic who supports reproductive healthcare rights, bashed the University of Idaho on Tuesday over its new guidance against offering birth control to students. He said contraception should not be controversial in 2022.
“Folks, what century are we in? What are we doing?” the president said. “I respect everyone’s view on this — personal decision they make. But, my lord, we’re talking about contraception here. It shouldn’t be that controversial” (The Hill).
Politico: No state is expanding Medicaid to cover a “crisis” in abortion access, which was an option encouraged in a Biden executive order.
The Treasury Department on Tuesday separately tackled a different equity aspiration: policies aimed at narrowing economic disparities faced by communities of color. The department announced a new internal advisory committee and heard from Vice President Harris, who said, “We see that people in our country are having an experience that is not equal. And that’s why we talk about equity because we recognize not everybody starts out on the same base. They don’t start out in the same place, even though they have the same God-given capacity.”
The Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity will include 25 members from academia, business and advocacy organizations and was described as an “accountability group” by Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo (The New York Times).
The Hill: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday dismissed an Axios report last week that she might leave government after the midterm elections. “There is no truth to that,” she said when asked if she planned to step down soon.
👉 How big is the U.S. national debt? More than $31 trillion, a record — and a worry. As interest rates rise, the nation’s fiscal woes worsen as borrowing by the Treasury becomes more costly (The New York Times).
■ The help Puerto Rico needs, by Sergio M. Marxuach, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3RzRDsU
■ How much cruelty is a pork chop worth? by Kathleen Parker, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3SEpbYb
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets Friday at 1:30 p.m. for a pro forma session. Members are scheduled to return to the Capitol Nov. 14.
The Senate convenes Friday at 1o a.m. for a pro forma session. Senators also are scheduled to return for work on Nov. 14.
The president and first lady Jill Biden will travel this morning to Fort Myers, Fla., arriving at 12:45 p.m. for a survey of damage from the air by helicopter and a briefing on the ground from federal, state and local officials at 2 p.m. The president and first lady will meet at 2:45 p.m. with residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Ian. Biden will deliver remarks from Fisherman’s Wharf in Fort Myers at 3:15 p.m. He will return with the first lady to the White House.
The vice president will fly to New Britain, Conn., at 9:45 a.m. to join a reproductive rights conversation at Central Connecticut State University at 1:15 p.m. moderated by Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) and including the CEO of Planned Parenthood. Harris will return to Washington this afternoon.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met this morning with Chilean President Gabriel Boric in Santiago, followed by a meeting with Foreign Minister Antonia Urrejola. He participates in a joint press conference with Urrejola. At midday, the secretary will meet with U.S. Embassy employees and families in Santiago, followed by an afternoon discussion about sustainable development and innovation with alumni of Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative. Blinken also will visit the National Electric Coordinator Control Room in Santiago.
The Treasury secretary will participate in a Hispanic Heritage Month event at 1 p.m. with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona at the department. Yellen at 1:30 p.m. will ceremonially swear in Ventris Gibson as director of the United States Mint.
Biden spoke Tuesday to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida about North Korea’s test on Monday of a long-range ballistic missile over Japan, which the president called “a danger to the Japanese people, destabilizing to the region, and a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions” (ABC News). Harris was in Japan and South Korea last week and Biden and the vice president are coordinating the U.S. response with both countries.
South Korea’s reprisal launch of a missile on Wednesday blew up and plowed into the ground after North Korea’s successful launch. The military apologized for alarming the public during a joint drill with the United States, adding that the warhead did not detonate. A U.S. supercarrier prepositioned east of North Korea (Reuters).
North Korea has tested some 40 missiles during an estimated 20 launch events this year as leader Kim Jong Un refuses to return to nuclear diplomacy with the United States. According to ABC, Tuesday’s provocative launch is the fifth round of weapons tests by Pyongyang in the past 10 days, an apparent response to two sets of military drills — between Washington and Seoul and another involving Washington, Seoul and Tokyo — off the Korean Peninsula last week.
In Ukraine’s south and east, Kyiv says its forces are gaining ground against the Russian army (The New York Times).
Biden called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday to promise the United States will not recognize Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia while also describing a new $625 million U.S. security assistance package that includes more weapons systems, ammunition, equipment and armored vehicles. In a strongly worded response, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov warned on Telegram that the latest U.S. backing for Ukraine risked a direct military clash between Russia and the West. U.S. security assistance to Ukraine since February exceeds $16.8 billion (South China Morning Post).
Russia’s defense ministry says it has 200,000 new recruits to join the war, but military analysts say they have yet to see their impact (The New York Times).
The Hill: Global recession? Yet another ominous forecast emerged on Monday, this one at the United Nations.
➤ U.S. ECONOMY
U.S. job openings fell sharply in August while layoffs rose, both signs that the labor market and economy are cooling, experts say.
Tuesday data from the Labor Department show total job openings declined 10 percent in August, from a seasonally adjusted 11.2 million to 10.1 million. The drop marks the largest decline since the early months of the pandemic, placing job openings at their lowest rate in 2022 (The Wall Street Journal).
Reuters: U.S. job openings drop sharply, labor market starting to loosen.
Though U.S. heating costs are not expected to be as high as those across the Atlantic, bills are nonetheless set to increase, especially in the Northeast. Natural gas remains in high demand domestically and for export, which for U.S. consumers means expected higher gas and electric bills (The Hill).
➤ HEALTH & MEDICINE
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer maintain a country-by-country list of travel advisories related to COVID-19, the agency said Monday. “As fewer countries are testing or reporting COVID-19 cases, CDC’s ability to accurately assess the COVID-19 THN [Travel Health Notice] levels for most destinations that American travelers visit is limited,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Travel.
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,060,428. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 322, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Elon Musk on Monday proposed a deal that would allow him to buy Twitter at $54.20 per share — the price he’d agreed to pay for the company in April. Since then, he and the company have been engaged in a legal battle as he tried to back out from the $44 billion purchase in July. In a Tuesday statement, Twitter indicated it was planning to accept Musk’s offer, “but because there is great distrust on both sides, Twitter leaders are still questioning whether the letter represents a legal maneuvering, said a person familiar with the situation.” Issues about how the judge in charge of the legal proceedings might oversee the purchasing process were discussed in a Tuesday hearing (The Washington Post).
▪ Bloomberg News: Musk’s texts over Twitter deal included ex-wife Talulah Riley.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Musk proposes closing Twitter deal on original terms.
▪ Bloomberg News: Musk’s Twitter deal has employees asking: Should I stay or should I go?
And finally … ☕ It’s a battle of the caffeinated morning beverages. The Washington Post pitted coffee and tea against each other in the ultimate test of morning pick-me-ups. While both beverages showed health benefits for drinkers — from improved microbiome health to reduced blood pressure and a lower risk for cancer and diabetes — coffee ultimately eked out a narrow win.
But both coffee and tea drinkers tend to live longer than people who consume neither brew. While most studies about longevity are observational, the Post notes that experts say both “tea and coffee provide so many health benefits that it’s reasonable to conclude that they could lower your odds of an early death.”
See how your preferred morning cup stacks up HERE.