The Hill’s Morning Report — House to get Trump tax files, high court rules
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It took three years of legal wrangling, but the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the House Ways and Means Committee can obtain copies of former President Trump’s tax returns from the executive branch (The Hill).
The high court, without comment, rejected Trump’s plea that justices prevent the Treasury Department from handing over six years of tax returns for Trump and some of his businesses to the Democratic-controlled committee. The Biden administration said federal law is clear that the committee has the right to examine any taxpayer’s return, including a president’s or former president’s.
Trump in 2016 refused to make his tax returns public, breaking with modern examples of transparency set by presidential candidates and presidents. His frequent public assurances during his campaign and in the White House were that he was “under routine audit” and would release his tax returns when an IRS examination was “complete.”
Trump, during a May 2016 interview with The Associated Press, added a frequent dismissal, raised during his first campaign.
“There’s nothing to learn from them,” he said.
Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who requested the files, said in a statement that the panel would “now conduct the oversight that we’ve sought for the last three and a half years” (The New York Times).
Neal did not say whether the committee would publish the returns. A committee aide told the Times that no decision would be made until lawmakers received the files. The Times reported two years ago that Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and another $750 during his first year in the White House.
The former president’s lawyers have argued the committee’s request lacked a valid legislative purpose and was a politically motivated abuse of power. The panel will be under Republican control in January and Trump is again a presidential candidate. The Supreme Court did not include any legal reasoning for its Tuesday ruling.
The former president’s various legal troubles and multiple investigations have encouraged members of his party to cast their eyes toward other potential 2024 GOP nominees, despite Trump’s fervent grassroots base of supporters.
A roundup of recent implicit and explicit jabs at Trump have come from former Vice President Mike Pence (whose campaign staff is taking shape), former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, reports The Hill’s Brett Samuels.
Republican Party elites, including some in Congress, took the measure of GOP voters in 2022 and now openly suggest the party is ready for a fresh 2024 White House contender who may be younger, less encumbered by controversy and more identified with conservative governance than personality.
The Hill’s Niall Stanage, in his latest Memo, explores whether the GOP presidential nomination will wind up a two-horse race between Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
▪ The Hill: DeSantis, 44, faces hurdles despite his political momentum as a possible 2024 GOP presidential contender.
▪ The New York Times: A federal appeals court on Tuesday appeared ready to end a special master review in the government’s probe of Trump’s possession of federal and national security documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago.
▪ The New York Times: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, on Tuesday was forced to testify before a Georgia special grand jury investigating 2020 election interference by Trump and his advisers. Graham fought the subpoena for months all the way to the Supreme Court.
▪ CBS News and The Wall Street Journal: Trump attorney Alina Habba said Tuesday during a hearing that Trump family members may appear during next year’s New York civil fraud trial involving the Trump Organization — “all of them.” She added that the former president might testify in his own defense.
▪ The Hill: President Biden on Tuesday extended until June the existing federal pause for student loan debt repayments.
▪ CNN’s Ron Brownstein dives deep into election data to analyze how fewer states than ever could pick the next president. A White House winner could be decided by a few hundred thousand voters in states such as Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona.
▪ The Hill: Biden on Tuesday telephoned an Army veteran whose quick reaction at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday was credited with subduing a gunman accused of killing five people. The White House called Richard Fierro and club patron Thomas James, who also intervened, “heroes.”
▪ The Washington Post Fact Checker: Dissecting GOP claims about Hunter Biden business deals allegedly involving his father.
LEADING THE DAY
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who is expected to win her reelection bid today, said during an interview that the Supreme Court’s abortion decision in June hurt Republicans in the midterms (Anchorage Daily News).
“I think the Republican Party, or certainly Republicans in Congress, are looking at the midterms now in the rearview mirror and saying ‘All right, it was not the red wave that some believed it to be. And since it was not, why not?’” Murkowski said. “Republicans nationally didn’t see a lot of support from [the] younger generation. Okay, why is that?”
“I think we’re going to see very clearly that the support from women more broadly was not what we want it to be as a party,” the senator continued. “I attribute that to the Dobbs decision.”
Alaska’s constitution supports abortion rights and Murkowski introduced federal legislation in February to codify Roe v. Wade, calling the measure “a priority” for Congress.
Murkowski’s expected win follows a lengthy and convoluted election process that will finally see her and Rep. Mary Peltola (D) emerge from their general election battles, writes The Hill’s Al Weaver.
Alaska’s new ranked choice voting system — which resulted in Murkowski running against Trump-endorsed fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka — turned the election into a proxy war between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Trump, respectively, with Murkowski becoming the key benefactor from the convoluted system.
“People are starting to look nationally and say ‘this could be the answer.’ I think they need to be cautious about that. … It’s very confusing,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who described the queries he received at his booth during the Alaska State Fair in Anchorage shortly after the August primary, told The Hill. “95 percent of the people talking to me about our new ranked choice voting system were saying how utterly confusing it was.”
▪ NPR: The next round of counting begins in Alaska. Here’s how ranked-choice voting works.
▪ KTOO: What to expect from the instant runoff part of Alaska’s first ranked choice election.
Speaking in El Paso, Texas, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday called on Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to resign over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that GOP lawmakers will consider impeachment next year if he does not depart.
“If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate. Every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry,” McCarthy said at a press conference.
McCarthy criticized the number of border crossings this year, the secretary’s assertions to Congress that the southern border is under control and the Biden administration’s decision to end Trump’s “remain in Mexico” asylum policy.
The minority leader — who was nominated by GOP colleagues last week to be House Speaker — is working to gather sufficient support from critics in his caucus to be elected to the role by the full House on Jan. 3 (The Hill).
With their slim majority next year, House Republicans would need to round up enough votes to impeach Mayorkas. Legislation to do that — sponsored by McCarthy critic Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) — has just 32 cosponsors, although more Republican lawmakers will likely sign on to the effort in the new year.
▪ Time: The NeverKevins can still block McCarthy’s bid for Speaker.
▪ Forbes: Here are all the Republicans opposing McCarthy’s bid for House Speaker — and what it means for the next Congress.
▪ The Hill: McCarthy’s planned expulsions of Intel Democrats prompts howls.
▪ NBC News: Democrats slam McCarthy over his vow to remove them from committees.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
Voluntary evacuations from liberated Kherson have begun in Ukraine as winter approaches. As many as 3 million Ukrainians are expected to leave their homes this winter, officials from the World Health Organization said, as the government began helping evacuate areas where it says it cannot guarantee sufficient power and heat.
Evacuations began as Russia’s increased assaults on Ukrainian infrastructure have raised fears about staying warm and obtaining basic necessities while rolling blackouts, water cuts and heating disruptions become the new normal (The New York Times and Reuters).
In Jerusalem, two blasts on Wednesday went off near bus stops at the height of morning rush hour, killing one person and injuring at least 18, in what police said were suspected attacks by Palestinians (Reuters).
In China, hundreds of workers at a Foxconn iPhone plant were seen violently protesting, according to video. They complained of delayed pay and insufficient food (Reuters). Employees in the central city of Zhengzhou were beaten and detained over contract disputes amid unrest that includes strict anti-virus controls, according to witnesses and videos on social media Wednesday (The Associated Press).
In West Java, Indonesia, the death toll from the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday now exceeds 250, officials report. Many of the victims were children who died while in school and the earthquake has left more than 1,000 people injured and 58,000 displaced.
“On behalf of myself and on behalf of the government, I would like to express my deep condolences to the victims and their families in this Cianjur earthquake,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said after visiting survivors in shelters. “My instruction is to prioritize evacuating victims that are still trapped under rubble.”
▪ Reuters: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, voted out, challenges election results.
▪ The New York Times: Buffeted by economic woes, the United Kingdom starts to look at Brexit with “Bregret.”
▪ Reuters: Iran starts enriching uranium to 60 percent purity at Fordow plant.
■ The democracy progress you may have missed — everywhere, by Keith Richburg, global opinions columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3AF468V
■ Let’s talk turkey: Trump fever could be breaking in time for a Thanksgiving feast, by John Bennett, editor-at-large, Roll Call. https://bit.ly/3ETJmwA
WHERE AND WHEN
🦃 Morning Report will be on Thanksgiving hiatus and will return on Nov. 28! Be sure to look out for The Hill’s morning newsletter tipsheet every day during the holiday weekend to keep you up to date on the latest news and analysis.
👉 The Hill: Share a news query tied to an expert journalist’s insights: The Hill launched something new and (we hope) engaging via text with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. Learn more and sign up HERE.
The House will convene at 11 a.m. for a pro forma session on Friday.
The Senate will convene for a pro forma session at 8 a.m. on Friday.
The president and first lady Jill Biden are in Nantucket, Mass., where they will celebrate Thanksgiving with family.
The vice president and second gentleman Doug Emhoff are in Los Angeles for the holiday.
Economic indicators: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report claims for unemployment benefits in the week ending on Nov. 19. The Federal Reserve at 2 p.m will release minutes from the Nov. 1-2 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.
After cutting nearly two-thirds of Twitter’s 7,500-person staff in three weeks, Elon Musk is hiring again. The Verge reports that during an all-hands meeting with Twitter employees Monday, Musk said that the company is done with layoffs and actively recruiting for roles in engineering and sales.
The company has undergone a rocky transition since Musk bought it in late October, gutting its workforce and scaling down content moderation — which caused advertisers to flee the site as misinformation and hate speech ticked up. Insiders say Musk’s “free speech” agenda dismantles safety work at Twitter, and that he has moved deliberately to undermine the platform’s deliberative content-moderation system (The Washington Post).
▪ The New York Times: As Musk cuts costs at Twitter, some bills are going unpaid.
▪ Reuters: Don’t like Musk? Work for us! Tech firms woo ex-Twitter staff.
▪ NPR: How Twitter became one of the world’s preferred platforms for sharing ideas.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Musk’s Twitter takeover triggers partisan clash on government’s role. Democrats say company staff cutbacks threaten user security, while Republicans maintain that the dispute is over free speech.
A Senate antitrust panel will hold a hearing on the lack of competition in the ticketing industry after Ticketmaster’s problems last week managing the sale of tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, chairwoman Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on Tuesday (Reuters).
“The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” Klobuchar said. “We will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.”
Ticketmaster denied any anti-competitive practices and said it remained under a consent decree with the Justice Department following a 2010 merger, adding that there was no “evidence of systemic violations of the consent decree.”
CNBC: Computer maker HP Inc. announced on Tuesday it will lay off 4,000 to 6,000 employees globally over the next three years to save $1.4 billion or more.
➤ PANDEMIC & HEALTH
Anthony Fauci, who worked under seven presidents during his government career and expanded his worldwide reputation during the HIV/AIDS crisis, made his final appearance in the White House briefing room on Tuesday before stepping down as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a decision he announced last summer. He urged Americans once again to get vaccinated and boosted (The Hill).
Reacting to a question about political “divisiveness” that made him and other public health specialists targets of criticism during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fauci said his medical recommendations were science-based and nonpartisan. “As a physician, it pains me, because I don’t want to see anybody get infected. I don’t want to see anybody hospitalized. And I don’t want to see anybody die from COVID,” he added.
The Hill: White House battles pandemic fatigue in vaccine push.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday said omicron boosters for COVID-19 are better at protecting against coronavirus infection than previous versions of the shots (The Hill).
What scientists thought they understood about cholesterol is being revised with new research. HDL cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, often referred to as the “good” cholesterol, may not be as useful in predicting the risk of heart disease and protecting against it as previously thought, according to the National Institutes of Health (CNN).
Once upon a time, based on a study from the 1970s, high levels of HDL cholesterol concentration were associated with low coronary heart disease risk, a link that has since been widely accepted and used in heart disease risk assessments. However, the research only looked at white Americans.
A new examination published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that low levels of HDL cholesterol were associated with higher risk of heart attack among white adults but not Black adults. Also, higher levels of HDL cholesterol were not found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease for either group.
What do the new findings mean for today’s health monitoring? The data suggest current clinical assessments for heart disease risk “may misclassify risk in Black adults, potentially hindering optimal cardiovascular disease prevention and management programs for this group,” according to the study’s authors.
“This research emphasizes the continued need to educate that high levels of HDL are not a free pass and focus must be placed on controlling elevated LDL and other known markers of increased cardiovascular risk,” adds Tara Narula, associate director of the Lenox Hill Women’s Heart Program in New York and a CNN medical correspondent.
Tripledemic: The New York Times’s “The Daily” podcast on Tuesday explored the latest updates with science and global health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli about this winter’s “tripledemic” of COVID-19, influenza and the respiratory virus known as RSV. What does this collision of infections have to do with responses to the pandemic and why are some children requiring hospitalization with respiratory syncytial virus, which is not a new virus? Take a listen HERE.
Information about COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot availability can be found at Vaccines.gov.
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,077,800. Current U.S. COVID-19 deaths are 2,222 for the week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (The CDC shifted its tally of available data from daily to weekly, now reported on Fridays.)
And finally … ✈️ Happy Thanksgiving wishes from Morning Report! We’ve rounded up some good reads to pass the time if — like so many others — you get delayed during holiday weekend transit.
📬 At the White House, meet the trailblazing deaf man, Gregg Trainor, who reads your letter to the president (and has been on the job for 31 years), in Politico by Alex Thompson and Eli Stokols.
⚖️ How Ireland’s Vicky Phelan, after an incorrect Pap test report, exposed a national scandal and became a hero before cervical cancer took her life at age 48, in The New York Times by Ed O’Loughlin.
🪴The beautiful, brutal world of the bonsai: American Ryan Neil undergoes a grueling six-year apprenticeship to a Japanese master, in The New Yorker by Robert Moor.
🦠 David Quammen, the science writer every science nerd wants you to read, found in COVID-19 a story that refused to stay at a safe distance, in The Atlantic by Joshua Sokol.
🌊 The surprising mental health benefits of blue spaces (so good for your health, they can be prescribed by your doctor), by BBC’s Frankie Adkins and Katherine Latham.