The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by FICO — Trump’s election day gamble on Iran





Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Tuesday! This daily email, a successor to The Hill’s Tipsheet, is reported by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger to get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!)

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE will announce one of the most consequential foreign policy decisions of his administration today as voters cast primary ballots in key races that will offer the clearest signs to date about how the November midterm elections will shake out.

At 2 p.m., Trump will address the world from the White House, where he’ll announce whether the U.S. will remain in the nuclear deal the Obama administration struck with Iran, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Germany.

Trump and his advisers have given every sign that they intend to rip up former President Obama’s signature foreign policy achievement.

But U.S. allies in France, Germany and the U.K. are hopeful the president will recertify the deal one more time to buy negotiators more time to hammer out an agreement they think will satisfy the president’s demands to crack down further on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

As Trump speaks about Iran, voters will be at the polls in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia as primary season gets underway for the 2018 midterm elections.

Republicans will find out whether they’re saddled with a former convict who has made racist remarks as their Senate candidate in West Virginia, which would otherwise be a prime pickup opportunity for the GOP.

Democrats, meanwhile, will be electing a candidate they hope will succeed Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) in what has turned into yet another bitter establishment versus grass roots primary.

It’s a lot to digest, so let’s get into it …





NEW YORK Attorney General Eric Schneiderman abruptly resigned on Monday night following detailed accusations published hours earlier by The New Yorker of physical assault and threats against four women.

    The New York Times: Schneiderman, 63, resigns while denying the allegations; Manhattan district attorney opens investigation.

    The Hill: Schneiderman issues a statement: "While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct ... they will effectively prevent me from leading the office's work at this critical time."

Takeaway: Schneiderman’s exit marks a stunning fall for the former Democratic powerhouse, who had fashioned himself as a Trump critic and ally of the "Me Too" movement.

CAMPAIGNS:  Key primary before election day — The most interesting and consequential primary contest on Tuesday will take place among Republicans in West Virginia.

The national party is doing everything it can to sink former coal CEO Don Blankenship’s candidacy.

The Hill:  GOP nightmare looms in West Virginia.

The Hill: Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden eyeing Cindy McCain for UK ambassador position: report Profiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.) says he’ll donate to Democrat if Blankenship wins.


Republicans believe that if Blankenship tops Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the primary, he is certain to lose to incumbent Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSmall businesses don't need another stimulus — they need customers Congress faces late-year logjam Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms MORE (D-W.Va.), who is otherwise among the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in 2018.

Trump is doing his part.



But Blankenship, who has described himself as “Trumpier than Trump,” is swinging back.

“We all really like President Trump's policies, but we know he doesn't get things right. He recommended people vote for a guy that was basically accused of pedophilia in Alabama.” – Blankenship on WZTS in West Virginia on Monday.

Blankenship was referring to former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Long-shot Espy campaign sees national boost in weeks before election Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video MORE, who lost the special election for Senate in Alabama. Trump stood by his endorsement of Moore after decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct with teenagers surfaced in the final weeks of the campaign. Democrat Doug Jones now holds the seat.

How do the polls look? Alarming, if you’re a mainstream Republican or the president.

The Weekly Standard: Two West Virginia internal campaign polls show Blankenship narrowly edging GOP rivals.

Takeaway: After the Jones mess, Trump needs to show he has some sway, or at the very least, some newly acquired political savvy about contests that aren’t his own.

The Hill’s Lisa Hagen has a rundown of all the other primaries to watch today, too.

One notable race is taking place among Democrats in Ohio, where former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayConsumer bureau vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency Consumer bureau revokes payday lending restrictions Supreme Court ruling could unleash new legal challenges to consumer bureau MORE will square off against former Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the governor’s race primary. Cordray has establishment support — and backing of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration Disney chair says he would consider job in Biden administration if asked Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill MORE (D-Mass.) — while Kucinich has the backing of a group affiliated with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Sanders press secretary: 'Principal concern' of Biden appointments should be policy DeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump MORE (I-Vt.).

Election day odds and ends:

Reuters: Republicans in key election races turn down the volume on Trump’s tax cuts.

The Atlantic: Incumbency is toxic in GOP primaries.

NPR: GOP fears about holding the Senate start to sink in.

The Associated Press: From prison to politics, Chelsea Manning runs for U.S. Senate.

The New York Times: California Republicans an endangered species.

The Hill: N.C. Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesSupreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising Experts warn Georgia's new electronic voting machines vulnerable to potential intrusions, malfunctions Georgia restores 22,000 voter registrations after purge MORE (R) faces an opponent today who seeks to frame his independent streak as evidence of disloyalty to Trump.

The Hill: How social pressures drive the partisan education gap.

INTERNATIONAL: From nuclear agreements to negotiations on trade, the administration is mighty busy today.

IRAN — The president has described the Iran nuclear deal as a “disaster” negotiated by the Obama administration. It delivered, in his view, too little risk reduction for the world, in exchange for too much sanctions relief for Tehran.

Bolstered by Israel, as well as his new national security adviser, John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo knocks Turkey in NATO speech: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates US to temporarily withdraw some embassy personnel in Baghdad: report MORE, Iran hard-liners, Trump is expected this afternoon to describe the next steps for the U.S. and the impact of his policy approach.

The New York Times: European diplomats said Trump appeared inclined to scrap the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran that were suspended in July 2015.

BBC: What did the provisions of the 2015 landmark nuclear deal include? A refresher.

The Washington Post: All the different ways the president could go on the Iran deal.

The Washington Post: The legality of the Obama administration’s $1.7 billion cash deal with Iran, explained by the Fact-Checker.

CHINA Bloomberg: U.S. trade talks with China, which produced no breakthroughs last week in Beijing, continue next week in Washington, the White House announced Monday. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping, will meet with top U.S. officials.

DIPLOMACY The Associated Press: State Department says the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, doesn’t represent U.S. foreign policy.

INVESTIGATIONS: Trump and conservative media appear emboldened by recent developments surrounding special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting MORE’s probe:

  • A federal judge rejected the prosecutor’s request to delay the first hearing in a criminal case against 13 Russian individuals and three Russian entities accused of interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Fox News: Cracks in Mueller investigation.

Alan Dershowitz: Federal judge rightly rebukes Mueller for questionable tactics.

Washington Examiner: Time to end the crazy secrecy of the Trump-Russia investigation.

  • Conservatives say newly unredacted details from a House Intelligence Committee report raise questions about why law enforcement officials approached Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and whether he was wrongly pressured into pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

The National Review: Outrageous redactions to the Russia report.

The Wall Street Journal: The mystery of Michael Flynn’s guilty plea.

Trump is getting in on the act, too.



The Hill’s Niall Stanage reports that the sum total of these developments is that the president appears less and less likely to sit for an interview with Mueller.

The Associated Press: Trump grows frustrated with Giuliani.

The Hill: GOP leaders ponder holding Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTime to bring federal employees home for every holiday Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 MORE in contempt.


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BUDGET: The Hill — The White House today will ask Congress to cancel $15 billion out of $1.3 trillion in recently enacted spending, which will start a 45-day period for action. House GOP lawmakers, appealing to midterm voters, seek to trim “wasteful spending.” The Senate is unlikely to take up a rescissions measure this year, according to Senate Majority Leader McConnell, but he will get pressure from Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by billionaire conservative donors Charles and David Koch, which has pitched the White House on a $45 billion rescissions deal.

VETERANS AFFAIRS: The Hill — The House Veterans Affairs’ Committee is scheduled today to consider a controversial GOP health-care measure. The White House on Monday urged the House to approve a bill addressing a private-care “choice” program and its funding before the end of this month.     


CIA: Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee to lead the nation’s spy agency, will answer senators’ questions tomorrow during a confirmation hearing the White House is working to support.

The Hill: Administration bears down in late push for CIA nominee.

The Hill: The White House assures lawmakers that Haspel is committed to the CIA director post, should she be confirmed.

The Hill: The CIA delivers classified materials to Congress about Haspel’s more than three decades with the agency.

IMMIGRATION: The Wall Street Journal  Tighter U.S. approach to illegal border crossings unveiled last week will separate families. Under a new policy, adult migrants may be detained while asylum cases are considered.

The Hill: The Pentagon is untangling details of the president’s surprise decision in April to send National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border. At least 1,000 guardsmen have been deployed, and lawmakers seek answers about costs, necessity and lengths of deployments. 

SEC: The Hill — The longest-tenured Republican on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced Monday that he will retire in July, creating a potential deadlock at the financial watchdog agency.

FIRST LADY: The HillMelania TrumpMelania TrumpBiden warns Americans against traveling for Christmas McEnany hits Democratic leaders for not following their own COVID-19 restrictions Capitol physician advises lawmakers against attending dinners, receptions during COVID-19 spike MORE announced Monday she will travel and showcase “Be Best” initiatives that aim to help children impacted by the opioid crisis, cyberbullying and other risks to their well-being. She offered no policy details.

         The Hill – The White House denied reports of a frayed relationship between the first lady and the president, as well as rumors the first lady lives for periods outside the White House with her parents.

         CNN: The first lady is the most popular Trump, according to a recent poll.


War on the right, by Jonah Goldberg, The National Review. https://bit.ly/2wlX3mX

Mar-a-Lago is an embarrassing cash grab, by Walter ShaubWalter Michael ShaubEthics experts ask Senate to investigate Graham's probe of mail-in voting Interior 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws, experts say Louisiana House candidate fundraises off opponent's tweet about wife's 'premonition' dream MORE, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2I70fo1


The House will meet at 10 a.m. for morning debate and at noon for legislative business.

The Senate will reconvene at 2:30 p.m. to debate the nomination of Kurt Engelhardt for U.S. 5th Circuit Court judge. Senate Democratic leaders will unveil a report accusing Republicans of raising health care costs on the middle class. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) and conservative leaders will hold a press conference at 4:15 p.m. to address government funding and Congress’s work pace.

The president meets with GOP members of Congress, then has lunch with Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSenate confirms Christopher Waller to Fed board Trump pardon scandal would doom his 2024 campaign Trump to award highest civilian honor to Lou Holtz on Thursday MORE and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele Nielsen'Anonymous' whistleblower Miles Taylor changing locations, employing private security after death threats Biden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Judge says acting DHS secretary appointment unlawful, invalidates DACA suspension MORE. He delivers remarks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. In the evening, Trump hosts a reception for the Federal Judges Association in the East Room.

The vice president is having lunch with the president and will attend his afternoon remarks regarding Iran.


> Controversial Iran-Contra figure Oliver North to become NRA president, by Lisa Marie Pane, The Associated Press. https://bit.ly/2jCNoiy

> Trump made high price drugs his issue. Democrats think they can take it back, by Erica Werner and Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2jGxZxU

> The FBI is in crisis. It’s worse than you think, by Eric Lichtblau, Time magazine. https://ti.me/2rrqlvk

> How Ebola entered the American consciousness: A Trump tweet, by Reid Wilson, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2I1OK0P


In appreciation of eye-catching newspaper ledes this morning: “PARIS — The most uncomfortable thing about being naked in a museum, it turns out, is the temperature.” (The New York Times, by Thomas Rogers, describing his participation in the first nudist tour of the Palais de Tokyo, a contemporary art museum. Shoes permitted. And yes, the article included photos.)

And finally … residents of Hawaii’s Big Island are displaying some serious pluck and fortitude as the planet’s molten core consumes houses, cars, roadways and tropical acreage near active volcano Kilauea. In history, many believed Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, took many forms, including molten lava. On Monday, some of that angry fire reached skyward to the height of the Statue of Liberty. Take a look at some startling photos here.