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The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by FICO — Paul Ryan’s rough ride

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and TGIF! 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!) 

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Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Atheist group argues in court for prayer rights on House floor Small-dollar donations explode in the Trump era MORE (R-Wis.) is serving out the final months of his congressional career, but nobody said it was going to be easy.

Of these things, by far the most consequential policy issue facing the Speaker right now is a discharge petition backed by centrist Republicans trying to force a vote on an immigration bill.

The Hill’s Scott Wong reports that Ryan is warning his caucus that the discharge petition would effectively turn the floor over to Democrats, who are in the minority, and that President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE would likely veto the bill if it ever got to his desk.

The Speaker says he’s committed to bringing an immigration bill to the floor before the midterm elections, but that might not be enough to keep vulnerable Republicans from districts with heavy Hispanic populations, such as Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Dems struggle to mobilize Latino voters for midterms Election Countdown: Florida candidates face new test from hurricane | GOP optimistic about expanding Senate majority | Top-tier Dems start heading to Iowa | Bloomberg rejoins Dems | Trump heads to Pennsylvania rally MORE (Texas), Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDems see blue 'tsunami' in House as Senate path narrows GOP spokeswoman says Republicans will lose House seats in midterms Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems MORE (Fla.) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamDems target small cluster of states in battle for House Poll: Dems lead in 5 critical California House seats Dems announce third-quarter fundraising bonanza MORE (Calif.), at bay. 

The Wall Street Journal: The discharge petition might help save the House majority.

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LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS:  Farm bill: The Hill — The House expects to vote next week on a farm bill that includes a food stamps revamp.

Foreign aid: The HillLawmakers and the White House want to change the way the government assists and invests in struggling countries through foreign aid. Changes would consolidate several federal international development agencies. The effort is one of the few areas where Trump has sought to bolster, not slash, the federal government’s foreign aid system.

Prison reformThe Hill — A House committee this week approved a White House-backed prison reform plan that faces a cooler reception in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

>The Houston Chronicle: Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerSaudis say journalist killed in ‘fight’ at consulate; 18 detained White House responds to Joaquin Castro's Kushner allegations: 'an outrageous slanderous lie' Attacks on public figures are growing MORE tackles prison reform with Texas visit.

CIA nomination: The Hill — Senate nose counting is underway to assess whether Gina Haspel will be confirmed to lead the CIA following her Wednesday hearing. Haspel needs support from 50 senators and Republicans have only a slim 51-49 majority in the upper chamber. Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain calls Russian attacks against her father the 'highest compliment' to her family Arizona Dems hope higher Latino turnout will help turn the state blue McConnell: GOP could try to repeal ObamaCare again after midterms MORE (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (R-Ky.) have already announced their opposition, but Haspel has picked up support from Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinFive takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Blankenship endorses ex-W.Va. GOP Senate rival, calls him 'lying' drug lobbyist Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign MORE (D-W.Va.)

*** The Hill EXCLUSIVE ***

The fight over Haspel’s nomination took a nasty turn Thursday as the White House communications department met to strategize over McCain’s opposition. The Hill’s Jonathan Easley and Jordan Fabian were the first to report that special assistant Kelly Sadler told her colleagues, “It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

Cindy McCain, the senator’s wife, tweeted her response:

Sadler called McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, to apologize. 

>Politico: Former Vice President Dick Cheney says enhanced interrogation programs repudiated during the George W. Bush administration should continue, in contrast with Haspel’s testimony. 

Term limits: The Hill — House freshmen introduced legislation to impose congressional term limits, which requires a high hurdle of a constitutional amendment. Senators would be limited to serving two terms and representatives to serving six terms.

August recess: The Washington Post — A growing group of GOP senators want to cancel the chamber’s August recess in order to use the time to bring more nominations to the floor and tackle other must-pass priorities before the November elections.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CAMPAIGNS:  Campaign season is underway. Trump visited South Bend, Ind., last night to stump for GOP Senate candidate Mike Braun, who vanquished two sitting Republican lawmakers — Reps. Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaHow a bold new Disability Insurance proposal would benefit individuals with disabilities and taxpayers Hillicon Valley: California eyes tough net neutrality law | Trump taps chief for DHS tech research arm | Huawei hits back at US restrictions | Republican wants Google antitrust probe | Ex-cyber worker charged with trying to sell stolen tech House Republican urges regulators to probe Google for antitrust violations MORE and Luke MesserAllen (Luke) Lucas MesserTrump Jr. to stump in Indiana for Pence’s brother and governor hopeful Freedom Caucus members see openings in leadership Republicans top Dems at charity golf game MORE — for the right to take on Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyConservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Donnelly parodies 'Veep' in new campaign ad Election Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B MORE (D-Ind.) in November.

Donnelly is one of 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection in states Trump carried in 2016.

Where else will Trump campaign this cycle? He’s almost certain to make the trip to West Virginia, which he carried by 42 points in 2016. That’s bad news for Manchin, who is among the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection.

Here are Manchin’s thoughts on the matter, courtesy WLJS.

I told the president, you don’t need to come back to West Virginia, it’s nice to have you but not during an election cycle.”

In his primary victory speech, Republican West Virginia candidate Patrick Morissey pleaded with Trump to come as much as possible.

“You’ve been to this state now four times. I’d like you to come back as many times as you can between now and November.”

And the president might not be the only Trump to visit. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. will hit the campaign trail soon and West Virginia is likely to be his first stop. Trump Jr. is staffing up ahead of the push, adding veteran GOP operative Andy Surabian to his team (The Hill). 

Dan Balz: Midwestern voters gave Trump a chance. Now they’re the key to his political future.

The Hill: Progressive groups endorse Dems in two key races.

The Hill: Americans are upbeat about the economy but that isn’t translating into support for the tax bill.

The Hill: Republicans are having a hard time attracting interest from cities that might want to host their 2020 convention.

INVESTIGATIONS:

“What I think is that it’s been about a year since this investigation began. Our administration has provided over a million documents, we’ve fully cooperated in it and in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up."Vice President Pence on NBC’s “Today” show.

The special counsel investigation turns one-year-old on Thursday.

Separate from the special counsel’s Russia probe, there have been a cascade of stories in recent days about Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, whose business dealings are under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. 

Cohen appears to have amassed a broad portfolio of corporate clients who paid him handsomely under the expectation that he could provide access to the president. Essentially, he was acting as an independent lobbyist.

Cohen denies any wrongdoing. And in an exclusive interview with The Hill’s Niall Stanage, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said the media needs to “calm down” and that the story does not involve the president or the White House.

The Hill: Watchdog group asks DOJ to probe Cohen dealings.

The Los Angeles Times: Michael Cohen turned his access to Trump into big money — and now big trouble.

That story overshadowed an escalating drama on Capitol Hill, where conservative lawmakers are locked in a fight with the Justice Department over classified documents pertaining to the special counsel.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes and committee member Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyRosenstein to appear for House interview next week House GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder Collusion bombshell: DNC lawyers met with FBI on Russia allegations before surveillance warrant MORE (R-S.C.) said they had a “productive conversation” with senior law enforcement officials about the documents divide on Thursday.

The Hill: Ryan backs Nunes in latest pursuit of DOJ documents.

The Wall Street Journal: The FBI was spying on the Trump campaign.

The Hill (op-ed): Demand for Mueller’s “scope” memo threatens principles of proper oversight.

INTERNATIONAL:  North Korea: The president announced via Twitter that his historic summit meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will take place in Singapore on June 12.

The Hill (op-ed): Why Singapore is the right spot for Trump-Kim summit.

The Hill: More than three-quarters of Americans approve of the meeting.

The Hill: Democrats want to hold Trump to the goal he set of verifiable denuclearization of North Korea.

The Hill: The president rebukes Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.) over his criticism of Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear agreement.

Iran: The Wall Street Journal: U.S. took a step toward cutting Iran off from the global economy, levying sanctions on a financing network.

Reuters: Oil prices near multiyear highs as Iran sanctions tighten supply outlook.  

Europe: The Hill German Chancellor Angela Merkel told an audience Thursday that Europe can no longer count on the United States to protect it, urging the continent to “take destiny into its own hands.”

>Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzElection Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue White vote is 'fundamental problem' for Texas Dems, political analysts says Houston Chronicle endorses Beto O'Rourke in Texas Senate race MORE (R-Texas) said Europe’s opposition and “posturing” following Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran was a reflection of European nations’ business ties to Tehran (The Hill).

Israel: The HillWhite House condemns the “Iranian regime’s provocation against Israel.”

The New York Times: Israel and Iran engage in a shadow war in Syria.

The New York Times: Why Israel and Iran are clashing in Syria.

The Associated Press: United Nations chief calls for halt to “all hostile acts” in Middle East.

Islamic State: The New York TimesFive senior Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) officials were captured, including a top aide to the group’s leader, in a complex cross-border sting carried out by Iraqi and American intelligence, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

The president tweeted about the sting on Thursday.

New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi says the ISIS arrests occurred in February:

CABINET & WHITE HOUSE:  Homeland Security Department: The New York Times — Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenBolton heads to Moscow for high-stakes meeting with Russians Tucker Carlson says he 'can't really' dine out anymore because people keep yelling at him Top Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo MORE considered quitting after Trump suggested during a Wednesday Cabinet meeting that she failed to make U.S. borders secure. In a statement Thursday about the blowup, Nielsen said the president was “rightly frustrated” with existing immigration laws. 

Treasury Department:  The Hill — The nomination of Adam Lerrick, tapped for deputy undersecretary of the Treasury Department for international finance, was withdrawn. Lerrick is expected to become a senior adviser to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia | Treasury releases guidance on 'opportunity zone' program | Maxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance Treasury releases guidance on 'opportunity zone' program created by Trump tax law MORE, according to NBC News.

Veterans Administration: The Associated Press — Trump considers GOP Army veteran Rep. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastDems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms Cook moves status of 6 House races as general election sprint begins Rep. Mast wins GOP nod after facing two primary challengers MORE, 37, of Florida among potential nominees to lead the troubled department.

White House:

*** New today ... White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE speaks with NPR’s “Morning Edition” and says Trump is “embarrassed” by the Russia probe. He also said he has never considered leaving the White House despite “times of great frustration.”

Drug pricing:  The Hill — The president today will speak about lowering the costs of pharmaceuticals, but he won’t call for negotiating drug prices in Medicare. 

National Security Council: National security adviser John Bolton continues to remake the NSC staff to his liking.

HuffPost: Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the head of global health security, departed on Tuesday. As it happened, cases of Ebola emerged in the Congo this week, with one casualty reported.

Politico: Bolton is pushing to eliminate White House cybersecurity position.

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OPINION

America’s broken bail system substitutes cash for justice, leaves the poor behind bars, by Malika Saada Saar and Mark Holden, Daily Beast https://thebea.st/2rB0Yqf

Trump hasn’t earned a Nobel, but the Peshmerga have, by A.J. Caschetta, opinion contributor to The Hill  https://bit.ly/2ryZ3TQ

 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House and Senate return to work late Monday.

The president hosts a roundtable with chief executive officers of auto companies, and outlines the administration’s ideas to lower drug prices.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports U.S. import and export price indexes for April.

ELSEWHERE

> Five veterans explain what they’re looking for in a Veterans Affairs Department secretary, by Jenna Johnson (The Washington Post).  

> The new shape of protest music, by Jason Parham (Wired).

> Glenda Jackson: This Tony nominee and former politician has a lot to say about being a woman right now (Q&A), by Laura Regensdorf (Vogue).

 

THE CLOSER

Multimedia artist Michael Pendry yesterday installed a breathtaking vision of peace inside Salisbury Cathedral in England, creating a flock of more than 2,500 white origami doves in the nave, reflected from below. Salisbury is still recovering from the nerve agent attack there in March. Pendry wants his work, called “Les Colombes” (the doves), to carry visitors’ messages folded inside each bird. It will be exhibited through July 22 (BBC News).

In their unity they stand for a fundamental human right to peace and freedom, the artist said.

  

 

... The Morning Report Quiz winners this week are Don Thompson, Joan McInerney, Mary Vita P. Treano, Javier Valle, Robert G. Taylor, John Rao, Marriott Clark and William Rickett, plus a terrific (and expert) response from Robert M. Edsel, Monuments Men Foundation founder and chairman. They knew that in 1967, the then-stunning price tag paid for a Leonardo da Vinci portrait now in the National Gallery of Art collection in Washington was $5 million. Thanks for reading and responding!

And finally … It’s May 11. Don’t forget to salute mothers on Sunday. Still time to plan!