The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump makes history with foreign policy decisions




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Monday! Hope everyone had a nice Mother’s Day. 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!)

The U.S. will cut the ribbon on its embassy in Jerusalem today, the latest in a string of international gambles that will ultimately define President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE’s legacy.

It’s been a high-wire act for the president on the global stage over the past few weeks:

These moves share a common thread: They deliver on versions of Trump’s campaign promises, especially his vow to be unconventional. And they play into Trump’s boasts that only he has the negotiating prowess and the appetite for unpredictability that could unlock decades-old problems.

The president views everything through the lens of winners and losers. So a big and unanswered question is whether these actions lead to foreign policy victories for the U.S. and allies.

  • Israel is on high alert over expected protests and has bolstered its forces along the Gaza border and the West Bank, according to The Associated Press.

  • The withdrawal from the Iran deal has roiled the globe, sparking an eleventh-hour diplomatic push from Iranian officials and isolating the U.S. from strategic foreign allies, such as Germany.

  • Kim’s release of three U.S. prisoners is easily the high point for the Trump administration so far, but no one will be ready to claim the finish line is within view until North Korea makes tangible moves to disarm.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Latest on Korea talks | Trump says summit results 'very exciting!' | Congress to get Space Force plan in February | Trump asked CIA about silent bombs Pompeo: US ready to 'immediately' resume talks with North Korea READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV MORE seemed to sum up Trump’s entire foreign policy Sunday when asked about progress with North Korea. He told Fox News that he wanted to quote the president. “We’ll see,” he told Chris Wallace.

Robert Gates, the former Pentagon chief to two presidents, echoed that idea on Sunday while talking about conditions in the Korean Peninsula. “We’ll see,” he told CBS’s  “Face the Nation.”




CONGRESS:  Farm bill:  (The Hill) — House Republican leaders are scrambling to lock down votes for a GOP farm bill this week, with members still divided over the measure’s sugar subsidy program and work requirements for food stamps.

Net neutrality: (The Hill) — Democrats are trying to make intensely popular net neutrality regulations on broadband companies a campaign issue this year, in part by pushing Senate legislation that would preserve the Obama-era rules they view as more open and fair.

 >The Verge: Reddit, Pornhub, Tumblr and other companies are supporting net neutrality congressional action using a publicity campaign.

Prison reform:  (The Hill) — Administration-backed prison reforms face major obstacles in the Senate.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? MORE: (The Hill) – House Speaker Ryan (R-Wis.) embraced Trump as an “asset” for GOP candidates during this year’s midterm contests, arguing base supporters in key states are not focused on the president’s alleged treatment of adult-film actress Stormy Daniels or the year-old investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

>(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) — Ryan reflected on his final months in Congress and his career during the weekend’s GOP convention in Milwaukee.

CAMPAIGNS: We are less than six months out from the November midterm elections and there is fierce debate over what the outcome will be.

The president’s approval rating is sitting near its high point for the past 12 months — although it is still low for this point in a first-term presidency.

And the GOP avoided disaster by rejecting candidate Don Blankenship in the West Virginia Senate primary.

Poll: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world MORE (D-W.Va.) trails in reelection bid to state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R).

Are Republicans cutting into perceived Democratic advantages in the cycle, and could the economy save their Senate majority?

The Hill: Democrats worry Trump will win over the economy.

The Hill: Pence touts job opportunities to college graduates.

Most analysts believe the tailwinds will be great enough to deliver Democrats at least the 23 seats they need to win a majority in the House, but the map is so heavily stacked in the GOP’s favor in the Senate that it’s possible Republicans could pick up seats in the upper chamber.

Jared Whitley: Sorry, there will be no “blue wave.”

Ed Kilgore: The blue wave is not receding.

Douglas Schoen: Dems must beware impeaching Trump if blue wave prevails.

Joel Kotkin: As go the suburbs, so goes the nation?

Looking ahead to some key primary battles… State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) wins Wisconsin Republican Party endorsement over businessman Kevin Nicholson (R).

Politico: Trump records robocall for Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaObama to hit campaign trail in Pa. for gubernatorial, Senate candidates Poll: Pennsylvania Democrats surging with double-digit leads Poll: Dems hold double-digit leads in Pennsylvania races for governor, Senate MORE (R-Pa.) ahead of primary.

The New York Times: Democrats embrace moderates in House bids, vexing liberals.



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 CABINET & WHITE HOUSE: Divisions inside the administration: (The Hill) — Political fractures and bitter battles among those supposedly on the same team have been a hallmark of the Trump White House and reach into the rest of the administration — and to K Street as well.

CIA/Gina Haspel nomination(The Hill) — Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh McCaskill to oppose Kavanaugh nomination The Memo: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes political world MORE (D-Ind.), announced his support for Trump’s nominee to lead the spy agency, moving her closer to Senate confirmation. Donnelly became the second Democrat to back the career CIA officer, joining West Virginia’s Manchin. Both men are seeking reelection this year in states Trump won by wide margins in 2016.

>The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV MORE (I-Vt.) says his opposition to Haspel’s nomination is not solely based on his objections to her use of torture for interrogation.

> The Hill: Former Secretary of Defense Gates says he doesn't believe Haspel's ties to an enhanced interrogation program disqualifies her from serving as CIA director.

State/Pompeo: (The Hill) — Secretary of State Pompeo joked Sunday on Fox News that after two weeks in his new Cabinet post, he hopes he hasn’t peaked. As it is, lawmakers from both parties and international policy specialists are giving the former CIA director high marks for reinvigorating U.S. diplomacy early in his tenure.

Pentagon/Justice/John Doe: (The Hill) — The Trump administration is weighing how to proceed with a U.S. citizen held as an enemy combatant since September in a unusual case that could threaten the legal underpinnings of the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

WHITE HOUSE: The president’s top communicators in the West Wing continued to refuse to publicly apologize about a barbed remark last week by a White House aide during a meeting among colleagues. The West Wing’s no-apology posture propelled negative headlines into a second week, involving White House aide Kelly Sadler, who on Thursday mocked “dying” Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us MORE (R-Ariz.) at a staff meeting. McCain is opposed to Haspel’s CIA nomination.

The exchange was first reported by The Hill and confirmed by multiple news organizations. Some senior officials confirmed the remarks, while others attempted to create a smidgen of ambiguity. Handling of the fallout compounded criticisms of a self-injurious West Wing team.

Axios: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expresses her anger to staff about leaks more than regrets about Sadler’s original remarks.

The Hill: White House tried to dodge Sadler’s McCain comments on Sunday.

The Hill: Budget Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Warren suggests Mulvaney broke law by speaking to GOP donors Mulvaney plans to move some consumer bureau staff to new Atlanta office MORE corroborated Sadler’s remarks, while defending the comments as a “joke.”

The Hill: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin Graham GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' Collins: Kavanaugh accuser should 'reconsider,' testify on Monday Grassley willing to send staff to California to speak with Kavanaugh accuser MORE (R-S.C.) said the White House owes everyone an apology. The senator, who is close to McCain, added, “If it was a joke, it was a terrible joke. I just wish somebody from the White House would tell the country that was inappropriate, that's not who we are in the Trump administration.”

The Hill: Sen. Sanders said, “it is beyond my comprehension” that the White House would not apologize.

The Hill: Utah Senate candidate and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPoll: House GOP candidate leads in California swing district Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms Kavanaugh and the 'boys will be boys' sentiment is a poor excuse for bad behavior MORE weighed in, arguing that those who mock the Arizona senator humiliate themselves.

INTERNATIONAL:  The three Americans freed from captivity in North Korea last week have reunited with their families after being discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday.

Meanwhile, anticipation is building ahead of the Trump-Kim meeting, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

  • Pompeo: U.S. is still far from achieving its goals in North Korea.

  • National security adviser John Bolton: Denuclearization is non-negotiable.

  • Sen. Graham: Trump should get Senate approval on any agreement with North Korea.

  • Gates: Trump’s tough talk got North Korea’s attention.

  • Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen: Chance of military conflict increases if talks fail.

 Trump’s decision on Iran is still reverberating around the world.

  • The Hill: Trump roils the globe with Iran nuclear deal withdrawal.

  • Bolton: European nations will see it’s in their interests to follow the U.S. and withdraw.

  • Pompeo: U.S. withdrawal did not spark Iran-Israel tensions.

  • Reuters: Iranian diplomat kicks off tour to save nuclear deal.

  • The New York Times: Iran’s foes see opportunity as deal ends. Others see a risk for war.

Other global hotspots…

The Hill: Questions linger over deadly Niger mission.

Middle East: The Associated Press — Thousands of Gaza residents headed toward the border with Israel today for a showdown as Israel prepared for the inauguration of a new U.S. Embassy in contested Jerusalem. Reuters: Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians on Monday during Gaza protests.

China and trade: Trump is rethinking trade impacts, saying on Sunday via Twitter he’s working with Chinese President Xi Jinping to ensure telecommunications equipment-maker ZTE can do business with the U.S. again. The Commerce Department banned U.S. companies from doing business with ZTE after determining the company had shipped goods to Iran.

Reuters: In concession, Trump will help China’s ZTE “get back into business.”

Reuters: China says it appreciates U.S. position on ZTE Corp.





 White House statement Sunday:

“The president’s tweet underscores the importance of a free, fair, balanced, and mutually beneficial economic, trade and investment relationship between the United States and China. The administration is in contact with China on this issue, among others in the bilateral relationship. President Trump expects [Commerce] Secretary [Wilbur] Ross to exercise his independent judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations, to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts.”

The New York Times: Disarray plagues U.S. companies’ efforts to win tariff exemptions on steel and aluminum from Trump administration


Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the “Me Too” movement provoke new questions for members of both parties, by former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelDonald Trump may stun America with shocking November surprise The year the party machines broke The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Steady Kavanaugh proves to be a tough target for Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.), opinion contributor with The Hill.

Is college worth it? At graduation time, this parent wonders, by Gary Varvel, Indianapolis Star.


The House returns to work Tuesday.

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Michael Y. Scudder to be United States circuit judge for the 7th Circuit.

The president has lunch with Vice President Pence.

The vice president lunches with the president. In the evening, Pence speaks at Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebration at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to Israel Ron Dermer and his wife Rhoda Dermer.


> When spies hack journalism: Journalism conventions may set U.S. reporters up for spy agencies to manipulate, with an added risk that genuine material may include slick forgeries, by Scott Shane, The New York Times

> Five important rulings to watch at the Supreme Court, by Lydia Wheeler, The Hill

> This is how a newspaper dies, by Jack Shafer, Politico.

> Houston-area woman who supports the president creates book of Trump tweets for those not on Twitter, by NBC DFW (Texas)



Trump as a politician has fueled pop culture and late night comedy for three years, and there were even times when he enjoyed being in on the yucks. ...



... But is it possible audiences have now reached a saturation point?

Jimmy Kimmel told Deadline over the weekend he would dial back the Trump jokes at the Lincoln Center on Tuesday night when he roasts the television industry.

    “I think people have had an ass-full of Donald Trump, and I feel like the upfront is a time to look within and make fun of ourselves.”

And Saturday Night Live’s cold open this weekend featured a sketch in which the players complained about the endless Trump jokes.

This comes as liberals are warning Democratic candidates and the news media against obsessing about Trump.



How long will the moratorium on Trump jokes last? We’re betting until the next episode of “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert...