The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate

 

 

 

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 TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE will venture to Capitol Hill today for a rare lunch with Senate Republicans. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that the president will press the GOP to change Senate rules to expedite the consideration of his judicial and executive nominees.

Trump’s second year in office is being shaped more by his use of his executive powers and the decisions of the judicial branch than by Congress. In the president’s mind, the Senate continues to be a frustrating and powerful check on his ambitions.

  • Trump chafes at the narrow 51-49 GOP majority and the heft of a minority that can demand policy changes or halt momentum if 60 like-minded senators cannot be rounded up to break filibusters.
  • On more than one occasion, the president has sided with House conservatives in venting frustration with McConnell via Twitter: “Get back to work, Mitch!” Last fall, Trump complained that McConnell “failed” to repeal ObamaCare. The senator replied that the president had “excessive expectations” about the speed of the democratic process.
  • The president fumes that repealing and entirely replacing ObamaCare, ending illegal immigration, building a border wall and shuttering the Russia investigation might have been achieved by now, if not for the Senate. There is frustration among conservatives that the GOP-controlled Congress is not trying to move more substantial legislation as the clock ticks toward the midterm elections.

Still, one of the president’s most significant accomplishments can be traced back to the Senate. For nearly a year, McConnell blocked former President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandGOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees New battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab MORE, paving the way for conservative justice Neil Gorsuch to join the court in 2017.

The bottom line: GOP donors whisper that if forced to choose, they’d rather protect control of the Senate, especially if there is an opening on the Supreme Court. Trump may think McConnell and his Republican Senate colleagues are occasionally a headache for him now, but a GOP-controlled upper chamber will be a major asset for the president if Democrats take control of the House next year.

Bloomberg: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) walks tightrope to help Trump-state Democrats in 2018.

 

 

 

LEADING THE DAY

***FIRST LADY RECOVERING AT WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER***

WHITE HOUSE statement: “First Lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump, Harris, Ocasio-Cortez, Charlie Kirk among Twitter's most-engaged users The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dies at 85 MORE underwent an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney condition. The procedure was successful and there were no complications. Mrs. Trump is at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and will likely remain there for the duration of the week.

 

 

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The Trump administration is at a crisis point over internal leaks since The Hill first reported on Thursday that White House aide Kelly Sadler had mocked Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE’s (R-Ariz.) cancer diagnosis during a staff meeting.

Many lawmakers and commentators from both parties have expressed outrage and urged public contrition for days now. Sadler has privately called McCain’s family to apologize, but the White House has otherwise been more intent to get to the bottom of who leaked Sadler’s remarks than publicly saying “sorry.”

 

 

Lawmakers were leaving town as the story broke last week, but they’re certain to be asked about it in Washington as they get to work today, dragging the controversy into its second week. At Monday’s press briefing, deputy press secretary Raj Shah, who oversaw the meeting where the incendiary comment was heard, would say only that the matter is being handled “internally.”

The Hill: Senate GOP anger over the McCain insult grows.

The Hill: Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwaySean Spicer joins 'Extra' as 'special DC correspondent' Pat Caddell leaves an indelible mark on the American political landscape Conway casts doubt on whether there will be a Mueller report MORE says heads will roll after latest leaks.

The New York Times: White House will not apologize about McCain (or much else, really).

Education Department: The New York Times reported on the administration’s pull-back on investigating for-profit colleges.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittCalifornia has sued the Trump administration 46 times. Here are the lawsuits Overnight Energy: Justices take up major case on water rules | Dems probe administration's dealings with Saudi Arabia | Greens sue EPA over toxic paint strippers Environmental groups sue EPA in bid to ban toxic paint strippers MORE asked for 24/7 security detail before joining the Cabinet, watchdog says (The Hill).

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INTERNATIONAL: Middle East: The Hill — Deadly protests that broke out along the Gaza border on Monday marred ceremonies opening the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Attending for the White House were Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerFive things to know about Trump confidant Tom Barrack Dems open new front against Trump Dems launch investigation into Trump administration's dealings with Saudi Arabia MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump, Harris, Ocasio-Cortez, Charlie Kirk among Twitter's most-engaged users Ivanka must recalibrate her paid family leave plan to make it tenable Four names emerge for UN position: report MORE.

Dozens were killed in Gaza as thousands of Palestinians sought to cross the border. Israeli and U.S. officials blamed Palestinian leaders for the violence, saying they were sending people into a situation they knew would result in violence to drive media attention.

The Associated Press: Trump’s Middle East policies fuel global worries for the region.

Reuters: United Nations warns of more Gaza violence, condemns Israel’s use of force.

The Washington Post: Trump administration exclusively blames Hamas after Israeli soldiers kill Palestinians.

NBC News: Dozens of Marines are added to U.S. Embassy security details in Israel, Jordan and Turkey, and may be added in seven other countries.

i24News: Turkey and South Africa pull their ambassadors from Israel to protest Gaza deaths.

The Hill: President Trump delivers prepared video message during U.S. Embassy opening.

The Hill: Kushner at embassy opening: “This president delivered.”

The Hill: Pro-Trump banners hung in Jerusalem.

The Hill: Schumer calls U.S. Embassy shift to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv “a long overdue move,” for which he said he applauded Trump.

The Hill (opinion): The war over Trump’s embassy.

 

 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage explains how challenging it is to categorize President Trump’s foreign policy, let alone describe a Trump doctrine.

There’s a consistency in the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy that’s worth discussing. It’s transactional. It’s unilateral. And it’s risk acceptant.

 – Ian Bremmer, political scientist and founder/president of the Eurasia Group.

Iran: Trump told the departments of State, Treasury and Energy to begin unwinding ties to Iran’s energy made possible through the 2015 nuclear deal. There is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions," the president wrote in a memo.

The Hill (opinion): Obama, not Trump, shattered U.S. credibility over Iran.

China: The Hill — Trump stuns lawmakers with administration’s sudden about-face to help China’s ZTE Corp., which had been sanctioned by the Commerce Department for dealings with Iran.

The Hill: Schumer accuses the president of working to make “China great again.”

***BREAKING*** The fiscally conservative group Freedom Partners, which is part of the network of groups backed by Charles and David Koch, will launch a new digital ad today targeting attendees of the U.S. Trade Representative meeting, asking that they listen to public comments about the impact of tariffs. ... “They raise prices on consumers, harm job creation and introduce great uncertainty into markets,” Freedom Partners executive vice president Nathan Nascimento said.

Trade: Reuters – NAFTA “hot topics” remain unresolved as a deadline looms, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossGovernment ethics watchdog rejects Trump commerce chief's financial disclosure form over inaccuracies Top Chinese official heading to Washington for trade talks The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration MORE says. The lack of progress signals that an agreement among the U.S., Canada and Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement is unlikely before a Thursday cutoff facing the administration and Congress this year.

CONGRESS:  Sports betting: The Hill — Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE (R-Utah), following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday, took immediate steps to lay the groundwork for congressional action to regulate sports betting directly. “I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena,” he said in a statement.

>The Hill: Lawmakers are now scrambling to come up with legislation to regulate sports gambling.

>The Hill: The Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned sports betting in almost every state, handing former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) a major win to bolster his legacy and delivering to states a potential tax boon.

>The Associated Press: States likely to take up sports betting within two years and five years (graphic map).

John W. Kindt: Supreme Court decision creates a “Wild West” for sports betting.

House Republicans: The Hill — A decade ago, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump Unscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden MORE (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySteve King asks for Congressional Record correction over white supremacist quote Steve King urges supporters to pray for his committee assignments to be restored: report Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse MORE (R-Calif.) were known as the young guns. They were a group of up-and-coming lawmakers who, along with former Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorPelosi warns GOP: Next president could declare national emergency on guns Ousted GOP lawmaker David Brat named dean at Liberty University business school Trump, GOP seek to shift blame for shutdown to Pelosi MORE (R-Va.), aimed to change the House GOP conference. Now a new generation of Republican lawmakers is pressing their leaders for a fresh approach to policy and messaging.

House Democrats: The Hill — The House Democratic lawmaker leading the impeachment charge against Trump criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday for “trivializing” the effort.

Farm bill: Roll Call — The farm bill gets two days of House Rules Committee consideration.

>The Hill (opinion): Farm bill once again stuffed with food stamps.

Veterans Administration: The Hill (opinion) — This week, the House will vote on the VA Mission Act, a package of reforms meant to be part of this spring’s omnibus spending bill, but left on the cutting room floor.

Immigration: The Washington Post — Five reasons why it’s unlikely the House moves on immigration legislation this year, despite a flurry of recent activity.

Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSanders hires veteran progressive operative to manage 2020 bid Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Klobuchar: 'I don't remember' conversation with Reid over alleged staff mistreatment MORE: Las Vegas Review-Journal — Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who led Democrats for more than a decade, underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer at Johns Hopkins on Monday and will receive chemotherapy, his family said in a statement. Current and former colleagues from both sides of the aisle, including Sen. McCain, wished the 78-year-old Reid well.

 

 

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IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CAMPAIGNS: Voters head to the polls for primary elections in Idaho, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Oregon today.

The GOP Senate primary race in Pennsylvania will be the most closely watched, as Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyGOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Biden speaking to Dems on Capitol Hill as 2020 speculation mounts: report GOP senators: Trump should not declare border emergency during State of the Union MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) is one of 10 Democrats seeking reelection this cycle in a state Trump carried in 2016.

Casey will face either Trump’s preferred candidate, Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaTrump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 GOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Casey secures third Senate term over Trump-backed Barletta MORE (R-Pa.), or state Rep. Jim Christiana (R). Will it be another tough night for House Republicans?

The Hill: Five primary races to watch in the first Pennsylvania election under the state’s new congressional map, from Lisa Hagen and Ben Kamisar.

The New York Times: In remapped districts, Pennsylvania Dems plot their resurgence (see graphics).

The Hill: Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s Senate bid complicated by Gov. Eric Greitens (R) scandal.

Fox News: Former Trump campaign manager Corey LewandowskiCorey R. LewandowskiOvernight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House Zinke, Lewandowski join Trump veterans’ lobbying firm Trump campaign spent nearly 0K of donor money on law firm representing Kushner MORE joins Pence’s political action committee.

INVESTIGATIONS: A few noteworthy developments and opinion pieces today...

Politico: Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s office opposes hearing on leaks.

John Solomon: Mueller may have a conflict — and it leads directly to a Russian oligarch.

Former Sen. Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home House Democrats poised to set a dangerous precedent with president’s tax returns The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race MORE (D-Mich.): Congress dangerously wields oversight power in Russia probe.

The Hill: Firms that formed relationships with Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen are facing a public relations nightmare following news of a federal investigation into his private business dealings.

The Hill: Senate Democrats press Novartis, AT&T for answers on Cohen relationship.

The Washington Post: Michael Avenatti using Trump tactics to battle Trump.

OPINION

Liberals can’t have their cake and eat it too in Supreme Court case, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor to The Hill. https://bit.ly/2GgBdkk

Unpaid internships unfairly favor the wealthy, by Liz Wessel, opinion contributor to The Hill. https://bit.ly/2KZ570h

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon for morning hour and 2 p.m. for legislative business.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. There will be roll call votes at noon for 6th and 10th circuit judges. Smokey Robinson and fellow music artists and representatives of the recording and music publishing industries will testify this morning before the Judiciary Committee about protecting and promoting music creation for the 21st century.

The president this morning heads to the Capitol to speak during the 37th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service. In the afternoon, he has lunch in the Capitol with Senate Republicans, then returns to the White House. Trump faces an Office of Government Ethics deadline today to file his annual personal financial disclosure (unless he’s been granted an extension).

ELSEWHERE

SPOTTED last night at a Washington party for Bret Baier’s new book, “Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire”:

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems seize on Times bombshell to push allegations of Trump obstruction Mueller report may be 'anti-climactic,' says ex-intelligence director CNN ripped for hiring former Republican operative as political editor: 'WTF?!?!' MORE and wife Mary; Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Hilary Ross; Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ Taiwan’s President Tsai should be invited to address Congress White House announces reduced delegation to travel to Davos amid shutdown MORE; White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow; Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway; plus Fox News’s Chris Wallace, Jennifer Griffin and Peter Doocy. Also attending: Michigan Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Push for cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill | Court lets Dems defend ObamaCare | Flu season not as severe as last year, CDC says Bill Clinton jokes no one would skip Dingell's funeral: 'Only time' we could get the last word Democrats seek cosponsors for new 'Medicare for all' bill MORE (D); NPR national political correspondent and Fox News contributor Mara Liasson; Bob Cusack, The Hill’s editor-in-chief; conservative commentator Guy Benson; lobbyist and Democrat Heather Podesta; and Politico’s founder and publisher Robert Albritton and wife Elena.

> The nine minutes that almost changed America, by Kate Nocera and Lissandra Villa, Buzzfeed News. https://bzfd.it/2KmkX3F

> Vice President Pence is trying to control Republican politics. Trump aides aren’t happy, by Alexander Burns, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2IlOGt4

> Analysis: Trump’s deregulatory record does not contain much actual deregulation, by Rutgers University Public Policy Program Director Stuart Shapiro, The Conversation. https://bit.ly/2rCGqi3

THE CLOSER

And finally … let’s talk life on other planets, sweeter dreams on this one, and attempts to rescue an arcane, elite sport 

 

 

 

Science: Jupiter’s moon “Europa” produces plumes that suggest it’s a prime candidate to support life, based on recently revealed data (Reuters). The news about Jupiter wows some lawmakers, including Rep. John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonDCCC official says Democrats look to make 'big gains' in Texas, Georgia Democrats need a worthy climate plan NASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon MORE (R-Texas), chairman of the House subcommittee that funds NASA (Science magazine). 

Lifestyle: We all need to study these seven proven tips to get better sleep (CNET).

Sports: How much would you spend to save cricket? In Ireland and elsewhere, the answer is 'quite a lot' (Bloomberg).

See you Wednesday!