The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s GOP feuds dominate ahead of midterms

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Tuesday! Our daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch, co-created by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!) On Twitter, find us at @joneasley and @asimendinger.

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James discussing President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE’s proposed Space Force. http://thehill.com/hilltv


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President Trump is scrapping with senior Republican officials and duking it out with a former White House aide, underscoring the bad blood coursing through the GOP as the party seeks to protect majorities in the House and Senate with 84 days until the midterm elections.

On Monday, the president blasted Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Twitter, accusing him of dampening GOP enthusiasm for a special election last week in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District.

 

 

Kasich responded with a tweeted GIF of Russian President Vladimir Putin laughing.

The GOP candidate in the special election race, Troy Balderson, is clinging to a small lead over Democrat Danny O’Connor, although the election still remains too close to call. Kasich, who represented the district for nearly 20 years in the House, is warning that the GOP candidate’s struggle to win decisively in a solidly Republican district could be a harbinger of big Democratic gains in the fall.

From there, the president turned his sights on Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain says Steyer should drop out: 'I hate that guy' Sanders says idea he can't work with Republicans is 'total nonsense' GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman MORE (R-Ariz.), an icon of the GOP and Washington foreign policy establishment.

First, Trump did not mention McCain when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act at Fort Drum in upstate New York.

The bill is named after McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, who was unable to shepherd the bill through Congress this year because he’s being treated at home for brain cancer.

 

 

This kind of snub is not a new experience for McCain. Former President George W. Bush went out of his way not to recognize the Arizona senator when he signed McCain’s signature legislative achievement into law – a major campaign finance reform bill that bears McCain’s name. Here’s a quick refresher on that 2002 drama from AZ Central.

But later in the day, speaking at a fundraiser in Utica for Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), Trump blamed McCain for sinking the GOP’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“On ObamaCare, we got rid of the individual mandate, which was the most unpopular aspect. I would have gotten rid of everything but as you know one of our wonderful senators said thumbs down at 2 o’clock in the morning.” – Trump

Those attacks emerged against the backdrop of an ugly slugfest between Trump and former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanThe Memo: Impeachment's scars cut deep with Trump, say those who know him Author of anonymous 'resistance' NYT op-ed to publish book Juan Williams: Black Republicans call out Trump — finally — on race MORE.

The former reality television star seized the media spotlight with a new book about her experiences working for the president in the White House. She is a magnet for audiences curious about how and why she says she soured on Trump after so vigorously championing him during his shift from business and entertainment to politics.

Manigault Newman now says she has spoken with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s team and claims she has more information to share, joining Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen as a potential legal threat to the president.

Trump’s Twitter takedown of his former West Wing aide: “Wacky Omarosa.” He’s fuming at the news media for giving her attention and taking her claims seriously.

The Memo: Omarosa fury shows no signs of cooling.

 

 

 

 

Still, Trump can be an asset on the campaign trail for some Republicans in tough reelection races and his primary endorsements have mostly been winners this cycle.

The president on Monday raised money for two GOP women from the House New York delegation, Tenney and Rep. Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way The Hill's Morning Report — Trump basks in acquittal; Dems eye recanvass in Iowa Trump holds White House 'celebration' for impeachment acquittal MORE.

Stefanik, who on occasion has been critical of Trump, invited him to Fort Drum on Monday. The president repeatedly mispronounced her name. Tenney has aligned herself with the president and Trump showered her with praise.

“She’s been incredible in Congress. She’s helped us so much. She’s just a wonderful person…hopefully we’ve put Claudia right over the top where she belongs. I don’t think she’ll have any problem.” – Trump

But Trump’s skirmishes with fellow Republicans and score-settling with former allies colors public perceptions and could be drag on his party on Nov. 6.

LEADING THE DAY

CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: There is another important round of primary elections on Tuesday night as voters head to the polls in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut and Vermont.

The Hill’s Lisa Hagen has the races to watch (The Hill).

A few highlights:

The Associated Press: ‘Blue wave’ to be tested in Midwestern primaries.

> Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to replace Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsFormer Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to 2 years in prison for insider trading GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Democrats running to replace Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins vow to support ethics package MORE (R-N.Y.), who is not seeking reelection after being indicted on charges of insider trading. The latest gambit to get around New York’s strict laws on removing a name from the ballot: Nominating Collins for another political office. The GOP is increasingly worried the election mess could cost the party a seat in a deep-red district (The Associated Press). Democrats are seizing on the Collins arrest to suggest the GOP is home to corrupt, self-dealing candidates (The Hill).

> Vice President Pence travels to Ohio on Tuesday, where he’ll campaign for gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine (R) and Senate candidate Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciDemocrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 Medicare for All won't deliver what Democrats promise GOP rep: If Mueller had found collusion, 'investigation would have wrapped up very quickly' MORE (R), who will take on Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOn The Money: Stocks close with second day of steep losses | Dow falls over 800 points as coronavirus fears grow | Kudlow claims virus has been contained | US expects China to honor trade deal amid outbreak Hillicon Valley: Agencies play catch-up over TikTok security concerns | Senate Dems seek sanctions on Russia over new election meddling | Pentagon unveils AI principles Senate Democrats urge Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for election interference MORE (D) in the fall. On Wednesday, the vice president heads to Des Moines, Iowa, to campaign for Rep. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungFormer 'Apprentice' contestant ranks Trump next to Mother Teresa on women's issues Churches are arming and training congregants in response to mass shootings: report Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (R), whose race is rated a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

More from the campaign trail … Republican women have been reluctant or unable to claim any advantage to being a woman this election cycle (The New York Times) … Democrats are embracing Michael Avenatti’s call for the party to get more aggressive in attacking Trump (The Hill) … Donald Trump Jr. is a campaign star on the right. Is he also a future candidate? (The Washington Post) … Trump reaps the benefits of political spending at his properties (McClatchy) … Relatives are turning against GOP lawmakers and Trump administration officials (NPR) … Two former lawmakers are battling for their old seat in a Nevada House race that showcases the divide between urban and rural America (The Hill).

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INVESTIGATIONS: The FBI on Monday fired special agent Peter Strzok, the senior counterintelligence officer who exchanged dozens of anti-Trump text messages with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, with whom he was having an affair, while leading separate investigations into Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDNC warns campaigns about cybersecurity after attempted scam Biden looks to shore up lead in S.C. Stone judge under pressure over calls for new trial MORE (The Washington Post).

Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after the texts were uncovered.

Strzok’s text messages, including one in which he said he’d do what he could to “stop” Trump from being elected, became the cornerstone of the conservative argument that the president has been the victim of political bias at the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ).

 

 

 

 

In a report released earlier this year, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said Strzok’s texts cast a cloud over the FBI.

Horowitz determined that anti-Trump political bias did not play a role in the FBI’s decision not to charge Clinton with a crime.

However, a second report on the Trump investigation is in the works and Horowitz has indicated that Strzok may have exhibited political bias in prioritizing the Trump investigation over new developments in the Clinton investigation.

From Horowitz’s report:

“[Strzok’s texts are] not only indicative of a biased state of mind but, even more seriously, implies a willingness to take official action to impact the presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.” – Horowitz

In a statement, Strzok’s lawyer Aitan Goelman accused FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich of bowing to political pressure and breaking with precedent by overruling the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which had placed Strzok on a 60-day suspension and had demoted him to the human resources department.

“This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans. A lengthy investigation and multiple rounds of Congressional testimony failed to produce a shred of evidence that Special Agent Strzok’s personal views ever affected his work. In fact, in his decades of service, Special Agent Strzok has proved himself to be one of the country’s top counterintelligence officers, leading to only one conclusion – the decision to terminate was taken in response to political pressure, and to punish Special Agent Strzok for political speech protected by the First Amendment, not on a fair and independent examination of the facts.” – Goelman

> Mueller’s prosecutors rested their case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortStone judge under pressure over calls for new trial President Trump's assault on checks and balances: Five acts in four weeks Free Roger Stone MORE on Monday, the 10th day of the trial.

The defense will have the opportunity to call witnesses or rest their case on Tuesday. The trial could be sent to the jury as soon as today.

Manafort faces 18 charges of tax and bank fraud stemming from allegations he hid millions of dollars from the government by routing funds through foreign bank accounts. The allegations pre-date Manafort’s work for the campaign.

Reuters: U.S. rests its case against Manafort.

More from investigations … Mueller is zeroing in on longtime Trump confidant Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneStone judge under pressure over calls for new trial Stone juror: Trump 'attacking citizens for performing their civic duty' The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate MORE (The Hill) … Stone denies wrongdoing and says he’ll never turn on Trump (The Hill) … Federal judge dismisses Russian company’s bid to dismiss Mueller charges (The Hill).

Alan Dershowitz: Dangers to the First Amendment if foreign campaign dirt is criminal.

Chris Truax: America needs a Mueller-Trump confrontation over rule of law.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INTERNATIONAL: It was dubbed “the Turkey contagion” by the financial news media as analysts tracked an economic crisis that continued to worsen Monday as the value of Turkey’s currency plummeted to a new low (The Hill). But by Tuesday, world markets regained their footing as the threat from the collapse of the lira ebbed (Reuters).

The New York Times: Turkey’s worst economic crisis since 2001 confronts President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with the limits of his authoritarian approach, and could end his long run of success.

Trump national security adviser John Bolton met Monday with Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, Serdar Kilic, at the ambassador’s request. They discussed U.S. tariffs levied on ally Turkey, as well as U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson, who remains under house arrest in Turkey. Trump wants Brunson freed and believes the pastor’s captors reneged on a deal to release him. Bolton’s message: U.S. won’t negotiate (Bloomberg). 

China: Trump believes a proposed Space Force within the Department of Defense, subject to approval by Congress, is necessary to defend outer space against threats from the Chinese.

“Just like the air, land and sea, space has become a warfighting domain,” the president repeated on Monday. “It’s not enough to have American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space” (The Hill).

> Meanwhile, Trump signed a $717 billion defense authorization bill into law for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. He spoke during an event Monday at New York’s Fort Drum (The Hill).

> Chinese officials on Tuesday condemned efforts to target China, saying the defense act signed by Trump exaggerated antagonism, and that Beijing would take a close look at aspects that beef up the role of a U.S. panel that reviews foreign investment proposals (Reuters).

SUPREME COURT: Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats were denied their request to the National Archives for additional documents pertaining to Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, whose testimony before the committee begins early in September. Archivist David Ferriero wrote to California Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinCalifornia lawmakers mark Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe House passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum MORE, the top Democrat on the committee, explaining that “law” and “practice” limit his staff’s responses to committee chairs, all of whom are Republicans in the current Senate (The Hill). GOP members of the Judiciary Committee have narrowed the expanse of documents and materials available as part of Kavanaugh’s public record.

CNN reviewed Kavanaugh’s past speeches and found that he often referred to the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who was on the court from 1986-2016, as a "role model" and a "hero." That’s not surprising considering the judge’s career trajectory (or the audiences he addressed over the years), but Kavanaugh, 53, is nominated to succeed retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, formerly a swing vote on the court.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley jeasley@thehill.com & Alexis Simendinger asimendinger@thehill.com. Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

OPINION

Why political scientists aren’t writing about Russian hackers, by Robert G. Boatright, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Mpa8m9

A new North American Free Trade Agreement should keep critical investment protections, by Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, and opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2P5lPgk

WHERE AND WHEN

The House is out until after Labor Day.

The Senate gets back to work on Wednesday.

The president has lunch with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Former Laura Bush staffer decries Taliban's treatment of women amid peace deal Bipartisan Senate resolution would urge UN to renew Iran arms embargo, travel restrictions MORE.

The vice president will be in Ohio for a tax event as well as separate stops to bolster Ohio GOP candidates running for governor and the Senate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. releases July data on U.S. import and export prices.

The National Press Club in Washington hosts an event tonight to call attention to the sixth year that freelance journalist Austin Tice, 37, has been held captive in Syria after being seized at a checkpoint in Damascus on Aug. 14, 2012. The event from 6-8 p.m. includes an exhibit of Tice’s photographs, “The Children of Syria,” and remarks by his parents, Marc and Debra Tice; representatives of The Washington Post and McClatchy News, for whom Tice worked; and Reporters Without Borders North America Director Margaux Ewen. U.S. intelligence earlier this year said it believed Tice was alive, and the FBI offered a $1 million reward for information back in April. Tice is the recipient of a George Polk Award for War Reporting, a John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award and the McClatchy President’s Award for Journalism Excellence.

 

 

ELSEWHERE

> Capital punishment: Nebraska is prepared on Tuesday to execute Carey Dean Moore, 60, one of the longest-serving inmates in the nation, after the state’s about-face on the death penalty (The Associated Press).

> Sports gambling: An update in the states (NBC News). After the Supreme Court in May overturned a 1992 law prohibiting sports gambling, several states legalized it and others are considering it.

> Lobbying: South Korea spent $52 million on lobbying in 2017 following Trump’s election, focusing its labors on trade and outspending all other foreign governments registered to lobby, including oil-rich Qatar and Saudi Arabia (The Daily Beast).

> Tech: An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store location data and track us, even if we’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

THE CLOSER

And finally … there’s something about the Washington news since Monday that made us appreciate a Belleville, Ill., rescue that involved a man, his pet macaw, waist-deep in mud in a dredged lake with some exceedingly patient first responders. Check out some video from Sunday HERE.