The Hill's Morning Report — Trump casts energy, land policies as gifts to red-state voters

 

 

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 Jamal Simmons in the host chair for a conversation with former White House aide Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanPiers Morgan to Trump: Hire me as your chief of staff John Kelly to leave White House at year's end Ex-Trump staffer’s book describes 'Team of Vipers’ MORE, who touts her book titled “Unhinged” and explains why she thinks her former boss is “trying to incite a race war.” http://thehill.com/hilltv

****

President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE is turning policy initiatives into political ammunition as he tries to help Republicans take out the Democratic Senate incumbents up for reelection in the red and rural states he carried in 2016.

The president is expected to roll out his alternative to former President Obama’s climate rule for coal plants while in Charleston, W. Va., on Tuesday night as he campaigns for Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Morrisey is trying to unseat Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Manchin puts hold on FCC nomination over wireless internet fund delay MORE (D-W.Va.) in a state the president won by more than 40 points.

The Hill: Five things to know about the new Trump coal plan.

WCHS/WVAH Eyewitness News: Preparing for Trump’s rally, Morrisey says Trump needs an ally in the Senate, while Manchin says he voted with the president 60 percent of the time.

Trump’s gift to coal country, which will effectively allow states to regulate their own emissions, is the latest example of the president fulfilling campaign promises in states with bountiful natural resources and raw land, where voters often complain that the outsized influence of the federal government is a hindrance to their livelihoods.

The Wall Street Journal: Environmental Protection Agency’s acting administrator signed new coal plan on Monday.

In addition to West Virginia, the president has campaigned this year in North Dakota and Montana, where Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates MORE (D) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure Senate confirms Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold MORE (D) are top GOP targets in states the president won easily in 2016.

In North Dakota and across the Great Plains states, Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeUndoing the damage Pruitt and Zinke did to our environment The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown The Hill's Morning Report — What a shutdown would mean for the government MORE and other administration officials have been doing outreach to Native Americans about tribal rights.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump charity agrees to dissolve amid allegations of a 'shocking pattern of illegality' Chris Matthews: Trump Jr., Ivanka ‘stand as the next dominoes to fall’ Report accuses US tech giants of impeding Senate's Russia probe MORE, has also been an asset in some of these states, connecting with voters over his passion for hunting and the outdoors.

Of course, both Tester and Heitkamp have deep connections to the unique concerns of the voters in their states and it’s possible that one or both could overcome the political headwinds they face as Democrats running in rural Trump country.

But writing in The New York Times, David Wasserman, the House editor for the Cook Political Report, marveled at the disparity between the House and Senate races this cycle, noting that while the GOP faces potentially steep losses in densely populated House districts, Republicans could pick up several seats in the Senate with candidates running in red and rural states where the president’s policies are popular.

            “These are two truly different universes: The median competitive Senate seat gave Mr. Trump 56 percent in 2016, has a population density of 88 people per square mile and falls below the national average in educational attainment and income. But the median competitive House district gave Mr. Trump 49 percent of the vote, has a population density of 407 people per square mile and ranks above the national average in college graduates and income.” – Wasserman

Trump’s policies in these wilderness states will also be felt in Tuesday’s primaries in Wyoming and Alaska.

The Hill: Governor races in spotlight as Wyoming, Alaska head to the polls.

The Trump administration has removed Endangered Species Act protections for Yellowstone grizzly bears in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. And the governor’s race in Wyoming could determine whether oil and gas companies will be required to continue repairing habitats for sage grouse in the state.

Trump is backing Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate votes to end debate on criminal justice reform bill The Year Ahead: Dems under pressure to deliver on green agenda White House jumps into fight over energy subsidies MORE (R-Wyo.) for reelection, but the physician faces a tough primary fight against businessman Dave Dodson, who has put $1 million of his own money into the race.

In the Wyoming GOP gubernatorial primary, Trump Jr. is backing businessman and longtime GOP mega-donor Foster Friess in the crowded field.

In Alaska, where there will be a competitive governor’s race featuring former Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichDem governors on 2020: Opposing Trump not enough Dem Begich concedes Alaska governor race to Republican Dunleavy Democrats gain governorships in red states MORE (D) in November, the Interior Department has moved to relax restrictions on bear hunting and has commissioned a review of the Arctic National Wildlife Rescue that could result in new oil and gas drilling there.

Trump’s deregulatory efforts and policies on land use aren’t popular among Republicans everywhere.

Iowans, led by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate votes to end debate on criminal justice reform bill Five takeaways from the court decision striking down ObamaCare The Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda MORE (R), have lashed out at the president’s tariffs, which have impacted the state’s soybean industry. And offshore drilling is unpopular in coastal states that depend heavily on tourism, such as Florida. Earlier this year, the administration dropped Florida from a list of states proposed for more offshore drilling at the request of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is running for Senate.

But expect the president to highlight his efforts to reduce Washington’s reach on matters that impact the red rural states where Republicans have a chance to pick up Senate seats in November.

LEADING THE DAY

*** OVERNIGHT *** The government deported to Germany former Nazi concentration camp guard Jakiw Palij, 95, a U.S. citizen living in New York City. The administration executed the deportation order 25 years after investigators first confronted Palij with evidence of his World War II past (The Associated Press).

****

CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Year Ahead: Tech braces for new scrutiny from Washington McCaskill: 'Too many embarrassing uncles' in the Senate FEC votes to allow lawmakers to use campaign funds for personal cybersecurity MORE (D) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMake Trump own the shutdown over his ill-advised border wall More than a tantrum McConnell’s marijuana conundrum: Cory Gardner MORE (D-N.Y.) each meet separately today with Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s Supreme Court nominee. McCaskill is in a tough reelection race against Missouri’s Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, and The Wall Street Journal reports the outcome could turn on the senator’s opposition or support for Trump’s court pick.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP lawmakers distance themselves from ObamaCare ruling The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms Bipartisan senators doubt ruling striking down ObamaCare MORE (R-Maine), who has not indicated how she’ll vote but is expected to back the nominee, will also meet with Kavanaugh today. A supporter of abortion rights, Collins says she will ask the nominee questions about Roe v. Wade (Bloomberg).

The Washington Post: While working under former independent counsel Kenneth Starr in 1998 during the investigation of former President Clinton, Kavanaugh prepared graphic questions for prosecutors to pose to Clinton about his relationship with a White House intern.

> A quote from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThis week: Washington barrels toward partial shutdown deadline Five takeaways from the court decision striking down ObamaCare Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming MORE (R-Calif.) underscores the GOP’s anxiety about the midterms, especially for a lawmaker who dreams of becoming Speaker. What’s ahead won’t be mass drowning for his party, but perhaps a cyclone that spares some colleagues, he suggested while casting about for a bit of optimism.

“This could be a tornado, but it won’t be a wave,” McCarthy told The Washington Post on Sunday. “A tornado touches down in spots. A wave crashes over everybody.”

In other political news … Georgia has an interesting governor’s race, and candidates Stacey Abrams (D) and Brian Kemp (R) speak today to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in Macon, Ga. The New York Times described the contest over the weekend, and Reuters describes how both Georgia candidates are protesting plans to close some polling sites in the state … Nearly twice as many New Mexico voters favor Libertarian Senate candidate Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonHillicon Valley: Social media struggles with new forms of misinformation | US, Russia decline to join pledge on fighting cybercrimes | Trump hits Comcast after antitrust complaint | Zuckerberg pressed to testify before global panel Ex-Facebook exec ousted from company sparked controversy with pro-Trump views: report Heinrich wins reelection to Senate in New Mexico MORE than the GOP contender, Mick Rich, according to a new poll (Reason.com) … Looking ahead to 2020, 4 in 10 New Hampshire Republicans said in a survey sponsored by the New Hampshire Journal that they want a primary challenger for Trump (The Hill) … Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone fundraising off promise not to testify against Trump Rivaling chants of 'USA,' 'lock him up' greet Flynn after sentencing hearing The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown MORE will help raise money for Democratic candidates this fall, beginning with events in California, Illinois and New York (NBC News) … Democrats gear up for legal fights over voter suppression (The Hill).

****

INVESTIGATIONS: The Hill’s Jordan Fabian and Niall Stanage outline the growing legal pressures that surround the president. Trump faces legal risks on three fronts:

> The jury finished its third day of deliberations on Monday in the bank fraud trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortJudge delays Flynn sentencing after sharply criticizing former Trump aide Presidential historian: Trump's actions may be 'definition of treason' if he knew about Russian interference efforts It’s time the UK cracked down on dirty Russian money MORE (The Hill). Manafort awaits a second trial in November on allegations of illegal foreign lobbying that moves the investigations closer to Russia.

The Hill: Trump’s tweets raise questions about why Manafort’s jury isn’t sequestered.

> White House counsel Donald McGahnDonald (Don) F. McGahnManafort pardon would be impeachable, indictable and convictable Both political parties guilty of weaponizing impeachment More questions than answers in too many Trump stories MORE has reportedly been cooperating with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe. McGahn’s attorney Bill Burck told Trump’s lawyers that McGahn did not tell the special counsel that the president did anything wrong (The Washington Post).

> Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen appears to be getting closer to facing charges of bank fraud.

The president is actively fighting back over Twitter and in interviews with the news media.         

Trump went on a Twitter tirade on Monday against “disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller,” describing the special counsel team as a “National Disgrace.”

 

 

 

 

In an interview with Reuters, Trump declined to say whether he’d move to strip Mueller and his team of their national security clearances, as he did last week with former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanMueller's findings don't matter Brennan shreds Trump: ‘I am relieved that you will never have the opportunity to run for public office again’ CNN given all-clear after bomb threat evacuation MORE.

That would be a dramatic escalation against the special counsel that many in Washington would view as being on the same level as firing Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay Rosenstein10 pieces of evidence against most diabolical Russian spy ever No glory in James Comey getting away with his abuse of FBI power Mueller’s real challenge MORE

In that same interview, Trump said he was leaning against sitting down with Mueller’s team, worrying that it could be a “perjury trap.”

“Even if I am telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.” – Trump to Reuters

That increases the likelihood that Mueller could subpoena the president – a move Trump’s legal team has vowed to fight in court.

Reuters: Russian hackers targeted conservative think-tanks in the U.S., Microsoft says.

Analysis: Hackers steal more than $1 million from global economy in a single minute.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump, during an interview with Reuters on Monday, said the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy and the leadership of chairman Jerome Powell bug him. “I’m not thrilled with his raising of interest rates, no. I’m not thrilled,” he said … (Over the weekend, the president privately complained about Powell to a wealthy donor audience, according to Bloomberg).

The president also told Reuters that it is “very dangerous” for social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook to regulate the content on their own platforms for misinformation and offensive or malicious communications.

On dealings with Turkey, Trump ruled out making any concessions to try to gain the release of a detained American pastor. And he told Reuters he is not worried that retaliatory tariffs he imposed will ripple through Turkey and hurt Europe’s economic expansion. The president also said he’s dubious about the potential for progress with China on trade this week.

Reuters: Transcript of key quotes from the Trump interview.

Trump – opioid legislation: The Hill: The president on Monday urged the Senate to pass a bill aimed at stopping the flow of synthetic opioids into this country. On Twitter, Trump called it "outrageous" that fentanyl – a synthetic opioid 50 times stronger than heroin – is "pouring into the U.S. postal system from China."

Trump policies v. court rulings: Back-to-back court losses show the limits of Trump’s deregulatory policies and some of the delays the administration favors (Bloomberg).

Trump – SEC: The Hill: Trump’s enthusiasm last week about eliminating quarterly corporate reports required by the independent Securities and Exchange Commission prompted much national discussion about how it might change investing. The idea, which is not new, presents pros and cons.

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpWhite House release Trumps' 2018 official Christmas portrait Three biggest immigration issues Congress needs to tackle The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump rips Dems as shutdown looms | Congress deadlocked | Flynn associates charged will illegal lobbying MORE will travel in October to Africa for a solo trip focused on children, the White House told The Associated Press on Monday. Exact dates and the stops have not been disclosed. (Note: Hillary Clinton, as first lady, traveled to Africa with daughter Chelsea Clinton in 1997, while then-President Clinton remained at the White House recovering from surgery to a torn knee tendon. Former first lady Laura Bush journeyed with her twin daughters to South Africa, Tanzania and Rwanda in 2005. And Michelle Obama traveled to Liberia and Morocco to focus on women and girls during her final year in the White House, in 2016.)

Trump’s Space Force concept collides with gravitational forces in the Senate: The House has largely been supportive of the idea of a creating a new military branch for space, attempting its own version last year, but senators are skeptical (The Hill).

Gerald F. Seib, analysis for The Wall Street Journal: How the president steps on his own good news.

Trump’s hiring: A new Monmouth University poll found that a majority of Americans (58 percent) believe the president does not hire the “best people” for government positions (The Hill).

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

It’s high time for a discussion on infrastructure, by Gregory Winfree and Zachary Grasley of Texas A&M University, opinion contributors with The Hill. http://bit.ly/2OMj4PW

What crime did Manafort allegedly commit? by investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, opinion contributor with The Hill. http://bit.ly/2MD1MHF

WHERE AND WHEN

The House is out until after Labor Day.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and continues consideration of the two largest annual spending bills, one for the Defense Department, and the other covering the Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education departments for 2019.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a 10 a.m. hearing on Medicaid fraud and overpayments.

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a 10 a.m. hearing on Russia sanctions.

And the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a 10 a.m. hearing on U.S.-Russia relations.

The president meets with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump to attend World Economic Forum in Davos for second straight year Pompeo to lead delegation to 'Trump of the Tropics' inauguration The Hill's Morning Report — No deal in sight as shutdown looms MORE, then hosts lunch at the White House with Pompeo and Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyNikki Haley: 'Israel wants a peace agreement but it doesn’t need one' Showdown at the Security Council? North Korea evading US sanctions: report MORE, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The president also will meet with labor union leaders in the Roosevelt Room. Trump this evening participates in a political roundtable and election rally in Charleston, W.Va., then returns to Washington.

Justice Department Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and Katharine Sullivan, the department’s acting director of the Office of Violence Against Women, as well as U.S. Attorney Ron Parsons and officials from the Health and Human Services Department participate in a two-day conference in Sioux Falls, S.D., about federal administration of tribal funds and programs impacting the safety of Native American and Alaskan Native women.

Invitation from The Hill: Sept. 12, newsmakers discuss “A Healthy Start: Infant and Early Childhood Nutrition,” featuring Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottThe results are in: How the nation voted on criminal justice issues that impact our youth Overnight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower A new Congress, time for a new focus on public education MORE (D-Va.), and Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Brandon Lipps from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack kicks off a conversation about maternal, infant and early childhood nutrition, and progress toward the goal of healthier eating. RSVP HERE.

ELSEWHERE

> Pope Francis on Monday condemned the crime of sexual abuse by priests. He said nothing about how he plans to sanction complicit bishops or end the Vatican’s culture of secrecy. His three-page letter was an indirect effort to respond to outrage in the U.S. and pressure from Ireland, where the Pope is headed, to take a tough stand on the global abuse scandal. Pressure mounted after Francis’s own reputation was tarnished during a trip to Chile in January, where he was criticized after dismissing victims’ accusations of cover-up as “calumny” (The Associated Press).

> Facebook’s median pay tops $240,000 a year – $43,000 more than the median pay at Google (The Silicon Valley Business Journal). The company employed more than 30,000 people as of June (Facebook stats).

> Airplane noise close to airports in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and communities nationwide increased this year because of the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen satellite-based navigation system. Representing extremely irate residents, Maryland is seeking a remedy in court (WTOP).

> The National Geographic documentary, JANE, about primatologist Jane Goodall was nominated for seven Emmy awards. Goodall spoke about the film during an interview Monday on public radio’s “Here & Now” program. You can listen to the 84-year-old pioneer recall life as a 26-year-old chimpanzee researcher HERE. And if you’ve missed the film directed by Brett Morgen with never-before-seen footage, viewers can stream it free through Aug. 27 HERE.

 

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … An unusual Monday trespass incident in Brooklyn along the outdoor tracks of the New York City subway system inspired Twitter’s impromptu version of a caption contest. We think the unofficial standout was from @VelvetSparrow: “Aww, cut ‘em some slack. Thay’re not baaaaad boys, they’re just being kids.”