The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — How will Obama impact the midterms?




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Monday! 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.

The hometown football team is 1-0. The Washington Redskins easily defeated the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday behind new quarterback Alex Smith. Sports radio in Washington will be bubbling with optimism and talk about the playoffs but it’s a long season ahead...


Former President Obama’s emergence on the campaign trail will provide a fascinating split-screen with President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE over the final weeks before the midterm elections, giving each party a powerful proxy leading up to Nov. 6.

“I think it just illuminates the choice the American people have in the midterm election.” — Vice President Pence on “Fox News Sunday,” hailing strong economic indicators.

Obama is committed to being on the road for Democrats following his inaugural campaign season address at the University of Illinois on Friday. He’s filming get-out-the-vote videos, putting his name on fundraising mailers and campaigning in Southern California, a key region for progressives if they’re going to take back the House.

In his speeches, the 44th president has attacked Trump as corrupt, divisive, dangerous and bigoted, while warning Democrats against complacency and casting the election as their opportunity to “restore some semblance of sanity to our politics.”

“If we don’t step up, things can get worse. In two months, we have the chance to restore some sanity to our politics. We have the chance to flip the House of Representatives and make sure there are real checks and balances in Washington.” – Obama on Saturday at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Associated Press: Obama tells voters to put Dems in charge or ‘things can get worse.’

The Hill: 7 times Obama swiped at Trump in return to the trail.

Democrats, who had been irritated by Obama’s absence, are suddenly thrilled to have the popular former president back in the mix (The Hill).

In Washington, Obama’s return reignited debate about his legacy.






Trump will also spend many of the 56 days between now and Nov. 6 on the campaign trail, where he’s touted the economy and warned about the direction the country would take if Democrats take the House and Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? Pelosi says Dems 'have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children' in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) becomes Speaker.

The Hill: Trump gets good news on wages.

The Washington Post: Blue-collar jobs grow at fastest rate in 30 years, fueling a hiring boom in pro-Trump enclaves.

The New York Times: Trump claims credit for the economy. Not so fast, says Obama.

The Wall Street Journal: Trump and lawmakers expected to reach funding deal on Monday to avoid a government shutdown.

The president is publicly expressing confidence that Republicans are being underestimated, as they were in 2016. Election analysts, however, increasingly see a bloodbath for House Republicans in November.

The Cook Political Report: Grim fall awaits GOP.

The Washington Post: Trump dominates fall campaign landscape and is the only thing that matters.

In a Sunday interview on New York’s AM 970, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel acknowledged that “Democrats have energy right now.”

            “We have to match them step for step with their energy, dollar for dollar, in order to keep these majorities.” – McDaniel

The big question that’s beginning to percolate is whether Democratic turnout will be great enough to propel them to a majority in the Senate, where the map is stacked against them.

The Hill’s Reid Wilson takes you through five election-year surprises as November nears. At the top of the list: Democrats may have a shot at Senate control (The Hill).

More from the campaign trail … Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseIt's time to empower military families with education freedom Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lauds tariffs on China while backtracking from more MORE (R-Neb.) says he’s thought about leaving the Grand Old Party (The Hill) … Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-N.J.) is heading to Iowa (Politico) … Republican tax law takes center stage in Nevada Senate race (The Hill) … Trump adviser says Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzIs this any way for NASA to build a lunar lander? GOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 MORE (R-Texas) might lose reelection bid (The New York Times) … Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump awards Medal of Freedom to NBA legend Bob Cousy Overnight Energy: Green groups sue Trump over Endangered Species Act changes | Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency | Wildfires in Amazon rainforest burn at record rate Bureau of Land Management retirees fight plan to relocate agency out west MORE (D-W.Va.) betting ObamaCare will save him (The New York Times).




WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appears to have enough support in both the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to become an associate justice by early October (The Hill).

Following four days of confirmation hearings last week, no Republican senator expressed misgivings about the nominee, and the 53-year-old appellate court judge may win over the votes of a Democrat or two who are nervous about winning reelection in November in states where Trump is popular.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord MORE (R-Iowa) said on Tuesday his panel could vote on the nomination on Sept. 13 — or on Sept. 20, if Democrats seek another week to review answers to written questions (The Associated Press). Grassley said last month that the nomination could head to the Senate floor within two days of clearing the committee.

> China & trade: Trump boasts he’s ready to apply tariffs to an additional $267 billion in Chinese goods, on top of duties of $200 billion in imports the United States is already considering. The administration will act on the $200 billion “very soon depending on what happens,” the president told reporters on Air Force One last week. “I hate to do this, but behind that there is another $267 billion ready to go on short notice if I want.” (Bloomberg). On Monday, China, without specifics, said it will retaliate (Reuters).

> USDA: Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin Perdue70 mayors sign letter opposing Trump proposal that would restrict access to food stamps USDA eases relocation timeline as researchers flee agency The Hill's Morning Report - How will Trump be received in Dayton and El Paso? MORE said Sunday during an interview broadcast by C-SPAN that a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal between the United States and Canada must end Canada’s milk protein “scheme.” The country’s closed, $16 billion dairy market is among sticking points in talks between U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. Talks broke up on Friday without an agreement (Reuters).

> Energy Department: Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryThe enemy of my enemy is my friend — an alliance that may save the Middle East Celebrities, Rick Perry duped by viral Instagram hoax Instagram: No, old posts aren't being made public MORE is scheduled to visit Moscow this week, Russian media reported on Sunday (Reuters). Perry, who would be the most senior U.S. official to visit Russia since Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, is expected there Sept. 11-13.

> Apple Inc.: Trump is pressing the iPhone maker to shift production from China to the United States (The Wall Street Journal). “Start building new plants now,” he tweeted on Saturday. Explainer: How Apple as a U.S. company assembles iPhones with international parts and labor (Reuters).

> Venezuela: In the last year, the Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela about the officers’ plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the talks (The New York Times). The administration decided not to help the plotters, and the coup plans stalled. Commenting on the reporting, a White House official said on Sunday that the U.S. supports a peaceful and orderly return to democracy in Venezuela (The Associated Press). Venezuelan leaders reacted angrily to weekend news accounts (The New York Times). 

> 9/11 anniversary: The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China El Paso, Dayton hospitals deny Trump claim of doctors leaving OR to meet him The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE will be in Shanksville, Pa., on Tuesday to memorialize New York and Pentagon victims, first responders and airplane passengers who were among nearly 3,000 people killed by al Qaeda terrorists on a crisp, clear September day 17 years ago (Tribune Live, Pa.).


INVESTIGATIONS: Does special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE have any surprises waiting in the wings during the 56 days remaining until the midterm elections?

The Department of Justice typically does not reveal new details about an investigation involving a candidate 60 days from an election, but that’s not a hard and fast rule.

A few developments on the investigative front from over the weekend:

> On Friday, a judge sentenced former Trump campaign adviser George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios Papadopoulos10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Flynn, Papadopoulos to speak at event preparing 'social media warriors' for 'digital civil war' Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference MORE to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI (The Hill). Papadopoulos talks to The Daily podcast about why he lied (The New York Times).

> Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortEx-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates testifies against former Obama counsel Gregory Craig Trial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer MORE, who was found guilty last month of bank fraud, may be looking to plead guilty and cut a deal with the government ahead of a second trial later this month on charges of illegal foreign lobbying (Bloomberg).

> Federal prosecutors are backing away from allegations that a Russian woman traded sex for access to a political group (The Associated Press). The government now says it misinterpreted text messages from Maria Butina, although she is still accused of covertly working as a political operative on behalf of the Kremlin (The Associated Press).

> Trump has still not agreed to an interview with Mueller. Pence, however, says he’s happy to sit for an interview with Mueller (The Hill).

> Calling it a matter of “national security,” Trump is urging the Justice Department to investigate the identity of a “senior administration official” who wrote an anonymous op-ed for The New York Times about resisting the president from inside the government.

That idea is catching on among top administration officials, with Pence on Sunday saying the administration was looking into whether a crime was committed.

            “The Constitution of the United States vests all executive power in the president of the United States. To have an individual who took that oath literally say that they work every day to frustrate the president advancing the agenda he was elected to advance is undemocratic." – Pence on “Fox News Sunday.”

The Times blasted back at the idea of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsA better way to run the Federal Bureau of Prisons Trump admin erases key environmental enforcement tool DOJ should take action against China's Twitter propaganda MORE investigating the newspaper in a statement:

            “We're confident that the Department of Justice understands that the First Amendment protects all American citizens and that it would not participate in such a blatant abuse of government power. The president’s threats both underscore why we must safeguard the identity of the writer of this Op-Ed and serve as a reminder of the importance of a free and independent press to American democracy.”

The Associated Press: Echoes of Watergate in Trump tumult.

> The president is also facing potential legal landmines from outside Washington.

In a new filing on Saturday, Trump’s attorneys angled to get a lawsuit brought by adult-film actress Stormy Daniels dismissed. Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti is trying to keep the lawsuit alive so he can depose the president (The Associated Press). Daniels’s claims to have had an affair with Trump. The president’s former attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to keep quiet about the allegations.

> In a separate lawsuit, Trump has agreed to send written answers under oath as part of a defamation case brought against him by a former contestant on “The Apprentice” who has accused the president of sexual misconduct (The Washington Post).

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At the U.S. Open, the power of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka was overshadowed by umpire Carlos Ramos’s power play, by Sally Jenkins, The Washington Post.

Young voters and voters of color are key to halting climate change, by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, opinion contributor with The Hill.


The House convenes at 3:30 p.m.

The Senate will be in pro forma session at 5 p.m.

The president will have lunch with Pence.

Pence this morning will speak by telephone with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, have lunch with Trump and later meet with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green in the vice president’s office.

White House national security adviser John Bolton speaks at noon about the International Criminal Court and protecting American constitutionalism and sovereignty at an event hosted by The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. Bolton is ratcheting up his public appearances. On Sept. 25, he’ll speak at United Against Nuclear Iran’s (UANI) annual summit at the United Nations General Assembly, marking UANI’s 10th anniversary (2018 Iran Summit). Former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the chairman of UANI, will also speak at the event, which will take place at the Westin Grand Central in New York.

Interior Department Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt talks about "Improving the Implementation of the Endangered Species Act" at the Heritage Foundation at noon.

Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea delivers a speech at 3 p.m. to the United Nations Security Council about Venezuela as “a case study of corruption, peace and security.”

WNYC launches a new midterms call-in radio program tonight called “America On the Line” with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart. The show will air on Mondays at 8 p.m. on WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 between now and Election Day. It will also be streamed at

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a panel discussion at 9 a.m. on "Securing Space: The U.S. Space Force."

The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies hosts a discussion at 5 p.m. about NAFTA and economic implications for the United States, Mexico and Canada.


Invitation from The Hill: Wednesday, Sept. 12, newsmakers discuss “A Healthy Start: Infant and Early Childhood Nutrition,” featuring Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottCritics fear widespread damage from Trump 'public charge' rule Democrats: Trump plan could jeopardize 500,000 children's free school meals Lawmakers, press hit the courts for charity tennis event 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.


> Hurricane Florence, currently with winds exceeding 85 mph, is expected to grow to become an extremely dangerous major cyclone sometime Monday and remain that way for days. It is bearing down on the Southeast coast, threatening landfall along an uncertain track between South Carolina and the mid-Atlantic region this week (The Associated Press).

> Medicine: Doctors are exploring lifting hospital barriers to living organ donation in addition to cadaver organs. Living donors make up a fraction of transplants, and their numbers have plateaued amid barriers to the option (The Associated Press).

> Tennis: Serena Williams’s dramatic loss in the U.S. Open women’s final after umpire-applied penalties on Saturday resulted in heated conversations about gender dynamics in a sport long accustomed to loud tantrums, thrown rackets and abusive language — by male players (NBC News). The U.S. Tennis Association fined Williams $17,000 for three code violations stemming from her unsuccessful 6-2, 6-4 bid to achieve a 24th Grand Slam victory (Reuters).




And finally Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, began at sundown on Sunday and extends until sundown on Tuesday. Lots of folks hailed #RoshHashana on social media with greetings, mouth-watering pix of food, nods to tradition and aspirations for happy days ahead.