The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump heads to battleground Iowa, where GOP House members seek help




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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features interviews with Kerri Kupec, the administration spokesperson for Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughOVERNIGHT ENERGY: WH pushed for 'correction' to Weather Service tweet contradicting Trump in 'Sharpiegate' incident, watchdog says | Supreme Court rules that large swath of Oklahoma belongs to Native American tribe Five takeaways from Supreme Court's rulings on Trump tax returns In rueful praise of Elena Kagan: The 'Little Sisters' ruling MORE’s confirmation team, and Alan Dershowitz.


President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' MORE will hold a campaign rally in Iowa tonight, as he seeks to boost vulnerable Republican House members in a critical Midwest battleground state.

Ahead of the visit, the president plans to announce some news that will thrill Iowa farmers –- the administration will lift a seasonal ban on high-ethanol gasoline blends, according to Reuters.

And Trump is sure to tout the U.S., Mexico, Canada trade agreement as a victory for the agricultural and manufacturing sectors in the Hawkeye State, although the president’s tariffs war continues to be a drag on some economic sectors.



Two endangered GOP House members in Iowa encapsulate the challenges Republicans face as they seek to maintain a majority in Congress against stiff political headwinds.

Reps. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungDemocrats gain lead in three of Iowa's four House districts: poll Former Rep. David Young wins GOP primary in bid for old House seat Trump lends support to swing district Republicans MORE (R-Iowa), who will speak at tonight’s rally, and Rod Blum (R-Iowa) are both fighting for their political lives.

Young won his 2016 reelection bid by nearly 14 points and Trump carried the district by 4 points. But former President Obama won the 3rd District twice and The Cook Political report has the race rated as a toss-up.

Things currently look grimmer for Blum, who won by fewer than 8 points in 2016, doubling Trump’s margin. Obama carried the 1st District twice by double digits and Cook has the race rated as “lean Democratic.”

Bloomberg: Trump’s travel schedule shows focus on saving the House.

A new Washington Post-Schar School survey underscores GOP fears that a raft of incumbent lawmakers are primed to see their districts turn blue. The poll of 69 battleground House districts found that 50 percent of voters favor the Democratic nominee, against 46 percent who support the Republican.

The problem for the GOP in the poll: “In 2016 these same districts favored Republican candidates over Democratic ones by 15 percentage points, 56 percent to 41 percent.”

Reuters: GOP fears Dem wave spreading to once-safe districts.

The Memo: Sprint to midterms is on as Kavanaugh fight reverberates.

The growing gender divide is another hurdle for GOP House members, particularly after the Supreme Court battle electrified female activists around the #MeToo movement.

The Post survey found women voters in battleground districts support Democrats by a margin of 54 to 40, while men in those districts support the Republicans 51 to 46.

The president is no help: A CNN survey released on Monday found that women disapprove of Trump by a 2-to-1 margin, 62 to 31. A majority of Americans, 52 percent, said they believe Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers.

Politico: Is Trump driving women away from the Republican Party?

The Hill: NARAL launches $1 million ad campaign targeting GOP over Kavanaugh.

More from the campaign trail … Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide MORE (R-Texas) leads Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) by 5 points (Emerson College) … five takeaways from the first Senate debate in Indiana (The Hill) … Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' Ex-Sanders campaign manager talks unity efforts with Biden backers The Hill's Campaign Report: Florida's coronavirus surge raises questions about GOP convention MORE (I-Vt.) barnstorming country ahead of midterms (The Associated Press).




*** OVERNIGHT *** Hurricane Michael is bearing down on the Florida Panhandle, closing state offices, shuttering universities in the Tallahassee area, suspending political campaigns and forcing shelters to open today. The Tallahassee Democrat’s front page banner headline, anticipating landfall on Wednesday: “Michael will wreak havoc, may make history.”


SUPREME COURT: Trump celebrated Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court at a ceremonial swearing in at the White House last night.

The Associated Press: Kavanaugh to hear first arguments as Supreme Court justice.

The bitter partisan battle divided the nation, provoking angry protests and fears from senators that there had been an institutional breakdown in the upper chamber that would take years to repair.

The president sought to take the temperature down, but only after heating things up by asserting Kavanaugh’s innocence of any accusations that he sexually assaulted high school or college classmates, and offering a presidential apology on behalf of the nation for what he described as Kavanaugh’s unwarranted public condemnation.

“Justice must be divorced from the passions of the day... It is up to us to reclaim our heritage of equal and impartial justice. …It is up to us to renew the bonds of love, loyalty and affection that link us all together as one big American family.” – Trump

Kavanaugh said he did not harbor any “bitterness” over the ordeal and said he remains “optimistic” about what lies ahead.

            “I was not appointed to serve one party or one interest, but to serve one country. ...I will be an independent and impartial justice." – Kavanaugh

Reuters: Kavanaugh seeks new tone after confirmation fight.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse chairman asks CDC director to testify on reopening schools during pandemic Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections MORE (R-Ky.), whose unwavering support for Kavanaugh guided the nomination through its lowest and most precarious points, did the same.

“The country’s going to be just fine. I’m positive and upbeat about the country. I know everybody isn’t right now, but believe me, we’re going to be fine.” – McConnell at a press conference in Kentucky

At the same time, both parties will be looking to capitalize on the divisive saga with the midterm elections less than a month away.

Each side has seen an uptick in enthusiasm. But that looks like a net advantage for Republicans, as Democrats were already energized and voters in red states where Senate Democrats are up for reelection largely supported Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“The Republican base is very much activated. I think the Democratic base was already there. I’ve seen it traveling around the country in the last few days, traveling around Wisconsin. The Republican base is definitely animated after this.” – Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won't support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here's why Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.)

Meanwhile, the debate over the high court’s new ninth justice rages on.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Pelosi on Baltimore's Columbus statue: 'If the community doesn't want the statue, the statue shouldn't be there' Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections MORE (D-Calif.) filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the records related to the expanded FBI background inquiry. Trump called the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh a “hoax that was set up by the Democrats.” Democrats are targeting swing-vote Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans considering an outdoor stadium for Florida convention: report Sixth GOP senator unlikely to attend Republican convention Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE (R-Maine) in new television ads. Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP skeptical of polling on Trump Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law Cruz urges Trump to support Israeli annexation MORE (R-N.D.), who is favored to unseat Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.) after she voted against Kavanaugh, described “Me Too” as a “movement toward victimization.

The New York Times: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads George Floyd and the upcoming Texas Democratic Senate runoff Energy companies cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline MORE’s (D) “yes” vote finds sympathy in West Virginia.

In a note to clients, Ian Bremmer, a political scientist and founder and president of the Eurasia Group, described the political landscape like this (the lower caps are his own):

"it is a more thoroughly divided electorate than at any point in modern polling; today, self-identified democrats and republicans experience almost completely separate political information spaces and have virtually zero overlap in views on policy issues across the board. which helps to define the strategy: if you're playing to fire up the base in midterms where turnout tends to [be] lower, the trump administration was able to build up enthusiasm over the course of the last week. the single biggest shift in polling has been in comparative levels of support and voter likelihood for both parties; the republicans had been strongly lagging through the summer, they're now at near parity with the democrats." – Bremmer

Poll: Majority opposes Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Poll: Most say media was biased against Kavanaugh.

More from the Supreme Court fight … Kavanaugh makes good on pledge to hire female law clerks (The Washington Post) … The new justice hears his first Supreme Court arguments from the bench today, with his daughters and family in attendance (The Associated Press) … Democrats see Kavanaugh’s confirmation as an issue that will endure through the 2020 presidential election (The Hill) … Collins becomes a top 2020 target for Democrats (The Hill) … Trump faces new decision to appoint Kavanaugh’s successor on a powerful appeals court (The Hill).



 WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump’s Monday was filled with law, justice, crime (and politics). Speaking to a police chiefs’ convention in Florida in the afternoon, the president said he directed Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions Senate outlook slides for GOP Supreme Court blocks order that relaxed voting restrictions in Alabama Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report MORE to assist Chicago in trying to curb gun violence and suggested the city implement the controversial practice of "stop and frisk," a police tactic that many critics believe assumes guilt before establishing innocence (The Hill).

Hours later in the East Room, during an event for Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, Trump assailed what he called “a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception” that came close to defeating his nominee. “A man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty,” he said.

> Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinSupreme Court to hear dispute over Democrats' access to Mueller materials Republicans release newly declassified intelligence document on FBI source Steele GOP's Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst MORE will not be fired, Trump told reporters on his way to Florida along with the Justice Department’s No. 2 aboard Air Force One (The Hill). “I didn't know Rod before, but I've gotten to know him, and I get along very well with him,” Trump said.

Rosenstein’s government career appeared to be on the ropes last month after The New York Times reported he spoke to colleagues early in 2017 about potentially invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and suggested secretly taping the president. Rosenstein oversees special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) 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 ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

> Former Trump campaign aide Richard Gates, indicted by Mueller and now cooperating with the government, requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities, to use social media manipulation and to gather intelligence to help Trump defeat his GOP primary opponents and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to visit Georgia next week Former NY Rep. Claudia Tenney to face Anthony Brindisi in House rematch Powell takes on Trump over Confederate flag MORE, The New York Times reports. Citing sources and documents, the newspaper reported that the Russian meddling and the Israeli company’s pitches appear to be unconnected.

> With the iron gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue behind her, Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksCuomo turned down Trump invitation to participate in April press briefing: report Trump shakes up White House communications team Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE, a former Trump campaign aide and former White House communications director, signed on with FOX as senior vice president and chief communications officer, according to the company. FOX is a spinoff of 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company. Hicks, based in New York, departed the West Wing in April.

> The Trump administration and China: The administration is intent on playing out a high-stakes standoff with China (The Hill). Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIn Russian bounty debate, once again this administration lacks intelligence Trump administration sanctions Chinese officials over human rights abuses WHO sets up independent panel to assess global coronavirus response MORE, meeting with his Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Monday, received a chilly reception (Reuters). The secretary is expected to brief Trump today at the White House about his just-concluded trip to Japan, North Korea, South Korea and China. Economists say China’s biggest economic hurdle is debt, not tariffs (The Washington Post).

> Separately, the FBI is investigating a suspected effort by a Texas professor to funnel to the Chinese government advanced U.S. research from Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center. Professor Keping Xie, who resigned from the cancer center and is out on bail, faces a single state count of child pornography in a case that began with suspicions about intellectual property theft, NBC News reports.

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The risks and rewards of this conservative Supreme Court, by Lawrence Friedman, opinion contributor, The Hill.

The first lady’s solo trip to Africa could be productive, by K. Riva Levinson, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House is in recess and will reconvene on Nov. 13.

The Senate gets to work at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the House version of the Water Resources Development Act of 2018.

The president will have lunch with Pompeo and discuss the secretary’s trip to Asia. This afternoon, he is expected to announce the lifting of a federal ban on summer sales of higher-ethanol blends of gasoline. Trump this evening headlines a political rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a state that leads the nation in ethanol production. 

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump says he'll wear mask during upcoming trip to Walter Reed Trump to visit Georgia next week Jill Biden promises if Biden's elected 'no more Betsy DeVos' MORE participates in a political event in Washington for Ohio Rep. Troy Balderson (R), who won a special election in August and is being challenged by Democrat Danny O’Connor in November. In the afternoon, Pence meets with a 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner, 25-year-old Yazidi activist Nadia Murad. In the evening, the vice president will headline a Washington political event for West Virginia’s Carol Miller, Republican majority whip of the state House of Delegates, who is competing against state senator Richard Ojeda (D) to represent the state’s 3rd Congressional District.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBudowsky: Biden-Duckworth would be America's team Trump insulted UK's May, called Germany's Merkel 'stupid' in calls: report Mattis urges people to wear masks in PSA about 'nasty little virus' MORE meets at the Pentagon with his counterpart from Greece, defense minister Panos Kammenos.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hosts a politics discussion moderated by journalist and CSIS trustee Bob Schieffer with Daniel Twining, president of the International Republican Institute, and Derek Mitchell, president of the National Democratic Institute. Location: CSIS, 5 p.m.

The White House Correspondents’ Association, Freedom Forum Institute and the University of Maryland at 6:30 p.m. will announce a new partnership establishing an ongoing digital, searchable archive of presidential pool reports produced daily by White House correspondents and considered for decades to be part of the historical record of presidencies. Location: The Newseum.


New analysis shows some hospitals mark up medicine prices 700% or more. This means that if a hospital purchased a medicine for $150, a 700% markup could result in patients being billed $1,050 for that medicine. Even worse, 320 hospitals in the study marked up prices more than 1000%. These hospital markups lead to higher costs for everyone — patients, employers and payers. When hospitals mark up the cost of medicines…Patients pay the price.


> Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Khashoggi remains missing after entering the consulate in Saudi Arabia last week. Turkish officials say he was killed by government officials there and his body dismembered (The New York Times). Secretary Pompeo is calling on the government of Saudi Arabia to “support a thorough investigation” and to be “transparent about the results.” Trump on Monday said he’s “concerned about it” and didn’t “like hearing about it.”


“Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it."



> Tech: Google will unveil its third-generation Pixel smartphones in New York at 11 a.m., eager to chase Apple’s new iPhone Xs. The tech world has for weeks reported leaks and expectations about the new devices (Metro, Wired). ... The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Google decided not to tell users that hundreds of thousands had their private data exposed. … Meanwhile, Apple is strenuously denying a bombshell Bloomberg Businessweek report published last week that China has been using the company’s hardware for spying (Business Insider).

> Medicine: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns about the rise of a polio-like disorder among children (USA Today).

> Bill and Hillary Clinton are set to launch a chat-and-storytelling tour staged by Live Nation after the midterm elections this year (with more stops in 2019). First up: Las Vegas on Nov. 18, then two stops in Canada, followed by a gig in Sugar Land, Texas, on Dec. 4 (CNBC).

> Economy: Ford is cutting its workforce as part of a companywide reorganization after saying the president’s tariffs will cost the company $1 billion (NBC News).

> Marijuana: 62 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana. Support for marijuana legalization has doubled since 2000 (Pew Research).


And finally … One of the most generous announcements in Washington on Monday was the late Peggy Cooper Cafritz’s bequest to the city’s celebrated Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Cafritz, who died in February, made sure that the Washington high school she co-founded and supported as an educator, activist and benefactor will receive a third of her prized art collection, or about 200 works, with the balance going to the Studio Museum in Harlem. The gift is described as the largest ever of works by contemporary artists of African descent (The Washington Post).