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 Health Care — Sponsored by Amgen — Supreme Court sides with Planned Parenthood, declines to take funding case | NIH to fund research into fetal tissue alternatives | Oklahoma seeks Trump approval for Medicaid work requirements Time fumbles another 'Person of the Year' by excluding Kavanaugh Trump, Mueller both make Time 'Person of the Year' shortlist MORE’s confirmation team, and Alan Dershowitz. http://thehill.com/hilltv

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Ayers decision casts harsh light on Trump NASA offers to show Stephen Curry evidence from moon landings Freedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill 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 YoungIowa New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote Dem Axne beats GOP Rep. Young in Iowa 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 CruzGillum reached out to O’Rourke amid 2020 speculation: report O'Rourke spoke with Al Sharpton amid 2020 speculation O’Rourke is fireball, but not all Dems are sold 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCorker to introduce resolution holding Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi's death Gillum reached out to O’Rourke amid 2020 speculation: report O'Rourke spoke with Al Sharpton amid 2020 speculation MORE (I-Vt.) barnstorming country ahead of midterms (The Associated Press).

 

 


LEADING THE DAY

*** 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.”

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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 McConnellCornyn opens door to including criminal justice bill in government funding measure The Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe Judd Gregg: The government goes geriatric 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 RyanOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border Ocasio-Cortez: Paul Ryan got called a 'genius' when he was elected at 28, I get accused of being 'a fraud' Meadows looks to make his move MORE (R-Wis.)

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

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiFreedom Caucus calls on leadership to include wall funding, end to 'catch and release' in funding bill Black Caucus huddles as talk of term limits heats up Insurgent Dems amplify push for term limits on party leaders 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 CollinsSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Judd Gregg: The last woman standing MORE (R-Maine) in new television ads. Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerNorth Dakota New Members 2019 Rick Scott appears with GOP senators, ignores voter fraud question as recount continues How President Trump won last night MORE (R-N.D.), who is favored to unseat Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSchumer walking tightrope with committee assignments Banking panel showcases 2020 Dems Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator 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) ManchinSchumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change Overnight Energy: Senate confirms controversial energy pick | EPA plans rollback of Obama coal emissions rule | GOP donor gave Pruitt K for legal defense Senate confirms Trump’s controversial energy pick 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).

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

 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 SessionsPress: Mueller closes in on Trump Mueller's findings don't matter The Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe 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 Jay RosensteinMueller’s real challenge Graham vows to push Trump’s AG pick through Judiciary Committee House GOP set to grill Comey 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 ClintonHillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — NRCC exposes security flaws 2 years after Russia hacks | Google Plus to shut down early | Scathing House report scolds Equifax for breach | McCarthy knocks Google ahead of CEO's hearing Press: Mueller closes in on Trump McCarthy dismisses Dem-led Trump probes 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 HicksHouse Dems planning to send Trump associates’ testimony to Mueller: report Trump played key role in coordinating hush money payments to Daniels, McDougal: report Trump: 'I don't call it tweeting. I call it social media' 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 PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump shakes up staff with eye on 2020, Mueller probe Trump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race Paul calls Trump's pick for attorney general's views on surveillance 'very troubling' 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.

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

The risks and rewards of this conservative Supreme Court, by Lawrence Friedman, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2NwvXNg

The first lady’s solo trip to Africa could be productive, by K. Riva Levinson, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2Pobbkq

WHERE AND WHEN

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 PenceOn The Money: New director takes helm at troubled consumer agency | Trump’s economy teetering on trade tensions, volatile markets | Brexit crisis deepens | House report scolds Equifax over breach Washington Post columnist predicts Trump will resign 10 minutes before Pence so Pence can pardon him President Trump’s fight for a better trade deal with China 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 MattisOvernight Defense: Dunford expected to finish Joint Chiefs term | House lawmakers pushing for Yemen vote | Pentagon says a few hundred troops leaving border Pentagon to begin withdrawing hundreds of active duty troops at border Trump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports 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.

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ELSEWHERE

> 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).

THE CLOSER

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).