The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence

The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Dem victories in `18 will not calm party turbulence
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Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features retired Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, talking about this week’s Soyuz rocket launch failure, and film director Ike Barinholtz, discussing his new comedy, “The Oath.”

Democrats are debating tactics and the lengths to which they should go in opposing 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 with the midterm elections less than a month away and the House majority within reach.

Trump and GOP leaders have turned the protests that broke out in opposition to Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughDemocrats will fail if they portray William Barr as controversial pick ‘Justice’ selected as Merriam-Webster’s 2018 word of the year Chief justice of California Supreme Court leaves GOP over Kavanaugh confirmation MORE into a campaign issue, accusing Democrats of stoking angry liberal “mobs” they say are teetering on the edge of violence.

House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming Overnight 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 House lawmakers delay decision on Saudi Arabia pending investigation MORE (R-La.) (op-ed): Dem threats of violence are a direct threat to our democracy. 

Democrats reject the characterization of protesters as “mobs” and have accused Republicans of hypocrisy, noting that Trump routinely stirs up rallygoers to jeer at the press and his political enemies.

But some Democrats appear to be unsettled by the calls to confront Republicans in public and by the images of protesters shouting at senators in elevators, stalking their homes and pounding on the doors of the Supreme Court. 

In an appearance Thursday on NBC’s “Today,” former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama reflects on 'refreshing' tradition of sharing candy with George W. Bush Regina King says she'd be honored to portray Michelle Obama in a movie Michelle Obama jokes Barack's message of hope began with being late for dinner MORE pushed back against Democrats who have advocated for aggressive tactics.

            “Think about how you want your kids to be raised … Do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful? … Fear is not a proper motivator. … Hope wins out." – Michelle Obama

The remarks appeared aimed at former President Obama’s Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEric Holder-backed group sues Wisconsin over early-voting limits New Jersey redistricting reform blasted as gerrymandering power grab Trump attorney general pick a prolific donor to GOP candidates, groups: report MORE, who a day earlier had spun Michelle Obama’s famous line, “when they go low, we go high,” into, “when they go low we kick `em.”

Holder, who is close to former President Obama and is heading up an effort to promote redistricting in the states, is weighing a run for president. In a Thursday tweet, he clarified his remarks and dismissed the hand-wringing that looped through social media and Fox News.




But the back and forth underscores the balance Democrats must strike between satisfying an energized liberal base and the need to maintain a level of appeal to independent voters who might be eager for change but don’t identify with the so-called resistance.

Democratic Senate leader Charles 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 (N.Y.) has already turned the page on the recent Supreme Court battle and is focusing now on health care during the final stretch to Nov. 6, as polls show some GOP Senate candidates surging in red states after the bitterly contentious Kavanaugh confirmation.

“The size of the Democratic advantage in the fight for control of the House is unclear with a month until the midterm elections, and there are recent signs Republicans might have improved their position, possibly because of the fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Trump has been highly effective in simultaneously building a resolute army of supporters and an equally determined cadre of voters who can’t stand him. One crucial pillar of his political success has been the vacuity of his Democratic opposition.”Thomas B. Edsall, The New York Times

There will be impassioned debates among Democrats about the direction of the party after the midterm elections, regardless of the outcome, as some liberals believe the focus on Trump has delayed an intraparty reckoning about how best to achieve progressive victories and reclaim white working-class voters.

The liberal magazine The Nation on Thursday released a new report on the state of the party in the era of Trump and pointed to weaknesses.

The authors write that this year’s positive developments emerged from the grass roots, rather than from Democratic leaders in Washington or the national party. Indeed, the party has been debating – loudly and on the campaign trail – whether elective strides next month should result in fresh leadership next year. A new generation of younger and in some cases less Washington-focused Democratic candidates want to see change. 

From The Nation’s report:

> “The Democratic Party has implemented modest reforms, but corporate power continues to dominate the party.”

> “The Democratic Party still isn’t offering a bold vision that can excite young adults, a demographic known for not voting much.”

> “During the last 12 months, voters of color have been key to notable electoral wins. But the party has a long way to go.”

The Hill: Dems struggle to ensure Latino support in midterms.



The liberal group Working America, which has knocked on 1.3 million doors in Ohio and Pennsylvania and says it has spoken with more than 500,000 working-class voters in the past year, warned in a Thursday email about, “the precarious nature of swing voters leaning toward Democrats.”

They found deep frustration among Trump voters in the Rust Belt and a willingness to abandon Republicans. But they did not find a wholesale commitment by potential swing voters to joining the Democratic Party.

            “It seems that this is about more than just a partisan shift. From our vantage point, these voters reflect the great volatility of American politics over the last decade. These swing voters are people who do not relate to either party, but are yearning for something to change.” – Working America

More on the Democrats … Some Americans are turning to their psychologists, believing Trump has disrupted their lives or relationships (Politico) ...  Michelle Obama, the most popular Democrat in the country, is about to go on a highly anticipated book tour that is likely to remind the country of her political muscle (The Hill) … Hollywood and its progressive activists rewrite a script to resist Trump in the midterms (Reuters).




*** OVERNIGHT STORM UPDATE *** Hurricane Michael and its remnants as a tropical storm mowed through Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, killing at least seven people and leaving massive destruction in its wake. Authorities used helicopters and boats in recovery efforts on Thursday, struggling to reach leveled parts of Florida cut off from ground access. More than 1 million homes and businesses in four states were without electricity and nearly 7,000 people were displaced in shelters. Four hospitals and a dozen nursing facilities had to close in Florida and Georgia.

Trump said he will visit Florida soon to survey the devastation and discuss recovery.

“The mother of all bombs doesn’t do any more damage than this.” – Tom Bailey, former mayor of Mexico Beach (see NBC News drone footage of what remains of the town)



> The New York Times published a gallery of heart-rending photographs from the storm’s path HERE

> Behind every massive natural disaster lurks politics, and just weeks before Florida’s Senate race ends between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), speculation abounds about a potential boost for either candidate among Sunshine State voters after their appearances during wall-to-wall storm coverage (The Associated Press/Chicago Sun-Times).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Stock futures were pointing up this morning, but the president has been unhappy about the massive sell-off in financial markets this week, rising interest rates and the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decisions. He has not, however, found fault with the administration’s tariffs policy, part of a brew of indicators unnerving investors.

“I think the Fed is overly aggressive” in raising rates, Trump told The Washington Examiner during an interview. “Other than that, we are doing so well, it’s incredible. …The numbers, the corporate earnings, the liquidity, it’s incredible. Our country is so strong. We’ve never been in a position as good as we are now, economically."

> White House national economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Thursday that the president’s repeated public objections to Fed rate hikes intended to stave off inflation are an expression of his personal opinion, not presidential policy directions to the central bank. (Lawmakers, economists, analysts and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell would prefer the president mute such opinions from his bully pulpit.)

The S&P 500 index on Thursday fell below a key threshold watched by traders, signaling to some that the bull market has ended. “It can be a sign of more trouble ahead,” one trader explained (CNBC).

Stocks sold off again on Thursday; investors dumped equities around the globe in part because of fears of rapidly rising interest rates. The financials and energy sectors fell about 3 percent each. Tech shares failed to rebound after posting steep losses, and the erosion took the indexes to their worst two-day decline in eight months (CNBC).

Reuters: Call ‘em crazy, but Fed likely to keep raising rates.

> The heads of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday urged the U.S. and China to de-escalate a dispute over Beijing’s technology development strategy, warning of potential lasting damage to the global economy. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said she would advise Beijing and Washington to cool down, fix aspects of the world trading system that need fixing and “don’t break it” (The Associated Press).

Hours later, signs emerged suggesting the advice may have resonated in some capitals.

> China: Trump will meet with President Xi Jinping in November at the Group of 20 multilateral summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, spokesmen for both countries confirmed on Thursday. On the agenda: Trade tensions (The Wall Street Journal).

Department of Justice: The president is mulling potential candidates who could replace Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPresidential historian: Trump's actions may be 'definition of treason' if he knew about Russian interference efforts Trump admin seeks to roll back Obama-era policy on school discipline: report Trump: Sessions 'should be ashamed of himself' for allowing Russia probe to proceed MORE, on the assumption the attorney general could depart at the end of this year. The names of five candidates are floated (The Wall Street Journal).

U.N. ambassador post: The president’s favored candidate to succeed 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 later this year as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Dina Powell, told the White House she wishes to remain at Goldman Sachs (CNN).

Missing Saudi journalist: Trump on Thursday said he is opposed to any suggestions to sanction Saudi Arabia by blocking arms sales as a way to try to gain more information about Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who has been missing since Oct. 2 in Instanbul (Reuters).

Khashoggi, a staunch critic of the Saudi royal family and a contributing writer to The Washington Post who was in exile in the United States, vanished inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey 10 days ago.

“We have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey and frankly we’re working with Saudi Arabia. We want to find out what happened. He went in, and it certainly doesn’t look like he came out. It certainly doesn’t look like he’s around.” – Trump

Turkish government officials have told U.S. officials they have audio and video evidence that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured, killed and his body dismembered inside the Saudi consulate. It was not immediately clear that U.S. officials have seen the footage or heard the audio evidence themselves (The Washington Post).

> Congress & Khashoggi: Top Republican senators say they’re hopeful the Trump administration will heed their warnings and act on the Senate’s request for the White House to conduct a statutorily required investigation into whether Saudi sanctions are needed in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance and concerns the journalist was murdered (The Hill).

CNN’s Nic Robertson/analysis: Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul understanding he’d been threatened in the past – and despite friends fearing it could be a trap.

Al-Monitor’s Bruce Riedel: What happened to Khashoggi?

American pastor in Turkey: NBC News and The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the United States and Turkey reached a secret sanctions-lifting agreement in which some charges against imprisoned U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson would be dropped and he would be released at a court hearing today or soon. The State Department said Thursday night it was unaware of any deal with Turkey for Brunson’s release (Reuters).

Russia probe: Trump's legal team is preparing answers to written questions provided by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE. The move could be a major development after months of negotiations and signals that the Mueller investigation may be nearing a final phase (CNN).

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: ABC News will broadcast a special program tonight at 10 p.m. ET about the first lady, drawn from an interview she granted the network during her recent trip to Africa.

Celebrity & policy: Rapper Kanye West came to the White House on Thursday for lunch and stayed to be part of a show. Invited to discuss criminal justice reform and violence in Chicago, his hometown, with Trump and White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerTrump to attend World Economic Forum in Davos for second straight year Pass the FIRST STEP Act to give second chances at the American Dream No reason to assume American relations with Mexico are rocky MORE, West also heaped elaborate praise on the president, donned a Make America Great Again cap, and hugged Trump across the Resolute desk while cameras caught every move (and word) (The Hill). Trump’s quote of the day: “That was quite something.” Hours later, after a costume change, West became a social media curiosity while standing atop a table at the Apple store in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood, offering a “keynote” (Page Six).




CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: It’s a weekend full of campaigning for the White House.

Trump will hold a rally tonight outside of Cincinnati in an effort to boost Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciGOP rep: If Mueller had found collusion, ‘investigation would have wrapped up very quickly’ House Ethics Committee extends probe into Renacci Sherrod Brown says he has 'no real timetable' for deciding on 2020 presidential run MORE (R-Ohio), who has so far not mounted a very vigorous challenge to Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Five challenges facing new consumer bureau chief Dem senator: Trump 'seems more rattled than usual' MORE (D-Ohio), who has a double-digit lead in the polls. 

On Saturday, Trump will campaign in Richmond, Ky. Rep. Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrElection Countdown: Florida fight ends with Scott, DeSantis wins | Dems see Sunbelt in play for 2020 | Trump to campaign in Mississippi ahead of runoff | GOP wipeout in Orange County | Ortiz Jones concedes in Texas House race The Memo: Trump seethes, two weeks after midterms Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 MORE (R-Ky.) is in a tight race there against Democrat Amy McGrath. Trump won the district by more than 15 points in 2016.

Vice President Pence, meanwhile, is headed to the Midwest.

On Friday, Pence will campaign in Springfield, Ill., for Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisGOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules Democrats make legislative gains over GOP in redistricting battle Midterm results shake up national map MORE (R-Ill.). Democrat 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 won the district more than 5 points in 2016. 

After that, Pence goes home to Indiana for two days of campaigning for businessman Mike Braun (R), who is running close to Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive MORE (D). Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Group launches campaign to 'Draft Beto' for 2020 White House bid Kamala Harris top 2020 choice in poll of women of color MORE will campaign for Donnelly in Hammond this weekend.

> NPR sat down with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellIsrael boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate Schumer blasts GOP request for immigration 'slush fund' Trump: 'Too early to say' if shutdown will be averted MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday. A few excerpts:

On Republicans maintaining a majority in the Senate:

“I'm increasingly optimistic that we may hold our majority … one of the good things about the Supreme Court fight as it underscores for Republican voters that the Senate is in the personnel business. Lose the Senate and the project of confirming judges is over for the last two years of President Trump. That I think is a scary prospect to the people who like what we've been doing on the judge project and I hope will help us hold on to our majority.” – McConnell

On women and minority voters:

“I don't think there's any question that we would like to be doing better than we are with Hispanic Americans,  although some of the most prominent Hispanic politicians in America happen to be Republicans … With regard to women voters, we've always had something of a gender gap. It's never been as wide as it is now … I think we can improve our position with women voters and with Hispanic voters for sure. With African-Americans we haven't been able to make much headway.” – McConnell

More from campaigns and politics … In the Georgia, advocacy groups filed suit on Thursday asserting voter suppression and seeking to reinstate 53,000 pending voter registrations sidelined on “pending” status by the Republican candidate for governor (The New York Times) … In a cloudy political environment, Republicans see silver linings in blue states long dominated by Democrats (The Hill) … Kavanaugh tensions linger after bitter fight (The Hill) … Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) trails by 10 points in his reelection bid (NBC News) … Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is putting tens of millions of dollars behind GOP candidates in a last-minute push to save Republican majorities in Congress (Politico).

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



Global hotspots are getting hotter, by Michael Dempsey, national intelligence fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Conditions exacerbate vulnerability to hurricanes, and public data can help, by Jeff Schlegelmilch, Jonathan Sury and Irwin Redlener, opinion contributors, The Hill.


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

The Senate is out until after Election Day. A deal that confirmed 15 judicial nominees Thursday evening as well as 21 executive-branch nominees allowed the Senate to wrap up its work until after the Nov. 6 midterm elections (The Washington Post).

The president heads to Lebanon, Ohio, in the Cincinnati area this evening for a political rally and roundtable, during which he’ll stump for Republican candidates. 

Pence will be in Springfield, Ill., today and home-state Indiana (Indianapolis) this evening for political events.

Makan Delrahim, Justice Department assistant attorney general for the antitrust division, will speak at noon to a joint conference of the National Diversity Coalition and National Asian American Coalition in Los Angeles, about how antitrust enforcement can promote small business growth.


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.


> The Catholic Church: Breaking this morning - the Pope has accepted the resignation of Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl over his handling of hundreds of priests accused of abuse or sexual misconduct (The Washington Post).

> Contagion: The rate of new Ebola cases in Africa has doubled since September, prompting alarm. (International containment efforts had to be suspended for days because of rebel fighting) (NBC News). 

> Space: U.S., Russian astronauts on their way to the International Space Station on Wednesday made a safe emergency landing in Kazakhstan following a Soyuz rocket launch failure (The Associated Press). NASA pix HERE.

> U.S. Postal Service: Again with the rate hikes!




And finally … Morning Report QUIZ CONTEST winners! On Thursday, Saturday Night Live” celebrated 43 years on the air with NBC, which became the theme of this week’s quiz. Thanks to all the readers who played along! Winners this week are Steve Valley, Milt Mungo, Patrick Alford, Lorraine Lindberg, Paul Blumstein, Mary Vita P. Treano and Sandy Sycafoose.

They knew that Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonOvernight Energy: Oil giant supports carbon tax push | Poll finds majorities in both parties back Green New Deal | NJ moves to rejoin regional climate pact Chelsea Clinton working on new children’s book about endangered animals Alan Dershowitz: Did Michael Flynn lie? Or did the FBI act improperly? MORE, among a menu of four former U.S. presidents we listed, has been parodied most often on SNL over the years, with more than 100 comedy impersonations.

Tina Fey was the first female head writer in the show’s history.

Candice Bergen was SNL’s first female host, the first person to host the show for a second time, and the first woman to host SNL five times, according to a collection of trivia about the show.  

Chevy Chase, recently interviewed by The Washington Post at age 74, was the original SNL cast member who has assailed the contemporary comedy on the show under creator Lorne Michaels as “the worst f------ humor in the world.”

The correct match-ups of spoof dialogue with some of the politicians captured in all their nutty glory by current and bygone SNL cast members are:

Sarah Palin (impersonated by Tina Fey): “I can see Russia from my house.” 

George H.W. Bush (Dana Carvey): “Wouldn’t be prudent.”

Hillary Clinton (Kate McKinnon): “I’ll have whatever beer no one likes, but gets the job done.”

Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersKlobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Dem pollster says it's 'misstated wisdom' to assume competitive primaries damage presidential nominees Group launches campaign to 'Draft Beto' for 2020 White House bid MORE (Larry David): “I own one pair of underwear. That’s it. Some of these billionaires have three, four pairs.”