The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump seizes on migrant caravan ahead of midterms




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and it’s 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 an interview with Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D), who is running neck and neck with former Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisA sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor Walt Disney World pauses vaccine mandate after DeSantis signs new legislation Fauci overwhelmed by calls after journal published mistake over beagle experiments MORE (R). Time correspondent Ioan Grillo reports along the migrant caravan in Mexico via Skype. Comedian Adam Carolla unpacks humor and politics in the age of Trump.

⚾ The Fall Classic gets underway tonight at Fenway Park at 8 p.m., featuring star-studded teams with rich histories. The Los Angeles Dodgers and ace Clayton Kershaw are trying to win their first World Series title in 30 years. They’ll have to get through the Boston Red Sox, the winningest team in the regular season, and likely American League MVP Mookie Betts (The Associated Press dissects the matchup).


A massive caravan of Central American immigrants snaking its way toward the U.S. border has thrust the immigration debate center stage in the midterm elections, giving President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE a high-profile political target as he seeks to rally GOP voters around an issue he believes helped propel him to the White House.

Democrats are eager to keep the focus on health care in the final two weeks until Election Day, but the president has spent the past 24 hours unloading on the migrant caravan, which began its travels as a group of about 160 but has grown to at least 7,200. The caravan reached Tapachula, Mexico, on Monday, about 1,100 miles from McAllen, Texas.

The Associated Press: Migrant caravan pushes on.

The Associated Press: Why this caravan is different.

Over Twitter, at campaign rallies and in exchanges with reporters, the president has promised to respond by:

  • Withdrawing U.S. financial aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
  • Deploying the U.S. military, not just the National Guard, to the U.S. border.
  • Declaring a state of national emergency. (Trump previously said he would declare a national emergency over the opioids crisis but did not follow through. The Congressional Research Service has a primer on the legal and technical process behind declaring a national emergency, which is complicated.)

Trump has also alleged, without evidence, that Democrats may be funding the caravan and that “unknown Middle Easterners” have infiltrated the group.

        “A large group of people, they call it a caravan. … I think the Democrats had something to do with it and now they’re saying, ‘we made a mistake,’ because people are seeing how bad it is, how pathetic it is, how bad our laws are, they made a big mistake ... and look, that’s an assault on our country, an assault. And in that caravan, you have some very bad people and we can’t let that happen in our country.” – Trump at reelection rally in Houston for Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE (R-Texas)

NBC News: Five myths about the caravan, debunked.

The Washington Post: Divided Democrats struggle to answer Trump’s claims on caravan.

Trump’s claims aside, the president believes Republicans have been handed a potent political issue at a critical moment.

Immigration has been Trump’s defining issue since he first launched his campaign for the presidency in 2015, when he cast illegal immigrants as criminals and declared that he would be the law-and-order leader to get results on what has been an intractable issue in Washington for decades.

The Memo: Trump fuels GOP’s midterms momentum.

The Associated Press: Texas early voting began on Monday with long lines and record first-day midterm turnout in Houston.

Some Democrats view the president’s rhetoric on immigration as driven by racial animus. 

The New York Times: Trump, GOP candidates escalate race and fear as election ploys.

The Washington Post: Trump, Republicans settle on fear and falsehoods as a midterms strategy.

How this will play out on Election Day is anyone’s guess, but this much is certain: The two parties live in completely different worlds on these issues.

From a Pew Research survey released last week:

  • 75 percent of Republicans are worried about illegal immigration, compared with only 19 percent of Democrats.
  • By a margin of 57 to 15, Democrats are more worried about how illegal immigrants are treated in the United States.
  • 63 percent of Democrats are worried about racism, compared with 19 percent of Republicans.
  • Republicans are more likely to be worried about violent crime, although by a narrower margin of 49 percent to 47 percent.





CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: What blue wave?

During an interview with Hill.TV that aired on Monday, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions MORE (I-Vt.) dismissed the notion that Democrats are primed for huge gains on Election Day. Sanders said he believes the election will be “very, very close” and that the majorities in the House and Senate could be determined by only a “handful of votes.”

“I know a lot of people talk about this blue wave and all that stuff, but I don’t believe it.” – Sanders

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom PerezThomas PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE also sought to tamp down expectations during an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”

“We always knew that this election was going to be close — I don’t use the term ‘blue wave,’ I always talk about the need for the blocking and tackling. I always talk about the need for organizing, to make sure you’re leading with your values, and that’s how we’ve been winning throughout this year and throughout 2017.” – Perez

That might be a strategic ploy to keep Democrats engaged, but it’s also a sign of the unpredictable electorate and murky midterm outlook that has prognosticators forecasting divided government.

The Hill: Dems lower expectations for “blue wave.”

But not everyone is downplaying expectations.

Trump on Monday said an uptick in enthusiasm has Republicans primed to perform.

“I have never seen spirit like I see right now. I think the Republicans are going to do very well.”  – Trump

And House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) said that if the elections were over and ballots counted on Monday, Democrats would trounce Republicans.

“If the election were held today, the Democrats would handily win the House. I can only speak in the present tense, because you never know in another couple of weeks. … I’m telling you what would happen today.” – Pelosi at a CNN political forum

Pelosi also said she’s “pretty comfortable” she’ll be Speaker if Democrats take the House (CNN).

The Hill: Dems divided over Pelosi’s “transitional” Speaker pitch.

Perspectives and Analysis

John Fund: Why the “blue wave” is looking less likely.

Charles Blow: Count me among the mob.

Amy Walter: A referendum on Trump or Pelosi?

Josh Kraushaar: In California, Democrats winning the battle of the bases.
Linda Sarsour, Winnie Wong and Tamika Mallory: The women’s wave is coming.

More from the campaign trail … Montana’s Democratic senator is at risk of defeat (The New York Times) … Trump and ‘Beautiful Ted Cruz’ embrace at rally (The Washington Post) … Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami A sad reality: In a season of giving, most will ignore America's poor Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall MORE (D-Calif.) is hitting the Iowa circuit ahead of an expected presidential run two years from now (The Hill) … There’s no consensus among House Democratic candidates about how to deal with Trump (The Hill).


➜ SAUDI ARABIA & KHASHOGGI: “Nothing will remain secret”Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Saudi officials planned journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s “murder” beginning in September. Erdoğan described his country’s findings during a speech today in Ankara (The Associated Press).



Pressure on Trump intensified from around global capitals and in Congress as critics leaned on the United States to take a forceful and punitive stance against Saudi Arabia in response to the Oct. 2 disappearance of Khashoggi. The Saudi writer and commentator had resided in exile in Virginia and died inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey while seeking a document to marry his Turkish fiancée.

On Monday, the president said after speaking with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he remained dissatisfied with the royal family’s explanation about Khashoggi’s death and will consult U.S. intelligence and review Turkey’s evidence and assessment, expected to be released this week (The Hill).

"I’m not satisfied with what I’ve heard," the president told reporters at the White House.

During an interview with USA Today on Monday aboard Air Force One, Trump said he would confer with lawmakers about an appropriate response, short of blocking U.S. arms sales to the Saudis. The president said he awaits additional information about what took place in the Saudi consulate, but he also said he believes Khashoggi’s death was “a plot gone awry.”

Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerKushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report Watchdog finds no money has flowed out of agency tasked by Trump admin to fight pandemic Watchdog cites 13 Trump officials who violated Hatch Act before 2020 election MORE, the president’s son-in-law and adviser on Middle East policy who is resistant to punitive action against the U.S. ally, said the Trump administration is in a “fact-finding phase” of its response to the Saudi government’s shifting explanations about Khashoggi’s death (The Hill).

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinMajor Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Former Treasury secretaries tried to resolve debt limit impasse in talks with McConnell, Yellen: report MORE, attending an anti-terrorist financing conference in Riyadh, met with the crown prince on Monday, Saudi state TV said in a tweet (Reuters). Mnuchin said on Sunday that the royal family’s story about Khashoggi’s death was a “good first step but not enough.”

On Capitol Hill, the president found little cover among leading Republican senators, who say publicly that the United States appears weak and craven if it fails to retaliate in support of human rights and the rule of law (The Hill).

Details about Khashoggi’s death and the behavior of Saudis implicated in the slaying continue to undercut explanations offered by Saudi officials and the royal family about an accidental death following a struggle. A Saudi operative, apparently dressed in Khashoggi’s clothing, was tracked exiting the Saudi consulate on the day of the journalist’s death (CNN).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the lead on Monday and announced that Germany will freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia and urged allies to follow suit (The Washington Post).

In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened an emergency meeting to discuss his government’s response. On Monday, he announced Canada is prepared to freeze a significant arms deal with the Saudis if Canada concludes the weapons have been misused (Global News of Canada). Trudeau’s comments suggested Ottawa might halt a 2014 contract that the Canadian unit of General Dynamics Corp. won to supply light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The deal is worth up to $13 billion.

The United Kingdom is feeling the heat. U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that Saudi Arabia’s admission “does not amount to a credible explanation,” and called on the Saudi government to provide “urgent” clarification about what happened to Khashoggi. He threatened sanctions if Saudi rulers are proven to be involved (The Daily Mail).

NBC News: Months before his death, the Saudi royal family tried to woo Khashoggi out of exile and back to Saudi Arabia. The government spokesman-turned-journalist met with the brother of the crown prince in Washington under reportedly friendly circumstances within the past year.

The Washington Post: CIA Director Gina Haspel is in Turkey today amid growing controversy over Saudi Arabia.

Reuters: Saudi Arabia sees at least $50 billion in deals emerging during an investment summit this week despite a boycott by invited global participants.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: ObamaCare – state waivers: The Trump administration issued new guidance on Monday that eases the restrictions states face in waiving ObamaCare requirements. The changes open the door to more modest coverage under health policies that were previously barred by the Obama administration under the Affordable Care Act. With waivers, states can promote health plans that charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, for example (The Hill).

Justice Department: Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThose predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold The metaverse is coming — society should be wary MORE is interested in a proposal next spring that would expand the attorney general’s judicial power to reshape federal immigration policy (The Hill).

AmeriCorps: Since 2013, multiple allegations of sexual harassment, abusive behavior and mismanagement have piled up against AmeriCorps, according to the findings of a CBS News investigation. The national volunteer and service network is overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which has been a federal agency since 1993.

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!


Death of nuclear treaty with Russia could start arms race with China, by Harry J. Kazianis, opinion contributor, The Hill.

GOP has worked in plain sight to take health care away from Americans, by Brad Woodhouse of Protect Our Care and Jim Duffett of Doctors for America.


The House and Senate are out of Washington until after Election Day.

The president this afternoon speaks at a State Leadership Day conference at the White House for local officials from Alaska, California and Hawaii. Trump signs America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018. This evening, he will receive a briefing from senior military leaders before he hosts them for dinner at the White House.

Vice President Pence participates in “Transformers: Space,” an event during which he’ll describe the administration’s proposed Space Force. Location: The Washington Post, 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Later, the vice president speaks to a meeting of the National Space Council. At 3 p.m., Pence meets with Pastor Andrew Brunson and Norine Brunson. In the evening, Pence speaks at a Kuwait-America Foundation dinner honoring second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceMcCarthy, Ducey speak at Pence fundraiser: report Jill Biden takes starring role at difficult Olympics Pence refused to leave Capitol during riot: book MORE.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE meets with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at the State Department at 4:30 p.m. In the evening, he attends an annual gala hosted by Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

The Arab Center hosts a discussion about "The Khashoggi Affair and its Political Implications" at 10 a.m., regarding the killing of the Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor, and the status of U.S.-Saudi relations. C-SPAN will have coverage.

The Brookings Institution Center on the United States and Europe hosts U.K. Ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch to speak about Brexit. C-SPAN has coverage at 2 p.m.


PhRMA members take new approach to DTC TV advertising

Soon, TV ads for our medicines will direct you to information including the list price of the medicine, out-of-pocket costs or other context about the potential cost of the medicine and available financial assistance. It’s our mission to find lifesaving treatments. It’s our responsibility to help patients access them. Learn more.


> Trends: New polling from Gallup shows that the number of Americans who say the death penalty has been applied fairly has hit a new low, while the number of Americans who support legalizing marijuana has hit a new high. And Bloomberg reports that more than 400 companies will give employees paid time off on Nov. 6 so they can vote, a new record.

> Social media and teens: While Instagram is climbing, Facebook’s engagement among teens is getting crushed. Only 28 percent of 15-year-olds are using Facebook now, down from more than 40 percent two years ago (CNBC).

> Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, 88, withdraws from public life after donating her papers, clearing out an office she once maintained at the court and sticking close to home in Arizona (The Associated Press).


And finally …  In this era of protests and street marches, a look back on this day in 1915, when more than 25,000 people – nearly 21,000 of them were women – marched on Fifth Avenue in New York City to advocate for giving women the right to vote.



The momentum was on their side at that point, but women still had to overcome deeply ingrained stereotypes, underscored by this jaw-dropping passage in The New York Times:

            “[If women are allowed to vote, it will] … play havoc for themselves and society … granted the suffrage, they would demand all the rights that implies. It is not possible to think of women as soldiers and sailors, police patrolmen or firemen.”

The New York Historical Society reports that the march bore fruit two years later:

“At that point, the fight had been ongoing for more than 65 years, with the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 first passing a resolution in favor of women’s suffrage. ... In 1917, New York State granted women the right to vote. It was one of the first states to do so, and the domino effect lead to the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which granted women the right to vote across the country.”

Time:  A look back at the real women’s suffrage milestone.