The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump divides Republicans ahead of midterms

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and it’s Wednesday! 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 legal analyst Jonathan Turley, and Sarah Pierce, policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, discussing birthright citizenship and the Constitution; and Crux Catholic Media President John Allen, on sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, via Skype from his location in Rome. http://thehill.com/hilltv

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President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE has divided the GOP with his focus on immigrants and combative rhetoric six days out from Nov. 6.

On Tuesday, Republicans leaders in Washington denounced the president’s improvisational boast that he could use his executive powers to end automatic citizenship for children born in the United States to noncitizens, a right embodied in law and the Constitution. And on a solemn day when Trump traveled to Pittsburgh to meet with families of victims of the synagogue shootings, top Republican leaders declined to join him.

The Hill: Inside Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship.

On the campaign trail, GOP candidates are juggling Trump’s controversies in the final days of their contests. The president, seen for months as an asset bolstering many Republican candidates, runs the risk of becoming an unwelcome drag in key races.

 

 

The president had been eager to keep immigration at the forefront ahead of Election Day, dispatching the military to the southern border to deal with the migrant caravan moving through Mexico.

The Hill: Trump doubles down on immigration gambit ahead of midterms.

The Associated Press: Trump targets citizenship, stokes pre-election migrant fears.

But Republicans, who are making their closing arguments to voters about tax cuts, the economy and strengthening border security, had not planned to debate in the closing days of the midterms whether the president has the legal authority to circumvent Congress and determine who becomes a U.S. citizen.

            “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.” – Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan moving family to Washington Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington Ex-Parkland students criticize Kellyanne Conway MORE (R-Wis.).

            “It seems to me it would take a Constitutional amendment to change that as opposed to an executive order." – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyWhite 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 GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation MORE (R-Iowa).

The Hill: Trump can’t unilaterally end birthright citizenship, legal experts say.

George Conway (husband to Kellyanne): Trump’s proposal is unconstitutional.

The blowback was particularly stiff among vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in swing districts.

 

The Hill: Trump surprise rattles GOP in final stretch.

Not everyone rejected the president’s proposal.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Cindy McCain says no one in Republican Party carries 'voice of reason' after husband's death Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week MORE (R-S.C.), who aspires to be Senate Judiciary Committee chairman next year, said he’d propose legislation to end birthright citizenship. And during a candidate debate last night, Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Ind.), who is in a tough reelection fight in a state Trump won in 2016, said he’d consider supporting it (The Hill).

Meanwhile, Trump’s trip to Pittsburgh to comfort the grieving was clouded by his immigration remarks and his hesitant response to the pipe bombs allegedly sent by a Trump admirer to top Democrats and to CNN last week.

The mayor of Pittsburgh asked Trump to delay his visit to the mournful city on Tuesday, and opted not to meet with him while three funerals took place. Thousands of people signed a petition urging the president to stay away and hundreds of demonstrators marched in the streets in protest that Trump made the trip. There were no local officials on hand to greet the president when Air Force One landed, as is usually the case. The White House asked congressional leaders in both parties to accompany the president, but they declined (The Hill).

 

 

Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpEx-Melania Trump adviser raised concerns of excessive inauguration spending weeks before events: CNN The Hill's Morning Report - Trump moves green cards, citizenship away from poor, low-skilled White House seeks volunteers, musicians for Christmas celebrations MORE lit candles for each of the 11 victims at the Tree of Life Synagogue, where a gunman had carried out what the Anti-Defamation League called the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history. They were joined by Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared PETA billboard in Baltimore calls Kushner a 'rich pest' Top immigration aide experienced 'jolt of electricity to my soul' when Trump announced campaign MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpPresident tweets 'few work harder' than Ivanka, Jared Dick Cheney to attend fundraiser supporting Trump reelection: report Trump Jr. dismisses conflicts of interest, touts projects in Indonesia MORE, both Orthodox Jews.

The New York Times: How Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner shaped Trump’s response.

President Trump met privately with the widow of one of the victims and laid stones and flowers from the White House garden at a memorial. Afterward, Trump and his family visited University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian Hospital, where four police officers wounded in Saturday’s gun battle are recovering.

The Hill: Trump visits Pittsburgh synagogue.

The Associated Press: Mourning and protests as Pittsburgh begins victims’ burials.

Democrats and some in the media blame recent violence on an atmosphere of anger they believe is stirred by Trump’s combative rhetoric. Republicans largely reject those assertions.

 

 

But some, such as Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads Hillicon Valley: GOP hits back over election security bills | Ratcliffe out for intel chief | Social media companies consider policies targeting 'deepfakes' | Capital One, GitHub sued over breach The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden camp feels boost after Detroit debate MORE (R-Okla.), have urged the president to scale back his combative tone amid the heightened fears of political violence and as the nation grieves over the deaths of 11 people.

Instead, Trump has ratcheted up his attacks on the media and took aim on Twitter at some Democrats targeted by the package bombs. While past presidents have seen a bump in popularity in times of national crisis, a Gallup survey released on Monday found Trump’s approval plunged 4 points in a matter of days.

McClatchy: Vice President Pence delivers the traditional message Trump won’t.

Still, as the president begins his final push on the campaign trail, some believe that his popularity outside of Washington is underestimated.

           “While right-leaning anti-Trump figures are granted outsize air time and column inches by mainstream and legacy media outlets, these echo chambers continue to operate in a world divorced from the middle-class, blue-collar voters that put Trump in office. With every news cycle, the president weathers nearly constant negative and adversarial coverage, but this barrage has failed to move the needle among Republicans. If anything, his position is stronger with his own party than it was two years ago.” — Lobbying group CGCN in a Tuesday memo to clients



LEADING THE DAY

CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Trump begins his final campaign push tonight in Fort Myers, Fla., where he’ll look to boost the GOP’s Senate and gubernatorial candidates, both of whom are in tough races.

A UNF survey released Tuesday found Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R) running neck and neck for Florida Senate.

Democrat Andrew Gillum, who has been a frequent target of attacks from Trump, has a small lead over former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida first lady to miss Women for Trump event due to planned execution Florida governor orders criminal investigation into handling of Jeffrey Epstein case Groups ask court to block ex-felon voting law in Florida MORE (R) in the governor’s race, according to the RealClearPolitics average.

It’s the first of 11 rallies the president has planned across nine states in the next six days.

The Memo: GOP mulls pros and cons of Trump on the trail.

The Hill: Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterNative American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment House Democrats targeting six more Trump districts for 2020 Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown MORE (D-Mont.), a top Trump target, fights for survival at home.

Pence is in Ohio to boost the GOP’s gubernatorial candidate, Mike DeWine, who trails Democrat Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayWatchdog agency must pick a side: Consumers or scammers Kraninger's CFPB gives consumers the tools to help themselves House rebukes Mulvaney's efforts to rein in consumer bureau MORE by about 3 points in the RCP average. Pence will also stump for Rep. Troy Balderson (R), who faces a rematch after edging Democrat Danny O’Connor by 1,680 votes in a special election in August.

And former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTop adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices MORE is stumping for Illinois Democrats today. Biden will first campaign for Lauren Underwood, who is trying to take out Rep. Randy HultgrenRandall (Randy) Mark HultgrenRepublican challenging freshman Dem rep says he raised 0,000 in 6 days Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R). The Cook Political Report has that race rated as a toss-up.

From there, Biden is off to East St. Louis, Ill., for Brendan Kelly, who is challenging Rep. Mike BostMichael (Mike) J. BostMORE (R) in a district Trump won by 15 points. That race is rated “lean Republican.” Biden will also campaign for J.B. Pritzker, who has a double-digit leader over Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) in the polls.

Biden will end the day in Missouri with Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D), whose reelection bid against Republican Josh Hawley is going down to the wire.

The Hill: Democrats look for blue wave among millennial voters.

More from the campaign trail … GOP campaign chief calls Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters Steve King says 'left-wing media' and GOP leadership owe him apology after rape, incest comments 11 Essential reads you missed this week MORE’s (R-Iowa) comments, actions and retweets “completely inappropriate” (The Hill) … Midterm battlegrounds are disproportionately prosperous (The New York Times) … Democrat Donna Shalala is making a comeback in her bid to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenRepublican Salazar seeks rematch with Shalala in key Miami House district Latina leaders: 'It's a women's world more than anything' Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Fla.) in a key battleground district (The Hill).

Polling Roundup

Tennessee Senate: Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTaylor Swift defends staying out of the 2016 election: 'I just knew I wasn't going to help' The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal Senate passes sweeping budget deal, sending it to Trump MORE (R) leads former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) by 5 points.

Indiana Senate: Republican Mike Braun leads Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) by 3 points.

Ohio Senate: Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBank watchdogs approve rule to loosen ban on risky Wall Street trades Dayton mayor assigned extra security following verbal spat with Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape MORE (D) leads Republican Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciMedicare for All won't deliver what Democrats promise GOP rep: If Mueller had found collusion, 'investigation would have wrapped up very quickly' House Ethics Committee extends probe into Renacci MORE by 6 points.

Georgia Governor: Democrat Stacey Abrams leads Republican Brian Kemp by less than 1 point.

Kansas Governor: Republican Kris Kobach leads Democrat Laura Kelly by 1 point.

Voting protections: Before, during and after Election Day, the Justice Department wants voters to know personnel will respond to reports of elections-related crimes or suspected violations. Call the Civil Rights Division, 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767. Email: voting.section@usdoj.gov. Suspicions about voter fraud are handled by the FBI and local U.S. attorneys offices listed HERE. Violence, intimidation or threats of violence at polling places should be reported to local law enforcement, says DOJ in a Tuesday statement.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Interior Department: Based on a referral from the Interior Department’s acting inspector general, the Justice Department opened an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeNew policy at Interior's in-house watchdog clamps down on interactions with press Overnight Energy: EPA proposes scrapping limits on coal plant waste | Appointee overseeing federal lands once advocated selling them | EPA lifts Obama-era block on controversial mine Latest appointee overseeing federal public lands once advocated to sell them MORE’s conduct (CNN). The secretary issued a statement denying any misconduct, saying he has followed the law, regulations and federal procedures. The department’s watchdog referred one of at least three ongoing Zinke probes to Justice investigators for possible criminal violations, but it’s unclear what specific allegation or evidence triggered the referral (The Washington Post).

Russia: The Trump administration is fast approaching a Nov. 6 deadline to decide whether to impose a fresh round of sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain earlier this year (The Hill).

U.S. Census: The Trump administration was unsuccessful in persuading a lower court to postpone a trial involving challenges to its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, so the administration is asking the Supreme Court to intervene. The government wants the high court to settle a dispute over whether high-ranking administration officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHuawei grappling with 'live or die moment,' founder says Ex-counterintelligence official warns Trump administration not to be shortsighted on Huawei The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worries MORE, can be forced to testify under oath about their decision making process to add citizenship to a census of immense importance every decade (The Hill). Critics believe asking people about their citizenship and the citizenship of those in their households will discourage participation and data accuracy.

Intelligence: Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall 11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE, the director of national intelligence, and CIA Director Gina Haspel possess information about the Oct. 2 death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. House and Senate Democratic intelligence committee members want access to what they learned. The lawmakers wrote Coats a letter seeking a confidential briefing as soon as possible about what and when the U.S. government knew about Saudi threats to Khashoggi before his death (The Hill). Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal family, was an opinion contributor with The Washington Post and resided in Virginia before his death.

U.S. and Brazil: Trump congratulated incoming President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil on his election victory over the weekend. Bolsonaro, a right-wing populist and former military officer, has praised Trump and parroted the American president's rhetoric. He could bolster Trump's standing in Latin America (The Hill).

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

Squirrel Hill: So close to home, by The Hill’s Niv Elis. https://bit.ly/2AAH7Ny

How can law enforcement confront the emergent threat of internet “hate speech”?, by James A. Gagliano, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2qi39ie

The U.S. must impose a price on Saudi Arabia over murdered journalist, by Dennis RossDennis Alan RossPro-Saudi Arabia think tank abruptly closes in Washington The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Will Iran 'break out' for a nuclear weapon, and what can Trump do? MORE, opinion contributor, The Hill. http://bit.ly/2ABs7Px

WHERE AND WHEN

The House and Senate will convene after Election Day.

The president attends an event showcasing GOP support for U.S. workers, and later holds a political rally in Fort Myers, Fla., at 7 p.m.

Pence campaigns for Republican candidates in Ohio.

Former National Security Agency and former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden, and James ClapperJames Robert ClapperEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Former DHS, intelligence leaders launch group to protect presidential campaigns from foreign interference Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief MORE, former director of national intelligence, discuss “democracy under stress” at George Mason University in Virginia at noon. Info HERE.

John Bolton, White House national security adviser, speaks at 1 p.m. to the Alexander Hamilton Society about the administration’s national security strategy.

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ELSEWHERE

> Foiled plot: A bizarre story out of Washington, where 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’s team has asked the FBI to investigate allegations that several women were offered money to accuse Mueller of sexual misconduct (Reuters). The scheme appears to involve a GOP lobbyist and pro-Trump social media personality (NBC News).

> Debt: The Treasury Department expects to issue more than $1 trillion in debt in 2018 (trillion with a “t”), which could be the highest debt issuance since 2010. Increased government spending and stagnant tax revenues help explain a level of red ink that could constrain U.S. growth (The Wall Street Journal).

> Tech: Apple on Tuesday announced a new MacBook Air with a Retina display, slimmer bezels and a thinner and more lightweight body than the first MacBook Air, which broke new industry ground when it was first released in 2008. Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new laptop at a media event in New York to cheers and a sea of smartphone users trying to capture the moment with their cameras (Wired). … T-Mobile and Sprint have tailored their merger pitch for the Trump era, claiming it will push the country closer to a 5G future and make economic strides against China (The Hill).

> Social media and mayhem: What is happening on social networks and across digital communications platforms is disturbing and ever metastasizing. And preventable. … Social media platforms … are operating with sloppy disregard of the consequences [because] draining the cesspool would mean losing users, and that would hurt the bottom line,” writes Kara Swisher, editor at large for the technology news website Recode and an opinion contributor with The New York Times.

THE CLOSER

And finally … The White House is a scary place. Wait, we mean for Halloween!

The president and the first lady recently shared the October holiday with children as part of a tradition that dates to former President Kennedy and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who hosted a trick-or-treat soiree for friends, family and staff in their day. Things got more ghoulish during the Nixon years, with elaborate Halloween decorations, candy and scares organized annually for hundreds of local children.

By 1993, the big kids were in the West Wing, and former President Clinton and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Polls flash warning signs for Trump Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE celebrated the first lady’s Oct. 26 birthday that year with a spirited costume party, complete with the reincarnations of James and Dolley Madison.  

Ghosts have been sighted in the White House from time to time, including a young boy and a lovely woman in a flowing white dress, according to the White House Historical Association.

And for a quarter of a century, these two intrepid apparitions have materialized again and again.