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 TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks 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 RyanCalif. congresswoman-elect bumps into Pelosi at airport How this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters 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 GrassleySenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Trump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel 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 GrahamSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Trump’s relationship with Saudi crown prince under pressure Graham: Saudi crown prince is ‘irrational’ and ‘unhinged’ 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 DonnellyBanking panel showcases 2020 Dems Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator Indiana New Members 2019 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 TrumpMichelle Obama's stylist downplays controversy over Melania Trump jacket Trump offered Ricardel ambassadorship to Estonia after Melania forced her out of White House: report Michelle Obama: I never had a presidential staffer fired 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 KushnerGraham urges GOP leadership to bring vote on criminal justice reform Trump’s backing may not be enough on criminal justice reform Graham: Trump’s new AG has ‘concerns’ about criminal justice bill MORE and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpTrump says he will decide Nielsen's fate 'shortly' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Turbulence in the West Wing as shakeup looms Trump eyes post-midterm shakeup 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 LankfordHouse GOP to force members to give up leadership positions if running for higher office The Hill's Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority Midterm vote to set cyber agenda 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 NelsonSenate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Why Democratic policies outperform Democratic politicians in rural America Nelson concedes in bitterly-fought Florida Senate race 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 DeSantisScott defeats Nelson in Florida Senate race after bitter recount fight Gillum officially concedes in Florida gubernatorial race Trump: Gillum will be 'force to reckon with' 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) TesterBanking panel showcases 2020 Dems Cortez Masto poised to become DSCC chair Mellman: The triumph of partisanship 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 CordrayKasich to return to New Hampshire for post-midterms visit Warren? Biden? Sanders? Dems have different answers on 2020 after 2018 The Hill's Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority 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 BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenDems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man Biden family adopts a dog Entrepreneur touts big solutions, endorsements in discussing presidential bid 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 HultgrenIllinois New Members 2019 Republicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration Newly elected Dems downplay midterms results as referendum on Trump 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 McCaskillWhy Democratic policies outperform Democratic politicians in rural America Josh Hawley will defend the First Amendment and religious liberty Missouri New Members 2019 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 KingDems must wield power against the powerful to win back rural America Iowa governor: Steve King needs to decide if he wants to represent ‘the values of the 4th District’ Conservative magazine posts recording of King using derogatory language against immigrants 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-LehtinenFlorida New Members 2019 House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses Dem wins leave behind a more conservative GOP conference MORE (R-Fla.) in a key battleground district (The Hill).

Polling Roundup

Tennessee Senate: Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTennessee New Members 2019 McConnell reelected as leader, Thune promoted to whip Rick Scott appears with GOP senators, ignores voter fraud question as recount continues 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 BrownSherrod Brown says he has 'no real timetable' for deciding on 2020 presidential run Banking panel showcases 2020 Dems Dems wonder if Sherrod Brown could be their magic man MORE (D) leads Republican Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciSherrod Brown says he has 'no real timetable' for deciding on 2020 presidential run Ohio New Members 2019 Trump: Candidates that did not embrace me can 'say goodbye' 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 ZinkeLawmakers say California will eventually get emergency funding for fire relief Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Overnight Energy: Trump to visit California wildfire victims | Head of Park Service climate program resigns | Dems rip Trump pick for energy panel 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 RossOn The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments in Trump census case The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty 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 CoatsHillicon Valley: Official warns midterm influence could trigger sanctions | UK, Canada call on Zuckerberg to testify | Google exec resigns after harassment allegations | Gab CEO defends platform | T-Mobile, Sprint tailor merger pitch for Trump Dem slams intel chief over classified response on Trump's Chinese election meddling claims The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump divides Republicans ahead of midterms 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 RossFlorida New Members 2019 Ross Spano wins race to replace Dennis Ross in Florida House seat GOP limits Dem gains in Florida House seats 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 ClapperOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases Pipe bomb suspect to be held without bail CIA's ‘surveillance state’ is operating against us all 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 Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 ClintonRetired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Retired admiral who oversaw bin Laden raid doubles down on Trump criticism Trump dismisses criticism from Navy SEAL who led Osama bin Laden mission 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.