The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Trump faces pivotal stretch on trade, immigration




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report and happy first Monday in December! Our newsletter 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 Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Mueller report is huge win for President Trump Lawmakers clash over whether conclusion of Mueller investigation signals no collusion Countdown clock is on for Mueller conclusions MORE (R-Ga.) about criminal justice reform. Tom Collamore and Craig Fuller, former aides to George H.W. Bush, will stop by to talk about the former president’s legacy.


President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos claims he was pressured to sign plea deal Tlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Trump rips 'Mainstream Media': 'They truly are the Enemy of the People' MORE faces a pivotal stretch of delicate negotiations with Congress and global leaders on trade and immigration, the cornerstone issues of his “America first” governing philosophy.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping left the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Argentina this weekend having agreed to a temporary cease-fire in their trade war. The president also signed his new trade pact with Canada and Mexico, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Still, a lot of uncertainty remains around both deals.

And ahead within a matter of days, Congress faces a Dec. 7 funding deadline to keep parts of the government open. At issue is how much money Congress intends to allocate for a wall along the southern border.

Here’s where things stand:

The spending fight

The president is demanding $5 billion in funding for the border wall. That full amount will not be included in any spending package Congress passes before the end of the year.

Trump has threatened to shut down the government on Dec. 7 if the money doesn’t come through, but that appears less likely now, at least in the near-term, as the president now says he’s open to a short-term, status quo measure as Washington prepares to honor the life of Bush this week.

“If they come — which they have — to talk about an extension because of President Bush’s passing, I would absolutely consider it and probably give it.” — Trump

That still leaves open the possibility of another showdown fight around the holidays or kicking the matter to the next Congress, which will feature a Democratic-controlled House. Trump will meet with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Democrats face dilemma after Mueller probe ends Raskin embraces role as constitutional scholar MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer4 in 5 Americans say they support net neutrality: poll GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar MORE (D-N.Y.) to discuss the matter this week.

The Washington Post: Congress, Trump consider postponing shutdown deadline.

Stan Collender: The real reason why the shutdown fight will likely be delayed.

Trade war with China

Trump and Xi opted for a temporary tariffs truce after a face-to-face meeting in Buenos Aires this weekend, but the details of their agreement are sparse and the next 90 days will be crucial.

The White House has said that as part of the agreement, China will aggressively prosecute those it finds guilty of selling fentanyl to the U.S. and will purchase some “very substantial” amount of products from the U.S. agricultural, energy and industrial sectors. Late Sunday, Trump claimed over Twitter that China had also agreed to “reduce and remove” tariffs on cars coming into the U.S. from China.

In exchange, Trump said he will not raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent – at least for now. That hike was slated to go into effect on Jan. 1. The two sides are allowing for 90 days to iron out the specifics.

In the short-term, this is the best possible outcome for investors and industry leaders who feared a further escalation of a trade war that has roiled global markets and ignited  fears of an economic slowdown.

“This was an amazing and productive meeting with unlimited possibilities for both the United States and China.” — Trump

Reuters: China-U.S. trade sends world stocks, emerging markets soaring.

The Associated Press: U.S., China put the brakes on trade dispute with cease-fire.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board: The key to a larger deal will be enforcement of Chinese promises.


The president had a smiling photo op with the leaders of Canada and Mexico over the weekend as they signed a revised North American trade agreement.

Still, the agreement has to be ratified by Congress, setting up a high-stakes fight with Democrats on Capitol Hill next year (The Hill).

The president said he will submit the new deal to Congress in the coming days, starting a clock that will give lawmakers six months to consider the pact.

Trump also said he will unilaterally withdraw from NAFTA in the coming days, meaning that Congress will consider only two options: Affirming the new pact the president negotiated, or going back to the pre-NAFTA trade rules (Reuters).


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INVESTIGATIONS: Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe rolls on, stoking new fears among the president’s allies that Trump is himself the ultimate target the investigation.

The Memo: Trump’s Mueller problems deepen, worrying allies.

The deepening legal troubles surrounding the president:

> Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress last week and is fully cooperating with the special counsel.

> Cohen’s involvement has intensified the focus on Trump's business dealings (The Hill).

> The new legal filings in the Cohen case describe him talking about a Trump Tower project in Moscow with unspecified "family members."

> Author Jerome Corsi, an ally of former Trump adviser Roger StoneRoger Jason StonePress: Should the media apologize to Donald Trump? Schiff says Dems to charge ahead with Trump investigations Trump: 'Haven't thought about' pardons for Mueller targets MORE, is said to have been offered a plea deal from Mueller.

Niall Stanage writes about the unknowns that have Trump’s allies on edge:

“One is the relentlessness and secrecy with which Mueller works, a pattern that causes new developments to land like no-warning bombshells. Another is the possibility of the Trump family coming under increasing focus — the new legal filings in the Cohen case describe him talking about the project with unspecified ‘family members.’ A third factor is the incoming Congress where, in January, Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives, with the ability to set the agenda and subpoena witnesses.”

More on the investigations front … Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTlaib asking colleagues to support impeachment investigation resolution Democrats face dilemma after Mueller probe ends Barr faces political storm over Mueller report MORE reaches agreement with House Republicans to testify (The Hill) … Five things to know about Corsi (The Hill) … Cohen developments energize Democrats (The Hill) … Mueller considers new charges for former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortPress: Should the media apologize to Donald Trump? Trump: 'Haven't thought about' pardons for Mueller targets Trump: Mueller acted honorably MORE ahead of March sentencing (The Associated Press) … Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (R-Ariz.) says the votes exist to pass a Mueller protection bill (The Hill).


INTERNATIONAL: Relations between the United States and Russia are at a new low point, according to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman Mattis16 times Trump said ISIS was defeated, or soon would be Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths Pentagon watchdog probing whether acting chief boosted Boeing MORE, who announced over the weekend that Moscow attempted to interfere with the recent U.S. midterm elections (CNN video). And Russia is on the receiving end of official U.S. disapproval following its latest aggression toward three Ukraine naval vessels.

Registering his displeasure, Trump canceled a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly before arriving at the G-20 summit, but spoke to his counterpart briefly once he arrived.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Ilhan Omar tells Muslim group to 'raise hell' over discrimination Seven questions AIPAC attendees should ask of Democratic presidential wannabes MORE said Russia understands the U.S. conditions that must be met before another meeting between Trump and Putin can take place.

“We want the sailors returned, we want the ships returned,” Pompeo told CNN on Saturday. “The president … is trying to find a way to move forward with Russia, and now this jumped in the middle of a time when they could have begun to have a discussion where we might have made some progress. We regret that, but the Russians caused this meeting to be canceled by their behavior in the Kerch Strait.”

The Kremlin, which has not backtracked following its provocation against Ukraine, said it remains eager for another in-depth Trump-Putin meeting, and suggested Japan as a possible locale (The Hill).


North Korea: Another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is likely to take place in January or February at a location not yet agreed upon, Trump said Saturday on the way home from the Argentina summit (Fox News).


Saudi Arabia: The CIA’s determination that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman targeted Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi for death relies on at least 11 messages the crown prince sent to his closest adviser during a key period. That adviser oversaw the Saudi team that killed the journalist in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment (The Wall Street Journal).

Pompeo continued to deny the U.S. intelligence community has seen or heard evidence linking the crown prince to Khashoggi’s death.

I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of the United States government, and when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking [the crown prince] to the murder,” the former CIA director and former congressman told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

> The Senate is barreling toward a brawl on the floor over how to respond to Saudi Arabia's role in Khashoggi’s killing (The Hill).


Afghanistan: The Trump administration is relying on a ramped up bombing campaign against the Taliban in hopes of drawing the insurgents to peace talks (The Hill).


France: Citizen fury unleashed out of rural France over rising fuel taxes and economic duress engulfed central Paris in riots on Saturday, described over the weekend by the city’s mayor as a “state of insurrection.” All around France, the protests left three dead and more than 260 wounded, with more than 400 arrested (The New York Times). French President Emmanuel Macron, ridiculed by protesters as a president of the rich,  sought a way to defuse the protests. France’s prime minister, Edouard Philippe, held talks with opposition party leaders today, but the uprisings have no single leader (Reuters).


Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced another blow to his teetering governing coalition after Israeli police recommended Sunday that he be indicted on bribery, fraud and other charges, accusing him of trading regulatory favors for fawning news coverage. It was the third time this year that the police urged that Netanyahu face criminal prosecution for corruption. Netanyahu dismissed the scandal as a “witch hunt” (The New York Times).

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George H.W. Bush’s Oval Office note to me revealed the heart of who he was, by Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonPress: Should the media apologize to Donald Trump? Media takes serious hit from Mueller conclusions No Perry Mason verdict from Mueller, and no impeachment from Pelosi MORE, opinion contributor, The Houston Chronicle. “His friendship has been one of the great gifts of my life.”

A screwball story: My faithful correspondent, Poppy Bush, scribbling and typing notes through decades of history, by Maureen Dowd, opinion columnist, The New York Times.


The House meets today to consider resolutions pertaining to the lying in state of former President Bush, beginning this evening in the Capitol Rotunda. The House does not expect to hold votes today, and will not be in session on Tuesday.

The Senate at 3 p.m. is scheduled to resume consideration of the nomination of Bernard L. McNamee to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The president meets with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonHousing and health care go hand-in-hand Carson's calendar includes trips to Florida on Fridays: report The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems grapple with race, gender and privilege MORE at 1:45 p.m. in the Oval Office.

Vice President Pence delivers remarks about Bush at 5 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda prior to the public viewing of the former president’s casket, which begins at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Wednesday morning.

Treasury Department Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker speaks to the American Bankers Association and American Bar Association’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Conference at 1 p.m. at National Harbor in Maryland.



> Alaska: Aftershocks rattled cleanup efforts following a powerful earthquake near Anchorage on Friday (Reuters). … Alaska has the most earthquakes in the United States. Here’s why (CNN).



> Mission or invasion?: The death of a young American missionary on a tropical island at the hands of a small indigenous group has left people asking: are the islanders better off with us or without us? (The New York Times)



> Slideshows from sky, space, land and seas: Sixteen not-to-miss photos from November (National Geographic). … 100 best photos during 2018 (National Geographic).


And finally … Bush, who died Friday at 94, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda beginning this evening, through early Wednesday morning. A weekend of praise from admirers around the world will echo during a state funeral at Washington’s National Cathedral on Wednesday, followed by a service in his beloved Houston and burial on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University on Thursday (The New York Times and The Houston Chronicle).

Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Kennebunkport pays homage to a fellow townsman



The House will be out of session today and Tuesday, and the federal government will be closed in Bush’s honor on Wednesday. For a month, U.S. flags will be at half staff in tribute to the nation’s 41st president, a leader who revered public service and got teary eyed when speaking about his love for his family and for his country. His friends hailed his decency, loyalty and humility, in addition to achievements from his term, which ended with Clinton’s election in 1992.

“I have found happiness. I no longer pursue it, for it is mine,” he once wrote to his granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager.