The Hill's Morning Report - Trump faces mounting challenges to emergency declaration




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President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE faces mounting challenges to his controversial emergency declaration, which critics say circumvents Congress to secure billions of additional dollars for a wall along the southern border.

Two liberal advocacy groups are suing the administration to block the order. A third lawsuit, launched by a group of 16 states, dropped last night.

Trump’s executive action has mobilized liberal voters, who rallied across the country over the weekend at events coordinated by MoveOn. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the White House on Monday to protest the executive action.

And Democrats in Congress are plotting an aggressive response.

Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report that House Democrats are in no rush to push a resolution through, preferring instead to allow GOP divisions to fester (The Hill).

But at some point soon, the House will vote on a joint resolution to terminate Trump’s executive action.

That measure will pass with ease, sending it over to the Senate, where Republicans have a 53 to 47 majority. Democrats will need to pick up at least four GOP lawmakers to push the resolution through the upper chamber.

That seems likely, given the backlash from some on the right against what they view as a power grab by the executive branch.

But what then?

White House adviser Stephen Miller says that if Congress passes the joint resolution to block the executive action, the president will veto it. Trump has not yet used the presidential veto, so this could be his first.

That would kick things back to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required to override the presidential veto.

That’s possible but appears very unlikely, at least at the moment, meaning the best hope for Democrats to block the emergency declaration may lie in the courts.

A House and Senate vote with a united Democratic Party and some GOP defections could be a factor in how the courts decide the case. That kind of vote breakdown would hurt the administration’s emergency argument.

FiveThirtyEight: Could Congress block Trump’s emergency declaration?

The Washington Post: White House defends Trump’s emergency declaration as obstacles mount.

Perspectives and Analysis

Nolan Rappaport: Trump will win legal fight on emergency declaration.

Jay Michaelson: It’s up to Chief Justice John Roberts to stop Trump’s border wall.

Madison Gesiotto: Trump proved himself by winning border wall fight.

Douglas Schoen: Trump’s national emergency declaration will haunt Republicans.




POLITICS & 2020: Democratic presidential contenders spent the long weekend barnstorming early early-voting and swing states, taking their case to voters in Wisconsin, Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire.

Niall Stanage: The 10 Democrats most likely to win the 2020 presidential nomination.

The Associated Press: Dem presidential candidates introduce themselves to voters.

The New York Times reports that the Democratic candidates have been making another stop as well – more than a dozen have met with former President Obama, who is counseling the contenders on politics but will not be endorsing a candidate anytime soon. 

A rundown from a busy weekend on the trail…

> Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (I), who captured the imagination of liberals during his unlikely 2016 run for the Democratic presidential nomination, could launch his 2020 campaign as soon as this week (The Hill). Can Sanders rekindle the old magic or have progressives moved on?

The New York Times: Sanders stumbled with black voters in 2016. Can he do better?

> Democratic strategists say Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris to pitch using federal funds to give teachers pay raises Dem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Here's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report MORE (D-Calif.) is off to the fastest start (The Hill). Harris spent the weekend in South Carolina and will turn her sights on New Hampshire today in a speech at Saint Anselm College's Institute of Politics.

Politico: How the California primary could boost or sink Harris.



> Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (D-Minn.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) are expanding the map for early campaign stops. Both swung through Wisconsin over the weekend (The Hill).

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report MORE did not campaign in Wisconsin during the 2016 general election. Trump won the state by fewer than 25,000 votes, marking the first time in more than three decades that a Republican presidential candidate triumphed there. Democrats are eager to win it back in 2020.

CNN: Klobuchar tests pragmatic approach in Dem primary.

The Associated Press: Border wall a complex issue for O’Rourke.

> Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Booker endorses New Jersey marijuana legalization bill MORE (D-N.J.) is looking to start a national conversation about race as he kicks off his 2020 campaign (The Hill). Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements CNN town halls put network at center of Dem primary MORE (D-N.Y.) is playing up her motherhood (The Associated Press). Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHere's what the Dem candidates for president said about the Mueller report Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Harris wants Barr to testify on Mueller report as 2020 Dems call for its release MORE (D-Mass) will unveil a plan for universal child care on Tuesday (HuffPost).

> The Democratic field is still waiting on a few big names, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements Former Georgia candidate asks Abrams be given 'space' amid 2020 buzz Biden team denies 'pre-cooked plan' of Abrams as early running-mate pick MORE.

Politico: How does a straight white man run for the Democratic nomination in 2020?

FiveThirtyEight: Can a moderate win the Democratic presidential primary? 

More on campaigns and politics … North Carolina elections board considers redoing marred House election (The Associated Press) … Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Interior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal probe | Dem divisions deepen over approach to climate change | GM to add 400 workers to build electric cars 'Washington Monthly' editor says diversity on Capitol Hill starts with interns Why is my party prioritizing an extreme environmental agenda? MORE (D-N.Y.) tests the limits of political celebrity (The National Journal).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump made the case for regime change in Venezuela during a speech in Miami last night that effectively doubled as campaign rally.

The U.S. recognizes Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela. Trump warned the Venezuela military that they’re risking their lives by continuing to support Nicolas Maduro.

“You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.” – Trump

The speech also served the president’s 2020 reelection interests. Trump made a direct appeal to Latino voters, a key constituency in Florida. And he warned about the dangers of socialism, a message that figures to be central to his reelection bid.

“The twilight hour of socialism has arrived… Socialism is a sad and discredited ideology, rooted in the total ignorance of history and human nature, which is why socialism eventually must always give rise to tyranny, which it does.” - Trump

Bloomberg: Trump demands end to Maduro regime in broad attack on socialism.

More from Washington … Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to the bench for the first time since her lung cancer surgery (Time) … Allies wary of acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanTrump waiting on watchdog findings for Pentagon head: report Overnight Defense: Trump to reverse North Korea sanctions imposed by Treasury | Move sparks confusion | White House says all ISIS territory in Syria retaken | US-backed forces report heavy fighting | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE’s assurances (The Hill) … Rift between Trump and Europe is now open and angry (The New York Times).


INVESTIGATIONS: Newly sworn in Attorney General William Barr begins his first week on the job today and he has his work cut out for him.

Barr inherits a Department of Justice (DOJ) caught in the crossfire between Trump and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeThe wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report Rosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Graham says he'll probe Rosenstein's 25th Amendment remarks MORE, each of whom is accusing the other of crimes that implicate senior DOJ officials.

McCabe said in a “60 Minutes” interview that he opened an investigation into the president over the firing of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report Hillicon Valley: Mueller delivers report, ending investigation | FEMA exposed info of 2.3M disaster survivors | Facebook asks judge to toss DC privacy lawsuit | Trump picks his first CTO | FCC settles lawsuit over net neutrality records MORE, believing that Trump was seeking to squash an investigation into his ties to Russia.

McCabe claims that Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinShowdown looms over Mueller report If Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report MORE, who is overseeing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe, was fully on board with the FBI investigation.

McCabe also said that DOJ and FBI officials discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove the president. He insists that Rosenstein offered on multiple occasions to wear a wire in talks with Trump.

Rosenstein is expected to depart the DOJ of his own accord next month.

Trump spent President’s Day lashing out at McCabe and Rosenstein.





The president’s allies are demanding a new investigation into McCabe’s claims that the nation’s top law enforcement officials discussed removing the president. They’re describing those conversations as an “illegal coup.”

The Hill: Five things to watch as Barr takes the reins at Justice.

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



What presidential announcements reveal about the candidates, by John Dickerson, The Atlantic.

New hope and danger on the left, by Andrew Sullivan, New York.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features interviews with Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz and Lindsay Singleton, an expert on Latin America.

The House meets at 2:30 p.m. for a pro forma session with no votes expected. The House is off for a district work period this week.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session.

The president will have separate meetings today with Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenClinton calls for people to sign petition to help DACA recipient detained by ICE Hillicon Valley: Nunes sues Twitter for 0 million | Trump links tech giants to 'Radical Left Democrats' | Facebook settles suits over ad discrimination | Dems want answers over spread of New Zealand shooting video Nielsen calls for greater public-private collaboration on cyber threats MORE.

U.S. negotiators will meet with a delegation from China today about trade. The U.S. will be represented by Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerThe Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks McConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs MORE, Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump officials heading to China for trade talks next week US sanctions Venezuelan bank after Guaidó aide's arrest Treasury expands penalty relief to more taxpayers MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossThe Hill's 12:30 Report: O'Rourke jumps into 2020 fray 'Marie Antoinette' activist attends House hearing to protest Trump Commerce chief The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Senate GOP clash over Yemen, border security MORE, White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, and Peter Navarro, the assistant to the president for trade and manufacturing policy.


Entertainment: The bizarre saga of Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor who claims he was assaulted by Trump supporters for being black and gay, is shifting rapidly. Police want to interview Smollett after two people of interest to the case told investigators they were paid by the actor to orchestrate the alleged hate crime (CNN). Smollett, who could face charges if his claims turn out to be a hoax, declined to meet with the police on Monday (CBS 2 Chicago).

Following the drama around the Covington High School boys and their encounter with a Native American protester, many conservatives are venting their frustration with the media for leaping to conclusions over allegations that bigoted Trump supporters harassed or attacked minorities, which have turned out to be untrue.

Robby Soave: Separating “reality” from “narrative” in the Smollett case.

Outdoors: Hunters are sounding the alarm about a new disease spreading among deer, elk and moose. The “chronic wasting disease” has been identified in 24 states and can be transferred to humans who eat the tainted meat. The disease is reportedly resistant to freezing, heating and cooking the meat (NBC News).

Education: California’s top colleges and universities are scrambling to reassess how they adjudicate cases of sexual misconduct. A series of court rulings have found that Obama-era policies aimed at bolstering the rights of accusers have been unfair to the accused (The Los Angeles Times).

Amazon: Big Tech companies are doing some soul searching after backlash provoked Amazon to withdraw its plans to build a second headquarters in New York City (The Hill). Critics of the deal cast Amazon’s withdrawal as a victory over corporate welfare. Supporters of the deal are blaming liberals, such as Ocasio-Cortez, for costing the city thousands of jobs. Ben Smith of BuzzFeed writes that the nixed deal is the latest example of the liberal base putting the establishment on notice about their newfound power.

Bill de Blasio: Amazon could have answered concerns from citizens but fled instead.

The New York Daily News: Deal sunk by politicians who don’t understand economics.


And finally …  A reminder of how U.S. presidents have a long history of citing national emergencies to justify executive actions.

On this day in 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of people of Japanese ancestry from designated “military zones” in the U.S.

The order paved the way for the mass relocation and incarceration of about 120,000 Japanese people, more than two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens.

Those who did not comply with the order to leave their jobs and homes were arrested. The order also swept up more than 10,000 people of Italian and German ancestry.

Read the executive order HERE.

The Supreme Court later upheld the order by a 6-3 margin in a case brought by Fred Korematsu, who was arrested for failing to report to a detention center. The high court described the order as a “military necessity” and said it was not based on race. But many view the order as “the legalization of racism.” It’s cited to this day by critics who view Trump’s travel ban and wall as discriminatory against immigrants, rather than national security imperatives.