The Hill's Morning Report - Dems appear to have votes to counter Trump on emergency




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Tuesday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, you can find us at @joneasley and @asimendinger.


President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE’s controversial national emergency declaration at the southern border faces its first hurdle today.

The House will vote on a resolution sponsored by Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroJoaquin Castro follows brother in backing Warren Rep. Castro to brother Julián: 'You've made your family and community proud' Hispanic Democrats demand flu vaccines for detained migrants MORE, a Texas Democrat, to block the president’s emergency declaration. With Democrats in control of the House, the measure is all but certain to pass.

The White House will be watching to see how many House Republicans break with Trump and join Democrats in supporting the resolution. Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashOvernight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall House votes to send impeachment articles to Senate Amash: Trump claim about US embassy threats 'seems to be totally made up' MORE, a Michigan Republican, co-sponsored Castro’s legislation and will be among the GOP rebels.

Cristina Marcos and Jordain Carney have the latest whip list identifying where Republicans stand (The Hill).

The Hill: House to push back on Trump.

The Hill: Dems set to challenge Trump during his foreign trip.

But the real drama will take place in the GOP-controlled Senate, which will be forced to vote on the resolution after it passes the House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Democrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner MORE (R-Ky.) is on the record supporting the president’s national emergency declaration, but several in his caucus have expressed reservations.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (R-Maine) has said she’ll vote for the resolution to block the emergency declaration. Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says MORE (R-N.C.) announced in an op-ed for The Washington Post last night that he’d vote for the resolution as well. Collins and Tillis are up for reelection in 2020.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Alaska) says she’s also “likely” to vote for the resolution.

Senate Democrats, including Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.Va.), appear prepared to stick together to disapprove of Trump’s emergency declaration, meaning Senate GOP leaders can afford only one more defection from their ranks as they try to back the president.

But there are a number of additional Senate Republicans who appear poised to break with Trump, making it increasingly likely that the rebuke will make it the president’s desk.

The Hill: Border rebuke looms for Trump.

Trump is pressing Republicans to stand with him.


The president’s critics have launched their own campaign. A group called “Republicans for the Rule of Law” ran a new ad this morning on one of Trump’s favorite programs, “Fox & Friends,” casting his emergency declaration as an abuse of power (YouTube).

Even if the Senate follows the House to back the resolution of disapproval, it’s unlikely there will be sufficient votes to override what could become Trump’s first presidential veto.

The courts will eventually weigh in. Vice President Pence and Senate Republicans will meet with Department of Justice officials today for a briefing on the legality of the national emergency declaration.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump and Pence have their hands full while navigating national security hurdles on two continents this week.

> Venezuela: The United States, seeking to maintain pressure on Nicolás Maduro to step down from power, announced new sanctions on Monday as Pence and opposition leader Juan Guaidó conferred with members of the Lima Group, a bloc of nations from Argentina to Canada collaborating in search of a peaceful resolution to the Venezuelan crisis (Reuters).

The Hill: The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the governors of four Venezuelan states alleged to be involved in "endemic corruption" and the blocking of critical humanitarian aid.

Pence told reporters the Trump administration and its allies “hope for a peaceful transition” as nations seek to isolate Maduro economically and diplomatically “until democracy is restored.”

Nevertheless, the vice president would not rule out U.S. military intervention as an option, saying such a decision would be Trump’s to make in consultation with a coalition of countries that continue to call on Maduro to formally cede the presidency to Venezuela’s new interim government.

“Let me say again, we remain hopeful that there will be a peaceful transition of power that the judiciary in Venezuela may well step forward and recognize the legitimacy of the National Assembly and Juan Guaidó’s role as the only legitimate president of Venezuela.” — Pence



> North Korea: Trump is in Vietnam to meet on Wednesday evening and on Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam, with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un. The Wednesday schedule calls for a social dinner among the two leaders, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyDemocrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Trump trial poses toughest test yet for Roberts MORE, plus two Kim advisers, including North Korean intelligence chief Kim Yong-chol.

Kim arrived in Vietnam by train, traveling through China.



The discussions about denuclearization over two days are overshadowed by skepticism among U.S. lawmakers and foreign policy experts, who point to Pyongyang’s history of deception and the lack of progress between the administration and Kim since last summer’s historic summit in Singapore. Rebecca Kheel describes their assessments this week (The Hill).

Niall Stanage reports that naysayers also have the president in mind, noting his boasts of personal chemistry with Kim and what they believe is the president’s unrealistic assessment that Kim embraces prospects for economic expansion if North Korea agrees to forfeit its nuclear capabilities (The Hill).

The Associated Press: Expectations low for summit commitments.

Reuters: Trump says he won’t rush North Korea into a deal.

Reuters: What’s on the summit table?

> China: Trump signaled he’s open to a softer U.S. stance on Chinese company Huawei, even as lawmakers warn the telecom giant's technology poses an unacceptable risk to U.S. national security. The president’s stance is tangled with ongoing trade talks with Beijing and his insistence that China is trying to play a constructive role with Pyongyang towards a goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula (The Hill).

> U.S. Budget: The White House and Congress had no sooner ended an appropriations impasse that sparked the longest shutdown in U.S. history before tempers flared anew on Monday over the next budget, including a White House vow to dodge the strictures of caps on defense spending while cutting domestic programs backed by Democrats (The Hill).

The president’s budget chief fired an opening shot over spending on domestic agencies that face sharp budget cuts without a new 2020 budget deal (The Associated Press).

Budget experts worry that the next politically volatile budget battle could impede must-pass legislation to raise the nation’s borrowing limit, which will be necessary by this summer.


POLITICS: Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony on Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee will be the hottest ticket in Washington this week.

Cohen, who will begin serving a three-year prison sentence in May, is expected to tell lawmakers what he learned about the Trump Organization during his decade working as the president’s “fixer.”

Reuters: Cohen to testify Trump asked him several times about a proposed skyscraper project in Moscow as late as June 2016, after Trump captured the Republican presidential nomination.

Morgan Chalfant has a rundown of what to watch at the highly anticipated hearing (The Hill). Cohen will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, but that will take place behind closed doors.

The Wall Street Journal: House investigators probe Trump contact with Matthew Whitaker.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that the Trump Organization sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) asking him to end an investigation into the company. The Trump Organization says the Judiciary Committee has a conflict of interest because it hired a lawyer, Berry Berke, who once represented the company.

> Democratic candidates are rushing to shore up support from African-American voters, a key constituency that will play a huge role in determining who wins the party’s presidential nomination.

The early-primary state of South Carolina will be in the spotlight in that hunt for votes.

The Hill: Embrace of reparations highlights pivotal Dem contest for black voters.



More politics … Democrats see opportunity, danger in Midwest (The Associated Press) … House Democrats are poised to pass a universal background checks bill, spotlighting a clash between the nation’s most prominent gun control advocacy group and the National Rifle Association (The Hill).

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A plan to denuclearize and develop North Korea, by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Advice for Attorney General William Barr, by Sharyl Attkisson, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House meets at 10 a.m. to consider a joint resolution to terminate the president's national emergency declaration to build a wall at the southern border. Republican leaders will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Democratic leaders will hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m.

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to continue consideration of the "Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.”

The president is in Vietnam for his second summit with North Korea’s leader.

Pence will join the Senate Republican Policy luncheon at 12:45 p.m. in the Capitol.

Barr will speak today at 11 a.m. to mark the Justice Department’s observance of African-American History Month.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies today and Wednesday to present the central bank’s semiannual monetary report to Congress. He appears today at 10 a.m. before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, and answers questions before the House Committee on Financial Services tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' MORE discusses the “present moment in politics” with historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham at 3 p.m. at the University of Delaware’s Joseph R. Biden Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration.

You’re invited this morning: Join The Hill Events from 8-10 a.m., for Leadership in Action: Criminal Justice Reform, featuring Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinNew Parnas evidence escalates impeachment witnesses fight Pressure building on Pelosi over articles of impeachment Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief MORE (D-Md.), Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsThe five dumbest things said about impeachment so far Pelosi accepts Collins's apology for saying Democrats are 'in love with terrorists' Trump's legal team gets set for impeachment trial MORE (R-Ga.), Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Democratic Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettUS Virgin Islands delegate vies for impeachment manager position Omar says US should reconsider aid to Israel Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence MORE from the Virgin Islands. Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack and Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons talk with lawmakers about the future of criminal justice reform following the recent enactment of the First Step Act. RSVP HERE.


Economy: A strong majority of economists believe that the U.S. will enter a recession by the end of 2021 (Bloomberg).

Health vs. religious freedom: After measles outbreaks hit several states, some state lawmakers want to limit or eliminate religious exemptions for children’s vaccinations, including in New York, Washington and New Jersey (The Hill). … Meanwhile, federal lawmakers and public health experts want to curb what they say is dangerous and inaccurate anti-vaccine information circulating on the web. They want to enlist the help of tech platforms (The Hill).

Space: The universe seems to be expanding faster than it should be, intriguing astronomers who are making “a bold and speculative leap into the past” to figure out what’s going on. One theory among many: “cosmic confusion” (The New York Times).


And finally … The anxiety-inducing film “Free Solo” took home the Oscar for “Best Documentary” on Sunday night, putting a spotlight on the extreme sport of free climbing.

For those who don’t know, free climbing is the same thing as rock or mountain climbing, but without ropes to break falls and no equipment other than fingers and toes while attempting ascents.

“Free Solo” captures Alex Honnold’s effort to become the first person to free climb the face of El Capitan in Yosemite. Some have described the feat as among the most incredible athletic achievements in history.

Needless to say, Honnold’s brain is wired differently than most.

“You accept the fact that if anything goes wrong, you’re going to die, and that’s that.” — Honnold

Directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, facing their own challenges as filmmakers, captured his stunning athleticism and steady nerves.

National Geographic: How Vasarhelyi and Chin filmed Honnold’s climb.

Watch ESPN’s six-minute profile HERE describing an elite athlete and the making of the award-winning documentary.