The Hill's Morning Report - Takeaways from the new Dem investigations into Trump

 

 

 

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.

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House Democrats let loose with a flood of investigations into 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 on Monday, igniting a fierce standoff between the legislative and executive branches and ensuring that the myriad probes circling the White House will be at the forefront of the 2020 election cycle.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) issued letters to 81 people or entities in Trump’s orbit, demanding documents pertaining to the president’s family business, presidential campaign and administration. You can find a full list of the names HERE.

Nadler’s sprawling investigation will touch on everything from allegations of obstruction of justice, to public corruption and abuses of power.

At the same time, three powerful House Democrats — Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE (D-Calif.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request House panel reinvites Pompeo to deliver Iran testimony Pompeo under pressure over threats to Yovanovitch MORE (D-N.Y.) — announced a coordinated investigation into Trump’s communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The committees are seeking documents from senior members of the Trump administration, such as 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 and 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.

The Hill: Dems sink teeth into Trump.

The Hill: Dems reach deep into Trump orbit.

Trump on Monday said he’d comply with the requests for documents, but tensions between the administration and congressional Democrats are running hot:

“I cooperate all the time with everybody. … You know the beautiful thing — no collusion. It’s all a hoax.”

“The Democrats are not after the truth, they are after the president.” - White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Takeaways

> Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday sent a letter to lawmakers cheering the “historic progress” of the new Democratic majority in the House, highlighting the passage of a resolution blocking Trump’s emergency declaration and a bill to bolster background checks on gun purchases.

But this Congress will be consumed by the investigations into Trump, which could grind legislative progress to a halt.

The administration will be swamped with demands for documentation and testimony. Congressional staff will be focused on chasing investigatory threads. And there will be clashes over whether the administration is complying with the demands from Congress. Democrats will have to determine how aggressively to use their subpoena power.

> It’s personal.

Democrats have long taken issue with the president for bringing his family members into the administration. And they know how to get under his skin.

Now the Trump family has been drawn into the web of investigations. Among the people and entities on Nadler’s list: Eric TrumpEric Frederick TrumpSecurity for Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits cost local taxpayers million Trump Organization to cut off bids on Washington hotel this month FBI searched home and office of lobbyist Trump denied knowing: report MORE, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpComedians post fake Army recruitment posters featuring Trump Jr. Trump Jr., Ivanka garner support in hypothetical 2024 poll FWS: There's 'no basis' to investigate Trump Jr.'s Mongolian hunting trip MORE, Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerDOJ releases new tranche of Mueller witness documents Jared Kushner's sister-in-law Karlie Kloss says she will vote against Trump in 2020 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate receives impeachment articles as trial opens MORE, the White House, the Trump campaign, the Trump Organization, the Trump inaugural committee, the Trump transition team and the Kushner Cos.

Nadler has asked for documentation from effectively anyone who has or once had influence in Trump world, from old hands, such as Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusFormer Trump staffer suing Trump, campaign over sex discrimination Founder of veterans group says Trump Jr. can join the military if he 'really wants to understand what sacrifice is all about' Mulvaney faces uncertain future after public gaffes MORE and Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerPress: It's time to bring back White House briefings Rapid turnover shapes Trump's government Pelosi gets under Trump's skin on impeachment MORE, to new ones, such as Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale.

The Wall Street Journal: Michael Cohen approached Trump attorneys about a pardon.

The Hill: Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from Russia probe.

> Pelosi doesn’t want to talk about it yet, but the investigations will be used to justify impeachment hearings, if Democrats take that road.

The investigations are aimed at establishing a pattern of corruption to lay the groundwork for an impeachment inquiry.

> Politically, Democrats are looking to bracket Trump ahead of his 2020 reelection bid by making government corruption a core issue, believing it undercuts the president’s arguments about his judgment, instinct, negotiating prowess and competency.

Of course, Trump will also be eager to highlight the investigations by casting himself as the victim of overzealous partisans driven by their inability to accept his 2016 election victory. He has called it “presidential harassment.”

“This is a dramatic overreach by House Democrats, who cannot control their zeal to overturn President Trump’s lawful and legitimate election by any means and process necessary. …These desperate Democrats know they cannot beat President Trump in 2020, so instead they have embarked on a disgraceful witch hunt with one singular aim: topple the will of the American people and seize the power that they have zero chance at winning legitimately.” — Trump campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany

LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: In a startling turnabout for any rookie member of the House, Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Sanders MORE (D-Minn.) and her public swipes at Israel and pro-Israel groups have collided with strong objections from many of her Democratic colleagues and triggered a potential public rebuke. 

With Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in the lead, the House will vote Wednesday on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in direct response to Omar’s comments, according to a senior Democratic aide (The Hill). Her remarks attracted stern public pummeling from two powerful committee chairs who accused Omar, who is Muslim, of repeating an anti-Semitic trope.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Firestorm erupts over Omar comments last week suggesting supporters of Israel evidence their “allegiance to a foreign country.”

Omar has made a show of her reluctance to shift to a more constructive style of advocacy within her party.

 

 

Meanwhile, Republicans pounced on evident tensions among liberal and centrist Democrats, especially in the wake of high-profile procedural maneuvers by the GOP on the House floor that succeeded in exacerbating the Democratic Party divisions (The Hill).

Nevertheless, Republicans in the Senate are facing their own version of heartburn inside their ranks, as 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.) concedes that Trump’s border emergency declaration will be rejected in the GOP-controlled chamber, despite his own and White House efforts to stave off any embarrassing challenge to the president from within his party (The Hill).

"I think what is clear in the Senate is that there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval, which will then be vetoed by the president and then in all likelihood the veto will be upheld in the House." — McConnell

Alexander Bolton reports why McConnell’s Kentucky colleague, Republican Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Graham on impeachment trial: 'End this crap as quickly as possible' MORE, who says he’ll vote to challenge the president’s emergency maneuver to fund a border wall, receives something of a free pass from McConnell and Trump (The Hill).

Paul says “at least” 10 Republican senators are prepared to part company with the president over his declaration of an emergency at the southern border (The Hill).

Although investigations and politics appear to dominate Congress at the moment, some major policies are under a microscope, including data privacy. Both parties say they’re optimistic about crafting the nation's first comprehensive data privacy law. But there are sticking points (The Hill).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: Citing a “crisis of division,” former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday (The New York Times).

Hickenlooper, a former businessman who founded a popular brewery in Denver, has cast himself as an “extreme moderate.” It will be a challenge for the former two-term governor to compete for air time, money and support in the crowded Democratic field.

Another Democratic governor from out west might follow Hickenlooper into the race. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will hold an event in Cedar Falls, Iowa, this afternoon ahead of a potential presidential bid.

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Rosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts MORE, the party’s 2016 nominee, has ruled out running again in 2020 (The Hill). Former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderParties to wage census battle with outside groups Welcome to third-world democracy and impeachment Uber settles sexual harassment charges for .4 million MORE, a close friend of former President Obama’s, has also decided against running for president, as has Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyEnvironmentalists, Oregon senators oppose DOT increasing transport of natural gas by rail Senate Democrat says he is concerned intelligence community is 'bending' Soleimani presentations Democrats conflicted over how to limit Trump's war powers MORE (D-Ore.) (CNN).

Meanwhile, on the GOP side, Reid Wilson writes that Trump’s geographic path to reelection could narrow in 2020 because of demographic shifts (The Hill).

Today, Vice President Pence will look to shore up the administration’s support with the business community in a speech to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in Phoenix. Pence will join a roundtable with Small Business Administrator Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonSenate confirms Trump pick for small business chief On The Money: Senate chairman opposes cannabis banking bill | Panel advances Trump pick for Small Business Administration | Judge tosses NY state fraud charges against Manafort Senate panel advances Trump's nominee to lead Small Business Administration MORE and NAM’s executive council.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), mentioned as a potential primary challenger to Trump, was in Iowa yesterday, but he downplayed his presidential ambitions (The Des Moines Register).

More from the campaign trail … North Carolina’s election board has set new dates for primaries and a general election for the contested House race in the 9th Congressional District (The Washington Post) … Trump once donated to Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MOREs (D) campaign for attorney general in California. Now she wants his job (The Sacramento Bee) … Koch-backed group pushes for new limits on Trump’s tariffs authority (The Hill).

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

OPINION

Republicans are wrong. Transparency is possible in the Mueller investigation, by former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info Bernie-Hillary echoes seen in Biden-Sanders primary fight Rosenstein on his time in Trump administration: 'We got all the big issues right' MORE, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2NKzxVQ

Don’t try to reason with vaccine-skeptic parents. Scare them, by Robyn Urback, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (Canada, like Washington state and Texas, is experiencing a measles outbreak). https://bit.ly/2UnbfDG

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon.

The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Allison Jones Rushing to be a judge on the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee holds a hearing at 10 a.m. about vaccines and recent outbreaks of preventable diseases, including measles.

The president participates in a signing ceremony at 1:45 p.m. for an executive order titled “National Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End Veteran Suicide.”

First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE concludes her two-day “Be Best” initiative on the road, with an event in Las Vegas.

The Treasury Department releases its monthly budget statement at 2 p.m.

YOU’RE INVITED to newsmaker events with The Hill:

 

The Washington Post’s David Ignatius chats with Tim Berners-Lee, inventor in 1989 of the World Wide Web, about the rise of disinformation and censorship, threats to digital privacy, and his efforts to help people secure ownership of their data. Location: The Washington Post, 9 a.m. Livestream details: https://wapo.st/2XDMNzO

The Internet Innovation Alliance hosts a discussion with lawmakers and experts from 10 a.m. to noon at Top of the Hill in Washington called “Internet Privacy and Net Neutrality: Make Tech Policy Bipartisan Again.” Details HERE.

ELSEWHERE

Federal disaster aid: NPR reporters Robert Benincasa and Rebecca Hersher crunched the numbers inside federal disaster aid efforts and report the programs consistently choose winners and losers. Because federal aid after disasters is allocated based on cost-benefit calculations meant to minimize taxpayer risk, not on need, wealthier applicants benefit more than those with fewer resources. As climate-driven disasters become more frequent and severe, that trend is likely to accelerate. NPR’s exclusive report airs on “Morning Edition,” “Up First,” and “All Things Considered” today and Wednesday, and can be found at NPR.org HERE.

Medicine: Scientists have discovered a technique to study the DNA codes of individual cells, a development that could lead to audacious new medical breakthroughs (The Associated Press) … Researchers believe that a cure for HIV is possible after curing a second patient (The New York Times).

Media and government: The Fox News White House, by Jane Meyer (The New Yorker).

Supreme Court: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recovery prescription? Plenty of opinions (The Associated Press).

THE CLOSER

And finally …    Rapprochement for the raptors! Washington’s celebrity bald eagles, Liberty and Justice, are back together after what DCist (and other news outlets) termed “a harrowing wildlife drama.” The area’s longest-known bald eagle couple has apparently stuck it out after Justice took a sabbatical fly-away from his mate of at least 14 years during a “tumultuous mating season” this winter.

But aha! They were intimately partnered again on Saturday.

We know this because the eagles are like the Kardashians — videotaped, photographed and over-shared with wingless masses who are forced to do their fishing with opposable thumbs.

Check out the live eagle-cam (especially early in the morning, midday and evenings) HERE.