The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Mueller report is huge win for President Trump

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Monday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @asimendinger and @alweaver22.

 

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE on Sunday embraced a narrative he’s favored for more than two years, this time armed with a verdict he described as entirely in his favor:

 

There was no collusion with Russia. There was no obstruction and none whatsoever. And it was a complete and total exoneration,” he said as he returned to Washington from Florida.

 

The Hill: Mueller finds no Trump-Russia conspiracy in 2016 election.

The Hill: Mueller delivers a win for Trump — five takeaways.

 

Trump received backing on Sunday from his lawyers, the White House communications team, the Republican Party, his reelection campaign and allies in Congress. They amplified the president’s message of vindication, ignoring contradictory information in Mueller’s report while poised for new clashes in Congress and among Democratic presidential candidates in the months ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump spoke shortly after Attorney General William Barr sent Congress and the White House his summary of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE’s report, which included no new indictments at the end of a 22-month investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election (The Hill).

 

Barr wrote that Mueller’s investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

 

However, Mueller left open the possibility that Trump had obstructed justice in reaction to the Russia probe, according to Barr. But the attorney general said he concluded from the special counsel’s evidence that it was “not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”

 

“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him,” Barr quoted Mueller as writing (Reuters).

 

The Hill: Mueller’s conclusion raises new questions.

The Hill: Read Barr’s four-page summary to Congress.

 

What happens next?

 

The partisan battle continues: Democrats seized on the equivocal reference by Mueller about whether there was criminal evidence of obstruction of the Russia probe (The Hill).

 

The bottom line: Mueller’s findings are a severe blow to the impeach-Trump drive (The Hill). Yet, progressives who want to pursue impeachment now believe it’s imperative to get the full text of Mueller’s report and its discussion of obstruction of justice. Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenClimate finance must push net-zero emissions Trump impeachment efforts will haunt the next Democrat in the White House Overnight Energy: Lawmaker, scientists challenge move to eliminate key advisory boards | White House nixes climate language from emissions proposal | Raffle offers deer hunt with Donald Trump Jr. MORE (D-Texas), for one, continued to call for impeachment on Sunday after Barr’s letter went to lawmakers (The Hill).

 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDem committee chairs blast Trump G-7 announcement Top Democrat holds moment of silence for Cummings at hearing Barr to speak at Notre Dame law school on Friday MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Sunday his panel will soon call Barr to testify.

 

The New York Times: House and Senate Democrats vow to continue oversight.

The Washington Post: Trump's actions tied to potential obstruction will be wrestled with in the political arena.  

 

Republican lawmakers, however, accused Democrats of continuing what they see as politically motivated investigations as a weapon to attack Trump into the 2020 election.

 

“They really don’t have a policy agenda. They have an agenda against the president,” said House Judiciary Committee ranking Republican Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Hillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Graham huddles with House Republicans on impeachment strategy MORE of Georgia, speaking on “Fox News Sunday.”

 

Public disclosure: Both parties in Congress say they want the Mueller report to be publicly available to the extent possible under the law. But transparency will have many definitions, and the fight is expected to be intense.

 

Polls show that a large majority of Americans want the report released, but surveys also show most Americans made up their minds about Trump and his actions before Mueller concluded his investigation.

 

The president said last week he too wants the report released, and after his enthusiastic response on Sunday to Barr’s summary letter, he will be pressed on all sides to encourage the Justice Department to disclose the report. There was no suggestion on Sunday that Trump seeks to withhold findings or assert executive privilege.

 

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCummings to lie in state at the Capitol House Republicans 'demand the release of the rules' on impeachment Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union —Dem wants more changes to Pelosi drug pricing bill | Ebola outbreak wanes, but funding lags | Johnson & Johnson recalls batch of baby powder after asbestos traces found MORE (D-Calif.) echoed her party’s clamor for full disclosure  of Mueller’s conclusions and investigative findings with a Twitter hashtag on Sunday: #ReleaseTheReport.

 

She told 120 Democratic lawmakers on Saturday during a conference call that she will reject any calls for classified briefings to Congress. Pelosi said any information sharing must be unclassified so that lawmakers can discuss the information publicly (The Hill).

 

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers set to host fundraisers focused on Nats' World Series trip The Hill's 12:30 Report: Washington mourns loss of Elijah Cummings Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings MORE (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is investigating Russia’s election interference, agrees:

 

"Congress and the American people deserve to judge the facts for themselves. The Special Counsel's report must be provided to Congress immediately, and the Attorney General should swiftly prepare a declassified version of the report for the public. Nothing short of that will suffice. It is also critical that all documents related to the Special Counsel's investigation be preserved and made available to the appropriate Congressional committees,” Warner said.

 

Is Trump out of the woods, legally?

 

The president’s business activities are under investigation by New York State Attorney General Letitia James and by Justice Department prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Legal analysts say Trump’s legal troubles are not over (The Washington Post).

 

What about Russia’s threat to U.S. elections?

 

How and why Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election and favored Trump’s election is a large part of what Mueller investigated, and his findings are a significant part of his report to the Justice Department.

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Trump's troop pull back in Syria a 'grave strategic mistake' Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump insists Turkey wants cease-fire | Fighting continues in Syrian town | Pentagon chief headed to Mideast | Mattis responds to criticism from Trump TSA head rules himself out for top DHS job   MORE (R-Ky.), in a written statement on Sunday, focused on that topic, signaling that other Republicans will follow suit and that Congress could find actionable information in the special counsel’s findings. However, Russia’s role in the election is a topic Trump repeatedly sidelines.

 

Russia’s ongoing efforts to interfere with our democracy are dangerous and disturbing, and I welcome the Special Counsel's contributions to our efforts to understand better Russia's activities in this regard. And I look forward to the continuing work of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the threats posed to our democratic institutions by foreign interference.” — McConnell

 

More than two dozen people charged by Mueller are Russians and are unlikely to be brought to the United States to stand trial.

 

The special counsel brought criminal charges against a total of 34 people, including six former Trump associates and advisers. Five people close to the president pleaded guilty: Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortNew York City lawmakers vote to close Rikers Island jail by 2026 Perry says Trump directed him to discuss Ukraine with Giuliani: report Cuomo signs measure allowing New York to press charges despite presidential pardon MORE, former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former personal attorney Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenTrump offers condolences on frequent foe Cummings: 'Very hard, if not impossible, to replace' Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 Schiff says committees will eventually make impeachment inquiry transcripts public MORE and former campaign adviser George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosWe need answers to questions mainstream media won't ask about Democrats Trump asked Australian leader to help look into Mueller probe's origins: report US attorney recommends moving forward with charges against McCabe after DOJ rejects his appeal MORE. Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneMeet Trump's most trusted pollsters 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Judge rejects Stone's request to dismiss charges MORE, a longtime friend of Trump’s, was indicted in January and accused of lying to Congress. Stone has pleaded not guilty.

 

The Hill: A timeline of Mueller’s investigation from start to finish.

 

Perspectives and Analysis:

Neal K. Katyal: The many problems with the Barr letter.

Jonathan Turley: A conclusion on collusion, but confusion on obstruction.

The Washington Post editorial board: Trump did not collude with Russia. But he’s wrong to say Mueller exonerated him.

The Washington Examiner editorial board: The collusion delusion.

Blake Hounshell: Trump didn’t collude with Russia. So why does he love Putin so much?

Electronic Privacy Information Center watchdog: Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeks report’s public release.

Peter Baker: A cloud is lifted over Trump’s presidency.

 

 

 



 

 

 

LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: McConnell is expected to schedule a vote midweek on the Green New Deal, a top priority of progressives that has gained traction and appeal thanks to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden endorsed by former Connecticut senator, 51 Massachusetts leaders MORE (D-N.Y.). McConnell’s belief is that this vote could split Democrats, including those bidding for the party’s 2020 nomination.

 

As Alexander Bolton writes, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback MORE (D-N.Y.) is facing a major test to keep his caucus unified as he urges Senate Democrats to vote “present” in unison. However, many of those running in 2020 have endorsed the plan, meaning something has to give.

 

Ocasio-Cortez dismissed the vote, calling it a “bluff vote” on Saturday.

 

 

 

 

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPelosi, Schumer hit 'flailing' Trump over 'sham ceasefire' deal Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (R-Utah) has taken a leading role on climate change within the GOP conference and is at the center of private discussions about coming up with a response to the issue.

 

“There’s no question that we’re experiencing climate change and that humans are a significant contributor to that. In my view the course forward is going to require innovation and technology breakthrough because nothing I’ve seen is going to reverse the warming trend other than that," Romney told The Hill.

 

> Over in the House, lawmakers are expected to vote Tuesday in an attempt to override Trump’s veto of legislation that would end his national emergency to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. With a two-thirds majority needed to override his veto, the vote is expected to fail as only 13 House Republicans supported blocking the president’s declaration (Reuters).



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CAMPAIGN & POLITICS: Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Lobbying world MORE (D-N.Y.) delivered her campaign's "kickoff" speech early Sunday afternoon while flanked by Trump International Hotel & Tower in Manhattan. The speech — which included multiple barbs at the president, including calling him a "coward" and panning the hotel as a "a shrine to greed, division and vanity” — was an attempt by the New York senator to break through the crowded Democratic primary field, something at which she has been unsuccessful.

 

 

 

 

> In polls taken nationally, as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gillibrand has struggled to pull more than 1 percent support as others, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris campaign releases web video highlighting opposition to death penalty Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeTrump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches Hillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets O'Rourke rips Bill O'Reilly: The problem with our economy is 'a disgraced TV host like you makes millions' MORE (D-Texas) have been able to break into double digits. Unfortunately for Gillibrand, the speech wrapped up just before 2 p.m. — less than two hours before Barr's letter was released, leaving much to be desired timing-wise.

 

The New York Times: At Democratic Campaign Events, Mueller Report is Barely Mentioned

 

The Hill: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg surges to third place in new Iowa poll

 

Buttigieg (D) surged into third place in a poll of the Iowa caucus released Sunday. Eleven percent of likely Democratic Iowa caucus-goers surveyed by Emerson Polling said they would pick Buttigieg to be their 2020 presidential nominee.

 

Overall, Buttigieg placed third behind Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump knocks Romney as 'Democrat secret asset' in new video Giuliani asked State Dept. to grant visa for ex-Ukraine official at center of Biden allegations: report Perry won't comply with subpoena in impeachment inquiry MORE, at 25 percent, and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally On The Money: Supreme Court takes up challenge to CFPB | Warren's surge brings scrutiny to wealth tax | Senators eye curbs on Trump emergency powers Biden seeks to fundraise off fact he's running out of money MORE (I-Vt.), at 24 percent. The only other candidate to receive double-digit support was Harris, who was the choice for 10 percent of respondents.

 

Emerson surveyed 249 likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers between March 21 and 24. The margin of error for the sample is 6.2 percentage points.

 

Associated Press: Medicare for all legislation has thorny issues

 

More on the 2020 front ... Sanders spent the weekend in California, where he visited an Islamic center in Los Angeles ... Harris took her campaign to southern states, headlined by Texas and Georgia, while Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Sanders seeks spark from Ocasio-Cortez at Queens rally On The Money: Supreme Court takes up challenge to CFPB | Warren's surge brings scrutiny to wealth tax | Senators eye curbs on Trump emergency powers MORE (D-Mass.) (CNN) and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper both spent time in New Hampshire (WMUR.com).



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Stephen Moore would be a loyalist, not an expert, at the Fed, by Binyamin Appelbaum, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2JCGsC0

 

How to stand out in a crowd: Gillibrand needs to find her niche, by Brad Bannon, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2USVTXX



WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at noon.

 

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of Bridget S. Bade to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

 

The president holds meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At 3 p.m., Trump hosts a photo opportunity at the White House with the Washington Capitals, the 2018 Stanley Cup champions.



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ELSEWHERE

Brexit: At one of the most important pivot points for the United Kingdom since World War II, politics are at a fever pitch as Parliament prepares this week to take control of next steps in a rocky divorce from the European Union (Reuters). Prime Minister Theresa May’s grip on power has weakened as some lawmakers call on her to announce an exit from government. Hundreds of thousands of people marched through London on Saturday demanding a new referendum on Brexit (Reuters).

 

Middle East: Israel’s Netanyahu, in power for a decade, visits Washington today ahead of a close election in two weeks but will cut his visit short after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv (Reuters). Facing possible indictment in three corruption cases and denying any wrongdoing, the prime minister is highlighting at home his strong ties with the United States (Reuters).

 

Immigration: A caravan of some 1,200 migrants from Central America and Cuba began moving towards the U.S. border from southern Mexico this weekend (Reuters).

 

Tech: Today begins Apple Inc.’s reinvention as a services company. CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil streaming video and news subscriptions, key parts of Apple’s push to transition to a leading digital services provider. The company may also discuss a monthly video games subscription (Bloomberg).



THE CLOSER

And finally … Over the weekend, the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and news outlets pointed observers skyward in the Northeast with predictions they might witness the northern lights, or aurora borealis. But conditions were not as favorable as hoped, and many said they were disappointed.

 

Nevertheless, stargazers and sky watchers in multiple U.S. locations posted photos on social media to show colorful, ghostly night skies. Take a look!