The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump rallies for second term on 'promises kept'

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. TGIF! 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 TrumpNew EPA rule would expand Trump officials' powers to reject FOIA requests Democratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Democrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question MORE’s reelection themes ricocheted throughout a Grand Rapids, Mich., arena Thursday night, leaping from outrage at perceived enemies and joy about Republicans’ victories, new jobs, a border wall and a renewed call to eliminate ObamaCare. 

Three-quarters of the way through a 96-minute speech, an ebullient Trump ad libbed the seven words that summed up his pitch for a second term.

“We are fighting and working and winning.”

“We are making America great.”

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The conclusions drawn from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerKamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump Schiff says Intel panel will hold 'series' of hearings on Mueller report MORE’s investigation this month demand “accountability,” he said, arguing to appreciative laughter that it was all “ridiculous bullshit,” and that unnamed Democrats “spy on me” and want to “take something great away from people” (The Hill). 

Trump, during his first political speech since the Mueller probe ended, defined what he sees at stake for voters in next year’s election: 5.5 million new jobs since his election, including his tally of 600,000 new manufacturing jobs; a boost for the U.S. auto industry in a state where it’s key, plus defense of autoworkers; and an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump’s morning-in-America narrative may dim if slower growth continues into 2020. The government revised GDP downward in the fourth quarter of 2018 on Thursday, offering analysts and investors more ammunition to fret about a possible recession ahead (The Hill).  

“Everyone is benefiting,” the president insisted. “Now I’ve done more than I ever promised I’d ever do so the [presidential] debates should be easy.”

Democrats, he said, are “extreme,” “socialist” and “sick people. 

The only 2020 presidential opponent he mentioned by name was Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAbigail Disney: 'We're creating a super-class' of rich people Is Big Tech biased? The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations MORE (D-Mass.), whom he called “Pocahontas,” asserting her campaign has sputtered from the start because of his criticisms.

He lampooned House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTop Democrat accuses White House of obstructing review related to Trump-Putin communications Schiff would support impeachment if White House ignores a final court decision on documents, testimony US finds itself isolated in Iran conflict MORE (D-Calif.), calling him “pencil neck,” and he mocked House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerNadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing Hope Hicks: Trump campaign felt 'relief' after WikiLeaks released damaging info about Hillary Clinton House hearing marks historic moment for slavery reparations debate MORE (D-N.Y.) as an old Manhattan nemesis intent on scouring through “every single deal, every single paper” from his businesses to hunt for “mistakes.”

The Washington Post: How Trump inflated his net worth to lenders, investors.

“Every day, we make good on the motto, promises made, promises kept,” the president said after ticking through a lengthy list of favored GOP policies — from immigration restrictions, to a battle against late-term abortions, and the administration’s isolation of Iran and defense of Israel.

“Four more years!” his audience shouted in unison

“U.S.A.!”

The Hill: `Collusion delusion is over’

The Associated Press: Trump presents himself as “vindicated and vindictive”

The New York Times: President relies on four-page summary of still-secret 300-page Mueller report.

NBC News: Michigan highlights promise and peril for Trump in 2020.

The Hill: Trump’s job approval rating hovers where it’s always been.

 



 



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Biden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced MORE sounds keenly aware during recent speeches that jumping into the Democratic presidential race in a few weeks may feel more like a cage fight than a coronation. Instead of talking about the future, a politician with a track record half-a-century long is a candidate who will be compelled to defend what’s long past.

Amie Parnes and Scott Wong report that Biden would be trying to defeat a half-dozen current Democratic senators who have forged their own relationships with colleagues and potential donors and endorsers. The newcomers’ records and experience may be slimmer, but in the history of modern presidential politics, that can be an asset. Just ask former Kansas Republican Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, a decorated war hero and Washington insider who failed to unseat an incumbent president in 1996. 

It’s a different Senate today … and where that center of gravity lands [for Biden], I think it’s too early to tell,” said 47-year-old Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' MORE (D-N.M.). “I have a lot of respect for him. My bias is that we have this new, incredible generation of leadership and that in 2020, my hope is that the race will reflect that. I would like to see the nominee reflect that.”

Biden is encouraged by recent polls showing he leads a crowded Democratic primary field as an unofficial candidate in what would be his third bid for the White House. A new Harvard CAPS/Harris poll indicates the former vice president would be the front-runner in the early going (The Hill).

> Sunday marks the end of the first quarter of campaign fundraising reported to the Federal Election Commission. This year it’s an especially important barometer of Democratic presidential candidates’ early momentum and potential viability (Politico).

In other political news … Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetRules for first Democratic primary debates announced Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution, ban fracking The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck MORE (D-Colo.) says he may yet jump into 2020 presidential race. “I’m very inclined to do it and we’re looking at it,” he said during a Thursday interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” … Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) officially launches his presidential bid on Saturday during rallies in El Paso, Houston and Austin (The Houston Chronicle) … Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump puts the cart before the horse in Palestine Negotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns MORE (R-S.C.) kicks off his reelection campaign on Saturday with guest endorser Vice President Pence (The Associated Press).

And more 2020 developments ... The first Democratic presidential primary debates, live over two nights, will take place beginning in 89 days, televised by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo from Miami on June 26 and 27 (The Hill). Candidates must qualify under new Democratic National Committee parameters to participate … Tax Notes is helpfully posting tax returns released by presidential candidates HERE.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

CONGRESS: Senate Republicans are gearing up as early as next week to trigger the so-called nuclear option to speed up the confirmation of Trump’s district court judges and sub-Cabinet nominees. The question is not whether the majority can round up the votes to make the change, but how Democrats decide to retaliate.

When the shoe was on the other foot in 2013 and Republicans were in the minority, they shut down the Senate floor when former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenators briefed on US Navy's encounters with UFOs: report Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Trump weighs in on UFOs in Stephanopoulos interview MORE (D-Nev.) embraced the rules alteration to essentially eliminate a 60-vote filibuster threshold for circuit court judges nominated by former President Obama (The Hill). 

At that time, McConnell railed at Reid, warning that he was heading down a path that would lead to catastrophe for the upper chamber.

“No majority leader wants written on his tombstone that he presided over the end of the Senate,” the Kentucky senator argued more than five years ago. “If [Reid] caves to the fringes and let’s this happen, I’m afraid that’s exactly what they’ll write. Because, in his own words on the Senate, `break[ing] the rules to change the rules is un-American.’ ” 

> The president dragged ObamaCare back into the political arena this week, challenging Republican lawmakers to support eliminating current law through the courts. On Thursday, Trump said he asked GOP Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump proposal nixes review of long-term climate impacts Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' MORE (Wyo.), Rick Scott (Fla.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck MORE (La.) to “form a really great plan” to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, adding there’s “no rush.”

Any such plan is unlikely to clear the Senate and would be a political gift to Democrats. It was an ambition that crashed and burned when Republicans held majorities in the House and Senate in 2017 and 2018.

On Thursday, Scott, a Trump ally who was elected in November, unveiled a nonbinding budget amendment that he said would protect health coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions (The Hill).

Trump’s ambitious call to reboot one of his campaign promises presents political peril if Republicans expect to be perceived next year, in his words, as “the party of health care” (The Hill).

“Hopefully we'll win at the appellate division and go to the Supreme Court to terminate ObamaCare,” Trump told reporters.

Meanwhile on Thursday, a federal judge struck down Trump’s initiative to permit small businesses and individuals to band together to create group health plans, noting it "is clearly an end-run around" the Affordable Care Act (Axios text and Bloomberg).

 

 

> On immigration, another politically potent issue, GOP lawmakers will soon be asked to craft legislation outlined by Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House Trump admin program sends asylum-seekers to await claims in Mexico, despite fears of violence: report MORE, secretary of Homeland Security, to address what the administration calls the “root causes of the emergency” at the southern border. NBC News reports the administration “will ask Congress for the authority to deport unaccompanied migrant children more quickly, to hold families seeking asylum in detention until their cases are decided and to allow immigrants to apply for asylum from their home countries.”

 

 

 

> The House on Thursday passed a resolution formally rejecting the Trump administration’s transgender military ban, which is to be implemented next month. Five Republicans joined every Democrat in a 238-185 vote spearheaded by Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyOvernight Defense: Transgender troops rally as ban nears | Trump may call more troops to border | National Guard expects 3M training shortfall from border deployment | Pentagon to find housing for 5,000 migrant children Transgender troops rally as Pentagon prepares to implement ban The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump rallies for second term on 'promises kept' MORE III (D-Mass.), who serves as the chairman of the Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force. The Republicans were: Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban MORE (Texas), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Senate panel advances bill to protect government devices against cyber threats House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban MORE (N.Y.), Trey HollingsworthJoseph (Trey) Albert HollingsworthOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz lobbying ban faces tough hurdles MORE (Ind.), Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickOvernight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record Addressing climate change is a win for Republicans — why not embrace it? House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban MORE (Pa.) and Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedGOP hopes dim on reclaiming House Overnight Defense: House passes T spending package with defense funds | Senate set to vote on blocking Saudi arms sales | UN nominee defends climate change record House passes amendment to block funding for transgender troops ban MORE (N.Y.). Another Republican — Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashDemocrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question Amash after Trump says he doesn't need Congress's approval to strike Iran: 'Constitution: Wrong' Top Trump ally says potential Amash presidential bid could be problematic in Michigan MORE (Mich.) — voted present. The administration will soon require members of the military to serve as the gender they were assigned at birth, effectively reversing policy changes implemented by the Obama administration in 2016 (The Hill).

 

> Lawmakers who vowed this week to block the president’s budget proposal to cut more than $17 million in funding for Special Olympics picked up a powerful ally on Thursday: Trump. The president told Congress that federal funds for the program would be restored, not cut, thus ending days of negative news coverage as Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate The Hill's Morning Report — Uproar after Trump's defense of foreign dirt on candidates MORE tried to defend the president’s budget proposal during congressional testimony. “I have overridden my people,” Trump said (The Associated Press).

 

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

Trump is having the best week ever, by Ned Ryun, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2HXlmeZ

Women’s economic empowerment is a national security issue, by Morgan Ortagus, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2YxWyjF

WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 2:30 p.m. for a pro forma session.

The Senate convenes Monday at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2019.

The president will visit Lake Okeechobee in Florida and the Herbert Hoover Dike to call attention to federal support for infrastructure investments, pointing to dike repair as an example (The Hill). He’ll spend the weekend in Palm Beach.

Pence flies to Chicago to speak at the Turning Point USA Midwest Regional Conference at 6 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago. Pence returns to Washington tonight.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief Pompeo meets with Saudi crown prince amid tensions with Iran Poll: 24 percent of voters want military action against Iran MORE hosts a conversation with Department of State employees at 9 a.m. He meets with United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba at 3 p.m. Pompeo meets with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha at 4 p.m.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDemocratic lawmaker calls Trump a 'moron' for his handling of Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't need Congress to approve Iran strikes in interview with The Hill | New sanctions hit Iran's supreme leader | Schumer seeks to delay defense bill amid Iran tensions | Esper's first day as acting Pentagon chief Treasury inspector general to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills MORE tweeted from Beijing today that he and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE concluded “constructive” trade talks in China, to be continued in the United States. “I look forward to welcoming China’s Vice Premier Liu He to continue these important discussions in Washington next week,” he wrote on Twitter, referencing the next phase of discussions on April 3 (Reuters).

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ELSEWHERE

Brexit: The British government unveiled yet another option on Thursday in which ministers said they would carve Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposal to withdraw from the European Union into two parts. The first would deal with the divorce agreement, which comes to a vote today. The second part is to be called the political declaration, to reckon with the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the EU. However, the withdrawal agreement contains elements that scuttled May’s plan in Parliament twice before, and her offer to resign if a Brexit plan goes through has not appeared to smooth a path toward consensus (The New York Times). The vote is to happen on the now-extended deadline by which Great Britain was originally due to exit the EU (Reuters).

Guns: The Supreme Court on Thursday turned aside a request from gun rights activists for a temporary stay to block the Trump administration’s ban on “bump stock” attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired rapidly, akin to machine guns. The administration’s ban went into effect on Tuesday (Reuters).

Medicaid: State-imposed work requirements for Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas will be emulated in other states with the administration’s support, despite a federal court ruling on Wednesday that blocked such changes and deterred Idaho’s legislature on Wednesday from approving certain work requirements for Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor (The Hill).  

Smoke-free: In a response aimed at public health and pressures from consumers, the Disney conglomerate on Thursday announced a ban on smoking at all its theme parks beginning May 1, restricting smoking to areas outside entrances to its popular tourist destinations. The company also changed its rules for strollers in the parks (The Miami Herald).

 

 

THE CLOSER

And finally … Bravo to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! Our puzzle about baseball and the Nats’ Opening Day required some serious expertise and maybe some luck.

Here’s who aced it: Milt Mungo and Carol Katz.

The player with the most hits since the start of 2010 season is Robinson Canó.

Gio Gonzalez, now with the Yankees, pitched the most innings for the Washington Nationals after its 2005 debut.

Last season, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto hit 22 home runs in his age-19 season. Tony Conigliaro is the only player in MLB history with more home runs in his age-19 season.

Prior to his retirement last week, Ichiro Suzuki had the most hits of any player since he entered the league in 2001. Since the start of the ‘01 season, Albert Pujols has the most hits.