The Hill's Morning Report - Can Joe Biden turn the page?




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Thursday! 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.

Nearly a week after the first allegation came forth, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' MORE has found himself in an unenviable situation as he remains unable to stem the flow of negative news and sits on the sidelines of the 2020 scene.


In an attempt to stop the bleeding, Biden went the direct route Wednesday by releasing a video of him speaking into a camera, but did not apologize for his actions.


As Jonathan Easley and Justin Wise report, the crisis continues to deepen in the former vice president's world for a multitude of reasons, including what is considered lackluster work by his political team and the fact that he continues to sit on the sidelines of 2020. He hasn't been out in public since the allegations surfaced, headlined by his absence from a conference hosted by the National Action Network — Al Sharpton's group — in New York City, at which nearly every declared and prospective candidate will appear.


Biden is expected to launch his campaign after Easter, which the two-minute video alluded to making his likely bid all but inevitable. But the slow-drip of allegations has threatened to derail his candidacy before it ever gets off the ground, and Biden is clearly hoping that Wednesday's video allows him to move forward.


The only poll taken of the 2020 field during a portion of the five-day news cycle showed Biden still atop the Democratic field, but how Biden handles the next few weeks will answer many questions political watchers have about his waiting-in-the-wings campaign.


What happens to Biden is also something Team Trump is keeping a keen eye on, as some continue to believe the former vice president poses the greatest risk to the president’s reelection. Not only did a pro-Trump super PAC release a digital ad titled “Creepy Joe,” but President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE himself has weighed in on the situation in the last two days, including a call Wednesday for Biden not to apologize.


“No, he's going to make his own decisions. He's very capable of making his own decision,” Trump said. “I wish him luck. I do wish him luck. I really do.”


The New York Times — Biden, in video, says he will be ‘more mindful’ of personal space:


Mr. Biden’s aides said that after listening to the women who have criticized him, as well as many other female friends, family members and advisers, he indicated he wanted to address the matter directly. They said the former vice president paid particular attention to the comments of House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' MORE (D-Calif.), a longtime friend of his who’s similarly rooted in an earlier political era, when she said Tuesday that ‘people’s space is important to them, and what’s important is how they receive it and not necessarily how you intended it’.”


Perspectives and Analysis:

Elizabeth Bruenig: Is Biden worth it?

Edward-Isaac Dovere: Biden bets the country will accept his ‘affectionate’ behavior

Ford O’Connell, The Hill: Democrats’ outrage machine targets Buttigieg’s gayness, Biden’s past


> Only months into the 2020 campaign, it’s policy proposal season for candidates as they try to make a name, force their way into the conversation and curry favor with constituencies whose support is seen as crucial to the success of their campaigns, according to Max Greenwood.


Julián Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary, became the latest candidate to delve into the nitty-gritty world of policy on Tuesday, unveiling an immigration proposal that would offer a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. That rollout came a week after Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' What to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much MORE (D-Calif.) revealed an ambitious plan to raise teacher pay by an average of $13,500 nationwide. All of this in an attempt to separate themselves somehow from the 15-candidate field.


Associated Press: Justice reform activists want more ideas from Dem candidates.


> The Colorado Independent: Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE (D-Colo.) has prostate cancer, but he still intends to run for president.


> Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE announced Thursday a planned April 14th rally in South Bend, Ind. to officially kick off his presidential bid in earnest. Buttigieg has remained in the exploratory phase since his initial Jan. 23 announcement, but announced an eye-popping $7 million raised in the first fundraising quarter.


Elsewhere on the political scene … Add another Democrat to the 2020 scene: Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage The Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash MORE (D-Ohio) is expected to announce his candidacy this week, which will include a stop by “The View” today and trips to Iowa and New Hampshire within the coming week (BuzzFeed & ABC News) … Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBullock: I would not have endorsed health care for undocumented immigrants on debate stage Harris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act MORE (I-Vt.) will take part in a town hall hosted by Fox News on April 15 (Politico) … Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), raised over $4 million for his Senate bid as he looks to unseat Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.





CONGRESS: House Democrats want to see the complete report by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump MORE describing the findings and evidence from his nearly two-year investigation. To try to hasten a compromise with the administration, the majority on the House Judiciary Committee voted on Wednesday to pressure the Justice Department by approving a subpoena that has not been served. The committee requested the Mueller report earlier this month and set an April 2 deadline for Barr to provide a complete copy (The Hill).


Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham Barr10 questions for Robert Mueller Democratic lawmaker calls asylum, refugee programs 'crown jewel' of immigration system Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony MORE previously said he would send a redacted version of the 300-plus-page findings to Congress at an unspecified time this month, and he offered to testify to House and Senate panels in May.


Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett Schiff10 questions for Robert Mueller Court filings show Trump, Cohen contacts amid hush money payments House passes annual intelligence bill MORE (D-Calif.), said he believes it’s “inevitable” that Mueller will at some point testify before Congress (MSNBC).


> Senate Republicans triggered a change of rules on Wednesday to drastically reduce the amount of time needed to confirm hundreds of Trump's district court and sub-Cabinet nominees. The move, known as the “nuclear option,” passed mostly along party lines and will now reduce debate time on most nominations from 30 hours to two hours, allowing Senate Republicans to hasten confirmation of Trump's picks. Republican Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE (Maine), who faces voters next year, and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Senate to vote on 9/11 victims bill on Tuesday Meghan McCain slams Rand Paul over blocking 9/11 compensation funding: 'This is a disgrace' MORE (Utah) voted with Democrats against the rules change (The Hill).


> House Democrats formally asked the IRS for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns following months of internal deliberations. A provision in the federal tax code gives chairmen of the tax-writing committees the power to ask for any tax returns and related information and examine the material in a closed session. After reviewing the documents privately, a committee could vote to send a report to the full House or Senate, which could make some or all of the tax returns public (The Hill). Trump responded that his tax filings are under IRS audit and will not be publicly disclosed.


> Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (R-Ky.) is jammed on a major bill to provide needed assistance following recent natural disasters. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (N.Y.) says the measure short-changes Puerto Rico. McConnell is wary of compromising with Senate Democrats to unstick the bill, because any accord that involves Puerto Rico would be perceived by Trump as a cave to the left and a benefit to an island he often criticizes, Alexander Bolton reports.


> A House measure that would create a commission to recommend how the government could provide reparations for slavery is getting a boost from a handful of current and former Democratic lawmakers who are running for president. Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Cory Booker talks about 'geeking out' over Rosario Dawson's Marvel role Harris faces pressure to define policy proposals MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters MORE (D-Mass.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) say they endorse a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeJudiciary chair demands Hope Hicks clarify closed-door testimony Houston pastor will offer sanctuary to immigrants willing to be US citizens Court filings show Trump, Cohen contacts amid hush money payments MORE (D-Texas). Influential supporters also include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWhy are we permitting federal child abuse at our border? Trump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta MORE (D-N.Y.) and Pelosi (The Hill).





> The GOP-controlled Senate opposes a push from Democratic colleagues who back new gun restrictions as part of reauthorization of a major law. The latest signs of opposition emerged around legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act, which contains a provision to bar those convicted of abusing dating partners from owning firearms (The Hill).


> Tech and Congress: Lawmakers’ influence over major tech companies continues to grow as Republicans in Congress called on Google to stand its ground in an unusual workforce battle with conservatives (The Hill). … Democrats’ flagship net neutrality bill was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday and is on the floor schedule next week, although it is expected to die in the Senate (The Hill).


Other Congress news … House Budget Committee Democrats ironed out differences to embrace a spending bill on Wednesday, but rifts within the party could halt momentum on the floor next week (The Hill). … A bipartisan duo, Sens. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move west | EPA hails Trump's work on reducing air pollution | Agency eyes reducing inspections of nuclear reactors USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move to Kansas City Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAna Navarro lashes out at Rubio for calling outrage over Trump's 'go back' tweet 'self righteous' US-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (R-Fla.), reintroduced a measure aimed at imposing sanctions on Russia or other governments that meddle in U.S. elections (The Hill). Se… Senate Democrats asked the FBI to review security at Trump properties, including Mar-a-Lago, after a woman was charged with making false statements to the Secret Service there and was discovered to be carrying two passports and a thumb drive containing malware (The Hill). Trump was in Florida at the time but said on Wednesday, “I’m not concerned.”


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump has not relented on his threat to shut entry points at the southern border as a response to a surge of migrants seeking asylum and immigration processing, despite pleadings from the business community and GOP officials to reconsider.


On Wednesday, the president tweeted, “Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!”


Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, speaking during a roundtable interview with reporters on Wednesday, said administration officials are exploring options short of closing the border entirely as a way to ease the potential economic damage should the president decide to carry out his threat. One possible option: keeping truck lanes open to move freight (The Hill).


Texas Republican Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz2 Republican senators introduce resolution to label antifa as domestic terrorists Ted Cruz: Trump's chances of winning reelection are '50-50' How to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy MORE became the latest lawmaker to urge Trump to reconsider what rolling up a drawbridge would entail. “Closing the border to legal commerce would be devastating to Texas. Millions of jobs, in Texas and across the country, depend upon trade with Mexico, and the federal government shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize those jobs,” he said.


Trump met with Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona at the White House on Wednesday to discuss options at the border and immigration policies. Ducey entered the West Wing publicly opposed to closing the border and came out a supporter of Trump’s stance (KPNX TV).





> Justice Department and Mueller team leaks: It appears from anonymous sources cited by The New York Times and The Washington Post that members of Mueller’s silent-until-now team are sending up flares that if Barr doesn’t disclose what they found during their investigation, the public will find out what’s missing: Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry … [which] were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated…”


> The president spent part of Wednesday revising his remarks last week urging Republicans to fight for the repeal of ObamaCare this year to become “the party of health care.” Ignoring video of his remarks last week and McConnell’s statement on Tuesday that he told Trump the Senate would not tackle ObamaCare legislation again, the president said he was misquoted (The Associated Press).







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


To solve the U.S. crisis at the border, look to its cause, by Ruth Ellen Wasem, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein10 questions for Robert Mueller What to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much Trump says he won't watch Mueller testimony MORE is not off the hook just yet, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House meets at 9 a.m. The House Appropriations Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the proposed FBI budget with Director Christopher Wray.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. to consider executive nominations. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar will testify at 10 a.m. before the Senate Appropriations Committee about his department’s proposed budget.


The president participates in a meeting with the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. At 4:30 p.m., Trump meets with Liu He, the vice premier of China, who is in Washington for U.S.-China trade talks.


Vice President Pence, who is from Indiana, speaks at 11:10 a.m. to the University of Notre Dame’s “Insight & Outlook on National and Global Affairs” conference in Washington, then Pence and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Acosta resigns amid controversy over Epstein plea deal The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to squash fight with progressives The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to tamp down Dem infighting MORE fly to Indianapolis and tour Lamb Farms Inc. there in the afternoon to hail the impacts of the yet-to-be-ratified U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade at it impacts the business and agricultural communities.


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo: There's 'no indication' Iran will change direction Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Trump confirms he authorized Rand Paul to negotiate with Iran MORE meets with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at 7:45 a.m. at the department. He delivers remarks at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the State department and participates in NATO meetings through midday. Pompeo hosts a working lunch for the NATO ministers of foreign affairs at 12:30 p.m., then holds a news conference at 2:20 p.m.


The Washington Post hosts a newsmaker discussion at 9 a.m. titled “Protecting Local News” with award-winning journalists, advocates and digital innovators from around the country as well as Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineDemocratic lawmaker calls asylum, refugee programs 'crown jewel' of immigration system House Democrat: Mueller testimony will help people 'understand the gravity' of Trump's conduct Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE (D-R.I.), House antitrust subcommittee chairman, and Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen Collins3,100 to be released from prison under criminal justice reform law House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Trump praises GOP unity in opposing resolution condemning tweets MORE (R-Ga.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Event and livestream details are HERE.


Tech: Millions of Facebook records were found on Amazon cloud servers, presenting yet another privacy challenge for the social media behemoth. Facebook alerted Amazon to take user data off servers it hosts (Bloomberg). Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE sits down this morning with George Stephanopoulos for a rare interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”


State Watch: Democratic-leaning states are moving to ban plastic bags, straws and plastic foam containers, taking a cue from cities that have already moved toward limiting pollution. The plastics industry is mounting a campaign to block the bans, reports Reid Wilson (The Hill). … CityLab reports (with graphics) how the economically advantaged 1 percent pulls America’s cities and regions apart.





Brexit: Continued discussions in the United Kingdom between Prime Minister Theresa May and members of Parliament did not result in consensus on Wednesday and appeared to aggravate distrust on all sides. “A no-deal [withdrawal from the European Union] on 12 April at midnight looks more and more likely,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, adding that a U.K. exit without a deal means disruption for EU citizens and businesses and economic damage for Britain (The Associated Press).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the 40th anniversary of the movie “Alien,” we’re eager for some smart guesses about the film that launched an inescapable franchise.


“Alien Day” is April 26, thanks to promotional events organized by Twentieth Century Fox over many years (loyal fans mark the movie’s depiction of a moon called “LV-426”).


This year, fan-made short films take center stage to mark the “Alien” anniversary (IndieWire).


Email your responses to and/or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


Who directed “Alien,” released in 1979?


  1.    James Cameron
  2.    Michael Cimino
  3.    George Lucas
  4.    Ridley Scott


The writers chose what name for the “Alien” spaceship?


  1.    Nostromo
  2.    Prometheus
  3.    Enterprise
  4.    Elysium


What unusual body fluid did the extraterrestrial in “Alien” possess?


  1.    Glue
  2.    Acid
  3.    Magma
  4.    Mercury


“Alien” takes place in what science fiction year?


  1.    2019
  2.    2050
  3.    2122
  4.    Unspecified future


A horror scene in “Alien,” in which an astronaut’s chest explodes as an alien hatches from its host, was inspired by what in nature?


  1.    Wasps
  2.    Turtles
  3.    Ants
  4.    Catfish