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 BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' On The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report 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 TrumpImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Feds say marijuana ties could prevent immigrants from getting US citizenship Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars 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 HarrisFive former Obama ambassadors back Buttigieg Harris: Integrity of US justice system 'took a real blow' with Barr's actions Sanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina 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 BennetMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run License to discriminate: Religious exemption laws are trampling rights in rural America Only four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates MORE (D-Colo.) has prostate cancer, but he still intends to run for president.

 

> Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' On The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report 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 RyanO'Rourke says he is willing to appear on Fox News Klobuchar to appear in Fox News town hall in May Tim Ryan: 'I'm concerned' about rise of socialism in Democratic Party 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' On The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers 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 gives nod to vulnerable GOP Sen. McSally with bill signing Embattled senators fill coffers ahead of 2020 Gallego tapped as national campaign chairman for Swalwell presidential bid MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: House Democrats want to see the complete report by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe 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 BarrImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Trump approval drops to 2019 low after Mueller report's release: poll Trump: Mueller report was 'written as nastily as possible' by 'true Trump Haters' 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 SchiffDem lawmaker: 'Quite clear' Trump committed impeachable offenses Hillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars On The Money: House Dem says marijuana banking bill will get vote in spring | Buttigieg joins striking Stop & Shop workers | US home construction slips in March | Uber gets B investment for self-driving cars 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 CollinsCollins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump GOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller aftermath: What will House Dems do now? MORE (Maine), who faces voters next year, and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeDems sound alarm over top DOJ nominee Restore Pell Grant eligibility to people in prison Former Democratic aide pleads guilty to doxing GOP senators attending Kavanaugh hearing 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 McConnellFormer Bush assistant: Mueller report makes Obama look 'just plain bad' 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform Dem says marijuana banking bill will get House vote this spring MORE (R-Ky.) is jammed on a major bill to provide needed assistance following recent natural disasters. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHillicon Valley: House Dems subpoena full Mueller report | DOJ pushes back at 'premature' subpoena | Dems reject offer to view report with fewer redactions | Trump camp runs Facebook ads about Mueller report | Uber gets B for self-driving cars Dem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference 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 BookerResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' Man arrested for threatening Dems, citing Omar comments Buttigieg says he wouldn't be opposed to having Phish play at his inauguration MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenResurfaced Buttigieg yearbook named him 'most likely to be president' The STATES Act will expose flawed marijuana legacy Impeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent MORE (D-Mass.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) say they endorse a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeGiuliani: Trump lawyers saw Mueller report Tuesday as they prepared rebuttal Dems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign MORE (D-Texas). Influential supporters also include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis Nadler4/20: Will Congress advance marijuana legislation in 2019? Trump accuses 'fake news media' of 'doing everything possible to stir up anger' after Mueller report Trump: Mueller report was 'written as nastily as possible' by 'true Trump Haters' 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 HollenTwo dozen Dem senators urge Trump to extend nuclear treaty with Russia Live coverage: Barr faces Senate panel as he prepares release of Mueller report US so far granted waivers to 6 percent of applicants on travel ban list: report MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFreedom to Compete Act would benefit many American workers Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes Dems say attorney general undermined credibility with Trump talking point 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.”



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

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 CruzMichael Bennet declared cancer-free, paving way for possible 2020 run Booker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign 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: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

To solve the U.S. crisis at the border, look to its cause, by Ruth Ellen Wasem, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2FQgGot

 

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinImpeachment? Not so fast without missing element of criminal intent Collins: Mueller report includes 'an unflattering portrayal' of Trump Holder: Any 'competent' prosecutor could win obstruction case against Trump MORE is not off the hook just yet, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2IaIyqb



WHERE AND WHEN

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 PenceMelania Trump, Karen Pence say they're ready to serve four more years in White House Pence on Buttigieg's criticism: He 'knows better' Pence told allies Buttigieg should have raised concerns privately: report 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 PompeoOvernight Defense: Pompeo rejects North Korean call for him to leave negotiations | Trump talk with rebel Libyan general raises eyebrows | New setback to Taliban talks The Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems face tricky balancing act after Mueller report Pompeo: 'I'm still in charge of' North Korea negotiation team 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 CicillineDem lawmaker: 'Quite clear' Trump committed impeachable offenses Dem lawmaker shares threatening voicemail he received after speaking out on the Mueller report Dems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings MORE (D-R.I.), House antitrust subcommittee chairman, and Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsJudiciary chairman issues subpoena for full Mueller report Judiciary Republican: Nadler 'only person trying to spin' Mueller report Democrats, GOP poised to pounce on Mueller findings MORE (R-Ga.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Event and livestream details are HERE.



ELSEWHERE

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 ZuckerbergFacebook says it may have 'unintentionally uploaded' up to 1.5M users' email contacts Tech companies must act to stop horrific exploitation of their platforms The Hill's Morning Report — Combative Trump aims at Pelosi before Russia report 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).



THE CLOSER

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 asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, 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