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 BidenGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Trump says Giuliani is still his lawyer Sondland to tell Congress 'no quid pro quo' from Trump: 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 TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China 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 PelosiWhy calls for impeachment have become commonplace The Constitution doesn't require a vote to start the impeachment process Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support 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 HarrisKlobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren Kamala Harris to Trump Jr.: 'You wouldn't know a joke if one raised you' O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada 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 BennetThe Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate 2020 Presidential Candidates Bennet releases housing affordability plan MORE (D-Colo.) has prostate cancer, but he still intends to run for president.


> Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria O'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter 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 Ryan2020 Presidential Candidates Democrats decry Trump's push to slash number of accepted refugees Harris on whistleblower complaint: 'This is a cover-up' 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 SandersSanders on difference with Warren: she's a capitalist 'I'm not' Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren 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 McSallyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions Planned Parenthood issues first wave of 2020 House, Senate endorsements McSally says Senate taking 'serious look' at Trump call unlike 'partisan' House MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.





CONGRESS: House Democrats want to see the complete report by 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 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 BarrDemocratic lawmaker says Barr's reported meeting with Murdoch should be investigated Trump to meet Italian president at White House next week Barr criticizes LGBT curriculums without opt-outs 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 SchiffSunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria In testimony, Dems see an ambassador scorned, while GOP defends Trump Cracks emerge in White House strategy as witness testifies 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 CollinsMcConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds Trump seeks to distance himself from Turkish invasion of Syria MORE (Maine), who faces voters next year, and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeGOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe McConnell warns Trump against withdrawing troops from Syria The American people deserve a debate about Ukrainian military aid 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 McConnellMattis warns 'ISIS will resurge' without U.S. pressure on Syria McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference MORE (R-Ky.) is jammed on a major bill to provide needed assistance following recent natural disasters. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' 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 BookerO'Rourke campaign says path to victory hinges on top 5 finishes in Iowa, Nevada O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter The Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders on difference with Warren: she's a capitalist 'I'm not' Rubio hits Warren's 'crude' and 'vulgar' response to opposition to same-sex marriage Klobuchar takes shots at health and education plans supported by Sanders and Warren MORE (D-Mass.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) say they endorse a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeConsequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears Video of Greta Thunberg crossing paths with Trump at UN goes viral Lewandowski: House testimony shows I'd be 'a fighter' in the Senate MORE (D-Texas). Influential supporters also include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBarr to speak at Notre Dame law school on Friday The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Ignore the hype — this is not an impeachment inquiry 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 HollenSunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble House Foreign Affairs leaders to introduce sanctions bill against Turkey MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFive ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Rubio hits Warren's 'crude' and 'vulgar' response to opposition to same-sex marriage Trump puts election-year politics at center of impeachment case 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 CruzSunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria O'Rourke raises .5 million in third quarter The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster 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 RosensteinTrump attacks Sessions: A 'total disaster' and 'an embarrassment to the great state of Alabama' Mueller rejoins DC law firm Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it 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 — Presented by USAA — House Dems subpoena Giuliani associates Trump feud with Minneapolis mayor to take center stage at rally Karen Pence launches an Instagram account 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 PompeoReporter presses Pompeo on whether he met with Giuliani in Warsaw Pompeo: 'I wish the NBA would acknowledge' China's treatment of Uyghur Muslims Dem senator urges Pompeo to fire State official accused of retaliation, harassment 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 CicillineCelebrating the LGBTQ contribution to progress in business The Memo: Trump's rage may backfire on impeachment Top House Democrat: Trump did 'on camera' what Romney warned about MORE (D-R.I.), House antitrust subcommittee chairman, and Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsUS, UK sign agreement allowing British authorities to quickly obtain data from tech giants Joe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia GOP rep: Pelosi would allow floor vote if this were a 'true' impeachment inquiry 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 ZuckerbergWarren targets Facebook with ad claiming Zuckerberg supports Trump Key Democrat presses FTC over Facebook settlement's 'dangerous precedent' On The Money: Fed officials saw rising risk of recession | Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz blast NBA for 'outrageous' response to China | Prospects dim for trade breakthrough with China 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