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 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 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 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 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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations Lawmakers 'failed us' says ICE chief Pelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill 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 HarrisThe 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 (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 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.) has prostate cancer, but he still intends to run for president.

 

> Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe 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 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 RyanRules for first Democratic primary debates announced What do millennials want? 2020 Democrat: 'My DM's are open and I actually read & respond' 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 SandersThe 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 (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 McSallyHispanic Caucus seeks to retain voice in House leadership Nikki Haley blasts Roy Moore's Senate bid: 'He does not represent our Republican Party' McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2020.

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: House Democrats want to see the complete report by 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 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 BarrDemocrats: Ex-Commerce aide said Ross asked him to examine adding census citizenship question The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations EXCLUSIVE: Trump declines to say he has confidence in FBI director 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 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.), 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations 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 Stephen King: 'It's time for Susan Collins to go' MORE (Maine), who faces voters next year, and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: Officials brief Congress after Iran shoots down drone | Lawmakers fear 'grave situation' | Trump warns Iran | Senate votes to block Saudi arms sales | Bombshell confession at Navy SEAL's murder trial The 7 GOP senators who voted to block all or part of Trump's Saudi arms sale Senate votes to block Trump's Saudi arms sale 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 McConnellEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' 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 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-Ky.) is jammed on a major bill to provide needed assistance following recent natural disasters. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell-backed Super PAC says nominating Roy Moore would be 'gift wrapping' seat to Dems McConnell vows to 'vigorously' oppose Moore's Senate bid Pelosi: Trump delay on Harriet Tubman is 'an insult to the hopes of millions' 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 BookerBiden to debate for first time as front-runner Rules for first Democratic primary debates announced Press: Democrats form circular firing squad MORE (D-N.J.) and 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.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) say they endorse a bill sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeEXCLUSIVE: Trump on reparations: 'I don't see it happening' Hicks repeatedly blocked by White House from answering Judiciary questions Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony MORE (D-Texas). Influential supporters also include 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.) 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 HollenTrump planning Air Force One flyover during July 4 celebration at Mall: report Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties MORE (D-Md.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight 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 Ex-Obama counterterrorism official: Huawei could pose security threat to international intelligence community The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate 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 Cruz Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage 2020 Democrat Bennet releases comprehensive government reform plan GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers 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 RosensteinTrump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake Trump blasts Mueller, decries 'witch hunt' at 2020 launch Trump: I didn't fire Mueller since firings 'didn't work out too well' for Nixon 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 PenceThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump calls off Iran strike at last minute The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump jumps into 2020 race The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — All eyes on Trump as 2020 bid begins 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: 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 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 CicillineHillicon Valley: House panel advances election security bill | GOP senator targets YouTube with bill on child exploitation | Hicks told Congress Trump camp felt 'relief' after release of Clinton docs | Commerce blacklists five Chinese tech groups Judiciary Democrat says small firms fear retaliation from big tech in antitrust probe Hope Hicks: Trump campaign felt 'relief' after WikiLeaks released damaging info about Hillary Clinton MORE (D-R.I.), House antitrust subcommittee chairman, and Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsHicks repeatedly blocked by White House from answering Judiciary questions Judiciary chair: Hicks broke with Trump on accepting foreign dirt on opponents Democrats bristle as Hicks appears for daylong Capitol Hill testimony 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 ZuckerbergTake a scalpel, not an axe, to 'Big Tech' Bipartisan senators to introduce bill forcing online platforms to disclose value of user data Understanding what Facebook's Libra is — and what it isn't 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