The Hill's Morning Report - Mueller report will dominate this week




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

*** It’s Tax Day! Need we say more? Experts suggest for 2019: Check your withholding! ***

Fireworks are expected this week from the Justice Department’s release of the 400-page report by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE. But the latest attention-getting headlines President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE stirred up deal with whether he’ll transport migrants from the southern border to live in the nation’s sanctuary cities — communities he assails because they refuse to cooperate with federal efforts to detain and deport undocumented people.


The White House has not seen a copy of the Mueller report, but ABC News reported on Sunday that the president’s team has been briefed.


While Trump’s public narrative is that Mueller “exonerated” him of alleged conspiracy and collusion, a four-page letter released March 24 by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFeds charge five in international ID theft ring targeting military members, veterans The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Correctional officers subpoenaed in Epstein investigation: report MORE stated that Mueller’s discussion of the evidence will paint a more complex picture of the president’s actions as well as the decisions of some of those serving him:


“The Special Counsel states that ‘while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.’ ”


To appeal to his core supporters and to dwell this week on what he can control, the president prefers to talk about controversial immigration actions he might make, even if his ideas are criticized, blocked in court or tossed in a West Wing drawer.


The New York Times: The president revived the idea of sending immigrant detainees to sanctuary cities in part to distract from the pending Mueller report, according to sources close to Trump.


The Hill: Five things to look for in the Mueller information.


Politico: How experts, defenders, critics and news media have prepared to digest the Mueller report.


NPR: Barr says redactions from Mueller’s report will be made within four categories, including grand jury material; information tied to ongoing prosecutorial cases; matters of sensitive intelligence; and personal information gathered about people deemed peripheral to the investigation. But Democrats in Congress will push hard to see whatever is hidden.


“I don’t care about the Mueller report.” — Trump.


The president says the subject that rivets him is immigration and a crisis at the southern border. On Friday, a White House spokesman played down a news report that the administration twice weighed the pros and cons of transporting thousands of migrants to sanctuary cities in districts that represent Democratic foes.


But Trump celebrated the idea his team initially sought to bury, and on Saturday tweeted that he’s within his executive authority and the law, an assertion that directly contradicted some administration lawyers, members of Congress and immigration law experts outside the government.


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday said the White House would explore all ideas within the law to address the rising number of migrant families coming to the United States.


The president is actually trying to enforce laws, not go around them," she told ABC News. "We’re a country of laws and we have a president who supports that and is not asking anybody to do anything outside of those bounds.”


Numerous mayors in self-designated sanctuary cities immediately said they would welcome migrant families, although the president’s detractors and allies seemed to concur that the president’s offer to set migrant families up in communities that would not deport them made little sense if Trump’s intention is to deter Central American and Mexican families from trying to enter the United States.


The Wall Street Journal editorial board: Sanctuary city illogic.


“Like so many issues we are forced to talk about during this presidency, this isn’t a real idea or a real proposal, it’s just another scare tactic.” — San Francisco Mayor London Breed.


House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment DHS cyber agency to prioritize election security, Chinese threats Trump officials unveil rule allowing indefinite migrant family detentions MORE (D-Miss.) said Trump’s proposal is not legal (The Hill). Other Democratic congressional leaders condemned the latest immigration idea as a public relations stunt by the president that treats families and children as pawns (The Hill).


The Washington Post: Federal courts have blocked almost every move Trump has ordered on immigration in at least 25 rulings in at least seven courts around the country.


The New York Times: However, on Friday a federal court in a temporary ruling sided with  the administration to permit asylum-seekers to be housed in Mexico rather than across the border in the United States. Trump tweeted, “Finally, great news at the Border!”  


Reuters: Also on Friday, the administration entered into a court settlement to reunite 2,700 children in Central America with their parents in the United States, and to allow them to remain in the United States.


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: In the world of 2020 politics, the weekend belonged to Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates The Hill's 12:30 Report: Stocks sink as Trump fights with Fed, China Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates MORE. After a meteoric rise over the past month, culminating in a $7 million fundraising quarter and glowing press, Buttigieg officially announced his presidential bid back home in South Bend, Ind., vowing that he can beat President Trump in a one-on-one matchup


“I recognize the audacity of doing this as a Midwestern, millennial mayor, but we live in a moment that compels us each to act. … It calls for a new generation of leadership.”


“It’s time to walk away from the politics of the past and toward something totally different.”


The speech, which he delivered before 10,000 people, came amid a moment for the 37-year-old. The latest edition of New York Magazine features him on the cover and he routinely draws strong reviews from top Democrats. David Axelrod, who served as a top adviser to former President Obama, tweeted that his kick-off event was “very impressive,” adding that his rise is “real.” And take note: Buttigieg raised over $1 million after delivering his remarks on Sunday.


However, with increased attention comes increased scrutiny as a seven-year legal drama stemming from the early days of his mayoral tenure is set to play out in front of a national audience. Jonathan Easley reports that an Indiana judge will rule soon on whether to release five cassette tapes of recorded conversations between South Bend police officers, the next phase in a legal drama that has consumed Buttigieg’s administration.


In 2012, only six months into his first term, Buttigieg was sued for racial discrimination by the city’s first African American police chief, who had been demoted for listening to the conversations between officers on the tapes. The controversy has stoked racial tensions in South Bend, cost the city millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements, split the police force and lingers as a persistent political problem for Buttigieg.


The Washington Post: Buttigieg says he can beat Trump in 2020.


The Hill: Buttigieg: “I don't even know all the reasons why this is going so well.”


Politico: MIA from Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas) campaign: Big policy ideas.


> Buttigieg was not the only 2020 Democrat who officially launched a presidential bid over the weekend. Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-N.J.) rallied in his home city of Newark, N.J., on Saturday and made social justice the central issue of his campaign. Meanwhile, Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellInslee seeking third term as governor after ending presidential bid The Hill's Morning Report - Trump touts new immigration policy, backtracks on tax cuts Inslee drops out of 2020 presidential race MORE (D-Calif.), who made his bid official last week, held his inaugural campaign event in his home district and continued to cite gun control as his top 2020 issue.


The New York Times: The many reasons to run for president when you probably don’t stand a chance.


> Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate Gillibrand unveils mental health plan MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Sunday that she raised $3 million in the first fundraising quarter, an underwhelming figure that places her last among the senators in the 2020 race. Her campaign declined to say how many donors the campaign had but said that 92 percent of donations were less than $200.


However, just like Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Mass.), Gillibrand is relying on her Senate campaign stockpile, having reported $10.2 million in cash on hand — the fourth-most of any 2020 Democrat.


The Associated Press: Trump campaign to report raising $30 million, has $40.8 million in the bank.


The Washington Post: Can Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHickenlooper day-old Senate bid faces pushback from progressives Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Andrew Yang: News coverage of Trump a 'microcosm' of issues facing country MORE (I-Vt.) really win over Trump voters?


The New York Times: Sen. Sanders accuses liberal think tank of smearing progressive candidates.


The Associated Press: Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden evokes 1968, asks voters to imagine if Obama had been assassinated Biden blasts Trump's 'embarrassing' actions heading into G-7 summit Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates MORE resumes role as one of nation’s top eulogists.


Elsewhere on the political scene … Biden sees donor enthusiasm, strong polls post-controversy before he’s a candidate (The Hill) … Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Calif.) released 15 years of tax returns. Sanders is expected to release 10 years of returns this week after indicating in February the returns would be out “sooner than later” (Los Angeles Times) … Sanders called Sunday for companies that outsource jobs from receiving federal contracts, citing General Motors as an example (Cleveland Plain Dealer).





CONGRESS: As bills continue to pile up from House Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' Pelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Democrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence MORE (R-Ky.) is laying out his agenda, headlined by trying to get the appropriations process back on track and attempting to rekindle talk of an infrastructure package.


As Alexander Bolton reports, Senate Republicans are coming under fire from Democrats over the pileup of House-passed bills and realizing they need to take action beyond confirming Trump’s nominees. McConnell wants to kick-start the appropriations process — which started off well last year and then stalled — and revive talks toward an infrastructure package despite broad pessimism among his GOP colleagues about finding a way to pay for it.  


The New York Times: McConnell, never a grandstander, learns to play by Trump’s rules.


The Hill: Trump, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? Pelosi says Dems 'have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children' in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) to meet on bipartisan infrastructure deal.


> Defiant House Democrats are rallying from an embarrassing internal fight over government spending with new vows from all factions, including progressives and Blue Dog Democrats, to bridge the differences across the broad ideological spectrum that marks the caucus.


Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report that the kumbaya assurances will soon be put to the test as Democrats are heading quickly into high-stakes debates on health care, climate change and immigration — all complex issues certain to tax the resolve of party leaders to maintain a united front.


The Hill: GOP trapped between Trump and Dems on spending.


> Pelosi issued another rebuke of Trump on Sunday, calling for him to delete what she labeled a “disrespectful and dangerous video” he tweeted out Friday targeting Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTrump to return to North Carolina to stump for special election candidate Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Israel should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support MORE (D-Minn.) over comments she made about the 9/11 attacks. She said in a press release that the U.S. Capitol Police “are conducting a security assessment to safeguard” Omar and to monitor threats against her. The Minnesota progressive says she has “experienced an increase in direct threats on my life.”


Trump has not deleted the video but did take it down as his “pinned” tweet.


The Hill: Top Dem: Trump's 9/11 tweet a “simplistic” attack.


The Associated Press: Omar cites death threats, says Trump must not encourage them.


Elsewhere in Congress … House Dems worry about Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Juan Williams: Trump, his allies and the betrayal of America MORE (R-Calif.) and his sway with Barr (Politico) …  Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Trump argues NY tax return case should take place in DC NY files motion to keep Trump tax returns lawsuit out of DC court MORE (D-Mass.) extended the deadline to April 23 for the Treasury Department to furnish Trump’s tax returns (The New York Times) … Capitol custodial staff report harassment from lawmakers in oversight investigation (ABC News).





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We’re about to see the full Mueller report, but will it change anyone’s mind? by Robert A. Mintz, opinion contributor, The Hill.


As America files its taxes, Trump's only worry is disclosure, by Edward J. McCaffery, CNN opinion contributor.


The House meets for a pro forma session at 4:30 p.m., but lawmakers’ spring recess means they don’t return to Washington until April 29.


The Senate meets for a pro forma session at 3 p.m. today and gets back to work at 3 p.m. on April 29.


The president travels to Burnsville, Minn., for a roundtable about the U.S. economy and the 2017 tax reform law. The event is timed to today’s IRS tax filing deadline (The Associated Press).


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBill Maher says he's 'glad' David Koch is dead Trump spurs new wave of economic angst by escalating China fight Trump on North Korean projectile launches: Kim 'likes testing missiles' MORE is in Texas today and meets with members of the Iranian-American community in Dallas at 10 a.m. This afternoon, the secretary speaks at Texas A&M University as part of the Wiley Lecture Series in College Station, Texas, and his speech will be live streamed at Pompeo visits the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station at 4:45 p.m. This evening he will meet with university students and members of the university’s cadet corps. At 7:30 p.m., Pompeo attends a dinner with Texas A&M University administrators and students.


International: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un said he’s open to a third summit about denuclearization with Trump (The Associated Press), and the president tweeted on Saturday he’s interested (The Hill). … A pending White House Middle East peace plan will be presented later this spring or this summer and will likely stop short of endorsing Palestinian statehood (The Washington Post). … International central bankers meeting in Washington express alarm at Trump’s publicly politicized stance toward Federal Reserve (The Wall Street Journal). … Holy Week worldwide began with Palm Sunday for Christians and Passover for Jews (Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier).


Infrastructure: Senators told Metro system decision-makers in Washington that critical federal funding will hinge on whether Metro heeds lawmakers’ warnings not to buy rail cars from China (The Washington Post).


Golf: With his stunning fifth Masters title on Sunday, Tiger Woods donned the green jacket again in Augusta and completed a lengthy comeback that included back surgeries and off-course personal dramas (The Washington Post). … Meanwhile, Trump, whose life on the golf course was described by Politico in a deft bit of weekend timing, watched the competition on television at his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., on Sunday and tweeted his delight to see Tiger win: Love people who are great under pressure. What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy!”





And finally … let’s be inspired! The famed 123rd Boston Marathon begins at 9:02 a.m. More than 30,000 “Boston strong” racers will compete in less-than-ideal weather predicted to be soggy and at times windy. Runners will burst across the starting line in timed waves to gain enough space to begin the 26.2-mile course in Hopkinton, Mass.


The New York Times profiled Sarah Sellers, a Type A, 27-year-old nurse anesthetist and long-distance runner from Tucson, Ariz., who came out of nowhere last year to finish second in a chilly deluge at the Boston Marathon. She’s back this morning and she’s lowered her personal-best time by eight minutes. Sellers believes she can soon run a marathon in less than 2 hours, 30 minutes, and she’s eyeing the Olympics.