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 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. But the latest attention-getting headlines 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 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 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 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 ThompsonDemocrats make U-turn on calling border a 'manufactured crisis' Hillicon Valley: Facebook unveils new cryptocurrency | Waters wants company to halt plans | Democrats look to force votes on election security | Advertisers partner with tech giants on 'digital safety' | House GOP unveils cyber agenda Top Democrats question legal basis for appointing Cuccinelli as temporary immigration chief 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 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. 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 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.) 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 SwalwellRules for first Democratic primary debates announced What do millennials want? 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown 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 GillibrandRules for first Democratic primary debates announced Juan Williams: Warren on the rise 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown 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 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.), 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 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.) really win over Trump voters?


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


The Associated Press: 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 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 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.) 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 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 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 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.) 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 OmarPelosi, Democratic leaders seek to quell liberal revolt over border bill Sanders unveils student debt plan amid rivalry with Warren Sanders proposes canceling .6 trillion in US student debt 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 NunesHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing Intel hearing showcases political divide over Mueller report MORE (R-Calif.) and his sway with Barr (Politico) …  Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump's tax returns — DOJ trying to put off the inevitable? Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law House panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits 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 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 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.