The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday




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

Washington is on pins and needles for the next 48 hours ahead of the expected release of 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’s report on Thursday. As Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrMatthew Shepard's parents blast Barr's LGBTQ record in anniversary of hate crime law Trump denies knowledge of Barr meeting in Italy, says it would be appropriate Mulvaney helped organize controversial Ukraine meeting MORE has said for weeks, the report will feature redactions to protect grand jury material and information relating to other investigations, much to the chagrin of Democratic lawmakers who want the whole unredacted report released immediately.


As Jacqueline Thomsen writes, the report is expected to reveal the findings of Mueller's 22-month investigation as well as the evidence collected by investigators during that time.


It is also expected to set up a showdown between House Democrats and the Justice Department over what’s out of view behind thick black lines. Barr said last week that he does not plan to ask court permission to release grand jury material included in the report. A federal appeals court ruled earlier this month that a judge does not have the inherent authority to release grand jury information, making it less likely that those details will become public.


NBC News: White House officials worried about being exposed by Mueller report.


Ed Rogers: Mueller may be done, but Barr is just getting started.


David Leonhardt: Mueller and the media, take two.


> President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE triggered a looming battle between the administration and House Democratic lawmakers over his nascent plan to release migrants into sanctuary cities.


"Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong consideration to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump tweeted on Monday, days after he said he was considering the possibility.


House Democrats officially weighed in on Monday as Reps. 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.), Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsCracks emerge in White House strategy as witness testifies Overnight Defense: Pentagon insists US hasn't abandoned Kurds | Trump expands sanctions authority against Turkey | Ex-Ukraine ambassador says Trump pushed for her ouster On The Money: Trump announces limited trade deal with China | Appeals court rules against Trump over financial records | Trump expands authority to sanction Turkey MORE (D-Md.) and Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Democrats seize on whistleblower complaint to push for election security | Google taps GOP Senate aide to lead lobbying | Warren calls for congressional tech office Democrats seize on whistleblower report to push for election security House Homeland Security chairman: 'This is election interference' MORE (D-Miss.), three committee chairmen, wrote to acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySondland could provide more clues on Ukraine controversy Tensions flare as Democrats urge consumer bureau to boost penalties White House conducting probe into handling of Ukraine call transcript: report MORE and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan questioning the proposal, calling it “alarming” (Bloomberg).


Nadler, Cummings and Thompson wrote that “the plan appears to have been specifically designed to target Democratic districts,” adding that it runs counter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy guidelines.


The Democratic trio also called for the Trump administration to hand over emails and other communications "concerning such a transfer or release of immigration detainees to or in specific locations of the U.S.” that took place between White House and Homeland Security officials.


The Associated Press: Democrats subpoena banks as they probe Trump finances.


> House Democrats defended Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarKrystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey endorses Biden Democratic strategist on Sanders debate performance: 'I just think he might've topped out' MORE (D-Minn.) as she continued to receive criticism from Trump after he attacked her for comments she made about 9/11. Trump escalated his attacks Monday by tweeting that Omar has control over Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump Trump turns Pelosi's 'meltdown' criticism around: 'She is a very sick person' Trump threat lacks teeth to block impeachment witnesses MORE (D-Calif.). He refused to remove a video he tweeted Friday over Omar’s remarks.

As Cristina Marcos and Mike Lillis report, it’s a change from past controversies involving Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, as fellow Democrats who rebuked her over what were viewed as anti-Semitic comments are now rushing to her defense.   

“There have been occasions when she's made comments that she's apologized for that were inartful or that were taken as anti-Semitic. This was certainly not one of them,” Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairwoman Karen BassKaren Ruth BassDemocrats zero in on Ukraine call as impeachment support grows CBC marks 400th anniversary of slaves' arrival in US Senate could protect girls from sexual exploitation — but will it? MORE (D-Calif.) said Monday on a call with reporters.

Politico: Omar rakes in cash online as controversies pile up.

The Washington Post: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate Krystal Ball on Sanders debate performance: 'He absolutely hit it out of the park' MORE (I-Vt.) keeps distance from Omar, even as he defends her against accusations of anti-Semitism.

Elsewhere in investigations and Congress … William Consovoy, a member of Trump’s legal team, wrote to the Treasury Department once again to implore it to not give Congress the president’s tax returns, saying that Congress has no authority “to act like a junior-varsity IRS” (USA Today) …  Former Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.) will join the faculty at the University of Notre Dame during the 2019-20 academic year and serve as a guest lecturer in political science and economics (South Bend Tribune).






ECONOMY: Many political analysts in both parties believe the health of the economy in the fall of 2020 and how voters feel about their jobs and financial security will decide the next president.


For that reason, Senate Republicans, who hold the majority and would like to keep it that way, want to present themselves as the party of free trade, lower taxes and less regulation for the next year and a half, even if Trump wanders from that terrain to condemn federal investigations, warn about migrants and tout a wall at the border.


At the moment, Senate Republicans are negotiating among themselves to try to respond to the president’s trade agenda, which they worry is bogged down with costly tariffs, U.S. threats and incomplete negotiations.


The United States and China, the two largest economies, are nine months into a trade war that has cost billions of dollars, roiled financial markets and upended supply chains. Trade watchers this week fear the Trump administration has backed off demands that Beijing temper its industrial subsidies (CNBC).


Alexander Bolton reports that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyFarmers: New Trump ethanol proposal reneged on previous deal Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate Positive quotes from Iowa senators disappear from EPA's latest ethanol announcement MORE (R-Iowa) is laboring to smooth out differences between two leading GOP free traders, Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (Pa.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong 10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl MORE (Ohio), who have competing proposals that would shrink the president’s authority to levy tariffs on imported goods.


The uncertainty Trump sows with trading partners undercuts the role the United States has traditionally played in setting and stabilizing the global rules of trade. Many trade experts believe the president’s unconventional techniques dampened economic growth along the way (The New York Times).


France and Belgium declined on Monday to support the launch of new trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States, highlighting divisions over Trump’s approach to trade and climate change (The New York Times).


The government will describe the U.S. trade gap as measured in February in a report released on Wednesday.





> The president ventured to Minnesota -- a state he narrowly lost in 2016 -- on Monday to celebrate the GOP tax reform law he signed in 2017 and to remind his supporters that many Americans saw their federal taxes drop in 2018. It’s a message Republican leaders want the president to keep repeating (The Hill).


"We promised these tax cuts would be rocket fuel for the American economy and we were absolutely right," Trump said during his visit to a trucking company.


But on Monday’s deadline to file IRS returns, just one-fifth of Americans say they believe they actually received a tax cut. The rest aren’t persuaded they were affected, according to surveys. It’s a sobering warning to GOP candidates that they may need economic luck next year to appeal to enough voters (Bloomberg).


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The deadline to report fundraising for the first quarter came and went Monday night as a score of 2020 Democrats revealed fundraising totals for the opening stanza.


Associated Press: Democrats raise $75 million so far, signaling a drawn-out fight.


“Democratic presidential candidates raised about $75 million during the first quarter of the 2020 election, a lackluster sum spread out across more than a dozen campaigns that signals a drawn-out battle likely lies ahead.”


“Fundraising figures submitted to the Federal Election Commission by Monday’s reporting deadline show Democratic candidates not only lag behind President Donald Trump, who raised $30 million, but took in less than the party did during the same period in the 2008 election. That year eight candidates collectively raised over $80 million despite a maximum donation amount that was hundreds of dollars less than the current $2,800 cap.


Part of the difficulty is many donors are staying on the sidelines, waiting for the field to thin. At the same time, low-dollar contributions from party’s base, a source of money that helped Democrats retake the House last year, haven’t made up the difference.”


The Hill: Winners and losers from first fundraising quarter.


The Washington Post: Trump focuses on divisive messages as 2020 reelection bid takes shape.


> Sanders took his campaign to the airwaves of Fox News on Monday night as he defended himself on a number of fronts, namely for his new status as a millionaire and for his age.


The Democratic front-runner released 10 years of tax returns earlier Monday, showing that sales from his best-selling book pushed his income to $1,073,333 in 2016, a year after he made $240,622 and his presidential campaign concluded. Despite his railings in the past against the rich, he offered a defense of his newly earned wealth.


“If anyone thinks I should apologize for writing a best-selling book, I’m sorry, I’m not going to do it,” Sanders said Monday night.


The New York Times: Bernie Sanders released his tax returns. He’s part of the 1%.


The Wall Street Journal: Beto O’Rourke underpaid two years of taxes.





Additionally, Sanders pushed back against questions about his age. The Vermont Independent will be 79 on inauguration day in 2021 and would be the oldest president in history.


It’s not whether you’re young. It’s not whether you’re old. It’s what you believe in,” Sanders said, adding a challenge to “follow me around the campaign trail.”


Trump, who was 70 on inauguration day in 2017, is the oldest president elected to the office.


The New York Times: The rematch: Bernie Sanders vs. a Clinton loyalist.


Elsewhere on the campaign trail … former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld announced his bid for the 2020 GOP nomination against Trump, the first Republican to launch a primary challenge (The Hill) … Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Democrats have reason to worry after the last presidential debate 2020 Democrats recognize Pronouns Day MORE (D-Calif.) attracted support from a number of Hollywood figures in the first quarter, including Ben Affleck, Elizabeth Banks, Wanda Sykes and Lily Tomlin (Politico).

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!


2020 is the Democrats to lose and they very well may, by Al Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Glamorization of the Senate filibuster must end, by B.J. Rudell, opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House returns to a legislative schedule on April 29.


The Senate gets back to work at 3 p.m. on April 29.


The president has lunch with Vice President Pence. Trump participates in the Roosevelt Room in the ceremonial swearing-in of Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who was confirmed by the Senate in February.


Measles: The ongoing outbreak of measles is challenging public health officials and politicians. Here are five things you should know (The Hill). The U.S. count of confirmed measles cases reached 555 on Monday, with most infections located in New York City (The Associated Press). Public health sleuths tracked down “patient zero,” a measles patient who unknowingly infected 39 people while traveling (The Washington Post). New York City’s health department closed a child care center because it failed to present its vaccination records, as required under the city’s current public health emergency requirements (CNBC). Some Brooklyn parents are suing to stop Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandatory measles vaccination order (ABC News).       


Media: National and regional news outlets won prestigious Pulitzer Prizes on Monday after disclosing fraud, falsehoods and payoffs in Trump’s past and for in-depth reporting about shooting tragedies in local communities as well as efforts to defend a free press. The list of award recipients HERE includes The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette … Meanwhile, the European Union adopted a controversial internet copyright rule that the 28 states in the bloc must adopt as law. It covers artists and the news media (The Associated Press).


Tiger and Trump: The president announced on Twitter that he will bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Masters champ Tiger Woods for his comeback under pressure on Sunday in a sport Trump loves. The move comes a decade after a push to give Woods the Congressional Gold Medal was dropped after his extramarital affairs came to light (The Hill).





And finally … The world mourns with France and Paris this morning after news Monday that soaring flames devastated the nearly 900-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral. The towers were saved but two-thirds of the cathedral’s roof was destroyed. Fire officials continue inspecting the smoldering damage today (The New York Times).


French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that the iconic structure, with its history dating to the year 1163, will be rebuilt. In the meantime, billions of euros in private pledges for reconstruction and restoration are piling up.


“The worst has been avoided even though the battle is not completely won,” Macron said during a brief and solemn speech at Notre Dame Monday evening.


Trump lamented the destruction as the enormous fire raged Monday afternoon and the cathedral’s spire collapsed into the flames (The Hill).


Former President Obama offered condolences to the French people and included a photograph taken years ago in Notre Dame with wife, Michelle, who tweeted her own message from Paris on Monday.





The cathedral withstood centuries of history, as photographs published by The New York Times attest.