The Hill's Morning Report - Trump tells House investigators 'no'




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.

***    There will not be a repeat champion in the nation’s capital. The Washington Capitals fell to the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3, in a Game 7, double overtime thriller Wednesday at Capital One Arena. Brock McGinn tipped in a pass midway through the overtime period to move Carolina forward in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. ***

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE on Wednesday opened a new front in a war with Democrats in Congress.


“We’re fighting all the subpoenas,” Trump told reporters at the White House.


In interviews, tweets and during public events this week, the president sounded as agitated and aggrieved as he was before the release last week of the report by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' MORE – a report Trump claims exonerated him.


House Democrats, intent on oversight and investigations tied to Trump’s tax returns, White House security clearances and Mueller’s evidence about obstructive behavior have turned to subpoenas to try to force information-sharing with the legislative branch. Trump vows to thwart the efforts using lawsuits, claims of executive privilege and foot-dragging delays within the executive branch.


Bottom line: Defying case law and presidential conventions, Trump’s new battles will drag on for months and will stoke Trump’s supporters during his reelection bid. The president assails Democrats in Congress as hyper-partisan, left-wing enemies.


Trump lamented during an event in Georgia on Wednesday that Congress has not worked collaboratively on bills to upgrade crumbling infrastructure and to lower prescription drug prices (he plans to meet with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi uses Trump to her advantage Fake Pelosi video sparks fears for campaigns Trump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk MORE on Tuesday to discuss years of impasses between Republicans and Democrats over financing roads, bridges, ports and broadband, among other issues).


“No Collusion, No Obstruction – there has NEVER been a President who has been more transparent. Millions of pages of documents were given to the Mueller Angry Dems, plus I allowed everyone to testify, including W.H. counsel. I didn’t have to do this, but now they want more,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “We waited for Mueller and WON, so now the Dems look to Congress as last hope!”


House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTrump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk Nancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now House Democrats, Trump lawyers ask appeals court to expedite subpoena case MORE (D-Md.) accused Trump and the White House of obstruction of justice after the president ordered administration officials not to cooperate with Congress.


Trump and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' House Democrats must insist that Robert Mueller testifies publicly Why Mueller may be fighting a public hearing on Capitol Hill MOREare now openly ordering federal employees to ignore congressional subpoenas and simply not show up, without any assertion of a valid legal privilege,” Cummings said. “These employees and their personal attorneys should think very carefully about their own legal interests rather than being swept up.”





The White House directed a former official not to comply with a subpoena to testify about how the West Wing granted security clearances and filed a lawsuit to block disclosure of Trump’s financial records while the Treasury Department blew past two deadlines set by lawmakers to turn over copies of Trump’s tax returns, arguing its legal analysis would not be finished until May.


The president’s M.O. during divided government makes clear his well-honed instincts to fight, deny, defy, punish and sue before considering a compromise.


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.) embraced the idea of fining current and former administration officials who refuse to appear, Bloomberg reported. Cummings proposed to vote to hold those who won’t appear in contempt of Congress.


The Hill: Can Trump get away with it?


Reuters: How powerful are congressional subpoenas?


The Washington Post: Trump’s defiance puts pressure on Congress’s ability to check the president.


The Washington Post: The House has the option of using its Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — a three-member panel of Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyRepublicans spend more than million at Trump properties The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi fires back in feud with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes MORE (R-Calif.) — to seek approval to take a civil contempt charge to court against the administration.


The Associated Press: Trump’s new battle plan is to just say no.


The Washington Post: White House declines to let White House senior adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerTrump Citizenship and Immigration Services head out at agency Trump expected to tap Cuccinelli for new immigration post Acting DHS secretary threatened to quit after clashing with Miller: report MORE testify before House committee.


The president on Tuesday suggested, incorrectly, that the Supreme Court is his protector, ready to side with him should he be impeached by Congress (The Hill). Just as interesting as his misunderstanding of the impeachment process is his apparent anxiety about the prospect. Early this week he told reporters he was “not even a little bit” worried about impeachment.


Trump may opt to assert executive privilege to prevent White House counsel Don McGahn, who responded to questions posed by Mueller and his team for a reported 30 hours, from testifying to Congress, said White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayGeorge Conway: Pelosi is playing Trump 'like a drum' Schumer: Trump was 'agitated' during White House infrastructure meeting Trump, Pelosi exchange insults as feud intensifies MORE.


“Executive privilege is on the table. That's his right,” she said of the president while speaking with reporters in the White House driveway on Wednesday. “But we should note that there's been a great deal of executive cooperation and compliance."


More on the power of Congress to conduct oversight … Georgetown University Law Library’s “Congressional Investigations Research Guide” is HERECongressional Research Service: “Although the `power of inquiry’ was not expressly provided for in the Constitution, it has been acknowledged as `an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function’ derived implicitly from Article I’s vesting of `legislative Powers’ in the Congress.”


*** BREAKING IN POLITICS *** At long last, the wait is over. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenJames Carville: Biden represents 'stability' not 'generational change' Trump's misspelling of Biden's name trends on Twitter Trump says 'I have confidence' after past North Korea missile tests MORE (D) officially launched his third presidential campaign Thursday (The Hill).


“I believe history will look back at four years of this president and all he embraces as an abhorrent moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever, and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen,” Biden says in a 3-minute video he narrates himself.  


“Everything that has made America America is at stake. That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”





Instantly, Biden becomes a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the process. As Amie Parnes and Alexander Bolton write, the former vice president faces several crucial questions in what is likely his last chance at the presidency. One, in particular, centers around fundraising and how he goes about that. Will he forgo super PACs?


On policy, what how does he message on health care as a growing segment of the party  embraces “Medicare for All” proposals? What about on other progressive pet proposals, such as the “Green New Deal” and free college tuition? Does he support impeaching the president?


Personally, how does he answer questions about the allegations of inappropriate touching that consumed him in late March and early April? And finally, how does he defend his long and controversial voting record, including on issues such as criminal justice?


After his expected launch, Biden is slated to hold a fundraiser in Philadelphia at the home of David Cohen, a Comcast executive, and will be joined by Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyBiden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan 2020 Democrats put spotlight on disabilities issues Why Congress needs to bring back tax deduction for worker expenses MORE, Jr. and seven sitting members of Congress, according to Politico.


CNN: Biden's team was warned about announcing 2020 bid on same day as forum focused on women of color.


Politico: Biden is running as Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaIt's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Assange hit with 17 new charges, including Espionage Act violations Progressive commentator says Obama was delusional thinking he could work with Republicans MORE’s heir. The problem: He’s not Obama.


Gabriel Debenedetti: How Biden plans to steamroll the 2020 Democratic field.


Politico: Inside Biden's battle plan.


> The higher South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegButtigieg defends Kaepernick, NFL players who kneel during national anthem Journalism is now opinion-based — not news-based Buttiegieg backs NFL players' right to protest during anthem: I 'put my life on the line to defend' that MORE (D) rises in the Democratic primary, the bigger the target grows on him from outside forces and those who now consider him a threat to their ambitions for higher office, as Jonathan Easley reports.


After an electric CNN town hall event last month that caught the attention of party leaders and primary voters, Buttigieg had to answer for several controversies related to race at another CNN town hall this week. There, Buttigieg also had to answer for his "lack of experience" and a dearth of policy proposals on his website.


The campaign of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJames Carville: Biden represents 'stability' not 'generational change' Ocasio-Cortez, progressives trash 'antisemitic' Politico illustration of Bernie Sanders 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding MORE (I-Vt.) has taken notice of his rise as Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaPelosi uses Trump to her advantage Progressive Democrat says Trump victory shed light on divide between Silicon Valley, rural US Democratic rep says targeted sanctions on Huawei are 'reasonable' MORE (D-Calif.), Sanders’s national co-chair, blasted Buttigieg for comparing the Vermont Independent’s supporters to Trump supporters. Local activists in South Bend say they're being hounded by the national media, as press outlets rush to get up to speed on Buttigieg's mayoral record. Buttigieg's supporters say he's handling the heat and see it as a positive that his candidacy is being taken seriously.  


CNN: The Police chief/secret audio tapes case will go to trial, unresolved through the primary.


The Hill: “Better than anyone I’ve seen since Barack Obama”: Buttigieg nabs Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) as first congressional endorsement.


The Washington Post: Questions on race, faith and tradition confront Buttigieg in South Carolina.


Fox News: Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-N.J.): “I will have a woman running mate. To me it’s really clear that we do that.”


The New York Times: At She the People forum, candidates speak directly to women of color:


“At a forum in Houston on Wednesday hosted by the political group She the People, Democratic presidential candidates spoke directly to a crucial constituency in their party’s primaries: women of color.


The questions spanned a range of topics, including voting rights and health care, and were all asked by women of color, who make up about one-fifth of the primary electorate and more in some key states, Aimee Allison, the founder of She the People, noted in her introductory speech.”


In other 2020 news … On the social media scene, Sanders is dominating on Facebook and Instagram while Buttigieg is on the rise -- but no one comes close to Trump on social media (The Hill) … Booker’s tax returns: Speaking fees and royalties drive income (Politico) … Strong Support Here Helped Trump Win Pennsylvania in 2016. 2020 Could Be Different (The New York Times).





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president traveled to Georgia on Wednesday and vowed to smash the grip of drug addiction during a conference in Atlanta (The Hill).


Border security: Trump threatened to send armed troops to the southern U.S. border (The Associated Press).


Federal Reserve: Economist Stephen Moore criticized what he calls a “slime campaign” against his potential nomination to the Fed Board after reports emerged about his past writings for National Review, which ridiculed women. Moore said the articles were nothing more than a “spoof.” The reports came shortly after Herman Cain withdrew from consideration from confirmation to the board (Bloomberg).  


Cyber and elections security: Department of Homeland Security and West Wing officials navigated behind Trump’s back to avoid his resistance to risks posed by Russian interference in the next election (The New York Times). Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit On The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency House rebukes Mulvaney's efforts to rein in consumer bureau MORE said he has no memory of telling colleagues the topic should not be brought up with Trump (Politico). In Congress, Democratic lawmakers accused the White House of caving to Trump’s ego rather than working to secure the country against attacks by Russia on U.S. democracy (The Hill).  


The National Security Agency: The NSA has recommended dropping the government’s controversial phone metadata surveillance program (The Wall Street Journal).


State Department: Iran: The administration on Wednesday announced carve-outs to recent sanctions imposed on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (The Hill) … North Korea: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoVenezuelan government, opposition to meet in Norway for talks O'Rourke: Trump 'provoking' war with Iran by sending troops to Middle East Trump aide: North Korean missile tests violated UN resolutions MORE, interviewed on CBS News for its “Intelligence Matters” podcast available on May 1, said continued denuclearization talks with North Korea will be “bumpy.” Pompeo also said the Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds of people including four Americans on Easter appeared to be “inspired by ISIS.” The secretary was interviewed by Michael Morrell, a CBS News contributor and former Obama administration acting CIA director.

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!


Mueller documented a serious crime against all Americans. Here’s how to respond, by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. “Congress should hold substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment.”


Stephen Moore needs a vacation from women, by Dana Milbank, The Washington Post.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, speaking about Biden’s bid for the presidency, and Elizabeth Allan, executive director of Stop Hazing, who discusses the push for tough anti-hazing laws in Florida.


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 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


The Hill's Newsmaker Series: A Conversation with Secretary Pompeo. You’re invited April 29 at 8 a.m. as The Hill hosts Pompeo for a wide-ranging conversation covering the administration’s foreign policy and the latest global events. RSVP HERE.


Russia: A summit between North Korea’s Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnTrump says 'I have confidence' after past North Korea missile tests Trump aide: North Korean missile tests violated UN resolutions North Korea: Nuclear talks with US won't resume without new approach MORE and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTrump's nastiest break-ups: A look at the president's most fiery feuds Russia's dangerous new ploy: US trading Ukraine for Venezuela Trump's rejection of the Arms Trade Treaty Is based on reality MORE ended Thursday with little of substance beyond a pledge to forge closer ties (The Wall Street Journal).


Measles: The U.S. measles outbreak is the worst it’s been in 25 years. The number of confirmed cases has topped 680 (The Associated Press).


Childhood development: Little ones need to sit less and play more. Infants younger than 1 year and children between ages 2 and 5 should be severely restricted in exposure to electronic screens, according to the World Health Organization. Infants younger than 12 months should not be exposed to any screen time, while those 2 to 4 years old should be limited to one hour per day, including video games, TV screens and mobile devices (Reuters). Researchers believe curtailing exposure to ubiquitous screens and electronic babysitters can enhance behavioral development, physical activity and sleep patterns in today’s children.  


Jeopardy!: Professional sports gambler James Holzhauer, 34, of Las Vegas, blew past $1 million in winnings and is continuing a record-breaking streak on the popular game show (The New York Times). After 15 appearances on the show, Holzhauer is on his way to surpassing the $2,520,700 won by Ken Jennings, who appeared on 74 shows. Holzhauer is on pace to surpass the Jennings record in fewer than half as many shows (FiveThirtyEight).





And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the latest impeachment chatter, we’re eager for some smart guesses about the history of impeachment.


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.


Which young lawyer worked on Kenneth Starr’s investigation into former President Clinton?


  1.  Don McGahn
  2.  George ConwayGeorge Thomas ConwayGeorge Conway: Pelosi is playing Trump 'like a drum' George Conway contrasts Trump denying 'cover-ups' with check to Michael Cohen George Conway on Trump: Why not put up sign saying 'I am a loony tune' MORE
  3.  Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Graham urges Trump not to abandon infrastructure talks with Democrats 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE
  4.  Neil Gorsuch


How many currently sitting senators voted in the Clinton impeachment as members of the Senate in December 1998?


  1.  13
  2.  15
  3.  16
  4.  20


What 2020 presidential candidate worked on the Watergate case toward the impeachment of former President Nixon?


  1.  William WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldHere are the potential candidates still eyeing 2020 bids Republicans deserve to have real competitive presidential primary 2020 Dems: Trump doesn't deserve credit for the economy MORE
  2.  Joe Biden
  3.  Mike Gravel
  4.  None of the above


By how many votes did the Senate fall short in its proceeding in which former President Andrew Johnson battled impeachment in 1868?


  1.  1
  2.  3
  3.  5
  4.  8