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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 MuellerTop Republican considered Mueller subpoena to box in Democrats Kamala Harris says her Justice Dept would have 'no choice' but to prosecute Trump for obstruction Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump 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 PelosiHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Trump: I don't have a racist bone in my body Ocasio-Cortez responds to fresh criticism from Trump 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 CummingsHouse poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid 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 BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet House poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Harris campaign accepts money from partners of law firm she criticized over Epstein case 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 NadlerTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify House Democrats request briefing on Epstein, Acosta Nadler apologized after repeatedly calling Hope Hicks 'Ms. Lewandowski' at hearing 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 McCarthyHouse Democrat pushes for censuring Trump in closed-door meeting Democrats erupt over Trump attacks Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid 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 MillerHere are the top paid White House staffers Top Democrats question legal basis for appointing Cuccinelli as temporary immigration chief Five memorable moments from Sarah Sanders at the White House 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 ConwayThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet George Conway calls Trump a 'racist president' in new op-ed George Conway's group: Trump tweets 'should be rejected by every American' 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 BidenBiden jokes he's ready for a push-up competition with Trump Biden says his presidency is not 'a third term of Obama' Biden knocks Trump on tweets about 'smart as hell' Ocasio-Cortez 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 CaseyCrucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research Republicans make U-turn on health care Democrats press IRS on guidance reducing donor disclosure requirements 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 ObamaJesse Jackson calls on Trump to pardon Rod Blagojevich #ObamaWasBetterAt trends after Trump attacks on minority congresswomen Biden says his presidency is not 'a third term of Obama' 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 ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race South Bend police officer resigns after killing of black man 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 SandersWarren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' Sanders slams decision not to charge officer who killed Eric Garner Cardi B says voters let Bernie Sanders down MORE (I-Vt.) has taken notice of his rise as Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaCongress, stop ducking war-declaration authority on Iran The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president House and Senate head for showdown on must-pass defense bill 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 BookerHarris slams DOJ decision not to charge police in Eric Garner's death The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Fundraising numbers highlight growing divide in 2020 race 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 MulvaneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Acosta out as Trump Labor secretary Pelosi reportedly told Trump deputy: 'What was your name, dear?' 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 PompeoAs tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Trump's Huawei concession is 'the rope that could hang America' 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.

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Mueller documented a serious crime against all Americans. Here’s how to respond, by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm 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 Un North Korea warns US-South Korea drills threaten nuclear talks Member of Senate GOP leadership says Trump tweets are racist A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats MORE and Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Fox News's Shep Smith blasts Trump over 'xenophobic eruption' on minority lawmakers Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller 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 ConwayKellyanne Conway: 'I totally disagree' with husband's op-ed calling Trump racist George Conway calls Trump a 'racist president' in new op-ed George Conway's group: Trump tweets 'should be rejected by every American' MORE
  3.  Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Susan Collins raises M in second quarter fundraising, surpassing 2014 reelection bid The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic infighting threatens 2020 unity 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) WeldPoll: Trump trails Biden and Sanders, beats Buttigieg, Harris, and Warren Republicans more interested in a primary challenge to Trump than Democrats were for Obama in 2012 Trump challenger Weld renews calls for his resignation after comments on political opponent 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