Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — Biden takes aim at Trump, early battlegrounds

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. TGIF! 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.


***Happy 49th birthday to first lady Melania Trump! ***




The first 24 hours are in the bag for former Vice President Joe Biden as he made his opening pitch to 2020 Democratic primary voters in his new role as front-runner for the party’s nomination. 

Biden made his first campaign stop Thursday night at a Philadelphia fundraiser hosted by many of the state’s political heavy hitters before he prepared for his first television interview as a candidate today on ABC’s “The View,” which is seen as a push for the former vice president to make an appeal to female voters in a Democratic Party that is increasingly led by them. 

{mosads}However, the first day for the former vice president was not all positive. It emerged he phoned Anita Hill earlier this month, initiating a conversation that left her “deeply unsatisfied” and without an apology. In an interview, Hill said without accepting his harm to her and many women who suffered sexual harassment, Biden could not have her support (The New York Times). 

“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying I’m sorry for what happened to you. I will be satisfied when I know there is real change and real accountability and real purpose,” she said.

The New York Times: Where Biden stands on issues and how he’s changed.

Biden is expected to kick off his schedule of events in earnest Monday when he travels to Pittsburgh, where he has appeared frequently in the past, including for their annual Labor Day Parade, before kicking off a swing of early primary states. He is expected to travel to Iowa and South Carolina next week, Nevada and California the week after, before making his inaugural stop in New Hampshire and delivering remarks on “unifying America” in Philadelphia the following week.

The road will not be easy for Biden despite his front-runner status alongside Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). As Jonathan Easley reports, candidates are beginning to take the gloves off on their rivals.

A horde of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates used the opportunity to fundraise off Biden, who is expected to focus heavily on raising money in the coming months. While fundraising has been a challenge for Biden in the past, he does have one major piece of political infrastructure afforded to no other 2020 Democrat: the 2012 Obama-Biden email list, which he is expected to exploit. As the Daily Beast noted, the list is one of the largest in politics and helped raise more than $500 million for the Obama-Biden campaign in 2012.

Additionally, top Democrats also announced their support for Biden, who in his first day had as many endorsements from senators – four – as the rest of the field combined. It was never expected that former President Obama would endorse any candidate in the sprawling Democratic field during the primaries, but Biden asserted on Thursday that he’d specifically asked Obama to stay neutral, even as the former vice president played up their two-term alliance (The Hill). 

One issue Biden is going to have to tackle is framing his stance on health care. As Jessie Hellmann reports, he’s expected to back the Affordable Care Act, the “BFD” law he and Obama helped pass ten years ago. However, he’s entering a primary that so far has been focused on “Medicare for All,” a Sanders proposal that would wipe out ObamaCare, employer insurance and federal health programs, replacing it with a single plan run by the government.

The Atlantic: When Obama talked Biden out of running for president.

Biden’s announcement also got the attention of another 2020 candidate: President Trump, who welcomed him to the race with open arms. Biden has been on Trump’s mind for the better part of a month as the president tweeted multiple times about him, including a retweet of a video mocking Biden after multiple women accused him of inappropriate contact and retweets in recent days about his penchant for “losing presidential elections.”

But Trump supporters recognize Biden’s stature and worry that he could remain a top candidate well into the primaries. Ralph Reed, the head of the Faith & Freedom Coalition and an ally of Trump’s, told reporters Thursday that Biden is a “formidable and strong” candidate today, as reflected by his poll numbers.

The Hill: Biden makes hard push for African American support.

The New York Times: The Democratic Party is in transition. Does Biden’s brand still pack a punch?


Perspectives and Analysis:

Gail Collins: Biden joins the really big crowd.

Dan Balz: Biden lays out his opening bid: It’s all about the president.

Karen Tumulty: Biden could be the best bet to defeat Trump. But he might not get that far.

David Brooks: Your average American Joe.

National Review: Will abortion politics sink Biden in the Democratic primary?




As Biden makes his way into the 2020 scene, Trump is going on the road for two days to make the case to those he cares most about politically: the GOP base.

Trump is scheduled to appear at the National Rifle Association (NRA) leadership forum today in Indianapolis before visiting Green Bay, Wis., for a rally on Saturday. His Midwestern stop is intended to be counter-programming while much of Washington takes part in White House Correspondents’ Association dinner festivities. 

As noted by David Wasserman, House editor for The Cook Political Report, the return of non-college-educated voters “to the electorate in ‘20 – specifically white men – is Trump’s only path to a second term.” It’s a demographic that virtually handed the GOP nominee the election in 2016. The president’s appearances today and Saturday are aimed specifically at that audience, not at the college-educated women that helped Democrats take control of the House following the 2018 midterm contests. 

The Wall Street Journal: Trump heads to NRA convention as disagreements over his gun policies simmer. 

The Washington Post: NRA at center of new lawsuit against the Federal Election. Commission.

The Associated Press: NRA diminished from role played in 2016 election.



> After being the main show in town in recent years, President Trump is facing a new challenge to his ability to drive the media narrative as the 2020 race begins. 

As Niall Stanage writes Trump has long enjoyed an almost-unparalleled ability to set the news agenda. But that may be fading, more than two years into his presidency. Democrats competing to replace him are now moving center stage. Trump still has the ability to rile up his base with attacks on the media — and new ones are expected when he holds a rally juxtaposed with the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner this weekend — but his broader media-manipulation powers may be slipping.

Politico: How Trump took the shine off Washington’s glitziest night.

Peggy Noonan: How Trump lost half of Washington.

Andrew Ferguson: A Republic too fractured to be funny.

The Atlantic: Trump’s chief of staff is having a great time.


CONGRESS: House Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings (Md.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), who lead the House Oversight and Reform , Homeland Security and Judiciary committees, respectively, said on Thursday they’re concerned that the president may have fired Department of Homeland Security officials because they refused his demands “to violate federal immigration law and judicial orders.” The chairmen are seeking information about staff changes at the department during a period in which the president has instructed his advisers and current and former officials not to cooperate with congressional investigations (The Hill).

Impeachment: Key House Democrats who threw their votes in 2018 behind impeaching Trump are taking a more cautious approach. Senior Democratic lawmakers who voted in favor of impeachment articles from Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) in the last session of Congress while Republicans were in control are largely on pause and conspicuously in sync with Democratic leaders. One exception is House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif) (The Hill).

{mossecondads}Debt ceiling: The White House is imploring Congress to act quickly to lift the nation’s cap on borrowing authority. The requests have taken on new urgency because other budget discussions with Capitol Hill are in trouble, leaving policymakers searching for ways to avoid a pileup of dangerous deadlines in September that could impact the stock market, jobs and economic growth (The Washington Post). 

Disaster funding: House Democrats are not expected to return to consideration of disaster assistance until the week of May 6, reviving a legislative debate about how to help communities and regions hurt by weather events including floods and tornadoes. The House and Senate are getting pummeled in the heartland for failure to cut a deal on emergency supplemental appropriations, a situation that is complicated by the president’s opposition to granting Puerto Rico additional federal emergency support. The Kansas City Star editorial board on Wednesday assailed Washington for its “petty fights.”


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: China trade: Trump on Thursday said Chinese President Xi Jinping will “soon” come to the White House, raising expectations for a trade agreement between the world’s two largest economies (Reuters). U.S. trade negotiators will travel to Beijing to continue talks on Tuesday and a high-level Chinese delegation is expected to fly to Washington to continue discussions on May 8. 

Defense Department: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was cleared by the Pentagon’s internal watchdog after an ethics probe into his ties with his former employer, Boeing Co. (The Hill and Reuters). The report released on Thursday could clear the way for Trump to nominate Shanahan to lead the department. 

Justice Department: Get ready! Attorney General William Barr will make two appearances before Congress next week to testify publicly about the findings of the Russia investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. He’ll appear on Wednesday before the GOP-led Senate Judiciary Committee, followed on Thursday by a session before the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee (The Hill). Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave the department in May after a 30-year government career. He continued in a speech on Thursday to defend his decisions during the Russia investigation (CNN).

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!


The House should censure Trump, by former federal prosecutor Gregory J. Wallance, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Forget 16 years. The entitlement crisis is upon us now, by Jonathan Bydlak, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Trump backer and radio personality Sebastian Gorka and Dr. Evan Argintar and Margaret “Greta” Barnes, a physician and a patient, who together discuss non-opioid treatment alternatives for pain.

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 will address the National Rifle Association annual meeting in Indianapolis, at 11:35 a.m. Back at the White House, he’ll welcome Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan for meetings and dinner beginning at 4:15 p.m.

Vice President Pence delivers remarks at the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Indianapolis at 11 a.m., followed by remarks at a Trump Victory fundraising event. He and wife Karen Pence will remain in Indiana.

The Commerce Department will release its initial report at 8:30 a.m. on gross domestic product in the first quarter. The Wall Street Journal outlines what to watch.

FBI Director Christopher Wray will sit down with the Council on Foreign Relations for a newsmaker discussion at 8:30 a.m. Will the director weigh in on Barr’s recent claim that “spying” occurred on the Trump campaign?

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget hosts a discussion (with lunch) about the recent Social Security Trustees’ report, which included a sobering projection for insolvency. The moderated discussion begins at 12:30 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building in room 2075. Information is HERE.

The Academy of United States Veterans and the producers of the feature documentary “Mosul” host a reception with lawmakers, media, business leaders, actors and filmmakers to honor war correspondents and freedom of the press at 6 p.m. at the Old Post Office in Washington. Contact about “Embed: Celebrating War Correspondents.”

The Hill’s Newsmaker Series: A Conversation with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. You’re invited Monday 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.


North Korea: Pyongyang presented the Trump administration with an invoice for $2 million for its care of comatose and imprisoned American Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after his release and return to the United States in 2017 (The Washington Post).

Michigan districts: Federal judges on Thursday ordered Michigan to revamp its district boundaries in a legal case about politically gerrymandered districts. The GOP-controlled state legislature must redraw nearly three dozen state and U.S. congressional districts by Aug. 1, in time for the 2020 election (Reuters).

Lobbying: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is shifting its strategy and leaning away from the GOP in a move toward the political center. Trump policies have something to do with it, as does the math in Congress to get legislation through: We just need to reach across the aisle to more Democrats” (The Washington Post).

BIG diamond: A tennis ball-size diamond of 1,758-carats, the second-largest ever discovered, was found in Botswana, but its quality is deemed so-so. The largest diamond ever discovered is the 3,106-carat Cullinan, found near Pretoria in South Africa in 1905. It was cut into several polished gems and the two largest — the Great Star of Africa and the Lesser Star of Africa — are set in the Crown Jewels of Britain (Bloomberg). People magazine has the story behind the story of the Queen’s impressive sparklers.



And finally …   Kudos to winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz!

Here’s who knew (or came close to knowing) the answers to questions about impeachment and its history: Tim Aiken, Luther Berg and Gael Oh.

It was Brett Kavanaugh, now an associate justice on the Supreme Court, who worked on Kenneth Starr’s investigation into former President Clinton.

*There are 15 sitting senators who voted in February 1999 during Clinton’s impeachment drama.  

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, now a GOP presidential candidate challenging Trump, worked on the Watergate case toward the impeachment of former President Nixon, who resigned.

The Senate was one vote shy of convicting former President Andrew Johnson on impeachment charges in 1868. Senators voted on three articles of impeachment, falling short of the Constitution’s requirement of a two-thirds majority.

[*Eagle-eyed Quizzers corrected one of our questions: We said the impeachment vote took place in December 1998. It took place February 1999. Those who responded either 13 or 15 senators are counted as correct. We apologize for the error.]


Tags 2020 Al Green Anita Hill Bennie Thompson Bernie Sanders Biden campaign Brett Kavanaugh Christopher Wray Donald Trump Elijah Cummings Jerrold Nadler Joe Biden Karen Pence Maxine Waters Melania Trump Mike Pompeo Morning Report Mueller report Patrick Shanahan Robert Mueller Rod Rosenstein Sebastian Gorka William Barr William Weld

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