The Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks
The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration
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.
President Trump appealed to his base on Thursday during a speech about legal immigration, inviting tepid reactions from fellow conservatives and a withering "dead on arrival" rejoinder from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
"We are presenting a clear contrast," the president said, speaking to guests seated in the Rose Garden. "Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages and, frankly, lawless chaos. We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages and safety of American workers first."
Trump's outline would replace family-sponsored migration with "merit-based" visa allotments under immigration laws, an idea instantly panned by conservative commentator Ann Coulter as meaningless to reduce illegal immigration. She called the president's ideas "a gift to the Koch brothers," the billionaire conservatives who are critical of Trump, especially on immigration.
The president did not try to mask his intention to lay down political markers for the 2020 election rather than legislative proposals that could surmount partisan impasses that are decades in the making.
"If for some reason, possibly political, we can't get the Democrats to approve this merit-based, high-security plan, then we will get it approved immediately after the election when we take back the House, keep the Senate and, of course, hold the presidency," Trump said (The Hill).
The Washington Post: White House says the president did not include protections for young "dreamers" because remedying their undocumented status is too "divisive."
As Niall Stanage writes, the politics of immigration that Trump helped engineer are harsh and unforgiving for anyone searching for a bipartisan legislative approach after the 2020 election. The president's latest proposal is finding few friends.
GOP lawmakers acknowledged the White House plan, spearheaded by senior adviser Jared Kushner, is not intended to become law. Other ideas, including an asylum reform proposal introduced this week by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), are unlikely to gain traction this year (The Hill).
McClatchy: Trump immigration plan revamps asylum, requires work skills and learning English.
Reuters: Trump proposed maintaining the overall numbers of legal immigrants each year steady while shifting to a "merit-based" system of selection, which he said would result in 57 percent of green cards being granted based on employment and skills.
LEADING THE DAY
POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's 2020 presidential bid is officially underway, and the early reviews are not great.
After his 2020 campaign's reveal was scooped by a high school journalist in Missouri, de Blasio kicked off his campaign with an appearance on "Good Morning America" Thursday morning and was immediately met by protesters outside the studio. The reception was not a surprise as most New Yorkers wished he would have remained on the sidelines. According to a Quinnipiac University Poll released last month, 76 percent of New Yorkers said that he should not launch a 2020 bid (Politico).
Later on, he was on the receiving end of multiple shots from Trump, who went so far as to record a video from Air Force One calling de Blasio "the worst mayor in the history of New York City" while en route to New York for fundraising and predict that he "would be very surprised to see him in there for a long period."
As Jonathan Easley reports, de Blasio's entrance also brings the field to two dozen candidates, a historically large field that presents unique challenges for the candidates, the national party and the media.
Despite the tough start, de Blasio faces an uphill climb not only to make a dent in the 2020 Democratic primary, but even to make the debate stage. A late entry, and perhaps the last one in the race, de Blasio is by no means guaranteed a spot on-stage at either of the June 26 or 27 debates and has less than a month to reach polling and fundraising thresholds to reach the debate stage, an issue that could also plague the likes of Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) given their late 2020 bids.
More than likely, de Blasio's entrance makes just one more candidate in a massive field of contenders vying for money, media attention, endorsements and support from primary voters. The Democratic field includes a former vice president, seven sitting senators, four members of the House, three former members of Congress, two current governors, a former governor, three mayors, a former mayor, and two business people. Six women and six people of color are in the running. There are contenders from Alaska and Hawaii. But the candidates will have to get creative in looking for ways to stand out in the pack, with the Democratic National Committee facing some difficult decisions with the debates and generally acting as a referee in the looming free-for-all.
Democrats interviewed by The Hill described a volatile, high stakes and unprecedented undertaking and said they had no idea how it would shake out.
Fox News: Former Vice President Joe Biden up by double digits in Democratic race.
> Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey's (R) decision to sign into law legislation that essentially outlaws abortion has raised the topic into a top-tier issue on the 2020 map and brought the issue to the forefront of the public's consciousness after conservatives launched a coordinated messaging effort (The New York Times).
The move has also put moderate Senate Republicans on the defensive after their votes over the past two years to confirm a horde of conservative judges who could be in a position to decide whether restrictive abortion laws will stand up in court.
When pressed by CNN on Thursday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a pro-choice Republican who is up for reelection next year, labeled the new law in Alabama a "terrible law" and "very extreme." When pressed over whether she thought Justice Brett Kavanaugh would strike down the law, she hinted that she believes he would.
"The Alabama law is a terrible law - it's very extreme - it essentially bans all abortions." Collins said. "I can't imagine that any justice could find that to be consistent with the previous precedence."
With the issue taking hold in Congress, it has been a hot topic on the 2020 scene as Democrats continue to denounce the law. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said the laws emanating from various states go "against Christian faith" (CBS News). South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg also panned the law during a speech to the City Club of Chicago.
"I don't think that you are free in this country if your reproductive health can be criminalized," Buttigieg said, adding later that legislation to codify the constitutional right to have an abortion is "something that deserves to be taken seriously."
The New York Times: In Alabama, opposition to abortion runs deep regardless of gender.
The Associated Press: Missouri's Republican-led House today is expected to pass a sweeping bill to ban abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, propeling the measure closer to state law.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Administration officials agreed on Thursday to brief the Senate next week about Iran and intelligence that prompted the president and his advisers to warn that attacks on U.S. interests by Tehran were a real and present danger (The Hill).
In Middle East and European capitals, officials share confusion expressed by members of Congress about how seriously to take Trump's warnings to Tehran and references to classified intelligence information. European leaders want restraint (The Atlantic).
Members of Congress from both parties point to White House national security adviser John Bolton as the driver of Trump's Iran policy. Some lawmakers are seeking additional information in order to weigh whether intelligence supports deployment of U.S. military assets to the Middle East.
Trump has talked tough publicly about his willingness to send "more" than 120,000 troops to defend U.S. interests if Iran poses a national security threat.
But the president also told acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that he does not want war with Iran. In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump said he was confident Iran "will want to talk soon," signaling an openness to diplomacy that officials said is not shared by Bolton or staunch Iran critic Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (The New York Times).
Reuters: Inside the weakening governing power of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.
Reuters: Pelosi said on Thursday that Trump does not have congressional authorization to go to war with Iran.
> Trump business: Revenue at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort dropped 10 percent last year, and the most recent federal financial disclosures by the president on Thursday offers a mixed overall picture of the president's finances (The Washington Post). The documents also show Trump took out a 30-year mortgage on an oceanfront house steps from Mar-a-Lago, which currently sits empty on the rental market (Reuters). The president's mortgage loan was for the purchase of a house owned by his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a former federal judge, and sold to a company headed by the president's two oldest sons (Palm Beach Daily News).
> Trump's tax returns: The Treasury Department and IRS are set to miss a deadline today to comply with subpoenas for Trump's tax returns, as the dispute over the documents appears headed for a legal battle (The Hill).
> Russia-related sanctions: The Treasury Department, in a move likely to escalate tensions between the United States and Russia, on Thursday announced sanctions on Russian and Chechen officials linked to the deaths of two whistleblowers critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin's government. Five people and one entity were sanctioned by the administration for "gross violations of human rights in Russia, pursuant to the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012" (The Wall Street Journal).
> Trump's advisers: The president's Twitter guru and former caddie, Dan Scavino, is the ultimate insider (Politico).
> The wall: The president's exacting instructions about new and renovated sections of barriers along the U.S. southern border, which he said on Thursday will span at least 400 miles by the end of 2020, vex the engineers (The Washington Post).
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Vladimir Putin is messing with our democracy and he wants us to know it, by Daniel N. Hoffman, former Central Intelligence Agency chief of station, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Eb0o9O
The intensifying trade war could quadruple economic damage, by Eric Lascelles, chief economist for RBC Global Asset Management Inc., opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2JKUsry
WHERE AND WHEN
Hill.TV's "Rising" program, starting at 8 a.m., features Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-Va.), reflecting on the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision; Reps. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) and Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), discussing infrastructure; and U.S Border Patrol Chief Brian Hastings on the latest news at the southern border. http://thehill.com/hilltv
The House convenes at 9 a.m. and will vote on the Equality Act.
The Senate will meet at 3 p.m. on Monday to resume consideration of the nomination of David P. Collins to be a United States circuit judge for the 9th Circuit.
The president returns from New York City and speaks in Washington at a conference of the National Association of Realtors at 2 p.m.
Vice President Pence on Saturday will deliver the commencement address at Taylor University in Upland, Ind.
First lady Melania Trump and Karen Pence are honorary co-chairs for Blue Star Museums, which kicks off on Saturday and ends on Labor Day, Sept. 2. The National Endowment for the Arts and Blue Star Families partner to provide free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families when they visit more than 2,000 participating museums nationwide. Information is HERE.
The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center will host a Saturday event to bring Asian Pacific American culture to Washington DC - through Los Angeles. The party at the City Market Social House in L.A. will honor some of the country's Asian Pacific American creators, including fusion cuisine chef Helene An and the An family; Asian American R&B jazz band Hiroshima; Jay Park, a choreographer, songwriter, entrepreneur and hip hop and R&B artist; and Vivek Ranadivé,, founder of the TIBCO tech company and the first Indian American majority owner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings. Democrats joining the honorees from Congress's California delegation: Reps. Jimmy Gomez, Ted Lieu, Judy Chu, Mark Takano, Doris Matsui and Maxine Waters. Ambrosio Brian F. Enciso III, the deputy consul general of the Philippines, and Akira Chiba, Japan's consul general based in Los Angeles, will also attend. Information is HERE.
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➔ Brexit: Talks between Tories and Labour collapsed today in the United Kingdom, yet another setback in the years of discussions about how to withdraw from the European Union (The Guardian).
➔ State Watch: The Trump administration said on Thursday it was formally canceling $929 million in previously awarded funding for California's high-speed rail program after rejecting an appeal by the state (Reuters).
➔ Health: Want to know what helps prevent dementia? Exercise (The Associated Press).
➔ Architecture: I.M. Pei, the Chinese-born, Harvard-educated and world-famous architect, died Thursday at the age of 102. Pei was probably best known for designing the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the glass pyramid that serves as an entry for the Louvre in Paris. But early in his career he designed commercial real estate projects and took on modest commissions, such as a modernist addition to New College in Sarasota, Fla. (The New York Times).
➔ Marlon Bundo, the Pence family's beloved bunny may be adored by the second family but he does not do much in the way of book sales. As Politico's Gabby Orr reports, a trio of children's books centered around "BOTUS" have not been a commercial success, having netted between $2,501 and $5,000 in income for the family last year, according to financial disclosures released Thursday.
Pence has joked in the past that he and the president are very much alike, save for "a whole lot of zeroes."
And finally ... Bravo to winners of this week's Morning Report Quiz, about TV and movie celebrities who died recently and left their marks on entertainment.
These puzzle masters aced the questions: Ki L. Harvey, Lorraine Lindberg, Leanna DeKing, Tim Aiken, Andrew Kokas, Linda Tillery, Peter Delloro, Rich Davis, Ray Fleming, Ron Wolfarth, Allyson Foster, Donna Nackero, Carol Katz, Susan Reyes, Cheryl A. Gibson, Karen Fisher Gutheil, Elizabeth Murphy, Greg Stetson, Norm Roberts, Ramona Palmatier, Stewart Baker, Randall S. Patrick, Frank Hatfield, Dan Hebert, Michael Womble, Laura Silver, Rich Gruber, Renee Rodriguez, David Straney, Glen Clark, William Mattingly, Aaron Gebard, Serena Reeves, Jerry Kovar, Kym Dicome, Kathy Bilskie, Peter J. Stewart, Brian Repsher, Owen Johnson and Luther Berg.
Actress Peggy Lipton, who died Saturday at age 72, played Julie Barnes in hit series "The Mod Squad."
Zoologist and "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" host Jim Fowler, who died on May 8, gained a huge and appreciative following as a late-night guest who brought wild and zoo animals to ad-lib with Johnny Carson.
Funny man Tim Conway, who died Tuesday, created television gold from 1967 to 1978 with Carol Burnett.
Doris Day, who died Tuesday at age 97, starred with some of her era's most celebrated leading men. Humphrey Bogart, however, was never one of her cinematic love interests.