The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push

 

 

 

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



The pressure is ratcheting up on Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Photographer leaves Judiciary hearing after being accused of taking photos of member notes Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) as the top figures within her caucus are leveling calls for President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE’s impeachment, something she remains dead set against.

 

Pelosi, less than five months into her second stint as Speaker, is facing the biggest challenge in her leadership career as members of her own leadership team and top committee chairmen call for impeachment proceedings against the president because of the continuous stonewalling of investigative efforts by the White House.

 

As Mike Lillis reports, Pelosi has long seen impeachment as a trap that could cost Democrats the White House or congressional majorities after the 2020 election. Only weeks ago, she said that Trump was trying to “goad” Democrats into impeachment proceedings, but she has been unable to tamp down the calls.

 

Before starting her second stint as Speaker, Pelosi agreed to limit her tenure to four years, a scenario that invites challenges to her decision-making — even if she is expected to remain as Democratic leader into the next Congress.

 

According to The Hill’s Whip List, 27 House Democrats support launching an impeachment inquiry of the president.

 

The brand new impeachment calls, headlined by one from Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineLive coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Parties clash as impeachment articles move closer to House vote MORE (D-R.I.), a member of leadership and of the House Judiciary Committee, stemmed from former White House counsel Don McGahn’s decision to defy a subpoena and not testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday about what he told special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment Trump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts MORE.

 

As Scott Wong reports, Democrats are set to discuss the matter at a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday morning. To be sure, scores of Democrats on Tuesday said they backed Pelosi’s cautious approach on impeachment and did not wish to move forward on the divisive issue for now. Among those who have done so publicly are House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money: Lawmakers strike spending deal | US, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline | Lighthizer fails to quell GOP angst over new NAFTA Lawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown Vulnerable Democrats feel heat ahead of impeachment vote MORE (D-Md.), Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - An unusual day: Impeachment plus a trade deal MORE (D-N.Y.), the No. 5-ranking House Democrat, and Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSanders endorses Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur for Katie Hill's former House seat Overnight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons House passes defense bill to establish Space Force, paid family leave for federal workers MORE (D-Calif.), a top progressive figure and a Pelosi ally.

 

It is unclear whether those backing impeachment proceedings would have a majority in the House if a vote took place this week. However, support is clearly growing, despite efforts by Pelosi and her allies to contain it.

 

Politico: Vulnerable Democrats split as impeachment pressure mounts.

 

Jonathan Allen: The impeachment dam isn't breaking on Pelosi — yet.

 

Dana Milbank: Slow-walking impeachment may look weak. But restraint is Democrats’ greatest strength.

 

In the meantime, House Democrats are continuing to press on with the investigation. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers MORE (D-N.Y.) moved on Tuesday to subpoena former White House communications director Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksJustice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe Former White House official won't testify, lawyer says Trump: 'Top shows' on Fox News, cable are 'Fair (or great)' to me MORE, a longtime ally of Trump, and McGahn’s former chief of staff, Annie Donaldson, who created detailed contemporaneous notes of White House meetings and discussions, which she shared with Mueller’s investigation (The Hill).

 

Adding to Democratic heartache is Mueller’s decision to avoid a public hearing on Capitol Hill, something House Democrats called for almost immediately after his full report was released in April. Mueller and House Democrats have been unable to reach an agreement, with Mueller reportedly wanting to testify behind closed doors to avoid a public spectacle, something Democrats are not supportive of. Nadler has said that he plans to subpoena Mueller if it has to come to that. (CNN).

 

The Washington Post: Republican National Committee paid $2 million to a law firm employing McGahn.

 

Meanwhile, Republicans still believe that any impeachment action would be a political boon to the president. As Niall Stanage writes, Trump aides and Republicans believe that such a push would backfire, not unlike the situation that embroiled President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonJudiciary members battle over whether GOP treated fairly in impeachment hearings Lawmakers clash on Trump, Clinton impeachment comparisons Live coverage: House panel debates articles of impeachment MORE, and play to the president's benefit.

 

As Trump watches on at the ongoing impeachment chatter, he continues to fight for his financial records to remain private after a federal judge ruled in favor of a subpoena by House Democrats. The ruling saw District Judge Amit Mehta reject nearly all of the president’s legal arguments, upholding the subpoena issued to Mazars, the president’s accounting firm. As Jacqueline Thomsen and Naomi Jagoda write, the president’s legal team is banking on the same arguments to block similar subpoenas, a sign that he could lose in court again.

 

The Washington Post: A confidential draft IRS memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless the president asserts executive privilege.



LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: Congressional leaders and White House officials on Tuesday indicated that raising the nation’s limit on federal borrowing in order to avert default will be woven into a broader measure to keep the government funded when the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

 

However, White House officials had been urging Congress to raise the debt ceiling as soon as possible through a measure delinked from budget battles yet to come.

 

"We all agree the debt ceiling is going to be part of an overall deal, but we're not discussing that right now,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave Krystal Ball: Is this how Bernie Sanders will break the establishment? MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters after meeting with Congress’s three other party leaders and the president’s senior advisers. Schumer and Pelosi released a written statement underscoring Democrats’ insistence on parity between any spending increases for defense, favored by Trump and the GOP, and hikes in domestic spending, such as for the U.S. census and veterans.

 

Pelosi and Schumer were joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump McConnell says he'll be in 'total coordination' with White House on impeachment trial strategy MORE (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — Sparks fly as House Judiciary debates impeachment articles MORE (R-Calif.), Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinUS, China reach limited trade deal ahead of tariff deadline Lawmakers strike spending deal to avert shutdown McConnell accuses Democrats of stonewalling funding talks with wall demands  MORE, acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Fox's Chris Wallace calls out Trump for the 'most sustained assault on freedom of the press' in US history MORE and acting White House budget director Russell Vought. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan joined for a portion of the discussions.

 

A White House official confirmed that the administration is now open to combining a debt limit increase and new defense and nondefense budgetary caps, report Alexander Bolton and Niv Elis.

 

> House and Senate members who sought additional details from the administration about intelligence that triggered public warnings about potential strikes by Iran against U.S. interests got their wish. They received information behind closed doors from acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary MORE, and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Pompeo: 'No mistake' Trump warned Russian diplomat about election tampering MORE, a hard-liner about Iran. Trump officials say administration efforts to deter Iran have worked (The Hill).

 

 

 

 

The Tuesday briefing occurred after Trump said he had "no indication" of threats or attacks by Tehran, contrary to administration statements for the past two weeks.

 

Jordain Carney reports that many superficial parallels between the run-up to the Iraq war in 2003 and the situation in Iran this year have lawmakers chattering about “eerie parallels.” Senators from both parties have admonished Trump that there is no appetite in Congress for a new military conflict in the Middle East, especially leading up to 2020 elections.

 

> Pelosi and Schumer are to meet with the president today for their second discussion since April about a potential $2 trillion infrastructure plan and how to pay for it. On Tuesday night, the White House said Congress must ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement before turning to an unrelated measure for U.S. roads, bridges, ports, energy grids and broadband. It’s yet another wrinkle in years of foot-dragging and disputes about priorities and revenue sources involving the nation’s crumbling infrastructure (Reuters).

 

> Republican leaders in Congress as well as the president are distancing themselves from Alabama’s new law banning nearly all abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Alabama’s law potentially complicates a key message Republicans hoped to convey to voters: Democrats lead the party that is extreme on abortion (The Hill).  

  

> Legislation to block tech companies from tracking users online is gaining momentum. On Monday, Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleySenate Republicans air complaints to Trump administration on trade deal Hillicon Valley: Pentagon pushes back on Amazon lawsuit | Lawmakers dismiss Chinese threat to US tech companies | YouTube unveils new anti-harassment policy | Agencies get annual IT grades Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE (R-Mo.) unveiled a "Do Not Track" bill with tough penalties for companies that breach its protections. Efforts to create a “Do Not Track” registry have hit roadblocks for over a decade, but consumer advocates and tech industry critics are optimistic that’s about to change (The Hill). … Meanwhile in tech, GOP senators on Tuesday signaled they are divided over whether to pursue antitrust enforcement against the country's largest tech companies. Some Republican lawmakers who attended a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing slammed the enormous market power of companies such as Facebook and Google. Other senators questioned whether "breaking them up" is a wise idea (The Hill).

 

> House GOP Leader McCarthy this year aided a California firm in his district, BYD Motors, a division of BYD Co., a large Chinese manufacturer, by blocking a bipartisan attempt to limit Chinese companies from contracting with U.S. transit systems. Through a spokesman, the congressman defended his advocacy on behalf of companies in his district and denied any link between BYD’s campaign contributions and his actions in Congress (The Washington Post).

 

***

 

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: 2020 Democratic candidates are starting to embrace litmus tests for potential judicial nominees, a political tool that was considered taboo for a long period of time as the importance of multiple issues takes hold in the race.

 

With several states pushing to enact laws restricting abortion, Democratic hopefuls are pushing to set more explicit ideological and jurisprudential conditions for would-be judicial nominees, according to Max Greenwood. Chief among those conditions: that any potential judicial nominee commits to backing the Roe v. Wade decision.

 

Those pledges underscore the extent to which presidential candidates have become comfortable with shattering what has historically been considered taboo in campaign politics.

 

Politico: Joe BidenJoe BidenSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' Democrat representing Pennsylvania district Trump carried plans to vote to impeach  MORE nets fundraising windfall in 2-day Florida swing.

 

CNN: Six takeaways from Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeButtigieg picks up third congressional endorsement from New York lawmaker Klobuchar hires staff in Nevada Deval Patrick enters 2020 race MORE's town hall.

 

> Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) fought off an unexpectedly tough primary challenge Tuesday night from Robert Goforth, a first-term state legislator, defeating him with 52 percent to Goforth’s 39 percent. Bevin, who first gained notoriety back in 2014 when he primaried McConnell for his seat, has been mired by poor approval ratings after a series of fights with teachers and public sector unions. According to a Morning Consult poll released in April, Bevin is the least popular governor in the U.S.

 

 

 

 

Bevin will face Attorney General Andy Beshear, who won a three-way primary fight for the right to take on the incumbent governor in November. Beshear topped Rocky Adkins, the state House minority leader, by six percent.

 

The Courier-Journal: Andy Beshear wins the Democratic primary for Kentucky governor

 

“In his victory speech, Beshear noted how Bevin barely received 50% of the vote in the GOP primary. He knocked the governor for name calling and bullying others, saying this race shouldn't be defined by attacks or national partisanship.   

 

‘I will tell you what I see: This race is not about what's going on in Washington, D.C.,’ Beshear said. ‘It's not about right versus left. Folks, it's about right versus wrong.’"

 

> Fred Keller, a Pennsylvania state legislator, won his special election in the state’s 12th congressional district Tuesday night to replace former Rep. Tom MarinoThomas (Tom) Anthony MarinoWhy the North Carolina special election has national implications The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Republican wins special House election in Pennsylvania MORE (R-Pa.). Keller’s took home 70 percent of the vote in the deep red district (The Hill).

 

Keller’s win came after Trump held a campaign rally in Montoursville, Pa., on election eve. Once Keller is sworn into office, there will only be two vacant seats remaining in the House, both in North Carolina. The 9th district’s seat remains vacant as no winner was certified after the November election. The 3rd district is also without representation after the death of the late Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesRepublican Greg Murphy wins special election in NC's 3rd District Early voting extended in NC counties impacted by Dorian ahead of key House race The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina special election poses test for GOP ahead of 2020 MORE (R-N.C.).

 

Special elections for both seats will be held on September 10.

 

> Iowa Democrats are expecting a massive turnout on caucus night, bolstered by two dozen candidates pushing voters to the polls. As Reid Wilson reports, the party is conscious of screw-ups in 2008 and 2016 that led to grumbling from losing candidates, and they’re worried about outlets such as Fox News exploiting those divisions this time.

 

To avert disaster, they’ve embarked on an ambitious plan to lock down as many caucus sites and backups as possible — but even then, counting is likely to be slow if a thousand people turn out at a single precinct.

 

The Hill: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices | Senate confirms Trump FDA pick | Trump officials approve Medicaid work requirements in South Carolina Sanders endorses Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur for Katie Hill's former House seat Kamala Harris dropped out, but let's keep her mental health plan alive MORE (D-Calif.) seeks Iowa edge with army of volunteers.



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

INTERNATIONAL: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday rejected the idea of talks with the United States after Trump suggested Iran would ask for negotiations about sanctions relief and its nuclear program “if and when they are ever ready.” Rouhani was quoted by the state news agency as saying, “Today’s situation is not suitable for talks and our choice is resistance only” (Reuters).

 

> North Korea stepped up its campaign on Tuesday seeking the return by the United States of a seized cargo ship belonging to Pyongyang, warning Washington at a rare United Nations news conference that the Trump administration violated its sovereignty in a move that could affect “future developments” between the countries (Reuters).

 

> China: Remarks by President Xi Jinping on Monday about a “long march” ahead for his country was perceived as a sign that Beijing does not anticipate an end to the trade war with the United States anytime soon. “Now there is a new long march, and we should make a new start,” Xi told a cheering crowd in Jiangxi Province as he started a domestic tour that is seen as an attempt to rally the nation as trade tensions with the United States escalate (The New York Times).

 

> Brexit: British Prime Minister Theresa MayTheresa Mary MayThe British election will show the undeniable power of nationalism Is Corbyn handing Brexit to Boris Johnson? Boris Johnson is under pressure to stand up to Trump on climate change MORE, whose weakened political status has encouraged U.K. voters to anticipate a successor, urged U.K. lawmakers on Tuesday to back her “new” Brexit deal, which would include a binding vote by Parliament in June on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum (The Washington Post). The prime minister defends her proposal before the House of Commons today (The Associated Press).



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Why a trade war with China is a dangerous game for America, by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and Timothy Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, opinion contributors, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2VWP7or

 

Women’s civil rights are not a state issue, by Lois Shepherd, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2VWP7or



WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Khanna, Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHouse passes sweeping Pelosi bill to lower drug prices Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — House panel unveils rival fix for surprise medical bills | Democrats punt vote on youth vaping bill | Pelosi drug bill poised for passage after deal with progressives Comey, Schiff to be interviewed by Fox's Chris Wallace MORE (D-Wash.), and Ryan Grim, The Intercept’s Washington bureau chief. http://thehill.com/hilltv

 

The House convenes at 10 a.m.

 

The Senate will meet at 9:30 a.m. and will resume consideration of Howard C. Nielson Jr. to be a United States district judge for the District of Utah.

 

The president meets with Democratic lawmakers this morning to discuss the potential for an infrastructure spending agreement. Trump presents the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor this afternoon. In the evening, the president hosts a roundtable with political supporters and speaks to a fundraising reception in the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

 

The vice president will travel this morning to North Carolina to attend a Republican National Convention kickoff in Charlotte at 12:30 p.m.. Pence will tour Parkdale Mills, a textile company in Monroe, N.C., and deliver remarks at 3:10 p.m. The vice president will travel to Greensboro, N.C., to attend a Trump Victory political event.

 

Mnuchin testifies at 9 a.m. before the House Financial Services Committee about the state of the international financial system.

 

The Center for American Progress hosts its annual ideas festival in Washington beginning at 9 a.m. featuring a packed roster of Democratic speakers including Pelosi, Stacey Abrams of Georgia, a collection of Democrats from the House and Senate and at least two mayors (one current and one out of office) who gave serious thought to running for president in 2020, but decided against it. Information and live stream HERE.



ELSEWHERE

Tech: Alphabet Inc.’s Google moved this week to voluntarily cut off most dealings with Chinese telecom company Huawei, a move that presents risks for Silicon Valley (The Hill). Meanwhile, the Trump administration reversed course on Tuesday and temporarily eased trade restrictions on Huawei at the same time that the founder of the world’s largest telecom equipment maker said the United States is underestimating and “bullying” the company (Reuters).

 

State Watch: A coalition of 23 Democratic-led states, counties and municipalities is suing the Trump administration over a final rule that protects health care providers who refuse to provide care on the basis of their religious beliefs. The lawsuit, announced Tuesday, was filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) and seeks to block the federal rule and have it declared unconstitutional (The Hill).

 

In the Know: After a cringeworthy moment on Capitol Hill Tuesday when Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon Carson'Housing First' approach won't solve homelessness crisis Clarence Thomas blasts his Biden-led confirmation hearings: 'The idea was to get rid of me' Affordable housing crisis demands urgent, sustained action MORE appeared to think he’d been asked about an iconic cookie instead of an “REO” (real estate owned) foreclosure, Oreo had some fun at everyone’s expense, tweeting that the term stands for “Really Excellent OREO (cookie)” and adding that “everybody knows that.” Carson’s comment came in response to Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) during a House Financial Services Committee hearing. He later joked about his response to the California Democrat, adding that he was sending some Oreos her way (The Hill).



THE CLOSER

And finally …  Adopt a mustang and receive $1,000 from the government! No, not a four-wheeled sports car but a four-legged horse.

 

Available land in the United States can no longer sustain a growing population of wild horses, so the budget-conscious federal Bureau of Land Management, which rounds up thousands of horses and donkeys on designated land each year, began offering a financial incentive in March to people who can adopt and relocate wild horses.

 

To qualify, adopters must have enough grazing land and no history of animal abuse. Those approved get a wild horse, a $500 payment up front, and $500 one year later, with a cap of four horses per adopter.

 

The Humane Society and the American Wild Horse Campaign say the government’s round-ups can be dangerous for herds in the West, and they point to the risk that after adoption, horses may be illegally sold for slaughter. The groups say they would prefer the government focus annual efforts on fertility control (CBS News).