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The Hill’s Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan

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*** BREAKING THIS MORNING: Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom announced she is resigning on June 7 after again failing to find support for her Brexit plan to withdraw from the European Union by an Oct. 31 deadline. Her departure triggers a leadership contest in the Conservative Party. *** 



President Trump is poised to visit Japan twice in a month, once to be feted and the second time, he hopes, to be feared. 

{mosads}His four-day visit to Tokyo this weekend as the guest of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whom Trump has called “a great guy, fantastic man,” will include golf, attendance at a sumo wrestling match, a tour of an aircraft carrier, plus the history-making pomp of a state banquet hosted by the new Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.

It’s a chance for Trump to leave behind his complaints about investigations into his administration and his finances, clashes with House Democrats and 2020 presidential challengers, and threats posed by Iran, North Korea, and Russia and a trade war with China.

The weekend of pageantry and friendship will pass quickly, and announcements about trade agreements between the United States and Japan are not expected. Trump will return to Japan in just a few weeks for the Group of 20 summit, where trade and other tensions reawaken among allies and partners. In between, the president in early June will make a state visit to the United Kingdom, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump and four of his children (The Telegraph).

Trump envisions going mano a mano with Chinese President Xi Jinping over trade during a bilateral meeting that Beijing suggested this week may not take place in Osaka after all. Trump simply says he’ll see Xi at the summit on June 28 and 29.

For U.S. farmers, manufacturers and investors, there is a lot riding on Trump’s rollercoaster approach to Beijing and his reliance on tariffs as leverage to try to force concessions from China on trade and intellectual property. The president has said Xi may decide he can wait to see who occupies the Oval Office in 2021. 

Meantime, Xi is stoking China’s sense of nationalism against the United States and Trump is neck-deep into his tariffs strategy, arguing the United States can wait China out, too.

But there’s a domestic price: The president on Thursday approved another $16 billion in federal payouts to U.S. farmers and ranchers hurt by the tariffs war, on top of $12 billion in subsidies made available last year. And the administration this week eased back on Trump’s threats to escalate the tariffs on Chinese goods in order to study the impact on U.S. consumers.

“The farmers have been attacked by China,” Trump said on Thursday. “China has been unfair to this country for many, many years. Finally, we have somebody that’s fighting back and, by the way, successfully fighting back. We’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars.”

The Hill: Trump says he’ll be Japan’s guest of honor at the biggest event they’ve had in 200 years.

TIME: During Trump’s visit, “The mood is the message.”

The Washington Post: From the Emperor to sumo wrestling, Abe harnesses Japan’s traditions to impress Trump. 

Reuters: Japan tells Iran it would like to maintain and expand friendly relations with that country.


POLITICS & PROBES: Trump on Thursday ordered U.S. intelligence officials to cooperate with Attorney General William Barr’s examination of whether surveillance of Trump’s campaign occurred before the 2016 election. The president gave Barr “full and complete authority” to declassify information related to the review of alleged “spying” during the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference with the presidential contest (The Hill).

{mossecondads}The Hill: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) says special counsel Robert Mueller wants to testify, but in private. 

> There aren’t many places GOP campaigns enjoy more these days than a Trump-branded property. 

As Reid Wilson reports, Republican campaigns have spent nearly $5 million at Trump properties, including Mar-a-Lago and his hotel in Washington since the president’s 2016 victory. Among those Trump is making big money off are his own campaign and the Republican National Committee. 

In total, more than three dozen GOP members of Congress have held fundraisers at Trump properties, including Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), a freshman congressman and the older brother of Vice President Pence.

Additionally, Trump’s reelection campaign has spent $1.5 million at the properties to host fundraisers and rent space, while the Republican National Committee has spent $1.1 million.

> The bad blood is already brewing between allies of Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.). 

With a potential primary challenge on deck against the incumbent Republican, the knives are coming out on each side as a bid from the GOP congressman and former chair of the Republican Study Committee is increasingly likely, which Politico reported Thursday.

According to three sources, Walker is likely to take the plunge. One source went so far as to say it is “definitely going to happen,” while another said there was a 70 percent chance.

The main reason for a possible bid is Tillis’s standing in the state. According to multiple GOP sources, Tillis has work to do back home after making two potentially fatal moves: helping push a bill to protect Mueller, and penning an op-ed in which he opposed Trump’s emergency declaration to build a wall at the southern border. A poll by the GOP firm WPA Intelligence found that only 17 percent of Republican primary voters said they would support Tillis regardless of any primary opponent. He sits in the low 40s in potential primary matchups.

“As a Republican, and you’re polling Republicans, and your hard reelect number is 17 percent, you’re so far underwater, you need a SCUBA tank, not a snorkel,” said one North Carolina Republican operative. “A bruising primary with Tillis as the nominee does no more damage than the self-inflicted gunshot wounds he’s already done to himself.” 

The one thing that could help Tillis, the operative added, was the stamp of approval from Trump, which has been elusive thus far. While it is unknown if Trump would endorse in a hypothetical matchup between the two, he is already being lobbied heavily by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Republican National Committee to support the incumbent Republican. 



After news of the Club for Growth’s push for Walker circulated, allies of Tillis and McConnell emerged and did so with a vengeance, offering a hint of things to come in a potential primary battle. Josh Holmes, McConnell’s former chief of staff, took aim at the conservative political action committee for what he argued was a lackluster performance in 2018. Holmes argued the only Senate candidates the PAC spent heavily on who emerged victorious were Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.). Candidates supported by the group lost contests in Montana and Wisconsin.

“I don’t know a whole lot about Walker, but I do know that nobody should consider a United States Senate run based on the Club for Growth, which, best I can tell, hasn’t won anything in years,” Holmes said .

Some GOP operatives have speculated that this is a play by Walker to make a run at the open seat in 2022 that is held by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is not running for reelection. However, a source familiar with Walker’s thinking says that’s not the case.

“Multiple signs and conversations, as well as the poll, show North Carolina is upset that Tillis has abandoned his principles and ready to support Mark Walker as a conservative senator in 2020,” the source said. 

Some say a bid in 2020 would be preferable to one in 2022 for one reason: Walker would have a tough time emerging from a crowded primary and would better chance in a fight against Tillis.

“He has a better chance of running now and taking on Tillis than he does running in an open seat that has people that, quite frankly, could beat him easily,” the North Carolina GOP operative said.

David M. Drucker, Vanity Fair: “Everything old can be new again”: Inside the GOP operation to take down Joe Biden.

Hugh Hewitt: 2020 Democrats have one mission: Sink battleship Biden.

The Associated Press: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos becoming popular target for Democrats in 2020 race.

The Washington Post: While teaching, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) worked on more than 50 legal matters, charging as much as $675 an hour.

The New York Times: 2020 Democrats join McDonald’s workers striking over wages and harassment.


CONGRESS: Lawmakers may have fled Washington on Thursday, but the feud between the president and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took another turn as the two lobbed increasingly personal attacks at one another a day after their infamous, brief meeting at the White House to discuss infrastructure.

Trump escalated his attacks by questioning her mental stability, saying “she’s lost it,” and questioning whether she understands his administration’s overhaul of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The remarks came hours after Pelosi questioned his fitness to serve, which Trump deemed “a nasty-type statement.” She added that he needs an “intervention” from either staff or his family for the sake of the U.S. (The Hill).



“I have been watching her for a long period of time. She’s not the same person. She’s lost it,” Trump said, referring to himself once again as an “extremely stable genius,” a line Pelosi homed in on soon after.

“When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues,” Pelosi shot back.

“She’s a mess. Look, let’s face it. She doesn’t understand it,” Trump continued, referring to the NAFTA revision. “And [administration officials] sort of feel she’s disintegrating before their eyes,” he added.

The back-and-forth came after Trump hastily left a meeting between him and congressional Democrats at the White House on infrastructure, declaring that they cannot negotiate on anything unless they drop investigations into the president and related areas. The ongoing feud between Trump and House Democrats has led the latter to increase calls for impeachment, including among leadership and committee chairs.

> As Trump and Pelosi argued about whether they could work on anything, the Senate finally passed a disaster aid bill Thursday ahead of the Memorial Day recess after weeks of negotiations. At one point on Wednesday night, it had appeared the measure could be derailed because of differences over immigration-related issues, such as funding for migrant detention beds.

The bill includes $19.1 billion in aid for areas affected by hurricanes, flooding and wildfires, including $900 million for Puerto Rico, but no funding for humanitarian aid at the border, despite the administration’s push.

“We’ve proposed … that we come forth with a clean disaster package, a lot of things off including border security stuff, just disaster, basically. And the president said OK,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters.

> For once, the Justice Department and House Democrats are cooperating.

Despite near-constant stonewalling by the administration, the Justice Department and the House Intelligence Committee made a breakthrough in negotiations that will allow select lawmakers a look at highly sensitive intelligence files that were collected by Mueller, according to Morgan Chalfant. 

While the Justice Department has fallen short of meeting all of their demands, Democrats on the Intelligence panel — including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) — are encouraged by the developments.

The Hill: Frustration boils over with Senate’s “legislative graveyard.”

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Time to seal the deal on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, by Earl Anthony Wayne of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, opinion contributor, The Hill.

Centrists are the Democrats knocking down the House, by Jessica Tarlov, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) talking about his new book, singer/songwriter Andy Grammer and former Defense Intelligence Agency Deputy Director Douglas Wise, who gets behind the story of John Walker Lindh’s release from prison after 17 years.

The House is out until June 4. 

The Senate returns to work on June 3.

The president and the first lady depart at noon today for Tokyo, Japan, for a state visit before returning to the United States on Tuesday.

The Census Bureau releases data about U.S. manufacturers’ durable goods orders in April at 8:30 a.m., information sought by analysts for clues about economic expansion and manufacturers’ planning.


Measles: Your children may be barred from summer camp without proof of measles vaccination. As the United States battles its worst measles outbreak in 25 years, summer programs say they’re prepared to turn away youngsters whose parents opted not to vaccinate them. As many as 10 million children in the United States attend summer day and overnight camps (Reuters).

Julian Assange: The U.S. filed new charges against Wikileaks founder Assange on Thursday, accusing him of placing the United States at risk of serious harm by publishing thousands of secret and classified documents. The case raises questions about media freedom and whether the Justice Department is charging Assange for actions journalists perform in their work. Assange, 47, is in custody in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. The U.S. is seeking his extradition (The Associated Press).

Sexual misconduct: Harvey Weinstein and his former studio’s board members are said to have reached a tentative $44 million deal to resolve lawsuits filed by women who accused him of sexual misconduct and by the New York State attorney general. The lawsuits were one of the main avenues by which the former movie mogul could be held accountable for allegations of sexual harassment filed by more than 80 women. Weinstein faces criminal charges in New York for allegations of sexual violence against two women (The New York Times).

Urban demographics: The largest cities in America are growing at the slowest pace since before the Great Recession more than a decade ago, according to the Census Bureau. Three of the nation’s largest cities — New York, Chicago and San Jose, Calif. — have fewer residents, not more. Many of the cities that have seen their populations drop the fastest since 2010 are in Rust Belt states (The Hill).

Political currency: Plans to redesign the $20 bill, replacing former President Andrew Jackson with Underground Railroad leader Harriet Tubman, are on hold until at least 2026, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced this week. A new bill will not be in circulation before 2028 (The Washington Post). … The Washington Post editorial board calls the secretary’s explanation about delaying the $20 bill’s redesign “insulting.”

Vietnam Memorial: An exhaustive, four-year study of the iconic black granite memorial concluded that while the Wall bears 58,390 names, those names represent 58,276 people due to errors and miscounts (The Washington Post).



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

Here are the triumphant trivia masters who know a lot about late night television history: Lorraine Lindberg, William Chittam, Donna Nackers, Peter Delloro, Andrew Kokas, Stephen Richard Staronka, Margaret Gainer, Gary Breakfield, Charlie Seymour Jr., Allyson Foster, Josie Hmmon, Richard Farrell, Greg Katz, Randall S. Patrick, David Straney, Jerry Kovar, Carol Katz, Rich Gruber, Jeanne Kosch and Noel St. Pre.

Conan O’Brien took over as host of “The Tonight Show” in 2009 after being named Jay Leno’s successor in 2004. O’Brien was replaced by Leno in 2010. 

Former President Clinton played the saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show prior to the 1992 presidential election.

Max Weinberg, the longtime drummer for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, was O’Brien’s bandleader from 1993 and 2010.

After guest-hosting “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” during the summer of 2013, John Oliver left the show to start “Last Week Tonight” on HBO in 2014.


Tags Adam Schiff Betsy DeVos Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Greg Pence House Japan Jerrold Nadler Joe Biden Josh Hawley Julian Assange Mark Walker Melania Trump Mitch McConnell Morning Report Nancy Pelosi Pelosi-Trump feud Richard Burr Richard Shelby Robert Mueller Senate Steven Mnuchin Ted Cruz Theresa May Thom Tillis Tom Cotton United Kingdom William Barr

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