The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems, progressives preview anti-Biden offensive




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy June and hooray for Monday! 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.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE didn’t make the trip to California along with most of the 2020 field this weekend, yet his presence was felt as competitors tried to hack away at his front-runner status.


Biden was the target of numerous attacks from leading Democrats, though none name-checked him personally, as the 2020 field pushed to ingratiate themselves with progressive activists and give them a leg up with California primary voters as the state’s importance in the Democratic primary calendar. Headlined by barbs from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE (I-Vt.), a darling of progressives and the top challenger to the 2020 front-runner, multiple candidates argued that the party should not to look into the past at a moderating voice rather than someone they believe can carry the progressive baton into the future.


The line of attack is a chorus Democrats will likely use in the coming weeks and months to ding Biden, who has led in national and early primary state polling since he entered the race in late April. The former vice president instead made an appearance in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday night to keynote a Human Rights Campaign dinner.


"As you all know, there is a debate among presidential candidates who have spoken to you here in this room and those who have chosen for whatever reason not to be in this room about the best way forward," Sanders told booing attendees at the California Democratic Party convention. "So let me be as clear as I can be: in my view, we will not beat Donald Trump unless we bring excitement and energy into the campaign.”


“And unless we give millions of working people and young people a reason to vote and a reason to believe that politics is relevant to their lives.”


Additionally, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFive top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum Abrams helps launch initiative to train women activists, organizers This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election MORE (D) told the crowd that Democrats need “a different message and a different messenger,” adding that the party can’t keep a promise “to take us back to the 2000s and 1990s,” a veiled shot at Biden.


The New York Times: California, now an “early primary state,” is a conundrum for Democrats.


The Washington Post: Liberals go after Joe Biden, trying to blunt his presidential candidacy and the recent centrist surge in the Democratic Party.


USA Today: Biden faces stiff criticism from Democrats for skipping California convention.


The Associated Press: Biden declares LGBTQ rights his No. 1 legislative priority.


In just more than three weeks, Sanders, Buttigieg and others will be able to make the case directly when candidates convene for the first debate of the 2020 cycle. While top-tier candidates look ahead to the debate stage and a possible joint date with Biden, lower-tier candidates are just trying to make the debate stage as their prospects of winning the party’s nomination are increasingly grim.


As Scott Wong writes, lower-tier candidates — including former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLeft off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa Yang says he would not run as a third-party candidate The Hill's Morning Report - Hurricane Dorian devastates the Bahamas, creeps along Florida coast MORE, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanFive top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers MORE (D-Ohio) and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate 5 takeaways from fiery Democratic debate Left off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa MORE — are simply waiting for their moment despite polling consistently at 1 percent, giving them little to no hope of becoming the party’s standard-bearer. They argue that if Biden and Sanders stumble, it would create a wide-open primary race and give them a chance, which is all they ask for.


“If you go back and look at the history of these races, the person in the lead or the top two people or three people in the lead never end up being the ones who win,” Ryan said “You can ask President Joe Lieberman or President Howard Dean or any of these guys. It's very, very early.”


As these Democrats wait for their moment, Biden isn’t waiting for anything as his allies push his former Senate colleagues and current Senate Democrats to come out and support him now. However, they are hesitant to do so with seven of their Senate colleagues also in the race.


As Alexander Bolton reports, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), one of Biden’s surrogates on Capitol Hill, has felt out colleagues about potential endorsements, while Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyEx-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs The Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Democrats press Trump Treasury picks on donor disclosure guidelines MORE (D-Pa.), another supporter, is making the argument that Biden can win the key state of Pennsylvania. But lawmakers are holding back out of wariness about offending colleagues who are also running.


The New York Times: The Fox News primary? How Trump’s favorite network became a Democratic power player.


Politico: Inside Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying MORE's (D-Mass.) battle plan to win Iowa — and the nomination.





MORNING REPORT EXCLUSIVE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE’s reelection team is staffing up its press operation as it moves toward a formal campaign launch in mid-June. The campaign added Sarah Matthews and Daniel Bucheli as deputy press secretaries. Matthews worked for the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Bucheli served in Rep. Ross SpanoVincent (Ross) Ross SpanoDemocratic rep says she's tired of 'sex-starved males' talking about abortion rights The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems, progressives preview anti-Biden offensive Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill MORE’s (R-Fla.) office. Bucheli will be a campaign liaison with Spanish-language media. Andrew Clark, formerly with the National Association of Manufacturers, will be the campaign’s director of rapid response. All three start today.


Additionally, Francis Brennan is leaving his role as co-founder of the NTK Network to become director of strategic response and to oversee the Trump campaign’s war room. He will join the campaign later this month.


CONGRESS: As lawmakers return to work this week, impeachment fever appears contagious among an increasing number of Democrats. Some members of the House Judiciary Committee believe an official impeachment inquiry would raise the public stakes as the Trump administration balks at investigations, advises witnesses not to testify, and refuses requests for information and documents, even under subpoena. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerWords matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Nadler: Impeachment inquiry a 'made-up term' but it's essentially 'what we are doing' DOJ files brief arguing against House impeachment probe MORE (D-N.Y.) is squeezed between colleagues who are impatient for an impeachment process and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico This week: House jump-starts effort to prevent shutdown Schumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill MORE (D-Calif.), who is resistant (The Hill).


Speaking over the weekend at a California Democratic Party convention, Pelosi continued to deflect calls for impeachment, arguing instead for a step-by-step approach to continued investigations and evidence gathering.


"It's about patriotism, it's about the sanctity of the Constitution and it's about the future of our nation," she said. "We will go where the facts lead us. We will insist on the truth. We will build an ironclad case to act" (The Hill).


Congressional Research Service: How the impeachment process works.


The pressure on House Democrats to move ahead is increasingly coming from constituents in progressive and swing districts, which has forced some lawmakers to walk a political tightrope between assailing Trump and urging their party to use caution (The Hill).





On Sunday, House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said he thinks the House will impeach Trump at “some point,” but he said a case based on evidence must be made first. He was interviewed by Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' O'Rourke's debate moment reignites gun debate on Sunday shows Cicilline: O'Rourke's AR-15 comment 'doesn't help' MORE on CNN’s “State of the Union” (The Hill).


> On the legislative front, Democrats in Congress are frustrated that their ambitions for tough climate change legislation have been checkmated by the Trump administration’s environmental policies and the GOP majority in the Senate. The newest Democratic objections as the party looks ahead to 2020 deal with the administration’s actions to minimize the role of science in assessing dangers from climate changes worldwide (The Hill).


> The week ahead in Congress: The House will again seek to pass a $19 billion disaster assistance bill that has been in limbo for weeks, this time through a roll call vote (The Hill). Congress also vows to work on bills that would seek to lower prescription drug costs, fund the government, increase the nation’s authority to borrow and wrestle with some immigration issues (The Associated Press).


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump has already made waves in London today as he landed in the United Kingdom for a long-awaited state visit, replete with VIP hospitality provided by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles plus a meeting later this week with Prime Minister Theresa MayTheresa Mary MayQueen Elizabeth to honor ex-British ambassador who called Trump 'inept' UK cabinet member resigns over Johnson's 'political vandalism' Revenge of the base: How 'democratic' reforms led to anti-democratic results in UK and US MORE, soon to exit from 10 Downing St (The Hill). The president will also be trailed by protesters (ABC News). Trump plans a stopover in Ireland on Wednesday before visiting France and President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronWhistleblower Edward Snowden calls on Macron to grant him asylum in France Trump to meet with India's Modi in Texas, Australia's Morrison in Ohio Amazon tribal chief nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for effort to protect rainforest MORE on Thursday for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.


Reuters: Trump rocks the boat as he arrives for banquet with the British Queen.


Before landing aboard Air Force One in Great Britain this morning, Trump tweeted an insult, calling London Mayor Sadiq Khan a “stone cold loser.” The president previously sparked an international furor following an Oval Office interview with Britain’s The Sun newspaper by using the word “nasty” to describe remarks Meghan MarkleMeghan MarklePrince Harry launches initiative to tackle travel industry's impact on climate Prince Harry talks about 'unconscious bias' and racism with Jane Goodall Christian group warns against rise of 'Christian nationalism' MORE, the Duchess of Sussex, made about him. Trump subsequently tried to deny his “nasty” comment, which was recorded.


> Election protection: Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump Justice OIG completes probe on FBI surveillance of ex-Trump campaign aide MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyNOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Democrats ramp up calls to investigate NOAA MORE, during separate interviews in recent days, said the administration continues to take steps to safeguard the 2020 elections from foreign interference, including by the Russians.


Both men said Russia without a doubt meddled in the 2016 election, an admission Trump largely avoids. Former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE devoted a large segment of his lengthy report to Russia’s successful efforts to interfere in the presidential race to benefit Trump.


Barr told CBS News last week that he recently spoke with FBI Director Christopher Wray about creating “a special high-level group to make sure we’re totally prepared for the upcoming elections” (The Hill). We do have, I think, an increasingly robust program that is focusing on foreign influence in our election process," Barr said.


Mulvaney said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that “Russia did attempt to interfere in our election. There is no question.”


He went after the Obama administration for, in his view, not doing about the Russian interference in 2016.  Mulvaney added that the Trump administration has condemned the foreign interference for two years, and through the Justice and Homeland Security departments is “working with the states to make sure this can’t happen again.”


The Guardian: Experts say the Trump administration is not doing enough to thwart Russian meddling in 2020 elections. Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenProgressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum Key Senate Democrat unveils proposal to tax the rich Overnight Health Care: Trump seeks ban on flavored e-cigarettes | Purdue Pharma nears settlement with states, cities over alleged role in opioid epidemic | Senate panel cancels vote on key spending bill amid standoff MORE (D-Ore.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTop Democrat demands answers from CBP on security of biometric data 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft State probes of Google, Facebook to test century-old antitrust laws MORE (D-Va.) have introduced separate bills to address gaps in election security.


Wray recently warned about the threat of Russian interference in 2020. “We continue to assess that the Russians are focused on sowing divisiveness and discord in this country and pitting us against each other – and that part I think we see alive and well,” Wray told a Senate Appropriations panel. Wray also instructed 2020 campaigns to inform the FBI if they receive suspicious contact from foreign nationals.


The FBI director spoke about the 2020 election vulnerabilities during an April speech to the Council on Foreign Relations (The Hill).


> Tariffs: The United States and Mexico have begun gearing up for trade talks in Washington this week while Trump is in Europe (Reuters) aimed at discussing the president’s latest threat to levy escalating tariffs on all imported goods from Mexico unless the government there does more to crack down on illegal immigration at the U.S. southern border. The summit is scheduled on Wednesday (The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times).


> Diplomacy: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Gabbard warns Trump: Acting like 'Saudi Arabia's b---- is not "America First"' Trump ramps up rhetoric on Iran MORE, traveling in Switzerland on Sunday, said the United States is willing to negotiate with Iran over sanctions and its nuclear program with “no preconditions” (The New York Times). … Pompeo also recently told an audience of Jewish leaders that Trump’s still pending Middle East peace plan might not “gain traction,” according to an audio recording of the private meeting obtained by The Washington Post. “It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, ‘It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me,’ that is, ‘It’s got two good things and nine bad things, I’m out,’ ” Pompeo told the group. “The big question is, can we get enough space that we can have a real conversation about how to build this out?”


> Following a controversy over attempts by the White House to keep the USS John McCainJohn Sidney McCain The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Biden's debate performance renews questions of health At debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR MORE Navy destroyer out of Trump’s line of sight while he was in Japan in May, the Pentagon advised the White House to stop politicizing the military. 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 confirmed details about a Navy email that said the White House military affairs office wanted the USS John McCain “out of sight” when Trump visited (The Associated Press).  


Other news from the administration … Kevin Hassett, chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is leaving the administration in “about a month,” he told the president last week (The Washington Post).  … Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is visiting Afghanistan, Belgium, Germany, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates through June 16 as part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process to end the conflict in Afghanistan (The Hill). … White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown Exclusive: Kushner tells GOP it needs to unify behind immigration plan Arrests at southern border drop to 64K in August MORE, interviewed by Axios on HBO, said he’s not sure the Palestinians are capable of governing themselves (Axios). The interview was broadcast on Sunday, but conducted before Kushner’s recent trip to Israel.

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!


Clear leaders have emerged in the Democratic pack, by Albert Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill.


A new credit bubble gets ready to burst, by Steven Pearlstein, columnist, The Washington Post.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Earl Anthony Wayne, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico for four years; Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; and filmmaker Phelim McAleer.


The House meets at 2 p.m. and will vote on the $19.1 billion disaster assistance package that passed the Senate on May 23.


The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of a fiscal 2020 budget bill that also includes budgetary levels for fiscal 2021 through fiscal 2029.


The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico Melania Trump to attend reopening of Washington Monument Former speechwriter says Michelle Obama came up with 'when they go low we go high' line MORE are in London for a state visit to Great Britain and Ireland through Wednesday, followed by a visit to France on Thursday. Trump today was welcomed to Buckingham Palace by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla Parker Bowles. The queen hosts a lunch for the president. The queen gives Trump and the first lady a tour of art from the royal collection. Trump and the first lady visit Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and later have tea with Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. The president and first lady attend a state banquet in the evening hosted by the queen. She and the president will make remarks.


The Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that opposes abortion, holds an annual gala dinner at 7:30 p.m. at the Mellon Auditorium featuring remarks from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Senator asked FBI to follow up on new information about Kavanaugh last year Congress must reinstate assault weapons ban MORE (R-Ky.) and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyJuan Williams: Why does Trump fear GOP voters? Can Carl DeMaio save the California GOP? Treasury: US deficit tops trillion in 11 months MORE. Information HERE.


Cancer drugs: Pharmaceuticals are making headway against lung, breast and prostate cancers, according to results featured over the weekend at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago. The downside: Many of the drugs cost $100,000 or more a year, although what patients pay out of pocket varies depending on insurance, income and other criteria (The Associated Press).


Marijuana: Supporters of marijuana legalization say they’re disappointed by activity in key states after anticipating momentum this year during legislative sessions. Legalization bills stalled in half a dozen states as opposition rose within minority communities (The Hill).


The Imitation Game: For years, NBA star Stephen Curry has produced one jaw-dropping highlight after another. And now basketball impersonators offer fans humorous versions of the NBA star. Brandon Armstrong and Maxim Peranidze make waves in sports by impersonating the likes of Curry, Klay Thompson and Russell Westbrook in much-watched Instagram videos (The New York Times). As for real hoops, the Golden State Warriors turned in a 109-104 victory in Game 2 versus the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Game 3 will take place Wednesday night in Oakland.





And finally … Not to sound the alarm on an upbeat Monday morning, but hurricane season officially began on Saturday, and 7.3 million homes across the United States are at risk of damage from storm surge, which is more destructive than hurricane wind hazards. Florida has more than 2.9 million homes located in areas prone to wreckage from storm surge, more than any other state. Louisiana is second, followed by New York and Texas (MarketWatch).


During the hurricane season this year, which runs through Nov. 30, weather soothsayers are predicting an average or below average number of hurricanes, which could be nine to 15 named storms.


All property owners need flood insurance, says Craig Fugate, former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (The Monitor). “Your standard homeowner’s policy does not cover damage due to rising water,” Fugate says. “So people who have bought homes, paid insurance every year and thought they were covered, then found out (after a storm) that they lost everything.”


Experts recommend talking with your insurer or the National Flood Insurance Program at 800-427-4661. There’s more FEMA information about federal flood insurance HERE and HERE. Congress recently extended the government’s flood insurance program through mid-June (Bloomberg).