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 BidenImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Juan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete 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 SandersJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal 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 ButtigiegJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal 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 HickenlooperKrystal Ball dismisses Rahm Emanuel's 'Medicare for All' criticism as a 'corporatist mantra' Trump says remark about Colorado border wall was made 'kiddingly' Colorado governor mocks Trump for saying he's building wall there MORE, Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanStrategists say Warren 'Medicare for All' plan could appeal to centrists Trump mocks O'Rourke after Democrat drops out of race The Memo: What the leading 2020 Dems need to do MORE (D-Ohio) and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeO'Rourke ends presidential bid Sunrise Movement organizer: Sanders, Warren boast strongest climate change plans Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate 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 CaseyNew ObamaCare enrollment period faces Trump headwinds Scrap House defense authorization provision benefitting Russia Here are the Senate Democrats backing a Trump impeachment inquiry over Ukraine call 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 WarrenJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race MORE's (D-Mass.) battle plan to win Iowa — and the nomination.





MORNING REPORT EXCLUSIVE: President TrumpDonald John TrumpThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Impeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Judd Gregg: The big, big and bigger problem 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 SpanoHouse Ethics Committee reviewing two GOP lawmakers over campaign finance Democratic 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 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 NadlerAs impeachment goes public, forget 'conventional wisdom' What this 'impeachment' is really about — and it's not the Constitution Trump officials weigh adding more countries to travel ban list: report MORE (D-N.Y.) is squeezed between colleagues who are impatient for an impeachment process and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Klobuchar: 'I have seen no reason why' Hunter Biden would need to testify Johnson dismisses testimony from White House officials contradicting Trump as 'just their impression' 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 TapperRepublicans, Democrats brace for first public testimony in impeachment inquiry Johnson dismisses testimony from White House officials contradicting Trump as 'just their impression' Saagar Enjeti: Harris campaign 'is failing because she doesn't stand for anything' 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 MayThe US needs a Secretary of Loneliness EU pushes Brexit deadline back to Jan. 31 Hold the Brexit Champagne 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 MacronTrump, NATO chief to meet at White House Macron: NATO experiencing 'brain death' Man arrested in France mosque attack 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 MarkleTrump says he 'can understand' Meghan Markle and her struggles with media scrutiny Dozens of women MPs sign letter in support of Meghan Markle Ocasio-Cortez, Monica Lewinsky empathize with Meghan Markle's 'sudden prominence' 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 BarrImpeachment tests Barr-Trump relationship Democratic senators seek documents on Trump's alleged call for Barr press conference The Hill's Morning Report — Bloomberg news shakes up 2020 race MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Swalwell: Depositions provided evidence of an 'extortion scheme' Intelligence panel Republican: 'How we treat this whistleblower will impact whistleblowers in the future' 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 MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' 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 WydenFalling investment revives attacks against Trump's tax cuts Overnight Health Care: CDC links vitamin E oil to vaping illnesses | White House calls Pelosi drug price plan 'unworkable' | Dem offers bill for state-based 'Medicare for All' White House says Pelosi plan to lower drug prices 'unworkable' MORE (D-Ore.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Hillicon Valley: Facebook to remove mentions of potential whistleblower's name | House Dems demand FCC action over leak of location data | Dem presses regulators to secure health care data Senator criticizes HHS for not investigating exposure of millions of medical images 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 PompeoIran lays foundation for second nuclear plant: report Pompeo knocks Iran's treatment of UN nuclear inspector Reagan statue unveiled near site where he called for Gorbachev to 'tear down' Berlin Wall 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 McCainCindy McCain says husband John McCain would be 'disgusted' by state of GOP Meghan McCain to Trump Jr. on 'The View': 'You and your family have hurt a lot of people' Trump Jr. defends father on 'The View': He's 'controversial,' but 'took on the establishment' 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 KushnerHaley: Top Trump aides tried to get me to undermine him Man pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4 Progressives press Democrats to rethink Israel policy 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 TrumpTrump gets a warm reception at Alabama-LSU game Comedy group swaps Trump Jr. book jacket with fake title: 'Daddy, Please Love Me' Man pleads guilty in plot to attack Cleveland on July 4 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 McConnellThis week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-Ky.) and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyHaley: Top Trump aides tried to get me to undermine him Former UN ambassador predicts Trump won't be impeached Top Democrat: Getting Trump off the ballot wouldn't benefit party 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).