The Hill's Morning Report - Trump struggles to replicate 2016 coalition




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

If polling is any indication, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE has his work cut out for him if he hopes to replicate his 2016 performance in 2020.


Nearly 17 months before he stands for reelection, the president is struggling mightily in a cadre of key states that propelled him to the White House, as well as a few others that he won, but could turn out to be a challenge next year. Along with Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, the president’s standing is falling in North Carolina and Texas, two states he won in 2016, but where warning signs are cropping up as he readies his official campaign announcement in less than two weeks, according to Jonathan Easley.


In particular, the polls show Trump faring poorly against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSupport drops for Medicare for All but increases for public option Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE. According to recent surveys, Biden leads Trump in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina by double digits, giving Biden an electability argument no one else on the Democratic side can make.


However, Republicans are by no means ready to count out the president, especially after his 2016 upset win after many within his own party dismissed him and directed their ire at polling firms after the election. They also believe the economy will be Trump’s best friend in 2020, as the unemployment rate sits at 3.6 percent, the lowest figure dating back to 1969, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


However, the polling out of Texas was yet another sign of concern for Republicans. According to the new Quinnipiac University poll, Trump trails Biden by 4 points and leads all other Democrats by only 1 to 4 points less than three years after he defeated Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSaagar Enjeti: Tuesday's Democratic debate already 'rigged' against Gabbard, Sanders Ilhan Omar raises .1 million in third quarter Bloomberg rethinking running for president: report MORE there by 9 points. One GOP pollster who does work in Texas told The Hill that their polling shows Trump holding a narrow lead in the Lone Star State and indicated that Trump will likely need to dedicate some resources to the state to shore up his standing there.


“You can't ignore it ... We can't treat Texas like Clinton treated Wisconsin," the pollster said.


One GOP strategist argued that if Trump and Republicans have to spend any part of their massive campaign bank account to lock down the state’s 38 electoral votes, he has no chance to win reelection and deals a big blow to down-ballot races in the state.


“If he has to spend time and money in Texas, the war is lost,” the strategist said, adding that they doubt Democrats will spend significantly there. “Call me when they write the $300 million check to play in Texas."


While polling looks strong for Biden in both the general election and the Democratic primary, he has been caught up in yet another battle with progressives in his party, this time on abortion after he reiterated his support for the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding from being used to pay for abortions.


As Amie Parnes reports, the abortion news, coupled with reports that his campaign did not use proper citations in its climate change proposal, has created the most challenging week for Biden since he entered the race for the Democratic nomination in late April. The former vice president has led public opinion polls by double digits since announcing his campaign, but the two controversies will raise questions about whether he can retain his front-runner status or whether other Democrats can use the abortion remarks, in particular, to close the gap.


In the hours after the news emerged, Democratic candidates tore into the former vice president for saying he still supports the 1976 amendment. Two of Biden’s top rivals, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSupport drops for Medicare for All but increases for public option Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill On The Money: Trump touts China trade deal | Wall Street, Washington see signs for caution | Trump threatens sanctions on Turkey | Sanders proposes sharp hike to corporate taxes MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSupport drops for Medicare for All but increases for public option Hillicon Valley: Warren takes on Facebook over political ads | Zuckerberg defends meetings with conservatives | Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Feehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet MORE (D-Mass.) both said they support repealing the amendment, with Sanders tweeting that there is “#NoMiddleGround” on women’s rights. Women’s rights groups followed suit and came out against the former vice president’s stance.


"Differentiating himself from the field this way will not earn Joe Biden any political points and will bring harm to women who are already most vulnerable," said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue.


As Jessie Hellmann writes, women’s groups are holding out hope that Biden has a change of heart similar to his evolution on Roe v. Wade. While in the Senate, Biden voted to let states overturn the landmark ruling establishing a woman's right to abortion. He now says he supports Roe v. Wade, and has said he would consider codifying it into federal law in case the ruling is overturned.


The Associated Press: Front-runner Biden is campaigning for president on his terms.


The Washington Post: Feud over abortion adds to questions about Joe Biden’s vulnerabilities.


The New York Times: Warren and Sanders: Two liberals aiming for the same target.


The Des Moines Register: Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockWarren expresses support for Indigenous Peoples' Day 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the October showdown The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster MORE (D): I beat dark money in Montana. We can beat it across America.


Time: These Democratic candidates are unionizing their staffs, and it could change campaign work.


NBC News: Warren wishes handcuffs for Trump, says Biden wrong on abortion.





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Vice President Pence led a U.S. delegation at the White House to negotiate with top Mexican officials on Wednesday in a push to strike a deal to avoid a round of tariffs on Monday, but he came away empty-handed, as negotiations are set to continue on Thursday in Washington.


Trump tweeted Wednesday night that progress was made, but “not nearly enough” to reach an accord that could stave off the looming 5 percent tariffs set to be imposed on Monday, which have come under heavy fire from Senate Republicans who are threatening to rebuke the president and block the move with a resolution of disapproval next week. It does appear, however, that Senate Republicans are not going to act on a tariff bill any time soon (The Hill).


While Pence and other leaders negotiate, the main question centers around Trump, who is overseas for the duration of these negotiations and has shown a willingness to override U.S. officials who believe they went too far in negotiations. Senate Republicans, especially, are wary of any potential deal struck by Pence and other officials after his authority was limited during the 35-day government shutdown (Bloomberg).


Adding to the headache is the fact that private payrolls added only 27,000 jobs in May, falling far short of the estimates for the month and showing that the president’s ongoing trade war is taking a toll on the economy.


Pence will not be at Thursday’s negotiations and instead will attend events in Virginia and Pennsylvania throughout the day.


The president weighed in on the issue once again before he spoke in France at a D-Day commemoration ceremony, telling the press pool that “something pretty dramatic could happen” in negotiations, indicating a deal could come down the rails. He also took a swipe at his own party for opposing the potential tariffs


“A lot of people, senators included, they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to tariffs. ... we’re the piggy bank,” Trump told the press pool.


“They have to step up and they have to step up to the plate — and perhaps they will,” Trump said of Mexico, adding that tariffs on China could rise from the $250 billion level to $300 billion at the current 25 percent tariff.


The Hill: Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump over tariffs.


Bloomberg: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFury over Trump Syria decision grows Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Trump to slap sanctions on Turkey for Syria offensive | Trump calls on Turkey to broker ceasefire | Pelosi, Graham seek deal on sanctions | Ex-Trump aide testifies in impeachment probe Trump: Let Assad, Russia or China protect the Kurds MORE (R-Ky.) urges Trump to face GOP before Mexico tariffs start.


The Associated Press: Much to disagree on as Trump, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronUS should support, but also prod, Ukraine Civil liberties groups sound alarm over online extremism bill Trump selects Grenell as special envoy for Serbia, Kosovo peace talks MORE meet on D-Day.





> Top U.S. officials warned Wednesday that climate change is increasingly becoming a threat to national security, once again exhibiting daylight between the president and some in his administration on the issue.


While appearing before the House Intelligence Committee, top military and intelligence officials discussed a series of threats emanating from climate change, including land disputes, food and water shortages that can lead to political turmoil and the melting ice in the Arctic they believe Russia could use for commercial purposes (The Associated Press).


“Climate change effects could undermine important international systems on which the U.S. is critically dependent, such as trade routes, food and energy supplies, the global economy, and domestic stability abroad,” said Rod Schoonover, a senior State Department analyst focusing on global issues. “Most countries, if not all, are already unable to fully respond to the risks posed by climate-linked hazards under present conditions.”


The comments were in direct contrast to Trump’s on Wednesday in an interview with “Good Morning Britain” host Piers Morgan when he declined to say if he believed in climate change or whether it’s a real threat, as the officials suggested.


“I believe that there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways,” Trump said. “Don’t forget it used to be called global warming. That wasn’t working. Then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather, you can’t miss.”


The Washington Post: Department of Health and Human Services cancels English classes, legal aid for unaccompanied child migrants in shelters.


CONGRESS & INVESTIGATIONS: As the number of House Democrats favoring impeachment grows, leadership is pushing forward with public hearings on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox News legal analyst says Trump call with Ukraine leader could be 'more serious' than what Mueller 'dragged up' Lewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network MORE’s investigation, including calling a Watergate star as their first big witness as they continue investigations of the president.


As Morgan Chalfant and Olivia Beavers write, the decision to call John Dean comes as Democrats try to kickstart public hearings despite Mueller’s insistence that he will not testify, leaving his 448-page report as his testimony.


House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBarr to speak at Notre Dame law school on Friday The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Ignore the hype — this is not an impeachment inquiry MORE (D-N.Y.) says he is “confident” Mueller will appear on Capitol Hill soon but offered no sign that negotiations had moved forward since Mueller’s remarks last week, adding that the committee will subpoena Mueller “if we have to.” The Judiciary Committee has continued to face an uncooperative White House and Department of Justice as it has unsuccessfully sought to call current and former officials as witnesses to testify since the Mueller report was released in April.  Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump: 'Top shows' on Fox News, cable are 'Fair (or great)' to me Trump criticizes Fox, which 'isn't working for us anymore' Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor MORE and Annie Donaldson are the most recent examples as they announced Tuesday that they are defying subpoenas from the committee at the White House’s urging.


Politico: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says Trump sanctions package on Turkey 'falls very short' Graham throws support behind Trump's Turkey sanctions Feehery: Trump may be down, but he's not out yet MORE (D-Calif.) tells Dems she wants to see Trump ‘in prison.’





> House Democrats are going back and forth on whether members of Congress should receive a pay raise as they debate the upcoming spending bills and prepare to vote on them next week.


As Cristina Marcos writes, House Democrats who hail from swing districts are split over leadership's decision to move forward with spending bills that would allow lawmakers to get a pay raise for the first time in a decade. Rep. Cindy AxneCindy AxneIowa Democrat tops Ernst in third-quarter fundraising for Senate race Pelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Centrist House Democrats press for committees to follow pay-go rule MORE (D-Iowa), a freshman member, unveiled an ethics reform package on Wednesday that would prevent members from receiving a pay raise until Congress eliminates the deficit.


Rep. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiIn testimony, Dems see an ambassador scorned, while GOP defends Trump Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Extremists find home on Telegram app | Warren blasts Facebook for not removing anti-Biden ad | California outlaws facial recognition in police body cameras | China rips US tech sanctions House Democrats introduce new legislation to combat foreign election interference MORE (D-N.J.) said he'd find it difficult to defend a cost-of-living adjustment when Congress isn't getting bills aimed at doing the same for their constituents signed into law. However, others, such as Reps. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems to hit gas on impeachment Democrats take Trump impeachment case to voters Democrats debate scope of Trump impeachment MORE (D-Minn.) and Sean CastenSean CastenSwing-seat Democrats oppose impeachment, handing Pelosi leverage Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm The House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort MORE (D-Ill.), are prepared to defend the provision, arguing that it would be a magnet to help attract the best people to Congress.


The House may get the votes to raise member pay, it’s unlikely to be signed into law this Congress. And that’s part of the reason why vulnerable Democrats are questioning the move.


Republicans, meanwhile, are attacking the proposal. The House GOP’s campaign arm mockingly said that the currently salary for lawmakers "just isn’t enough for these socialist elitists."


The Hill: Liberals rip Democratic leaders for writing drug pricing bill in secret.


The Washington Post: ‘Probably not:’ McConnell won’t bring up bill to protect ‘dreamers.’


The Hill: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezObamas' first Netflix project nominated for Critics' Choice Documentary Awards Sanders wishes Ocasio-Cortez happy birthday Democrat launches primary challenge to Ocasio-Cortez MORE (D-N.Y.), Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Lawmakers return to work as Dem candidates set to debate Cruz: 'Of course' it's not appropriate to ask China to investigate Bidens Sunday Show Preview: Trump's allies and administration defend decision on Syria MORE (R-Texas) lobbying ban faces tough hurdles.

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!


President Trump balanced etiquette with charm on United Kingdom visit, by Peggy Grande, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Supreme Court should postpone decision on Trump's citizenship census question, by Glenn C. Altschuler, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features Rep. Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinThe USMCA is an opportunity to keep our promises to working Americans Michigan city declines to renew contract with ICE to hold detainees Michigan House Democrats plan vigil for Iraqi man who died after deportation MORE (D-Mich.) to discuss how the president’s North American trade deal must do more to protect US jobs, and Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor at American University who has correctly predicted nine presidential elections, and says Trump will win in 2020 unless Democrats impeach him.


The House returns on Monday at noon.


The Senate convenes on Monday at 3 p.m.


The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpMelania Trump breaks ground on new White House tennis pavilion Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Buttigieg unveils aggressive plan to lower drug prices | Supreme Court abortion case poses major test for Trump picks | Trump takes heat from right over vaping crackdown Kroger to stop sales of e-cigarettes at stores MORE will travel to travel to Normandy to observe the 75th Anniversary of D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. The president will also participate in a bilateral meeting with Macron before he flies back to Ireland for the night.


The vice president will deliver remarks at a D-Day event in Roanoke, Va., at 10:55 a.m. before flying to Pennsylvania, where he will tour JLS Automation in York, Pa., at 3:15 p.m. He will deliver remarks at the Republican Party of Pennsylvania’s state dinner in Camp Hill, Pa. at 5:30 p.m., before returning to Washington.


➔ YouTube on updated its policies on Wednesday and revealed that it will ban videos that promote extremist ideologies, including white supremacy or caste superiority, a move that could see hundreds of thousands of videos removed. The changes aimed at curbing hate speech and misinformation come amid increased scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over how the Google-owned company, deals with bigoted or potentially radicalizing content (The Hill).


D-Day: Tom RiceHugh (Tom) Thompson RiceDemocrats struggle with repeal of key Trump tax provision The Hill's Morning Report - Trump struggles to replicate 2016 coalition Nonagenarian D-Day veterans recreate parachute drops over Normandy MORE, a 97-year-old veteran paratrooper who took part in the Normandy invasion as a 22-year-old, marked the 75th anniversary by repeating his jump in Carentan, France on Wednesday. Rice, a San Diego native who was a paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, jumped alongside another parachutist after six months of training and waved an American flag as he fell to the ground. "It feels great," Rice said after landing. "I want to go back up and do it again!" (Yahoo! News)


Bigfoot: The FBI revealed Wednesday that it tested alleged Bigfoot hairs in the mid-1970s "in the interest of research and scientific inquiry." However, it turned out the hairs belonged to deer. The FBI tested the hairs at the behest of Peter Byrne, the director of the Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition at the time, who asked the bureau to “set the record straight, once and for all” by testing the piece of skin with 15 hairs attached (CNN).


And finally It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by “Rocketman,” the new biographical film released Friday, we’re eager for some smart guesses about famed pianist and musician Elton John.


Email your responses to, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


Which song did Elton John rewrite to sing at the state funeral for Princess Diana in 1997?


  1. “Tiny Dancer”
  2. “Candle in the Wind”
  3. “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
  4. “Your Song”


What lyric is featured in the official title of the song “Rocket Man” ?


  1. “It’s gonna be a long, long time”
  2. “Burning out his fuse up here alone”
  3. “Count the headlights on the highway”
  4. “It's lonely out in space”


Which tune earned John the win for “best original song” at the 67th Academy Awards after his work on “The Lion King”?


  1. "Hakuna Matata"
  2. "Can You Feel The Love Tonight"
  3. "Circle of Life"
  4. "I Just Can’t Wait To Be King"


What English football (soccer) club is John a part owner of?


  1. Manchester United
  2. Liverpool
  3. West Ham
  4. Leicester City