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The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa

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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.

During an attention-getting preliminary throw-down, Joe Biden described the incumbent president on Tuesday as a threat to America’s existence, while President Trump said the former vice president had been plucked from “the trash heap” by then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008.


Both men made appearances in Iowa well ahead of the bitter winds of next year’s competition for the White House. Nevertheless, the June preview proved frosty.


Trump makes no secret of how carefully he examines Biden’s presidential campaign, remarks, standing in polls, travel schedule and perceived vulnerabilities, past and present.


“The president over and over again is commenting on Joe Biden, and based upon the 2018 statewide election results in my state and polling I’ve seen in my state, I know why he’s talking about Joe Biden,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who endorsed the former vice president as soon as he entered the race.


For Biden, the president’s ceaseless put-downs are something of a gift at this stage of the competition, elevating his credibility in a crowded Democratic field along with recent news accounts that Trump sees the former Delaware senator as, to borrow a phrase, an existential threat to his second term.


Trump’s brand of insults, aimed at his base of supporters, play to Biden’s argument that he’s the even-keeled man of experience who could repair what the 45th president is shredding.


“Joe’s really good at retail,” said his friend, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). “He’s just genuine and likable. I think if people see him, have a chance to compare him to the president, you could not have — in terms of personas — any more different people than Joe and Donald Trump.”


Even before leaving the White House on Tuesday, the president unleashed a torrent of made-for-social-media brickbats about the former vice president just as a new poll revealed that Biden enjoys a healthy lead over Trump in a prospective head-to-head matchup (The Hill).


The Hill: Biden leads Trump by 13 points in a new national survey.


It’s a long 17 months to Election Day, but Joe Biden is ahead by landslide proportions,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.


Five other Democratic presidential contenders also came out ahead of the presidentin the survey, aggravating Trump’s worries that his challenges in the ElectoralCollege next year differ from what he faced in 2016. Trump lags among African Americans, women and Hispanics when matched against Biden, according to the poll, but among white voters and men, the two candidates appeared in close competition.


Perspectives and Analysis:

The New York Times: A “loser.” An “existential threat.” Trump and Biden trade barbs as they travel to Iowa.

The Washington Post: Biden and Trump exchange fire in Iowa, ignoring others in the field.

Philip Klein: Why I’m skeptical of poll showing Trump getting blown out by Biden, other Democrats.

John F. Harris: Iowa has a senior moment.

Chris Cillizza: Why Biden’s 2020 message is so radical.

James Oliphant: Trump, Biden show distinct styles in potential 2020 preview.

Michelle Cottle: Take the Iowa caucuses. Please.


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: 2020 Democrats are in a mad scramble to beat Wednesday’s deadline and make the Miami debate stage later this month for what is shaping up to be the first major moment of the primary battle.


Up for grabs are 20 slots on the debate stage, but with 24 Democrats in the race for the nomination, multiple notable candidates will likely be left off the debate stage and find their campaigns on life support moving forward.


As Jonathan Easley and Max Greenwood report, 14 candidates have qualified by reaching the thresholds for both polling and individual donors, while another six candidates have reached only the polling threshold. Four candidates, however, including Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), are on the chopping block. The governor and the congressman have not reached 1 percent in three polls approved by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), nor have they attracted the 65,000 individual donors each campaign needs from 20 states in order to qualify for the stage.


With only a day left, the debate stage is by no means set; additional poll results could be announced. Monmouth University said it will release a new Nevada survey on Wednesday, offering Bullock and others some hope. Bullock’s campaign griped last week after news media reported that the Washington Post/ABC News poll it had been banking on as its third poll was not allowed by the DNC. It showed the governor at 1 percent. The committee shot back that Bullock’s team was notified in March that the particular survey would not be allowed.


As Reid Wilson reports, Democratic strategists are warning that missing out on the debate stage would likely be a death knell for a campaign.


“A candidate who doesn’t make the debate stage starts running on fumes. Donor doors close, media attention wanes, volunteers drift away. At that point it’s tough to see how you reestablish momentum,” said former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).





> South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) delivered his first major speech on foreign policy on Tuesday and pitched himself as a generational candidate who will upend the national security establishment in Washington, which he argued has been a decades-long failure driven by Republicans and Democrats.


As Jonathan Easley writes, Buttigieg called on the U.S. to “put an end to endless war” and lambasted the president’s foreign policy “by early-morning tweet.” He also attempted to discuss his own experiences as a Navy intelligence officer while going after the president, whom he accused of degrading the United States’s standing in the world.


“It’s hard to condemn crackdowns on the press when our own president calls our news media the ‘enemy of the people,’” Buttigieg said. “It is hard to stand for human rights abroad when we are turning away asylum seekers at our own borders. It is hard to promote accountability and rule of law when foreign leaders can curry favor as cheaply as a few nights stay at the president’s hotel.”


The Washington Post: “Product of the 9/11 generation:” Generational themes shape Buttigieg’s worldview.


NPR: Democratic presidential debates could reignite past bankruptcy fight between Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).


The New York Times: As 2020 candidates struggle to be heard, their grumbling gets louder.


The Associated Press: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to outline “what democratic socialism means to me.”


The Atlantic: As Bernie Sanders leans into socialism, his rivals laugh.





CONGRESS & INVESTIGATIONS: With less than three weeks worth of legislative days before lawmakers leave for August recess, some Senate Republicans are once again discussing eliminating at least part of the August recess as they remain without a deal on spending for fiscal year 2020.


As Alexander Bolton writes, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is leading the charge again and says he is planning to discuss cutting back the recess with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after he was successful last August in shortening the month-long period that runs from the end of July until Labor Day.


The Senate has done little legislating this year and still has to pass a border supplemental spending bill, a defense reauthorization, a highway reauthorization as well as the regular spending bills. Some lawmakers who supported cutting recess last year, however, such as Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), says they hope to avoid going down that path again.


Politico: Trump budget negotiators get Republican brushback.


Paul Kane: Divergent pleas for pay raise from veteran lawmaker and freshman hit political hurdle.


> Tensions are rising within House GOP leadership after accusations that three leaders are not pulling their weight in dues as they examine potential Senate bids, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.).


As Juliegrace Brufke reports, Rep. Mark Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and Walker clashed at a Tuesday leadership meeting over the NRCC’s decision not to fund the North Carolina Republican’s legal fees after he voiced interest in launching a primary challenge against Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) during the next election cycle, according to two sources.


Additionally, a source with knowledge said that Emmer also directed his ire at Cheney, who continues to look at a potential run to replace retiring Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).


“After Emmer questioned Cheney’s dedication to the NRCC, the Wyoming Republican shot back, saying that she’s heard from members that they’re concerned he may be inflating his fundraising numbers, and that she’s heard from members that have raised questions about the NRCC’s strategy.  


‘They had a little scuffle, the point of discussion that they had that Liz raised with Emmer is that there is some concern from members that Emmer is double counting what he is bringing in to the NRCC, so members are concerned about that and members are concerned that the NRCC, in general, doesn’t have a plan moving forward,’ a source familiar with the discussion said.”


> Donald Trump Jr. is scheduled to return to Capitol Hill on Wednesday when he appears for a closed-door session with the Senate Intelligence Committee after being subpoenaed by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.).


Following an extended campaign from Trump allies against Burr after the subpoena was announced, Trump Jr. struck a deal to testify. He is expected to appear before the committee for two-to-four hours on a half dozen topics. One issue is expected to be the June 2016 meeting he attended at Trump Tower about the Trump Tower Moscow project (CNN).





On the other side of Capitol Hill, the House Intelligence Committee is poised to dig on Wednesday into the counterintelligence implications of the dozens of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia detailed in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.


According to Morgan Chalfant, the issue is of prime interest to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is spearheading the panel’s own investigation into Trump’s foreign dealings and finances. Wednesday’s public hearing — a somewhat rare event for the committee given much of its work deals in sensitive information — will feature former FBI officials who Democrats hope will shed light on the counterintelligence concerns raised by Mueller’s exhaustive report.


Republicans have also invited their own witness, a former federal prosecutor and Fox News contributor. Notably absent from the committee’s hearing will be Mueller himself, who continues to evade an appearance on Capitol Hill despite efforts by Democrats to secure his public testimony.


The Hill: Dem committees win new powers to investigate Trump.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump today is expected to announce that the United States will add 1,000 troops to the 4,000 already deployed in Poland. His decision is to be unveiled during a White House visit by Polish President Andrzej Duda, during which the leaders will hold a joint afternoon news conference (The Hill and Defense One).


> Department of Justice: DOJ’s antitrust chief suggested on Tuesday that he’ll take a broad view of how competition is harmed when assessing whether big tech firms should be broken up. Without naming any company, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said factors to be considered in assessing whether a monopoly exists — meriting antitrust action — go beyond whether a company’s dominance leads to higher prices. Delrahim’s speech in Israel followed reports that Justice has been given oversight of potential investigations into Google and Apple for anti-competitive behavior while the Federal Trade Commission oversees Facebook and Amazon (The Associated Press).


> Pentagon: Trump may be having second thoughts about nominating Patrick Shanahan to lead the Defense Department. The president asked at least three people if they had suggestions for different candidates while he was traveling in Europe for D-Day celebrations (NBC News).


> Food and Drug Administration: The government issued new guidelines through the FDA for e-cigarette makers at a time when Americans say they are increasingly concerned about teenage vaping and as more states lift the legal age to 21 for the purchase of tobacco products (Reuters).


> Fourth of July in Washington: Trump’s plans to celebrate on July 4th in the nation’s capital remain murky three weeks before events. Will he address the nation at the Lincoln Memorial? The White House and The National Park Service have been mum (The Associated Press).


 > Interior Department: The Trump administration appears to be warming to the idea of uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, despite the certainty that it would unleash a legal battle between environmentalists and the mining industry. Environmentalists worry that a reversal may be imminent of a ban by the Obama administration on any new mining near the national park through 2032. “It’s not a secret that uranium mining companies have pined after the Grand Canyon for a long time,” said Amber Reimondo, energy program director at Grand Canyon Trust (The Hill).




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John Dean comparisons of Nixon and Trump are bad history lesson, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Thomas Jefferson was right: There’s plenty to admire in agricultural values, by Mitch Daniels, Washington Post contributing columnist and former Indiana governor.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who shares his perspectives on impeachment, the presidential race and cannabis; and Rick Steves, author, travel expert and television personality, who is a public advocate for the decriminalization of marijauana. Watch at 9 a.m. ET at, or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House meets at 10 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of Pamela A. Barker to be a United States district judge for the Northern District of Ohio.


The president and first lady Melania Trump welcome President Duda of Poland and his wife, Agata Kornhauser-Duda, to the White House, where Trump will hold a bilateral meeting and working lunch with his guest. The president and first lady plan to attend an evening Polish-American reception.


Vice President Pence and wife, Karen Pence, head West today to Billings, Mont., where Pence will visit RiverStone Health Clinic with Montana Sen. Steve Daines (R) and discuss the methamphetamine crisis with the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the Yellowstone Substance Abuse Coalition. This evening, the vice president will attend a GOP political event with Daines, who is running for reelection next year, and remain in Montana overnight.


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivers remarks to the SelectUSA Investment Summit at 9 a.m at the Washington Hilton Hotel.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the consumer price index and real earnings reports for May at 8:30 a.m.


State Watch: Attorneys general in 10 states led by California and New York filed a lawsuit on behalf of consumers to stop a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile (Reuters).


Census Bureau: A test begins this week of a census questionnaire that includes a controversial query about citizenship, the Census Bureau said on Tuesday. The trial run in advance of the 2020 Census will test the “operational effects” of asking about citizenship, an addition supported by the Trump administration but challenged in court. Around the country, 480,000 households will be part of a practice run, according to the bureau.


Illegal drugs: Dark web online drug markets are seen as one of the crucial sources of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Despite enforcement actions, there are still nearly 30 illegal online markets selling everything from heroin to crack cocaine to powerful painkillers (The New York Times).


Marijuana: Former Republican lawmakers are becoming the face of a new marijuana lobbying blitz. This year, former Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who lost reelection bids in 2018, have signed on with marijuana companies. They follow former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who has been an active advocate for the cannabis industry since leaving Congress. The booming industry hopes that former GOP lawmakers expand support in Congress (The Hill).





And finally … Congress should rush to reauthorize the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart scolded a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday, winning plaudits from former first responders and their families as well as Bill O’Reilly, who called Stewart, with whom he once clashed, a “national hero” for pressing lawmakers to support continued benefits for those exposed to hazards at Ground Zero in 2001 and afterward (The Hill).


The compensation fund, which expires in December 2020, is nearly tapped out, forcing the fund’s administrator to announce in February that future claims would be paid at a fraction of what the government supported in the past. The proposed Never Forget the Heroes Act would replenish the 9/11 compensation fund through fiscal year 2090 but has struggled to gain momentum in Congress (NPR).


Stewart chided the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for what he perceived as sparse attendance by lawmakers in a hearing room crowded with advocates for the first responders. The comedian and filmmaker sat next to a gaunt Luis Alvarez, a retired New York Police Department bomb squad detective who searched roof tops for victims after the World Trade Center towers collapsed and was part of a “bucket brigade” that searched for remains of police and firefighters. Alvarez is now being treated for cancer (New York Daily News).


“Less than 24 hours from now, I will be [receiving] my 69th round of chemotherapy,” he said. “I should not be here with you, but you made me come. You made me come because I will not stand by and watch as my friends with cancer from 9/11, like me, are valued less than anyone else.”



Tags Adam Schiff Bernie Sanders Bob Casey Boehner Carlos Curbelo Dana Rohrabacher Donald Trump Donald Trump Jr. Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden John Boehner Karen Pence Liz Cheney Mark Walker Melania Trump Mike Enzi Mike Rounds Mitch McConnell Patrick Shanahan Pete Buttigieg Richard Burr Robert Mueller Seth Moulton Steve Bullock Steve Daines Steve Israel Steven Mnuchin Thom Tillis Tom Carper
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