The Hill's Morning Report - Trump and House Democrats resume battle




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.

***  Happy birthday to New York Democrat Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerSusan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation Nadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who celebrates 72 today!  ***


House Democrats and President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE on Wednesday took turns pouring gasoline on a fire smoldering between the government branches as the president denied access to documents he says are privileged communications while lawmakers punished the nation’s top law enforcer and the Commerce secretary by holding each in contempt of Congress.


At issue is Democrats’ examination of the administration’s controversial decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 population questionnaire used by the Census Bureau. The administration is waiting for a Supreme Court ruling about the census question within weeks.


One day after the House voted to give its committees more muscle to enforce subpoenas, the House Oversight and Reform Committee voted largely along party lines to hold Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham Barr DOJ says surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Page lacked evidence Senators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter Democrats sharpen case on second day of arguments MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossDesperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Trump scheduled to attend Davos amid impeachment trial Let's remember the real gifts the president has given America MORE in contempt — an exercise in legislative condemnation — for refusal to comply with subpoenas (The Hill).


Some House Democrats believe there is evidence that Trump and like-minded critics of illegal migration began plotting years ago to add a citizenship question to the census as a way to identify and eventually deport undocumented people living in the United States and revise politically gerrymandered congressional voting districts to help GOP candidates.


Ross told Congress the query on the census, which his department supervises, was intended to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. Critics of the administration believe that asking households about citizenship inhibits census participation, which then skews data considered key to federal resource-sharing and benefits disseminated nationwide every decade.


The Census Bureau began a trial run this week in nearly half a million households around the country and included the citizenship question in half of the questionnaires as an experiment.


“I think it’s totally ridiculous that we would have a census without asking” about citizenship, Trump said in the Oval Office on Wednesday (The Hill).


The battle over documents was the second time Trump asserted executive privilege, a power presidents possess that can cloak information about national security or executive advice. The president’s first use of executive privilege was in May, applied to the report completed by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE.


The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) on Wednesday called Trump’s application of privilege over the census “overreach” similar to that attempted by former President Obama’s Justice Department when it withheld from a Republican Congress documents tied to the administration’s botched gun-running program known as Operation Fast and Furious.


“Executive privilege is not a `get-out-jail-free card’ to be played by Attorney General Barr and Commerce Secretary Ross to sidestep legitimate congressional inquiry,” said POGO Senior Policy Analyst Sean Moulton.


The New York Times editorial board: The census: The president is using executive privilege to conceal information the public needs to know.


> Elsewhere on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. testified behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee for nearly three hours as part of its probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump Organization’s interest through 2016 in real estate deals in Moscow.


Members of the panel said they brought the president’s eldest son back to the witness chair to try to iron out some differences between Trump Jr.’s recollections and testimony of former Trump lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenJuan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump Treasury adviser pleads guilty to making unauthorized disclosures in case involving Manafort Michael Cohen calls for early release from prison MORE, who is now serving a federal prison sentence.


“There was nothing to change,” Trump Jr. told reporters, referring to his earlier congressional testimony. “Glad this is finally over,” he added (The Hill).





More on investigations … House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Democrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Female impeachment managers say American public know a 'rigged' trial when they see one MORE (D-Calif.) threatened to subpoena the FBI for information tied to the Russia probes (The Associated Press) …  Former White House communications director Hope HicksHope Charlotte HicksTrump must be removed — for more than reasons offered in impeachment 2019 in Photos: 35 pictures in politics Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe MORE, who faced a congressional subpoena, agreed to testify behind closed doors to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday (The Hill).  


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll Warren calls for Brazil to drop charges against Glenn Greenwald MORE (I-Vt.) offered up a passionate defense of democratic socialism on Wednesday and attempted to frame the ideology that has defined his politics as a means of helping others rather than a set of extreme ideas attacked by Republicans and dismissed by some Democrats.


In his speech, Sanders argued that democratic socialism should be framed around “economic rights” and that the best examples of what the ideology has produced are Social Security and Medicare.


“Today in the 21st century, we must take up the unfinished business of the New Deal and carry it to completion,” Sanders told an audience at George Washington University.


Sanders’s speech came at an interesting time for his campaign, which has faltered slightly over the past couple of weeks. While former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE has twice the support nationally and remains the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, according to surveys, Sanders’s second place standing was eclipsed for the first time on Wednesday when Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris weighing Biden endorsement: report Biden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll MORE (D-Mass.) topped him in a Monmouth University Poll of Nevada.


As Max Greenwood writes, Warren has distanced herself from Sanders, calling herself a capitalist while arguing for more stringent regulations to take on social and economic inequality. Additionally, Sanders’s backers are trying to push back on the anti-democratic socialism chatter. David Sirota, a speechwriter for Sanders, told Hill.TV that voters are not concerned with political labels and care about policies.


The Fix: Bernie Sanders wants Americans to buy into socialism. He’s got some convincing to do.


The Atlantic: Inside the DNC’s two-year mission to fix the presidential debates.





> Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Poll: West Virginia voters would view Manchin negatively if he votes to convict Trump Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE (D-W.Va.) has become increasingly disenchanted with the U.S. Senate only months after winning reelection and has told colleagues that he may leave the Senate before the end of the 116th Congress.


As Alexander Bolton reports, Manchin complained recently while on a congressional delegation to Scandinavia over the Memorial Day recess and is under pressure to run for governor back home, a job he held from 2005 to 2010 before he ran to fill the remainder of the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) term in office.


Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer urges declassification of letter from Pence aide No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day Collins walks impeachment tightrope MORE (D-N.Y.), however, believes Manchin is happy and content, although he is known to complain from time to time. When asked by The Hill about possibly retiring early, Manchin said he may have threatened to do so when colleagues talked about getting rid of the filibuster, noting the added pressure of a possible gubernatorial bid.


With 53 Republicans in the Senate, an exit by Manchin would be a major blow for Democrats and their push to retake the majority for the first time since 2014.


Politico: Republicans dodge nasty Senate primary in North Carolina.


> Biden faces his first big test in two weeks when he'll take the stage at the Democratic National Committee's first debate, the first major moment of the 2020 campaign.


As Niall Stanage and Amie Parnes write, sources close to Biden say former vice president realizes the benchmark and is taking it seriously, adding that it’s one of the reasons Biden has maintained a light travel schedule. Every day, he studies briefing books to prepare.


Aides and advisers assisting in the process include Ron Klain the longtime Biden adviser and Democratic aide who helped Obama, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti defends Tulsi Gabbard's lawsuit against Hillary Clinton Trump to hold rally on eve of New Hampshire primary MORE and other Democratic candidates prepare for debates; Anita Dunn, a former Obama aide and longtime friend of Biden; Kate Bedingfield; Steve Richetti; and policy adviser Stef Feldman. So far, the process has been less about mock debates and more about ensuring Biden is well-versed on the issues.


Politico: It’s not just Trump questioning Biden’s age: Democrats are, too.


> The Hill: Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashSanders co-chair: Greenwald charges could cause 'chilling effect on journalism across the world' Trump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE (R-Mich.) stokes talk of campaign against Trump:


“Rep. Justin Amash, the lone Republican in Congress to call for President Trump’s impeachment, says he has no desire to play ‘spoiler’ if he launches a third-party bid against Trump in 2020.  


‘I have no interest in playing spoiler. When I run for something, I run to win,’ the Michigan Republican told The Hill on Wednesday as he descended the steps of the Capitol toward his office.  


‘I haven’t ruled anything out,’ Amash replied when asked if he’s made a decision about a possible presidential bid.”


The Hill: Amash breaks with GOP in Barr, Ross contempt vote.


The Associated Press: Democrats worry as Trump unleashes money on 2020 digital ads.


The New York Times: How Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden, Sanders contend for top place in new national poll Biden leads Democratic primary field nationally: poll Trump to hold rally on eve of New Hampshire primary MORE and Elizabeth Warren cracked the code of the 2020 race.


The Atlantic: Buttigieg backs a future criminal investigation into Trump.


Elsewhere on the political scene … Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, is downsizing his 2020 efforts, including cutting back on staff outside of senior advisers as he recovers from a back injury that resulted in three surgeries since mid-April. Schultz is expected to recalibrate his 2020 strategy around Labor Day and is eyeing Super Tuesday as the moment to jump back in if Biden, who has taken hold of the centrist lane in the Democratic primary, falters in the meantime (HuffPost).


CONGRESS: In a world filled with misinformation and propaganda, cheap, accessible technology encourages bloggers, artists and political opponents to expertly manipulate media, sound and pictures to spread false and misleading messages that can change public opinion.


The shorthand for manipulated media is “deepfakes,” and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Overnight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides Pelosi slams Trump administration's new water rule: 'An outrageous assault' MORE (D-Calif.) was the target of such a viral video in May, created by a conservative sports blogger to make her appear drunk. Facebook refused her request to take the video off its platform.


This week, Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — UN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hack of Bezos | Experts see effort to 'silence' Washington Post | Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi Trump says Zuckerberg presidential run 'wouldn't be too frightening' Hillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' MORE was the object of a deepfake created by artist Bill Posters and a colleague with help from a voice actor and artificial intelligence technology provided by a Tel Aviv, Israel-based company. Using a 21-second CBS News clip of Zuckerberg from 2017, Posters manipulated the Zuckerberg image to say, “Whoever controls the data, controls the future.” It moved with speed around the Internet.


Congress is watching such developments with trepidation, worried about voters next year and their susceptibility to false, misleading and manufactured information that looks real and is impossible to control or contain. National security is another worry when trust between nations is essential in a dangerous world, especially when the 45th president howls about “fake news” and repeatedly accuses news outlets in the United States of being “corrupt.”


The Hill: Trump said on Wednesday during an ABC News interview that he’d listen if foreigners offered him dirt on a political opponent (the law says it’s illegal for a U.S. campaign to accept something of “value” from a foreign entity):  "It's not an interference, they have information — I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI — if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, 'oh let's call the FBI.' The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it, they always have, and that's the way it is. It's called oppo research."


For all these assorted reasons, the House Intelligence Committee will hold the first congressional hearing about deepfakes this morning (The Hill).


> Trump's emergency border request is getting a sorely-needed shot in the arm after weeks of stalemate on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans are putting together a bill to move next week in the Senate Appropriations Committee, paving the way for legislation to potentially hit the floor by the end of the month.


Top Senate Democrats, including Schumer and Sen Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Nadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (D-Ill.) say the caucus will support billions in new humanitarian aid for the border. But there are plenty of potential pitfalls between the new boost of momentum and legislation making it to Trump's desk.


The White House initially pushed for $4.5 billion, with $3.3 billion toward humanitarian aid, to be included in the $19.1 billion disaster assistance package the president recently signed into law. However, none of it made it into the final bill, with Democrats arguing the non-humanitarian aid portion was a poison pill (The Hill).


Politico: Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (R-Mo.) rattles Republicans as he derails GOP judge.


> The House will vote on the first federal minimum wage increase in over a decade this summer that would eventually more than double the current minimum wage, according to a senior Democratic aide.


The legislation to be considered is the Raise the Wage Act that is backed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC). The bill would more than double the $7.25 minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The $7.25 wage has been in place since July 2009.


The legislation would boost wages in three steps, starting with an increase to $8.55 this year. It would also take steps to link the minimum wage after 2024 to typical worker’s wages, an attempt to ensure that the minimum doesn’t remain stagnant over long periods. It would also do away with the $2.13 tipped minimum wage, meaning employers would have to pay waiters and similar workers the full minimum wage, though they could still collect tips (The Hill).


CNN: Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzDemocrats sharpen case on second day of arguments What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial Democrats' impeachment case lands with a thud with GOP — but real audience is voters MORE (R-Texas) asks Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezBiden to go on Iowa tour with swing district lawmakers CNN cancels next week's Iowa town halls Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez hit back at JPMorgan CEO over comments on socialism: 'That's funny' MORE (D-N.Y.) to team up on over-the-counter birth control.

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!


Trump just invited Congress to begin impeachment hearings, by George T. Conway III and Neal Katyal, opinion contributors, The Washington Post.


Rural health could be a powerful issue in the 2020 election, by former Sens. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), opinion contributors, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Harold Schaitberger, the general president of the International Association of Firefighters, to discuss the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund hearing and Biden’s 2020 campaign; Jonas Kaiser, an affiliate for the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, to talk about YouTube algorithms and children; and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin and a candidate for the Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners, at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House meets at 9:30 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m.


The president participates in a working lunch with governors to discuss workforce freedom and mobility at 12:30 p.m.. He delivers East Room remarks at 4 p.m. about second-chance hiring.


Vice President Pence and his wife, Karen PenceKaren Sue PencePence's office quashes talk of snub from Prince Charles The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two MORE, travel to West Yellowstone, Mont., for a visit to Yellowstone National Park with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The Pences will tour Old Faithful, and the vice president will address employees of the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service about the administration’s support for rebuilding infrastructure in national parks. The Pences return to Washington tonight.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. reports jobless claims for the week ending June 8.


Tech: Why airport facial recognition scans are a privacy trap (The Washington Post). … Pinterest banned an anti-abortion group, Live Action, for what it said was the spread of misinformation on its platform (BuzzFeed News). … Sprint and T-Mobile face new and potentially devastating obstacles to a major proposed merger because of a lawsuit filed this week on behalf of consumers by state attorneys general (The Hill).


College admissions scandal: The former sailing coach for Stanford University, John Vandemoer, who prosecutors said accepted $610,000 in bribes to admit students who could not otherwise qualify for Stanford, was sentenced to one day in prison, which was ruled already served, followed by two years of supervised release. A judge also imposed a $10,000 fine but noted that Vandemoer funneled bribes into the university’s sailing program rather than his own pockets (Reuters).


Play Gloria: The St. Louis Blues won the team’s first Stanley Cup in franchise history when it defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-1, in Game 7 on Wednesday night in Boston. Center Ryan O’Reilly won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP after scoring the opening tally and notching an assist. It was his fourth straight game with a goal, making him the first player with such a streak in the Stanley Cup Final since Wayne Gretzky in 1985. The team won the cup despite sitting in last place in the entire NHL in December (The Athletic).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by this week’s headlines describing things that fly (or don’t), we’re eager for some smart guesses about flight.


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


A lawmaker was denied a request to fly with the president on Air Force One to Iowa on Tuesday. Who was it?


  1. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump to sign USMCA next Wednesday Trump administration releases rule to restrict 'birth tourism' On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk | Union membership falls to record low | Manufacturers want Trump tax provision made permanent | Warren presses banks on climate plans MORE
  2. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingNebraska Democratic Party Chair: Rural vote should be 'bedrock' of party With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Steve King challenger: 2020 Democrats have 'huge' opportunity to win over rural America MORE
  3. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGrassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk Progressive group launches campaign targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE
  4. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerThe Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment unknowns await returning lawmakers Pressure builds over impeachment impasse in Senate Trump faces pivotal year with Russia on arms control MORE


Uber is developing a flying car program it says will launch by 2023. Which city did the company select this week outside the United States for its aerial ride-hailing service?


  1. Melbourne
  2. Moscow
  3. Mumbai
  4. Madrid


Amazon continues to tout what it says is the imminent arrival of its self-piloting drones that the company says can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages weighing less than five pounds to customers in less than 30 minutes. Drone specialists, however, pointed this week to one particular government entity that scrambles Amazon’s timeline. Which one?


  1. IRS
  2. The National Weather Service
  3. Federal Aviation Administration
  4. S. Postal Service


Boeing would like to see its 737 Max 8 aircraft flying again after two deadly crashes and groundings that began in March. This week, American Airlines, the largest U.S. airline, announced what?


  1. The airline is buying Boeing
  2. It has resumed flying its fleet of 737 Max aircraft
  3. It will sell its 737 Max fleet
  4. It expects to resume flying 737 Max aircraft in late August or early September


A helicopter crashed this week atop a 54-story Manhattan skyscraper, killing the pilot. Preliminary reports point to what factor as a potential contributor to a dramatic tragedy that ended the flight?


  1. Foul weather
  2. Ran out of fuel
  3. Bird strike
  4. Pilot heart attack