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The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s reelection message: Promises kept

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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.

President Trump asked voters for a second term on Tuesday, telling a rollicking crowd of 20,000 people in Florida that he is delivering on his 2016 promises while Democrats “want to destroy you. They want to destroy the country as we know it.”


From job creation to a border wall, from veterans’ benefits to the confirmation of conservative judges, and from energy production to taxes, Trump said he is a problem-solving president who is making history in order to “keep America great.”


“I’m fighting for you and I think you see that,” Trump told a cheering crowd of fans, family members and officials packed into the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. Democrats, the president added, are “corrupt” and want to “stop our movement.”


Trump twice referred to former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic challenger who is having some success pushing into the president’s political coalition in some key states, according to early polls. Trump said former President Obama and Biden allowed China to take the United States “for suckers,” referring to Biden later in the 78-minute speech as “Sleepy Joe.” The only other challenger Trump wove into his remarks was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whom he denounced as “crazy” and a “socialist.”


The president’s second-term agenda echoed his 2016 to-do list as well as the GOP platform in 2016. “We believe in the dignity of work and the sanctity of life,” he said at one point.


Weaving together familiar policy promises with impromptu chants from the audience of “build the wall” and “four more years,” Trump used his official request for reelection as a warning to voters that Democrats in Congress and those running for the White House are “more radical and more dangerous and more unhinged than at any point in our modern history.”


He railed at the continuing investigations that put him in the crosshairs for two years, repeated his “no collusion” and “no obstruction” message, and argued that “nobody’s been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.” He said, “No president should ever have to go through this again. … They spent $40 million on this witch hunt.”  


The president pummeled familiar foes, from Hillary Clinton and the news media, to Obama and, by inference, the Republicans who counted him out 2 ½ years ago and were stunned by his victory.


“This election is a verdict on whether we want to live in a country where the people who lose an election, refuse to concede and spend the next two years trying to shred our Constitution and rip your country apart,” Trump said


Some of the loudest cheers from the crowd came when the president brought outgoing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on stage, indicating once again his hope that she will one day run for governor in her home state of Arkansas. The president also introduced first lady Melania Trump. In sharing his stage with two of the most recognizable women in the White House, Trump offered a nod to some of the female voters who supported him in 2016 but tell pollsters they are weighing a different choice in 2020.


“You’ve made America great. You’re going to continue to make America great. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of your team,” Sanders told the crowd. “I’m going to go spend a little bit of time with my kids, but no one will be a stronger voice and more fierce advocate for this president because he’s fighting for all of the people in this room and for all the people you represent all over the country.”


The Florida event, a bookend to the presidential campaign announcement four years ago this week at Trump Tower in New York, was a launch that helped raise at least $18 million before the president took to the stage and had a goal of $25 million for the day, campaign manager Brad Parscale told CBS News during an interview on Tuesday.  


One major departure from the 2016 campaign launch: Cable news networks did not air much of the president’s Tuesday night speech. Although Fox News carried the entire event live, CNN only aired six minutes of his remarks and MSNBC did not carry any of it.


Jonathan Easley and Jordan Fabian report on a handful of key takeaways from Tuesday night’s rally, including some gymnastics faced by most incumbent presidents who seek a second term: Trump wants to take on the establishment of which he’s now a part.


Perspectives and Analysis:

Orlando Sentinel editorial board: Our endorsement for president in 2020 — not Donald Trump.

Dana Milbank: Let’s talk about what really matters in 2020: Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Matthew Continetti: The wave that could carry Trump to reelection.

Peter Wehner: Trump is betting that anger can still be power.

Politico: Trump stages his greatest show yet.

The Washington Post Fact-Checker: Highlights and lowlights of the president’s announcement he will run for reelection.

The Associated Press Fact Check: In 2020 debut, Trump exaggerates what he’s done for the economy and against illegal immigration.





CONGRESS: Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) dam, which she constructed to halt her conference’s plunge into impeachment, is showing more cracks as the number of members supporting opening an inquiry continues to grow.


As Mike Lillis reports, the list of supportive members has grown in number and diversity as a 2020 presidential candidate, a member who flipped a GOP-held seat last year and a top member of the House Democratic whip team all have come out to back opening an impeachment inquiry against the president.


To be sure, Pelosi and her top lieutenants have been largely successful in beating back the effort to launch immediate impeachment proceedings into the president, as more than 170 House Democrats continue to back the leadership team’s stance, warning that such a divisive step could stir a backlash if Democrats don’t first rally more public support behind the endeavor.


However, Trump continues to provoke members into wading into impeachment waters, including his remarks last week to ABC News that he would accept foreign dirt on a political opponent, creating new problems for Pelosi and other party leaders who hope to keep their eye on the ball and focus on health care and kitchen table issues — all while protecting vulnerable centrists — heading into 2020.


> Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee’s ranking member, struck a deal Tuesday evening to fulfill the president’s $4.5 billion request for funding to deal with the ongoing crisis along the southern border.


The agreement will be marked up in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and is expected to reach the Senate floor before lawmakers leave next week for the July Fourth recess.


The package is expected to include billions in humanitarian aid to shore up the Department of Health and Human Services’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. Senators and administration officials had warned that without more money the office would run out of funding by early next month. The funding for humanitarian aid almost was included in the $19.1 billion disaster aid package that was signed into law nearly two weeks ago (The Hill).


> Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) reiterated her claim on Tuesday that the Trump administration is running “concentration camps” at the U.S.-Mexico border despite criticism from Republican lawmakers accusing her of diminishing the Holocaust.


The New York progressive dismissed “shrieking Republicans” by pointing to an article quoting historians who said the U.S. detention facilities meet the definition of a concentration camp. But Republicans accused her of demeaning victims of death camps, with Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) bashing her for a “total disregard” and “deep ignorance” of the Holocaust and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) acting Director Mark Morgan labeling the remarks “reckless” (The Hill).


“It’s completely inappropriate, it’s reckless, it’s irresponsible, it’s misinformed, and it’s flat-out wrong,” Morgan told Hill.TV.


The back-and-forth came only hours before Senate appropriators struck a deal to allocate $4.5 billion in emergency funds toward dealing with the flow of migrants at the southern border.


> Former White House aide Hope Hicks is poised to become the first witness close to Trump to testify before the House Judiciary Committee in its investigation into alleged abuses of power. Hicks is slated to answer questions behind closed doors today, and a committee transcript is to be released soon after, according to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).


As Morgan Chalfant and Olivia Beavers, write Hicks’s appearance on Capitol Hill marks a big win for Democrats who have struggled to bring former or current administration officials before the committee as the White House continues to stonewall the panel from receiving documents or testimony from key figures, including Attorney General William Barr, former White House counsel Don McGahn and former special counsel Robert Mueller, who remains unwilling to testify publicly.





Hicks will be the committee’s first fact-based witness as Democrats look to drill down on the details about potential obstruction by Trump contained Mueller’s report. Hicks’s emails as well as FBI reports documenting her testimony to the special counsel’s office are cited frequently throughout the report.


Elsewhere on Capitol Hill … House Democrats will hold the first hearing in a decade on reparations on Wednesday as the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will debate a bill form a national commission to study whether descendants of slaves should receive reparations (The Hill) … Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) will reintroduce legislation Wednesday known as the MERIT Act, which would expedite the firing of underperforming federal employees and raise standards for senior executive positions in federal agencies, among other things. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) will introduce a companion bill in the House.




MORE POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Even after the furor around the Hyde Amendment forced Joe Biden to change his position, the House is expected to pass spending legislation that includes the 43-year-old amendment that bans federal funds from being spent on abortion.


As Jessie Hellmann writes, the Democratic House will vote Wednesday on a package that retains Hyde — which liberals believe hurts poor and minority women disproportionately — because a broader spending package will not be able to pass the Senate or win the signature of the president without it.


Democrats supporting the measure note it also includes provisions that take aim at restrictive Trump administration policies regarding the procedure, which has won the support of abortion groups, who are not opposing the legislation for this reason. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the amendment is a bitter pill for opponents to swallow, especially after the intense back-and-forth in recent weeks.


> 2020 Democrats are battling it out to win key endorsements in early primary states, headlined by the fight for the support of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to win a leg up in the South Carolina primary.


As Julia Manchester reports, Clyburn will hold his “World Famous Fish Fry” on Friday in Columbia, S.C., and play host to most of the 2020 Democratic field as they continue to jostle for his endorsement even though he maintains that he will remain neutral in 2020. The longtime South Carolina Democrat supported Clinton in 2016 and backed then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004, but declined to endorse in 2008, showing that he has played on both sides in presidential cycles.


Nevertheless, some Democrats believe he is partial to Biden, who is the overwhelming favorite to win in South Carolina in March.


Politico: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) emerges as potential compromise candidate.


The Associated Press: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) boosts outreach to historically black colleges.


ADMINISTRATION:  Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Tuesday withdrew his name from consideration to lead the Pentagon on a permanent basis, and Trump immediately announced that Mark Esper, secretary of the Army, is the acting chief at the Pentagon at a time of heightened tensions with Iran and as the U.S. military remains deployed in more than 30 countries (The Hill).


Lawmakers expressed surprise and concern about leadership hurdles at the Pentagon after months in which Trump’s choice to succeed James Mattis, who left the administration in January, was up in the air (The Hill).


Trump’s tweeted announcement that Shanahan was departing to spend more time with his family came after USA Today published the details of a 2010 violent domestic dispute with his then-wife that was investigated by the FBI as part of the former Boeing executive’s background check.


Esper, a former Raytheon executive, is likely to be nominated to lead the Pentagon on a permanent basis, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told the PBS NewsHour.





> United Nations: Today, the president’s nominee to succeed Nikki Haley as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations will try to outline the administration’s foreign policy during her Senate confirmation hearing. Kelly Craft, who is U.S. ambassador to Canada, was a top GOP campaign donor and is the wife of a coal executive. Democrats will ask today about her comment during a 2017 interview that it’s important to believe “both sides of the science” on climate change, a global threat of importance at the United Nations (The Hill). To win confirmation, climate change is a hurdle Craft will need to clear (Bloomberg).


> Iran: Trump said he might consider military action against Iran to prevent its use of nuclear weapons, but would be unlikely to wage war to defend oil routes and supplies. During a Monday interview with TIME magazine, the president said, “I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark.”


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued on Tuesday to underscore what the administration says is Iran’s risky behavior while tamping down suggestions that Trump is trying to provoke a military conflict in the Middle East.


President Trump does not want war, and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region,” he said.


“We’ll continue to provide additional information about those attacks. But we shouldn’t focus on just those two attacks,” he continued.


The State Department is making preparations, including the deployment of 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East, to ensure the United States has “the capability to respond if Iran makes a bad decision, if it makes a decision to go after an American or an American interest or to continue to proliferate its nuclear weapons program,” the secretary continued.


> Trade: Trump revved financial markets on Tuesday with his confirmation that he will meet next week with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in Osaka, Japan. Tariffs and trade uncertainties are what the U.S. business community and investors would like to see Washington and Beijing resolve as soon as possible.


Had a very good telephone conversation with President Xi of China. We will be having an extended meeting next week at the G-20 in Japan. Our respective teams will begin talks prior to our meeting,” the president tweeted.


U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told members of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday that a lot remains in flux between the United States and Beijing.


“I can’t predict what the United States is going to do or whether we’re going to be able to resolve this issue with China,” he said. “My hope is that we can” (The Associated Press).


Lighthizer sounded more upbeat about future ratification by Congress of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as the new North American Free Trade Agreement (The Hill).


> Immigration and Customs Enforcement: During an interview with The Hill’s Rafael Bernal on Tuesday, Morgan said his agency is committed to deporting as many undocumented workers as it can from the United States with the resources it has. Speaking a day after Trump tweeted that ICE would begin the process next week of removing millions of illegal immigrants from the country, Morgan said, “Clearly, we don’t have the resources to deport, you know, 11 million people in a short period of time.”  


Trump’s tweet was aimed at his political base hours before he formally launched his reelection campaign. It also may have frightened immigrants in the U.S. illegally — and could deter others from coming (The Associated Press).


> Environmental Protection Agency: The administration as soon as this week is expected to complete a rulemaking that will replace the Obama-era policy that tried to move the country away from coal-fired power plants and the pollution they cause. EPA’s new approach would give states wide discretion to decide whether to require limited efficiency upgrades at individual coal-fired power plants (The Associated Press).

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!


Why Washington won’t address soaring deficits, by Brian Riedl, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Reining in the Pentagon: More security, less spending, by William D. Hartung and Ben Freeman, opinion contributors, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Morgan, to discuss Trump’s vow to remove millions of undocumented migrants, and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) to talk about the DEEPFAKES Accountability Act at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House convenes at 10 a.m. Lighthizer appears at 9:30 a.m. to testify about trade policy before members of the House Ways and Means Committee after appearing before the Senate on Tuesday. At 10 a.m., the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation discusses the status of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft with experts. At noon, the administration’s Iran policy is in the spotlight with testimony from Brian Hook, U.S. special representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to Pompeo. He speaks to members of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and International Terrorism.  


The Senate meets at 10 a.m.


The president returns from South Florida to the White House. In the afternoon, he’ll present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist Arthur Laffer.


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin holds a bilateral meeting with European Union Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis at the Treasury Department at 4 p.m.


The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting with a press conference at 2 p.m. and release of a policy statement. (Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the White House explored the legality of demoting the Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the beginning of the year.)


The Hill invites you to the “Future of Healthcare Summit” June 26 to discuss some of tomorrow’s biggest questions in healthcare with policymakers, health officials and industry leaders. Speakers include Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.); Dr. Amy Abernethy from the Food and Drug Administration; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised the Obama administration during enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and Steve Papermaster, the CEO of Nano Vision. The event happens at Long View Gallery in Washington, D.C. To RSVP, take a look HERE.


Bagging the fees: U.S. airlines have already collected nearly $1.3 billion in baggage fees just halfway through 2019, according to Department of Transportation data released this week. U.S. airlines American, Delta, JetBlue and United hiked fees for checked luggage last year (The Hill).


Tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic: At least seven U.S. tourists became ill and died while traveling in the Dominican Republic this year, and some families await results from toxicology tests, investigations and lawsuits to determine the facts. The Washington Post reports on odd and unexplained circumstances HERE.


State Watch: Humans near Oregon’s Henry Hagg Lake ignored warnings and state law and fed a wild young black bear enough food to transform it into a friendly selfie sidekick. Oregon officials killed the bear because they said it was too “habituated” to humans, posing a safety hazard. “Bears should never, ever be fed,” wildlife biologist Kurt Licence told a local reporter for KOIN-TV (CBS News).  


And finally …   Fourth of July revelers who plan to visit Washington to enjoy the fireworks and festivities on the National Mall in about two weeks are still finding details scarce about logistical changes made this year.


The National Park Service has said the fireworks will be bigger and last longer than in past years and will be moved to West Potomac Park near the Potomac River and be viewable from parts of Northern Virginia. The relocation allows use of the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool for a separate “Salute to America” televised event featuring a speech by the president.


Trump encouraged attendance on the 4th of July while delivering his reelection speech in Orlando on Tuesday night: “By the way, on July 4th in Washington, D.C., come on down. We’re going have a big day. Bring your flags, bring those flags. Bring those American flags. July 4th, we’re going to have hundreds of thousands of people. We’re going to celebrate America. Sounds good, right? July 4th, celebrate America.”


Local officials keep saying they want to learn more details from the White House, the U.S. Secret Service and the National Park Service, but time is short to fully prepare for the arrival and exodus of hundreds of thousands of visitors on the Mall, near the river and downtown (WJLA-TV).  


One other takeaway for 2020: If the administration raises tariffs on more Chinese goods, as the president has threatened this year, fireworks could cost more and become harder to find on Independence Day in an election year (Bloomberg).




Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bernie Sanders Bill Cassidy Brad Parscale Dan Crenshaw Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Hope Hicks James Inhofe James Mattis Jerrold Nadler Joe Biden John Kerry Melania Trump Mike Pompeo Nikki Haley Patrick Leahy Patrick Shanahan Richard Shelby Robert Lighthizer Robert Mueller Sarah Huckabee sarah huckabee sanders Steven Mnuchin William Barr Yvette Clarke
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