The Hill's Morning Report - In exclusive interview, Trump talks Biden, Iran, SCOTUS and reparations




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Tuesday! 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 TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE accused Joe BidenJoe BidenLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Ex-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine MORE of lying when the former vice president claimed he asked former President Obama not to endorse him during the Democratic primary contest. 


During an exclusive Oval Office interview on Monday with The Hill’s White House correspondent Jordan Fabian and Hill.TV’s chief Washington correspondent Saagar Enjeti, the president said Biden, 76, is “off” and “different,” suggesting that “there is something going on in that brain of his.”


Trump also said a woman who accused him of rape decades ago is lying and is “not my type.” Trump told The Hill that if a seat should become vacant on the Supreme Court before next year’s elections, he would not hesitate to send the Senate the third nominee of his presidency. And after recently declaring FBI Director Christopher Wray “wrong” for advising anyone who receives campaign dirt from a foreign entity to report it to federal law enforcement, Trump declined to say he has confidence in Wray.


The president also bristled about Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, the appointee he continues to publicly berate over their divergent views of monetary policy. During a news conference last week, Powell was asked to comment on a report that Trump months ago researched the legality of removing the Fed chairman. Powell told reporters he intends to serve out his four-year term, while Trump told The Hill he can remove Powell “if I wanted to.”  


Although the president says he welcomed last week’s consultations with congressional leaders about U.S. policy towards Iran, he told The Hill he does not need approval or authorization from Congress before ordering military strikes. Some members of Congress believe the commander-in-chief should not rely for any potential Iran military assaults on the congressional authorization in place since the Iraq war.


In the wake of his decision on Thursday not to strike Iran after its surface-to-air missile destroyed a U.S. drone, Trump on Monday announced new financial sanctions against Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his Iranian associates (The Hill). Iran strongly objected to new sanctions, saying the door to diplomacy had closed (The Washington Post).





Trump, who mentioned Biden twice during his official reelection launch speech in Florida last week, has focused on the presidential challenger he thinks could be the Democratic nominee, according to early, shifting polling. The president’s snipes at Biden are intended to paint the career politician as old, slow and uninspiring. Trump, 73, said the former Delaware senator “looks different, he sounds different, and he thinks different. Other than that, I hope he does very well.” 


Biden told Fox News in April that he asked Obama not to support him publicly. "I asked President Obama not to endorse me,” Biden said at the time outside an Amtrak station in Delaware, adding that “whoever wins this nomination should win it on their own merits.” 


Trump’s reaction: “Give me a break.”


The president accused Elle magazine columnist and author E. Jean Carroll, who says he sexually accosted her in a New York department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, of “totally lying.” The president told The Hill he does not know Carroll, who made her accusations public in a book excerpted in New York Magazine on Friday.    


“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” the president said in the Oval Office.


Carroll responded to Trump’s comments, noting during a CNN interview Monday that the president has similarly denied sexual misconduct accusations by more than a dozen women. “I love that I’m not his type,” she said, stopping short of asserting that what happened to her with the former New York businessman was rape. 


The New York Times and The Associated Press: Trump has rejected other past sexual assault accusations by disparaging the women involved.


More from the Trump interview:


The Hill: “I don’t see it happening,” Trump said about proposed federal reparations for slavery.

The Hill: It is inappropriate for Megan Rapinoe, a co-captain of the U.S. women's soccer team, to protest during the national anthem, Trump said.

The Hill: “Four or five” candidates are under consideration to succeed White House Press Secretary Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersSarah Sanders says she 'can't think of anything dumber than' having Congress run foreign policy Rapid turnover shapes Trump's government God did not elect Trump, people did MORE Sanders, who departs the West Wing within days, according to the president. “Replacing Sarah is not going to be easy,” he added. “We have four or five people that really want it, very good people, very good names.”


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: When Biden steps onto the debate stage Thursday night, the former vice president who is in his third campaign for the presidency will do something he hasn’t done before: Take the stage as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, a far cry from his previous debate appearances during his first two presidential bids.


As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes write, Biden is preparing to become a televised target as a front-runner under fire. His advisers are focused on two prime vulnerabilities: his propensity for long-windedness, which can lead to gaffes, and how to handle the massive group of contenders looking to take him down or elevate their own candidacies through a viral exchange with the front-runner. 


Biden’s rivals, including Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE (I-Vt.), who will be next to him on stage, are sharpening their attacks ahead of the two-day zingerfest, which marks the first major moment of the Democratic race for the nomination. The two will be on stage alongside Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Team Trump criticizes Sanders for vote against USMCA MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFormer insurance executive: 'Medicare for all' would eliminate jobs that are 'not needed' Buttigieg says he's proud to be a part of US system amid UK royal family drama Buttigieg asked about 'Mayo Pete' memes by New York Times ed board MORE.


The former vice president is spending the opening portion of his week meeting with advisers, which is code for debate preparation before the main event in Miami. 


However, in the midst of debate prep, Biden released an op-ed in the Miami Herald on Monday laying out his vision for immigration, arguing that Trump’s main goal is to “vilify” immigrants and migrants. The op-ed comes after Trump held off his plan to deport illegal immigrants after talking with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon Hillicon Valley: FBI to now notify state officials of cyber breaches | Pelosi rips 'shameful' Facebook | 5G group beefs up lobby team | Spotify unveils playlists for pets Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' MORE (D-Calif.) on Saturday for another two weeks to give Congress a chance to strike a deal. 


Politico: Joe Biden keeps stepping in it — and voters couldn’t care less.


The Washington Post: Bernie Sanders faces a new kind of threat in Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE (D-Mass.). 


> Buttigieg’s campaign has been put in a difficult position just days before the June debates. The South Bend, Ind., mayor faced a crisis at home that threatened to consume his bid for the highest office.


Over the past week, Buttigieg has been on and off the campaign trail dealing with the fallout after a white police officer in South Bend shot and killed a black man, as Jonathan Easley writes. However, he still plans to be in Miami on Thursday for the second night of the Democratic presidential debates. 





The outcry in his home city marks the latest in a string of controversies that have opened Buttigieg up to criticism over his management of the police department and how his decisions and policies have impacted African Americans, who make up more than a quarter of the city’s residents.


Buttigieg is trying to separate his mayoral work from the presidential campaign to quell the tensions in his city. The mayor sent a note to supporters on Monday afternoon, saying that “safety and justice are inseparable” and that work needs to be done to “implement bolder and more aggressive actions moving forward.”


Notably, the email to supporters did not include a fundraising button, as many politicians’ emails do. 


The New York Times: A new test for Buttigieg: Does he feel their pain?


The Hill: Sanders unveils student debt plan amid rivalry with Warren.


NBC News: Here are the rules for the first Democratic debate. 


The Washington Post: Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Democratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment MORE (R-Maine) draws a Democratic challenger who seeks to undermine her moderate image.


CONGRESS & INVESTIGATIONS: The sentencing for former national security adviser Michael Flynn has been delayed again after his new attorney told a federal judge that she needs 90 days to review documents and other materials to prepare for his sentencing. 


Flynn recently made a switch in his legal representation, bringing on board Sidney Powell, who says she needs three months to review three hard drives of information from Flynn’s former legal team. She said she expects to receive even more information tied to her client’s case.





“There are more moving pieces in this representation than there are in the movement of an old-fashioned Swiss watch,” Powell told the court.


Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Clinton appointee who is overseeing the case, gave Powell two months and ordered another status report at the end of August (The Hill). 


> The White House is directing Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayWhite House pushes back on Parnas allegations Trump suggests LBJ is in hell: 'He's probably looking down — or looking up' George Conway group releases ad targeting GOP senator: 'You're just another Trump servant' MORE, counselor to the president, not to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this week over potential Hatch Act violations. 


The move came ahead of a planned vote by the panel on Wednesday to subpoena Conway, one of the president’s top advisers, if she does not testify on her own volition. 


The move is another push by the White House to stonewall Democrat-led investigations into Trump-related affairs. Most recently, it blocked 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 from answering questions from the House Judiciary Committee last week pertaining to her time at the White House. It has also blocked Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrParnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' Parnas says he's speaking out because of betrayal from associates: 'I felt like my family left me' Overnight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon MORE and former White House counsel Don McGahn from complying with subpoenas from the committee (The Washington Post). 


Politico: Democrats demand answers from the Department of Agriculture about a lack of climate science promotion.


The New York Times: Emergency aid for migrants badly divides Democrats. 


The Washington Post: House Democrats: White House won’t say what happened to Trump-Putin translator notes.

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We’re all on the tarmac waiting for an Iran policy, by David Tafuri, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Trump’s reelection is in serious jeopardy without a China deal, by Liz Peek, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program has highlights from The Hill’s exclusive interview with President Trump, who spoke on Monday afternoon about the Iran conflict, Biden’s bid for the White House, Fed Chairman Powell, plus a writer who says she was raped by Trump in the 1990s. Watch Hill.TV at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House meets at 10 a.m. and begins its legislative session at noon. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence holds a hearing about artificial intelligence and counterterrorism at 10 a.m. The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation holds a hearing at 2 p.m. about cybersecurity challenges for state and local governments.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020.


The president participates this morning in a conference call with veterans to talk about the Mission Act, which provides health care through community providers to supplement the Veterans Administration (Providence Journal). Trump will sign an executive order at 1:45 p.m. to create a new White House council focused on increasing affordable housing by reducing federal regulatory barriers. Trump at 3:30 p.m.. presents the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, the only living recipient from the Iraq War (Army Times). In the evening, the addresses at a joint fundraising reception with GOP donors and supporters at the Trump International Hotel.  


Vice President Pence travels to Miami to speak at the Hilton Hotel Miami Airport and Convention Center at 11 a.m. during a “Latinos for Trump” 2020 campaign event. Pence later tours the National Hurricane Center and addresses meteorologists and employees there. He returns to Washington this evening. 


The Hill hosts two live events this week. Today at 8:30 a.m. at the Newseum, experts discuss “Cost, Quality and Care: The Medicare Equation,” about Medicare Part D and drug pricing, with headliners Reps. Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieOvernight Health Care: Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat | House panel to examine federal marijuana policies | House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers Lawmakers express alarm over rise in cocaine overdose deaths House GOP reopens investigation into opioid manufacturers over role in crisis MORE (R-Ky.) and Doris MatsuiDoris Okada MatsuiBipartisan food allergy legislation gains ground in Congress, but the fight has only just begun Democrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Blood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure MORE (D-Calif.), members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. … On Wednesday, The Hill’s “Future of Healthcare Summit” explores some of the biggest questions in health care with policymakers, health officials and industry leaders. Speakers include Sen. Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyBig Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat Trump trade deal faces uncertain Senate timeline On The Money: Senate panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes | Trade deficit falls to three-year low | Senate confirms Trump pick for small business chief MORE (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. Location: Long View Gallery in Washington, D.C. RSVP HERE.


Supreme Court:  This year’s court term continues this week. The court ruled against the Trump administration to strike down a long-standing ban on trademarks that incorporate vulgar words or symbols. In a 6-3 decision about the FUCT clothing brand, justices decided a 1905 law violates constitutional free speech rights (Reuters). Justices on Monday rejected a bid to hear a challenge to Trump’s steel tariffs (The Hill). The Supreme Court also agreed to decide whether the federal government must pay insurers $12 billion under an ObamaCare program aimed at encouraging them to cover previously uninsured people (Reuters). Justices ruled 5-4 that a federal law allowing gun convictions relating to "a crime of violence" was too vague. Justice Neil GorsuchNeil GorsuchJanuary reminds us why courts matter — and the dangers of 'Trump judges' Planned Parenthood launches M campaign to back Democrats in 2020 Appeals court appears wary of letting Trump reinstate death sentences MORE wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgSCOTUS 'TRAP law' case and the erosion of abortion rights Trump and Obama equally admired? Eight things popularity polls tell us The Hill's Morning Report - Deescalation: US-Iran conflict eases MORE, Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerJustices grapple with 'Bridgegate' convictions The Trumpification of the federal courts Justices grapple with multibillion-dollar ObamaCare case MORE, Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorJustice Roberts neglects his own role in tilting American democracy Turley: Testifying for Republicans should not be a sin for academics Buttigieg, Klobuchar lay out criteria for potential judicial nominees MORE and Elena KaganElena KaganButtigieg, Klobuchar lay out criteria for potential judicial nominees Welcome to third-world democracy and impeachment Justices grapple with multibillion-dollar ObamaCare case MORE. (The Hill).


Tech: Genetic testing companies are forming a coalition to outline best practices for handling DNA information at a time when members of Congress are examining the industry’s privacy practices (The Hill). … Apple is on the front line of Trump's trade wars as the administration considers adding tariffs to $300 million of goods imported from China, including the popular iPhone and Mac (The Hill).


Military Spouses: Sheila Casey, The Hill’s intrepid chief operating officer and spouse of retired U.S. Army Chief of Staff George Casey Jr., accepted the Booz Allen Hamilton Impact Award for Lifetime Achievement, presented by Booz Allen Hamilton last week for her mentorship and support of military spouses. Casey accepted the first-ever such award from former second lady Dr. Jill Biden during an event sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Bravo, Sheila!


State Watch: Seeking to avoid costly new signage, schools that were named after Robert E. Lee and want to drop associations with the Confederate general are selecting others named Lee to honor (The Wall Street Journal). …Native American activists and descendants are urging Congress and 2020 presidential contenders to revoke Medals of Honor awarded to 20 participants at the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. The bill they support is called the Remove the Stain Act (The Hill).





And finally … An entrepreneurial Northern Virginia 17-year-old, Christina Mellott, who has a talent for sewing, created a duct tape dress for a contest in which the top prize is a $10,000 scholarship. 


Mellott is a finalist in the Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest after using 36 rolls of duct tape and spending 80 hours to create her impressive lavender-hued entry (WTOP).