The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders falters as rivals rise




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.

The Morning Report is on hiatus for the remainder of the week to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. Happy Independence Day!  

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.) is at risk of forfeiting top-tier candidate status in the 2020 Democratic primary race as rivals surge past him in new polls. 


After starting the year in surveys as a close second behind 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 (D), who has also faltered since last week’s Democratic debate, Sanders is experiencing a precipitous downfall, underscored by a new Suffolk University poll in Iowa that shows him with 9 percent support.


Recall that in Iowa in 2016 during the Democratic primary, Sanders, with 49.6 percent of the vote, came close to defeating 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, who won with 49.8 percent of the tally in the first-in-the-nation contest.


As Jonathan Easley writes, Sanders’s path to the nomination is growing tougher by the day, largely due to challenges from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris weighing Biden endorsement: report California Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Steyer spokesperson: 'I don't think necessarily that Tom has bought anything' MORE (D-Calif.) and 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.), both of whom are competing with Sanders for support from progressive voters. Another national poll released on Tuesday showed Sanders in fourth place behind Biden, Harris and Warren. 


“In 2016, he benefited from being the only alternative to the establishment candidate,” said Jon Reinish, a Democratic strategist. “In 2020, the entire political world has changed except for him. His biggest problem right now is that he looks like a candidate of the past, and that’s not a good place to be.”


Nonetheless, Sanders remains among the top contenders and is one of five candidates with a plausible path to the nomination. But he risks a slow fade from the pack as some Democrats look for a fresh face who might defeat 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 and recapture a 2020 version of the magic that propelled Sanders to claim a grassroots “movement” and “revolution” in 2016.


While Sanders looks to get back on track, others in the field are dealing with more substantial issues that could lead to their 2020 demise. Former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperMitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate Hickenlooper raised .8 million for Colorado Senate bid in fourth quarter of 2019 George Conway group releases ad targeting GOP senator: 'You're just another Trump servant' MORE’s (D) campaign is facing major problems as many of his top staffers, including his campaign manager, communications director, digital director and finance director, have left or plan to leave in the near future, according to Politico.


Additionally, members of his senior staff have urged him to drop out of the presidential race as he fails to gain traction with primary voters and struggles with fundraising, including only $1 million raised in the second fundraising quarter, and to run for Senate against Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum McConnell keeps press in check as impeachment trial starts MORE (R-Colo.). The fundraising total is not only miles behind other presidential candidates but also on par with or behind some Democratic Senate and House candidates. Hickenlooper publicly blamed his departed staffers in an interview for his fledgling campaign.


“We thought it was time to make a change,” he told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin. “You know, these campaigns are long, hard campaigns and you don’t always get it right with the first team.”


While Hickenlooper’s fundraising total was underwhelming, political watchers continue to wait to see how 2020 Democrats fared during the quarter. Only two 2020 candidates on the Democratic side have released their totals: South Bend, Ind., Mayor 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 (D), who posted a $24.8 million haul, and Sanders, who announced Tuesday that he raised $18 million, with $30 million in cash on hand. On the other side of the aisle, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee announced that they raised an eye-popping $105 million total between the two operations. 


Trump is continuing to highlight the plans by Democratic candidates to expand health insurance to people in the country illegally, a two-pronged attack on Medicare expansion proposals and illegal immigration. 


As Jessie Hellmann reports, Democrats argue Americans are already paying for health care for people here illegally when they go to emergency rooms. But Trump sees the proposals as a way to further motivate his base on the issue of illegal immigration and “socialized” health care, which his campaign and other Republicans have used throughout the nascent 2020 cycle. 


The Associated Press: Trump transforms 2020 immigration debate — for Democrats.


The Atlantic: Holding Democrats to the Trump standard.


NBC News: Harris stunned Biden. But can she meld together a winning (Obama) coalition?


The New York Times: Here are the Democrats at risk of not making the July debates.





CONGRESS: House Democrats launched their latest push to obtain the president’s tax returns on Tuesday as the House Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department amid the administration’s efforts to block their release.


The panel, headed by Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealKey House committee chairman to meet with Mnuchin on infrastructure next week Coalition of conservative groups to air ads against bipartisan proposal to end 'surprise' medical bills House revives agenda after impeachment storm MORE (D-Mass.), filed a complaint against the department and the Internal Revenue Service in federal court in Washington, asking the court to order the defendants to comply with Neal's subpoenas and a section of the federal tax code (The Hill).


This is the first time House Democrats have gone to court themselves to obtain such records after repeatedly requesting the IRS to release the returns directly. 


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Mnuchin says officials working on new tax cuts | Watchdog charges former execs over Wells Fargo accounts scandal | Study questions Biden, Sanders tax plan claims CRA modernization: A once-in-a-generation opportunity MORE rejected Neal’s request in May, saying that it lacked a legitimate legislative purpose. Neal then moved forward with subpoenas to Treasury and the IRS for the returns, which Mnuchin also refused to comply with.


“Due to that noncompliance, the Committee is now pursuing this matter in the federal courts,” Neal said in a statement.





> Dems at the border: Anger continued to grow from House Democrats on Tuesday after 21 lawmakers visited facilities in Clint, Texas that are being used as migrant shelters along the southern border. 


Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroWarren campaign hires two top Castro staffers Democrats press Trump administration to stop DNA collection from detained migrants The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules MORE (D-Texas) tweeted photos and videos of Monday’s visit, saying that they underlined concerns that the centers are overcrowded and those in the facilities are dealing with inhumane conditions.


In some of the photos and videos, women could be seen sitting on the floor. One said that she was denied medicine, while another said her daughter had been taken from her (The Hill).


“Our border patrol system is broken,” Castro tweeted. “And part of the reason it stays broken is because it’s kept secret. The American people must see what is being carried out in their name.”


House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) announced the panel will hold a hearing next Friday on treatment of migrant children and conditions at the facilities.


Cummings invited acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan to testify at a hearing on July 12. Neither confirmed they will appear, according to the committee. 


“The Trump Administration’s actions at the southern border are grotesque and dehumanizing,” Cummings said in a statement Tuesday (The Hill).


The Hill: Democrats on high alert to block any funding for Trump’s border wall.


Roll Call: Department of Homeland Security faces pressure to accept diapers, soap donations for detained migrants.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The administration said Tuesday it will drop a proposed new citizenship question from the 2020 census, which the president has vigorously defended, days after the Supreme Court ruled against the government’s rationale for including the question (The Hill). Trump initially said he asked government lawyers to explore postponing the population survey conducted every 10 years as the government neared a census printing deadline.


The Associated Press: The census is being printed without a question about citizenship status.


> Federal Reserve: The president tweeted on Tuesday that he will nominate economists Christopher Waller and Judy Shelton to vacancies at the nation’s central bank, selecting more traditionally credentialed nominees after encountering a dearth of Senate GOP enthusiasm for earlier conservative choices, Herman CainHerman CainTrump formally announces intent to nominate Waller, Shelton to Fed Is Joe Biden the Democrats' Mitt Romney of 2020? Conservatives skewer Trudeau after Trump calls him 'two-faced' MORE and Stephen MooreStephen MooreTrump formally announces intent to nominate Waller, Shelton to Fed Contrary to what the media reports, middle class Americans are surging Juan Williams: Trump is all bluster on trade MORE, who withdrew their nominations earlier this year. Progressive groups immediately took aim at Shelton, calling her policy perspectives “extreme” (The Wall Street Journal).  


> Trump’s Fourth: The president on Thursday will deliver remarks at a "Salute to America" in front of the Lincoln Memorial, inserting himself into the longstanding Independence Day festivities in Washington, D.C., that have remained largely apolitical for decades. Trump's grand vision for the event has increased costs, created logistical complications and prompted onlookers to worry that the president will co-opt a holiday associated with national unity and turn it into a de facto campaign rally. Trump’s insistence on displaying military tanks near the Lincoln Memorial has many shaking their heads that he has conflated patriotism with nationalism (The Hill).


The Washington Post: Funding for the “Salute to America” in the nation’s capital on Thursday includes $2.5 million in diverted park fees from the National Park Service.


NBC4: Among counter-communications in Washington on Thursday will be the Baby Trump Blimp, which Code Pink is permitted to fly near the Washington Monument. 





> Trump vs. the press: The president tweeted negatively about the news media 25 out of 30 days in June, the most for a single month during his presidency so far, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. From Trump’s inauguration through the end of last month, he posted 791 negative tweets about the media in 893 days. Since announcing his candidacy for president in June 2015, Trump has tweeted negatively about the press 1,537 times in 1,477 days, a technique that appeals to his base of supporters. The tracker does not include public remarks Trump frequently utters about “fake news,” “the enemy of the state” and his challenges devoid of any corrections about reporting he does not like. For example, he told President Andrzej Duda of Poland at the White House on June 12 that “much of the media unfortunately in this country is corrupt. I have to tell you that, Mr. President.”


> Pentagon: The White House is suddenly racing to install a permanent secretary of defense. Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Trump’s pick for the top post, is not permitted to serve in his current role beyond July 30. The administration and the Senate have little time to confirm a secretary and Esper will have to temporarily step aside during the confirmation process because he is not permitted to serve as acting secretary while his nomination is under Senate consideration (The Hill).


> Vice President Pence canceled his appearance at a New Hampshire opioid event on Tuesday for an unspecified emergency the White House declined to describe (The Hill).


Fox News: Pence’s office tight-lipped about reason for abrupt cancellation: “Something came up.”

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!


Has Trump delivered for the little guy? By Albert Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


How to respond to the Nike flag sneaker recall: 'Just don't buy it', by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Amb. Joseph Detrani, former U.S. special envoy for six-party talks with North Korea, to react to the president’s trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ); Edgar Chen, a former attorney adviser at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Barry Robinson, former chief counsel for economic affairs at the Department of Commerce, to discuss the Supreme Court’s census ruling; and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a key figure in 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’s probe, in the second of a three-part series at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House will get back to work on July 9.  


The Senate is in recess until July 8.


The president will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Overnight Defense: Trump downplays troops' concussion injuries in Iran attack | Dems offer case against Trump on day two of trial | UN links Saudis to hack of Bezos' phone Pompeo willing to testify in impeachment trial if 'legally required' MORE at 12:45 p.m.


Economic indicators: The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases a report at 8:30 a.m. on international trade in goods and services during May.


Tech: Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang region are forcing visitors and tourists to install phone malware that gives authorities access to their text messages and data, according to a reporting collaboration by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Guardian, The New York Times and German public broadcaster NDR (Vice). 


State & City Watch: “Restorative justice” — a guided conversation between a juvenile who has broken the law and a victim on the other side of the crime — is winning converts in Washington, D.C., as an alternative to prosecution of some young offenders (NPR). ... Illinois’s gasoline tax jumped overnight on Monday from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents (NBC Chicago).


Nike just won’t do it: Nike Inc. on Tuesday stood by its decision to pull its Fourth of July sneakers from stores, a move criticized by some conservative lawmakers who said political correctness has gone too far. The shoes display a “Betsy Ross flag,” which represents the original 13 American colonies. More stars were added in 1795, after Vermont and Kentucky joined the nation. Nike weighed complaints that some extremist groups have appropriated the Betsy Ross flag as a symbol of opposition to diversity. “We regularly make business decisions to withdraw initiatives, products and services. Nike made the decision to halt distribution of the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July based on concerns that it could unintentionally offend and detract from the nation’s patriotic holiday,” the company said in a statement (Bloomberg). Despite the recall, one pair of shoes made it onto eBay on Tuesday night. Early Wednesday, they were taken off the site, but not before the high bid for the pair reached $52,000. 


Eclipse: Sweeping darkness across the South Pacific and into Chile and Argentina, a total solar eclipse attracted hundreds of thousands of awed tourists to the region on Tuesday (The Associated Press). The region had not seen an eclipse since 1592 (Reuters).





And finally …  ✍✍  29,000 students from across the country in grades four to 12 entered a Library of Congress national writing competition, which asked them to write to an author about how his or her work affected their lives to try to capture prizes worth up to $2,000. Nine young readers who are accomplished letter-writers walked away with the loot this week!


Judges chose outstanding entries for each state and in three levels (grades four to six; grades seven to eight; and grades nine to 12) before prize winners were named. The recipients of the National Prize each won $2,000, and National Honor Award winners received $500 for composing standout letters about literature. 


(Check out the books and authors that inspired the young contestants — be impressed!)


Xander Sánchez of Honolulu, Hawaii, won the top National Prize in grades four to six for writing to Theodore Gray, author of “The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.”


Evan Kotick of Seville, Ohio, who wrote to Michael Lewis, author of “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game,” and Ilaria Luna of Washington, D.C., who wrote to Marsha Skrypuch, author of “Stolen Child,” each won National Honor prizes for grades four to six.


Yael Epstein of Carmel, Ind., who wrote a letter to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of “Infidel,” and Thea Millenson-Wilens of Mount Tremper, N.Y., who wrote to Gayle Forman, author of “If I Stay,” each won a National Prize for students in grades seven and eight. 


Saimaa Widi of Cheyenne, Wyo., who wrote to Olivia Vella, author of “Why Am I Not Good Enough?” captured a National Honor Award for grades seven and eight.


Amatullah Mir of Hickory Hills, Ill., won the National Prize for grades nine to 12 for an entry written to Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson, authors of “Ms. Marvel Series.”


And Colton Schons of Spokane, Wash., who wrote to Paul Murray, author of “Skippy Dies,” and Tejal Pendekanti of Westlake, Ohio, who wrote to Gloria Anzaldúa, author of “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” each won National Honor Awards for grades nine to 12.


The 2018-19 contest was promoted to young readers and writers by the Library’s Center for the Book and supported by a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and other donations.