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The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question

The Hill's Morning Report — Trump retreats on census citizenship question
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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. TGIF! 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 presidential contest is speeding through the calendar. This weekend marks a year until the Democratic National Convention anoints a nominee in Milwaukee (the GOP convention follows in August 2020 in Charlotte).

The 2020 census questionnaire will not ask about citizenship status, President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE announced on Thursday, retreating to Plan C after being blocked by legal challenges, admonished by the Supreme Court for a “contrived” rationale and buffeted by statutory deadlines he could not alter. 

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The administration will instead follow a course proposed more than a year ago to assemble available data from federal departments and agencies that may help determine the number of citizens and non-citizens living in the United States, Trump said.

“It will be, we think, far more accurate,” he added during a Rose Garden event to explain an executive order that instructs the Department of Homeland Security, the Social Security Administration and other agencies to share with the Commerce Department relevant data already in existence.  

The Census Bureau has said it can collect citizenship records from many federal sources, including the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Bristling at criticism that he caved at the end of months of court challenges and confusing public remarks that a citizenship question might accompany the census survey next year, Trump insisted “we are not backing down.”

“We must have a reliable count of how many citizens, non-citizens and illegal aliens are in our country,” the president said, adding that his administration will leave “no stone unturned.”

Trump, accompanied by Attorney General William BarrBill BarrBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Trump campaign, RNC announce 0 million post-election fundraising haul Michigan voter fraud hearing goes viral for alleged flatulence, unruly witness MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossConservative justices seem prepared to let Trump proceed with immigrant census plan for now Supreme Court to hear arguments on Trump administration's attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from census Central Asia is changing: the Biden administration should pay close attention MORE, described his focus on citizenship in starkly political terms.

“As shocking as it may be, far-left Democrats in our country are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst. They probably know the number is far greater, much higher than anyone would have ever believed before,” he said. “Maybe that’s why they fight so hard. This is part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of the American citizen, and it is very unfair to our country.”

Barr twice congratulated Trump for deciding on a fallback that “will yield the best data the government has had in many decades,” arguing that the president’s census posture would have been upheld by the Supreme Court if there had been time to submit “a better record” than the initial Justice Department rationale about trying to protect voting rights, which the court described as “contrived.”

Separately, the House earlier in the day announced plans to vote next week to hold Barr and Ross in criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with bipartisan subpoenas issued as part of the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s probe of the administration’s push to use the census to glean citizenship information. The House still plans to proceed with that vote if Barr and Ross do not turn over the subpoenaed documents, Committee Chairman Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsWe must act on lowering cost of prescription drugs Voters elected a record number of Black women to Congress this year — none were Republican Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE (D-Md.) said in a statement Thursday night.  

Many demographers and analysts, including inside the Commerce Department, object to the census as a vehicle to ask about citizenship because they believe fear and confusion in some households could lead to undercounting the population, which could impact congressional districts, federal funding and benefits.

The attorney general assailed the “media” for what he said was “rank speculation” that Trump flirted with defying court orders with executive action or delaying the census, although the president did both on Twitter and in public comments.

Trump described his determination to both identify and quantify non-citizens and undocumented immigrants living in the United States against the backdrop of his reelection bid, in which his hardline border policies endear him to many supporters.

Trump has said his administration will soon deport thousands of immigrants living illegally in major U.S. cities. A multi-city purge by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is to begin on Sunday, according to The New York Times and other news outlets.

Before he ducked back into the Oval Office as skies blackened before an evening rain storm, the president averted his gaze and warded off reporters’ shouted questions with a raised arm.

The Hill: A new phase is set to open in Trump’s immigration war.

The Hill: Trump drops bid to put citizenship question on the 2020 census.

CNN: Here’s how the Census Bureau can find out who is a U.S. citizen.

Harry Litman: We just dodged a constitutional crisis with the census.

Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog: Background in courts leading up to Trump’s announcement.

LEADING THE DAY

CONGRESS: Drama is building ahead of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerBarr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting MORE’s highly anticipated Capitol Hill testimony on Wednesday as Democrats come up with their strategy for questioning after pushing for months to hear his testimony. 

Part of the strategy for Democrats centers around time constraints for the former special counsel’s appearance. Mueller’s testimony is limited to roughly two hours per committee as it stands and only 22 members on each will be allowed to ask questions. There are 41 members on the Judiciary Committee compared to 22 on the House Intelligence Committee. 

Democrats say their plans are still in flux and that they are still negotiating with Mueller over the logistics of the appearance. Adding a layer to the drama are murmurs the Justice Department is seeking to block two of Mueller’s deputies from testifying privately, something that is bound to shake up the agreement (The Hill). 

“We’ve got to be strategic, we’ve got to understand why we want to talk to him in the first place and that’s to get answers to some unanswered questions,” said Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemings on Florida: 'We're excited about what we're seeing' but 'taking absolutely nothing for granted' Why it's time for a majority female Cabinet Sunday shows preview: The final push to Election Day MORE (D-Fla.), a member of both panels questioning Mueller. “Wednesday will be here before we know it and we need to make sure that we utilize that time in the most effective and most efficient way.”

As they wait for Mueller’s appearance, the House Judiciary Committee voted to subpoena multiple current and former Trump administration officials as they push to receive documents and testimony from the potential subjects. 

The panel voted along party lines 21-12 to approve a resolution that authorizes subpoenas for 12 people who are witnesses sought in the panel's investigation into potential obstruction and abuse of power the president. Among those subpoenaed are Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMary Trump doesn't think Trump will run in 2024 Trump pardon scandal would doom his 2024 campaign Enforcing the Presidential Records Act is essential for preserving our democracy's transparency, history MORE, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, former White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTime to bring federal employees home for every holiday Alabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 MORE and former Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinTrump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Ex-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. 'will ignore' Trump's threats against political rivals The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE.

 

 

> Pelosi vs. AOC: House Democrats are letting their loyalties be known in the ongoing feud between Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHarry Styles hits back at criticism over wearing dress on Vogue cover 'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Obama says Democrats should make sure Ocasio-Cortez has a platform MORE (D-N.Y.), and most are siding with the House Democratic leader.

A growing number of House Democrats who have grown frustrated with the spat between the two Democratic heavyweights, have panned Ocasio-Cortez, largely for accusing Pelosi of treating minority women unfairly. Democrats have become perturbed by the back-and-forth that has roiled the conference.

“What a weak argument,” said Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayDemocrats introduce legislation to strike slavery exception in 13th Amendment 'It's not a slogan': Progressives push back on Obama's comments on 'defund the police' movement Incoming lawmaker says her Breonna Taylor mask has colleagues calling her Breonna MORE (D-Mo.). “Because you can’t get your way and because you’re getting pushback you resort to using the race card? Unbelievable. Unbelievable to me.”

Others have argued that Ocasio-Cortez isn’t looking at the big picture and is instead looking at the current issues through the lens of the “squad,” which Pelosi has dismissed as “four people.” They believe Ocasio-Cortez’s group needs to look at the conference as a whole and the push to pass legislation (The Hill).

“We admire them; they energize us; they're eager,” Rep. Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MooreDemocrats accuse Kushner of 'casual racism' over comments about Black Americans Lawmakers urge IRS to get stimulus payments to domestic violence survivors Texas Democrat: US natural gas vital in transition to renewables MORE (D-Wis.) said in praise of the group. “And of course they have the luxury of — it is a luxury — just to be able to represent [their] district and to be strident. Nancy, of course, is the leader, so she has to represent all of us.”

“They’ll learn. It’s all about the 218 in this game,” said Moore. “You can be a star if you want to be, but it’s all about the 218.”

The Washington Post Magazine: In her House office, AOC’s chief of change. 

Peggy Noonan: Ocasio-Cortez a one-woman Committee to Re-elect the President. 

> Spending caps: With little progress on a spending deal for the 2020 fiscal year, lawmakers are conceding that a stopgap measure will be necessary to keep the government running come October. 

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Appropriators say they can generally turn around spending bills relatively quickly once party leaders agree on overall spending levels. But the August recess is just weeks away, with the House set to leave town in two weeks, and the Senate has not yet introduced a single appropriations bill. 

Passing even a fraction of the 12 bills through subcommittee, committee and on the Senate floor before working out differences with the House and getting President Trump’s approval would be a herculean task (The Hill). 

The Hill: Pelosi says debt limit should be dealt with in the next few weeks.

The Hill: GOP balks at White House push for standalone vote on debt ceiling.

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

2020 POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members are seething at Justice Democrats, a group aligned with Ocasio-Cortez, for their decision to endorse primary challengers against members of color, especially African American members. 

The group has announced that they are backing challengers against Clay, a St. Louis-based member and a prominent CBC lawmaker, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), a Blue Dog Democrat. They have also discussed backing an insurgent candidate against Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesHouse Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Nominated for another Speaker term, Pelosi says it's her last Katherine Clark secures No. 4 leadership spot for House Democrats MORE (D-N.Y.), the No. 5 Democrat and a member of the CBC.

There are also rumblings that the group could endorse challengers against a cadre of other CBC members, including Reps. Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeLawmakers call for small business aid at all levels of government The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Top tech executives testify in blockbuster antitrust hearing MORE (D-N.Y.), Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Joyce Beatty elected next chair of Congressional Black Caucus Trump's controversial diversity order expected to see swift reversal under Biden MORE (D-Ohio), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownLeft seeks to influence Biden picks while signaling unity House Democrats back slower timeline for changing Confederate base names OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Esper reportedly working with lawmakers to strip Confederate names from bases | Enemy attacks in Afghanistan jump by 50 percent, watchdog says | Fort Hood soldier arrested, charged in Chelsea Cheatham killing MORE (D-Md.).

“It just seems strange that the social Democrats seem to be targeting members of the Congressional Black Caucus, individuals who have stood and fought to make sure that African Americans are included and part of this process,” said Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Congress inches closer to virus relief deal Overnight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (D-N.Y.), a senior CBC member. “I don’t know what that agenda is, but if they want to come after members of the Black Caucus, it’s two ways,”

Clay is being primaried by Cori Bush, a registered nurse and Black Lives Matter activist, for the second time. Justice Democrats endorsed Bush last cycle, but Clay, a 10-term lawmaker, defeated her by 20 points. 

The incumbent bashed Justice Democrats for their decision and likened them to “Russian trolls of 2016” trying to sow discord among Democrats (The Hill). 

“It does make you wonder what’s going on,” said Rep. Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyHouse Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress Lawmakers push for improved diabetes care through tech advancements Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities MORE (D-Ill.), a CBC member. “Some names that have been mentioned all seem to be people of color, and more so CBC members.” 

 

 

> Polls: Yet another national poll about the 2020 Democratic contenders is out, and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE continues to pace the field, with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration Disney chair says he would consider job in Biden administration if asked Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill MORE (D-Mass.) trailing by 7 points as she continues her ascent in the primary.

According to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Biden leads with 26 percent of support. Warren trails the front-runner with 19 percent, while Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden says family will avoid business conflicts Biden says China must play by 'international norms' MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Sanders press secretary: 'Principal concern' of Biden appointments should be policy DeVos knocks free college push as 'socialist takeover of higher education' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Capital One — Giuliani denies discussing preemptive pardon with Trump MORE (I-Vt.) both sit with 13 percent.  

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE sits at 7 percent, while no other candidate registers above 2 percent support.  

While Biden holds a slight lead nationally, he continues to trounce the field in South Carolina. According to a new Fox News poll, he leads with 35 percent support, more than double any other candidate. 

Sanders and Harris trail behind with 14 and 12 percent support, respectively. Warren lags behind in the pack with 5 percent backing.  

The Washington Post: Biden’s Senate records could answer questions about his past actions — but they’re being kept secret. 

The New York Times: At Latino forum, Democratic candidates channel anxiety over immigration.

Politico: “A real barn-burner”: Potential Senate showdown looms in Wyoming.

Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call: Kentucky Senate: Seriously, are we doing this again?

David Ignatius: Wake up, Democrats. Trump is on something of a roll. 

Elsewhere on the political scene … Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro took aim at former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson for calling into question decriminalizing crossing the southern border. He told the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) forum that Johnson is “wrong” on the subject, adding that “ ‘open borders' is a right-wing talking point” (The Texas Tribune) … Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneLawmakers grill Pentagon over Trump's Germany drawdown Bottom line Jerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne MORE (R-Ala.) announced that his campaign raised over $750,000 and that he has over $2.5 million in the bank in his bid for the Senate. Byrne is expected to face Judge Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Long-shot Espy campaign sees national boost in weeks before election Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video MORE and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville for the GOP nod to take on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in 2020.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!

 

OPINION

Donald Trump will win the Democratic Party civil war, by Donald Trump Jr.Don John TrumpTrump pardon scandal would doom his 2024 campaign Trump Jr. in radio ad: Father's 'accomplishments' are on the ballot in Georgia Senate races Trump Jr. aides launch super PAC to persuade president's supporters to vote in Georgia MORE, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/32ePwlE 

Cruelty won’t stop the crisis at the border, by Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughFauci says he has not talked to Biden: He doesn't want to 'put me in a compromised position' Biden chooses a White House chief who 'matches this moment' The swamp wasn't drained — it expanded MORE and Cecilia Muñoz, former top White House advisers to the 44th president, opinion contributors, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/32kTysN

WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who talks about the expected House extension of the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund; former federal judge Walter Kelley, on news about the census; and Lauren Maunus, the Sunrise Movement coordinator for policy and politics, on progressives’ climate change agenda. Find the interviews beginning at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.

The House meets at 9 a.m. The House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing at 9 a.m. about the “constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct” as it relates  to investigative findings by Mueller. … The House Oversight and Reform Committee explores migrant detention of children in the United States, gathering testimony at 10 a.m. from lawmakers who recently visited detention facilities at the border, inspectors general from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and advocates for the rights and health of immigrant children.

The Senate is off today and meets Monday at 3 p.m. to consider the nomination of Peter Joseph Phipps to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.

The president departs for Milwaukee, Wis., where he will speak at a fundraising lunch and roundtable with GOP donors in Fox Point, Wis., after which he’ll visit Derco Aerospace Inc. in Milwaukee (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and talk about the push for ratification in Congress for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Then Trump flies to Cleveland, Ohio, to headline a private political fundraiser at the home of nursing home executive Brian Colleran of Foundations Health Solutions (Cleveland.com). He will return to the White House tonight. 

Pence is in San Diego, Calif., this morning. The vice president plans to travel to McAllen, Texas, border territory 11 miles from Mexico to visit a migrant detention facility as a way to counter recent news coverage that the administration fails to provide professional, humane care at a Clint, Texas, detention compound. “We're going to take the cameras into one of the busiest detention centers on the southern border and the American people are going to be able to see for themselves every single day, our Customs and Border Protection provide compassionate and generous care to people that are crossing our border.  And we're going to continue to see to it that that’s the case,” he said on Thursday. The vice president invited members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to accompany him, but Democratic members of the panel said they will not attend (The Hill).

U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza speaks at noon in Milwaukee, Wis., at the LULAC National Convention and Exposition.

 

ELSEWHERE

School choice: Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch is turning the power of his network to an initiative called “Yes Every Kid,” focused on school choice and other education issues at the state level (The Associated Press). 

Drug pricing: Trump's drug pricing plan encountered two setbacks this week, putting pressure on Congress to deliver bipartisan legislation to step in where the administration was unable to lower prescription drug costs for consumers (The Hill). Some analysts believe legislation signed by the president ultimately would be a better outcome (The Associated Press).

Bad weather: Tropical Storm Barry, the second named storm of the hurricane season, formed over the Gulf of Mexico and is beginning to lash the Louisiana coast this morning and could be a hurricane by Saturday (Accuweather). New Orleans is worried most about heavy rain and expected “feet of flooding” (The Associated Press). Trump signed a disaster declaration for Louisiana in advance of the storm.

 

 

THE CLOSER

And finally …   Bravo to Morning Report Quiz Winners! 

The Lion King” — the 1994 film, the Broadway show and a film remake hitting theaters this month — inspired our quiz and turned up these winners this week: Candi Cee, Sara Hall Phillips, Patrick Kavanagh, Rich Gruber, Zev Lewis, Neysa Slater-Chandler, Carol Katz, John Donato, Allyson Foster, Luther Berg and William Chittam. 

They knew that James Earl Jones provided the commanding voice of Mufasa in the original movie — and does so again in a new film version in theaters next week. 

Timon, a personality-plus meerkat, sang part of the song “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in the 1994 movie.

TV host and actress Whoopi GoldbergWhoopi GoldbergWhoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' Whoopi Goldberg blasts Trump over COVID-19 spike: 'This blood is on his hands' Stevie Wonder, Céline Dion and other stars to perform at Thanksgiving concert honoring nurses MORE voiced a female hyena, Shenzi, in the original “Lion King.” 

Broadway (and Disney) boast a durable and international hit (22 years!) with the musical “The Lion King,” which debuted on stage in New York in 1997.