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The Hill’s Morning Report — Trump’s hurricane forecast controversy won’t go away

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Back by popular demand, it’s Friday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Al Weaver is holding down the fort for the week while Alexis Simendinger is on vacation. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!


President Trump just won’t let go of his erroneous forecast showing Alabama in the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Over the past two days, the president has zeroed in on his claim, having posted numerous tweets and maps backing up his initial statement. A day after he appeared in the Oval Office to speak about the storm while using a map featuring a magic marker outline of Alabama in the storm path, a Homeland Security and counterrorism adviser went so far as to release on official letterhead a statement backing up the president over his Alabama prediction, all as a storm was peppering the Carolinas and as multiple states sat in Dorian’s path (The Hill).  

“I was with you all the way Alabama. The Fake News Media was not!” Trump tweeted on Thursday. 

{mosads}As The Washington Post reported on Thursday night:

Trump, who has privately and publicly griped about media coverage during the Group of 7 summit last month, complained extensively to administration officials this week about coverage of the Alabama issue and asked aides to bring him old briefings showing Alabama in the storm’s potential path.” 

The Post also reported, citing a White House official, that Trump indeed used a Sharpie marker on the map on Wednesday.  

The Associated Press: Mr. Never Wrong: Storm spat underscores Trump’s mindset.

As for the storm itself, Hurricane Dorian was moving along the coast of North Carolina early Friday morning, with the storm’s center threatening to hit the Outer Banks, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Dorian should remain a powerful hurricane as it moves near or along the coast of North Carolina during the next several hours,” NHC said in a Friday update. They also added that there’s a “high risk” of “life-threatening flash flooding” in eastern North Carolina as rainfall is expected to hit 15 inches in some locations.

{mossecondads}The storm is also expected to move north and affect southeast Virginia, which has ordered evacuations in the area ahead of early Friday, when the storm could potentially affect the region (The Virginian-Pilot). 

In South Carolina, nearly 250,000 homes and businesses lost power as the storm hit the coastline as a Category 2 storm with winds at 105-mph. In the U.S., four deaths were attributed to Dorian’s impact. According to The Associated Press, all of the deaths involved falls or electrocution while trimming trees, putting up storm shutters or preparing for the hurricane’s landfall.

The Bahamas continued to reel from the devastation left behind by the hurricane on Thursday. The death toll rose to at least 30 as authorities continued to search for bodies in the wreckage, according to Health Minister Duane Sands. Sands added that the final death count would be much higher. The United Nations projected that 76,000 people would be in need of humanitarian aid. 

“Let me say that I believe the number will be staggering,” Sands said. “I have never lived through anything like this and I don’t want to live through anything like this again” (Reuters). 

Some companies are also offering humanitarian help for those affected in the Bahamas. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line announced that it is embarking on a humanitarian journey Thursday evening from the Port of Palm Beach. The cruise ship is carrying food, water, supplies, first responders, and volunteers. It will also give Bahamians stranded in Florida transportation back to the Bahamas. 

The ship is expected to sail to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island and return to Palm Beach on Friday. It will also allow Bahamians to evacuate the islands for the U.S., although those on board must have proper documentation. The trip will be free for Bahamians, volunteers and relief workers (Orlando Sentinel). 

The hurricane has also has a political impact in North Carolina as it readies for next week’s special election in the 9th Congressional District. Julia Manchester reports that the state has closed a number of early voting sites only days before the Tuesday contest. 

The North Carolina State Board of Elections said it had closed early voting sites in Robeson, Bladen and Scotland counties, adding it had not determined when they will reopen.

Tuesday’s contest between Democrat Dan McCready and GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop is a redo of the November 2018 election after the results were tossed out because of widespread ballot fraud. 



POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Republicans are sensing they have a Texas problem on their hands. 

Although they have held onto power in the state for 25 years, Republicans are worried that their grip could slip away in 2020 as the state becomes more purple, headlined by a string of retirements by House Republicans early on in the cycle. 

On the Democratic side, 2020 candidates will gather in Houston for the party’s third presidential debate next week amid growing excitement within the party that the Lone Star State is trending in their direction. Republican support is faltering heavily in the suburbs around Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio — four of the nation’s largest and fastest growing metro areas — and five House Republicans from the state have already decided not to seek reelection. Other GOP lawmakers are squarely on retirement watch. 

Thanks in large part to the “Texas Miracle” that saw millions of jobs move to the state from states like California, the state has seen an influx of liberal voters. Recent polls show several 2020 Democratic candidates running neck and neck with the president in the state.

Reporting from Austin, Jonathan Easley interviewed more than a half-dozen top GOP strategists, donors and officials in Texas. While they all expressed confidence that President Trump will carry the state’s 38 electoral votes and that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will win reelection next year, the long-term trends in the state are of utmost concern.



The Associated Press: Black votes will define electability for Democrats.

The Hill: Marianne Williamson under fire for controversial health remarks.

The New York Times: Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), defending Trump in impeachment inquiry, seeks Georgia Senate seat.

> Sanders struggles: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is having a major problem with one key portion of the Democratic primary electorate: the AARP crowd.

While Sanders has been extremely successful in raking in young voters, both in 2016 and in this year’s primary, recent polls show he is sorely lacking in support from older voters. A Quinnipiac University poll out last month highlights the problem the Vermont independent faces as only 4 percent of those over 65 — those in the senator’s age group — backs him. 

Sanders, 77, is the oldest candidate in the 2020 field.

Even Sanders supporters acknowledge that the campaign needs to do more to convince older voters that his bid isn’t just about issues aimed at young people.  

“Seniors are often more concerned about not losing what they earned and fearful about what might lie ahead,” said Larry Cohen, a longtime Sanders ally who runs Our Revolution. “We have to convince older voters that they can be ushers for the future not just ushers for the past. Sometimes older voters are fearful that change means change for the worse” (The Hill). 

The Hill: Sanders under fire for remarks on population control.

The Hill: CNN climate town hall finishes last in viewers among cable news broadcasts.


ADMINISTRATION/CONGRESS: Republican lawmakers are displeased as the president is set to fund part of a wall along the U.S./Mexico border with funds initially intended for military projects in their states or districts. 

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that $3.6 billion will be stripped from 127 projects at U.S. bases, including some in states where GOP senators are up for reelection, upsetting some lawmakers who do not believe the president has the proper authority or want the monies backfilled in a funding package.

“Each of these projects was recommended by the administration, passed in Congress, signed into law by the president, and while there is some discretion that he has to move money around, I think that his executive order exceeds his discretion,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is up for reelection next year, during an event back home on Wednesday.

The Senate attempted to override the president’s emergency declaration, but lawmakers fell short of the necessary votes to do so. 

Some other Senate Republicans who are seeing funding redirected away from their states are Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.), Sen. Martha McSally (Ariz.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (Colo.) — all of whom voted in support of Trump’s emergency declaration (The Hill).



> Spending: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Thursday that the House is expected to vote on a short-term measure to fund the government and prevent a shutdown in mid-September. 

In a “Dear Colleague” letter, Hoyer said that he expects the House to take up a “clean” stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), during the week of Sept. 16. According to one leadership aide, the stopgap funding bill is expected to run through mid-November. 

Over the summer, House Democrats passed 10 of 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal 2020, but the Senate has yet to even approve any of its versions out of committee as they were waiting to see if lawmakers would strike a budget caps deal before the August recess.

Without a deal by the end of September, the government would partially shut down for the second time in a calendar year after the 35-day shutdown that lasted until late January (The Hill).

The Hill: House, Senate Democrats to prioritize election security this fall.

> Guns: CVS, Walgreens and Wegmans all asked consumers to avoid bringing firearms into their stores, continuing a string of announcements by corporations in the wake of mass shootings in recent weeks. 

In statements by all three corporations, they asked that customers avoid carrying guns in their stores outside of law enforcement officers. The announcements came in the aftermath of similar requests by Walmart and Kroger (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

The Associated Press: Vice President Pence tiptoes past Brexit tumult for an oh-so-chipper chat.

The Hill. Trump’s envoy for Middle East, architect of peace plan set to leave post.

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!



The NRA as a terrorist organization? San Francisco took one step too far, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. 

Revenge of the base: How ‘democratic’ reforms led to anti-democratic results in U.K. and U.S., by Sidney Tarrow, opinion contributor, The Hill.



Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Tim Chapman, executive director at Heritage Action for America, to expound upon a new Heritage Action poll; Stephanie Valencia, co-founder of EquisLabs, to discuss the group’s 11-state study on Latino voters; and Bob Cusack, who will try to make sense of the week that was in his latest DeBrief news update. Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.

The House and Senate return to Washington on Monday.  

The president has no events scheduled. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers the 190th Landon Lecture Series speech on “In Defense of the American Rights Tradition” at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, at 11:30 a.m. EDT.

Economy: The Bureau of Labor Statistics at 8:30 a.m. reports on the U.S. employment situation in August.

The Hill hosts the next installment in the Leadership in Action series on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 1777 F Street NW. We will be joined by Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), John Curtis (R-Utah) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) to take the political pulse of the country’s young voters and discuss what issues matter most as we approach the 2020 cycle. RSVP HERE.



SCOTUS: Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is keeping an active schedule and continues to make public appearances amid concerns over her health after undergoing three weeks of radiation treatment for a malignant tumor on her pancreas. Since Aug. 1, Ginsburg has made three appearances and has six more on the docket before the court reconvenes, including a speaking engagement at the University of Chicago on Monday and another at Georgetown University Law School on Sept. 12 (The Hill).



Sexual Harassment: Plácido Domingo, the legendary opera singer, was accused once again of sexual misconduct on Thursday. Angela Turner Wilson, who worked with Domingo 20 years ago in the Washington Opera’s production of Jules Massenet’s “Le Cid,” accused Domingo of approaching her as she sat in a makeup chair, slipping his hand under her bra strap and grabbing her breast. “It hurt … It was not gentle. He groped me hard,” she said. A spokeswoman for Domingo disputed the allegations (The Associated Press).  

Brexit: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s younger brother, Jo Johnson, announced Thursday that he would step down as a member of Parliament and resigned his post as a junior minister as the ongoing battle over Brexit rages on in the United Kingdom. The prime minister’s brother said early on Thursday that he was “torn between family loyalty and the national interest,” adding that the “unresolvable tension” led him to his decision. The elder Johnson has tried to  execute Brexit with or without a deal with the European Union by Oct. 31, but it has run into roadblocks as he has lost both his parliamentary majority and control of the Brexit process in recent days, forcing him to call for a mid-October election on the issue at hand (BBC). 

> Zimbabwe: Former Zimbabwean Prime Minister and President Robert Mugabe died on Friday at age 95 in Singapore. Mugabe, who served as president for 30 years, is known in the eyes of some for having ended white minority rule in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, but his legacy grew more complicated later on as he clung to power at all costs, harming his country in the process, leading to his ouster and resignation in 2017 (Reuters).



And finally …  Three cheers to today’s Morning Report Quiz winners! This week, we asked readers about the NFL ahead of last night’s Green Bay/Chicago season opener and from the looks of it, some quizzers are just as excited for Sunday as this author. 

Those who deserve the applause today are Steve Valley, Patrick Kavanaugh, Donna Nackers, William Chittam, Allyson Foster, John Carlan, Rich Davis, Cheryl Gibson, Dalton Temple, g8, Carol Katz, Anita Bales, Randall Patrick, Anna Aurilio, Luther Berg, David Straney, John Donato, Jeff Marston, Marc Deninno, Rich Gruber, Jack Barshay, and Wade Lewis.

Most of you knew that the Patriots have appeared in 11 Super Bowls, the most in NFL history (including one loss to former Philadelphia Eagles great Nick Foles).

The Chicago Bears unveiled a statue earlier in the week of legendary running back Walter Payton, along with one of George Halas, the club’s founder and late owner.

The Dallas Cowboys signed running back Ezekiel Elliott to a new deal, which makes him the highest paid running back in NFL history.

And finally, you knew that Charles Haley, a former defensive end, won five Super Bowl rings — two with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Dallas Cowboys.


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