The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE announced Tuesday that John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump directly sought to block publication of Bolton's book: WaPo 'Parasite' studio fires back after Trump criticism: 'He can't read' Trump swipes at 'little wise guy' Brad Pitt, Korean film 'Parasite' during rally MORE will no longer serve as national security adviser, saying that he “strongly disagreed” with a number of Bolton’s suggestions and that his services are no longer needed by the White House.


“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning,” Trump said in a pair of tweets. 


Trump’s remarks were a culmination of brewing tension inside the administration over Bolton, who had clashed with the president and other officials — most notably Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe problem with Trump's Middle East peace plan India rolls out the red carpet for Trump Limbaugh: Democrats who set up George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq now organizing 'silent coup' against Trump MORE — on a number of issues, including the path forward with Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea, over the past 17 months. 


Most recently, Bolton was seemingly on the winning side after Trump announced that he would be ending negotiations with the Taliban ahead of planned meetings at Camp David, which the embattled adviser was against. He had reportedly told Trump that he could lower troop levels in the region without a deal with a group that is responsible for the murder of thousands of Americans for nearly two decades. 


However, Bolton was also viewed by some as responsible for leaks, including last weekend after Trump made his announcement nixing talks with the Taliban. Reports surfaced that Bolton and Vice President Pence were against the discussions, which the vice president’s team has since disputed. Not helping Bolton’s argument was his decision to immediately contact reporters insisting that he was not fired, texting and replying to questions by insisting he had set his departure in motion on Monday night.


“I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let's talk about it tomorrow,’” Bolton tweeted shortly after Trump’s announcement.


The Hill: Five takeaways on Trump's ouster of John Bolton.


CBS News: Condoleezza Rice: "I'm relieved" that U.S. walked away from talks with the Taliban.


NBC News: As frustration with Bolton mounted, Trump reached out to ex-adviser H.R. McMaster.


Bolton’s ouster also means the voices offering dissenting perspectives from Trump’s own inside in the White House are being reduced. GOP lawmakers, most notably Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyPaul Ryan says he disagrees with Romney's impeachment vote Progressives hope Nevada offers roadmap for pro-union 2020 victory Texas woman sentenced for illegal voting faces deportation after parole MORE (R-Utah), indicated that they were upset by the ouster for that reason. 


It also means there is more likelihood that Trump could meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations General Assembly, which kicks off on Tuesday in New York, has increased. Pompeo indicated that Trump could finally meet with Rouhani on the sidelines of the gathering, something Bolton vehemently opposed. 


The Iranians made their pleasure known over Bolton’s ouster. Hesameddin Ashena, Rouhani’s top political adviser, tweeted that Bolton’s exit was “a definitive sign that Washington’s maximum pressure on Iran has failed,” adding that “Iran’s blockade will end.”


The Associated Press: Iran urges U.S. to “put warmongers aside” after Bolton firing.


More than anything, the ouster came down to competing viewpoints on foreign policy matters, with Trump continuing to be skeptical of intervention across the globe. Trump derided Bolton’s penchant for pushing military action and intervention on occasion. The New York Times reported in May that Trump told officials, “If it was up to John, we’d be in four wars now.”


“I think fundamentally President Trump and Bolton have different worldviews,” Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Pelosi names first-ever House whistleblower ombudsman director The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters. “I don’t know exactly what precipitated [his leaving], but the president deserves people around him who will carry out his policies … I for one think the chances of war go down greatly with John Bolton leaving the administration. The president deserves someone who understands his America first policy.”


The move also boosts Pompeo, who was in a jovial mood when he appeared alongside Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Bloomberg proposes financial transaction tax GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law MORE to brief the press corps, a scheduled event at which Bolton had been expected to appear. Pompeo said he is “never surprised,” suggesting Trump lost confidence in Bolton. 


“He should have people he trusts and values,” Pompeo said. “There were definitely places that Ambassador Bolton and I had different views about how we should proceed.”


Bolton was Trump’s third national security adviser and his longest tenured one. McMaster, his predecessor, held the post for nearly 14 months and had a rocky relationship with the president, while Michael Flynn served for only 24 days before tendering his resignation. 


According to reports, among those under consideration to replace Bolton in a full-time capacity are Stephen E. Biegun, a former National Security Council staff member who serves as the U.S. special representative for North Korea, and Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran and senior policy adviser to Pompeo (Fox News). Another possibility is Douglas Macgregor, a retired U.S. army colonel and national security commentator for Fox News who has publicly praised Trump’s approach to Iran (The Washington Post). 


Appearing on Fox News on Tuesday night, Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: 2020 candidates look to South Carolina Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Barr to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday MORE (R-S.C.) floated Hook, Gen. Keith Kellogg, who serves as the national security adviser to the vice president, and Rick Waddell, a former national security aide to McMaster, as possible replacements.


The New York Times: Trump administration turnover to date, charted and detailed.


Perspectives & Analysis:

Gerald F. Seib: With Bolton’s exit, GOP interventionism gives way to Trump.

John Gans: How John Bolton broke the National Security Council.

Tom Rogan: John Bolton's firing won't fix Trump's widening foreign policy holes.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: John Bolton resigns.

The Washington Post Editorial Board: John Bolton’s legacy: Chaos, dysfunction and no meaningful accomplishments.

Michael McFaul: In foreign policy, Trump gets points for creativity. Results, not so much.





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: In North Carolina, Rep.-elect Dan Bishop took home the 9th Congressional District special election over Democrat Dan McCready, winning by just shy of 4,000 votes and a 2 percent margin, giving the GOP a big boost in what was considered a toss-up race heading into Tuesday night.


Bishop was boosted by high turnout and support in rural parts of the district, handing him the narrow victory even though he lost Mecklenburg County to McCready by 12.6 percent -- an increase by 3 points from his race against Mark HarrisMark HarrisBevin says he lost because liberals are 'good at harvesting votes' in urban areas The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate Why my American Indian tribe voted Republican in NC's special election MORE in November. 


Also a likely reason for Bishop’s victory: the president’s appearance in Fayetteville, N.C., on Monday night, where he painted a dire picture of Democratic control if Republicans lose next year. 


Great victory under very difficult circumstances and the president campaigning made all the difference,” said Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLawmakers grill Census Bureau officials after report on cybersecurity issues Conservative lawmakers warn Pelosi about 'rate-setting' surprise billing fix House GOP leader says reassignment of Vindman was appropriate MORE (R-N.C.), referring to Bishop being outspent and McCready’s high name-ID in the district as the difficult circumstances.


Trump took a victory lap on Tuesday night, saying that Bishop had struggled until the past few weeks before his victory. 


“Dan Bishop was down 17 points 3 weeks ago. He then asked me for help, we changed his strategy together, and he ran a great race. Big Rally last night. Now it looks like he is going to win,” Trump tweeted. “BIG NIGHT FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!”


For Democrats, they mood was not all doom and gloom despite the loss. They noted that the president won the district by 12 points in 2016, adding that many of the districts up for grabs in 2020 are not as favorable for the GOP as the 9th District (The Hill). 


“[T]here are likely dozens of Republican Congressmen watching the results tonight asking themselves whether the seat they currently hold is one they can defend in 2020,” said DCCC chairwoman Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosHouse GOP campaign arm mocks Democrats after stumbling upon internal info on races Julián Castro endorses Rep. Cuellar's primary opponent in Texas Vulnerable Democrats fret over surging Sanders MORE (D-Ill.). “There are 34 Republican-held districts that are more favorable to Democrats than North Carolina’s Ninth. Tonight’s razor-thin result in this ruby-red district solidifies the fact that Democrats are pushing further into Republican strongholds and are in a commanding position to protect and expand our House Majority in 2020.”


Republicans were also touting the success Tuesday night of WinRed, the new small-dollar fundraising vehicle the GOP launched 11 weeks ago and has coalesced around. According to WinRed President Gerrit Lansing, Bishop raised more than $300,000 on the platform. 


WinRed is the GOP’s answer to ActBlue, the Democratic small-dollar machine that paid dividends for the party in 2018.


The Hill: Republican Greg Murphy wins special election in N.C.'s 3rd District.





> Endorsement: As results poured in from North Carolina last night, the president made handed down a stunning endorsement, tweeting his support for Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseOvernight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Behind the scenes of McConnell's impeachment drama MORE’s (R-Neb.) reelection bid despite his intense criticisms of him in years past.


“Senator Ben Sasse has done a wonderful job representing the people of Nebraska. He is great with our Vets, the Military, and your very important Second Amendment. Strong on Crime and the Border, Ben has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Trump tweeted.


Sasse notably did not support Trump in 2016, calling him at times a “megalomaniac strongman” and “creepy.” However, the Nebraska senator has stayed low key in recent months. He hasn’t tweeted since late May and has kept his criticisms of the president to a minimum, which did not go unnoticed among his critics. 


“I am glad that Senator Sasse has finally realized that Donald Trump's endorsement is incredibly important, and that the Trump presidency has been great for this country,” said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann, who has been a vocal critic of Sasse in recent years. 


“It took him long enough, but a sincere welcome to those of us who knew it all along,” he added in a text.


Sasse announced his reelection bid last month (The Hill). 


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CONGRESS: White House officials told Senate Republicans on Tuesday that they are working on a package of proposals to address gun violence in the wake of three mass shootings that took place over the August recess. 


However, the president and his GOP allies are conflicted over whether to move forward with expanding background checks, a proposal that has overwhelming public support but risks a clash with the National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocates ahead of the 2020 election. 


The overwhelming majority of the Senate GOP conference is already on the record as opposing a compromise measure to expand background checks sponsored by Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Overnight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (D-W.Va.), which the Senate defeated in 2013 (The Hill). 


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSanders is a risk, not a winner Buttigieg sounds alarm after Sanders wins Nevada Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters today that he will withhold judgment on how to proceed on guns until Trump lays down his plans on the issue. Trump is viewed as the key for gun violence legislation to pass the Senate as he could give cover to Senate Republicans, but he has gone back and forth about what he will and won’t support, especially on background checks (The Hill). 


Over in the House, the Judiciary Committee advanced legislation on Tuesday to establish a “red flag” law intended to prevent high-risk people from having guns. The move is intended to heap pressure on the Senate GOP to respond to a string of mass shootings this summer. It’s also just the beginning of a push by Democrats as they also look to pass an assault weapons ban, which has attracted a slew of new Democratic co-sponsors in recent weeks (The Hill).


> Spending: Senate negotiations to fund the government descended into chaos on Tuesday, underscoring the fight facing lawmakers as they try to avoid the second government shutdown this year. The talks ran into problems almost immediately as the two sides started to discuss abortion and funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall, among other issues where divides runs deep on both sides. 


One of the few bipartisan aspects of negotiations at this point is the swapping of accusations. Republicans say that Democrats are violating the spirit of the two-year budget deal, with Trump effectively tossing a grenade into the talks with his plan to raid military construction funds to build a wall along the southern border.


Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: Republicans expect Trump to pull controversial Fed nominee | Inside Judy Shelton's confirmation hearing | Trump extends emergency declaration at border Republicans expect Trump to withdraw controversial Fed nominee Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall MORE (R-Ala.) warned that they’ll need to resolve the partisan fighting in order to move funding bills “if we’re going to move them very far.”  


“If we’re going to have problems and disagreements, if we can have them early and resolve them, that's good. If you have them early and they continue and persist and never go away, that's not a good sign,” Shelby said.


Congress has about 11 working days before the deadline to either pass the fiscal 2020 bills or a stopgap measure (The Hill).


> Impeachment: As House Democrats ramp up their oversight of the president, their impeachment message has become jumbled and is leading to confusion among some in the Democratic ranks. 


While party leaders have spent much of the summer outlining their investigative strategy repeatedly, there remains widespread disagreement about whether the effort should be considered the start of the impeachment process. 


Speaking with reporters and appearing on cable news shows, top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have variably referred to an impeachment inquiry, an impeachment investigation and an impeachment process, while House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani Trump predicts Ocasio-Cortez will launch primary bid against Schumer MORE (D-N.Y.) churned plenty of headlines last month when he characterized his panel's investigation as "formal impeachment proceedings."


To Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump's Intel moves spark Democratic fury Buttigieg sounds alarm after Sanders wins Nevada Russian interference reports rock Capitol Hill MORE (D-Calif.), nothing has changed, telling reporters that there has been an investigation “for a very long time.” But the mixed messaging has created issues for the party as the impeachment push continues to make headway in the party (The Hill).


The Hill: Congressional Progressive Caucus issues support for impeachment investigation.


The Hill: Pelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan.




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!


How will Trump exploit public lands? Dismantling Bureau of Land Management, by Jamie Rappaport Clark, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Iran's 'triangle of power' in Middle East threatens US, Israel, by Seth J. Frantzman, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoOne lawmaker gets engaged, another married around Valentine's Day Stage production 'Americano!' tells the life and struggles of a 'Dreamer' Democratic lawmaker says Trump 'doesn't have full command' on Iran MORE (D-Ariz.), to talk about the 18th anniversary of 9/11 and Afghanistan; Joe Bruno, reporter at WSOC-TV, to react to the election results in North Carolina; Lila Nordstrom, a 9/11 survivor advocate and founder of StuyHealth, to speak about her work with 9/11 survivors; and Benjamin Powell, director at the Free Market Institute and a professor of economics at the Rawls College of Business Administration at Texas Tech University, to discuss his book, “Socialism Sucks.” Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.


The House meets at 10 a.m. 


The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m. and consider the nomination of Stephen Akard to be director of the Office of Foreign Missions.


Congress, led by Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTrump's Intel moves spark Democratic fury Overnight Energy: EPA moves to limit financial pressure on 'forever chemical' manufacturers | California sues Trump over water order| Buttigieg expands on climate plan Barr to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday MORE (R-Calif.), will hold a campus wide moment of silence to observe the National Day of Service and Remembrance at 8:46 a.m.


The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpIndia rolls out the red carpet for Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats duke it out during Nevada debate MORE will participate in a moment of silence at 8:40 a.m. They will then take part in a September 11th Pentagon Observance Ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Trump will also receive his intelligence briefing at 1:30 p.m.


The vice president will travel to Shanksville, Pa., and deliver remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial Ceremony at 10:30 a.m.  


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Housing: Mnuchin, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonDemocrats: It's Trump's world, and we're just living in it Melania Trump receives university's 'Woman of Distinction' award amid pushback from students California Gov. Gavin Newsom on the homeless: 'We own this issue' MORE, and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday to rally support for the administration's plan to reform the federal housing finance system. The plan is unlikely to pass Congress, but it comes as the U.S. faces an affordable housing crisis in many places. The issue and the outlook for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are debated inside the administration and among the 2020 Democratic campaigns (The Hill). 


State Watch: South Carolina lawmakers held a hearing on Tuesday to discuss whether the state should adopt legislation that would ban nearly all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, roughly six weeks into a pregnancy. Fifty individuals spoke at the hearing, which divided time evenly between those for and against the bill. While the bill passed the House earlier this year, it could face a tough climb to pass the Senate when the legislature reconvenes in mid-January. South Carolina would become the sixth state to pass a heartbeat bill, while Alabama outlawed abortions altogether and Missouri banned them after eight weeks (The Post and Courier). … California legislators approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees, a move that could reshape the gig economy (The New York Times).


iPhone: Apple announced the release of a spate of new products on Tuesday at their latest launch event in Cupertino, Calif., headlined by the new iPhone 11, a cheaper version of last year’s iPhone XR, Apple Watch Series 5, and Apple Plus, the technology giant’s challenger to Netflix and other streaming services. Most of the new products will be available on or near Sept. 20 (The Associated Press).


And finally … Today marks the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. We will never forget.