The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Association of Manufacturers - Trump defends Ukraine motives while attacking Biden




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Monday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the up-early co-creators. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!

 The autumnal equinox arrived today. Summer is officially kaput. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE’s dealings with world leaders will dominate U.S. headlines this week at the United Nations, in part because of who he won’t be meeting with (the president of Iran) and because of the drama surrounding a leader with whom he will confer on Wednesday, Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.


Zelensky and Ukraine, according to multiple reports, are part of a formal complaint by a U.S. intelligence official filed in August asserting a series of Trump actions that included a July phone conversation, involvement with Ukraine as well as a reported “promise” made by the president.


The president and his lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiNunes: 'Sickening' that Schiff obtained his phone records Meadows: 'I don't see a single Republican defecting on impeachment' Inventing the 'Deep State' and draining the real one MORE each appeared to affirm as well as condemn suspicions raised over the weekend that Trump discussed the release of U.S. foreign aid approved to help Ukraine while pressuring Zelensky and his government to dig for dirt about former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden: Buttigieg 'doesn't have significant black support even in his own city' Biden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE and his son Hunter Biden, who at one time was a board member with a Ukrainian energy firm, as a way to bolster Trump’s chances of winning reelection against a leading Democratic contender.


The president told reporters his conversation with Zelensky was largely “congratulatory” and focused on corruption in Ukraine. “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump added without describing evidence.


The Associated Press: Trump suggests he raised Biden with Ukraine’s president during a July 25 phone call.


The Hill: Trump’s “promise” has the makings of a crisis for the president.


The Associated Press: At U.N., Trump to face questions about Iran, Ukraine, allies.


Trump and Giuliani succeeded in refocusing attention on Biden’s actions in the Obama administration after conservatives failed six months ago to produce evidence of wrongdoing. But at the same time, Trump has once again put himself at the center of multiple investigations about his own behavior, while Democratic presidential candidates call for his impeachment and lawmakers in both parties wonder what’s in the whistleblower’s complaint and say they’d like to see a transcript of whatever conversation or promise triggered the official’s alarm.


The New York Times: Biden’s actions in Ukraine. What we know and don’t know.


The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has had the job little more than a month, has said Congress cannot see the official complaint. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Linda Ronstadt tells Pompeo at dinner that he'll 'be loved' when 'he stops enabling Donald Trump' Gaetz defends Ukraine call: Trump acted on 'sincere' concerns of corruption MORE and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWorld Bank approves billion-plus annual China lending plan despite US objections On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Hillicon Valley: Pelosi works to remove legal protections for tech companies from USMCA | Treasury sanctions Russian group over 0 million hack | Facebook sues Chinese individuals for ad fraud | Huawei takes legal action against FCC MORE both argued on Sunday that transcripts of the president’s phone conversations with world leaders should never be released publicly. But hours after saying he discussed Biden with Zelensky, the president said he would consider what to release from a transcript, adding that the conversation was “perfect” (The Hill).


The Associated Press: Democrats blast the latest Trump crisis. But what will they do?


Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing White House, Democrats strike tentative deal to create Space Force in exchange for federal parental leave benefits: report Trump: Fox News 'panders' to Democrats by having on liberal guests MORE (D-Calif.), whose opposition to embarking on an official impeachment proceeding against Trump is well known, on Sunday wrote to House members of both parties to say the whistleblower complaint must be addressed immediately by Congress (The Hill). Pelosi also wants to make clear under the law that sitting presidents in the future can be indicted for criminal charges (The Hill).


"The Founders could never suspect that a president would be so abusive of the Constitution of the United States, that the separation of powers would be irrelevant to him and that he would continue, any president would continue, to withhold facts from the Congress, which are part of the constitutional right of inquiry," Pelosi said during an NPR interview on Friday.


Biden has denounced as political smears the innuendo by Trump and allegations by Giuliani that as vice president he advocated U.S. policy in Ukraine to benefit his son. He has called for a full investigation without raising the subject of impeachment, a response immediately championed by other presidential candidates including Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE (D-Mass.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Top Republican: Democrats' weekend document dump shows impeachment inquiry is a 'farce' Nunes: 'Sickening' that Schiff obtained his phone records MORE (D-Calif.), whose panel will hear testimony from Maguire on Thursday, says if an investigation reveals that Trump pressured Ukraine to gather dirt on Biden to influence an election, Congress may have no choice but to pursue impeachment (Reuters).


The ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Senate confirms Trump pick labeled 'not qualified' by American Bar Association Feinstein endorses Christy Smith for Katie Hill's former House seat MORE of California, on Saturday called on Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFive things to watch in Russia probe review Trump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE to release to Congress the whistleblower’s complaint to the intelligence community’s inspector general, noting that scant reported information thus far could suggest “abuse of presidential authority, plain and simple” (The Hill).





POLITICS: In a primary campaign featuring personal barbs at many turns, Warren is doing something rare: She’s not partaking, using her campaign time to focus on her policy proposals rather than toss personal grenades at her opponents.


As Amie Parnes writes, throughout her ascendency in the 2020 primary campaign, Warren has refused to make her points on a personal level, which her aides and allies believe has been an effective strategy for their campaign thus far. The campaign argues that every time a candidate goes on the attack, the favorability of both candidates decline. 


One notable example has been how she has treated Biden, the only candidate directly ahead of her in the race for the party’s presidential nod. In the most recent debate, Warren argued back and forth on issues such as “Medicare for All” but never resorted to a direct shot akin to the one attempted by Castro, which was deemed an ageist attack by other 2020 candidates. Warren’s most pointed shot at Biden also came months ago when she criticized him for being on the side of credit card companies during his Senate tenure. 


However, Warren has decided she’d rather use her time to talk about her own positions and what she calls "big ideas." 


The Associated Press: Biden, Warren face same challenge in Iowa: keeping momentum.


The Hill: Warren comes under new pressure over Medicare for All and higher taxes.


Time: Inside Elizabeth Warren's selfie strategy.


The Associated Press: Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Booker campaign rakes in million after Harris exits 2020 race MORE (D-N.J.) could end campaign if fundraising doesn’t pick up.


> Guns: Democrats are warning that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-Texas) proposal that would require Americans to sell assault weapons back to the government could be a political problem child for Democrats and come back to bite them with moderate and independent voters next year.


Some Democrats believe O’Rourke’s stance plays into the hands of conservatives, who have long argued that more incremental proposals by Democrats to curb gun violence will eventually lead to a broader crackdown on gun ownership. For example, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-Second Amendment groups will likely fundraise off of O’Rourke’s stance, while Democrats will be forced to say whether they agree with the 2020 candidate on the topic. 


“I think we should be focused on the stuff that we can get across the finish line, and I think that was a bit of a gift to the NRA,” said Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenators want FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats Senate reviews Interior, FERC nominees criticized on ethics This week: House to vote on Turkey sanctions bill MORE (D-N.M.).


Under O’Rourke’s plan, Americans who own assault-style weapons would be required to sell them back to the government. Those who refuse to do so would be fined. The anti-gun push, which ramped up after the mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, has come as his chances to nab the Democratic nomination have faltered (The Hill). 


The Associated Press: In gun buyback talk, how do you round up so many weapons?


Mark Leibovich, The New York Times Magazine: Beto O’Rourke wants to talk guns with anyone who will listen.


Politico: Trump campaign pessimistic about winning Michigan again.


The Hill: New Hampshire feels overlooked in Democratic presidential race.


> Lipinski fights back: Rep. Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiDemocratic group to only endorse attorney general candidates who back abortion rights Democrats unveil impeachment procedures The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges MORE (D-Ill.) is trying to get by a tough Democratic primary once again, and he’s turning to help from some of his friends to do so. 


As Scott Wong and Mike Lillis report, Democrats are rallying around Lipinski, a Blue Dog Democrat who has come under fire from some progressives for his pro-life stance, after a group of liberal lawmakers came out to support his opponent, Marie Newman, who narrowly fell to Lipinski in the 2018 primary. Among them is House Democratic leadership, which continues to support Lipinski and is urging rank-and-file members to do the same.





“We all need to realize that the Democratic Party is a party of a big tent, and so we have to be tolerant of other member's views and not go after each other in party primaries,” said Rep. Wm. Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayLawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny Maloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman MORE (D-Mo.), a Congressional Progressive Caucus lawmaker who faced his own primary challenge last year. 


“Apparently his district is connected to him, and they showed their support for him in the last cycle. So why we would interfere in other members' districts is just beyond me,” Clay said. 


House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Overnight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 House to vote next week on sweeping bill to lower drug prices MORE (D-Md.) made his voice heard last week, arguing that lawmakers who support insurgents are pushing a misguided strategy — one that could benefit Republicans at the polls. 


“We want to see the party as unified as possible,” Hoyer said. “We think it's very important to keep the majority, obviously, not just because we want to be in the majority, but because the values that the parties reflect [are] very, very disparate — as disparate as I've seen it in my entire career.”


The Washington Post: Trump’s takeover of GOP forces many House Republicans to head for the exits.


Politico: Democrats grapple for open congressional seat in the Bronx.


CONGRESS: The Senate is expected to follow the House’s lead and pass a stopgap spending bill this week to help avert a government shutdown that would take hold at the end of the month. But after weeks of tenuous negotiations, lawmakers are wondering if this is the new normal and the rest of fiscal 2020 will need to be funded by continuing resolutions (CRs). 


Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDemocrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks On The Money: Economy adds 266K jobs in strong November | Lawmakers sprint to avoid shutdown | Appropriators to hold crucial talks this weekend | Trump asks Supreme Court to halt Deutsche Bank subpoenas Appropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal MORE (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, raised the possibility last week, saying the rest of the year could be funded by “continuous CRs.”


“That could be the endgame,” Shelby said. 


Funding troubles have morphed from a one-off fight over funding for the Department of Homeland Security into an all-out war that has extended to funding of other departments and agencies after the president’s decision to invoke emergency powers to pay for a border wall, which the Supreme Court upheld in late July. These fights have left some members resigned to a year filled with stopgap measures to keep the government’s lights on.


"I'm not going to faint dead away if we end up with a CR for the whole year," said Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) (The Hill).





> Gun violence: Trump is stringing along the debate over gun control by keeping alive discussions on expanded background checks, but just barely, as he continues to drag his feet and waits to announce what gun violence legislation he will support.   


Senate negotiators initially expected Trump to signal his preferred approach to gun violence prevention by Sept. 13, with that date pushed to Sept. 19 after no answers came.


That wait continues, although the Justice Department released a proposal that centers on expanding background checks along the lines of a 2013 plan that was sponsored by Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinStatesmen seek bipartisan solutions to big challenges Both sides have reason to want speedy Trump impeachment trial No one wins with pro-abortion litmus test MORE (D-W.Va.) and 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.). However, Trump did not say where he stood on the bill, saying the blueprint was just a “series of concepts,” leaving lawmakers awaiting his word.


A senior Senate Republican aide said Trump appears to be dragging out the debate to keep his options open.  


“He doesn’t want to get into a fight with Second Amendment groups, but he doesn’t want to kill it either in case he might need it later on,” the aide said of the proposal.  


“So he’s telling senators, ‘Keep talking about it,’” the aide added (The Hill).




INTERNATIONAL: It’s Climate Week in New York during the United Nations General Assembly, and most member countries are expected to make pledges to reduce greenhouse gases or otherwise tackle manmade changes to the environment (The Associated Press). Trump — whose administration refutes scientific evidence that the Earth’s climate, sea temperatures and weather patterns are being altered by man-made causes — will headline an event about religious freedom scheduled while world leaders focus on climate change (CNN).


Politico: U.N. Secretary-General António Gutteres seeks to focus on concrete nation commitments to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, a goal even the climate-focused European Union won’t meet.    


> Iran: Trump ordered U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia to counter Iran’s aggression and has sanctioned Iran’s national bank as retaliation for missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, blamed by the administration on Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who last week accused Tehran of an “act of war” against the Saudis that also jeopardized Americans, on Sunday said the U.S. mission is to avoid war with Iran (Reuters).


Trump on Sunday said he has no plans this week at the United Nations to meet with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, adding, “I’m always open. …I would hear what they wanted.” 


Rouhani said in remarks on state television that the U.S. “maximum pressure” policy of sanctions on Iran has failed (Reuters). 

The Wall Street Journal: Trump faces long odds this week with his desire to try to make Iran’s actions a centerpiece at the U.N. 


> Israel: The process of selecting Israel’s next prime minister entered its second stage on Sunday. Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMOREs tenure appeared rocky as Arab parties in Israel threw their weight behind Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s rival in the country’s recent deadlocked second election (The Washington Post).


> China and trade: U.S.-China discussions are continuing about trade in preparation for the arrival in Washington of Vice Premier Liu He of China for talks in October. No dates have been announced, but expectations are focused on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 in advance of Trump’s planned increases in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods on Oct. 15 and Dec. 15 (The New York Times).


> White House National Security Council: Robert O’Brien, Trump’s fourth national security adviser, inherits significant challenges, including the president himself (The Hill). O’Brien announced to reporters late on Sunday that he plans to appoint former journalist Matt Pottinger to be deputy national security adviser (CNBC). 

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!


China and India must step up on climate change, by John KerryJohn Forbes KerryBiden rallies with John Kerry in early primary states Booker on Harris dropping out: 'Iowa voters should have the right to choose' Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race MORE, opinion contributor, The Washington Post.


Close the Book on Shutdowns, by Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump, GOP shift focus from alleged surveillance abuse to Durham Russia probe Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump GOP senators request interview with former DNC contractor to probe possible Ukraine ties MORE (R-Wis.), The Wall Street Journal. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features progressive comedian Sam Seder, host of talk radio’s “The Majority Report,” who unpacks weekend news; Devin Hansen, author of “Guts: The Lane Evans Story”; Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico, a candidate for the Georgia Senate seat held by Republican David Perdue, elected in 2014; and activist Renaldo Pearson, director of external affairs for RepresentUs, to discuss a planned “democracy walk” from Atlanta to Washington. Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.


The House meets in a pro forma session at 9 a.m.


The Senate reconvenes at 3 p.m. and resume consideration of Treasury Department counselor Brian McGuire, the nominee to be deputy under secretary at the department. 


The president is in New York, where he will speak at the administration’s centerpiece United Nations event, a “Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom” this morning. Vice President Pence will also participate. Trump will meet today with Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, President Andrzej Duda of Poland (joined by Pence at 2:30 p.m.), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.


First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpWhy we cherish — and guard — the White House gingerbread house The Hill's 12:30 Report: Job growth soars in November Impeachment hearing didn't go as Chairman Nadler planned MORE will ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange at 9:30 a.m. 


Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan will discuss immigration policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington at 12:30 p.m.


Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: FTC rules Cambridge Analytica engaged in 'deceptive practices' | NATO researchers warn social media failing to remove fake accounts | Sanders calls for breaking up Comcast, Verizon Bipartisan senators call on FERC to protect against Huawei threats Hillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, delivers a speech about U.S.-China relations at the U.S. Institute for Peace in Washington at noon. Livestream information is HERE


Drug price controls are a hidden tax on manufacturers that puts critical R&D investments in new cures at risk. Support patient access to life-saving medicines, and the manufacturers and researchers that deliver them.


State Watch (literally): The push to grant statehood to the District of Columbia has powerful allies in Pelosi and Hoyer, but legislation to create the 51st state faces an uphill battle in Congress. The House Oversight and Reform Committee held the first hearing on D.C. statehood in more than two decades this week, showing how support for making the District a state has widespread support among Democrats. It's a shift from the last time the House considered the idea back in 1993, when the chamber (controlled by Democrats) resoundingly rejected a similar bill from Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonBicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle Maloney wins vote for Oversight chairwoman MORE (D-D.C.). The longtime representative of the district’s bill currently has 220 cosponsors, but any action out of the House is likely dead on arrival in the Senate, which would have to approve the move. D.C. statehood would almost certainly elect two Democratic senators if it became a state (The Hill).


Planned Parenthood: The women’s health organization, other health groups and state governments will be in court today asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to block Trump administration changes that ban federally funded family planning providers from referring women for abortions. Observers say the case could eventually make its way to the Supreme Court (The Hill).


Cinema and science: How much of the new science fiction film “Ad Astra,” starring producer Brad Pitt, is plausible in the view of astronauts and scientists? A recent panel in Washington featuring Pitt, writer-director James Gray and two NASA officials explored where cinematic license collides with scientific accuracy (Air & Space magazine).  





And finally … From a worldwide Climate Strike on Friday to events this week tied to Climate Week and the annual meeting of the United Nations, young people are the climate change activists to watch (and hear), including 16-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden (CNN) and many other future-focused youngsters like her around the world (BBC).