The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Association of Manufacturers - Trump, Congress draw battle lines on impeachment

Presented by National Association of Manufacturers



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Thursday! 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!

House Democrats on Wednesday got their first look at a whistleblower complaint detailing President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Anderson Cooper: Trump's Bubba Wallace tweet was 'racist, just plain and simple' Beats by Dre announces deal with Bubba Wallace, defends him after Trump remarks Overnight Defense: DOD reportedly eyeing Confederate flag ban | House military spending bill blocks wall funding MORE’s actions and a summary of the president’s conversation in July with Ukraine’s president and said a day-old impeachment inquiry raised many more questions.


Trump on Wednesday denied any “quid pro quo” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he interjected a request for “a favor” involving information about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee in 2016 and mentioned political rival Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump renews culture war, putting GOP on edge Atlanta mayor says she has tested positive for COVID-19 Trump downplaying sparks new criticism of COVID-19 response MORE. The president rejected the House impeachment probe as a “tremendous hoax” and described it as a left-wing effort to avenge the Democratic Party’s loss in 2016.


Zelensky, who met with Trump at the United Nations on Wednesday, told reporters the president did not push him to investigate Biden. The transcript shows Zelensky assenting to Trump’s requests in July.  “I think you read everything,” he said. “I think you read [the] text. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved to democratic, open elections, elections of U.S.A. … Nobody pushed me.”


House and Senate Intelligence committee members, who made their way to classified rooms in the Capitol to read the complaint by a still-unidentified whistleblower, expect today to question acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and the intelligence community’s inspector general about their handling of the intelligence official’s information following its filing last month.


The document was declassified late on Wednesday after members of the House Intelligence Committee reviewed its contents. Public release or leaks are anticipated this morning (The Hill). 


After reading the complaint, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Public awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names MORE (D-N.Y.) told  reporters that he was, “even more worried about what happened than when I read the memorandum of the conversation. There are so many facts that have to be examined. It’s very troubling” (The Hill).


In the edited notes presented as a five-page transcript of the phone call with Zelensky, Trump asked the new  president to contact Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week MORE and Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOusted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE, one of his lawyers, to discuss information he sought about the former vice president’s activities in Ukraine, and about Hunter Biden, who had been a board member with a Ukrainian energy company at the time his father served in the Obama administration.


There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump told Zelensky, according to the notes of the call.


“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me,” Trump added (The Hill).


A Justice Department spokeswoman said the president, at the time of the call, had “not spoken with [Barr] about having Ukraine investigate anything related to former Vice President Biden or his son,” nor had the attorney general discussed Ukraine with Giuliani (The Washington Post).


The president’s advisers invited a select group of House and Senate GOP lawmakers to the White House Wednesday morning to preview the transcript before its release, and Trump called in from New York. Later, the White House mistakenly distributed its written talking points for Republicans to the offices of Democratic lawmakers, and the spin quickly emerged on Twitter.


Trump’s decision to release the Zelensky transcript to Congress, which he said was necessary because “I was getting such fake news, and I just thought it would be better,” astonished Democratic lawmakers, worried those who safeguard such conversations between world leaders, and prompted some uncomfortable shrugs from Republican members. 


The Washington Post reported that Maguire threatened to resign this summer when he was told by higher-ups in August not to forward the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress. He denied the report on Wednesday, and Trump read Maguire’s statement aloud to reporters during a United Nations event that at times sounded like a subdued version of Trump’s customary boasts about the economy and his election victory, along with criticisms of Democrats and news outlets.


 “There was no quid pro quo, but there was with Biden and with these senators,” the president said, reading from notes to name Democratic senators he claimed had “threatened” Ukraine to curb corruption. 


Pelosi told a group of lawmakers the focus of the impeachment inquiry should remain on matters related to Ukraine. Some House Democrats want the probe to encompass a broader range of issues, which they also believe to be impeachable offenses supported by evidence (The Washington Post). 


The Hill: Democrats debate scope of Trump impeachment inquiry.


The Hill: Whip List - Majority of House members now back the impeachment inquiry.


Trump said he asked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue MORE (R-Calif.) to press for “transparency,” not only to release the whistleblower’s complaint but also to seek disclosures “from Joe Biden and his son Hunter, on the millions of dollars that have been quickly and easily taken out of Ukraine and China.”


The president told reporters he was somewhat taken aback that his dealings with Ukraine cascaded into an impeachment battle after the two-year Russia probe conducted by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE ended. “I thought we won. I thought it was dead,” Trump said.


The president volunteered that he’s prepared to release to Congress additional transcripts, including one of an earlier conversation with Zelensky and even Vice President Pence’s conversations with Ukrainian leaders to demonstrate he and his administration did nothing wrong.


“They were all perfect,” Trump said.


The New York Times: Whistleblower is said to allege concerns about the White House handling of the Ukraine call; intelligence community watchdog interviewed witnesses.


As Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report, House and Senate centrist Democrats are embarked on a significant political gamble before next year’s election. After months of hand-wringing, disagreements and second-guessing, Democrats remain nervous about impeachment, which polls this week show is unpopular with most Americans. Republicans who recall their own party’s woes after trying and failing to remove former President Clinton from office, believe Democrats could lose their House majority.


Senators from both parties said they expect the impeachment probe to further polarize the electorate. The deep partisan fractures could spell trouble for key Republicans running in states that went heavily for Democrats in 2018 and supported Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's job approval erodes among groups that powered his 2016 victory Gallup: Trump's job approval rating erodes among key groups MORE in 2016, such as Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court orders Dakota Access Pipeline to shut down | Energy companies cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline | House rejects Trump cuts, proposes boost for environmental agencies Senate outlook slides for GOP Trump nominee faces Senate hurdles to securing public lands post MORE (R-Colo.) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins trails Democrat Sara Gideon by 4 in Maine Senate race: poll Senate outlook slides for GOP Trump sealed his own fate MORE (R-Maine), Alexander Bolton reports


However, the inquiry could mobilize Trump voters and benefit candidates in states where the president maintains high levels of support, including Sens. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's job approval erodes among groups that powered his 2016 victory Cunningham sets Senate fundraising record in North Carolina in challenge to Tillis Senate outlook slides for GOP MORE (R-N.C.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstTrump renews culture war, putting GOP on edge The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's job approval erodes among groups that powered his 2016 victory Senate outlook slides for GOP MORE (R-Iowa), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSally Senate outlook slides for GOP ACLU calls on Congress to approve COVID-19 testing for immigrants Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names MORE (R-Ariz.), along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Trump administration releases PPP loan data | Congress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits | McConnell opens door to direct payments in next coronavirus bill Trump renews culture war, putting GOP on edge The Hill's Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Reid Wilson says political winners are governors who listened to scientists and public health experts; 12 states record new highs for seven-day case averages MORE (R-Ky.), who would pull the strings on the Senate operation if a vote ever takes place in the House.


The Washington Post: Cracks emerge among Senate Republicans over Trump’s request to Zelensky to investigate Biden.


The New York Times: Trump meets with Ukraine’s president and denies pressuring him.


The Hill: GOP senators talk of launching a Biden probe.


The Hill: Senate Democrats ask the Pentagon to investigate delays in delivery of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. 


The Hill: Acting intel chief Maguire inherited plenty of challenges.


The Associated Press and The New York Times: Attorney General Barr again in the political fray.


NBC News: Kurt Volker, an unpaid, part-time U.S. special envoy to Ukraine played a role in outreach to Giuliani, according to the former New York mayor and the State Department.


Paul Kane: “The speaker speaks for us now”: How reluctant freshman Democrats endorsed impeachment of Trump.





POLITICS:  Presidential candidate former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) celebrates his 47th birthday on the campaign trail.


> Impeachment addendum: Biden’s placement at the center of the president’s impeachment inquiry poses serious risks for his presidential campaign as he continues to try to maintain his frontrunner status along with the surging Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump criticizes Redskins, Indians over potential name changes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark Judd Gregg: The coming Biden coup MORE (D-Mass.). 


As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes report, despite his recent slip in the polls, Biden finds himself in direct conflict with Trump, a position he has relished in the past and one allies say puts him in a great spot, elevating him above the other challengers for the nomination and putting his fighting spirit on display. 


However, as the impeachment situation unfolds, it ensures that conservatives will take shot after shot and will keep his son’s business dealings front and center in the media. While there is no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Joe or Hunter Biden, Trump’s team is eager to press on with its own investigations and will be muddying the waters where they can in hopes of turning the issue into an anchor on his campaign. 


Allies of the former vice president have been aggressive in parrying the story away, taking shots at reporters they believe have given too much credence to allegations of impropriety. But some Democrats worry Biden’s issue could turn into the 2020 version of Clinton’s emails at a key moment in the campaign when he’s never seemed so vulnerable.


The New York Times: Biden’s strategy for managing the Ukraine story.


The Associated Press: GOP on political tightrope as impeachment talk heats up.





> Polling: With impeachment in full view, Warren has eclipsed Biden in the 2020 Democratic race, according to a new poll released on Wednesday.


A new national poll by Quinnipiac University shows Warren leading Biden narrowly, 27 percent to 25 percent, another sign that the race has turned into a two-horse contest. 


“After trailing Biden by double digits since March in the race for the Democratic nomination, Warren catches Biden,” Quinnipiac University polling analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement. “We now have a race with two candidates at the top of the field, and they’re leaving the rest of the pack behind.”


The poll comes after a week showing Warren ahead of the former vice president in both Iowa and New Hampshire by narrow margins (Politico). 


In addition to her lead on Biden in the key early states, Warren also holds a substantial lead in California. The Massachusetts senator leads by 9 points over Biden, but perhaps more notably, she leads by more than 20 points over Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark Judd Gregg: The coming Biden coup Susan Rice sees stock rise in Biden VP race MORE (D-Calif.), the home state lawmaker who has seen her poll numbers tank over the past two months. 


CONGRESS: The Senate voted on Wednesday to end Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S. southern border to build a wall with reprogrammed federal funds, a prominent challenge to the president during a politically fraught week, and one that teed up a veto showdown.


Senators voted 54-41 for a resolution to end Trump’s action, which he used as a way to shift billions of dollars from military appropriations to funding for wall construction. Eleven Republican senators voted to end the president’s declaration.

Under the National Emergencies Act, the resolution on Wednesday needed only a simple majority to clear the Senate, making it likely to be approved. And Democrats can bring it up every six months, much to Republicans’ chagrin. Democrats urged GOP senators to support the resolution but were realistic about the chances of picking up more Republican votes. Republicans were able to keep the majority below 67, the amount needed to override a veto.


“Let me be clear: The question before us is not whether to support or oppose the wall, or to support or oppose the President. Rather, it is: Do we want the executive branch — now or in the future — to hold a power that the Founders deliberately entrusted to Congress?” said Collins, a co-sponsor of the resolution and a senator facing voters next year, said recently.


> Trade and the Senate: The preoccupation in the House with impeachment this fall promises to swamp other legislative issues, including Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The signed deal, nicknamed NAFTA 2.0, if ratified by Congress, would hand the president and congressional Republicans a policy win. Pence will again be on the road this week to try to urge its adoption. GOP senators, however, think the narrow opening for the hemispheric trade pact has slammed shut, at least before the presidential election. Trump, during a news conference on Wednesday, offered no assurances of its ratification. “That’s going to be a very interesting question,” he said (The Hill). 

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!


Pelosi's impeachment conundrum, by Albert Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Trump's Ukraine transcript: Unwise words but no proof of a crime, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” at 9 a.m. ET features presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFinancial firms facing serious hacking threat in COVID-19 era Gabbard drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (D-Hawaii); news analysis from Rep. Darin LaHoodDarin McKay LaHoodEncouraging a safe business environment can help drive America's recovery Trump says 'decoupling' from China on the table House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 MORE (R-Ill.) and Rep. Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott Schneider189 House Democrats urge Israel to 'reconsider' annexation Partisan divide on annexation complicates US-Israel relationship Illinois governor endorses Biden one day before primary MORE (D-Ill.); and Tom LoBianco, author of “Piety & Power: Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceWhite House chief of staff dismisses need for federal mandate on masks Congress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits Secret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report MORE and the Taking of the White House.” Find Hill.TV programming at or on YouTube at 10 a.m.


The House meets at 10 a.m. The House Intelligence Committee meets at 9 a.m. to hear from Maguire about a whistleblower complaint involving the president. 


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. The Senate Intelligence Committee meets at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. behind closed doors. The committee expects to question Maguire and Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson regarding the whistleblower complaint, officially filed in August and shared with Congress on Wednesday.


The president headlines a political fundraising breakfast in New York City at 10:40 a.m. He departs New York at 12:15 p.m. to return to Washington.


Pence travels to Indianapolis to tout the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement at 1:10 p.m. He is scheduled to remain in Indiana overnight.


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates Senate Democrats urge Pompeo to ensure Americans living overseas can vote in November Trump administration praises UK sanctions on human rights abusers MORE hosts a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at 8:30 a.m. at the Palace Hotel in New York City. At 10 a.m., the secretary speaks at a New York event hosted by his department’s Energy Resources Governance Initiative. Pompeo will hold a press conference at 12:15 p.m. at the Palace Hotel.


The Hill hosts a “Future of Mobility Summit” from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington. The roster of speakers includes transportation experts; corporate leaders; state and local officials; and Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Reid Wilson says political winners are governors who listened to scientists and public health experts; 12 states record new highs for seven-day case averages Celebrating our freedoms and counting all military votes this November The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Rodney Davis says most important thing White House can do on COVID-19 is give consistent messaging; US new cases surpass 50k for first time MORE (R-Ill.), ranking member of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, and Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP on defense as nationwide protests continue Expanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support House Democrats press Treasury on debit cards used for coronavirus relief payments MORE (D-Wash.), co-chairwoman of the House Women’s High-Tech Coalition. From the administration: Paul Dabbar, under secretary for science at the Department of Energy, and Finch Fulton, Transportation Department assistant secretary for policy. Information is HERE.


The Library of Congress has a calendar of Hispanic Heritage Month events, which wrap up on Oct. 15. Information about author readings, mural making and exhibits 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.


Israel: President Reuven Rivlin of Israel tapped Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE to form the country’s next government, setting off weeks of political jockeying as Netanyahu tries to hold onto power. Rivlin’s announcement came as Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz failed to make progress to form a broad unity government after last week’s inconclusive election. Rivlin met again on Wednesday with Gantz and Netanyahu to try to pressure them into reaching a power-sharing pact by an Oct. 24 deadline (The Wall Street Journal).


E-cigarettes: Juul Labs, the dominant e-cigarette company and target of public and regulatory criticism, said on Wednesday it will not fight the Trump administration’s proposal to ban flavored vaping products. Chief executive Kevin Burns stepped down and will be replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, an executive from tobacco company Altria, which owns a 35 percent stake in Juul. The company said it would end one of its campaigns, “Make the Switch,” which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) criticized as an effort to portray its e-cigarettes as safer than traditional cigarettes (The New York Times). … The FDA chief told House lawmakers on Wednesday his agency “should have acted sooner” to try to halt the spread of the trend. Teen vaping rates doubled in the past two years, according to recent preliminary federal data, and 25 percent of U.S. high school students reported they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days (The Hill). … The nationwide death toll attributed to vaping rose to 11 people on Wednesday (CNN).


Genius grants: The recipients of John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowships, who each year appear shocked when $625,000 with no strings attached falls out of the sky and into their bank accounts, this year include visual artist Jeffrey Gibson, poet and novelist Ocean Vuong, landscape and public artist Walter Hood, choreographer Sarah Michelson, composer and jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson, theater director Annie Dorsen, and writer Valeria Luiselli (The Washington Post). A complete list of 2019 awardees, including lawyers, academics and scientists, is HERE.  


And finally …  It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the 25th anniversary of “Friends,” we’re eager for some smart guesses about the award-winning NBC sitcom that ran for 10 seasons from 1994 to 2004.


Email your responses to and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will be showered with newsletter fame on Friday.


The show made the most of comic guest performances over the years. Which of these actors did NOT make an appearance on “Friends”?


  1.   Sean Penn
  2.   George Clooney
  3.   David Bowie
  4.   Susan Sarandon


What was the occupation of “Friends” character Phoebe Buffay, played for all 236 episodes by Lisa Kudrow?


  1.   Newsstand clerk
  2.   Coffee shop waitress
  3.   Masseuse and Central Perk musician
  4.   Cat sitter


Character Ross Geller was known for his multiple marriages throughout the series. Who was his first wife? 


  1.   Susan Bunch
  2.   Carol Willick
  3.   Rachel Greene
  4.   Emily Waltham 


How many sisters did character Joey Tribbiani have? 


  1.   1
  2.   3
  3.   5
  4.   7


Phoebe gave birth to triplets on “Friends.” After which character did Phoebe name one of the babies? 


  1.   Monica Geller
  2.   Rachel Greene
  3.   Joey Tribbiani
  4.   Chandler Bing