The Hill's Morning Report - Dems poised to air alleged Trump abuses on TV




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!

The House will officially kick off public impeachment hearings next week, marking a new turn in the ongoing inquiry being led by House Democrats into President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE’s dealings with Ukraine and questions about a possible quid pro quo. 


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that public hearings will begin with testimony from William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, on Wednesday. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is expected to testify on Friday.


The public nature of the next phase of the impeachment inquiry will come just over a month after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhite House officials, Democrats spar over legality, substance of executive orders Sunday shows - Trump coronavirus executive orders reverberate Pelosi: 'Of course there's room for compromise' on 0-per-week unemployment benefit MORE (D-Calif.) announced the initial push, which has been characterized by closed-door interviews with witnesses, an attempted stonewalling by the Trump administration and cries from Republicans that the process is a sham. The final claim has not slowed down since the House voted to take the process public.


The Hill: House to hold public impeachment hearings beginning Wednesday.


The Hill: Democrats set stage for Watergate-style TV hearings.


The Washington Post: Trump wanted Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGOP lawmaker calls for Justice Dept. to probe international court Barr pulls over to thank pro-police rally in Virginia Trump: Yates either lying or grossly incompetent MORE to hold a news conference to say the president broke no laws in the call with the Ukrainian leader. Instead, Barr has publicly steered clear of the Ukraine controversy. 


Along with Schiff’s announcement, House investigators continued to release transcripts from witness interviews on Wednesday, headlined by Taylor’s Oct. 22 testimony. 


As Olivia Beavers and Mike Lillis report, the transcript of Taylor’s deposition provides new layers of detail about Trump’s efforts to find dirt on political rivals — and the extent to which it alarmed veterans in the State Department.    


“By mid-July, it was becoming clear to me that the [White House] meeting President Zelensky wanted was conditioned on investigations of Burisma and alleged Ukrainian influence in the 2016 elections,” Taylor testified. 


Taylor also told House investigators it was “clear” that this “irregular” foreign policy channel was led by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiCoronavirus concerns emerge around debates Giuliani says Black Lives Matter is 'domestic terrorist' group Commission on Presidential Debates rejects Trump campaign call for earlier debate MORE, Trump’s personal lawyer, whom Taylor considered to be operating on the president’s behalf.


➔ Read the Taylor transcript HERE.


The Hill: Taylor testimony shows concern about Giuliani influence, “irregular” foreign policy channel.


Politico: Impeachment transcripts reveal a consistent, damaging narrative for Trump.


The Associated Press: “I would quit”: Takeaways from diplomat Taylor’s testimony.


Today, investigators are expected to hear from Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence who was on the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that kicked off the inquiry (ABC News). 


Her likely testimony will come a day after Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale appeared on Capitol Hill, breaking a string of days where the investigatory panels were snubbed by administration officials.


Hale was expected to provide insights into the campaign by Trump and his allies to remove Yovanovitch from her ambassadorial post, which upset many veterans of the State Department who were concerned that the agency's top officials did little to protect a career diplomat (The Hill).





Paul Kane: Election results reassure House Democrats as they pursue impeachment inquiry of Trump.


The Hill: White House doubles down on “no quid pro quo.”


The Hill: Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) blocks Senate resolution backing protection for whistleblowers.


Other investigations: A federal prosecutor on Wednesday told a jury that Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneNew HBO documentary lets Gaetz, Massie, Buck offer their take on how to 'drain the swamp' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Brawls on Capitol Hill on Barr and COVID-19 Democrats blister Barr during tense hearing MORE, a long time confidant of the president, lied to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign in order to protect the president.  


The accusation by Aaron Zelinsky, a Department of Justice prosecutor and a member of 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’s legal team, made the accusation during opening arguments in Stone’s trial over charges of making false statements, obstruction and witness tampering.


“The evidence in this case will show that Roger Stone lied to the House Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad — the truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump,” Zelinsky said (The Hill).


POLITICS: Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Tuberville breaks DC self-quarantine policy to campaign MORE is expected to announce today that he is running for his old Senate seat in Alabama, throwing a big wrench into the primary contest to take on Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) next fall. 


The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke and Al Weaver first reported news of Sessions’s plans on Wednesday, with two sources saying he hired OnMessage, a GOP consulting firm, to handle his race and that he was set to make the announcement on “Tucker CarlsonTucker CarlsonTucker Carlson calls Fauci a 'fraud' after tense hearing Tucker Carlson calls Obama 'one of the sleaziest and most dishonest figures' in US political history Don't count out Duckworth in Biden VP race MORE Tonight” later today.


Sessions’s announcement will come exactly a year after Trump fired him from his post atop the Justice Department and as the president continues to express regret about bringing the former Alabama senator on as his first attorney general. According to one GOP source, while Sessions has not spoken to Trump about a Senate bid, the White House made it clear to Sessions’s inner circle that Trump will regard his candidacy “extremely unfavorably.” 


Sessions is jumping into an already crowded primary, headlined by Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneJerry Carl wins GOP Alabama runoff to replace Rep. Bradley Byrne Jeff Sessions loses comeback bid in Alabama runoff Sessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff MORE (R-Ala.), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions hits back at Trump days ahead of Alabama Senate runoff Judge allows Roy Moore lawsuit over Sacha Baron Cohen prank to proceed Senate outlook slides for GOP MORE.





Presidential candidates are still digesting Election Day returns to understand emerging trends and trip wires, including Trump and his campaign team. But among Democrats, a debate is raging about whether the most effective approach to defeat the incumbent president next year is to die on the hill of big change or campaign to unite Americans who say they’re overdosed on national divisiveness (The Hill).


Former President Obama weighed in on Twitter following Tuesday’s election returns, reprising his 2008 and 2012 themes, tailored for 2019, natch: Proud of all the Americans who showed up to vote yesterday, electing a set of hopeful, forward-thinking leaders primed to protect Medicaid, draw fair voting maps, and reduce gun violence. A great night for our country — one that’ll leave a lasting legacy.


The Hill: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore HuffPost reporter: Biden's VP shortlist doesn't suggest progressive economic policies Jill Biden says she plans to continue teaching if she becomes first lady MORE wants to point to Tuesday night's Democratic victories in Kentucky and Virginia to argue he's the only top-tier candidate who can appeal to moderate voters his party must woo in order to defeat Trump.


The Hill: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump is fighting the wrong war Michelle Obama, Sanders, Kasich to be featured on first night of Democratic convention: report The Memo: Trump team pounces on Biden gaffes MORE (I-Vt.) pledges to undo all of Trump's executive actions on immigration on Day One if he wins the White House next year, part of a comprehensive immigration policy plan.


Trump headlined a reelection rally in Monroe, La., on Tuesday night, preaching from an un-Obama script. Democrats are “rip[ping] the guts out of our country,” he said, calling a House impeachment inquire an “illegal act” (The Hill).


The president also sought to give a boost to Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone, who is trying to unseat incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in a Nov. 16 runoff. It was Trump’s third effort in a red state to try to pull a GOP candidate for governor to victory. His efforts may have helped in Mississippi on Tuesday, but in Kentucky, where Republican Gov. Matt Bevin narrowly lost to Democrat Andy Beshear, the wisdom of Trump’s decision to nationalize the races is hotly debated (USA Today).


The Associated Press: Bevin seeks a recanvass of votes in Kentucky as Beshear begins to transition as governor-elect.


The Washington Post analysis: Tuesday’s results were “a bad election for the GOP. And it cements three years of undeniable backward electoral momentum for the party under Trump. … The momentum is clearly in the wrong direction for Republicans.”


Tuesday’s election returns made other headlines:


The Hill: Democrats win big in Philadelphia suburbs, raising red flags for the GOP.


The Hill: Democratic victories on Tuesday marked a setback for the Trump administration’s efforts to impose Medicaid work requirements at the state level.


The Washington Post: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), speaking during a Cabinet meeting following his party’s victories in capturing majorities in the House of Delegates and state Senate, said his state would change its gun laws. He mentioned universal background checks, banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, restoring the law that limits purchases to one gun a month, and a “red flag” law that would empower a court to temporarily remove a gun from a person deemed to be a risk to himself or others. “We will at least start with those,” he said.


In the U.S. Capitol, Republican senators are examining Tuesday’s election returns and worrying about holding their majority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal MORE (R-Ky.), who is unpopular in his state and now faces a Democratic governor as he seeks reelection, understands the challenges. McConnell earlier this year told reporters the political winds in America’s suburbs would be key, and those winds blew in favor of Democratic candidates on Tuesday (The Hill).


In Alabama, however, Sessions, 72, who has an ice-cold relationship with Trump and chilly ties with McConnell, has decided to ignore the naysayers. 


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump made it official: He will meet at the White House on Wednesday with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey. The red-carpet treatment is controversial because of Turkey’s military attack in October on U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds, including women and children, across the border in Syria. The House last week passed a resolution recognizing and rebuking the Ottoman Empire's genocide against the Armenian people and a bill to place additional sanctions on Turkey. The Senate is still mulling its own sanctions legislation (The Hill).


> Military justice: Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark Esper400 'hard-core' Taliban prisoners to be released ahead of Afghan peace talks Esper says officials still don't know source of Beirut blast Esper says US troop presence in Afghanistan will be 'less than 5,000' by November MORE said he appealed to Trump on Tuesday not to intervene in ongoing military justice cases through any public comments or presidential actions. Pentagon leaders are “acutely” concerned that Trump could circumvent the military system and undermine “good order and discipline” and military morale. Earlier this week, Fox News reported that Trump was likely to issue pardons or take other action to assist three current and former service members charged with war crimes and other instances of wrongdoing. Esper called the discussion with the president “robust,” adding, “we’ll see how things play out” (The Washington Post). 


> USAID: Being “Penced” is a verb. Officials in Pence’s office over the past two years interceded in U.S. international assistance decisions to reroute federal funds to favored Christian groups working abroad, according to U.S. Agency for International Development information obtained by ProPublica. The Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed have previously reported Pence’s interest in increasing foreign aid to Christians and his displeasure with USAID’s activities in Iraq. Officials in the vice president’s office and at USAID did not comment for the report.


> FDA: The Trump administration may set separate rules for vape shops when it unveils expected federal requirements governing e-cigarette flavors, White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Watchdog group accuses Stephen Miller of violating Hatch Act with Biden comments Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom MORE said. Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, Conway separated tobacco and menthol products from mint, fruit and all other flavors. The latter group appeals to youngsters and the White House seeks to curb vaping and product use by minors, she said (Bloomberg).

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!


Closing the school-to-prison pipeline for good, by presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHuffPost reporter: Biden's VP shortlist doesn't suggest progressive economic policies Hillary Clinton labels Trump coronavirus executive actions a 'stunt' Michelle Obama, Sanders, Kasich to be featured on first night of Democratic convention: report MORE (D-Mass.), opinion contributor, Essence magazine.


In Tuesday’s election, Americans voted their values. That’s bad for Trump, by Bill Schneider, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Chuck Rocha, a senior adviser to the Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) campaign, to discuss Sanders’s immigration reform plan; Antony Loewenstein, an Australian journalist based in Jerusalem, talking about his new book, “Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs”; and Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House returns to work on Tuesday.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m.


The president participates in an Oval Office event in recognition of the National Day for the Victims of Communism at 2:15 p.m. He will present the Presidential Citizens Medal at 6 p.m. Trump will headline a GOP fundraising committee reception at 8 p.m. at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. 


Pence will travel to Manchester, N.H., to officially file the paperwork to place the Trump-Pence ticket on the 2020 state ballot. Later, Pence will visit the New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library at Saint Anselm College to speak at the New England Council’s “Politics & Eggs” event, to be covered by C-SPAN. Pence will return to Washington this evening. 


Spying for the House of Saud: The Justice Department on Wednesday unveiled charges against two former employees of tech giant Twitter, alleging they spied for Saudi Arabia by digging into the accounts of the kingdom’s critics. The case raises concerns about the ability of Silicon Valley to protect the private information of dissidents and other users from repressive governments. Ahmad Abouammo, a U.S. citizen who is alleged to have spied on the accounts of three users, including one whose posts discussed the inner workings of the Saudi leadership, was arrested on Tuesday, accused of operating on behalf of the government in Riyadh. Abouammo is also charged with falsifying an invoice to obstruct an FBI investigation. The second former Twitter employee, Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi citizen, is accused of accessing the personal information of more than 6,000 Twitter accounts in 2015 on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Analysts said it is the first time federal prosecutors have publicly accused Saudis of spying in the United States (The Washington Post).


Health care: A federal judge in New York on Wednesday struck down a Trump administration rule set to take effect on Nov. 22 that would make it easier for health care providers to refuse to perform health services, such as abortion, claiming such care conflicts with their personal religious beliefs (The Hill).


CEOs: A record number of corporate chief executives — 1,332 — left their jobs in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 13 percent from last year. Reasons: Most top executives studied by the Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. placement firm departed because of customary executive succession plans. But in October alone, six top execs departed following professional misconduct allegations (The Hill). 


News media: The New York Times saw a surge in the number of online subscribers in the third quarter, the company reported on Wednesday. But it also experienced a drop in digital advertising revenues, which the company chalked up to “continued turbulence” in the digital ad world. The Times has a total of 4.9 million subscribers, both print and digital (The New York Times). … Many journalists who ventured to ground zero on and after 9/11 to cover the World Trade Center attacks in New York City now suffer from cancer and other health problems similar to the impact experienced by first responders. Journalists, who also provided a public service with their work in 2001, are eligible to apply for assistance to the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund (CNN). 


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the ongoing impeachment inquiry, we’re eager for some smart guesses about a few insiders and whistleblowers in the United States.


Email your responses to and/or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.


In which year did FBI agent Mark Felt officially reveal himself through his attorney to be the main source of Bob Woodward and Carl BernsteinCarl BernsteinBob Woodward talked out of exposing Brett Kavanaugh as anonymous source by Washington Post editor: report Second Bob Woodward book on Trump presidency set for September release Carl Bernstein accuses GOP senators of cover-up: 'Shameful episode in our history' MORE’s Watergate reporting, known to the world as Deep Throat? 

  1. 1996
  2. 1999
  3. 2002
  4. 2005


To what entity did Daniel Ellsberg initially give the “Pentagon Papers” before handing them over to The New York Times and other news outlets? 

  1. Senate Foreign Relations Committee 
  2. House Intelligence Committee
  3. FBI
  4. Democratic National Committee


How many separate times did Harry Markopolos, a former securities industry executive and a forensic accounting and fraud investigator, report suspected fraud by Bernie Madoff to the Securities and Exchange Commission prior to the former financier’s arrest in 2008?  

  1. Two
  2. Three
  3. Four
  4. Five


From where did Edward Snowden fly to Russia before being granted asylum after he leaked National Security Agency documents to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald

  1. Taiwan
  2. Hawaii 
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Singapore