The Hill's Morning Report — Bloomberg news shakes up 2020 race

The Hill's Morning Report — Bloomberg news shakes up 2020 race
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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Friday! 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!

News on Thursday that Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship 5 former Treasury secretaries back Biden's plan to increase tax enforcement on wealthy On The Money: Biden ends infrastructure talks with Capito, pivots to bipartisan group | Some US billionaires had years where they paid no taxes: report | IRS to investigate leak MORE, the former New York City mayor and billionaire, is actively preparing a White House run as a Democrat without officially plunging into the candidate pool momentarily complicated an increasingly unpredictable presidential race.


Bloomberg, 77, has for months signaled both his interest in trying to defeat President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE and his willingness to holster his ambitions on the sidelines as long as former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE appeared to be the frontrunner and most viable opponent who could knock Trump out of the Oval Office.

Bloomberg’s decision, first reported by The New York Times, to send aides to Alabama to gather signatures and to meet a deadline today for candidates to formally enter the race was both a trial balloon and a signal of his nervousness that Biden appears weakened and the rest of the field may not be up to the task of successfully battling Trump.

Howard Wolfson, a former New York City deputy mayor and Bloomberg adviser, tweeted that the former three-term mayor views the president as an “unprecedented threat to our nation” and has grown uneasy about the current trajectory of the Democratic primary. But a path for Bloomberg to become the nominee and then the president as a late-entry billionaire in a Democratic field hostile to big money, big business and capitalists from Manhattan appears unlikely one year from Election Day. 

In March, Bloomberg published a column explaining why he would not be a presidential candidate. “It’s essential that we nominate a Democrat who will be in the strongest position to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country back together,” he wrote. “We cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election and translate into `Four More Years.’”

Flashback to August: Corey Lewindowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, said Bloomberg was the “only one” who could threaten the president’s reelection because of his wealth, experience in business and as a job creator, name identification and his image as a Washington outsider (New York Post).  

At the same time that Bloomberg is touting his political contributions to causes with a decided urban-liberal tilt, Trump campaign officials and advisers warn that the Republican Party’s weaker showing in suburban districts spells trouble for the GOP next year. Whether the fall-off in support on Tuesday for Republican candidates (and examples of intensely mobilized Democratic voters) is tied directly to Trump is an open question. But it was clear before Tuesday that the president worked to nationalize the off-year contests to make his case for what at the moment would be five more years of his presidency (The Hill).  

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes that among Republicans looking beyond the president’s reelection campaign, “the deterioration of support in the suburbs should be cause for major alarm.”  

> Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMedia leaders to meet with Garland to discuss leak investigations Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of White House lawyer: report Pelosi: Trump DOJ seizure of House Democrats' data ' goes even beyond Richard Nixon' MORE is officially running for an Alabama Senate seat he vacated in 2017 when he backed Trump and joined his Cabinet. Sessions, who wore out his welcome with the president when he recused himself from the Russia probe, announced his bid Thursday night on his campaign website: "We have major party candidates for President campaigning on socialism, confiscating firearms, and closing down churches they disagree with. I’ve battled these forces my entire life, and I’m not about to surrender now. Let’s go!” (The Hill). Sessions’ former GOP colleagues in the Senate are lukewarm to his primary bid, warning him that Trump’s wrath poses a significant and distracting hurdle (The Washington Post).



More political news: A third of progressives in the freshman class in Congress have formed leadership PACs, often funded by corporations, trade associations and labor unions. This trend is not universally hailed (The Hill). … South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg: Bipartisan deal on infrastructure 'strongly preferred' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican MORE may be wowing progressive voters nationally as he competes for the White House, according to polls, but in his home state, only 61 percent of Hoosiers have heard of him, according to preliminary results of the Old National Bank/Ball State University 2019 Hoosier Survey, to be released in its entirety on Nov. 12. … Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard on Chicago mayor's decision to limit media interviews to people of color: 'Anti-white racism' Fox News says network and anchor Leland Vittert have 'parted ways' New co-chairs named for congressional caucus for millennials MORE (D-Hawaii) will be on the Democratic presidential debate stage on Nov. 20 in Atlanta, among the 10 candidates who have qualified, and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Minn.) has qualified to debate in mid-December, making it six presidential hopefuls so far who will head to Los Angeles for the event (The Hill).

Insightful read with Capitol Hill intrigue: Politico Magazine’s Tim Alberta describes how one House Republican publicly turned against Trump and found himself under siege and on the outs. “What Republicans feel privately and what they say publicly has been a defining theme of the Trump era. Whether any of those lawmakers suddenly find the courage to defy him on a legacy-shaping vote will go a long way toward shaping history’s view of Donald Trump’s presidency, his impeachment, and his stewardship of the Republican Party,” Alberta writes.


IMPEACHMENT WATCH: House investigators released the transcript of their interview with George Kent, deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, who reportedly told lawmakers that Trump’s anti-corruption campaign in Ukraine was corrupt.

Kent, who is slated to be one of the first three witnesses to take part in a public hearing next week, voiced concerns about Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows - Biden foreign policy in focus Giuliani accuses Biden of 'caving in to Iran' Giuliani endorses Republican Curtis Sliwa for NYC mayor MORE, the president’s personal lawyer, and his contacts with Ukraine as early as March of this year, leading a supervisor to warn him to lay low. 


According to the transcript, Kent told lawmakers that Giuliani engaged in a “campaign of lies” in order to oust Marie Yovanovitch, formerly the top U.S. diplomat to Ukraine, having cozied up to corrupt foreign officials and disreputable media figures to smear her (The Hill). 

He also said that Trump wanted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to invoke the Bidens, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden prepares to confront Putin Ending the same-sex marriage wars Trump asks Biden to give Putin his 'warmest regards' MORE and investigations in order for the U.S. to hand over military aid, noting that he heard this through Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union (The Associated Press).  

“Potus wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to the microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton,” Kent testified. “Basically there needed to be three words in the message, and that was the shorthand.”

Kent’s interview transcript was the latest to be revealed after investigators released them for other top diplomats who were interviewed behind closed doors. 

➔ Read the Kent transcript HERE.

House impeachment investigators issued a subpoena Thursday night for acting White House Chief of Staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE to testify at 9 a.m. today. Mulvaney previously indicated his opposition to the inquiry and is unlikely to heed the subpoena (The Hill).  

The Hill: Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden.

The Hill: State Department to provide legal aid to employees testifying in impeachment inquiry.

The New York Times: Impeachment inquiry tests ties between Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMedia leaders to meet with Garland to discuss leak investigations Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of White House lawyer: report Pelosi: Trump DOJ seizure of House Democrats' data ' goes even beyond Richard Nixon' MORE and Trump.



Elsewhere, John BoltonJohn BoltonJohn Bolton: Biden-Putin meeting 'premature' Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process Trump pushes back on Bolton poll MORE, Trump’s former national security adviser, has shown a willingness to testify in the House impeachment inquiry over the administration’s pressure campaign against Ukraine if he is cleared to do so by a federal judge (The Washington Post).  

The Hill: Democrats drop efforts to secure Bolton testimony in impeachment inquiry. 

NPR: Jennifer Williams, an aide from Vice President Pence’s office, testified on Thursday in the impeachment probe.

CNN: A lawyer representing the whistleblower who initiated a formal complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine admonished the president in a letter to “cease and desist” attacks on his client, who he says faces risks of physical harm.   

> How many impeachment indictments?: House Democrats are considering drafting up to three articles of impeachment against Trump, according to reporting by ABC News

Given that the impeachment inquiry will move ahead with public hearings next week, no decisions have been made, according to the report. However, they are considering an obstruction of justice charge due to the president’s efforts to end former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s investigation. 

They are also weighing an obstruction of Congress charge based on the subpoenas the White House and administration have ignored. 

Politico: National Security Council official who attended key Ukraine meetings to leave post. 

Jonathan Allen: On Trump impeachment, Democrats try to keep it simple.

The Hill: The Washington Post hits back at Trump's “repugnant” tweet.


OTHER INVESTIGATIONS: Prosecutors revealed an extensive paper trail in an attempt to cast doubt on testimony by Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneFeds charge members of Three Percenters militia group over Jan. 6 attack Biden's anti-corruption memo is good news — and essential to US national security Legal intrigue swirls over ex-Trump exec Weisselberg: Five key points MORE to Congress, during which he claimed there are no records of communications regarding WikiLeaks or Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeBiden DOJ to continue to seek Assange extradition Assange, Snowden among those not included on Trump pardon list Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon MORE, the group’s head (The Hill).

The push by prosecutors came on the third day of his trial as the Department of Justice argued their case against the longtime Trump confidant. Jonathan Kravis, an attorney with the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, laid out an extensive timeline of Stone’s communications with Trump campaign officials and his own associates. 

Stone had told lawmakers that his main connection to WikiLeaks was Randy Credico, a longtime radio host and political activist, which prosecutors argue was a lie he told to protect the conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.  

However, Credico denied on Thursday that he served as a go-between for Stone and WikiLeaks, telling jurors that while he interviewed Assange on his radio show in August 2016, he did not ask him about any unreleased documents (The Hill).  

"I never asked him about what he was going to deliver, and I never asked him about his business,” said Credico, who detailed a bizarre relationship between him and the longtime political hatchetman. “Julian Assange is not going to tell me about future releases.”



> Trump Foundation: The president was ordered by the New York Supreme Court to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofit groups as part of a settlement in a lawsuit alleging he used his charity’s funds for personal and political means.  

The damages are part of a settlement stemming from a June 2018 civil lawsuit filed by the state attorney general’s office against him, his three eldest children and the Trump Foundation, which alleged that he violated campaign finance law. The dispute centered on $2.8 million raised by the since-shuttered foundation at an Iowa fundraiser for military veterans during the 2016 campaign (The Hill). 

Trump reacted to the order on Thursday evening in a statement on Twitter. He argued that New York Attorney General Letitia James is “deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes.”

“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by political hacks in New York State. No wonder why we are all leaving!” Trump wrote.  

The New York Times: Trump is fighting so many legal battles, it’s hard to keep track.

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


The U.S.-China trade war is cooling off. But the tech war is heating up, by David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/2pQMK7R 

Warren drills down — to Democrats' chagrin and Trump's delight, by Albert Hunt, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/32rX2IE


The House returns to work on Tuesday. 

The Senate is in a pro forma session today at 8 a.m. and returns to work on Tuesday.

The president heads to Marietta, Ga., this morning, where he will lead a roundtable discussion with political supporters in Atlanta at 12:45 p.m. and speak to attendees at a political fundraising committee event at 1:25 p.m. On Saturday, Trump will watch some college football in Tuscaloosa between the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University at Bryant-Denny Stadium (Sports Illustrated).  

Vice President Pence will travel to Atlanta to deliver remarks at 6:30 p.m. during the launch of the Black Voices Coalition, described by the Trump campaign as “a national effort to mobilize and empower Black Americans who support President Trump to help get the message of ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’ into communities across America” (Black Enterprise).

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoSunday shows - Biden foreign policy in focus Pompeo defends Trump on Russia in Chris Wallace interview Pompeo: Decline of free speech on college campuses keeps me up at night MORE is in Berlin and met this morning with German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. The secretary gave a speech about “The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future” this morning and later visited the Neue Synagogue in Berlin and the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial. Pompeo will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 3 p.m., and will meet with Vice Chancellor and Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz. The secretary will speak at the unveiling of a statue of former President Reagan at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. In the evening, Pompeo is scheduled to attend a working dinner hosted by Mathias Dopfner, the CEO of Axel Springer in Berlin. 

The University of Michigan's preliminary consumer sentiment figures for November will be released at 10 a.m. Because consumers are responsible for the bulk of U.S. economic growth, analysts are closely watching whether consumers are feeling more cautious about spending at the end of 2019.


Trade: Did they or didn’t they? White House trade adviser Peter Navarro denies the United States and China agreed that if they reach a “phase one” trade deal, it would roll back a portion of the tariffs placed on each other’s products (The Hill). Chinese officials maintained on Thursday that negotiators from Beijing and Washington made that mutual commitment (The New York Times).



Guns: The Trump administration is moving closer to easing gun exports with a rule change (Reuters). 

Horse racing: Animal welfare advocates and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have joined forces behind legislation aimed at establishing a national standard for medication used on racehorses and a new committee, managed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, to enforce it. The Breeders’ Cup, The Jockey Club and The Stronach Group back the bill through the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity. But Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, is not in the coalition. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), key to getting any such legislation through the Senate, has not taken a position, reports The Hill’s Alex Gangitano.  

Car seats: Italy now requires parents of young children to equip car seats, seggiolini auto per bambini, with alarm devices so babies and toddlers aren’t forgotten by absent-minded adults. The decree went into effect on Thursday in an effort to prevent deaths. The car seat devices, required for children younger than 4, must emit audio and visual signals that can be perceived both inside and outside vehicles if a child is left behind by a driver. Penalties for violations include fines and driver’s license points (The Associated Press).


And finally …    It’s Friday, which means it’s time to give shoutouts to those who aced this week’s Morning Report Quiz! 

Here’s who knew their whistleblower history, or at least did some topnotch Google-ing:  Patrick Kavanagh, Tim Aiken, William Chittam, Candi Cee, John Donato, Margaret Gainer, Phil Kirstein and Ki Harvey. 

They knew that FBI agent Mark Felt revealed himself to be Deep Throat in 2005

Before handing the “Pentagon Papers” over to The New York Times and other news outlets, Daniel Ellsberg gave the documents to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but was spurned

Harry Markopolos, a former securities industry executive, tipped off the Securities and Exchange Commission on three occasions (2000, 2001 and 2005) prior to Bernie Madoff’s arrest in 2008.  

And lastly, Edward Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Russia before being granted asylum after he leaked National Security Agency documents to The Guardian.