The Hill's Morning Report - Dem dilemma on articles of impeachment




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The House Judiciary Committee kicked off a new phase of the impeachment inquiry on Wednesday with a hearing featuring scholars to debate whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE’s actions concerning Ukraine warrant his removal from office as lawmakers debate what articles of impeachment to include in a potential House floor vote. 


The hearing, which quickly devolved into partisan bickering, featured three experts chosen by Democrats and one by the GOP minority to argue whether Trump committed offenses warranting his impeachment. The scholars’ testimony broke along partisan lines, giving lawmakers ammunition to support divergent views. 


“I will honor my oath, and as I sit here today, having heard consistent, clear and compelling evidence that the president has abused his power, attempted to undermine the constitutional role of Congress, and corrupted our elections, I urge my colleagues to stand behind the oath you have taken,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse passes sweeping reform bill to decriminalize marijuana This week: Congress races to wrap work for the year Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon MORE (D-N.Y.) said at the end of a long day of back-and-forth. “Our democracy depends on it.”


Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Bipartisan governors call on Congress to pass coronavirus relief package MORE (D-Calif.) will deliver a statement on the “status of impeachment inquiry” at 9 a.m., her office announced early this morning. 


Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday gave their clearest indication of potential articles of impeachment that could be brought to the House floor ahead of Congress’s holiday break. As Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos note, the majority displayed placards during the hearing describing abuse of power and bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice. 


“I’m for a keep-it-simple scope,” Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellJuan Williams: Defeated Trump is in legal peril Taylor Swift allows song to be used in campaign ad Graham says SC people of color can go anywhere in the state but 'need to be conservative, not liberal' MORE (D-Calif.), a Judiciary Committee member, told The Hill.


The Associated Press: Impeachment takeaways: History lessons, partisan feuds. 


The New York Times: Scholars call Trump’s actions on Ukraine an impeachable abuse of power.


House Democrats showed that they are pushing their chips into the middle of the table on impeachment. Pelosi held an all-caucus meeting on Wednesday morning prior to the hearing at which cell phones and staff members were banned (The Associated Press). According to Mike Lillis and Juliegrace Brufke, Pelosi posed a simple question to her caucus. 


"Are you ready?" Pelosi said, receiving an enthusiastic response, according to sources inside the room.


The Speaker called on her members to remain focused on key evidence and to read the 300-page report the House Intelligence Committee released on Tuesday after its two-month investigation. The report is based on private and public witness interviews. Politico reported that Pelosi urged her colleagues to stick with the Democrats’ assertion that Trump abused his office in an effort to have Ukraine investigate his political rivals. 


Some did not heed her message. Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenRemoving slurs, bigotry from places on our maps paves the way to remove them from all aspects of our lives Safeguarding US elections by sanctioning Russian sovereign debt The Memo: Trump furor stokes fears of unrest MORE (D-Texas), a longtime proponent of impeaching Trump, said any upcoming articles of impeachment should be expanded to include the president’s aggravation of U.S. racial tensions (The Hill).


Politico: Moderate Dems warn against “kitchen sink” impeachment push.


The Hill: Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesBiden's Cabinet a battleground for future GOP White House hopefuls Overnight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition MORE (R-Calif.) accuses Democrats of promoting “conspiracy theories.”


Bloomberg News: Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHow Trump's election lawsuits became his worst nightmare Michigan voter fraud hearing goes viral for alleged flatulence, unruly witness Trump hits Barr over voter fraud remarks: 'He hasn't looked' MORE on Calls: “Remember, I’m the president’s attorney.”


There is no set schedule for future Judiciary Committee hearings, although two more are expected. Lawmakers have a little more than two weeks before they break for the holiday season to return again in January. 


The Hill: Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans.


The Hill: Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan apologized on Wednesday for mentioning Trump's 13-year-old son, Barron Trump, during the impeachment hearing. First lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpDC attorney general: Ivanka Trump 'highly misleading' on lawsuit deposition Biden warns Americans against traveling for Christmas McEnany hits Democratic leaders for not following their own COVID-19 restrictions MORE, who was returning to Washington from London, strongly objected on Twitter to the professor’s remarks.





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Democrats are venting, expressing frustration and searching for answers in the wake of Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden officially clinches Electoral College votes with California certification Hillicon Valley: Senate Intelligence Committee leaders warn of Chinese threats to national security | Biden says China must play by 'international norms' | House Democrats use Markup app for leadership contest voting Trump campaigns as wild card in Georgia runoffs MORE’s (D-Calif.) exit from the 2020 contest as their primary field — once exemplified by its diversity and extreme largesse — has been cut down to a top tier of white candidates. 


As Jonathan Easley writes, Harris’s exit from the race on Tuesday underscored the degree to which the candidates of color have struggled to gain traction. With Harris gone, the remaining six candidates who have qualified for the December debate are all white, an embarrassing development for a party that has described diversity as its greatest strength. 


While diverse candidates still remain in the race, including Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerJudge whose son was killed by gunman: 'Federal judiciary is under attack' Biden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Policy center calls for new lawmakers to make diverse hires MORE (D-N.J.), Andrew YangAndrew YangGroups seek to get Black vote out for Democrats in Georgia runoffs Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk Andrew Yang: Democrats need to adopt message that government is 'working for them' MORE and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, only a week remains for candidates to qualify, with Booker and Castro facing a steep climb to do so. However, finger pointing has begun for some Democrats as they accuse the media of going easy on the white candidates. 


Along with the lack of diversity in the top tier, Harris’s exit has other key effects on the race for the party’s nomination, as Niall Stanage lays out in his latest memo. While Harris drew only modest support by the end of her campaign, her endorsement would be valuable for any candidate in the field, especially in the push to win support from African American voters. She also stands as a potential vice presidential choice, which former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Federal student loan payment suspension extended another month Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week MORE noted during a campaign stop in Iowa on Wednesday (The Hill).


Along with VP speculations, questions also surround where her supporters, fundraisers and staffers will go, and whether she could have a particular impact on the primary outcome in her home state of California, where her endorsement could have a profound effect.


The Associated Press: Campaigns swarm Harris donors after she exits the 2020 race.


The Washington Post: On “No Malarkey” tour, Biden seeks to reignite Iowa campaign — and vents frustration.





> Democratic dough: While part of Harris’s downfall was due to a cash flow problem, others in the Democratic primary field have the opposite issue as the field has become filled with billionaire cash, angering the left and presenting new hurdles for candidates struggling to stay in the race. 


As Jonathan Easley and Max Greenwood write, former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE and Tom SteyerTom SteyerBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights New voters surge to the polls MORE have combined to blow past the $100 million mark, leading to allegations that they're seeking to buy the nomination, which has infuriated progressives. 


Steyer has outspent everyone on digital ads this cycle and just qualified for the December debate, in part because his blanket of ads have propped him up in the polls and continued to push him onto the debate stage. Meanwhile, Bloomberg, who entered the race only two weeks ago, began with an astonishing $50 million ad buy that has blanketed the airwaves and social media. Prior to Harris’s exit, a new Morning Consult poll showed that he had moved past her despite the fact that she’d been in the race for nearly 11 months.


Progressives had hoped that the two candidates would stay out of the race and instead direct their big dollars at issues such as climate change and gun control. Instead, the ad buys by Bloomberg and Steyer could drown out last-ditch efforts by struggling candidates relying on more modest ad buys in an effort to stay in the race to Iowa and beyond.


The Associated Press: Booker’s critical test? Languishing campaign plots rebound.


Elsewhere in politics … After weeks of discussions, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp ® appointed Republican Kelly Loeffler, a wealthy Atlanta financial executive, to replace outgoing Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonCollins urges voters to turn out in Georgia runoffs Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (R-Ga.) in the upper chamber. Loeffler is expected to drop at least $20 million on her 2020 bid to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term (Politico) … Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTrump doubles down on Section 230 repeal after GOP pushback Six people whose election wins made history Next Congress expected to have record diversity MORE (D-Hawaii) is giving up the Hawaiian sunshine for the New Hampshire winter, for this year at least. Gabbard revealed that she is moving to the Granite State for the duration of the 2020 campaign, placing her bets on the first-in-the-nation primary in her bid for the party’s nomination while others have made similar moves in Iowa (ABC News) … Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary and Chelsea Clinton to host series based on their book 'Gutsy Women' Democrats see spike in turnout among Asian American, Pacific Islander voters Biden officially announces ex-Obama official Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE sat down for a lengthy and wide-ranging interview with SiriusXM host Howard Stern on Thursday. During the extended discussion, the pair discussed Trump’s inauguration speech, Sen.
Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham reports 'record-breaking' 9M haul during 2020 campaign Lawmakers pressure leaders to reach COVID-19 relief deal Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country MORE’s “brain snatch,” and how she met former President Clinton, among other items (
Howard Stern).  


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump cut his participation in a two-day NATO summit short on Wednesday, canceling a scheduled press conference in London to return to Washington early. The president held a series of bilateral meetings, including with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and then took exception to a viral video clip captured during a Buckingham Palace reception on Tuesday night showing world leaders huddled in what they thought was a jovial private commiseration, apparently about Trump’s theatrical behavior.


When asked about the pool video snippet circulating on Twitter on Wednesday, Trump responded by calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauCanada not ready to lift border restrictions with US as COVID-19 spikes Canada moves to limit prescription drug exports after Trump order Trudeau says Canadians will likely have to wait until 2021 for first doses of COVID-19 vaccine MORE “two-faced.” Trudeau’s private asides about Trump and his team could be heard in a conversation that included French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronEuropean strategic autonomy? Let's start with national autonomy French ambassador: Free speech is our best defense against hate crimes French president warns of steps to dissuade holiday ski trips to Switzerland MORE and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom (The New York Times).





The president’s London trip underscored distance from his European counterparts at a time when he wants to showcase leadership on the world stage and international accomplishments heading into an election year and while fighting the threat of impeachment. NATO leaders, familiar with Trump’s pet issues and aware of his unpopularity among their constituents, appeared eager to challenge the American president in public (The Hill).


The New York Times: Trump was mocked abroad and is being assailed at home.


Biden launched a campaign digital ad on Wednesday tapping video seen during Trump’s London trip to make a political case that the president is not held in esteem abroad, to America’s detriment, and that Biden is. The ad calls Trump “the president the world is laughing at” (CNN).


In Washington, meanwhile, Trump got a withering reception from some industry groups to his new proposal to retaliate against France’s digital service tax using U.S. tariffs on $2.4 billion in French goods, including wine and cheese. U.S. consumers pay for such tariffs with higher costs, they argue (The Hill).


> U.S.-China: Today, the Chinese commerce ministry said U.S. tariffs must be cut if China and the United States are to reach an interim agreement on trade. Beijing is sticking to its stance that some U.S. tariffs must be rolled back for a phase one deal (Reuters). Although Trump suggested while in London that trade negotiations with China might not conclude until after the 2020 U.S. election, his trade advisers argued that Beijing was moving closer to a deal (Bloomberg News).


> Agriculture Department & food stamps: A new administration rule announced on Wednesday will tighten work requirements for recipients of the federal food stamp program, which feeds 36 million people. The plan will limit states from exempting work-eligible adults from having to maintain steady employment in order to benefit from food stamps. Effective on April 1, the rule is expected to end benefits for nearly 700,000 people and cut $5.5 billion in federal spending over five years (The New York Times). It is the latest administration policy change designed to scale back the social safety net for low-income Americans, and it’s the first rule to be finalized among three proposed regulatory changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP (The Associated Press).


> Pentagon: Trump is weighing whether to send an additional 14,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East to prepare for a growing threat from Iran, along with dozens more ships and military equipment. The president could decide this month whether he will expand the U.S. footprint in a part of the world in which he’s been eager to shrink the U.S. presence (The Wall Street Journal). U.S. military and intelligence agencies have fresh information that points to a rising threat from Iran (CNN). Tehran is secretly moving short-range ballistic missiles into Iraq. And while the United States has been expanding its troop strength in the Middle East since the spring, Iran’s latest actions suggest the U.S. efforts to deter Tehran with a show of force have been unsuccessful (The New York Times).

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!


Republicans need to face reality with hypocrisy on impeachment, by former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden inches closer to victory Nervous Democrats don't see 2016 nightmare repeating itself Biden's debate strategy is to let Trump be Trump MORE (D-N.Y.), opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2qkarWk 


Trump is wise to fear a socialist opponent, by John Iadarola, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/34QmAkJ 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Nina Turner, a former Democratic state senator from Ohio and national co-chairwoman for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Unemployment gains lower than expected | Jobs report lights fire under coronavirus relief talks Sanders says he can't support bipartisan COVID-19 relief proposal in its current form Progressives push for direct payments to be included in COVID-19 relief deal MORE’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign; Aaron Maté, host of “Pushback,” airing on The Grayzone, and a contributor to The Nation, to discuss the House impeachment inquiry; The Intercept’s co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald, who previews his interview with Evo Morales, recently forced out as Bolivia’s president; and Henry Davis Jr., a councilman in South Bend, Ind., who discusses his city’s mayor and presidential contender Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube


The House convenes at 10 a.m.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m.


The president will host a White House luncheon with the permanent representatives of the United Nations Security Council at 1 p.m. to mark the United States assumption in December of the rotating presidency of the Security Council. Later, Trump and the first lady plan travel a short distance to the Ellipse for the televised National Christmas Tree Lighting. The president is scheduled to deliver remarks at 5 p.m. before returning to the White House to host one in a series of invitation-only Christmas receptions scheduled this month. 


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Dem leaders back smaller COVID-19 relief bill as pandemic escalates Sweeping financial crimes bill to hitch a ride on defense measure On The Money: Funding bill hits snag as shutdown deadline looms | Pelosi, Schumer endorse 8 billion plan as basis for stimulus talks | Poll: Most Americans support raising taxes on those making at least 0K MORE will testify at 10 a.m. about financial stability to the House Financial Services Committee. 


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over 'intimidation' tactics Israel's new Gulf relations give Biden's team a new Middle East hub Pompeo knocks Turkey in NATO speech: report MORE is traveling in Lisbon, Portugal, and Rabat, Morocco today. This morning he met with U.S. Embassy staff and families in Lisbon, followed by a meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva. Pompeo held a joint press availability with Silva before flying to Morocco. In the afternoon, the secretary meets with Moroccan King Mohammed VI in Rabat, followed by a meeting with Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita. In Rabat, Pompeo will join Bourita for a press conference. In the evening, the secretary will meet Moroccan Head of Government Saadeddine El Othmani. Pompeo will also talk with Moroccan Internal Security Chief Abdellatif Hammouchi. The secretary’s official schedule will end with a dinner hosted by the Moroccan royal family.


Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 10:45 a.m. at the Capitol. She will also join CNN at 9 p.m. for a live town hall discussion, which takes place amid the historic House impeachment process (CNN).


Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles testifies at 10 a.m. to the Senate Banking Committee. (The Hill’s Sylvan Lane reported that Quarles took some heat on Wednesday from both parties when he testified before the House Financial Services Committee.)


The Library of Congress today opens the first public exhibition of the Rosa Parks Collection, including personal writings, photographs, records and memorabilia. Parks became a civil rights icon after refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., in December 1955. The seamstress-turned-activist died in 2005; the archival collection has been available online at the library since 2016.


Economic indicator: The Census Bureau at 8:30 a.m. releases the U.S. international trade report for October.


Germany v. Russia: A brazen shooting in August of a Chechen-Georgian citizen who had survived previous assassination attempts but died in a Berlin park was a murder ordered by either Moscow or authorities in Russia’s republic of Chechnya, prosecutors in Germany alleged. Germany expelled two Russian diplomats on Wednesday as punishment. It’s the latest allegation of Russian-ordered killings on Western European soil. Great Britain blamed Moscow last year for an attempt to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury. Russia denies involvement in both incidents (The Associated Press).


Horse racing: A 6-year-old gelding named Bo Vuk and a 5-year-old mare named Aikenetta died in separate horse racing incidents at a Laurel, Md., track at the end of November, bringing to at least 14 the number of horses that died this year on Maryland race tracks (The Baltimore Sun). Animal welfare groups want Congress to pass the Horseracing Integrity Act, which would create standards for how racehorses are treated across the nation. Maryland's Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOn The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser GOP blocks effort to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers Democratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry MORE (D) is one of 10 Senate cosponsors. At least 200 House members support the measure (WUSA9.com).


Baseball: The New York Mets could finally be getting a change in ownership. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenDe Blasio mum on whether he'll block sale of Mets to controversial investor Two ethics groups call on House to begin impeachment inquiry against Barr Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL MORE, a billionaire who owns a minority stake in the franchise, is moving toward a deal that would give him control of the team within five years from Sterling Partners, which is controlled by Fred and Jeff Wilpon. The Wilpons have held at least a 50/50 share of the team since 1980. Cohen would become the richest owner in Major League Baseball if the deal goes through. The Wilpons have faced financial troubles for more than a decade after they lost millions of dollars in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme (ESPN).





And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! ‘Tis the season for opulent White House decorations, which means we’re eager to see some smart guesses (and expert Googling) about Christmas trivia of yore at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


Email your responses to asimendinger@thehill.com and/or aweaver@thehill.com, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Those who submit correct answers will earn some richly deserved newsletter applause on Friday.


Which first lady began the White House tradition of selecting a decorative theme for the official Christmas tree displayed in the Blue Room? (Hint: It was a “Nutcracker” theme.)


1)        Jacqueline Kennedy

2)        Lady Bird Johnson

3)        Pat Nixon


Which presidential canine broke new ground (and set a record for the most-watched White House video during his master’s first term) while filmed at floor level, dashing and prancing through White House rooms decorated for the holiday season?


1)        Buddy

2)        Barney

3)        Bo


Which state has eclipsed all others in terms of the number of its trees selected for Blue Room Christmas displays over the years?


1)        Montana

2)        Florida

3)        North Carolina


Which president publicly but cheerfully suffered from allergies he blamed on fresh Christmas trees displayed throughout the White House residence?


1)        Richard Nixon

2)        Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson Clinton'Black Panther' star criticized for sharing video questioning COVID-19 vaccine Black voters: Low propensity, or low priority? Biden says he will join former presidents and publicly get coronavirus vaccine MORE

3)        Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaSmearing presidential election will turn off young voters and undermine democracy 'Black Panther' star criticized for sharing video questioning COVID-19 vaccine Black voters: Low propensity, or low priority? MORE


Who was the first president to place electric lights on a White House Christmas tree? (Hint: Electricity was installed in the White House in 1891.)


1)        Chester A. Arthur

2)        Grover Cleveland

3)        Theodore Roosevelt