The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached

The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi makes it official: Trump will be impeached
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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) announced Thursday that the House is left with “no choice” but to move forward with impeachment of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE, citing the evidence laid out by House Intelligence Committee’s report, as the House Judiciary Committee readies formal articles that may be introduced next week.

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The Democratic caucus is expected to vote to make Trump the third president in U.S. history to be impeached (The Hill).  

"The president's actions have seriously violated the Constitution," Pelosi said during a televised address in the Speaker’s balcony hallway in the Capitol. "Our democracy is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act."

The California Democrat’s announcement and her description of Congress’s duty to act were not surprises. A little more than two work weeks remain before lawmakers break for Christmas, with votes on the articles of impeachment expected to be among the House’s final actions prior to recess. Congress has yet to decide how to keep the government operating beyond Dec. 20, when current funding instructions expire.  

The Associated Press: Democrats take big new step toward impeaching Trump.

The Washington Post: “The president gave us no choice”: Pelosi resisted Trump’s impeachment, now she’s the public face. 

Four sources told The Hill’s Scott Wong and Olivia Beavers that formal impeachment articles will be introduced and potentially marked up next week. At Wednesday’s Judiciary panel hearing, alleged high crimes and misdemeanors tied to Trump’s actions with Ukraine were unveiled as placards with wording about abuse of power and bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice. 

With Pelosi’s announcement, the Judiciary panel is moving swiftly. It will hold its second hearing on Monday during which lawmakers will hear presentations from Democratic counsels as the lawyers seek to lay out the evidence uncovered since September. 

Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden backs effort to include immigration in budget package Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Britney Spears's new attorney files motion to remove her dad as conservator MORE (D-N.Y.) told his Democratic colleagues on the panel to remain in Washington over the weekend to hold mock hearings and prep sessions ahead of Monday’s hearing. 

“There is a lot of work to do,” Nadler said.

The Wall Street Journal: Pelosi rebuts idea that she hates Trump.

CNN: Pelosi tries to move town hall discussion beyond questions about impeachment.

On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump argued that if House Democrats are going to move ahead with an impeachment vote, they should do so with expediency to allow a “fair” trial in the GOP-held Senate, anticipated early in 2020. 

The president also said that he wants Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOfficers offer harrowing accounts at first Jan. 6 committee hearing Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe Five things to watch as Jan. 6 panel begins its work MORE (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE and his son Hunter Biden to be called as witnesses to testify at a Senate trial (The Hill).   

"The Do Nothing Democrats had a historically bad day yesterday in the House,” Trump tweeted. “They have no Impeachment case and are demeaning our Country. But nothing matters to them, they have gone crazy."   

As Morgan Chalfant and Brett Samuels write, Trump and his allies have spent weeks hammering the same narrative about House impeachment. The president argues it’s a partisan “sham” that failed to produce evidence of his wrongdoing.  

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Throughout the past two-plus months, the White House has refused to comply with subpoenas, blocked documents and declined to participate at every turn. Those close to the White House say the president’s refusal to participate or to allow other officials to do so has worked to his advantage, pointing as proof to teetering support for impeachment among independents in recent polling. They also maintain that cooperation with the inquiry would lend it legitimacy. 

“The situation in the House is a foregone conclusion and the process has been stacked against the president — why legitimize that by playing their game? Any success would be marginal and wouldn’t alter the outcome. Democrats made up their minds on impeachment on Nov. 9, 2016,” said one former White House official. 

The Hill: Both sides have reason to want a speedy Trump impeachment trial.

The Washington Post: Senators face a collision between presidential ambitions and an impeachment trial.

RealClearPolitics: White House: Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiCapitol insurrection hearing exposes Trumpworld delusions DOJ declines to back Mo Brooks's defense against Swalwell's riot lawsuit Bob Dole: 'I'm a Trumper' but 'I'm sort of Trumped out' MORE never contacted the Office of Management and Budget. House Intelligence Committee Democrats disagree.

 

 

LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The Democratic presidential field is training its fire at South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Chasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' JD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians MORE, whose meteoric rise ahead of the February Iowa caucuses has ignited progressive anger and questions from his rivals about whether the 37-year-old is ready to be commander-in-chief. 

Julia Manchester and Jonathan Easley write that progressives are intent on bringing down, or at least slowing, the college town mayor’s upstart presidential bid as he remains opposed to some of their loftier goals — namely, Medicare for All and tuition-free college. 

Progressives, however, are not the only ones going after Buttigieg as Democrats try to put the squeeze on him. Recently, the Biden campaign has gone on the offensive against the mayor as the two candidates compete for supremacy among moderate voters, especially in Iowa. On Monday, Biden criticized Buttigieg by alleging that he “stole” his public option proposal, an accusation Buttigieg refuted shortly after.

With Buttigieg facing incoming on both sides, the attacks are expected to continue with a focus on his consulting work, the racial controversies he's experienced as mayor and his inability thus far to attract key significant support from African American voters.

NBC News: Buttigieg slams disruption of black supporters’ rally that turned into chaos.

The New York Times Editorial Board: Buttigieg’s untenable vow of silence.

The Wall Street Journal: States’ shift from caucuses is challenge for Sens. Bernie  Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election MORE (D-Mass.).

> Biden in Iowa: It was an eventful day for the former vice president as he campaigned in the Hawkeye State as part of his “No Malarkey” bus tour on Thursday. Biden, 77, found himself in a shouting match with an 83-year-old man in the audience who raised debunked claims, asserting that as vice president, Biden sent his son, Hunter, to work for Burisma, a Ukraine-based energy company (The Hill). 

"You're a damn liar, man. That's not true," Biden fired back.

The questioner, who identified himself only as a non-Republican Iowa farmer, also told Biden he was “too old” to be president (Politico). The candidate then challenged the man to a push-up contest, adding, “By the way ... I'm not sedentary.”

Politico: Joe Biden defends son Hunter but acknowledges Ukraine work “may have looked bad.”

Outside of the back-and-forth that made its way into social media, Biden received a high-profile endorsement from former Massachusetts senator John KerryJohn KerryHow the US could help Australia develop climate action Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Clean power repurposes dirty power No. 2 State Department official to travel to China amid tensions MORE, who worked alongside Biden in the Capitol and while Kerry served as secretary of State in the Obama administration. Kerry told The Washington Post that he backs Biden for president because he has the character, experience and leadership skills necessary to do the job.  

“The world is broken,” Kerry told The Washington Post’s Dan Balz in an interview. “Our politics are broken. The country faces extraordinary challenges. And I believe very deeply that Joe Biden’s character, his ability to persevere, his decency and the experiences that he brings to the table are critical to the moment. The world has to be put back together, the world that Donald Trump has smashed apart. 

Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, will campaign alongside Biden in New Hampshire on Sunday (The Hill). 

Also on the Biden front on Sunday, “Axios on HBO” will air a sit-down interview with the former vice president. Biden sat down with Axios co-founder Mike Allen on Sunday in Iowa and discussed the state of the Democratic Party among other things.

“The party’s not there. The party’s not there at all,” Biden told Allen about where the party stands on Medicare for All in a clip released late Thursday night. 

“You guys got it all wrong about what happened. … You all thought the party moved extremely to the left after [Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE’s loss], that AOC was the new party,” Biden said referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (D-N.Y.). “She’s a bright wonderful person, but where’s the party? Come on, man.”

The New York Times: Do Democrats really want an all-white field in 2020? Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerWomen urge tech giants to innovate on office return Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-N.J.) hopes not.

The Atlantic: Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWhite House seeks to shield Biden from GOP attacks on crime issue Lobbying world Warner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights MORE: The Kingmaker.

 

 

> Bloomberg: Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWHO leader issues warning on 'harmful' e-cigarettes Six months in, two challenges could define Biden's presidency Why Democrats' .5 trillion reconciliation bill is a losing game MORE sat for his first major television interview as a candidate, appearing with CBS News’s Gayle KingGayle KingLineup for Central Park 'Homecoming' concert includes Springsteen, LL Cool J, New York Philharmonic Ta-Nehisi Coates to join Howard University faculty Nikole Hannah-Jones rejects UNC tenure offer for position at Howard University MORE. Bloomberg told the host that he supports the House’s push to impeach the president (CBS News).   

“I think it's a very serious thing but it — and I was before opposed to it but after looking at all of the evidence, I think yes. Sad, but yes,” Bloomberg said. “He does not seem to understand that he is an elected official whose job it is to work for the public rather than for himself.”  

The full interview, conducted on Thursday, will air at 7 a.m. on “CBS This Morning.”  

The Hill: Michael Bloomberg releases gun control plan.  

Politico: Democrats woo Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve Bullock65 former governors, mayors back bipartisan infrastructure deal Arkansas, New Jersey governors to head National Governors Association Biden 'allies' painting him into a corner MORE for Senate, give up on former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to block a subpoena for his financial documents, which are sought by the House separate from the impeachment inquiry, arguing that Congress exceeded its authority when it ordered the president’s longtime personal accounting firm Mazars USA to turn over his records. 

The justices have already put a temporary freeze on the subpoena while they consider whether to take up the appeal. The court could say as early as next week whether it will hear and decide the cases by the end of June (The Associated Press).

The Supreme Court will ultimately determine the fate of Trump's attempts on multiple fronts to shield his financial records from public view. The justices have already said they will meet behind closed doors on Dec. 13 to discuss a similar petition concerning a New York grand jury subpoena for Trump's tax returns. In addition, the president’s lawyers are likely to appeal a separate case they lost concerning a House subpoena to Deutsche Bank for similar documents (CNN).

> Defense Department: Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood confirmed to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief defends Milley after Trump book criticism | Addresses critical race theory | Top general says Taliban has 'strategic momentum' in war The Biden administration and Tunisia: Off to a good start Overnight Defense: Navy pulls plug on 0 million railgun effort | Esper defends Milley after Trump attacks | Navy vet charged in Jan. 6 riot wants trial moved MORE and the president’s national security team are considering recommending as many as 14,000 additional U.S. troops be deployed to the Middle East to guard against potential aggression by Iran. Rood’s comments confirmed reporting by The Wall Street Journal, which the Pentagon initially tried to knock down (Politico).

Separately on Thursday, Esper (pictured below) told Reuters during an interview that the U.S. military completed its pullback from northeastern Syria. The secretary said the troop level would hover around 600 in Syria, with the leeway to move in and out smaller numbers of forces as needed.

 

 

> Customs and Border Protection (CBP): The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees CBP, on Thursday reversed course from the government’s written plans and said it will not force U.S. travelers to show photographs for purposes of using biometric, or facial recognition technology. The government said U.S. travelers may opt out (TechCrunch).

NextGov reported in August that CBP “already uses facial recognition technology to keep tabs on international travelers at more than a dozen nationwide airports and multiple checkpoints along the U.S.-Mexico border. … CBP officials expect to deploy facial recognition and other biometric identification tools more extensively in the years ahead.”  

> U.S. vs. Iran: The State Department on Thursday announced new sanctions against Iran in response to its bloody crackdown on protesters, saying it believes more than 1,000 people, some as young as 13, have been killed. The administration announced it is pursuing sanctions against two Iranian prisons for gross human rights violations in which they say at least 7,000 demonstrators have been detained following mass protests in the country triggered by a steep rise in fuel prices last month (The Hill). 

***

MORE CONGRESS: Impeachment is not the only legislative business capturing the imaginations of House Democrats. Pelosi is working behind the scenes to remove legal protections from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that benefit technology companies as lawmakers in both parties seek to ratify the hemispheric trade accord this year (The Wall Street Journal). 

Shutdown deadline looms: The contentious issue of Immigration and Enforcement Control (ICE) has not thawed within House and Senate negotiations. Lawmakers are still at loggerheads over how they will fund the government (or kick their differences into 2020) as they eye a deadline on Dec. 20. Lawmakers insist ICE is a tougher hurdle than trying to resolve funding for Trump's border wall (The Hill).   

Drug prices: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (R-Iowa) are at odds over a bipartisan measure to lower drug prices. McConnell has said privately that he thinks Grassley's bill is bad policy, according to sources who heard his comments. Grassley, meanwhile, is trying to increase the pressure on McConnell, arguing his bill is good politics. "Eventually McConnell's going to realize that this is very important for Republicans maintaining control of the Senate," Grassley told reporters this week. Nonetheless, Grassley’s measure is stalled despite White House efforts to help build support for it (The Hill).   

China - human rights & trade: Congress is poised to hand Trump a second chance in less than a month to anger Beijing and attack China’s record on human rights. Senators said Thursday they expect to pass legislation calling for sanctions on Chinese officials and other measures to address the brutal crackdown on the ethnic Uighur minority in China’s northwest. The House passed its version in a 407-1 vote on Tuesday (voting against the measure was Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieBiden asks Pentagon to examine 'how and when' to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for troops House at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate Tempers flare as some in GOP ignore new House mask mandate MORE). The Senate’s approval is expected within the next two weeks and could be unanimous. The White House has not commented on the legislation, but Trump may have no choice but to sign it, similar to his recent decision to sign a bill opposed by China that supports Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators (The Associated Press). … On trade today, China said it will waive import tariffs for some soybeans and pork shipments from the United States, as the two nations continue trying to work out an enforceable “phase one” accord (Reuters).

21 and done: Rep. Tom GravesJohn (Tom) Thomas GravesGreene's future on House committees in limbo after GOP meeting McConnell says Taylor Greene's embrace of conspiracy theories a 'cancer' GOP has growing Marjorie Taylor Greene problem MORE (R-Ga.) announced on Thursday that he will retire from Congress at the end of 2020. The 49-year-old congressman who is a close ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthySunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate After police rip Trump for Jan. 6, McCarthy again blames Pelosi Capitol Police asked to arrest the maskless MORE (R-Calif.) is the 21st Republican lawmaker to announce retirement in the 116th Congress (The Hill).

House to Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterTrump denies Gaetz asked him for blanket pardon Gaetz, on the ropes, finds few friends in GOP Trust, transparency, and tithing is not enough to sustain democracy MORE: “Stop voting”: The House Ethics Committee urged Hunter (R-Calif.) in a letter on Thursday to quit voting on legislation and other matters on the House floor after he pleaded guilty earlier this week to campaign finance violations.

The committee notified him that his plea triggers a non-mandatory House rule stating that members convicted of certain crimes should refrain from voting. Hunter, who cast his ballot on the floor on Wednesday, is expected to resign but has not said when he plans to exit (CNN).

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!

 

OPINION

The shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley, by James D. Zirin, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2r91yzz 

Trump’s tariffs are spooking markets while the economy slows, by Robert E. Scott, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/33Qwfqb

WHERE AND WHEN

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features a discussion about impeachment with Rep. Ben ClineBenjamin (Ben) Lee ClineVirginia Democrats seek to tie Youngkin to Trump's election claims McAuliffe calls on Youngkin to drop out of 'election integrity' rally GOP votes to dump Cheney from leadership MORE (R-Va.); Richard Wolff, an economics professor and co-founder of Democracy at Work; and David Pakman, host of the The David Pakman Show, with his analysis of how endorsements of Buttigieg for president could help Biden. 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 9 a.m. and will continue working  on a resolution regarding a negotiated two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (The Hill).

The Senate meets on Monday at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Patrick Bumatay to be a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The president participates in a roundtable discussion in the Roosevelt Room at 2 p.m. about small business and reduction of federal red tape. Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpOnly Trump can fix vaccine hesitancy among his supporters Trump discussed pardoning Ghislaine Maxwell: book Jill Biden appears on Vogue cover MORE will host an invitation-only Christmas reception on the State Floor of the White House at 3:15 p.m.

Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the closely watched jobs report for November at 8:30 a.m. Analysts expect to see job growth in the report (The Wall Street Journal).

The Justice Department at 9 a.m. convenes government officials to describe ambitions to “modernize” the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), along with the administration’s concerns about what it calls the “administrative state.” Speakers include Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Prim Escalona and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Mascott. They will be joined by Transportation Department Acting Deputy Secretary and General Counsel Steven Bradbury, Health and Human Services Department Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and White House National Economic Council deputy director Andrew Olmem. The event will take place in the Justice Department’s Great Hall.

 

ELSEWHERE

Russia: President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinIs Ukraine Putin's Taiwan? Democrats find a tax Republicans can support Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE, abandoning a previously defiant tone, said on Thursday that he would extend a key nuclear treaty with the United States immediately without preconditions. “Russia is ready to extend the New START treaty immediately, before the year’s end and without any preconditions,” he said during a meeting of military officials. “Our proposals have been on the table, but we have got no response from our partners,” he added (Reuters).

State Watch: A commission assigned to research racist laws from Virginia’s past recommended Thursday that dozens of laws be repealed, including statutes that resisted desegregation, prevented black voters from casting ballots and prohibited interracial marriage. While most of the measures are outdated and “have no legal effect,” they remain enshrined in law (The Associated Press). … The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Thursday heard arguments involving a transgender student, bathroom rights and a Florida school district, which is appealing a lower court ruling that supported the student’s argument that he has a right to use a restroom that corresponds with his gender identity. The 11th Circuit could become the first federal appeals court to issue a binding ruling on the issue, which has arisen in several states. The ruling would cover schools in Florida, Georgia and Alabama and could carry the issue to the Supreme Court (The Associated Press). 

France: Paris police fired tear gas at demonstrators Thursday as the Eiffel Tower shut down, France’s high-speed trains came to a standstill and hundreds of thousands of people marched nationwide in a strike over the government’s plan to overhaul the retirement system. At least 90 people were arrested in Paris. Police said 65,000 people took to the streets of the French capital and more than 800,000 nationwide during demonstrations aimed at forcing President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrench parliament approves COVID-19 passes for restaurants, domestic travel WhatsApp chief: US allies' national security officials targeted with NSO malware US athletes chant 'Dr. Biden' as first lady cheers swimmers MORE to abandon pension reform (The Associated Press). Explainer: What the French pension unrest is all about.

 



THE CLOSER

And finally … Congratulations to trivia masters who aced the Morning Report Quiz about Christmas decor of yore at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Readers in the winner’s circle this week: Betty Ralph, Patrick Kavanagh, BJ Ford, Luther Berg, Rose DeMarco and John Donato. 

They knew that Jacqueline Kennedy launched the White House tradition of selecting a decorative theme for the official Christmas tree displayed in the Blue Room. She chose ornaments tied to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” ballet.

Barney, the terrier beloved by former President George W. Bush, was the White House dog that set a record for the most-watched White House video at the time by dashing and prancing through White House rooms decorated for Christmas. 

North Carolina, more than any other state, lays claim to the largest number of evergreens chosen for the coveted Blue Room displays at the White House over the years.  

Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonOvernight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' Biden rolls dice by getting more aggressive on vaccines Amanda Knox blasts 'Stillwater' movie: 'Does my name belong to me? MORE publicly but cheerfully suffered from allergies, which he said were aggravated in winter by the fresh Christmas trees displayed throughout the White House. “I have to be careful how much I am around the greenery at the White House, and we put up our Christmas tree late, like just a few days before Christmas,” Clinton once explained to an interviewer. “But I love it, so we put it up and I manage it the best I can.”   

It was Grover Cleveland who took early advantage of electricity at the White House at Christmas. He replaced candles with red, white and blue electric lights on the family tree, delighting his children. (The White House Historical Association has a photo HERE.)