The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Monday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the up-early co-creators. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!

House Democrats, during a key impeachment hearing today, are expected to begin constructing articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE, eyeing completion by Friday and a House vote before Christmas. 


Today’s gathering at 9 a.m. will feature presentations from the majority and minority counsels on the Judiciary and Intelligence panels. House Democrats face a historic week in which the outcome appears certain, even as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-N.Y.) tried to leave his panel some wiggle room during an interview on Sunday.


"We’ll bring articles of impeachment presumably before the committee at some point later in the week,” Nadler said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”


Nadler, who made multiple Sunday show appearances ahead of today’s hearing, also argued that the Democratic case against Trump is rock solid, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that a jury would return a “guilty verdict in about three minutes flat” (The Hill).


Sunday Talk Shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing.


The New York Times: With White House absent, impeachment devolves into partisan brawl.


Notably absent at today’s hearing will be any sort of representation for Trump or the White House, which announced last week that it will not participate in Judiciary Committee work ahead of a possible impeachment vote. The White House views the ongoing effort as illegitimate and believes any involvement would help legitimize the inquiry. 


Where the inquiry goes from here was the central theme of the Sunday shows, which featured Nadler and Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsOvernight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Hillicon Valley: Hospitals brace for more cyberattacks as coronavirus cases rise | Food service groups offer local alternatives to major delivery apps | Facebook says it helped 4.4M people register to vote Trump is cruising for a bruising MORE (R-N.C.), a top ally of the president, in a preview of what’s to come this week: more partisan bickering (The Hill). 


The Associated Press: What’s next in impeachment: Articles, and committee vote.


The Hill: Democrat who opposed Trump, Clinton impeachment inquiries faces big test.


Across the Capitol, the Senate is lying in wait as the House kicks off what is expected to be the final two weeks of its impeachment work, with a trial in the upper chamber likely to start in January. As Jordain Carney reports, Senators are bracing for a brawl over the rules of a looming trial as party leaders are readying to haggle over a bipartisan deal to set ground rules like they did for the Clinton impeachment. 


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerGraham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (D-N.Y.) will try to negotiate the deal. However, senators are skeptical the two leaders will reach an agreement, citing the increasingly partisan atmosphere in the chamber. 


“There hasn’t been a deal on anything else this year,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla). “I just don’t see much cooperation right now.”


That leaves two backup options: passing GOP-only rules, which some senators say they are willing to do, or letting it play out on the Senate floor to determine what can attain the requisite 51 votes.


Along with the rules, eyes continue to be peeled on Senate Republicans who Democrats believe could be flipped to vote to convict the president. As Alexander Bolton writes, Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Senate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE (D-Conn.) said Friday that he has had conversations with a handful of Senate GOP colleagues who he says are considering voting for articles of impeachment, but declined to name them. 


While these senators are keeping their cards close to the vest, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Barrett sworn in as Supreme Court justice by Thomas Roberts to administer judicial oath to Barrett Tuesday MORE (R-Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Memo: Five reasons why Trump could upset the odds Will anyone from the left realize why Trump won — again? Ratings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHarris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Murkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade MORE (R-Alaska) headline the group as they represent the most likely lawmakers to join Democrats in the endeavor. 


The Washington Post: Inside Rudy GiulianiRudy Giuliani11 arrested after clashes at 'Jews for Trump' rally in New York White House lawyer helped shop controversial Hunter Biden story to Wall Street Journal: NYT 'Saturday Night Live' tackles final presidential debate MORE’s dual roles: Power-broker-for-hire and shadow foreign policy adviser.


The New York Times: The indispensable man: How Giuliani led Trump to the brink of impeachment.


Politico: How Giuliani and Attorney General William BarrBill BarrPolice accountability board concludes that Seattle police officers used excessive force during encounters with protesters Trump hasn't asked Barr to open investigation into Bidens, McEnany says Seattle, Portland, NYC sue Trump administration over threat to pull federal money MORE set out to defend Trump.


The Hill: Impeachment sets up Ukrainian Americans for 2020 political role.


ADMINISTRATION & OTHER INVESTIGATIONS: The Justice Department’s internal watchdog will release a highly anticipated internal report today that concludes that the government’s sleuthing into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election was justified but marred by some errors.


The report’s findings are expected to disappoint Trump and his supporters, who have called the examination of Russia’s influence in the Trump campaign a hoax designed to delegitimize Trump’s win over former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Hillary Clinton tweets 'vote them out' after Senate GOP confirm Barrett CNN: Kayleigh McEnany praised Biden as 'man of the people' in 2015 MORE


The president and his allies insist the evidence gathered over two years by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the FBI and then 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 resulted from political bias and evidence gathered under false pretenses. The report’s key findings may not satisfy Trump, but DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report is also expected to bolster the conservative insistence that “deep state” mistakes dogged the Russia probe from the outset (The Associated Press).


Horowitz has found evidence that a former FBI employee may have altered a document connected to court-approved surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. But Horowitz concluded the conduct did not affect the overall validity of the surveillance application.


The Hill: Page says the Horowitz report will only tell part of the story.


Congressional Republicans are preparing to shrug off the conclusion that surveillance of Trump campaign associates was justified because of evidence of election interference presented to the DOJ from at least two independent sources in 2016 (The Hill).


Trump and his supporters prefer to focus on the pending outcome of yet another internal investigation, one ordered by Barr, who tasked John DurhamJohn DurhamTrump remarks put pressure on Barr Trump demands Barr investigate Hunter Biden Juan Williams: Trump's search for dirt falls flat MORE, a prosecutor from Connecticut, to examine the origin of the government’s Russia investigation when Trump was the GOP nominee for president.


The New York Times: Is Barr what the Republican Party looks like post-Trump?


Durham’s inquiry went from an administrative review to a criminal investigation for reasons that are not yet clear (The New York Times). Durham and Horowitz have communicated along the way, and he reportedly told the inspector general that he could not provide evidence to support assertions by some Republicans that the Russia probe began entirely as a setup engineered by American intelligence agents who did not want Trump to be president (The Washington Post).


Durham’s work is expected to continue beyond the publication of Horowitz’s report today (The Washington Post).


The Hill: Five things to watch as the IG report is released. 


The Hill: On Sunday, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP clears key hurdle on Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, setting up Monday confirmation Texas and North Carolina: Democrats on the verge? Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE (R-Texas), who ran against Trump in 2016 and was a ferocious critic at the time, insisted without citing authorities or providing facts that there is “considerable evidence” that Ukraine interfered in the last presidential election to help elect Clinton. In fact, the Senate Intelligence Committee controlled by Republicans concluded three years ago that there was scant evidence to support the idea that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election (Politico).





> Trump, Constitution’s emoluments clauses meet up in two courts: The Trump administration this week will defend the president from two separate lawsuits alleging he is violating the Constitution's emoluments clause by profiting while in office from his network of businesses (The Hill).


> Aftermath of Pensacola, Fla., shooting: Late on Sunday, the White House said Trump thanked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, who committed during a phone call to working with the United States “to prevent” further attacks such as last week’s mass shooting in Florida by a Saudi citizen — now under investigation as terrorism.  


The president initially reacted on Friday to the shooting of three sailors at a naval base by a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force with worries about Saudi Arabia. By Saturday, Trump continued to empathize with the Saudi royal family, saying that “they are devastated in Saudi Arabia” (The New York Times).


By Sunday, the FBI said it was acting on the “presumption” that the shooting by Saudi 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, killed on the scene by deputies, was terrorism. The Saudi government told the United States it will cooperate with the investigation (The Associated Press).


Alshamrani was receiving flight training at the base with other Saudis and bought his weapon legally from a gun shop early this year. Under U.S. law, an application for a hunting license permitted the purchase of a weapon with a non-immigrant visa (The Hill).


Authorities are investigating Alshamrani’s activities before the shooting, including a formal complaint he filed against an instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola (The New York Times).


> U.S. and North Korea: North Korean leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnOvernight Defense: Biden nets military family endorsements | Final debate features North Korea exchange | Judge refuses to dismiss sexual assault case against top general Biden: Obama wouldn't 'legitimize' North Korea with meeting How Trump and Biden contrast on foreign policy MORE today took a swipe at Trump, calling him a “heedless and erratic old man” after the president tweeted on Sunday that Kim risks losing “everything” if he backs any hostility following Pyongyang’s claim to a “very important” weapons test (Reuters). Denuclearization talks remain stalled between the two countries ahead of a one-year deadline North Korea set for U.S. acceptance of its demands.


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: With just over two months until Iowans kick off the voting season for Democrats, two of the party’s top-tier candidates have engaged in a feud that shows no signs of slowing down and highlights the importance of the first-in-the-nation caucus state for the campaigns. 


Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAll fracked up: Biden's Keystone State breakdown What do Google, banks and chicken salad have in common? Final debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit MORE (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegLGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE have found themselves in an extended back-and-forth that is all too familiar to some Democrats. As Reid Wilson writes in his latest trip down memory lane, the fight is reminiscent of the 2004 campaign, when a similar cast of characters held the stage, only to help the party blow its chance of ousting an incumbent GOP president. 


At the time, liberals found a cause célèbre in former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s (D) primary bid, having distinguished himself as the only major contender in the Democratic field opposed the Iraq War and subsequently saw his stock rise in Iowa. On the other end was former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) who cultivated a blue collar Midwestern moderation and banked on support from organized labor. 


Almost the same show is playing out today between Warren and Buttigieg, who have been at loggerheads in recent weeks. All the while, Buttigieg has risen while Warren has seen her support levels take a hit, though the back-and-forth has left the South Bend mayor on the defensive (The Associated Press). 


The Hill: Warren says she made almost $2 million for past legal work.


The New York Times: Buttigieg struggles to square transparency with nondisclosure agreement.


A warning to both Warren and Buttigieg, however, comes in the form of the 2004 caucus winner: then-Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerrySeinfeld's Jason Alexander compares Trump dance video to iconic Elaine dance This time, for Democrats, Catholics matter President's job approval is surest sign Trump will lose reelection MORE (D-Mass.), who spent the past couple of days campaigning for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Trump campaign eyes election night party at his sold-out DC hotel Harris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' MORE (The Hill).


Axios: Former Vice President Joe Biden promises restrictions on Hunter Biden and his family, if elected.


NBC News: Biden gambles that “No Malarkey” tour found foothold in Iowa.


Politico Magazine: How the cool kids of the left turned on Warren.





> Celebrity endorsement: With Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg The painstaking, state-by-state fight to protect abortion access MORE (D-Calif.) dropping her 2020 White House bid last week, the scramble to secure big celebrity dollars is on for the Democratic field. 


A slew of Hollywood heavyweights were in the California Democrat's corner before she ended her presidential campaign on Tuesday, including director J.J. Abrams, filmmaker Spike Lee, and Mindy Kaling. But where they — along with other key Hollywood figures, top Harris donors, staffers and early-vote state supporters — head now candidate wise is a question some in 2020 circles are asking.


"I certainly think Hollywood celebrities are up for grabs," says Rodell Mollineau, a Democratic strategist and former top aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  Harry Reid: Biden should give GOP three weeks to see if they will work with him MORE (D-Nev.) (The Hill).


The New York Times: Trump can’t resist campaigning for governors. But they can resist him.


The Washington Post: Michael BloombergMichael BloombergTexas and North Carolina: Democrats on the verge? The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Biden breaks all-time television spending record MORE’s money buys him a very different kind of campaign. And it’s a big one.


Joe Ferullo, The Hill:  Bloomberg reporting policy not pretty or perfect, but right.

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!


An end to magical thinking in the Middle East, by William J. Burns, opinion contributor, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/2Rxls1V


Kim Jong Un cannot afford to fail again, by Ramon Pacheco Pardo, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2E9Tnpz


NEW STUDY: Nonpartisan Tax Foundation says more than 21,000 Americans will lose their jobs if Congress doesn’t repeal the medical device tax before Jan 1. Learn more about the looming tax on Americans’ health care.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features The Hill’s political reporter Julia Manchester, who discusses her article (written with Jonathan Easley) about Buttigieg’s Iowa campaign; comedian and progressive radio host Sam Seder of “The Majority Report” analyzes the week’s news; and The Nevada Independent’s political reporter Megan Messerly, explains the Silver State presidential primary on Feb. 22. 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 meets at noon and may vote on Democrats’ prescription drug pricing bill. Other issues are pending House action, including 2020 federal spending and ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade. House and Senate leaders from both parties announced on Sunday agreement on a measure that would surprise medical billing (The Hill). The House Judiciary Committee meets at 9 a.m. to weigh evidence to support potential articles of impeachment against Trump. 


The Senate meets 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 9th Circuit.


The president will have lunch with Vice President Pence, and participate in a roundtable discussion at the White House about education in the afternoon. Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump rips Biden in scramble to win Pennsylvania Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Melania Trump to hit campaign trail in Pennsylvania MORE will host a White House Christmas reception for guests this evening.


The Wall Street Journal CEO Council newsmaker event held in Washington today is expected to include separate appearances tonight by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Businesses, wealthy brace for Biden tax hikes | Dow falls more than 650 points as COVID-19 cases rise, stimulus hopes fade | Kudlow doesn't expect Trump to release detailed economic plan before election Overnight Health Care: US sets a new record for average daily coronavirus cases | Meadows on pandemic response: 'We're not going to control it' | Pelosi blasts Trump for not agreeing to testing strategy Gaffes put spotlight on Meadows at tough time for Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerKushner: Black Americans have to 'want to be successful' Lincoln Project attorney on billboards lawsuit threat: 'Please peddle your scare tactics elsewhere' Biden pushes back on Trump: 'Crass' to go after political rival's children MORE. Information is HERE.   


Olympic ban: On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia for four years from the Olympics and world championships in a range of sports as punishment for planting fake data and deleting files linked to positive doping tests. Russia has been embroiled in doping scandals for years and was banned from the past two Olympics and stripped of its flag last year in Sochi as punishment for state-sponsored doping coverups in 2014 (Reuters). 


Tech: The Chinese social media app TikTok was hit by two lawsuits this week, a test of the rapidly growing company's past and current practices (The Hill). …Trump, opposed to France’s digital service tax, is defending Google, Facebook and other big tech companies he's repeatedly railed against, underscoring a willingness to side with political opponents in battles with Europe (The Hill).


Criminal justice: Pamela Colloff, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, raises questions in her in-depth report about prosecutors’ reliance on jailhouse informants and the role of their testimony in putting defendants on death row. Paul Skalnik is a con man and convicted sex offender with an extensive record in two states as a jailhouse snitch who helped prosecutors convict dozens of suspects and send four people to death row. Florida inmate James Dailey may be executed within weeks if it’s a decision reached by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrump's new interest in water resources — why now? Trump campaign says it didn't hire armed guards outside Florida polling place Trump jokes he'll 'find a way' to fire Gov. DeSantis if he loses Florida MORE (R) based on a conviction hinged to Skalnik’s account of a jailhouse confession Dailey insists he never made. Now on death row in Florida State Prison, Dailey, 73, has spent more than three decades in prison after being sentenced to death in 1987 for a murder he says he did not commit. Skalnik, 70, released from prison in June, is a patient in an East Texas nursing home. 


State Watch: Rising vaping rates among young people have triggered responses from state and local governments, which have passed their own restrictions aimed at limiting access to flavored e-cigarette products (The Hill).


Love, always: David Wisnia met Helen “Zippi” Spitzer when he was 17 and she was 25. They were Jewish inmates at Auschwitz and with death around them, they helped each other survive and planned a life together. They knew they would be separated, but they vowed to reunite after the fighting ended. Seventy-two years later in 2016, they met again for two hours. Both had married and lived rewarding lives, but remembered each other with love. Wisnia settled and built a family in Levittown, Pa. Spitzer, in ill health and widowed with no children, was bedridden in New York City at the time of her reunion with Wisnia. She died last year at age 100 (The New York Times). 





And finally … more inspiring news: Michael Orlando Clark Jr., 5, of Michigan was officially adopted last week and celebrated his big day in court with his parents and his entire kindergarten class. Appearing at ease in the Kent County Courthouse, Michael had the support of other parents and a tiny cheering section from his class, most of whom had to crane their necks to view the action (CBS News). The Kent County Facebook page shared a photo of the heartfelt proceedings!