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 TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president 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 NadlerMcConnell locks in schedule for start of impeachment trial Pelosi: Trump's impeachment 'cannot be erased' House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate 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 MeadowsRepublicans criticize Pelosi for gifting pens used to sign impeachment articles Trump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers 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 McConnellPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly' MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications Senators are politicians, not jurors — they should act like it GOP senator: 2020 candidates must recuse themselves from impeachment trial 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 request briefing on intel behind Trump's embassy threat claim US citizen dies in Egyptian prison after hunger strike President Trump's strike of choice 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 CollinsPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Democratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment MORE (R-Maine), Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCollins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico MORE (R-Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPaul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Seven things to know about the Trump trial Trump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer 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 GiulianiLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' 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 BarrWilliam Pelham BarrParnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' Parnas says he's speaking out because of betrayal from associates: 'I felt like my family left me' Overnight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon 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 ClintonFormer Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' NYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info New Hampshire state lawmaker switches support from Warren to Klobuchar 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) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay 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 DurhamJim Comey's damaging legacy at the FBI must be undone Federal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment 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 CruzSeven things to know about the Trump trial All the frontrunners could survive initial Iowa test Republicans face internal brawl over impeachment witnesses 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 UnBrent Budowsky: The patriotic duty of Senate Republicans US ambassador: 'I was personally surprised' North Korea did not send 'Christmas gift' Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall 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 Ann WarrenEx-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Former Vermont Governor: Sanders 'will play dirty' Hill.TV's Krystal Ball rips Warren over feud with Sanders MORE (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFormer insurance executive: 'Medicare for all' would eliminate jobs that are 'not needed' Buttigieg says he's proud to be a part of US system amid UK royal family drama Buttigieg asked about 'Mayo Pete' memes by New York Times ed board 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 Kerry18 progressive groups sign unity pledge amid Sanders-Warren feud Mellman: Democrats — Buckle up for a wild ride Sanders hits highest support since August MORE (D-Mass.), who spent the past couple of days campaigning for former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Ex-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine 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 Devi HarrisOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Team Trump criticizes Sanders for vote against USMCA 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 ReidThe Trumpification of the federal courts Trump to rally evangelicals after critical Christianity Today editorial Left presses 2020 Democrats to retake the courts from Trump 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 Rubens BloombergBloomberg viewed as having best chance to beat Trump in betting market analysis Poll: Trump trails 2020 Democratic contenders in Michigan The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi names impeachment managers as focus shifts to Senate 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: and 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.


Kim Jong Un cannot afford to fail again, by Ramon Pacheco Pardo, opinion contributor, The Hill.


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 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 TrumpNational champions LSU to visit White House Friday Vince Vaughn visits with Trump during college football national championship The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment trial a week away; debate night 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 PelosiOvernight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon Hillicon Valley: FBI to now notify state officials of cyber breaches | Pelosi rips 'shameful' Facebook | 5G group beefs up lobby team | Spotify unveils playlists for pets Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' MORE (D-Calif.) and White House senior adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Senate receives impeachment articles as trial opens Kushner: When you work for Trump 'you don't make the waves, he makes the waves' Trump scheduled to attend Davos amid impeachment trial 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 DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida Supreme Court rules convicted felons must pay fines, fees before voting Florida moves to purchase land to protect Everglades from oil drilling Top Latino group: Trump is about to hold a 'fake Christian campaign rally' 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!