The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - An unusual day: Impeachment plus a trade deal

The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - An unusual day: Impeachment plus a trade deal
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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy hump day! 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 mixed their messages on Tuesday, unveiling two articles of impeachment against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE while embracing a bipartisan deal and a planned vote next week to ratify Trump’s long-sought U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).


Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' MORE (D-Calif.) announced the monumental impeachment news at a press conference early Tuesday while flanked by committee chairs who are involved in the investigation. The group unveiled the two articles that will likely come to the House floor next week: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.


“On this solemn day, I recall that the first order of business for members of Congress is the solemn act to take an oath to defend the Constitution,” she said across the hall from the House chamber. 


The House Judiciary Committee announced that it will begin marking up the pair of articles tonight at 7 p.m., and resume doing so on Thursday at 9 a.m. The panel is expected to hold a vote on the articles on Thursday (The Hill).


The president didn’t hesitate to respond to the latest maneuver by Pelosi and her colleagues, tweeting that the move is “sheer Political Madness” and maintaining that he did nothing wrong regarding Ukraine. 


The move virtually ensures that Trump will be the third president impeached, but unlike the past two presidents to be indicted by the House, he will be the first to stand for reelection in the aftermath. 


The Hill: Democrats reach cusp of impeachment.


Julie Pace, The Associated Press: Trump faces narrow but consequential charges.


READ: Text of the articles of impeachment.


Trump railed against the move during a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa., on Tuesday night, saying the Democrats are “already failing” and claimed that “people are saying” what he did wasn’t even a crime (The Hill).


“The congressional Democrats are pushing the impeachment witch hunt having to do with Ukraine,” Trump said. “But that’s already failing.”


“People are saying they’re not even a crime,” Trump told the crowd. “This is the lightest, weakest impeachment. … They’re impeaching me. You want to know why? Because they want to win an election.”


The Hill: GOP calls for minority hearing on impeachment, threatens procedural measures.


Politico: Why Democrats sidelined Mueller in impeachment articles.


The Associated Press: Trump, allies aim to delegitimize impeachment from the start.


For Pelosi though, the long-anticipated decision coupled with the USMCA announcement was a moment of whiplash, as Scott Wong and Cristina Marcos write. While the trade announcement could help some in her party politically, it also hands the president a massive win for him to tout on the stump as he plows ahead with his 2020 bid.


While the move was praised by her caucus, some argued that it underscored her message that Democrats will govern and work with the president on important legislation even as they investigate him.  


“I think we've just shown that we have an ability to not only walk and chew gum at the same time, but to run, chew gum, do cartwheels at the same time on behalf of the American people,” said Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to lay out impeachment case to senators next week Seven things to know about the Trump trial MORE (D-N.Y.), the House Democratic Caucus chairman.  


Some Democrats were also confused by the USMCA announcement as they worry it not only hands Trump a political win, but stomps all over the impeachment news. These Democrats saw Pelosi, who remains focused on maintaining the party’s majority in the lower chamber, as undermining the party’s efforts to defeat Trump.


Trump certainly claimed victory over the trade announcement, calling it the “silver lining” to the recent developments on impeachment (The Hill). 


Dan Balz and Philip Rucker: A day of history accentuates America’s divide and the distortions of truth in the Trump era.


On the other side of the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Democrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' Iran resolution supporters fear impeachment will put it on back burner MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters that the Senate would not start or take up an impeachment trial before the Christmas break. He added that work on the USMCA would not start until the trial is complete. 


With the trial looming, Jordain Carney reports that Senate Republicans are preparing to reopen a fight over a whistleblower at the center of the House inquiry as they strategize ahead of a likely impeachment trial.


Trump and conservatives are facing GOP pushback over their impeachment wish list. The president and his top allies continue to float a potential witnesses list including the whistleblower, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' MORE, his son Hunter Biden and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE (D-Calif.), arguing the Senate trial should be "fair" after the House proceedings. But with 51 votes required to call a witness, their colleagues are warning it will be next to impossible to call them as part of a trial.





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Although the House expects to vote on the modified version of USMCA language next week before recessing for the rest of the year, the Senate is in no hurry, McConnell told reporters.


“We will not be doing USMCA in the Senate. They will have to come up in all likelihood after a trial is finished in the Senate,” he said, looking ahead to the Senate’s role as an impeachment jury (The Hill).


That timetable could push Senate consideration of the hemispheric trade agreement to February or beyond, which some Republicans believe might help Trump and some GOP candidates communicate their trade priorities to voters just as they’re heading to the polls in early primary and caucus states.


The Hill: USMCA is one of the most divisive issues among Democrats in the presidential race.


Some GOP senators expressed caution on Tuesday about a trade accord that was completed with Mexico and Canada in September 2018, then modified to address the concerns of House Democrats and organized labor.


Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.) said it would be a “huge mistake” to try to schedule a quick Senate vote, adding that he and colleagues on the Finance Committee met early Tuesday with U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE (The Hill). The senator said he remains dubious about the promised economic benefits.


“There are serious problems with this agreement,” he argued, citing the deal’s expiration date, requirements in the auto and auto parts sector, “where we essentially impose a minimum wage requirement on Mexico."


Reuters: In Mexico City on Tuesday, officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico officially signed the revamped USMCA deal.


The Hill: Lighthizer begins an administration charm offensive to ratify USMCA in the Senate.


The Hill: House Democrats and the White House forged a rare accord at a contentious time.


The Washington Post: What is in the modified USMCA?





> FBI: Director Christopher Wray incurred Trump’s wrath on Tuesday following an interview in which Wray restated that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. election, adding that he knew of no evidence that Ukraine did the same. Wray said he supports the findings of the Justice Department’s inspector general released on Monday about the justification for an FBI investigation of Russian meddling tied to Trump’s campaign in 2016. The president has rejected some of the report’s findings (The New York Times).  


“With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!” Trump tweeted.


Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Pentagon to place new restrictions, monitoring on foreign military students Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' MORE — who asserts the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, was limited in how much information he could gather about the FBI’s actions in 2016 — said on Tuesday that a separate probe he ordered this year, led by prosecutor 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, will resolve why the FBI initially looked at the actions by four former Trump campaign advisers.


> Russia: The president met at the White House with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, shortly after Lavrov met with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process MORE at the State Department.


The White House said Trump warned Lavrov against Russian interference in U.S. elections and urged Moscow to resolve its conflict with Ukraine, but Lavrov said he did not discuss the election topic with the president and said that Russia continues to ask the United States for evidence to back up its assertions.


Pompeo and Lavrov clashed, with the foreign minister claiming accusations of election meddling are “baseless,” echoing denials frequently made by Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinDOJ releases new tranche of Mueller witness documents Russia's shakeup has implications for Putin, Medvedev and the US The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to lay out impeachment case to senators next week MORE.


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 and his team secured indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies related to a propaganda effort aimed at the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. The indictments included the Internet Research Agency, described as a “Russian troll farm,” and two other companies that helped finance the scheme. The Russian nationals indicted included 12 of the agency’s employees and its alleged financier, Yevgeny Prigozhin.


Russia’s election meddling continued in 2018 and will continue into next year, according to the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.


It’s unacceptable, and I made our expectations of Russia clear,” Pompeo said. “The Trump administration will always work to protect the integrity of our elections. Period. Should Russia, or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response” (The Associated Press).


> Anti-Semitism: The president plans to use his executive pen today to threaten to withhold federal funds from educational institutions that fail to combat discrimination against Jews. Trump’s executive order will treat Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, treating Jewish students as a protected minority on college campuses (The New York Times). Because bipartisan legislation promoting the policy change stalled in Congress, Trump says he is taking action where lawmakers have not.


> U.S.-China trade: A new round of U.S. tariffs is scheduled to take effect on Chinese goods on Sunday, but reports on Tuesday suggest the Trump administration may delay the tariffs that would apply to phones, laptops and other popular Chinese products while the two countries continue negotiating toward a preliminary deal Trump announced as a done deal in October (The Associated Press and CNBC).


> The wall: A federal judge in El Paso on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to pay for border barrier construction with $3.6 billion in military funds, ruling that the administration does not have the authority to divert appropriations by Congress for a different purpose. The ruling marked the first instance of a local jurisdiction successfully suing to block construction of a barrier the president vows to extend by hundreds of miles by the end of 2020 (The Washington Post).


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The president panned some of his Democratic rivals during his Hershey rally on Wednesday night, taking shots at Biden, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE.


"We destroyed her too fast, so she came back, but she's going back down again," Trump said about Warren, referring to her recent slide in the polls and adding that she has a “fresh mouth.” 


On Biden, Trump mocked him for saying he was in the wrong state on occasion while on the campaign trail, wondering, “What is wrong with this guy?


The president also repeated his comparison of the South Bend mayor to Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman (the “E” stands for enigma) and said he would love to run against him next year. 


“Can you believe he’s doing well?” Trump said about the mayor. “He’s like the leading fundraiser. I dream about him! It’s true.”


The Washington Post: Trump, Pence head to Pa. as campaign focuses on keeping it in win column.


Joshua Green, Bloomberg Businessweek: Don’t look now, but things are getting brighter for Trump.


The New York Times: Elizabeth Warren seeks a second act after slip from the top.


> Sixth debate: Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang's wife, Evelyn Yang, calls for 'big structural change' at 4th annual Women's March DNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE qualified for next week’s Democratic primary debate by notching his fourth poll with at least 4 percent support in a new Quinnipiac University poll of national primary voters.


Yang, a businessman, becomes the seventh and likely final Democratic candidate to qualify for next Thursday’s debate. The only other candidate close to qualifying is Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardPoll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire Gabbard defeats man in push-up contest at New Hampshire town hall Gabbard on personal meeting with Sanders: 'He showed me the greatest respect' MORE (D-Hawaii), who announced Monday that she will not partake in the sixth debate even if she gets the one additional poll she needs to qualify (Politico). 


Along with Yang, the others who are expected to participate in the debate are Biden, Warren, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary MORE (I-Vt.), Buttigieg, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE (D-Minn.) and Tom SteyerTom Fahr SteyerPoll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire Buttigieg takes dig at Sanders working 'for years' in Washington The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats MORE


Notably, Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial DNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats MORE (D-N.J.) is expected to be excluded because he has not hit the Democratic National Committee threshold of 4 percent support in polls, although he has reached the donor prerequisite. The upshot: No African American candidate will be on stage next week following the withdrawal from by campaign last week by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-Calif.) (The Hill). 


Politico: Biden has signaled to aides that he would only serve for one term in the White House if elected in November, with some of his top advisers and other prominent Democrats wondering if he should make a public pledge to serve the single term. 


top advisers and prominent Democrats outside the Biden campaign have recently revived a long-running debate whether Biden should publicly pledge to serve only one term


ABC News: Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergDNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate Bloomberg receives 45-day extension for public financial disclosure report with FEC Bloomberg's congressional endorsers grow to three MORE rolling out fresh TV ad batch amid record buys topping $100 million.


The Atlantic: What Buttigieg really did at McKinsey & Co.


Politico: Former rivals woo Kamala Harris’ big donors.


The Hill: Yang to launch ad in Iowa focused on climate change.




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!


Impeachment surprise: Bills Congress could actually pass in 2020, by Brian Reisinger, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


The media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? By Jessica Tarlov, 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 Reid Wilson, national political correspondent with The Hill, who discuss his new coverage describing the competition between Warren and Buttigieg; Edward Ongweso Jr., staff writer with VICE's Motherboard, who unpacks Saudi investments in Silicon Valley; and Current Affairs editor Nathan Robinson, who is following Pelosi’s recent challenges. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House meets at 10 a.m.


The Senate convenes at 9:30 a.m. and resumes consideration of the nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to be a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.


The president will participate in the ceremonial swearing-in for Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette at 3 p.m. This afternoon and again this evening, Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump beefs up impeachment defense with Dershowitz, Starr Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE will attend Hanukkah receptions at the White House.


Pompeo will hold a news conference at 8:45 a.m. at the State Department. Toys for Tots will have his attention at 10 a.m. during a ceremonial presentation at the department. The secretary will meet with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew at 1 p.m.


Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will speak to reporters at 2 p.m. following the conclusion of the board of governors’ final two-day meeting of the year. Economists do not expect the Fed to raise rates.


Economic indicator: The Labor Department will release its report on the U.S. Consumer Price Index for November at 8:30 a.m. 


The Council on Foreign Relations will host Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to discuss her vision for U.S. foreign policy. The event will start at 12:30 p.m. More information can be found HERE.


Time’s “Person of the Year” will be identified this morning on NBC’s “Today” show. On Tuesday, the magazine narrowed the finalists to five, including young climate change activist Greta Thunberg, Pelosi, the Hong Kong protesters, Trump and the anonymous intelligence whistleblower who filed a formal report that led to articles of impeachment (TIME). Spoiler alert: Washington Free Beacon reports the publication’s honoree this year is the whistleblower, along with career officials who came forward to testify to the House. Last year, the magazine chose to honor a group of journalists, including the late Jamal Khashoggi.


State Watch: A sprawling federal investigation into lobbying, patronage and alleged corruption is threatening to upend Illinois’s powerful Democratic machine as agents raid offices connected to a probe of Commonwealth Edison, the state’s largest utility, and the political operation run by state House Speaker Mike Madigan, the most powerful Democrat in Illinois. Part of the investigation is focused on the army of lobbyists Commonwealth Edison and its parent company, Exelon, employ in Springfield, some of who allegedly won contracts for no-show jobs (The Hill).





More Congress: Pelosi late on Tuesday reached a deal with progressive members of her caucus to back a measure designed to lower drug prices (The Hill). … Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoThe Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment face-off; Dems go after Buttigieg in debate The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - An unusual day: Impeachment plus a trade deal GOP's Yoho announces retirement from Congress MORE (R-Fla.) announced on Tuesday he will not seek another House term. He joins at least 27 Republicans who have or will depart the House (three resigned, another is expected to resign soon and 23 will not seek reelection) (The Associated Press). … Medicare for All is not the only single-payer health care proposal under committee consideration among House Democrats (The Hill). 


Medical science: A life-saving bone marrow transplant to treat one patient’s leukemia left him with the DNA of two humans. The patient’s sperm, for instance, eventually contained only the DNA of a German marrow donor, who resides 5,000 miles away. Forensic scientists and a crime lab are studying chimeras, the technical term for rare cases in which people possess two distinct sets of DNA coding (The New York Times). 


Tech: Facebook and Apple defended encryption on Tuesday on Capitol Hill (The Hill). … A new order by the Chinese government could have a major negative impact on U.S. companies. Beijing said all the country’s agencies must remove foreign-made hardware and software from their systems within the next three years, a policy rejected by U.S. lawmakers (The Hill).


And finally … News of the weird, from Nevada. … Someone is putting tiny cowboy hats on wild pigeons in Las Vegas and no one knows the “who” or the “why” (FoxLa). Wildlife experts and enthusiasts are not amused.