The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Tuesday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Al Weaver is newsletter master this week while Alexis Simendinger wraps up her last minute Christmas shopping. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!

The final countdown is on for House Democrats as they near Wednesday’s landmark vote to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE over his dealings with Ukraine.


With just more than a day before the highly-anticipated vote, all eyes are on vulnerable Democratic members and where they will come down on the president’s impeachment. However, if those who have revealed their votes are any indication, battleground Democrats are expected to stick together and support making Trump the third president impeached in U.S. history.


As Cristina Marcos writes, Democratic Reps. Matt CartwrightMatthew (Matt) Alton CartwrightOvernight Energy: Coal industry seeks fee rollbacks amid coronavirus | Ex-lawyer for trophy hunting group joins Trump agency | EPA sued over reapproval of Roundup chemical Coal industry asks for financially beneficial rollbacks amid coronavirus House Democrats jam GOP with coronavirus bill MORE (Pa.), Jason CrowJason CrowPentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Here are the lawmakers who have self-quarantined as a precaution Trump set to confront his impeachment foes MORE (Colo.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamHouse chairwoman diagnosed with 'presumed' coronavirus infection Capitol officials extend suspension of tourist access until May Second Capitol Police officer tests positive for coronavirus MORE (S.C.), Ben McAdams (Utah), Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerJuan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal Security contractor Erik Prince reportedly recruited ex-spies to help Project Veritas infiltrate liberal groups Hillicon Valley: Barr offers principles to prevent online child exploitation | Facebook removes misleading Trump census ads | House passes bill banning TSA use of TikTok MORE (Va.), Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus States see surge of scams, price-gouging tied to pandemic Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal MORE (Mich.), who was the target of high-profile protests in her district on Monday (see above), were among those who made their plans public on Monday in press conferences, interviews, statements and op-eds published in local papers as they returned to Washington from their districts ahead of Wednesday’s vote on a pair of impeachment articles.


They join vulnerable Democratic Reps. Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiDemocrats eye remote voting options Hispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Safety in sick leave MORE (N.J.), Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsConservative women's group unveils new congressional endorsements Here are the lawmakers who have self-quarantined as a precaution Hillicon Valley: US hits Huawei with new charges | Judge orders Pentagon to halt 'war cloud' work amid Amazon challenge | IRS removes guidance on Fortnite game currency MORE (Kan.), Susan WildSusan WildDemocratic congresswomen wear white to Trump's address in honor of suffrage movement Democrats gear up for State of the Union protests as impeachment lingers Giffords gun reform group backs eight 'strong women' in House reelection bids MORE (Pa.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoHispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements M ad buy praises swing-district Democrats' environmental work Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters MORE (N.Y.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Max RoseMax RoseUS to label white supremacist group as terrorist organization for first time The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US officials expect 'saddest week,' glimmers of COVID-19 relief Democrats struggle to keep up with Trump messaging on coronavirus MORE (N.Y.), Colin Allred (Texas), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaOvernight Defense: Navy chief resigns over aircraft carrier controversy | Trump replaces Pentagon IG | Hospital ship crew member tests positive for coronavirus Navy chief resigns amid uproar over handling of aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Tammy Duckworth calls on acting Navy secretary to resign MORE (Va.), Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierWashington state lawmakers press Boeing to accept aid Overnight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus House panel advances bipartisan surprise billing legislation despite divisions MORE (Wash.), Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (Nev.) and Tom O’Halleran (Ariz.), all of whom said in recent days they will vote for the pair of articles, which charge Trump with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.


Only one House Democrat has bucked the party and said he will not vote to impeach Trump: Rep. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonSNAP, airlines among final hurdles to coronavirus stimulus deal Pelosi: House 'not prepared' to vote remotely on coronavirus relief bill Lone Democrat to oppose impeachment will seek reelection MORE (Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, who also voted against advancing the impeachment inquiry when the House voted in late October.


The Hill: GOP set to make life difficult for Democrats on impeachment.


The Associated Press: Democrats say impeachment case shows Trump deserves ouster.


And then there’s the case of Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.), who is expected to change parties and officially become a Republican in the coming days. 


As Scott Wong and Mike Lillis write, Van Drew’s decision to join the GOP has roiled Washington and left both parties claiming vindication ahead of Wednesday’s historic House vote. Van Drew, a freshman member from a district Trump won in 2016, huddled with the president at the White House on Friday, with news breaking a day later that he will leave the Democratic ranks due to impeachment and reports that his standing has tanked among Democratic voters in his southern New Jersey district.


Van Drew’s expected decision has also emboldened Republicans, who believe the move is more evidence of Democratic overreach against the president and warn of a political peril for their House majority. However, Democrats are unbowed and believe the defection is a one-off set off by local pressure from Democrats rather than those on the right. 


Politico: How Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Phase-four virus relief hits a wall House GOP leaders back effort to boost small-business loans MORE wooed Van Drew to switch parties.


The New Yorker: The Ukrainian prosecutor behind Trump’s impeachment.


The Hill: Trump defends Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump: Tough times but progress being made Giuliani touts experimental coronavirus treatment in private conversations with Trump Trump team picks fight with Twitter, TV networks over political speech MORE's trip to Ukraine: “He does it out of love.”


Reuters: Lev Parnas denies hiding Russian payment, asks to stay free on bail.


Across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash Phase-four virus relief hits a wall MORE (R-Ky.) is resisting pressure from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHealth care workers account for 20 percent of Iowa coronavirus cases Pressure mounts on Congress for quick action with next coronavirus bill Schumer names coronavirus czar candidates in plea to White House MORE (D-N.Y.) to begin negotiations on the scope of a Senate trial. Schumer told reporters that he tried to open talks with the GOP leader two weeks ago to no avail (The Hill).


As Alexander Bolton reports from the upper chamber, one key vote is Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPresident tightens grip on federal watchdogs The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump gets new press secretary in latest shake-up Trump takes heat for firing intel watchdog during pandemic MORE (R-Maine), who is pointing to the 1999 Clinton impeachment trial as an important precedent. One possible compromise is to have some key witnesses, such as acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonChina sees chance to expand global influence amid pandemic Trump ignores science at our peril Bolton defends decision to shutter NSC pandemic office MORE, testify via video deposition, though Democrats are not thrilled with the idea. However, it could ultimately be accepted as a middle-ground proposal. 


On the witness front, Senate Republicans are mulling whether to punt on a decision about which, if any, witnesses to call until after the trial starts. As Jordain Carney reports, the move would buy time for negotiations on what is emerging as one of the most divisive points of the looming Senate proceeding.


However, Senate Democrats are trying to build pressure to get an agreement before the trial starts, with Schumer sending an opening salvo on Sunday by requesting testimony from Mulvaney and Bolton. 


CNN: Carly Fiorina says it is “vital” Trump be impeached, but doesn't rule out voting for him in 2020.


Politico: House vows to continue impeachment probes regardless of Senate outcome.





POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president MORE (I-Vt.) is on the rise in the Democratic primary and hitting his stride at an important time: as the 2020 field readies for Thursday’s Democratic debate and as candidates hit a crucial stretch in early voting states.


Jonathan Easley writes that the the Vermont Independent, who took the left by storm in his 2016 run, has at times been treated as an afterthought in the 2020 race, which has produced a rival on the left in Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds MORE (D-Mass.) and a new Democratic star in South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg launches new PAC to aid down-ballot candidates HuffPost political reporter on why Bernie fell way behind Biden Economists fear slow pace of testing will prolong recession MORE


However, as Warren slips in the polls, Buttigieg takes shots on all sides and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump shakes up WH communications team The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic The Intercept's Ryan Grim says Cuomo is winning over critics MORE continues to stare down questions of his durability in the 2020 race, Sanders appears to be hitting his stride at just the right moment, surging past Warren and cutting into Biden’s lead in new national surveys. 


According to the latest RealClearPolitics average of polls, Sanders holds the lead in New Hampshire and sits in second place in Iowa, trailing only Buttigieg by a 3-point margin. The main reason, according to campaign officials, is due to his hardcore base of supporters, grassroots fundraising operation, and lack of panic in his team after he suffered a heart attack in early October. 


“No other candidate has as durable a base as we do,” said Nina Turner, the former Ohio state senator who has been one of Sanders’s most high-profile surrogates since 2015. “So now he has an energized base and we’re starting to see his crossover appeal. We can enumerate that too, with 4 million donations and hundreds of thousands of volunteers. We have the receipts and we have the moral clarity from a senator who has stood on the right side of justice for over 40 years, whether it’s been popular or not.”


While Sanders continues to be powered by younger voters, he knows he needs to make gains with voters over the age of 50. His solution? To have the younger voters talk to their parents and pitch them on supporting him, as Eliza Collins writes for The Wall Street Journal.


Ruby Cramer, BuzzFeed: You don’t know Bernie. 


The New York Times: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have a problem: Each other.


CNN: In a rhetorical shift, Warren emphasizes “choice” on health care.


The Hill: Poll: Biden leads Democratic field, Warren and Sanders jockey for second.





> Debates: The president confirmed on Monday that he is considering skipping the general election debates next fall due to an anti-Trump bias on the Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-profit group that hosts the series of presidential and vice presidential debates every election cycle. 


Trump railed against the commission in a trio of tweets, saying that while he looks forward to debating the eventual Democratic nominee, the “problem” is the commission, which he said is filled with “Trump Haters” (The Washington Post). 


“The problem is that the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates is stacked with Trump Haters & Never Trumpers. 3 years ago they were forced to publicly apologize for modulating my microphone in the first debate against Crooked Hillary. As President, the debates are up to me, and there are many options, including doing them directly & avoiding the nasty politics of this very biased Commission,” Trump said. “I will make a decision at an appropriate time but in the meantime, the Commission on Presidential Debates is NOT authorized to speak for me (or R’s)!”


Axios: Inside the Democratic National Committee’s cleanup to save the debate.


The Hill: On the Trail: The decade of division.


> Walker looks ahead: Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington Top GOP post on Oversight draws stiff competition Freshman Dem finds voice in fight against online extremism MORE (R-N.C.) surprisingly announced Monday night that he will not run for the House in 2020 and will keep his attention on the 2022 Senate race when Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTrump takes heat for firing intel watchdog during pandemic COVID-19 and the coming corruption pandemic Burr says intelligence watchdog should be 'independent' after inspector general firing MORE’s (R-N.C.) seat comes open. 


Although Walker has not announced whether he will run for Burr’s seat, Trump will reportedly support him if he launches a bid. In the process, Walker, who was redistricted out of his current seat, will not primary any sitting member, including Rep. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update Top conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Boosting resource officers will help curb school violence MORE (R-N.C.), a House Freedom Caucus member some on the right had feared he would target (The Hill).


According to two GOP sources with knowledge, Walker only got Trump endorsement for 2022 after he asked multiple times for one to run against Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNorth Carolina Senate race emerges as 2020 bellwether The Hill's Campaign Report: North Carolina emerges as key battleground for Senate control Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus MORE (R-N.C.) next year, but was repeatedly told no, including during a House GOP leadership visit with Trump and Vice President Pence on Thursday.


"He’s waaaaay overstating what he was told at the White House,” one GOP source said. “The key for the White House was to tell him whatever they needed to get him out of the Tillis race."


The Hill: DSCC endorses combat veteran MJ Hegar in Texas race to unseat Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers announce legislation to fund government purchases of oil GOP senator: National shelter-in-place order would be an 'overreaction' Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package MORE (R-Texas).


CONGRESS/ADMINISTRATION: Lawmakers added $24.7 billion in emergency and “off-book” spending to a nearly $1.4 trillion package as they look to finalize details and wrap up appropriations bills for fiscal 2020 and avoid a government shutdown.


The White House and Congress had reached a $1.37 trillion deal in July that brought increases to defense and domestic spending by $22 billion and $12 billion, respectively. However, the final revisions bring the total spending to $1.394 trillion, including emergency funding for natural disasters, the 2020 census, medical funding and other priorities.


“I’m pleased that we have reached a bipartisan agreement that will keep government open, provide the certainty of full-year funding and make strong investments in key priorities for American communities,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse Democrats unveil coronavirus economic response package Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins Trump, Congress struggle for economic deal under coronavirus threat MORE (D-N.Y.), seen below (The Hill).





The Hill: Democrats secure fast-track to the floor for Canada-Mexico trade deal.


The Associated Press: Mexico reaffirms rejection of US labor inspectors.


> ObamaCare: The Trump administration is giving consumers another chance to sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act after technical glitches plagued in the final hours ahead of the original deadline over the weekend.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that open enrollment for coverage would be extended through Wednesday at 3 a.m. EST.  The extended sign-up period began Monday at 3 p.m. Democrats and advocacy groups had been pushing for an extension, arguing that the glitches suffered on Sunday potentially prevented thousands of people from signing up for coverage.  


The CMS said that more than 500,000 individuals enrolled for coverage on Sunday but that the agency was extending the deadline “in an abundance of caution” to accommodate consumers who attempted to enroll but may have experienced issues (The Hill).


The Hill: Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) rescinds Medicaid work requirements.


> Flynn sentencing: Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is set to be sentenced on Jan. 28 after he pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about his dealings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak following the 2016 election. 


A federal judge dismissed Flynn’s motion to find prosecutors in contempt after the retired three-star general alleged that federal officials forced him to accept a plea agreement and that 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’s investigation withheld 50 evidence requests from his lawyers. 


Flynn was initially set to be sentenced on Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington delayed sentencing until the release of a Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation, which included topics related to Flynn’s allegations (The Washington Post). 


The Washington Post: John DurhamJohn DurhamTrump tweets test Attorney General Barr The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms A tale of two lies: Stone, McCabe and the danger of a double standard for justice MORE has a stellar reputation for investigating corruption. Some fear his work for Barr could tarnish it.

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!


Trump should return to what worked on North Korea, and in the Cold War, by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor, The Hill.  


How Giuliani’s far-flung business interests have intertwined with his role as Trump’s global fixer, by David Ingatius, columnist, The Washington Post.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, to discuss the group’s 2020 plans; Kara Eastman, a Democratic candidate in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, to talk about her race to unseat Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.); Eric Blanc, a surrogate for the Sanders campaign and a writer for Jacob, to expand on the need for the labor movement to back Sanders; and Don Calloway, senior adviser for former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickTop Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden Andrew Yang endorses Biden in 2020 race Deval Patrick backs Biden MORE’s (D) campaign, on Patrick’s corporate background. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.


The House returns at 9 a.m. and will begin voting on the fiscal 2020 appropriations bills at 10 a.m.


The Senate will convene at 10 a.m. and will resume consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act.  


The president and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpTrump shakes up WH communications team The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump gets new press secretary in latest shake-up Grisham leaves role as White House press secretary MORE will welcome Guatemala President Jimmy Morales to the White House at 1:45 p.m. Trump will participate in an expanded bilateral meeting with Morales at 2:05 p.m. The president and the first lady will also participate in a Christmas reception at 4:15 p.m.


Technology: The House passed legislation on Monday that would bar the government from buying telecommunications equipment from Chinese telecom giant Huawei and other companies deemed to be national security threats. The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, which passed the House unanimously and could get voted on in the Senate this week, prohibits the Federal Communications Commission from handing out funds to purchase telecom equipment from "any company that poses a national security risk” and requires the government to help small communications providers rip questionable equipment out of the ground (The Hill).


College admissions: The lawyers representing actress Lori Loughlin and her husband say federal prosecutors are holding back evidence that could vindicate the couple and show they are innocent in the college admissions scandal that has grabbed headlines and implicated them and multiple other wealthy parents. Loughlin’s lawyers filed a motion in Boston’s court asking a judge to force the Justice Department to turn over certain FBI records and other evidence that could be used to mount a defense for her and Mossimo Giannulli, her husband. The couple is accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team — a sport neither participated in (The Associated Press). 





In The Know: Disgraced filmmaker Harvey Weinstein argued in an interview that he was a pioneer in advancing the careers of women, something he claims has been “forgotten” as he has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct, including allegations of rape. Speaking to the New York Post’s Page Six, Weinstein cited the paydays he secured for Gwyneth Paltrow and others along with movies he made that were directed by and featured women during his career, saying, “I did it first! I pioneered it!” Weinstein and his former studio have reached a $25 million deal with dozens of his accusers, effectively ending those lawsuits. Weinstein has pled not guilty to charges that he raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013, and engaged a different woman in a forcible sex act in 2006. He says the sexual acts were all consensual (The Hill).


And finally … At long last, Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is finally a No. 1 hit. Twenty-five years after the Christmas anthem was released, the song only now hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100, making it the 19th time Carey has hit the mark overall.


The song is the first Christmas tune to top the Hot 100 since the Chipmunks’ 1958 “The Chipmunk Song” accomplished the feat. The previous high for the Carey holiday pop hit was No. 3, having hit the mark last holiday season and last week (Billboard).