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 TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record 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 CartwrightDemocratic senators tweet photos of pile of House-passed bills 'dead on Mitch McConnell's desk' How the 31 Democrats in Trump districts voted on impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Vulnerable Dems are backing Trump impeachment MORE (Pa.), Jason CrowJason CrowTrump set to confront his impeachment foes Democratic impeachment manager shares quote from "Harry Potter's" Dumbledore during trial Impeachment manager dismisses concerns Schiff alienated key Republican votes: 'This isn't about any one person' MORE (Colo.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamWorries grow as moderates split Democratic vote The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders surge triggers Dem angst Rep. Cunningham blasts Sanders: 'South Carolinians don't want socialism' MORE (S.C.), Ben McAdams (Utah), Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHouse Democrats launch effort to register minority voters in key districts House passes bills to gain upper hand in race to 5G The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (Va.), Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinThe Hill's Campaign Report: Buttigieg, Sanders ahead in Iowa debacle Vulnerable House Democrats benefit from fundraising surge amid impeachment Mixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates 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 to plow ahead with Trump probes post-acquittal Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements NJ lawmaker flips endorsement to Biden after Booker drops out MORE (N.J.), Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsHillicon 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 Democrats criticize FCC for not taking action against DC station broadcasting Russian disinformation Haaland, Davids included in 'Jeopardy' clue for historic first as Native American congresswomen 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 Delgado Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters The most expensive congressional races of the last decade How the 31 Democrats in Trump districts voted on impeachment MORE (N.Y.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Max RoseMax RoseVulnerable Democrats fret over surging Sanders Rose, former FBI agent pen op-ed about the danger of global white nationalism: 'Terrorism is terrorism' MLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues MORE (N.Y.), Colin Allred (Texas), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaVulnerable Democrats fret over surging Sanders Mixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates Lawmakers warn Pentagon against reduction of US forces in Africa MORE (Va.), Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierOvernight 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 Giffords gun reform group backs eight 'strong women' in House reelection bids 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 PetersonSenate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment Biden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to lay out impeachment case to senators next week 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 McCarthySunday shows preview: 2020 Democrats jockey for top spot ahead of Nevada caucuses GOP climate plan faces pushback — from Republicans House GOP campaign arm mocks Democrats after stumbling upon internal info on races MORE wooed Van Drew to switch parties.


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


The Hill: Trump defends Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSunday shows - Spotlight shines on Bloomberg, stop and frisk Giuliani hits Bloomberg on stop-and-frisk: He's 'turned on the program' Donald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim 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 McConnellTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Health Care: Nevada union won't endorse before caucuses after 'Medicare for All' scrap | McConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills | CDC confirms 15th US coronavirus case MORE (R-Ky.) is resisting pressure from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' 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 CollinsToward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates Trump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit 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 MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request Scaramucci thanks John Kelly for speaking up against Trump Trump lashes out over Kelly criticism: 'He misses the action' MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump unleashed: President moves with a free hand post-impeachment Barr back on the hot seat The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in 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 SandersDemocrats redefine center as theirs collapses Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' 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 Ann WarrenDemocrats redefine center as theirs collapses Massachusetts Democrats question deployment of Border Patrol teams to sanctuary cities Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage MORE (D-Mass.) and a new Democratic star in South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegKlobuchar, Steyer unable to name Mexico's president in pointed interview Democrats redefine center as theirs collapses Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage MORE


However, as Warren slips in the polls, Buttigieg takes shots on all sides and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats redefine center as theirs collapses Speculation swirls around whether Bloomberg will make Las Vegas debate stage Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' 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 WalkerHouse passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum NCAA and its allies spent 0K on lobbying last year amid push for athlete pay Trump touts initiative for disadvantaged communities in Charlotte 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 BurrUS prosecutors bring new charges against China's Huawei Graham vows to approach Hunter Biden probe with caution: 'I'm not going to be the Republican Christopher Steele' McConnell displays mastery of Senate with impeachment victory 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 BuddBoosting resource officers will help curb school violence Trump touts initiative for disadvantaged communities in Charlotte Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says 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 TillisTrump pick for Fed seat takes bipartisan fire Three Senate primaries to watch on Super Tuesday Coronavirus poses risks for Trump in 2020 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 CornynBooker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programs Three Senate primaries to watch on Super Tuesday Democrats seek to drive wedge between Trump, GOP on whistleblowers 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 LoweyOvernight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall Democrats should firmly commit to not bring back earmarks 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) Swan 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 DurhamThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Jim Comey's damaging legacy at the FBI must be undone Federal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report 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 PatrickTrump seeks split-screen moments in early primary states Sanders leads Biden in latest Nevada poll Saagar Enjeti: Identity politics fails in 2020 as class warriors rise 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 takes track to open Daytona 500 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump insists he can tweet about cases in rare break with Barr The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in 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).