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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 TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout 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 CartwrightSix ways to visualize a divided America Will Biden continue NASA's Artemis program to return to the moon? House Democrats pick Aguilar as No. 6 leader in next Congress MORE (Pa.), Jason CrowJason CrowManagers seek to make GOP think twice about Trump acquittal The GOP is in a fix: Gordian knot or existential crisis? Thousands of troops dig in for inauguration MORE (Colo.), Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamLobbying world We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money Chamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win MORE (S.C.), Ben McAdams (Utah), Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference Democrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic MORE (Va.), Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Capitol Police asks National Guard to extend deployment 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) MalinowskiNJ lawmakers ask Gannett to stop 'union-busting' efforts at 3 state newspapers Journalism watchdog files criminal complaint against Saudi crown prince Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE (N.J.), Sharice DavidsSharice DavidsBiden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure When infrastructure fails Six ways to visualize a divided America MORE (Kan.), Susan WildSusan WildHouse Democrats push Biden's Pentagon pick on civilian control of military Democratic Women's Caucus members split endorsements for House campaign chief Democratic Rep. Susan Wild wins reelection in Pennsylvania MORE (Pa.), Angie Craig (Minn.), Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoCuomo job approval drops 6 points amid nursing home controversy: poll Cuomo takes heat from all sides on nursing home scandal We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money MORE (N.Y.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Max RoseMax RoseOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Austin sworn in as nation's first Black Pentagon chief We lost in November — we're proud we didn't take corporate PAC money MORE (N.Y.), Colin Allred (Texas), Conor Lamb (Pa.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaDemocrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over Trump Chamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night Overnight Defense: How members of the Armed Services committees fared in Tuesday's elections | Military ballots among those uncounted in too-close-to-call presidential race | Ninth US service member killed by COVID-19 MORE (Va.), Kim SchrierKimberly (Kim) Merle SchrierDemocrats point fingers on whether Capitol rioters had inside help Rep. Kim Schrier defends Washington House seat from GOP challenger House approves .2T COVID-19 relief bill as White House talks stall 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 PetersonSix ways to visualize a divided America On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel 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 McCarthyMcCarthy sits for 'Green Eggs and Ham' reading: I 'still like' Dr. Seuss Chamber of Commerce clarifies stance on lawmakers who voted against election certification Watch live: McCarthy holds press briefing MORE wooed Van Drew to switch parties.

 

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

 

The Hill: Trump defends Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiState sanctions Ukrainian billionaire over alleged corruption Newsmax adds Andrew Giuliani as a contributor Trump sued by Democrat over mob attack on Capitol 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 McConnellBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Ky.) is resisting pressure from Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor 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 CollinsSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy 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 MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE and former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump offered North Korea's Kim a ride home on Air Force One: report Key impeachment figure Pence sticks to sidelines Bolton lawyer: Trump impeachment trial is constitutional 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.

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSinema pushes back on criticism of her vote against minimum wage, implying that it's sexist Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Schumer insists Democrats unified after chaotic coronavirus debate 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 WarrenSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Philly city council calls on Biden to 'cancel all student loan debt' in first 100 days Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (D-Mass.) and a new Democratic star in South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Senate begins marathon vote-a-rama before .9T COVID-19 relief passage The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Biden turns focus to next priority with infrastructure talks MORE

 

However, as Warren slips in the polls, Buttigieg takes shots on all sides and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Myanmar military conducts violent night raids Confidence in coronavirus vaccines has grown with majority now saying they want it 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 WalkerNorth Carolina GOP condemns Burr for impeachment vote against Trump Madison Cawthorn throws support behind Mark Walker in NC Senate primary Democrat Jeff Jackson jumps into North Carolina Senate race 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 BurrRick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Republicans, please save your party 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 BuddRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC 42 GOP lawmakers press for fencing around Capitol to be removed READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results 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 TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump 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 CornynSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden gets involved to help break Senate logjam Overnight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels MORE (R-Texas).



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

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 LoweyTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency This week: Trump's grip on Hill allies faces test Trump signs .3T relief, spending package 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 HealthCare.gov 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) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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 DurhamSpecial counsel investigating Russia probe to retire as US attorney Biden administration withdraws from Connecticut transgender athlete case Garland seeks to draw sharp contrast with Trump-era DOJ 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: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Trump should return to what worked on North Korea, and in the Cold War, by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Prvjof  

 

How Giuliani’s far-flung business interests have intertwined with his role as Trump’s global fixer, by David Ingatius, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/34tq9fT



WHERE AND WHEN

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 PatrickTo unite America, Biden administration must brace for hate Biden faces pressure to take action on racial justice issues Biden selects Susan Rice to lead Domestic Policy Council, McDonough for Veterans Affairs MORE’s (D) campaign, on Patrick’s corporate background. Coverage starts at 9 a.m. ET at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10 a.m. at Rising on YouTube.

 

The House 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 TrumpMissouri pastor faces backlash after suggesting wives should lose weight, strive to look like Melania Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - FBI director testifies on Jan. 6 Capitol attack Overnight Health Care: Senate to vote on .9 trillion relief bill this week | J&J vaccine rollout begins | CDC warns against lifting restrictions 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.



ELSEWHERE

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).



THE CLOSER

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).