The Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment face-off; Dems go after Buttigieg in debate

The Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment face-off; Dems go after Buttigieg in debate
© Getty Images

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Friday has arrived! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Al Weaver is the newsletter master this week while Alexis Simendinger passes through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops, and makes her way to the Lincoln Tunnel. Find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and CLICK HERE to subscribe!

House Democrats rallied behind Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCongress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump says he'll sign USPS funding if Democrats make concessions Pelosi calls Trump attacks on mail-in voting a 'domestic assault on our Constitution' MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday and are supporting her decision to delay the delivery of two articles of impeachment the House passed on Wednesday to the Senate as they prepare for a trial that is expected to start in January.

Pelosi is holding back delivering the impeachment articles against President TrumpDonald John TrumpUPS, FedEx shut down calls to handle mail-in ballots, warn of 'significant' problems: report Controversial GOP Georgia candidate attempts to distance from QAnon Trump orders TikTok parent company to sell US assets within 90 days MORE as she pushes for a fair trial in the upper chamber. Progressives within her party have aired concerns over the trial Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcGrath reshuffles campaign in home stretch to Senate election GOP senator draws fire from all sides on Biden, Obama-era probes Chris Wallace rips both parties for coronavirus package impasse: 'Pox on both their houses' MORE (R-Ky.) plans to move forward with, especially regarding witnesses and evidence that will be available. For now, her caucus has her back (The Hill).

"I think it gives her leverage; it gives the House leverage in terms of making sure that it's not going to be a kangaroo court over there," Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog to weigh probe of Trump advancements on Pebble Mine | Interior finalizes public lands HQ move out West over congressional objections | EPA to issue methane rollback: report Watchdog to weigh probe of Trump administration advancements of Pebble Mine Congress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe MORE (D-Calif.) told reporters. "If, in fact, they intend to not be an impartial reviewer of the facts, then it becomes a joke. And we're not party to a joke."

But while Pelosi is willing to hold onto the articles, McConnell seems to not be sweating the maneuver and has shown he is unwilling to budge at the moment. Aside from refusing new witnesses, he's also announced that he'll work closely with the White House as the trial proceeds, a stance that has infuriated Democrats 

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, McConnell pressed that the Speaker is void of leverage in this situation and that he won’t be upset if she doesn’t send the articles across the Capitol to the upper chamber (The Hill). 

“It’s beyond me how the Speaker and [Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Ocasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech New poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts MORE (D-N.Y.)] think withholding the articles of impeachment and not sending them over gives them leverage,” McConnell told reporters after panning the impeachment effort in a floor speech. “Frankly, I’m not anxious to have the trial. If she thinks her case is so weak she doesn’t want to send it over, throw me into that briar patch.” 

As for Schumer, he continued to lob attacks in McConnell’s direction over his unwillingness to allow key witnesses, such as acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyFauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line White House, Senate GOP clash over testing funds MORE or former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement Ex-Trump adviser, impeachment witness Fiona Hill gets book deal Hannity's first book in 10 years debuts at No. 1 on Amazon MORE, to testify at a Senate trial (The Hill). 

He also made similar points during a meeting between the two leaders on Thursday on a potential trial, according to Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman. However, no deal was reached, which McConnell confirmed during an address on the floor. 

“As of today, however, we remain at an impasse because my friend, the Democratic leader, continues to demand a new and different set of rules for President Trump,” McConnell said.

The Hill: Senate leaders punt impeachment trial deal until after the holidays. 

The Associated Press: Impeachment trial plans in disarray as Congress heads home.

The Hill: Pelosi: “Rogue” McConnell must decide next steps on impeachment articles.

As for the president, who was fresh off becoming the third president to be impeached in U.S. history, he tried to spin the result in the GOP’s direction by lauding the party’s newest addition: Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.).

Van Drew appeared alongside Trump in the Oval Office on Thursday declaring his intention to leave the Democratic Party after Thursday’s impeachment vote and to join the GOP. 

“Jeff will be joining the Republican Party,” Trump told reporters. “It’s a big deal.”

Van Drew, formerly a Blue Dog Democrat who flipped a GOP-held seat in 2018, pledged his “undying support” to Trump, who subsequently endorsed him, along with Vice President Pence and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyQAnon-supporting congressional candidate embraced 9/11 conspiracy theory Win by QAnon believer creates new headaches for House GOP GOP leaders go into attack mode against Harris MORE (R-Calif.) (The Hill).

“I believe that this is just a better fit for me. This is who I am. It’s who I always was but there was more tolerance of moderate Democrats, Blue Dog Democrats or conservative Democrats. And I think that’s gone away,” Van Drew said before telling Trump, “You have my undying support. Always.” 

The Associated Press: GOP gives Trump unapologetic embrace over impeachment.

The Washington Post: “It’s a horrible thing they did”: Trump now bears the indelible mark of impeachment.

However, Trump came under fire from some in the GOP on Thursday after he let loose a scathing attack against late Rep. John DingellJohn DingellCOVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell easily wins House primary Great American Outdoors Act will deliver critical investments to our national parks, forests MORE (D-Mich.) and Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellMichigan Rep. Debbie Dingell easily wins House primary Court orders release of Black Michigan teen who was jailed for missing schoolwork Lobbying world MORE (D-Mich.) at a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., on Wednesday night, insinuating that the former Democratic lawmaker is in hell after his death in February (The Hill).  

Dingell, who fought in World War II, was the Dean of the House before his retirement in 2014, having served for 50 years. 

“It’s extraordinarily inappropriate,” said Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeBottom line House approves .3 trillion spending package for 2021 Multiple lawmakers self-quarantine after exposure to Gohmert MORE (R-Okla.), a former member of GOP leadership who served with the Dingells. “Anyone who served with John Dingell respected him, knew he was a very serious legislator and that he represented the House of Representatives with the highest personal and professional integrity.”

Among those in the GOP who sharply criticized Trump’s comments were Michigan, including Reps. Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonProgressives soaring after big primary night Michigan Rep. Fred Upton wins GOP primary The Hill's Coronavirus Report: GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani says DC policymakers need to do more to support ventures and 'solo-preneurs'; Federal unemployment benefits expire as coronavirus deal-making deadlocks MORE and Paul MitchellPaul MitchellLisa McClain wins Michigan GOP primary in race to replace Rep. Paul Mitchell House GOP pushes back at Trump on changing election date House Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year MORE

“I’ve always looked up to John Dingell — my good friend and a great Michigan legend. There was no need to 'dis' him in a crass political way. Most unfortunate and an apology is due,” Upton tweeted (The Hill).



POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: At long last, the battle between Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Energy: Major oil companies oppose Trump admin's methane rollback | Union files unfair labor practice charge against EPA USPS inspector general reviewing DeJoy's policy changes Former Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate MORE (D-Mass.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup Obamas, Clintons to headline Biden's nominating convention MORE spilled onto the debate stage as the pair engaged in a bitter back and forth over how they fund their campaigns.

Midway through Thursday’s debate, fireworks erupted between two of the preeminent Democratic candidates after Warren jabbed at Buttigieg for holding a closed fundraiser at a “wine cave” in Napa Valley, contrasting the move with her decision not to partake in high-dollar fundraisers.

"We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States," Warren said. "Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States." 

Buttigieg defended his campaign's fundraisers, arguing that his campaign is abiding by the rules and that they need to do everything — including holding these kind of fundraisers — to defeat the president next year.

"You know, according to Forbes Magazine, I am literally the only person on this stage who is not a millionaire or a billionaire," Buttigieg responded. "This is the problem with issuing purity tests you cannot yourself pass. If I pledged to never be in the company of a progressive, Democratic donor, I couldn't be up here." 

"Senator, your net worth is 100 times mine," Buttigieg continued, adding that it would not be wrong if someone donated the maximum legal amount of money to his campaign.   "Would that pollute my campaign because it came from a wealthy person? No, I would be glad to have that support. We need the support from everybody who is committed to defeating Donald Trump," he said. 

Buttigieg went on to criticize Warren for funding her presidential bid in part with $10.4 million she raised during her 2018 Senate campaign, some of which came from high-dollar fundraisers that she now eschews (The Hill). 

The war of words was the culmination of a simmering feud between the two Democratic heavyweights during the last month. Warren pushed Buttigieg over transparency repeatedly, including about his past work at McKinsey & Company and his fundraising practices. Buttigieg has panned the Massachusetts governor for not releasing her tax returns from her decades of private and corporate legal consulting.



Niall Stanage: Five takeaways from the Democratic debate.

The Hill: Joe BidenJoe BidenOn The Money: Economists flabbergasted after Congress leaves with no deal | Markets rise as the economy struggles | Retail sales slow in July Congress exits with no deal, leaving economists flabbergasted Trump touts NYC police union endorsement: 'Pro-cop all the way' MORE will release list of campaign bundlers.

The Washington Post: Democrats spar over how to combat Trump, a roaring economy and impeachment.

The South Bend mayor was a target throughout the evening as he also found himself in the crosshairs of attacks by Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharElection security advocates see strong ally in Harris The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - The choice: Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence California Democrats back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineup MORE (D-Minn.), who stood out as she continues to make progress among Iowa Democrats. Klobuchar took exception to a barb at the 2020 field’s experience during the previous debate, pointing to what she considered good work in Washington by many candidates on stage.  

“So while you can dismiss committee hearings, I think this experience works. And I have not denigrated your experience as a local official, I have been one, I just think you should respect our experience when you look at how you evaluate someone who can get things done,” she said. 

Buttigieg responded by referencing his military service in Afghanistan and reelection in South Bend with 80 percent of the vote, with the Minnesota Democrat saying voters should consider candidates with long track records and long “coattails" to help buoy down-ballot candidates (The Hill).  

Elsewhere, former Vice President Joe Biden held his own on stage and, almost more importantly, wasn’t the main target of the rest of the field, having served that role in previous debates. He did defend himself over questions about his age, though he declined to commit to only serving one term in office (The Hill). 

The New York Times: Who’s best to beat Trump? 7 answers when 7 Democrats debate.

Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal: Crazy won’t beat Trump.

The Hill: Biden: “I have no love” for Republicans who have attacked my family.

Ryan Lizza, Politico: Buttigieg absorbs a pummeling, and there's more where that came from.

One the issue front, the field was split on supporting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) negotiated between Trump and Pelosi during Thursday night's debate. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Obama speechwriter Favreau: 'Hilarious' some media outlets calling Harris a moderate Trump to counter DNC with travel to swing states Progressives look to flex their muscle in next Congress after primary wins MORE (I-Vt.) said that he will oppose the bill, while Klobuchar indicated that she would support the revised edition of the agreement (The Hill). 

The Hill: Andrew YangAndrew YangPoll: Majority of voters now say the government should have a universal basic income program The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump threatens Postal Service funding l Biden proposes national mask mandate l Democratic convention takes shape Bloomberg to speak at Democratic convention MORE blasts Democrats for being “obsessed” with Trump.

The Hill: Biden slams Sarah HuckabeeSarah Elizabeth SandersMcEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation Sanders mocks NY Times urging DNC to investigate Biden allegations: 'I thought it was an Onion headline' Donald Trump: The Boomer TV president MORE Sanders's tweet criticizing stuttering moment: “It's called empathy. Look it up.”


CONGRESS/ADMINISTRATION: The House passed a bill to implement the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the president’s landmark trade deal to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement and advance his economic agenda with bipartisan support. 

The bill to enact the USMCA passed 385 to 41, with 38 Democrats, two Republicans and Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashKudlow acknowledges executive orders may end up in court: 'We're going to go ahead with our actions anyways' Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Peter Meijer wins GOP primary in Amash's Michigan district MORE (I-Mich.) opposing the deal. The two House Republicans to vote in opposition were Reps. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieMassie plans to donate plasma after testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies Gaetz set to endorse primary opponent of fellow Florida GOP lawmaker The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Progress slow on coronavirus bill MORE (R-Ky.) and Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoThe indomitable AOC Yoho resigns from board of Christian organization following confrontation with Ocasio-Cortez Democrats hope clash resonates with key bloc: Women MORE (R-Fla.). The legislation will shift over to the Senate in the new year, but is unlikely to be brought to the floor until after an impeachment trial concludes. It is, however, expected to pass overwhelmingly in the upper chamber. 

The USMCA’s passage in the House is one of the highest profile bipartisan efforts that has been undertaken during Trump’s presidency and took place less than 24 hours after votes to impeach him (The Hill).   

The Washington Post: House passes reworked North American trade deal in victory for Trump, Democrats.

> Spending: The Senate passed a $1.4 trillion spending package on Thursday to fund the government through the rest of fiscal 2020 and avoid a second government shutdown of the year. 

Senators broke the package into two chunks, passing the first measure that centered on domestic priorities in a 71-23 vote. The second vote included funding for the Pentagon and defense, and passed in an 81-11 vote. The president is expected to sign both bills into law before funding for the government expires at midnight tonight (The Hill). 

The Associated Press: Senate passes anti-robocalls bill; Trump expected to sign.

The New York Times: Congress approves raising age to 21 for e-cigarette and tobacco sales. 

> Taxes: The House voted on Thursday to temporarily repeal much of the GOP tax law's cap on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, with the bill passing in a 218-206 vote. Five Republicans voted for the bill, most of whom reside in states affected by provision in the GOP tax law, while a mix of progressive and vulnerable Democrats voted against it. 

Shortly before the vote on final passage, Democrats agreed to accept a Republican motion to recommit — a procedural tool used by the minority to make eleventh-hour changes to a bill. The GOP motion would prevent the repeal of the SALT deduction cap from applying to taxpayers with income more than $100 million, and boost the size of an increase in deductions for educators’ expenses and for first responders’ expenses in the bill. It was adopted overwhelmingly in a 388-36 vote (The Hill).   

> Iran: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUN Security Council rejects US bid to extend Iran arms embargo Overnight Defense: US seizes Iranian fuel bound for Venezuela | Progressives cool on Biden's foreign policy | Takeaways from Israel, UAE opening diplomatic ties Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire MORE rolled out new sanctions against Iran, targeting individuals in the judicial courts and security services in response to fallout from popular protests in the country that started last month. Pompeo said Thursday that the State Department is also imposing visa restrictions on current and former Iranian officials found to be responsible or complicit in human rights abuses against peaceful protesters, but did not name any officials by name. However he did note that the new restrictions, would also extend to family members. The move is another as part of the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and its nuclear weapon efforts (The Hill).



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 and the FBI's Russia probe: Patriotism at its finest, by Marik Von Rennenkampff, opinion contributor, The Hill.   

Welcome to third-world democracy and impeachment, by John S. Baker, Jr., opinion contributor, The Hill.


The House is out of session until Jan. 7, when the second session of the 116th Congress meets.

The Senate is also out of session and will return on Jan. 3 at noon. The next votes in the chamber will be on Jan. 6. It will hold a pro forma session on Monday at 10 a.m.

The president has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. and departs the White House for West Palm Beach, Fla. at 7 p.m. for the holidays.


Rideshare: Uber and Lyft announced that they will stop transporting customers from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after the Phoenix City Council voted to raise fees for pickups and drop-offs at the locale in the fifth largest U.S. city. The airport was among the few remaining air travel hot spots where Uber and Lyft continued to provide service instead of picking up and dropping off in designated lots, which are now used in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston. Uber said in a statement that it would halt its service at the Phoenix airport in January at some point (The Associated Press). 

In The Know: J.K. Rowling, the famed “Harry Potter” author, is in hot water with the transgender community after she defended a researcher who was fired for “stating that sex is real.” Rowling was tweeting in support of Maya Forstater, a researcher who was fired after posting that a person cannot change their biological sex. Forstater challenged her firing in court and lost, with the judge calling her views “absolutist.” Several LGBTQ groups attacked Rowling for backing Forstater, including the Human Rights Campaign (The Hill).

Dog rescue: A San Francisco woman is going all out to find her stolen dog. Emilie Talermo is offering $7,000 as a reward and hired a plane to fly over the city as she launches an ambitious search to regain her blue-eyed miniature Australian Shepherd, Jackson, who was stolen from outside a grocery store last weekend in the Bernal Heights neighborhood. The plane will hang a banner off the side including the website she set up to find her lost pooch and will cost $1,200 to operate. Surveillance video from the store shows a man in a hoodie approaching the bench where the dog was tied down (The Associated Press).


And finally … Congratulations to trivia masters who aced the Morning Report Quiz about Christmas movies

Here’s all of those who knew their Christmas movie trivia and aced yesterday’s quiz: Patrick Kavanagh, Lynn Mandaville, Taniel Koushakjian, Jason McKitrick, Paul Blumstein, William Chittam, Kane Martin, David E. Letostak, Susan Olson, Abby Alkire, Randall Patrick, Brian Pille, David Cook, Joseph Coss, Laura Sosnowski, John Donato, Jess Clark, John Ellis, Carolyn Dixon, Margaret Gainer, Luther Berg and Audrey Javan.

They knew that Buddy the Elf is well known for pouring syrup on his spaghetti, to the surprise of his family. Syrup is also part of the four main food groups he knows and loves: Candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.

The immortal Cousin Eddie asked Clark Griswold to “save the neck for me” in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”  

Trump made a cameo appearance in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” to direct Kevin McCallister to the Plaza Hotel's lobby. 

And finally, Jim Carrey and his wild facial expressions starred as the Grinch in the 2000 film based on the Dr. Seuss favorite.



** A scheduling note for our readers: Due to the holiday season, this is the final Morning Report until Jan. 2, 2020. On behalf of the Morning Report, I’d like to wish all of you the happiest of holiday seasons, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And thank you for your continued readership. We appreciate it more than you all know.