The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment trial a week away; debate night




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. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

The Senate is readying for the impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE to officially get underway next week as Republicans and Democrats continue to jostle over whether witnesses will be called and wait for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiEverytown urges Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to resign over newly uncovered remarks Sen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed support on Facebook for violence against Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) to officially transmit the articles to the upper chamber.


Pelosi is scheduled to meet with the Democratic caucus later this morning to determine next steps, which are expected to include sending the articles across the Capitol by the end of the week and naming impeachment managers. 


As Scott Wong writes, the final actions by Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffLobbying from the center Glenn Greenwald warns against media censorship amid concerns over domestic terrorism Biden to keep Wray as FBI director MORE (D-Calif.) could include the decision to publish dozens of documents, recordings, photos and text messages from Lev Parnas, an associate of  Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMy Pillow CEO banned by Twitter The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP senator retires Dominion Voting Systems files .3B defamation suit against Giuliani MORE, that may be relevant to the impeachment trial. Publishing the documents and related information could play into the decision for Senate Republicans to call witnesses or not in the coming weeks.


After the articles are sent to the Senate, the trial is expected to start soon. Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Bush-, Obama-era officials urge Senate to swiftly confirm Biden's DHS pick Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback MORE (R-Texas), a top adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE (R-Ky.), told reporters Monday that opening arguments of the trial are expected to start on Tuesday, Jan. 21. 


One thing Senate Republicans have not released yet is the resolution laying out the rules for the impending trial. According to The Hill’s Jordain Carney, GOP aides expect the resolution to be released after Pelosi sends the articles to the Senate. Negotiations over the language in the resolution are ongoing.


The Hill: Republicans brush off Trump's call for impeachment dismissal.


CBS News: White House expects GOP defections on calling witnesses in Senate impeachment trial. 


The Associated Press: Lawyer: Giuliani associate’s documents turned over to House.


As for the president, while he’s been vocal and maintained that he did nothing wrong, he continues to send mixed signals to the Senate GOP about what he wants from the upcoming trial. Trump's tweets from over the weekend, saying that he wants an “outright dismissal” of the articles by the Senate, put him in conflict with the strategy McConnell has advocated for weeks. 


Senate Republicans say they are sticking with their goal of a quick trial, with most of the conference ready to eschew calling witnesses, although some have indicated that they want to hear from former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonUPDATED: McEnany, Fox News talks on pause John Bolton: Second Trump impeachment 'badly conceived, poorly executed,' likely to produce same result as first Pence, other GOP officials expected to skip Trump send-off MORE at some point.


While the vast majority of Senate Republicans would prefer not to hear from Bolton, most Americans say they’re all ears. According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday, 66 percent of respondents want Bolton to serve as a witness in the Senate trial, including 39 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of independents and 91 percent of Democrats (Axios).


It remains unclear whether additional witnesses will ultimately be called as Senate Democrats search for four Republican colleagues to agree with them. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Bush-, Obama-era officials urge Senate to swiftly confirm Biden's DHS pick OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court upholds ruling invalidating Dakota Access, but doesn't shut down pipeline | Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency | Biden seeks to bolster consultation with Indian Country MORE (D-N.Y.) continued to argue Monday that McConnell and the GOP will be engaging in a cover-up if witnesses are not called. 


“If seeking the truth is political, if doing our constitutional duty is political in the minds of our Republican colleagues, then the Republican Party is in trouble,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “History is not kind to political parties that fight to hide the truth. History is not kind to parties that participate in cover-ups.” 


Meanwhile, McConnell kept up his criticisms of Pelosi for her “one-woman blockade” of the Senate trial.


“In terms of influencing Senate procedure, this strange gambit has achieved absolutely nothing,” McConnell said on the floor, adding that he is “glad the speaker finally realized she never had any leverage in the first place … and is giving in to bipartisan pressure to move forward.”


The Hill: How impeachment differs from court trials.


The Associated Press: McConnell is Trump’s man, assigned to shape his Senate trial.


The Hill: Poll: 51 percent of Americans support House vote to impeach Trump.





CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerNew sitcom follows 'The Rock' as he runs for president in 2032 What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts MORE (D-N.J.) announced Monday that he is ending his Democratic primary bid after struggling for months to gain traction, headlined by his exclusion from the December debate, as the field winnows further less than three weeks out from the Iowa caucuses.


“It was a difficult decision to make, but I got in this race to win, and I’ve always said I wouldn’t continue if there was no longer a path to victory,” Booker said in an email to supporters. “Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington.” 


Booker’s announcement brings the primary field to 12 candidates and further deprives the field of diversity that was an exemplar of the initial wide-ranging field last summer (The Hill). Over the last month and a half alone, Booker, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Vice President Harris receives second dose of COVID-19 vaccine MORE (D-Calif.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro all have ended their campaigns. 


The only two non-white candidates remaining are Andrew YangAndrew YangYang to quarantine after campaign staffer tests positive for COVID-19 Andrew Yang sparks Twitter uproar with pro-bodega video Yang announces run for New York City mayor MORE and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickBiden faces pressure to take action on racial justice issues Biden selects Susan Rice to lead Domestic Policy Council, McDonough for Veterans Affairs Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment MORE, who has been unable to garner the support levels that Booker attracted after his late entrance in the race.


The New Jersey Democrat’s announcement came to the displeasure of some in the party and a day before the top six candidates in the field will take part in the seventh primary debate in Des Moines. 


“The final stages of the Republican primary were more diverse than that of the Democratic primary,” tweeted Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker who served as a top surrogate for Harris’s campaign. 


Another question related to Booker’s exit is who will be the beneficiary polling wise. According to a new national Morning Consult poll, 24 percent of Booker supporters say Biden is their second choice, followed by Sanders at 19 percent and Warren at 17 percent.


Niall Stanage: What the leading 2020 candidates need to do in tonight's Democratic debate.


The Associated Press: Booker ends presidential bid after polling, money struggles.


The New York Times: Booker’s exit from 2020 race ends a once-promising political chapter.





> Debate night: Most of the 2020 Democratic field will come together in Des Moines tonight for the latest party debate as the field nears the first votes of the year in the Hawkeye State. 


All eyes will be on the four top-tier candidates in the field as the race remains fluid ahead of the Iowa caucuses. In recent days, various polls have shown Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWhat the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform Business groups prepare for lobbying push against minimum wage Schumer: Senate could pave way for reconciliation on COVID relief next week MORE (I-Vt.) or former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Should deficits matter any more? Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE topping the field in the state, with Sanders keeping up his attacks against others as he makes his closing case to voters in the state (The Hill). 


Most notably, Sanders has found himself in a war of words with Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief Tim Ryan says he's 'looking seriously' at running for Portman's Senate seat MORE (D-Mass.) over the past couple of days, headlined by the Massachusetts Democrat’s charge that Sanders told her during a December 2018 meeting that a woman could not win a general election race against Trump. 


After CNN reported the remarks earlier Monday, Warren followed suit and released a statement confirming Sanders’s sentiments. The Vermont Independent denied making any such remarks.


“I thought a woman could win; he disagreed. I have no interest in discussing this private meeting any further because Bernie and I have far more in common than our differences on punditry,” Warren said (The Hill).


As Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes report, the back-and-forth between the two left-wing heavyweights has made progressives uneasy and has heightened concerns that a centrist candidate such as Biden or former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Vaccination goals for 2021 Exclusive 'Lucky' excerpt: Vow of Black woman on Supreme Court was Biden turning point MORE could take home the party’s nomination. 


“Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, you both are progressive champions and our movement needs to see you working together to defeat your corporate Democratic opponents – not attack each other,” the progressive group Democracy for America said in a statement. “Progressives will win in 2020, but only if we don’t let the corporate wing or Trump divide us.”


The Washington Post: Sanders-Warren feud takes a turn onto the dangerous turf of gender.


The New York Times: Russians hacked Ukrainian gas company at center of impeachment.


The Hill: Biden leads in Iowa according to Monmouth poll.


The New York Times: Democratic super PAC books first TV ads in $150 million anti-Trump push.


ADMINISTRATION, WAR POWERS & IRAN: As many as 10 Republican senators are considering bucking Trump on a measure that would limit his authority to take military action against Iran, according to the bipartisan co-sponsors of the resolution. The move in the Senate, which follows a House vote on war powers last week, is an overlay during what McConnell promises will be Trump’s Senate acquittal on two House charges of abuse of power.


The majority leader says he opposes the pending war powers resolution backed by Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineSenators discussing Trump censure resolution Overnight Defense: Army details new hair and grooming standards | DC National Guard chief says Pentagon restricted his authority before riot | Colorado calls on Biden not to move Space Command Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time MORE (D-Va.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinOn The Money: GOP digs in on defending Trump tax cuts | Democrats bullish on raising minimum wage | Financial sector braces for Biden's consumer bureau pick Sen. Patrick Leahy returns home after being hospitalized Bush-, Obama-era officials urge Senate to swiftly confirm Biden's DHS pick MORE (D-Ill.) as well as Republican co-sponsors Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Overnight 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 MORE (Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSenators discussing Trump censure resolution Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Trump ex-chief says Senate vote signals impeachment effort 'dead on arrival' MORE (Ky.). McConnell believes the effort sends the wrong message to U.S. allies following the Trump-ordered killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani (The Associated Press).


Lee said last week after an Iran briefing by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoBiden (mostly) builds on Trump's foreign policy China: US military presence in South China Sea a threat to peace, stability White House installs new leadership at federally-funded international broadcasters MORE and other top Trump advisers that the presentation was “probably the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue,” during his nine years in the Senate.





The president chafes at the second-guessing, defending his decision to order a drone strike to kill Soleimani and nine others as justified because of the Quds Force leader’s “horrible past.” Trump said it did not matter to him if Soleimani posed an imminent or longer-term threat to U.S. national interests at the time he was killed at the Baghdad airport (The Hill). 


It’s an argument that gives lawmakers significant pause because of international law, the fact that Soleimani was a senior member of the Iranian government and concerns that U.S. missile strikes against government officials abroad incite retaliation against Americans.


“The Fake News Media and their Democrat Partners are working hard to determine whether or not the future attack by terrorist Soleimani was `imminent’ or not, & was my team in agreement,” Trump tweeted. “The answer to both is a strong YES., but it doesn’t really matter because of his horrible past!”


The Washington Post: “Four embassies”: The anatomy of Trump’s unfounded claim about Iran.


Asked again on Monday as he left the White House about intelligence information he discussed with advisers, including Pompeo and others, Trump said Soleimani should have been killed by the United States “20 years ago.” He suggested any misgivings in Congress about his decision are tantamount to an embrace of a terrorist.


“We killed Soleimani, the No. 1 terrorist in the world by every account. Bad person, killed a lot of Americans, killed a lot of people. We killed him,” he said.


The bipartisan support for a Senate resolution to restrict Trump’s authority to attack Iran militarily counters the president’s political argument that it is Democrats who are his critics, especially during a push to remove him from office.


Trump again asserted without examples or evidence that Democrats have defended Soleimani, which he said is a disgrace to our country. They can't do that. And let me tell you, it's not working politically very well for them.”


Pelosi, Kaine and other leading Democrats say their condemnation of Iran’s former military mastermind was emphatic and well known for years.

During a Fox News interview on Monday, Pompeo did not repeat Trump’s evolving description of an Iranian plot to attack four U.S. embassies. 


“We can dance around the maypole on the word `imminent,’” the secretary said. “We know that he was traveling in the region both to Beirut and then to Damascus and on to Baghdad with the intense, intent purpose of delivering a strike, a blow against Americans in the region. We weren’t about to take that risk.” 


The Associated Press: Pompeo, Attorney General William BarrBill BarrPoll finds 1 in 3 believe false claims voter fraud led to Biden win Trump pressed DOJ to go to Supreme Court in bid to overturn election: report Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated MORE cite deterrence as long-running motive behind Soleimani’s killing. 


The New Yorker: Barr as “Trump’s sword and shield.”


The Associated Press: Iran today said it arrested unnamed suspects after an “extensive investigation” into the shootdown of a passenger jet over Tehran, which killed 176 people. Iran initially said the tragedy was the result of the Boeing plane’s mechanics, then conceded its own missile strike was at fault and was a “mistake.” That concession sparked days of anti-government denunciations and street protests in Iran. 


Reuters: Britain, France and Germany will trigger a dispute resolution mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the most definitive response the Europeans have taken as Tehran withdrew from nuclear commitments after the U.S. pulled out of the agreement in 2018.

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!


It’s time for the Democratic candidates to talk more about national security, by Brad Bannon, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Nn3nk8


The political earthquake propelling Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, by Grady Means, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2FJNxfa 


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Paul Steinhauser, a New Hampshire-based political reporter with Fox News Politics, to preview tonight’s debates; W. James Antle III, editor-in-chief of The American Conservative, to discuss the situation in Iran; and J.D. Scholten, a Democratic congressional candidate in Iowa, to talk about tonight’s debate and the Iowa caucuses just around the corner. 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 meets at 10 a.m. and is expected to debate and vote on a resolution appointing and authorizing managers for the Senate impeachment trial of the president.


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and will resume debating the nomination of Peter Gaynor to be administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 


The president headlines a reelection rally in Milwaukee at 7 p.m.


Vice President Pence will swear in Gen. John Raymond, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the first chief of space operations, U.S. Space Force (USSF) at 11:45 a.m. 


Pompeo is in the San Francisco Bay area through Wednesday to meet with representatives from U.S. tech companies as well as counterparts from Japan and Korea.


Economic indicator: The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the U.S. consumer price index for December at 8:30 a.m.


The Hill hosts “The Right to a Roof: Tackling Homelessness” at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Information HERE. Lawmakers scheduled to participate with housing experts to discuss housing security include Reps. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyLawmakers highlight need for financial literacy to improve credit The Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he's open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on bill MORE (D-Ohio), Danny DavisDaniel (Danny) K. Davis7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics More than 100 Democrats press Trump to extend jobless benefits Democrats urge Treasury to assist Social Security recipients who miss key coronavirus payment deadline MORE (D-Ill.) and Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalLawmakers briefed on 'horrifying,' 'chilling' security threats ahead of inauguration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten key air pollution standards | Despite risks to polar bears, Trump pushes ahead with oil exploration in Arctic | Biden to champion climate action in 2021 Democrats question legality of speedy Arctic refuge oil lease sales MORE (D-Calif.).


The Hill also hosts an event next Tuesday, Mayors Matter: Deepening the Generational Compact in Communities,” in Washington from 2 to 4 p.m. with influential mayors from Michigan, Kansas and Florida and community leaders who describe contributions of older adults and the societal benefits of intergenerational bonds. Find information HERE.  


The Democratic National Committee hosts the first presidential primary debate of 2020 televised by CNN from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, at 9 p.m. (Des Moines Register).


It will soon be U.S. Census season around the country, and Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioDisjointed vaccine distribution poses early test for Biden Fauci said second COVID-19 vaccine shot knocked him out for 24 hours Ohio vaccine distributor suspended after improperly storing, spoiling 890 doses MORE at 10:30 a.m. welcomes representatives from 157 community-based organizations for a planning conference at New York University about census education, outreach and mobilization. The work is funded through New York City’s “Complete Count Fund.” The 2020 Census begins March 12


Trade: The powerful pharmaceutical industry is trying to get U.S. senators on record in support of including protections the industry lost in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement into future trade deals with other countries (The Hill).


Courts: Pharmaceutical makers were in court on Monday to argue against a Trump administration rule that would require the companies to disclose to consumers in their ads the list prices for drugs. The companies assert such a federal requirement would  violate the First Amendment (The Hill).


Major League Baseball cheating & punishments: Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired by owner Jim Crane on Monday after the league’s announcement of discipline following an elaborate scheme to use cameras to decode opposing catchers’ signs in real time and relay the intelligence to players during games. “We need to move forward with a clean slate,” Crane said. A league investigation confirmed the Astros had cheated during the regular season and playoffs of their World Series-winning 2017 season. As part of the league's penalty, the Astros will also lose first- and second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and the organization was fined a record $5 million. MLB said in its statement that if Luhnow or Hinch "engage in any future material violations" of MLB rules, they will be placed on the league's permanently ineligible list (ESPN).


College Football Championship: The Louisiana State Tigers are the 2019-20 College Football Playoff champions after defeating the Clemson Tigers, 42-25, and nabbing it’s fourth national title and first since the playoff was instituted in 2014. The Tigers were led by quarterback Joe Burrow, the likely No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, who tossed five touchdowns and ran for another one. In the process, Burrow set a record with 60 touchdown passes in a single season (ESPN). The president watched the game alongside first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpScorned and mistreated, Melania Trump deserved much better from the media The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE and House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseBoycott sham impeachment The Memo: Biden gambles that he can do it all Biden under pressure to deliver more COVID-19 shots MORE (R-La.) and was cheered when he took the field for the national anthem (The Hill). 


Oscars: The 92nd annual Academy Awards nominations for best picture, announced on Monday for a Feb. 9 presentation on ABC, include films representing a wide range of genres and the dark comic book smash “Joker” leading the field with 11 nominations. In the top lineup: the World War I epic “1917,” Quentin Tarantino’s 1960s fantasia “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” and Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic “The Irishman” (Netflix). Other nominees for best picture are “Ford v Ferrari,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story” (Netflix) and “Parasite.” The nominations proved to be a shutout for female directors, with potential nominees such as Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) and Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”) failing to get a nod from the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (The Los Angeles Times). The Hollywood Reporter has a list of all the nominees HERE.





And finally … In the pantheon of British history, restless royals have wandered the empire from castle to fortress, engineered marital mergers and escaped the drudgery of good works with bad behavior. Who knew that Canada would represent emancipation for renegade Prince Harry, American wife Meghan Merkle and their adorable son Archie?


On Monday, Queen Elizabeth II presided over a historic summit among her son and his sons, and decided to back the new “progressive” roles Harry and his wife already publicly announced — as part-time royals who want to live in North America and occasionally return to Great Britain.


Hinting at unresolved “complex matters,” including income, employment, security and tradition, the Queen released a statement in which she emphasized “family” at least seven times (The Associated Press).


“Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working members of the royal family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”


The British press, with all its intense opinions about the monarchy, did not hold back. The Guardian said the queen’s message was a “reluctant blessing.” The Daily Mail served up breathless details — Prince Charles talked money and Meghan did not participate— behind what headline writers call “MEGXIT.”