The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clash over rules




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President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE through his legal advocates will present a sweeping defense against removal from office this week, arguing he did not abuse the powers of his office, and even if some senators believe he did, abuse of power is not impeachable under the Constitution.


But before the president’s legal team can make that case, senators are clashing over how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Lawmakers race to pass emergency coronavirus funding Trump upends controversial surveillance fight MORE (R-Ky.) and his GOP colleagues want the trial to proceed, according to a resolution circulated on Monday evening for a Senate vote today (The Hill).


McConnell’s procedures describe a round-the-clock timetable for the proceedings, beginning with opening arguments on Jan. 22. The Senate will not weigh whether to call witnesses or seek documents until after the House impeachment managers and the president’s team present their respective cases and senators then pose questions.


CNN: Details of McConnell’s resolution, explained. 


Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer Sanders blasts Trump for picking 'completely unqualified' Pence for coronavirus response Trump passes Pence a dangerous buck Democratic mega-donor reaching out to Pelosi, Schumer in bid to stop Sanders: report MORE (D-N.Y.) objected to McConnell’s rules, arguing they depart from those used during the 1999 impeachment trial of former President Clinton and are designed to hide facts from the American people. 


“McConnell is saying he doesn’t want to hear any of the existing evidence, and he doesn’t want to hear any new evidence,” Schumer said in a statement. “A trial where [there’s] no evidence — no existing record, no witnesses, no documents — isn’t a trial at all. It’s a cover up, and the American people will see it for exactly what it is.”


The Hill: Senate braces for bitter fight over impeachment rules.


Over the weekend, Trump’s legal team outlined its most detailed defense yet about a controversy the president triggered six months ago. As the third Senate impeachment trial in U.S. history gets underway this afternoon, Trump is 4,200 miles from Washington attending an international economic gathering in Switzerland. 


The articles of impeachment brought against the president by the House — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress tied to Trump’s transactions with Ukraine and focus on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary Sanders holds 13-point lead in Fox News poll MORE, a political rival — do not amount to “other high crimes and misdemeanors” as described by the founders, Trump’s lawyers argue.


“Trump categorically and unequivocally denies each and every allegation in both Articles of Impeachment,” they said in documents filed with the Senate.


The president’s lawyers also rebutted on Monday accusations by House impeachment managers that the president abused “his official powers to pressure a foreign government to interfere in a United States election for his personal political gain, and then attempted to cover up his scheme by obstructing Congress’s investigation into his misconduct.”


The Hill: Democrats push back on White House claims, saying Trump believes he is above the law.


The Hill: Trump’s legal team urges swift Senate acquittal.


The president’s arguments hinge on interpretations of the Constitution and his executive powers, as well as his charge that Democrats engineered a “charade” to weaken his chances for reelection. 


“House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way — any way — to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.”


The New York Times: Democrats seek more testimony and evidence for trial.


The president, who has vacillated for months about the kind of trial he wanted to see, on Monday tweeted his preference for speed and no trial witnesses. He mentioned his former national security adviser, who at one point told lawmakers he would testify if subpoenaed by the Senate “They didn’t want John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Bolton's lost leverage Azar downplays chance Trump will appoint coronavirus czar MORE and others in the House. They were in too much of a rush. Now they want them all in the Senate. Not supposed to be that way!” Trump wrote.


The Associated Press: Trump’s lawyers call impeachment case “flimsy.”


TEXT of documents filed with the Senate related to the Trump impeachment trial.


TEXT of memorandum by Trump’s defense team.


Paul Kane: House Democrats’ balancing act: Argue case against Trump is solid while seeking more evidence.


The New York Times: 100 senators who love to talk, sitting in silence. 


The Hill: Chief Justice John Roberts remains under pressure from both sides as he presides during the trial. 


Reuters: Trump’s defense team plans a war room, TV talking points and social media commentary.


GOP House members named by the president on Monday night to offer advice during the trial include: Reps. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsFormer impeachment managers clash over surveillance bill Surveillance fight emerges as intelligence flashpoint GOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreats MORE (Ga.), Mike JohnsonJames (Mike) Michael JohnsonWhite House, Republicans blast Pelosi for ripping up copy of Trump speech Jordan says he will support McCarthy for Speaker if majority flips next year Collins Senate bid sets off game of musical chairs for GOP MORE (La.), Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTrump upends controversial surveillance fight Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates Trump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify MORE (Ohio), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.), Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsSanders, socialism emerge as top targets at CPAC Trump upends controversial surveillance fight House Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid MORE (N.C.), John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTrump shakes up Justice Department, intelligence community John Ratcliffe back under consideration by Trump for top intel job Trump's intel moves spark Democratic fury MORE (Texas), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way The Hill's Morning Report — Trump basks in acquittal; Dems eye recanvass in Iowa Trump holds White House 'celebration' for impeachment acquittal MORE (N.Y.) and Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinSanders: 'Unfair to simply say everything is bad' in Cuba under Castro Trump allies blast Romney over impeachment vote: 'A sore loser' Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus MORE (N.Y.). 


The Washington Post: McConnell-Trump bond to be tested by impeachment trial.





CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: The final countdown is on for the 2020 Democratic field as they ready for the final sprint to the Iowa caucuses in less than two weeks while three of the top contenders in the state are set to spend most of that time in Washington during the impeachment trial.


While the top tier of the field remains closely packed together, former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged slightly in polls over the past week. According to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Biden leads Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBloomberg: 'I'm going to stay right to the bitter end' of Democratic primary race The Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE (I-Vt.) by nearly 4 points, taking 21 percent support to lead the field. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBloomberg: 'I'm going to stay right to the bitter end' of Democratic primary race The Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Sanders holds 13-point lead in Fox News poll MORE (D-Mass.) and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBloomberg: 'I'm going to stay right to the bitter end' of Democratic primary race The Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Delegate count unchanged after Iowa caucus recount completed MORE sit narrowly behind Sanders, and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders holds 13-point lead in Fox News poll Centrist Democrats insist Sanders would need delegate majority to win Bloomberg outspends field in Facebook ads ahead of Super Tuesday MORE (D-Minn.) continues to make a push to hit double digits and join the top tier in the Hawkeye State.


Biden is the only candidate who doesn’t necessarily need to win Iowa to ensure their standing in the primary field. He continues to dominate the field in South Carolina, which has turned into a failsafe that no other campaign can count on looking ahead, according to The Hill’s Max Greenwood.


The Washington Post: With two weeks until Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidates are getting aggressive — with each other.


The Hill: Biden leads Democratic primary field in Iowa: poll.


Despite Biden’s standing in the polls, the race in Iowa remains extremely fluid, but instead of having the focus on the state in the next two weeks, much of the attention within 2020 circles will be on Washington for the impeachment trial as Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar will be tied up there for the vast majority of the coming weeks. 


As Scott Wong writes, the ongoing battle for the progressive mantle between Sanders and Warren is also taking place on Capitol Hill as the two are pushing to win support from key lawmakers to boost their campaigns in the run-up to Iowa and other early voting states. Though many downplay the significance of endorsements on the voting electorate, they can have an effect elsewhere, namely with fundraising and showing that a campaign is gaining momentum. 


“It's crunch time,” said one undecided progressive freshman Democrat, who was heavily lobbied by both campaigns last week. “I've heard more about endorsing presidential candidates in the last three days than I've heard in the last three months.”  


Sanders reeled in a big fish in the progressive ranks over the weekend as Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalCentrist Democrats insist Sanders would need delegate majority to win Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments 22 studies agree: 'Medicare for All' saves money MORE (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, threw her support behind him and appeared on the stump in Iowa for him on Monday. She appears to be leaning toward supporting Sanders, having done so as a state lawmaker in 2016. 


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary.


The Washington Post: Amy Klobuchar desperately wants an Iowa moment. Impeachment is getting in the way.


The Hill: Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters.


On Monday, most of the Democratic field pulled double duty, appearing in Columbia, S.C., for the King Day at the Dome event in the morning before jetting off to Iowa for the Brown and Black presidential forum in the afternoon. 


While Sanders, Warren and Klobuchar will be confined to Washington for the next week, Biden and Buttigieg are slated to barnstorm Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday before appearing in New Hampshire and South Carolina, respectively, later in the week. The three senators are being forced to rely on having surrogates appear on their behalf in the early vote states, as The Associated Press’s Alexandra Jaffe points out. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez cuts census ad with Lin-Manuel Miranda Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Industry group warns fracking ban could cost 7.5M jobs in US MORE (D-N.Y.) will campaign for Sanders later this week in Iowa, while “Queer Eye” host Jonathan Van Ness, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroJulián Castro endorses Rep. Cuellar's primary opponent in Texas Harris, Castro introduce resolution condemning Trump aide Stephen Miller As Mexico abuses migrants under Trump's orders, where is Congress? MORE (D-Texas) will be out and about to support Warren.


Sanders tentatively is scheduled to hold a rally in Iowa late Wednesday night, but that appearance could be in question after McConnell announced that opening arguments will run for 24 hours over the first two days (The Hill).


CBS News: Sanders apologizes to Biden for surrogate's op-ed alleging he has a “big corruption problem.”


The New York Times: Democrats can qualify for the next debate by winning a single delegate in Iowa.


The Associated Press: 2020 Democratic contenders link arms in MLK Jr. Day march.


The Atlantic: John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyNevada caucuses open with a few hiccups Lobbying world The Hill's Campaign Report: Four-way sprint to Iowa finish line MORE is still running. Why?





CONGRESS: Fresh off dealing with impeachment, the House is looking to revive its legislative agenda as the Senate takes up the impeachment mantle for the next couple of weeks. 


While the upper chamber deals with the impeachment issue, the House is moving on and is expected to tackle issues such as war powers and aid for Puerto Rico in the coming weeks and months. Notably, the House is out on recess for the week, with the exception of the seven House Democrats serving as managers for the trial. 


As Cristina Marcos previews, among the first actions the House will take next week are votes on a pair of war powers resolutions that progressives sought. 


The first measure, authored by Rep. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeBill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Democrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' California lawmakers mark Day of Remembrance for Japanese internment MORE (D-Calif.), would repeal the 2002 authorization of military force for the Iraq war that has been used as legal justification for action against Iran. A second bill by Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaKhanna introduces bill to add a third gender option on US passports Omar endorses progressive Georgia Democrat running for House seat Democrats call for Twitter, Facebook to take down Pelosi video posted by Trump MORE (D-Calif.) would prohibit the use of funds for military action in or against Iran without approval from Congress.  


The votes will come weeks after the House passed a resolution that would direct the president to end military hostilities with Iran unless there is an imminent attack or one is authorized by Congress.


“Finally Congress will have an opportunity to reassert our voice on military action,” Rep. Mark PocanMark William PocanDemocrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump names Pence to lead coronavirus response MORE (D-Wis.) and Jayapal said in a statement.


Also on the agenda is a $3.4 billion emergency supplemental spending bill for Puerto Rico to deal with the aftermath of the earthquakes that ravaged the island. House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLawmakers dedicate Oversight room to Cummings, unveil plaque Vulnerable Democrats brace for Sanders atop ticket Trump names Pence to lead coronavirus response MORE (D-Md.) confirmed that the House will also hold a vote on the legislation following recess. 


Included in the legislation is $100 million for educational assistance, $1.3 billion for road repairs and $2 billion for Community Development Block Grant funds for restoring infrastructure and housing. 


Among the other items the House is expected to deal with in the near future are surprise medical billing, infrastructure reform and legislation to strengthen labor unions.


Roll Call: Impeachment isn’t the only obstacle to legislative wins for Congress in 2020.




WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president spoke this morning in Davos, Switzerland, at a World Economic Forum, a global gathering focused this year on climate change and attended by some of Trump’s best-known international detractors (Newsweek).


Trump ticked off growth and employment statistics since his election, boasting “the United States is in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which the world has never seen before.”  


Senior administration officials, who debated the president’s participation abroad while an impeachment trial dominates headlines at home, said Trump will meet separately in Switzerland with leaders from Iraq, Pakistan, the European Commission and Kurdistan.





> National Security Council: Trump appears to have lost his third White House Russia expert in the last year (Bloomberg News). On Friday, Andrew Peek, the senior director at the NSC for European and Russian affairs, was placed on administrative leave and escorted from the grounds (CNN).


Staffing problems and continued vacancies dog the Trump administration after three years in office (Politico).  


> Health care: Worried that health coverage is a campaign vulnerability for Trump in the wake of his push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the White House plans an announcement about health care in the coming weeks (The New York Times). The president is scrambling to promote what he sees as a record of defending protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, even as he sought to repeal and replace ObamaCare (The Hill).


> Trump Inc.: The president’s personal financial and business interests remain welded to his presidency, according to detailed examples reported by Politico:


As Trump kicks off his fourth year as president this week facing the stain of an impeachment trial, he has managed to skirt accountability for widespread possible conflicts of interest that critics say represent a blatant abuse of power and create dangerous risks to the integrity of the presidency. The intersections between Trump Inc. and President Trump are everywhere: A Chinese state-owned company was awarded a multimillion [dollar] contract to help develop a Trump golf course in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, amid a U.S.-China trade war. T-Mobile executives stayed at Trump's Washington hotel while seeking a green light from the federal government for a merger. The IRS commissioner, who refused to release Trump’s tax returns to Congress, collects rent from a pair of Trump condos in Hawaii.”


> Treasury Department and U.S. Secret Service: Treasury officials are lobbying Congress to move the Secret Service from the Department of Homeland Security to Treasury, where it was based before 9/11. A reports argues such a move would undercut the morale and effectiveness of DHS (The New York Times).


> State Department: An American diplomatic employee temporarily assigned to duty in Colombia was killed in a boating accident over the weekend, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoCheney, House Republicans express 'serious concerns' with US-Taliban deal GOP, Democrats hash out 2020 strategy at dueling retreats Overnight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions MORE said on Monday from Bogota. Eleven of 12 personnel were rescued from the boat (CNN). 

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!


Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinHillary Clinton to start new podcast West should echo Prague's Nemtsov remembrance Trump campaign sues New York Times for libel over 2019 op-ed MORE will not be president for life but he is sure to have power, by Joseph Dresen, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


GOP can beat Democrats after impeachment — but it needs to do this one thing, by Albert Eisenberg, opinion contributor, The Hill. 


The House meets at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28.


The Senate convenes at 1 p.m. to begin the Trump impeachment trial. 


The president delivers remarks in Switzerland at 5:30 a.m. ET. Trump holds bilateral meetings with leaders attending the World Economic Forum and attends a dinner event.


Vice President Pence participates at 4 p.m. in the White House ceremonial swearing-in of Ian Paul Steff, assistant secretary of Commerce and the director general of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service.  


Pompeo was in Bogota for meetings this morning and later will be in Costa Rica and will hold a press conference with President Carlos Alvaradoas in San Jose, Costa Rica, part of travels that will also take him to Jamaica and Florida before he returns to Washington on Thursday.


The Hill today hosts an event, 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.  


Russia: President Vladimir Putin, who is believed to be masterminding an avenue to retain power after his term expires in 2024, sent proposed constitutional changes to Russia’s parliament on Monday after first announcing last week that the amendments he seeks will bolster Russia’s democracy (The Associated Press). 


Health: Human-to-human transmission is confirmed in an outbreak of a new coronavirus that manifests as pneumonia and has spread in China and was also identified in a patient in Thailand. China’s health experts have joined other global infectious disease specialists in raising the possibility that the virus, which has also infected some medical workers, could spread more rapidly and widely. The World Health Organization, which last week sent an alert to hospitals, plans an emergency meeting on Wednesday in Geneva to weigh whether the disease should be treated as a global health crisis (The Associated Press).    


State watch: A gun-rights rally in Richmond, Va., which attracted an estimated 22,000 demonstrators (including many armed and dressed in camouflage), concluded safely on Monday (The Associated Press). 





Puerto Rico: A warehouse filled with pallets of water and emergency supplies delivered after Hurricane Maria two years ago was uncovered on Saturday, prompting Puerto Rico’s Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced to fire the island's emergency management director and other government officials over the weekend (The Associated Press).


And finally …  Art experts last week confirmed that a painting found in Italy by a gardener last month wrapped in plastic inside the wall of an art gallery is indeed “Portrait of a Lady,” painted in 1917 by Gustav Klimt and missing for nearly 23 years (The Associated Press and CNN). The discovery solved the mystery of what became of the missing masterpiece, but not who spirited it away. The Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in Piacenza acquired the work in 1925 and reported it missing in February 1997.