The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions

The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions
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The Senate is set to kick off opening arguments in President TrumpDonald John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump MORE’s impeachment trial today after the chamber adopted procedures early this morning following hours of rough-and-tumble skirmishes about time allotments and witnesses.


Senators wrapped up their rules shortly before 2 a.m. this morning after the Senate moved through 11 proposed Democratic amendments, most of which called on individual witnesses to appear during the initial phase of the trial. All were struck down along partisan lines as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary MORE (R-Ky.) kept the GOP together. 


“All of these amendments under the resolution could be dealt with at the appropriate time,” McConnell repeated. “The organizing resolution already has the support of the majority of the Senate. That's because it sets up a structure that is fair, evenhanded and tracks closely with past precedent that [was] established unanimously.”


The Hill: Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump.


McConnell’s push to adopt a road map for the trial navigated around a group of moderate Republican members, including Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate Biden says transition outreach from Trump administration has been 'sincere' MORE (Ohio) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate MORE (Maine), who is up for reelection. The moderates forced the majority leader to revise his resolution in order to slow the pace of opening arguments, which initially were limited to 24 total hours packed into two days. Senators for and against Trump’s removal from office will now have three days to lay out their arguments. It’s the same framework approved by senators in 1999 for former President Clinton’s impeachment trial.


The move handed Senate Democrats a minor victory, but as Jordain Carney and Alexander Bolton point out, Senate Republicans won the much bigger fight as they fended off Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOvernight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases The five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Collins urges voters to turn out in Georgia runoffs MORE’s (D-N.Y.) effort to subpoena key witnesses. The Democratic leader told reporters earlier on Tuesday that this would be the “real test” for Senate Republicans (The Hill). 


House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn MORE (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager for Democrats who sent two articles to the Senate asserting abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, cautioned during the first day of the trial that a battle over witnesses and documents was as important as the votes will be on charges against Trump. The decision on witnesses will now come after a significant portion of the trial has taken place. 


Trump responded to questions about the trial while traveling on Tuesday in Switzerland and tweeted “READ THE TRANSCRIPTS!” (The Hill). He also told CNBC’s Joe Kernan during an interview today that “the facts are all on our side” during a trial he insisted remains a “hoax.”


The Hill: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerThis week: Congress races to wrap work for the year Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn MORE (D-N.Y.), White House lawyers clash in late-night debate.


The Hill: Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution.


The Hill: What to watch during Day 2 of the Senate impeachment trial.


Over a period of more than 12 hours between Tuesday afternoon and the pre-dawn hours of this morning, the Senate tabled a series of votes forced by Schumer dealing with witnesses and documents. His motions singled out individuals the prosecution would like to call to testify, including former Trump national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday Bolton calls on GOP leadership to label Trump's behavior 'inexcusable' MORE and acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney 'concerned' by Giuliani role in Trump election case On The Money: Senate releases spending bills, setting up talks for December deal | McConnell pushing for 'highly targeted' COVID deal | CFPB vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency Consumer bureau vet who battled Trump will lead Biden plans to overhaul agency MORE (The Hill).


McConnell’s decision to relax the time allotted for opening arguments prolongs the trial, Bolton notes. By allowing three days, the trial may extend through the president’s State of the Union address scheduled for Feb. 4. McConnell’s original road map could have wrapped up proceedings by the middle of next week.


The majority leader also amended his resolution to allow the House impeachment inquiry to be entered into the Senate’s official trial record.


The Hill: McConnell keeps press in check as impeachment trial starts.


The Washington Post: Senate Democrats privately mull Biden-for-Bolton trade in impeachment trial.


NBC News: White House counsel Pat Cipollone: McConnell's proposal a “fair process.”


Niall Stanage: The Memo: Day One shows conflicting narratives on impeachment.


Roll Call: Senators bend the rules by wearing Apple Watches to Trump trial.


As the trial begins, national polls suggest the American public remains divided about whether two-thirds of the Senate should vote to remove Trump from office.


According to a CNN poll released Monday, 51 percent support that idea, but 45 percent say the president should not be convicted of high crimes and misdemeanors.


A Gallup poll conducted early this month found the reverse: 46 percent of Americans said they would like their senators to vote to convict Trump and remove him from office, while 51 percent said Trump should remain as president.


Within CNN’s survey, 89 percent of Democrats believe Trump should be removed compared to 8 percent of Republicans, while support among independents is split down the middle (48 percent for conviction compared with 46 percent against removal). 


One idea that has picked up steam among impeachment watchers around the country is a trial that includes witnesses. According to a new Monmouth University poll released Tuesday, 80 percent of voters believe Trump administration officials who did not testify in the House inquiry should be asked to do so in the Senate trial (51 percent believe those officials should be compelled to testify, while 40 percent believe Trump should be deposed, as well) (Fox News). 





CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Overnight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Biden faces new Iran challenges after nuclear scientist killed MORE (I-Vt.), who is currently battling the trial and the primary field, found himself in yet another fight against a familiar foe on Tuesday: Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Katko fends off Democratic opponent in New York race Harris County GOP chairman who made racist Facebook post resigns MORE. The former secretary of State came out swinging against Sanders, charging that “nobody likes” her 2016 primary opponent and pressing that he has a lengthy resume of accomplishing “nothing.”


"He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done,” Clinton said during a portion of a four-part Hulu series that will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend. “He was a career politician. It's all just baloney, and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”


Initially, Sanders declined to fire back at Clinton throughout the day, saying that he was focused on the trial. 


“On a good day, my wife likes me,” Sanders told reporters. “Secretary Clinton is entitled to her point of view. My job today is to focus on the impeachment trial. My job today is to put together a team that can defeat the most dangerous president in the history of the United States.” 


As Amie Parnes and Jonathan Easley write, the former secretary’s remarks are sure to open old wounds between progressives and establishment Democrats as Sanders escalates his attacks against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race MORE, who has taken a slight lead in Iowa. As Clinton highlighted in her remarks, there are fears on both sides of the party about whether supporters for the losing candidate will back the winner. 


The comments and questions come as some charge the Sanders campaign with crossing the line with its attacks on Biden, especially after Sanders apologized over the weekend for a column by professor Zephyr Teachout accusing Biden of corruption.


The Hill: Clinton responds to backlash: “I will do whatever I can to support our nominee.”


With opening arguments set to begin this afternoon, Sanders was forced to cancel a planned late-night rally in Iowa today. Cipollone took a shot at Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans MORE (D-Mass.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation MORE (D-Minn.) during the trial, noting that there are places they would rather be these days. 


“Some of you are upset because you should be in Iowa right now,” Cipollone said.


Klobuchar responded soon after: “No. This is my constitutional duty. And I can do two things at once.”


Meanwhile Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJuan Williams: Clyburn is my choice as politician of the year 'Biff is president': Michael J. Fox says Trump has played on 'every worst instinct in mankind' Buttigieg: Denying Biden intelligence briefings is about protecting Trump's 'ego' MORE took advantage of the trial and barnstormed the Hawkeye State, which they will continue to do today. Buttigieg will also be in Washington on Thursday morning to appear at the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE will speak at the conference today. 


The Washington Post: Bloomberg shifts presidential ad campaign to focus on impeachment.


CNBC: Warren wants to create a Justice Department task force to investigate alleged Trump administration corruption.


During his Davos swing, Trump weighed in on three potential general election opponents when pressed by CNBC. He mocked Bloomberg has a former friend of his who has “no chance,” wondered if Biden can “limp across the line,” and added that it could ultimately be Sanders who he faces off with. 


“Whoever it is, I'm ready,” Trump added.






CONGRESS: Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Trump: Liz Cheney's election remarks sparked by push to bring US troops home Biden's lead over Trump surpasses 6M votes as more ballots are tallied MORE’s (R-Wyo.) decision to remain in the House and not launch a bid to replace outgoing Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziRepublican Cynthia Lummis wins Wyoming Senate election Bottom line Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection MORE (R-Wyo.) has GOP lawmakers speculating that she could be ready to climb the ladder within the conference, with the top spot potentially within her grasp.


While many GOP lawmakers were surprised with the decision to forgo a Senate bid, several lawmakers told The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke that staying in the people’s House could offer her a quicker avenue to the top spot in the conference. 


“She has more power and voice here. [She’s] angling to be Speaker if the top two can’t pull it off,” one GOP lawmaker said, adding that the House is “a shorter route to meaningful power than Senate backbench.” 


At a House GOP Conference meeting on Thursday, Cheney told her colleagues she wants to help make House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDemocrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? Top Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' MORE (R-Calif.) the next Speaker, according to multiple sources with knowledge of her remarks. However, several GOP lawmakers believe a potential “knife fight” between McCarthy, Cheney and House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' New RSC chairman sees 'Trumpism' as future MORE (R-La.) for Speaker or minority leader is not out of the realm of possibility.


“It's D.C., everybody has their fangs out. I think she sees a higher profile — Speaker, president, who knows," a second GOP lawmaker said. “I would keep an eye on how close the majority becomes more and more of a reality. The knives will come out quicker and they'll come out longer.” 





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president, vice president, secretary of State and Treasury secretary will be scattered abroad or in flight today pursuing administration agendas in at least five countries.


Trump on Tuesday melded economic boasts familiar from his campaign rallies with a vision of American economic dominance abroad during the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland. As Sylvan Lane reports, the president gave every indication that in the wake of two recent trade victories, he won’t relent in a simmering trade conflict with the European Union.


During an interview with The Wall Street Journal and in remarks throughout the day, Trump toggled among three audiences he considers key: European and world leaders, U.S. voters, and senators who began the Senate’s impeachment trial, which he expects to end in his acquittal.


The president said he’s confident the administration can reach a trade deal with the EU, adding that he would strongly consider placing tariffs on European automobiles if agreement isn’t reached (Bloomberg News).  


Trump, who plans to unveil new policies he hopes will appeal to his supporters as he campaigns for reelection, promised a new middle-class tax package within the next three months (The Hill). White House economic adviser Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE has described the goal as stimulus that can build on GOP tax cuts enacted in 2017. The Trump campaign anticipates that U.S. economic growth will slow in 2020, and tax reductions signed into law more than two years ago proved more popular with businesses and the wealthy than with average families.  


We want to aim this at even faster economic growth going out in the president’s second term,” Kudlow told Fox News last week.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinFinancial groups applaud Biden Treasury pick Yellen US sanctions Chinese company for conducting business with Maduro regime Monumental economic challenges await Biden's Treasury secretary MORE on Tuesday defended the 2017 tax law while in Davos, arguing the deal “paid for itself.” Many economists, however, point to rising U.S. deficits and debt as worrisome byproducts (The Washington Examiner).


Trump on Tuesday also confirmed reports that the administration will soon expand its immigration travel ban to cover additional, unnamed countries (The Hill). As many as seven nations may be folded into the ban, including Belarus, Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania, according to recent news media reports. The administration’s crackdowns on immigrants and refugees, pegged to national security concerns, are generally popular among core Trump voters. 


Meanwhile, brisk staff turnover at the White House is being studied in detail by Brookings Institution political scientist and senior fellow Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, who noted on Tuesday in a new report (with charts) that staff turnover at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. since Trump’s inauguration has reached 80 percent, and that “no prior president comes close to this level of [National Security Council] instability.




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!


The Senate itself is on trial, by Edward Purcell Jr., opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Gakhye


Senator-jurors who may not be impartial — remove them for cause, by Jonathan Granoff, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2G87xbE


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Rep. Jody HiceJody Brownlow HiceHillicon Valley: Department of Justice sues Google | House Republicans push for tech bias hearing | Biden drawing more Twitter engagement for first time House Republicans push VA for details on recent data breach IRS closes in on final phase of challenging tax season MORE (R-Ga.); Patrice Snow, press secretary for Tom SteyerTom SteyerBiden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights New voters surge to the polls MORE’s presidential campaign; Michael Brooks, host of the Michael Brooks Show; and Jane Kleeb, Nebraska’s Democratic Party chair and author of “Harvest The Vote.” Coverage at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.


The House meets for a pro forma session on Friday at 2 p.m.


The Senate convenes today at 1 p.m. to continue the impeachment trial. 


The president today met with President Barham Salih of Iraq, was interviewed by CNBC and announced he would hold a news conference before departing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today.


Vice President Pence will depart Washington at 1 p.m. with second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceSpaceX capsule arrives at International Space Station The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Capital One - World reacts to news of second COVID-19 vaccine with 90 percent efficacy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by UAE - US records 1 million COVID-19 cases in a week; governors crack down MORE for an itinerary this week in Israel and Italy.


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump's NATO ambassador pledges 'seamless' transition to Biden administration US sanctions Chinese company for conducting business with Maduro regime Can Antony Blinken make American foreign policy great again? MORE is in Jamaica for discussions with Prime Minister Andrew Holness


Attorney General William BarrBill BarrNew DOJ rule could allow executions by electrocution, firing squad Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Five federal inmates scheduled for execution before Inauguration Day MORE will announce a new Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice at 9:30 a.m., accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at the Justice Department. Trump signed an executive order in October to create the panel to report to him on preventing crime and improving justice.                    


Virus: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first known U.S. case of coronavirus, a respiratory illness that originated in China and has killed at least nine people and sickened more than 450. The U.S. patient, described as in his 30s and in good condition in Washington state, recently traveled to Wuhan, China, the apparent epicenter for the viral outbreak. Asked on Wednesday about the virus entering the United States, Trump told CNBC, “We have it totally under control.” ...The World Health Organization will meet today to discuss whether the infection, detected to date in five countries, is a global health crisis (The New York Times). The news rumbled through financial markets on Tuesday with worries that travel and consumer behavior, particularly in Asia, could be affected.





Courts: The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an effort by Democrats to fast-track a challenge to a lower court’s ruling that struck down a key ingredient in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The high court’s rejection diminishes the possibility the legal dispute finds resolution in this election year (The Hill). …The Supreme Court on Tuesday also turned away a case that could have helped Democrats gain access to an unredacted version of the Russia investigation report by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE (Fox News). …The high court on Tuesday declined to take up a case involving lead-contaminated drinking water dating to 2014 in Flint, Mich., which means residents can file a civil rights lawsuit against city and government officials (The Associated Press, Scripps National). … James Mitchell, an architect of the CIA’s former waterboarding and interrogation program devised after the 9/11 terror attacks, on Tuesday faced off at Guantanamo Bay against defense lawyers for five defendants who seek to dismiss government evidence against them (The Associated Press).  


Afghanistan: Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that U.S. and Taliban leaders are close to reaching a peace deal that would see the eventual withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and achieve an end to a conflict now in its 19th year. 


Lebanon: A new Cabinet was introduced in Lebanon on Tuesday, three months after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned. Hassan Diab, a 60-year-old professor at the American University of Beirut, now heads a Cabinet of 20 members. The changes are seen as unlikely to satisfy protesters in Lebanon who want sweeping reforms and economic improvements (The Associated Press).


And finally …  Want a ride from one of the “Bad Boys”? Well, it was a lucky day for four Lyft riders in Miami over the weekend when they hopped in a 2020 Porsche Taycan to find Will Smith as their driver while he promotes his latest film, “Bad Boys for Life.” 


According to The Associated Press, Smith had one of his passengers FaceTime with his girlfriend after the rider said she watched the original 1995 film “Bad Boys” on a weekly basis. Smith, who has also starred in the “Men in Black” series, informed each passenger they would receive free Lyft rides into this year.


Smith appears alongside longtime co-star Martin Lawrence in the film, which premiered over the weekend.