The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power

The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE should be removed from office rather than voted out of office because he asked a foreign government to interfere in this year’s U.S. election and schemed to “extort” and “coerce” cooperation to benefit himself at the expense of U.S. national interests, House impeachment managers argued on Thursday. 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package House Intelligence panel opens probe into DHS's involvement in response to protests MORE (D-Calif.), who leads the Democrats’ impeachment case against the president, told senators that the available evidence, documents and witnesses show that Trump abused his powers and the trust of the American people by putting his political interests ahead of national interests before trying to hide his actions (The Hill).    

Schiff, in anticipation of rebuttals to come from Trump’s legal team, told Senate jurors that simply appealing to voters in November to defeat a president who succumbed to his “corrupt intent” is not enough. “A remedy in which a president can cheat is no remedy at all,” he said.

Using video clips of the president’s public remarks, Schiff and his House prosecution colleagues argued that the combined evidence proves that Trump’s actions and entreaties to Ukraine, including through trusted surrogates, were “wrong,” “improper” and “damaging” to the United States and to a vulnerable U.S. ally at war with Russia. 

The Democrats’ opening arguments have not asserted that the president, whose constitutional powers are vast, violated specific statutes, in part because “other high crimes and misdemeanors” can encompass violations of public trust, according to constitutional scholars. 

Trump and White House lawyers last year ignored subpoenas and blocked testimony and document production from current and former senior White House and Cabinet officials. Schiff and his House colleagues nevertheless accused Trump on Thursday of personally ordering nearly $400 million in U.S. aid that had been approved by Congress for Ukraine to be withheld. They said Trump attempted to “extort” Ukraine’s government to announce a corruption investigation he imagined would hurt former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Biden clarifies comments comparing African American and Latino communities Kanye West may have missed deadline to get on Wisconsin ballot by minutes: report MORE, his leading Democratic rival at the time.

The Government Accountability Office recently determined that the administration violated U.S. law by withholding the Ukraine aid, even temporarily. Some GOP senators have dismissed the GAO report as unpersuasive while House Democrats recently said it would be “a big part of our case” (Axios).

President Trump froze the aid,” Schiff told senators, pointedly laying out a rationale to seek testimony from additional witnesses who under oath could speak with direct knowledge about the president’s claims that he zeroed in on Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, out of concern they carried out corrupt acts in Ukraine. 

Some House and Senate Republicans repeat the president’s assertions about the Bidens, although the accusations are devoid of proof and contradict dismissals from current and former Trump administration intelligence and national security officials.

Trump allies also believe that the time House managers have spent clearing the former vice president’s name has “opened the door” for the president’s team to highlight the work his son did for Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company, when their turn comes on Saturday.

“They kind of opened the door for that response, so we’ll determine as a defense team the appropriate way to do it,” said Jay SekulowJay Alan SekulowDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Trump complains of 'political prosecution' after SCOTUS rulings on financial records Appeals court rejects Trump effort to throw out emoluments case MORE, a lead member of the president’s legal team, on Thursday evening.  

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal MORE (R-Texas.) (pictured below) said the House prosecutors “perhaps unintentionally threw Joe Biden under the bus” by trying to defend him earlier in the day.

The Hill: Schiff tells Senate that a conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election “was brought to you by the Kremlin.” 

The president told reporters this week that he would welcome trial witnesses, but needed in this case to assert his executive privilege to protect national security. 

“This was not about foreign policy, in fact it was inconsistent with, and diverged from, American national security and American values,” Schiff countered, adding that Trump “has made it clear, he didn’t care about corruption. He cared only about himself. Now it is up to us to do something about it.”  

The Hill: GOP senators warned by Trump allies that seeking to call witnesses could prolong the impeachment trial for weeks. 

Allies of the president believe the ominous case laid out by Schiff and his team has made little headway among Senate Republicans, including Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's visit to battleground Ohio overshadowed by coronavirus New polls show tight races for Graham, McConnell McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Maine), the foremost moderate in the GOP conference who is up for reelection. They suggest the case presented by the House managers has solidified Collins’s thinking heading in the other direction. 

“[Collins] is thoughtful and...she loves her constituents back home in Maine,” Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Top Democrats say postmaster confirmed changes to mail service amid delays MORE (R-N.C.), who is working on the president’s team during the trial, told reporters during a break in proceedings. “She’s going to get to the bottom of this, and if not, she’ll ask for additional information,” he added. “I think actually my Democrat House managers are doing a good job of convincing her that they don’t have the case.”

The prosecutors have one more day to lay out their case before the president’s team starts its defense on Saturday. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told reporters during a brief recess that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks Overnight Health Care: Ohio governor tests positive for COVID-19 ahead of Trump's visit | US shows signs of coronavirus peak, but difficult days lie ahead | Trump: COVID-19 vaccine may be ready 'right around' Election Day MORE (R-Ky.) has not given any indication of when the trial will begin on Saturday.

The Hill: Democrats sharpened their arguments asserting abuse of power during Thursday’s opening arguments.

The Hill: Female House impeachment prosecutors suggest Americans will view the Senate trial as “rigged” if Trump is acquitted without hearing from witnesses.

Chief Justice John Roberts’s admonition during the Senate impeachment trial early Wednesday in response to a verbal clash between Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBy questioning Barr, Democrats unmasked their policy of betrayal Chris Wallace: Barr hearing 'an embarrassment' for Democrats: 'Just wanted to excoriate him' Apple posts blowout third quarter MORE (D-N.Y.) and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone occurred after Roberts received a hastily written note from Collins. The Maine Republican voted in 1999 to acquit former President Clinton on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, and she is a potential swing vote in support of her Democratic colleagues on the question of whether to call witnesses as part of the Trump trial (The Hill). Another GOP senator viewed with caution by his colleagues on the question of adding witnesses is Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderTrump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Tenn.), who is retiring (Politico).

The Hill: It’s Day Four of the Trump trial. Here’s what to expect.




CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOn The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure Sanders offers bill to tax billionaires' wealth gains during pandemic MORE (I-Vt.) have found themselves locked in a war of words over their records on Social Security as they come around the turn and head down the stretch in the fight to win Iowa.  

As Niv Elis writes, the attacks have been hard and personal as the Biden campaign has accused Sanders of running misleading ads on positions the former senator and vice president took as recently as 2018 and as far back as 1984.  

For example, a campaign email from Sanders noted that “Biden lauded [former GOP House Speaker] Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBudowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' Trump lashes out at Reagan Foundation after fundraising request MORE for proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare.”  However, the remarks in question came during a speech at Brookings in April 2018 where Biden was mocking the GOP position on reducing the deficit when he referenced Ryan.  

“Now, we need to do something about Social Security and Medicare,” Biden said, adding in a hushed, sarcastic tone to portray Ryan’s position: “That’s the only way you can find room to pay for it.”  

Biden’s campaign shot back against Sanders’s portrayals, calling the claims "dishonest."  

“We can’t launch dishonest attacks against fellow Democrats. We have to beat Donald Trump,” one video said. “Bernie’s negative attacks won’t change the truth.”  

The back-and-forth comes as both candidates have staked out somewhat different positions on social security. Sanders has consistently called for expanding the entitlement programs such as social security as well as benefits, Meanwhile, Biden has also argued for an expansion of social security, though he has also frequently called for “grand bargains” that would sacrifice Republican sacred cows by raising taxes and also Democratic ones by addressing, in some form, the unsustainable elements of Social Security.  

While Biden’s willingness to compromise and work with Republicans is often touted as a plus by some of his supporters, progressives and Sanders supporters are far less supportive of the tactic.

Meanwhile, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden VP race is highly fluid days before expected pick Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Lobbying world MORE (D-Minn.) continued to be confined to the Senate chamber and unable to spend time in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, which could potentially be a make-or-break contest for some of them. Speaking to reporters, Warren indicated that she is relying heavily on the operation she has put into place over the past year in the Hawkeye State.

“I took an oath of office, and that is to uphold the Constitution,” Warren said. “This is only our third impeachment in the history of the United States. I have made a commitment, and I will be here. I am, however, very happy to see that the grass-roots organization that I’ve been trying to develop for over a year now has really sprung into action.”  

“All I can do is my best,” Warren added (The Washington Post).

The New York Times: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden VP race is highly fluid days before expected pick Harris, Ocasio-Cortez push climate equity bill with Green New Deal roots Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-Calif.) is said to be weighing an endorsement of Joe Biden.

The Hill: Biden pens op-ed detailing how he would undo Trump's foreign policy.

The Senate trial also caused CNN to cancel all of its planned town halls in the caucus state that were planned for Jan. 28 and 29. Sanders, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan dies How Republicans can embrace environmentalism and win MORE, Andrew YangAndrew YangIs this the end of the 'college experience'? Biden campaign to take over 'Supernatural' star's Instagram for interview Hillicon Valley: Justice Department announces superseding indictment against WikiLeaks' Assange | Facebook ad boycott gains momentum | FBI sees spike in coronavirus-related cyber threats | Boston city government bans facial recognition technology MORE and Tom SteyerTom SteyerSteyer endorses reparations bill, commits to working with Jackson Lee Progressive group launches M pro-Biden ad buy targeting young voters The Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches MORE were scheduled to appear on night one, while Biden, Warren and Klobuchar were set to participate on the second night (The Hill).

The Senate Democratic trio are also being forced to rely on surrogates and their ground games to get the job done while they remain back in Washington. Warren’s campaign announced on Thursday that “Queer Eye” host Jonathan Van Ness will rally supporters on Sunday, while she has other high profile surrogates holding events across New Hampshire (Ashley Judd), South Carolina (Rep. Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMinneapolis Star Tribune endorses Ilhan Omar's primary challenger Tlaib wins Michigan Democratic primary Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE [D-Mass.]) and Nevada (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin Castro This week: Congress set for bipartisan coronavirus talks as clock ticks Sherman joins race for House Foreign Affairs gavel Castro launches bid for House Foreign Affairs gavel MORE [D-Texas]). 

After campaigning throughout Iowa earlier in the week, Biden will hold events in New Hampshire today and early Saturday before returning to Iowa on Saturday night. Biden is also enlisting some of his key supporters to help out in Iowa as Reps. Abby FinkenauerAbby Lea FinkenauerHouse Democrats target Midwestern GOP seats Obama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Iowa GOP House candidate pulls multiple sections from website amid plagiarism accusations MORE (D-Iowa), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), and Colin Allred (D-Texas) will take part in a bus tour on Saturday to stump for the former VP. 

The Hill: Trump to hold rally on eve of New Hampshire primary.

WBUR: Sanders widens lead in New Hampshire. 

The Washington Post: Bloomberg gets under Trump’s skin as he ramps up spending on 2020 ads.




WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a major rollback of Obama-era policies to protect waterways. Critics say the regulatory changes will undercut provisions of the Clean Water Act. Trump recently lauded the changes as part of a speech to farmers, a key constituency for his reelection bid (The Hill).

> Trade: Experts and trade analysts say Trump’s upending of global commerce and his enthusiasm for transactional, managed trade may endure even after he’s left office (Bloomberg BusinessWeek). 

> State Department: On Thursday, the administration announced a crackdown on visa issuance to pregnant women living abroad who seek to travel to the United States and then give birth. The administration opposes granting U.S. citizenship to children born to women who seek temporary travel visas for that purpose. “A consular officer shall deny a B nonimmigrant visa to an alien who he or she has reason to believe intends to travel for this primary purpose," the department said, leaving it vague how the department will establish intent (The Hill). The visas covered under the new rule, which takes effect today, impact women seeking to visit for pleasure, medical treatment or to see friends and family (The New York Times).

> Federal Trade Commission & consumer protection: The FTC on Thursday announced it paid more than $1.6 million to consumers in Nevada last year related to scams and fraud complaints. The FTC said imposter scams and, in particular, government imposter scams were the most common type of fraud reported in 2019 nationwide (News3LasVegas). 

> Middle East: The long-awaited White House Middle East peace plan, which Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Deutsche Bank launches investigation into longtime banker of Trump, Kushner Watchdog group accuses Stephen Miller of violating Hatch Act with Biden comments MORE steered and once said would be out by June 2019, will be released before Tuesday, Trump said on Thursday. The president meets with Israeli officials at the White House next week (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!


What law did Donald Trump break? by Allan Lichtman, opinion contributor, The Hill. 

No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day, by Bernard Goldberg, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Matt Taibbi, reporter for Rolling Stone; Daniel Marans, political reporter at HuffPost; Yvette Williams, chairwoman of the Clark County Black Caucus; and Laila Mickelwait, director of abolition for Exodus Cry. Coverage at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.

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

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

The president will speak to participants at this year’s anti-abortion “March for Life” on the Mall at 12:15 p.m. (the first president to do so in person). He will meet with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration State Department offers M reward for foreign election interference information State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration MORE at 3 p.m. in the Oval Office. Trump will speak to U.S. mayors at an event in the East Room at 4:15 p.m.

Vice President Pence is in Italy where he and second lady Karen PenceKaren Sue PenceBiden pays his respects to John Lewis at the Capitol Trump will not visit Capitol to pay respects to civil rights icon John Lewis The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - High-ranking White House official tests positive MORE will visit Vatican City and meet Pope FrancisPope FrancisFormer pope ill after trip to Germany: report Group says China hackers infiltrated Vatican ahead of expected talks McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue MORE and Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin

You’re invited to The Hill’s Jan. 30 newsmaker event,A More Perfect Union?” from 8 to 11 a.m. in Washington. Speakers include Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdDemocrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Texas Democrats plan 7-figure ad buy to turn state blue Republicans face worsening outlook in battle for House MORE (R-Texas), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality Democrats hope clash resonates with key bloc: Women MORE (D-Texas) and Greg StantonGregory (Greg) John StantonArizona lawmaker warns Pence state may end coronavirus testing due to shortage Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday The Hill's Campaign Report: Centrists rush behind Biden to stop Sanders MORE (D-Ariz.). Information is HERE.



Silent attackers: How far will some governments go to retaliate against critics? It happened with North Korea against Sony in 2014, and now the alleged hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosHearing for Twitter hack suspect Zoom-bombed by porn, rap music Five takeaways from Big Tech's blowout earnings Hillicon Valley: Trump raises idea of delaying election, faces swift bipartisan pushback | Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google release earnings reports | Senators ask Justice Department to investigate TikTok, Zoom MORE's phone by Saudi Arabia in connection with the killing of former Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi raises new alarms among cyber experts and in the international community (The Hill).

Negative interest rates: One of the most interesting global financial debates swirls around negative interest rates. They’re driving Swiss savers and investors to withdraw bank funds to store cash themselves (CNN). JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said he has “trepidation” about negative interest rates (CNBC), while Trump clashed with his top economic adviser, Larry KudlowLarry KudlowMORE, in the debate (the president favors negative rates while Kudlow said they don’t work) (CNBC). As CNBC explains, economists are divided over the effectiveness of negative interest rates to stimulate economic growth, and some fear such rates can keep growth subdued.

Catholic Church: The Pope on Thursday moved to shift the ideological balance of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, replacing a prominent conservative critic, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, with Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland, a former Philadelphian (The New York Times).

Cookies out of this world: Slow cooking is a culinary movement on Earth, but perhaps two hours to bake a cookie in outer space tests chefs’ patience? NASA’s experiment — using a unique “Zero G” oven to bake chocolate-chip cookies on the International Space Station — produced an interesting result, but left a few questions. Why does a cookie bake within 20 minutes on Earth but need hours on a spacecraft? And how do those cookies taste? The hunt for answers continues in a Houston-area laboratory (The Associated Press).




And finally … Bravo to this week’s Morning Report quiz masters! 

It’s evident that many, many news consumers are paying close attention to an outbreak of a deadly new coronavirus — and the global race to halt its spread. Today, 35 million people in 13 cities are in lockdown to try to stave off a potential epidemic (The New York Times and Reuters). And to review U.S. preparedness, the Senate will receive a briefing next week (The Hill).

Winners of our news quiz this week are: Ki Harvey, Fran Tankersley, M.R. Tofalo, Tim Aiken, Patricia Swank, Christopher W. Rogers, Daniel Bachhuber (playing along from Thailand), Manley Glaubitz, Thomas Miller, Paula Hassinger, “Itillery,” Margaret Gainer, Jim Dykstra, John Donato, BJ Ford, Dianne Smith, David Anderson, John Wheby, Allyson Foster, Dan Kostenbauder, Buzz Watkins, Michael Roberts, Julian Martinez, John Carlan, Kane Martin, John van Santen, Sarah Hall Phillips, Abby Alkire, Carol Katz, Charity Frasier, John Hayden, Rachel Tyree, Dominique Tonneas, Michael Mullen, Debi Hartmann, Caroline Fisher, Janet Liston, Marilyn Leland, Tom Werkema, “yleoandyou7” and Walter Pflaumer.

They knew the virus causes pneumonia and respiratory illness.

Humans contract most coronaviruses through air and surface contact transmission, but specifically how the first transmission occurred with the new virus and how so many people, including health care workers, became infected since last month continues to be under study (Nature).

The epicenter of the outbreak of the new virus is in Wuhan, China.

The first U.S. patient diagnosed with the new virus was hospitalized in Everett, Wash., following a trip to Wuhan.