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 TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend 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 SchiffWhite House defends not sanctioning Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi What good are the intelligence committees? Biden holds off punishing Saudi crown prince, despite US intel 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 BidenSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill Rural Americans are the future of the clean energy economy — policymakers must to catch up WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year 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 SekulowThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - New video of riot unnerves many senators Trump legal switch hints at larger problems Trump, House GOP relationship suddenly deteriorates MORE, a lead member of the president’s legal team, on Thursday evening.  

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSupreme Court faces landmark challenge on voting rights Trump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Poll shows most GOP voters back Trump 2024 bid 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 CollinsSenate Democrats negotiating changes to coronavirus bill On The Money: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax GOP says Ron Klain pulling Biden strings 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 MeadowsHow scientists saved Trump's FDA from politics Liberals howl after Democrats cave on witnesses Kinzinger calls for people with info on Trump to come forward 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 McConnellJudiciary Committee greenlights Garland's AG nomination This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Juan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP 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 NadlerJim Jordan calls for House Judiciary hearing on 'cancel culture' House Judiciary split on how to address domestic extremism George Floyd police reform bill reintroduced in House 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 AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes 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: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax Sanders vows to force vote on minimum wage No. 2 Senate Democrat shoots down overruling parliamentarian on minimum wage 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 RyanCPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director Bottom line 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 WarrenOn The Money: Senators push for changes as chamber nears vote on .9T relief bill | Warren offers bill to create wealth tax Sanders vows to force vote on minimum wage Warren's wealth tax would cost 100 richest Americans billion MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharJuan Williams: Hypocrisy runs riot in GOP Open-ended antitrust is an innovation killer FBI, DHS and Pentagon officials to testify on Capitol riot 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 HarrisHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package This week: Senate takes up coronavirus relief after minimum wage setback Brown vows Democrats will 'find a way' to raise minimum wage 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 ButtigiegHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden vs. Trump, part II MORE, Andrew YangAndrew YangDozens of famous men support ,400 monthly payments for mothers for 'unpaid labor at home' Yang intervenes after man threatened with metal pole on Staten Island Ferry NYC's largest union endorses Maya Wiley in mayoral race MORE and Tom SteyerTom SteyerGOP targets ballot initiatives after progressive wins On The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far 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 PressleyPressley says image of Black custodial staff cleaning up Capitol after Jan. 6 riot 'haunts' her DeJoy apologizes for mail delays while defending Postal Service changes DeJoy set for grilling by House Oversight panel MORE [D-Mass.]) and Nevada (former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroState Department establishes chief officer in charge of diversity Texas governor faces criticism over handling of winter storm fallout DC bureau chief for The Intercept: Impeachment managers became 'like the dog who caught the car' when permitted to call witnesses 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 FinkenauerChamber of Commerce slams GOP effort to challenge Biden's win Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters Here are the 17 GOP women newly elected to the House this year 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 KushnerBiden to speak with Saudi king 'soon' as pressure builds for Khashoggi report Biden to speak with Saudi king ahead of Khashoggi report: report Former Trump officials eye bids for political office 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: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. 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. https://bit.ly/2RmSvoX 

No rush to judgment on Trump — it's been ongoing since Election Day, by Bernard Goldberg, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/37o2SOC


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 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 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 PompeoMike PompeoTrump: 'I can't imagine' any Republican would beat me in 2024 primary if I run Green New Deal's 3 billion ton problem: sourcing technology metals US condemns arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong 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 PenceCan a common bond of service unite our nation? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - House boots Greene from committees; Senate plows ahead on budget Pence announces post-White House office, plans to move back to Indiana MORE will visit Vatican City and meet Pope FrancisPope FrancisEx-pope targets 'fanatical friends' who have not accepted resignation Experts advise against pope's trip to Iraq amid pandemic Italy commemorates one-year anniversary of its first known COVID-19 case 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 HurdHere are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act Sunday shows - COVID-19 dominates as grim milestone approaches Former Texas GOP rep: Trump should hold very little or no role in Republican Party MORE (R-Texas), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarEl Paso shooting survivor deported to Mexico after traffic stop House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics MORE (D-Texas) and Greg StantonGregory (Greg) John StantonHouse Democrat to introduce bill requiring Capitol Police to use body cameras House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump Chamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night 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 BezosGOP senators question Amazon on removal of book about 'transgender moment' Warren's wealth tax would cost 100 richest Americans billion Hillicon Valley: Privacy, immigrant rights groups slam 'smart wall' proposal | New DHS policies aim to fight cyber 'epidemic' | Twitter exploring allowing users to charge for content 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.