The Hill's Morning Report - Report of Bolton tell-all manuscript roils Trump defense




Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Monday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

President TrumpDonald John TrumpChanges in policies, not personalities, will improve perception of corruption in the US Union leader: Bloomberg can go all the way Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' MORE’s legal team today continues its defense in the ongoing Senate impeachment trial as Republicans weigh renewed calls to vote to subpoena witnesses and documents. 


After using only two of its allotted 24 hours on Saturday, Trump’s team will make a detailed case for acquittal over the next two days. Headlining the proceedings today will be legal scholar Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzDershowitz files defamation suit against Boies, alleging extortion Sunday shows - 2020 Democrats make closing arguments in New Hampshire Dershowitz: 'Schumer and Pelosi have to go' MORE, who is expected to lay out a constitutional argument in support of the president.


Dershowitz’s presentation will take place as Trump’s team continues to push for a swift end to the trial, which could be wrapped up by the end of the week if senators decline to seek testimony from witnesses after posing trial questions in writing. 


A new report published Sunday night could complicate the issue of witnesses among a few Republican senators still teetering on the fence. The New York Times reported that former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonBarr back on the hot seat The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in John Bolton defends John Kelly after Trump criticism MORE — among the most sought-after figures for the House managers and Senate Democrats — said in a draft of his forthcoming book that Trump resisted releasing nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine unless the government promised an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren highlights work with Obama, Harry Reid in new Nevada ad Biden on Univision: Deporting 3 million 'was a big mistake' Pelosi: 'I'm not counting Joe Biden out' MORE and his son Hunter Biden. The claim contradicts the assertions by Trump, his legal team and his allies that the U.S. assistance authorized by Congress was temporarily withheld because of routine concerns about corruption in Ukraine. 


According to the Times, Bolton sent drafts of the manuscript to the White House for a standard review process. The reported allegation by Bolton may raise more questions for some GOP senators, including Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' MORE (R-Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDonald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Yes, Democrats have to defend their African-American base against Trump MORE (R-Utah), who have signaled an openness to hearing from witnesses. Others, including Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Ocasio-Cortez blasts Trump as 'corrupt' for blocking Global Entry for New Yorkers MORE (R-Alaska) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers MORE (R-Tenn.), have said they wanted to keep an open mind about the possibility. 


The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that heading into the critical week, GOP leaders are confident they’ll hold the line against any vote for witnesses. While Collins and Romney may lean toward the idea, it’s doubtful Democrats could find four Republicans to get to a simple majority on such a motion. 


The Senate could vote on the question of debating additional witnesses and documents as soon as Wednesday.


For now, Democrats have seized upon the news about Bolton. Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.) again urged the GOP to call witnesses shortly after the news broke, as did the House managers, who called for Bolton to provide notes and relevant documents to senators. They added that there is “no defensible reason to wait until his book is published” to hear the information from Bolton (The Hill).


“During our impeachment inquiry, the President blocked our request for Mr. Bolton’s testimony. Now we see why. The President knows how devastating his testimony would be, and, according to the report, the White House has had a draft of his manuscript for review. President Trump’s cover-up must come to an end,” the managers said in a statement. “Americans know that a fair trial must include both the documents and witnesses blocked by the President — that starts with Mr. Bolton.”


Hours after the report about the manuscript emerged, Bolton’s book — titled “The Room Where It Happened” — appeared on Amazon with a release date set for March 17.


The Hill: Trump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations.


The Hill: Dershowitz: Democrats “completely failed” to meet constitutional standard.


Sunday Shows: Spotlight shifts to Trump tweet, Senate trial witnesses.


The Hill: Trump echoes impeachment team in assailing House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDOJ lawyers resign en masse over Roger Stone sentencing George Conway: We might have to impeach Trump again How Lamar Alexander clouds the true meaning of the Constitution MORE (D-Calif.).


Looking ahead, despite Bolton’s news, it remains virtually certain that the president will be acquitted of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, perhaps as early as this week. Politically, this would hand a fundraising gift to Republicans, who have said impeachment has been a winner for GOP campaign coffers. At the same time, it’s also been a boost for Democrats among progressive donors. 


The Washington Post: Trump wants a Senate Democrat to vote for acquittal. The White House eyes Democrat Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Manchin not ruling out endorsing Trump reelection MORE of West Virginia, where voters backed Trump in 2016 by more than 40 points.


The New York Times: “Get rid of her,” Trump told GOP donor associates of Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiDonald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim Federal prosecutors advanced Giuliani-linked probe as impeachment concluded: report Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock MORE in 2018, speaking about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich. A video recording was released on Saturday. 


NBC News: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump adviser presses House investigators to make Bezos testify Nadler demands answers from Barr on 'new channel' for receiving Ukraine info from Giuliani Trump predicts Ocasio-Cortez will launch primary bid against Schumer MORE (D-N.Y.) says he will miss the impeachment trial today to be with his wife, who is being treated for pancreatic cancer. 





CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: With the first-in-the-nation primary contest seen as up for grabs, the Democratic presidential field is wooing voters all over Iowa one week before the all-important caucuses. 


Candidates barnstormed through the weekend. But the national focus on the 2020 race was overshadowed last week by the impeachment trial, as three of the top contenders were confined to their Senate seats in Washington instead of shaking hands and posing for selfies in living rooms and coffee shops in wintery Iowa. 


As Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo, whoever takes home the Iowa prize next week will reshape the Democratic race instantaneously. As consequential as who wins will be how the non-winners fare, and in what order they follow. 


For example: If Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren highlights work with Obama, Harry Reid in new Nevada ad Union leader: Bloomberg can go all the way Biden on Univision: Deporting 3 million 'was a big mistake' MORE (I-Vt.) defeats Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren highlights work with Obama, Harry Reid in new Nevada ad Biden on Univision: Deporting 3 million 'was a big mistake' Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises MORE (D-Mass.) heavily or vice versa, the victorious candidate will have the upper hand in being able to claim the mantle for progressives moving forward, especially with the New Hampshire primary taking place only eight days later.


For centrists, Biden, who is still the national front-runner, would not be fatally damaged by a loss in Iowa, especially considering that progressives and insurgent candidates have fared well historically in the state. However, if he falls behind former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegWill Bernie have to turn on his bros? Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises Now's a time to take a look at who's 'blooming' among Democrats MORE or Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharWill Bernie have to turn on his bros? Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises Klobuchar says English should not be US national language, reversing from prior vote MORE (D-Minn.), it could be tough for him to climb out of that hole.


According to the latest RealClearPolitics average, Biden and Sanders are in a statistical tie for the top spot at 21 percent and 20.6 percent, respectively. Buttigieg (17.6 percent) and Warren (16 percent) trail by only a couple points, while Klobuchar continues to sit in fifth place with 8 percent support. 


The Wall Street Journal: On day off from impeachment trial, senators campaign frantically in Iowa.


The Associated Press: Who can topple Trump? Dems’ electability fight rages in Iowa.


Politico: How record-high turnout in Iowa could upend the 2020 race.


Of the front-runners, no one has been on more of a helium watch than Sanders, who has increasingly become a favorite to take home the Democratic nomination, according to The Hill’s Jonathan Easley


While Iowa remains anyone’s game, Sanders is the favorite to take home the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11. With victories in both states, Sanders would cement himself as the front-runner for the nomination and send many within the Democratic Party running in search of Maalox.


Sanders separated himself from the pack in a New York Times-Siena College poll of Iowa released over the weekend, one of the first to find a clear-cut leader in the Hawkeye State. In New Hampshire, a WBUR survey released this week found Sanders leading by 12 points over Buttigieg. At the national level, Sanders surpassed Biden in CNN’s latest nationwide survey — the first time Biden did not lead in that poll. 


While Sanders continues to trail Biden in Nevada and South Carolina, victories in the first two contests could put wins within reach in states that vote on Super Tuesday, where Sanders is positioned well. A new survey out of California, where more delegates are at stake than anywhere else, found Sanders with a 4-point lead over Biden, a sign of his popularity in a key Super Tuesday state.


More than anything, Sanders seems to be on the upswing at the right time, having the most financial might of any non-billionaire in the race and a loud group of supporters, led by young voters, who are energized behind his candidacy.


On the other hand, as Amie Parnes writes, Sanders could be facing a problem with women in his fight for the nomination, especially after high-profile tiffs with Warren and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonUnion leader: Bloomberg can go all the way Will Bernie have to turn on his bros? De Blasio endorses Sanders for president MORE, his 2016 rival. 


Clinton slammed the Vermont Independent last week — a reminder of their long-simmering feud — raising questions about whether women disappointed that Clinton didn’t break the last glass ceiling in U.S. politics will hold a grudge against Sanders.


“Securing votes from women will be an uphill struggle for Sanders,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “When there's an argument between a male and female candidate, most voters will see the male candidate as a bully. So, his confrontation with Warren just before Iowa and New Hampshire comes at a bad time for Sanders.”


The Associated Press: Biden’s “consensus” pitch faces the biggest test in Iowa.


The New York Times: In crucial Pennsylvania, Democrats worry a fracking ban could sink them.


With all eyes on the early voting states, it’s also worth noting that they are not the only places where voters will weigh in. Early voting has already started in two states and will take place in more than 10 states in February, including California (CBS News).


The Washington Post: Michael BloombergMichael Rubens BloombergUnion leader: Bloomberg can go all the way Democratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises A Trump supporter's defense of Michael Bloomberg MORE pitches himself to Jewish Americans, in a presidential race with two very different Jewish candidates.


The Wall Street Journal: Dems’ Iowa caucus voting app stirs security concerns.


The New York Times: Bernie Sanders and his internet army.





CHINA VIRUS: The alarming spread of a deadly coronavirus that has killed 81 people in China and sickened more than 2,700 in a single month is deepening fears of a pandemic (Reuters and The New York Times). In China, the virus is spreading rapidly, prompting new warnings from health officials and concern from President Xi Jinping as the nation of 1.4 billion people races to contain the outbreak.


The government in Beijing is now enforcing a travel ban in 16 cities covering more than 50 million people, roughly equivalent to the population of Spain (The Washington Post).


Complicating efforts to halt the spread is a medical assessment that unsuspecting patients may be without symptoms for as long as two weeks after being infected.


The State Department consulate in China closest to the epicenter of the outbreak will evacuate its personnel and some private citizens to San Francisco aboard a charter flight on Tuesday (The Los Angeles Times).


As of Sunday, five patients in the United States, all of whom traveled to Wuhan, China, have been diagnosed with the newly identified organism, which causes pneumonia and other respiratory illness. Health officials expect to see more cases in the United States but believe the virus has not spread from person to person here (The Associated Press).


Travelers from the Hubei province in China where the outbreak began are barred as of today from traveling to Hong Kong as officials work to stop the spread (Reuters).


U.S. colleges and universities that maintain study-abroad programs in China and enroll international students from Asia are weighing health risks and communicating with students and their parents (The Washington Post).  



WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Trump will meet today in separate bilateral sessions at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and Gen. Benny Gantz, who is challenging Netanyahu in an unprecedented third Israeli election on March 2 (The New York Times). 


Trump’s long-awaited secret plan for Middle East peace is to be reviewed by the prime minister, now a scandal-hobbled leader at home, and by Gantz. Trump, working to gain the support of Jewish voters and allies of Israel, boasts that he is the contemporary American president who has done the most for Israel (The Hill).





> IRS: The second tax filing season under the 2017 GOP tax law begins today with continued confusion among tax filers about the size of refunds, or worse, money they unexpectedly owed last time. Tax preparers are split over whether taxpayer anxiety and frustration over refunds will persist this season, and the administration is watching closely during an election year (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!


Iowa is looking less and less like that clarifying moment Democrats had hoped for, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post.  


Evangelicals’ political soul searching must transcend Trump, by Marik von Rennenkampff, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features Matt Karp, contributing editor at Jacobin; Toure, host of “The Toure Show”; and Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. Coverage at or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.


The House meets at 2 p.m.


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


The president this morning will welcome Netanyahu to the White House for bilateral meetings, accompanied by Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoDonald Trump: Unrepentant, on the attack and still playing the victim US defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Kobach says he discussed his Senate bid with Trump MORE. Trump, Pence and Pompeo will separately hold a bilateral meeting with Gantz, chairman of Israel’s Blue and White Party. The president will have lunch with the vice president. In the afternoon, Trump will participate in the ceremonial swearing-in of the administrator of the Small Business Administration, Jovita Carranza.


Pence hosts a “Lunar New Year celebration” and swears in new members of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at 2 p.m. in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. He will be joined by Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoWatchdog sues for records of Boeing's communications with Trump's Transportation Department The Hill's Morning Report - Report of Bolton tell-all manuscript roils Trump defense Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCan the US slap tariffs on auto imports? Not anymore On The Money: Slowing economy complicates 2020 message for Trump | Tech confronts growing impact of coronavirus | Manufacturing rises after five-month contraction The Memo: Trump threatens to overshadow Democrats in Iowa MORE and Labor Secretary Eugene ScaliaEugene ScaliaThe Hill's Morning Report - Report of Bolton tell-all manuscript roils Trump defense Trump administration makes it harder for franchise employees to sue over wages Webb: My tribe is American MORE. He’ll also join the president during Carranza’s swearing-in.


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinGOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law On The Money: Deficit spikes 25 percent through January | Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case | Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts Mnuchin defends Treasury regulations on GOP tax law MORE is in Poland to lead the U.S. delegation at 9:30 a.m. ET to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau German death camp.


You’re invited to The Hill’s Thursday newsmaker event,A More Perfect Union?” from 8 to 11 a.m. in Washington. Speakers include Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdTrump to attend California fundraiser with Oracle chairman The Hill's Morning Report - Nearing witness vote, GOP rushes to acquit Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump defense rests, GOP struggles to bar witnesses MORE (R-Texas), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarDemocrats call for Twitter, Facebook to take down Pelosi video posted by Trump El Paso Walmart shooting suspect charged under federal hate crime law The Hill's Morning Report - Icy moments between Trump, Pelosi mark national address MORE (D-Texas) and Greg StantonGregory (Greg) John StantonLawmakers discuss how to work together in midst of impeachment fight The Hill's Morning Report - Nearing witness vote, GOP rushes to acquit Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump defense rests, GOP struggles to bar witnesses MORE (D-Ariz.). Information is HERE.


Kobe Bryant: The former NBA star, 41, who died in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others on Sunday 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles, is being mourned by fellow athletes, sports fans, celebrities, politicians in his state, and the 44th and 45th presidents. The crash remains under investigation (NBC News). Bryant, who retired in 2016, had one of the greatest careers in recent pro basketball history and became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers franchise. He was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams (The Associated Press).





State watch: Hundreds of counties and other localities are declaring themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries” to protect their local governments from enforcing laws officials assert infringe on the Second Amendment (The Hill). … Virginia Democrats advanced gun control bills promoted by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Friday in the House of Delegates, voting to expand background checks on gun buyers and to reinstate the one-handgun-purchase-per-month-rule but did not consider a proposal for a ban on assault weapons (The Washington Post).


Art: In major museums, when a particular exhibit becomes a huge hit, it goes on the road. Beginning in June 2021, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington will send its portraits of former President Obama and former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaThe Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Obamas share messages wishing each other happy Valentine's Day California elementary school to be named after Michelle Obama MORE to five U.S. cities (Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston). The popular works — painted by African American artists Kehinde Wiley (Obama) and Amy Sherald (Michelle) — are credited with drawing thousands of visitors to the Portrait Gallery (The Hill).





And finally …  Before we wrap up today, we have to add some winners to the long list of Morning Report Quiz aces from last week, when we asked about the coronavirus outbreak in China. Heaps more congratulations to puzzle masters William Chittam, Kenneth Fridsma, Helene Bon and Naomi Freeman.


And one more Monday alert: As if Washington’s streets are not sufficiently nerve wracking, vehicle-choked and perilous for pedestrians, self-driving Uber vehicles arrived on Friday. Small blessing: They are not accepting riders. Yet (WTOP).