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

 

 

 

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama calls on Senate not to fill Ginsburg's vacancy until after election Planned Parenthood: 'The fate of our rights' depends on Ginsburg replacement Progressive group to spend M in ad campaign on Supreme Court vacancy 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 suing CNN for 0 million in defamation suit Bannon and Maxwell cases display DOJ press strategy chutzpah Ghislaine Maxwell attorneys ask for delay to unseal court documents due to 'critical new information' 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 BoltonDiplomacy with China is good for America The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep DOJ launches probe into Bolton book for possible classified information disclosures 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 BidenSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Biden says Ginsburg successor should be picked by candidate who wins on Nov. 3 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 Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg Democratic senator calls for eliminating filibuster, expanding Supreme Court if GOP fills vacancy What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies MORE (R-Maine) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg McConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote GOP-led panel to hear from former official who said Burisma was not a factor in US policy MORE (R-Utah), who have signaled an openness to hearing from witnesses. Others, including Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate Republicans face tough decision on replacing Ginsburg What Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies McConnell says Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote MORE (R-Alaska) and Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderChamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection Trump health officials grilled over reports of politics in COVID-19 response Now is the time to renew our focus on students and their futures 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 SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi orders Capitol flags at half-staff to honor Ginsburg Ginsburg in statement before her death said she wished not to be replaced until next president is sworn in Democrats call for NRA Foundation to be prohibited from receiving donations from federal employees 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 SchiffTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence Overnight Defense: Top admiral says 'no condition' where US should conduct nuclear test 'at this time' | Intelligence chief says Congress will get some in-person election security briefings Overnight Defense: House to vote on military justice bill spurred by Vanessa Guillén death | Biden courts veterans after Trump's military controversies 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) ManchinBiden promises Democratic senators help in battleground states Senate leaders quash talk of rank-and-file COVID-19 deal OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' 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 GiulianiGrand jury adds additional counts against Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and and Igor Fruman Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates Giuliani criticizes NYC leadership: 'They're killing this city' 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 NadlerTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence House passes bill to protect pregnant workers House Democrats postpone vote on marijuana decriminalization bill MORE (D-N.Y.) says he will miss the impeachment trial today to be with his wife, who is being treated for pancreatic cancer. 

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

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 SandersKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 Biden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? McConnell accuses Democrats of sowing division by 'downplaying progress' on election security MORE (I-Vt.) defeats Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden's fiscal program: What is the likely market impact? Warren, Schumer introduce plan for next president to cancel ,000 in student debt The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon 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 ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration Overnight Defense: Woodward book causes new firestorm | Book says Trump lashed out at generals, told Woodward about secret weapons system | US withdrawing thousands of troops from Iraq MORE or Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill EPA delivers win for ethanol industry angered by waivers to refiners It's time for newspapers to stop endorsing presidential candidates 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 ClintonWhat Senate Republicans have said about election-year Supreme Court vacancies Bipartisan praise pours in after Ginsburg's death Trump carries on with rally, unaware of Ginsburg's death 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 BloombergTop Democratic super PAC launches Florida ad blitz after Bloomberg donation The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Latest with the COVID-19 relief bill negotiations The Memo: 2020 is all about winning Florida 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.

 

 

 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

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: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Iowa is looking less and less like that clarifying moment Democrats had hoped for, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/36x2JXY  

 

Evangelicals’ political soul searching must transcend Trump, by Marik von Rennenkampff, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2GqoQER



WHERE AND WHEN

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 http://thehill.com/hilltv 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 PompeoHouse panel halts contempt proceedings against Pompeo after documents turned over Outgoing ambassador to China slams Beijing over coronavirus: 'Could have been contained in Wuhan' Hillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers 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 ChaoChick-fil-A drops fight for San Antonio airport location Overnight Defense: US marks 19th anniversary of 9/11 attacks | Trump awards Medal of Honor to Army Ranger for hostage rescue mission | Bahrain, Israel normalizing diplomatic ties Trump marks 9/11 with moment of silence on Air Force One, remarks in PA MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTikTok, WeChat to be banned Sunday from US app stores The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Trump seeks to flip 'Rage' narrative; Dems block COVID-19 bill Judge orders Trump administration stop 'winding down' census collection, processing efforts MORE and Labor Secretary Eugene ScaliaEugene ScaliaFederal litigator files complaint alleging Labor secretary abused his authority Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Making a difference in the age of COVID-19 MORE. He’ll also join the president during Carranza’s swearing-in.

 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid House Democrats plan to unveil bill next week to avert shutdown 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 HurdHillicon Valley: Oracle confirms deal with TikTok to be 'trusted technology provider' | QAnon spreads across globe, shadowing COVID-19 | VA hit by data breach impacting 46,000 veterans House approves bill to secure internet-connected federal devices against cyber threats House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts MORE (R-Texas), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarHispanic caucus report takes stock of accomplishments with eye toward 2021 Races heat up for House leadership posts Ahead of a coronavirus vaccine, Mexico's drug pricing to have far-reaching impacts on Americans MORE (D-Texas) and Greg StantonGregory (Greg) John StantonUS Chamber of Commerce set to endorse 23 House freshman Democrats Arizona lawmaker warns Pence state may end coronavirus testing due to shortage Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday MORE (D-Ariz.). Information is HERE.



ELSEWHERE

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 ObamaNational Urban League, BET launch National Black Voter Day The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - White House moves closer to Pelosi on virus relief bill The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Don't expect a government check anytime soon 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).

 

 

 



THE CLOSER

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).