The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders on the rise as Nevada debate looms




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The tenor of the Democratic primary race is growing increasingly nasty as candidates barnstorm Nevada, along with other upcoming primary states, and try to prevent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream On The Money: Deficit rises to record .7 trillion amid pandemic: CBO | Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending | House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS Biden-Sanders unity task force calls for Fed, US Postal Service consumer banking MORE (I-Vt.) from taking home Saturday night’s caucuses. 


Four days out from the Nevada caucuses, Sanders has emerged as the favorite after two top-two performances in Iowa and New Hampshire as he consolidates progressive support behind his bid. Sanders leads in two polls taken over the past week — one showing him leading the field by 7 points, the other by 19 points — forcing his rivals to target his campaign in a bid to move up in the field. 


One opportunity will present itself on Wednesday night as candidates convene in Las Vegas for the eighth Democratic debate, which Niall Stanage writes about in his latest memo. With less than 24 hours until the participants are nailed down, six candidates are slated to be on the stage: Sanders, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream Mexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump MORE, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg's new book, 'Trust,' slated for October release Biden hires top aides for Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights MORE, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations Progressive activist Ady Barkan endorses Biden, urges him to pick Warren as VP Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Teachers' union President Randi Weingarten calls Trump administration plan to reopen schools 'a train wreck'; US surpasses 3 million COVID-19 cases The Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 Hillicon Valley: QAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem | Supreme Court upholds regulation banning robocalls to cellphones | Foreign hackers take aim at homebound Americans | Uber acquires Postmates MORE (D-Minn.) and former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWake up, America — see what's coming Bloomberg urges court to throw out lawsuit by former campaign staffers Former Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House's bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify MORE, who will be making his first debate appearance of the 2020 cycle.  


The billionaire businessman nabbed his final qualifying poll on Tuesday morning -- 19 percent in an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll -- with his team confirming that he will be in Las Vegas on Wednesday night (NBC News). 


“Since Mike launched his campaign 13 weeks ago, he's met with voters in 25 states and 62 cities. Our crowds continue to grow, and our coalition continues to broaden. There’s a desire in every corner of this country for a proven leader, for someone who will stand up to bullies and special interests and get things done,” said campaign manager Kevin Sheekey in a statement. “That person is Mike Bloomberg, and we look forward to more Americans seeing that on Wednesday night.”


Bloomberg’s participation will mark a major turning point in the race as his chances and support levels continue to rise (along with the betting odds) ahead of Super Tuesday. 


Tomorrow’s debate will also mark his first real involvement in any part of the primary process since he launched his quixotic bid in November, having spent north of $300 million thus far. Additionally, while he’ll be on the debate stage, he is not competing in Nevada or any of the first four nominating contests. 


Outside of Sanders, no one else in the field has received more attacks in recent days than Bloomberg, who Sanders has accused of trying to buy the primary and will almost certainly be the focus of derision of many in the Democratic field on Wednesday. Bloomberg decided to return fire on Monday, hitting Sanders in a video showing threatening tweets aimed at the former mayor and others in the 2020 field.


“We need to unite to defeat Trump in November. This type of ‘energy’ is not going to get us there,” Bloomberg tweeted. His team added that Sanders is taking a page from President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE’s playbook to take down the former mayor. 


The Hill: Sanders responds to Bloomberg criticism with photo of former mayor golfing with Trump.


The Associated Press: One thing unites establishment Democrats: Fear of Sanders. 


The Wall Street Journal: Democrats storm Nevada ahead of high-stakes caucuses.


Amie Parnes, The Hill: Candidates in Obama's orbit fail to capitalize on personal ties.


With Nevada the immediate prize, Democratic candidates have been forced to tailor messages to a more diverse electorate. As of Monday, four candidates had launched Spanish-language ads in Nevada, with Klobuchar the latest to do so. 


Meanwhile, the early voting period in the Battle Born State kicked off on Saturday. According to the Nevada Democratic Party, more than 26,000 individuals cast votes during the first two days, with more than half of those who voted on Saturday being first-time caucus-goers (The Associated Press).


The Associated Press: Pete Buttigieg’s next test: Winning over minority voters.


The Washington Post: The presidential contest turns to African American and Latino voters. For some candidates, that’s a problem.


The Hill: Tech for Nevada caucuses under scrutiny after Iowa debacle.


The field will also take part in CNN town halls tonight and Thursday. Sanders, Buttigieg and Klobuchar will appear tonight, while Biden and Warren will do so on night two.


On the other side of the aisle, the president is also spending much of his week out West for a number of political events. Along with a fundraising swing in Los Angeles today, he is slated to hold campaign rallies on Wednesday (Phoenix), Thursday (Colorado Springs) and Friday (Las Vegas). Additionally, Vice President Pence will campaign on Friday in Reno and Las Vegas.


The Hill: Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength.


The New York Times: Elizabeth Warren’s allies claim “erasure” as they seek to reignite campaign.





WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The Trump administration, eager to limit China’s access to chip technology and to thwart Chinese telecom giant Huawei, is considering trade restrictions on China to be issued through the Commerce Department that would limit the use of U.S. chip-making equipment (The Wall Street Journal). American chip-manufacturing tool makers, such as Applied Materials Inc. and Lam Research Corp., both in California, are among the largest equipment suppliers in the industry. 


Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSupreme Court expands religious rights with trio of rulings Congress must act now to fix a Social Security COVID-19 glitch and expand, not cut, benefits Democrats see victory in Trump culture war MORE (D-Calif.), speaking to NATO in Brussels on Monday, said no U.S. ally should allow Huawei into their next-generation cellular networks (The Associated Press).


> Justice Department: Attorney General William BarrBill BarrOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Key impeachment witness retires | Duckworth presses for information | Subpanel advances defense measure | Democrats press for end to military transgender ban DOJ to resume executions next week for first time in 15 years Tim Scott says he's talking with House Democrats about reviving police reform bill MORE, who has expressed sympathy and irritation with Trump’s ire over federal investigations that touched on his actions and those of many associates, surprised some in Washington with reports of his assignments to U.S. attorneys to investigate the investigators. Barr has ordered prosecutors around the country to quietly retrace threads of the government’s Russia probe, including indictments brought following the investigation of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE and his team. 


Examples: Barr assigned Pittsburgh U.S. Attorney Scott Brady to serve as the intake portal for information funneled to the United States from sources in Ukraine, including information about Biden and his son Hunter Biden gathered by Trump attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOusted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week Sunday shows preview: With coronavirus cases surging, lawmakers and health officials weigh in Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down MORE; U.S. Attorney John DurhamJohn DurhamTrump says Obama may have committed treason The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After rough week, can Trump bounce back? Barr: 'Developments' likely in Durham investigation this summer MORE in Connecticut has been working since last year to review the U.S. Russia probe that began when Trump was a candidate up until the time of his inauguration; U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen in Missouri is tasked with reviewing the criminal case against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, reportedly coordinating with the lead federal prosecutor in the case, Brandon Van Grack. Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his communications with a Russian ambassador (Fox News).


Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions Senate outlook slides for GOP Supreme Court blocks order that relaxed voting restrictions in Alabama Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report MORE, now a Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, in 2018 assigned U.S. Attorney John Huber in Utah to fully examine the concerns of GOP lawmakers about the government’s Russia probe (The Associated Press).


Since last week, following Barr’s involvement in his department’s sentencing disagreement with lead prosecutors in the case of Trump ally Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages Roger Stone asks court to delay prison sentence over coronavirus concerns MORE, who was convicted on seven felony counts, more than 2,000 former Justice Department officials called for the attorney general’s resignation. They argue that Barr has eroded the independence of the department from political pressures, complicating the rendering of justice without fear or favor in America (ABC News). 


> U.S. Digital Service: The Trump administration embraces at least one innovation held over from the Obama era: a Peace Corps esque initiative that recruits private-sector tech experts to help the government solve thorny problems and projects. Recruiting is ongoing for two-year stints to find coders, programmers and software engineers who can make the government more user-friendly for a tech-savvy U.S. public. One influential backer behind the Digital Service is White House adviser Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerKanye West breaks with Trump: 'I am taking the red hat off' Trump sealed his own fate The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks MORE (The Associated Press). 


> Intelligence community: A CIA employee who was granted formal whistleblower status last year could be subpoenaed to testify by GOP senators who want to question him about his complaint that launched the House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions and helped trigger two impeachment charges. The simmering tensions about the anonymous whistleblower, whom the president says he’d like to punish, pose additional challenges for the executive branch and Congress (The Hill). 


> Beware the insiders (and authors): Former White House national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonTrump envoy says US ready to talk to North Korea but rebukes Pyongyang counterpart Why Trump can't make up his mind on China The benefits of American disinterest in world affairs MORE, speaking Monday night at a public event at Duke University, promoted his pending book, which he said is still undergoing government scrutiny and contains revelations that go beyond Trump and Ukraine. “This is an effort to write history and I did it the best I can. We’ll have to see what comes out of the censorship,” Bolton said. “I hope it’s not suppressed” (The New York Times). The president’s former adviser will deliver a lecture on Wednesday at Vanderbilt University along with his Obama-era counterpart, Susan Rice. 





INTERNATIONAL: Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States nearly doubled to 29 on Monday after the evacuation over the weekend of Americans from a cruise ship docked in viral limbo in Japan.


Fourteen of the 300 passengers flown by the U.S. government to military bases in California and on to Nebraska for two weeks of quarantine were discovered to be asymptomatic but infected with COVID-19. They will remain in isolation for monitoring and any necessary treatment (The New York Times). 


On the quarantined ship still stuck near Tokyo, 88 more cases of the virus were reported today, bringing the total cases aboard the Diamond Princess to 542. It’s the largest spread outside of China (The Associated Press).


As of this morning, there are at least 73,336 cases of the virus worldwide and 1,874 deaths, according to the latest data. Researchers, who remain vigilant about the advent of a pandemic involving spread on continents with less sophisticated medical systems, are watchful as Africa reported a confirmed case in Egypt. A new report published Saturday in The Lancet described preparations to combat the virus in Africa as of late January.


In China, Liu Zhiming, 51, the hospital director in Wuhan and a neurologist, is yet another fatality there (The Washington Post).


Due to coronavirus fears, China may postpone its annual congress in March, the largest political gathering of the year (The Associated Press). And with similar caution, Japanese organizers say the March 1 Tokyo marathon will shrink from 38,000 participants to just 176 elite runners (The Associated Press and The Guardian). 


Following weeks of official Japanese insistence that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo beginning July 24 are not threatened by COVID-19, some international sports competitions are being moved and others canceled because of fears tied to the virus (International Business Times).


The Associated Press: Apple Inc. warned investors on Monday that the coronavirus will cut iPhone production and sales. China is Apple’s third largest retail market for iPhones, after the United States and Europe.





> Down Under & autos: General Motors is restructuring to emphasize profit-making over market expansion by shuttering operations in Australia and New Zealand and selling its Thai plant to a Chinese company. GM is now concentrating on markets in the United States, China, Latin America and South Korea (Reuters). 


> European Union & AI: Days before the 27-member bloc is expected to release tough new proposals on regulating artificial intelligence, Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergPressure mounts on Facebook to rein in hate speech Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' Hillicon Valley: Pompeo floats TikTok ban | Civil rights groups slam Facebook after call | Election security funding included in proposal MORE met top European Union officials on a visit to Brussels on Monday (The Associated Press). 


> Arab world & nuclear power: The United Arab Emirates on Monday issued a license for the first commercial nuclear power plant to be built in an Arab nation (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!


Why don’t we know which Democratic candidate can beat Trump? by Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Trump wants executive order on policing; silent on pending bills MORE (D-Nev.), opinion contributor, The New York Times.


It’s Sanders versus Biden in Nevada, by Steve Sebelius, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal.


The House meets at 10:30 a.m. in a pro forma session and returns to legislative work on Feb. 25.


The Senate will convene for a pro forma session on Thursday at 2:30 p.m and return from recess on Feb. 24. 


The president will fly to Los Angeles to meet with the organizing committee for the 2028 Olympics in Beverly Hills and to participate in a roundtable with political supporters. Trump also will attend a joint fundraising committee dinner there as part of a three-day, four-state swing through Western states. He will fly to Las Vegas and remain overnight (KTLA5).


Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHillicon Valley: Facebook civil rights audit finds 'serious setbacks' | Facebook takes down Roger Stone-affiliated accounts, pages | State and local officials beg Congress for more elections funds The Hill's 12:30 Report- Presented by Facebook - Trump threatens schools' funding over reopening Pompeo: State Department 'will work with Congress' on pledged funding to WHO MORE traveled this morning to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, followed by a meeting with Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde. Pompeo will meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and attend a working lunch with Ahmed. This afternoon, the secretary will meet with the Inter-Religious Council and then with U.S. embassy staff along with the U.S. Mission to the African Union. Later, Pompeo will meet with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat and join Prime Minister Andargachew during a joint press conference. Pompeo will continue his travel this week with stops in Saudi Arabia, and Oman, returning to the United States on Saturday.


You’re invited to The Hill’s upcoming newsmaker events:

Building the Dream: Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday, with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, Rep. Alma AdamsAlma Shealey AdamsHelp reverse devastating health disparities by supporting the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard COVID-19 could exacerbate eating disorders rates in children — here's how to combat it MORE (D-N.C.), state Sen. Paul Newton (R) and others to discuss financial hurdles to homeownership. Join live in Charlotte or join the livestream.


America's Opioid Epidemic: Lessons Learned & A Way Forward, Feb. 26, in Washington, exploring access to treatment for opioid addiction and recovery issues with Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Rep. David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Trump takes his 'ready to reopen' mantra on the road GE cutting up to one-quarter of aviation unit's workers Boeing suspends Washington production, GE Aviation lays off thousands MORE (R-Ohio) and Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court upholds permit for B pipeline under Appalachian Trail | Report finds NOAA 'Sharpiegate' statement 'not based on science' but political influence | EPA faces suit over plan to release genetically engineered mosquito Report finds NOAA 'sharpiegate' statement 'not based on science' but political influence Democrats call for green energy relief in next stimulus package MORE (D-N.Y.). RSVP today


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State watch: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Monday lost his bid to ban the sale of assault weapons because some of his fellow Democrats shelved the idea for a year and opted to seek a study (The Associated Press). Separately, Northam released a plan last week to protect seabirds’ habitat along Virginia’s coast following the federal rollback of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and changes produced along the coast by transportation construction ( … In Florida, Miami’s City Commission voted unanimously last week to “humanely” remove wild peacocks in the Coconut Grove neighborhood to relocate them to a sanctuary. The birds’ shrieking and property destruction became too much for residents, especially during mating season (Miami Herald).


Tech: Redbox, the DVD rental service best known for its kiosks, has officially joined the party and launched a streaming service. The company added a “Free Live TV” tab to its website, including a tab featuring shows such as “Family Feud” and “Forensic Files,” among other items as it is rolled out to various streaming avenues such as Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast. The launch comes after attempts to launch a streaming service in 2013 (The Hill).


Fast laps around the track: NASCAR’s Daytona 500 — postponed from Sunday because of rain but accessorized by the vote-wooing presence of Trump, Air Force One and the president’s gleaming black limousine — was won on Monday by Denny Hamlin. NASCAR boasted a record of $23.6 million for the 40 drivers racing in this year’s Florida event (ESPN). A fiery crash on the last lap injured driver Ryan Newman, who is expected to recover (NBC News).





And finally … lost and found! “Portrait of a Young Woman,” painted in 1632, was bequeathed in 1961 to the Allentown Art Museum in Pennsylvania as a coveted Rembrandt. A decade later, experts downgraded the painting’s provenance to be the skilled work of one of the artist’s assistants. Buried for years under yellowing layers of varnish, the portrait underwent a recent two-year restoration and reexamination using the latest technology and experts reversed course and agreed the 400-year-old painting is the real thing. Rembrandt’s mastery, currently in the museum’s vault, will go on display on June 7 (The Associated Press).





And speaking of Rembrandt ... Washington’s National Gallery of Art has been reunited with “Philemon and Baucis,” which was painted in 1658 by the artist and loaned by the museum to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London. In November, an unidentified criminal stole the work by Rembrandt as well as another masterpiece that belonged to the Louvre in Paris and tried to make a midnight getaway. Chased by Dulwich security guards, the thief dumped the paintings on the museum grounds and escaped. Until a few weeks ago, no one revealed which two paintings had been snatched (Southwark News).