The Hill's Morning Report - DC preps for massive Saturday protest; Murkowski breaks with Trump

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Friday. We get 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!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 104,383. Tuesday, 105,147. Wednesday, 106,181. Thursday, 107,175. Friday, 108,211.

Protests about the death of George Floyd continued in Washington, D.C., and across the nation on Thursday and are expected through Saturday, when thousands of demonstrators plan to descend on the nation’s capital ahead of Floyd’s funeral next week.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) told reporters on Thursday that for the first time this week, no curfew was in place; protests became more peaceful each day, with no arrests on Wednesday. 

“We have a lot of public, open-source information to suggest that the event on this upcoming Saturday may be one of the largest that we’ve had in the city,” D.C. police Chief Peter Newsham told reporters during a briefing Thursday. “We expect that Saturday’s demonstration will, like I said, be more of the same peaceful demonstrators coming to exercise their First Amendment right in Washington, D.C.” (WTOP).

The first of three memorial services for Floyd took place on Thursday in Minneapolis, and featured Rev. Al Sharpton and the mother of Eric Garner, among others. Two more services are to be held: one in Floyd’s birthplace in Raeford, N.C., on Saturday, and another in Houston, his hometown, on Monday.

The Associated Press: Protests shift to memorializing Floyd amid push for change. 

The New York Times: Floyd’s memorial gives way to 10th night of protests as curfews end in some cities.

CNN: White House fortifies security perimeter ahead of continued protests.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration continued to respond to the protests and defend its reaction to demonstrations over the past week as the National Guard maintains a presence in the District of Columbia. Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGroups see new openings for digging up dirt on Trump Amy Coney Barrett receives million advance for book deal: report Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees MORE on Thursday argued that the decision to forcefully clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square on Monday to allow President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: LeBron James's 'racist rants' are divisive, nasty North Carolina man accused of fraudulently obtaining .5M in PPP loans Biden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies MORE to walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo-op — a move that has continued to garner criticism days later — was “entirely appropriate.” 

“The president is the head of the executive branch and the chief executive of the nation and should be able to walk outside the White House, and walk across the street to visit the church,” Barr said at a news conference with other top Justice Department officials (The Wall Street Journal).  

The National Guard is expected to remain on duty in the district in the coming days as 2,000 remain to handle the protests. The number is expected to swell to 4,500 (The New York Times). 

The Hill: Barr denies protesters were cleared to make way for Trump’s church visit. 

The Hill: Mattis-Trump broadside underscores U.S. military tensions.  

The Hill: New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoReporters criticize Andrew Cuomo for lack of media access in wake of scandals New York Post encourages everyone in city to get vaccinated Investigators in Cuomo impeachment probe receive 200 tips MORE (D) says he “never apologized” to NYPD for saying they “did not do their job.” 

Two Buffalo, N.Y., police officers were suspended after shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground on Thursday night, where he lay bleeding after hitting his head on the pavement, according to a videotape of the scene. Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate to vote next week on repealing Trump methane rule  Joe Lieberman to push senators on DC statehood On The Money: Yellen touts 'whole-of-economy' plan to fight climate change | Senate GOP adopts symbolic earmark ban, digs in on debt limit MORE (D-N.Y.) called for an investigation, according to a statement reported by WIVB-TV. Cuomo tweeted that the police action he saw in the clip was “wholly unjustified and utterly disgraceful.” The victim was hospitalized in serious condition with a head injury (The Washington Post and The Associated Press).

Politico: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Allow a vote on the 'Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act' Female Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report MORE (D-Calif.) said House Democrats will unveil a sweeping bill next week that includes police reforms. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress GOP state attorneys general urge Biden, Congress not to expand Supreme Court Pelosi: Jan. 6 commission must focus only on insurrection MORE (R-Calif.) signaled that Republicans are willing to work on a measure. 

The Hill: Pelosi on Thursday demanded that Trump clarify the deployment of unidentified law enforcement in Washington, D.C. She joined with Bowser in saying all law enforcement personnel should be identifiable as to department, branch or specialty while in uniform at work on D.C. streets. In a letter to Trump, Pelosi wrote that "we are concerned about the increased militarization and lack of clarity that may increase chaos." Some personnel deployed in the capital in recent days have been seen without any identifying labels on their uniforms, raising questions about which law enforcement agencies they represent.

The Associated Press: Arrests hit 10,000 at widespread U.S. protests.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform GOP sees immigration as path to regain power Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee MORE (R-Alaska) laced into the administration on Thursday, echoing comments made by former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet Rejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs MORE on Wednesday over its handling of the national unrest. Murkowski told reporters that Mattis’s remarks criticizing the president’s refusal to be a unifying force during contentious times were “true and honest and necessary and overdue,” adding that she is “struggling” over whether she will support Trump for a second term. 

“When I saw Gen. Mattis’s comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we’re getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns we might hold internally and have the courage of our convictions to speak up,” Murkowski said.

The move ratcheted up the pressure on Republicans, with some also arguing that Trump and the White House need to change their tone. Others deflected and dodged questions from the Capitol Hill press corps, according to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton.

Trump tweeted hours later he would be “campaigning against” Murkowski when she is up for reelection in 2022. 

“Get any candidate ready, good or bad, I don’t care, I’m endorsing. If you have a pulse, I’m with you!” Trump said.  

Murkowski is known as a political survivor, having won a write-in campaign in 2010 after losing the GOP primary. In 2016, the three-term senator won the general election by 15 percentage points over the libertarian nominee. 

Politico: Mattis drives wedge between Trump and Republicans. 

The Hill: Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate locks in hate crimes deal, setting up Thursday passage Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee House votes to extend ban on fentanyl-like substances MORE (R-Iowa) places hold on two Trump nominees in push for explanation of watchdog firings. 



U.S. & CORONAVIRUS: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield on Thursday warned those who are participating in mass demonstrations to get tested for COVID-19 because crowds, close contact, shouting and use by law enforcement of tear gas and pepper spray, which trigger coughing, could result in a “seeding event” that spreads the coronavirus (The Hill). Redfield (pictured below) told a House panel that he urges testing for demonstrators within three to seven days.

Cuomo also said on Thursday that he is concerned about the possible rapid spread of COVID-19 among demonstrators and he asked them to seek testing for the virus (Reuters). “I’m not a nervous Nellie; I’m just looking at the numbers,” he told reporters, noting that an estimated 30,000 people protested in the state over one week. “Many wear masks. But there is no social distancing. Police are in their face. …If you were at a protest, get a test, please.” 



> The authors of a major study of hydroxychloroquine’s impact on COVID-19 retracted their work from the respected medical journal Lancet because scientists and experts questioned the data (The Hill). Other published studies have reported that the anti-malaria drug did not prevent infection with COVID-19, if taken as a prophylaxis.

> Antibody tests: The Wall Street Journal reports everything you need to know about coronavirus antibody tests.

> Americans have significant concerns that the reopening of state economies will result in new spikes of COVID-19. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed in the Daily Kos/Civiqs poll also say they disapprove of the president’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. The poll underscores how personal the pandemic has become for millions of people: 31 percent of those surveyed said they either knew someone who had the coronavirus and survived, or knew someone who died from COVID-19.


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: The president huddled on Thursday at the White House with his campaign staff to strategize about plans and messaging amid polls showing his reelection effort trailing badly or underperforming in multiple key states against former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Overnight Defense: Top general concerned about Afghan forces after US troops leave | Pentagon chief: Climate crisis 'existential' threat to US national security | Army conducts review after 4 Black soldiers harassed at Virginia IHOP Feds expect to charge scores more in connection to Capitol riot MORE (The Hill). 

According to a Trump campaign official, Trump sat in on two meetings, the first being a strategy session with top campaign officials, including campaign manager Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE, GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielMcDaniel told RNC officials she has considered bid for Michigan governor RNC rolls out ad campaign hitting Democrats over election reform RNC to shadow Biden as he promotes COVID-19 relief bill MORE, deputy campaign manager Bill Stepian, and campaign pollsters. The second meeting involved campaign hands from the reelection team and the Republican National Committee, which focused on outreach to African American voters, contrasting the president with Biden and hopes of an economic rebound in the coming months.

The meetings took place as the president has fallen in a number of state polls, headlined in recent days by Fox News surveys in Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin showing the president trailing in all three contests. 

Adding to the president’s problems, as The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo,  there is growing polling evidence that large swaths of voters believe the nation is on the wrong track. While the news is hardly surprising as national unemployment is likely to eclipse 20 percent this morning due to the coronavirus pandemic, it nevertheless poses a formidable obstacle to the president’s reelection bid. 

Reid Wilson, The Hill: On The Trail: Crisis response puts Trump on defense, even in red states. 

The Hill: RNC to visit potential convention sites in coming days.

The Washington Post: Trump banks on the economy rebounding quickly without more government help — for now.

Bloomberg News: Biden brings in $4 million in one Silicon Valley event.



> Green politics: Environmental issues are emerging as a major factor in some key Senate races as voters are increasingly concerned about issues such as climate change and conservation measures.  

The president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress GOP state attorneys general urge Biden, Congress not to expand Supreme Court The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (R-Ky.) are seeking to boost the electoral appeal of Sens. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesWyden-Paul bill would close loophole allowing feds to collect private data Senate GOP faces post-Trump spending brawl 15 Senate Republicans pledge to oppose lifting earmark ban MORE (R-Mont.) and Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), two western senators who are facing tough reelection fights this fall, by putting their support behind a bill that permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The bill aims to protect and conserve habitats of endangered species, develop parks and outdoor recreation sites and protect sensitive forests. 

As The Hill’s Rachel Frazin reports, the Great American Outdoors Act is scheduled for a vote this month, and Trump has vowed to support it as he seeks to boost the Senate GOP pair as they face tough challenges from Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBiden announces picks to lead oceans, lands agencies Biden set to pick conservation advocate for top land management role Montana governor signs bill banning sanctuary cities MORE (D) and former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperDNC taps veteran campaign hands for communications staff Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - GOP draws line on taxes; nation braces for Chauvin verdict MORE (D), respectively.

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!


The world failed after Tiananmen Square. We must not fail Hong Kong now, by Josh Rogin, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3czPYiq  

Protest, demand change — but, please, put on your mask, by Sara N. Bleich, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/371MDY9 


The House will meet for a pro forma session at 9 a.m. on Monday.

The Senate will convene on Monday at 3 p.m. to consider a motion to proceed to The Great American Outdoors Act. 

The president will travel to Guilford, Maine, to visit a company that makes medical swabs. Two hours before he speaks at Puritan Medical Products at 4 p.m., Trump will host a roundtable discussion in Bangor, Maine, about U.S. commercial fishermen and sign a proclamation. 

Economic indicator: It will be jolting. The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report the jobs numbers in May. The White House Council of Economic Advisers and many private economic analysts anticipate the unemployment rate has soared to around 20 percent, approaching Great Depression territory, because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 42 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the last three months.

PBS NewsHour at 9 p.m. ET airs a one-hour program, “Race Matters: America in Crisis,” anchored by Judy Woodruff with input from citizens, commentators and newsmakers, plus contributions from journalists Amna Nawaz, Yamiche Alcindor and Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Information, including about the live stream, is HERE.

Axios hosts a live stream event at 12:30 p.m., “An Epidemic of Inequality,” with Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushUnleashing an American-led clean energy economy to reach net-zero emissions Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (D-Ill.), St. Paul, Minn., Mayor Melvin Carter and NAACP President Derrick Johnson. Information is HERE.  

The Hill’s Coronavirus Report has updates and exclusive video interviews with policymakers emailed each day. Sign up HERE!

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. ET at Rising on YouTube.


➔ International: Russia declared an emergency on Thursday after a spill of 20,000 tons of oil in the Arctic Circle (Time). Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinNavalny says he feels 'pride and hope' over protests against his detention Technical snafus disrupt Biden climate summit The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden convenes world leaders for Earth Day MORE, during a televised government meeting to discuss the spill, said he was shocked to find out local authorities had only learned of the incident from social media two days after it happened and scolded the region’s governor Alexander Uss on air (Reuters).




Free at last: Iran released American Michael White, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, on Thursday after imprisoning him since 2018. He was released as part of a prisoner exchange in which an Iranian-American scientist was allowed to visit Iran. White said he was infected with COVID-19 while incarcerated (The New York Times). 

Environment: The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday a proposal critics say not only guts the Clean Air Act but will undermine future administrations seeking to reduce air pollution. The proposal changes how the government justifies its own air rules, eliminating the ability to push forward regulations that tackle multiple air pollutants (The Hill).

➔ Sports!: The NBA’s Board of Governors voted Thursday to approve a plan that will see 22 teams continue the 2019-20 regular season in late July at a single-site campus in Orlando. The plan, which required a three-quarter majority and passed by a 29-1 margin, with the Portland Trail Blazers as the lone dissenting vote, will include the top nine teams from the Eastern Conference, including the Washington Wizards, and the top 13 teams from the Western Conference. The eight remaining teams will not participate given that they were well outside the playoff picture when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver indefinitely suspended the season on March 11 (The Washington Post).


And finally…   A big round of applause for all the Morning Report Quiz ninjas who knew their Elvis Presley trivia. 

Here’s a list of those who went 4/4 this week with The King: Patrick Kavanagh, Ki Harvey, Rich Davis, Guillermo Perez-Arguello (who knows so much about Elvis, he sent us his own quiz!), Allyson Foster, Mark Neuman-Scott, John Donato, Jim Smith and Randall Patrick. (Shoutout to Chuck Noland — we know he would ace this quiz).

They knew that “Heartbreak Hotel” was Elvis’s first song to hit No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart. 

Presley told reporters in 1969 that Fats Domino was the “real king of rock ‘n’ roll.”

Bruce Springsteen, fresh off a show in Memphis on the Born To Run Tour, was the famed musician who scaled the fence at Graceland hoping to see Elvis. Springsteen was stopped by security and informed that Presley was at Lake Tahoe. (The Boss recalls his adventure HERE.) 

Finally, Elvis performed his final concert at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, Ind., on June 26, 1977. He was 42 when he died of heart failure less than two months later.