The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bolton book rocks Washington


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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Thursday. 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, 115,732. Tuesday, 116,127. Wednesday, 116,963. Thursday, 117,717.

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, the former national security adviser to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' MORE, excoriates the president in a forthcoming memoir, charging that he pushed Chinese President Xi Jinping to help his 2020 electoral prospects and supported the building of concentration camps in Northwest China, all the while arguing that the House impeachment inquiry did not go far enough.  

After days of anticipation, contents of the book, “The Room Where It Happened,” on Bolton’s 17 months in the White House, flooded the political sphere on Wednesday, as a number of outlets — including The Hill — obtained copies of the memoir, while The Wall Street Journal published a full excerpt on the president’s actions regarding China. Included were scathing revelations, headlined by accusations that Trump asked Xi during a summit dinner in 2019 for Beijing to purchase increased amounts of agricultural products, which he said would help his chances of winning farm states and a second term in office. 

“In their meeting in Osaka on June 29, Xi told Trump that the U.S.-China relationship was the most important in the world. He said that some (unnamed) American political figures were making erroneous judgments by calling for a new cold war with China,” Bolton wrote. “Whether Xi meant to finger the Democrats or some of us sitting on the U.S. side of the table, I don’t know, but Trump immediately assumed that Xi meant the Democrats.” 

“Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility to China among the Democrats. Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” Bolton continued. “I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE denied the claim during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, calling it “absolutely untrue,” adding that it “never happened” (The Hill). 

Bolton, who is embarking on a media tour as part of the book’s official release on Tuesday, also describes multiple instances where Trump pushed to end criminal investigations to “give personal favors to dictators he liked,” including Xi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Along with his endless criticisms of Trump, he does not spare any for House Democrats. In a brushback pitch of sorts, Bolton argues that House Democrats committed “impeachment malpractice” by focusing solely on the Ukraine matter and speeding up the timeline, saying that they should have broadened the scope of the probe to Trump’s willingness to intervene in key investigations (The Hill).  

Finally, Bolton also writes that Trump supported Xi’s actions to build concentration camps in the Xinjiang province to target Uighur Muslims.

“At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang,” Bolton wrote. “According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do. The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.” 

As Bolton’s narrative was dissected by the news media, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is prominently featured in his former colleague’s memoir, met with Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Yang Jiechi in Hawaii to discuss relations between the two countries.

The Hill: Trump signs bill to sanction Chinese officials over Uighur rights.

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Bolton exposé makes Trump figure of mockery.

The Hill: Bolton claims Trump called for scumbag journalists to be “executed.”

Late Wednesday, Trump fired back at Bolton, saying in interviews that the national security hawk is “a liar” who everybody hated within the White House, arguing that he broke the law. 

“He was a washed-up guy. I gave him a chance. He couldn’t get Senate confirmed so I gave him a non-Senate confirmed position where I could just put him there, see how he worked,” Trump told Fox News’s Sean HannitySean Patrick HannityTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' Trump says he'll wear mask during upcoming trip to Walter Reed MORE. However, The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant notes, Trump did not explicitly deny any specific allegations in the book, deciding instead to defend his administration’s policies, declaring that “nobody has been tougher on Russia or China than I have.”

The New York Times: Does Trump want to fight for a second term? His self-sabotage worries aides. 

The Washington Post: Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' Trump says he'll wear mask during upcoming trip to Walter Reed Latino group 'Mi Familia Vota' launches M voter turnout campaign targeting swing states MORE reacts to allegations against Trump in Bolton book, calls them “morally repugnant.” 

The immediate blowback against Bolton, a mainstay in conservative circles, was fierce from all comers, according to The Hill’s Brett Samuels. Democrats loudly complained about the new information Wednesday, noting that Bolton's previously refused to testify before the House during impeachment hearings unless a judge ordered him to do so. 

"When Bolton was asked, he refused, and said he’d sue if subpoenaed. Instead, he saved it for a book," tweeted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSupreme Court rulings reignite Trump oversight wars in Congress Schiff to Vindman: 'Right does not matter to Trump. But it matters to you' Democrats hit Trump for handling of Russian bounty allegations after White House briefing MORE (D-Calif.), who oversaw the Democratic impeachment effort. "Bolton may be an author, but he’s no patriot.” 

On the right, Republicans likened Bolton to a scorned lover who just wants to sell copies of his book. Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanNadler: Barr dealings with Berman came 'awfully close to bribery' How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide GOP-Trump fractures on masks open up MORE (R-Ohio), one of the president’s most ardent supporters, dismissed the book out of hand, arguing Bolton has “an ax to grind” (CNN).

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is expected to legally prosecute Bolton, claiming that he is divulging classified information with the book’s release. According to the Los Angeles Times, federal prosecutors are weighing whether to criminally charge the former national security adviser, while the Department of Justice is pushing to block the memoir’s publication.




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CONGRESS - U.S. POLICING: Senate Republicans officially unveiled their police reform proposal on Wednesday, but it was met with a frosty reception among Democrats who believe the bill does not go nearly far enough to deal with police brutality and violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death. 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump takes on CDC over schools Finger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Tim Scott says he's talking with House Democrats about reviving police reform bill MORE (R-S.C.) and a number of other Republicans rolled out the JUSTICE Act on Wednesday morning, which aims to end the use of chokeholds and includes new accountability and reporting requirements. The bill is expected to come to the Senate floor next week for debate, but the odds of it ultimately passing the upper chamber remain slim as Democrats continue to support the House bill, which is far more expansive and sweeping (The Hill). Late Wednesday night, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Democratic bill, setting it up for a vote next week (The Hill).

“What’s clear is that the Senate Republican proposal on policing does not rise to the moment,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerA renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Trump may be DACA participants' best hope, but will Democrats play ball? MORE (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. “We have a tale of two chambers, a glaring contrast between a strong, comprehensive Democratic bill in the House and a much narrower and much less effective Republican bill in the Senate. … Any final product must be strong and must make real and lasting changes.” 

According to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton, despite the initial remarks, Schumer has to decide whether he wants to help pass a compromise package that doesn’t get his party everything it wants or that’s included in the House bill or to use the issue as a political weapon in November. 

However, given Schumer’s comments and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse chairman asks CDC director to testify on reopening schools during pandemic Senate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Pelosi says House won't cave to Senate on worker COVID-19 protections MORE’s (R-Ky.) plan to move forward and not negotiate with Democrats on a package, the odds are rising that any vote in the coming weeks will fall along partisan lines, barring any change at the eleventh hour, as The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports.

Politico: Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinFinger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown MORE (D-Ill.) apologizes to Tim Scott after “token” remark. 

READ: Breakdown of Senate GOP's police reform bill.

The Hill: GOP senator to offer measure changing qualified immunity for police.

The Hill: Senate passes major lands conservation legislation.



> Officer charged: The Fulton County district attorney’s office on Wednesday charged Garrett Rolfe, a former Atlanta police officer, with felony murder and 10 other offenses in the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was killed while being stopped for driving under the influence on Friday night. 

At an afternoon news conference, District Attorney Paul Howard announced the charges against Rolfe, who was fired the next day. Rolfe was also charged with five counts of aggravated assault, one count of first-degree criminal damage to property and four counts of violation of oath by an officer. Devin Brosnan, a second officer who was involved in stopping Brooks on Friday, was charged with a count of aggravated assault and three counts of violation of oath, according to the arrest warrants (The Atlanta Journal Constitution).


CORONAVIRUS: Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Wednesday that the District of Columbia is set to move into phase two of its reopening from the coronavirus next week, which includes expanding seating at restaurants and allowing other private businesses to open their doors.

Bowser indicated that she is hopeful phase two will start on Monday, but that decision has not been finalized. With the new phase, indoor dining will be permitted with 50 percent capacity, as will be the reopening of retail stores, camps, worship services and swimming pools. Gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed. 

"This virus is not gone. It is still here. It is still circulating,” Bowser said, adding, however, that the District is “trending in the right direction.”

Gyms, tanning salons and tattoo parlors will also be allowed to reopen on the condition that they can keep space between their patrons (NBC Washington). According to The Washington Post, the city has met most criteria it set for entering the next phase. Among those are sustained community spread of the virus and hospitals filling less than 80 percent of beds.



At the White House, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that staffers are no longer required to wear face masks while traveling though the West Wing, although it is still recommended (Axios). The White House also said that Polish President Andrzej Duda will visit the White House on Wednesday, becoming the first world leader to do so since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hill: House GOP lawmakers defy new mask requirement.

In New York, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoTrump calls New York City 'hellhole' after court upholds subpoena from city prosecutors Fauci: Partisanship in US has made it harder to suppress coronavirus New Jersey to require masks outdoors MORE (D) announced that New York City is also expected to start phase two of its reopening on Monday. Cuomo’s decision came only hours after New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioTrump calls New York City 'hellhole' after court upholds subpoena from city prosecutors NYPD retirements surge over 400 percent amid tensions with mayor NYC to start painting Black Lives Matter mural in front of Trump Tower Thursday despite pushback from Trump MORE (D) said that he wasn’t sure if Gotham was ready for the next phase, which will allow bars and restaurants to offer outdoor dining and in-store retail, among other things (ABC7). 

“New York City will have been phase one for 14 days,” Cuomo said. “Look at all the numbers. All the numbers are good. Look at the number of tests, the positive tests. You look at it from the point of reopening, the numbers are good. Hospitalizations, since reopening, the numbers are good. So New York City is on track to enter phase two on Monday.” 

While Washington and New York move forward with reopenings, rises in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are setting off a high-profile political fight across the country. In Arizona, Democrats are accusing the Republican Gov. Doug Ducey of failing to do enough to slow the spread of the virus.

Ducey and Republican lawmakers have fastidiously defended the approach, saying the economy is an important consideration as well. According to The Hill’s Peter Sullivan, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has jumped into the fray and accused Ducey of not having "the time or the interest" to speak with her about the recent spike in hospitalizations.

The Hill: Businesses turn to COVID-19 waivers in absence of liability shield.

The Associated Press: “Hamilton,” “Phantom of the Opera” will be off London stages until 2021.


POLITICS: Biden delivered a speech on Wednesday harshly critical of the president for his response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

During the address, which took place in Darby, Pa., Biden panned Trump’s recent remarks suggesting that the number of confirmed cases would drop if the U.S. halted or slowed testing en masse, labeling them “absolutely tragic.” 

“It’s a statement that’s not only absurd. It’s absolutely tragic,” Biden told a crowd of about 20 local residents. “For weeks in January and February, I was raising my concerns about how we need to take this virus seriously ... while Trump was ignoring the reporting from his own intelligence community in his daily briefings and the warnings of his closest advisers.”

The comments by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee come days before the president is expected to hold his first campaign rally since the COVID-19 outbreak started. Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: Fauci says hard-hit states should be 'pausing' reopening | Florida records record number of coronavirus deaths | Redfield says keeping schools closed poses greater health threat to children than reopening Fauci: Partisanship in US has made it harder to suppress coronavirus Azar points to 'individual responsibility' as answer to mounting outbreaks MORE, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that he will not be personally attending any rallies in the coming weeks. 

“No,” Fauci, 79, told The Daily Beast in a recent interview. “I’m in a high risk category. Personally, I would not. Of course not.” 

USA Today: Oklahoma GOP senator says people with health issues shouldn't attend Tulsa Trump rally.

Reid Wilson, The Hill: Governors get reelection boost from COVID-19 responses.

The Hill: Progressive makes last-minute surge in race to face McConnell. 

Politico: House Republican leaders condemn GOP candidate who made racist videos.


Stop scolding the coronavirus partiers. They aren’t the problem, by Helaine Olen, opinion writer, The Washington Post. 

Looming confusion as COVID-19 state emergency orders begin to expire, by Julia F. Costich and Danielle N. Scheer, opinion contributors, 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!




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The House will meet for a pro forma session at 10 a.m.

The Senate will reconvene at 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the nomination of Justin Walker to serve as a circuit judge for the District of Columbia Circuit. 

The president at 3 p.m. will participate in a roundtable discussion with governors in the State Dining Room with small business as the expected topic.

Vice President Pence will travel to Sterling Heights, Mich., and have lunch at Engine House, a restaurant owned by local Detroit firefighter Captain Greg Sisoy and former Detroit firefighter John Gusumano. Pence will participate in a tour of Chardam Gear Company and will later speak to employees at Casadei Structural Steel. He will return to Washington in the evening.

Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report weekly jobless claims from last week. 

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

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Pope has some investment advice: The Vatican today urged Catholics to disinvest from armaments and fossil fuels, and to closely monitor companies in sectors such as mining to determine if they are damaging the environment. The directives are contained in a 225-page manual for church leaders and workers to mark the fifth anniversary of Pope FrancisPope FrancisMcCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue Pope Francis urges Catholic media to 'overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference' Countries are using the coronavirus to repress and persecute MORE’ landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praised Be), which contains warnings about climate change and describes a need to protect nature, life and defenseless people (Reuters).

Central bank: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that Congress should extend enhanced unemployment insurance “in some form” after a $600 increase to current benefit levels expires on July 31 but did not specify how to do so in a warning against allowing benefits to revert back to their pre-pandemic levels (The Hill).  

Books, cont.: Bob Woodward, the award-winning author and reporter, is set to release his second book about the Trump administration in September. According to an Amazon listing posted on Wednesday, the book is untitled, but will be released on Sept. 15. The book will be out just over two years after “Fear,” Woodward’s first book about the Trump presidency. It was heavily criticized by Trump and the administration, although Trump told Fox News in January that he sat for an interview with Woodward, best known for his Watergate reporting that led to the resignation of former President Nixon (CNN).

➔ Rebranding: The Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix brand will be overhauled. Quaker Oats announced Wednesday a plan to implement a new name and image moving forward, as “Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype." The 130-year-old brand has featured a black woman named Aunt Jemima on the packaging for years, but has come under fire for perpetuating a racist stereotype. According to Quaker Oats, removing the image and name is part of a push by the company "to make progress toward racial equality” (NBC News). 



And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the English Premier League’s return to action this week, we’re eager for some smart guesses about sports news and notes throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Email your responses to and/or, and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.

Which sports league was the first to suspend its season on March 11 after one if its players tested positive for the virus before a game? 

  1. NHL
  2. MLB
  3. NBA
  4. MLS

Across the world, which of the following was the first to make its return to play following the outbreak?

  1. German Bundesliga 
  2. Chinese Basketball Association
  3. Korean Baseball Organization
  4. Australian Football League

With the NBA set to resume play in late July, which player recently suggested that the players create an alternative league and for them to forego competing in the NBA’s proposed “bubble” in Orlando, Fla., to finish the season?

  1. LeBron James
  2. Kyrie Irving
  3. Kevin Durant
  4. Stephen Curry

Over the past month, what preeminent issue has the Major League Baseball Players Association insisted on during negotiations with MLB to start the 2020 season?

  1. MLB owners must replace Commissioner Rob Manfred at end of season
  2. Mandatory free agent signings after the 2020 and 2021 season
  3. Full pro-rated pay for all players
  4. Addition of two more franchises in upcoming seasons