The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Woodward book revelations rock Washington

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It’s 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 co-creators, and readers can find us on Twitter @asimendinger and @alweaver22. Please recommend the Morning Report to friends and let us know what you think. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 188,941. Tuesday, 189,215. Wednesday, 189,680. Thursday, 190,872.

Bob Woodward’s new book, “Rage,” presents an evidence-based conclusion about President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE that is already familiar from public and reported statements from former Cabinet officials, advisers and ex-aides: Trump is “unfit” for office. 


The question is whether early comments by the 45th president about the lethality of the coronavirus confided to a bestselling investigative journalist — with Trump’s on-the-record asides to “Bob” — might sour undecided voters on a second term and nudge them to cast ballots for Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally Special counsel investigating DeVos for potential Hatch Act violation: report MORE


“I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic,” Trump told The Washington Post associate editor and author on March 19 while discussing the coronavirus during one of 18 conversations they shared for the book. CNN published several audio clips of conversations quoted in “Rage,” which will hit bookstores next week. 


Biden on Wednesday accused Trump of lying to the American people about a contagion that has killed more than 190,000 people in the United States. And Woodward found himself defending his decision not to reveal Trump’s information months ago. Trump, during remarks Wednesday afternoon, called the book “just another political hit job” but defended the disparity between his public reassurances and private alarm in February and March, which he explains as a desire not to show “panic” about COVID-19.


As The Washington Post reports, Trump’s “surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus” emerged in conversations with Woodward on Feb. 7, earlier than previously understood and in stark contrast to the president’s public assurances that the nation would be “fine” and the coronavirus would “disappear.” 


"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward just weeks after a mystery virus in China began to emerge in international headlines and public health experts privately predicted it would become a serious pandemic. “It goes through air. … You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” he told Woodward.


Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed U.S. coronavirus fatality that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus."


Biden, campaigning in Warren, Mich., on Wednesday, said the recorded evidence showed that Trump “knew how dangerous” the virus was and that “while this deadly disease ripped through our nation, he failed to do his job on purpose. It was a life-and-death betrayal of the American people.


“It’s beyond despicable,” Biden continued, describing the price of Trump’s governance in terms of lives lost and economic ruin. “It’s a dereliction of duty. It’s a disgrace.”


CNN: During an interview with Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperPence aide dismisses concerns rushed vote on Trump nominee will hurt vulnerable senators Klobuchar: GOP can't use 'raw political power right in middle of an election' The Memo: Media accused of using kid-gloves on Biden MORE in Michigan, Biden said Trump’s public concealment in February of coronavirus risks as he knew them at the time was “almost criminal.”


CNN: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said he would have taken aggressive action sooner if Trump had been truthful about the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic. Murphy signed a lockdown order for New Jersey residents on March 21.


Democratic lawmakers joined Biden in condemning Trump. Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDemocrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise Larry Kudlow defends response to coronavirus: Trump 'led wisely' The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Woodward book revelations rock Washington MORE (D-Minn.), for example, referred to her father, who died of COVID-19. Trump had the power to save lives and went out of his way not to,” she tweeted. 


West Virginia Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump meets with potential Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett at White House Names to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day MORE, a Democrat in a deeply Trump-friendly state, told MSNBC, “I don’t know how you can survive an election, when you’re basically asking the people to give you another four years of anything, when you’re taking an oath and pledge to protect and defend the Constitution but also each and every citizen of this country. And you wouldn’t take something, and we know you wouldn’t take something as that, as serious as it is?”


White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the president, saying he “has never lied to the American public on COVID.”


A question in the nation’s capital was why? Why did the president give Woodward such access following the release of his first critical book on Trump titled, "Fear"?


The Washington Post reports that for weeks, the president told advisers that Woodward’s book was likely to be negative, but the White House had done little to prepare for it. 


Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity during a Wednesday night phone interview, “I don’t know if this book is good or bad. I have no idea, probably almost definitely won’t read it because I don’t have time to read it, but I gave it a little bit of a shot. Sounds like it’s not gonna be good, but if you look at what I said today, I said, ‘Don’t panic.’ We don’t want to be jumping up and down and going well — don’t panic.” 


The Associated Press: Trump boasted that Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnSatellite images indicate North Korea preparing for massive military parade South Korea warns of underwater missile test launch by North Korea Trump says he didn't share classified information following Woodward book MORE shared details about killing his uncle. Trump also revealed to Woodward the existence of a secret, new U.S. weapons system, according to reporting in “Rage.”


The Hill’s Niall Stanage: Woodward revelations deepen Trump troubles.


The Associated Press: Woodward defended his decision not to report Trump’s comments before the release of his September book, saying he needed time to be sure that Trump’s private comments from February were accurate. Woodward will appear Sunday night on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” guaranteeing continued coverage of the book’s contents going into the weekend.






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2020 CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: The president on Wednesday reprised a move from his 2016 campaign and released a list of 20 additional potential nominees to the Supreme Court, which included three U.S. senators, a White House lawyer-turned-judge and his former solicitor general.


Trump announced the list from the White House on Wednesday afternoon. It was headlined by Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyRenewed focus on Trump's Supreme Court list after Ginsburg's death What Facebook's planned change to its terms of service means for the Section 230 debate Republican Senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal MORE (R-Mo.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP brushes back charges of hypocrisy in Supreme Court fight Trump uses bin Laden raid to attack Biden Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Ark.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy Murkowski: Supreme Court nominee should not be taken up before election Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Texas) and former Solicitor General Noel Francisco.


Also included was Gregory Katsas, a former deputy White House counsel who was tapped to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in September 2017, and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a top ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Trump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally The Memo: Dems face balancing act on SCOTUS fight MORE (R-Ky.).


As The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and John Kruzel write, the announcement represents a renewed push to boost support among conservatives 54 days out from the November election, as polls show Trump trailing Biden nationally and in key swing states. In the announcement, Trump warned that the First and Second Amendments could be at risk  if Democrats win the election, saying that they would appoint “radical” justices to the high court. 


“Over the next four years, America’s president will choose hundreds of federal judges and in all likelihood, one, two, three and even four Supreme Court justices,” Trump said from the Diplomatic Reception Room.


Earlier in the day, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee revealed that they raised $210 million in August — $154 million less than the Biden campaign posted. Neither campaign has released cash-on-hand figures (The Hill). 


CBS News: Trump unveils list of possible Supreme Court nominees if he wins reelection.


NBC News poll: Biden leads Trump by 9 points in Pennsylvania.


The Hill: Biden leads Trump by 4 points in Wisconsin: poll.


CNBC: Pro-Trump super PAC America First Action kicks off $22 million ad blitz in swing states.





> Obama impact: The Biden campaign is considering the best ways to deploy its strongest surrogate, former President Obama, in the final weeks of the campaign. 


As The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports, Biden allies say the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has limited the possibilities for Obama, who is known for his soaring rhetoric at political rallies. Obama has hosted virtual fundraisers and has appeared in a couple of videos for Biden, including one released on Tuesday alongside Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisJoe Biden looks to expand election battleground into Trump country Fox's Napolitano: Supreme Court confirmation hearings will be 'World War III of political battles' Rush Limbaugh encourages Senate to skip hearings for Trump's SCOTUS nominee MORE (D-Calif.).


“There’s not a lot he can do at this point,” said one Biden ally close to the campaign. “It’s not like he can do an economic roundtable because this isn’t his campaign.” 


Outside of Tuesday’s video, Obama’s last major appearance for Biden was three weeks ago when he delivered a prime time speech during the Democratic National Convention.


As for Harris, she returns to the campaign trail later today with an appearance in Miami, Fla., that is focused on outreach to African Americans and Jewish voters. The stop is her first in the Sunshine State since being named to the Democratic ticket.


The Hill: Democrats fear Biden's lagging Latino support could cost him.


The Miami Herald: Biden is struggling to win Miami Latinos, new poll finds. Will it cost him Florida?


The Washington Post: Biden and Trump battle in the Rust Belt, each glossing over his own record.


Elsewhere, The Hill’s Reid Wilson interviewed some of those who cast the first votes of the 2020 elections. The main takeaway? They are not fans of Trump.


NBC News: Trump spurns traditional debate prep with first faceoff less than three weeks away.


The Hill: Trump campaign to press ahead with Nevada events after venues pull out.


CONGRESS - CORONAVIRUS: The Senate is expected to vote on a slimmed-down coronavirus relief package — a bill that has no chance to become law — as negotiators remain at a stalemate on a larger aid bill.


Senate Republicans appear to be largely unifying behind the roughly $500 billion package, as a number of GOP senators announced their support for the scaled-back bill on Wednesday. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney notes, Senate GOP leaders want at least 51 of their 53 members to vote for the coronavirus bill — a symbolic victory that would allow them to project unity, which has eluded the conference throughout negotiations on the current bill. 


“I’m optimistic we’ll have a good vote on our side,” McConnell told reporters after a closed-door lunch. He declined to say if he has 51 votes in support of the bill; it takes 60 senators to cut off debate and move a measure to a final vote.


The GOP leader also accused Democrats of derailing negotiations on another package as it would benefit them politically to wait to strike an accord until after the Nov. 3 election. 


The Associated Press: Senate GOP’s virus relief bill expected to fall in vote.


The Hill: Pessimism grows as hopes fade for coronavirus deal.


The Hill: 2024 GOP presidential rivalries emerge on virus package.


As Alexander Bolton writes, McConnell asserted that Democrats have little interest in a deal after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump puts Supreme Court fight at center of Ohio rally CDC causes new storm by pulling coronavirus guidance Overnight Health Care: CDC pulls revised guidance on coronavirus | Government watchdog finds supply shortages are harming US response | As virus pummels US, Europe sees its own spike MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerJacobin editor: Primarying Schumer would force him to fight Trump's SCOTUS nominee CNN's Toobin: Democrats are 'wimps' who won't 'have the guts' to add Supreme Court seats Republican senator says plans to confirm justice before election 'completely consistent with the precedent' MORE (D-N.Y.) said this week that the new GOP proposal is “headed nowhere.” 


“The conclusion you can honestly draw from this is they don’t want to do a deal. They don’t want to do a deal before the election because they think that somehow that adversely affects their prospects in the election,” McConnell told reporters.


The GOP legislation is expected to provide $105 billion for education, $16 billion for more virus testing and $190 billion for a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans. It will also contain language protecting businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations and churches from coronavirus-related litigation except in cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct — an issue McConnell has described as his “red line” in talks.


The Hill: McConnell backs stopgap bill to fund government into December.


The Hill: Races heat up for House positions.


> Cure around the corner? Halted vaccine trials help explain how unlikely a vaccine may be this year and how important safety and “no compromises” are during vaccine development, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told senators on Wednesday (The Associated Press). … AstraZeneca should know before the end of 2020 whether its experimental vaccine works against the coronavirus, if its human trial phase can restart (Reuters).





> State watch and COVID-19: In New York, indoor dining will be allowed at 25 percent capacity beginning on Sept. 30, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoFearless Girl statue in NYC dressed in lace collar to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg NYT editorial board remembers Ginsburg: She 'will forever have two legacies' New York to honor Ginsburg with statue in Brooklyn MORE (D) announced on Wednesday. The Empire State’s infection rate has been below 1 percent for several weeks, allowing the easing of some restrictions. “Because compliance is better, we can now take the next step,” the governor said (The New York Times). … Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the United States, plans to ban door-to-door trick-or-treating next month because of the risks of exposure to COVID-19. Gatherings and parties with non-household members are not permitted, even if held outdoors. Carnivals and festivals are also banned (KCAL 9). … In some Iowa school districts, administrators are trying to skirt quarantine rules for students in order to sustain in-person instruction. The result places young people at higher risk of contracting the virus, according to public health experts. The method? Musical chairs every 14 minutes (Iowa Starting Line).

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! 


Trump's PR can't stop the virus, by Jonathan D. Moreno and Stephen N. Xenakis, opinion contributors, The Hill.


Trump is nominated for the Nobel Prize for actually doing something, by David Marcus, The Federalist.



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The House will convene on Friday at 1 p.m. for a pro forma session. The full House will return on Monday. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will hold a press briefing at 10:45 a.m. The House Oversight and Reform Committee will hold a hearing at 11 a.m. on the ongoing census count and time required for “a complete and accurate census.”


The Senate convenes at 10 a.m.


The president meets at the White House at 3:30 p.m. with Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: House Democrats unveil stopgap spending measure to GOP opposition | Bill includes .6B for new subs | Trump issues Iran sanctions after world shrugs at US action at UN Navalny calls on Russia to return clothes he was wearing when he fell ill US issues Iran sanctions to enforce UN action ignored by international community MORE. Trump will hold a campaign rally in Freeland, Mich., at 7 p.m.


Vice President Pence will deliver remarks to cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington. He will return to Washington this evening.


Economic indicator: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. filings for unemployment insurance during the week ending Sept. 5. The government last week reported U.S. unemployment in August at 8.4 percent.


INVITATION: The Hill Virtually Live hosts The Future of Education for a two-part event (at 11 a.m. examining innovations in K-12 and at 1:30 p.m. discussing higher education). Can this moment serve as a catalyst to address persistent divides and inequities? Featuring former University of Miami President and former Health and Human Services Secretary Rep. Donna ShalalaDonna Edna ShalalaShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Hillicon Valley: Dems seek to expand DHS probe after whistleblower complaint | DHS rejects House subpoena for Wolf to testify | Facebook rolls out new features for college students Democrats call for narrowing digital divide to help students during pandemic MORE (D-Fla.); Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerMike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by National Industries for the Blind - Woodward book revelations rock Washington The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Facebook — Trump, Biden duel in final stretch | Vaccine trial on pause after recipient's 'potentially unexplained illness' | Biden visits Michigan | Trump campaign has 18 events in 11 states planned in the next week MORE (R-N.C.), a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and vice chairman of the House Republican Conference; Sal Khan of Khan Academy Inc. of California; and many more experts. RSVP HERE


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


Administration: Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy Sunday shows - Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death dominates What Attorney General Barr really said about justice MORE on Wednesday defended the Justice Department’s involvement in a lawsuit against Trump brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s. During an “NBC Nightly News” interview, Barr said, "This is done frequently. It's been done for presidents. It's been done for congressmen. The normal process was followed in this particular case.” … In a whistleblower complaint, a Homeland Security intelligence official told lawmakers on Wednesday his department has been pressured to alter intelligence information to comport with Trump’s political aims and support for Russia and that a former department secretary lied to Congress (The Associated Press). ... Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday that the United States plans to cut the troop presence in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of this month. Speaking to a handful of reporters later, McKenzie provided additional details about the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan, noting that the U.S. military presence would decrease from 8,600 to 4,500 by late October (Politico). The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda reports on Trump’s decision to defer payroll tax payments by members of the military and federal employees. The mandatory order means they will have to repay the taxes next year (Government Executive). … Trump on Wednesday was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by a Norwegian member of parliament based on a deal reached between the United Arab Emirates and Israel (Fox News). That deal between the UAE and Israel is to be signed at the White House next week (The Hill).


The Hill profile: Meet Alexis McGill Johnson, the new president of Planned Parenthood. “She is going to be transformative for where we are at this moment when it comes to reproductive and sexual wellbeing,” said Joia Crear-Perry, founder and president of the National Birth Equity Collaborative, who first met McGill Johnson as a student at Princeton. “She has a vantage point around understanding the complexities of people’s lives, as a black woman, with her own experiences, but also her part of larger movements” (The Hill).


➔ Wildfires: Wildfires raged out of control throughout California and the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday night, killing at least six people in Oregon and devastating half a dozen towns in that state. "This could be the greatest loss of human lives and property due to wildfire in our state's history," Oregon Gov. Kate BrownKate BrownPac-12 moves toward 'return to competition' after Big Ten announces resumption of football season Oregon opens first mobile morgue amid wildfires Sunday shows - Trump team defends coronavirus response MORE (D) said (NBC News). In Lincoln City, Ore., wildfires forced residents on Wednesday to evacuate (OregonLive). In Northern California, three people died in the town of Oroville overnight (The Associated Press). Residents navigated a red fog and falling ash over parts of California akin to a scene from Mars (NBC News).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by tonight’s season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, we’re eager to test your knowledge on some NFL trivia.


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.


The 2020 season marks the first of the new decade. Which player threw for the most yards during the 2010s?


  1. Peyton Manning
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Aaron Rodgers


In its first season under a new name and after discarding the previous Redskins logo, what will the Washington Football Team don on its team helmet?


  1. “W”
  2. “Football Team”
  3. Nothing
  4. Individual player numbers


Which of the following quarterbacks is not expected to open the 2020 season as a starting quarterback?


  1. Nick Foles
  2. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  3. Tyrod Taylor
  4. Gardner Minshew


How many teams will play in new stadiums to start the 2020 season?


  1. One
  2. Two
  3. Three
  4. Four