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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Monday! 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. 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 as of this morning: Monday, 463,477.



Former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE is back. 

 

Defeated by voters in November, impeached twice in one term, silenced by social media platforms and now in residence as a private citizen in Florida, Trump returns to the national conversation this week as the Senate weighs whether the 45th president willfully incited an insurrection.

 

Trump’s defenders will argue that a Senate impeachment trial for a former president is unconstitutional, and that Trump’s encouragement to supporters on Jan. 6 to swarm the Capitol to “fight” was his exercise of free speech. 

 

The Hill: A slim majority in a new poll say Trump should be convicted and barred from any future federal office.

 

U.S News & World Report: READ Trump’s Jan. 6 remarks. “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.You will have an illegitimate president. That’s what you’ll have. And we can’t let that happen. … And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. … We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. … And we’re going to the Capitol, and … we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

 

The upcoming trial, Trump’s second in little more than a year, is expected to be relatively brief, reports The Hill’s Jordain Carney, and House prosecutors face an uphill climb to find two-thirds of the Senate willing to convict Trump and bar him from holding any future federal office. Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHolder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Capitol Police officer killed in car attack lies in honor in Capitol Rotunda Rep. Andy Kim on Asian hate: 'I've never felt this level of fear' MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Colin Powell on Afghanistan: 'We've done all we can do' MORE (R-Ky.) are ironing out the organization of proceedings, and it’s clear both parties are keen for speed. They envision presentation of evidence tied to the impeachment article, Trump’s defense and a vote by the Senate jury, perhaps within two weeks.

 

CNN and The New York Times: What will the trial look like? “A fast-paced, cinematic case.”

 

Republican senators won’t agree to take up any simultaneous consideration of President Biden’s nominees or legislation during Trump’s trial, which will pause on Friday evening through Saturday evening in observance of the Jewish Sabbath (Reuters). The Senate is scheduled to be in recess for a President’s Day work period beginning Feb. 15.

 

The trial will interrupt the momentum of the new presidency while replaying bitter divisions during the Trump era. The Senate will explore the former president's grip on his conservative base and his repeated and inaccurate refrain that he won the 2020 election, but was the victim of a vast left-wing heist. Proceedings will play up rifts between the Trump wing of the Republican Party and mainstream members who yearn for the GOP to evolve beyond Trump, The Hill’s Jonathan Easley writes. Republican senators facing reelection next year and in 2024 worry that Trump’s vow to back primary challengers could be their political undoing if they are tempted to convict him.

 

The Hill: Five ways Trump’s impeachment differs from a court trial.  

 

The Hill: READ: Democrats in their impeachment brief write that Trump incited the Capitol riot and bears direct responsibility for the violence and five deaths that followed. 

 

The Associated Press: Senate Republicans back Trump as impeachment trial nears.

 

The New York Times: 144 constitutional lawyers call Trump’s First Amendment defense “legally frivolous.”

 

Reuters: The impeachment defense will attack the process, Trump lawyer Bruce Castor says.

 

Politico: Castor says he plans to use video of Democrats’ remarks to defend Trump at trial, referring to their past responses to protests by antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators. “There’s a lot of tape of cities burning and courthouses being attacked and federal agents being assaulted by rioters in the streets, cheered on by Democrats throughout the country,” he told Fox News.

 

The Hill: Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - Congress returns; infrastructure takes center stage Sunday shows - Infrastructure dominates Liz Cheney says allegations against Gaetz are 'sickening,' refuses to say if he should resign MORE (R-Wyo.): Trump does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward.”

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration tried to keep a spotlight on the president’s coronavirus relief measure amid events competing for public attention. The president gave his first TV interview to CBS News, the network that broadcast the Super Bowl, and Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenWashington Post reporter explains how taxes in Biden infrastructure plan would affect multinational corporations Republicans can't handle the truth about taxes Biden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts MORE used her Sunday appearance on CNN to dangle a potential economic Shangri-La — a return to full employment by 2022 — if Congress passes Biden’s $1.9 trillion blueprint (The Hill). 

 

“There's absolutely no reason we should suffer through a slow recovery,” Yellen said on “State of the Union.” “I would expect if this package is passed that we would get back to full employment next year."

 

During his CBS interview, Biden (pictured below on Friday) conceded what most analysts in Washington suspected: A proposed $15 federal minimum wage (especially using budget reconciliation as a complicated, rules-laden tool with lawmakers) was likely headed for the cutting-room floor. 

 

“I put it in, but I don't think it's going to survive,” Biden told CBS (The Hill).

 

But Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Congress can protect sacred Oak Flat in Arizona from mining project MORE (I-Vt.), who has championed a phased-in, $15 an hour wage floor, is not giving up (CNN).

 

CBS News and The Washington Post: Biden discusses the American Rescue Plan, vaccinations, school reopenings and foreign policy in his first network interview as president. 

 

The Hill: Some Senate Republicans hold out hope that Biden may still carve out space to negotiate with them on his relief bill.

 

The Hill: Congress mulls tightening income eligibility tied to proposed $1,400 stimulus checks.

 

The Hill: Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief measure does not extend an expiring $25 billion program that assisted U.S. air carriers. Airlines and unions are lobbying for federal help beyond March.

 

The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda and Jessie Hellmann turn their attention this morning to Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenIRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion The first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations MORE, a progressive Democrat from Oregon who was elected to the Senate in 1996 and is now the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Some of the senator’s priorities include tying unemployment benefits to economic conditions, increasing taxes on the wealthy and addressing rising health care and prescription drug costs.

 

 

 



LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: The United States is making progress to inoculate the masses against the coronavirus, but for all the advancements, the ongoing scramble for doses across the world could prolong the future life of the virus.

 

As The Hill’s Nathanial Weixel writes, wealthy nations have snagged the lion’s share of shots, having secured roughly 60 percent of the global vaccine supply. With the rise of new, more contagious variants that are starting to ravage parts of the world, “vaccine nationalism” means the U.S. will not be able to get back to normal until the rest of the world is also vaccinated.

 

Biden is also facing calls from Democrats and a number of aid groups to boost the U.S.’s commitment to assisting pandemic efforts on the world scale.

 

Domestically, 42 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the country. However, as Marty Johnson writes, it is becoming increasingly clear that vaccinations have not been doled out properly for communities of color that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. 

 

Several members of Congress have taken notice of the disparity in the past week, with three sets of lawmakers urging the Biden administration to address the situation.

 

The Hill: Clergy step up to lead COVID-19 vaccination effort within Black communities.

 

The Associated Press: Virus outbreaks stoke tensions in some state capitols.

 

Axios: The coronavirus vaccines have shattered expectations.

 

> International: The worldwide distribution of vaccines hit a snag on Sunday as South Africa stopped the distribution of AstraZeneca’s shot after a small clinical trial showed that the vaccine is minimally effective in protecting individuals against mild and moderate illness from the variant that has emerged from the country.

 

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize made the announcement on Sunday following disappointing results from a trial conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Instead, recipients will receive doses of Pfizer’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine (The Hill). 

 

The Wall Street Journal: As COVID-19 vaccines raise hope, cold reality dawns that illness is likely here to stay.

 

The Associated Press: United Kingdom vaccine gambles paid off, while European Union caution slowed it down.

 

The Hill: The U.K. coronavirus strain is doubling every 10 days in the United States, according to one study. 

 

Reuters: The United Kingdom says a COVID-19 booster shot and annual vaccinations for the coronavirus are probable. 

 

 

 

 

CBS News: Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says approved vaccines are likely to offer “reasonable protection” against coronavirus variants that emerge as inevitable mutations.



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IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS: A week after debating the future for prominent House Republicans, the GOP is coalescing around an issue it hopes can propel its ranks during the midterm elections: school reopenings. 

 

As The Hill’s Jonathan Easley writes, Republicans and outside groups are hammering Democrats over the issue and believe it could be the avenue for the party to win back suburban voters who have fled in droves during the rise of Trump. Republicans are picking on divisions between elected Democratic officials and unions as explosive battles play out across the country over how quickly public schools should reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Some Democratic governors and mayors are eager to reopen as new studies show a low transmission rate at schools, particularly for students in minority communities who have fallen behind academically after almost a full year of virtual learning. However, their hopes have run into teachers unions that want all educators vaccinated before returning to in-person teaching — breaking with recent guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the process. 

 

According to an Axios poll conducted in late January, parents are growing less uneasy about sending their children back into classrooms. Fifty-nine percent of parents say they have some level of concern, down from 74 percent of parents who were asked the same question in August. 

 

CBS News: Biden says women dropping out of workforce, closed schools are "national emergency."

 

 

 

 

The push by Republicans comes as concerns rise that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and the dog-and-pony show that follows her around could define the party in the 2022 midterms, as The Hill’s Julia Manchester and Max Greenwood write.

 

Democrats have wasted no time making the connection between the GOP and QAnon. The House Democratic campaign arm launched a six-figure ad campaign last week tying Republicans to the conspiracy theory.

 

“I don’t think someone is going to vote against [Georgia Gov.] Brian KempBrian KempMLB's ratings sink with GOP Trump digs in on attacks against Republican leaders Will Smith moving production of new film out of Georgia over election law MORE because of what this woman said in the past, but will it be used to try and paint a picture that is negative? Yeah,” said Chuck Clay, a former chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. Georgia will be ground zero for the 2022 midterms as Kemp is expected to run for a second term and Sen. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockCongressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years Black lawmakers press Biden on agenda at White House meeting Biden praises settlement in dispute between electric vehicle battery makers MORE (D-Ga.) will stand for reelection to win a full six-year term.

 

The Hill: Biden makes inroads with progressives.

 

The New York Times: Why Schumer is cozying up to the AOC wing of his party.

 

Politico: Democrats seek a reset button in Ohio.

 

The Washington Post Magazine: Is D.C. finally on the brink of statehood?

 

******

 

ADMINISTRATION: In the modern era, every U.S. president has been forced to deal with unexpected challenges abroad. As determined as they were to focus on domestic problems in year one, they found that the world intruded. From China to Afghanistan and from Russia to Iran, Biden has been touting his foreign policy experience while assuring Americans he has not lost sight of tripwires beyond U.S. borders.  

 

During his “60 Minutes” interview with CBS, the president told anchor Norah O’Donnell that he has plenty to talk about with President Xi Jinping of China, although he said they had not yet spoken, adding there was no reason why he couldn’t call Xi, with whom he’s had previous dealings. “I’ve said to him all along that we need not have a conflict. But there’s going to be extreme competition. … We’re going to focus on international rules of the road,” Biden said. 

 

Asked if the Biden administration will lift sanctions placed on Tehran as a way to get Iran back to the nuclear negotiating table, Biden answered “no” and indicated with a nod that Iran must first stop enriching uranium, a violation of the 2015 agreement concluded by the Obama administration and five other countries and then abandoned by Trump three years later.

 

The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel reports that Biden will soon have to decide whether U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan. The Trump administration handed his successor a May deadline to pull U.S. troops out of America’s longest war. But that plan is one of many under “review” inside the new administration. During his campaign, Biden promised to end so-called forever wars but also said he would leave a small number of special forces in countries such as Afghanistan to conduct counterterrorism missions.

 

> Immigration: When it comes to much-criticized migrant family separations and dealings with Mexico and Central American countries, Biden is eager to use his executive clout to rescind Trump’s policies and be bolder than the Obama administration. Biden’s sweeping review of the asylum and naturalization process — along with a pledge to try to address the root causes of Latin American migration — has pleased immigration advocates, reports The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch. Nevertheless, The Associated Press reports that immigrants and activists worry that Biden won’t end the Trump administration barriers. A federal court in Texas has suspended Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations and the immigration bill is likely to be scaled back.

 

More administration: “Normal” is one word observers use to describe the first weeks of the executive branch under the 46th president (The Hill). … Weary postal workers hope Biden will bring a new tone and change to the U.S. Postal Service (The Associated Press). … AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who supported Biden for president, criticized the new administration for canceling the Keystone XL pipeline on Biden’s first day. Organized labor believes the pipeline created good-paying jobs (Axios). 



The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE! 



OPINION

The internet rewired our brains. This man, Michael Goldhaber, predicted it would, by Charlie Warzel, opinion writer at large, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2N8uwu0

 

My column on the stimulus sparked a lot of questions. Here are my answers, by Lawrence H. Summers, opinion contributor, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3jrEX7S 



WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 2 p.m.

 

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and will resume consideration of Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughCongress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured Veterans shouldn't have to wait for quality care The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality MORE’s nomination to serve as secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

 

The president departs Delaware this morning, where he spent the weekend, and arrives at the White House at 9:30 a.m. He and Vice President Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. in the Oval Office. At 2:30 p.m., they will gather in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to take a virtual tour of a COVID-19 vaccination site in Glendale, Ariz., at State Farm Auditorium. The remarks will be live streamed.

 

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at noon. The administration’s coronavirus response team will answer reporters’ questions at 11 a.m. 

 

INVITATIONS to The Hill’s Virtually Live events

  Tuesday at 1 p.m., “Complex Generics & the Prescription Drug Landscape.” Reps. Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchDemocrats gear up for major push to lower drug prices Lawmakers debate role of prescription drugs and generics in health care costs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending MORE (D-Vt.) and Brett GuthrieSteven (Brett) Brett GuthrieLawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Lawmakers debate role of prescription drugs and generics in health care costs MORE (R-Ky.) and the Food and Drug Administration’s Sally Choe talk with The Hill's Steve Clemons about how complex generic medical alternatives can impact and potentially enhance the American health care system. RSVP HERE

 

  Thursday at 1 p.m., “COVID-19 & the Opioid Epidemic.” Sens. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure Democrats look to impose capital gains tax at death MORE (D-R.I.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanIRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion Businessman Mike Gibbons jumps into GOP Senate race in Ohio Hillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage MORE (R-Ohio), Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyThe Memo: Hunter Biden and the politics of addiction OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Native groups hope Haaland's historic confirmation comes with tribal wins | EPA asks court to nix Trump rule limiting GHG regs | Green group asks regulators to block use of utility customers' money for lobbying  Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack MORE (R-W.Va.) and a panel of experts will discuss how the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the opioid epidemic and the path to saving lives. RSVP HERE

 

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



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ELSEWHERE

TECH: Facebook has a decision to make: whether to let Trump back on the platform or maintain its current ban. Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergRepublican legislators target private sector election grants Advocacy group accuses Facebook of fueling anti-Muslim hate Texas GOP move to overhaul voting laws: What you need to know MORE left it in the hands of Facebook’s fairly new independent oversight body. The verdict could impact worldwide figures far beyond Trump because the company’s direction was broad while seeking the board’s “observations or recommendations on suspensions when the user is a political leader.” (The Hill).

 

RIP: George Shultz, the longtime American economist and statesman who served as secretary of State, Treasury and Labor over two decades, died at age 100, the Hoover Institution announced. Shultz, who died on Saturday, “knew the value of one’s word, that ‘trust was the coin of the realm,’ and stuck unwaveringly to a set of principles,” the think tank said. Shultz is one of only two Americans to serve in four Cabinet positions during his lengthy career (The Hill).

 

SUPER BOWL LV: Tom Brady has done it again. The greatest quarterback in NFL history set the bar even higher in Super Bowl LV as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, in a dominating performance, handing him his seventh championship ring. The total eclipses the team record six won by the New England Patriots, his former club, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady, 43, won Super Bowl MVP to boot, tossing three touchdowns and zero interceptions (ESPN).

 

 

 



THE CLOSER

And finally … We had a few Morning Report Quiz winners from last week whose responses got away from us in email. We offer belated kudos this morning to Ki Harvey, Lou Tisler, Nicola Dawkins-Lyn and Fran Tankersley. Thanks for playing!

 

And to wind up the newsletter, The Hill’s Judy Kurtz reports that left-leaning Hollywood celebrities may be returning to the nation’s capital after largely avoiding the city during the previous administration. “When Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez are singing at the inauguration, you can say D.C. is open for business,” said Mark Harvey, the author of “Celebrity Influence: Politics, Persuasion, and Issue-based Advocacy.”

 

Kurtz notes that celebrity sightings and actual political influence among the paparazzi set are different things. “I think in some ways celebrities were more influential than they have been during other administrations,” Harvey added, because “Donald Trump was unusual and unorthodox in the way he went about things.”