Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by TikTok – New video of riot unnerves many senators

Image from surveillance video of Capitol riot
Getty Images

                          Presented by TikTok

Damaged window at U.S. Capitol



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 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 each morning this week: Monday, 463,477; Tuesday, 465,072; Wednesday, 468,203; Thursday, 471,567.


More Americans have died from COVID-19 in the last year than were killed during World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

“Pretty damning,” was how Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) described Wednesday’s trial evidence supporting a charge that former President Trump incited an insurrection against the government he swore to protect.


Her horror at the violent events of Jan. 6 at the Capitol and her distaste for Trump were already well known. She floated the idea that the trial itself, with its graphic video and audio assembled by the House impeachment managers, could serve to prevent Trump from holding a future federal office, even if Trump is acquitted.


“After the American public sees the full story laid out here … I don’t see how Donald Trump could be re-elected to the presidency again,” she told reporters (The Hill).


That is not how Trump’s allies, including some of Murkowski’s conservative colleagues who harbor their own ambitions for the White House, view the nation’s current political terrain. 


House Democrats, however, presented a narrative in which the former president spent months before and after the 2020 election grooming his supporters to believe his loss could be explained only by massive election fraud perpetrated at all levels of local, state and national influence. Trump’s false narrative, repeated in speeches, in interviews and on Twitter, was part of a slow-motion incitement of a mob that erupted in mayhem and brutality at the Capitol after Trump urged his followers to “fight like hell” on Jan. 6, House Democrats argued.



Screen shows Capitol Police officer trapped between doors



Sen. John Thune (S.D.), a member of the Republican leadership, said the trial’s prosecutors were “very effective.” Thune, who voted against Trump’s impeachment last year, is seeking reelection in 2022. Trump has threatened to find a primary challenger to run against him.


“I think they’ve done a good job connecting the dots,” Thune added. “The president’s Twitter feed is a matter of public record, and they’ve done, like I said, an effective job of going back several months and just showing that public record.


Harrowing details of the Capitol attack, including chilling video of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) being directed away from onrushing rioters by Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman (pictured below), were intended to impress on senators that they are witnesses to that day’s insurrection and were minutes away from potential physical harm (The Hill). 


Romney agreed with Democrats on Tuesday that putting Trump on trial while out of office is constitutional. He is also the lone Republican who broke ranks to vote to convict Trump of abuse of power in 2020 (The Washington Post).


The Hill and CNN: Some GOP senators draw criticism for appearing to pay half-hearted attention to the impeachment trial.


The Washington Post: Republican senators show emotion, but little evidence of changed minds. Asked whether any evidence would change his mind about acquitting Trump, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) responded, “Not from anything I’ve seen so far.”


Niall Stanage, The Memo: New riot footage stuns Trump trial.


The Hill: GOP senators call Capitol riot videos “disturbing,” “powerful,” “graphic.”


The Hill: Trump’s silence during the Senate trial is a topic of curiosity, expectation and dread.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voted on Tuesday with Republicans who said a trial of a former president is unconstitutional, has not said how he will vote on the House article of impeachment. He knows the thinking of every member of his conference, which is perhaps why he has remained mum (The Hill). 


The trial resumes at noon today. Each side is allowed up to 16 hours, spread out over no more than two days each, to present its case, and each trial day is limited to eight hours. After the presentations are completed, senators will have a total of four hours to question both sides. Then there will be four hours divided equally between the impeachment managers and Trump’s lawyers for arguments about whether the Senate will consider motions to subpoena witnesses and documents if requested by the managers. There will be up to four hours equally divided for closing arguments, along with deliberation time if requested by the senators before the final vote takes place (NPR). The trial is expected to conclude by this weekend.



Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman



More in Congress: In an interview with The Hill this week, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said he sees opportunities for reforms on conservation, public land use and environmental equity (The Hill).


CORONAVIRUS: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rolled out new guidance on Wednesday urging Americans to wear two masks to protect themselves against variants that are taking hold across the country. 


“We know that universal masking works,” said John Brooks, medical officer for the CDC’s COVID-19 response. “And now these variants are circulating … whatever we can do to improve the fit of a mask to make it work better, the faster we can end this pandemic” (The Washington Post and The New York Times).


The CDC cited two practices in particular: wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask, or wearing a surgical mask while knotting the loops around the ears and forming a tighter fit to prevent air from coming out. According to a report, the two mask alterations reduced exposure to potentially infectious aerosols by more than 95 percent.


Biden has encouraged all Americans to wear masks to help save lives and made masks mandatory for federal workers, for visitors on federal property and for travelers using air, rail and public transit.



Man wears two masks



> Testing: The White House is hopeful that it will be able to substantially scale up rapid at-home COVID-19 tests to help control the pandemic in an attempt to get students back in the classroom and workers back in the office sooner rather than later. 


For months, a group of health experts has pushed for the government to produce inexpensive and hassle-free tests individuals can take home multiple times a week that deliver results within minutes until vaccines are available on a wider scale, according to The Hill’s Peter Sullivan


The Hill: White House press secretary Jen Psaki defends White House’s definition of reopening schools amid criticism. 


> Vaccines: A World Health Organization (WHO) panel on Wednesday recommended that countries approve AstraZeneca’s vaccine for emergency use in adults despite minimal effect in combating the South African strain of the virus. 


The Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization issued its second approval for a COVID-19 vaccine to AstraZeneca’s shot. The first approval came in December for Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine. Despite the South African variant, the WHO said that the vaccine could still be used in countries to battle COVID-19.


“Even if there is a reduction in the possibility of these vaccines having a full impact in its protection capacity especially against severe disease, there is no reason not to recommend its use even in countries that have the circulation of the variants,” said Alejandro Cravioto, the panel’s chairman (The Hill).


The Associated Press: AstraZeneca working to adapt vaccine to new strains.


Reuters: Africa not ‘walking away’ from AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, CDC says.


The Associated Press: Poll: A third of US adults skeptical of COVID shots.


> States & cities: New York, beginning on Feb. 23, will open large stadiums and arenas to people who can show a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of attendance at music shows and performances as well as baseball, soccer, football and basketball games, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on Wednesday (NBC New York). … The Chicago Teachers Union early Wednesday approved a deal with the nation’s third-largest school district to get students back to class during the coronavirus pandemic. The vote by the union’s roughly 25,000 members ends the possibility of an immediate teacher lockout or strike. The agreement follows months of negotiations — which had intensified in recent weeks — with plans that included more teacher vaccinations and metrics to allow school closures when COVID-19 infections spike (NBC News).


The New York Times: The vaccine had to be used. He used it. He was fired.


> Pandemic economic snapshots: A Texas teenager gave up her college savings to save her mother from eviction and help pay the rent during the pandemic. A GoFundMe page and news coverage helped the Carmona family. Between 9 and 10 million Americans continue to be unemployed, most lost to public view and GoFundMe campaigns (ABC 7).


Empowering Parents on Safer Internet Day


TikTok is a place for everyone, from Gen Z to grandparents. This Safer Internet Day, we’re focusing on our tools to support parents.


That includes our Family Pairing features, which let parents and guardians manage their family’s content and privacy settings, and create the experience that’s right for them.


Visit our Safety Center to learn more


POLITICS: Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, have opened a criminal investigation into Trump’s pressure campaign against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to reverse his 2020 loss in the key battleground state.


Fani Willis, Fulton County’s new district attorney, sent a letter to state officials on Wednesday requesting that they retain key documents surrounding the Jan. 2 phone call Trump made to Raffensperger. During the infamous call, the then-president and aides urged Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes — a single vote more than Biden’s margin of victory in the Peach State. 


News of the criminal investigation comes two days after Raffensperger’s office announced a new probe into the 45th president’s push to overturn the election. However, the main difference between the two is the Fulton County examination could expose him to felony charges, while the secretary of state is undergoing a “fact-finding and administrative” inquiry (The Hill).


Elsewhere in Georgia, Republicans are pressing a series of new voting rules that would clamp down on or roll back many of the policies that helped drive Democratic turnout in recent elections. As The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports, the measures being introduced in the GOP-controlled state legislature would bar automatic voter registration and the use of drop boxes for returning absentee ballots, among other items.


The legislative maneuvers come on the heels of Georgia taking center stage in the 2020 contests, including Biden’s win and a pair of Senate victories that turned the upper chamber blue for the first time in six years.


The Hill: Twitter says its ban on Trump is permanent, even if he runs in 2024: 


> Stock up: After being stripped of her committee assignments, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s approval rating is on the rise with members of her party. According to a new Morning Consult poll, her support grew from 19 percent with Republicans to 30 percent following the floor vote.


Similarly, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has also seen her backing among GOP voters grow since she survived a conference-wide vote to keep her in leadership over her vote to impeach Trump. Per the poll, her support among GOP voters grew by 7 points from 15 percent to 22 percent.   


The Hill: Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel jumps into Senate race.


Reuters: Dozens of former Republican officials in talks to form anti-Trump third party.


> Stock down: Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is staring down problems in his home state after he became the lone Republican to flip his vote on the constitutionality of the impeachment trial. The Republican Party of Louisiana said in a statement that it is “profoundly disappointed” in the senator, who won reelection back in November by 40 points (Politico). 


The New York Times: Why Bill Cassidy broke with Senate Republicans and backed Trump’s trial.


Later today, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) could be subjected to a censure by the Aiken County Republican Party back in their home state over their support to certify the 2020 presidential election results (Post and Courier). 


The Washington Post: State and local GOP committees attack any Republicans who dare turn on Trump.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: New Mexico legislature advancing bipartisan redistricting reform.




ADMINISTRATION: President Biden spoke for the first time since his inauguration with President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday. Using Twitter, the president described a conversation about “Beijing’s economic practices, human rights abuses, and coercion of Taiwan. I told him I will work with China when it benefits the American people.” 


The White House summarized the call along the same lines: The president “underscored his fundamental concerns about Beijing’s coercive and unfair economic practices, crackdown in Hong Kong, human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and increasingly assertive actions in the region, including toward Taiwan.” But the leaders also discussed “the shared challenges of global health security, climate change and preventing weapons proliferation,” according to the summary.


According to the official Chinese account of the two leaders’ call, issued by Xinhua, Xi cautioned Biden that the two countries had to cooperate or risk calamity, and gave no sign of giving ground on Xinjiang, Hong Kong or Taiwan (The New York Times).


During a visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday, Biden announced a new Defense Department review of U.S. strategy toward China (The Hill and Axios). He said a task force will examine U.S. direction, including “operation concepts, technology, force posture” and come up with policy recommendations within a few months. 


The president said he wants to work closely with Congress and with U.S. allies to maintain security and a strong U.S. competitive position with the hybrid communist-capitalist nation. 


In Asia, China is seen as “a big dragon” in terms of nuclear and military risks, but there are doubts about America’s resolve behind deterrence and defense guarantees (The New York Times). Complicating the picture: The United States imports more goods from China than from any other trading partner, and China owns more than $1.1 trillion in U.S. debt.


> Biden on Wednesday announced sanctions targeting Myanmar‘s military officials, their families and some businesses following a coup in that country that led to the detainment of democratically elected government officials. He signed an executive order that does not name the officials targeted. 


The president said at the White House that he consulted closely with McConnell and “allies and partners” around the world, and in particular the Indo-Pacific, in an effort to begin to build a coordinated international response to the coup (The Hill).


The sanctions, the first use of the punitive measures by the new administration, will target business entities linked to the military leaders who seized power and arrested Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and other political leaders in an early-morning raid earlier this month (Bloomberg).



Protesters rally in Myanmar



> Nominations: Regrets, she said she has more than a few. Neera Tanden, Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), continued on Wednesday to confront blistering criticism during the second of her confirmation committee appearances. Members of the Senate Budget Committee walked Tanden through recitations of her many partisan barbs and venomous tweets over the years aimed at Republican lawmakers (Politico).


Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), with whom Tanden clashed in 2016 when she championed Hillary Clinton for president, sounded dubious that Tanden could be a neutral arbiter at OMB when faced with the priorities of major corporate benefactors she wooed to support the liberal-leaning think tank she heads, the Center for American Progress.


Tanden vowed that corporate donations to her organization “will have zero impact on my decision making” if she is confirmed. Sanders told her, “At a time when the wealthy and large corporations have extraordinary influence over the economic and political life of this country, I must tell you that I am concerned about the level of corporate donations that the Center for American Progress has received under your leadership.” 


Pressed repeatedly on whether she “meant” what she wrote in her caustic tweets about members of the Senate, Tanden told Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), “Senator, I must have meant them, but I really regret them.” 

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! 


The impeachment managers have sealed off Republicans’ escape hatches, by E.J. Dionne, columnist, The Washington Post. 


Don’t assume your coronavirus test is a false positive, by Melinda Wenner Moyer, opinion contributor, The New York Times. 


The House meets at 9 a.m. No votes are scheduled; lawmakers return for legislative business on Feb. 22. The House Ways and Means Committee meets for a second day to consider the fiscal 2021 budget resolution.


The Senate convenes at noon to resume the impeachment trial.


The president and Vice President Harris will meet with a bipartisan group of senators to discuss infrastructure in the Oval Office at 10 a.m. before receiving the President’s Daily Brief at 11:15 a.m. Biden will also travel to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to visit the Viral Pathogenesis Laboratory at 3:45 p.m. and deliver remarks to NIH staff at 4:30 p.m. 


The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 12:30 p.m. 


Economic indicator: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on filings for unemployment benefits during the week ending Feb. 6.


INVITATION to The Hill’s Virtually Live event: TODAY at 1 p.m., “COVID-19 & the Opioid Epidemic.” Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Rep. David McKinley (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 or on YouTube at 10:30 a.m. EST at Rising on YouTube


Empowering Parents on Safer Internet Day


TikTok is a place for everyone, from Gen Z to grandparents. This Safer Internet Day, we’re focusing on our tools to support parents.


That includes our Family Pairing features, which let parents and guardians manage their family’s content and privacy settings, and create the experience that’s right for them.


Visit our Safety Center to learn more


ANATOMY OF EXTREMISTS: Nearly 60 percent of accused Capitol rioters who are facing charges showed signs of prior money troubles, including bankruptcies, notices of eviction or foreclosure, bad debts, or unpaid taxes over the past two decades, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records for 125 defendants with sufficient information to detail their financial histories. The trail of financial problems offers potential clues about why people were drawn to Trump’s rhetoric and why many with professional careers and few with violent criminal histories were willing to participate in a rally-turned-violent attack. “Not one patriot is standing up for me,” Texas real estate agent Jenna Ryan complained after turning herself into the FBI and being charged with two federal misdemeanors related to entering the Capitol building and disorderly conduct. “I’m a complete villain. I was down there based on what my president said. ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost. I was there for him.” … Former U.S. Olympic swimmer and medalist Klete Keller was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday on charges related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Keller, who is 6-foot-6, was quickly identified by authorities surveying video of those who breached the building because he wore a blue Olympic jacket to the siege (The Wall Street Journal).


FEDERAL RESERVE: Central bank chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday called for an expansive national effort to get Americans back to work after the pandemic, particularly minorities and workers ousted from lower-paying jobs. Powell said sustaining full employment in an eventual post-pandemic recovery “will require a society wide commitment, with contributions from across government and the private sector” (Reuters).


AUTO INDUSTRY: Ford Motor Company says it will invest $29 billion in autonomous and electric vehicles through 2025, yet another sign that automakers are making a rapid pivot into the future and away from fossil fuel-dependent combustion engines. Ford had previously committed $11.5 billion to its electric vehicle lineup up to 2022 (The Hill).


OLYMPICS, NBA: For the first time in a non-North American city, NBC will carry the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics live on July 23. The news constitutes a major shake-up for the network because Japan is 13 hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone, with the opening ceremony set to begin at 8 p.m. in Tokyo, or 7 a.m. on the East Coast. Only five years ago, NBC faced criticism for not broadcasting the opening ceremony live in Rio de Janeiro despite it being only two hours ahead. The network will also re-air the opening ceremony at night as usual at 7:30 p.m. (The Associated Press). … Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, is expected to step down on Friday in the wake of sexist remarks he made last week. The move comes more than five months before the Olympics are set to open (The Associated Press). … The NBA on Wednesday mandated that all teams must play the national anthem before games. The NBA’s directive came in response to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s decision to halt playing it during the team’s home games this season (ESPN). NBC News explains Cuban’s evolution in thinking about the anthem over the years.


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the highs and lows of the past week, we’re eager for some smart guesses about current events.


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 company applied to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine? 

  1. Novavax
  2. AstraZeneca
  3. Sinovac
  4. Johnson & Johnson 

During Tuesday’s impeachment hearings, which member of the president’s legal team for his first impeachment trial appeared on TV to heap criticism on the current group of lawyers?

  1. Jay Sekulow
  2. Ken Starr
  3. Alan Dershowitz
  4. Pam Bondi 

In the past week, which state’s governor reimposed a mask mandate shortly after its legislature repealed it? 

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. Ohio
  4. Michigan 

Tom Brady (seen below at a boat parade on Wednesday) won his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, and the 43-year-old quarterback captured MVP in the process. How many times has Brady won Super Bowl MVP?

  1. 3
  2. 4
  3. 5
  4. Every time



NFL quarterback Tom Brady at boat parade


Tags Alan Dershowitz Andrew Cuomo Bernie Sanders Bill Cassidy David McKinley Donald Trump Hillary Clinton James Inhofe Jay Sekulow Jen Psaki Joe Biden John Kennedy John Thune Lindsey Graham Lisa Murkowski Liz Cheney Mark Cuban Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Neera Tanden Rob Portman Sheldon Whitehouse Tim Scott
See all Hill.TV See all Video