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The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend

 

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The Capitol Rotunda

 

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. You have made it to another Friday! We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the 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; Friday, 475,444.

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MOREs lawyers today will defend their client against an impeachment charge using arguments designed to give cover to Republican senators who plan to vote for Trump’s acquittal. 

Trump’s legal team, represented by lawyers Bruce Castor and David Schoen (pictured below), strategized for 70 minutes on Thursday about today’s defense with Republican senators who remain staunch Trump allies. The trial is expected to conclude on Saturday with acquittal of the former 45th president, who was spotted in Florida playing golf during the third day of proceedings in the Capitol.

Trump’s lawyers appear eager to deflect attention from House Democrats’ prosecution case by turning the tables. They will argue that Trump’s rhetoric and mobilization of his base were not responsible for what occurred — not incitement to violence, but rather political speech protected by the First Amendment. They will suggest that Trump’s remarks on Jan. 6 were fundamentally no different than Democrats’ embrace of Black Lives Matter protests and antifa demonstrations. 

The Associated Press: Trump team on stage. 

Schoen said on Fox News that the dramatic and at times harrowing video and audio drawn from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by thousands of Trump supporters — a centerpiece of the impeachment managers’ evidence this week — was “an entertainment package” that would not have been admissible in a court of law and warrants a rebuttal today pointing out Democrats’ “hypocrisy” (New York Post).

Anticipating the likelihood of Trump’s second acquittal on impeachment charges over 13 months, House managers crafted a narrative for the court of public opinion. They maintained, using the former president’s own words, that Trump knowingly put the entire government, former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceClyburn: Allowing filibuster to be used to deny voting rights would be 'catastrophic' Sunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll MORE and House and Senate elected officials in harm’s way in an effort to overturn an election he falsely maintained he had won.

The New York Times: Impeachment prosecutors want a verdict from the public and history if convicting Trump is out of reach. 

The Washington Post: Mounting evidence suggests Trump knew of danger to Pence when he attacked him as lacking “courage” amid Capitol siege. 

The Associated Press: Lawyer who defended Trump accustomed to political disaster.

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Punish Trump or risk a repeat, warn Democrats.

The Washington Post: House managers say Trump could incite more violence if not convicted by the Senate. 

The Wall Street Journal editorial board: The Trump impeachment evidence: He might be acquitted, but he won’t live down his disgraceful conduct.

The Hill: Video evidence used by Democrats showed rioters at the Capitol calling police “traitors.” Some who stormed the building said they were following Trump’s instructions.

Trump’s lawyers have criticized the entire impeachment process, stating their client has been denied due process. Nevertheless, they also established from the outset that Trump would not appear in-person to defend himself or be questioned. After a rocky opening presentation on Tuesday, Castor as well as Schoen face a public that has said in multiple polls that it supports Trump’s conviction. Two days of compelling testimony from House prosecutors may have solidified that majority view, reports The Hill’s Jonathan Easley.

Some Republican senators who have been most critical of Trump believe the trial may have effectively barred him from any future federal office in voters’ minds, which was one of the stated aims of House impeachment managers. 

 

Trump's impeachment legal team

 

While the result of the trial is a foregone conclusion, some Senate Republicans agree the effect of the trial has been to virtually foreclose any chance of Trump capturing the presidency again.  

“It just makes you realize what an asshole Donald Trump is. Unwittingly they are doing us a favor: they're making Donald Trump disqualified to run for president,” one GOP senator told The Hill’s Alexander Bolton after watching the second day of the House managers' presentation. Many of them are furious with the president's conduct after he lost reelection and privately blame him for the deadly riot, as well as them losing their majority in the Georgia runoffs.

The House managers wrapped up their case against Trump on Thursday. More than 40 Senate Republicans are expected to vote to acquit the former president, but the goal of the managers was clear as they sought to make it as uncomfortable as possible for GOP senators to cast that vote. 

As Mike Lillis and Scott Wong report, the nine House Democrats prosecuting the case portrayed Trump as the primary driver of a deadly mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. The long and haunting narrative was designed to sway public opinion and the history books as much as the Senate jurors, with many indicating that they are intractable.  

“That was a pretty emotional — emotional — presentation,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden gets involved to help break Senate logjam Overnight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels MORE (R-Texas) said heading into Thursday’s trial. “Because obviously, none of us were able to see all of that.”

The lion’s share of Thursday’s presentation drilled down on the frightened victims of the riot and issued a warning that if they don’t convict Trump and bar him from a future electoral bid, he could incite more violence on the country.  

“President Trump’s lack of remorse shows that he will undoubtedly cause future harm if allowed,” Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuPelosi, lawmakers denounce violence against Asian Americans Riot probe to likely focus on McCarthy-Trump call Progressives urge Biden pick for attorney general to prosecute Trump MORE (D-Calif.), one of the House managers, said from the well of the upper chamber. “I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose, because he can do this again.”

The Hill: Who are the GOP senators likely to vote for Trump's conviction? A list. 

CNBC: Feds charge five people with conspiracy in Capitol riot, several marched with Proud Boys.

Politico Magazine: Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyTrump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? Haley praises Trump CPAC speech after breaking with him over Capitol riot MORE on Trump in 2020: “I understand that genuinely, to his core, he believes he was wronged. This is not him making it up. … He believes he’s following that oath [of office]. This would be different if he was being deceptive.”

 

A lone Trump supporter outside the Capitol

 

LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: President BidenJoe BidenLawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' Fauci predicts high schoolers will receive coronavirus vaccinations this fall Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE said on Thursday during a visit to the National Institutes of Health that the United States will have sufficient supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate 300 million people by July. The administration used options in existing contracts to purchase another 200 million doses, increasing supply by 50 percent (The Washington Post). 

The optimistic news out of the administration comes as top health officials predict that individuals of any stripe will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine by April. 

“By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, open season,” Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFauci predicts high schoolers will receive coronavirus vaccinations this fall Texas patrons threaten to call ICE on Mexican restaurant for keeping mask mandate Gottlieb: 'Probable' that high schoolers will get coronavirus vaccines this year MORE, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the “Today” show. “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.”

Fauci’s remarks came days after Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, advised that a looming surplus of vaccines means the administration has to consider “the demand side of this equation soon” (CBS News).  

 

President Biden with Anthony Fauci

 

> Schools: The White House continued its scattershot messaging on the reopening of schools for in-person learning on Thursday as press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiMississippi governor defends ending mask mandate Border crisis creates new risks for Biden Cruz puts hold on Biden's CIA nominee MORE told reporters that Biden wants classrooms to reopen five days a week. 

“That's what he wants to achieve. And we're going to lead with science,” Psaki said.

Her comments were the culmination of 72 hours of up-and-down answers on a topic that has plagued the White House in its opening weeks. On Tuesday, Psaki was met with a wave of criticism from parents after she said that "teaching at least one day a week in the majority of schools by day 100" was a goal for the administration. 

CNN: Biden's 100-day plan to reopen schools meets with a messy reality.

The Hill: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to share school reopening guidelines on Friday. 

The New York Times: We asked 175 pediatric disease experts if it was safe enough to open school.

> States, cities & COVID: Health authorities confirmed on Thursday that the strains of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom and South Africa have been detected in the District of Columbia. Director of DC Health LaQuandra Nesbitt said that three cases of the British strain and one case of the South African strain were confirmed (Fox 5). 

WBAL: Maryland will allow limited hospital and nursing home visitors beginning on March 1.   

New York Post: Aide to New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoTop New York Democrats call on Cuomo to resign Whitmer encourages investigation into Cuomo's conduct Sunday shows: Manchin in the spotlight after pivotal role in coronavirus aid debate MORE (D) admits they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn’t find out. 

The Associated Press: Australian city Melbourne begins 3rd lockdown due to cluster.  

The Hill: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is spreading false claims about COVID-19 vaccinations, continuing years of opposition to various inoculations. Tech companies are challenged to block misinformation peddled by some recognizable users who reach wide audiences, but on Thursday, Instagram decided to block Kennedy Jr. because of his false and unscientific claims about coronavirus vaccines (NBC News). 

 

A MESSAGE FROM TIKTOK

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

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION: Biden and key members of the Senate on Thursday met at the White House to discuss a potentially significant federal investment in infrastructure, which many lawmakers agree is overdue and a sure-fire boon to jobs. Biden has proposed a $2 trillion plan that would seek to grow the economy and reduce the transportation sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. The White House says the proposed price tag is negotiable.

For the most part, Democrats and Republicans agree on infrastructure policy. But they have been stymied over how to foot the bills.

Infrastructure funding for everything from airports and bridges to broadband and ports was a first-year feature of Trump’s presidency and devolved into a punchline when “infrastructure week” went nowhere. Trump favored using federal dollars to leverage private investment, but lawmakers at the time clashed with the White House over regional differences and the notion that federally blessed projects would favor those that were attractive to private investors and operators. Without a profit potential for key projects, some lawmakers objected that critical needs would be ignored under the GOP’s favored $1 trillion public-private partnership model.

The president was joined by Vice President Harris and Sens. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote Senate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden gets involved to help break Senate logjam MORE (D-Del.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee; Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCOVID-19 relief debate stalls in Senate amid Democratic drama Senate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (D-Md.), the transportation subcommittee chairman; along with Sens. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Biden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure Passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy MORE (W.Va.) and James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Top Republican: 'Outrageous' to extend National Guard deployment at Capitol Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal MORE (Okla.), who are senior GOP members of the committee. Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Senate begins marathon vote-a-rama before .9T COVID-19 relief passage The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Biden turns focus to next priority with infrastructure talks MORE joined by video because he is isolating after a coronavirus exposure. Investment in infrastructure is a feature of Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. 

Inhofe told reporters after the meeting that he was enthusiastic. "It was very good, very good and one reason is that I've known the president forever, and we've worked together before," he told reporters. 

The White House said the group reached a “mutual understanding” that new infrastructure should be built in cities and rural areas alike. More meetings with members of Congress are planned (The Washington Post). 

 

The Brooklyn Bridge at night

 

> Semiconductors: A White House official says the Biden administration is moving aggressively to address a global semiconductor shortage that has halted production for automakers and other industries (Bloomberg News).

 

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

A vote to acquit is a vote for a lie, by Peggy Noonan, columnist, The Wall Street Journal. https://on.wsj.com/3jENyUX 

COVID-19 is paving the way for better options, by Conor Sen, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3d5u5LS

WHERE AND WHEN

Morning Report is taking Presidents Day off and will be back Tuesday.

The House meets on Monday at 9:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. 

The Senate convenes at noon to resume the impeachment trial, which will stretch into the weekend. 

The president and Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden and Harris will meet with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and other governors of both parties as well as mayors to discuss distribution of COVID-19 vaccine supplies to states at 11:15 a.m. (The Hill). The president and vice president will also have lunch at 12:30 p.m. before meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Senate begins marathon vote-a-rama before .9T COVID-19 relief passage The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Virus relief bill headed for weekend vote Debt to break WWII record by 2031 MORE at 1:30 p.m. Biden will depart for Camp David for the weekend at 5:30 p.m.

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

The Hill’s senior correspondent Amie Parnes and co-author Jonathan Allen of NBC News have written a political book to follow their 2017 bestseller, “Shattered.” Biden’s rollercoaster 2020 campaign and nail-biting victory against a crowded primary field and then former President Trump is revealed with deep reporting, analysis and new anecdotes in “Lucky,” which is in bookstores March 2 and available for pre-order with Penguin Random House HERE and on Amazon 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.

 

A MESSAGE FROM TIKTOK

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

 

ELSEWHERE

INFORMATION AND POWER: Around the world — from Myanmar to Uganda to Ethiopia — shutting down the internet has become an increasingly popular tactic of repressive and authoritarian regimes and some illiberal democracies. Digital rights groups say governments use them to stifle dissent, silence opposition voices or cover up human rights abuses, raising concerns about restricting freedom of speech (The Associated Press). … China has barred BBC programs including BBC World News today after a British regulator banned a Chinese broadcaster over licensing problems (Reuters and The New York Times). … The Biden administration is re-evaluating the Trump administration’s restrictions on China-owned TikTok and the WeChat app dominant in that country. Courts have blocked Trump’s attempted national security ban on WeChat, saying it would impact the First Amendment rights of users (The Associated Press).

➔ MUSIC (OLD IS COMMERCIALLY NEW): Taylor SwiftTaylor Alison SwiftTaylor Swift calls out 'Ginny and Georgia' for a 'deeply sexist' joke about her Taylor Swift celebrates House passage of Equality Act The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend MORE announced she’s releasing the first of her re-recorded albums. Swift said online Thursday that “Fearless: Taylor’s Version” is finished and “will be with you soon,” featuring re-recorded songs from Swift’s teenage album, “Fearless.” The new set will have 26 songs — the original album had 13 — and also contain six never-before released songs, tunes which “almost made” the album. At midnight, she released the “Taylor version” of her song “Love Story” from “Fearless” in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. Why the wayback rewind? Swift has vowed to re-record her first six albums after music manager Scooter Braun announced that his Ithaca Holdings company had acquired Big Machine Label Group, home to Swift’s first six albums (The Associated Press).

 

Taylor Swift 



THE CLOSER

And finally … Much applause    for the winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Relying on savvy guesses, readers knew their trivia about current events during the past week.

Here are the quiz masters who went 4/4 with our puzzle: Patrick Kavanagh, John Carlan, Mary Frances Trucco, Gary Kalian, Ki Harvey, Pam Manges, Allen Reishtein, Victoria Gasaway, Joe Erdmann, Donna Nackers, Mary Anne McEnery, John Donato, Donna Minter, Candi Cee, Tom Chabot, Rich Gruber, Mark Roeddiger, Jack Barshay, Norm Roberts, Ken Stevens and Marilyn Krause. 

They knew that Johnson & Johnson applied this week for emergency use authorization with the Food and Drug Administration for its COVID-19 vaccine, setting the U.S. up with a third shot in the near future. 

Appearing on Newsmax amid Tuesday’s impeachment trial, Alan DershowitzAlan Morton DershowitzA victory for the Constitution, not so much for Trump Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in on Trump impeachment trial; Biden administration eyes timeline for mass vaccinations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend MORE, a member of the former president’s first impeachment team (reportedly as Trump watched) to pan the current legal effort.

After a decision by Gov. Tony EversTony EversDemocrats must prepare now for a contested 2024 election Wisconsin legislation would ban transgender athletes through college level Wisconsin bill would require playing of national anthem at taxpayer-funded venues MORE, Wisconsin reimposed a statewide mask mandate at indoor public spaces after the state legislature initially repealed it hours earlier. 

Finally, Tom Brady, owner of seven Super Bowl rings, has won five Super Bowl MVP awards. 

 

Johnson & Johnson building