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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today is Monday, the start of Women’s History Month! Happy March! 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 as March 1 begins: 513,091.

 

As of this morning, 15 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 7.5 percent is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg News global vaccine tracker.



For better or worse, Donald Trump is back.

 

The former president made his public return on Sunday with a raucous address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), teasing a potential 2024 presidential bid, panning President BidenJoe BidenBiden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech Kemp: Pulling All-Star game out of Atlanta will hurt business owners of color MORE’s first month in the White House, preaching unity within the GOP ranks, and shortly thereafter attacking those who voted to impeach or convict him, vowing to defeat them all. 

 

Multiple times throughout the 90-minute speech, Trump hinted at a third bid for the presidency, drawing massive cheers from the crowd of conservative activists who convened for the three-day gathering in Orlando, Fla. He also insisted he defeated Biden in November, a repetition of the falsehood that is helping Trump and his allies raise hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. 

 

“I may even decide to beat them for a third time,” he said, prompting cheers from supporters. One attendee described the mood in the room as “exuberant.” 

 

The Hill’s Julia Manchester: Trump tears into Biden, GOP critics in first post-presidency speech.

 

Reuters: Trump repeats election lie, declares himself the future of the Republican Party.

 

David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner: Trump stages GOP comeback at CPAC by refusing to concede 2020 defeat.

 

A large portion of Trump’s speech was aimed at lobbing attacks at his political enemies, including Biden. The former president said his successor has presided over “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” ridiculing his actions on a number of fronts, including immigration, the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“We all knew that the Biden administration was going to be bad, but none of us even imagined just how bad they would be and how far left they would go,” Trump said. “The Biden administration has proven that it is anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-borders, anti-energy, anti-women and anti-science.” 

 

At one point, Trump also took credit for the U.S.’s effort to vaccinate the population and end the pandemic, saying that he “handed the new administration a modern-day medical miracle,” referring to the vaccines.

 

The Hill: Trump tells fans to get vaccinated during CPAC address.

 

The Hill: Five takeaways from Trump’s speech in Florida.

 

While Trump heralded unity within the GOP ranks, he assailed 10 House Republicans and seven Senate Republicans who voted in favor of his impeachment and conviction, respectively, name-checking all of them individually. Trump saved special vitriol for Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneySunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Budowsky: Great for Dems: Trump dominates GOP MORE (R-Wyo.), referring to the House GOP conference chairwoman as a “warmonger” (The Hill).

 

“Hopefully they’ll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of ‘em all,” Trump said. “If Republicans do not stick together, the RINOs (Republicans in name only) that we're surrounded with will destroy the Republican Party.” 

 

Notably, the former president — who did not hesitate to bring up the perceived successes of his time in office — declined to directly mention two moments that closed out his presidency: The runoffs that cost the GOP its Senate majority and the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, which triggered his second impeachment by the House and a new marker for history books. 

 

The New York Times: Trump’s Republican hit list at CPAC Is a warning shot to his party.

 

The Washington Post: Trump rules out third party as he moves to firm up control of the Republican Party.

 

 

CPAC attendees

 

 

Trump’s speech was part of an effort to reestablish himself as the leader of the party in a post-Trump universe, with hordes of GOP office holders and party leaders angling for a 2024 bid. However, it’s Trump who still leads the pack. 

 

“There’s no question Trump has huge support among much of the base of the Republican Party. The question now becomes, will he use that support for the good of the party and focus his energy on winning back the House majority, or will he get distracted with carrying out political retribution?” Alyssa Farah, a former White House communications director in Trump’s final year, told the Morning Report. “Four years is a lifetime in politics, and the party wants to get back to winning.” 

 

According to CPAC’s straw poll results released on Sunday, 55 percent of conference attendees back Trump in a hypothetical 2024 primary, with 68 percent adding that they want him to run again (The Hill). However, GOP strategists and aides were surprised by the results, having expected those totals to be higher as CPAC is perhaps the most sympathetic crowd toward the former president.

 

“Thought it’d be much higher, especially considering the base-heavy makeup of the crowd,” said one GOP strategist who worked on Trump’s reelect. “Not a lot of suburban wine moms in attendance.”

 

Twenty-one percent of respondents said they’d vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida newspaper blasts DeSantis's ban on COVID-19 passports: 'Makes no sense' Buttigieg hopes cruises will return by mid-summer The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip MORE (R), and 4 percent said they’d back South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Five things to watch for at the GOP's donor retreat MORE (R). Ninety-five percent said the Republican Party should continue to back Trump’s agenda and policies. Three percent said they want the party to go in a different direction, and 2 percent said they were uncertain. 

 

The Hill: News outlets diverge over airing Trump’s CPAC speech.

 

Reid Wilson and Al Weaver, The Hill: Former Trump aide and Tea Party activist Katrina Pierson planning to run for Congress.

 

The Hill: Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyCalls grow for national paid family leave amid pandemic Senators urge Energy chief to prioritize cybersecurity amid growing threats Vivek Murthy confirmed as surgeon general MORE (R-La.): Trump won't be GOP nominee in 2024. 

 

> State watch: Democratic governors of two of the nation’s largest states are simultaneously grappling with missteps and allegations of wrongdoing, prompting intense scrutiny on both coasts. But in their hours of need, California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia to spend 6M on wildfire prevention Former Trump campaign manager advising Jenner on potential California gubernatorial run Overnight Health Care: Biden says US still in 'life and death race' with virus | White House rules out involvement in 'vaccine passports' | Arkansas lawmakers override Hutchinson veto on transgender bill MORE and New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoNew York City's suicide mission should alarm the entire nation New York's wealthy could face 51.8 percent tax rate: report Rep. Lee Zeldin announces bid for New York governor MORE are experiencing dramatically different responses from fellow Democrats (The Hill). 

 

Newsom, facing a recall effort that is likely to force him onto the ballot sometime later this year, enjoys the collective support of California’s large, well-organized and well-funded Democratic Party. In Cuomo’s case, far from rallying around the governor, many New York Democrats are sharpening the long knives, in part a reaction to years of what members of the party have criticized as Cuomo’s bullying, reports The Hill’s Reid Wilson. 

 

NBC News: Facing a firestorm, Cuomo’s office on Sunday said it was asking New York Attorney General Letitia James and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to appoint an independent investigator. James on Sunday afternoon on Twitter said that Cuomo must make a referral to her office: “While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.” 

 

The New York Times: Cuomo, 63, later offered an apology to one former aide on Sunday without conceding misconduct. He said his remarks last year could have been “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.” The governor said he is sorry if he had been “insensitive or too personal, and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended.” Cuomo had previously denied accusations of sexual harassment but also confirmed elements of his private conversations with a former assistant, Charlotte Bennett, 25, who says when they were alone in his office on June 5, the governor asked if she “had ever been with an older man.” 

 

New York State of Politics: Cuomo refers sexual harassment claims investigation to the state’s attorney general, who is expected to appoint an independent counsel.

 

 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

 

 

The Hill’s upshot from Sunday talk shows: Trump’s reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominated.



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LEADING THE DAY

CORONAVIRUS: Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine is set to be rolled out and administered to Americans this week after a pair of health agencies green-lighted the shot, giving the U.S. a third vaccination to use to inoculate people against COVID-19.

 

After the Food and Drug Administration cleared the shot for emergency use on Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention accepted a recommendation from a panel of experts allowing the vaccine to be used across the country on Sunday, with shots set to be given out within days. 

 

Four million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine will be distributed and available this week. The U.S. is set to receive 20 million doses by the end of March. Administration officials on Sunday lauded the approval of the new shot, citing it as safe and effective against COVID-19 and the circulating variants. 

 

“This is a good vaccine,” Anthony FauciAnthony FauciVaccinated Fauci hosts people at home, but stays away from crowded indoor spaces Trump endorses Rand Paul for reelection The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Let's make a deal on infrastructure, taxes MORE, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week.” “I think we need to pull away from this comparing and parsing numbers until you compare them head-to-head. Just be really grateful that we have three really efficacious vaccines” (The Hill).

 

The Johnson & Johnson shot was 66 percent effective in protecting any cases of moderate to severe illness. It was 85 percent effective against severe cases of COVID-19 and completely prevented hospitalization and death four weeks after inoculation.

 

Experts also cited analysis that the vaccine is 74 percent effective at preventing asymptomatic infection, indicating that it cuts down on transmission of COVID-19. 

 

“There is more and more evidence that these vaccines are preventing transmission of infection, which makes them an even more important public health tool,” Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration, told “Face the Nation.” “I think people should be confident about taking it” (CBS News).

 

The Hill: Fauci says vaccines are reasonably effective against the newest COVID-19 variants.

 

The Wall Street Journal: Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine: How does the one-dose shot compare with others? What you need to know.

 

As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan points out, governors across the country are lifting coronavirus restrictions, including mask mandates and capacity limits. However, there are ominous signs ahead of a new spike from virus variants. 

 

While case totals have fallen dramatically in recent weeks, they are still at extremely high levels, as Fauci pointed out on Sunday.

 

“It is really risky to say, ‘It’s over. We’re on the way out. Let’s pull back’ because what we can see is that we turn up,” Fauci said, referring to the daily cases curve, calling rollbacks of restrictions “premature.” “It isn’t hypothetical … because just look historically” (CNN).

 

This week, Massachusetts is lifting all capacity limits on restaurants, while Montana and Iowa have lifted statewide mask mandates. Texas might soon lift all statewide orders.

 

The Hill: Fauci lays out a timeline for vaccinating teens, children.

 

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic: The surprising key to combating vaccine refusal. It’s not just one problem — and we’re going to need a portfolio of approaches to solve it. 

 

The Associated Press: Utah on Sunday began canceling 7,200 COVID-19 vaccine appointments after its sign-up system mistakenly allowed residents who are not in priority categories to sign up for specific appointments to be inoculated.

 

Washingtonian: Inside D.C.’s secret COVID-19 morgue. 

 

 

A Johnson & Johnson sign on a building

 

 

****

 

CONGRESS: The House-passed $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill faces major changes in the Senate as lawmakers eye a mid-March deadline for enactment. Any senator will be able to offer amendments this week as part of a prolonged floor process called a vote-a-rama. Bipartisan discussions are underway to consider alterations to the structure of proposed $1,400 direct federal checks to individuals and families, and Republican senators are plotting how to trim the House measure. Modifications will result in another vote by the House, where progressives are expected to protest changes geared toward getting a bill out of the 50-50 upper chamber (The Hill).

 

For example, progressives in Congress are fuming over a setback for those who want to raise the $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, worried that it signals looming problems for other priorities. Though Democrats control both the House and Senate for the first time since 2010, last week’s decision by the Senate parliamentarian to say House-passed wage provisions are out of bounds underscores the squeeze felt by the left when it comes to enacting sweeping campaign promises. Liberals want Senate Democrats to either overrule the parliamentarian’s verdict or do away with the filibuster and its required 60-vote threshold. As The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports, the votes to do either are not in evidence. 

 

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump looms large over GOP donor retreat in Florida Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start MORE (R-Alaska) is expected today to meet with Neera TandenNeera TandenFive ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet White House delays release of budget plan MORE, Biden’s embattled nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget. While moderate Republicans in the Senate have joined some of their conservative colleagues in saying they oppose Tanden, Murkowski is still weighing the nominee’s qualifications and objections to past “mean tweets” (CNN)  

 

In the House, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Pence pleaded with military officials to 'clear the Capitol' on Jan. 6: AP Democrats see political winner in tax fight MORE (D-Calif.) is defending her proposal for a commission to investigate the January siege at the Capitol. She wants Democrats to have more members than the minority party. Democratic lawmakers have a different argument: “We do not owe delusional deniers a role or a platform in a commission designed to try to ferret out extremism and violence to prevent its recurrence,” said Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyLawmakers, whistleblower advocates push Biden to fill federal employment board The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE (D-Va.). “These people are dangerous” (The Hill).

 

The Hill: Republicans in Congress want to undercut White House chief of staff Ron KlainRon KlainManchin throws cold water on using budget reconciliation Will Ocasio-Cortez challenge Biden or Harris in 2024? White House says bills are bipartisan even if GOP doesn't vote for them MORE, painting the experienced Biden aide as a kind of Svengali working “behind the curtain.” For weeks, Biden aides have dismissed criticism from some GOP senators that the president is being manipulated into partisan decisions by Klain and other West Wing advisers.

 

 

The U.S. Capitol

 



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION: A White House proposal for infrastructure spending estimated at $2 trillion could be unveiled this month. Investments in roads, bridges, broadband and other job-creating infrastructure projects would be the next phase of the president’s major domestic legislative initiatives planned this year (The Associated Press).

 

> Voting rights: At the Justice Department, the Biden administration wants to bolster the voting rights section, particularly as Republican legislatures draw new districts and pass new voting restrictions in the name of election security. The president is aware that the division has not hired a single new attorney since 2016, a Department of Justice source told The Hill, and is operating with 15 lawyers, down from around 30. … The Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider rules for the next election and how federal law protects minority voters as states across the nation race to revamp their regulations. The court will review the shield provided by the Voting Rights Act, first passed in 1965 to forbid laws that result in discrimination based on race (The Washington Post).

 

> Greenhouse emissions: Financial regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department are formulating how they will consider climate change and related impacts to the U.S. financial system. The climate change approach worries Republican officials and the oil and gas industry (The Hill). … Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., have adopted standards for vehicle tailpipe emissions tied to climate change. In a shift from the Trump era, the Biden administration is poised to reauthorize states that seek to adopt clean car standards (The Hill).

 

> Internationally, Biden is hearing plenty of objections after his decision to pull back on punishing Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following a U.S. intelligence report that found the prince approved the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The president over the weekend suggested the administration has more to say. “There will be an announcement on Monday as to what we are going to be doing with Saudi Arabia generally,” he said on Saturday. A White House official clarified that no new significant steps are expected. “The administration took a wide range of new actions on Friday. The president is referring to the fact that on Monday, the State Department will provide more details and elaborate on those announcements, not new announcements,” the official said (Reuters). … Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Five ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington MORE (D-Va.) said on Sunday that the administration should “keep open additional sanctions” against Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally (The Hill). … Biden put the United States back in the Paris climate agreement, rejoined the World Health Organization, returned to the U.N. Human Rights Council and made moves toward resuming the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Yet the next president could reverse those decisions. In conversations with his international counterparts, Biden is trying to persuade allies that it’s unlikely the United States would in the future revive the “America first” policies embraced by his predecessor (The Washington Post). … Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauIn-person classes canceled in Toronto amid uptick in variant cases Will Ocasio-Cortez challenge Biden or Harris in 2024? Pfizer to speed up vaccine shipments to Canada MORE said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,”It's great to see America reengage. I think certainly there were things that were more challenging under the previous administration in terms of moving the dial in the right direction on the international stage” (The Hill).

 

The Hill: In a throwback to a more traditional presidential governing style and consensus-seeking approach with Congress, Biden has revived bipartisan White House meetings with lawmakers, which became less frequent during Trump’s term.

 

 

President Biden

 



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

High on their own supply: The truth is, many on the left don’t understand what a reporter is, by Maureen Dowd, columnist, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/3dV802M 

 

Trump’s not-quite-triumphant return, by Robert A. George, columnist, Bloomberg opinion. https://bloom.bg/3bMhI53 

 

Cuomo’s survival in office looks doubtful, by Karen Tumulty, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3bLtT28 



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WHERE AND WHEN

The House meets at 2 p.m.

 

The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. and resumes consideration of the nominations of Miguel CardonaMiguel CardonaResidencies are a key tool to diversifying the nation's teacher force Education Department moves to reverse Trump-era rules on campus sexual misconduct Hillicon Valley: Grid security funding not included in Biden's infrastructure plan | Russia fines Twitter | Lawmakers call for increased school cybersecurity MORE to be Education secretary. The Senate will swear in Sonceria “Ann” Berry  as secretary of the upper chamber, making her the first African American and eighth woman to serve in the position (Yahoo News).

 

The president will return to the White House from Wilmington, Del., at 11:36 a.m. and receive the President’s Daily Brief during the trip. Biden will have a virtual bilateral meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico at 4:30 p.m.

 

 Vice President Harris has no public events.

 

The White House press briefing is scheduled at noon. A briefing by the White House coronavirus response team is scheduled at 11 a.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 best-seller, “Shattered.” Biden’s roller-coaster 2020 campaign and nail-biting victory against a crowded primary field and then former President Trump are revealed with deep reporting, analysis and new anecdotes in “Lucky,” which is in bookstores TOMORROW 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



ELSEWHERE

SUPREME COURT: Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughColbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon Meghan McCain calls on Gaetz to resign Gaetz defends himself: I'm 'not a monk' MORE took heat from conservatives last week after he appeared to cast a deciding vote to block the Supreme Court from hearing pro-Trump litigation stemming from the 2020 election. Kavanaugh broke with his conservative colleagues, depriving them of the fourth vote needed to grant formal review of GOP election litigation (The Hill).  

 

 

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

 

 

INTERNATIONAL: Protesters in Myanmar had tear gas fired upon them by the police on Monday, having gathering a day after 18 people were reportedly killed across the country as part of the protests to the military coup. Aung San Suu Kyi, the nation’s ousted leader, also made an appearance in court via videoconference where she was charged with allegedly inciting unrest, the third charge she faces (The Associated Press). 

 

SPACE STATION: The International Space Station needs more power and will get six new solar panels in the coming year, to be delivered in pairs by SpaceX. In preparation on Sunday, NASA astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover labored with power tools and a ratchet wrench to put a set of mounting brackets and struts together, and then bolted them into place next to the station’s oldest and most degraded solar wings. But the work took longer than expected, and they barely got started on the second set before calling it quits. Rubins will finish the job during a second spacewalk later this week (The Associated Press).

 

GOLDEN GLOBES: NBC, which broadcast the awards program Sunday night, recounts that the soulful road drama "Nomadland" and the bawdy prank comedy "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm" collected the top film prizes, capping off a largely virtual ceremony co-hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who appeared from opposite sides of the country. "Nomadland" filmmaker Chloé Zhao became only the second woman to win the directing award — nearly 40 years after Barbra StreisandBarbara (Barbra) Joan StreisandSpielberg donates money from Israel's prestigious Genesis Prize to nonprofits Chloé Zhao becomes second woman to win Golden Globe as best director The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump teases on 2024 run MORE was recognized for "Yentl." Zhao, who is Chinese American, is the first woman of color to triumph in that category. In one of the most emotional moments of the night, Chadwick Boseman's widow accepted his posthumous award for best actor in a drama film for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," six months after his death at 43. Two entertainment industry luminaries received lifetime achievement honors. Norman Lear, the storied creator of seminal sitcoms such as "All in the Family," was given the Carol Burnett Award, named for the comedian of the same name. Jane Fonda, the trailblazing actor and activist, accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award. In a passionate speech, Fonda paid tribute to the power of movies to foster empathy and called on Hollywood to push for diversity on screen, behind the camera and in board rooms. The Golden Globes are closely watched leading into the year’s entertainment awards season, including the April 25 Oscars, marking a most unusual pandemic span for filmmakers and performers. 



THE CLOSER

And finally … Scott Green, a California plastic surgeon dressed in medical garb and operating on a patient, appeared last week in a virtual hookup with the Sacramento traffic court. The Medical Board of California is now investigating (The Associated Press).

 

“Hello, Mr. Green? Are you available for trial?” a courtroom clerk asked the surgeon as suction sounds and medical equipment could be heard in the background. “It kind of looks like you’re in an operating room right now?”

 

“I am, sir,” Green replied. “Yes, I’m in an operating room right now. I’m available for trial. Go right ahead.”

 

“I’m concerned about the welfare of the patient based on what I’m seeing,” interjected Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Gary Link before assigning Green a new March court date. “Is that going to make your calendar, I hope?”

 

Green assured Link that it would. When The Sacramento Bee asked Green to comment on videotaped evidence of his multitasking, he declined.

 

 

Dr. Scott Green, a California plastic surgeon dressed in medical garb and operating on a patient, appeared last week in a virtual hookup with the Sacramento traffic court.