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The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Emergent BioSolutions – Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney

Former President Trump checks his phone on a golf course
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Former President Trump checks his phone on a golf course



Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Today 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 as of each morning this week: Monday, 577,045; Tuesday, 577,523; Wednesday, 578,500; Thursday, 579,276.

Former President Trump received what he said was unwelcome news from Big Tech on Wednesday as Facebook’s oversight board upheld his suspension from the social media platform, which the company imposed following his persistent falsehoods about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. 


The 20-member board said in a statement that Trump “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible,” leading to the ban following the deadly insurrection. The board also said Facebook must reexamine its decision within six months, effectively postponing any final decision about the former president until then (The Hill).


In reaction, Trump assailed Facebook, Twitter — which banned him in January — and Google as “corrupt” and said Big Tech is destroying the U.S. election “process.” 


The Facebook decision to continue its ban affects how Trump can converse with his supporters. The 45th president has largely used cable news interviews and press releases to reach out to his base since his social media accounts were blocked. On Tuesday, Trump’s team announced the launch of what appears to be an expanded blog, allowing supporters to share Trump’s posts and missives. 


Republicans say they doubt Facebook’s decision will change much for Trump as he gears up for a potential third White House bid. 


“President Trump can galvanize supporters without the help of social media companies, but if Facebook decides to lift their suspension in six months it certainly doesn’t hurt his chances for 2024,” said one GOP strategist who worked for Trump’s reelection, adding that Trump’s fundraising prowess should not be hampered too much despite his reliance on the platform for reaching donors in past campaigns. 


“He’s capable of raising unrivaled amounts from small-dollar contributors even without the platform,” the strategist added.


A second strategist suggested Facebook’s decision will backfire by displaying what conservatives assert is partisan bias (The Hill). 


“It’s incredible stupidity on the part of Facebook, who’s now shut him out twice. It fuels the fire for conservatives to go after Big Tech,” the strategist said, predicting that Facebook will eventually relent. “In the short term it probably helps him. He can yell and scream about how Big Tech is trying to shut him out.”


Rebecca Klar, The Hill: Facebook board decision on Trump ban pleases no one.


Politico: Trumpland thought he’d get back on Facebook. Now, they’re anxious and scrambling.


The Hill: Trump told Facebook board his supporters were “law-abiding” during the Capitol riot. 


Kara Swisher: Good riddance, Donald Trump? 


On Capitol Hill, GOP leaders have turned on House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.) as they prepare to oust her next week in favor of Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who received public boosts from Trump and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Wednesday. 


Trump on Monday panned Cheney as a “warmongering fool who has no business in Republican Party Leadership,” all the while hailing Stefanik, 36, as a “far superior choice” (The Hill).


As Niall Stanage writes in his latest memo, the impending takedown of Cheney is a sign that the battle for the future of the GOP post-Jan. 6 is effectively over — and that Trump is the victor. Republican leaders who expressed dissent from Trump or criticized him, including McCarthy, have swung around to his side, quieted their voices or moved on entirely. 


According to Politico, Cheney is not doing much to retain her post. However, she kept up her criticisms in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday evening, pleading with the GOP to move away from the “Trump cult of personality.” She also hit House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), saying that he “changed his story” on Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.



House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) listens to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)



Paul Kane, The Washington Post: From former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acolyte to Trump disciple: Stefanik sets out to replace Cheney in GOP leadership.


The Wall Street Journal: Behind Cheney’s break with McCarthy over Trump.


With the vote to remove Cheney from leadership on deck for next week, The Hill’s Scott Wong writes that her ouster is sparking backlash from some Republicans who see a double standard in the party’s effort to boot the most powerful woman in the GOP from her post while men who criticized Trump sit pretty. Namely, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who intensely criticized Trump on and following Jan. 6, remains in his post, while Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) survived a recent censure vote at home. 


“The women don’t get the same slack that the men get,” former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), a Cheney ally, told Scott in a phone interview. “And I think a lot of the men are attacking her because they resent that she’s got guts and they don’t.” 


They’re on their knees for Trump and she’s standing up for herself,” Comstock added. “And that’s kind of an embarrassing thing if you’re the guy on your knees.”


However, rank-and-file Republicans believe Cheney’s ouster has more to do with her critiques of the members who voted her into leadership than her impeachment vote or anti-Trump remarks.


“She’s always had to prove she had bigger balls than her colleagues. Eventually, that just got old,” one House Republican told the Morning Report. “She never had grace with fellow members. It was always her way or the highway. It’s not about whether there’s room for debate. It’s that Liz always wanted to embarrass anybody who didn’t agree with her.”


“Liz kept poking all the members who voted not the certify. There are 130 of them,” the member added. “That’s just math.”


A second member added that they weren’t surprised by her looming removal.


“Cheney wants this,” the lawmaker said, noting that Stefanik “has made more calls and has more commitments at the moment” than the Wyoming Republican. 


However, Stefanik’s roadmap to becoming the No. 3 House Republican is not without speed bumps as multiple outside groups indicated their displeasure with her candidacy. The Club for Growth tweeted on Wednesday evening that the New York Republican is a “liberal” and “NOT a good spokesperson” for the House GOP, noting that she has a 35 percent Club for Growth lifetime rating — the fourth-lowest rating among House Republicans. 


“House Republicans should find a conservative to lead messaging and win back the House Majority,” the Club for Growth said. One GOP member speculated that the group wants Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, for the post even though he removed his name from consideration.


In addition, Stefanik has a 43 percent rating with the American Conservative Union (ACU). The group indicated that it is not enthusiastic about her taking the spot.


“That’s a terrible rating,” ACU President Matt Schlapp told the Morning Report, adding that the group is “considering the situation.”


Eliana Johnson, Politico Magazine: The real reason Republicans want to oust Cheney.


Reid Wilson, The Hill: GOP legislatures target critical race theory.


The Hill: Tim Scott (R-S.C.) sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls.



Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)





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CORONAVIRUS: The Biden administration on Wednesday came out in support of waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines, a breakthrough for international efforts to suspend patent rules to help other countries ravaged by the coronavirus and variants.


The United States had been a major holdout at the World Trade Organization over a proposal to suspend intellectual property protections in an effort to ramp up vaccine production. President Biden had come under increasing pressure to throw his support behind the proposal, including from many congressional Democrats (The New York Times).


On Broadway, the mask everyone is talking about belongs to “Phantom of the Opera,” which will resume this fall along with other shows beloved by theater buffs and fans of musicals (The Hill). New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that Broadway theaters would be ready to open on Sept. 14 at 100 percent capacity.



A person walks by Broadway posters near Times Square



COVID-19 vaccines for youngsters may be authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for those aged 12 to 15 “within several days,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.


On Wednesday, Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for teenagers aged 12 to 15.


During an NBC “Today” show interview, Fauci on Wednesday defended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for unveiling outdoor mask mandates for summer camps. The idea has sparked misgivings among some parents and youngsters.


“I wouldn’t call [the CDC experts] excessive, but they certainly are conservative,” Fauci said. “It looks a bit strict, a bit stringent, but that’s the reason why they keep looking at that and trying to reevaluate, literally in real time, whether or not that’s the practical way to go,” he added (Yahoo News).


The CDC on Wednesday released a paper describing scenarios in which COVID-19 could be under control by July in the United States if enough people get vaccinated and the population uses basic precautions to curb transmission of the virus (The Washington Post).


The Pfizer vaccine is effective against variants of COVID-19, including mutations identified in South Africa and the United Kingdom (and now spreading globally), according to new findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine (The Washington Post). The new study suggests the Pfizer vaccine is somewhat less protective against the variant known as B.1.351 first detected in South Africa, but the inoculation offered strong protection against severe, critical or fatal infection cases.


The Washington Post Perspective: It’s legal for businesses and schools to require you to get a COVID-19 vaccination.


Fox5: The NFL announced on Wednesday it is giving away Super Bowl LVI tickets to 50 fans vaccinated for COVID-19. Fans will also receive a 25 percent discount on purchases made at when they show proof of vaccination, according to the league. Details about how vaccinated fans for next year’s Super Bowl can win free tickets will be announced Saturday during the 8 p.m. ET “Global Citizen’s VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World” show, which mixes artists, entertainers and world leaders to support vaccine equity. Biden is participating. The show at Los Angeles’s SoFi Stadium will broadcast on ABC, CBS and Fox.


The Hill: Ivanka Trump received a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. On Twitter, she urged her followers to get vaccinated. 



A woman is vaccinated before Seattle Mariners game at T-Mobile Park



ADMINISTRATION: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Ukraine today to show U.S. support for the government there while also pressing for institutional reforms and anti-corruption measures. “There is a lot of hard work to be done to ensure a brighter future for all Ukrainians,” the top U.S. diplomat for Europe, Philip Reeker, said last week. 


Blinken’s trip also comes on the heels of a Ukraine-related FBI raid on Rudy Giuliani and renewed questions about the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine that led to the firing of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and laid the foundation for GOP attacks against Biden (The Associated Press).


> Iran: The Biden administration is working to try to secure a pathway for the United States and Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. But a looming Iranian national election and increased tensions in the Middle East are wedged between Tehran and America’s closest partners in the region, reports The Hill’s Laura Kelly


> Ransomware: The administration and Congress are mobilizing to confront ransomware attacks on critical organizations such as schools and hospitals, with the attacks becoming a “national security threat,” according to some analysts and officials (The Hill).



An IT researcher stands next to a giant screen displaying a computer infected by a ransomware


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Ban him forever, by Paul Rosenzweig, opinion contributor, The Atlantic.


CDC summer camp guidance is so absurd, even Fauci cannot keep a straight face about it, by Philip Klein, editor of National Review Online.


Biden’s Taiwan policy is truly, deeply reckless, by Peter Beinart, contributing opinion writer, The New York Times.




At Emergent, we make things you never thought you’d need. A treatment to counteract an opioid overdose. Protection from anthrax, smallpox and botulism. And now, we’re in the fight against COVID-19. Learn more.


The House meets on Friday at 10:30 a.m. for a pro forma session. Members return to legislative work on May 11.


The Senate will hold a pro forma session at 4 p.m. 


The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will travel to Lake Charles, La., and New Orleans to describe his infrastructure and jobs plan and proposed investments in water infrastructure (Louisiana has five of the 12 largest U.S. ports as measured by trade). In Lake Charles near the Calcasieu River Bridge, the president will speak at 1:25 p.m. before arriving in New Orleans to tour the Carrollton Water Plant. He will return to the White House shortly after 9 p.m. 


First lady Jill Biden will appear in Las Vegas with the Service Employees International Union to thank nurses for National Nurses Day at University Medical Hospital. The first lady will travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., in the afternoon and visit Fort Carson and address a United Service Organizations Military Spouse Connection event in advance of Military Spouse Appreciation Day. 


Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will travel to Memphis with Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to promote Biden’s spending and benefits proposals. Emhoff at 11 a.m. will tour a Jobs Corps Center and participate in a listening session focused on Biden’s policies and helping women locate pathways to good jobs.


Blinken is in Ukraine where he meets with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and other officials, who are looking for U.S. aid and NATO support (The Associated Press). Department information is HERE.


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


INTERNATIONAL: Diplomats who wrapped up meetings in London on Wednesday as part of the Group of Seven (G-7) leading industrialized nations called out China over human rights abuses and economic mischief but offered little coordinated action to challenge Beijing. The White House would like to see a strong coordinated stand against China’s rising economic and political assertiveness, but some European G-7 members are more cautious, and the G-7 joint statement referred to the need for a working relationship with China (The Associated Press). The G-7 heads of government from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Germany, Italy and Canada will meet in Cornwall, England, next month.


COURTS: A federal judge’s ruling this week critical of former Attorney General William Barr focused a new spotlight on the Office of Legal Counsel, a small but powerful section of the Justice Department that attracted a lot of attention during the administration of former President George W. Bush because of his reliance on the so-called torture memos. A federal judge this week ordered the department to release a legal memo prepared during the Trump administration that essentially exonerated the 45th president following the Mueller probe, which examined Russia’s interference in the 2016 election (The Hill). … A federal judge on Wednesday vacated a nationwide freeze on evictions put in place by the CDC to help cash-strapped renters remain in their homes during the pandemic. The moratorium occurred under the Trump administration and was extended through June. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by Trump, ruled the agency exceeded its authority with the temporary ban (The Hill).   


CONSUMER SAFETY: Peloton, the posh treadmill equipment with the hefty price tag, on Wednesday recalled about 125,000 of its products after they were linked to the death of a 6-year-old and injuries to dozens of others as well as harm to pets. Just weeks ago, the company and its CEO denied the equipment was dangerous and said it would not pull the product from the market. The new recall comes after the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned on April 17 that people with children and pets should immediately stop using the Tread+ treadmill. Peloton, which expanded from stationary bikes to treadmills about three years ago, said it received 72 reports of adults, youngsters, pets or items, such as exercise balls, being pulled under the rear of the treadmill. Of those reports, 29 involved children who suffered injuries, including broken bones and cuts (The Associated Press).


And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by the first week of May, we’re eager for some smart guesses about news events of the month.


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.


Trump was banned from Facebook on Wednesday. Which of the following social media platforms is Trump allowed to use?

  1. TikTok
  2. Snapchat
  3. Gab
  4. Vine

Next week, Liz Cheney is expected to be voted out of House GOP leadership by her colleagues. Who preceded her as Republican conference chair?

  1. Pete Sessions
  2. Cathy McMorris Rodgers
  3. Kristi Noem
  4. None of the above

As of this week, how many Major League Baseball teams are allowing 100 percent capacity crowds? 

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

Tesla Founder Elon Musk was prominently criticized for _____ during the past week.

  1. Tesla safety standards
  2. Hosting “Saturday Night Live”
  3. Dogecoin inflation
  4. SpaceX troubles



Elon Musk


Tags Andrew Cuomo Anthony Fauci Antony Blinken Barbara Comstock Cathy McMorris Rodgers Donald Trump Doug Emhoff Elise Stefanik Elon Musk Ivanka Trump Jill Biden Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Kristi Noem Liz Cheney Marie Yovanovitch Marty Walsh Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Paul Ryan Pete Sessions Rudy Giuliani Steve Scalise Tim Scott William Barr
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