Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. Happy Thursday! Our newsletter gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Co-creators are Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver (CLICK HERE to subscribe!). On Twitter, find us at @asimendinger and @alweaver22.
Days removed from a summary of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s report, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says wind power doesn’t work because ‘it only blows sometimes’ Fuel standards to prevent overdependence on foreign oil are out of date Trump knocks MSNBC, CNN rankings: ‘Fake News never wins!’ MORE is preparing to re-enter his comfort zone and favorite part of the political arena: the campaign trail.
Trump is slated to hold his first rally in nearly two months tonight in Grand Rapids, Mich., where many are expecting to see a gleeful Trump on the heels of one of the best weeks of his presidency. Over the last 24 hours, the president has continued to gloat over the news, dump on his political enemies, and has even reportedly floated the possibility of attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in late April.
As Niall Stanage writes, two huge developments in recent days have set the table for the 2020 election: Mueller’s findings and the administration’s latest push to strike down the Affordable Care Act. Democrats are grudgingly accepting that the only way to remove Trump is at the ballot box. But healthcare gives them an opening, and, more broadly, a focus on policy rather than Trump’s personal behavior could be to their eventual benefit.
Still, the president is sure to bang the drum that Mueller proved him right — not just that there was no collusion but that Democrats and a pliant media have been conspiring against him.
The New York Times: Why did Mueller sidestep making a call on obstruction evidence?
In Michigan tonight, Republicans are expecting to see the president not only proclaim his innocence post-Mueller probe, but also tout other items on the White House and re-election campaign checklist, topped by the economy, which was the focus last week before Trump’s war of words with himself over the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Giffords looms large in Arizona’s Senate showdown The Memo: Mueller, health care set the stage for 2020 MORE (R-Ariz.).
His rally in Grand Rapids will be his sixth since June 2015 (when he launched his presidential bid) and his 18th in Michigan overall, one of a couple of states that hold the keys to his reelection hopes. He won the state by less than 11,000 votes, including Kent County (the home of Grand Rapids) by just over 9,000 votes. According to an Emerson Poll, Trump trails a group of Democrats in the state, including former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenCNN’s Joan Walsh: Biden shouldn’t run in 2020 if he wants to change ‘white man’s culture’ More than four in 10 say Trump would win reelection if vote were today: poll The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage MORE, by 8 points. However, another poll shows him defeating all comers in Michigan. Either way, Trump’s campaign realizes the state’s importance.
While Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Trump says Russia would ‘much rather’ have Clinton as president Booker: The person with the most votes should be president MORE looked past the state in 2016, Democrats aren’t doing that again this time around. Former Rep. Beto O’RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O’RourkeThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Poll: Democrats want to abolish Electoral College, Republicans want to keep it Hickenlooper opposes Green New Deal: Resolution sets ‘unachievable’ goals MORE (D-Texas) campaigned in Michigan’s Oakland County shortly after announcing his 2020 bid, while Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Medicare for All: Where 2020 Dems stand On The Money: Trump Fed pick owes K to IRS, government claims | Dems seeking Trump financial info going back 10 years | GOP bill links paid parental leave to Social Security | Pentagon transfers B for wall MORE (D-N.Y.) participated in an MSNBC town hall there two weeks ago. Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Medicare for All: Where 2020 Dems stand Hillicon Valley — Presented by NCTA — Trump meets with Google CEO | Facebook bans white nationalist posts | Microsoft takes down websites used by Iranian hackers | Dems press voting vendors over security MORE (D-Minn.) is slated for a Detroit stop in May.
Republicans focused on the Senate map are also going to keep an eye on what happens Thursday night. While the GOP has 22 Senate seats to defend next year, the party is also looking for chances to go on offense. For example, Sen. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Hillicon Valley — Presented by NCTA — Trump meets with Google CEO | Facebook bans white nationalist posts | Microsoft takes down websites used by Iranian hackers | Dems press voting vendors over security Top Dems press voting vendors over election security concerns MORE (D-Mich.) is up for re-election and Republicans in Washington would love to see John James — a Trump favorite who overachieved but lost against Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Chris Evans plans politics website ‘to create informed, responsible and empathetic citizens’ Trump mounts Rust Belt defense MORE (D-Mich.) in November — launch a second Senate bid in 2020 against the incumbent.
Trump’s rally is slated for 7 p.m. EST at Van Andel Arena.
Associated Press: Trump’s return to west Michigan comes amid Democratic gains.
The Washington Post: As Grand Rapids awaits Trump, both sides of the political divide find their anger stoked by the Mueller report
LEADING THE DAY
WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Transportation officials on Wednesday pledged to change Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight of the industry it regulates as the department grapples with fallout from two deadly crashes involving Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
The two events, still under investigation, took the lives of 346 people.
Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel told senators during testimony that the FAA is revamping its oversight process over the next several months (The Hill).
Meanwhile, Boeing unveiled a software fix on Wednesday for the 737 Max 8 fleet and said the planes are now safer (The Hill). The changes announced include cockpit alerts and enhanced pilot training (CNBC).
> Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Pompeo tells Dem rep. not to make Otto Warmbier a ‘political football’ Russia dismisses US demand to withdraw troops from Venezuela MORE told Congress on Wednesday that the United States
is committed to identifying and punishing those behind the October murder in
the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul of journalist Jamal Khashoggi (Reuters).
> Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosEmpower students with information about what their education will produce The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage On The Money: Trump Fed pick owes K to IRS, government claims | Dems seeking Trump financial info going back 10 years | GOP bill links paid parental leave to Social Security | Pentagon transfers B for wall MORE decried what she labeled “shameful” and false reporting this week about her department’s proposed $17.6 million in cuts to the Special Olympics program (The Hill). Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage On The Money: Trump Fed pick owes K to IRS, government claims | Dems seeking Trump financial info going back 10 years | GOP bill links paid parental leave to Social Security | Pentagon transfers B for wall GOP senator says Special Olympics cuts will not be approved MORE (R-Mo.) was not alone among lawmakers who predicted on Wednesday that the department’s proposed budget reductions for Special Olympics would not become law (The Hill and The Washington Post).
> Medicaid: A judge on Wednesday blocked Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky (The Hill). The Washington Post published an in-depth look on Wednesday at the impact on individual Arkansans after the state became the first in the nation last year to impose Medicaid work requirements on the part of the program for the poor that had been expanded under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The Trump administration gave seven other states approval to adopt the same idea, and seven more states are waiting for the green light from Washington and the courts.
The president and Republican governors argue that requiring work for many able-bodied Medicaid recipients will move poor people into economic self-reliance. In Arkansas, however, 18,000 people so far have lost their insurance, state figures show, and in some parts of the state jobs available to those trying to meet the new requirements remain scarce.
> Trump, Venezuela and Russia: The president warned Moscow on Wednesday to remove Russian troops from economically precarious Venezuela (Reuters). Russia promptly dismissed Trump’s demand (The Hill). Russia says its troops were flown to oil-rich Venezuela to conduct non-military, technical tasks, and Reuters reports the troops arrived.
> Nominations: Trump nominated Marine Corps Lt. Gen. David Berger to be the Corps’ next top officer, the Pentagon announced Wednesday. The nomination of a new Marine Corps commandant followed two other high-profile nominations this week, including a new Army chief of staff and the first commander of the U.S. Space Command (The
Meanwhile, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Overnight Defense: Pentagon transfers B for wall over Dem objections | Top general says North Korean activities ‘inconsistent’ with denuclearization | Pentagon details bases at risk from climate change Pentagon transfers B to help build Trump’s wall MORE remains a contender for the top job but analysts believe his obstacles compound for a permanent nomination the longer he’s in the public eye (The Atlantic).
Stephen Moore, nominated by Trump last week to join the Federal Reserve board, may have hoped his stock was on the rise among some initially skeptical GOP senators, reports Sylvan Lane (The Hill). On Wednesday, however, he denied a report that he owes the IRS $75,000 in unpaid taxes. He says it’s a dispute with the government that he has been in the process of resolving (The Guardian).
> In the Trump White House, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Trump’s decision on health care law puts spotlight on Mulvaney Trump admin made ObamaCare move despite objection from key officials: report MORE initially was cast as a short-timer in a rollercoaster job that two former colleagues held before him since 2017. But he’s still in the role, and his fingerprints are now on the president’s decision this week to seek the elimination of the Affordable Care Act through the courts. Mulvaney’s advice may have elevated him in the president’s eyes, but perhaps not among some Republicans taking the measure of the current political landscape (The Hill).
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
CONGRESS: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Democrats to move on from Green New Deal Trump says he wants to campaign against the Green New Deal MORE (R-Ky.) was prepared on Tuesday to strategize with his GOP colleagues about confirming more judicial nominations, approving spending measures and orchestrating a few future votes to play up a conservative political agenda.
But Trump abruptly changed the script, blindsiding his Senate allies with a declaration that the GOP will become “the party of health care” by doing away with the Affordable Care Act. The president, who was a guest in the Capitol, brought with him no detailed plan, outline or advance warning. Instead, he dumped what many senators see as an intractable policy challenge and incendiary political problem in their laps (The Hill).
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Trump: Schiff should be forced out of office Overnight Health Care — Presented by the American Conservative Union — GOP blindsided by Trump on ObamaCare | McCarthy urged Trump to hold off on new attack | Dems aim to block DOJ funds for lawsuit | Judge blocks Medicaid work requirements in two states MORE (R-Calif.) sought to dissuade Trump from reviving his aim at ObamaCare, concerned that the GOP’s health care efforts cost Republicans seats in the 2018 elections (The Hill and The Washington Post).
> House Democrats may have been thrilled to hear the president lean into their wheelhouse on health care, but they’re regrouping around their own Green New Deal, a vulnerable and easily lampooned target of attack for Republicans. Supporters of the original measure say they’d prefer to bite-size those progressive goals into more digestible legislative pieces (The Hill).
> Puerto Rico is never far from the headlines. A new fight is brewing in Congress over disaster assistance to the U.S. territory. The debate has become a roadblock to quick passage of a Senate relief bill. During Tuesday’s lunch with senators, Trump returned to a well-worn complaint that Puerto Rico mishandled federal disaster aid after Hurricane Maria struck in 2017. Meanwhile, Democratic senators warn they won’t accept the GOP-backed bill without changes (The Hill).
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló struck back on Wednesday, taking issue with Trump’s reported remarks in a written statement (The Hill).
“The comments attributed to Donald Trump today by senators from his own party are below the dignity of a sitting President of the United States. They continue to lack empathy, are irresponsible, regrettable and, above all, unjustified,” Rosselló said. “Enough with the insults and demeaning mischaracterizations. We are not your political adversaries; we are your citizens.”
> House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Democrats face balancing act with Mueller report demands On The Money: Trump Fed pick owes K to IRS, government claims | Dems seeking Trump financial info going back 10 years | GOP bill links paid parental leave to Social Security | Pentagon transfers B for wall MORE (D-Md.) continues to have his investigatory lens trained on Trump. He disclosed on Wednesday that he sent a letter last week seeking copies of Trump’s past financial statements, some of which were signed by representatives of Mazars USA LLP.
Democrats want to see the requested information by April 3, noting that former Trump lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage Trump: I don’t want to talk about pardons now Tlaib unveils resolution to investigate Trump impeachment MORE testified that his former client inflated and deflated his financial representations to obtain insurance, navigate tax liabilities and obtain loans.
Cummings also accused Republican lawmakers on Wednesday of “directly interfering” with Democrats’ work on the panel.
“We are following up on specific allegations regarding the President’s actions based on corroborating documents obtained by the Committee, and we will continue our efforts to conduct credible, robust, and independent oversight,” he said in a statement.
The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!
Dog-with-a-bone mentality won’t help Democrats in 2020, by Charlie Gerow of the American Conservative Union, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2YrwHd8
The hoax is on us: Jussie Smollett exemplifies celebrity justice, by Jonathan Turley, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/2Yyq6gS
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at 9 a.m. The House Intelligence Committee holds a hearing titled “Putin’s Playbook” at 9 a.m. to question witnesses about Russia’s interference and influence in U.S. elections.
The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2019.
The president meets with Pompeo at 2: 45 p.m. Trump holds a reelection rally this evening in Grand Rapids, Mich., and then flies to Palm Beach, Fla. before midnight.
Vice President Pence is in Florida today. In Naples, he’ll tour the Mother Teresa Museum and speak at noon to students at Ave Maria University. He will kick off a Trump Victory fundraiser in Naples and repeat the reelection message when he headlines a GOP fundraiser in Jacksonville before returning to Washington.
Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition – Trump to return to campaign stage On The Money: Taxpayers slow to file as they grapple with tax law | Schiff says Dems to charge ahead with Trump probes | Feds charge Avenatti with trying to extort Nike | Yellen sees no recession in sight House Oversight Dem wants Trump to release taxes and ‘get it over with’ MORE is in Beijing to resume trade talks with China. The Associated Press reports on the secretary’s arrival with U.S. negotiators this morning. (Chinese negotiators are scheduled to come to Washington on April 3.)
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) releases its revised fourth-quarter report on U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) at 8: 30 a.m. Last month, BEA said GDP advanced at a 2.6 percent pace at the end of 2018, an assessment analysts expect will be revised lower.
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➔ Brexit: British Prime Minister Theresa May failed to sway hardline opponents of her European Union divorce deal on Wednesday with an offer to quit, but parliament’s bid to agree on an alternative fell short on Wednesday, leaving the Brexit process as deadlocked as ever (Reuters).
➔ Tech: Apple‘s new entertainment subscription services and credit card, launched to great fanfare this week, could raise new concerns for the company when it comes to market power and competition issues (The Hill) … Facebook announced it will block white nationalist, white separatist posts (The Washington Post) … Microsoft said Wednesday it obtained a court order last week to seize and shut down websites used by Iranian hackers (The Hill).
➔ Cannabis: Walgreens announced on Wednesday it will sell cannabis-based creams, patches and sprays in nearly 1,500 stores in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois and Indiana. This month, competitor chain CVS introduced sales of CBD-containing topicals, including creams and salves, at its drugstores in eight states (CNBC).
➔ Lottery loot: Someone in Wisconsin is exceedingly wealthier this morning after winning the $768.4 million Powerball jackpot on Wednesday night (most winners take the cash prize, which in this case is $477 million). The odds were one in 292.2 million that the winner would match five white balls and a single Powerball. Additional millionaires were launched, as well: More than 5.4 million tickets drawn for Wednesday’s jackpot won prizes ranging from $4 to $2 million; seven tickets won a $1 million prize (The Associated Press).
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by Opening Day for The Nationals, we’re eager for some smart guesses about baseball.
Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com and please add “Quiz” to subject lines. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
Which player has the most hits since the start of 2010 season?
- Robinson Canó
- Miguel Cabrera
- Adam Jones
- Andrew McCutchen
What Washington National has the most innings pitched since the franchise’s 2005 debut?
- Max Scherzer
- Stephen Strasburg
- Gio Gonzalez
- Jordan Zimmermann
Last season, Nationals outfielder Juan Soto hit 22 home runs in his age-19 season. Who is the only player in MLB history with more home runs in his age-19 season?
- Bryce Harper
- Ken Griffey Jr.
- Tony Conigliaro
- Mel Ott
Prior to his retirement last week, Ichiro Suzuki had the most hits of any player since he entered the league in 2001. Which active player has the most hits since the start of the 2001 season?
- Albert Pujols
- Robinson Canó
- Miguel Cabrera
- Nick Markakis