The Hill’s Morning Report – A devastating night for Trump; Biden has COVID
Former President Trump on Jan. 6 “refused” to heed his oath of office and honor his duty as president to protect the U.S. Capitol from rioting supporters, according to House investigators.
Trump instead watched the destruction live on television for hours from a dining room off the Oval Office while assailing Vice President Mike Pence in a tweet as Pence was evacuated in a harrowing escape from the Capitol assisted by alarmed Secret Service agents.
“He put a target on his own vice president’s back,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) said.
The gripping account presented by House investigators on Thursday wove together a Jan. 6 timeline of Trump’s refusal for hours to accept advice from his family, allies in the Capitol and senior officials at the White House who urged him to publicly intervene to try to call off the violence and restore order.
Witnesses, both in the hearing room and in videotaped testimony, said the president did not make any calls to law enforcement, the Pentagon or the Homeland Security Department to help the Capitol Police and the Secret Service protect Pence, members of the House and Senate and everyone else inside the Capitol that day.
▪ Rebecca Beitsch and Mike Lillis, The Hill: Trump accused of ‘dereliction of duty’ in dramatic Jan. 6 hearing.
▪ New York Magazine: Watch Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) run from Jan. 6 rioters he cheered on.
▪ The Hill: Jan. 6 committee zeroes in on Jan. 6 attempts by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to reach Trump by phone during the attack.
Following the committee’s presentation Thursday night, Trump turned to his social media platform, Truth Social, to assail the panel as a “Kangaroo Court!”
According to the committee, Trump on Jan. 6 phoned his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as well as GOP senators he viewed as allies, even as members of the House and Senate were instructed to seek safety as rioters climbed through windows and chanted threats aimed at Pence and Democratic lawmakers they perceived as Trump’s foes.
“Trump did not fail to act, … he chose not to act,” said committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who called the president’s actions that day “dishonor and dereliction of duty” intended to delay the certification of the Electoral College ballots that formalized Trump’s loss and Biden’s election victory.
The aim of the committee’s final public hearing until September was to suggest Trump’s state of mind and intentions on Jan. 6 as investigators continue to assemble evidence that will be weighed by the Justice Department and compiled in a report with recommendations later this year (The Hill).
Committee Vice Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) used the word “premeditated” in her summation to assert that Trump planned to falsely claim he won the election when he knew he lost and stage a last-ditch effort on Jan. 6 to hold onto power in violation of the Constitution by deploying loyal supporters to try to disrupt the official electoral tally.
▪ The Associated Press: Jan. 6 probe: Trump “poured gasoline on fire” at Capitol.
▪ Niall Stanage: Five takeaways from Thursday’s Jan. 6 hearing.
The investigators used audio of an interview with an anonymous witness, a White House security official, who told investigators that members of Pence’s Secret Service detail were alarmed enough to try “to say goodbye to family members” (The Hill).
The panel also showed outtakes of Trump delivering two key speeches. In one never-before-seen clip filmed late on Jan. 6, he spoke head-on to a camera to ask supporters to leave the Capitol. According to one White House official, Trump’s last words before heading into the White House residence that evening were: “Mike Pence let me down.”
The former president was also shown in outtakes of scripted remarks that were ultimately released publicly on Jan. 7, 2021. A camera captures Trump during the taping as he tells aides he does not want to say the words scrolling on a monitor in front of him.
“`But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results’ — I don’t want to say the election’s over, I just want to say Congress has certified the results without saying the election’s over, OK?” Trump told the off-camera video team (The Washington Post).
The former president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, could be heard in the background drafting a new line for her father, including, “Now, Congress has certified—.” In the final cut, Trump said, “Congress has certified the results.” He said nothing about losing (The Hill).
▪ The Hill: Seven stunning moments from the Jan. 6 hearing.
▪ Aaron Blake, The Washington Post: Four takeaways from the Jan. 6 hearing on Trump’s actions — and inaction.
▪ The Hill: Former White House press deputy Sarah Matthews testifies Trump’s tweet gave a “green light” to rioters.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone considered resigning after attack.
▪ The Hill: Trump White House daily diary was found to be blank during key hours of Jan. 6 riot.
▪ The Hill: On Thursday, Trump questioned Pence’s Jan. 6 actions, electoral count reform bill ahead of dueling Arizona rallies.
LEADING THE DAY
President Biden tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and is experiencing mild symptoms as he carries out his duties in isolation at the White House following a recent spate of travel internationally and domestically.
Biden, diagnosed on Thursday with the virus, was prescribed an oral antiviral treatment, will perform his duties from the White House until he tests negative for the coronavirus, according to officials who downplayed the risks to the 79-year-old president, who has been vaccinated and boosted against the virus.
The president appeared via video in lockdown from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Thursday, telling the nation that he is still doing the work of the people despite contracting the virus.
“I’m doing well, getting a lot of work done. Going to continue to get it done. And in the meantime, thanks for your concern, and keep the faith. It’s going to be OK.” Biden said.
Biden’s diagnosis also prompted a tweeted photo of him seated at a desk, followed by the video message. He also received tweets from supportive lawmakers who said they spoke to the president by phone on Thursday, as well as public assurances from Vice President Harris and first lady Jill Biden, both of whom tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday, describing the president as doing fine and working as usual. Both women wore masks during events outside of Washington on Thursday.
The president recently returned from the Middle East and planned a blitz of domestic travel that included a hand-shaking event in Massachusetts on Wednesday.
▪ The Hill: Five takeaways as the president tests positive for COVID-19.
▪ The Associated Press: Biden tests positive for COVID-19, has “very mild symptoms.”
▪ The Washington Post: Biden tests positive for the coronavirus, now the second president struck during the pandemic.
He is likely to remain in isolation longer than five days while working the phones and via Zoom, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and White House coronavirus coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters. Because of the stealthy transmissibility of omicron’s sub variants, the president, his doctor and his West Wing team have been prepared for the possibility of his infection, they said.
“Right now, the president is feeling well,” Jha told reporters after speaking with Biden by phone. “He described himself as feeling fine with mild symptoms” including fatigue, runny nose and a dry cough, he added.
The president’s infection was confirmed with antigen and PCR tests and he’s taking Paxlovid, according to his doctor, who released a statement on Thursday but did not appear publicly to take questions.
Illness — even an infection now known to Harris and her husband, many lawmakers, Cabinet members, West Wing aides and millions of Americans as well as other world leaders — is an international event when it affects a U.S. president, especially a septuagenarian battling low approval ratings who is eager to travel the country to persuade potential voters and donors to back Democrats in November’s elections.
Separate from worries about his physical health, Biden’s case of COVID-19 immediately became a communications challenge for the White House, report The Hill’s Alex Gangitano and Amie Parnes.
▪ Politico: How does Biden’s case of COVID-19 compare to Trump’s?
▪ The Hill: Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) announced they tested positive for COVID-19.
▪ The New York Times: COVID-19 precautions around the president have varied over his time in office.
Immigration: The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday in a 5-4 order that it will not allow the administration to implement a policy that prioritizes deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson in saying they would have allowed the administration to move ahead (The New York Times).
➤ MORE CONGRESS
The House on Thursday greenlighted a measure that would codify the protection of contraception rights as part of the Democratic response over the past week to the Supreme Court’s striking down of Roe v. Wade and its possible reverberations.
The chamber voted 228-195, with only eight Republicans crossing party lines to vote alongside every Democrat: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), John Katko (N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), Nancy Mace (S.C.), Maria Elvira Salazar (Fla.), Fred Upton (Mich.) and Cheney.
Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) voted present. Six Republicans did not vote (The Hill). Just like the two votes last week aimed at protecting abortion rights and the ability for women to travel for abortion care, the bill is likely dead-on-arrival in the Senate.
The same cannot be said, however, for the legislation the House passed on Tuesday that would cement protections for same-sex and interracial marriages. The Democratic effort in the Senate to pass the Respect for Marriage Act received a major boost as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) signaled his support for it.
In a statement, Johnson, who is in a tough reelection bid, said he wouldn’t oppose it if it comes up for a vote in the upper chamber, but argued that it is unnecessary.
“Even though I feel the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary, should it come before the Senate, I see no reason to oppose it,” Johnson said (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
Johnson is the fifth Republican to signal support for the bill, which Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), a fellow Wisconsinite and the first openly gay senator, is trying to round up GOP votes on. Ten GOP votes are needed for it to pass.
▪ The New York Times: Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), a gubernatorial candidate, was attacked but unharmed on Thursday during a speech at a campaign event. The suspect pulled out a weapon, but Zeldin, who tweeted about it, grabbed the man’s wrist, delaying the attack before others nearby helped subdue the attacker.
▪ The Hill: Lawmakers want to expand affordable housing. Communities say, “Not in my back yard.”
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
It will be a Grand Canyon-sized split screen out West today as Trump and Pence will both be campaigning in Arizona for their preferred gubernatorial candidate, marking the first major proxy battle between the two former allies as they vie for early 2024 supremacy.
Trump later tonight will headline one of his trademark rallies for Kari Lake, a former TV news anchor, who has tethered herself to the ex-president and his disproven claims of widespread election fraud in 2020. Across the way is Pence — who is siding with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), another Trump foe — in supporting Karrin Taylor Robson, who has emerged as the establishment’s best shot at taking down Lake (The Hill).
Trump’s rally is set to take place in Prescott, Ariz., while Pence will headline a pair of events in Peoria and Tucson.
According to recent polls, Robson has significantly cut the gap and narrowly trails Lake with about a week and a half until primary day in a race that has only grown nastier by the day. But whether Robson can make any more headway is an open question despite outspending Lake by a significant margin. As of the end of June, she had outspent her by a 5-to-1 margin.
“I think it’s extremely hard to penetrate a message right now,” one Arizona GOP strategist told the Morning Report, pointing to voters being checked out during the summer and that primary day this year coincides with the start of school.
“Usually our primary has been a few weeks after school starts and people pay attention again. This year Election Day is the day after school starts and you just lose a huge chunk of people not paying attention,” the operative added.
Trump’s rally was initially set to be held last weekend, but had to be postponed due to the death of Ivana Trump, his first wife and the mother of his three eldest children.
On top of his burgeoning rivalry with Pence is his already-simmering one with Ducey, who earned a prime spot on Trump’s list of enemies when he refused to go along with the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 results in Arizona.
“This whole thing is a proxy war at this point,” the GOP Arizona operative said. “Trump will try to rub his face in the crowd size and go after Ducey personally I bet.”
▪ Julia Manchester, The Hill: Arizona puts Trump’s political influence to the test.
▪ The Washington Post: Pence seeks distance from Trump as he considers 2024 presidential run.
▪ Jason Riley, The Wall Street Journal: The only thing that can re-elect Biden is Trump.
📝 Introducing NotedDC, The Hill’s curated commentary on the beat of the Beltway. Click here to subscribe to our latest newsletter.
■ The inescapable conclusion from the Jan. 6 hearings, by Russell Berman, staff writer, The Atlantic. https://bit.ly/3Or9ccU
■ Biden’s COVID diagnosis is a teaching moment for the country, by Leana S. Wen, contributing columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3aSOKEk
■ Why Trump wins more loyalty than Biden, by John F. Harris, founding editor, Politico. https://politi.co/3aRI8pH
WHERE AND WHEN
The House will meet at 9 a.m.
The Senate convenes on Monday at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the CHIPS-Plus Act.
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:30 a.m. He is working in isolation at the White House after testing positive on Thursday for COVID-19.
The vice president will speak at the National Urban League Annual Conference in Washington at 12:30 p.m.
The White House daily briefing is scheduled at 3 p.m. Jha will join Jean-Pierre at the podium.
🖥 Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.
The European Central Bank on Thursday raised its key interest rate by half a percentage point, taking an aggressive stance to fight inflation with a hike not seen since July 2011 (The New York Times). In addition, the ECB introduced a new policy tool to limit the divergence in borrowing costs across the eurozone’s 19 members (The New York Times).
A deal for Ukraine grain exports is set today to be announced by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a signing in Istanbul, to include representatives of Ukraine and Russia. The unblocking of grain stockpiles amid the ongoing war will help ease a food crisis that has sent prices of vital commodities like wheat and barley soaring. A negotiated agreement allows Ukraine to resume its shipment of grain from the Black Sea to world markets and Russia to export grain and fertilizers (The Associated Press).
In Ukraine, foreign fighters joined the military there to push back against Russian forces. NBC News interviewed some of them who described a grinding artillery war in which western weaponry is starting to make some difference even amid the high death toll experienced by Ukraine’s military forces. An American fighting for Ukraine who served in the U.S. Army with combat tours in the Middle East described the constant Russian bombardment of the city of Severodonetsk in Ukraine’s Donbas region as “the closest thing I’ve ever seen to hell.”
🌡️ Record heat in Europe and the United States pits fossil fuel reliance against the imperative of tackling the causes of greenhouse effects and climate change (The Hill).
➤ POLIO, PANDEMIC & POX
New York health officials on Thursday reported the first U.S. case of polio in nearly a decade. The condition of the individual is unknown, as is whether they were vaccinated against the virus. According to New York officials, it appears the person had a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, having potentially gotten it from someone who got live vaccine, which is available in other countries. Polio vaccines initially became available in 1955, with the disease considered eliminated in the U.S. in 1979. The last case was reported in 2013 (The Associated Press).
The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday said in a statement that the federal government will have 786,000 more monkeypox vaccine doses from Europe to distribute to states and localities at the end of the month following Food and Drug Administration sign-off.
The Associated Press: Monkeypox virus could become entrenched as new sexually transmitted disease in the U.S.
Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,026,294. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 347, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
➤ THE VATICAN, ARTIFACTS, CANADA
Pope Francis will travel to Canada on Sunday where he is expected to apologize in person for abuses by Catholic missionaries Indigenous people and their ancestors suffered in notorious residential schools. Another brewing issue in Canada is over Indigenous art and artifacts held in the Vatican’s collection, including feathered headdresses, carved walrus tusks, masks and embroidered animal skins that the Vatican says were gifts to Pope Pius XI, who wanted to celebrate the Church’s global reach, its missionaries and the lives of the Indigenous peoples they evangelized. Some in Canada want the items back. “These pieces that belong to us should come home,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the Metis National Council, and headed a delegation that has asked Francis to return the artifacts (The Associated Press).
And finally … 👏👏👏 Bravo to the winners of this week’s Morning Report Quiz, who knew or guessed correctly when asked about recent accounts of new friends, old friends, strained friendships and unlikely boosters in the headlines.
🥇Victorious puzzlers, all: Amanda Fisher, Mark Roeddiger, Harry Strulovici, Joan Domingues, Henry P. Friedman, Terry Pflaumer, Candi Cee, Peter Sprofera, Stewart Baker, Stanley Wasser, Jon Berck, Jeremy Serwer, Richard Baznik, Stephen Delano, Ki Harvey, Mary Anne McEnery, Patrick Kavanagh, Wilbur Roe, Jaina Mehta, William Grieshober, Pam Manges, Steve James, Luther Berg, John Donato and Robert Bradley.
They knew that President Vladimir Putin of Russia made a show this week of strengthening ties with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a trip to Tehran.
Elon Musk initially wooed Twitter’s executives and is now in court after walking away from an agreement to buy the company for $44 billion.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), a Trump critic and the House Democratic caucus chairman, on Tuesday said, “Run, Donald, run” when asked during an interview about the 2024 presidential contest.
Alex Rodriguez, once engaged to Jennifer Lopez, said during a podcast interview days before she tied the knot last weekend with Ben Affleck in Las Vegas that she is “the most talented human being I’ve ever been around.”
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