Morning Report

The Hill’s Morning Report — Biden’s new midterm message: protect democracy

President Biden issued a midterm-minded message on Thursday that America’s democratic values are at risk and that former President Trump and his most ardent backers are the chief reason why as his party seeks to continue momentum ahead of the November elections.

Biden, speaking in prime-time from the perch of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, namechecked his 2020 general election opponent frequently as he sought to up the stakes for voters heading into the stretch run of the political season. During the 24-minute address, the president said that Trump “represents an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

“But there’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” said Biden, who was flanked on stage by Marine guards. “And that is a threat to this country.”

According to The Hill’s Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant, White House officials insisted Thursday night’s speech would not be political in nature. However, that idea evaporated quickly as Biden levied multiple criticisms of his predecessor and Republicans, while rounding out the address by touting policy victories on issues such as on police funding and the pandemic.

The address came at a key time for Biden and Democrats. The party in power is on the upswing after a number of key wins over the past month — including two special election victories that have helped buoy the spirits of Democrats after spending much of the past year struggling to counter GOP messages on the economy and inflation.

Notably, the president has also grown more combative amid the Democratic resurgence. In recent weeks, he has called out “MAGA Republicans” on a number of occasions. The rhetoric hit a crescendo last week at a political rally in Maryland where he described the movement as akin to “semi-fascism” (The New York Times).

That remark has drawn rebukes from across the GOP spectrum. The latest came in a prebuttal speech on Thursday by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who said that the first line of Biden’s speech should have been an apology “for slandering tens of millions of Americans as fascists” (The Hill).

The Associated Press: Biden sounds newly strong alarm: Trumpism menaces democracy.

Peter Baker, The New York Times: A rematch of Biden v. Trump, two years early.

Niall Stanage: The Memo: Midterms shape up as proxy war between Biden and Trump.

The president’s speech, however, had an alternative purpose: to turn the November elections into a choice between his agenda or a return to Trumpism and the ways of “MAGA Republicans.” It also allowed Biden the chance to discuss cultural issues that have animated Democrats and progressives since the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade.

“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards,” Biden said. “Backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love.”

Wrapping up his address, Biden also called on Americans to “vote, vote, vote.”

Politico: Trump is heading to Pennsylvania to make his case. So is Biden.

The Hill: Trump says he will “look very favorably” at pardons, apologies for Jan. 6 rioters if elected in 2024.

The Washington Post: New York Police Department veteran who assaulted police receives longest Jan. 6 sentence yet: 10 years.

Biden’s speech also came as Jan. 6-related investigations rage on. Pat Cipollone, the former White House counsel, and Pat Philbin, Cipollone’s deputy in the counsel’s office under Trump, are expected to appear today before a federal grand jury probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Cipollone, who served as counsel on Jan. 6, was subpoenaed by the grand jury last month in connection with the Justice Department’s look into Trump’s actions leading up to the attack. The move is part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 electoral results (NBC News).

The fallout from Jan. 6 could also lead to congressional action. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) became the tenth Senate Republican to throw their weight behind the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill aimed at reforming the Electoral Count Act of 1887.

The proposal, which is spearheaded by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), would clarify “ambiguous provisions” of the vice president’s role in overseeing the process of certifying an election following Trump’s pressure campaign against former Vice President Mike Pence last year. The legislation would increase the threshold for objecting to electors from just one member of the Senate and the House, respectively, to at least one-fifth of the 535 members of Congress.

Grassley’s support is significant as it would likely provide a filibuster-proof majority on the bill (Washington Examiner).


Related Articles

The New York Times: Top lawyer for Oath Keepers is arrested in connection with Jan. 6 attack.

CNN: Jan. 6 committee seeking voluntary cooperation from Newt Gingrich.

The Hill: State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R), GOP nominee for Pennsylvania governorship, sues Jan. 6 committee.


LEADING THE DAY

➤ POLITICS & INVESTIGATIONS

A federal judge on Thursday left the door open to appointing a “special master” to examine documents seized by the FBI earlier this month from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, but did not make a final decision on the matter.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon said she will issue a written order “in due course” on whether to appoint the third-party individual to review the collected evidence. Cannon, who was appointed by Trump in 2020, did not indicate a timeline for her decision (The Hill).  

During the two-hour hearing, Cannon pressed prosecutors over what the “harm” in appointing a third-party figure to review the documents. Jay Bratt, the head of the counterintelligence section at the Justice Department, argued that a special master could slow the work of investigators and pose a risk to national security. Cannon countered that it could be possible to make the appointment without jeopardizing the security risk assessment (The New York Times).

Cannon wrote last Saturday that it was her “preliminary intent” to appoint a special master, Chris Kise, the former Florida solicitor general who recently joined Trump’s legal team, argued that appointing a special master as a neutral third party would restore faith in the investigation.

“This is an unprecedented situation. We need to lower the temperature,” Kise said. “We need to take a deep breath.”

CBS News: Federal judge orders Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to testify to Georgia grand jury, but limits scope of questioning.

© Associated Press / Wilfredo Lee | The Paul G. Rogers Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday.

A little more than two months out from the midterm elections and there’s are trouble in the Senate GOP ranks as Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, issued a not-so-veiled criticism of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over concerns about the party’s stable of candidates this fall.

In an op-ed, Scott panned Republicans for “trash-talking” the party’s candidates for the Senate, added that the remarks are “treasonous” and that the detractors should “pipe down” amid the push to win back the majority in November (The Hill).

“Unfortunately, many of the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle are now trying to stop us from winning the majority this time by trash-talking our Republican candidates,” the Florida Republican wrote. “It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause.”

The comments were viewed as another chapter in the feud between Scott and McConnell, who said last month that “candidate quality” could stand between Republicans and the Senate majority. The Kentucky Republican also said at the time that the GOP had a better chance of winning back the House than the Senate (The New York Times).

Politico: Defiant Scott explains “strategic disagreement” with McConnell over battle for Senate.

The Hill: Republicans rage against ranked choice voting after Alaska election.

The Hill: Cook Political Report moves five House races toward Democrats.


IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

➤ ECONOMY & ADMINISTRATION

All eyes this morning will be on the labor market as the August jobs report will provide another snapshot at the economic well-being of the U.S. and could open the door to more aggressive action by the Federal Reserve.

After a white-hot report emerged in July, the jobs numbers are expected to slow slightly for August, but are still likely to be strong across multiple sectors of the market. According to Dow Jones projections, the economy added roughly 318,000 jobs in July (down from 528,000 in June), with the unemployment rate sticking at 3.5 percent.

This morning’s numbers are of particular importance, as they will arrive ahead of the Fed’s expected decision later in the month to further hike interest rates, with the state of the labor market playing a key role in that call. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that the central banking system is committed to combating high inflation with higher rates, adding that the economy and labor market are likely to experience “pain” as a result (CNBC).

The August jobs report will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Reuters: U.S. labor market, manufacturing resilient despite rising interest rates.

The Hill: Goldman Sachs releases forecast on housing downturn: “Further to fall.”

On Saturday, attention will shift from the jobs numbers to the launching pad when NASA will once again attempt to launch the Artemis I moon rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., less than a week after the initial attempt was scrapped.

According to team leaders, the two-hour launch window for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft will begin at 2:17 p.m. ET on Saturday. Monday’s attempted launch was scuttled after the SLS’s third engine did not fall to the right temperature, with a hydrogen leak also playing a role.

“We’ve got a path forward,” John Honeycutt, the manager for the SLS program, said on Tuesday. “We’re in the mode now of processing the data that we got and updating our approach prior to the next launch attempt. I’m confident where the team’s headed.”

CBS News: NASA gears up for second attempt to launch Artemis moon rocket.


OPINION

■ The Trump Show is good for Trump — and Biden, by Rich Lowry, contributing editor, Politico Magazine. https://politi.co/3q2zAQP

■ To defend democracy, don’t call Trump a semi-fascist, by Jonathan Bernstein, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3CKx35g


WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet at 10 a.m. for a pro forma session and return to work in the Capitol on Sept. 13.

The Senate convenes at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session during its summer recess, which ends on Tuesday.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. Biden will speak about his administration’s economic efforts at 11 a.m., before having lunch with Vice President Harris at noon. The president and first lady Jill Biden will depart for Camp David, where they will spend the weekend, at 3 p.m.

Vice President Harris will meet with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to discuss the ties between the two countries.

Economic indicators: The Labor Department will unveil the August jobs report at 8:30 a.m.

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 11:45 a.m.


🖥  Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://digital-stage.thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.


ELSEWHERE

➤ INTERNATIONAL

A 14-member delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday and said that they are there to stay after months of negotiations to gain entry and amid fighting by both sides in the area. The two nations accused each other of shelling in the region and trying to derail the visit by the group. Underscoring the issues with the plant, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said hours before their arrival that mortar shelling by Moscow led to the shutdown of one of its reactors, amid other issues.

“The IAEA is now there at the plant and it’s not moving. It’s going to stay there. We’re going to have a continued presence there at the plant with some of my experts,” IAEA director Rafael Grossi said after its initial look inside the plant (The Associated Press).

The Hill: Why the world is worried about a nuclear disaster in Ukraine.

Laura Kelly, reporting for The Hill from Ukraine: Three nights with the volunteer force supplying the frontlines.

➤ PANDEMIC & HEALTH

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel on Thursday recommended updated COVID-19 vaccine boosters for people 12 and older that are aimed at combating BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the omicron variant. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will give the final OK in the near future, clearing the way for jabs to start being distributed. The vote passed 13-1, with one member voting against over a concern about lacking enough human data on the shots (The Hill).

The New York Times: The pandemic erased two decades of progress in math and reading.

Anthony Fauci, the outgoing chief White House medical adviser, said the U.S. should prepare for a “pretty bad flu season” later this year. According to Fauci, the Southern Hemisphere is already experiencing a more severe flu season, adding that those countries usually encounter new flu strains sooner than those in the U.S. “We should be prepared for that superimposed upon what I hope is the residual and not another spike of Covid,” Fauci told Bloomberg Law (The Hill).

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,047,006. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 403, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On the legal side, a federal judge preliminarily declined to toss Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes’s fraud conviction on Thursday as part of her last-ditch effort to avoid jail time. Amy Saharia, Holmes’s lawyer, argued that the head of the failed blood-testing company did not misrepresent the company (or did not know she was) to investors. A federal jury found Holmes guilty of four counts of wire fraud in January. Judge Edward Davila said he would make a decision about Holmes’ request on Oct. 17, the same day she is set to be sentenced (Bloomberg News).

➤ TECH

Twitter on Thursday announced that it is starting to test a new feature on its platform to allow users edit a tweet after posting it. The feature — the company’s most requested to date — would allow users to edit a tweet “a few times” up to 30 minutes after it was posted, the company said in a blog post. “If you see an edited Tweet it’s because we’re testing the edit button,” Twitter said in a post from its official account. “This is happening and you’ll be okay” (The Hill).

Politico: How Twitter’s edit button could change the calculus in Washington.


THE CLOSER

© Associated Press / Chris O’Meara | A dead Snook washes up at shore in Bradenton, Fla., due to red tide., 2018.

And finally … 👏👏👏 Congratulations to Morning Report Quiz winners, all of whom possess a nose for news!

Our end-of-summer puzzle took note of odiferous headlines around the globe, and these champions are all coming up roses this morning: Patrick Kavanagh, Mary Anne McEnery, Amanda Fisher, Richard Baznik, Harry Strulovici, Ki Harvey, Terry Pflaumer, Pam Manges, Kathleen Kovalik, Len Jones, Lou Tisler and Andre Leblanc.

In the United Kingdom, Prince Charles, an enthusiastic horticulturist and lover of Highgrove House gardens, launched a line of perfume in August that boasts “top notes of geranium, lavender and hyacinth.” A percentage of proceeds will go to charity.

In Sweden, surströmming, or fermented herring, is a delicacy described by some as smelling like “bad eggs” and a “decomposed body,” that left fans lined up outside supermarkets last week to score some of the nation’s scarce supply.

In Italy, Mayor Roberto Gualtieri landed on the front page of The New York Times this week because garbage (and garbage fires) are fouling Rome’s air.

According to U.S. news accounts as summer ripened, residents near San Francisco Bay became upset about smelly surpluses of seaweed and algae, and recent fish-killing algae blooms in the Sunshine State are dubbed red tide, which means the answer we were looking for was “all of the above.” 


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Tags 2022 midterms Artemis Biden speech Donald Trump Economy inflation Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy MAGA Morning Report Pat Cipollone white house

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File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
File - A Chevrolet Bolt is displayed at the Philadelphia Auto Show, Jan. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. Electric vehicles are far less reliable than gasoline-powered cars, trucks and SUVs, mainly because most automakers are still learning how to build a completely new power system, according to this year's auto reliability survey by Consumer Reports.(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

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In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)
In this photo released by the Governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev telegram channel, a rescuer gestures as he helps people during an evacuation after storm and flooding in Sevastopol, Crimea, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023. A storm in the Black Sea took down power grids and left almost half a million people without power after it flooded roads, ripped up trees and damaged buildings in Crimea, Russian state news agency Tass said. (Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev's telegram channel via AP)

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