Posts tagged with "The Hill"

Stimulus bill prohibits Trump family, lawmakers from benefiting from loan programs

March 26, 2020

The $2 trillion stimulus bill that the White House and Senate leaders were expected to sign off on this Wednesday prohibits either Congressional lawmakers or President Donald Trump’s family business from benefiting from loans or investments through its corporate liquidity program, The Hill reports.

“We wrote a provision, not just the president, but any major figure in government, Cabinet, Senate, congressmen — if they have majority, they have majority control, they can’t get grants or loans and that makes sense,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said in a CNN interview. “Those of us who write the law shouldn’t benefit from the law.”

Trump acknowledged on March 21 that the coronavirus pandemic is hurting his family business, The Hill said. Since the start of the U.S. outbreak, dozens of state and local governments have ordered nonessential businesses—such as hotels and resorts —to close.

“I wouldn’t say you’re thriving when you decide to close down your hotels and your businesses,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about reports that Trump Organization properties are being adversely affected by COVID-19.

“But is it hurting me? Yeah, it’s hurting me, and it’s hurting Hilton, and it’s hurting all of the great hotel chains all over the world,” he added.

At a Saturday morning White House press briefing, Trump was asked if he would accept stimulus money from the stimulus package meant to counter some of the damage the pandemic has done to the economy.

“I don’t know,” Trump said. “I just don’t know what the government assistance would be for what I have. I have hotels. Everybody knew I had hotels when I got elected. They knew I was a successful person when I got elected, so it’s one of those things.”

However, before the 2016 election, Trump had promised that his children, Don Jr. and Eric, would run the Trump Organization and that he would keep his distance from the company. However, that has not happened.

The provision to ban lawmakers from benefiting from Treasury Department programs in the stimulus bill was among 19 items highlighted by Schumer in his letter to colleagues describing the contents of the bill.

“Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has secured a provision in the agreement that will prohibit businesses controlled by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and heads of Executive Departments from receiving loans or investments from Treasury programs,” his office said in an email to reporters. “The children, spouses and in-laws of the aforementioned principals are also included in this prohibition.”

Research contact: @thehill

Michigan is a must-win contest for Sanders

March 10, 2020

Senator Bernie Sanders is hoping for the kind of victory in Michigan on March 10 that he scored against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries—coming from behind to win 49.8% of the vote compared to her 48.3%.

“I want to thank the people of Michigan, who repudiated the polls—which had us down 20-25 points—and repudiated the pundits, who said Bernie Sanders wasn’t going anywhere,” the Vermont Democratic Socialist said four years ago. .

The question is, can the far-left candidate return to The Wolverine State this week with another upset—reviving his once-formidable campaign, as fears grow among his followers that former Vice President Joe Biden is on the cusp of building an insurmountable delegate lead.

According to a report by The Hill, the Michigan primary ‘might be Sanders’s last best shot at slowing Biden.”

There are 125 delegates at stake in Michigan, more than anywhere else on Tuesday night. “The map becomes very difficult for Sanders in the weeks ahead,” The Hill notes, “with Biden appearing poised for blowout victories in Mississippi on March 10 and Florida on March 17.”

Sanders is cutting his losses in Mississippi, canceling a planned trip there and adding new stops across Michigan. He has not been remotely competitive with Biden in southern states with large black populations, the news outlet states.

 “Since Bernie is cutting loose the Southern states … [Michigan] certainly looms as a crucial state that he probably has to win big to offset delegate gains Biden will likely make in the next two weeks in places like Florida, Mississippi, and probably Missouri,” Jonathan Tasini, a progressive strategist and Sanders supporter, told The Hill.

A Detroit News poll released on March 3 found Biden at 29% support, followed by Sanders at 22.5%; Bloomberg at 10.5%; and Warren at 6.7%.

Research contact: @thehill

In victory for ‘Me Too,’ Harvey Weinstein found guilty as sexual predator; remanded to custody

February 25, 2020

Harvey Weinstein—formerly a large and in-charge Hollywood film producer—was found guilty on two counts on Monday morning, February 24, in his New York sexual assault trial.

Specifically, the jury convicted Weinstein of two of the five charges against him: a criminal sexual act and third-degree rape, according to a report by The Hill. The 67-year-old former movie mogul has denied any wrongdoing, saying all of his sexual encounters were consensual—however, he did not testify on his own behalf.

The verdict brings to a close the high-profile New York case—during which prosecutors had characterized him as a “sexual predator” and a serial “rapist.” Indeed, during her opening arguments last month, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Meghan Hast said that evidence in Weinstein’s case would show he was “not just a titan of Hollywood but a rapist.”

Jurors heard emotional testimony, including from actress Annabella Sciorrawho told the court that Weinstein raped her after shoving his way into her Manhattan apartment. “I was trying to get him off me,” Sciorra testified. “I was punching him, kicking him.”

According to The Hill, another witness who accused the former film executive of rape became so emotional during an hours-long cross-examination by Weinstein’s attorney Donna Rotunno that she was dismissed for the day by the judge.

The sexual assault allegations, first brought against Weinstein in 2017—followed by a flurry of public accusations of sexual misconduct against many in the entertainment industry— helped to spur the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and to shine a spotlight on systemic sexual harassment.

In total, The Hill notes, more than 80 women—including actresses Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and Gwyneth Paltrow—have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, ranging from harassment to rape.

Last year, Weinstein reportedly reached a $44 million settlement with some of his accusers.

Weinstein was remanded to custody by New York Supreme Court Judge James Burke pending sentencing on Wednesday, March 11. Rotunno made an unsuccessful last-ditch plea to keep her client free on bail due, in part, to his ill health and pain as a result of an auto accident last summer, but the judge did not grant the request.

The erstwhile Miramax titan could face up to 25 years in prison, with a minimum of four years.

What’s more, the legal peril isn’t over for Weinstein, who has also been indicted for alleged sexual misconduct in Los Angeles.

Research contact: @thehill

‘Majority’ of Iowa results expected by end of day

February 5, 2020

The 2020 Democratic race faltered before it could forge ahead on Tuesday, when the results of the much-anticipated Iowa caucus could not be produced the morning after the big event.

In a phone call on the morning of February 4, the chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) told the candidates who had participated in the caucus  to expect that a “majority” of the caucus results would released at 5 p.m. (EST), according to a report by The Hill.

IDP Communications Director Mandy McClure followed up with a statement, saying that the rest of the results will be released “as we are able to.”

“Today we informed campaigns that we will be releasing the majority of caucus results at 4 p.m. CST,” McClure said. “Moving forward—just like we would have on caucus night — we will continue to release results as we are able to. We are also executing our plans and procedures to gather the paper documents and chasing any additional precincts to report results as we normally would on caucus night.”

According to The Hill, the state party’s bungling of the results has raised questions about Iowa’s status as the first state to vote and about the viability of caucuses, which are inherently more chaotic and complicated than primary elections.

The Iowa Democratic Party blamed the reporting issues on a new app the precincts were relying on to transmit results did not function properly.

Now, the IDP remains under intense pressure to produce the results. The caucuses got underway at 8 p.m. (EST) on Monday, February 3. The campaigns, volunteers, voters, and the news media have been furious at the delay and at the lack of transparency into what went wrong.

Most of the presidential candidates hit the road last night or early this morning for New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on February 11.

Research contact: @thehill

Buttigieg, Sanders run head-to-head in final poll ahead of Iowa caucuses

February 4, 2020

With just hours to go before the Democratic caucuses began in Iowa yesterday, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was running head-to-head with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), based on findings of a poll conducted on behalf of Focus on Rural America by David Binder Research.

The new poll found Buttigieg leading the field with 19% of the vote-and Sanders at a near statistical tie, with 17% of the vote, The Hill reported. Both had gained 3 percentage points since the last Focus on Rural America poll, conducted in early January.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) each took 15% of the vote, suggesting downward trajectories for two candidates who had led earlier surveys conducted by the same pollster. Warren’s share declined 3 points from the early January survey, while Biden’s support dropped by 9 points.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) took 11% of the vote—just under the 15% viability threshold necessary to claim delegates when the votes are counted, The Hill noted.

Warren is the top second choice among voters—taking 20% and suggesting she may have the strongest upside potential. Seventeen percent each said Biden and Klobuchar were their second choices, and 13% said Sanders would be number two on their list if their chosen candidate is not viable. Buttigieg clocked in fifth, at 10%.

The least-favorably viewed Democratic presidential candidate, the poll found, is the one who is not competing for Iowa’s votes. Just 30% of Iowa Democrats said they had a favorable impression of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has poured millions into television ads in every state except Iowa. Fifty percent said they see Bloomberg unfavorably.

The race remained in flux even hours before Iowans head to the caucuses, The Hill reported. Only 51% of Iowa voters said they were completely certain to stick with their chosen candidates. 

The poll, conducted January 28-30, surveyed 300 likely caucus-goers and reported a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percentage points. That high margin means all four of the top contenders have a realistic shot at winning the caucuses.

 Research contact: @thehill

Murkowski folds under pressure, quashing testimony at Senate impeachment inquiry

February 3, 2020

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has been brought to heel by Senate Republicans. She now has agreed to vote against a motion that would have enabled the impeachment managers to subpoena both new witnesses and documents blocked by the White House. And in doing so, she has given the GOP the 51 votes that party leaders need to shut the trial down, The Hill reports.

Murkowski said she had worked to produce a fair process modeled after the Clinton impeachment trial, but blamed the House for rushing “flawed” impeachment articles.

“I worked for a fair, honest and transparent process, modeled after the Clinton trial, to provide ample time for both sides to present their cases, ask thoughtful questions, and determine whether we need more,” she said. “The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.”

Murkowski also said the trial had not been fair and that Congress had failed as an institution.

“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed,” she commented in an official statement on her website. 

She added, “It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the chief justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.

“We are sadly at a low point of division in this country.”

Murkowski had been the last undecided Republican senator, giving Democrats hope of a 50-50 tie on the crucial procedural question of subpoenaing witnesses (such as former National Security Adviser John Bolton.), The Hill noted.

Murkowski made it clear to colleagues that she wanted to hear from Bolton but also expressed concern about letting the trial turn into an extended partisan procedural battle, with the prospect of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) forcing vulnerable GOP incumbents to take a slew of tough votes.

Research contact: @TheHill

Pelosi names impeachment managers before House votes to send articles to Senate

January 16, 2020

Under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House voted across party lines on January 15 to send two articles of impeachment to the Senate—and tapped seven managers for the trial in the upper house, ending weeks of speculation over just who would lead the effort to remove President Donald Trump from office, The Hill reported.

named to prosecute the case. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California), will take the helm. He commented in a formal statement, “I am humbled by the responsibility of serving as the lead House Manager in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump, and thank Speaker Pelosi for the trust she has placed in me and our team. It is a solemn responsibility and one that I will undertake with the seriousness that the task requires.

Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee also was selected for a high-profile role. He, too commented-directly, addressing the management of the trial: “Our Speaker has led our fight for a fair trial in the Senate. Above all, a fair trial must include additional documents and relevant witnesses. The American people have common sense. They know that any trial that does not allow witnesses is not a trial. It is a cover-up.”

Among the other Democratic House members chosen were Hakeem Jeffries (New York.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; Val Demings (Florida), a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels; and Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), a senior member of the Judiciary panel and the only member of Congress to have participated in both the Nixon and Clinton impeachments.

More unexpected were the final two picks —Representatives. Sylvia Garcia (Texas), and Jason Crow (Colorado), The Hill said. Both are freshmen, and Crow—a former Army Ranger—does not sit on any of the six committees with jurisdiction over impeachment.

In making the announcement, Pelosi touted the legal bona fides of her picks, saying their experience before entering Congress was an outsize factor in her decision-making.

The announcement came comes just hours before the House voted to send the two articles of impeachment to the Senate. Passed by the House on December 18, the articles accuse Trump of abusing his power in his dealings with Ukraine; then, obstructing Congress as Democrats sought to investigate the episode.

Aside from transmitting the articles and naming the impeachment managers, the resolution provides funding for the impeachment process.

Research contact: @thehill

If subpoenaed, Bolton says he would be willing to testify in Senate impeachment trial

January 7, 2020

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday that he would testify in a Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, if subpoenaed, The Hill reported.

Bolton, who had resisted the the Trump Administration’s effort to squeeze Ukraine for political help—calling the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani “a hand grenade who’s going to blow everyone up”—had hinted since October that he might cooperate, if prevailed upon to do so through legal channels.

“The House has concluded its Constitutional responsibility by adopting Articles of Impeachment related to the Ukraine matter. It now falls to the Senate to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to try impeachments, and it does not appear possible that a final judicial resolution of the still-unanswered Constitutional questions can be obtained before the Senate acts,” Bolton, who was ousted by Trump in September, said in a statement.

“I have had to resolve the serious competing issues as best I could, based on careful consideration and study. I have concluded that, if the Senate issues a subpoena for my testimony, I am prepared to testify,” Bolton said. 

Bolton had previously said that he needed a judge to resolve whether a senior adviser to Trump could be compelled to testify, and as a result did not appear before the House as requested in connection with the impeachment inquiry, The Hill clarified.

His former deputy, Charles Kupperman, had filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to decide whether he should obey a congressional subpoena for his testimony but the case was declared moot last month. Bolton was never subpoenaed after his lawyers made clear he would not appear without one.

Bolton said that, now, because there will not be a judicial resolution to a case on the legal question brought by his former deputy before the Senate trial concludes, he is prepared to testify before the Senate if subpoenaed.

The GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to call Bolton to testify, however, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill

Murkowski ‘disturbed’ by McConnell’s plan for ‘total coordination’ with White House on impeachment

December 26, 2019

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is no pushover when it comes to Republican politics. This week, she went on the record saying that she does not agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) stated position that he will work in “total coordination” with the White House during the looming impeachment trial.

“When I heard that I was disturbed,” Murkowski told KTUU, an NBC affiliate in her home state, in an interview that aired December 24.

McConnell already has been harshly criticized for his comments by Democrats—given that senators take an oath to be impartial jurors during the trial, The Hill reported.

“To me,” Murkowski continued, speaking of the Senate’s constitutional responsibility in the process, “it means we have to take that step back from being hand-in-glove with the defense. And so I heard what Leader McConnell had said, I happen to think that that has further confused the process.”

Murkowski, a moderate Republican, is seen as one of a few GOP senators who could break from the party on a vote to remove Trump from office; although the president is anticipated to be acquitted given the Republican control of the chamber.

Unlike some of her colleagues, such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)—a Trump crony who repeatedly has said that he is ready to vote and doesn’t need to hear any witnesses—Murkowski said she won’t “prejudge” the situation before the process continues.

“For me to prejudge and say there’s nothing there, or on the other hand, ‘he should be impeached yesterday,’ that’s wrong. In my view, that’s wrong,” she said. 

“If it means that I am viewed as one who looks openly and critically at every issue in front of me rather than acting as a rubber stamp for my party or my president, I am totally good with that,” Murkowski added. “I am totally, totally good with that.”

McConnell signaled on Monday the talks about a trial are in limbo until senators return to Washington in a couple of weeks,, The Hill reported.

Research contact: @thehill

Behind closed doors, Obama talks up Warren to wealthy donors

December 24, 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) has friends in high places. In fact, The Hill reports, recently former President Barack Obama has gone to bat for Warren on the down-low when speaking to donors reluctant to support her given her knocks on Wall Street and the wealthy.

And if Warren becomes the nominee, Obama has said they must throw the entirety of their support behind her. The former president has stopped short of an endorsement of Warren in these conversations and has emphasized that he is not endorsing in the Democratic primary race.

But he also has vouched for her credentials, making it clear in these private sessions that he deems her a capable candidate and potential president, sources tell The Hill.

“He’s asked all of the candidates who have sought his advice three questions: Is your family behind you? Why you? And why now? She checked the box for all,” one longtime Obama ally told the political news outlet.

“I think he feels licensed to give an opinion on her because he’s ‘hired’ her,” the longtime Obama ally said.

Indeed, The Hill makes the point, while Biden is the best-known Obama figure running for president, he’s not the only one in the race to have worked for the administration. Julián Castro was the secretary for Housing and Urban Development under Obama, and Warren in 2010 became an assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury, where she helped set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“He obviously thinks she’s very smart,” one Democratic donor added. “He thinks her policy ideas matter. And I think he sees her running the campaign with the most depth.”

A source close to Obama said the former president would go to bat in the same way for any of the Democratic candidates running for president, pointing to comments Obama made last month.

“Look, we have a field that is very accomplished, very serious and passionate and smart people who have a history of public service, and whoever emerges from the primary process, I will work my tail off to make sure that they are the next president,” the former president said in a question-and-answer session at a Democracy Alliance event in Washington.

Obama’s praise of Warren is a contrast of sorts from his days at the White House, The Hill says, when the two were said to have disagreements on economic issues—including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The tension between the president and Massachusetts senator frequently became fodder around the administration.

Since then, the friction has continued to make headlines, including the time in 2015 when Obama was dismissive of Warren’s opposition to the TPP.

Now, as she runs for president herself, Warren has distanced herself from some Obama’s policies but has also spoken glowingly about the time in 2002 when she met Obama — who remains enormously popular among Democratic voters.

Last week, more than 200 lower- and mid-level Obama staffers who worked on his presidential campaigns and in his administration threw their support behind Warren.

To date, Warren has been unable to secure more senior-level Obama veterans. That support from the highest levels — including former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — has gone to Biden.

According to The Hill, Obama remains “incredibly fond” of Biden and is watching his campaign with interest, said one Obama ally who has spoken to the former president. But Obama — who is currently in Hawaii for his annual Christmas vacation — has intentionally sought to remove himself from the 2020 race. He has said he would not endorse anyone during the primary, including Biden, and is not expected to be out on the campaign trail until there is a nominee.

Obama hasn’t publicly singled out any of the candidates but occasionally, behind closed doors, he’ll offer assessments when he is asked. Those who know him well say that while he is stylistically and temperamentally different from Warren, “he appreciates her intellect and is impressed by the campaign she’s run.”

“If anything, she has the most substantive achievements from his time in the White House,” one former Obama aide told The Hill. “And he’s someone who can talk at length about her accolades.”

Research contact: @thehill