Morning Report — House GOP drama; Trump in court today


At some point, House Republicans may confront the latest internal challenge to yet another in a line of embattled Speakers amid continued GOP resignations that have whittled the party’s majority to the size of a pea.

Atop the Republican Party, former President Trump faces a court hearing today and a legal deadline that could test his brand, the limits of his personal wealth and his veracity, if not his standing with conservative voters.

The current state of GOP politics and governance would look more dire this week if it weren’t for waves of public second-guessing and hand wringing roiling the Democratic Party and its leaders who face an electorate decidedly ho-hum about this year’s choice, according to some analyses.

To recap: Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) wants to oust Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) with what she called a “warning” motion that carries no specific timeline. Republicans departed Washington Friday to campaign at home for a few weeks while fuming over their scrambled narrative.

The Washington Post: Weakened GOP majority reckons with Johnson’s leadership.

The government after many months is finally funded until Sept. 30, but not to the liking of the firebrands in the Freedom Caucus. Johnson needed the House minority in order to cut a deal to keep the government funded with additional help from the Senate and President Biden. Price tag: $1.2 trillion.

The Wall Street Journal: Why the Speaker can’t run the House without Democrats’ help (with graphics and House analyses of major floor votes).

Greene asserted Johnson “betrayed our conference.” Moderate Republicans complain that their party is mired in distractions – rolling Speakers, procedural timewasters on the floor, oversight hearings aimed at the Biden family that float assertions devoid of evidence, plus headline-grabbing disagreements about Trump and America’s posture abroad. Two GOP lawmakers, Ken Buck of Colorado and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, last week moved to cut their terms short. They are not alone in bemoaning dysfunction and Buck said Sunday he’s happy he exited.

The Hill: Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who resigned last year after his colleagues bounced him as their leader, said his advice to his successor is not to be “fearful” because he doesn’t think Greene’s motion would succeed.

On Sunday, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) dodged when asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether Greene’s motion to vacate would gather enough backing to remove Johnson as Speaker. Roy called her motion “palace drama.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who is an appropriator, told NewsNation’s “The Hill Sunday,” owned by Nexstar, that she blames the White House and Senate Democrats for prolonging an “exasperating” stretch of months that she said could have opened the government-funding process to “floor discussion … free of shutdown drama.”

The spending battle included four continuing resolutions, the first-ever ousting of a sitting Speaker and rising tensions between both sides of the aisle.

The Hill: U.S. funding for the global AIDS program PEPFAR survived for a year in the funding bill Biden signed Saturday but backers say they are not satisfied.

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3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY

▪ Since AT&T was broken up four decades ago, no company has faced the possibility in the United States of a regulator-led break-up — until now. Apple and Alphabet’s Google are in antitrust regulatory crosshairs on both sides of the Atlantic, a first for Big Tech.

▪ Using just his mindNoland Arbaugh, 29, a quadriplegic and recipient of an experimental Neuralink brain chip, posted a message to X, formerly Twitter, last week.

▪ There are ways to rein in medical care than can become a slog for seniors.

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📺 Sunday talk shows: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told ABC News’s “This Week” that it would an “honor” to serve as former President Trump’s vice president because he believes President Biden’s policies make the country less safe and less prosperous in comparison with the Trump years. … Ronna McDaniel, former Republican National Committee chair making her first Sunday appearance as an NBC News paid contributor on “Meet the Press,” said she opposes Trump’s plan to free Capitol attackers imprisoned after Jan. 6, 2021. She said donors paying for Trump’s legal bills have “every right.” She also described tension between the RNC and the Trump campaign over primary debates the former president eschewed. NBC’s Chuck Todd criticized his network for hiring McDaniel because in his view, she has “credibility issues.” … Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that she sees “a risk” in not seizing Trump’s assets to resolve a court judgment against him. … Support forBiden in Georgia among voters of color will be boosted the more Trump talks, Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) told CBS News’s “Face the Nation,” pointing to CBS’s recent polling in the state and nationwide.

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LEADING THE DAY

TrumpWorld 022824 Reuters Shannon Stapleton

© The Associated Press / Shannon Stapleton, Reuters | Former President Trump in court in Manhattan in January.

TRUMP WORLD

TRUMP IN COURT. The former president today could receive a trial date in his criminal hush money case and separately need to provide a $454 billion bond for a civil fraud judgment. To save his real estate organization, Trump must persuade another company to post a bond on his behalf, promising that it will cover the judgment if he loses a pending appeal and fails to pay. Yet the former president’s lawyers have said that securing the bond would be a “practical impossibility” because he would need to put up around $550 million in cash and liquid investments as collateral to the company — indicative of Trump’s cash crunch (The New York Times).

The eye-popping judgment against Trump in the fraud case has laid bare his precarious financial status. In Truth Social posts, Trump asserted that the judge and attorney general in the case want to swindle him (The Hill).

Trump’s hush money trial had been widely expected to begin today, until federal prosecutors this month began turning over what would become more than 100,000 pages of records. The trial is now delayed until at least mid-April. Today, the parties are set to battle in a New York courtroom over whether the new documents require a further delay as Judge Juan Merchan attempts to ascertain what happened (The Hill).

“It’s like I Love Lucy. Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do!” said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who previously served as Manhattan’s chief assistant district attorney.

The New York Times: Inside Attorney General Merrick Garland’s efforts to prosecute Trump. In trying to avoid even the smallest mistakes, Garland might have made one big one: ending up in a race against the clock. 

A MERGER DEAL involving Trump’s Truth Social platform is raising questions about financial implications. Trump is set to be the majority shareholder after the multi-billion-dollar deal but regulations will limit how much it may improve Trump’s financial situation in the near term (The Hill).

Politics Haley 030624 AP Chris Carlson 1

© The Associated Press / Chris Carlson | Former GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley earlier this month.

POLITICS 

WHAT ROLE WILL NIKKI HALEY PLAY in the months ahead after opting not to endorse former Trump when she ended her bid for the Republican nomination? Haley called on Trump to invite her supporters into his fold but the former president has not moved to embrace critics within the party. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) immediately endorsed Trump after dropping out but has not definitively said whether he will campaign with the former president. The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports that Haley’s decision not to endorse Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, fuels speculation she might sit out the election entirely.

To beat Biden, Trump needs many of the voters who supported Haley and her endorsement could help.

“They’re the ones who are going to tip the needle one way or another,” said one GOP strategist. “It’s possible to earn their support, but it’ll take some elbow grease and an olive branch. That percentage is huge for a primary.”

REPUBLICANS ARE WEIGHING criminal referrals to the Justice Department in lieu of bringing articles of impeachment against Biden That move would provide an offramp for a struggling investigation, but one would likewise force the GOP’s hand on a key issue: demonstrating the president or his family broke the law (The Hill).

2024 ROUNDUP

▪ Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) is the remaining major candidate in the New Jersey Senate race to replace Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) after Tammy Murphy, wife of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), dropped out Sunday. Menendez, fighting criminal charges for bribery, announced last week he will not seek reelection as a Democrat. Each county party that has endorsed Murphy will decide whether to give its coveted endorsement ballot line to Kim.

▪ Determined to maintain a brisk campaign-focused travel season for Biden, the White House is expanding its scheduling and advance team.

▪ Two can play at a social-media-focused political game: “Broke Don” is the Biden team’s most recent nicknaming retort to Trump’s “Sleepy Joe.”

▪ Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will announce his running mate Tuesday. Tony Lyons, co-founder of Kennedy’s American Values super PAC, told The Hill that voters will “get to see that he’s very serious about becoming president.”

▪ Biden’s campaign is stepping up efforts to reach voters of color amid signs that some Black and Latino voters are turning to the right. Meanwhile, fewer than 40 percent of young Black voters say they’ll participate in this year’s election, according to a recent survey.

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WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet for a pro forma session Tuesday at 9 a.m.

The Senate will hold a pro forma session Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 11:45 a.m. along with Vice President Harris. Biden and Harris will have lunch at 12:30 p.m.

The vice president will meet with President Bernardo Arévalo of Guatemala in her ceremonial office at 2:05 p.m.  Harris at 3:45 p.m. will host a White House roundtable with leaders from government, the private sector and civil society as part of Central America Forward, a public-private partnership.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna, Latvian Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis at the State Department at 11 a.m. The secretary will meet with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at 1 p.m. He will meet with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at 3 p.m.

First lady Jill Biden is in Los Angeles where at 10:15 a.m. she will join a conversation with actress and advocate Halle Berry as part of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will travel to a steel mill in Middleton, Ohio, and host a news conference with union and industry leaders at 10:15 a.m. EST to discuss the administration’s energy agenda. 

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1 p.m.

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ZOOM IN

COURTS

ABORTION WILL BE BACK at the Supreme Court Tuesday when the justices consider access to mifepristone, a common drug used in medication abortion. The fight over the pills — which new data show were used in 60 percent of all abortions last year — could have sweeping consequences for all Americans’ access to the drug, even those who live in blue states. Now, the same court that overturned Roe v. Wade will hear arguments about whether federal regulators overstepped their authority by loosening restrictions to make mifepristone easier to access (The Hill).

▪ NBC News: From IVF to birth control, the Supreme Court abortion pill case could spark challenges to other drugs.

▪ The Washington Post: What’s at stake in the Supreme Court abortion pill case.

JUDICIAL WHIPLASH over Texas’s controversial immigration law has delayed its implementation, but its political effects could be felt regardless. S.B. 4, as the law is known, is the latest in a string of local immigration crackdowns. The Hill’s Rafael Bernal traces their history, from California to Arizona to Texas, and how many of these controversial laws ended up sparking a leftward shift in the states where they were proposed.

“I think Texas is on the verge of becoming a purple state, especially if the Republicans keep practicing the politics of hate and fearmongering and division,” said Domingo García, president of the Texas-based League of United Latin American Citizens, the country’s oldest Latino civil rights organization.

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ELSEWHERE

International Moscow Sunday 032424 AP Vitaly Smolnikov

© The Associated Press / Vitaly Smolnikov | Russia held a public day of mourning Sunday after an attack Friday killed more than 130 people in a Moscow concert hall. The terror group ISIS-K claimed to be behind the attack, which Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed on Ukraine.

INTERNATIONAL

POLAND IS DEMANDING ANSWERS after a Russian long-range cruise missile heading for western Ukraine briefly entered its territory overnight, prompting the country’s armed forces to launch “all necessary procedures” to protect its airspace, including activating Polish and allied aviation. The incident came as Russia launched a punishing wave of missile and drone strikes on Ukraine; Moscow attacked power facilities throughout Ukraine on Friday, triggering outages and killing at least three people (The Hill).

On Sunday, Poland’s Foreign Affairs Ministry promised in a statement on X it would “demand explanations from Russia in connection with another violation of the country’s airspace. Above all, we call on the Russian Federation to stop terrorist air attacks on the inhabitants and territory of Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Russia held a day of mourning on Sunday for the victims of a terrorist attack on a suburban Moscow concert venue. The death toll has climbed to 137 as questions linger about the identities and motives of the perpetrators. Two suspects in connection to the deadly Moscow concert hall terrorist attack appeared in the city’s district court Sunday night (The Hill).

The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the assault in three different messages since Friday, but Russian President Vladimir Putin made no mention of the extremist group or the identities of the perpetrators in his first statement since the attack, instead broadly blaming “international terrorism.” Russian state media quickly began laying the groundwork to suggest that Ukraine and its Western backers were responsible (The New York Times).

Putin had just a week ago dismissed American warnings of an imminent terrorist attack and urged leaders of the country’s security services to focus on catching Ukrainian spies instead (The Wall Street Journal). Vice President Harris rejected Putin’s claims that Ukraine could be involved with the terrorist attack in Moscow in an ABC interview with Rachel Scott on Sunday.

“No, there is no, whatsoever, any evidence [of Ukraine involvement],” Harris said. “In fact, what we know to be the case is that ISIS-K is actually by all accounts responsible for what happened.”

▪ NPR: What is ISIS-K, the group that claims it carried out the Moscow concert attack?

▪ Reuters: The Islamic State still poses a threat in Iraq and the U.S.-led military coalition’s work with Iraq to fully defeat the group is not done, said United States Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski.

▪ The Washington Post: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant headed to Washington on Sunday as Israel continues to defy U.S. calls to reduce the suffering in Gaza.

▪ CNN: Carnage on the streets of Port-au-Prince as the world stalls on a promised intervention for Haiti.

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OPINION

■ Moscow attack: Don’t believe the Kremlin, by Gary Kasparov, opinion contributor, The Wall Street Journal.

 SpaceX Starship’s third flight was not only a success, it was awesome, by Mark R. Whittington, opinion contributor, The Hill.

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THE CLOSER

Closer Paris runs 032424 AP Christophe Ena

© The Associated Press / Christophe Ena | During an age-old Paris event Sunday, waiters raced through streets balancing trays of beverages and croissants.

And finally … Garçons! Waiters across Paris demonstrated their serving chops Sunday by dashing through the streets carrying trays of a typical French breakfast — a croissant, coffee and glass of water — along a 1.24 mile race. Wearing customary white shirts and aprons, they celebrated a revived version of the 110-year-old Course des Cafés (cafe race).

The rules are simple: tray in one hand only; no running; and not a crumb or drop to be spilled. The competition is open to professionals, le apprenti and part-time trainee servers. Judges at the finish examined trays for spillage or spotlessness.

The top prize? A medal, a night’s stay in a swanky hotel — and the glory of being crowned le plus rapide waiter in town.

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