Congress Johnson 110323 AP J. Scott Applewhite

Morning Report — Trump’s contentious appearance; it’s Election Day


Editor’s note: The Hill’s Morning Report is our daily newsletter that dives deep into Washington’s agenda. To subscribe, click here or fill out the box below.

Former President Trump found his way back into headlines Monday, despite global attention on the Middle East, dysfunction in Congress, today’s off-year elections and President Biden’s shaky efforts to sell his economic policies to voters. 

Trump made history Monday as an ex-president and civil defendant who railed and rambled about political witch hunts during trial testimony about liability for false valuations of Trump Organization assets. 

“The fraud was on behalf of the court. The court was the fraudster in this case,” he told reporters following his testimony. 

The former president avoided direct answers in a New York courtroom, offered conflicting explanations and political bromides that strained the judge’s patience more than once. Trump appeared eager to defy courtroom decorum in order to repeat his allegations of judicial and prosecutorial bias, a central theme of his campaign to win another White House term. 

“I’m sure the judge will rule against me because he always rules against me,” Trump interjected, referring to Judge Arthur Engoron. 

Trump lawyer Alina Habba complained to the media that Engoron demanded short answers from the former president because the judge is biased. Yet, the judge ruled in September that Trump’s financial statements contained fraud. That left for trial whether Trump and the other defendants should pay the $250 million in penalties that New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking, and whether to ban the former president from New York state real estate business as punishment for civil fraud. 

As the Republican Party’s front-runner for the nomination next year, Trump also faces 91 criminal indictments and additional trials stretching into 2024. Leading in polls but unpopular among a majority of registered voters, Trump stokes supporters and donors with personal grievances about his foes while disputing any wrongdoing. He plans to hold a rally Wednesday in Florida while skipping the third televised Republican primary debate the same night in Miami. 

NBC News: Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, formerly a White House press secretary for Trump, will endorse his presidential primary bid during his Florida rally on Wednesday. 

AS ELECTION BALLOTS are counted tonight across the country, The Hill’s campaign team, partnering with Decision Desk HQ, will post results from gubernatorial, mayoral and state legislative ballots. The results are widely expected to offer clues about the mood of the electorate heading into the presidential primaries early next year. 

▪ The Hill: Here’s when and where polls close today. 

▪ The Hill: Five key questions for today’s elections. 

▪ The Hill: Expert predictions about five of the off-year elections today.  

 Meanwhile, Biden’s Democratic allies are wringing their hands about dismal poll numbers for the incumbent, which are tied to the economy, his age at nearly 81 and views of his foreign and immigration policies, among others. 

▪ The Hill: Biden allies look to limit the fallout over the latest poll results. 

▪ NBC News: Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) took a weekend swipe at California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for “running for president right now” while not announcing it. 

David Axelrod, former White House and campaign adviser to Biden and former President Obama, on Monday repeated his weekend advice that Biden should do some soul-searching ASAP about whether he should end his reelection bid because of his age and Trump’s chances of victory.   


▪ President Vladimir Putin, 71, will be a candidate in Russia’s March presidential election, a move that will keep him in power until at least 2030, Reuters reports. … Moscow on Tuesday formally withdrew from a landmark post-Cold War European arms control treaty. 

▪ Hollywood actors with SAG-AFTRA, striking since July, responded to the studios Monday to say the latest contract offer fell short of its artificial intelligence demands. 

▪ Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina qualified for Wednesday’s GOP debate, hosted live by NBC News in Miami. Here’s how to watch from 8-10 p.m. ET. 


Congress Johnson 110323 AP J. Scott Applewhite

© The Associated Press / J. Scott Applewhite | Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) at the Capitol on Friday.  


SENATORS ARE PUTTING TOGETHER a nine-bill spending package that will cost more than $1 trillion to make up for lost time in the appropriations process as the Nov. 17 government funding deadline inches closer. The so-called maxibus will be close in scale to an omnibus spending package, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports — something that Republicans pledged they would try to avoid.  

The huge spending bill, however, is seen as a necessity by some Republicans While the maxibus has no chance of passing the House, Senate leadership’s current strategy is to get the bills through the chamber to enhance senators’ negotiating leverage with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).  

But Senate conservatives, who want Johnson to take the lead on spending, will oppose this effort — and House conservatives will criticize it as well. House Republicans say their slim majority will spend the coming week trying to pass full-year spending bills that have no chance of clearing the Democratic-majority Senate, even as jitters about the deadline spread among their own members (Reuters). 

THE CROSS-CAPITOL TACTICS BEG THE QUESTION: Are lawmakers — and particularly a small but powerful band of hard-line House Republicans — still capable of compromise?  

“We shouldn’t be trying to jam each other on this,” said House Rules Committee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.). “We’ve established that the majority of each party wants to keep the government running.” 

The Senate GOP conference will hold a special meeting for members this afternoon as they search for a resolution to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) military holds, which now affect more than 370 military promotions. A Senate Democrat-led solution is expected to hit the floor this week, The Hill’s Al Weaver reports, but Republicans are growing increasingly desperate to find a solution, with some taking their complaints public to the Senate floor last week and declining to rule out supporting a standing resolution that would allow the chamber to greenlight the promotions in bloc through the end of next year.  

The Hill: Two senators from Maine asked the U.S. Army inspector general on Monday to provide a full accounting of interactions with a reservist before he killed 18 people and injured 13 others in the deadliest shooting in the state’s history. 


The House meets at 10 a.m. 

The Senate convenes at 10 a.m. 

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 11:30 a.m. Biden at 4:45 p.m. will tour “American Possibilities: A White House Demo Day,” at The Showroom in Washington. He’ll return to the White House. 

Vice President Harris will participate with Biden in the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office. Harris’s interview with SiriusXM Urban View’s Joe Madison, known as The Black Eagle, will air this morning.  

Secretary of State Antony Blinken departed the Middle East for Tokyo where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at 5:40 p.m. local time (early Tuesday morning in Washington), then with Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko half an hour later. Ahead of a Group of Seven working dinner in Tokyo, Blinken also met with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at 1:30 p.m. at IRS headquarters will describe expected customer and filing improvements during the upcoming tax season, which the administration credits to resources enacted as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. (The administration opposes House Republicans efforts to defund IRS enforcement funding.) 

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 2 p.m. and will include national security spokesperson John Kirby


Courts SCOTUS 110323 AP Mariam Zuhaib

© The Associated Press / Mariam Zuhaib | The Supreme Court on Friday. 


JUSTICES FACE A KEY TEST on the Second Amendment today when it hears arguments on a challenge to a federal law that criminalizes gun possession for people under domestic violence restraining orders, The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld reports. But the justices’ decision on the matter stands to impact an array of pending gun law challenges in lower courts, legal experts say. A broadly written opinion could even reach as far as impacting Hunter Biden’s criminal case.  

Arguments in the dispute are the first the court will hear since its conservative majority imposed a new test for assessing whether a firearms restriction passes constitutional muster, which has sparked confusion and frustration among the nation’s federal judges as they navigate new challenges to long-standing laws (CBS News). 

Gun safety and domestic violence prevention organizations plan this morning to demonstrate outside the high court during the oral argument in United States v. Rahimi to urge justices to help “disarm domestic violence.”   

A BIPARTISAN CAMPAIGN to disqualify Trump from the 2024 ballot in every state is led by a lawyer who said there’s a “very good chance” a top court in Minnesota, Colorado or Michigan will rule on the issue before the end of the year. It tees up an urgent review by the Supreme Court. Judges in Colorado and Minnesota last week heard arguments in cases brought by groups of voters alleging an often-overlooked part of the Constitution — Section 3 of the 14th Amendment — bars Trump from their state ballots. 

“This question needs to be decided ideally before any ballots are printed, and I hope and expect it will be decided in our favor,” said Ben Clements, chairman and senior legal adviser of Free Speech for People, a legal advocacy group behind some of the constitutional challenges to Trump’s candidacy (ABC News). 

CNN analysis: The nonstop sparring match between Justice Samuel Alito and liberal Biden attorney at the Supreme Court. 


Middle East Biden 110623 AP Matt Rourke

© The Associated Press / Matt Rourke | President Biden spoke about passenger rail investments during an event in Bear, Del., on Monday. 


Israel will need to oversee the security of the Gaza Strip “for an indefinite period” once the war with Hamas is over, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said for the first time during an interview with ABC News that aired on Monday. 

“We’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it,” he said. “When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale we couldn’t imagine.” 

Netanyahu says he is open to “tactical little pauses” in Gaza to let hostages out and aid in.  

The comments come after Biden again discussed with Netanyahu on Monday the possibility of “tactical pauses” in Israel’s assault against Hamas. The U.S. and other Israeli allies want breaks in the fighting to speed more humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians, free hostages and help Americans and other foreign nationals exit Gaza across the border into Egypt (The Hill).  

The Israeli army on Monday severed northern Gaza from the rest of the territory and pounded it with airstrikes, preparing for expected ground battles with Hamas militants in Gaza’s largest city and an even bloodier phase of the war (The Associated Press). 

▪ The Associated Press: Civilians fleeing northern Gaza’s combat zone report a terrifying journey on foot past Israeli tanks. 

▪ Reuters: Three armed drones were shot down on Tuesday over Erbil airport in northern Iraq, where U.S. forces and other international forces are stationed, CNN on Monday reported eight attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria as Iranian-backed militia ramp up strikes. 

▪ The New Yorker: Why State Department official Josh Paul lost hope in Israel. He resigned in protest on Oct. 17. 

▪ Politico: U.S. diplomats slam Israel policy in a leaked memo critical of Biden’s Middle East policies. 

▪ NBC News: Reporter Raf Sanchez embedded with the Israel Defense Forces on Sunday while entering Hamas tunnels in Gaza. 


Closer North Pole 051711 AP John McConnico

© The Associated Press / John McConnico | Near the North Pole in 2007, an iceberg appeared near eastern Greenland. 

And finally … 🧊 A Maryland-based explorer is training to complete the “grand slam” of climbing and adventuring by trekking on skis across the shifting sea ice to the top of the planet. 

Fewer than 70 people on Earth have scaled the world’s highest seven mountain peaks and reached the North and South poles, which is known as the grand slam. Sebastian Audy, a World Bank alum and a senior vice president with a life sciences company, aspires to be one. The last leg in his adventure goal, a ski expedition to the North Pole, has been canceled three years in a row. He plans to try again in April.  

Audy, a motivational speaker in his early 40s with a family, has a website, newsletter and plenty of Instagram photos. He calls his intense training and extreme explorations a lifestyle.  

“The goal in the North Pole is to manage your temperature because as soon as you have water on your body and stop, regardless of all the layers, you’ll freeze and get hypothermia,” he told Axios, which reports that humans can indeed sweat below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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