The Hill's Morning Report: Hannity drawn into Cohen legal fight

Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report, which is replacing The Hill’s morning Tipsheet each weekday. This comprehensive morning email, reported by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger, briefs you on the most important developments in politics and what to look for in the days and weeks ahead…

Thirty-three-year-old Desiree Linden became the first American woman in more than three decades to win the Boston Marathon, completing the water-logged course in under two hours and 40 minutes.

Reminder: It’s tax filing day, usually a nightmare for most Americans but an opportunity this year for Republicans.

The tax cuts bill will be the cornerstone of the GOP’s election efforts for the 2018 midterms. Republicans are praying that the tax overhaul, in conjunction with the strong economy, will be enough to break what looks like a blue surge coming for them in November.

But President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump asking Arab nations to replace US military in Syria after defeat of ISIS: report Columbia presses on with scholarship program for displaced Syrians despite Trump travel ban Dershowitz confronts Hannity: ‘You should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen’ MORE’s signature legislative achievement might not be enough to save Republicans in the fall.

Republican pollster David Winston tells us: “The economy tends to be the driving issue, so if there’s a sense this tax bill has delivered and the economy is generally improving, it could cut into Democratic opportunities. But it’s still a huge challenge for Republicans and it’s not a sure thing by any means.”

Recent polls find that while voters have warmed to the tax law, unpopular when it was enacted last year, a majority of Americans remain unconvinced they’ll benefit directly.

And the GOP push will be met with counter-programming from Democrats, who argue that corporations are hoarding their tax gains and reinvesting in stock buybacks instead of hiring or giving raises.

Read The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda on five things to watch for as tax filing season draws to a close…


  • It was an utterly bizarre day of theatrics around Michael Cohen’s first court appearance since the FBI raided his office, hotel room and residence. The circus-like atmosphere is damaging for all the players, but most importantly for the president; a prolonged legal and investigatory chapter in New York involves his personal life, his business dealings, and potentially his 2016 campaign.

AP: What’s in those seized records? Trump’s biggest new worry.

The government is arguing that Cohen is not doing any real legal work and so the evidence the FBI seized from Trump’s personal lawyer is not protected under attorney-client privilege, as Cohen’s lawyers argue.

Reuters: What is attorney-client privilege in the Cohen context?

Cohen claims to be doing real legal work and says he has real clients. Judge Kimba Wood ruled that he must reveal them. The first two clients were known: Trump and former Republican National Committee finance team member Elliott Broidy, who resigned that post after admitting to having paid a Playboy “playmate,” who said she was pregnant with his child.

The big reveal of the mystery third client: Fox News anchor Sean Hannity.

“Go home 2018, you’re drunk,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper deadpanned in the wake of the news.

Fox News anchor Shep Smith, who has clashed with Hannity in the past, beat back a smile as he explained to viewers that he had reached out to Hannity’s producers for comment.

Attorney Alan Dershowitz, a regular on Hannity’s program in recent weeks, went on CNN to say that Hannity should have revealed to viewers that he was a client of Cohen’s when he was covering the FBI raid. Then Dershowitz went on Hannity to confront him about it in person. You can watch that exchange here. CNN is loving it.

Hannity is downplaying the development, saying Cohen gave him advice but was never on retainer or acting in any official capacity on his behalf.

Reporters are digging to find out what Cohen might have done for Hannity, and whether any of it mirrors the confidential scandal-extinguishing exercises he conducted for his other clients, Trump and Broidy.

Meanwhile, Stormy Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, were on the scene and holding court outside, injecting their accusations against Trump and Cohen into a crush of news outlets.

Oh yeah. The judge ruled in Cohen’s favor on one front, a surprise but minor victory for Cohen and Trump, as their lawyers will now be allowed to review some of the documents and data seized by the FBI. But it wasn’t a full victory; attorneys for Trump and Cohen had tried to block prosecutors from reviewing the seized material at all. The Hill’s Katie Bo Williams reports…

Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Watchdogs unveil findings on EPA, Interior controversies | GAO says EPA violated law with soundproof booth | IG says Zinke could have avoided charter flight | GOP chair probes Pruitt’s four email addresses We will better protect national parks for just pennies more per visit Zinke in 2013 had self-professed birther on radio show, questioned Obama college records MORE, under investigation by his department’s inspector general, is reprimanded for relying on a $12,000 charter flight between a meeting with a professional hockey team in Las Vegas and another meeting in Montana, The Hill’s Miranda Green reports.

“Not all of my choices were good,” Trump said Monday about his Cabinet.


The Opioid crisis takes a personal toll on Washington, reports The Hill’s Rachel Roubein in the first of a five-part series this week presented by the Partnership for Safe Medicine. Monday: The scope of the emergency: Today’s report, “Close to Home,” describes Michigan Democrat Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellEx-congressman: I wasn’t planning to buy Comey book until Trump’s Twitter meltdown WATCH: Dem Rep presses to change ‘conversation’ on guns Lawmakers trade barbs, torch Trump at DC soiree MORE’s personal experience with opioid overdose and how it shaped her legislative perspective.

Comey fallout: Former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyDershowitz confronts Hannity: ‘You should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen’ Clinton allies seethe with rage at Comey Press: The lawmaker vs. the lawbreaker MORE’s book finally hits the shelves today. The results are in from his highly-anticipated first interview since being fired by Trump, and supporters of the president and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton allies seethe with rage at Comey Comedian Maria Bamford files restraining order against Trump over nuclear anxiety: report Feehery: Don’t call the game before it’s over MORE agree: Comey is no hero.

The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports on the withering reviews from supporters of both 2016 presidential combatants. Clinton allies are seething with rage. (The Hill) A sample: “Admit it, James Comey, you’ve been lying all along,” by Lanny Davis, former adviser to Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonFeehery: Don’t call the game before it’s over Bitter lessons 25 years after Waco, Texas, siege You and I follow the law. Federal agencies should do the same MORE. (The Hill)

New York Times: Comey’s attacks on Trump may tarnish carefully cultivated image.

More: transcript this morning from Comey’s NPR interview.

Next on Comey’s book tour – a stop on Wednesday with the women of ABC’s  “The View.” Watch co-host Meghan McCain for potential fireworks.

But the ratings for Sunday night’s event were not great. ABC News pulled in 9.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. CBS’s Country Music Awards attracted 12.1 million viewers on the same night. The “60 Minutes” Stormy Daniels event from three weeks ago is the gold standard, having captured 22 million viewers.

From The Hill’s Joe Concha: Ratings show Comey buzz was all hype…

Still, the battle between the White House and the former FBI director remains incendiary. The Hill’s Jordan Fabian reports.

➔  Campaigns Roundup: Can Democrats win Ryan’s seat?  Well-funded Democrat Randy Bryce, a.k.a. “IronStache,” leads an uncharacteristically strong field of challengers looking to make a statement by winning outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan’s district. The Hill’s Ben Kamisar and Lisa Hagen report. (The Hill)

The Senate Budget committee chairman warns that ballooning deficits render future committee blueprints irrelevant (perhaps the committee, too). Chairman Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSome Republicans are rallying around Pruitt Pentagon audit a great step forward as long as there is oversight A failure to protect students and taxpayers MORE warns colleagues it may be impossible for the GOP to pass budgets because projected deficits are so large, bolstering some enthusiasm within the Senate GOP to abolish the Budget Committee altogether, an idea under review by a special panel set up to reform the spending process. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. (The Hill)

House GOP Leadership: The bid to replace Speaker Ryan is House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyFeehery: Don’t call the game before it’s over The Hill’s 12:30 Report Scalise undergoes planned surgery amid Speaker’s race MORE‘s race to lose. The Hill’s Melanie Zanona reports (The Hill)


Man in the High Castle, by former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe key to defeating Alzheimer’s disease is strong bipartisanship Trump-Putin relationship sours as White House gets tough on Russia The ‘Teen Party’ can change Congress like the Tea Party MORE, opinion contributor to The Hill.

On war matters, where is Congress? Shirking its duty, by Jay Cost, National Review.


The Hill’s event: “Excelencia in Education: Latinos in College, Closing the Graduation Gap,” 8-10 a.m., at the Gallup Organization in Washington.Panelists include Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOvernight Energy: Dems release docs questioning Pruitt’s security | GOP pushes back on calls to investigate Pruitt | Pruitt’s chief takes responsibility for controversial raises Senate Dems request health panel hearing on school shootings 2020 Dems unify around assault weapons ban, putting pressure on colleagues MORE (D-Colo.), Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroBorder Patrol releases undocumented woman taking son to hospital Dems: Cambridge Analytica CEO misled Congress in testimony Lawmakers propose new Russia sanctions over UK spy attack MORE (D-Texas) and Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdGOP lawmaker says he has enough support to force immigration votes Proposal to use Pentagon funds for border wall is ill advised DCCC adds first black candidates to list of top candidates MORE (R-Texas).

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hears this morning from top officials from the State Department and the Pentagon about U.S. policy in Yemen.

The House begins legislative business at noon and takes up a slew of tax-related legislation.

President Trump and first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report: Michael Cohen’s big day in court Comey-Trump feud takes vicious turn Comey: ‘It’s possible’ that so-called pee tape is real MORE host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife today and Wednesday at Mar-a-Lago. The day includes two bilateral meetings, including discussion of the president’s planned summit with North Korea, and ends with a dinner.

Trump’s delegation: acting Secretary of State John Sullivan; White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE; U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE; National Security Council Director John Bolton; National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow; U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty; White House senior director for Asian affairs Matthew Pottinger; White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Vice President Pence will be at Mar-a-Lago with the president.


> A documentary about Sen. John McCain is in production at HBO, The Hill’s Judy Kurtz reports. McCain, a decorated Navy veteran, former prisoner of war in Vietnam, and GOP presidential nominee, is in stable condition after surgery Monday for an intestinal infection. He continues to be treated for brain cancer at home in Arizona. 

> The Supreme Court today returns to consider the collection of sales taxes on online purchases during oral arguments.

> An Arab force and funding in northeastern Syria to replace U.S. forces following the defeat of the Islamic state is a proposal recently pitched by the White House to Egypt, the Wall Street Journal reports.

> The U.S. and Britain on Monday issued a first-of-its-kind joint warning about Russian cyber attacks against government and private organizations, as well as individual homes and offices. The purpose: raise a joint alarm to encourage the public to assess vulnerabilities and take security steps.


There’s an old-fashioned newspaper war underway in Washington and New York City, and judges who announced Monday’s Pulitzer Prize winners said readers and multi-platform news consumers around the world are the better for it: Great reporting spawns other outstanding and impactful coverage. We couldn’t agree more

  • The New York Times and The New Yorker jointly won the Pulitzer for public service, for coverage of sexual abuse of women in Hollywood and other industries worldwide.
  • And the staffs of The Washington Post and The New York Times jointly won the Pulitzer for national reporting about contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russian officials. (See the list of winners here.) Prizes are $15,000 plus a certificate for most categories; a gold medal for public service journalism.)


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