Morning Report — Biden deplores campus ‘hate speech’

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Another turbulent week ends with a hallmark of American democracy: Everyone has a say, including critics, and everyone wants to influence voters on Election Day.

But there are limits.

President Biden, urged by allies and detractors to speak out about pro-Palestinian demonstrations coast-to-coast, used the White House on Thursday as his backdrop to blast protesters who use violence and vandalism to make their points at colleges and universities. If he’s worried about alienating young voters over policy in Gaza, Biden did not let it show in his stern prepared remarks, arguing it was not a time to play politics.

Protesters will not alter his support for Israel and condemnations of Hamas, he said, nor will he react by deploying the National Guard to disperse demonstrators who are otherwise being dealt with by university administrators and local police.

The Associated Press: Campus arrests during recent demonstrations are estimated at 2,200, involving at least 56 law enforcement incidents at 43 different U.S. colleges or universities since April 18.

“There should be no place on any campus, no place in America for antisemitism or threats of violence against Jewish students,” the president added (The Hill).

“There is no place for hate speech or violence of any kind, whether it’s antisemitism, Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab Americans or Palestinian Americans. It is simply wrong,” the president added.

Dissent is a fundamental right, he continued. Lawbreaking is not: “Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and graduation. None of this is a peaceful protest, threatening people, intimidating people.”

Biden may claim to dismiss the politics, but other Democrats believe that young voters could make the difference between the incumbent’s defeat and a second term, even if older voters are more reliable election participants. Progressives say the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza have become a galvanizing cause for young people. They expect their opinions to be heard well beyond commencements and removal of encampments.

“He will lose the election if he decides to roll the dice and assumes that Gaza isn’t at the top of minds right now,” Elise Joshi, the executive director at Gen-Z for Change, told The Hill’s Amie Parnes while discussing Biden.

“It takes steely confidence for a Democratic president to simply wave away that threat of losing young voters, wrote Washington Post columnist and author Philip Bump in November as part of detailed look at participation by young voters in past elections. “If you need gains at the margins, as Biden and other Democrats do, the mostly-Democratic-voting-when-they-vote young voter pool is the place to find them. If you can turn them out. This is the leverage that groups focused on youth engagement have over Democratic candidates,” he wrote.

After Biden’s remarks, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said through a spokesperson he will join Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress at a future date. Schumer — the highest-ranking Jewish official in U.S. history — has publicly called for an election in Israel to replace Netanyahu, who he said in a floor speech “lost his way” after Oct. 7 in the war against Hamas in Gaza.

Jewish Democrats in Congress bashed Johnson after he suggested wealthy donor George Soros is behind the pro-Palestinian protests convulsing colleges campuses. It’s a conservative narrative that has circulated with updates since last year (The Hill).

The Jerusalem Post: “Fringe and far-fetched” stories describe “Jews in a conspiratorial scheming light” and cast Soros as “Israel’s pawn in an attempt to either inflame inner conflicts or distract public discourse from the ongoing war in Gaza.”


▪ The Biden administration today announced a rule that expands ObamaCare to more than 800,000 Dreamers. Only Congress can provide Dreamers permanent status and a pathway to citizenship. Congress must act,” the president said in a statement.

▪ Look no further than differing farm bill proposals to see the fault lines between the two parties on U.S. agriculture. Congress has until the end of the fiscal year to close the gaps.

▪ One of the most rapid sea level surges is besieging the American South, forcing a reckoning for coastal communities across eight states.


International Gaza 050224 AP Hatem Ali

© The Associated Press / Hatem Ali | Rafah in southern Gaza, pictured Feb. 27, is at the center of continued efforts to secure a deal for a cease fire ahead of Israel’s threatened offensive against Hamas.


CEASE-FIRE TALKS: Hamas plans to send a delegation to Egypt “as soon as possible” to complete negotiations over a proposed cease-fire agreement with Israel, the group announced Thursday. Ismail Haniyeh, the chair of the group’s political bureau, said deliberations over a cease-fire were moving forward with a “positive spirit.”

The Washington Post reports the delegation could arrive as early as today if Hamas is willing to accept the terms of the proposed agreement, with a source saying Hamas is “asking for guarantees” from Egypt and the U.S. that Israel will adhere to a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, a demand they have been unable to secure over the past six months of war. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged Hamas to accept Israel’s recent cease-fire and hostage-release agreement proposal, while other U.S. officials warn that it may be the “last chance” to avoid more fighting in Gaza.

▪ NBC News: Rebuilding homes in the Gaza Strip could drag into the next century if the pace follows the trend of previous conflicts, according to a new United Nations report.

▪ CBS News: Netanyahu is determined to launch a ground offensive in Rafah. Here’s why, and why it matters.

▪ NPR: Turkey on Thursday suspended all imports and exports to Israel, citing the country’s ongoing military action in Gaza.

The U.S. has accused Russia of using chemical weapons, including poison gas, “as a method of warfare” against Ukrainian forces, in violation of a global ban on the use of such weapons. The State Department said in a Wednesday statement that Russia had used chloropicrin, a “choking agent” widely used during World War I, as well as tear gas. The use of these gases in warfare is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention, an arms-control treaty ratified by more than 150 countries, including Russia (The New York Times). The Kremlin responded Thursday, saying the accusations were “unfounded” and unsubstantiated (CNBC).

▪ Reuters: Russia said on Thursday it saw no point in a conference being planned by Switzerland in mid-June to discuss how to end the Ukraine conflict. Moscow is not currently invited.

▪ The Wall Street Journal: The Pentagon is shifting jet fighters, armed drones and other aircraft to Qatar, repositioning its forces to get around restrictions on conducting airstrikes from an air base in the United Arab Emirates.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met Thursday in Hawaii with his counterparts from Australia, Japan and the Philippines as the U.S. deepens ties with an emerging regional group that officials have privately nicknamed the “Squad.” The group is one of several of regional partnerships that Washington has used to push back against China’s assertiveness in Asia (Time magazine).


The House will meet at noon on Monday.

The Senate will convene at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 12:30 p.m. Biden will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom at 4:30 p.m. in the East Room to individuals who have made “exemplary contributions to the country.” The president and first lady Jill Biden this evening will depart for Wilmington, Del.

Vice President Harris will join Biden for the President’s Daily Brief this afternoon and participate in the Presidential Medal of Freedom event.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be in Sedona, Ariz., at the Sedona Forum to deliver the keynote discussion about global challenges with Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) at 7:50 p.m. MST.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also will address the Sedona Forum in Sedona, Ariz. Following her remarks, she will join Arizona State University President Michael Crow for a conversation during the forum.

Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will release the employment report for April (The Wall Street Journal preview HERE).

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.


More in Politics SCOTUS 110416 AP Carolyn Kaster

© The Associated Press / Carolyn Kaster | The Supreme Court in 2015.


DEMOCRATS ARE SOUNDING THE ALARM over what they see as conservative justices and judges tipping the scales in favor of Trump in two federal cases, which accuse the former president of attempting to subvert the 2020 election and obstructing justice related to his handling of classified documents. The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports some Democratic senators suggest conservative justices on the Supreme Court are playing politics by slow-walking special counsel Jack Smith’s Jan. 6, 2021, case so that there’s no chance of it reaching a verdict before Election Day.

And they are perplexed that Judge Aileen Cannon has let Smith’s Florida classified documents case get bogged down in a complex and arcane legal argument over the Presidential Records Act.

“We know that the Trump team’s [strategy] for any of these indictments is to delay everything. They seem to be succeeding in that regard,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) observed, adding that she’s “not happy” the cases against Trump appear to have completely stalled before the election. “I think too many of Trump’s appointments, nominees — including by the way the Supreme Court — they have an ideological agenda and that is not what we expect of our judges. What I expect of judges is fair, impartial rendering of decisions based on facts and precedent. That is not what’s happening with either the Supreme Court [or] a judge like Aileen Cannon.”


Veepstakes: Trump suggested his timeline to announce his VP pick will be close to the July 15-18 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. “Probably not too much before the convention,” he told FOX 6 Milwaukee during a campaign stop in Wisconsin. Trump announced his selection of Pence as his running mate a week before the 2016 convention.

▪ Trump is holding a Palm Beach “spring donor retreat” today through the weekend with VIP guests, including the Speaker. 

▪ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is not predicting a Senate red wave come November.

▪ Here’s why Biden’s Pennsylvania allies doubt the government’s pause on natural gas exports is by itself a drag on his reelection chances in a key swing state.

▪ Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) used an executive order Thursday to flout Education Department revisions to Title IX, which remove rules put in effect under the Trump administration. The Biden administration’s aim is to protect LGBTQ+ rights. “If President Biden threatens our state with loss of educational funding because we refuse to go along with his election year pandering, Arkansas will take the federal government to court,” said the governor, a former Trump White House press secretary who endorsed her former boss for president this year.

▪ Most battleground states are experiencing inflation below the national average, according to an analysis of regional consumer price index data by The Hill. Here’s how that might matter on Election Day.

Trend watching: Education as an issue tumbled down a decades-long ranking of most-important concerns among Latinos, according to the 2023 UnidosUS survey of the Hispanic electorate. The economy now dominates among concerns: inflation, jobs, affordable housing, health care and gun violence. Immigration and border issues, then education and public schools follow.


Trump World Trump 050224 AFP Charly Triballeau

© The Associated Press / Charly Triballeau | Former President Trump at the Manhattan courthouse Thursday on the 10th day of his criminal hush money trial.


TRUMP’S HUSH-MONEY TRIAL took a detour Thursday into a graveyard of celebrity scandals, exhumed by the former president’s attorney as he attempted to diminish the credibility of Keith Davidson, a lawyer who represented two women paid hush money during Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump is standing trial on 34 counts of falsifying business records over how he allegedly reimbursed his ex-fixer for making the payment. The former president pleaded not guilty and denies an affair (The Hill).

One of the most vivid pieces of evidence presented Thursday was a 2016 text message sent by Davidson to Dylan Howard, who was then the top editor at the tabloid the National Enquirer.

“What have we done?” Davidson asked Howard as the results came in on election night. Howard’s reply was, “Oh my god.”

The Hill’s Niall Stanage has the key takeaways from Day 10 of the trial.

Meanwhile, Trump faced a second gag order hearing to discuss social media posts made that prosecutors allege violate Justice Juan Merchan’s gag order. Earlier in the week, Merchan had fined Trump $9,000 for a separate batch of posts. He did not immediately issue a ruling after Thursday’s hearing. In remarks to reporters outside of the courtroom, Trump called the gag order “unconstitutional” and said his lawyers are working to appeal it. He also appeared to say that he wasn’t allowed to testify in the case because of the gag order (NBC News).

“I’m not allowed, as a presidential candidate — the leading candidate, the Republican Party nominee, and the one who’s leading Biden by a lot — I’m not allowed to talk,” Trump said.

USA Today: Freezing temps and colorful characters: Trump’s hush money trial from the inside.


■ Gen Z is frustrated, and it’s not for nothing, by Jonathan Levin, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion.

■ Biden finally breaks his silence on the campus riots — but he’s still hedging his bets, by Liz Peek, opinion contributor, The Hill.


Quiz Biden vs. Palin 100308 Reuters Rick Wilking

© The Associated Press / Rick Wilking | Then-Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-Del.) vice presidential debate against then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) in 2008 attracted more than 69.9 million viewers.

And finally … 👏👏👏 Congratulations to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! No debating The Hill’s savvy puzzlers who recalled some presidential debate trivia.

Here’s who went 4/4: Stan Wasser, Lynn Gardner, Richard E. Baznik, Linda L. Field, Harry Strulovici, Carmine Petracca, Pam Manges, Jaina Mehta Buck, Mike Hess, Randall S. Patrick, Chuck Schoenenberger, Phil Kirstein and Terry Pflaumer.

They knew the first televised debate between two presidential candidates was John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon in 1960.

The 2008 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin was an exception to the assumption that TV audiences are small for VP candidates in comparison to faceoffs between presidential nominees.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debated in 1858 for a Senate seat in Illinois, in the process setting a marker for later presidential debates.

Having supplied 16 hosts for debates, PBS claims the largest number of moderators in history during faceoffs involving presidential and vice-presidential contenders.

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