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.
President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed Wednesday to resume military-to-military communications and cooperate on anti-drug policies, two tangible outcomes from their first face-to-face meeting in a year.
But after four hours together, including a garden walk on the outskirts of San Francisco, the leaders and their teams separately made clear that the meeting itself was the message: Two economic and military superpowers will keep talking about the issues that divide them. Two leaders agreed to pick up the phone to confer when necessary to clarify disputes.
Xi noted that for each nation, “turning their back on each other is not an option” (The Wall Street Journal).
Biden, during a news conference, used the word “progress” to describe a resumption of military-to-military communications. Beijing concurred that the U.S. and China will resume military contacts that China severed after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited Taiwan in August 2022.
Biden described as an achievement of the meeting a “new understanding” between the nations about tackling the problem of deadly fentanyl and curbing the manufacture and distribution of precursor Chinese chemicals used to make the deadly synthetic opioid for illegal sale.
ASKED IF HE TRUSTED XI on his willingness to regulate fentanyl chemicals, Biden responded, “trust and verify, as the old saying goes. That’s where I am. We’re in a competitive relationship. My responsibility is to make this rational and manageable so it doesn’t result in conflict. That’s what I’m all about.”
The president said he and his counterpart had been “blunt with one another,” and as he ended his news conference, Biden demonstrated what he meant. Asked by a reporter if he still views Xi as a dictator — a description that infuriates Beijing — the president did not hesitate before saying yes (The New York Times).
“Well, look, he is,” Biden said. “I mean, he’s a dictator in the sense that he’s a guy who runs a country that is a Communist country.”
The Hill: Biden explains why he still calls Xi a “dictator.”
According to Chinese state media and reported by the Times, Xi expressed frustration over U.S. investment and export controls, telling Biden they have “seriously damaged China’s legitimate interests.”
Biden was brief with reporters when questioned about how the two men discussed the touchy subject of Taiwan. He said he told Xi that the U.S. does not want China to interfere in any way in Taiwan’s affairs. Taiwan has a presidential election coming up in January. Beijing underscored that its concerns, especially regarding Taiwan, must be respected. “China has interests that must be safeguarded, principles that must be defended, and bottom lines that must be adhered to,” a statement said (South China Morning Post).
▪ The Hill: Biden cautioned Xi against any Chinese meddling in the U.S. election next year: “I made clear I didn’t expect any interference,” the president told reporters.
▪ The Hill: The U.S. and China announced a climate agreement Wednesday.
ON CAPITOL HILL, meanwhile, the Senate late on Wednesday approved a two-track House measure that would avert a shutdown by maintaining current levels of funding for parts of government through Jan. 19 and for other departments through Feb. 2. The temporary legislation goes to Biden’s desk and the White House says the president will sign it.
The bipartisan vote, which occurred with time to spare before a Friday midnight deadline, was 87-11, with 10 Republicans and one Democrat — Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) — voting in opposition. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had to negotiate with colleagues for several hours to get the House measure to the floor, gave the end result two thumbs up.
House and Senate lawmakers anticipate being out of Washington until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Completing appropriations measures for the fiscal year continues to be a hurdle for House conservatives. On Wednesday, they tanked a procedural vote on a pending appropriations measure, underscoring unresolved internal GOP discord over the government funding process (The Hill and The New York Times).
▪ The Hill: Additional U.S. aid to Ukraine is unresolved in Congress. “Never Ukraine” lawmakers, particularly in the House, remain intransigent.
▪ ABC News: The House Ethics Committee will not recommend any punishment for embattled New York Republican Rep. George Santos as part of its public report, which is expected to be released today or Friday following the panel’s investigation.
3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY:
▪ Veteran United Auto Workers members, more than younger union workers, are voting to reject a tentative contract at some GM factories. Final results from ballots cast at local chapters are expected within a week or two. A majority of workers must vote to ratify the proposed deal, which GM and union leaders have described as historic.
▪ The Hill’s Laura Kelly reported from Norway while examining NATO’s Arctic front line and eyeing Russia’s nuclear threat.
▪ Americans are walking less. The number of annual average daily walking trips dropped a whopping 36 percent in the contiguous U.S. between 2019 and 2022, per a new StreetLight Data report.
LEADING THE DAY
© The Associated Press / Mariam Zuhaib | Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who will not seek reelection next year, is pondering whether to run for president as an independent. He’s pictured in September in the Capitol.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) at 76 has embarked on what amounts to a presidential exploratory campaign. He wants to stop Trump from returning to the White House, believes Biden is not the optimal alternative, feels alienated from a progressive Democratic Party and views centrism as a cure for what ails the country, including its economically unsustainable debt.
Does Manchin — who opted to retire from the Senate rather than go up against a popular, Trump-favored Republican competitor next year — intend to vie for the presidency, perhaps on a No Labels unity ticket? That question is dangling. Leaving the Democratic Party is much on his mind. Read and predict:
“In rural America, in America in general, [people] voted for Donald Trump because Democrats were mad, independents were mad. They thought they’d been left behind. … They went from being mad to being scared in 2020. They were scared of this socialism that was thrown out there by a radical part of the so-called left. … That basically scared the bejesus out of people. … It is not who we are and it’s not what we’re about. … We’ve got to govern from that middle, that moderate middle.” — Manchin interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Nov. 8, 2020
“You’ve heard me say a million times that I’m not a Washington Democrat. … We could make a big, big splash and maybe bring the traditional parties, the Democratic and Republican Party, back to what they should be today. But they’ve gone off the Richter scale, both sides.” — MetroNews “Talkline” radio interview, Aug. 10.
“I think there’s plenty of time, plenty of time [to run for president in 2024]. And especially if there’s a movement in the middle, there’s not a primary. It’ll be basically in the general election process. … I’ve never been a spoiler in anything. … I compete the best I possibly can. I compete to win, okay. And I’m gonna work right now to try to win the middle back.” — CBS News interview, Nov. 14.
“I will do anything I can to help my country, and you’re saying, ‘Does that mean you would consider [a White House bid]?’ Absolutely!” — NBC “Meet the Press” interview, Nov. 15.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House holds a pro forma session at 9 a.m. Friday.
The Senate convenes a pro forma session Friday at 7:30 a.m.
The president is in San Francisco where he will begin his day with the President’s Daily Brief. Biden will address a CEO summit during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) at 10:45 a.m. PST at the Moscone Convention Center. Biden will host an APEC working lunch and informal discussion then speak at 3:30 p.m. PST to APEC participants at the convention center. He and first lady Jill Biden will host an APEC dinner held at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum.
Vice President Harris will deliver remarks during the APEC event, “Women’s Economic Participation in the Industries of the Future,” held at a San Francisco hotel. Harris will host an APEC Business Advisory Council meeting at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. The vice president and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will speak at a campaign reception this evening in Piedmont, Calif., then travel to their home in Los Angeles.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in San Francisco where his schedule follows the president’s itinerary.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is at APEC in San Francisco where she will join Biden for a forum discussion session and working lunch at midday.
The first lady will host a brunch at 11:30 a.m. PT for spouses of APEC leaders and forum participants at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Emhoff will attend. The first lady will join the president this evening for the APEC dinner they are hosting.
Economic indicator: The Labor Department at 8:30 a.m. will report on claims for unemployment benefits filed in the week ending Nov. 11.
🎤 The White House Historical Association hosts three guest speakers for a two-hour discussion, “Covering the White House in Real Time — from 24-Hour News to Social Media,” moderated by journalist and academic Frank Sesno at 5:30 p.m. at the White House Historical Association in Washington. Registration and information are HERE.
© The Associated Press / Holly Ramer | A marker outside the Statehouse in Concord, New Hampshire describes the history of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.
NEW HAMPSHIRE’S FIRST-IN-THE-NATION PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY will take place Jan. 23, although Biden won’t be on that ballot because his preference was to begin the Democratic primary season in South Carolina. The move means the Granite State will remain first on the primary calendar, but it faces punishment from the Democratic National Committee. The DNC could reduce New Hampshire delegates to the Democratic convention for defying its plan (NBC News).
ON THE DEMOCRATIC BALLOT? Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) is challenging Biden for the nomination and told WMUR he’s heartened by the welcome he’s received but believes the Democratic establishment is out to hobble his chances. New Hampshire Democrat Rep. Annie Kuster is leading the anti-Phillips charge, criticizing her Capitol Hill colleague and calling him a threat to the entire 2024 Democratic ticket.
“I’m here to be friendly. I’m here to listen, learn,” Phillips says. “I think whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, the problem in America is people are treating each other disrespectfully. I’d like to see a little bit better. That’s why I’m doing this.”
DOMESTIC POLITICAL PROBLEMS COULD DEEPEN FOR BIDEN because of his staunch support for Israel’s attacks on Hamas in Gaza and a war with thousands of Palestinian casualties. While The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in The Memo that the administration has adjusted its rhetoric, a new poll released Wednesday by NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist found an upsurge among Democrats who believe Israel’s response to the Hamas attack of Oct. 7 is excessive.
The poll found a clear majority of Democrats, 56 percent, asserting that Israel’s actions have been “too much.” That figure was almost 20 points higher than just one month ago, in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Biden has remained strongly supportive of Israel, though the administration has recently tempered its rhetoric to place more of an emphasis on the need to minimize civilian casualties.
▪ Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday partially walked back her proposed requirement that social media companies ban people from posting anonymously online for national security reasons, a stance for which she drew backlash across conservative social media and some of her GOP presidential rivals.
▪ New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy on Wednesday launched a Senate challenge to unseat embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). She joins Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) in the Democratic primary challenging the indicted senator, who has received widespread calls within his party to step down following federal allegations of bribery.
▪ GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a critic of Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, launched a new website, FireRonna.com, with a petition seeking public support to oust her.
▪ Trump’s team is trying to build on the GOP’s recent gains among Latinos with a strategy in Florida that’s aimed at voters of Cuban, Venezuelan and Colombian descent — that casts Trump as a victim of overzealous socialists.
▪ Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake “drove a stake” through the heart of McCain Republicans. Now she wants a meeting.
© The Associated Press / Hatem Ali | A Palestinian boy on Wednesday stood among the destruction after Israeli strikes on Rafah, Gaza Strip.
Biden said Wednesday that the endpoint of the Israel-Hamas conflict has to be a two-state solution encompassing a “real” Palestinian state existing alongside an Israeli one. Biden said he and his aides have been negotiating with Arab nations on next steps, but did not give any details. He and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have in recent days been publicly emphasizing the need for a two-state solution.
“I can tell you, I don’t think it ultimately ends until there’s a two-state solution,” Biden said at a news conference after his meeting with Xi.
While the establishment of a Palestinian state has long been a U.S. policy goal, no recent administration has succeeded in making any substantial headway on the issue. The president said he did not have a specific idea of when to tell Israel it should halt its war in Gaza, adding the fighting would end once Hamas could no longer do “horrific things” to Israelis (The New York Times).
Israeli President Isaac Herzog said today a “very strong force” may need to remain in Gaza for the near future to prevent Hamas from re-emerging after the war, but Biden warned that occupying Gaza would be “a big mistake” (Reuters).
U.S. officials have been saying in recent days that Hamas maintains a compound beneath Al-Shifa Hospital, which the Israeli military raided this week despite the presence of civilian patients and doctors. Israeli officials have said that the hospital sits atop a major hub of Hamas’s tunnel network, and that the terrorist group stockpiles weapons in the area.
Hamas agreed Wednesday to a tentative deal to release at least 50 women and children who are being held as hostages, pending approval by Israel. In exchange for the hostages, Israel would agree to a three-to-five-day pause “in place” in the fighting, increased humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the release of an unspecified number of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons. Amid reports that a pact, reported in general terms for days, might be near, U.S. officials and other interested parties spent much of Wednesday awaiting word from Israel (The Washington Post). Biden said he is “mildly hopeful” that hostages will be released.
“I have been deeply involved in moving on the hostage negotiation,” he said. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself here because I don’t know what’s happened in the last four hours.”
THE ISRAELI MILITARY SOLIDIFIED ITS HOLD on Gaza’s largest hospital Wednesday, after storming the complex overnight. In a video filmed at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, an Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, showed about 10 guns, ammunition, protective vests and Hamas military uniforms. The assertions made in the video could not be independently verified. Hamas, which has repeatedly denied using the hospital for military operations, issued a statement calling the Israeli claims “a fabricated story that no one would believe.”
Al Shifa Hospital has become central to Israel’s 40-day effort to wrest control of Gaza from Hamas. Israel maintains that Hamas built a military command center at the hospital, using its patients and staff as human shields. Gazan authorities said Wednesday that the Israelis were in control of the complex (The New York Times).
The Associated Press: Israel signals a wider offensive in Gaza’s south, where hundreds of thousands have fled.
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday passed a resolution calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and for urgent humanitarian pauses and corridors to be opened in besieged Gaza. The resolution, which was brought by Malta, passed after several unsuccessful votes on a resolution regarding the Israel-Hamas war last month. It ultimately passed on Wednesday with 12 members of the council supporting it. Russia, the United States and the U.K. abstained from the vote.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield blasted members for not adopting language that condemns Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack on Israel (The Hill).
“I’m horrified that a few members of this council still cannot bring themselves to condemn the barbaric terrorist attack,” she said. “What are they afraid of? What is stopping them from unequivocally condemning the actions of a terrorist organization that is determined to kill Jews?”
▪ Bloomberg News: The Defense Department is quietly sending Israel more ammunition and missiles.
▪ Reuters: The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that the Israeli military incursion into Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza was “totally unacceptable”.
▪ The Hill: The group National Students for Justice in Palestine, which has been around for decades, emerges in college debates about antisemitism and free speech.
TRUMP IS ASKING FOR A MISTRIAL in his New York civil fraud case, alleging the judge who will decide the case is biased against him. “This appearance of bias threatens both Defendants’ rights and the integrity of the judiciary as an institution,” Trump’s counsel wrote in the 30-page motion.
The motion cites Judge Arthur Engoron and his law clerk, who has been the subject of multiple complaints from Trump’s attorneys and the former president himself, resulting in a gag order from the judge, writes The Hill’s Ella Lee. As Trump and his counsel have repeatedly toed the line regarding their comments about the clerk, the judge’s frustration has increased — at one point, unexpectedly calling Trump to the witness stand to explain himself.
A spokesperson for the New York attorney general’s office said in a statement Trump is “once again” attempting to “dismiss the truth and the facts, but the numbers and evidence don’t lie.”
LEAKED VIDEOS. AN APPARENT CONFESSION, LATER REPRESENTED AS A “TYPO.” A lawyer representing a Georgia defendant in the election racketeering case in which Trump also is a defendant admitted Wednesday to leaking to the news media video of confidential interviews with four defendants. Prosecutors soon filed an emergency request for a protective order, which would place restrictions on how the defendants in the case can use materials in discovery. Lawyer Jonathan Miller’s admission capped a whirlwind series of developments that began Monday, when footage surfaced of proffer sessions the four defendants who pleaded guilty — ex-Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, plus former Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall — participated in as part of their deals with state prosecutors (The Hill).
“In being transparent with the court and to make sure that nobody else gets blamed for what happened — and so that I can go to sleep well tonight — Judge, I did release those videos to one outlet,” Miller said. “And in all candor, I need the court to know that.”
▪ The Hill: Fulton County, Ga., district attorney seeks to revoke bond for one of Trump’s Georgia co-defendants.
▪ Roll Call: Trump has asked a panel of judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to lift a partial gag order imposed by the federal judge in a case accusing him of crimes in his effort to overturn the 2020 election.
Hunter Biden on Wednesday asked a judge to subpoena Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr, former acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, arguing that the investigation into him was the direct result of “incessant, improper, and partisan pressure” from the former president and his allies (NBC News).
■ Trump’s love-hate relationship with the world is mostly hate, by Gail Collins, columnist, The New York Times.
■ Congressional Fight Club is not a thing we need! by Alexandra Petri, columnist, The Washington Post.
© The Associated Press / Ron Edmonds | Former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1986.
Take Our Morning Report Quiz
And finally … It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for this week’s Morning Report Quiz! Inspired by Biden’s meeting with Xi, we’re eager for some smart guesses about meetings held by U.S. presidents with foreign leaders.
Be sure to email your responses to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org — please add “Quiz” to your subject line. Winners who submit correct answers will enjoy some richly deserved newsletter fame on Friday.
What did former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin discuss during the Yalta Conference of 1945?
- The terms of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender
- The splitting of Berlin into four occupied zones
- The planned prosecution of Nazi war criminals
- All of the above
In 1985, former President Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time. Including that first meeting, how many times did they meet while each was in office?
Trump made headlines in 2018 for meeting which world leader in Singapore?
- Russian President Vladimir Putin
- North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un
- Then-President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro
- Syrian President Bashar al Assad
Former President John F. Kennedy traveled to West Berlin in 1963 after the erection of the Berlin Wall and famously declared “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Where did he hold his speech?
- At Rathaus Schöneburg
- At the Brandenburg Gate
- At the Alexanderplatz’s TV Tower
- At Checkpoint Charlie
We want to hear from you! Email: Alexis Simendinger (email@example.com) and Kristina Karisch (firstname.lastname@example.org). Follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter: (@asimendinger and @kristinakarisch) and suggest this newsletter to friends!
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.