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The Daily 202: How Tim Ryan decided to challenge his mentor, Nancy Pelosi, for Democratic leader

Tim Ryan, the Ohio congressman challenging Nancy Pelosi, campaigned intensely for Hillary Clinton in his Rust Belt district. “He will gut you and he will walk over your cold dead body and he won’t even flinch,” Ryan said of Donald Trump at an event last month. “He’ll climb over your cold dead body and get on his helicopter. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but that’s what’s at stake." Many of his constituents voted for the Republican anyway. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

with Breanne Deppisch


NILES, Ohio—Challenging Nancy Pelosi’s dominance of the House Democratic caucus is exceptionally difficult. But, for her onetime protégé Tim Ryan, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Ryan just won an eighth term, but Trump cleaned up around here. A Republican had not carried Trumbull County, where the congressman lives, since Richard Nixon in 1972. Just four years ago, Barack Obama won it by 23 points. Donald Trump prevailed by seven points.

“That changed my entire world view,” Ryan said of the 30-point swing. “That rocked me. As I saw the blue fire wall collapse, I was like: I need to step up. … I need to be a bigger voice in the party.”

The 43-year-old made the comment during a nearly hour-long interview Saturday evening at the Starbucks near his house, where he and his wife have three kids and two dogs. He arrived in a silver Chevy Suburban, unaccompanied by staff. He was 10 minutes late because he had been on the phone with Kathleen Rice, a freshman from New York. She had just agreed to publicly support his bid. Ryan wore white tennis shoes, jeans and a fleece with the logo of the United Auto Workers.

-- He spoke candidly about how hard it is to ramp up for a leadership battle. “Where are the phone numbers? That’s literally where we started,” Ryan said. “We had to piece a list together, which was interesting. I’ve finally got ‘em!”

Now comes the hard part: Getting nearly 200 House Democrats on the phone and convincing at least half to turn on the powerful Pelosi, who has a lot of chits to call in from the 14 years she’s been in charge. Ryan has until next Wednesday, Nov. 30. “It’s a really big vote,” he said he’s telling each of them in his pitch. “Two hundred Democrats can determine whether we go in a new direction or stick with the status quo.”

-- History is not on his side. The last time a top House party leader went down in a contested election was 1964, when Gerald Ford beat Charlie Halleck to become the Republican minority leader.

-- Since coming to Congress in 2003, Ryan has earned a reputation in Ohio as a rising star who always gets cold feet. Over the past decade, he’s considered bids for Senate, governor and lieutenant governor before opting to keep his safe House seat. That’s why the conventional wisdom – wrong so often in 2016 – was that he would not go through with a frontal challenge to the 76-year-old Pelosi.

But the shellacking Democrats took here in the Mahoning Valley, the epicenter of the Rust Belt, was just that bad. At the very least, Ryan wanted to spark a conversation. “Initially, I didn’t think of myself to run but thought we need a change in the spot,” he explained. “Trump is president of the United States. We can’t blame our voters. We clearly did something terribly wrong.”

“If we don’t have Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, we can’t win elections,” Ryan lamented. “That is an unsustainable model. He can’t run again, so it’s not even like we can say, well, every four years we’ll win.”

“Then it started to sink in more and more,” he continued. “The Clintons are going to be gone, the Obamas are going to be gone, Harry Reid is gone and there’s no one at the DNC. I saw the minority leader position, and I thought, after what just happened, I can’t see how our current leadership could come into any of these states and advocate for a candidate we would need.”

Ryan insists that he never had any ambition for this job. “You can talk to anybody who has talked to me in the last 14 years, and it never came out of my mouth that I wanted to run for leader,” Ryan said. “If I had, I would have beefed up my leadership PAC and given more money!”

Ryan has friends, but he admits that there are a number of lawmakers who he does not know very well and never previously tried to befriend. “Because it wasn’t my thing,” he explained. “We’re getting a good response though. There’s a lot of openness to change. More so than many would expect.”

Now he’s got a folded copy of his whip list and a call sheet in his pocket. “I’m just banging away on the phone,” he said, as he took a sip of a medium coffee with two shots of espresso poured in for an extra kick.

-- Pelosi has already declared victory. The San Francisco congresswoman said at a press conference last Thursday that she already has commitments from two-thirds of the caucus. Many major interest groups have lined up to publicly express support.

Ryan believes that the secret ballot works to his advantage, and he expects to get votes from members who Pelosi sees as solid allies. “I think she had two-thirds before somebody announced,” Ryan said. “A lot of people will be reconsidering now that there’s actually a race. I can already tell from the phone calls. A lot of people say, ‘This is great. We’re going to be with you. Just don’t mention my name.’ Everyone knows that happens. That’s just the nature of the game.”

That cuts both ways, however. As anyone who has ever been involved in a leadership battle will readily tell you, many members of Congress are two-timers. They’ll tell both Pelosi and Ryan that they’re voting for them. Only the member will know the truth.

-- Ryan describes Pelosi as a mentor and goes out of his way to stress that he doesn’t take her on lightly. She’s the only leader he’s ever known in the House. He got elected and she succeeded Dick Gephardt at the same time. When he arrived, she hooked him up with a slot on the House Democratic Steering Committee, which he parlayed into a very valuable seat on Appropriations.

“I love her,” Ryan told me. “I was a foot soldier for her. I’m not a Steny (Hoyer) guy. I’m a Nancy guy. So this is not like some vendetta where, ‘We’re going to plant Tim to put a chink in her armor and then have Steny come after her.’”

But Tim hastens to add that he cannot let his personal affinity for “Nancy” blind him to the plight of the party. Democrats have more than 60 fewer seats than they did in 2010, and the party has controlled the House for just four of the past 22 years – despite holding the White House for 14 of them.

-- Ryan has been in a somewhat similar position before. In 2002, he wound up running for Congress against his former boss. Raised by a single mother, he was the star quarterback at John F. Kennedy High School, a big Catholic school. He was recruited to play at Youngstown State University, but an injury soon ended his athletic career.

He expected to become a social studies teacher until he spent a summer on the Hill as an intern. After graduation, he took a full-time job on the staff of Jim Traficant. Jimbo, as everyone called him, had played QB for Pitt (Mike Ditka was a teammate) and loved football players. Two years later, Ryan went to law school. Almost immediately after finishing, at 26, he won a state Senate seat.

Two years after that, in 2002, Traficant was charged with 10 felony counts, including tax evasion, bribery and racketeering. Ryan joined a crowded field to replace him. Jimbo wound up being convicted and was the first member to be expelled from the chamber since the Abscam scandal. But he insisted on running again, from prison. Ryan won the Democratic primary, but Traficant got about 28,000 votes – or 15 percent – that fall as an independent. After Traficant got out of the clink, he challenged Ryan again in 2010 and garnered 16 percent.

Ryan believes Democrats doomed themselves when they began slicing and dicing the electorate into ever-smaller constituencies to tailor their message. “The problem is they talk to people in segments,” he said. “Here’s our LGBT community. Here’s our labor guy. That doesn’t work. You stop becoming a national party. That’s what happened in this election. … You’ve got to have a message that works no matter what day it is, no matter what room you’re talking to. … Gay people and brown people and black people and white people all want opportunity, jobs, wages, secure pensions, you know the routine.”

Asked to give an example, he spoke of the party’s emphasis for months on the GOP refusal to appropriate money to combat the Zika virus. “It’s very important, but that’s not a national message,” Ryan complained. “That’s in New Orleans and South Florida. People here say, ‘I’ve never been to South Florida.’ That could be Venezuela to them. Or the North Pole!”

-- Ryan proposes some significant reforms to the way the House operates. “I’m talking Democratic Party 2.0,” he said. “Let’s start all over again at the DCCC. Start fresh.”

  1. He promises “more of a bottom-up approach,” shifting power from staffers in leadership offices to committee chairmen. “Tip O’Neill was a strong Speaker, and Dan Rostenkowski was a strong chairman. They’re not mutually exclusive,” Ryan explains.
  2. He’d break up the steering committee to create a new policy office that would function as “an idea factory” and a strategic messaging shop (akin to what Senate Democrats have).
  3. He’d elevate 15 members and make them spokespeople for the party: “Get them on TV as ‘issue ambassadors.’ Make them stars. Make them famous. So later when people want to do a fundraiser, then they’ll say, ‘I want Hakeem Jeffries. I see him on TV all the time. He’s so great.’”
  4. He also wants give vulnerable incumbents a seat at the table: “Too often we have people who just have really high Democratic index scores making the decisions, but it’s the 30 or 40 people that are really busting their rear ends every two years that should be able to say, ‘No, don’t do that! That’s going to kill me.’"
  5. He would create a position in leadership for someone who has been in the House less than three terms.

-- But Ryan ducks when asked whether he’d keep seniority in place for committee chairs. “This is not something I’ve given a ton of thought to,” he professes implausibly. Why is he coy? The Congressional Black Caucus is an area of significant weakness for Pelosi, which makes its members top targets for Ryan, but many have been around for decades and would not support him if he endorsed such a reform.

-- One misnomer in much of the coverage about Ryan over the last few days is that he’s a “moderate.” He calls himself a proud progressive and resents comparisons to Heath Shuler, a Blue Dog from North Carolina who ran against Pelosi after the Democratic losses in the 2010 midterms. (She crushed him 150 to 43.)

To be sure, Ryan was pro-life until just last year – when he announced that he had changed his mind and decided to embrace abortion rights. “I have come to believe that we must trust women and families – not politicians – to make the best decisions for their lives,” the devout Catholic wrote in a carefully-worded op-ed.

But Ryan is no squish. He’s even a little crunchy. After the 2008 election, Ryan signed up for a retreat on mindfulness and became such an obsessed devotee of meditation that he wrote a book about it. He told me that he still blocks out time to meditate every day. “I’m actually doing it a little more in the last week,” he said. “Over the last week, there’s been longer sessions. It keeps me sane. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me in the zone.” Ryan wrote another book about green eating in 2014, called “The Real Food Revolution."

-- Reassuring liberals who worry he might compromise too much with the new president, Ryan declares: “(Trump) will be in a Youngstown street fight if he tries to defund Planned Parenthood, throw people off of the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare or cut taxes for the wealthy. If he’s going to help jobs, infrastructure, let’s talk. It better be big, bold and pro-union. But that’s something we could work on.” He added that he would never agree to meet with Stephen Bannon if he wins: “He will not be welcome in my leader’s office. Because of his baggage. We don’t operate that way.”

Ryan added that he has a “very friendly” rapport with Speaker Paul Ryan because they work out together in the gym at the same time in the mornings. Come to think of it, having two guys named Ryan running the House could be a little confusing…

-- One of the knocks on him is that he’s not very good at fundraising. Pelosi raised $35 million for Democratic candidates and committee in just the last three months before the election. Ryan has never raised more than $1.4 million in a two-year cycle. “They said the same thing about Paul Ryan versus John Boehner, and I think he’s surpassing Boehner,” Ryan rebutted. When I did my book tours, they were in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, New York and Miami. I can go to those places and it’s not like I walk in with a lunch bucket and a hard hart with a flashlight hooked to my forehead. I shower and put a tie on. … I know how to function in that environment. Any politician worth his salt -- or her salt -- can go drink a beer in a union hall and go do a fundraiser in Napa Valley.”

-- But, but, but: Is Ryan playing another angle? The odds are good that he will lose next week. Assuming that happens, Pelosi would be well within her rights to retaliate against and marginalize him. That’s what leaders get to do to the vanquished. It’s also imperative in order to deter future insurgencies.

The political class in the Buckeye State thinks Ryan might be trying to get some distance from the national party and build up his name ID so that he can run for governor of Ohio in 2018. If he doesn’t, the Democratic favorite in the race to succeed John Kasich would be Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general who ran the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for Obama.

“No idea,” Ryan said twice when I pressed on whether he will run for governor if his coup attempt fails. “People are calling me to do it.”

-- And while Ryan may not have previously planned to run for minority leader, he is undoubtedly ambitious. Just last month, he mused to his hometown paper about the possibility of getting a cabinet position in Hillary Clinton’s administration. “I would like them all,” he told The Youngstown Vindicator. “I love the education stuff. I love the transportation stuff. I love the workforce development stuff that would come through the Department of Labor. The ag stuff too.”

-- As he mulls spending Thanksgiving on the phone with Democrats across the country, instead of watching football with his family, he freely acknowledges that he’s a longshot against Pelosi. “I’m not a glory days kind of guy. I don’t tell old war stories,” Ryan said. “But when I was in high school, my coach put on the plaque that he gave me at the end of senior year that I was great under pressure and most of my wins were come from behind. I love having the ball with two minutes left, down a touchdown. That’s when I’m right in the zone. … I’m a Catholic and a quarterback. Those are the two things that really shape my life. I’d much rather be the underdog than the favorite any day of the week.”

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck).

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-- Three policemen were shot in targeted, ambush-style attacks in a single 12-hour period. A fourth officer was shot in a suburb of Kansas City, though the circumstances are not clear at this hour. From Katie Mettler:

  • The first and only fatal shooting took place in San Antonio outside police headquarters. The officer was writing a ticket when the shooter pulled up behind him, got out of his car and fired. (Max Ehrenfreund)
  • In St. Louis, a 46-year-old officer was shot twice in the face while sitting in traffic. He is in critical condition but expected to survive. The suspect was tracked by undercover officers and killed in a shootout with police early Monday morning.
  • The third ambush-style shooting occurred in the coastal Florida town of Sanibel. Like the attack in San Antonio, the Florida officer was sitting in his car after a routine traffic stop when a drive-by shooter opened fire. Officials say that suspect was arrested after a police shootout.


-- Pope Francis said he will allow all Catholic priests to forgive the “grave sin” of abortion, indefinitely extending special permissions he had granted for a just-ended Holy Year of Mercy. “There is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father,” he says in a letter that went out this morning. (AP)

-- The Catholic Church also apologized for its role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, acknowledging the part that its clergy played in planning and executing the massacre of more than 800,000 people. The statement could help with reconciliation. There have been absolutely sickening reports that victims died at the hands of Catholic priests and nuns or in the churches where they had sought refuge. (AP)


  1. Law enforcement and protesters clashed at the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline, after hundreds of demonstrators reportedly attempted to push past a blockaded bridge on a state highway. Officials appeared to fire water cannons and tear gas at the group in sub-freezing temperatures. (AP)
  2. Two teenagers were charged in the murder of Illinois Rep. Danny Davis's 15-year-old grandson over a pair of gym shoes. Authorities ordered the teens, a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl, held without bail, and said the two will be tried as adults. (Chicago Tribune)
  3. The federal indictment against ex-Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Illinois) accused him of pocketing thousands of dollars from constituents by arranging expensive D.C. meet-and-greets. One attendee said he paid a $785 “Fly-in Conference Fee” to Schock’s office. Prosecutors allege that this money went into the account of a front company, and then the congressman took it for himself. (AP)
  4. Syrian airstrikes pounded eastern Aleppo for the sixth straight day, bringing the death toll to nearly 300 and leaving the city without a single hospital operating at full capacity. Rescuers say the bombing is the most intense it has been since the war began nearly five years ago. (CNN)
  5. A suicide bomber blew himself up during a ceremony at a Shiite mosque in Kabul, killing at least 27 and leaving more than 30 injured. The bombing comes as the latest in a disturbing series of attacks on Shiites in Afghanistan, several of which have been claimed by Islamic State militants. (Pamela Constable and Paul Schemm)

  6. A passenger train derailed in northern India, killing at least 115 and leaving more than 150 injured. Officials said it is unclear what caused the derailment, though accidents are not uncommon on the country’s sprawling – but poorly maintained – rail line. (AP)
  7. A Chicago performance of “Hamilton” was disrupted last night by an audience member who began shouting profanities and pro-Trump statements after the cast sang the line “Immigrants / We get the job done.” He was escorted out and charged with disturbing the peace after carrying on for several songs. (Travis M. Andrews)
  8. A Muslim self-defense instructor in Chicago has launched a “hate crime survival seminar” since the election, teaching women a set of moves to defend themselves when someone tries to pull on their hijab. (Samantha Schmidt)
  9. South Korean prosecutors formally accused President Park Geun-hye of aiding her longtime friend and “shadow president” in an extortion case. The accusations make Park the only South Korean president to face a criminal investigation while in office and have prompted mass protests of thousands calling for her resignation. (Wall Street Journal)
  10.  French ex-president France Sarkozy said he is stepping back from politics after being defeated in the first round of primary voting on Sunday. He threw his weight behind Francois Fillon, a moderate who finished first in Sunday's first round. (BBC)
  11. German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she will seek a fourth term in office, saying she hopes to promote politics without “hate" while playing down her ability to be a single stabilizing global force in a wave of resurgent nationalism. (Anthony Faiola and Stephanie Kirchner)
  12. Haiti held its presidential election on Sunday, with voters choosing from a list of 27 candidates after being led by a provisional government for nearly a year. The top two finishers will face off in a runoff election in January. (AP)
  13. A Texas middle school teacher who was impregnated by a 13-year-old student could face up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child. (Kristine Guerra and Kate Mettler)


-- Trump’s wife Melania and their 10-year-old son Barron will not immediately move into the White House with him after inauguration in January. The New York Post said the two will remain in New York City for at least another six months, so that Barron can finish out the school year at his Upper West Side private school and “keep disruption to a minimum.” When asked about the family’s relocation plans post-inauguration, Trump (who is 70) told reporters yesterday that he would immediately settle into the executive mansion and that Mrs. Trump and his youngest son, a fourth grader at a Manhattan prep school, would move “very soon. After he’s finished with school." Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller confirmed that there was “obviously a sensitivity to pulling out a 10-year-old in the middle of the school year.” (Helena Andrews-Dyer)

-- “The nearly invisible president-elect: Trump’s work keeps him mostly out of view,” by Philip Rucker: “When [Obama] announced his nominee for attorney general eight years ago, he introduced Eric Holder Jr. at a news conference with extensive remarks about his qualifications and then handed the podium over to Holder to outline his vision for the Justice Department. When [Trump] announced his nominee for attorney general on Friday, he introduced Sen. Jeff Sessions to the nation with a four-sentence quote delivered to the press corps via email. ... Trump’s absence from the limelight has been notable considering his well-known thirst for public attention and love of stagecraft. After a campaign in which he fed off the energy of his boisterous crowds, Trump for nearly two weeks now has avoided much interaction with his future constituents. He has given no remarks nor made symbolic appearances designed to offer reassurance to the 53 percent of Americans who voted against him. …  That approach ... not only deprives the media and history of photos and video of the moments but also leaves it to journalists to introduce the nominees to the nation."

-- “A scramble to assess the dangers of Trump’s global business empire,” by Drew Harwell and Anu Narayanswamy: “Turkey is a nation in crisis, scarred by government crackdowns following a failed coup attempt and on a potential collision course with the West. It is also home to a valuable revenue stream for the president-elect’s business empire: Trump Towers Istanbul. That, ethics advisers said, forces the Trump complex into an unprecedented nexus: as both a potential channel for dealmakers seeking to curry favor with the Trump White House and a potential target for attacks or security risks overseas. But the ethics experts eyeing Trump’s empire are now warning of many others, found among a vast assortment of foreign business interests never before seen in past presidencies. At least 111 Trump companies have done business in 18 countries and territories across South America, Asia and the Middle East … from sprawling, ultraluxury real estate complexes to one-man holding companies and branding deals in Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Panama and other countries, including some where the United States maintains sensitive diplomatic ties."

Key quote former White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter: “If we’ve got to talk to a foreign government about their behavior, or negotiate a treaty, or some country asks us to send our troops in to defend someone else, we’ve got to make a decision. And the question becomes: Are we going in out of our national interest, or because there’s a Trump casino around?


-- Trump and Mike Pence held back-to-back meetings with a dozen people yesterday, including Chris Christie. Rudy Giuliani and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Others who got face time: Ari Emanuel, Peter Kasinow, Wilbur Ross, Robert Johnson, David McCormick, T.W. Shannon, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and retired Gen. John Kelly. The Trump transition press team sent a readout of each of these meetings at 10:17 p.m. All the sessions were described as substantive, great, productive, in-depth or frank. These buzzwords, of course, mean little. 

-- Trump spokesman Jason Miller says “there definitely is a possibility” that more Cabinet announcements could be made today.

-- From a pool report: At 5:55 p.m., in response to a shouted question about Saturday Night Live, Trump said: “Not much of a show.” He was then asked whether people should boycott “Hamilton.” He said: “It's OK by me.”

-- Is Christie back on the inside? “He was in. And then he was out. And now, he’s — well, it’s hard to tell exactly where the New Jersey governor stands in the intrigue-filled orbit of those who surround the president-elect of the United States,” Karen Tumulty and Robert Costa write. "Nine days after he was abruptly ousted as the head of Trump’s presidential transition, Christie showed up to meet with Trump ... While Trump refrained from saying whether there would be a place for Christie in his administration, he declared the New Jersey governor 'a very talented' man, who is also 'really smart and tough.' What is clear is that Christie has become an object lesson of the perils that face those who try to navigate [Trump’s] world, a place where loyalty is demanded, but not always one where it is returned in kind. ... 'The way it runs, which isn’t in Trump’s interest, is like court politics for some potentate in the 17th century,' said Republican consultant Mike Murphy. 'It’s a snake pit where people die. But even when people die, they can get resurrected when there’s a vacuum.'"

On CBS' "Face the Nation," Vice President-elect Mike Pence said President-elect Donald Trump was grateful to meet with Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) on Nov.20 and that Romney is under "active and serious consideration" to serve as Secretary of State. (Video: Reuters)

-- Pence said Mitt Romney is under “active and serious consideration” to be secretary of state. “I would tell you that it was not only a cordial meeting but also it was a very substantive meeting,” the vice-president elect said on “Face the Nation.” It is still an open question whether Romney, a once-vocal Trump opponent, would be willing to serve in his administration. (Sari Horwitz)

General James Mattis has been confirmed as secretary of defense (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

-- Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis emerged as a leading contender for Defense secretary. Trump, who met Saturday with Mattis, called him “the real deal” and a “brilliant, wonderful man.” In a tweet early Sunday, Trump said: “General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!” 

-- Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane told NPR he had been offered the position but declined, citing personal reasons surrounding the recent death of his wife. (He also did a Q&A with The Cipher Brief.)

-- To lead the Treasury department, Trump is choosing between investment banker Steven Mnuchin or Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, according to the Wall Street Journal's Michael C. Bender and Nick Timiraos. Aides add that Trump is still drawn to the idea of appointing J.P. Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon.

-- Trump's current economic team splits neatly into two major groups over a fundamental question: Would the economy benefit most from more carrots or more sticks? Nick explains more: “One group … largely rejects mainstream economic thinking on trade and believes eliminating trade deficits should be an overarching goal of U.S. policy. That camp views sticks—tariffs on U.S. trading partners and taxes on companies that move jobs abroad—as critical tools to reverse a 15-year slide in incomes for middle-class Americans. The opposing camp is closer to the traditional GOP center of gravity on taxes and regulation and includes many policy veterans staffing the transition team … Those advisers have long championed supply-side economics and reject the hard-line position on trade that one side’s gain must come at the other’s expense. By offering more carrots—slashing red tape and taxes to make the U.S. the top destination for businesses—they say stronger growth would obviate any need for trade protectionism. Personnel decisions over coming weeks will reveal which side prevails.”

-- Todd Ricketts, part of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, also appears slated for a senior administration job after meeting Saturday with Trump. There is buzz about maybe Commerce. In a statement, Trump transition officials said: “A constructive conversation occurred with Mr. Todd Ricketts. It involved domestic commerce, ingenuity and growth for our country. Discussions on tax reform regulations and entrepreneurial initiatives were also included.” (Chicago Sun Times)

-- Bob Woodson, who heads the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise in Washington and advises Paul Ryan on poverty issues, said he is being considered for the Department of Housing and Urban Development post. “If selected, Woodson, who is black, would add diversity to Trump’s team,” Robert Costa reports. “And he would be responsible for leading education and social reforms in predominantly African American areas, which Trump repeatedly described during the campaign as ‘failed’ and vowed to repair.” Woodson said Trump’s team appeared to be “very serious” about the potential appointment, and they met in person on Saturday.

At the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday, Nov. 19., Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "I don't give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do. We will not waterboard." (Video: Halifax International Security Forum)


-- Pence declined to rule out the possibility of Trump reinstating waterboarding as an interrogation technique: "We're going to have a president again who will never say what we'll never do," Pence said on CBS. "What I can tell you is that going forward, as he outlined in that famous speech in Ohio, is that a President Donald Trump is going to focus on confronting and defeating radical Islamic terrorism as a threat to this country.”

The comment came after John McCain drew a red line during a security forum, promising to challenge waterboarding in court if it happens: “I don’t give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do,” the former POW said. “We will not torture. My God, what does it say about America if we’re going to inflict torture on people?” (Amy B Wang)

-- Chuck Schumer cited infrastructure, trade and closing the “carried interest” tax loophole as areas where Democrats could work with Trump, saying that while they will not unilaterally oppose his legislation, neither will Democrats compromise “for the sake of working with him.” “Surprisingly, on certain issues, candidate Trump voiced very progressive and populist opinions,” the incoming Senate Minority Leader said on Meet the Press. “I hope on the promises he's made to blue collar America on trade, on carried interest, on infrastructure, that he'll stick with them and work with us, even if it means breaking with the Republicans who have always opposed these things." (Politico)

-- Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Trump's team is "not ruling out" a potential Muslim registry: "Look I'm not going to rule out anything," the current RNC chairman said on Meet the Press. "We're not going to have a registry based on a religion. But what I think what we're trying to do is say that there are some people, certainly not all people... there are some people that are radicalized. And there are some people that have to be prevented from coming into this country." Reince also defended Trump’s appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, dismissing claims that the Alabama senator is racist as “very political, very unfair."


-- “For the ‘new yellow journalists,’ opportunity comes in clicks and bucks,” by Terrence McCoy: “Fewer than 2,000 readers are on his website when Paris Wade, 26, awakens from a nap [and] reaches for his laptop. Ten minutes and nearly 200 words later, he is done with a story that is all opinion, innuendo and rumor. Six months ago, Wade and his business partner, Ben Goldman, were unemployed restaurant workers. Now they’re at the helm of a website that gained 300,000 Facebook followers in October alone and say they are making so much money that they feel uncomfortable talking about it because they don’t want people to start asking for loans.” At a time of continuing discussion over the role that hyperpartisan websites, fake news and social media play … LibertyWritersNews illustrates how websites can use Facebook to tap into a surging ideology, quickly go from nothing to influencing millions of people and make big profits in the process. ‘We’re the new yellow journalists,’ Wade says. ‘We’re the people on the side of the street yelling that the world is about to end.’”

-- Meanwhile, Sapna Maheshwari traced the rise of a false tweet about anti-Trump protesters in Austin – which was shared more than 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook before it was deleted – to illustrate how quickly misinformation can spread in the social media age. From the New York Times: "Eric Tucker, who had taken photos of a large group of buses he saw near downtown Austin earlier, saw reports of anti-Trump protests in the city and decided the two were connected, tweeting, 'Anti-Trump protestors in Austin today are not as organic as they seem. Here are the busses they came in. #fakeprotests #trump2016 #austin' … 'I did think in the back of my mind there could be other explanations, but it just didn’t seem plausible,' he said in an interview, noting that he had posted as a 'private citizen who had a tiny Twitter following.'"

-- Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan calls on Facebook to hire an “executive editor”: “What rules the roost at Facebook is ‘engagement.’ Clearly, that’s not nearly enough. What’s needed to kill fake news is ruthless fact-checking, gut-checking and a big helping of common sense. Zuckerberg may not want to call this person an editor, since he has been insistent that Facebook isn’t a media company. … That’s fine. Call this person the chief sharing officer or the engagement czarina. Whatever the title, Facebook needs someone who can distinguish a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph from child pornography and who can tell a baseless lie from a thoroughly vetted investigative story.”


-- “Advertisers are grappling with a stark realization: After spending years courting U.S. consumers with aspirational images of upscale urban living, they may have misjudged the yearnings of much of their audience. From the Wall Street Journal's Alexandra Bruell and Suzanne Vranica: “In the wake of [Trump’s] election … with a wave of support from middle American voters, advertisers are reflecting on whether they are out of touch with the same people—rural, economically frustrated, elite-distrusting, anti-globalization voters—who propelled the businessman into the White House. Some marketers, concerned that data isn’t telling them everything they need to know, are considering increasing their use of personal interviews in research. Meanwhile, some ad agencies are looking to hire more people from rural areas as they rethink the popular use of aspirational messaging showcasing a ritzy life on the two metropolitan coasts. One company is also weighing whether to open more local offices around the world, where the people who create ads are closer to the people who see them."

-- “Rural America, even as it laments its economic weakness, retains vastly disproportionate electoral strength,” Emily Badger writes in the Times. “The Democratic candidate for president has now won the popular vote in six of the last seven elections. But in part because the system empowers rural states, for the second time in that span, the candidate who garnered the most votes will not be president. Rural voters were able to nudge [Trump] to power despite [Clinton’s] large margins in cities like New York. In a House of Representatives that structurally disadvantages Democrats because of their tight urban clustering, rural voters helped Republicans hold their cushion. In the Senate, the least populous states are now more overrepresented than ever before. And the growing unity of rural Americans as a voting bloc has converted the rural bias in national politics into a potent Republican advantage.” A system that skews rural is not as important if there’s not a “major cleavage” in opinion, says politics professor Frances Lee. “But urban and rural voting behavior is so starkly different now so that this has major political consequences."

-- “Many in Milwaukee Neighborhood Didn’t Vote — and Don’t Regret It," by the New York Times's Sabrina Tavernise: "Wisconsin historically boasts one of the nation’s highest rates of voter participation. But by local standards, it was a disappointment. The biggest drop (in voting rates) was here in District 15, a stretch of fading wooden homes, sandwich shops and fast-food restaurants that is 84 percent black. It is home to some of Milwaukee’s poorest residents and … has one of the nation’s highest per-capita incarceration rates. At Upper Cutz, a bustling barbershop in a green-trimmed wooden house, talk of politics inevitably comes back to one man: Barack Obama. Mr. Obama’s elections infused many here with a feeling of connection to national politics they had never before experienced. But their lives have not gotten appreciably better, and sourness has set in. 'We went to the beach,' said Maanaan Sabir, 38, using a metaphor to describe the emotion after Mr. Obama’s election. 'And then eight years happened.'"

 -- “How to pay for Trump’s trillion-dollar agenda? Congressional Republicans aren’t saying,” by Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell: “Taken together, the Trump agenda stands to drain hundreds of billions of dollars a year from the federal balance sheet. His proposed tax cut alone, according to independent analysts, could cost the Treasury as much as $7.2 trillion over a decade. The question is how congressional Republicans, after eight years of apocalyptic warnings about the growing national debt, will respond to the dire fiscal implications of proposals that would likely send the deficit soaring. Some Republicans in Congress, including [Paul Ryan] have indicated that some sacred cows might be up for slaughter. Those include federal entitlement programs such as Medicare, long considered a ‘third rail’ of American politics, that Trump himself has shied away from touching. Several Republican lawmakers who call themselves deficit hawks simply expressed faith that implementing GOP policies would unleash levels of economic growth the nation hasn’t seen in more than 15 years.”


-- “President Obama spent the last day of his final foreign trip attempting to make headway on one of the most painful aspects of his foreign policy portfolio: the ongoing civil war in Syria,” Juliet Eilperin reports. “The president said that his administration would continue to press for a deal to stop the killing in the rebel holdout of Aleppo, but he displayed little optimism. ‘We’re just not getting help or interest from those parties that are supporting Assad,’ he said. Obama’s tone was serious and even slightly melancholy when he spoke of the United States’ role on the world stage and the advice he would give [Trump]. 'The United States really is an indispensable nation in our world order,' Obama said. If [America] does not play a central role in fighting pandemics, countering aggression … and speaking up for human rights, Obama warned, the world will become far more dangerous. ‘Then it collapses, and there’s no one to fill the void,’ he said of the post-World War II order. ‘There really isn’t.’”

-- “Trump may be Mr. Brexit. But his election could scramble Britain’s post-E.U. plans,” by Griff Witte and Karla Adam in London: “In many ways, Trump’s victory ... would seem to be a boon for Britain as it prepares to file its divorce papers with the E.U. Boris Johnson, Britain’s voluble foreign secretary, said as much, calling it ‘a moment of opportunity.’ But rather than grease Britain’s exit path, Trump’s elevation to the peak of U.S. power could make this country’s already tortuous road to Brexit even rougher. Since World War II, Britain has positioned itself as the bridge linking the United States to Europe, with sturdy ties on either side. But now both ends of that connection are looking creaky. … [And] reactions such as Johnson’s … are merely ‘a front’ that masks a deep anxiety among British officials over whether Trump can be trusted. ‘I think there’s an awful lot of nervousness in government and more generally, mostly down to the unpredictability of the guy,’ said politics professor Tim Bale."

-- The Queen is expected to formally invite Trump to visit the U.K. after his inauguration in January, the Sunday Times reported. Sources say the Queen is Theresa May’s “secret weapon” to help cement London’s close ties with Washington.

-- “In the era of Brexit and Trump, France’s presidential front-runner starts to worry,” by James McAuley in Paris: “In his youth, he aspired to be the pope; only later would he aim for president. Despite the change in ambition, Alain Juppé — the leading conservative contender for the French presidency — has maintained something of a prelate’s sober discipline. But for many … Juppé’s main appeal in the era of Brexit and [Trump] is that he appears the safest bet to defeat the resurgent National Front, France’s far-right populist faction, in the 2017 election. French media have long treated him as if his victory is inevitable, but Trump’s astonishing upset has made Juppé’s supporters increasingly anxious that their candidate may prove to be a French Hillary Clinton, stunned by a defeat no one saw coming.

-- “Say goodbye to ‘Americanos’ in Putin’s Russia — at least for now,” by David Filipov: “It’s not Lynchburg Lemonade, it's ‘Saratov Limonad.’ You want a Jack Daniels? Order a ‘Zhora Denisov.’ And the cocktail that previously shared the name of the B-52 bomber? It’s a SU-34 strike fighter jet now, bub. These are the drolly patriotic extremes to which one bar in the Ural Mountains has gone in reaction to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s semi-serious suggestion that ordering an ‘Americano’ — the way Russians refer to American coffee — is politically incorrect in these dire times for U.S.-Russian relations. Across Russia, purveyors of coffee have taken the hint. Menus across the nation are switching to the name ‘Russiano’[including] the Russian branch of the American chain Burger King."


-- If you missed it on the front page of Sunday’s paper, four Post reporters did an excellent deep dive on Steve Bannon. (Read it here.)

-- Bannon was a no-show at the Zionist Organization of America’s annual dinner in New York last night. ZOA president Mort Klein said he was not sure why Bannon did not show up and insisted that that he was not the one who invited the former Breitbart CEO. He said Bannon himself called and requested to attend the dinner. (Jewish Insider)

-- The president-elect’s chief strategist has a Gingrich-esque affection for hyperbolic historical analogies: "I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors,” the president-elect’s chief strategist told The Hollywood Reporter. "Like [Andrew] Jackson's populism, we're going to build an entirely new political movement. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I'm the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it's the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We're just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement."

Explaining his leadership style to the Wall Street Journal for a piece in Saturday’s paper, he said: “It was Lao Tzu who said that with the best leaders, when the work is accomplished, the people will say ‘We have done this ourselves.’ That’s how I’ve led. … I never went on TV one time during the campaign. Not once. You know why? Because politics is war. General (William Tecumseh) Sherman would never have gone on TV to tell everyone his plans. I’d never tip my hand to the other side.”

-- During a trip to Russia last year, National Security Adviser-designate Michael Flynn said he “didn’t know” whether Assad’s heinous 2013 gas attack in Syria was a “false flag” operation or not. (It incontrovertible was not, but the Russians like to pretend that it is because they’re propping up his regime.) "Your specific question, I really don't know," Flynn told an audience member during a question and answer session hosted by a Russian government-funded television network (he was paid to be there, as well). "I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I know. To have that level of knowledge or insight or detail of what an intelligence service is doing to do a false flag -- who knows. I don't have a good answer for you.” (CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski)

-- “Reince Priebus, Normalizer in Chief,” by Mark Leibovich in the New York Times Magazine: “In a sense, Priebus, who squired his future wife to a local G.O.P. banquet on their first date, was the purest form of ‘political hack’ that Trump would rail against as he bulldozed the G.O.P. You can’t appreciate the magnitude of Priebus’s changing loyalties until you consider just how much time, energy and dignity he expended before Nov. 8 trying to protect ‘the party’ from being defiled by Trump. ‘[Trump] is [Trump], and the party is the party,’ Priebus used to tell me. … His ultimate allegiance was never in question.”

-- Rebekah Mercer, a 42-year-old who homeschools her young children, has significant sway  over  the Trump transition because her family has given millions to help Trump. From Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel: “Mercer’s influence in Trump’s transition calls into question Trump’s previous boasts that his own fortune would make him independent from deep-pocketed donors and special interests he railed against on the campaign trail. And the entanglement of connections between Trump’s aides and Mercer’s big-money political operation has prompted complaints from campaign finance watchdog groups, and grumbling from Republican operatives who contend that Mercer has too much control over Trump’s GOP. ‘It would be difficult to overstate Rebekah’s influence in Trump World right now,’ said one fundraiser. ‘She is aggressive and she makes her point known.’”


-- “Few women fight wildfires. That’s not because they’re afraid of flames,” by Darryl Fears: “Women who fight wildfires for the federal government describe their work as isolating and lonely — and scary in a way that has nothing to do with fire. In a male-dominated, hypermasculine discipline that operates like the military, they face discrimination, sexual harassment and verbal abuse. Under court order, the Forest Service’s operation [once] increased female recruitment … But when the order expired 10 years ago, the number of women sharply fell because, critics say, the service failed to adequately address a chauvinist culture. A sample of recent [EEOC] complaints show why many choose to leave. [One ex-employee] … said male colleagues routinely propositioned her for sex … Alisha Dabney, a former Forest Service wildfire crew member, said she was ordered by a supervisor to report when her menstrual cycle started and was placed in a headlock during an attempted rape. Other women said they were … inappropriately touched, stalked, photographed without their knowledge, spied on while bathing and screamed at because of their sex."


Let's review Trump's tweets from the weekend, starting with comments on settling the Trump University lawsuit:

He called Saturday Night Live "totally one-sided" and biased:

He used a defense secretary candidate's nickname and called him "very impressive":

And he complimented Schumer:

But of course, Hamilton was the most-talked about news of the weekend. Here's what Lin-Manuel Miranda said following Pence's attendance and Brandon Victor Dixon's speech:

Here's what Dixon said:

In case you haven't seen them, here are Trump's tweets on the matter:

Dixon said this in response:

Here's the show's official statement:

Two serious reactions and one humorous one:

The hashtag #NameAPenceMusical took off:

Here are a few more photos:

The NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League are increasing their ties to prepare for a Trump administration:

Danny Davis tragically lost his grandson. A male intruder reportedly shot him in the head.

Many gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Gwen Ifill:

Matt Bevin gave Terry Branstad a special birthday gift:

John Kerry was spotted at the Yale-Harvard game -- looking as preppy as only Kerry could:

John McCain has a new grandson:


“‘Black Lives Matter’ Won’t to Trump DOJ,” from the Daily Beast: “Changes are coming. And it’s safe to assume that whatever the Black Lives Matter movement wants, [Trump’s appointment for attorney general, Sen. Jeff] Sessions, wants the opposite.  Over his decades in public life, Sessions has taken stances that are the antithesis of the Black Lives Matter movement—opposing criminal justice reform, supporting strict sentences for drug offenders, and telegraphic skepticism about the need for special federal protections for LGBT people. And from his perch at the Justice Department, Sessions will be able to impact how the federal government interacts with millions of people in their daily lives. Though progressive groups and Democrats are appalled by Sessions’s nomination, it’s unlikely they will be able to stop his confirmation."



“Trump’s mock assassination draws ire at Texas high school,” from Kristine Guerra: “Two Texas students and their teacher were reprimanded after the 10th-graders performed a skit portraying the assassination of [Trump]. One of the boys used a gunfire sound effect from a cellphone while the other student, who was portraying Trump, fell to the ground … The skit, titled ‘The Assassination of Donald Trump,’ was performed as a class presentation last week for the students’ English class at John Marshall High School in San Antonio. The boys’ teacher instructed her students to create and perform a skit following their study of Shakespeare and asked them to submit their scripts for approval, [the superintendent said] … and the teacher did not know beforehand that they planned on performing a mock assassination of Trump.”



In Trump's world: The transition announces the economic landing teams. Trump is back in Manhattan.

At the White House: Obama landed at Andrews at 2:04 a.m. after a seven-hour flight. Joe Biden meets with senior advisers.

On Capitol Hill: Congress is out.


“Obviously I am going to miss having Barack around,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a bilateral appearance with Obama in Lima



-- Today’s the day to break out ALL your winter garb, the Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Most of the region should awake to freezing temperatures (except perhaps a few holdouts in the city). Factoring in the wind, it feels like the 20s everywhere when you head out, so grab your winter weather attire (heavy coats, hats and gloves). The sun shines strongly, but temperatures struggle to respond. Highs are mostly in the 40s.”

-- The Redskins beat the Green Bay Packers 42-24.

-- Chris Van Hollen, the newly-elected senator from Maryland, will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this cycle. (Josh Hicks)

-- Virginia Del. Sam Rasoul, a young Democrat from Roanoke, quit his post in the party leadership Friday over what he said was the inability of Virginia Democrats to turn away from the politics of fear and division. “I feel as though the [leadership] right now is not committed to the radical changes we need to connect with the values of working class America,” said Rasoul, 35, the lone Muslim in the General Assembly. “We were sent a mandate on Election Day that we have to completely rethink the way we do business.” (Greg Schneider)


At the American Music Awards last night, Gigi Haddad did a Melania impression (to make fun of her plagiarism). Then Jay Pharoah did a Donald impression. "I love 'Uptown Funk.' It was all totally about me," Pharaoh said. "It was originally called 'Uptown Trump.' I'm gonna funk this country up bigly." (ABC posted clips here.)

Alec Baldwin was back as Trump in SNL's cold open:

Progressives who are struggling to come to terms with Trump becoming president could move into SNL's "bubble":

The show also lampooned CNN's Trump coverage:

Watch Romney as he arrived at Bedminster:

President-elect Trump and vice-president-elect Pence greet Mitt Romney for a meeting at Trump's golf course in New Jersey. (Video: The Washington Post)

Here's Pence getting booed at Hamilton:

Some audience members booed Vice President-elect Mike Pence as he walked to his seat at a "Hamilton" show, held at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York. (Video: Storyful)

Watch Dixon's speech to Pence:

The cast of "Hamilton" delivered a message to Vice President-elect Mike Pence from stage after he watched the show at Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York. (Video: Twitter/Hamilton via Storyful)

Pence said he was not offended:

Vice president-elect Mike Pence says he was not offended by pointed comments made to him by a cast member of "Hamilton" after attending the hit Broadway show. (Video: Reuters)

Megyn Kelly played Box of Lies with Jimmy Fallon:

And spoke about the election:

Michael Che talked to Seth Meyers about what inspired that "black Jeopardy" SNL sketch:

This is the NBC "Nightly News" package from when the Senate rejected Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship in 1986. Now, 30 years later, he's poised to take a vastly more important job:

Finally, our Sarah Kaplan asked several scientists: what's the best way to cook a turkey?

Watch: Dear Science: What's the best way to cook a turkey? (Video: Gillian Brockell, Sarah Kaplan/The Washington Post)