Here are 10 takeaways:
1. No new gun laws will pass.
The National Rifle Association deserves more credit than any other outside group for Donald Trump’s victory, and the president knows it. “You came through big for me, and I am going to come through for you,” he said at the NRA’s April convention in Atlanta.
Virtually no Republican in Congress, and certainly no one in leadership, is willing to cross the powerful gun lobby. Even if Trump decided he wanted to act, which he will not, his party would block him.
2. But Vegas makes it much harder for Republicans to roll back existing gun laws.
In the wake of the attack, House Republican leaders have decided to table a bill that would loosen restrictions on purchasing gun silencers. At least for now. “That bill, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), has been approved by the Natural Resources Committee and was expected to be on the House floor soon, though it had not yet been scheduled for a vote,” Politico reports. “Consideration of the bill was (already) postponed earlier this year after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot in June at a congressional baseball practice.”
“Rep. Richard Hudson's (R-N.C.) proposal to allow concealed-carry permit holders to take their guns with them across state lines also faces new political problems,” per John Bresnahan, Heather Caygle and Burgess Everett. “The Duncan legislation includes a provision revising federal regulations on silencers, which currently have tougher purchasing requirements than other guns. A different provision in the Duncan bill makes it more difficult for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to classify certain ammunition as ‘armor piercing.’ Regulations on interstate transportation weapons would be revised as well.”
3. There will be at least some new converts for gun control. After spending the night fearing for his life, the lead guitarist for the Josh Abbot Band — a Texas-based country group — announced that he has changed his position. “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was. We actually have members of our crew with [Concealed Handgun Licenses], and legal firearms on the bus,” Caleb Keeter wrote in a statement. “They were useless. … We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.”
4. Gun control will be a litmus test for Democrats in 2020.
It is inconceivable that Democrats will nominate someone for president who is not an outspoken proponent of tough new gun laws. Bernie Sanders was on the defensive throughout the 2016 Democratic primaries over his moderate record on guns, which reflects the culture of his home state of Vermont. Hillary Clinton successfully used this as a wedge issue to squeeze him from the left.
Many presidential aspirants, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), quickly moved past the normal niceties after a tragedy and were agitating for tough laws within hours of Vegas. They know nothing will pass, but they are laying a marker.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who represents Newtown, has become the most forceful advocate for action in the 2020 field. “It's time for Congress to get off its ass and do something,” he said. (Read Murphy’s op-ed in today’s Post.)
Many rank-and-file Democratic lawmakers are beginning to boycott “the predictable moments of unification that commonly occur in the hours after mass shootings — hoping their refusal to participate will call attention to the inaction,” the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports. “To have only a moment of silence where there never is action taken, tragedy after tragedy, that is not something I want to be a part of,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), who led the sit-in on the House floor after the shooting in Orlando.
5. The Vegas attack has pushed gun control to the front burner of the neck-and-neck race for Virginia governor. “At a previously scheduled forum in Vienna … Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie offered condolences. But the partisan divide over guns in Virginia, a Southern state with a strong gun tradition that was shaken by the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, was immediately evident,” Fenit Nirappil reports. “Northam, a former Army doctor who has an F rating from the National Rifle Association, decried what he called ‘a proliferation of guns’ in society and urged gun-control measures. Gillespie, who has an A rating and an endorsement from the NRA, asked for a moment of silence, later telling reporters that it was too soon to discuss policy. … Gillespie is opposed to further restrictions on guns and promised to reverse an executive order signed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) that bans guns in state government buildings.”
- Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who has crusaded for new gun laws since barely surviving a 2011 assassination attempt at a public event in her district, canceled plans to campaign for Northam on Monday in Virginia: “Americans for Responsible Solutions, Giffords’s gun-control group, has pledged to spend $150,000 on pro-Northam mailings. Northam is also backed by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, a group bankrolled by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) that is spending at least $700,000 on his campaign.”
- The NRA, which planned to run political advertising in Virginia starting Tuesday through Election Day on Nov. 7, delayed its commercials for one week: “The gun rights group plans to spend more than $750,000 on commercials in the Richmond and Roanoke markets.” (The group is headquartered in the commonwealth.)
The debate about guns could help Gillespie bring home Trump supporters who backed his rival, Corey Stewart, in the June Republican primary. Conservatives who may not like the former RNC chairman will vote for him if they believe Northam wants to restrict their rights. The back-and-forth might also nationalize the race, which works against Gillespie in an environment where Trump remains unpopular.
-- Sneak peek: Speaking of the Trump dynamic, Northam will unveil a new ad today that touts his willingness to stand up to the president. “As a doctor, nobody ever asks if I’m a Democrat or a Republican. They just want my help,” the lieutenant governor says to camera. “So if Donald Trump is helping Virginia, I’ll work with him. But Donald Trump proposed cutting Virginia’s school funding, rolling back our clean air and water protections, and taking away healthcare from thousands of Virginians. … I’ve stood up to Donald Trump on all of it. Ed Gillespie refuses to stand up to him at all.”
6. The paranoid style in American politics is alive and well.
Televangelist Pat Robertson suggested yesterday that disrespect for Trump was a factor behind the shooting. “Violence in the streets, ladies and gentlemen,” he said on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club.” “Why is it happening? . . . The fact that we have disrespect for authority. There is profound disrespect of our president. All across this nation, they say terrible things about him. It’s in the news. It’s in other places. There is disrespect now for our national anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the institutions of our government, disrespect for the court system. All the way up and down the line: disrespect. … Until there is Biblical authority, there has to be some controlling authority in our society and there is none. … When there is no vision of God, the people run amok. We have taken from the American people the vision of God.”
Wayne Allyn Root, a columnist for the Sheldon Adelson-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal who warmed up crowds during Trump rallies in 2016, pushed the theory on Twitter that the shooter must be Muslim. After police announced that he was not, Root refused to back down or apologize.
“[G]overnment restrictions will not stop psychopaths from harming people. They will find a way,” former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly wrote on his blog. “This is the price of freedom. Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are. The Second Amendment is clear that Americans have a right to arm themselves for protection. Even the loons.”
-- To be sure, there are extreme views on both sides. CBS announced that it fired a company lawyer who wrote on Facebook yesterday that she was “actually not even sympathetic” to the shooting victims because “country music fans often are Republican gun toters.” “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing,” she wrote.
7. The fever swamps of the Internet have powerful megaphones, even when what’s being yelled is false. “Geary Danley was not the gunman … But for hours on the far-right Internet, would-be sleuths scoured Danley’s Facebook likes, family photographs and marital history to try to ‘prove’ that he was,” Abby Ohlheiser reports. “Danley, according to an archived version of a Facebook page bearing that name, might have been married to a Marilou Danley. Police were looking for a woman by that name in the hours after the shooting, but later said they did not think she was involved. The briefest look at the viral threads and tweets falsely naming Geary Danley as the attacker makes it easy to guess why a bunch of right-wing trolls latched on to him: His Facebook profile indicated that he might be a liberal …
“That phony story quickly embedded itself into the algorithms of Google and Facebook, where sites promoting the rumor remained at the top of the results for anyone searching for Danley’s name. … For a time on Monday morning, one of those 4chan threads falsely naming Danley as the shooter was promoted by Google as a ‘top story’ for searches for his name … The right-wing news site Gateway Pundit [which the White House has given press credentials to] also picked up these rumors as fact in a now-deleted article. … And on Facebook, a search for articles about Geary Danley promoted seven links leading to inaccurate stories about him. The eighth result is a debunking.” (BuzzFeed debunks 19 other hoaxes that spread online after the shooting.)
These are many of the same people that promoted Pizzagate, and the fact that the fake stories got as much visibility and traction as they did suggests that search giants and social media platforms still have a lot of work to do before they can be considered responsible corporate actors.
8. More than ever, in a polarized and fragmented country, comedians are emerging as prominent voices of moral authority.
Every late-night TV comedian except Jimmy Fallon opened his show last night with a serious monologue about what transpired in Vegas. Emily Yahr writes up what each of them said: “Trevor Noah and James Corden were in disbelief over American gun culture. Conan O’Brien was devastated to realize how many times he’s had to talk about mass shootings. Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers urged Congress to take action on gun control.”
Jimmy Kimmel has clearly been emboldened by the role he played in stopping the Cassidy-Graham health-care bill from passing last week. The ABC host was in tears on his show last night as he spoke about the “terrible, inexplicable, shocking and painful tragedy” in his hometown of Las Vegas. Kimmel choked up several times during a 10-minute speech. He called out Trump, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan by name. “They should be praying for God to forgive them for letting the gun lobby run this country, because it’s so crazy,” he said. (Read a full transcript of the monologue here.) Click below to watch:
9. The polling on guns is much more complicated and nuanced than most of the mainstream media’s coverage might lead you to believe. “Democrats are fond of pointing out that 8 in 10 or 9 in 10 Americans favor expanded background checks for gun purchases. That's true, but it also masks another important reality: Republicans just don't think legislation is the answer, period,” Aaron Blake writes on The Fix. “In June 2016, Quinnipiac University asked whether people supported a ban on ‘assault weapons’ — a.k.a. semiautomatic ones. About 6 in 10 Americans (59 percent) supported it, including 4 in 10 Republicans (40 percent). But when the pollster asked whether such a ban would be effective in reducing gun violence, Americans actually disagreed by a small margin, 49-47. Just 24 percent of Republicans thought it would be effective, while 70 percent said it wouldn't.
“The story was similar on background checks: While 93 percent of all people and 90 percent of Republicans said they supported background checks for all gun purchases, only 62 percent overall and 42 percent of Republicans thought it would actually reduce gun violence. A majority of Republicans (53 percent) again felt it wouldn't help at all. … And if you don't think these address the problem, you're more likely to believe specific proposals overreach into ‘gun grabs.’”
“And in fact, multiple polls have shown a large percentage of Americans think the answer is more guns, not fewer. A Washington Post-ABC News poll that same month showed that 54 percent would encourage more people to carry guns legally for self-defense. Just 42 percent discouraged it.”
-- “Under the neon glow and glitz of the Vegas Strip, thousands of concertgoers who had gathered for a three-day music festival dove for cover or raced toward shelter when the gunfire began at about 10 p.m. Sunday,” Heather Long, Mark Berman and Derek Hawkins report. “Police said more than 22,000 people were at the concert when Paddock began firing round after round, shooting from an elevated position that left those on the ground effectively helpless. The typical advice for reacting to an active shooter — ‘run, hide or fight’ — was rendered moot, as many in the packed crowd could not easily run or hide, nor were they able to fight back at someone firing from so far away.”
- In video footage, concertgoers can be seen screaming and running for cover — though they did not immediately know from what. “We thought it was fireworks at first or trouble with the speakers,” said Kayla Ritchie, 21. “[Then] everything went dark.”
- It wasn’t until [singer Jason] Aldean fled the stage and the lights came on that 21-year-old Taylor Benge said he realized that “about five feet to the left of me, there was a man with a bullet wound to his chin.” “He was just lifeless on the ground,” Benge said.
-- “Outside, The Strip, always a blizzard of dazzling lights and honking horns, almost instantly turned into a frenzied hive of pulsing police lights and sirens,” Michael Lyle, Heather Long and Marc Fisher report. “People fled every which way, many taking cellphone video of their run to safety. [Former minor league baseball player Todd Blyleven, who traveled from Dallas for the concert with his wife and friends], helped carry out the lifeless body of a young woman. He saw a police officer who looked like he had taken a bullet in the neck. ‘Young girls and guys, older folks, just people walking out of a country concert with bullet holes,’ Blyleven said.”
-- “Aldean was barely five measures into ‘When She Says Baby,’ when the shots started,” Avi Selk and Amy B Wang report. “’Is that gunfire?’ [Singer Jason] Owen remembered thinking[.] The gunfire continued, steady against the beat of the song … Shot after shot, faster and faster. Aldean sprinted off the stage. Owen ran, too. So did other singers, workers and all the thousands of spectators — fleeing and screaming, falling and dying.”
-- A fire alarm triggered by gun smoke let first responders zero in on the shooter’s location. SWAT team members then used explosives to get inside, where they found [Paddock] dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “We believe the individual killed himself prior to our entry,” the sheriff said. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
-- “I realized people were dying": Photographer David Becker spoke to The Post's photo editor MaryAnne Golon about witnessing the attack and capturing some of the most haunting images from the night: “ It had been so dark outside I couldn’t see the details. I just saw a lot of people laying on the ground thinking they were playing possum, but now I could see people covered in blood and I thought, this is real. When I saw the image of the woman lying on the ground covered in blood, that was when the impact of what I was experiencing hit — when I realized people were dying.”
-- Only a handful of the 59 victims so far have been identified. They range in age from 20 to nearly 60 and came from across the country for the music festival. They included a single mother of four, a registered nurse and a Las Vegas police officer. The Post will keep updating this running list as more names are released.
- One of the victims was a 29-year-old celebrating his first wedding anniversary: "Heather Melton said her husband [Sonny] saved her life while gunfire was hitting the crowd. ‘He saved my life. He grabbed me and started running when I felt him get shot in the back,’ she said. ‘I want everyone to know what a kindhearted, loving man he was, but at this point, I can barely breathe.’” (WSMV of Nashville)
Sandy Casey, a special-education teacher, had recently gotten engaged. She was attending the concert with her fiance, Christopher Willemse, and friends when she was struck in her lower back. She died in Willemse’s arms as he attempted to carry her to safety.
Angie Gomez was just 20 and went to the festival to celebrate her new job as a certified nursing assistant. Her boyfriend of five years and several strangers attempted to get her to a hospital, but she died before receiving medical attention.
John Phippen, 57, traveled to Las Vegas from California with his son Travis. As the gunshots first rang out, Phippen jumped on top of his son and saved his life. Travis, who has experience as a medic, went on to treat more than a dozen of the injured, despite taking a bullet to the arm.
-- Jonathan Smith was shot in the neck while helping dozens to safety. Heather Long reports: “Smith was focused on saving his young nieces, but they separated in the crowd. … He grabbed people and told them to follow him toward a handicapped parking area in the direction of the airport, away from Las Vegas Boulevard. It was a large field with several rows of vehicles. Smith and the others crouched down behind one of the last rows of cars. … A few young girls weren’t fully hidden. He stood up and moved toward them to urge them to get on the ground. That’s when a bullet struck him in the neck. … ‘I don’t see myself [as a hero],’ he said. ‘I would want someone to do the same for me. No one deserves to lose a life coming to a country festival.’”
-- Stephen Paddock, 64, was described as a high-stakes gambler who mostly kept to himself at a quiet retirement community outside Las Vegas. Neighbors said he would disappear for “days at a time,” frequenting casinos with his longtime girlfriend, Marilou Danley. William Wan, Sandhya Somashekhar, Aaron C. Davis and Barbara Liston have more:
Relatives expressed bewilderment and told authorities they were not aware of any mental illness or substance abuse problems: “Eric Paddock said he knew of five guns his brother kept in his safe but was shocked that a rapid-fire weapon was used in Sunday’s shooting. He said his brother didn’t hunt, barely shot his guns and once took Eric Paddock’s children on a skeet-shooting trip paid for by the casinos.”
He liked to wager tens of thousands of dollars in a single sitting: “He owned homes in four states but preferred staying in casino hotels, sometimes for weeks at a time . . . He was worth more than $2 million, relatives said. At various points of his life, Stephen Paddock worked for defense contractor Lockheed Martin and as an accountant and property manager. As a retiree, he had no children and plenty of money to play with. So he took up gambling. ‘It’s like a job for him. It’s a job where you make money,’ said Eric Paddock, adding that his brother could lose $1 million and still have enough to live on.’”
For several years, the gunman lived with his girlfriend, Marilou Danley, in a retirement community in Reno: “[Neighbors] said they interacted with Danley but not with Paddock, whom they described as extremely standoffish. . . . Harold Allred, who lives up the street from the couple, said his wife often ran into Danley in exercise classes or social gatherings. Allred said he and his wife found Danley unremarkable, though perhaps a little odd, and didn’t know Paddock. ‘He was reclusive,’ said Allred, 66. ‘We never met him.’”
“Paddock’s father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, described on a 1969 wanted poster as ‘psychopathic’ with suicidal tendencies. He escaped from prison that year and, according to news accounts, was not captured until 1978, when he was nabbed while running a bingo parlor in Oregon.”
-- Even after searching his home, investigators are still trying to figure out Paddock’s motive. "[Authorities] said hotel staff had been in and out of the two-room suite, which Paddock had stayed in since Sept. 28, and spotted nothing ‘nefarious,’ though he had more than 10 suitcases,” Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman report.
-- Authorities said Paddock had a cache of 23 firearms in his possession. Michael S. Rosenwald, Devlin Barrett and Alex Horton report: “One of the weapons Paddock apparently [used] was an AK-47 type rifle, with a stand to steady it for firing[.] … Investigators believe at least one of the guns functioned as if it were fully automatic and are now working to determine whether he modified it or others to be capable of spitting out a high volume of fire just by holding down the trigger[.] But video from the attack suggests Paddock may have used at least one fully automatic rifle, marking the first time such a weapon has been wielded by a public mass shooter in the United States.”
THE TRUMP RESPONSE:
-- The White House repeatedly insisted yesterday that it was not appropriate to talk about policy on the day of a tragedy. “There will certainly be a time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
-- But Trump selectively politicizes events, whenever they work to his advantage. “Time and time again, he has capitalized on terror to advance his agenda,” write Michael Scherer and Philip Rucker. “After a bomb attack on a train in London in September, Trump called for a ‘far larger, tougher and more specific’ travel ban … well before London authorities had declared that terrorism was the cause. When an indebted gambler assaulted a Manila casino in June, killing dozens by starting a fire, Trump called the event ‘terrorism’ at the White House, even though local police later said the attack was a robbery attempt unconnected to terrorism. During his campaign, Trump made the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. … a centerpiece of his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. And Trump reacted to the shooting at an Orlando nightclub with self-praise, suggesting that the incident was a symptom of weak Democratic policies.
“The Las Vegas massacre was different, both because investigators have found no evidence linking the shooter to a terrorist organization and because he was a white American, as opposed to a Muslim immigrant,” Scherer and Rucker write. “The emerging facts prevented Trump from following his typical playbook — to rally his supporters against Islamic extremism while speaking and tweeting in a combative, even belligerent tone to try to project strength and resolve. Rather, Trump uttered just 574 words on Monday and tried to play the role of uniter.”
-- “Mass shootings are so frequent in America that the political responses to them have become ritualized to the point of parody,” Ryan Lizza writes in the New Yorker. “Trump … read haltingly from a teleprompter in the Diplomatic Reception Room, where F.D.R. once calmed Depression- and Second World War-era America with his fireside chats. It was not Trump’s worst public performance. He stayed on script, and read a short and well-crafted statement without making any bizarre Trumpian asides. But it was a classic of the ‘thoughts and prayers’ model in that it offered no promise of a policy response whatsoever. … Near the end of his speech, Trump said that ‘even the most terrible despair can be illuminated by a single ray of hope.’ If your hope was that Washington would start to grapple with a response to the crisis of mass shootings, the President didn’t offer a single ray.”
-- David Frum, who was a speechwriter in George W. Bush’s White House, says Trump’s comments were “steeped in hypocrisy”: “He is the least outwardly religious president of modern times, the president least steeped in scripture. For him to offer the consolations of God and faith after mass bloodletting is to invite derision. ‘It is love that defines us,’ said President Trump, and if we weren’t heartbroken, we would laugh. Those who praised the speech, as CNN’s John King did, are reacting on reflex. This is the kind of thing we are used to hearing from Republican politicians; Trump is a Republican politician; therefore this is what he should say…
“But whereas Vice President Pence could have pronounced those words with sincerity, or a convincing simulacrum thereof, Donald Trump looked shifty, nervous, and false,” Frum writes in The Atlantic. Speeches are watched as well as heard, and the viewer saw a president who wished he were somewhere else because he had been compelled to pretend something so radically false to his own nature. For once, Trump read the speech exactly as written. Perhaps his aides talked him into it. Because Trump is not a good reader, he read the speech wrong. And because it sounded wrong, he looked bad.”
-- POSTPONED: The Daily 202 Live with Mick Mulvaney. My sit-down with the OMB director, which was set for tomorrow, has been postponed. Follow @PostLive on Twitter or sign-up here to receive updated scheduling info.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Legendary rocker Tom Petty died at the age of 66. He went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to a hospital, leading some outlets to erroneously report his death earlier on Monday. Petty’s longtime manager confirmed the sad news last night.
Harrison Smith and Adam Bernstein with his obituary: “Mr. Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, released their self-titled debut in 1976 and soon drew comparisons to the bluesy, guitar-heavy rock of the Rolling Stones and the Byrds. Their music was unabashedly sentimental, seeming to speak to striving, everyday Americans no less than the songs of fellow rocker Bruce Springsteen[.] … The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted Mr. Petty and the Heartbreakers in 2002. ‘I’d like to see us break some new ground and leave some sort of mark on the music,’ Mr. Petty once said … ‘If you could make some little dent in rock, where that little area is yours — that’s what I’m striving for now.’”
-- Americans Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne won the Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of gravitational waves. “This year’s prize is about a discovery that shook the world," a Nobel representative said when announcing the winners. (Ben Guarino)
GET SMART FAST:
- The Interior Department’s inspector general has launched an investigation into Secretary Ryan Zinke’s travel, including his use of chartered jets and his mixing of official business trips with political appearances. (Lisa Rein)
- U.S. intelligence operatives in Havana were among the first and most severely hit by the bizarre string of health attacks, which started within “days” of Trump’s election. (AP)
- Catalonia’s independence referendum is sure to be challenged in court, and Madrid has declared the results — which showed 90 percent of voters favored independence — to be illegitimate. (William Booth)
- The Australian government finished its report on the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014, but its conclusions are likely to be very unsatisfying in what is one of the greatest aviation mysteries. “’The reasons for the loss of MH370 cannot be established with certainty until the aircraft is found.’ And that is unimaginable, the report said.” (Kyle Swenson)
- The Palestinian prime minister visited the Gaza Strip in an attempt to make amends with Hamas. (Loveday Morris and Sufian Taha)
- The Supreme Court began its new session by considering workers’ collective bargaining rights. The case concerns whether companies can force employees into individual arbitration over wage disputes and other conflicts. (Robert Barnes)
- Two unnamed people’s personal information was exposed in the SEC’s 2016 security breach, the agency acknowledged in a statement. The revelation follows the SEC’s disclosure that the breach may have allowed hackers to profit from illegal stock sales. (Renae Merle)
- A USC faculty member was detained for a mental evaluation after she told students that there was an active shooter on campus. The campus locked down, but police found no evidence of a shooter. (Susan Svrluga)
- Barack and Michelle Obama could be moving to the Big Apple. Page Six’s Emily Smith reported that the former president and first lady are eyeing a white-glove, full-service building on the Upper East Side. Originally built in 1930, the prewar building now boasts 15 floors, an indoor basketball court and long list of notable tenants. A spokeswoman for the Obamas declined to comment.
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump associates have given investigators documents showing two previously unreported contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Tom Hamburger, Rosalind S. Helderman and Adam Entous report: “In one case, Trump’s personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails weeks before the Republican National Convention about traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would be attended by top Russian financial and government leaders, including [Vladimir Putin] … In the other case, the same Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, received a proposal in late 2015 for a Moscow residential project from a company founded by a billionaire who once served in the Russian Senate[.]”
- “Cohen declined the invitation to the economic conference [and] rejected the Moscow building plan. But the new disclosures add to an emerging picture in which Trump’s business and campaign were repeatedly contacted by Russians with interests in business and politics.” Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Michael Cohen have been revealed to have fielded such inquiries from Moscow in the weeks before or after Trump accepted the Republican nomination.
- “The June 2016 email to Cohen about the economic conference came from Felix Sater, a Russian-born real estate developer and former Trump business associate. Sater encouraged Cohen to attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, with Sater telling Cohen that he could be introduced to [Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev], top financial leaders and perhaps to Putin …. At one point, Sater told Cohen that Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, could help arrange the discussions …”
-- The Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe and Franklin Foer obtained the full emails exchanged between Manafort and an international intermediary to get a message to Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska, which were first reported by The Post. “[T]he full text of these exchanges … shows that Manafort attempted to leverage his leadership role in the Trump campaign to curry favor with a Russian oligarch close to [Putin]. Manafort was deeply in debt, and did not earn a salary from the Trump campaign. There is no evidence that Deripaska met with Manafort in 2016, or knew about Manafort’s attempts to reach him. Yet the extended correspondence between Manafort and [the intermediary] paints a more complete portrait of Manafort’s willingness to trade on his campaign position.”
-- The top legal counsel on Robert Mueller’s team, Michael Dreeben, has reportedly been researching the limits of presidential pardons. Bloomberg’s Greg Farrell reports: “Pre-emptive pardons are a distinct possibility now that current and former Trump advisers are under Mueller’s scrutiny. Trump himself has tweeted that everyone agrees the U.S. president has ‘complete power to pardon.’ … [T]he legal territory is largely uncharted over pardons of a president’s own campaign workers, family members or even himself -- and how prosecutors’ work would then be affected. What Dreeben brings to the question, say those who know him, is a credibility that comes from parsing how criminal prosecutions have played out across the country.”
-- Freshman Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kan.) booked a basement room in the Capitol for former congressman Connie Mack (R-Fla.) to hold a sham hearing for his Ukrainian lobbying client. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff and Andrew Desiderio report: “[T]he fake ‘hearing’ was broadcast in full on Ukraine’s NewsOne and described to viewers as the ‘U.S. Congressional Committee on Financial Issues.’ But not a single member of Congress attended. The network teased the ‘shocking details’ about the ‘highest levels of corruption in the NBU,’ referring to the National Bank of Ukraine. … A pamphlet handed out to attendees was evaluated by a Ukrainian fact-checking website as having ‘mostly correct’ data about the NBU but ‘manipulated in almost all occasions.’” Mack lobbies on behalf of Interconnection Commerce — which was implicated in the Pentagon Papers — as well as Hungary’s Putin-allied political party.
-- The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), said that the CIA denied the committee’s request to review information about Russian meddling that has already been seen by the chamber’s intelligence committee. (Politico)
MOSCOW IS USING OUR OWN TECH TOOLS AGAINST US:
-- By using Facebook’s powerful “Custom Audience” tool to identify American voters susceptible to propaganda — and then targeting them with messages designed to influence their voting behavior — Russian operatives exploited a system used frequently by U.S. corporations. Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg and Adam Entous report: “The Web sites and Facebook pages displayed ads or other messages focused on such hot-button issues as illegal immigration, African American political activism and the rising prominence of Muslims in the United States. The Russian operatives then used a Facebook ‘retargeting’ tool, called Custom Audiences, to send specific ads and messages to voters who had visited those sites.”
- One Russian-bought ad featured photographs of an armed black woman “dry-firing” a rifle, or pulling the trigger without a bullet in the chamber, which investigators believe may have been designed to stoke racial tensions. Another showed an image of Hillary Clinton behind what appear to be prison bars.
- “The conclusions of investigators fit those of several independent researchers, who say that the Russian disinformation campaign exploited the core advertising and tracking technologies that Silicon Valley has honed over a decade … and which are widely available, with few if any restrictions, to political actors in the United States and abroad.”
- Facebook delivered more than 3,000 ads to congressional investigators on Monday: “[Facebook] is also sharing information on which users those ads were designed to target, how many users viewed or clicked on those ads, and the payment methods used by the Russians. The company said Monday that modeling shows these ads were seen by roughly 10 million users. An estimated 44 percent were seen before the Nov. 8 election, and the rest were seen afterward.”
-- Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said he hopes to make public a sampling of Russia-linked Facebook ads that were turned over to Congress on Monday “as soon as possible.” “The American people deserve to see the ways that the Russian intelligence services manipulated and took advantage of online platforms to stoke and amplify social and political tensions, which remains a tactic we see the Russian government rely on today,” said Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.
-- HP Enterprise allowed a Russian defense agency to scrutinize the cyberdefense system used by the Pentagon to guard its computer networks, potentially helping Moscow identify weaknesses in the software. Reuters’s Joel Schectman, Dustin Volz and Jack Stubbs report: “The HPE system, called ArcSight, serves as a cybersecurity nerve center for much of the U.S. military, alerting analysts when it detects that computer systems may have come under attack. ArcSight is also widely used in the private sector. The Russian review of ArcSight’s source code, the closely guarded internal instructions of the software, was part of HPE’s effort to win the certification required to sell the product to Russia’s public sector, according to the regulatory records … Six former U.S. intelligence officials, as well as former ArcSight employees and independent security experts, said the source code review could help Moscow discover weaknesses in the software, potentially helping attackers to blind the U.S. military to a cyber attack.”
THE TRUMP EMAILS:
-- White House officials are looking into a THIRD email account on Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s private domain, which received hundreds of messages from White House addresses. Politico’s Josh Dawsey and Andrea Peterson report: “The emails — which include nonpublic travel documents, internal schedules and some official White House materials — were in many cases sent from Ivanka Trump, her assistant Bridges Lamar and others who work with the couple in the White House. The emails to the third account were largely sent from White House accounts but occasionally came from other private accounts[.] … The existence of additional accounts on the family domain … raises new questions about the extent of personal email use by the couple during their time as White House aides.” (This may violate the Presidential Records Act.)
HURRICANE MARIA FALLOUT:
-- Trump will visit Puerto Rico today. Arelis Hernández, Dan Lamothe and Joel Achenbach report on how the island’s situation became desperate: “When things went bad during Hurricane Maria, they went bad all at once, across this entire island. Suddenly, everything was dysfunctional, including the power grid, the cellphone towers, the banking system. … The difficulty in responding to Maria has revealed how unique each disaster is — and how resistant to a one-size-fits-all approach. … For Maria, numerous Coast Guard and FEMA urban-search-and-rescue teams were on hand or arrived quickly. But it soon became clear that what people needed most were life-sustaining provisions — including water, food and diesel fuel for generators — that the search-and-rescue teams didn’t have.”
-- During his visit, Trump may see San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, his most recent Twitter target. Abby Phillip reports: “[T]he White House seemed to be downplaying his harsh criticism of Cruz, saying she had been invited to participate in the official visit. ‘Look, right now our focus is to bring the mayor into the coordination efforts,’ said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. ‘This administration, as well as other members on the ground, have reached out to her.’ ‘We hope that she will join with us in those efforts and be part of things,’ she added.”
-- Meanwhile, the Trump administration is planning to ask Congress for another $10 billion in relief funding. Ed O’Keefe reports: “[O]fficials [in Puerto Rico] and some lawmakers on the mainland are clamoring for legislation that would provide tens of billions of dollars in relief and address Puerto Rico’s long-simmering fiscal crisis, shore up its bankrupt electric company and plug a shortfall in Medicaid funding. … [Carmelo] Ríos, the Puerto Rico Senate’s majority leader, warned that Congress should act quickly. If it doesn’t, he expects 100,000 to 200,000 island residents to relocate, at least temporarily, to the mainland United States in the coming weeks.”
-- Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are proposing to combine $1 billion in extra Medicaid funding to Puerto Rico with the renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Paige Winfield Cunningham reports: “[The proposal] would be paid for with a bucket of items, including raising Medicare rates for wealthier seniors, redirecting dollars from the Affordable Care Act’s prevention fund and shortening a grace period for enrollees who don’t pay their premiums. … The funding, which would be provided to Puerto Rico over a two-year period, would be part of a package to fund [CHIP], community health centers and other health-care extenders.”
-- School districts along the entire East Coast are preparing to take on an influx of new Puerto Rican students as some families leave the island. The Wall Street Journal’s Joseph De Avila and Arian Campo-Flores report: “The Miami-Dade County school district has enrolled about a dozen Puerto Rican children. ‘I think that number will grow exponentially,’ said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools. … Boston schools, which have a 42% Hispanic population out of about 57,000 students, are setting up one-stop centers with nonprofit groups where families will be able to enroll students, get language assessments and obtain winter clothing[.] … Officials with New York City schools, the largest district in the U.S., with 1.1 million students, have been meeting regularly to prepare for the arrival of Puerto Rican evacuees[.]”
-- The fight over the GOP's tax plan begins, with friendly fire from both Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). Kelsey Snell reports: “Neither Paul nor Corker said he was firmly against the bill, but any GOP split over the tax framework creates a potentially perilous negotiation in the Senate[.] … Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said plans to finance tax cuts by adding to the deficit could be a problem for some Republicans but he is confident that economic growth will more than compensate for short-term losses.”
-- Trump is considering an executive order that would trigger a review of the American welfare system. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia reports: “[T]he draft order calls on agencies to review existing regulations and propose new rules that conform to a set of broad welfare principles, including tighter work requirements that encourage recipients to shift back into the labor force … Administration backers of the welfare executive order hope he signs it before Thanksgiving, one of the officials said. But another official cautioned that the conversations about the order are ‘very preliminary at this stage,’ adding that the final outcome is uncertain.”
-- Since taking office, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has had numerous meetings with top energy executives and almost none with environmental groups. The New York Times’s Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman reports: “In just the first 15 days of May, Mr. Pruitt met with the chief executive of the Chemours Company, a leading chemical maker, as well as three chemical lobbying groups; the egg producers lobby; the president of Shell Oil Company; the chief executive of Southern Company; lobbyists for the farm bureau, the toy association and a cement association; the president of a truck equipment manufacturer seeking to roll back emissions regulations for trucks; and the president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. … Mr. Pruitt also has made frequent, government-funded trips to his home state of Oklahoma, even when the journeys included only a bit of official business.”
OFF TO THE RACES:
-- Democrats are debating whether to commit extensive resources to Doug Jones’s Senate race against Roy Moore in Alabama, where they haven't competed in a serious Senate battle since 1996. The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report: “Democrats here and in Washington believe that their nominee … is the most formidable candidate they have fielded for the Senate in this state in over two decades. … Some in the party believe that they simply cannot write off the South if they expect to regain control of Congress — and that they will never recover here if they abandon high-quality candidates such as Mr. Jones. But the Democratic brand has become so toxic in states such as Alabama that if the national party rallies behind Mr. Jones and turns his candidacy into a liberal cause célèbre, it could only doom him by pushing Republicans reluctant to support Mr. Moore back to their partisan corner. …
“But in the eyes of many Democrats, opposing Mr. Moore is as much a moral imperative as a political one. As [David] Axelrod put it, [Moore], who has a decades-long record of making incendiary comments about gays, African-Americans and Muslims, is so offensive to Democrats that it makes him ‘hard to ignore.’ … [James] Carville added, ‘if you can’t run against Roy Moore, then what kind of party you got?’”
-- A group of pro-Trump figures is launching a new super PAC seeking to take aim at the Republican establishment. The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray reports: “Jeff Giesea, Mike Cernovich, and Jack Posobiec, organizers of the ‘Deploraball’ party to celebrate President Trump’s inauguration earlier this year, are behind the super PAC, which is being called #Rev18."
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) offered her thoughts on Las Vegas:
Bill Clinton and Barack Obama weighed in:
From the senator who represented the Sandy Hook victims:
From the lawmaker who was the victim of a different shooting:
From former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum:
Prominent Democrats called for more gun control:
Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham responded this way:
Kentucky’s Republican governor accused gun control advocates of exploiting a tragedy:
Democrats on the Hill also pushed for action on guns:
Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.), who has repeatedly called for Trump’s impeachment, postponed his campaign:
A Wired writer had this to say when responding to Fox News's host Howard Kurtz's comment that Democrats should wait before "plunging in" to gun control debate:
Against the backdrop of Hurricane Maria recovery efforts, San Juan recognized the tragedy:
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) donated blood for those injured:
From an NPR reporter:
The Onion has had to reuse this headline many times:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- “How Mike Flynn Jr. Is Dealing with Being Trapped Inside the Mueller Investigation,” by GQ's Ben Schreckinger: “That the younger Flynn — a man whose résumé is devoid of political experience—would end up on Mueller's radar speaks to a crazy truth in the widening Trump/Russia investigation. For every sophisticated operator like Paul Manafort, who has spent a lifetime in the trenches of political warfare … there's also a guy like Mike Flynn Jr. — a pretty average dude swept into a roiling case of monumental importance. That means that not only do Trump and his team have to worry about the potential misdeeds perpetrated by the president's men, but they must also fret about the president's dudes — and whatever malfeasance these amateurs may have committed out of sheer ignorance. . . . The myriad legal hassles the Flynns now face stem not from nefarious intent, [one] official argued, but from the fact that Flynn Jr. was in charge of the Flynn Intel Group's paperwork and was unqualified for his position. … ‘I wouldn't expect him to know who Farrah Fawcett is, let alone a FARA filing,’ said the official.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“New Document Shows Inner Workings Of Trump’s Voter Fraud Probe,” from HuffPost: “Friday’s disclosure is significant because it shows officials on the probe have contacted officials with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the Social Security Administration ― which suggests the commission may be proceeding with a plan to compare the voter data it’s collected against federal databases. … The commission had previously indicated it was considering running voter data from different states through a DHS database. … Observers have noted that any attempt to use DHS data to detect voter fraud is likely to produce false positives.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Republicans rage at Rauner,” from Politico: “Until recently, the biggest question looming over Illinois politics has been whether Republican Bruce Rauner, the most vulnerable incumbent governor in the country, can win re-election next year. Now the question is whether Rauner can make it through a Republican primary. After the first-term governor signed a highly controversial bill last week expanding taxpayer-funded abortion in the state — becoming the first governor in decades to on his own authorize Medicaid payments for the procedure — Rauner’s political universe began collapsing on itself.”
Trump and the first lady are traveling to Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan today. They will visit with victims of Hurricane Maria and meet with officials from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They will also later greet Navy and Marine Corps servicemembers.
Pence is traveling to Phoenix to promote overhauling the tax code with Gov. Doug Ducey (R). He also has an evening political reception.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“In hindsight, we all wish we could get those three or four days back," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said of the initial federal response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be another comfortable day in the District, before we return to hotter temperatures tomorrow. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “It’s two-for-Tuesday as we replicate Monday’s fantastic weather with mostly sunny skies, comfortably low humidity, and afternoon temperatures up into the 70s again. … Afternoon temperatures might be just a slight bit warmer than yesterday.”
-- The Redskins lost 29-20 in the final moments of last night’s game against the Chiefs. (Liz Clarke)
-- Laurene Powell Jobs is buying a big stake in the Wizards and Capitals. Powell’s investment in Monument Sports & Entertainment would be about 20 percent, giving her the second-largest stake behind owner Ted Leonsis. (Thomas Heath)
-- Capital Bikeshare plans to add 100 new stations next year as part of a larger expansion across the city. (Luz Lazo)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
One couple at the concert turned their truck into a makeshift ambulance to transport the injured to the hospital:
Country music stars Maren Morris and Vince Gill released a new song entitled “Dear Hate,” with proceeds going toward the Vegas victims:
The Post’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee fact-checked Sen. Bill Cassidy’s (R-La.) claim that most Planned Parenthood clinics are in urban centers where women have adequate access to health services:
And The Post's Carlos Lozada recalled this special performance from the late Tom Petty: