The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Why a Republican strategist thinks we’re in a new Gilded Age

President Trump tossed paper towel rolls to people affected by Hurricane Maria as he visited Calgary Chapel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Tuesday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Everywhere he looks, Republican strategist and lobbyist Bruce Mehlman sees “eerie” parallels between the Gilded Age and today.

Mehlman produces quarterly reports about the political climate. In his latest, which he’s distributing to his clients today, he argues that “data is the new oil.” He likens Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Larry Page and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos (who also owns The Washington Post) to captains of industry like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt.

“Back then you had iconic innovators who built these dominant companies and amassed great fortunes. You've got that again today,” Mehlman explained in an interview. “You saw income inequality spike. The last time it was as high for the top 10 percent as it is today was the Gilded Age. … In politics, you saw a rich few increasingly dominating spending to impact elections similar to today.

Mehlman, who was the assistant secretary of commerce for technology policy under George W. Bush and the policy director for the House Republican Conference before that, outlines additional similarities — and the lessons that might be learned from them — over 36 PowerPoint slides:

  • The economy shifted dramatically away from agriculture toward manufacturing from 1870 to 1920, just as it has moved away from manufacturing toward service over the past half century.
  • The last time immigrants made up as large a share of the population as they do right now was also during the Gilded Age.
  • President Trump’s win should be viewed partly as an aftershock of the Great Recession, just as the fear that lingered after market crashes in 1873 and 1893 affected the outcome of multiple elections.
  • The country was intensely divided politically. In 2016 and 2000, the candidate who lost the popular vote won the presidency. The last time that happened was 1888 and 1876.

-- Fear of disruption, backlash to change and frustration with inequality, immigrants and global trade all contributed back then to the sort of populist backlash we saw with Trump’s victory last November. The Republican Party, which dominated national politics in the decades after the Civil War, splintered. An aggressive press exposed corruption and the excesses of unfettered capitalism, which ratcheted up public pressure for reforms. The industrial age created new public policy problems and generated new alliances. William Jennings Bryan never became president, despite being the Democratic nominee three times, but he helped transform the country’s politics.

-- The passions of the populist movement eventually gave way to the Progressive Era. The federal government busted trusts, banned corporate political contributions, imposed food safety regulations and restricted child labor. Four amendments to the Constitution were enacted, including women’s suffrage and the direct election of senators, as well as the imposition of an income tax and the prohibition of alcohol.

Global trade powered tremendous economic growth at the dawn of the 20th century. While there were a lot of winners, there were also a lot of losers. Mehlman believes that now, as then, “the winner’s circle is too small.” Success in modern America is closely correlated to where you live, how much education you received, and which sector you work in.

-- Technology companies are coming under growing pressure because of the rising tides of populism, protectionism, nationalism and nativism. Mehlman, who was the policy lead at Cisco Systems during the collapse of the first tech bubble, believes industry behemoths need to worry about antitrust problems, strengthened consumer protection laws, security concerns, trade policy and new regulations that increase intermediary liability. Headaches are coming from lots of places, from Brussels to Beijing and Washington to Sacramento.

-- Against this backdrop, Mehlman thinks American politics has become less left vs. right and more insider vs. outsider. The globalist consensus that dominated through the Obama era is crumbling. “On issues like race and on immigration, we're now finding the culture war is competing with a class war,” Mehlman said. “You used to hear it from the Pat Buchanans of the world and some of the Democrats like Bernie Sanders, but it's now becoming mainstream in, for sure, the Democratic Party and, increasingly, the Republican Party. … The president campaigned and said we need to increase taxes on the rich. The class war has joined the culture war — both in the Progressive Era and potentially today. It could realign the political parties.”

-- In this environment, he believes that it will be very hard to get any marquee legislation enacted. “Almost every Republican and almost every Democratic rank-and-file member wants to get more done,” said Mehlman, a partner at the firm Mehlman Castagnetti. “The politics that we have, and at the top, the leadership, makes it difficult, less because there are not compromises and more because to stay on top of the tiger you have to keep feeding it. So it's very difficult to get the really big ticket things done.”

Mehlman does expect Congress to get something done on taxes. “It will probably not be 1986-style comprehensive, permanent reform,” he predicted. “It will probably be smaller. Maybe just tax cuts. It's always easier to cut taxes than to pay for it. The climate is different today than it was in 1986.”

I asked what worries his clients most: “Around the world, the greatest concern is opacity,” he said. “They don't know how to read the United States anymore. Once upon a time you could predict Republicans and you could predict Democrats and you kind of knew where policies and politics were going. These days, it's unclear whether the president is going to build a new Republican Party that's fundamentally economic nationalism, or whether he's going to be a more traditional right-of-center Republican.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump joked that he wouldn't lose support for his campaign even if he shot people "in the middle of Fifth Avenue." (Video: Reuters)

-- In his previous powerpoint, Mehlman made the case that Trump is to politics what Uber is to the technology industry. He highlighted parallels between the cycle of disruption that’s churned through Silicon Valley and what’s now wreaking havoc on Washington. (Read my July Big Idea on this theme: “Trump is the disrupter-in-chief in an age of disruption.”)

Since then, Trump’s culture wars have further inflamed his opposition and limited the potential upside of his economic nationalist message. Mehlman refers to the president’s most loyal supporters as “Fifth Avenue Republicans.” This is a reference to when Trump boasted last year that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and his supporters would still stick with him.

“The core challenge for the president politically is to try to grow his base,” Mehlman said yesterday. “There’s 98 percent support for the president among people who voted for him in the primary. And that's great, but it's not going to be sufficient in 2020. … As long as the culture war is concurrently raging, it's going to be very hard to gain the support of registered Democrats and independents.”

-- See Mehlman’s full slide deck here.

-- Listen to a 10-minute excerpt of my conversation with him at the end of today’s Big Idea audio briefing:

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-- Go deep: If you really want to bone up on the Gilded Age, I recommend Stanford professor Richard White’s “The Republic for Which It Stands,” a sweeping history of the United States from 1865 to 1896 that just published last month. It’s 941 pages but beautifully written and a gripping narrative of a tumultuous era. (White was one of my favorite professors at Stanford. I took two of his classes.)

-- The Daily 202 Live event with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney that was scheduled for this morning has been postponed. Follow @PostLive on Twitter or sign up here to receive updated scheduling info on our sit-down.

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-- Jacques Dubochet (a Swiss citizen), Joachim Frank (born in Germany, but works at Columbia University in New York) and Richard Henderson (Scottish, but works in England) won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their developments in cryo-electron microscopy. Nobel committee member Göran K. Hansson described cryo-electron microscopy as “a cool method for imaging the materials of life.” (Ben Guarino)

-- The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold a news conference today to express confidence in the view that Russia meddled in last year’s election. Karoun Demirjian and Greg Miller report: “The planned news conference from Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) has been billed as a forum for the two panel leaders to give the public an interim status update on the committee’s long-running investigation[.] … It is one of only a handful of public events the Senate Intelligence Committee has held in the nine months since commencing its probe.” They are also expected to warn states about possible intrusions in their election systems next year.

-- Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican popular with antiabortion activists, urged a woman with whom he was having an affair to get an abortion, according to text messages. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Paula Reed Ward reports: “A text message sent in January [by the] woman … took him to task for an anti-abortion statement posted on Facebook from his office's public account. ‘And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options,’ [the woman], with whom the congressman admitted last month to having a relationship, wrote to Mr. Murphy on Jan. 25, in the midst of an unfounded pregnancy scare.

“A text from Mr. Murphy’s cell phone number that same day in response says, ‘I get what you say about my March for life messages. I've never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don't write any more. I will.’ The congressman has been lauded by the Family Research Council, for his stance on abortion, as well as for family values, generally. He also has been endorsed by LifePAC, which opposes abortion rights, and is a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, an affiliation that is often cited by his office.”

-- The Yankees defeated the Twins 8-4 in the American League wild-card game. Adam Kilgore reports: “The Yankees’ bullpen recorded the final 26 outs after [Luis] Severino yielded home runs to two of the six batters he faced. Mammoth rookie Aaron Judge treated his first postseason game like a play thing, going 2 for 4 with a walk and one of the Yankees’ three home runs, a two-run shot in the fourth that pushed New York ahead 7-4 and finally allowed one team to assert control.”


  1. The U.S. expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the embassy on Tuesday, seeking to match U.S. staff reductions in Havana after a bizarre string of “health attacks” that injured at least 22 Americans. The move is certain to deepen tensions with Cuba’s government, which has denied any involvement in the attacks. (Carol Morello)
  2. Every single one of Yahoo’s 3 billion user accounts were affected by a massive 2013 data breach, company officials announced — vastly expanding the scope of the record-breaking hack. (Brian Fung)
  3. Former Equifax chief executive Richard Smith testified before Congress on the credit reporting agency’s massive breach, which left exposed the personal information of more than 145 million consumers. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) described Equifax's response as “ham-fisted” and “unacceptable.” (Hamza Shaban)
  4. Meanwhile, the IRS has awarded Equifax a multimillion-dollar contract to help prevent fraud. Notice of the contract was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities database on Sept. 30. (Politico)
  5. The bodyguard assigned to former U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens testified for nearly six hours in the federal trial of accused Benghazi ringleader Abu Khattala, recounting the harrowing explosions and the last time he saw the ambassador alive. (Spencer S. Hsu and Ann E. Marimow)
  6. Former HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified at the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). She described an “unusual” meeting with the senator, but her account did not seem to directly aid the prosecutors’ or defense’s arguments. (CNN)
  7. Spain’s king appeared on national television to harshly criticize Catalonia’s independence referendum, which he said was “totally outside law and democracy” and was “meant to fracture Spain.” (William Booth)
  8. People who reject vaccinations are the most likely drivers of a steady increase in the rate of measles and other major disease outbreaks in the U.S., according to a new analysis. The findings add to the body of evidence linking failure to vaccinate with the spread of the highly infectious — and potentially fatal — disease. (Lena H. Sun)


-- Las Vegas authorities said the gunman who opened fire on a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers Sunday night had planned “extensively” for the massacre — placing security cameras around his 32nd-story hotel room, including in a hallway food cart, so he could see when officers were closing in. Tim Craig, Mark Berman, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report: “’It was preplanned, extensively, and I’m pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troublesome,’ [Las Vegas Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said]. Lombardo also said the department has opened an investigation into the unauthorized release of images that show the crime scene, including the bullet-riddled door to the suite used by the gunman, Stephen Paddock.”

-- Guests at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino helped police track Paddock’s gunfire to the 32nd floor, as hotel operators taking panicked calls realized the shots sounded louder to guests on certain floors. (Scott Wilson and Lynh Bui)

-- Meanwhile, The Daily Beast’s Michael Daly and Justin Glawe report that Paddock may have originally planned to target a different Vegas music festival held the previous weekend. “[Paddock] rented multiple condos overlooking the annual Life Is Beautiful Festival, which this year was headlined by Lorde and Chance the Rapper, said the source … In an effort to confirm the report, The Daily Beast visited the Ogden, a 21-story luxury condominium tower with a line of sight to the concert-grounds. The source suggested that Paddock may have lost his nerve or simply changed his plans and checked into the Mandalay Bay Hotel on September 28.”

-- Paddock's live-in girlfriend Marilou Danley arrived last night at LAX from the Philippines and was taken in for questioning. (Reuters)

-- Danley’s sisters told an Australian news network that Paddock “sent her away” to the Philippines in anticipation of the shooting. NBC News’s Alastair Jamieson reports: “Paddock bought [Danley] ‘a cheap ticket’ to her home country two weeks before he opened fire on a country music concert on the Las Vegas Strip. … Her sisters, who live in Australia, believe she knew nothing of Paddock’s deadly intentions. ‘She didn’t even know that she was going to the Philippines, until Steve said “Marilou, I found you a cheap ticket to the Philippines,”’ one of the women, who spoke on condition they were not identified, told NBC’s Australian partner, Channel 7. ‘She was sent away. She was [sent] away so that she will not be there to interfere with what he’s planning.”

-- One week before the shooting, authorities said Paddock wired $100,000 to an account in the Philippines — Danley's home country. NBC News’s Tom Winter, Jonathan Dienst, Pete Williams and Andrew Blankstein report: “But while officials have confirmed that [Danley] was in the Philippines on Sunday … it was not known whether the money was for her or her family or for another purpose. Danley, 62, who had traveled to Hong Kong on Sept. 25, could fill in some of the blanks when she returns to the United States on Wednesday, the officials said. … Investigators believe Paddock and Danley started dating in the spring and lived together in Mesquite. They do not believe she was involved in the shooting, although Paddock did have some of her identification on him …”

-- Meanwhile, new details continued to emerge about Paddock’s life, William Wan, Sandhya Somashekhar, Aaron C. Davis and Barbara Liston report: “From 1976 to 1985, Paddock worked U.S. government jobs: as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, an agent for the IRS  and an auditor for U.S. government’s Defense Contract Audit Agency, according to the Office of Personnel Management. Neighbors in several states where he owned homes in retirement communities described him as surly, unfriendly and standoffish.” “We didn’t talk much. We talked when there was something to talk about,” said Eric Paddock. “Steve had no help. Steve did not take help. He was a stand-alone guy.”

--  On his relationship with Danley. “Paddock met [Danley] several years ago while she was working as a high-limit hostess for Club Paradise at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in [Reno]," our colleagues report.‘"They were adorable — big man, tiny woman. He loved her. He doted on her,’ Eric said. [Longtime neighbor Elizabeth Tyee said] Danley traveled all the time [and] had a daughter and grandchildren … Like many neighbors, Tyee recalled Danley as being extremely sweet and friendly, and always hugged her when they saw each other. Paddock, however, was more standoffish.”

-- But staff at a local Starbucks had a much different impression of the relationship. Employees at the Mesquite, Nev., store said Paddock often berated Danley, and would “wince” when they saw him approaching. “It happened a lot,” one supervisor told the LA Times. She said the two were regulars. 


-- More of the 59 victims killed are being identified, and The Post is keeping an updated list of their names. Here are a few more of their stories:

  • Very shortly after news of the shooting first broke, Carrie Barnette’s loved ones began posting on her Facebook page: “Please please please let us know your ok!” Her death was confirmed Monday night by her employer, the Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger called Barnette’s passing “[a] senseless, horrific, act, and a terrible loss for so many.”
  • Jack Beaton was at the concert celebrating his 23rd wedding anniversary. He died shielding his wife, Laurie, from the bullets.
  • Cameron Robinson had become a father figure to the three children of his boyfriend, Robert Eardley. After Robinson was shot in the neck, Eardley carried him to a vehicle meant for the hospital. He died in Eardley’s arms. 

-- Kody Robertson and Michelle Vo had met only hours [before the incident], but, after Vo was shot in the chest, Robertson raced from hospital to hospital to find her. Wesley Lowery reports: “The 32-year-olds [had] connected immediately. … By the time the night’s final act took the main stage, the fast friends had settled into a spot about 20 yards from the right side of the stage[.] … [Once the shots began,] Robertson threw his body on top of hers as a shield from the bullets and, when the firing finally seemed to stop, worked with another man to carry Vo out of the venue — pausing for cover each time the gunfire resumed. … [At the hospital,] Robertson relayed what he knew: She had been shot in the chest and taken to a hospital. He’d keep looking until he found her. He promised.

-- The injuries overwhelmed Las Vegas hospitals. Tim Craig, Felicia Mello and Lena H. Sun report: “As trauma nurse Renae Huening rushed into Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center on Sunday night, she ‘followed a trail of blood indoors.’ … ‘You’re standing in a pool of blood trying to care for your patient, slipping and sliding,’ Huening said. ‘Soon you’re covered in blood yourself.’ . . . So many patients poured into the city’s hospitals that pediatric surgeons were operating on adults and obstetricians were attending to trauma patients. … Across the city, hospital administrators called in their entire staffs within minutes of hearing of the shooting and mass casualties. Elite neurosurgeons were mobilized. Environmental technicians were tasked with cleaning up blood. And the patients just kept coming.”

-- The Post’s readers wrote in to tell us how they are processing the tragedy and how they would describe their emotions in one word. The most common response: disgusted. 

A look back at how several presidents responded to deadliest mass shootings of their time. (Video: Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)


-- Trump praised the performance of Vegas law enforcement officials, saying their response to the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history was, “in many ways, a miracle.” Jenna Johnson reports: ‘Look, we have a tragedy. What happened is, in many ways, a miracle,’ Trump said … ‘The police department, they’ve done such an incredible job. And we’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes on. But I do have to say, how quickly the police department was able to get in was really very much of a miracle. They’ve done an amazing job.’”

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke on Oct. 3, in the wake of the deadly Las Vegas shooting. (Video: Reuters)


-- The Post's Marc Fisher has a piece out this morning on how the NRA has used pop culture and partisanship to its advantage: “In the cultural and political standoff over the role that guns should play in American society, the sides are so starkly drawn that groups such as the NRA don't really need to jump into action when a traumatic event such as the Vegas shooting takes place. … [NRA national board member] Jeff Nugent said the NRA has mastered the craft of using pop culture and social media to create a base of support that can withstand periodic surges of anti-gun sentiment.”

-- Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that GOP leaders have no plans to advance a bill making it easier to purchase gun silencers to the House floor. Mike DeBonis and Kelsey Snell report: ‘That bill is not scheduled now; I don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled,’ said Ryan … ‘Right now we’re focused on passing our budget.’ Owning a firearm silencer [currently] requires a special license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives … The House bill would instead treat silencers, also known as suppressors, like firearms — requiring only a federal background check. The legislation also includes provisions that would loosen restrictions on transporting firearms across state lines and prevent certain types of ammunition from being … [subjected] to tighter federal oversight.”

-- Mitch McConnell shut down talk of taking up gun control legislation in the Senate. Politico’s Burgess Everett reports: “McConnell declared this is simply not the time to be talking about legislation targeting firearms. … The GOP leader similarly parried when pressed on why Democratic efforts have failed to resonate with voters. … ‘It's particularly inappropriate to politicize an event like this. It just happened within the last day and half. Entirely premature to be discussing about legislative solutions if any,’ McConnell said. … He then switched to more comfortable territory before ending his weekly news conference. ‘In the meantime, our priority is on tax reform.'”

-- Congressional Democrats are demanding gun control — but efforts are likely to fail as they have after previous incidents. The New York Times’s Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Yamiche Alcindor report: “As they have done in the past, Democrats are contemplating legislation shaped to the massacre. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, suggested targeting kits that could legally transform semiautomatic weapons to automatic ones.” But they acknowledged Congress wasn't likely to act.

-- House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told Fox News, that despite his own life-threatening gunshot wound, lawmakers should avoid “promoting our political agenda” after Vegas. He added that the Vegas incident had “fortified” his belief in the Second Amendment. (Politico)

-- Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) argued that “permissive laws,” like those in “sanctuary cities,” are more responsible for such violence than lax gun laws. “That has a lot more to do with [mass shootings] than gun owners laws,” Inhofe said. “You can go ahead and break a law and you can come to a sanctuary city, and they wouldn’t enforce the laws.” (Vox)

During a visit to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico on Oct. 3, President Trump delivered aid supplies at Calvary Chapel in Guaynabo. (Video: The Washington Post)


-- Puerto Rico's official death toll from Hurricane Maria increased Tuesday evening from 16 to 34.

-- But according to the president, who visited Puerto Rico yesterday for the first time since the disaster struck, the Puerto Ricans should be “proud” of the low death toll compared to “a real catastrophe like Katrina.” Ashley Parker and Jenna Johnson report: “'Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here, with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody’s ever seen anything like this,’ Trump said, before turning to a local official to ask how many people had died in storm … [Trump] also seemed to fault the small island for imperiling the United States’s budget by requiring hurricane relief funds, saying, ‘I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack.’” More on his visit:

  • “After Trump’s impromptu remarks to officials, his motorcade drove along a highway lined with broken highway dividers and hundreds of downed trees,” our colleagues write. “He took a walking tour … stopping to pose for photos with locals and chat about the hurricane and basketball. As he finished talking with one family, he told them: ‘Have a good time.’”
  • “At one brief stop at a church, Trump told the gathering that they no longer needed flashlights, and he tossed rolls of paper towels into the crowd as if they were basketballs. He took a helicopter tour, visited a ship, posed for selfies — and then left an hour earlier than scheduled.”
  • One man told the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale that he had never felt humiliated as a Puerto Rican until he watched Trump’s visit. “[Trump] arrives with a smile on his face, makes fun of the situation … and then throws paper towel rolls to people in need as if he was playing Go Fetch with dogs,” he said. “It’s the whole scene where the privileged white man comes to save the brown peasants after they’ve been begging, thirsty and hungry. It’s super disgusting to see, honestly.”

Trump pushed back on the media portrayal of his visit and the recovery efforts in a tweet this morning:

-- The situation on the ground is still dire. Remote towns are struggling to retrieve supplies from regional pickup points. The New York Times’s Jack Healy, Frances Robles and Ron Nixon report: “[Gov. Ricardo Rosselló] said a major issue was getting transportation to distribute aid to people who need it. … FEMA officials said they did not encounter the same issues distributing supplies to residents after the hurricanes in Texas and in Florida because, despite the damage, most roads into those areas remained intact. Once the floodwaters receded they were able to deliver aid.”

-- And students on the island may not be able to return to school for weeks or even months. Moriah Balingit and Arelis R. Hernández report: “The extended school closures may not only delay education for schoolchildren but also sever a lifeline for students who rely on schools for free lunches and clean drinking water. Officials have no timeline for when all schools will reopen, but in the interim they plan to use many campuses as ‘service centers,’ where students can come for a meal and informal, half-day classes, and where families can get clean drinking water and meet with disaster relief officials.”

-- Help may be on the way: Meanwhile, the White House is slated to ask Congress to authorize almost $30 billion in new funding. Damian Paletta, Mike DeBonis and Ed O'Keefe report: “The funding request includes $12.77 billion in disaster recovery funds, $577 million to address wildfires, and $15 billion to fund the flood insurance program. It is not expected to seek budget cuts to offset the new spending. Officials from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are pushing the Trump administration and Congress to prepare a comprehensive rebuilding plan … that in the case of Puerto Rico also would address several longer-term fiscal concerns.”


-- Mike Pence’s chief of staff blasted congressional leaders Tuesday during a closed-door RNC event with wealthy donors, suggesting a “purge” of anti-Trump lawmakers who fail to rally behind his legislative agenda. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia and Matthew Nussbaum report: In remarks … [Nick Ayers] warned that Republicans are ‘on track to get shellacked’ in next year’s midterm elections if GOP lawmakers don’t pass Trump’s legislative priorities. But Ayers reserved his harshest criticism for congressional leaders and members who have [been critical of Trump]. ‘Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him,’ Ayers said … ‘I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president  … But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things[:] We’re definitely not giving to you, number one. And number two, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.’”

Ayers continued, “Because, look, if we’re going to be in the minority again, we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority.”

-- More plane trouble: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s top aide flew on a billionaire’s private jet to Palm Beach several months ago. Damian Paletta and Tom Hamburger report: “Eli Miller, Mnuchin’s chief of staff, flew with Nelson Peltz, a founding partner of New York-based Trian Fund Management, on the trip. Peltz is an activist shareholder who has sought a board seat at Procter & Gamble, seeking to shake up management. He has spoken glowingly about Trump's proposal to slash tax rates on businesses and the wealthy, which is something designed in large part by senior Treasury officials. Rich Delmar, counsel to the Treasury Department’s inspector general, said the office has launched an inquiry into Miller’s trip[.]

-- Paul Ryan tried to talk the administration out of firing HHS Secretary Tom Price minutes before his “resignation” was announced. Politico’s Josh Dawsey and Rachael Bade report: “Ryan urged [chief of staff John] Kelly to reconsider and touted the Georgia Republican’s experience in Congress and work in the administration[.] … But Kelly made clear that Price was out, and the call quickly ended[.] … The conversation reflected a private disagreement between the White House and Ryan's office[.] … It also shows how the decision to oust Price caused some angst on Capitol Hill.

-- Following the news that Jared Kushner used a private email at the White House to conduct official business, both Kushner and Ivanka Trump moved their personal accounts to computers run by the Trump Organization. USA Today’s Brad Heath reports: “The move … came shortly after [Robert Mueller] asked the White House to turn over records related to his investigation … It also more closely intertwines [Trump’s] administration with his constellation of private businesses. According to internet registration records … Kushner and [Ivanka] switched the location of their email accounts to a server operated by the Trump Organization on either Sept. 26 or 27, as attention from the media and lawmakers intensified.

  • Sen. Ben Cardin, (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent letters yesterday to Rex Tillerson and White House counsel Don McGahn requesting more information about Kushner’s personal email accounts. (Politico)

-- The Office of Special Counsel concluded that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley violated the Hatch Act by retweeting one of Trump’s campaign endorsements. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “Haley’s June Twitter post from her personal account marks the second time this year that a top Trump aide has run afoul of the Hatch Act, a Depression-era law that regulates campaigning by government officials. While the flagged message circulated from @nikkihaley, which isn’t Haley’s official ambassador account, the Office of Special Counsel determined her decision to repost a presidential message supporting Republican House candidate Ralph Norman still ‘gave the impression that she was acting in her official capacity.’”

-- Scott Pruitt has filled much of his time as EPA administrator meeting with corporate executives and industry representatives — and sidestepping environmental and public health groups, according to a detailed copy of his calendar. Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report: “On April 26, for example, Pruitt had lunch with executives from Southern, one of the nation’s biggest coal-burning utilities … [before meeting with] a major coal-mining operation for a dinner at BLT Prime[.] On other occasions, Pruitt traveled to a Ritz-Carlton golf resort in Naples, Fla., for a National Mining Association meeting; to another golf resort in Arizona to speak at a board meeting for the National Association of Manufacturers; and to a resort in Colorado to speak at an event organized by the conservative Heritage Foundation.”

-- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s security protection by the U.S. Marshal’s Service over the next 12 months will cost up to $6.54 million. DeVos is the only Cabinet member to receive marshal protection, but her spokeswoman said “the amount of security around her matches the threats around her.” (Moriah Balingit)


-- Jon Huntsman presented his credentials as the new U.S. ambassador to Russia to Vladimir Putin yesterday. Andrew Roth reports: “[Huntsman] pledged to work on repairing relations that are at their worst since the twilight years of the Cold War. … In remarks before the ceremony, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he hoped Huntsman could ‘repair the damage’ caused to the relationship between the two countries ‘by Washington’s actions.’ Putin called current relations ‘unsatisfactory’ and demanded greater respect for ‘national interests and noninterference in internal affairs[.]’”

-- A number of Russian-linked Facebook ads bought during last year’s campaign targeted Michigan and Wisconsin — two of the most highly contested states that were critical to Trump’s victory. CNN’s Manu Raju, Dylan Byers, and Dana Bash report: “Some of the Russian ads appeared highly sophisticated in their targeting of key demographic groups in areas of the states that turned out to be pivotal … [and] employed a series of divisive messages aimed at breaking through the clutter of campaign ads online, including promoting anti-Muslim messages, sources said.”

-- Twitter and Facebook are still allowing the Russia-backed news network RT to advertise on their platforms. The tech giants could face further questions over their decisions related to RT when they appear before congressional intelligence committees in coming weeks. (Recode)

-- Rex Tillerson considered resigning this summer before the vice president talked him out of it. NBC News’s Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Stephanie Ruhle and Dafna Linzer report: “The tensions came to a head around the time [Trump delivered] a politicized speech in late July to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Tillerson once led, the officials said. Just days earlier, Tillerson had openly disparaged the president, referring to him as a ‘moron,’ after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon[.] … While it's unclear if he was aware of the incident, [Pence] counseled Tillerson … on ways to ease tensions with Trump, and other top administration officials urged him to remain in the job at least until the end of the year[.]”

-- Two months before a Russian lawyer purporting to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton met with Trump Jr. in New York, Natalia Veselnitskaya also met with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) during his trip to Moscow. Foreign Policy’s Elias Groll reports: “In an interview with a pro-Russian Crimean news service, Veselnitskaya said she met with Rohrabacher . . .  in April 2016 to discuss issues surrounding the Magnitsky Act, the punitive American sanctions measure responding to Russian human rights abuses that she has lobbied against. ‘We just asked to listen to us, just to listen to the alternative version,’ Veselnitskaya said.”

The process of redrawing district lines to give an advantage to one party over another is called "gerrymandering." Here's how it works. (Video: Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)


-- Oral arguments have begun in the Supreme Court’s pivotal gerrymandering case, but the justices still seem unsure of how to construct a test that would keep the political practice at bay. Robert Barnes reports: “While [likely swing vote Justice Anthony M. Kennedy] has previously expressed concerns about the political mapmaking practice, he has yet to endorse a way of determining when gerrymandering is excessive, and Kennedy gave no sign at oral arguments Tuesday that he had found one. … Even conservative justices skeptical of [the challengers’] argument seemed to agree that it was unsavory for members of the party in power to draw legislative districts to protect themselves and their own, and make it hard for opponents to ever gain power.”

-- The oral arguments were notable for a testy exchange between the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin writes: “The argument had gone on for nearly an hour when Gorsuch began a question as follows: ‘Maybe we can just for a second talk about the arcane matter of the Constitution.’ … Gorsuch went on to give his colleagues a civics lecture about the text of the Constitution. … [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] didn’t even raise her head before offering a brisk and convincing dismissal. In her still Brooklyn-flecked drawl, she grumbled, ‘Where did “one person, one vote” come from?’ There might have been an audible woo that echoed through the courtroom.”

Republicans on Sept. 27 introduced a tax proposal that would deeply cut taxes but would also likely add to the national debt. (Video: Danielle Kunitz, Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)


-- Republicans are backing away from a plan to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes to pay for their proposed tax cuts. The New York Times’s Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley report: “[E]limination of the provision has emerged as a flash point in the nascent debate over the plan, with Republicans in high-tax states worried about backlash from residents who could see their tax bills rise. The White House and Republican lawmakers are considering alternatives to an outright repeal, including allowing taxpayers to choose between deducting their mortgage interest or state and local taxes, a limit on the deduction or a special tax break for middle-class families that live in areas with high property taxes.”

-- Trump’s EPA plans to propose repealing the Clean Power Plan, according to a document obtained by Reuters: “The decision marks the agency’s first formal step to sweep away the rule intended to cut carbon emissions from power plants, after [Trump] signed an executive order in March launching the EPA’s review.”

-- House lawmakers approved a bill on Tuesday banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, advancing a key GOP priority that has earned the backing of President Trump. It is unlikely to pass the Senate. (Mike DeBonis and Jenna Johnson)

-- Trump’s national security team is advising him to decertify the Iran nuclear deal but still keep it intact. Politico’s Eliana Johnson reports: “Trump’s team plans to work with Congress and European allies to apply new pressure on the Iranian regime . . . But the strategy assumes the nuclear deal will remain intact for now. . . . The goal is to allow the president to demonstrate contempt for the agreement and broadcast a new level of toughness toward the Iranian regime — without triggering the international chaos several of his advisers warn would follow from a total withdrawal from the 2015 deal.”

-- DACA deal in doubt? Ed O’Keefe reports: “Democratic leaders say they are still waiting for Trump to submit ideas on how Congress should proceed. … Schumer told reporters that he has no reason to believe Trump is backing off his pledge to work with Democrats on immigration[.] … Trump has not met in person with Schumer or Pelosi since their September dinner, but the president did speak with Schumer by phone Thursday about the future of DACA and other matters[.]”

-- Meanwhile, some Senate Republicans are signaling support for a DACA replacement – but only if it occurs alongside internal immigration enforcement. The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler reports.


-- Even as the GOP Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore plans a visit to Washington, the tension between him and establishment figures like McConnell does not appear to have subsided. Sean Sullivan and Michael Scherer report: “There were no signs that Moore planned to meet or make up with President Trump, [McConnell] or Alabama Sen. Richard C. Shelby, all of whom backed [Moore’s opponent.] … Moore was not on hand at Tuesday’s weekly Republican luncheon, a potential harbinger of lingering bad blood for the establishment’s backing of [Sen. Luther] Strange. ‘I would call the Moore campaign to get the Moore campaign schedule,’ said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart[.]”

-- Meanwhile, Democrat Doug Jones appeared at a rally with Joe Biden yesterday, even as other prominent Democrats have kept Jones at arm’s length. David Weigel reports: “[Democrats] see how Jones could excite the party’s base but worry about him riling up Republican voters. … Jones has begun to attract more interest from national donors, and a representative of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was on hand at the Biden rally. But Biden, who has known Jones for years and previously urged him to run for office, is expected to be Democrats’ highest-profile surrogate in a state where the national party’s brand is almost toxic.”


Jason Aldean tweeted for the first time since a shooter attacked while he played at a Vegas festival:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) disputed the argument that gun control will never happen if Sandy Hook couldn’t make it happen:

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) sarcastically commented on video of Trump throwing paper towels to Puerto Ricans:

The chief of foreign disaster assistance under Obama slammed Trump's statement that Puerto Rico did not suffer a "real catastrophe":

Trump also had this interaction with the San Juan mayor he insulted on Twitter:

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) took this shot at the GOP tax plan:

Democratic senators voiced their support for the Dream Act:

From a congressional reporter for AP:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) decried gerrymandering:

Ivanka Trump visited Camp Lejeune:

And the Obamas celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary:


-- Politico Magazine, “Rural Hospitals Are Dying and Pregnant Women Are Paying the Price,” by Lisa Rab: “Three years ago, Lucia Parker gave birth to her first child surrounded by people she loved. Her mother, sister, and husband were by her side at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, and the nurses attending her were family friends. … The hospital, in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, was 25 minutes from Parker’s home. But this February, when her second baby is due, she won’t be able to deliver there. Instead, she plans to drive an hour-and-a-half southwest to Mission Hospital in Asheville[.] … She doesn’t have much of a choice. Blue Ridge’s labor and delivery unit, which delivered 173 children last year, shut down on September 30.”

-- Washington Examiner, “Republican donors seek out Steve Bannon,” by David Drucker: “Republican donors are furious with Senate Republicans — many with [Mitch] McConnell specifically. They're disappointed with the outcome in Alabama and angry that the Senate hasn't passed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. That has some donors, who usually circulate in establishment circles, taking the measure of Bannon to prepare for the upheaval that many party insiders believe is coming in next year's primaries[.]”

-- The Wall Street Journal, “The Downside of Baseball’s Data Revolution — Long Games, Less Action,” by Brian Costa and Jared Diamond: “Baseball has never been more beset by inaction. Games this season saw an average gap of 3 minutes, 48 seconds between balls in play, an all-time high. … A confluence of hitting, pitching and defensive strategies spawned by the league’s ‘Moneyball’ revolution have all played a role. That makes baseball, whose early use of big-data strategies was embraced by the business world in general, a case study in its unintended consequences.”


“This Is Why The US Voted Against A UN Resolution Condemning The Death Penalty For LGBT People,” from BuzzFeed News: “The Trump administration is under fire from LGBT activists and human rights supporters over a vote on Tuesday against a resolution condemning the use of the death penalty. But it isn't just this particular resolution or the current administration — the US has never supported any measure at the UN that condemns the death penalty. … The US was one of the 13 votes against, alongside Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, a point that led LGBT groups in particular to immediately respond, calling out the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in particular for her stance.”



“I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise,” from Leah Libresco: “[M]y colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.”



Trump and the first lady will travel to Las Vegas today to visit with victims of Sunday's mass shooting, as well as medical professionals and first responders.

Pence will return to the District from Arizona today. 


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban confirmed that he is “considering” a run for president: “Considering, yes. Ready to commit to it, no,” Cuban said on Bakari Sellers’s podcast. “If I can come up with solutions that I think people can get behind, and truly solve problems, then it makes perfect sense for me to run.”



-- The District should get more beautiful weather today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Another beauty of a day, once we get past some morning clouds. Skies should turn partly to mostly sunny later this morning into the afternoon, as a light breeze from the south helps afternoon highs reach the upper 70s.”

-- State Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Fauquier) has hired former Trump campaign adviser Mike Rubino to assist in her bid to be Virginia’s next lieutenant governor. (Laura Vozzella)

-- A group of activists want a 45-foot-tall statue of a naked woman to stand on the Mall for four months. The artwork would be the centerpiece of November’s “Catharsis on the Mall” festival. (Perry Stein)

-- Dogs may now return to the District’s bar and restaurant patios, following a unanimous D.C. Council vote to overturn a years-old ban by the health department. (Rachel Chason)


Stephen Colbert accused the president of “Trump-splaining” to the Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria:

One of the Vegas survivors recounted how she escaped and looked forward to how she may recover:

Two days after the Las Vegas shooting, Christina Gruber struggled to make sense of what happened, and why she survived when others didn't. (Video: Dalton Bennett, Alice Li/The Washington Post)

The Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked the claim by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that a silencer would have altered the police’s ability to find the Vegas shooter:

Gun silencers don't silence a weapon as some have suggested, but they do make it more difficult to trace the sound. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) told the CEO of Wells Fargo that he "should be fired":

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) questioned whether Wells Fargo’s chief executive Timothy J. Sloan's 30 years experience at the bank made him the right choice to reform its corporate culture. (Video: Sen. Elizabeth Warren)

And dolphins in Australia surprised beachgoers by coming close to shore:

A playful dolphin splashed beachgoers in Western Australia on Oct. 3. (Video: Darlene Kinna/Facebook)