With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: The dirty little secret about attack ads is that they usually work. That’s why campaigns run them, even though voters constantly complain about how much they hate negativity.

Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, has been running some doozies this fall. He’s spent millions on often misleading ads that paint his patrician opponent, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, as soft on pedophiles and the Latino gang MS-13. He’s made the protection of Confederate monuments one of his signature issues. “I’m for keeping ’em up, and he’s for taking ’em down,” Gillespie says to camera. “And that’s a big difference in November!”

These spots represent a stunning about-face for a former Republican National Committee chairman who made a name for himself evangelizing about the need for the GOP to reject dog whistles and improve outreach to minorities. But Gillespie seems willing to trade his reputation for victory if that’s what is required. And his strategy is paying dividends.

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll finds that Northam’s lead has narrowed to five percentage points, down from 13 points a month ago. He leads among likely voters 49 percent to Gillespie’s 44 percent, a margin that is not statistically significant. The Republican has closed a motivation gap and seen his share of support rise among supporters of President Trump, without driving away independents and moderates.

Gillespie is still the underdog, but if he prevails next week, it will be because he found a way to thread the needle in the age of Trump, maintaining his appeal to establishment Republicans while also wading into the fever swamps of Trumpism.

This matters, even if you don’t live in Virginia, because dozens of Republicans across the country are going to follow Gillespie’s playbook in 2018 if it works. Top GOP operatives in the battle for control of the House tell me that they’re watching closely, running polls and using focus groups to gauge the potency of the wedge issues Gillespie has embraced — specifically MS-13 and “sanctuary cities.” They think Gillespie is showing a possible path to victory for several vulnerable Republicans in exurban districts. You are also likely to see similar lines of attack against Democratic senators and in several marquee governor’s races in purple states.

Our story about the new poll quotes several respondents who are unnerved by Gillespie’s deflating and divisive messaging. A slight majority of Virginians — 51 percent — think Gillespie has run “a mainly negative campaign.” But 37 percent say the same of Northam. Scott Clement and Laura Vozzella note in their write-up of the results that there are only modest signs of backlash in the cross tabs:

  • Voters split about evenly when asked whom they trust to handle illegal immigration, but Gillespie has an eight-percentage-point edge on trust to handle “crime and public safety.”
  • Gillespie trailed by more than 20 points at the beginning of October in the swing-voting Northern Virginia exurbs that encompass Loudoun County. Now he’s tied with Northam at 44 percent.
  • Among self-identified conservatives, Gillespie’s lead over Northam grew from 56 points to 69 points.
  • Gillespie’s lead among white voters without college degrees has increased from 25 points to 35 points. (Trump won this group by 47 points in 2016 exit polls.)
  • Gillespie’s supporters have caught up to Northam’s in motivation to vote and in attention to the race. Among registered voters, an identical 71 percent of both Northam and Gillespie supporters say they are certain to vote or have already done so, a shift from four weeks ago, when Northam backers had a nearly 10-point edge on this measure.

-- Gillespie’s commercials have moved the needle enough that Northam feels compelled to run a response ad decrying the “fearmongering” as “despicable” and “false.” “I’m a pediatrician, and for Ed Gillespie to say I would tolerate anyone hurting a child is despicable,” Northam says to the camera.

In politics, there’s some truth to the old saying that when you’re explaining you’re losing. But there’s also an existential risk in letting attacks this nasty go unanswered. That’s how “swiftboated” became a verb in 2004.

-- Northam remains more likely than not to win next Tuesday. He has a big advantage on who voters trust more to handle health care and race, two concerns that are top of mind. He’s also up 11 points among women, who are more likely to vote than men.

But the race is closer than the fundamentals suggest it should be. Virginia has moved to the left over the past decade. Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry the Old Dominion in a presidential election since Lyndon Johnson. Last year, with Sen. Tim Kaine on the ticket, Virginia was the only Southern state that Hillary Clinton carried.

Trump’s approval rating is 38 percent among likely voters, with 59 percent disapproving. Fifty-two percent of likely voters strongly disapprove of Trump. You’d expect that to be a significant anchor pulling down Gillespie, but Democrats have not successfully tied him to the unpopular president. (He’s getting 44 percent of the vote.)

Gillespie now receives 95 percent support among people who approve of Trump’s job performance. Northam is getting only 81 percent of those who disapprove of Trump’s performance.

Northam is trying to rectify his problem with the base in the home stretch. The lieutenant governor will spend this evening trying to gin up progressives in the D.C. suburbs, for example, by stumping with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in Arlington and then Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in Dale City.

-- The latest wrinkle: One liberal outside group chose to fight fire with fire, but it’s backfiring.

The Latino Victory Fund launched a television ad on Monday that depicts four minority children running away from a pickup truck driven by a white man, flying a Confederate flag and has a Gillespie bumper sticker. The group pulled the commercial last night after a terrorist attack in New York City involved a pickup truck running down people on a bike path. (Much more on that below.)

The ad was commissioned after an internal poll by America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy group, showed a lack of enthusiasm for Northam among Latinos and African Americans. “Northam’s campaign urged the groups not to release the poll’s findings, according to multiple people familiar with the matter — a point not disputed by his campaign,” Ed O'Keefe, Gregory S. Schneider and Fenit Nirappil scoop. “Surveying Latino voters in Virginia is difficult, given that they made up just 4.6 percent of all voters statewide last year … But the private poll suggests Northam is lagging slightly behind the Latino support [Clinton] received last year.”

“We knew our ad would ruffle feathers. We held a mirror up to the Republican Party and they don’t like what they see,” Latino Victory Fund President Cristóbal J. Alex said last night. “Gillespie brought this on with his relentless attacks on our community. This is a direct response.”

Northam’s campaign was not responsible for the commercial, but the candidate declined to repudiate it. Northam said Monday that Gillespie’s tactics “have promoted fearmongering, hatred, bigotry, racial divisiveness.” He added that “it’s upset a lot of communities, and they have the right to express their views as well.” Last night, a Northam spokesman said they didn’t ask the group to take down the spot but “it is appropriate and the right thing to do.”

-- The truck ad has given Gillespie an opening to take umbrage and further consolidate his base by winning sympathy from Trump supporters who may remain uneasy with him. “Ralph Northam doesn’t just disagree with millions of Virginians who don’t share his liberal policy agenda,” Gillespie said during a segment on “Fox and Friends” yesterday morning that focused on the ad. “He disdains us.”

It also lets Gillespie muddy the waters with independents by arguing that neither side has a clean nose.

The Post’s Editorial Board, which endorsed Northam over the weekend, calls on him in today’s paper to strongly condemn the “despicable” LVF ad: “There is no question that if this were a race to the bottom, Mr. Gillespie would be the winner, having spent millions of dollars on ads that use specious claims and appeals to race and ethnicity to scare and divide. … But just because Mr. Gillespie has resorted to gutter tactics doesn’t give others leave to do the same. The Latino Victory Fund ad was vile. Among other faults, it glossed over the fact that Mr. Gillespie condemned the white-supremacist violence in Charlottesville far more directly than did President Trump.”

-- If you’re not following this race closely, The Washington Post’s local political reporters have produced a steady stream of excellent reportage from across the commonwealth. Here are eight stories from the past week that will get you up to speed if you want to go deeper:

-- A little more in the weeds: Both sides are breaking fundraising records. Gillespie raised $9.7 million between Oct. 1 and Oct. 26 while Northam pulled in nearly $11 million, according to fresh finance reports. “Gillespie and Northam together raised almost twice what the gubernatorial contenders collected in the same period four years ago,” per Fenit Nirappil. “With 12 days before Election Day, Northam had $1.7 million left in campaign accounts to Gillespie’s $1.4 million.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant who was living in Tampa, allegedly drove a rental truck onto a Manhattan bike path on Tuesday, killing eight people and leaving at least a dozen others injured in what authorities have described as a terrorist attack. “Around 3:05 p.m., a man driving a rented Home Depot pickup truck entered the West Side Highway bike path, striking bicyclists and pedestrians as he drove [southbound],” Mark Berman, Devlin Barrett and Rachel Siegel report. “The attacker collided with a bus, injuring two adults and two children inside. The assailant then ‘exited the vehicle brandishing two handguns,’ [New York Police Commissioner James] O’Neill said. A paintball gun and a pellet gun were later recovered at the scene.”

  • Saipov, 29, was shot and arrested by police shortly after the attack, and officers said Tuesday evening they were not seeking any other suspects.
  • Saipov brandished what turned out to be a pellet and paintball gun at the scene and some witnesses said he shouted “Allahu akbar’’ meaning “God is great’’ in Arabic. 
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio described the attack as a “painful day for our city.” “Based on the information we had at this moment, this was an act of terror, a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians,” he said.
  • Trump vowed to provide “full support” to NYPD, including through a joint investigation with the FBI. He thanked “the first responders who stopped the suspect and rendered immediate aid to the victims of this cowardly attack.” 
  • Five Argentines were among the victims, part of a group celebrating their 30th high school graduation anniversary.

Trump had a lot to say on the attack via Twitter last night and this morning. His latest tweet tied New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) to a visa program the president claimed the suspect entered the country on:

And:

This was last night:

-- Our colleagues note: “There was no immediate indication that the attack had been directed by the Islamic State. However, the group has called on its supporters in Western countries to launch their own attacks, using anything at hand as weapons, including vehicles. Inside the rental truck, investigators found a handwritten note in which Saipov had declared his allegiance to the Islamic State, according to officials.”

-- It was not entirely clear what vetting program Trump was referring to, Philip Rucker adds: “Trump, who has long advocated tougher screening of immigrants and other policies designed to prevent terrorism in the United States, did not specify which vetting program he was referring to or how it would change under his Tuesday order. White House officials had no immediate comment to explain the president's tweet. It appeared Trump was referring to the U.S. government's vetting programs for foreign nationals, as opposed to his controversial travel ban, which affected only a handful of majority-Muslim nations.”

-- The Dodgers beat the Astros 3-1, forcing Game 7 in an already legendary World Series. Dave Sheinin writes: “This World Series had defied predictions, upended convention and left nothing that could be counted upon — aces crumbling, relievers burned to a crisp, no lead safe. The [Dodgers’] great [Kenley] Jansen, big, burly and bearded, had himself blown a save, taken a loss and, in the face of a relentless Houston Astros offense, generally appeared a shell of his dominating 2017 self. He needed six outs to carry home a two-run Dodgers lead. A crowd of 54,128 had the same thought: Was it too much to ask?

“But the outs came with the sort of ease with which they came in those languid days of April and June. One, two, three, four, five, six — with nary a stumble. Jansen had a six-out save, the Dodgers had a taut 3-1 win, and the World Series — this crazy, inspired, never-ending World Series — will have a Game 7. After all the madness that has transpired over these past six games, it was only fitting.” 

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), who chairs the powerful House Services Committee, announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2018. (Politico)
  2. South Korea’s president told lawmakers the country would not develop its own nuclear arsenal. “According to the joint agreement by the two Koreas on denuclearization, North Korea’s nuclear state cannot be accepted or tolerated. We will not develop or possess nuclear weapons either,” President Moon Jae-in said. (Adam Taylor)
  3. A senior U.S. general said Tuesday that 4,000 American troops are in Syria, a figure far greater than the 500 personnel the Pentagon claims are deployed in the country. Army Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard, who heads the U.S.-led Special Operations task force targeting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, said it's “long been an open secret” the United States has far more personnel involved in the fight against ISIS than is publicly disclosed. (Andrew deGrandpre)
  4. Experts testified that Bowe Bergdahl provided a “gold mine” of useful intelligence on the militants who held him captive. The value of Bergdahl’s recollections to intelligence agencies could factor in his favor as a judge determines his sentence. (Alex Horton)
  5. Jared Kushner’s plan to reinvent 666 Fifth Avenue has been deemed “not feasible” by the project’s partner. The Manhattan property, which is already saddled with $1.2 billion in debt, was meant to become a mix of luxury residences and retail. But Steven Roth, who owns 49.5 percent of 666’s offices, said he doesn't believe that plan will be successful — especially as investors have avoided the project while Robert Mueller reportedly investigates Kushner’s finances. (Jonathan O'Connell and Michael Kranish)
  6. The Treasury Department’s inspector general concluded that a private plane trip taken by Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s chief of staff with a major GOP donor was “legal.” But the inspector general’s counsel warned in his report, “The applicable regulations do stress that legal does not always equate to appropriate or wise.” (Lisa Rein)
  7. The Obama Foundation Summit began in Chicago. The two-day event features speeches and panel discussions to launch the former president’s foundation and his as-yet-unbuilt presidential library. (Karen Tumulty and Krissah Thompson)
  8. A teacher in Southern California was held hostage for hours by a father before authorities fatally shot the man. Staff at Castle View Elementary immediately began escorting students and other teachers out of the school after the father barricaded himself in a classroom with his hostage. (Moriah Balingit)
  9. Two Houston-area students have sued their schools after they were shamed or punished for sitting through the Pledge of Allegiance, arguing their constitutional right to protest had been violated. (New York Times)
  10. A bag of meth was discovered in a Wisconsin child’s trick-or-treat bag. The child did not ingest any of the drug, and it’s unclear how it came to be among the Halloween candy. (Marwa Eltagouri)

MUELLER TURNS UP THE HEAT:

-- Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team argued in a new court filing that Paul Manafort poses a “significant” flight risk — noting that he keeps three U.S. passports with different identification numbers and submitted 10 passport applications in as many years. The fate of Manafort's longtime business partner Rick Gates, also indicted by Mueller, was also discussed in court. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “A U.S. magistrate on Monday put the men on home confinement … [but prosecutors argued] that they ‘pose a risk of flight’ based on a ‘history of deceptive and misleading conduct,’ the evidence against them, and their wealth and foreign connections. The incentive to flee is even stronger ‘for a defendant such as Manafort, who is in his late 60s,’ the government observed, noting that he faces a recommended sentence of about 12 to 15 years in prison if convicted, and Gates 10 to 12 years, not counting ‘related frauds.’”

-- The newly unsealed court filings allege both Manafort and Gates “have connections to Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs” who have provided them with “millions of dollars.” Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand reports: “’Foreign connections of this kind indicate that the defendants would have access to funds and an ability 'to live comfortably' abroad . . . a consideration that strongly suggests risk of flight,’ the filings said. Additionally, Manafort allegedly registered a phone number and email address using an alias, according to the government. He traveled with that phone to ‘Mexico in June 2017; to China on May 23, 2017; and to Ecuador on May 9, 2017.’”

-- Meanwhile, the U.S. District Court unsealed a little-noticed court filing revealing Mueller compelled Manafort’s former lawyer to provide evidence against him. The aggressive tactic could have major consequences for other targets in the probe, should Mueller's team choose to use it again. Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report: “Typically, such information is protected by attorney-client privilege … [but] there are some exceptions to that confidentiality, including in instances where a suspect may have lied to his or her lawyer, causing that lawyer to unwittingly lie to the government. In Manafort’s case, prosecutors used information from his former lawyer to charge him with lying to the government about his work for a foreign government — Ukraine. While most of the indictment focuses on issues of alleged money laundering, conspiracy and failure to file reports to tax authorities, the last two counts of the indictment say that Manafort and Gates ‘knowingly and willfully caused to be made a false statement’ in a [FARA filing]. Court filings suggest those two charges stem in part from information provided by Manafort’s former lawyer[.]”

“[Peter D. Hardy, a partner at the Ballard Spahr law firm], said the use of what lawyers call the ‘crime-fraud exception’ indicates ‘the special counsel team is highly intelligent, highly aggressive, and they’re going to pursue legal theories that your average prosecutor will not use. Will they use the specific theory again? It’s certainly possible.’”

-- The New York Times’s Matt Flegenheimer profiles Andrew Weissmann, a member of Mueller’s legal team who became known for flipping witnesses while chasing down mafia leaders: “Weissmann is an expert in converting defendants into collaborators — with either tactical brilliance or overzealousness, depending on one’s perspective. … ‘I’m no fan of Donald Trump,’ said Dan Cogdell, a Houston defense lawyer who tangled with Mr. Weissmann when Mr. Weissmann helped lead the federal task force investigating Enron in the early 2000s. ‘Frankly, I can’t think of two people who deserve each other more than Andrew Weissmann and Donald Trump.’ If Mr. Mueller is the stern-eyed public face of the investigation, Mr. Weissmann, 59, is its pounding heart, a bookish, legal pit bull with two Ivy League degrees, a weakness for gin martinis and classical music and a list of past enemies that includes professional killers and white-collar criminals.

WHO IS GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS?:

-- Trump's team dismissed former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos on Tuesday as a “low level volunteer.” But interviews and documents show Papadopoulos was in contact with the most senior officials of Trump’s campaign and traveled the globe to meet with foreign officials and reporters while holding himself out as a Trump surrogate. Rosalind S. Helderman, Karen DeYoung and Tom Hamburger report: “Papadopoulos sat at the elbow of [Jeff Sessions] during a dinner for campaign advisers weeks before the Republican National Convention . . . He met in London in September 2016 with a mid-level representative of the British Foreign Office, where he said he had contacts at the senior level of the Russian government. And he conferred at one point with the foreign minister of Greece at a meeting in New York.”

Three key details from the deep-dive into the man who could become key to the probe:

  • At a March 31 meeting attended by both Sessions and Trump, Papadopoulos raised the idea of organizing a meeting with [Vladimir] Putin, telling attendees “he had connections that could help” facilitate the sit-down. The next month, he told a group of researchers in Israel that Trump saw Putin as “a responsible actor and potential partner.” He was counseled to keep a low profile shortly afterward — and yet, our colleagues report, he still continued to be invited to campaign events. “In late June or early July, he attended a dinner at the Capitol Hill Club along with several other national security advisers for the Trump campaign[.] Papadopoulos was seated to Sessions’s left.”
  • Media appearances also continued. “In September, he spoke extensively to Interfax, telling the Russian news agency that Trump ‘has been open about his willingness to usher in a new chapter’ in U.S.-Russia relations … He also questioned the effectiveness of U.S. sanctions on Russia[.]” He forwarded a copy of the article to a Russian woman with whom he had been corresponding during the campaign.
  • And Papadopoulos continued to hold himself out as a Trump adviser after the election. “Two days after Trump’s inauguration in January, he met in Washington with a group of Israelis headed by Yossi Dagan, a leader of the West Bank settler movement that prepared a video of the session to be shown at home.”

-- One week before the Republican convention, Papadopoulos told his Russia contact in an email that Trump’s campaign approved a pre-election meeting with Putin representatives. Bloomberg’s Greg Farrell, David Voreacos and Henry Meyer report: “This latest email, one of many unsealed on Monday, runs counter to the steadfast denials by Trump and his supporters that anyone attempted to work with the Russians. Prosecutors didn’t explain why the email wasn’t included in the detailed admissions of Papadopoulos’s wrongdoing, and it’s possible they concluded the assertions weren’t true. [In the email], Papadopoulos proposed a meeting for August or September in the U.K. that would include ‘my national chairman and maybe one other foreign policy adviser’ and members of Putin’s office and Russia’s foreign ministry.”

-- The professor who promised Papadopoulos “dirt” on Hillary Clinton reportedly bragged to associates of his influential Russian contacts. Karla Adam, Jonathan Krohn and Griff Witte report: “[I]n private exchanges, Joseph Mifsud was proud of his alleged high-level Moscow contacts, reporting that they had extended all the way to the top: He’d had, he told a former assistant late last year, a private meeting with [Putin]. … Whether Mifsud really had the sort of Kremlin contacts that Papadopoulos claims he advertised is unknown. . . . Mifsud, who is in his mid-50s, insisted Tuesday that the claims embedded in the court documents are exaggerated[.] … ‘I have a clear conscience,’ Mifsud told Britain’s Daily Telegraph.”

-- Top Trump campaign aide Sam Clovis, who supervised Papadopoulos, spoke last week to Mueller’s team and testified before the grand jury. NBC News’s Ken Dilanian and Mike Memoli report: “Clovis, who is [Trump's] pick to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Victoria Toensing, would neither confirm nor deny his interactions with the Mueller team.” The court documents describe emails between Papadopoulos and an unnamed “campaign supervisor” later revealed to be Clovis.

-- Meanwhile, Clovis’s ties to the Russia investigation have renewed opposition to his USDA nomination. Lisa Rein reports: “On Tuesday, several thousand scientists and researchers affiliated with two national organizations that have rallied against Clovis’s nomination signed letters urging the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry not to confirm him, calling him unfit for the post. The former conservative radio talk-show host from Iowa was already a controversial choice[:] Clovis, who is not a trained scientist, is a climate change skeptic who has said protecting gay rights could lead to the legalization of pedophilia. ‘In every aspect, Clovis falls far short of the standards demanded by the position,’ the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in a one-page letter to the [committee] . . . The letter had 3,100 signers.”

-- SMART TAKE: Steven L. Hall, the retired CIA chief of Russia operations, says in a Post op-ed that Moscow’s outreach effort to Papadopoulos went “just how spies would have done it.” “The Papadopoulos indictment tells a story containing several elements consistent with how Russian intelligence (and in this case, most likely … the SVR) operates,” Hall says. “[From] a counterintelligence standpoint, a sound case can be made that the identification and slow courting of Papadopoulos by the Russians, initially using a professor with Russian government contacts to arrange foreign policy meetings, then later morphing into a mechanism to share damaging information on Clinton, was part of Russia’s larger 2016 operation. However, like most good Russian operations, this one built a strong element of deniability into the construct.”

-- The dominoes: White House communications director Hope Hicks is reportedly scheduled to sit down with Mueller later this month. Politico’s Annie Karni and Josh Dawsey report: “Mueller’s team already has interviewed former aides, including Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and former press secretary Sean Spicer. But the latest round of interviews appears to mark a new phase of the investigation — hauling in current administration officials for day-long depositions. … Hicks, 28, one of only a few aides who has been at Trump’s side and in the room since before he launched his presidential campaign, has long been expected to be called as a witness.”

TRUMP VS. MUELLER:

-- The clashing dispositions of Trump and Mueller have become a “palpable part” of the Russia investigation, Greg Miller writes. “Trump has often treated the probe as a political assault to be met with counterattacks in both public and private, rather than a legal minefield to be navigated carefully. Mueller, by contrast, has been silently methodical. He has not uttered a single word in public, works from an undisclosed location in Southwest Washington and demonstrated the same discipline and disdain for theatrics that defined his 12-year tenure as FBI director. … Submarine-like in approach, Mueller has remained entirely below the surface except when delivering legal strikes[.] Mueller’s refusal to engage publicly sets him apart from other legal and political adversaries that Trump has encountered since his entry into politics. Trump’s combative impulses are often most effective when he can draw opponents into a public skirmish …”

“'Mueller is the opposite of Trump, the opposite of a showman, opposite of blustery,’ said Jack Goldsmith, who served as a senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration. Mueller ‘is very quiet, very circumspect, very disciplined,' Goldsmith said. ‘But he spoke very loudly and very powerfully’ through [Monday’s indictments].’”

THE POLITICS:

-- This charges are threatening to derail Trump’s standing with foreign leaders ahead of a key Asia trip this week, as well as his effectiveness in selling the Republican tax plan. John Wagner and David Nakamura report: “Foreign policy analysts said Trump’s political crisis could distract from or complicate his message on a high-stakes 12-day trip to five Asian nations aimed at building regional support for his bid to pressure North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. … Unlike past U.S. leaders who have tried to stay on message in Asia … Trump ‘always wants to create a distraction,’ [Ian] Bremmer said. ‘To what extent will he play harder ball with the Chinese or North Koreans or on trade? And, most importantly, will he decide to really fulminate against the North Koreans? It is dangerous, the combination of all that.’

“In interviews, several prominent Republicans argued that the tax bill will rise or fall based on factors unrelated to Trump’s level of distraction. [But] other observers suggested the pervasiveness of the Russia probe … will have a more significant impact on Capitol Hill, particularly if more indictments are handed down in coming weeks.”

-- Trump attorney Jay Sekulow again sought to downplay the possibility that Trump would fire Mueller, saying that “The president has not indicated to me or to anyone else that I work with that he's had any intent on terminating [Mueller].” He added: “You could only terminate a special counsel for cause, and we just don't see any basis for cause.”

That second part is significant, The Fix’s Aaron Blake notes. “'For cause’ means Mueller would have to actually have done something in his investigation to warrant being fired. Sekulow admits there isn't anything right now. And that's significant. Trump has hinted before that Mueller going after his and his family's finances might be a red line in the whole Russia investigation … [and] the indictments of Manafort and [Gates] are pretty much all about their personal finances . . . Sekulow has now said that this is fair game. He has essentially given his blessing to Mueller expanding his investigation into personal finances separate from the campaign.” The White House has also said that pardons are not “on the table.”

-- BUT: Some of Trump's advisers have stepped up their efforts to convince the president to go after Mueller. Philip Rucker and Robert Costa report: “ . . . several prominent Trump allies, including former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, have said they think the president’s posture is too timid. Seeing the investigation as a political threat, they are clamoring for a more combative approach to Mueller that would damage his credibility and effectively kneecap his operation by cutting its funding. Still, Bannon and others are not advising Trump to fire Mueller, a rash move that the president’s lawyers and political advisers oppose and insist is not under consideration.”

-- Several Republican senators SAID they would not support efforts to cut funding for Mueller’s probe or otherwise curtail it. (Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan)

-- Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s national security division also said in his confirmation hearing yesterday that he would fully cooperate with the congressional Russia probes. (Ellen Nakashima)

-- But Greg Sargent, one of the Post's liberal writers, argues the president and his allies are laying the groundwork for a “Saturday Night Massacre,” similar to when Richard Nixon ordered the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox during Watergate. “Let’s be clear on what’s happening in our politics right now. President Trump and his media allies are currently creating a vast, multi-tentacled, largely-fictional alternate media reality that casts large swaths of our government as irredeemably corrupt — with the explicitly declared purpose of laying the rationale for Trump to pardon his close associates or shut down the Russia probe, should he deem either necessary.”

-- On Twitter, Trump tried to keep the focus on Tony Podesta's decision to step down from his lobbying firm:

Tony's brother John Podesta, former chairman of Hillary Clinton's campaign, responded to Trump's attacks:

HOW IT'S PLAYING:

-- Some employees at Fox News were embarrassed by their network’s coverage of the Indictments Monday, calling it a “another blow to journalists [there] who come in every day wanting to cover the news in a fair and objective way.” CNNMoney’s Oliver Darcy reports: “'I'm watching now and screaming,’ one Fox News personality said[.] … ‘I want to quit.’ [Another said] there were ‘many eye rolls’ in the newsroom over how the news was covered. The person said, ‘Fox feels like an extension of the Trump White House.’” Journalists there expressed particular frustration with the network’s opinion hosts, including Sean Hannity, who characterized Mueller’s probe as a “witch hunt.” "That segment on Outnumbered [questioning Mueller's integrity] was absurd and deserves all the scorn it can get," another employee said.

-- But distortions weren't limited to Fox News, the New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg writes. “The counternarrative was particularly pronounced in the outlets controlled by [Rupert] Murdoch — who has close ties to the president’s family — and his news and entertainment companies, 21st Century Fox and News Corp. … [O]n Saturday, The New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin called for Mr. Mueller’s resignation, citing Fusion GPS as well as Mr. Mueller’s previous job as an F.B.I. director under President Barack Obama, given that, in Mr. Goodwin’s view, so much of the investigative focus must now fall on Mr. Obama’s administration. Foreshadowing Mr. Goodwin’s dubious argument was an editorial in the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, which declared that Mr. Mueller ‘lacks the critical distance’ to look into the allegation that ‘Democrats paid for Russians to compile wild allegations about a U.S. presidential candidate.’”

WHY IT MATTERS: “Between the promotion of alternative narratives and the way the social media platforms have been so slow in describing their inadvertent hosting of the Russian effort, there’s a striking lack of national unity over what appears to have been a foreign incursion in an American election. So you have to wonder how the country will ever come together to do something about it.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- A Senate hearing yesterday with representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google turned contentious at moments, as lawmakers questioned the companies’ ability to crack down on misinformation campaigns. Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Hamza Shaban report: “With the threat of regulation looming, lawyers for the companies took pains to appear accommodating as they faced a host of questions about their businesses, their role in democratic societies, their efforts to be transparent and their ability to clamp down on malicious and nefarious content in past and future elections. They said that they were pouring significant new resources into combating foreign meddling but fell short of endorsing proposed legislation that would hold technology companies that publish political ads to the same disclosure standards as television and radio broadcasters.

“The most tense exchanges took place when the companies were asked to explain more about what their services can and can’t do — and what capabilities they have to prevent abuse. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) challenged [Facebook General Counsel Colin] Stretch with pointed questions. ‘I’m trying to get us down from La-La Land here,’ Kennedy said. ‘You have 5 million advertisers that change every year, every month, probably every second . . . You do not have the ability to know about every one of those advertisers, do you?’”

-- And new details have underlined the extent of Russia’s social media reach during the election:

  • Thousands of demonstrators attended a New York City protest organized by a Russian Facebook group. The Hill’s Ali Breland reports: “The demonstration in New York City, which took place a few days after the election, appears to be the largest and most successful known effort to date pulled off by Russian-linked groups intent on using social media platforms to influence American politics. Sixteen thousand Facebook users said that they planned to attend a Trump protest on Nov. 12, 2016, organized by the Facebook page for BlackMattersUS, a Russian-linked group that sought to capitalize on racial tensions between black and white Americans. The event was shared with 61,000 users. As many as 5,000 to 10,000 protesters actually convened at Manhattan's Union Square. They then marched to Trump Tower, according to media reports at the time.”
  • Some Russian accounts called for violence against groups including police officers, Black Lives Matters and undocumented immigrants. CNN’s Curt Devine reports: “Posts from three now-removed Facebook groups created by the Russian Internet Research Agency suggest Russia sought not only to meddle in U.S. politics but to encourage ideologically opposed groups to act out violently against one another. . . . For example, ‘Being Patriotic,’ a group that regularly posted content praising Donald Trump's candidacy, stated in an April 2016 post that Black Lives Matter activists who disrespected the American flag should be ‘be immediately shot.’ The account accrued about 200,000 followers before it was shut down.”

GOP TAX PLAN — DELAYED:

-- House Republicans have delayed the release of their tax overhaul bill to tomorrow, potentially signaling trouble for its passage. The New York Times’s Jim Tankersley, Thomas Kaplan and Alan Rappeport report: “After a day of negotiations on Capitol Hill and confusion across Washington, the House’s chief tax writer acknowledged the delay but vowed to stay on track with an ambitious plan to pass a bill through the chamber by Thanksgiving. … Even if the delay does not throw the Republican schedule off course, it signals potential difficulties ahead for a bill that Republicans are attempting to pass on a party-line basis, over what appear most likely to be loud objections from some business groups — and relentless criticism from Democrats.”

New details of the bill emerged: “[Paul Ryan] told conservative groups on Tuesday afternoon that the draft bill would cut the top corporate tax rate to 20 percent immediately, and not phase it in over a period of years, as had been discussed, according to a meeting attendee. … Attendees were also told by Mr. Ryan that Republicans would phase in a full repeal of the estate tax over several years.

-- But GOP leadership appeared to back off a plan to lower the top tax rate for the very wealthy. Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis report: “GOP leaders had planned to collapse the seven existing income tax brackets into three brackets, lowering the top rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, but now will retain the top bracket for people earning more than a certain threshold, perhaps $1,000,000[.] … The decision to preserve a top rate signals that Republicans are eager to avoid the impression that their plan … seeks only to reward wealthy Americans and corporations. And the move could attract the support of more moderate Republicans. … They also will propose changes to tax-protected retirement savings plans, such as 401(k)s, in an effort to raise revenue. But [House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin] Brady [R-Tex.] said Tuesday those changes remained in flux and that 401(k)s might ultimately be left alone.”

-- “[S]ome of the most popular breaks believed to be on the chopping block are most heavily used by high-income areas that typically vote for Democrats,” the Wall Street Journal’s Max Rust and Richard Rubin note.

-- Meanwhile, a new poll shows that Americans are skeptical at best of the tax overhaul. A Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey found that 25 percent of respondents rated the tax plan “a good idea,” while 35 percent considered it a bad one and 40 percent were unsure or had no opinion. (The Wall Street Journal)

MEN BEHAVING BADLY:

-- NPR’s top editor Michael Oreskes has been placed on indefinite leave after two women accused him of sexual harassment dating back to the 1990s. Paul Farhi reports: “In separate complaints, the women said Oreskes — at the time, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times — abruptly kissed them while they were speaking with him about working at the newspaper. Both of them told similar stories: After meeting Oreskes and discussing their job prospects, they said he unexpectedly kissed them on the lips and stuck his tongue in their mouths. … The alleged incidents occurred in the late 1990s, the women said. Oreskes joined NPR in March 2015 after working at the Times and the Associated Press in senior editing roles.”

-- Three Dartmouth professors are now under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct. The New York Times’s Katharine Q. Seelye and Stephanie Saul report: “Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald of New Hampshire said his office was part of a joint criminal investigation by five law enforcement agencies into allegations of ‘serious misconduct’ by the professors, all male tenured faculty members in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. … Details of the allegations were not released, but Mr. MacDonald’s statement said the criminal investigation arose after an inquiry to college officials by the college newspaper, The Dartmouth, which reported last week that the professors had disappeared from their campus posts and fliers had been posted around campus inquiring as to their whereabouts.”

-- Following allegations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey, production of “House of Cards” has been suspended. Bethonie Butler reports: “Netflix and production company Media Rights Capital said in a statement Tuesday that they would suspend production on the political drama’s sixth season ‘until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew.’ … Despite the Spacey controversy, Netflix doesn’t appear to be completely ready to let go of its flagship series. Variety reported Monday that the streaming company and Media Rights Capital are developing multiple spinoff ideas for the drama[.]”

-- Beverly Hills police are now investigating both Harvey Weinstein and director James Toback. Weinstein already faced investigations in Los Angeles, New York and London. (LA Times)

-- Mark Halperin’s business partner, John Heilemann, said that he had no knowledge of Halperin’s alleged sexual harassment and assault. “I had never heard of, been exposed to or had any inkling of the notion that he had engaged in any behavior that could be described in even the broadest sense of being sexual harassment or sexual assault. … I was flabbergasted and shocked,” Heilemann said. He added, “All I can say is, I barely knew Mark in the period of time when he stands accused of doing these things. People are entitled to their opinions about what I should have known, or must have known, or whatever. But the timeline is what the timeline is. … I hope that my reputation has not been damaged by this. I don’t feel like I’m crumpled in the corner in some way.” (The New York Times)

ABOUT THOSE JOHN KELLY COMMENTS:

-- Historians criticized John Kelly for his Civil War remarks on Tuesday, calling his answers “sad,” “strange,” and “wrong,” after he called Robert E. Lee an honorable man in a Fox News interview Monday, and said the “lack of ability to compromise” was what led to the Civil War. Philip Bump reports: “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly told host Laura Ingraham. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state . . . But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

  • “That statement could have been given by [former Confederate general] Jubal Early in 1880,” said Columbia University history professor Stephanie McCurry. “ … I mean, it tracks all of the major talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.”
  • “This is profound ignorance … at least of pretty basic things about the American historical narrative,” Yale history professor David Blight said. “I mean, it’s one thing to hear it from Trump, who, let’s be honest, just really doesn’t know any history and has demonstrated it over and over and over. But General Kelly has a long history in the American military.”

-- White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Kelly’s remarks, noting, “All of our leaders have flaws.” She went on, “Washington, Jefferson, JFK, Roosevelt, Kennedy. That doesn't diminish their contributions to our country. It certainly can't erase them from our history. And General Kelly was simply making the point that just because history isn't perfect doesn't mean it's not our history.” (Aaron Blake)

-- Sanders's briefing concluded on this unbelievable note:

-- The controversy marked the second time in as many weeks that the White House was forced to justify Kelly’s words, unraveling the idea that his presence provides order. Greg Jaffe and Anne Gearan report: “‘He violated the first basic rule of the chief of staff, which is not to make yourself the news of the day,’ said former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta, who worked with Kelly in the Pentagon and also served as White House chief of staff. … Kelly’s public stumbles highlight the downsides of relying heavily on current and retired military brass to fill political jobs traditionally filled by civilians. … Kelly, though, has been pressed into a far more political role than the other top brass. … Said Panetta: ‘John is a great Marine . . . but he is not a politician, and one thing he lacks is the ability to look at the big political picture and understand what you should and shouldn’t say as chief of staff.’”

TRUMP’S AGENDA:

-- The ACA enrollment season begins today, but depleted funding and consumer confusion could lead to significantly decreased sign-ups, Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin report

-- The Senate confirmed Notre Dame law professor Amy Barrett’s nomination to a federal appeals court, as Mitch McConnell pushes to speed the approval of Trump’s judicial nominees. Barrett’s confirmation sparked a debate about nominees’ religious beliefs after a few Democratic senators asked Barrett if she’d be able to separate her Catholic faith from her impartiality as a judge. (The Wall Street Journal)

-- Trump will sign legislation later today overturning the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mandatory arbitration rule, despite appeals from CFPB Director Richard Cordray and veterans groups. (Politico)

-- Trump will meet with several Senate Republicans to review the progress on finding a congressional replacement for DACA. (Politico)

-- CLICKER: “A look at Trump’s border wall prototypes,” by Aaron Steckelberg, Chris Alcantara and Tracy Jan.

-- Scott Pruitt said he will no longer allow scientists who receive EPA funding to serve on the department's scientific advisory boardsBrady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report: “'It is very, very important to ensure independence, to ensure that we’re getting advice and counsel independent of the EPA,’ Pruitt told reporters Tuesday. He estimated that the members of three different committees — Scientific Advisory Board, the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee and the Board of Scientific Counselors — had collectively accepted $77 million in EPA grants over the last three years. He noted that researchers will have the option of ending their grant or continuing to advise EPA, ‘but they can’t do both.’”

-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said the U.S. economy would face “profound damage” if Trump kills NAFTA. The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale reports:  “Reducing access to the Canadian and Mexican markets, Cruz said, would ‘do profound damage to the American economy and to Texas in particular.’  ‘Which direction will the administration go? I will tell you candidly: I don’t know,’ Cruz said. He added: ‘I think it depends which voices will be listened to.’ Cruz’s remarks … underscored the uncertainty that surrounds not only the future of the agreement but Trump’s own intentions.”

-- If selected for the job, Jerome Powell would be the richest Fed chair since the 1940s, Heather Long reports. “He's a Republican who built a vast wealth as a partner at Carlyle. Powell's latest financial disclosure from June lists his net worth between $19.7 million and $55 million. If he gets the job, Powell would be the richest Fed chair since banker Marriner Eccles, who held the position from 1934 to 1948[.]”

DIVIDED AMERICA:

-- Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore rubbed elbows with GOP leadership on Capitol Hill yesterday and avoided questions on his controversial views. Sean Sullivan and David Weigel report: “He joined Republican senators at their weekly policy luncheon. Most backed his opponent in the primary. He chatted with [Mitch McConnell], his bitter foe. Afterward, he refrained from reiterating his criticism of the Kentuckian. Moore also dodged questions from reporters about incendiary statements he has made about a Muslim serving in Congress and gay people, declaring that he was not there to ‘answer any questions about issues.’

-- But Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) used a floor speech to criticize Moore’s previously stated belief that Muslims should not serve in Congress. “When the presidential nominee of my party, the party of Lincoln, called for a Muslim ban, it was wrong, and I said so,” Flake said. “When a judge expressed his personal belief that a Muslim should not be a member of Congress because of his faith, it was wrong. That this same judge is now my party’s nominee for the Senate should concern us all. Religious tests have no place in the United States Congress.” (David Weigel)

-- A Halloween decoration resembling a lynching sparked a firestorm in suburban Virginia. Ellie Silverman and Theresa Vargas report: The controversy “has pitted neighbors on an affluent Northern Virginia block against one another, thrust a homeowners association into a conversation about race and sparked angry accusations online about how people should respond when their actions, regardless of intent, offend others. And the tensions have played out at a time when all kinds of symbols — Confederate statues, flags, even the national anthem — have become flash points across the country.”

-- A D.C. police officer and two supervisors were disciplined after the officer wore an offensive T-shirt and supervisors failed to act. Peter Hermann reports: “The shirts, which were printed with the name of a police unit, had depictions of the Grim Reaper and a pre-Christian style of cross that an advocacy group said has been used as a white-supremacist symbol. [The District’s police chief] declined to describe the type of discipline but said none of the officers had been fired.”

-- Christopher Cantwell, the white nationalist prominently featured in Vice News’s documentary on Charlottesville, is hosting an Internet radio show from his Virginia jail cell. Justin Wm. Moyer reports: “He discusses current events, solicits donations for his legal defense, refers to himself as a ‘talk-radio personality’ and ‘political prisoner,’ and appears with other white nationalists such as David Duke, Mike Enoch and ‘Unite the Right’ organizer Jason Kessler. … Jonathan M. Smith, executive director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, said the First Amendment protects Cantwell’s speech behind bars, regardless of how offensive some might consider it.”

-- The court-martial of a Marine Corps drill instructor accused of abusing Muslim recruits has begun in North Carolina. Rory Laverty reports: “During their opening statements at his court-martial here Tuesday, military prosecutors said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Felix put two Muslim recruits inside an industrial clothes dryer at the Marines’ storied recruit training facility in Parris Island, S.C. — starting it in one case. He’s also accused of repeatedly slapping another Muslim recruit seconds before the young man jumped three stories to his death. Felix is charged with cruelty and maltreatment, obstruction of justice, drunk and disorderly conduct and failure to obey a general order. He has pleaded not guilty.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

New York's senators responded to the attack in Lower Manhattan:

Hillary Clinton also spoke out:

Bill Clinton seconded her message:

Barack Obama also offered his thoughts:

A Guardian reported shared this:

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) responded to John Kelly’s refusal to apologize for the false statements he made about her:

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates scrutinized Kelly’s characterization of Robert E. Lee as “honorable”:

From presidential biographer Jon Meacham:

From The Post's satirist:

It was a bad day to be George Papadopoulos, per Politico’s senior politics editor:

Fox News’s Sean Hannity offered this justification for Papadopoulos:

A veteran noted where he was at 29 (the same age as Papadopoulos):

Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum emphasized the need to see Trump’s tax returns:

Trump hesitated when asked if he would pardon Paul Manafort:

Obama’s former NSC spokesman responded to Trump boasting that his Asia trip would take him to the Philippines, where “the previous administration was not exactly welcome”:

Former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka appeared to park his car on the sidewalk in Arlington, Va.:

But Gorka declined to confirm that it was his car to the executive editor of Business Insider:

Donald Trump Jr. sparked a Twitter meltdown when he tweeted this picture, and comment, about his daughter trick-or-treating:

From a New York Times-bestselling author of comics and novels:

From a national correspondent for the Week:

From a ProPublica reporter:

From Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol:

From a national correspondent for Slate:

And a culture editor for Giphy made her daughter this political costume:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- Washingtonian, “He Was the Beloved Mayor of a Tidy Washington Suburb. Then He Got Busted for Meth,” by Luke Mullins: “’If someone tossed a live hand grenade in the middle of Fairfax,’ [a local paper] reported, ‘it potentially wouldn’t have caused as much damage or such utter shock.’ After all, this was Scott Silverthorne — the homegrown civic star, son of a two-term mayor, veteran of nearly a quarter century of city politics, and beloved champion of the community. But there was much about Silverthorne that residents never knew. … Now out of jail, he’s opening up [about the] hidden struggle that brought him to that parking lot in Tysons, put his mug shot in news stories from DC to London, and triggered a suburban political embarrassment that recalls the most famous local scandal in the big city down the road …”

-- New York Times, “Did the World Get Aung San Suu Kyi Wrong?” by Amanda Taub and Max Fisher: “When Myanmar elected Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s party to power in 2015, she was widely portrayed as a sort of political saint, an icon who had endured great suffering to guide her people from dictatorship to democracy. [Obama] praised her. [Clinton] embraced her in public. [Mitch McConnell] once compared her favorably to Gandhi. [Now], Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi … is the target of worldwide criticism for standing by as her country’s military wages a campaign of murder, rape and torture against the Rohingya minority group … Andrew Selth, a professor at the Griffith Asia Institute, wrote in a recent article, ‘If Suu Kyi had so far to fall, it is because the international community raised her so high.’”

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Paul Manafort, accused of being an unregistered foreign agent, used 'bond007' as his password, experts say,” from Business Insider: “[H]ackers then published roughly 300,000 of what they said were [Manafort’s daughter’s] text messages —  about four years' worth — to the ‘dark web.’ … Those messages apparently contained Manafort's former email address[.] … Another researcher discovered that accounts that used this same email address were compromised in two big security hacks: the 2013 Adobe hack, and the 2012 Dropbox hack. The password hints for the Adobe account were things like ‘secret agent’ and ‘James Bond.’ Those hints basically allowed the researchers to correctly guess that the password itself was ‘bond007.’ The same Bond-inspired password worked for both the Adobe and Dropbox accounts.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT

“Consumer confidence hits highest level since December 2000,” from CNBC: “Consumers were even more optimistic in October than economists polled by Reuters expected. Consumer confidence rose to 125.9 in October, according to the Conference Board. The index ‘increased to its highest level in almost 17 years,’ Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said in a statement. That was in December 2000, when the index hit 128.6. The surge in confidence comes at a time when U.S. share prices have hit record highs. Stocks have been lifted by strong economic growth, a surge in corporate earnings and increasing expectations of tax reform. On Tuesday, stocks traded slightly higher, near all-time highs.”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will meet with his Cabinet in the morning and then sign a proclamation for National Veterans and Military Families Month. He also has lunch with Pence, Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis. RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel will later meet with Trump before he signs the bill overturning the CFPB’s arbitration rule

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“It’s clear the Russians were trying to traffic in the emails and present them to the Trump campaign to help get him elected,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said at a media breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “You see with the indictments of Manafort and Gates that the rot went all the way to the top of the campaign. It’s clear the investigation will continue. It’s not the end of the criminal charges moving forward.”

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- D.C. will see clouds and possibly some rain today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Jacket weather again this morning, as temperatures rise into and through the 40s. You probably don’t need the heavy-duty umbrella, but may want to grab something just in case, with a few light showers possible as we head through the day. Partly to mostly cloudy skies should limit afternoon highs to the upper 50s to low 60s[.]”

-- Another Democrat joined the crowded race to oust Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) next year. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Paul Pelletier, who spent nearly 27 years with the Justice Department, is the ninth Democrat to join a midterm race that could be among the nation’s most competitive.”

-- More than a third of cases investigated by D.C.’s Office of Police Complaints involved officers who did not properly use their body-worn cameras during alleged instances of misconduct. (Peter Hermann reports)

-- Restaurant Business magazine’s annual list of the 100 highest-grossing independent restaurants in the country featured seven establishments in the D.C. area. Old Ebbitt Grill ranked the highest at fifth place, but Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab, the Hamilton, Founding Farmers (DC and Tysons Corner), Le Diplomate and Mike’s “American” were also ranked. (Washingtonian)

-- The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial will finally have its ceremonial groundbreaking tomorrow. The $150 million project has been characterized by fits and starts for years and is now projected to open in 2020. (Peggy McGlone)

-- Five suspected mumps cases have been reported at American University. The news follows two other suspected cases being reported at U-Va. (Sarah Larimer)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Stephen Colbert addressed his fellow New Yorkers about the terrorist attack:

Seth Meyers held his own White House press briefing:

The speech by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) this week at the U.S. Naval Academy implored Americans to "wake up”:

The Post fact-checked whether Trump can take credit for West Virginia's growth:

And Sri Lankan officials rescued an elephant trapped in a well: