With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA:

DUBLIN, Ohio — During a meeting at the White House two weeks ago, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) handed President Trump copies of two tax bills he’s proposed. One would expand access to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. The other would give tax credits to companies that pay workers at least $15 an hour and offer health-care and retirement benefits.

“Trump said he likes them and, with some enthusiasm, he said that’s what he wants to do, that it’s all about workers and the middle class. He went on a little bit about that,” Brown said in an interview on Monday. “There’s a clear fork in the road. He either works with Democrats or he goes to Mitch McConnell writing a bill in the backroom. … I take the president at his word that he’s going to do the right thing.”

Brown is one of 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection next year in a state that Trump carried in 2016. These lawmakers each insist they are not just willing, but eager, to work with the president on taxes.

The senator believes that voters in his state draw a distinction between Trump, who remains relatively popular in Ohio, and congressional leaders like McConnell and Paul Ryan, who even many Republicans now dislike.

Brown says that he will back Trump up if he tries to follow through on his campaign rhetoric about helping the little guy, but that he won’t go along with the “trickle-down economics” espoused by the Senate majority leader and House speaker.

“They’re going to cut taxes for the rich, they’re going to give the middle class a tiny little bit and then five years from now they’re going to say, ‘We’ve got this much bigger deficit. We can’t believe this happened,’” Brown said, predicting that the GOP will cite the ballooning debt that they are about to cause as a justification for cutting Social Security benefits down the road. “If we follow McConnell’s backroom deal way of doing business, the rich will get richer and the middle class will shrink.”

The second-term incumbent is personally well-liked back home, but the president won Ohio by 8 points and he’s likely to face a well-funded challenge from state treasurer Josh Mandel (R).

Brown’s posture mirrors the nine other Senate Democrats who are in a similar spot. Their messaging stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric heard during a rally outside the Capitol yesterday, in which liberal firebrands like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi pledged to fight the Republican proposal tooth and nail. These politicians are also making a big show of calling for Trump to release his tax returns.

The red state Democrats are bending over backward to show that they’re not kneejerk “no” votes. Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, for example, traveled with Trump to Indianapolis on Air Force One in September so he could listen to his speech on taxes. He also attended an event Vice President Pence, the state’s former governor, held to promote the cuts. Donnelly’s main message back home is that any changes to the tax code ought to discourage the outsourcing of jobs. He tells voters that he personally pitched the president on his “End Outsourcing Act” during a September dinner. He let it be known back in February that he talked about the bill during a meeting at the White House. He also put word out in June when he discussed his proposal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

In truth, despite all the public shows of outreach, Trump is moving full steam ahead without any Democratic buy-in and Republicans have frozen these members out of the negotiation process. After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations and numerous delays, House Republican leaders will today release a draft of their tax plan. It is designed with the expectation that not a single Democrat will support it.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said Wednesday that the bill he will introduce would not permanently lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. Instead, the cut would be temporary, and that reduction would expire in around eight years,” Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta report on the front page of today’s newspaper. “Brady said he had to make changes to keep his upcoming bill in line with rules Republicans need to abide by if they hope to pass the measure through the Senate without Democratic support. He added he hopes to make changes during negotiations with the Senate at some point to make the cuts long-term, but at this time he is unable to propose a permanent cut.”

Brady said Republicans cannot make the corporate cuts permanent because of “those awfully funny” reconciliation rules in the Senate that let a bill pass with just 50 votes, instead of 60. This is notable because the White House has repeatedly promised companies that the corporate rate reductions will be permanent.

Meanwhile, the president yesterday endorsed repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate in the tax bill — just minutes after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) promoted the idea on Fox News. “Three Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee and a GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said that there has been serious discussion about including the individual mandate repeal in the tax bill,” per Mike and Damian. “But they said that the committee is divided on the issue and that it is unlikely to be included in the initial draft.”

Including a repeal of the individual mandate would make it harder to woo GOP moderates for the final package and impossible to win over any Democratic senators. (The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that this would lead to about 15 million fewer Americans having health insurance.)

-- Some Democrats on the Hill say they hope the Republican tax bill goes down the way that their Obamacare repeal proposals did, and that the White House is then so desperate for a win that Trump comes to negotiate with moderates who might be willing to support something more scaled back.

-- Several Democrats are proposing a flurry of bills to demonstrate that they’re supportive of cutting taxes, protecting retirement plans from any changes and making the system simpler.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow unveiled a plan Tuesday to expand the contribution limits for 401(k) plans, offer new tax credits for employers to match worker contributions and provide auto-IRAs as a saving option for Americans who do not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin unveiled the “Support Our Start-Ups Act” during an event two weeks ago at a small-business incubator in Milwaukee. The measure would increase the start-up deduction for new small businesses from $5,000 to $20,000, among other things. “Wisconsin’s small businesses need a tax break, and that's what I'm working for,” the senator said at the event.

In August, Baldwin introduced “the 21st Century Manufacturing Act” to let companies deduct some purchases of manufacturing equipment and create new tax credits to encourage research and development.

Since the start of the year, Baldwin has repeatedly called on Trump to endorse her Carried Interest Fairness Act, which would close a loophole that lets investment fund managers pay the capital gains rate of 20 percent on income that they receive as compensation (instead of a 39.6 percent income tax rate). Trump endorsed this approach as a candidate, as he argued that hedge fund managers get away with avoiding too many taxes.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester unveiled a web portal on Tuesday to solicit “thoughts, concerns, and ideas” from constituents about the tax debate. “We need to make sure the process is bipartisan, transparent, and open to the public — not just special interests,” Tester said in a news release. “Tax reform affects each and every one of us and I want to ensure folks from every corner of the state have an easy way to communicate with me on this critical issue.”

He sent an open letter to Trump in September “to express my interest in working with you on tax reform legislation,” adding that he’d “welcome an opportunity to join you in Montana … for this important discussion.”

Tester has also drawn a marker to justify his eventual “no” vote by emphasizing that he cannot vote for proposals that would add to the national debt. Republicans agreed to a compromise when they passed their budget resolution last month that the tax bill cannot add more than $1.5 trillion to deficits over 10 years. But they’re struggling to comply with that framework because they have promised more than $4 trillion in cuts and still have not identified enough politically palatable places to get new revenue from elsewhere.

-- Regardless of what winds up getting through Congress, tax policy will be a top-tier campaign issue in 2018. Overhauling the tax code is the top priority, by far, for the network led by the billionaire Koch brothers. Americans for Prosperity, one of its affiliates, has already spent millions on TV ads and mobilized its grass-roots army to put pressure on vulnerable Democrats to vote for a GOP tax bill. In addition to a handful of squishy Republicans, AFP has run ads against eight of the 10 red state Democrats.

The past few days in Wisconsin, which Trump was the first Republican presidential nominee to win since Ronald Reagan, offer a taste of what’s to come next year:

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is also part of the Koch network, launched a $1.6 million ad campaign that accuses Baldwin of voting to raise taxes five times. “When Congress is trying to reform the tax code and let people keep more of their hard-earned money, Tammy Baldwin is standing with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to obstruct at all costs,” said Bill Riggs, a spokesman for the group.

Senate Majority PAC, a leading Democratic outside group, quickly put $1 million behind a response ad that says Baldwin actually “voted over 50 times to cut taxes for the middle class.” “There's a reason out of state billionaires are smearing Tammy Baldwin,” a narrator says. “They want a new Republican tax plan that benefits the top 1 percent — but leaves Wisconsin behind.”

-- To be sure, many of the aforementioned proposals are designed to give Democratic incumbents air cover next year when Republicans inevitably run ads accusing them of voting to raise taxes. But they’re not all for show. Democrats, especially those who sit on the Finance Committee, convey genuine passion about proposals that would make the tax system fairer. Even if they know they’re never going to pass.

-- Bigger picture, Democrats in red states are laying the foundation to highlight the disconnect between Trump’s popular populist rhetoric and the more conventional reality of how he governs. Yesterday, for instance, the president signed a bill that kills the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Arbitration Agreements Rule. This will make it harder for folks who are wronged by the big banks to seek redress in the courts. Instead, they will be forced into arbitration processes that favor the financial institutions. Trump went along with Wall Street lobbyists despite pleas from veterans’ groups and other consumer advocates. This is not the change most Trump voters were looking for. Perhaps that’s why he signed the measure behind closed doors and with no fanfare. The White House statement announcing he had done so didn’t go out until 5:37 p.m. It was just one sentence long.

In our interview, Brown applauded the president for trying to renegotiate NAFTA while chastising him for overturning the arbitration rule. “So far, my criticism of Trump has been pretty specific,” the Ohio Democrat explained. “When they’re doing the right thing, I am going to say positive things. When they’re not, I won’t. Just like with (Barack) Obama. Most of the time I said positive things, but on trade I didn’t. Because what he was trying to do on TPP was wrong.”

-- “Voters want Democrats to resist everything that Trump's put forward in his agenda, but they don't want us to be resistance for resistance sake,” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. “We have to be open to working with him if he actually puts forward a good idea, but voters haven't see any of those from him in the first year.”

A ROCKY ROLLOUT:

-- Today’s Republican reveal is getting pretty bad press this morning — in the major daily newspapers, the Hill rags, the financial press and on broadcast television.

  • ABC News: “Trump has told senior congressional leaders that he wants to name the forthcoming tax overhaul bill ‘the Cut Cut Cut Act’Less than 24 hours before the bill is slated to be revealed, there is still dispute over the name, according to a senior congressional aide and a senior White House official. … Behind closed doors, there has been back-and-forth between House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady about the name … including multiple phone calls in the past week. … Internal White House polling showed that Americans respond more favorably to language that highlights tax cuts over tax reform, according to a senior White House official.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “Realtors Launch Blitz to Block GOP Tax Proposals. Real-estate agents seek to retain deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes.”
  • The Journal’s main analysis story: “GOP Goes With the Global Flow: Tax People, Not Companies. The Republican tax plan is a tacit admission of something the rest of the world has already concluded.”
  • The headline on the front page of today’s New York Times is: “Math Problem Bedevils Republican Tax Rewrite.” From their story: “The tax rewrite is pitting businesses against individuals, as lawmakers look for ways to offset trillions of dollars of personal and corporate income tax cuts by limiting popular individual tax breaks, including preferential treatment for 401(k) plans and the state and local tax deduction. … On Wednesday, lawmakers were discussing a potential bandage solution to buy themselves time to figure out the hard math.”
  • Politico: “Republican tax writers could be heard speaking in raised voices Tuesday night during a more than two-hour meeting at the Capitol. Sources say there was some unhappiness among rank-and-file members who feel the plan has been written largely by party leaders without their input.”
  • Los Angeles Times A1: “Conservatives lament retention of top tax rate in GOP plan, but the wealthy still reap big benefits.
  • Bloomberg: “GOP Braces for ‘All Hell’ to Break Loose When Tax Bill Finally Drops.
  • Reuters: “Trump Tax Plan Stumbles on Local Tax Deduction, 401(k).
  • Associated Press: “Republican NY Senate leader slams GOP's federal tax cut plan.
  • Financial Times: “Trump throws healthcare into Republican scramble on tax plan.
  • Business Insider: “The rocky start for the Republican tax reform bill is a troubling sign of things to come.
  • Washington Examiner: “Battle over loopholes still hobbling GOP's tax reform rollout.”
  • Dallas Morning News on Brady: “Many GOPers are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. … (But) even some Texas Republicans nod at growing jitters over the high-stakes process. Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions said the delivery ‘has not been as fast as members probably wanted.’ Corpus Christi Rep. Blake Farenthold said all he knows about the bill is ‘from people on TV and the newspaper.’ And Austin Rep. Roger Williams said the lack of specifics raises some concerns.”
  • Right Turn’s Jennifer Rubin: “Republicans’ tax plan so far can’t pass the laugh test.
  • The Plum Line’s Paul Waldman: “Don’t buy the latest spin. The GOP tax plan is still a huge giveaway to the rich.
  • Time Magazine op-ed by Lee Price and Steve Quick: “We Worked on Tax Reform Under Reagan. The Republican Plan Is a Corporate Sellout.

THE MESSAGING WAR TO COME:

-- By finally putting out real legislative language today, Republicans are opening themselves up to lots of criticism from special interest groups and others who would be negatively affected. That’s problematic because they are already in a hole when it comes to public opinion. But they can still win the argument if they persuade people in the middle class that they will be the primary beneficiaries.

“What's clear from numerous polls in recent weeks and months is that Americans across the political spectrum don't think the wealthy or big businesses should get a tax cut. And few see taxes as the top issue Congress should tackle,” Heather Long writes on Wonkblog. “What does have solid support in recent polls is tax cuts for small businesses and the middle and lower classes.”

  • A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released Sunday found that only 25 percent think the tax bill is a “good idea.”
  • A Politico-Morning Consult poll published yesterday showed 48 percent “support” or “somewhat support” a tax bill. But sentiment dropped sharply when people are asked about some of the specifics that will be in the GOP bill, especially a tax cut for business.
  • A Washington Post-ABC News poll in September asked, “Do you support or oppose Trump’s tax plan?” 28 percent said they “strongly” or “somewhat” supported the plan; 73 percent believe that the current tax system favors the wealthy; and 65 percent believe businesses pay too little.
  • A CBS poll released Wednesday found 80 percent think that taxes for big business should stay the same or go up; 56 percent said Trump's plan will benefit the rich, while 13 percent said it would benefit the middle class; and 70 percent said Congress should address other issues before passing a tax bill.
  • Gallup found this April that 51 percent of Americans feel their taxes are “too high.” In 1985, the last time the system was overhauled, 63 percent felt that way.

-- For your radar: To get some social conservatives on board, House Republicans are likely to include a full repeal of the Johnson Amendment in today’s proposal. This measure prevents churches and other tax-exempt entities from participating in political campaigns.

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- A gunman opened fire in a Colorado Walmart, killing three. Police in Thornton, Colo., said that the suspect is not yet in custody. (Kyle Swenson)

-- The Astros defeated the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 of the World Series, taking home their first championship in franchise history. Dave Sheinin reports: “In a definitive and thorough 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the American League champion Astros broke a taut, nine-day stalemate with the National League champs, in a series full of intrigue and drama, and validated the organization’s long teardown and rebuild that for a long while made them an industry laughingstock. ‘Going through Boston and going through New York,’ Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said, naming the two American League behemoths they conquered to win the pennant, ‘and now coming to Los Angeles and winning the World Series, it’s pretty unbelievable. It’s hard to draw it up any better.’”

HOUSTON STRONG: “The Astros’ first championship comes 55 years after the franchise was born as the Colt .45’s, 12 years after they lost to the Chicago White Sox in their only other Series appearance, four years after their teardown bottomed out with 111 losses, three years after Sports Illustrated foresaw their rise and anointed them ‘Your 2017 World Series Champs’ and two months after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area and thrust the Astros into the center of the region’s emotional rebuild.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Two deadly Navy collisions this summer resulting in the deaths of 17 sailors were preventable, investigators said on Wednesday, and were caused by “multiple failures” by service members standing guard on the guided-missile destroyers. (Dan Lamothe)
  2. Bowe Bergdahl’s defense team rested its case in his sentencing hearing. Closing arguments will be heard today, with a final decision expected later in the day or tomorrow. (Alex Horton)
  3. The Democratic super PAC Priorities USA plans to spend $50 million in digital ads over the next year electing Democrats nationally. The plan, set to be unveiled today, represents a new strategy for the group, which spent $200 million on traditional television and radio advertising for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. (Ed O’Keefe)
  4. A new poll found that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is now more popular among Democrats than Republicans. Fifty-two percent of Democrats have a positive opinion of the longtime senator, while only 35 percent of Republicans say the same. (Wall Street Journal)
  5. Supporters of a cross-shaped monument in Maryland deemed unconstitutional asked an appeals court to revisit its decision. A three-judge panel ruled last month that the taxpayer-funded monument “excessively entangles the government in religion.” (Ann E. Marimow)
  6. A Stanford professor is suing the National Academy of Sciences for publishing a study criticizing his views. Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson, who has argued the United States can fully power itself with alternative energy, alleges the study’s lead author “knew and was informed prior to publication that many of the statements in the [paper] were false.” (Chris Mooney)
  7. During Peru's Miss Universe Pageant, participants chose to list statistics of gender violence in the country rather than their body measurements. The break with tradition comes a year after thousands of women in Peru marched against gender-based violence. (BBC)

TERROR ATTACK LATEST:

-- Authorities said Wednesday that Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old man accused of mowing down pedestrians and cyclists in Manhattan in the name of ISIS, began plotting a year ago but only recently decided on using a vehicle. Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Mark Berman report: “Saipov said he was proud of what he had done — even requesting to display the Islamic State flag in his hospital room — and that he was inspired particularly after he watched a video of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, court papers say. In that video, Baghdadi questioned what Muslims in the United States were doing to respond to the killing of other members of their faith in Iraq, Saipov told the FBI.” Authorities also alleged that Saipov chose Halloween to conduct his attack because he hoped there would be more people on the street.

-- In recent weeks, neighbors noticed Saipov driving a Home Depot truck down the block in apparent preparation for the attack, Eli Rosenberg, Devlin Barrett and Sari Horwitz report.

-- Joby Warrick notes that terrorism by vehicle has now become the standard method of violence among ISIS’s Western followers: “Over the past year, the same scene has played out at least seven times in Western cities, from Berlin’s crowded Breitscheidplatz Christmas market to a hockey arena parking lot in Edmonton, Alberta. In the wake of Tuesday’s truck rampage in Lower Manhattan, investigators were piecing together a basic narrative that has now become distressingly familiar — rented vehicle, soft target, homegrown perpetrator armed with a crude weapon and the simplest of plans. … The results of the Halloween attack underscore the reasons for its popularity, terrorism experts say: The tactic requires no special skill or instruction, or formal membership in a terrorist group. And it is nearly impossible to prevent or stop.”

-- A fuller picture of Saipov’s life is also emerging, our colleagues add: “Saipov emigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, and before moving to Paterson[, N.J.,] he lived in Ohio and Florida. Counterterrorism officials say they had not previously investigated him, but his name had surfaced in an FBI probe of a friend, and he was named as a point of contact on immigration paperwork for other immigrants. Law enforcement officials cautioned that in the small, tightknit world of Uzbek immigrants . . . it was not that unusual for Saipov’s name to surface in multiple settings. They added that until Monday, federal agents had not found anything to prompt specific concerns about him.”

-- Saipov has now been charged with a terrorism offense. Our colleagues report: “In addition to the terrorism charge, Saipov faces one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle — a charge that, because prosecutors allege someone died as a result, could carry with it the death sentence. It was not immediately clear whether investigators had found any evidence that others had knowledge of, or assisted with, the plot. The FBI said briefly Wednesday night that agents were looking for another man, identified as 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, or Muhammad Kadirov, in connection with the investigation.”

TRUMP'S RESPONSE:

-- Trump seized on the crime to push for harsher immigration and vetting policies — two campaign promises that have largely stalled in Congress and the courts. David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe report: “'We have to get much tougher,’ Trump said. ‘We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.’ It was not clear how much action Trump could take on his own to make good on his renewed pledges.”

-- He also called the U.S. justice system a “laughingstock” and said perpetrators of such crimes are “animals” in threatening to send the accused to Guantanamo. “Speaking generally, Trump said U.S. immigration laws and the criminal justice system's handling of suspects are 'a joke' and 'a laughingstock,' Philip Rucker reports. Trump said: “The U.S. 'needs a system of “punishment that's far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They'll go through court for years . . . We need quick justice, and we need strong justice.'”

Trump also asserted — without evidence — that Saipov was responsible for the entry of 23 immigrants, many of them family members. “The president said this ‘chain migration’ endangers national security. Asked whether Saipov's family members represent a security threat, Trump said, ‘They certainly could. He did. They certainly could represent a threat.’”

-- Trump singled out the diversity visa lottery in going after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Philip adds: “In 1990, Schumer, then a House member, introduced the bill that helped create the visa program, which passed Congress with a bipartisan majority and was signed into law by former president George H.W. Bush, a Republican. In 2013, however, Schumer was part of a bipartisan group of senators who sought to end the program as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package.”

­Schumer's response: “I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” Schumer said in a statement. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

-- Trump said Saipov should get the death penality on Twitter last night:

THE VICTIMS:

-- Five childhood friends from Argentina, visiting New York to mark the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, were among the victims. Max Radwin, Anthony Faiola, Samantha Schmidt and Amy B Wang report: “The eight men were in their late 40s, firmly in the realm of middle age. But as they posed for a photograph just before their departure from Argentina, they slung their arms over one another and grinned like schoolkids. They donned matching white T-shirts emblazoned with the same word: ‘LIBRE.’ Free. It is unclear when exactly they arrived in New York; they had planned to stop in Boston, to meet up with another former classmate. But what is certain is that on Tuesday — a beautiful, brisk fall afternoon in Manhattan — the men rode bicycles along a bike path flanking the Hudson River.”

-- Darren Drake, a 32-year-old program manager at Moody’s Investors Services in the World Trade Center, also died in the attack. Avi Selk and Rachel Siegel report: “As afternoon turned into evening on Halloween Tuesday, Jimmy Drake and his wife, Barbara, asked one another: What if their son, Darren, had been one of the eight people killed in that day’s terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan. … ‘Five o’clock came along, no Darren,’ the elder Drake told reporters outside his home Wednesday. Darren Drake’s cellphone was dead. His office phone went to voice mail. By 7 p.m., Jimmy and Barbara left the home they shared with Darren in New Milford, N.J., and drove toward Manhattan. … Jimmy and Barbara Drake identified their son at the morgue later that day.”

-- Anne-Laure Decadt, a 31-year-old Belgian mother of two young sons, was the only woman killed in the attack. Amy B Wang reports: Decadt “was biking along the West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan with her mother and two sisters, when a man driving a truck turned onto the bike path[.] … Her husband, Alexander Naessens, learned of her death less than an hour after the attack when officials at New York-Presbyterian Hospital called him, according to the New York Times … Decadt's mother and two sisters were not harmed, he said.”

-- Nicholas Cleves was the only native New Yorker among the victims. Renae Merle and Marwa Eltagouri report: “The 23-year-old software engineer lived in a West Village apartment within biking distance of the Hudson River . . . His building, The Archive, is a New York historic landmark. ‘He was a really, really kind, not heartless, intelligent and curious person,’ Bahij Chancey, Cleves’s friend, told ABC 7. ‘He’s from the village, he grew up in the village, and, like me, he grew up biking around New York to get around,’ Chancey said.”

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- A newly obtained digital hit list shows that the hackers who targeted the U.S. election also went after thousands of persons of interest to the Kremlin. AP’s Raphael Satter, Jeff Donn and Justin Myers report: “The list provides the most detailed forensic evidence yet of the close alignment between the hackers and the Russian government, exposing an operation that stretched back years and tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail users across the globe — from the pope’s representative in Kiev to the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow. … Secureworks’ list covers the period between March 2015 and May 2016. Most of the identified targets were in the United States, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Syria.

“In the United States, which was Russia’s Cold War rival, Fancy Bear tried to pry open at least 573 inboxes belonging to those in the top echelons of the country’s diplomatic and security services: then-Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-NATO Supreme Commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, and one of his predecessors, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark. The list skewed toward workers for defense contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin or senior intelligence figures, prominent Russia watchers and — especially — Democrats.”

-- The Senate Intelligence Committee publicly shared several of the 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, highlighting the extent to which Moscow sought to inflame some of the deepest social divides. Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Karoun Demirjian report: “The ads — some of which directly praise [Trump] or denigrate [Clinton] — made visceral appeals to voters upset about illegal immigration, the declining economic fortunes of coal miners or the rising prominence of Muslims in some U.S. communities.”

  • One ad from the Russian-controlled group, Heart of Texas, announced a rally for May 21 under the banner of ‘Stop Islamization of Texas.” “[Meanwhile], a separate Russian-controlled group, United Muslims of America, publicized a competing rally to ‘Save Islamic Knowledge’ at the same place and time, causing the two groups to face off in competing demonstrations in Houston …” (The “Heart of Texas” group also promoted a spate of anti-immigrant, anti-Clinton rallies across the state in the final week of the presidential race.)
  • One free post from the Russian-controlled account “Army of Jesus” showed Clinton dressed as Satan — donning horns, boxing gloves, and appearing to punch Jesus, who was bathed in heavenly light. “’LIKE’ IF YOU WANT JESUS TO WIN!,” the post said.
  • And a Facebook page called “‘Being Patriotic' bought an ad touting a ‘Miners for Trump’ rally in Pennsylvania, one of several key swing states. ‘Mr. Trump pursues the goal of creating more jobs and supports the working class,” says the ad, which features images of [Trump] in a miner’s protective hard hat. ‘He said he would put miners back to work.’”
  • (Want to know more? The Post’s Leslie Shapiro has a helpful explainer on the “anatomy of a Russian Facebook ad.”)

-- “This crossover of online influence to real-world consequences was among the issues raised in contentious Capitol Hill hearings Wednesday, as lawmakers scolded attorneys for technology companies they said did not do enough to thwart Russian disinformation,” our colleagues write

  • “I don’t think you get it,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said during the hearing. “What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyberwarfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. . . . [This] is a very big deal.”
  • Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed concerns about the Russian threat, and called on tech companies to commit more resources to the issue. Russian operatives are still “using us against ourselves and to undermine our democracy,” he said. “They did it during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. They are still doing now.”

-- During last year's presidential race, Twitter courted Russia’s state-owned television network RT — even extending a $3 million deal allowing the company to purchase 15 percent of its total U.S. election ad space. BuzzFeed News’s Alex Kantrowitz reports: “RT may no longer be a Twitter customer now, as the company made clear at the hearings, but not long ago it was a multimillion-dollar sales prospect. … RT's share of voice was 2% at the time of the pitch[.] The $3 million spent would multiply RT's share of voice more than sevenfold …” The Russian news agency declined the offer. "[And] after courting RT's ad dollars during the 2016 election, Twitter reversed course last week when it said it would prohibit accounts owned by the network from advertising on its platform.”

-- Ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn followed Russian troll accounts and promoted their content in the immediate pre-election days. The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins and Kevin Poulsen report: “Just three days before the 2016 election, Flynn posted that a Ten_GOP tweet ‘must be retweeted frequently,’ tagging Trump campaign social media director Dan Scavino, his son Mike Flynn Jr., and far-right agitator Mike Cernovich.”

A TALE OF TWO TRUMP ADMINISTRATIONS:

-- Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman reported Wednesday that the first criminal indictments in Robert Mueller's probe have left Trump “apoplectic,” with some aides fearing impeachment. “'Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,' said former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg. 'Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s f-----.'"

Trump, according to Sherman, agrees that Kushner gave him bad advice to fire Flynn and James Comey. “When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed. “'Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.'”

-- BUT, Trump phoned the New York Times Wednesday afternoon to rebut the idea of a White House under siege — insisting that, contrary to recent reports, he is “not angry at anybody,” and the investigation “has nothing to do with us.” NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker report: “’I’m not under investigation, as you know,’ Mr. Trump said … Pointing to the indictment of [Paul Manafort, he added]: ‘And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.’ In private moments, Mr. Trump, who is prone to venting, blows off steam about the investigation but then moves on, according to one of the advisers. The president is ‘annoyed’ by the omnipresent Russia fever, the adviser said, but he is comfortable with the strategy adopted by Ty Cobb, a senior White House lawyer, who has insisted on cooperating with Mr. Mueller without attacking him, in hopes of a speedy resolution. There is no talk of firing the special counsel, the adviser said.” 

-- During his call with the Times, Trump said he was buoyed by new and “fantastic” polling numbers he just received from swing states, though he did not cite any specific polls or reveal any numbers. He also expressed excitement about his upcoming trip to Asia, which begins Friday. “I’m in the office early and leave late; it’s very smooth.” “Honestly,” he said, “I’m really enjoying it.”

MUELLER, MUELLER, MUELLER:

-- Trump reportedly did not dismiss the idea of meeting with Vladimir Putin during a meeting with his foreign policy team last year. CNN’s Manu Raju and Jim Acosta report: “The idea was raised by George Papadopoulos as he introduced himself at a March 2016 meeting of the Republican candidate's foreign policy advisers, according to a court filing. ‘He didn't say yes and he didn't say no,’ the official said, declining to be more specific about Trump's response to Papadopoulos. But the chairman of Trump's national security team, then Alabama senator and now attorney general Jeff Sessions, shut down the idea of a Putin meeting at the March 31, 2016, gathering, according to the source. His reaction was confirmed with another source who had discussed Session's role. Trump's response to Papadopoulos' offer could be of interest to special counsel's office.”

-- The Justice Department may bring charges against six Russian officials determined to have been involved in the DNC hacking. The Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber report: “Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said. If filed, the case would provide the clearest picture yet of the actors behind the DNC intrusion.”

-- A prominent New York publicist says Paul Manafort and Rick Gates previously asked him if he could avoid registering with the Justice Department under FARA rules while working for them, and whether he would consent to being paid for Ukraine lobbying work via offshore accounts. Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand reports: “Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5WPR, [said] he met and/or spoke with Manafort and Gates ‘on multiple occasions in [2012]’ to discuss a prospective PR campaign ‘for billionaires and the Ukrainian government.’ But things went south, Torossian said, when Gates and Manafort asked him whether he could [avoid registering under FARA]. ‘They also asked if I had a problem being paid from offshore accounts,’ he added, [which worried him further]. ‘They said they made way more money offshore than in the U.S . . .”

-- FIRST PERSON: “I worked for Paul Manafort. He always lacked a moral compass,” by K. Riva Levinson. Worth the click, the narrative paints Manafort as unconcerned about ethics as he tried to land unsavory world strongmen as clients. In dispatching Levinson and a colleague to Somalia to sign leader Mohamed Siad Barre, Manafort said: “We all know Barre is a bad guy, Riva. We just have to make sure he’s our bad guy. Have a great trip!”

-- Fusion GPS disclosed that it paid $168,000 to former MI6 officer Christopher Steele’s company to compile information that became the Trump dossier. (Reuters)

-- Longtime Trump body guard Keith Schiller is expected to sit down with the House Intelligence Committee next Tuesday. (CNN)

THE WEINSTEIN EFFECT RIPPLES ACROSS THE POND:

-- Britain’s defense secretary Michael Fallon abruptly resigned on Wednesday following accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior. Karla Adam and William Booth report: “Fallon, 65, is the first British lawmaker to resign amid a growing number of claims against British politicians that have emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal[.] In his letter of resignation, Fallon wrote, ‘A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct. Many of these have been false but I accept in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces that I have the honour to represent.’”

-- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is now urging his colleagues to make anti-sexual-harassment training mandatory for their employees. Elise Viebeck and Michelle Ye Hee Lee report: “Grassley’s endorsement could accelerate a change in policy on Capitol Hill, where new stories of sexual harassment have emerged following a rash of allegations of abuse and misbehavior by movie producer Harvey Weinstein. The Iowa Republican wrote the 1995 law creating some workplace protections for congressional employees, but anti-harassment training is still voluntary, unlike in most federal agencies[.]”

-- In an attempt to get a defamation complaint thrown out, Trump’s lawyers are arguing the president’s dismissal of women accusing him of sexual misconduct as “liars” represents a political opinion. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Mark Berman report: “In the new 36-page legal filing, Trump’s attorneys argue that previous legal cases have established ‘wide latitude’ for political speech, and that Trump’s comments were effectively campaign rhetoric . . .  ‘All of the Statements occurred on political forums — a campaign website, on Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, in a presidential debate, and at campaign rallies — where the listeners expect to hear public debate, taken as political opinion rather than a defamatory statement,’ they argued.”

-- Top NPR editor Michael Oreskes resigned on Wednesday following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. He has been accused of two incidents of inappropriate behavior while at the New York Times; and NPR itself reported that a 26-year-old news assistant said he made unwanted overtures starting in October 2015. “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility,” Oreskes said in a statement. (CNNMoney)

-- Paul Farhi reports that NPR knew of complaints against Oreskes during the past two years but didn't dismiss until media reports surfaced: “NPR’s chief executive, Jarl Mohn, and chief legal officer, Jonathan Hart, were aware of all three allegations against Oreskes but didn’t act to remove him until Tuesday[.] … Oreskes’s behavior, and the organization’s response to it, has stirred a virtual rebellion in NPR’s newsroom, particularly among female employees. … Current and former NPR employees said Oreskes’s misconduct was an open secret in the newsroom and expressed dismay that he was allowed to keep such a powerful job despite management’s awareness of the accusations.”

-- Dustin Hoffman has now been accused of sexually harassing a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV adaptation of “Death of a Salesman.” In a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter, Anna Graham Hunter describes Hoffman flirting with her, grabbing her body and talking about sex to her as a teenager.

-- Six women have accused filmmaker Brett Ratner, who has directed or produced dozens of box-office hits including “Rush Hour,” “The Revenant,” and “Horrible Bosses,” of sexual harassment or misconduct. An attorney for Ratner said Wednesday that he “categorically” disputes the accounts. (LA Times)

Warner Bros. has now reportedly cut ties with Ratner. LA Times’s Ryan Faughnder and Daniel Miller report.

-- A Toronto actress has launched a $4-million lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, accusing him of sexually assaulting her twice in 2000. (Toronto Sun)

-- TripAdvisor is now under fire for alleging removing users’ posts describing assaults and rapes at resorts in Mexico. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Raquel Rutledge and Andrew Mollica report: “Since July, when the Journal Sentinel began investigating the mysterious death of a Wisconsin college student in Mexico — and found widespread problems with tainted alcohol, derelict law enforcement and price gouging from hospitals — more than a dozen travelers from across the country have said TripAdvisor muzzled their first-hand stories of blackouts, rapes and other ways they were injured while vacationing in Mexico."

DIVIDED AMERICA:

-- When asked yesterday by reporter April Ryan whether the president believes slavery is wrong, Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied,I think it is disgusting and absurd to suggest that anyone inside of this building would support slavery.” (Eugene Scott)

-- A former police chief in New Jersey has been arrested on federal hate crime charges after he equated black Americans to ISIS. Matt Zapotosky reports: “Frank Nucera Jr., 60, who had been chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department, was arrested, and the charges against him were unsealed Wednesday. The allegations are notable for the blatant racism they describe in a law enforcement leader. According to a criminal complaint in the case, filed in federal district court in New Jersey, Nucera frequently referred to African Americans by racial slurs and espoused violence toward them.”

-- The CEO of Papa John’s blamed the ongoing anthem protests among NFL players for sagging pizza sales. Cindy Boren and Des Bieler report: “‘This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,’ John Schnatter said in prepared remarks[.] … ‘Like many sponsors, we are in contact with the NFL and once the issue is resolved between the players and the owners, we are optimistic that the NFL’s best years are ahead. But good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.’ … [T]his is not the first time Schnatter, a Republican Party donor, has weighed in on a political issue in the context of his company’s performance. In 2012, he warned that Papa John’s might have to raise prices on its pizza by 11 to 14 cents per pie to offset penalties he claimed would be imposed under the Affordable Care Act.”

-- Uber and Lyft have banned far-right activist Laura Loomer from using their services after she complained about Muslim drivers online. In a string of widely criticized tweets, Loomer lamented that she was late to an NYPD news conference because she “could not find a driver” whom she did not believe was Muslim. “This is insanity!” she complained. (Business Insider)

-- The rift between the Wall Street Journal’s reporters and editorial staff is widening over the Mueller probe, reports Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “ . . . several current reporters told me that the recent Mueller commentary — particularly the call for him to resign — has been a source of frustration. That frustration partly stems from the fact that the Journal … has been breaking through in its coverage of the White House and the Russia probes. … ‘People are always mad about our editorials undermining our reporting,’ a Journal reporter told me, ‘but it is definitely more infuriating on this topic than anything else since we’ve made good progress on Russia lately. It’s frustrating to have to contend with this, even if smart people recognize the separation between the editorial side and news.’” 

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- In advance of his Asia trip beginning Friday, Trump has criticized Barack Obama for his icy relationship with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Aaron Blake writes: “Trump is no stranger to attacking [Obama]. But these asides — in which he seems to be bragging about his ability to woo Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a way Obama didn’t — are exceedingly strange. The first reason is that Obama actually called off his meeting with Duterte — not the Philippines. … And Obama had some pretty good reasons for not meeting with Duterte. Chief among them is that police in the Philippines, with Duterte’s apparent blessing, have killed thousands of people without due process during Duterte’s drug war.”

-- North Korea is reportedly working on an advanced version of its existing ICBM that could possibly reach the United States. CNN’s Barbara Starr reports: “This newly assessed ICBM is just one part of an accelerated effort by Kim Jong Un's regime to improve every part of its missile and nuclear weapons attack capability as quickly as possible . . . All of these improvements are forcing the US to recalculate the timing of the threat that a North Korean missile could pose to the US, and the need to continuously update US military response options.”

-- The CIA has released another batch of files seized during the Obama bin Laden raid. BBC reports: “The new material includes his personal diary, documents and audio and video files — including a clip showing his son Hamza as an adult, at his wedding. It is the fourth release by the CIA of material found in the raid[.]”

THE REST OF TRUMP’S AGENDA:

-- Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis offered dozens of suggestions to address the raging epidemic. Lenny Bernstein reports: “The commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), called for expanding drug courts — an alternative system that tries to channel substance abusers accused of crimes into treatment — into all 94 federal court jurisdictions. Currently they are in fewer than half.”

-- By the end of the week, Mitch McConnell will have added four solidly conservative judges to the federal circuit courts. Paul Kane writes: “It will be McConnell’s most significant achievement since the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. It’s also a testament to how little else Republicans have accomplished this year that McConnell was under so much pressure to show progress in this area.”

-- “A Fake Jihadist Has Landed a Top Job at Homeland Security,” by Mother Jones’s Noah Lanard: “Donning a round Afghan pakol hat and a kaffiyeh scarf, the bearded man speaks straight into the camera. ‘This is message for the American devils,’ Fuad Wasul declares in thickly accented English. ‘The enemies of Islam always ask the mujahedeen, like me, “Why is that we’re make jihad?”…We’re make jihad for to prepare the final earth judgment day of Allah!’ The gun-slinging man is not a terrorist. His Arab accent is fake. And the person pretending to be him, Frank Wuco, is now in charge of implementing the president’s executive orders at the Department of Homeland Security. … Prior to joining the administration, Wuco made a career of advising military officials and concerned citizens about the mindset of a violent jihadist. To do so, he often took on the persona of Wasul[.]”

-- Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) accused Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of violating her pledge that, if confirmed, she and her husband would “not be involved in any political contributions.” Moriah Balingit reports: “The Detroit News reported Monday that the secretary’s husband, who is an heir to the Amway direct-sales fortune, donated $5,000 to political action committees this year, after his wife was confirmed Feb. 8. Murray’s office found two other donations to Michigan-based political action committees totaling $15,000.”

-- Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump’s nominee for the top White House environmental policy adviser, has said publicly the goal of the U.N. and climate change activists is an “all powerful government” that would “effectively end democracy.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massi report: “White has a long history of questioning established science on climate change, [including calling] support for climate change science a ‘kind of paganism’ and describing the goals of climate change activists as ‘one-world state ruled by planetary managers' . . . [In a 2016 radio interview], White argued the ‘climate crusade’ would effectively end democracy” She also invoked the economies under Hitler and the Soviet Union as examples. 

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) came to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s defense after Trump accused the New York Democrat of endorsing policies that led to the Manhattan terrorist attack:

MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid criticized Trump’s attacks on Schumer:

CNN’s senior White House correspondent noted this:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) accused Trump of selective outrage in the face of these tragedies:

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) responded to Trump’s characterization of the justice system as a “joke”:

Obama’s former deputy communications director called for “extreme vetting” of a different nature:

One of The Post’s political reporters made this point:

A former senior CIA official posed this question about the attempts from Trump associates to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from the Russians:

Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) was overhead in a Capitol elevator telling a colleague whether she would run for Senate:

The press shop for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) offered a backhanded response to the quote:

Love then said the overheard conversation had been “reported out of context”:

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) criticized John Kelly’s comment that a lack of compromise caused the Civil War:

ESPN’s Jemele Hill mocked the founder of Papa John’s complaint that NFL anthem protests have gone on for over a year:

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) shared this proud moment from his state:

Nancy Pelosi paid Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) this compliment while appearing on James Corden’s show:

House Republicans’ chief tax writer Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) rooted for his hometown team in the World Series:

Barack Obama participated in a breakout session during the Obama Summit to launch his foundation:

And Ivanka Trump prepared to join her father on his trip through Asia:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- New York Times Magazine, “A Post-Obama Democratic Party in Search of Itself,” by Robert Draper: “There [is] a stiff-jointedness to the whole spectacle, a sense of the Democrats’ trying to regain the use of muscles they had let atrophy over the previous eight years. Obama, after all, used to make this sort of thing look easy. Conflating the American story with his own — ‘This is who we are’ — the president conveyed, even in policy irresolution, an unshakable sense of his and America’s place in the world. ‘I love the guy, I miss him,’ [Scott Peters, a congressman from California], said of Obama. “But organizationally, the party is in disarray. We’re at the lowest level of elected officeholders since Hoover. We got a bit lazy and found ourselves relying on Barack Obama’s charisma, and it left us in bad shape.”

-- Politico Magazine, “The Education of Betsy DeVos,” by Tim Alberta: “Anyone who witnessed the manic, sky-is-falling opposition to DeVos’ nomination … could be excused for believing that DeVos was being handed autocratic power to redraw America’s scholastic landscape. Yet she runs the administration’s smallest and arguably least potent federal department … When it comes to the most contentious debates surrounding America’s K-12 system — vouchers, standards, incentives, tests — DeVos had more tangible influence as a private citizen in Michigan than she does now in Washington. … [Now], armed with ideas, and having transitioned from successful outsider to struggling insider — becoming Public Enemy No. 2 in the process — Betsy DeVos is still capable of shaking up American education. But not to the extent she or her enemies once imagined.”

-- The Atlantic, “Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates: “For the past 50 years, some of this country’s most celebrated historians have taken up the task of making Americans less stupid about the Civil War. These historians have been more effective than generally realized. It’s worth remembering that General Kelly’s remarks, which were greeted with mass howls of protests, reflected the way much of this country’s [stupid] intellectual class once understood the Civil War. I do not contend that this improved history has solved everything. But it is a ray of light cutting through the gloom of stupid. You should run to that light.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Lots of American’s don’t think slavery caused the Civil War,” from John Sides: “[John Kelly] is embroiled in a new controversy … [after his comments on the Civil War] elicited considerable dismay from historians, who believe that he downplayed the real cause of the war: slavery. In short, large pluralities and even majorities of Americans do not believe the Civil War was primarily about slavery. Consider this graph, which was compiled by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research from 2011 polls conducted around the Civil War’s 150th anniversary … With one exception these polls found more Americans cited states’ rights than slavery as the Civil War’s main cause. So for Kelly to downplay slavery’s role clearly rejects the actual history, but it doesn’t make him a cloistered military officer with a fringe view. To many Americans, his view will seem entirely conventional.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Prominent ex-NYT reporter comes out as longtime Planned Parenthood donor,” from the Washington Examiner: “The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was the chief U.S. Supreme Court reporter at The New York Times for 40 years has admitted to making monthly donations to Planned Parenthood while working at the paper of record. In her new book … Linda Greenhouse contends her support for the pro-choice movement was merely an extension of her civic duty and had no bearing on her impartiality as a journalist. Mallory Quigley, communications director for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said Ms. Greenhouse is infamous in the pro-life community for her slanted news coverage. ‘There’s a clear pro-abortion bias throughout her writing,’ Ms. Quigley said. … ‘Suffice it to say … I was not shocked to find this out.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a morning meeting with GOP senators and an afternoon meeting with the House’s Republican leadership and members of the Ways and Means Committee. He will also make announcements on jobs and his pick for Fed chair.

Pence will join Trump’s meeting with Republican senators before flying to Orlando for an event on rewriting the tax code. In the evening, he will give a speech at the state party’s Statesman’s Dinner.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

During the White House press briefing, NBC News’s Peter Alexander asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders what Trump’s flaws are, and she replied, “Probably that he has to deal with you guys on a daily basis.”

 

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

-- D.C. will have some clouds but overall mild weather today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A cloudy start to the day is likely and even a predawn sprinkle is possible. Not to worry, plenty of cloud breaks appear during the morning with sunshine becoming more prevalent in the afternoon. Light winds from the south assist the warm-up, with highs in the low to mid-70s.”

-- The Wizards lost to the Suns 122-116. (Candace Buckner)

-- Races for Virginia’s House of Delegates have drawn an unusual amount of interest from Democrats across the country. Fenit Nirappil reports: “For a new crop of Democratic groups, Virginia is the opening salvo and a testing ground ahead of what they hope is a wave election in 2018. … It’s also a purple state where Democrats have been winning statewide since 2009, but Republicans hold 66 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates. Democrats are running in 54 GOP-held districts this year, and scores of groups — some well-financed, some loosely organized, are looking to leave their mark on those contests.”

-- Metro’s declining ridership could become a deciding factor in Maryland’s legal appeal to continue building the Purple Line. (Katherine Shaver)

-- D.C. Council member Brandon T. Todd (D-Ward 4) has introduced a bill to create the position of director of the Office of Nightlife. Rachel Chason reports: “The director, who would be appointed by the mayor, would act as a liaison between government, community leaders and business owners to ensure that all residents benefit from the proliferation of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the nation’s capitol in recent years, Todd said.”

-- A bar in Logan Circle is offering $5 “Moscow Muellers” anytime that a Trump associate is indicted. The Bird already has a $4 special on happy hour cocktails, beers, and wines when someone in the administration gets fired. (Washingtonian)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Trevor Noah sat down with Hillary Clinton to discuss her book and Russian meddling:

Samantha Bee criticized John Kelly's remarks on the Civil War:

Paul Ryan has a consistent excuse when questioned about controversial tweets and unpopular legislation: “I haven’t read that”:

Barack Obama encouraged Americans to sign up for ACA coverage as the enrollment season began with minimal advertising from Trump’s administration:

A liberal blogger argued that his violent arrest while trying to ask Ed Gillespie questions was illegal:

And Germany's postal service has begun using robots to help with deliveries: