With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: A rainy get-out-the-vote rally in Fairfax on Saturday night was a fitting coda to a rough week for Virginia Democrats.
Virginians finally head to the polls on Tuesday in what’s become a neck-and-neck governor’s race. Several events in the homestretch have highlighted Democratic divisions and foreshadowed some of the challenges that candidates are likely to face in next year’s midterms — even if Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam ultimately wins.
Organizers set up a beautiful backdrop outside the Fairfax County Democratic headquarters. They hoped a crowd of 500 would fill the parking lot. Only about 100 braved the elements.
At the end of a day with surrogate events around the state, the crowd waited patiently for speakers to arrive from other engagements. Rather than a normal program, because of the rain, the politicians simply spoke as they got there — regardless of their rank. While they waited, speakers blasted the song “I’ve got stamina.”
Tim Kaine, who could have been elected vice president one year ago but now faces a potentially competitive race to stay in the Senate next year, said that Virginia needs to elect “a healer, not a divider in chief.”
Just hours before he took the stage, news broke that the former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee wanted to drop him from the ticket last fall. Donna Brazile’s scorched-earth tell-all comes out on Tuesday, the same day as the election. But nuggets have been trickling out ahead of time. The Washington Post’s Phil Rucker reported Saturday afternoon that Brazile seriously contemplated setting in motion a process to replace Hillary Clinton as the party’s nominee with then-Vice President Biden after she fainted during a Sept. 11 memorial service. Complaining that the “anemic” campaign had taken on “the odor of failure,” Brazile also writes that she wanted to replace Kaine with Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.).
Around the time Kaine spoke in Fairfax, more than 100 former senior Clinton aides issued an open letter decrying the book. The senator left swiftly after his speech, and his spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment on Sunday about Brazile’s book.
Outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who can only serve one term under Virginia law, called the publication date of Brazile’s book “very bad timing.” “It’s regrettable that Donna thought this was the time she should come out with this complaint,” the former DNC chair said Friday night on MSNBC.
The book may not actually keep anyone home, but it underscores the tensions and mistrust that exist between the party establishment and the progressive wing of the party that Bernie Sanders appealed to last year. Former congressman Tom Perriello (D-Va.), who lost to Northam in the June primary and has campaigned for him this fall, pleaded for unity on social media — which was dominated for much of the weekend by buzz about Brazile’s book:
Hey pundits, instead of reliving 2016 how about applying lessons to 2017. VA votes in 3 days with huge stakes for schools, env, rights.— Tom Perriello (@tomperriello) November 4, 2017
During a live interview on MSNBC, anchor Katy Tur repeatedly pressed Northam, the Democratic candidate, about Brazile’s book. “The Democratic Party is not very popular, and there is concern that the progressive wing is going to rip apart from the establishment wing,” she said. “Are you concerned that you could be the first potential victim of that rift?”
“No, Katy,” Northam said. “We're unified in Virginia. … I have fire in the belly.”
But, Tur replied, former Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder hasn’t endorsed him. “That's up to Gov. Wilder,” said Northam, “and he'll make that decision at the appropriate time.”
-- At an event Thursday evening in Richmond, Wilder criticized the Northam campaign for not including the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, on some of its literature.
Environmental groups are angry at Northam for declining to condemn two natural gas pipelines planned in rural parts of the state, but trade unions like these pipelines because they mean jobs. Fairfax, who is on the ballot separately from Northam, is an outspoken critic of the projects. As a result, some unions have declined to support him.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America asked the Northam campaign last month to print fliers that omitted Fairfax, who is African American, so they could be distributed to members. Fairfax called this “a mistake,” and Northam’s campaign quickly apologized. But not before Quentin James, the founder of Collective PAC, which supports black candidates, including Fairfax, said “it reeks of subtle racism, if not a tone deafness about how we are going to win in November.” (African Americans make up 20 percent of the Virginia electorate.)
Wilder, who became the nation’s first elected black governor in 1989, said that he hasn’t spoken with Northam in months. The 86-year-old has endorsed Fairfax but not Northam. “Justin, in my judgment has not been dealt a good hand,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch after the Thursday forum.
-- Adding insult to injury: Democracy for America, a liberal activist group that was founded by Howard Dean after his 2004 presidential campaign, announced Thursday night that it is no longer doing “any work to directly aid” Northam's campaign after he announced that he’d ban sanctuary cities if one ever appears in Virginia. It represented a shift from his earlier position.
Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the Vermont-based group, said the Northam campaign was running “the same old, broken, and racist playbook that lost Democrats over 1000 elected offices since 2008.” The group had never actually endorsed Northam in the first place, so they couldn’t un-endorse him, though volunteers have been making some phone calls to help down-ballot candidates.
Dean, a former DNC chair, distanced himself from the group’s statement:
I Hope this is inaccurate because it is an incredibly stupid thing to say and deeply discredits the organization which I founded. https://t.co/pBNnR0AMnC— Howard Dean (@GovHowardDean) November 3, 2017
-- Another left-leaning outside group, meanwhile, ran a television ad to try ginning up Latino turnout for Northam. But it backfired. The Latino Victory Fund released a commercial last Monday that depicted four minority children running away from a pickup truck sporting a bumper sticker for Republican candidate Ed Gillespie and flying a Confederate flag. Northam declined to condemn the ad, but it was taken down after a pickup truck plowed down pedestrians in New York City in an apparent act of terrorism.
-- Some in the party establishment feel that outside groups like DFA, and to a lesser extent LVF, are more interested in trying to raise money and build their own profiles than win elections. The Latino Victory Fund was only going to spend a paltry $30,000 to run the spot on Hispanic TV. DFA was not doing anything significant in Virginia until it decided to decry its party’s nominee. When you load the news release on their website, a pop up tries to get you to sign up for their email list (i.e. fundraising solicitations). Republicans experienced similar problems in 2010, when scores of “tea party” groups popped up and attacked GOP incumbents for being insufficiently anti-Obama (because that raised the most money).
-- Alluding to all the controversies during the Saturday night rally, Fairfax — the nominee for lieutenant governor — warned activists against getting distracted by “petty arguments.” And he offered an extended Star Wars analogy. “One of my favorite scenes was at the end when they were making that final run on the Death Star,” he said. “The X-wing fighters, the good guys, were going to do what they needed to do. It was chaos all around. Ships were exploding. Darth Vader came in. Someone said earlier that this means Donald Trump is going to come into Virginia, and then a woman said that’s an insult to Darth Vader. Which I thought was pretty clever! Anyway, there was so much chaos, but when they get to the final run … they heard two things in their earpiece, ‘Stay on target!’ Stay on target! Stay on target!’ Because they wanted to keep them focused even though everything else was going on around them. Then when the computer started malfunctioning … and the rain started, and it kept coming down harder and harder, they said in his earpiece, ‘Use the force.’
“I want you to stay on target,” Fairfax said. “Do not let them divide us. Every time they try, stay on target. When the rain is soaking your clothes, when you are exhausted and you can’t move another inch, I want you to use the force and find that energy. … We need you to bring people out to the polls like our lives depend on it — because they do.”
-- I’ve written a lot about how hard it is for Republican candidates to thread the needle vis-à-vis President Trump, but Democrats have their own problems that shouldn’t be discounted. They face a trickier balancing act going into 2018 than their GOP counterparts did vis-à-vis Barack Obama in 2010.
Many liberals have grumbled that the mild-mannered Northam is too low key and too moderate (he voted twice for George W. Bush and almost switched parties a decade ago). He’s faced intense pressure from the professional left to attack Trump harder — even though polls and focus groups show that’s not necessarily an effective message with independents.
To be sure, Trump is deeply unpopular. His approval rating is 38 percent among likely voters in our latest Virginia poll. But a lot of anti-Trump voters don’t want to hear only about the president. Northam allies note that Clinton tried to make the 2016 campaign a referendum on Trump — and lost.
Northam has struggled to find the right balance. Before the June primary, Northam ran ads calling Trump a “narcissistic maniac.” Then, for a long stretch, he ran commercials that mildly criticized the president while simultaneously promising to work with him when it’s good for Virginia. Northam is closing his campaign by going back to some of the harder-edged, anti-Trump broadsides he used earlier. One ad accuses Gillespie of supporting Trump’s plans to take money from Virginia public schools, weaken clean air and water protections and take away health care from Virginians. “Ed Gillespie won’t stand up to Donald Trump because Ed’s standing right next to him,” a narrator says.
Democratic strategist Carter Eskew, who ran the advertising operation for Al Gore in 2000, criticizes Northam’s commercials in a blog post for not having a clear message: “Based on the dozens of ads I saw this weekend (unlike many viewers, I actually pay close attention to them), Gillespie has a clear strategy and messaging to support it. … Meanwhile, Northam seems stalled with less than a week to go. Based on his ads, his strategy seems defensive and soft. In one ad, he finally responds to Gillespie’s charges that he is weak on crime, which is a fine example of the political rebuttal genre, but not where you want to be at this point in a campaign. … His positive ads tout his experience as an Army doctor and civilian pediatrician and links his love for children to wanting to build a better future for them. He will need a large gender gap to win, but I’m not sure that in these selfish and uncertain days, people are willing to wait for their children to grow up for things to get better, especially when Gillespie tells them he’ll cut them a check right now.”
-- One big problem for Democrats is the I-word: Impeachment. Winning the House next year will require Democratic candidates, in many districts, to win over a considerable number of independents and even Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016. Floating impeachment may gin up the far left, but this is not an effective message to make inroads with new voters. Just ask the Republicans who went all-in on impeaching Bill Clinton how the 1998 midterms went …
To the annoyance of Democratic leaders like Nancy Pelosi, liberal activists like Tom Steyer continue to run TV ads calling for Trump’s impeachment.
The House minority leader said Sunday that Democrats are not going to push for impeachment if they win control of Congress next year. “It's not someplace that I think we should go,” Pelosi said on CNN's “State of the Union.” “I believe that whatever we do, we have a responsibility to first and foremost to unify the nation.”
-- A fresh Washington Post-ABC News poll, which published this morning, gives Democrats their biggest advantage on the generic ballot (11 points) since the month before the 2006 midterms — when the GOP lost control of the House and Senate. That should worry Republicans, but there are some fascinating numbers in the cross tabs that should stop Democrats from spiking the football. Efforts to convert widespread disapproval of Trump into 2018 victories would be undercut by lower turnout, and right now Republicans are expressing just as much motivation to vote in next year’s elections.
“The Post-ABC poll finds Republicans are more unified in support of their party’s congressional candidates than about Trump’s job performance,” Sean Sullivan and Emily Guskin explain. “While 76 percent of Republican-leaning registered voters approve of Trump, a larger 88 percent say they would vote for the Republican House candidate in their district if the election were held today. That level of unity is on par with 90 percent of Democratic-leaning voters who support their party’s candidates.
“The Post-ABC poll suggests Democrats’ antipathy toward Trump has not translated to greater motivation to vote, with an identical 63 percent of Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning registered voters saying they are absolutely certain to vote next year. The poll shows Democrats’ 11-point vote advantage shrinking to two points among people who voted in the 2014 midterm elections, underscoring one of Democrats’ main challenges next year: ginning up enough enthusiasm to prevent the spotty turnout of recent nonpresidential years.
“Confidence about both major parties is not running high, the poll shows. Barely one-fifth of Americans, 21 percent, say they have a great deal or good amount of confidence in the Republicans in Congress to make the right decisions for the country’s future. Democrats fare just slightly better, with 27 percent saying they have confidence in the party, rising to 34 percent for Trump.
“In recent history, regardless of the political climate, Democrats have tended to hold an advantage on this ‘generic ballot’ question, which does not name specific candidates. On the eve of the 2014 and 2010 midterms, both banner elections for the GOP, Post-ABC surveys found Republicans trailed Democrats by three and five percentage points among registered voters, respectively. Those margins flipped in Republicans’ favor among the smaller population of likely voters who were more motivated to turn out. The latest Post-ABC survey does not measure likely voters given that the election is still a year away.”
-- Back in Virginia: Every public and private survey shows that the race has tightened, though Northam maintains a narrow lead in most tracking polls. Last week’s Post-ABC News poll gave the lieutenant governor a 5-point advantage among likely voters. A New York Times-Siena College poll published Sunday put Northam up 3 points, 43 percent to 40 percent, which was also the margin of error. A Roanoke College poll that came out on Friday showed a dead heat. Two Republican firms released surveys in recent days showing that Gillespie is narrowly ahead.
History and the fundamentals still favor Northam. Virginia was the only Southern state that Clinton won last year. She won by five points. In the past half century, with one exception (2013), whichever party wins the presidency loses the governorship the following year.
A Northam win tomorrow night, even a very narrow one, would stop a lot of this bed-wetting and quiet the second-guessing. If he loses, though, the recriminations on Wednesday will be intense. The Berniecrats will say that the party learned nothing from 2016 by nominating a milquetoast establishmentarian.
-- Democrats involved in the Virginia race say that stories about division overlook their incredible field program and palpable enthusiasm at the grass-roots level to send a message to Trump by electing Northam.
Northam made 15 public appearances between Friday and Sunday. Gillespie had six events. Gregory S. Schneider, Laura Vozzella and Fenit Nirappil report on the final scramble: “More doorbells will be rung, phones called and text messages sent this weekend than any contest for Virginia governor has ever seen, according to Republicans and Democrats. And the campaigns are on track to spend a record amount of money.”
- “Northam’s campaign says it is fielding a historic army of staffers and volunteers who are working three times as many shifts and making more than twice as many calls and home visits to get out the vote than on the same weekend during the 2013 governor’s race.
- “Gillespie and his campaign had already knocked on doors 2.7 million times heading into the weekend and were expected to reach about twice as many as in 2013, said Garren Shipley, Virginia spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
- The contest has set a record for absentee voting: “The more than 147,000 absentee votes cast as of Friday night is the most for a nonpresidential year in Virginia history.”
-- The Northam campaign also says it has evidence that automated social media accounts — or bots — were used to inflame online chatter about the Latino Victory Fund ad. The ad stopped running after two days — when a rented truck was used to plow down pedestrians in New York City — but the online chatter has continued.
“On Saturday, Northam released a study commissioned from a group called Discourse Intelligence that analyzed the top 15 Twitter accounts that have posted using the words ‘Latino victory’ and either Gillespie or Northam, or the thread #VAGov. Of those 15, the analysis concluded that 13 were either fully or partially automated, meaning the comments they posted were generated by software,” Gregory S. Schneider and Jenna Portnoy report. “The researcher who compiled the report [Timothy J. Chambers] said he saw similar activity around other aspects of the Virginia election and that he will continue monitoring. … He said that as he has continued to scan for Northam over the past week, he has identified more than 700 suspicious new accounts following the candidate. Many of them, he said, are Turkish language accounts. That’s possibly because many botnet services used for this kind of activity are based in Eastern Europe, Chambers said.”
-- A spokesman for Gillespie said their campaign had “absolutely nothing to do with” these bots, but they’re unapologetic about continuing to get mileage out of the over-the-top LVF ad. They’re running a response spot aimed at galvanizing conservative outrage.
-- A final point: Corey Stewart has already won.
Trump posted a few tweets offering support, but he left for his Asia trip without making any appearances for the Republican nominee. Vice President Pence flew to southwest Virginia to hold a rally for Gillespie in coal country last month, about as far away from the D.C. suburbs as Boston.
Instead, Gillespie campaigned Saturday in the Northern Virginia suburb of Springfield with moderate Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina. About 50 people showed up.
On the issues, though, Gillespie has followed Stewart’s lead. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee started the year focused on jobs and taxes. After winning by less than one percentage point in the June primary against Corey Stewart, who chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign in the commonwealth and was a candidate early on in the race for Virginia's governor, Gillespie began focusing on wedge issues to bring home Trump supporters, from Latino gang violence to Confederate monuments and, lately, McAuliffe’s restoration of voting rights for convicted felons.
“It feels like my campaign, doesn’t it?” Stewart told Paul Schwartzman for a fun story in today’s paper. “I feel vindicated by it. What is it that they say? Imitation is the best form of flattery.”
“Corey Stewart is the reason Gillespie is going to win,” added Stephen K. Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and Trump’s campaign czar. “It was the Trump-Stewart talking points that got Gillespie close and even maybe to victory.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- A lone gunman stormed into a small community church in South Texas on Sunday, shooting and killing at least 26 people, ranging in age from 5 to 72, before fleeing the scene. Authorities said the man was found dead several miles from the scene. Peter Holley, Eva Ruth Moravec, Kristine Phillips and Wesley Lowery report: “Witnesses said a white male in his 20s, dressed in all black and wearing a tactical vest, started shooting with an assault rifle as he approached the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Police say the gunman killed two people outside before entering the church and spraying bullets throughout the congregation during morning services in this countryside town about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio. Dozens of people were hit with bullets . . . [and] most were shot in the pews as they worshiped.” As the gunman exited the church, authorities said he was confronted by a local citizen who was armed with his own weapon and began returning fire — prompting the suspect to flee in his vehicle. It is unclear whether the gunman was shot by that resident or whether he shot himself.
“We don’t know if [the number of victims] will rise or not, all we know is that’s too many and this will be a long, suffering mourning for those in pain,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Sunday evening.
Two law enforcement officials told The Post the suspect has been identified as Devin Kelley, 26, a Texas man who lived nearby. Officials said there were no immediate signs he was motivated by international terror groups but cautioned they are still in the early stages of investigation.
-- Public records revealed only a vague sketch of Kelley’s life, marked by accusations of violence. Derek Hawkins reports: “Kelley, a former U.S. Air Force airman, had a string of legal troubles beginning at least in 2012. That year, he was court-martialed and sentenced to a year in military prison for assaulting his wife and child, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told The Washington Post. According to Stefanek, Kelley enlisted in 2010 and served as a logistical readiness airman at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. … Following his prison sentence, Kelley was reduced in rank and released from the military with a bad conduct discharge in 2014. In August of the same year, he was charged with a misdemeanor count of mistreatment, neglect or cruelty to animals in El Paso County, Colo., where he lived at one point, records show. The case was eventually dismissed[.]”
-- The church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy, told ABC News that his 14-year-old daughter Annabelle was among the dead. A local medical technician described Annabelle as “very quiet, shy, always smiling, and helpful to all,” our colleagues report.
Trump responded from Japan:
May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2017
...Americans do what we do best: we pull together. We join hands. We lock arms and through the tears and the sadness, we stand strong... pic.twitter.com/qkCPgtKGkA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017
GET SMART FAST:
- After being assaulted allegedly by a next-door neighbor this weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was injured far worse than originally thought. Aides said the senator is recovering from five broken ribs and bruises to his lungs, and that it is “unclear” when he will return to Washington. “This type of injury is caused by high velocity severe force. It is not clear exactly how soon [Paul] will return to work, as the pain is considerable as is the difficulty in getting around, including flying,” his chief of staff said. (Brandon Gee and Ed O'Keefe)
- The sprawling “Fat Leonard” corruption investigation has widened to ensnare more than 60 admirals and hundreds of other U.S. Navy officers, who may have violated military law for accepting bribes involving sex, liquor and other temptations from the Singapore-based defense contractor. (Craig Whitlock)
- Another U.S. soldier was killed in Afghanistan. Sgt. 1st Class Stephen B. Cribben became the 13th fatality there this year. The cause of his death is still unclear. (Alex Horton)
- Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) demanded the resignation of GOP state lawmakers who were accused of quietly settling a sexual harassment claim — blasting their alleged actions as “reprehensible” and beyond defense. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Belgian authorities released five leaders of the Catalan separatist movement after they voluntarily turned themselves in. Spain has issued a European arrest warrant seeking the leaders’ extradition to Madrid. The leaders may stay in Belgium as they await their court appearance, but they cannot leave the country without prior consent. (AP)
- Mar-a-Lago won permission from the Labor Department to hire 70 foreign workers. The request is six times higher than the amount of foreign workers Trump hired for the last tourist season, and it comes as Trump continues to implore companies to “hire American.” (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- In a new book, George H.W. Bush is quoted calling Trump a “blowhard” and confirming that he voted for Hillary Clinton last year. Meanwhile, George W. Bush said that he left the top of the ticket blank and that Trump “doesn't know what it means to be president.” (CNN)
- Sean Sullivan profiles Trump critic Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). “The two things he cannot stand are bullies and people who do not tell the truth,” Corker’s longtime chief of staff, Todd Womack, said of the senator’s feud with Trump.
- T-Mobile and Sprint announced they have called off their merger attempt — ending months of negotiations as they sought to join forces and challenge more dominant carriers. (Brian Fung)
- NFL players requested a meeting with the league to address the anthem protests. They want to meet in front of a mediator next week. (Mark Maske)
- An Ann Arbor mother is suing a teacher and other school officials for subjecting her daughter — who is nonverbal and has cerebral palsy — to “medieval-type torture,” including sealing her mouth with duct tape and locking her in a dark closet for hours. (Kristine Phillips)
- Shalane Flanagan won the New York City Marathon on Sunday, becoming the first American woman to do so in 40 years. The 36-year-old finished with an unofficial time of 2:26:53 and is the U.S. record holder in the indoor 3,000 meters and the indoor 5,000. (Cindy Boren)
THERE’S A BEAR IN WOODS:
-- Despite Trump’s attempts to dismiss the mounting Russia investigation, newly filed court documents and interviews reveal at least nine people in his orbit had contact with Russians during the 2016 campaign and transition. Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Carol D. Leonnig report: “A key question in the investigation — and one that hangs over Trump’s presidency — is whether these instances add up to a concerted Russian government effort to probe and infiltrate the Trump campaign, or whether they were isolated coincidences and, therefore, inconsequential,” our colleagues write. Among the interactions catalogued by our colleagues:
- Paul Manafort remained in close touch with a Russian colleague and discussed holding “private campaign briefings” for a prominent Putin-linked Russian businessman.
- Longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen corresponded through intermediaries about trying to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
- Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 -- along with Manafort and Jared Kushner — who promised to provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. (That lawyer later revealed details of their meeting to the Kremlin.)
- In December, Jared Kushner proposed to Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak that a “secret communications channel” be set up between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin.
- Kislyak also met twice with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and discussed sanctions with Michael Flynn during Trump’s presidential transition. (That conversation later led to Flynn’s resignation.)
And don’t forget … “Papadopoulos repeatedly tried to work with Russians to set up a meeting between Trump and Putin. [Carter] Page traveled to Moscow during the campaign. Another foreign policy adviser, J.D. Gordon, met with the Russian ambassador on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention.”
-- Before he was thrown into the center of Robert Mueller’s investigation last week, Rick Gates was better known as the “man in the corner” — a low-profile father of four who lived what many believed was a modest life in Richmond, Michael Kranish and Tom Hamburger report. “[But Gates’s] new high-profile role as a target of [Mueller] has revealed startling details about his life[:] While Gates listed $2.2 million in assets in 2011, he filed a 2016 credit application saying he had a liquid net worth of $25 million and that his wife was worth $30 million, according to a filing by prosecutors. Gates controlled as many as 30 bank accounts in the past six months, including several in Cyprus in which he held more than $10 million . . . [And] in August, his wife transferred more than $1 million to a joint brokerage account, the filings said.”
Gates’s nearly year-long presence in Trump’s orbit could make him a valuable witness should he choose to cooperate, our colleagues write. He was one of several top Trump advisers who knew of Papadopoulos’s effort to broker a meeting between Putin and Trump. And after Manafort resigned from the campaign in August, Gates continued to work closely with Trump’s operation — first as a liaison to the RNC, then as the deputy of Trump’s inaugural chairman, Tom Barrack.
-- Meanwhile, Mueller reportedly has enough evidence to bring charges against Flynn. NBC News’s Julia Ainsley, Carol E. Lee and Ken Dilanian report: “[The] investigators are speaking to multiple witnesses in coming days to gain more information surrounding Flynn's lobbying work, including whether he laundered money or lied to federal agents about his overseas contacts, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Mueller's team is also examining whether Flynn attempted to orchestrate the removal of a chief rival of Turkish President Recep Erdogan from the U.S. to Turkey in exchange for millions of dollars, two officials said. [Meanwhile], Flynn's son, Michael G. Flynn, who worked closely with his father … could be indicted separately or at the same time as his father … If the elder Flynn is willing to cooperate with investigators in order to help his son, two of the sources said, it could also change his own fate, potentially limiting any legal consequences.”
-- The Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. claims he told her the administration would revisit the Magnitsky law if his father won. Bloomberg’s Irina Reznik and Henry Meyer report: “The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, said in a two-and-a-half-hour interview in Moscow that she would tell these and other things to the Senate Judiciary Committee on condition that her answers be made public, something it hasn’t agreed to. … Veselnitskaya said she’s also ready -- if asked -- to testify to [Mueller]. … ‘Looking ahead, if we come to power, we can return to this issue and think what to do about it,’ Trump Jr. said of the 2012 law, she recalled. … Veselnitskaya also said Trump Jr. requested financial documents showing that money that allegedly evaded U.S. taxes had gone to Clinton’s campaign. She didn’t have any and described the 20-minute meeting as a failure.”
THE PARADISE PAPERS:
-- While serving as Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross retained investments in a shipping firm with “significant” business ties to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle — including Putin’s son-in-law and a Russian oligarch subject to U.S. sanctions, according to new Paradise Paper revelations. The New York Times’s Mike McIntire, Sasha Chavkin and Martha M. Hamilton report: “The shipper, Navigator Holdings, earns millions of dollars a year transporting gas for one of its top clients, a giant Russian energy company called Sibur, whose owners include the oligarch and Mr. Putin’s family member. Despite selling off numerous other holdings to join the Trump administration … Mr. Ross kept an investment in Navigator, which increased its business dealings with Sibur even as the West sought to punish Russia’s energy sector over Mr. Putin’s incursions into Ukraine.”
- “Mr. Ross’s stake in Navigator has been held by a chain of companies in the Cayman Islands, one of several tax havens where much of his wealth, estimated at more than $2 billion, has been tied to similar investment vehicles. Details of these arrangements surfaced in a cache of leaked files from Appleby, one of the world’s largest offshore law firms[.]”
- Additionally, the files contain references to other members of the Trump administration, including Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and Rex Tillerson — though the Times reports that there is no evidence of illegality in their dealings.
-- Meanwhile, two Russian institutions financed “substantial” Twitter and Facebook investments through a business associate of Kushner. The Guardian’s Jon Swaine and Luke Harding report: “The investments were made through a Russian technology magnate, Yuri Milner, who also holds a stake in a company co-owned by Kushner … Facebook and Twitter were not made aware that funding for the investments came from the state-controlled VTB Bank and a financial arm of the state oil and gas firm Gazprom, according to Milner. The files show that in 2011, VTB funded a $191m investment in Twitter. About the same time, Gazprom Investholding financed an opaque offshore company, which in turn funded a vehicle that held $1bn-worth of Facebook shares.” Both VTB and Gazprom are now under U.S. sanctions.
TRUMP IN ASIA:
-- Trump traveled to Japan for the first leg of his five-nation Asia tour on Sunday, ramping up his tough rhetoric against North Korea and saying he is “likely” to meet with Putin. David Nakamura and Ashley Parker report: “The president told reporters during his flight here that he wants ‘Putin's help on North Korea,’ as his administration attempts to consolidate support for its strategy to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program."
-- Trump repeated his vow to confront the “the North Korean menace” during a Monday press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Ashley Parker reports: “Trump declared, ‘the era of strategic patience is over,’ and promised to counter ‘the dangerous aggressions’ of a country whose leader the president has repeatedly dubbed ‘Rocket Man.’ ‘The regime continues development of its unlawful weapons programs, including its illegal nuclear tests and outrageous launches of ballistic missiles directly overly Japanese territory,’ Trump said. ‘We will not stand for that.’ In his own remarks, Abe affirmed Trump’s stance, saying Japan supports the president’s previous comments that ‘all options are on the table’ and similarly favors an approach of increasing pressure on North Korea rather than continuing dialogue with the nation.”
-- In a meeting with Japanese business leaders, Trump slammed trade relations between the countries. Ashley Parker, David Nakamura and Anna Fifield report: “After noting that ‘for the last many decades, Japan has been winning’ and that ‘the United States has suffered massive trade deficits with Japan, for many, many years,’ Trump forcefully argued for better trade terms between the two nations, but assured his audience that he would proceed in a ‘friendly’ way. ‘We want fair and open trade, but right now our trade with Japan is not fair and it’s not open — but I know it will be, soon,’ he said Monday.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Saudi authorities arrested numerous influential figures in an apparent attempt by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman [MBS], to ruthlessly consolidate power. Kareem Fahim reports: The purge “began Saturday night and swept up some of the most powerful and recognizable names in the country, including members of the Saudi royal family, cabinet ministers, titans of media and industry, and former officials. The detainees included Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a wealthy investor who owns major stakes in such companies as Twitter and Citigroup, according to an associate of his family. On Sunday, Saudi officials cast the arrests as the first shot in a battle against the country’s notorious and deeply rooted corruption[.] … [But the purge] — which included eliminating critics and rivals, but also elite figures who presided over independent power centers — amounted to a radical restructuring of the Saudi order, analysts said.”
- Avi Selk has more on the background and business dealings of Alwaleed bin Talal.
-- Post columnist David Ignatius writes the move represents a bold but risky strategy: “MBS is now challenging senior princes and religious conservatives simultaneously. [One Saudi business leader], who strongly supports MBS’s liberalization efforts, worried that ‘he’s fighting too many wars at once.’ … MBS has chosen what’s likely to be a popular target with younger Saudis. Corruption has enfeebled Saudi Arabia for generations, draining the royal treasury and impeding the modernization the crown prince says he wants. MBS is betting he can mobilize these younger Saudis, hungry for a new kingdom, against the older princes. He’s hoping the religious establishment, too, will support a purge of the elite.”
-- Meanwhile, Trump used a Saturday morning tweet to urge Aramco, the Saudi Arabia state-owned oil company, to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange. Brian Fung reports: “‘Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. Important to the United States!’ Trump tweeted[.] … Aramco is expected to go public sometime in 2018. Saudi officials have sought a $2 trillion valuation, which could raise enough money to help shift the country’s economy away from its fossil-fuel focus. The company has not disclosed where it intends to go public.”
-- Sudarsan Raghavan reports that, in the hours before their fatal ambush, the four U.S. soldiers in Niger were tracking Islamist militants along the Mali-Niger border: “The accounts raise questions about the Pentagon’s assertions that the American and Nigerien troops were on a low-risk reconnaissance mission and that chances of contact with militants were unlikely. They were, instead, operating in a dangerous and complex battle zone, where attacks happen frequently.”
-- The Pentagon wrote to lawmakers the only way to locate and secure all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons “with complete certainty” would be a ground invasion. Dan Lamothe and Carol Morello report: “The letter also said that Pentagon leaders ‘assess that North Korea may consider the use of biological weapons’ and that the country ‘has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood and choking agents.’ … The Pentagon said that calculating ‘best- or worst-case casualty scenarios’ was challenging and would depend on the ‘nature, intensity and duration’ of a North Korean attack; how much warning civilians would have to get to the thousands of shelters in South Korea; and the ability of U.S. and South Korean forces to respond to North Korean artillery, rockets and ballistic missiles with their own retaliatory barrage and airstrikes.”
-- Read Greg Jaffe on Karin Olofsdotter, Sweden’s ambassador to the United States who traveled the country to get a better understanding of Trump supporters: “As ambassador, a big part of Olofsdotter’s job is to explain this new America to her fellow Swedes. So when Julie Smith, the think-tanker in the back seat, offered her a chance to talk with Trump voters, Olofsdotter jumped at it. The centerpiece of the two-day visit to western Pennsylvania — and the main attraction for Olofsdotter — was a public discussion at the Peters Township public library, where the Swedish ambassador was promised she would get a chance to meet some typical Americans in a county that had backed Trump with more than 60 percent of the vote.”
ELECTION DAY IS TOMORROW:
-- New Jersey’s gubernatorial contest has become a test of how Democrats can run against Trump. David Weigel reports: “Come Tuesday, both parties expect [Democrat Phil] Murphy, a 60-year old former Goldman Sachs banker and ambassador, to easily defeat Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) and put Democrats fully in control of New Jersey.”
-- A special state Senate election in Washington state has drawn outsized attention, as Democrats fight to take full control of the government. The New York Times’s Alexander Burns and Kirk Johnson report: “The region has been a rare Democratic stronghold on an electoral map now dominated by vast swaths of red, and Republicans’ only toehold on power there has been a one-seat majority in the Washington State Senate. … The race is on track to draw more than $9 million in campaign spending, a record-breaking sum for Washington State. … Leading in the polls and anticipating victory, Democrats have sketched an aggressive agenda on issues where strong consensus appears to exist in the party, including new laws on gun control, contraception and environmental regulation.”
-- Maine voters will determine whether the state should expand Medicaid under the ACA. AP’s Marina Villeneuve reports: “It is the first time since the law took effect nearly four years ago that the expansion question has been put to voters. The ballot measure comes after Maine’s Republican governor vetoed five attempts by the politically divided Legislature to expand the program and take advantage of the federal government picking up most of the cost. … Activists on both sides of the issue are looking at the initiative, Maine Question 2, as a sort of national referendum on one of the key pillars of the law[.]”
GOP TACKLES TAXES:
-- House Republicans continued to tweak their tax plan ahead of today’s committee markup, and a possible repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate is still being considered. Ed O'Keefe, Damian Paletta and Mike DeBonis report: “Two people familiar with the changes … said the panel is considering increasing the GOP bill’s proposed $500,000 limit on the mortgage interest deduction. That limit could increase to $750,000 or so, [a] lobbyist said — still short of the current $1 million limit — but enough to ease concerns from lawmakers in states with high costs of living who fear a lower limit could hit middle-class households. Another potential change, they said, concerns the treatment of ‘pass-through’ businesses[.] … Lawmakers are exploring how to expand eligibility for a new 25 percent rate on that income[.] …
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate could give the tax writers room to make these or other costly changes without exceeding a $1.5 trillion limit on the total cost of the bill over the coming decade. But two GOP officials said Sunday that repealing the mandate might not generate as much revenue as lawmakers hope.”
-- Despite the negotiations, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he still feels “very good” about the House’s odds of passing the bill before Thanksgiving. (Politico)
-- Meanwhile, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) told NBC's Chuck Todd he would be a “no” if the plan increased the deficit too much. “I am a no. I want to make sure we have reasonable assumptions in the process for growth estimates,” Lankford said. “I’m actually not comfortable with increasing the debt. This is something that’s been a behind-the-scenes conversation for a long time. It’s one thing to be able to cut taxes, it’s another thing to be able to say, ‘how are we going to deal with our debt and deficit?’" (The Hill)
-- The D.C. region would be hit hard by the elimination of the deduction for state and local income tax. Jenna Portnoy reports: “[Rep. Jamie] Raskin’s [D-Md.] district is one of three in the capital region — along with districts in Virginia represented by Reps. Gerald E. Connolly (D) and Barbara Comstock (R) — that share a dubious honor: a higher percentage of residents who claim the state and local income tax deduction than anywhere else in the nation[.] … All three districts are home to lots of highly educated, two-income households and pricey real estate, economically and culturally distinct from much of the nation’s heartland.”
-- The effect of the lost deductions on predominantly Democratic states could jeopardize Republicans’ House majority next year. The Times's Alexander Burns reports: “[New Jersey’s] 11th District, a Republican-leaning hodgepodge of quaintly verdant residential streets, snarling highways and big-box shopping centers, groans under an extraordinary tax burden. To voters here, a range of federal tax write-offs are nearly sacrosanct, none more so than deductions for state and local taxes. The House tax bill would undo or sharply limit all of them. … While the party’s base is mainly rural and culturally conservative, a small group of solidly Democratic states with complex local tax codes could, in theory, nearly cost Republicans control of the House. In New Jersey alone, there are as many as five Republican-held districts where the tax plan is likely to be unpopular; add in those in New York and California and the number approaches 20.”
-- Heather Long explains why 3,200 of the richest Americans would no longer have to worry about the estate tax starting next year if the overhaul succeeds: “Under current law, Americans can pass along homes, land, stocks or other assets worth up to $5.49 million without paying any estate or gift tax. Estates worth more than that are subject to a 40 percent tax. The House GOP bill would double the threshold to $11.2 million in 2018 and then do away with the tax entirely in 2024. For 2018, that means an estimated 3,200 people would not have to pay. In total, the reduction and ultimate elimination of the estate tax would cost taxpayers $172 billion over a decade.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) offered his prayers to those affected by the shooting in his home state:
Keeping all harmed in Sutherland Springs in our prayers and grateful for our brave first responders on the scene.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) November 5, 2017
Missouri's former Democratic secretary of state replied that Cruz's prayers were not enough:
People killed WHILE praying deserve more than prayers alone. They deserve a Senator with the everyday courage to put lives before NRA cash. https://t.co/wKA1ixx5mb— Jason Kander (@JasonKander) November 5, 2017
Barack Obama also spoke of tangible action:
May God also grant all of us the wisdom to ask what concrete steps we can take to reduce the violence and weaponry in our midst.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 6, 2017
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) lambasted his colleagues who accept money from the gun lobby:
Can you sleep tonight, colleagues, when the price of gun lobby goodwill is this - blood soaked church and school floors, city streets?— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 5, 2017
A Wired contributor found the description of the shooting ironic:
I find it sad how interchangeably we use “no terror links” with “he’s not Muslim.” Killing 20 people in a church? Seems like terror to me. https://t.co/RI0dKPuYpg— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) November 5, 2017
BuzzFeed's deputy news director added this:
The pace at which we now move from tragedy to tragedy is horrifying— Jon Passantino (@passantino) November 5, 2017
The fired former acting attorney general criticized Trump's desire to have more control of the Justice Department:
DOJ not a tool for POTUS to use to go after his enemies and protect his friends. Respect rule of law and DOJ professionals. This must stop.— Sally Yates (@SallyQYates) November 4, 2017
Reports that Robert Mueller has enough information to charge Michael Flynn prompted this reminder from a Politico Magazine reporter:
“If I did a tenth of what she did, I would be in jail today.” - Flynn, GOP convention speech, in what we writers call foreshadowing. https://t.co/arMbN6j2Dt— Tim Alberta (@TimAlberta) November 5, 2017
A senior fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress argued the GOP tax overhaul would create a windfall for the Trumps:
It would be hard to design a tax plan more friendly to billionaire real estate magnates like the Trumps and Kushners of the world. 2/— Seth Hanlon (@SethHanlon) November 5, 2017
One of The Post's economic policy reporters made this point after Trump asked Japanese car manufacturers to build vehicles in the United States:
Toyota has been making cars in the U.S. since 1987.— Damian Paletta (@damianpaletta) November 6, 2017
Honda has at least 12 U.S. plants.
Nissan has massive Mississippi plant. https://t.co/qZ03MRG5uu
A writer for Upworthy mocked the hats that Trump and the Japanese prime minister signed during the visit:
It’s like the world’s worst bachelor party pic.twitter.com/hMJhKwEN5P— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) November 5, 2017
Trump became a little overzealous while feeding koi in a pond on his trip:
The Secret Service was prepared for Trump's Asia trip:
Ralph Northam's former primary opponent, who is now campaigning for him in Virginia, downplayed tensions in the Democratic Party:
Covered 300 miles of campaign trail in VA today. If I got $1 for every voter who asked about Brazile book, my pockets would still be empty.— Tom Perriello (@tomperriello) November 4, 2017
And Northam received some canine support in his gubernatorial bid:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Check out Esquire’s “The Untold Stories of Election 2016,” an oral history featuring Steve Bannon, Jim Margolis, Anna Navarro, Roger Stone, Joel Benenson.
-- The New Yorker, “Is Tom Cotton the Future of Trumpism?” by Jeffrey Toobin: “Cotton expresses the militarism, bellicosity, intolerance, and xenophobia of Donald Trump, but without the childish tweets. For those who see Trump’s Presidency as an aberration, or as a singular phenomenon, Cotton offers a useful corrective. He and his supporters see Trump and Trumpism as the future of the Republican Party.”
-- Politico Magazine, “The Mystery of Mary Trump,” by Michael Kruse: “For so long, Donald Trump has talked often about the profound influence of Fred Trump. … Mary Trump, by contrast, has been more of a ghost in his voluminous public record, a cardboard cutout of a character. She was, we have been told, an acquiescent housewife, a spouse who didn’t hassle her dour, driven husband, a mother who relished pomp and planted the seeds of her second son’s acumen for showmanship and promotion. Judging by the biographical material, created largely by an aggressively unreliable narrator and those in his employ, the 45th president of the United States would seem to be the product of one domineering parent. But Trump’s relationship with his mother, while less explored, is just as consequential.”
-- The New York Times, “I.R.S. Commissioner, Demonized by Conservatives, Leaves on His Terms,” by Alan Rappeport: “[John] Koskinen’s term in office ends on Thursday, concluding a tenure in which he sought to stabilize an institution that landed at the center of a political firestorm. But Mr. Koskinen, who spent much of his time on the job sparring with lawmakers at hostile congressional hearings, is leaving on his own terms and, he says, without regret.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Students protest Virginia Tech instructor in debate over white supremacy,” from Susan Svrluga: “It was just a few days after Charlottesville erupted in violence. Some 150 miles away, a student at Virginia Tech saw online posts that left her reeling. One began, ‘I am a white supremacist.’ She alerted other students. And as word spread, so did efforts to force the university to fire a teaching assistant for statements he allegedly posted on social media — including some he says have been misunderstood, and one he denies making. Now, Virginia Tech and Blacksburg police are investigating threats made against the undergraduate who publicized the teaching assistant’s name.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“Bizarre moment Texas congressman Vicente Gonzalez says Texas shooter is 4chan hoax meme Sam Hyde,” from Daily Mail: “During a phone interview with CNN Gonzalez appeared to report all the information he had on the shooting in Wilson County, Texas. The Democrat lawmaker stated that the culprit was named 'Sam Hyde' during the interview. … Hyde is a meme that originated on websites 4Chan and Reddit and whose name has been associated with several shootings in recent years. The meme sees alt-right figures internet trolls posting pictures of 'Sam Hyde' - a white man with glasses and blonde hair, holding a gun, typically with the caption, 'BREAKING: Shooter confirmed to be Sam Hyde.'”
Trump is still in Japan today. He has an embassy meet and greet followed by a welcoming ceremony and state call with Japan’s emperor and empress. He will later participate in an honor guard ceremony and working lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a state banquet will be held in the evening.
Pence will be briefed at the Defense Intelligence Agency today.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Jeff Sessions should return to the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions on Russia. “Jeff, you need to tell us everything you know about Russia. So yeah, he probably should come back, and answer the question yet again 'Did you know anything about an effort by the Trump campaign to meet with Russia, not just collude with Russia,' " Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is getting a bit old with Jeff Sessions.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- D.C. could get some more rain today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Skies are cloudy this morning as a cold front approaches. The southerly winds out ahead of it draw mild temperatures into the region, so many of us will see highs near 70. Scattered showers could break out as soon as late morning in our western areas and become most numerous throughout the region during the afternoon, when a little thunder is possible, too.”
-- The Redskins beat the Seahawks 17-14. (Liz Clarke)
-- The Wizards defeated the Raptors 107-96. (Candace Buckner)
-- A Dulles-bound flight was rerouted back to Beijing after a passenger got into an altercation with a member of the flight crew. Authorities met the plane at the gate, where the passenger voluntarily got off. (Martin Weil)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
SNL addressed the indictments of Trump's campaign associates:
Aidy Bryant's impression of Sarah Huckabee Sanders drew particular attention:
Trump played golf with the Japanese prime minister and Japanese professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama:
Former Senate parliamentarian Alan Frumin told The Post the Senate needs more responsible adults:
Uma Thurman was asked about the sexual harassment allegations that are sweeping through Hollywood, and her forceful response went viral: