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With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: Tuesday was the best day for Democrats politically since Barack Obama won reelection in 2012. Remember, conservatives scored significant victories in the November 2014, 2015 and 2016 elections. Democrats desperately needed some wins after they went all-in on a House special election in Georgia this spring and lost. Last night, they got them.
Voters came out in droves. They braved the rain and the cold to send a message to President Trump. The results across the country represent nothing less than a stinging repudiation of Trump on the first anniversary of his election.
Republican Ed Gillespie could not escape Trump’s unpopularity, despite his best efforts to thread the needle. Four in 10 Virginia voters yesterday approved of the job that the president is doing, according to preliminary exit polls. Gillespie received over 9 in 10 votes from Trump approvers, but among the larger group of Trump disapprovers, Northam had nearly as large an advantage: 87 percent.
Trump’s impact on the race was also clear from other questions in the exit polling: 34 percent of voters said expressing opposition to Trump was a reason for their vote, with almost all of this group favoring Northam, per our in-house pollster Scott Clement. Half as many (17 percent) sought to express support for the president, while 47 percent said Trump was not a factor in their choice.
-- Women made the difference. White women with college degrees — a group that split evenly in the 2013 Virginia governor’s election — favored Northam by 16 points over Gillespie in preliminary exit polling, 58 percent to 42 percent. Northam’s margin is more than twice as wide as the margin Hillary Clinton won those voters by last year, 50 percent to 44 percent.
Married women voted for Northam by 10 points according to preliminary exit polls, 54 percent to 44 percent. In the 2016 presidential election, Trump eked out a one-point lead with this group, 48 percent to 47 percent. Married women consisted of 30 percent of Virginia voters this year, about the same share as in 2016 and 2014. (Check out our interactive exit poll graphic here.)
-- Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican who represents Virginia Beach, said both Democrats and Republicans registered their disenchantment with Trump. “I don't know how you get around that this wasn't a referendum on the administration, I just don't,” he told reporters. “Some of the very divisive rhetoric really prompted and helped usher in a really high Democratic turnout in Virginia.”
“Ed couldn’t escape being a proxy for Trump, which killed him,” added Tom Davis, the former GOP congressman who represented Northern Virginia. “It’s a huge drag on the ticket,” he told Paul Schwartzman. “It motivated the Democratic base. Democrats came out en masse in protest. This was their first chance to mobilize the base. The lesson here is that Republicans have to get their act together. Ed did as well as he could do with the hand he was dealt.”
-- Tweeting from South Korea, Trump quickly distanced himself from Gillespie — who he had embraced earlier in the day:
Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for. Don’t forget, Republicans won 4 out of 4 House seats, and with the economy doing record numbers, we will continue to win, even bigger than before!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2017
-- But Democrats prevailed last night from sea to shining sea, up and down the ballot:
- Maine, where Trump won an electoral vote last year, became the first state to expand Medicaid via ballot initiative. Despite active opposition from the Republican governor and an influx of outside money, the measure passed by a nearly 20-point margin. This will mean health-care coverage for an estimated 70,000 low-income residents.
- Democrat Phil Murphy, a former banker and first-time candidate, won the New Jersey governor’s race by 13 points over Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor. That’s on par with Clinton’s margin a year ago, but it’s a remarkable turnabout from four years ago — when Christie got reelected with a 22-point margin of victory. It means that Democrats will have unified control of the Garden State’s government.
- By winning a special election, Democrats took control of the Senate in Washington State. This gives the party full control of all three states on the West Coast: a blue wall of sorts.
-- Democrats didn’t just run up the score on blue turf, though:
- In Georgia, Democrats picked up three seats in the state legislature — replacing Republicans who stepped down to lead the state forestry commission, become a judge and run for governor.
- In New Hampshire’s largest city, Manchester, the incumbent Republican mayor went down. Joyce Craig is the first Democrat elected mayor there in 14 years.
- In the beating heart of Florida’s crucial Interstate 4 corridor, the former Republican mayor of St. Petersburg unexpectedly failed in a comeback bid after his Democratic opponent tied him to Trump and defined him as a denier of climate change.
- In North Carolina, the Republican mayor of Fayetteville lost his bid for a third term. In Charlotte, despite being heavily outspent, Democrat Vi Lyles will become the city’s first African American female mayor.
-- For the first time, Democrats were winning because of Obamacare — not in spite of it. Maine approving Medicaid expansion by such a margin should be a warning sign for Republicans to tread very carefully when it comes to their continuing efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In Virginia, the network exit poll asked respondents which one of five issues mattered most in deciding their vote for governor: 39 percent said health care, far more than any other issue. And health-care focused voters favored Northam by a giant 77 percent to 23 percent margin in preliminary exit polls. Gillespie won handily among those who named taxes and immigration as their top issue. The candidates split among those who picked gun policy.
-- To understand the true magnitude of the Democratic victory, look to the down-ballot races in Virginia. Democrats, many of them unknown first-time candidates, are poised to pick up at least 14 seats in the House of Delegates. Unofficial returns showed Democrats unseating at least 11 Republicans and flipping three seats that had been occupied by GOP incumbents who didn’t seek reelection. Four other races were so close that they qualify for a recount, and results will determine control of the chamber. Democrats needed to pick up 17 seats to gain control of the House of Delegates. No one thought going into last night that it was seriously in play.
“The results marked the most sweeping shift in control of the legislature since the Watergate era,” writes Fenit Nirappil. “The biggest battleground for the House was Prince William, a Washington exurb where people of color constitute a majority of the population. A diverse group of five Democratic challengers hoped to channel demographic changes and Democratic energy to take seats held by white men — and all won.”
Virginia’s most socially conservative state lawmaker was ousted from office by a Democrat who will be one of the nation’s first openly transgender elected officials. The race pitted Danica Roem, a 33-year-old former journalist who began her physical gender transition four years ago, against Robert G. Marshall, a 13-term incumbent who called himself Virginia’s “chief homophobe” and earlier this year introduced a “bathroom bill” that died in committee. “Discrimination is a disqualifier,” Roem said in her victory speech, per Antonio Olivo.
“This is a tidal wave,” said David Wasserman, who tracks U.S. House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “It’s hard to … conclude anything other than that Democrats are the current favorite for control of the House in 2018.”
One ominous sign for congressional Republicans: Northam won the district held by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) in the D.C. suburbs by 13 points.
Several other Democrats who won these down-ballot races are going to have national profiles: In southwest Virginia, former television news anchor Chris Hurst — whose girlfriend was fatally shot during a live broadcast in 2015 — toppled Republican incumbent Joseph Yost.
The results are a big validation for outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who is term-limited and could use the gains as a rationale to run for president in 2020. He was surprised by the scale of the pick-ups. “I always say you’re going to get it back because you have to say that politically, but in my mind I was thinking six to eight [seats gained] would have been a great night for the Democrats,” he told one of my colleagues.
Virginia’s General Assembly has a well-earned reputation as an old boy’s club, but the composition of the body changed bigly last night: All 14 of the seats that Democrats flipped are held by GOP men. Ten of their replacements will be women.
MORE ON TURNOUT:
-- Trump proved to be just the boogeyman that Democrats have needed to galvanize their liberal base for an off-year election when Obama was not on the ballot: 28 percent of voters identified as liberals in preliminary exit polls, up eight points from the 2013 governor’s race and two points from last year. Democrats composed 41 percent of the electorate, up four points from 2013 and one point from last year. Republicans were 31 percent of the electorate, a record low in two decades of exit polls.
-- Turnout was the highest in 20 years for a gubernatorial race, five percentage points and 10 percentage points higher than the last two. “Northam’s vote margin in Hampton Roads was more than 4,000 votes bigger than Clinton’s last year, a surprise since so many more people vote in presidential elections. Northam’s military background and hometown on the Eastern Shore may have provided extra momentum in that region,” Dan Keating and Kevin Uhrmacher explain. “Northam’s margin in Central Virginia around Richmond was similarly more than 4,000 votes bigger than Clinton’s there. His margin in Northern Virginia did not top Clinton’s, but it was bigger than [Obama] won it by in either of his winning campaigns. … Gillespie was not able to mount anywhere close to Trump’s margins in the Republican areas.” Consider this amazing statistic:
In 2014, Gillespie won Loudoun County (DC exurbs) by 456 votes.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 8, 2017
He lost it today by 23,432 votes.
Here’s a cool visualization of how turnout changed by region compared to the previous governor’s race:
-- Nonwhite voters turned out at presidential election rates in Virginia, surprising the experts who were trying to model the election on both sides. African Americans accounted for 21 percent of voters, according to the exits, the same as in 2016. When McAuliffe won four years ago, nonwhite voters accounted for 28 percent of the electorate. On Tuesday, they made up 33 percent of those who voted. That 5 percent is pivotal because black voters favored Northam by a 73-point margin and Hispanics favored Northam by 33 points.
From The Upshot:
Turnout in precincts where Hispanic *or* Asian voters represent at least 20% of the population is 15 percent higher than our pre-election estimates.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) November 8, 2017
Obama went to Richmond last month for his first campaign rally since leaving the White House to help gin up African American turnout. “Off-year elections, midterm elections — Democrats sometimes, y'all get a little sleepy. You get a little complacent,” the former president said in his speech. “And so as a consequence, folks wake up and they're surprised — 'How come we can't get things through Congress? How come we can't get things through the state house?’ Because you slept through the election!”
Well, Democrats weren’t sleeping yesterday.
— Gillespie “suffered mightily from the utter failure of the Republicans in Washington to do what they said they’d do,” said former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli (R), who lost the governor’s race four years ago. “Trump is Trump,” he told our Marc Fisher last night. “Let’s not kid ourselves that he’s going to make any changes. It’s up to the Republicans in Congress. If they can’t deliver to their voters, those voters simply won’t come out, and that should scare the bejesus out of the Republicans in Washington.”
A NIGHT OF FIRSTS:
- Seattle elected its first openly lesbian mayor and the first woman since the 1920s. (The Advocate)
- St. Paul, Minn., elected its first black mayor. (Star Tribune)
- In Minneapolis, voters elected the city’s first transgender council member. Andrea Jenkins, who is black, becomes the first transgender woman of color elected to public office in a major U.S. city. (Strib)
- Justin Fairfax, who was elected lieutenant governor in Virginia, is the first African American elected to a statewide office in the commonwealth since L. Douglas Wilder won as governor in 1989.
- The Republican mayor of Provo, Utah, was elected in a special election to fill the vacant seat of Jason Chaffetz, who resigned so he could become a talking head on Fox News. John Curtis ran as the pragmatic leader of Utah’s third-largest city, per Mike DeBonis. “Democrat Kathie Allen, a physician and first-time political candidate, had 26 percent, while Jim Bennett, who ran as nominee of the United Utah Party and is the son of former Republican Sen. Robert F. Bennett, had 9 percent.”
- Bill de Blasio easily won a second term as mayor of New York City. (Dave Weigel)
- Boston Mayor Marty Walsh was reelected by a 30-point margin. (Boston Globe)
- Progressive lawyer Larry Krasner’s improbable bid to become Philadelphia’s district attorney proved victorious. The Philly Inquirer reports: “[T]he 56-year-old was assailed from the start of his campaign by critics as unsuitable for the job — as an attorney best known for taking on civil rights cases and suing the Philadelphia Police Department. It was for some of the same reasons that he drew support from activists demanding criminal justice reform from an office they deemed unfair[.]”
MORE WAPO TEAM COVERAGE:
-- “Republicans seek new path after failure of Gillespie’s ‘Trumpism without Trump,’” by Michael Scherer and David Weigel: “It was not clear that a further embrace would have produced any better results. In the short term, the defeat is likely to broaden a deepening divide between traditional Republicans, who have lost influence among grass-roots GOP voters, and the new populist conservatives who have embraced the polarizing approach of the president. In the aftermath of defeat, some Republicans called for staying the course. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) argued that the solution for the Virginia Republicans’ woes was running Corey Stewart, a former Trump campaign adviser who lost the primary to Gillespie, in the 2018 Senate campaign against Tim Kaine.”
-- “The shape of Northam’s victory gave Democrats both hope and pause,” writes Marc Fisher. “He drew larger portions of the vote than Clinton did in every region of Virginia, outperforming her especially among young people and white women with college degrees, according to preliminary exit polls. But Northam failed to make gains in Democratic weak spots such as with rural and less-educated voters.”
-- From The Washington Post’s opinion page:
- The Editorial Board: “A triumph of decency over dread.”
- Dana Milbank: “Trump was on the ballot in Virginia. He lost.”
- Jonathan Capehart: “Trump thumped in Virginia — bigly.”
- Jennifer Rubin: “Virginia shows that anti-Trump Republicans and Democrats still have a pulse.”
WHAT SMART COMMENTATORS ARE SAYING ELSEWHERE:
- The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Jeff Schapiro: “Northam, with the strongest performance for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate since Gerald L. Baliles in 1985, has strengthened his party’s grip on the crucial — and growing — suburban vote, largely isolating Republicans in the thinly populated, Trump-friendly countryside.”
- New York Times columnist Frank Bruni: “Just when we needed a sign that his America is not all of America, Virginia came to the rescue and gave us a vivid one. And I guarantee you that the Republicans up for re-election in 2018 saw it, shuddered and will spend the next weeks and months trying to figure out just how much trouble their party is in and precisely how to repair it[.]”
- The Wall Street Journal’s Janet Hook and Joshua Jamerson: “The [Democratic Party’s] activists showed they can help even a low-key campaigner like Mr. Northam, who was second choice for many progressives who supported his primary rival, former Rep. Tom Perriello.”
- CNN’s Chris Cillizza: “[T]he simple fact when you look at turnout patterns in places like Chesterfield and Loudoun, is that lots of Virginia voters — including some decent chunk of establishment GOPers – jumped at the chance to send Trump a very clear message that they didn't like what he was selling. They didn't like it at all.”
- Washington Examiner’s David Drucker: “For GOP, Virginia reveals dangers of Trump and a do-nothing Congress.”
- The Atlantic’s David A. Graham: “[Gillespie] went out of his way, and broke with his longstanding political profile, to embrace what Trump stood for, and lost anyway.”
- National Review’s Jim Geraghty: “[T]he key lesson of the night goes far beyond Gillespie. Right now, the Republican party’s brand in Virginia is dirt. Throw in the failure to make New Jersey even remotely competitive, and tonight is about as bad as it can get for the GOP — a sense of déjà vu from the results across the country 2006 and 2008.”
- Politico’s Bill Scher: “[O]nce the thrill of victory fades, the sharp internal divisions (among Democrats) that surfaced in the final days of the campaign won’t be easily set aside. Every skirmish among Virginia’s Democrats related to the big existential questions that remain about the Democratic Party’s national direction. And the precise way Northam won is unlikely to produce consensus among the squabbling factions.”
HOW THE RETURNS PLAYED ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
-- Yes, Virginia went for Clinton last year. Yes, the demographics are changing. But it was anything but inevitable that Northam would win.
From the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia:
Dear Pundit Friends, please stop attributing this D landslide in VA to "changing demographics". VA hasn't changed that much since last Nov. 8 (Hillary by 5%). The bigger explanation is a backlash to Trump and Trumpism, pure and simple. #VAGov— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) November 8, 2017
-- Gillespie’s embrace of divisive wedge issues kept the race close, but it was not enough. Democrats were gleeful and expressed hope that Republicans elsewhere will be less inclined to replicate the tactics in 2018.
From a former senior adviser to Barack Obama:
At least Ed Gillespie still has his dignity.— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) November 8, 2017
Oh wait, never mind. He sold his soul to Trumpism.
From Obama’s former chief speechwriter:
In case there was any doubt: the Resistance is real.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) November 8, 2017
From the MSNBC host:
Another question: how do Republicans react to Gillespie losing? Does this give them pause about running as Trumpist, anti-immigrant neo-confederates?— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 8, 2017
The New Republic's senior editor pinned Gillespie's defeat on a certain Confederate general:
Once again, Robert E. Lee turns out to be a loser.— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) November 8, 2017
From a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:
Now we have to build a statue of Ed Gillespie, otherwise how will future generations know who lost this election? https://t.co/EsyENT6tKe— Patrick Burgwinkle (@Burgwinkle) November 8, 2017
-- Many establishment Republicans were relieved that Gillespie's embrace of Trumpism did not work. From the chief strategist for Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), a possible 2020 challenger to Trump:
Another thing GOP candidates: to thine own self be true. Don't go down the path of these nationalist loons and lose both the election & your honor. #TwoPaths— John Weaver (@JWGOP) November 8, 2017
-- But many on the right said that their losses were so bad because Republicans have not kept their promises, especially on immigration. From Ann Coulter:
If @realDonaldTrump doesn't keep his campaign promise to build a wall & deport illegals, what happened to VA will happen to the entire country.— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 8, 2017
One headline right now on Breitbart News? “The Republican Swamp Got the Loss they Wanted, Now They’re Going to Try to Tame Us.” For his part, Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, blamed the loss on the growing dominance of the suburbs outside Washington in Virginia politics and offered a novel idea:
DC should annex NOVA and return the governance of VA to Virginians! The founders intended DC to include all fed employees who are conflicted— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) November 8, 2017
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
TRUMP IN ASIA:
-- Trump harshly denounced North Korea and its nuclear ambitions during a speech to the South Korean National Assembly. Ashley Parker and David Nakamura report: “In a 35-minute speech here, for which he received a standing ovation, Trump offered a tough and blunt message to Pyongyang and dictator Kim Jong Un: ‘Do not underestimate us. And do not try us. We will defend our common spirit, our shared prosperity and our sacred liberty.’ But the president drew no red lines for what would prompt the United States to use military force, nor did he offer any additional ideas on how to coax North Korea to the negotiating table.”
- The Fix’s Callum Borchers annotated the address here.
-- Trump also attempted to make a surprise visit to the DMZ but was forced to turn back because of bad weather. Our colleagues report: President Moon Jae-in “had been expected to join Trump at the border, in what White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders billed as a ‘historic moment’ — the first time leaders of both the United States and South Korea would have visited the DMZ together. The trip was kept under great secrecy, with Sanders alerting reporters traveling with the president to the surprise visit by holding up a piece of paper on which ‘DMZ’ had been scrawled and announcing, ‘This is where we’re going.’”
-- Trump now heads to China, a country where social media platforms like Twitter are banned, David Nakamura notes: “President Xi Jinping has overseen a deepening crackdown on the Internet, using the ‘great firewall’ to stifle self-expression in the name of bolstering the already tight grip over society by the Communist Party. Foreigners are generally still able to tweet via their cellphones, and Trump is expected to continue his daily dose of high-octane missives over the three-day state visit, but it’s what he might chose not to say that could send a more subtle but equally important message. … Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, spoke out in support of free speech in two visits to China. But Trump … has shown little inkling for confronting Xi on the issue[.]”
GET SMART FAST:
- Syria said it will join the Paris climate accord — putting the United States literally at odds with every other country in the world when it comes to fighting climate change. Meanwhile, experts seized on the moment to rebuke Trump’s withdrawal from the accord, accusing the president of “isolating the U.S. on the world stage” in an “embarrassing and dangerous” position. (Brady Dennis)
- A juror in the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) asked the judge to define the word "senator." Bloomberg’s David Voreacos and Neil Weinberg report: “U.S. District Judge William Walls declined to answer the question[.] … Walls told jurors that they should rely on their individual and collective memories to determine how to define a senator. The juror’s question, odd as it may have seemed, may have related to whether Melgen could have been considered a Menendez constituent. Defense attorneys said during the trial that Menendez regarded it as part of his Senate work to look after the interests of people beyond his home state.”
- Disney will no longer ban the Los Angeles Times from attending advance screenings of its movies following an investigation of the company by the publication. The ban prompted intense backlash and boycott threats from prominent critics’ organizations, news outlets and reporters. (New York Times)
- Former MLB all-star Roy Halladay died after a single-engine plane he was flying crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. Halladay, 40, was a two-time Cy Young Award winner who received his pilot’s license after retiring 2013. He is survived by his wife and two children. (Marissa Payne and Des Bieler)
- Twitter doubled its character count for all users (including the president). After a month of testing, Twitter announced that the new 280-character limit made users more likely to tweet and increased engagement. (Hayley Tsukayama)
- Chicago community organizers worry about the effect that Barack Obama’s presidential library will have on the South Side. Neighbors fear that the 20-acre center will turn their community into one huge tourist attraction. (Krissah Thompson)
- A new article from the American Journal of Medicine offers clues about the 1849 death of Polish composer Frederic Chopin — whose heart, per his request, was pickled in a jar, smuggled past Russian authorities and encased in the stone pillar of a Warsaw church. (The rest of his body was buried in Paris). Now, after careful examination, researchers believe Chopin died of tuberculosis complications. (New York Times)
- Sheep can recognize human faces “about as well as monkeys or humans,” according to a new study from the University of Cambridge. Neuroscientists there successfully trained the woolly creatures to recognize human celebrities by face “in a matter of seconds” — suggesting some serious (and surprising!) sheep smarts. (Ben Guarino)
- In Japan, you can pay an actor to impersonate a relative, spouse, co-worker or acquaintance for any conceivable situation — and for any length of time. In a bizarre, fascinating interview, Family Romance founder Ishii Yuichi discussed his burgeoning business, the complicated nature of human relationships and one of his longest-running gigs: pretending, for eight years, to be the father of a 12-year-old girl. (The Atlantic)
-- Texas church gunman Devin P. Kelley escaped from a mental health facility in 2012 after he was caught sneaking guns onto an Air Force base and threatening his military superiors. Eva Ruth Moravec and Mark Berman report: “The report said that officers with El Paso police were dispatched to a bus terminal after [Kelley's] escape from a behavioral facility about seven miles away in New Mexico. Officers wrote that they were told Kelley ‘was a danger to himself and others’ at the time and noted that he ‘was also facing military criminal charges.’ Kelley was court-martialed that same year and convicted of abusing his wife and her son. … This revelation came as authorities continued to seek a fuller portrait of Kelley and also probed a breakdown in military protocols that failed to flag a domestic violence conviction meant to keep him from buying firearms.”
Meanwhile, more chilling details of Kelley’s methodical church massacre continued to emerge:
- “Officials say Kelley was inside the church for a lengthy period of time, moving around freely as he gunned down people gathered for Sunday morning services. One woman who was wounded during the carnage described Kelley firing at churchgoers who tried to leave, shooting round after round at those cowering or wounded on the church’s floor.”
- “David Brown, whose mother, Farida, was shot in her legs, said she described Kelley firing four shots into the torso of a woman on her left[:] ‘With every shot, she was crying,’ Brown said of the woman. ‘She was just staring at my mom while she tried to comfort her.’"
-- One Florida school is now offering parents the option of purchasing bulletproof panels for students to place in their backpacks in the case of a school shooting. The slim, custom-made armor plates weigh less than a pound, protect against a variety of bullets — and are available for purchase on the school's website along with mascot t-shirts and other spirit apparel. “I’d rather be prepared for the worst than be stuck after saying ‘Wow, I wish we would’ve done that,’” the school’s head of security said in an interview. (Travis M. Andrews)
-- It's something: Senators demanded that government agencies properly enforce existing gun-control laws. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The Senate’s second-highest-ranking Republican announced Tuesday that he was planning to file legislation aimed at forcing federal agencies to upload required information about infractions into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and incentivizing state governments to do the same. ‘Their record of compliance is lousy, it’s lousy,’ Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) complained on the Senate floor[.] … Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also announced Tuesday that he was joining forces with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) ‘to prevent anyone convicted of domestic violence — be it in criminal or military court — from buying a gun[.]’”
-- House Democrats tried and failed to force a vote establishing a select committee on preventing gun violence. Ed O'Keefe reports: “The bill would establish a 12-member committee divided evenly between Republicans and Democrats to study the causes of mass shootings, look at ways to revamp the gun background-check system, research how mentally ill people obtain firearms and explore ways to keep domestic abusers from buying firearms. … During scheduled votes on other bills, Democrats used procedural motions to try to introduce the bill on the floor and get a vote. It failed overwhelmingly. But the development is likely to spark fresh Democratic attacks on Republicans for blocking such legislation[.]”
-- California Rep. Ted Lieu (D) — check out his Twitter account for consistent anti-Trump rants — walked out of Monday’s moment of silence for the victims. “My colleagues are doing a moment of silence in the House . . . I respect their right to do that and I myself have participated in many of them, but I can’t do this again,” Lieu said in a video. “I’ve been to too many moments of silences. In just my short career in Congress, three of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred. I will not be silent. What we need is we need action. We need to pass gun safety legislation now.” (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
THE BIGGEST LOSER?:
--Calling into a meeting of top economic adviser Gary Cohn and Senate Democrats on taxes, Trump said the GOP plan was “so bad for rich people,” Damian Paletta, Mike DeBonis and Ed O'Keefe report. “'The deal is so bad for rich people, I had to throw in the estate tax just to give them something,'” Trump said, according to multiple people in the room who heard the president on the phone.” The president also said he had spoken with his own accountant and “that he will be a 'big loser' if the deal is approved as written, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of the meeting. Others have said Trump would benefit from a number of provisions in the plan.”
--The House is expected to vote on its tax draft next week, but Senate GOPers won't release their own plan until tomorrow -- and it's not expected to look the same. Damian, Mike and Ed have more: “Senate leaders were exploring postponing the centerpiece of the effort — an $845 billion corporate tax cut — until 2019[.] … At the same time, Republican senators were planning to eliminate the state and local tax deduction, going further than the House, which retained part of the popular tax break[.] … Senators also were debating how to ensure that fewer of the plan’s benefits flow to the wealthy and more flow to the middle class. … Senate Republicans do not plan to collapse the seven income tax brackets that families and individuals pay into four brackets. The Senate plan is expected to keep roughly seven brackets[.]”
Spiking the deficit is also a problem: “Senate rules allow legislation to pass with fewer than 60 votes only if it wouldn’t add to the deficit after 10 years[.] … If Republicans cannot find a way to limit the budget impact of the tax plan, they may be forced to make it temporary, GOP lawmakers say.”
--And don't forget, House passage isn't guaranteed. Conservatives and the Club for Growth's wealthy donors are up in arms. Mike DeBonis and Ed O'Keefe report: “[Club for Growth] is calling on lawmakers to the cut tax rate on income over $1 million, which the House bill as currently written would leave unchanged at 39.6 percent. The group also wants the bill’s authors to make it easier for businesses to claim a lower 25 percent income tax rate, as well as to speed up their planned repeal of the estate tax, in a bid to promote economic growth. Meanwhile, groups including the National Right to Life Committee, Focus on the Family and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops mobilized to restore an existing tax credit that’s worth up to $13,570 for families who adopt children.”
--The House Ways and Means Committee is still expected to approve its plan tomorrow and advance the bill to a fill House vote next week, Damian, Mike and Ed note.
- The Wall Street Journal’s Richard Rubin: “Most [U.S. households] are likely to see lower tax bills under the Republican plan, but millions are at risk of higher taxes immediately, with the number losing out growing over time, according to analyses of the plan by Congress’s nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.”
- Steven Mufson: “[S]mall-business associations say [the GOP proposals] help big enterprises, not small ones, and vowed Tuesday to sink the bill in its current form. The National Football League, Fiat Chrysler, the Koch brothers’ Georgia-Pacific subsidiary, The Washington Post’s owner and more than 500 Trump entities would qualify for a substantial tax break under the proposal. But the neighborhood dry cleaner or dentist would be out of luck.”
- Renae Merle: “What is ‘carried interest’ and why it matters in the new GOP tax bill.”
REPUBLICANS LEAVE THE HILL:
-- Two more House Republicans are retiring: Frank LoBiondo, who represents a moderate suburban district in New Jersey that will be up for grabs next year; and Ted Poe, whose Texas seat is safe for Republicans. The announcements cap a growing wave of exits for Republicans on Capitol Hill, despite majority control of Washington (read my write up about the trend here).
Mike DeBonis reports that “LoBiondo, a 12-term congressman, said he would not seek reelection next year, citing in a statement the expected loss of key committee posts and an increasingly bitter political environment. … [He said in a statement,] ‘Regrettably, our nation is now consumed by increasing political polarization; there is no longer middle ground to honestly debate issues and put forward solutions.’ . . . While LoBiondo has won [New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District] comfortably since he was first elected, in 1994, the district is almost evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and instantly becomes one of the most likely seats to switch parties in the 2018 midterms.”
Poe is leaving despite having won his solidly red district by 30 points in 2016. (Politico)
THE WEINSTEIN EFFECT:
-- The Senate took a step toward mandatory training on sexual harassment for members and staff. Elise Viebeck reports: “A bipartisan group of senators led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced a resolution mandating periodic anti-harassment training for senators, officers, aides and interns. The eight-page bill also orders the Senate to conduct a regular anonymous survey to gauge the prevalence of sexual harassment in its offices.”
-- Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) placed her chief of staff on leave after former staffers accused him of sexual harassment. Politico’s Rachael Bade and Heather Caygle report: “The Michigan Democrat suspended Dwayne Duron Marshall after POLITICO reported Tuesday on four former staffers’ accounts of how Marshall treated women in the office. The aides said he made frequent comments about their looks and engaged in occasional unwanted touching — something Marshall firmly denied in a statement. … Three of the four former aides said they had raised the issue to Lawrence in recent years, though they say they did not use the words ‘sexual harassment.’ Lawrence denied that she ever heard anyone complain of being uncomfortable around Marshall, though she acknowledged in an interview that her office grappled for a time with ‘managerial style issues.’”
THERE'S A BEAR IN WOODS:
-- Jeff Sessions will appear next week before the House Judiciary Committee, where Democrats plan to grill him about newly unsealed court documents appearing to contradict his previous sworn testimony about Russian contacts during the presidential race. Ellen Nakashima reports: “Last month at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sessions said he had no communications with the Russians, and he was ‘not aware of anyone else [in the campaign] who did.’ [But one court document unsealed last week] showed that in March 2016 [Trump campaign adviser George] Papadopoulos attended a national security meeting in Washington with Trump [and Sessions] … in which he said he had ‘connections that could help arrange a meeting between then-candidate Trump and [Putin].’ ‘When you appear before our committee, we intend to ask you about these inconsistencies,' the panel’s 17 Democrats said in a letter sent to Sessions on Tuesday. The Democrats stated in their letter that ‘officials at the highest level in the campaign knew about Mr. Papadopoulos’ interactions … and hoped to hide those interactions from the public.’”
-- DRIP, DRIP, DRIP: Carter Page told the House Intelligence Committee last week that he coordinated his July 2016 Russia trip with top Trump campaign officials — and reported it to other aides after he returned. In sworn testimony, Page told lawmakers that he informed Sessions about his travels, and “probably” had told national campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis before leaving. (He said he “definitely” did so on his return.) (Rosalind S. Helderman, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian)
- NBC reported that Page also sought permission to make the Moscow trip from Corey Lewandowski — then Trump's campaign manager — and also notified spokeswoman Hope Hicks.
-- An employee of former Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo was blocked from Wikipedia in August after the site’s editors said he was caught using multiple pseudonymous accounts to scrub the page of Caputo’s ties to Vladimir Putin. The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay reports: “After the accounts were exposed as what Wikipedia calls ‘sock puppets’ — multiple accounts run by the same person as part of a coordinated editing campaign —[the employee, Sean Dwyer], admitted he had financial ties to the subjects of his edits. It’s just the latest front in Caputo’s battles to save his reputation from, what he sees as, Russian smears. He also says he has filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) over comments at a congressional hearing in March, where the California Democrat accused Caputo of having been Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ‘image consultant[.']”
-- As U.S. polling places opened last Nov. 8, Russian Internet trolls in St. Petersburg activated a host of “sleeper cell” propaganda accounts — some created as far back as 2009 — for a final Election Day blitz. The Daily Beast’s Kevin Poulsen reports: “They used a combination of high-profile accounts with large and influential followings, and scores of lurking personas established years earlier with stolen photos and fabricated backgrounds. [According to a dataset of 6.5 million tweets analyzed by the Daily Beast], [t]hose sleeper accounts dished out carefully metered tweets and retweets voicing praise for Trump and contempt for his opponent, from the early morning until the last polls closed in the United States. ‘VOTE TRUMP to save ourselves from the New World Order. Time to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,’ read one. ‘Last chance to stop the Queen of Darkness! Vote Trump!’ urged another. … Evidently anticipating a Trump loss, as nearly everyone did, the trolls’ final election mission was to sow doubt about the legitimacy of the vote[.]”
WEST WING INTRIGUE:
-- CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently met, at the urging of President Trump, with a DNC conspiracy theorist who circulated a theory that last year’s email hacking was an “inside job” rather than the work of Russian government actors. (That theory runs counter to a long-standing conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community).
CNN’s Jim Sciutto and Mary Kay Mallonee report: “William Binney, the former NSA employee-turned-whistleblower who circulated the conspiracy theory, [confirmed] that he met with Pompeo for about an hour on October 24 … Binney, who has theorized that the theft and release of thousands of DNC emails was actually carried out by a DNC employee, told CNN that Pompeo began the meeting with him by saying, ‘The President told me I should talk to you.’ Intelligence sources [said] that many people inside the CIA were very uncomfortable with the meeting. Binney said Pompeo concluded the meeting by telling him he would like Binney to meet with the FBI and the NSA as well.”
- In response, the CIA said Pompeo “stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 intelligence community assessment” that Russia interfered in the election.
-- BUT, BUT, BUT: When it comes to Russia, Pompeo keeps doing controversial things, says The Fix’s Aaron Blake. “At an event three weeks ago, Pompeo made a highly curious remark, saying that ‘the intelligence community’s assessment is that the Russian meddling that took place did not affect the outcome of the election.’ This mirrored a talking point previously offered by Trump … but that talking point is categorically false. The intelligence report said clearly that it wouldn't weigh in on how much impact Russia may have had, not that it didn't have an impact. That might be a slip of the tongue from an amateur. But how the CIA director, of all people, could get something of such importance — something that for him should be completely basic knowledge — so wrong sure seemed odd.”
-- More problems for Wilbur Ross: The commerce secretary told Forbes that he had $2 billion in trusts — evidently to maintain his position on the magazine’s list of richest Americans. But it now appears that the trust money never existed. Forbes’s Dan Alexander reports: “[A]fter examining the financial-disclosure forms he filed after his nomination to [Trump's] Cabinet, which showed less than $700 million in assets, Forbes was intent on removing him [from the list] entirely. Ross protested, citing trusts for his family that he said he did not have to disclose in federal filings. … And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004.
-- Trump administration officials sound far more hesitant about the Saudi purge of influential citizens than the president himself. Karen DeYoung reports: “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, asked if he was concerned that [the] series of arrests … had consolidated national security power in [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s] hands, said he needs more information. ‘Let me get back to you on this one, once we’ve settled some back-and-forth sharing of information back to the kingdom,’ Mattis told reporters . . . At the State Department, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, ‘We’re continuing to monitor the situation.’ The Saudis, she said, ‘have assured us that any prosecutions that take place will be done in a fair and transparent manner, and we hope that they will hold up to that.’”
-- Trump aide Omarosa Manigault brought her 39-member bridal party to the White House in April for an extended wedding photo shoot — catching many aides and security personnel by surprise and highlighting the dysfunction that permeates the Office of Public Liaison, where she is a senior aide. It’s unclear whether Manigault received any formal permission for the shoot. Politico’s Josh Dawsey reports: “Even in a White House riven by chaos in the early months, the office gained notoriety for being a ‘dumpster fire place to work’[.] Aides in other departments didn’t know what the office did, and [OPL Director George Sifakis] gave employees little direction or authority, said several officials. On many days, the staff … didn’t know what Sifakis was doing or what they were supposed to be doing[.] ‘There was no organization, no calendar, nothing.’ one former official said.”
AMERICA, ONE YEAR LATER — REFLECTIONS ON THE 2016 ELECTION:
-- Trump won the presidency a year ago today. Looking back on his victory speech, Jenna Johnson writes that Trump laid out a vision of his presidency that has yet to come to fruition. “Trump lavished praise on Hillary Clinton, laid out a centrist agenda focused on infrastructure projects and growing the economy, and told fellow world leaders that he would ‘seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.’ Above all, he called for unity as he pledged to represent all Americans. ‘Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division,’ Trump said about 3 a.m. on Nov. 9 in downtown Manhattan. … The victory speech was a glimpse of a presidency that might have been. Instead, one year later, Trump finds himself the most unpopular president in modern times amid criticism that he has sought to divide more than unite.”
-- GQ’s Ben Schreckinger, “Inside Donald Trump's Election Night War Room”: “Nobody saw it coming. Not the pundits or the pollsters, not even the Donald himself … As night falls, supporters of [Hillary Clinton descended] on Manhattan's Javits Center, for what they expect will be a victory party. Little notice has been taken of reports that the Clinton campaign has canceled a fireworks display it had planned. The evening is already energized with the sense that history could soon be made — and celebrated under the Javits Center's glass ceiling.” Meanwhile, something very different was afoot — setting the stage for one of the most shocking and unpredictable nights in modern political history.
- Frank Luntz: “At 5:01, all the narratives were written: Hillary Clinton was elected president. It's supposed to be a really closely guarded secret … [but people] prepare their graphics, they prepare all their material. I have a photograph [of a graphic]: “Fox News declares Hillary Clinton elected president.”
- Chris Wallace: “I spoke to President-elect Trump [a month later], and he said that going into election night, and after his people had read the exit polls, they thought he was going to lose, too. He thought he was going to lose. That was just the accepted wisdom.”
- Kellyanne Conway: “[Trump] was calling me, and at about 8:30 or 9 o'clock, I said, ‘I think it's a good time for you to come down.’ I said, you know, ‘We're having pizza and we're just hanging out and we're watching the returns and they're going to start calling states for you ….’”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The mayor of Charlottesville had this to say about the Virginia results:
The eyes of the country are on the Commonwealth of Virginia. As they should be. We are a wall against Trump and Trumpism.— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) November 8, 2017
An environmental PAC founded by Tom Steyer hosted a petting zoo at Virginia Tech to get out the vote:
HuffPost's polling director caught some “early exits” from Virginia:
whoa...look at these Virginia exits pic.twitter.com/CdckZr261Z— Ariel Edwards-Levy (@aedwardslevy) November 7, 2017
Democrats had a field day with Donald Trump Jr.'s tweets that the election is actually TODAY:
From The Post's Philip Bump:
Northam’s lead will shrink when all the people Donald Trump Jr. told to vote in Virginia tomorrow cast their ballots.— Philip Bump (@pbump) November 8, 2017
Don Jr. responded after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced that he would write a bill with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to stop those convicted of domestic violence from obtaining firearms:
Incredibly proactive considering that law has been on the books since the mid 90s. https://t.co/li2bSEW0LE— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 7, 2017
Flake fired back at the president's son:
The Arizona Republican later added this context for his bill:
Texas shooter was able to buy a gun because what civilian courts call domestic violence, military courts call assault. In fact, DOD has only reported ONE case of domestic violence to fed. background check system since 07. #DomesticViolenceLoophole Closure Act is commonsense fix pic.twitter.com/pxEOAPZ1HA— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 7, 2017
The White House press secretary briefed reporters after Trump's canceled trip to the DMZ:
The founder of the liberal blog ThinkProgress posed this question:
Why is the White House press secretary in fatigues? https://t.co/l1ReR7gM4f— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 8, 2017
A former Obama aide criticized Carter Page after his House testimony was released:
Carter Page’s House Intel testimony shows Russians paid for his Moscow travel in 2016, when he was a Trump advisor. They know an easy mark.— Ned Price (@nedprice) November 7, 2017
Actress Rose McGowan, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape, applauded Ronan Farrow's latest New Yorker investigation:
Ronan Farrow your words will line the halls of justice— rose mcgowan (@rosemcgowan) November 7, 2017
Trump's hometown paper decided to use its new 280-count Twitter privileges to tweet about the Access Hollywood tape:
"I'm automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything ... Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything." #280characters https://t.co/ShAnYFOsHk— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) November 7, 2017
Former congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.) made this point:
99% of you people don’t even deserve 140 characters.— John Dingell (@JohnDingell) November 7, 2017
But this classic line requires all 280 characters:
In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories. *DUN DUN*— Law and Order: SVU (@nbcsvu) November 7, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- BuzzFeed News, “2017's Most Prolific Online Prankster Is Calling It Quits,” by Ryan Mac: “After using a simple email hoax to convince government officials, celebrities, and CEOs that they were talking to friends or associates — and then publishing those conversations online — 39-year-old James Linton says he is stopping the stunts after the disclosure of his true identity. Now the formerly anonymous man, better known as email prankster @Sinon_Reborn, hopes to parlay his antics into a cybersecurity job where he can help combat the same email fraud he perpetrated.”
-- The Daily Beast, “Women Expose The Secret Sexual Predators Inside Texas Politics,” by Olivia Messer: “[Over a year ago,] women in Texas’s statehouse secretly created their own online whisper network to document sexual harassment and assault in their industry. This spreadsheet, called the ‘Burn Book of Bad Men,’ lists 38 men, named by an unknown number of women who contributed anonymously to the document. Its accusations run the gamut from pay discrimination to creepy comments and sexual assault.”
-- The New York Times, “How Business Titans, Pop Stars and Royals Hide Their Wealth,” by Scott Shane, Spencer Woodman and Michael Forsythe: “What offshore services offer to a diverse international elite is secrecy and discretion, along with the opportunity to minimize or defer taxes. … [B]usiness has rarely been better. The ranks of the superrich are growing fast, fueled by legitimate fortunes in finance, trade and technology — as well as drugs, embezzlement and bribery. And the offshore finance industry has grown alongside its customers’ accounts.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Jeff Sessions’ DOJ Drops Prosecution Of Woman Who Laughed At Jeff Sessions,” from HuffPost: “Justice Department prosecutors have dropped their case against a woman who laughed at [Jeff Sessions] during his confirmation hearing. Desiree Fairooz was scheduled to face trial for a second time next week, but a DOJ prosecutor entered a nolle prosequi filing in the case on Monday indicating the department is dismissing the charges. Fairooz, a retired children’s librarian and demonstrator affiliated with the organization Code Pink, let out a laugh during a Senate hearing back in January after Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said Sessions had a ‘clear and well-documented’ record of ‘treating all Americans equally under the law.’”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Racist graffiti painted on car near K-State was a fraud,” from Kansas City Star: “An incident in which racist slurs were painted on a car near the Kansas State University campus last week was a hoax, and the man who painted the slurs has apologized. Riley County Police reported Monday afternoon that the owner of the car, Dauntarius Williams, 21, of Manhattan, admitted to investigators he was responsible for the graffiti. Police said that after learning that Williams had defaced his own vehicle … [they decided not to file charges]. Williams had called The Star after the incident and said he was a K-State student and was leaving the university … [Racial slurs and other] offensive language — ‘White’s Only,’ ‘Die,’ and ‘Date your own kind,’” were found painted on the car.
Trump is now on to China for his Asia trip.
Pence and the second lady will travel to Texas to visit victims of the Sutherland Springs shooting, receive a briefing from law enforcement and attend a prayer vigil.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) remarked of the GOP’s push to overhaul the tax code, “My donors are basically saying, 'Get it done or don’t ever call me again.'”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be cold through Friday in the District. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Drier air settles in today, although a few isolated showers remain possible. Temperatures climb out of the 30s this morning. But with partly to mostly cloudy skies and a cool breeze from the north at 5 to 10 mph, highs only make the upper 40s to low 50s.”
-- The Wizards lost to the Mavericks, the worst team in the NBA, 113-99. (Candace Buckner)
-- The U.S. archivist, a Vietnam War vet, has arranged an exhibit on the war called “Remembering Vietnam” that opens Friday at the Archives. Michael E. Ruane reports: “The free exhibit, which runs through Jan. 6, includes some of the most striking documents relating to the war[.]”
-- The D.C. Council preliminarily approved a plan to erect a state of former mayor Marion Barry. The 8-foot-tall bronze statue would stand outside City Hall. (Paul Schwartzman)
-- D.C. Public Schools students set another record graduation rate of 73 percent. (Moriah Balingit)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah mocked Trump's approval of the arrests in Saudi Arabia:
The Post's Glenn Kessler ruled Trump's claim that the estate tax harms farmers and small businesses is exaggerated:
Volunteers who live near Sutherland Springs offered aide to the Holcombes, who lost eight members of their extended family in the shooting:
A teacher in Georgia was captured on video saying that he might shoot a student in the head:
And the Nationals' Racing Presidents visited a local elementary school for Halloween: