THE BIG IDEA: President Trump faced blowback from conservative television personalities, and there were compelling visuals. That combination apparently packed more of a punch than his interior secretary, his sons and their allies in the hunting industry.
Trump said Sunday that elephant hunting is a “horror show” and suggested that he plans to permanently block imports of trophies from two African nations. Just last Wednesday, his own administration announced that it would end a 2014 ban on big-game trophy hunting in Zimbabwe and Zambia. On Friday night, hours after the White House press secretary aggressively defended the change, Trump announced that he was putting it on hold so he could review the policy. This tweet last night suggests that he’s made up his mind:
Big-game trophy decision will be announced next week but will be very hard pressed to change my mind that this horror show in any way helps conservation of Elephants or any other animal.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
-- Criticism from allies who have big platforms on the right clearly moved the needle. Conservative radio host Michael Savage, who is very popular with the Trump base, and Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham, who recently published a pro-Trump book, both spoke out against getting rid of the Obama-era policy.
Thank you, President Trump!https://t.co/MfFFW1fsZo— Michael Savage (@ASavageNation) November 18, 2017
Several other conservative media personalities thanked Trump for coming to the rescue of the mascot for his adopted party. Trump retweeted two of them this weekend:
For those who think Donald Trump is never capable of changing his mind or being persuaded by counter-argument.... pic.twitter.com/GWgo0mZTwV— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) November 18, 2017
-- The condemnation of last week’s policy change was intense, and the cable commentary after Trump’s Friday decision to put it on ice was positive. Trump, the consummate showman, cares deeply about the press he gets. He has said that he uses television punditry like a focus group.
Likely more important than anything the talking heads said, though, the cable news channels also aired B-roll of wounded elephants being slaughtered. That would tug at the heartstrings of most human beings. But Trump is especially susceptible to visuals.
Recall his decision to reverse course and order airstrikes on Syria in April. As Ashley Parker, David Nakamura and Dan Lamothe reported at the time: “When [Trump] began receiving his intelligence briefings in January, his team made a request: The president, they said, was a visual and auditory learner. Would the briefers please cut down on the number of words in the daily briefing book and instead use more graphics and pictures? … It was the images — gruesome photos of a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians — that moved Trump [who ran on a platform of nonintervention] to authorize the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles …
“Senior administration officials and members of Congress who spoke with Trump said the president was especially struck by two images: young, listless children being splashed with water in a frantic attempt to cleanse them of the nerve agent; and an anguished father holding his twin babies, swathed in soft white fabric, poisoned to death…
“As the carnage unfolded on cable news, which the president watches throughout the day and deep into the night, Trump turned to his senior staff, talking about how ‘horrible’ and ‘awful’ the footage out of Syria was, said one top adviser.”
-- Dozens of celebrities tweeted their outrage about the elephant policy last week, and they chose adorable pictures to pair with their posts. For example:
Trump has decided killing elephants is ok. 💔 Elephants are kind, intelligent and devoted to their families. Lifting the ban only puts them in further danger. Trophy hunting of any kind should not be allowed and does not aid in conservation. Leave the elephants alone. #NotUs pic.twitter.com/ACu4s1jb31— om (@oliviamunn) November 17, 2017
The fact that Trump has lifted President Obama's ban on elephant trophies being imported into the country is a devastating blow to the survival of these beautiful animals. It's savage and pointless. It breaks my heart. pic.twitter.com/iclfxN6TXr— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) November 16, 2017
Trump is also a fan of the New England Patriots and has described Tom Brady, the team’s star quarterback, as a friend. Brady’s wife, the supermodel Gisele Bündchen, responded angrily to last week’s announcement on her social media platforms, writing that “nothing justifies killing” elephants for trophies:
Nothing justifies killing harmless animals to use its parts only as material goods, decoration or even worse as a trophy to satisfy someone´s ego or pride. If we want a better future, we must take care of the wildlife. When you hurt one species you are hurting them all, including us humans. We are all connected. #weareone #moreloveplease #BeKindToElephants @dswt @savetheelephants https://wildfor.life/ 🐘🙏🌎 Nada justifica matar animais inofensivos para usar suas partes apenas como bens materiais, decoração ou, ainda pior, para satisfazer o ego ou orgulho de alguém. Se queremos um futuro melhor, também temos de cuidar da vida selvagem. Se você fere uma espécie, está ferindo a todas, incluindo nós, seres humanos. Somos todos conectados. https://wildfor.life/
-- The spotlight matters: How much attention a policy gets affects the degree to which it’s on Trump’s radar. For example, the administration announced last month that it would lift import bans on lion trophies, but this news received little coverage in the press or pushback from prominent people. Expect the White House to get pressed hard today on whether the reference to “any other animal” in the president’s tweet last night means he is also reconsidering the lion policy.
-- National security arguments can also resonate with Trump. That’s the route that the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce from California, went in a statement urging the Trump administration to withdraw its decision on Friday morning. “Elephants and other big game in Africa are blood currency for terrorist organizations, and they are being killed at an alarming rate,” he wrote. “Stopping poaching isn’t just about saving the world’s most majestic animals for the future – it’s about our national security.”
-- Another possible factor: Trump doesn’t personally enjoy hunting, so he was less willing to take heat for permitting trophy imports. In 2012, Cher tweeted the link to a story with pictures of Donald Trump Jr. posing with slain animals, including an elephant, a leopard and a water buffalo. Donald Sr. quickly responded that he “publicly disapproved”: “My sons love hunting, I don’t,” he tweeted.
Ivana Trump, the president’s first wife, also disapproves. In her memoir, published last month, she wrote that she is “not fond of” her sons Don Jr. and Eric going to Africa. “I don’t object to their going to Patagonia to shoot birds. There are a million of them there, enough to spare,” Ivana Trump wrote. "But why go to Zimbabwe to shoot Bambi and Dumbo? I don’t blame people for giving them a hard time about it."
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Cult leader and convicted murderer Charles Manson died at 83. Paul Valentine writes: “Manson, the fiery-eyed cult master whose lemming-like followers staged a bloody two-night murder rampage in Los Angeles in 1969 that gripped the city with fear and shocked the nation, died on Nov. 19 at a hospital in Kern County, Calif. … The sheer incomprehensibility of the acts — mutilation and ritual stabbings of seven victims, among them rising Hollywood starlet Sharon Tate, then eight months pregnant by her movie director husband, Roman Polanski — left the public aghast and police investigators stumped for months. For many, Mr. Manson and his ragtag entourage of runaways, two-bit criminals and blindly loyal worshipers also symbolized the dark, even contradictory, excesses of the drug-driven, free-love ’60s, especially in California.”
Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
-- The killing of a border patrol agent in southwest Texas prompted a response from the president. Derek Hawkins reports: “Agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were ‘responding to activity’ near Interstate 10 in Van Horn, Tex., when both were seriously injured, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection news release. … The 36-year-old agent died of his injuries, and his partner, who was not identified, remained in the hospital in serious condition. ... President Trump appeared to connect Martinez’s death to border security, and plugged his plans for a border wall in a tweet Sunday night. … On Twitter, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) asserted, without explanation, that Martinez and his partner were ‘attacked’ and also linked the incident to security on the border with Mexico.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe defied mounting pressure to resign – shocking the nation by reaffirming his power in a meandering televised speech, delivered just hours after his own party voted to remove him. (Kevin Sieff)
- Talks to form a coalition government in Germany collapsed, potentially forcing a new round of elections. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats attempted to unite with the pro-business Free Democrats and the environmentalist Greens, but the Free Democrats pulled out of the negotiations. Merkel must now forge a new coalition or face voters again, which could give more power to the far-right Alternative for Democracy Party. (Griff Witte)
- Thousands of demonstrators packed onto the Mall in D.C. on Sunday to demand disaster aid for Puerto Rico, where -- two months after Hurricane Maria -- nearly half of residents remain powerless and 10 percent lack access to running water. “This is [Trump’s] Katrina,” one demonstrator said. “Enough is enough. People are starving, they don’t have clean water, and some don’t even have roofs. We need to help these people.” (Faiz Siddiqui and Kelyn Soong)
- A former Oklahoma state senator agreed to plead guilty to a child sex trafficking offense. Former state senator Ralph Shortey, a conservative Republican who served as a county coordinator for Trump’s presidential campaign, was found alone in a Super 8 motel room with a 17-year-old boy in March after offering to pay the boy for sexual “stuff.” (The Oklahoman)
- A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a West Virginia public school district's program that taught the Bible after officials agreed to temporarily suspend the classes and conduct a “thorough review” of the class material. (Joe Heim)
- The trial for Inauguration Day protesters begins today. Six defendants face felony charges of inciting a riot and destruction of property, but prosecutors plan to call an additional 150 defendants to the court – a process that could last into the middle of next year. (Paul Duggan and Keith L. Alexander)
- Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) was the featured speaker at a fundraiser for the Iowa Family Leader, an advocacy group for Christian conservatives. His appearance in the state triggered questions about his presidential aspirations, but Sasse quipped, “I have no intention of talking about 2016 at all tonight, or, frankly, 2012 or 2020 or 2024.” (Des Moines Register)
- The U.S. military has banned alcohol consumption among service members in Japan after a Marine was involved in a fatal drunken driving accident. The Marine reportedly had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit when he struck a mini-truck driven by Hidemasa Taira. (Anna Fifield)
Deliberations will begin today in the trial of the man charged with helping to orchestrate the Benghazi attacks. Ahmed Abu Khattala faces 18 charges – including murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to support terrorism – and could receive life in prison. (Spencer S. Hsu)
- Counterfeit opioid pills have been flooding the illicit drug market in the United States, according to law-enforcement officials -- sickening and sometimes killing individuals who seek out the powerful painkillers amid a worsening national opioid crisis. In one Georgia town, for example, fake Percocet pills led to the hospitalization of more than two dozen patients in 42 hours. (Katie Zezima)
- Moroccan authorities are investigating the deaths of 15 people who were trampled to death during a flour giveaway. Just four officers were on site to control the crowds, which swelled to hundreds of people as the region struggles to recover from a severe drought. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Actor Jeffrey Tambor announced he doesn't intend to return to “Transparent” following sexual harassment allegations. “The idea that I would deliberately harass anyone is simply and utterly untrue,” Tambor said in a statement. “Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don’t see how I can return to ‘Transparent.’” (Emily Yahr)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Six months into special counsel Robert Mueller's probe, White House aides are starkly divided over its scope and risks – and how worried those in Trump’s orbit should be. Ashley Parker and Carol D. Leonnig report: “[Trump has warmed to White House counsel Ty Cobb’s] optimistic message on Mueller’s probe. Cobb had initially said he hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving, but adjusted the timeline slightly in an interview last week, saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter. But the reassurances from Cobb and others — which seem at least partially aimed at keeping the president calm and focused on governing — are viewed by others as naive.
- “People close to the investigation … say a tidy and quick conclusion is unlikely, and would defy the pattern of most special counsel investigations in recent history. In fact, legal experts and private defense lawyers monitoring the case believe that Mueller’s investigation [is] still in its early stages … [and] predict more campaign officials, among others, will face charges."
- “One Republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller’s team ‘working through the staff like Pac-Man.' 'Of course they are worried,' said the Republican. 'Anybody that ever had the words ‘Russia’ come out of their lips or in an email, they’re going to get talked to. … It’s going to be a long winter.'"
-- Mueller’s team has directed the Justice Department to turn over a “broad array” of documents. ABC News’s Mike Levine reports: “Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel's first records request to the [DOJ], and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation. In particular, Mueller's investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of [James Comey] and the earlier decision of [Jeff Sessions] to recuse himself … Mueller's investigators now seek not only communications between Justice Department officials themselves, but also any communications with White House counterparts, [a] source said."
-- Publicist Rob Goldstone, who helped set up the June 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer, broke his silence in the Sunday Times of London: “One day he may come to be remembered as the British music publicist who brought down Donald Trump, but Rob Goldstone insists he was merely a ‘useful idiot’ whose contacts with a Russian pop star accidentally plunged him into an American presidential scandal." "My email to Don Trump Jr took three minutes,” Goldstone claimed. "I never thought it would be read by the world."
-- A project led by former presidential campaign managers Matt Rhoades and Robby Mook released recommendations on how political candidates can prevent cyberattacks. Reuters’s Joseph Menn reports: “The 27-page guidebook … calls for campaign leaders to emphasize security from the start and insist on practices such as two-factor authentication for access to email and documents and fully encrypted messaging via services including Signal and Wickr. The guidelines are intended to reduce risks in low-budget local races as well as the high-stakes Congressional midterm contests next year. … The ongoing effort is being led by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, based at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and is drawing on top security executives from companies including Google, Facebook and the cyber security firm CrowdStrike. The guidebook will be available online (here).”
-- “The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow,” by Politico Magazine's Luke Harding: “In 1987, a young real estate developer traveled to the Soviet Union. The KGB almost certainly made the trip happen.”
THE TAX FIGHT CONTINUES:
-- OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said the White House is open to reconsidering the repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate in the tax bill. Sean Sullivan and Damian Paletta report: “‘If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill — that can pass — that’s great,’ Mulvaney said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we are okay with taking it out.’ He said it would ultimately be up to House and Senate negotiators to figure it out. … If the health-care language is stripped from the bill, Senate Republican leaders could be forced to change the plan dramatically. Possibilities include making corporate tax cuts temporary rather than permanent and cutting back on a proposed expansion of the child tax credit.”
-- Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) wants to see changes to the bill and criticized the individual mandate repeal. “I don’t think that provision should be in the bill,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I hope the Senate will follow the lead of the House and strike it. If not, I think we need to fix it by passing two bills, the Alexander-Murray Bill, which will help to stabilize markets and reduce premiums, and a bill I've introduced with Bill Nelson of Florida that would create high-risk pools that would protect people with pre-existing conditions and also help to reduce premiums by 20 percent.” (Bloomberg)
-- Repealing the individual mandate may not yield the expected savings, anyway. The New York Times’s Kate Zernike and Abby Goodnough report: “The [CBO] has estimated that doing away with the mandate would result in nearly 13 million more people without insurance and federal savings of $338 billion by 2027. But polling data, analysis from a private forecasting agency and interviews with people who buy coverage through the [ACA] marketplaces suggest the savings could be far less, largely because many people who qualify for the subsidies will still want to take advantage of them. Even the budget office is revising its estimates and has predicted the new numbers would be smaller. In a survey this fall, the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that just 7 percent of people who buy insurance on the individual market said they would go without coverage if the mandate were no longer enforced.”
-- The House tax bill vs. higher education, from Nick Anderson: “Ending a tax deduction for interest paid on student loans. Raising taxes for more than 100,000 graduate students who receive tuition waivers. Imposing a levy on endowments at certain private colleges and universities. These actions are anathema to higher education leaders across the country. Yet they all appear in the House-approved Republican tax overhaul[.] … Outside Washington, there are signs that Republican support for higher education is ebbing. In July, the Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country. That was up from 37 percent two years earlier.”
-- The push is setting off budgetary alarm bells in blue states like New York, California and New Jersey. Politico’s Laura Nahmias, Katherine Landergan and Carla Marinucci report: “With Republicans intent on shrinking or repealing the state and local tax deduction, California officials are worried that the House-passed tax bill, and the emerging Senate measure, will force local governments to reduce taxes and make big cuts to schools and social services. In New York, where New York City and state revenues are heavily reliant on just a handful of wealthy tax filers, budget watchdogs fear federal tax changes could trigger the flight of those residents. And in New Jersey, plans for a new millionaire’s tax, one of incoming Gov. Phil Murphy’s biggest campaign promises, are already being reined in as the Democratic-led New Jersey Senate waits on the outcome of any federal tax plan."
-- Democrats see the plan as an opportunity to attack vulnerable GOP incumbents in suburban districts. David Weigel reports: “Coming off Election Day wins from Seattle to Long Island, Democrats are starting to see the shape of a new majority, built on a potential suburban backlash to changes in the tax code. ‘It’s incredible,’ said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)[.] ... ‘I don’t understand why they think raising taxes on the middle class to benefit the rich would be better for them electorally than doing nothing at all.’"
-- White House aides struggled on Sunday to explain Trump’s refusal to address the growing number of sexual misconduct allegations against Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama:
- When asked on ABC’s “This Week” why Trump has not condemned Moore, White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said the White House has “serious concerns” about the Republican but believes Alabama voters should decide his fate. When pressed on whether Trump believed Moore’s accusers, Short said: “If he did not believe that the women’s accusations were credible, he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore. He has not done that.”
- Mulvaney defended Trump’s silence on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying the president “doesn’t know who to believe." “I think a lot of people don’t. … He has said that he thinks that the voters of Alabama should decide.” Why, then, was Trump so quick to condemn Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) for his behavior toward Leeann Tweeden? “Franken admits it, and Roy Moore denies it,” Mulvaney said.
-- Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) joined the growing list of GOP senators calling for Moore to drop out of the race, saying on “Fox News Sunday” that his withdrawal would be “in the best interest of the country” and expressing support for a write-in candidate. “I certainly think that there is a strong possibility with a new candidate — a new Republican candidate, a proven conservative — that we can win that race in Alabama,” Scott said. “And it is in the best interest of the country, as well as the state of Alabama, from my perspective, for Roy Moore to find something else to do.”
-- Others sought to draw attention back to Trump’s own accusers:
- Collins said reports of unwanted touching or kissing by Trump were one of the reasons she didn't vote for him last year. “Those allegations remain very disturbing,” Collins said on ABC’s “This Week.”
- Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said the nation is experiencing a “huge cultural shift” when it comes to talking about sexual harassment. She told CBS’s John Dickerson that if Trump were running today, “I bet he would not be elected.” (Sarah Kaplan and Sean Sullivan)
-- The allegations against Moore could complicate the 2018 midterms for Republicans. Politico’s Kevin Robillard and Gabriel Debenedetti report: “The Moore situation presents a complicated choice for Republican candidates facing tough 2018 primaries: Side with Moore and risk that suburban swing voters will think you're defending a pedophile, or call for him to drop out and risk hard-core conservative voters believing you're buying into a liberal witch hunt. And while Democratic strategists say they don't expect Moore himself to be a central plank of any candidate's 2018 campaign six months from now, they are working to ensure the overall Republican brand is associated with Moore more broadly as a way of tarnishing it early in the cycle.”
-- But allegations against Franken could make it more difficult for Democrats to tie Republicans to Moore, especially as the Minnesota senator doesn't appear ready to resign. Star Tribune’s Jennifer Brooks reports: “Asked Saturday whether Franken would resign, a spokesperson for the senator responded: ‘No.’ ‘He is spending time with his family in Washington, D.C., and will be through the Thanksgiving holiday,’ the staffer said by text, ‘and he’s doing a lot of reflecting.’”
PBS has already edited Franken out of its upcoming special, “David Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize.” The network said in a statement, “PBS and WETA, the producing station, felt that the inclusion of Sen. Franken in the broadcast at this time would distract from the show’s purpose as a celebration of American humor.” (LA Times)
-- Meanwhile, in Alabama, the Birmingham News and other local papers published a front-page editorial Sunday with the headline: “Stand for Decency, Reject Roy Moore." “The accusations against Roy Moore have been horrifying, but not shocking,” the editorial said. “Every day new allegations arise that illustrate a pattern of a man in his 30s strutting through town like the cock of the walk, courting and preying on young women and girls. And though Roy Moore has denied the accusations of these women, his own platform and record is hostile to so many Alabamians.”
-- A1 of the New York Times, “Alabama Democrats Offer Cheers (but Little Else) in Senate Race,” by Jess Bidgood: “Opportunity has knocked on the door of a Democratic operation with the lights out. With a fairly anemic state party, there is little existing infrastructure for routine campaign activities like phone banks or canvassing drives. National Democrats, while helping to pour in money, are taking pains to keep the race at arm’s length, figuring their presence could hurt rather than help [Moore’s opponent, Doug] Jones. There are no beloved statewide officeholders or popular party elders to rally the troops.”
-- Sexual harassment away from Capitol Hill: “Rape in the storage room. Groping at the bar. Why is the restaurant industry so terrible for women?” by Maura Judkis and Emily Heil: “Women are vulnerable in just about every inch of a restaurant. Behind the bar. The hostess stands where patrons are greeted. Behind stoves and in front of dishwashers. From lewd comments to rape, sexual misconduct is, for many, simply part of the job.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN:
-- As Congress braces for a year-end fight over the fate of DACA recipients, Latino Democrats say they have abandoned hope for a good relationship with John Kelly – the former DHS secretary who they once hoped could be a “reasonable” working partner in Trump’s White House. Ed O’Keefe reports: “The tensions with Kelly started early this year when he was leading the [DHS], with Latino Democrats describing him during public hearings and private meetings as patronizing, disingenuous and unwilling to concede facts ... [Now], these tensions with [Kelly] are surfacing again as Congress is poised for a year-end fight over whether to enact permanent legal protections for [dreamers]."
During Kelly’s tenure at DHS, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they spoke with him about two bipartisan bills granting legal protection to dreamers. “During the meeting, Kelly said that dreamers were ‘good kids, I support them,’ [Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.)] recalled. But when she asked if he would support their legislation, ‘He stood there in complete silence’ [before] telling the group, ‘I’m unaware of any such legislation.’ Democrats in the room gasped — some laughed out loud in disbelief — and at least one member shouted, ‘Are you serious?’” Within days Kelly moved to his new White House position, members said, and they never heard back."
-- The Boston Globe’s Joshua Miller profiles Scott Brown and his new gig as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand: “Of the waves that followed from [Trump’s] 2016 tsunami, Brown’s ascension from the everyman-with-a-pickup who lost two US Senate races in two years in two states to US ambassador to New Zealand ranks among the most unlikely. And, for him, the most fortunate. … Brown spends his days as if he is campaigning across this terrain. He gladhands mayors and their constituents, bearing patriotic gifts[.] … And he connects with Kiwis over rock music and rugby, trying to parry their considerable concerns about President Trump. In the evening, Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, might dine at another diplomat’s house. Or they might stay at the ambassadorial residence, Camperdown, a palatial estate with a sweeping front lawn and a chef who prepares meals for the couple and their guests. … The pay is $155,000 per year. The benefits are priceless.”
-- The Treasury secretary addressed the viral photo of him and his wife holding the first U.S. dollar bills bearing his signature. “Some folks — and I’m looking at the picture here, which you can’t see — say that you two look like two villains from a James Bond movie,” Fox News’s Chris Wallace said to Steve Mnuchin. “I’m sure you’ve heard that. I guess my question is: What were you thinking?” Mnuchin responded, “I didn’t realize that the pictures were public and going on the internet and viral." He added, ”I guess I should take that as a compliment that I look like a villain in a great, successful James Bond movie. But let me just say, I was very excited of having my signature on the money. It’s obviously a great privilege and a great honor and something I’m very proud of.” (Politico)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump once again insulted his former campaign rival:
Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst (and biggest) loser of all time. She just can’t stop, which is so good for the Republican Party. Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2017
Avi Selk notes that Trump’s tweet came a day after Clinton gave an interview calling him a “sexual assaulter,” which she said was “based on the very credible statements that have come forward from, I think now, a dozen women.”
Clinton hit back:
HRC's response last night: "Apparently, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out. Apparently, there was another, somebody told me, tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing how does he get anything done?" https://t.co/qbu9UA2An5— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 19, 2017
Trump also went after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) again:
Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls) was caught (purposely) on “mike” saying bad things about your favorite President. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is “toast.”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Flake’s communications director responded to Trump’s tweet:
And the president picked a Twitter fight with LaVar Ball, dad to UCLA basketball player LiAngelo Ball, whom Trump helped release from a Chinese jail for shoplifting:
Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
Shoplifting is a very big deal in China, as it should be (5-10 years in jail), but not to father LaVar. Should have gotten his son out during my next trip to China instead. China told them why they were released. Very ungrateful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2017
From the New York Times White House reporter:
US president says he should have left US citizens imprisoned by non-democratic regime because the family didn’t acknowledge him personally https://t.co/7X11jTvvvR— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 19, 2017
From CNN's White House correspondent:
He still doesn’t seem to understand being president isn’t about people lavishing you with praise & telling you how great you are. https://t.co/FUj601c60W— Sara Murray (@SaraMurray) November 19, 2017
From The Post's Jason Rezaian, whose release from an Iranian prison was negotiated by the Obama administration:
My dad was dead when the US negotiated my release from prison in #Iran, but if he was alive he’d have been deeply appreciative of all efforts to get me out. If for some reason, though, he was less than gracious about it I doubt @BarackObama would have needed to pull one of these. https://t.co/m1B6h2cBZR— Jason Rezaian (@jrezaian) November 19, 2017
James Comey shared this quote, which seemed directed at Trump’s demand:
“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” Arnold H. Glasow(1905-1998)— James Comey (@Comey) November 19, 2017
George W. Bush’s former speechwriter responded to Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) claim regarding Al Franken that, “You're innocent until proven guilty, unless you say you did it:"
From a reporter for the Daily Beast:
Jason Chaffetz (!) is arguing that someone who engages in sexual harassment/assault should get the political death penalty.— Sam Stein (@samstein) November 19, 2017
Chaffetz voted for Trump after saying he couldn’t look his daughter in the eye following the Billy Bush tape
From a national political correspondent for The Post:
In light of the current national discussion, could we please take “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” out of circulation this Christmas?— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) November 19, 2017
The publisher of AL.com responded to legal threats from Roy Moore's team:
From a Times reporter:
Two months after Maria, electricity generation in Puerto Rico has actually gone down this week. Let that sink in.— Frances Robles (@FrancesRobles) November 19, 2017
Ivanka Trump’s company offered this holiday advice:
And Paris Hilton marked an important anniversary:
11 years ago today, Me & Britney invented the selfie! pic.twitter.com/1byOU5Gp8J— Paris Hilton (@ParisHilton) November 19, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The New York Times, “Behind Mugabe’s Rapid Fall: A Firing, a Feud and a First Lady,” by Norimitsu Onishi: “The chain of events leading to Mr. Mugabe’s downfall started on Nov. 6, when he fired his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a close ally of the military, and then tried to arrest the nation’s top military commander a few days later. Mr. Mugabe had finally come down against the military and its political allies in a long-running feud inside the governing party.”
-- LA Times, “Russell Simmons and Brett Ratner face new allegations of sexual misconduct,” by Amy Kaufman, Daniel Miller and Victoria Kim: “Keri Claussen Khalighi was a 17-year-old fashion model from a farm town in Nebraska when she met Brett Ratner and Russell Simmons at a casting call. Ratner was an up-and-coming music video director and a protege of Simmons, the Def Jam Recordings mogul. They took Khalighi to dinner one night in 1991 at Mr. Chow in New York, and then back to Simmons’ apartment to show her a music video they’d been working on. Quickly, Simmons began making aggressive sexual advances, yanking off her clothes, Khalighi said. ‘I looked over at Brett and said “help me” and I'll never forget the look on his face,’ she recalled. ‘In that moment, the realization fell on me that they were in it together.’”
-- The Wall Street Journal, “In Tour of House Districts, Democrats Listen for a Message,” by Natalie Andrews: “House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer says he came here to listen. The No. 2 House Democrat on Friday began a series of trips to districts his party must carry if it hopes to win back the House majority in 2018. His goal: to craft a message that resonates with voters only marginally attached to a party dominated by liberals from the coasts.”
-- The New York Times, “Celebrating a 25-Year-Old Clinton Win, but Still Stung by a Trump Defeat,” by Jonathan Martin: “It was billed as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Clintons’ ascension to the White House, held in some of the same haunts of the Arkansas capital where it all began. Yet the election that Bill and Hillary Clinton were most eager to revisit here was not Mr. Clinton’s triumph of a quarter-century ago. It was the one that Mrs. Clinton lost last year — one that the former first couple and many of their supporters have clearly not gotten over.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Justin Trudeau Will Formally Apologize For Canada’s Past LGBTQ Persecution,” from HuffPost: “[Justin Trudeau] announced Sunday that his government will offer a formal apology for its past discrimination against LGBTQ citizens. Trudeau will apologize ‘for the persecution & injustices [LGBTQ people] have suffered’ at the House of Commons next week, according to a tweet from him and an invitation to the event … The address is ‘expected to be the most comprehensive ever offered by any national government for past persecution of sexual minorities[.]’ Trudeau’s address will likely focus largely on Canada’s past treatment of LGBTQ service members and other government employees … [from] the 1950s until 1992.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Europe's Merkel, Macron, May less popular than Trump,” from the Washington Examiner: “President Trump’s approval ratings, often mocked by Democrats and the media, top those of Europe’s biggest three leaders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Britain’s Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron. A new Zogby Analytics survey of people in those countries also finds that the disapproval ratings are sky-high. ‘Citizens of France, Germany and U.K. not happy with Macron, Merkel and May,’ is the poll headline. ‘A majority of adults in France and U.K. dislike Macron and May; nearly half of adults in Germany dislike Merkel.’ Trump’s approval ratings range from 38 percent to the mid 40s, and Rasmussen set it at 42 percent this week.”
Trump has a Cabinet meeting followed by lunch with Pence and HUD Secretary Ben Carson. He also has an afternoon meeting with Rex Tillerson and Nikki Haley.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Baptist Pastor Franklin Raddish of South Carolina defended Roy Moore, citing a “war on men” as sexual harassment accusations arise across many industries. "More women are sexual predators than men," Raddish said. "Women are chasing young boys up and down the road, but we don't hear about that because it's not PC."
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be sunny, but chilly in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A bright start to the day is accompanied by much less wind than yesterday. Still, it’s a noticeable breeze from the west, gusting near 20 mph at times. That makes it feel like we’re in the low- to mid-40s much of the day, even as most spots climb to near 50 for highs.”
-- The Redskins lost to the Saints 34-31 in overtime. (Liz Clarke)
-- The Wizards were defeated by the Raptors 100-91. (Candace Buckner)
-- A portrait of Robert E. Lee was moved from Alexandria’s City Council chambers to a local history museum. Patricia Sullivan reports: “Mayor Allison Silberberg (D) called the museum ‘a more appropriate place’ for the large painting of Lee, who was born in Alexandria. … Like a similar portrait of George Washington, it was taken off the wall last summer as crews repaired the City Hall roof, and then cleaned and repainted the room. But when it was time to rehang the art, the Lee portrait was replaced by a 1798 map of the city. The Washington painting was returned to the wall.”
-- Demi Lovato took Virginia Delegate-elect Danica Roem (D) to the American Music Awards. Emily Yahr reports: “Lovato, a former Disney star who said she was ‘just completely inspired’ by Roem’s story, attended the AMAs to sing ‘Sorry Not Sorry,’ a song directed to the people who bullied her in school. ‘I wanted to have her in the audience with me tonight because I feel like we have been through some of the same things, and now we get to share this experience together,’ Lovato told E! According to Roem, her appearance at the show in Los Angeles was a ‘super last-minute request.’” Roem added on Twitter that she would return to Virginia in time for a school board meeting this morning.
-- The Secret Service took someone into custody after the person attempted to jump the Pennsylvania Avenue bike rack barrier to the White House. (Faiz Siddiqui)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
SNL’s cold open featured Trump’s sons meeting Julian Assange in a parking garage:
Weekend Update criticized Franken in the wake of misconduct allegations against the former cast member:
The Post fact-checked Ivanka Trump's claim that the GOP tax plan would help American families afford child care:
New Orleans elected its first female mayor:
And one of NASA's senior scientists felt compelled to debunk the conspiracy theory that a fake planet called Nibiru was about to collide with Earth: