With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: The daily stream of revelations about sexual harassment should be viewed, at least in part, as a belated backlash to Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, which came despite the emergence of the “Access Hollywood” video and several women who accused him of misconduct.
In October 1991, Anita Hill testified during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing that he had sexually harassed her when she worked for him at, of all places, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas denied wrongdoing, and he got confirmed. The backlash didn’t come until 13 months later.
Women across the country were disgusted by how poorly Hill was treated by lawmakers from both parties, including then-Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Joe Biden. There were only two women in the Senate then. Four were elected to join them in 1992. A historic number of women were also elected to the House — 24, the largest single number elected to the House in any single election. Nationally, 11 women won major party Senate nominations and 106 women were on the ballot for House slots in the general election.
That one high-profile case propelled countless other women to get involved in public service. Now there are dozens of high-profile cases of alleged sexual misconduct, from the U.S. House to state houses and from the military to the media. It stands to reason that this could lead to bigger backlash at the polls in 2018 and 2020 than we saw during what’s known as the Year of the Woman.
The massive women’s marches on the Saturday after President Trump’s inauguration were a harbinger of bigger things to come.
Democratic victories in this month’s off-year elections were driven by women. Exit polls showed a big swing in the party’s direction among married women and white women with college degrees.
A bumper crop of women won down-ballot races. A nurse decided to run against a county commissioner in New Jersey because of an offensive Facebook post about the women’s march. She beat him.
The filing deadline to run for Congress next year has not yet come in most states, and there are many highly qualified female candidates in crowded primary fields who are vying to take on male incumbents.
In her 1991 book “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women,” the author Susan Faludi documented widespread reactionary blowback to the feminist movement that was being fed by false narratives emanating from conservative think tanks, fashion magazines, the mainstream media and Hollywood. A year later, there was backlash to the backlash. After Trump won, there was widespread fear among women’s advocates that it would have a chilling effect on victims of sexual assault having the courage to come forward. The past few weeks have shown that they were perhaps overly pessimistic.
Men have been treating women unfairly since Adam blamed Eve for eating the apple in Genesis. The behavior that’s being described in the stories coming out this fall didn’t start in the last few years. It’s been going on forever. It’s coming to light in a way that makes clear it’s endemic and systemic, not a one off here and there. Leaders in most industries recognize that they cannot keep covering for the bad actors in their midst or continue pretending like the problem doesn’t exist. This represents a sea change in corporate America.
Now the open question is how voters will respond. After Thomas was confirmed, the public conversation eventually moved on. Many Democrats looked the other way when Bill Clinton’s misconduct came to light.
Many Republican voters are now looking the other way, as well. A new Quinnipiac University poll suggests that sexual harassment is less of a dealbreaker for the party’s grass roots in the Trump era than it was before: By a 63 percent to 29 percent margin, GOP voters say they would oppose trying to remove Trump from office even if the multiple sexual harassment allegations against him were proven true. Half of Republican voters nationally believe GOP senators should let Roy Moore serve in the Senate if he is elected next month. And 43 percent of Republicans say they would “still consider voting” for a candidate who faced multiple sexual harassment allegations, so long as they agreed with them on the issues. In contrast, 81 percent of Democrats said they would definitely not vote for such a candidate, as did 61 percent of independent voters.
The coming year will provide a gauge of how much things have changed. The first test will come in three weeks in Alabama.
-- Programming note: The Daily 202 will not publish on Thursday and Friday in recognition of Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for you, the reader.
A NEW FRONT IN THE CULTURE WAR —
TRUMP GOES TO BAT FOR ROY MOORE:
-- The president threw in his lot with Moore and tried to boost his Senate bid — breaking with Republican leaders in Washington as he emphasized the Alabama GOP candidate “totally denies” multiple, very credible allegations of sexual misconduct with teenage girls. Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker and David Weigel report: “We don’t need a liberal person in there …’ Trump said about [Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones]. ‘I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on military.’ The comments came after a week in which other Republican leaders in Washington, including [Mitch McConnell] had cut ties with Moore and called on him to exit the race. They also stood in contrast to Trump’s own support for the [RNC’s] decision last week to pull resources from the state[.] . . . There were no signs Tuesday that the RNC would reverse course, but a senior administration official said the president’s comments could prompt a larger effort to close ranks behind Moore.” The president, who was accused of sexual misconduct by several women during last year's campaign, added, “A lot of things are coming out, and I think that’s good for our society, and I think it’s very, very good for women, and I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out, and I’m very happy it’s being exposed.”
-- When asked whether he would stump with Moore, Trump responded, “I'll be letting you know next week.” The comment once again undercut Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has repeatedly emphasized Trump’s absence from the campaign trail in Alabama. (CNN)
-- Privately, Trump has criticized Moore’s many female accusers — drawing parallels with the large group of women who accused him of sexual harassment during the final stretch of the 2016 campaign. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “During animated conversations with senior Republicans and White House aides, the president said he doubted the stories presented by Moore’s accusers and questioned why they were emerging now[.] … Trump’s embrace of Moore is shaped by a variety of factors, advisers say, including his long-running reluctance to antagonize his conservative base, much of which is sticking with Moore. … He has also come to identify with the candidate. As establishment Republicans withdrew their support for Moore in recent days, one senior White House official said, the president remembered that many of those same figures abandoned him, too.”
-- White House sources said the recent flood of sexual misconduct allegations made it easier for Trump to muddy the waters. CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reports: Two Republicans familiar with Trump’s thinking said “the conversation has dramatically changed since November 9, when The Washington Post broke the news of the allegations against Moore. Then, it was simply one bad actor — a Republican. ‘Since then, it's become much harder to tell who the bad guy is,’ said a Republican close to the White House, noting that the allegations against Democratic Sen. Al Franken, the renewed chatter about Bill Clinton, the explosive revelations about legacy newsman Charlie Rose and the suspension of New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush were all developments the President was following closely.”
-- Doug Jones has generally remained silent on the Moore allegations (though he told CNN in a brief interview that he believed the women), but his campaign took them on in a new ad that some see as a sign Jones needs to fan the flames of controversy in the campaign's final stretch. David Weigel and Michael Scherer report: “The latest ad by [Jones] plays back criticism of [Moore] that Ivanka Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) gave in the aftermath of allegations that Moore made unwanted advances on teenage girls. The ad targets Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, who make up a majority of the state. The goal is to give them permission to vote for a Democrat in the Dec. 12 special election.” (Click above to watch.)
MEANWHILE, THE RECKONING CONTINUES —
— The House Ethics Committee said it has launched a formal investigation into allegations that Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, sexually harassed female aides and used office funds to settle a complaint. Elise Viebeck and Mike DeBonis report: “On Tuesday, Conyers initially denied that he had settled sexual harassment claims[.] … Later in the day, he reversed himself and acknowledged the settlement while emphasizing that he never admitted fault. ‘I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so,’ Conyers said[.] ‘My office resolved the allegations — with an express denial of liability — to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative,’ he stated.” (Amber Phillips annotated Conyers’s full statement here.)
— Shortly after the probe was announced, it was reported that another woman who worked in Conyers’s office accused him of daily sexual harassment in an attempted lawsuit. BuzzFeed News’s Paul McLeod and Lissandra Villa report: “A former scheduler in the Conyers' office attempted to file a sealed lawsuit against him this February in the US District Court for the District of Columbia that alleges she suffered unwanted touching by the Democrat ‘repeatedly and daily.’ She abandoned the lawsuit the next month, after the court denied her motion to seal the complaint. The woman was not involved in the 2015 sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal complaint that Conyers settled in 2015[.] … The lawsuit centered on behavior that took place later, from 2015 to 2016, but involves similar allegations.”
— In a statement, Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation but didn't say whether she would ask Conyers to resign. She appears willing to let him stay on as the top Democrat on Judiciary, which would oversee potential impeachment proceedings against Trump. “As Members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse,” the minority leader said.
— Even before the revelations, younger House Democrats were pushing Conyers to step aside from his leadership role. The New York Times’s Yamiche Alcindor, Nicholas Fandos and Jonathan Martin report: “[H]e has been a target of Democrats who are eager to bring fresh blood into the Judiciary Committee leadership for some time, three congressional officials said. He has already handed over much of the day-to-day committee work to staff aides and other Democratic members in recent years, and has often appeared disoriented. In at least two separate occasions — once at a United Automobile Workers event in Michigan and once at a meeting of top Democrats on Capitol Hill — Mr. Conyers showed up wearing pajamas, according to two people familiar with the incidents.”
— Paul Farhi reports that the far-right “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist provided documents on Conyers to BuzzFeed after offering to pay $10,000 for them: “The offer was made in a series of now-deleted tweets last week. ‘I will pay $10,000 for the details of these settlements. Cash or Bitcoin or check or whatever you want,’ he tweeted. [Mike] Cernovich declined Tuesday to say whether he actually paid anyone; he also said he didn’t know whether BuzzFeed knew about his offer. BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith said Tuesday he was not aware of the offer. A BuzzFeed spokesman said the site ‘would never pay for information[.]’ … In an interview earlier Tuesday, Smith said his site ‘carefully vetted’ all the documents Cernovich first offered last week, just as it would a tip by any other source.”
— The Detroit Free Press Editorial Board says “Conyers must resign:” “John Conyers Jr. must go — after 53 years in Congress, after a stellar career of fighting for equality, after contributing so much to southeast Michigan and the nation. It’s a tragic end to his public career. But it’s the appropriate consequence for the stunning subterfuge his office has indulged here, and a needed warning to other members of Congress that this can never be tolerated.”
IN THE MILITARY:
-- Three White House military personnel have been removed from their posts amid allegations they had improper contact with foreign women while traveling with Trump on his recent Asia trip. Carol D. Leonnig, Dan Lamothe and Julie Tate report: “The service members all worked for the White House Communications Agency, a specialized military unit that helps provide the president, vice president, Secret Service and other officials with secure communications. The military is scrutinizing three Army noncommissioned officers who allegedly broke curfew during Trump’s trip to Vietnam this month, officials said. The episode comes after four military personnel on the same White House team faced allegations related to their behavior during a trip to Panama in August with [Pence]. Those men … stood accused of taking foreign women after hours into a secure area as they were preparing for Pence’s arrival, officials said.” A Defense Department spokesman confirmed the behavior of the military personnel in Vietnam is being investigated.
IN STATE HOUSES:
-- A pair of Minnesota state lawmakers — one a Democratic senator, the other a Republican representative — announced they will resign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. From the Star Tribune’s J. Patrick Coolican and Jennifer Bjorhus. “Word of the resignations of Sen. Dan Schoen and Rep. Tony Cornish came within two hours of each other, capping a stunning sequence of events that vividly demonstrated a new awareness of what many insiders say has been a long-standing tolerance of mistreatment of women working at Minnesota’s Capitol. Both men had been under pressure from leaders of their parties to resign.”
-- Several women have accused California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra of unwanted sexual advances. LA Times’s Melanie Mason and Dakota Smith report: “Late one August night in 2010 at a bar, Sylvia Castillo slid into a booth next to [Bocanegra], who was then the chief of staff to California Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes. … She asked if he had seen a friend she was looking for and made small talk. Suddenly, ‘he pounced,’ she said. ‘He grabbed me with one hand, grabbed my head and shoved his tongue into my mouth,’ Castillo said in an interview this month. ‘With his other hand, he put it up my dress. I put my hand down to stop him from trying to grab at my crotch.’”
-- “Since last year, at least 40 lawmakers — nearly all men — in 20 states have been publicly accused by more than 100 people of some form of sexual misconduct or harassment,” a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found.
-- An Alaska state lawmaker told a local news outlet the state legislature didn't provide adequate avenues for reporting sexual harassment. “I have heard from female staff that there is a pervasive sexual harassment problem in the Legislature which prevents them from feeling safe, respected and professional,” Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D) said.
-- Leaders of Colorado’s General Assembly are reviewing their own sexual harassment policies. CBS4 Denver’s Tori Mason reports: “The council will discuss hiring an independent consultant to review the state legislature’s existing procedures regarding harassment and issue recommendations. This comes after State Rep. Steve Lebsock, and others, were accused of sexual harassment. After those reports, Rep. Lois Landgraf said the only way to protect women at the state Capitol was to bring in a third-party to investigate the allegations. The review will tackle issues like whether an outside party should be established to handle harassment complaints.”
-- Now that Virginia has elected its first openly transgender lawmaker, the likely Republican speaker of the House of Delegates wants to do away with the tradition of addressing members by their gender pronouns. Antonio Olivo reports: “Instead of the ‘gentleman’ or ‘gentlewoman’ from a given jurisdiction, lawmakers will all be referred to as ‘delegate’ if Republicans maintain control of the chamber, House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said . . . Conservative lawmakers hailed the change as a way to avoid what they said could be a potentially awkward situation. But one of the longest-serving House Democrats called the decision ‘shameful’ and said lawmakers ‘ought to be big enough to get over these hang-ups we have.’”
-- CBS and PBS announced they were parting ways with Charlie Rose, following reports the award-winning broadcaster made “unwanted sexual advances” toward at least eight women between the late 1990s and 2011. J. Freedom du Lac, Elahe Izadi and Ben Terris report: “'Despite Charlie’s important journalistic contribution to our news division, there is absolutely nothing more important, in this or any organization, than ensuring a safe, professional workplace — a supportive environment where people feel they can do their best work,’ [CBS News President David Rhodes wrote in a staff memo]. ‘We need to be such a place.’ PBS terminated its relationship with Rose and canceled distribution of his programs ‘in light of yesterday’s revelations,’ spokeswoman Jennifer Rankin Byrne said in a statement.”
-- Rose’s own broadcast partners spoke frankly about the allegations on “CBS This Morning,” momentarily stepping out of their newsroom personas as they expressed both anger and bewilderment at their co-host’s alleged behavior. J. Freedom du Lac, Amy B Wang and Marwa Eltagouri report:
- “This is a moment that demands a frank and honest assessment about where we stand and more generally the safety of women,” Norah O’Donnell said. “Let me be very clear: There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and pervasive.”
- “I’m really struggling,” said Gayle King, who called The Washington Post article “deeply disturbing” and “painful” to read. “What do you say, when someone that you deeply care about has done something that’s so horrible? How do you wrap your brain around that? . . . I am deeply rocked by this.”
-- The leadership of the New York Times is “torn” over whether to fire star White House correspondent Glenn Thrush over his alleged misconduct toward young women journalists, Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo writes: “Among the multiple current and former Times employees I spoke with — including men and women, managers and subordinates — people were wrestling with whether the allegations against Thrush warranted his termination — a question perhaps complicated by the fact that most of the events occurred prior to his hiring, and did not involve any Times colleagues. For some, Thrush’s misdeeds were not of the same magnitude as those of, say, [Mark] Halperin … or Rose. … There is, however, one thing everyone seems to agree on: the stakes could not be higher.”
-- NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly explains how her news organization has addressed reports of sexual misconduct among its top employees: “I was surprised when [the Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters] told me the claims against Weinstein had been an open secret in Hollywood for years. Really? I’ll admit to having wondered, a tad judgmentally. If you all knew, why didn’t you write about it? Ah, how the chickens came home to roost. … Turns out we at NPR had been sitting on our own open secret. Among the many, many questions that gnaw at me is this: How did I miss a scandal unfolding within our own walls? How did a whole newsroom of reporters get scooped on our own story? … But to me, the most heartening development has been NPR’s policy of allowing its journalists to cover our own turmoil with the same rigor we would apply to any other organization.”
-- Disney announced that animation chief John Lasseter would be taking a six-month leave of absence following sexual misconduct allegations. Steven Zeitchik reports: “The company acknowledged unspecified ‘missteps’ via a statement from the executive. But the Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story, cited allegations that Lasseter had made unwanted contact with numerous female colleagues and collaborators over a period of years. Lasseter is one of the most important figures in modern entertainment, and a scandal that sidelines him could have more far-reaching implications for the industry than many of the other revelations of sexual misconduct that have shaken Hollywood over the past six weeks.”
-- Ronan Farrow’s latest New Yorker investigation into Harvey Weinstein documents how the Hollywood producer “used nondisclosure agreements … to evade accountability for claims of sexual harassment and assault for at least twenty years”: “He used these kinds of agreements with employees, business partners, and women who made allegations — women who were often much younger and far less powerful than Weinstein, and who signed under pressure from attorneys on both sides. Weinstein also hid the payments underwriting some of these settlements. In one case, in the nineteen-nineties, Bob Weinstein, who co-founded the film studio Miramax with his brother, paid two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, roughly six hundred thousand dollars today, to be split between two female employees in England who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. The funds came from Bob Weinstein’s personal bank account — a move that helped conceal the payment from executives at Miramax and its parent company, Disney, as well as from Harvey Weinstein’s spouse.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- A transporter plane from the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Japan while carrying 11 crew and passengers. Anna Fifield reports: “Eight people have been rescued and are in ‘good condition[.]’ … The search for the remaining three is continuing. This is the latest accident to befall the 7th Fleet, which is based in the Japanese port of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, and has endured multiple collisions at sea this year, including two involving guided-missile destroyers that left 17 sailors dead. The C2-A Greyhound aircraft was on a routine flight from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in southern Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier[.] … It crashed at 2:45 p.m. local time Wednesday, the 7th Fleet said in a statement. The cause of the crash was not immediately known and an investigation would be carried out, it said.”
-- David Cassidy died at 67. Harrison Smith reports: “Cassidy, an actor and singer who became a teeny-bopper heartthrob in the early 1970s, starring as shaggy-haired guitarist Keith Partridge on the musical sitcom ‘The Partridge Family,’ died Nov. 21 at a hospital near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 67. … At the height of his popularity, Mr. Cassidy commanded a rabid fan base that drew comparisons to those of Elvis Presley and the Beatles, with the New York Times reporting that after a 21-year-old Mr. Cassidy’s gallbladder was removed in 1971, fans called for the singer’s gallstones to be covered in bronze and sold alongside clippings of his hair.”
GET SMART FAST:
- A turkey named Drumstick received a pardon from the president. “Wow, wow, big bird! That’s a big bird,” Trump said as he declared Drumstick to be the National Thanksgiving Turkey. “Are we allowed to touch? Wow. I feel so good about myself doing this.” (Jessica Contrera)
- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe formally announced his resignation, ending his 37-year reign just one week after being sidelined by his own military and hours after parliament began impeachment proceedings against him. News of his exit prompted jubilant celebration in the capital city — with residents streaming out into the streets to dance, sing and cry tears of joy. (Kevin Sieff)
Lebanon’s prime minister suspended his plans to resign. Saad Hariri had announced his resignation weeks earlier from Saudi Arabia, leading to fears he had been coerced by his Saudi allies. (Louisa Loveluck and Suzan Haidamous)
A U.N. tribunal found former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic guilty of genocide. The tribunal convicted Mladic of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity related to the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims in the 1990’s. (The New York Times)
- A federal judge ruled the Trump administration can’t stop funding sex-reassignment surgeries for members of the military — becoming the second U.S. judge in a matter of weeks to rule against Trump’s transgender ban. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis in Baltimore wrote that Trump’s policy is already posing “harmful consequences” to active-duty service members. (Ann E. Marimow)
- The FBI is investigating the death of a Border Patrol agent as “a potential assault of a federal officer,” while Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo suggested Rogelio Martinez’s injuries could be consistent with a fall in desert terrain. (Robert Moore and Nick Miroff)
- Hackers stole the personal information of more than 50 million Uber customers and drivers in 2016, company officials announced — a massive breach the ride-hailing company waited more than a year to expose. In a statement, Uber officials said they took “steps to prevent further access to the information” shortly after learning of the hack. (Peter Holley)
- Additional human remains of Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson were discovered in Niger, Pentagon officials said. The discovery comes nearly five weeks after the ambush of U.S. soldiers near the remote village of Tongo Tongo and raises a spate of new questions about the deadly incident. (Alex Horton)
- Federal prosecutors increased the charges against the man suspected of perpetrating the Manhattan truck attack. Sayfullo Saipov has now been accused of murder in aid of a criminal enterprise: ISIS. (Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett)
- Democrats believe they have a chance to pick up former GOP congressman Tim Murphy’s seat in rural Pennsylvania. The Democrats think Marine veteran and former assistant U.S. attorney Conor Lamb could best the Republican nominee in the March 13 special election. If so, the race could provide a road map for the party hopes of winning more rural races in next year’s midterms. (David Weigel)
- The release of a controversial Bollywood blockbuster has been delayed after a member of India’s ruling party offered a million-dollar bounty for the beheading of the film’s female lead. (Vidhi Doshi)
A California man plans to launch himself in a self-made rocket to prove the Earth is flat. Mike Hughes’s mission will begin with a 500-mph, mile-long flight through the Mojave Desert to “shut the door on this ball earth,” as he said in a fundraising interview. (Avi Selk)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Robert Mueller’s team is probing Jared Kushner’s contacts with foreign leaders during the presidential transition, including his involvement in a December dispute at the United Nations. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Nicholas, Aruna Viswanatha and Rebecca Ballhaus report: “The investigators have asked witnesses questions about the involvement of [Kushner] in a controversy over a U.N. resolution passed Dec. 23 that condemned Israel’s construction of settlements in disputed territories, these people said. Israeli officials had asked the incoming Trump administration to intervene to help block it. Mr. Trump posted a Facebook message the day before the U.N. vote … saying the resolution put the Israelis in a difficult position and should be vetoed. Mr. Trump also held a phone conversation with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, whose government had written a draft of the resolution. Egypt proceeded to call for the vote to be delayed, but the resolution passed the following day, with the Obama administration declining to block it. … Investigators have also asked witnesses about Mr. Kushner’s role in arranging meetings or communication with foreign leaders during the transition[.]”
-- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who has often voiced support for Vladimir Putin, was reportedly given a code name by the Kremlin. The New York Times’s Nicholas Fandos reports: “[T]he F.B.I. warned him in 2012 that Russia regarded him as an intelligence source worthy of a Kremlin code name. The following year, the California Republican became even more valuable, assuming the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee that oversees Russia policy. He sailed to re-election again and again, even as he developed ties to [Putin’s] Russia. … [A]s investigators in Washington scrutinize the Russian interference campaign, Mr. Rohrabacher, like an extra in a spy thriller, just keeps showing up — if not quite at the scene of the action, then just off camera.”
-- Putin launched a major new push to end the war in Syria — a diplomatic effort that comes one day after President Bashar al-Assad made an unannounced trip to meet the Russian leader in Sochi. (The two men were later seen warmly embracing in photographs released by Russian media.) Liz Sly, Louisa Loveluck and David Filipov report: “The Russian initiative builds on an agreement reached with [Trump] this month in which the United States effectively acknowledged Russia’s lead role in Syrian diplomacy in return for Russian acceptance of a continued U.S. role in Syria now that the Islamic State is nearing defeat. [Putin] told Assad that the war in Syria is as good as over and urged him to turn his attention to securing a political solution to the conflict, according to comments broadcast by state media. … After Putin’s meeting with Assad, the Russian president spent much of Tuesday on the phone with regional and world leaders, seeking their support for proposals that would parlay Russia’s successful military intervention on Assad’s behalf in 2015 into a diplomatic victory that would seal Russia’s role as an important world player.”
Putin and Trump spoke by phone for more than an hour on Tuesday as part of that effort. “The White House said the two leaders reiterated their commitment to securing any future settlement within the parameters of the United Nations-backed peace process in Geneva, as well as to a Syria that is free of ‘malign intervention’ — a reference to Iran’s extensive influence there.”
-- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) wrote in an op-ed for Fairbanks’s Daily News-Miner that she supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, now included in the Senate tax proposal: “I have always supported the freedom to choose. I believe that the federal government should not force anyone to buy something they do not wish to buy in order to avoid being taxed. That is the fundamental reason why I opposed the Affordable Care Act from its inception and also why I cosponsored a bill to repeal the individual mandate tax penalty starting as early as 2013. And that is why I support the repeal of that tax today.”
-- “Murkowski was careful, however, to stop short of saying she would vote for the Senate GOP tax plan,” Damian Paletta notes. “She instead focused the entire op-ed on her views about the Affordable Care Act, emphasizing how Alaskans had paid $21 million in penalties under the law in 2014 and 2015 for failing to purchase health insurance. She wrote that ‘eliminating this tax would allow Alaskans to have greater control over their money and health care decisions.’ … By stating her support for repealing the individual mandate in a home-state newspaper, Murkowski could be paving the way to carefully articulate to Alaskans how she is moving closer to Republican leaders on the tax plan[.]”
-- The New York Times’s Frank Bruni argues that, if Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) votes for the tax plan, then his condemnation of Trump’s leadership will ring hollow: “If he stands by that stirring Senate soliloquy and truly regards Trump as ‘dangerous to a democracy,’ then this is much more than a vote about government revenue. It’s a choice between propping up and enfeebling an undeserving, unprincipled and frequently unhinged president who desperately needs a legislative triumph to hold on to his relevance and his best shot at a second term. Flake can lower corporate taxes or hobble Trump. In the grand scheme of things — in the scheme that he himself so eloquently laid out — there’s no contest between those concerns.”
-- As Trump’s presidency stretches into its 11th month, it’s becoming clear that his promise of a U.S.-Mexico border wall is unlikely — at least, as a physical structure. But behind the scenes, his administration is systemically working to reduce the number of foreigners in the country — and overhaul the immigration system for decades to come. Maria Sacchetti and Nick Miroff report: “Across agencies and programs, federal officials are wielding executive authority to assemble a bureaucratic wall that could be more effective than any concrete and metal one. Even as they fight court orders seeking to halt parts of Trump’s immigration agenda, [Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller] and other key players are finding ways to shrink the immigration system. [And in] less than a year, their immigration policy prescriptions have moved from the realm of think-tank wish lists to White House executive orders. In October, the White House — in a plan led by Miller — said it had conducted a ‘bottom-up review of all immigration policies’ and found ‘dangerous loopholes, outdated laws, and easily exploited vulnerabilities in our immigration system — current policies that are harming our country and our communities.’ [By] erecting tougher, taller administrative hurdles for foreigners seeking to move to the United States or remain in the country after arriving illegally, the White House is attempting to shift the country back toward the tighter controls on immigration in place before the 1960s.”
-- Some police chiefs fear the administration’s rollback of programs meant to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve could have a negative effect on crime. The New York Times’s Steve Eder, Ben Protess and Shaila Dewan report: “Six years ago, a police officer in [Spokane, Wash.] was convicted of beating a disabled man to death and trying to cover it up. After other alarming episodes involving Spokane officers came to light, the city asked federal officials to suggest changes to the police department as part of an Obama-era policing program. Ever since, use of force by officers has declined, as have complaints from residents. … But in September, the Justice Department announced it would significantly scale back the program[.] … The changes, designed to ease pressure on law enforcement, have actually encountered some resistance from police chiefs in cities that participated in the programs.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump seems eager to change the conversation from sexual harassment and the allegations against Moore, tweeting again bright and early about LaVar Ball:
It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
...LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
Then, the president returned to another favorite subject — the NFL:
The NFL is now thinking about a new idea - keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season. That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2017
But pretty much everyone else is still talking about Trump's tacit decision to back Moore:
How often do people credibly accused of child molestation admit it? https://t.co/lMhmPRTTN9— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 21, 2017
From a political reporter for NBC:
Trump insisted the Central Park Five were guilty after they were exonerated by DNA evidence and a confession.— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) November 21, 2017
But Roy Moore "totally denies it" is good enough for the next U.S. Senator apparently.
From Obama’s former senior adviser:
In the mind of @realDonaldTrump , it was never a question of what Roy Moore had DONE. It was only a question of whether he thought Moore could WIN. Now we know the answer.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) November 22, 2017
From an NBC White House reporter:
Fwiw, it’s not entirely surprising that Trump would embrace Moore’s denials as truth. If Trump were to say he believes Moore’s accusers, the logic follows that he would also have to believe the dozen women who’ve also accused him of sexual misconduct.— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) November 21, 2017
From a former top Obama aide:
2016: @IvankaTrump will be a great moderating force— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) November 21, 2017
2017: Ivanka couldn’t convince her dad that child molesters are bad.
From Jeb Bush’s former campaign communications director:
I just donated to a Democrat for the first time in my life if any of yall want to do so as well. Enough is enough. https://t.co/YlDXTXSnyJ— Tim Miller (@Timodc) November 21, 2017
Moore once again hit back against the allegations:
Good morning, Alabama!— Judge Roy Moore (@MooreSenate) November 21, 2017
Day 7 of New York attorney Gloria Allred's refusal to turn over her fake yearbook for third party examination.#ALSen
From George W. Bush’s former speechwriter:
Gloria Allred lives and works in Los Angeles. Born in Philadelphia. But she’s “New York” in the “Bernie Bernstein” sense of the term ... https://t.co/2v2LZc4Bbu— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 21, 2017
GOP strategist Ana Navarro posed a question after it was reported that Rep. John Conyers used his member allowance to pay a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment:
As American tax-payers, millions of our money went to pay sexual harassment settlements involving Congresspeople. I want to know, I demand to know, who these congresspeople are. It’s our damn money. No more cover-ups.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) November 21, 2017
From the president of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund:
For those "learning" and finally "seeing" the reality of sexual harassment suffered by women in the workplace, ask yourself: what have you ignored abt racism in the workplace? How many stories did you dismiss as "hypersensitivity" or "political correctness"?— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) November 21, 2017
Trump pardoned a turkey named Drumstick for Thanksgiving:
Trump announces "drumstick, you are hereby pardoned!" And then he clapped for himself. pic.twitter.com/quGJurK5J0— Olivia Nuzzi (@Olivianuzzi) November 21, 2017
The turkey visited the White House press secretary on the way to his pardon:
We had a surprise visitor in my office today and got to live a real life version of an episode of the “West Wing”. pic.twitter.com/skrWxVCcBc— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) November 21, 2017
The first lady joined the ceremony:
A CNN reporter found the coat the first lady wore to the turkey pardoning on sale for over $1,500:
From Obama’s former communications director:
Somewhere Jared Kushner wonders if he can retroactively change his name to "Drumstick" https://t.co/jvofniA7cU— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) November 21, 2017
From a BuzzFeed producer:
Guess when it's a turkey he asks permission. pic.twitter.com/aCv2gS8bVD— Jesse McLaren (@McJesse) November 21, 2017
From the MSNBC host:
Gotta say these traditions -- the turkey pardon, and other cutesy things presidents do -- are lost to the ether for me when Trump performs them. The legal, ethical and moral clouds over his presidency are like a film on the camera lens.— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 21, 2017
CNN's Dylan Byers received criticism for a now-deleted tweet citing the “incredible drain of talent from media/entertainment” in the post-Weinstein era. From Hillary Clinton's former deputy social media director:
Beyond the pain/humiliation Dylan Byers has endured (which is of course the paramount issue), it's worth taking stock of the incredible deletion of tweets taking place right now. Never has so much ratioing left the internet all at once. pic.twitter.com/PnRR0ZFa7W— Emmy Bengtson (@EmmyA2) November 22, 2017
From columnist Connie Schultz:
From a staff writer for the New Yorker:
Weird. Because the obvious point to me is the exodus of talent that preceded this moment. Talent that we’ll never get to gauge because they got sick of seeing their boss’s junk before they got a chance to do that one story that would put them on the map as a rising star. https://t.co/MlUKf729Cf— jelani cobb (@jelani9) November 22, 2017
Byers later explained deleting the tweet:
I've deleted my previous tweet. It was poorly worded and didn't properly convey my intended observation.— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) November 22, 2017
The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol fretted over his shifting political perspective:
The GOP tax bill's bringing out my inner socialist. The sex scandals are bringing out my inner feminist. Donald Trump and Roy Moore are bringing out my inner liberal.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 21, 2017
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Eric Trump spent time with his family:
And Hillary Clinton's “What Happened” was selected as a top nonfiction book of the year:
Wow. I wasn’t sure how letting my guard down would go...but it’s been cathartic & rewarding. I loved writing this book, & I’m honored to be in such great company on this list!https://t.co/rAYpWHzxrJ— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 21, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- Vanity Fair, “‘Kelly Has Clipped His Wings:’ Jared Kushner’s Horizons are Collapsing Within the West Wing,” by Gabriel Sherman: “It’s perhaps hard to remember now, but it wasn’t long ago when Trump handed Kushner a comically broad portfolio that included plans to reinvent government, reform the V.A., end the opioid epidemic, run point on China, and solve Middle East peace. But since his appointment, according to sources, [chief of staff John] Kelly has tried to shrink Kushner’s responsibilities to focus primarily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And even that brief appears to be creating tensions between Kushner and Kelly.”
-- ProPublica, “Here Are the White House Visitor Records the Trump Administration Didn’t Want You to See,” by Derek Kravitz, Leora Smith and Al Shaw: Using information obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, ProPublica catalogued 8,807 meetings held at the White House over 230 days. Another 2,169 meetings were redacted from the government documents.
-- Politico, “Leading Trump Census pick causes alarm,” by Danny Vinik and Andrew Restuccia: “The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the bureau’s plans. Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled ‘Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.’ The choice would mark the administration’s first major effort to shape the 2020 census, the nationwide count that determines which states lose and gain electoral votes and seats in the House of Representatives.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Mysterious Twitter account appears to be involved in leak of Conyers’ sexual harassment settlement,” from ThinkProgress: “One of the most popular fake Twitter accounts run out of Russia, going by @TEN_GOP[.] … Twitter shut down the account as part of its rollback of fraudulent Russian troll feeds. Now, though, it appears that the account is back. … However, even though the new account had only a few thousand followers, it had already claimed to have played a role in the recent revelations regarding Rep. John Conyers (D–MI) and sexual harassment. According to BuzzFeed, which first reported on Conyers, the incriminating documents were provided by noted conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich. While it remains unclear how Cernovich obtained the documents, the new @TEN_G0P account appeared to claim credit.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“FBI Investigates Congressman for His Campaign Paying Opponent to Quit,” from the Daily Beast: “The FBI said it is investigating Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA) for an alleged scheme to pay his primary opponent to drop out of a 2012 race against him and for allegedly lying to investigators. The revelation came from a search warrant application unsealed in a Pennsylvania federal court on Monday[.] … An FBI agent asked a judge to authorize access to Brady’s personal email account on the belief it holds evidence contradicting an anticipated defense about the campaign payments. The judge approved the warrant and the FBI said it got one CD worth of data from the email account. … Jimmie Moore ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination in February 2012 after allegedly receiving $90,000 from the Brady campaign.”
Trump and Pence have no publicly scheduled events today.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “By the way, the lady he’s married to now, Ms. Kayla, was a younger woman,” Pastor Flip Benham said to justify the accusations against Roy Moore. “He did that because there is something about a purity of a young woman, there is something that is good, that’s true, that’s straight and he looked for that.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It could rain during the morning commute, but we should see otherwise clear skies. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “No travel worries around the D.C. metro area as far as the weather is concerned, once we get past the chance of a lingering early-morning shower. We’ve got increasing sun later this morning into the afternoon, as winds gust from the northwest around 25-30 mph. Temperatures are mainly steady near 50 to the low 50s, feeling a bit colder than that with the wind.”
-- Jayson Werth is not expected to return to the Nationals next year. (Jorge Castillo)
-- Virginia’s Board of Elections once again delayed certifying the three still-undecided House of Delegates races that will determine control of the legislative chamber. Laura Vozzella reports: “The Virginia House Democratic Caucus filed [a federal lawsuit] in U.S. District Court in Alexandria — the third complaint Democrats or their allies have filed over that key legislative race since the Nov. 7 election. … Late Tuesday, the elections board decided to postpone a Wednesday meeting to certify results in the 28th District and in the adjacent 88th District, said Edgardo Cortés, the state commissioner of elections. … The elections board now plans [on certifying] after Thanksgiving on Nov. 27, despite warnings from House Republicans that they would sue the board if it did not certify the results by Wednesday.”
-- White nationalist Richard Spencer’s weekend conference in Maryland was shut down after venue owners realized he was behind the event. (Perry Stein)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late night hosts addressed CBS's decision to fire Charlie Rose following sexual misconduct allegations:
An adviser to Roy Moore suggested that Alabama voters would not believe media reports of Moore’s alleged pedophilia:
A North Korean soldier's daring dash for freedom into South Korea was captured on camera:
“The man, thought to be in his 20s, made his escape through the Demilitarized Zone last week and was shot at least five times during his flight,” Anna Fifield reports. “He is in stable condition and has regained consciousness, his doctor said Wednesday. ‘He’s okay,’ trauma surgeon Lee Cook-jong told a news conference at the hospital. ‘He’s not going to die.’”
Heavy snow has buried central New York:
And The Post's Alexandra Petri suggested three strategies to get you through Thanksgiving: