With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA:
FAIRHOPE, Ala. — Roy Moore has the support of 4 in 10 women who are likely to vote in next week’s Alabama special election, a relatively strong showing that explains why the race is neck and neck.
In Washington, many conservative women have expressed varying degrees of disgust with President Trump’s decision to give a full-throated endorsement to the embattled Senate candidate and the Republican National Committee’s move to flood the state with resources, just weeks after cutting him off. Ted Cruz’s former communications director, for example, tweeted this yesterday:
The Chair of the RNC is a woman, Ronna Romney McDaniel. So is the Gov. of Alabama, Kay Ivey. Both are rallying behind Roy Moore. I'm sick.— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) December 5, 2017
Local newspapers also reported last week that Moore co-wrote a 2011 study course in which a speaker contended that women should not be allowed to run for public office and, if they did, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them.
Down in Dixie, though, 83 percent of Republican women are backing Moore.
To understand the disconnect, I asked 20 women who attended Moore’s rally at a barn here last night why they’re supporting him. Here were the four most common answers:
1. They don’t believe Moore’s accusers.
Five women told The Washington Post last month that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s, including one who says he touched her when she was 14. Since those allegations were published, four more women have come forward to allege that he made unwanted sexual advances in the late 1970s and early 1980s and new evidence has emerged. Moore denies any wrongdoing.
None of the women I spoke with inside the event gave any credence to any of these accounts. “He’s never been convicted of anything,” said Alisha Maddalena, 51, a server at a restaurant outside Montgomery and the vice president of the Alabama chapter of Bikers for Trump. “Why would (these women) allow him to sit in public office passing judgment on people for 40 years if he had done any of these things? Why wait 40 years to bring it up?” She paused as we spoke to listen to a pastor’s invocation, in which he thanked God that “in America, all men are innocent until proven guilty.”
In The Washington Post-Schar School poll published this weekend, 41 percent of women said they believe Moore made unwanted advances compared with 28 percent of men. That’s still a minority.
2. They want to show support for the president.
“This election is really a referendum on President Trump,” said Therese Gilmore, 59, who owns a hair salon in Mobile. “Is the swamp winning or is the tea party winning?”
After the rally, as “Sweet Home Alabama” blared on the loudspeakers and volunteers walked around with jars taking up a collection for Moore’s campaign, Gilmore said she believes congressional Republicans betrayed the grass roots by failing to repeal Obamacare. She argues that elites in both parties are trying to delegitimize the presidency by investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, and she sees criticisms of Moore as part of that plot.
“They still don’t want an outsider,” Gilmore said. “They still haven’t gotten the message, even a year after we sent President Trump to Washington. … The Republican Party has gone too far to the left. … President Trump does things to appease Mitch McConnell all the time, and Mitch McConnell gives the president nothing back in return. He’s so arrogant and elitist. … I hate to say this, but I don’t believe a word of (the accusers). I just don’t believe a word. This late in the game, it insults my intelligence that you think I’m going to fall for it.”
Several people last night said they are hoping to go see Trump when he comes to Pensacola on Friday night, which is in the same media market as this part of Alabama. “We don’t want to have a liberal Democrat in Alabama, believe me,” the president said yesterday.
3. They want to shock the system and send a message to the establishment.
Several of these women hold Moore in high esteem because he refused an order to remove the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court and was willing to lose his job to take that stand. They said this demonstrates that, unlike most politicians, he won’t change once he gets elected.
For some, the more that he gets attacked by elites, the more energized they are about his candidacy. Dorothy Basinger Sanchez, 75, retired here with her husband after working more than 30 years for General Motors. She complained that pundits who live in places like Washington and graduated from schools like Harvard are always on cable, even her beloved Fox News, trying to tell her what she should think. “They don’t have a clue what we want,” she said. “I feel like they’re trying to take the common folks’s voice away. I just don’t want my voice taken away. Roy Moore speaks for folks like us.”
Moore suggested during his speech that every attack on him is driven by fear that he’ll be a change agent. “I think they’re afraid I’m going to take Alabama values to Washington,” he said at the end of a 26-minute speech. “And I want to tell you: I can’t wait!”
There was a striking amount of “us” vs. “them” rhetoric last night. Moore was one of the “us.”
Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, making his third trip to Alabama for Moore, spoke for half an hour at the rally. “He’s never claimed, just like Donald Trump, that he’s perfect,” Bannon said.
He told the crowd that they can be “the voice of the deplorables” next Tuesday: “They think you’re a bunch of rubes. They hold you in total contempt,” he said. “If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you. They’re trying to send a signal to every young man, woman and child in this country that if they try to stand up for their people, they’ll be destroyed.”
Gina Loudon, a conservative TV personality, warmed up the crowd for Bannon. She noted that some are asking how women could support Moore, and then she turned the question around: “Why would you listen to the party of Bill Clinton, Al Franken and John Conyers? … The women of Alabama are smarter than that.”
4. Abortion is a litmus test.
Amanda Martiniere, 30, is a devout Roman Catholic and stay-at-home mom. She praises Moore for talking about his no-exceptions opposition to abortion as much as he does. “Abortion is the big thing,” she said. “I’m pro-life, and nothing Doug Jones has said on that is to my liking. … I have two kids of my own, and the fact that someone would want to end a child’s life in the womb is horrific. So I think the allegations against Roy Moore are horrendous, and whoever came up with them is an immoral and ugly person.”
During an appearance on CNN yesterday, Moore spokeswoman Janet Porter noted that the anchor interviewing her, Poppy Harlow, is pregnant. “Doug Jones says you can take the life of that baby,” Porter said, referring to Moore's Democratic opponent. Moore will “stand for the rights of babies like yours, in the womb, where his opponent will support killing them up until the moment of birth,” she added.
“Let's leave my child out of this,” Harlow replied.
“Jones opposed a House bill, passed in October, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks in most cases. He told the Alabama Media Group last month that he considered such a proposal too strict but also said he supports the current law in Alabama, which generally prohibits abortions after 22 weeks,” Callum Borchers notes. “The law for decades has been that late-term procedures are generally restricted, except in the case of medical necessity,” Jones said. “That's what I support. I don't see any changes in that.”
-- Why women came out to oppose Moore:
About 70 protesters, standing on grass in a misty fog after the sun had set, shouted “shame, shame, shame” at each car turning in for the rally, and two dozen women came dressed in the costumes from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel. Several had pieces of tape across their mouth with the names of Moore’s alleged victims written in Sharpie. The rest chanted, “We want a senator, not a predator” and “We believe the women.”
“I want the rest of the country to know that not everyone in Alabama is ignorant,” said Ginger Poynter, 49, a local attorney. “We need to bring decency and honor back to politics, and it’s not going to happen as long as Trump is president.”
Leslie McElderry, a criminal defense lawyer, said Moore’s refusal to obey court orders when he was the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, relating to same-sex marriage and the display of the Ten Commandments, shows that he thinks he’s above the law. “I hear a lot about the sex abuse. It was a long time ago. That doesn’t excuse it, but it was a long time ago. His abuse of power in public office is more recent, and that’s compelling to me,” said McElderry, 58, who dressed up as a handmaiden along with her daughter-in-law. “The idea that people think he’s fit is abhorrent. I don’t think they’re familiar with his record. … It’s like watching a car accident.”
“I think a lot of Southern women are still stuck in the rut where they feel like they have to support their man, and their husbands are supporting Roy Moore,” added Marlene Lockett, 60, a chef who bakes pies to sell at farmers markets. “It’s changing but not quickly enough.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Time Magazine just named the #MeToo movement its “person of the year.” Time’s Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman and Haley Sweetland Edwards write: “Like the ‘problem that has no name,’ the disquieting malaise of frustration and repression among postwar wives and homemakers identified by Betty Friedan more than 50 years ago, this moment is borne of a very real and potent sense of unrest. Yet it doesn't have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet. The hashtag #MeToo (swiftly adapted into #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien, #Ana_kaman and many others), which to date has provided an umbrella of solidarity for millions of people to come forward with their stories, is part of the picture, but not all of it …
“This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.”
-- Trump plans to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel today and order the relocation of the U.S. embassy to that city — a decision upending decades of policy that may also disrupt any progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. David Nakamura, Loveday Morris and Anne Gearan report: “Trump will make his pronouncement in a midday speech after months of deliberation within his administration and consultations with governments in the Middle East. But in a sign of the complexities of such a shift, White House aides emphasized that Trump will sign another six-month waiver maintaining the embassy’s current location in Tel Aviv because the process of moving it will take at least three or four years. Without the waiver, which has been signed by every U.S. president for more than two decades, crucial State Department funding to the embassy would be cut off.”
Trump began informing his counterparts in the region of his decision, prompting warnings from Arab countries that the move would inflame Muslims and spark regional unrest.
- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Trump he would “not accept it,” and warned the president was “playing into the hands of extremism,” according to an aide briefed on the call. But Trump “just went on saying he had to do it.”
- In Riyadh, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz warned Trump “that such a dangerous step of relocation or recognition of Al-Quds as the capital of Israel would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world.”
-- Explosive fires continued to tear through Southern California, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate. Max Ufberg, Mark Berman, Eli Rosenberg and Noah Smith report: “In Ventura County, the Thomas Fire burned more than 50,000 acres, and on the outskirts of Los Angeles County, the Creek Fire enveloped more than 11,000 acres north of the city’s downtown. Another fire in the county, dubbed the Rye Fire, had cut through 5,000 acres near the city of Santa Clarita by Tuesday evening. Authorities issued ominous warnings of more dangers to come during a ‘multiday event’ across the area, as weather forecasters said the region faces ‘extreme fire danger’ through at least Thursday[.]”
GET SMART FAST:
- Russia has been barred from participating in the 2018 Winter Games for “systematic” doping, International Olympic Committee officials announced. Under the unprecedented ruling, Russian officials are prohibited from attending the games, the country's flag won't appear at the opening ceremony, and — although some athletes could compete under a neutral flag — record books will forever show Russia won zero medals. (New York Times)
Doctors have identified abnormalities in the brains of U.S. diplomats who suffered some sort of attack in Havana. The discovery of changes to the white matter in their brains comes amid growing skepticism that a sonic weapon was involved in the attack. (AP)
- The Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in the case of a Colorado baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow report the justices seemed closely divided during yesterday’s proceedings, with Anthony Kennedy — who is expected to cast the deciding vote — giving both sides reason “for hope and concern.”
- A top al-Qaeda leader was killed in Afghanistan in a U.S.-Afghan operation along with a “number of other operatives,” U.S. military officials confirmed, making Omar bin Khatab the most senior leader killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban was driven from power in 2001. (Sayed Salahuddin and Dan Lamothe)
- After hundreds of FEMA employees worked overtime to battle the record wave of natural disasters in 2017, the agency now says they may have to refund some of their pay. Officials said some FEMA employees “may still be ordered to perform work without receiving further compensation,” or could face payroll deductions in 2018. (Bloomberg)
- The U.S. trade gap soared to $47.8 billion in October, the highest level since Trump took office, according to a Commerce Department report. The jump comes as imports from China hit record highs ahead of the holiday shopping season. (Politico)
- Nebraska police found the body of a 24-year-old woman who disappeared last month after a Tinder date. Police said foul play is suspected in her death, and that both the victim’s date and her roommate are being held as persons of interest in the case. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Japan is questioning eight North Korean fishermen who washed up on a tiny wooden vessel last month after a botched squid-hunting mission left them wildly adrift and spinning hundreds of miles off course. But while their survival was unlikely, their destination was not: In the past month, Japanese officials have reported at least 33 North Korean fishing vessels washing ashore or floating in nearby waters. (Wall Street Journal)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Donald Trump Jr. requested information on the Clinton Foundation during a June 2016 meeting with a Russia lawyer the Trump Tower and asked whether the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, had any evidence of illegal donations, according to Veselnitskaya’s written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. NBC News’s Ken Dilanian and Natasha Lebedeva report: “[Veselnitskaya] told the committee that she didn't have any such evidence, and that she believes Trump misunderstood the nature of the meeting after receiving emails from a music promoter promising incriminating information on [Clinton] … Once it became apparent that she did not have meaningful information about Clinton, Trump seemed to lose interest, Veselnitskaya said, and the meeting petered out. … [Veselnitskaya's answers reinforced what has] long been understood about the Trump Tower meeting[:] That Donald Trump Jr. accepted it on the promise of incriminating information about Clinton that he had been told was coming from the Russian government. And he asked Veselnitskaya directly whether she had it …”
-- Rick Gates, Trump’s deputy campaign aide and longtime associate of Paul Manafort, could be facing more charges in Mueller’s Russia probe. CNN’s Katelyn Polantz reports: “In a court appearance Monday in Manhattan, Gates' attorney Walter Mack said that federal prosecutors have told him that more charges, called superseding indictments, may be coming. ‘We don't know what the government is going to do,’ Mack said in court, referring to both Gates' case and a white-collar case in New York involving one of Gates' business partners. ‘I mean, in both cases we've been told that there may be a superseder. We don't know what's happening.’” Both Gates and Manafort were charged in October on 12 counts, including money laundering and foreign lobbying violations. Those charges are unrelated to Trump’s presidential campaign, though it's possible Mueller could add additional federal charges.
-- Mueller’s investigation cost the Justice Department about $6.7 million in its first five months, according to a newly released DOJ report. The price of Mueller’s probe is likely to rile critics, though previous independent counsels have racked up tens of millions of dollars in costs. Matt Zapotosky reports: “Mueller’s spending included $3.2 million in direct and reimbursed expenditures — including more than $1.7 million for personnel, $733,000 for equipment, $362,000 for rent and utilities, $223,000 for travel and $157,000 for contract services, such as technology services and transcripts, according to the report.”
-- The Ukrainian pundit for whom Manafort allegedly ghostwrote an op-ed denied the accusation leveled by Mueller’s team. Rosalind S. Helderman reports: “Oleg Voloshyn, who formerly served as a spokesman to Ukraine’s foreign minister, insisted that he wrote the opinion piece, not Manafort. He said he emailed a copy to Konstantin Kilimnik, who for a decade managed Manafort’s political consulting office in Kiev, for fact checking but that the idea for the piece had not come from Manafort. … [Voloshyn] provided both what he said was the rough draft of the opinion piece, as well as the final version to The Washington Post for review. The two versions open with the same anecdote and contain the same themes and much of the same language. Some sections, however, appear to have been rewritten.”
-- Congressional Democrats stepped up their demands for legislation to protect Mueller’s job. Politico’s Elana Schor and Kyle Cheney report: “Senators said Monday that bipartisan talks are continuing around combining two bills that would shield Mueller from [being fired by Trump]. … Moving forward on the Mueller-protection bills is an ‘absolutely necessary’ step after the guilty plea by Michael Flynn, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview. … Blumenthal is a co-sponsor of the stronger of the two Mueller-shielding bills, from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), which would require the attorney general to seek a federal court’s approval before removing a special counsel.”
-- Democrats have put a hold on the nomination of K.T. McFarland to be ambassador of Singapore until she answers questions concerning her knowledge of contacts between Michael Flynn and Russian officials. CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb report: “McFarland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in written comments that she ‘was not aware’ of any communications between Flynn and the Russian ambassador — an assertion that appears to be contradicted by court documents unsealed Friday after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. The Democratic hold on McFarland's nomination means that [McConnell] would have to take procedural steps in order to overcome the hold and confirm her nomination, which would eat up valuable floor time.”
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said that while he didn't anticipate McFarland would have to return to the panel, he acknowledged there is now a “major pause” on her nomination. “If she did testify inappropriately, that's a big, big problem,” he said. “I just don't know . . . but look: it's a problem. And her nomination is frozen for a while until that gets out.”
-- Twitter has suspended dozens of Kremlin-backed accounts that masqueraded as U.S. news sources during the election — the accounts collectively garnered more than 500,000 followers and were shared by real news outlets during the campaign. Bloomberg’s Selina Wang reports: “More than 100 news outlets also published stories containing those handles in the run-up to the election, and some of them were even tweeted by a top presidential aide. … Many of the news impostor accounts amassed their following by tweeting headlines from real news sites, while others sought to represent certain communities.”
-- House Democrats are torn over what to push in year-end spending negotiations, as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) once again faces a rebellious right flank and will likely have to rely on Nancy Pelosi to put the bill over the finish line. Ed O'Keefe and Mike DeBonis report: “Liberals from urban districts and coastal states are vowing to withhold support for a must-pass spending bill if Republicans don’t resolve the legal status of young immigrants. Moderates facing reelection in states President Trump won last year are more focused on boosting funding for children’s health programs, government-backed pensions and programs to combat opioid abuse. The conflict resurfaces a mathematical reality of Trump’s Washington: Republicans control Congress and the White House but need Democrats to keep the government operating.”
-- Paul Kane explains how the Freedom Caucus's decision to temporarily block tax talks is a return to its old ways. “These hard-right conservatives had no quarrel with the tax plan — they almost all voted for it — but they were looking for a hostage to grab and knew that this one would get everyone’s attention. Their real target is the 2018 spending bill for federal agencies, along with a clutch of other must-pass items that conservatives oppose. Members of the Freedom Caucus have been down this road before. They believe year-end packages turn into massive Christmas trees littered with colorful add-ons. This week’s rebellion was meant to remind [Ryan’s] leadership team how little faith the conservative wing has in it to negotiate a good deal.”
-- Three dozen Republicans want a permanent solution for “dreamers” by the end of the year, saying the issue has festered for too long — and forced nearly 700,000 young immigrants to endure months of legal and economic turmoil as they await their fate. Ed O’Keefe reports: “The 35 members of the House GOP caucus — 34 representatives and Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member — represent the largest bloc of Republicans to date to publicly voice support for a solution to one of the most emotionally charged elements of the years-long fight over immigration policy. The letter released Tuesday is co-signed by Republicans hailing from districts encompassing immigrant-rich Miami, suburban Philadelphia, New York’s Hudson Valley and rural Illinois. They include senior members of the House GOP caucus … and several from competitive swing districts[.] … But the Republicans did not endorse a specific piece of legislation or threaten to withhold support for any other legislation in a bid to resolve the issue.”
-- Supporters of the Children’s Health Insurance Program hope that a deal to extend funding will be inserted into the spending package. The New York Times’s Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear report: “[CHIP’s] federal funds ran out on Sept. 30, and Congress has not agreed on a plan to renew the roughly $14 billion a year it spends on the program. … Congressional leaders may provide some temporary relief to a handful of states that expect to exhaust their CHIP funds before the end of this year. It would be tucked into a short-term spending bill[.] … Lawmakers from both parties hope to provide more money for CHIP in a separate, longer-term deal on federal spending. But Republicans will almost surely need Democratic votes to pass such legislation[.]”
-- Reminder: The government runs out of money on Friday. This anecdote from Ed and Mike sums up the current state of play: “Emerging from a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning, Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), the powerful chairwoman of an appropriations subcommittee on defense, laughed when asked whether there was any clarity on the timing of a new spending bill. ‘There’s no clarity,’ she said.”
WINNERS AND LOSERS IN TAX PLAN:
-- Blue states lose big in the GOP tax plan. Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur reports: “Some of the biggest losers under the Republican tax overhaul include upper-middle class families in high-tax areas like New York City, graduate students, government workers and public school teachers. The one thing they have in common? They’re mostly Democrats. … [P]aying for [tax cuts] has come in large part at the expense of breaks that are important to residents of high-tax states, which tend to be Democratic.”
-- But House Republicans are exploring ways to lower the bill in high-tax states. Mike DeBonis reports: “One would involve opening up the property tax deduction, capped at $10,000, to state and local income and perhaps sales taxes. Others would involve expanding eligibility for the child tax credit to more affluent households or simply rearranging the individual tax brackets so taxpayers pay lower rates. But making any of those work within the larger plan could be difficult. [House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.)] said all of the options cost ‘significant’ amounts of revenue, and the overall plan cannot cost more than $1.5 trillion over the coming decade.”
-- Meanwhile, the biggest winner in both chambers' tax plans may be commercial real estate, where Trump and first son-in-law Jared Kushner built their fortunes. The New York Times’s Patricia Cohen and Jesse Drucker report: “House and Senate Republicans, in their divergent bills, both offered steeply reduced rates to corporate giants, partnerships and family-owned firms across the board. But when it came time to eliminate special breaks or impose tighter standards, real estate was generally excused from the room. Most businesses were hit with new limits on deductions for interest payments, but not real estate. Most industries lost the ability to defer taxes on the exchange of similar kinds of property, but not real estate.”
-- Pushback: Graduate students camped outside Ryan’s office yesterday to protest the proposal to treat their tuition benefits as income. Eight demonstrators were arrested by Capitol Police. (Danielle Douglas-Gabriel)
-- New polling shows the GOP plan remains unpopular among Democrats and independents. Gallup’s Lydia Saad reports: “Seven percent of Democrats and 25% of independents . . . say they approve of the proposed changes to the federal tax code, contrasted with 70% of Republicans. Mostly as a result of weak support from Democrats and independents . . . 29% of U.S. adults as a whole approve of the plan, while 56% disapprove and 16% have no opinion. Still, 16% of Republicans disapprove, resulting in fewer Republicans approving of the plan (70%) than Democrats disapproving (87%).”
-- Conservative groups are working to sell the unpopular plan directly to voters. The New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters reports: “A dozen high school students working for Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political network funded by Charles G. and David H. Koch, fanned out across the Little Havana neighborhood one day last week to make the case that the Republican tax bill was something to get excited about. … It’s the trickle down theory of selling tax cuts to the American voter. Conservative activist groups like Americans for Prosperity, celebrating what they expect is the imminent passage of a tax package that they and the Republican Party’s corporate backers have sought for a generation, now need to convince ordinary Americans that this is good for them too.”
THE TRUMP AGENDA:
-- The number of people caught trying to sneak over the U.S.-Mexico border has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to new DHS statistics, with the decline beginning immediately after Trump’s victory. Nick Miroff reports: “During the government’s 2017 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. border agents made 310,531 arrests, a decline of 24 percent from the previous year and the fewest overall since 1971. The figures … [possibly] reflecting the deterrent effect of [Trump’s] rhetoric on would-be border crossers, though starting in May the number of people taken into custody began increasing again. [Meanwhile], arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged under Trump. [ICE] officers made 110,568 arrests between inauguration and the end of September, according to the figures published Tuesday, a 42 percent increase over the same period during the previous year.” Mexican nationals also accounted for a much smaller share of border arrests, with 58 percent of those apprehended from other countries including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
-- OMB Director Mick Mulvaney is already having an impact in his other job heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; the agency recently reversed its position on a case that it had already won. The New York Times’s Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Stacy Cowley report: “After a nearly three-year legal skirmish, the [CFPB] appeared to have been victorious. A judge agreed in September with the bureau that a financial company had misled more than 100,000 mortgage customers. As punishment, the judge ordered the Ohio company, Nationwide Biweekly Administration, to pay nearly $8 million in penalties. All that was left was to collect the cash. Last week, lawyers from the consumer bureau filed an 11-page brief asking the judge to force Nationwide to post an $8 million bond while the proceedings wrapped up. Then Mick Mulvaney was named the consumer bureau’s acting director. Barely 48 hours later, the same lawyers filed a new two-sentence brief. Their request: to withdraw their earlier submission and no longer take a position on whether Nationwide should put up the cash.”
-- A bill to improve the background check system for gun purchases is in jeopardy after House Republicans tacked on a provision allowing concealed firearms to be carried across state lines. Karoun Demirjian and Katie Zezima report: “The House is expected to vote and pass the combination bill Wednesday over the objections of House Democrats, who accused Republicans of ‘trickery’ and ‘sabotage’ in tying the background checks bill to a concealed-carry measure the National Rifle Association called its ‘highest legislative priority.’ In the Senate, Democrats have labeled the concealed-carry legislation a nonstarter, while leading Senate Republicans cautioned that pairing the bills is a recipe for the demise of both.”
-- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his final report on national monuments, calling on Trump to shrink two additional sites and alter the management of another six. Juliet Eilperin reports: “The president had directed Zinke in April to review 27 national monuments established since 1996 under the Antiquities Act[.] … In addition to the Utah sites, Zinke supports cutting Nevada’s Gold Butte and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou, though the exact reductions are still being determined. He also would revise the proclamations for those and the others to clarify that certain activities are allowed. The additional monuments affected include Northeast Canyons and Seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean; both Rose Atoll and the Pacific Remote Islands in the Pacific Ocean; New Mexico’s Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande Del Norte, and Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters.”
-- A group of technology experts and former national security officials, including James Clapper, urged a federal court to halt Trump's voter fraud commission’s collection of voter data because of hacking fears. Hamza Shaban reports: The group “warned that a White House plan to create a centralized database containing sensitive information on millions of American voters will become an attractive target for nation states and criminal hackers. … [The amicus brief filed by the group] states that the commission does not appear to have established rules or procedures defining who gets access to the database or how it should be actively protected. Armed with detailed voter information, foreign adversaries could conduct targeted information campaigns against specific groups of voters, echoing Russian interference during the 2016 election, the filing claims.”
-- The NAACP is urging Trump to skip the opening ceremony of a Mississippi civil rights museum this weekend he had planned to attend. NAACP President Derrick Johnson sharply criticized Trump’s record on civil rights — saying the president has “created a racially hostile climate” in the nation, and that his attendance would be “affront” to the movement commemorated by the museum. (Eli Rosenberg)
-- Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) will force a vote on Trump’s impeachment. Republicans are expected to quickly table Green’s resolution, and even Pelosi has argued Robert Mueller's Russia probe should be completed before considering such action. (Mike DeBonis)
PERSONNEL IS POLICY:
-- The Senate confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen as DHS secretary, approving by a 62 to 37 vote for the top White House aide and close confidante of John Kelly. Nick Miroff reports: “An attorney and cybersecurity expert, Nielsen will be the first DHS secretary with previous experience working at the agency. Her confirmation Tuesday gives the White House a DHS chief well versed in the politics and policy goals of Trump’s immigration enforcement agenda. Nielsen comes to the job largely on the power of Kelly’s endorsement … [and] will take over from acting secretary Elaine Duke, who filled the top job in a temporary capacity for more than four months . . . several administration officials say Duke has informed the White House she plans to resign once Nielsen takes over.”
-- The Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Jerome Powell as Fed chair, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) casting the sole opposing vote. The full Senate is expected to easily confirm Powell. (Politico)
-- A majority of nominees Trump has tapped to fill science-related positions don't have an advanced science degrees. The AP’s Seth Borenstein reports: “Of 43 Trump administration nominees in science-related positions — including two for [HHS] secretary — almost 60 percent did not have a master’s degree or a doctorate in a science or health field … For their immediate predecessors in the Obama administration, it was almost the opposite: more than 60 percent had advanced science degrees. … Public health researcher Dr. Caroline Weinberg, who helped organize [the] March for Science, said in an email, ‘I knew the dire straits we were in but seeing it laid out with percentages really amplifies the horror.’”
THE WEINSTEIN EFFECT:
-- The New York Times has an exposé on Harvey Weinstein’s “complicity machine” — and how the famed producer spent years building powerful relationships across industries to shield him from decades of sexual misconduct accusations. Megan Twohey, Kantor, Susan Dominus, Jim Rutenberg and Steve Eder report: “Mr. Weinstein’s final, failed round of manipulations shows how he operated for more than three decades: by trying to turn others into instruments or shields for his behavior, according to nearly 200 interviews, internal company records and previously undisclosed emails. Some aided his actions without realizing what he was doing. Many knew something or detected hints, though few understood the scale of his sexual misconduct. Almost everyone had incentives to look the other way or reasons to stay silent. Now, even as the tally of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds is still emerging, so is a debate about collective failure and the apportioning of blame …"
-- Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) resigned Tuesday amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment — making him the first lawmaker to step down as Congress grapples with a wave of inappropriate misconduct allegations. Elise Viebeck and David Weigel report: “From a hospital in Detroit, the 88-year-old congressman said he was ‘putting his retirement plans together’ and endorsed his son John Conyers III to replace him. Another Conyers family member has already declared his intention to run for the seat, raising the specter of an intrafamily contest. Asked about the harassment allegations, Conyers said his legacy ‘can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now.’ ‘This, too, shall pass,’ Conyers told a local radio station in an interview. ‘My legacy will continue through my children.’”
-- BUT, BUT, BUT: Not much is known about John Conyers III, a 27-year-old who has never sought public office. Here’s what we do know:
- His background: “The Facebook page of John Conyers III says he [attended NYU], is a managing partner at EIA Alpha Partners Fund Management and an owner/partner at a firm called Palette Agency,” The Detroit Free Press reports. And his contributor bio on HuffPost identifies him as “a partner at Detroit’s first minority run hedge fund” and “a seasoned multi-discipline consultant who has provided fundraising and social media services to both political and business clients.”
- He caused public headaches for his father in 2010, after speeding in the elder Conyer’s government-leased Cadillac Escalade, or his “work car.” There were also reports the then-20-year-old drove the vehicle to a rap concert, where it was broken into. (Lindsey Bever)
- His opinion on more than a few political topics. The younger Conyers has published some strongly worded op-eds in HuffPost, including one choice column titled: “Orange Watergate: The Inevitable Impeachment of the 45th President.”
-- But the Conyers name is likely to be an advantage in the Detroit-based district, Eugene Scott argues: “Detroit is in the process of massive changes under Mike Duggan, the city's first white mayor in 40 years, after the longtime Democratic stronghold state of Michigan was won by President Trump in the 2016 election. Billionaire investors with Detroit, ties such as Daniel Gilbert, and companies including JPMorgan Chase are investing in Detroit. But some black residents, many of whom were represented by Conyers, have wondered whether the new and improved Detroit will have room for them. Some residents may be looking for a leader — and even a name — they can trust.”
-- Meanwhile, Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.) — who has faced his own sexual misconduct allegations — said he wouldn't resign, despite calls to do so from party leadership. ABC News’s John Parkinson and Mary Bruce report: “Instead, Kihuen is digging in with a shocking allegation of his own, taking aim at the leaders of his own party. In an interview with ABC News, Kihuen … said party leaders knew last year about a former campaign staffer’s allegations of misconduct but stood by his campaign nonetheless. Kihuen questioned why they are calling for his resignation now, more than a year later.” Pelosi and the chairman of the DCCC, who have both called for Kihuen’s resignation, denied his account.
-- BUT: Kihuen’s chief of staff has begun circulating the resumes of his employees, however. Two Democratic aides said the job search was typical of any scandal-ridden congressional office and not indicative of Kihuen’s intention to resign. (Politico)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Social media continues to be dominated by buzz about the Alabama Senate race. From the Onion’s sister website:
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced that he's contributed to Democrat Doug Jones’s Senate campaign:
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), a colleague who has also previously criticized Trump, pushed back:
This donation is a bad idea.— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) December 6, 2017
It's possible to be against BOTH partial birth abortion AND child molestation. Happily, most Americans are. https://t.co/BjVH2gL69F
Former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson reflected on the RNC’s recommitment to Moore:
There are few moments when a political party can be said to have lost its soul. GOP support for Moore is one of them. It is the complete abandonment of morality in the cause of power. Shockingly cynical, cruel to Moore’s (credible) accusers, an abdication of ethical leadership.— Michael Gerson (@MJGerson) December 5, 2017
From a CNN reporter:
Dean Heller, vulnerable Senate Republican also facing a primary from the right, declines to say if he agrees with Romney that electing Moore would be a "stain" on the GOP. "Talk to my office and we'll have a response for you," he told me.— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 5, 2017
From a Republican strategist and longtime Hill staffer:
My first DC job was at the RNC. Think of all the awful lessons a new generation of staffers are learning about politics there. Sigh.— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) December 5, 2017
A Politico reporter observed:
Very interesting that Senate is taking its class photo today (before Roy Moore potentially becomes a senator)— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) December 5, 2017
A Post reporter responded:
Can he at least sign the yearbook? https://t.co/SU7OPdXNfi— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 5, 2017
The director of U-Va.'s Center for Politics noted this about Conyers's resignation:
Rep. John Conyers endorses his son to succeed him—House seats are hereditary peerages nowadays. But wait! Young Conyers will be opposed by a state senator named...Conyers, grandson of Rep. Conyers’ brother. Family Feud! Democracy at work in 2017.— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) December 5, 2017
From The Post's Paul Kane:
Random factoid: Conyers (1964) resignation ends the era of lawmakers first elected in '60s. New House dean Don Young (1973). Longest serving Senator, Leah's (1974).— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) December 5, 2017
The ACLU addressed the Supreme Court case involving a Colorado baker who refused to serve gay clients:
The president of the NAACP's legal defense fund added this:
Black ppl should just have stayed at a different hotel, patronized a different restaurant, bought lunch before they got to the Greyhound bus station, stayed at another hotel. Nothing new under the sun. Discrimination in public accommodations is an assault on dignity & citizenship https://t.co/BGg9bXhbXG— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) December 6, 2017
The former White House chief of staff made this claim about the Atlantic’s profile of Mike Pence, per CNN’s Dana Bash:
.@Reince tells me “Every tiny bit of this Pence coup anecdote is 100% false. It was never discussed - never contemplated. This writer never called or reached out for comment either.” https://t.co/PUujVghFm5— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) December 5, 2017
The writer of the Atlantic profile refuted Priebus’s claim:
This is not true. I reached out via email and over the phone. https://t.co/BYJVsL5A6t— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) December 5, 2017
Mitt Romney praised the Olympic committee's decision on Russia:
By sanctioning Russia, Olympic officials place honor and integrity above money and politics. Russia under Putin is shown, once again, to place winning above the rule of law, above honesty, and above the interests of its own athletes.— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 5, 2017
Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Rick Perry seems to be enjoying Saudi Arabia, per a CNN reporter:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- The Atlantic, “George Soros and the Demonization of Philanthropy,” by Benjamin Soskis: “Stories of Soros as philanthropic bogeyman are clearly symptomatic of the current political moment. The vastness and the viciousness of the partisan divide, coupled with the general suspicion of financial ‘elites,’ can make it tempting to focus ideological frustrations on a few munificent individuals who belong to the opposing political team. … What’s less well understood is how narratives that pit scheming benefactors against ‘the people’ can work against the values of a democracy. Not only are conspiracy theories often deliberately employed by authoritarians to undermine grass roots activism, but they also muddle discussions about the immense power philanthropists actually do wield, crowding out valid concerns about the role mega-donors now play in shaping society …”
-- Business Insider, “What it’s like to live in Putin’s Russia, according to an investigative reporter who lived there for 4 years,” by Kara Chin, Natasha Bertrand and Lamar Salter: “When you’re trying to kind of conceptualize ‘What is modern Russia?,’ of course it’s a state … but also it’s a kind of a mafia syndicate that uses mafia methods to snuff out its enemies and to get its way both inside its borders and outside its borders.”
-- Politico Magazine, “I Saw the Kate Steinle Murder Trial Up Close. The Jury Didn’t Botch It,” by Phil Van Stockum: “I was an alternate juror in the Kate Steinle murder trial in San Francisco. I didn’t get a vote, but I saw all of the evidence and the jury instructions, and I discussed the verdict with the jury after it was delivered. Most of the public reaction I've seen has been surprise, confusion and derision. If these were among your reactions as well, I'm writing to explain to you why the jury was right to make the decision that they did.”
-- Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “No easy answers in the search for my voice,” by Jamie Dupree: “My official diagnosis is a rare neurological condition known as ‘Tongue Protrusion Dystonia’ — for some unknown reason when I try to talk, my tongue pushes forward out of my mouth, and my throat clenches, leading to a voice that is strangled and strained, as it is a struggle to string together more than a few words at a time. … In the halls of Congress, I’m sure a number of my colleagues know I have a voice problem, and just don’t say anything, but I bet there are a lot of other journalists who have no idea that there is a veteran radio reporter in their midst who can’t say much. Think about it — a radio reporter who can’t talk — it sounds ridiculous, and that’s what makes this all the more frustrating.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“’Alt-right’ women are upset that ‘alt-right’ men are treating them terribly,” from Salon: “There's trouble brewing in the MAGA world, as prominent women in the ‘alt-right’ are upset that white nationalists are being misogynistic towards them. Women in the ‘alt-right’ ‘are constantly harassed by low level anonymous trolls trying to put us in our place,’ self-described ‘Ethno Nationalist’ Tara McCarthy wrote on Twitter Sunday … ‘The ultimate goal seems to be to bully us off the internet.’ ‘The problem I'm stating here is not that 'there are trolls on the internet' but that people who proclaim to be on our side are trying to tear down women in our in-group,’ she wrote.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Don't call us snowflakes - it damages our mental health, say young people,” from The Telegraph: “Being called a ‘snowflake’ is damaging to mental health, young people say. Figures show that the majority of young people think the term is unfair - and even more think it could have a negative effect of its own. … The ‘snowflake generation’ is a disparaging term now commonly used to refer to young people, who are perceived to be over-sensitive and intolerant of disagreement. But research by insurance firm Aviva found that 72 per cent of 16-24 year-olds think the term is unfairly applied, while 74 per cent think it could have a negative effect on young people's mental health."
Trump will hold a Cabinet meeting before making his announcement on Jerusalem.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Trump told reporters of the Affordable Care Act, “We’re a long way toward getting rid of that and getting something very good and very much more affordable[.]”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Colder temperatures arrive in D.C. starting today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Showers depart to our south and east early this morning, giving way to a partly sunny midday, with clouds increasing again late this afternoon. We start out fairly mild with morning readings near 40 to the mid-40s, with a bit of a gusty breeze. But afternoon highs only reach the mid-40s to near 50[.]”
-- The Wizards won against the Trail Blazers 106-92. (Candace Buckner)
-- Controversial minister E.W. Jackson is expected to launch a Senate bid against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Jenna Portnoy reports: “Jackson has a history of controversial comments from calling gay and lesbian individuals ‘very sick people’ to suggesting the practice of yoga invites Satan to possess one’s soul. He will face Corey Stewart, the bombastic Republican official from Prince William County who ran for the GOP nomination for governor earlier this year in the mold of President Trump.”
-- Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous released his proposal for a single-payer health-care system. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “In a 19-page proposal that echoes U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s national plan for the government to cover everyone’s health insurance through Medicare, Jealous said a state-run, single-payer system would be the next logical step for a state like Maryland[.]”
-- Outgoing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called on Maryland and D.C. to join in urging dedicated funding for Metro. Robert McCartney reports: “The outgoing governor said he has completed his final budget, to be released Dec. 18, and it will include guaranteed, long-term funding for Metro . . . He declined to say what form the financing will take but suggested it would not involve a tax increase.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts reacted to Trump’s endorsement of Roy Moore:
Filling in for Jimmy Kimmel, Tracee Ellis Ross read a children's book meant to advise men on avoiding sexual misconduct:
CNN’s Don Lemon disclosed his experience with childhood sexual abuse while discussing the accusations against Moore:
The Post's Nicole Lewis fact-checked whether the Senate tax bill actually offers a tax break for private jet owners:
A makeshift animal shelter was set up for pet owners affected by the wildfires in Southern California:
And skiing Santas hit the slopes for the “Santa Sunday” event in Maine: