With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.
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THE BIG IDEA: A Democrat will now hold Jeff Sessions’s Senate seat in Alabama.
Doug Jones’s victory on Tuesday is every bit as shocking as when a Republican won the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in a Massachusetts special election seven years ago. Scott Brown’s upset was the harbinger of massive GOP gains in 2010, including the takeover of the House.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Jones won 49.9 percent of the vote to Republican Roy Moore’s 48.4 percent. The other 1.7 percent wrote in someone else’s name.
Moore has refused to concede defeat and suggested that he might seek a recount, but the Alabama Republican Party said it won’t support such a long-shot effort. The father of the White House press secretary colorfully called on Moore to throw in the towel this morning:
Roy Moore won’t concede; says will wait on God to speak. God wasn’t registered to vote in AL but the ppl who voted did speak and it wasn’t close enough for recount. In elections everyone does NOT get a trophy. I know first hand but it’s best to exit with class.— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) December 13, 2017
Here are six takeaways from the returns:
1. Alabama has now rejected President Trump twice in three months.
Trump got 62 percent of the vote there last year, but exit polls showed that just 48 percent of voters on Tuesday approved of his job performance as president. (Study the exits for yourself here.)
The president flew to Alabama in September to campaign for Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill Sessions’s seat when he became attorney general. But Strange got crushed.
To be sure, Trump’s 11th hour intervention was helpful to Moore. He recorded a robo-call and praised the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court at a rally last Friday night. Among people who made up their mind about who to support since the start of December, which was 21 percent of voters, Moore won by 12 points (54-42). Jones led by seven points (53-46) among those who decided before then.
But POTUS no longer has enough juice with the GOP base to drag Moore across the finish line. Half of voters said Trump was not a factor in determining their vote, while 27 percent said they voted for Moore to show support for the president and 19 percent said they voted for Jones to express their opposition to him.
Trump was initially gracious in defeat last night:
Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
This morning he tweeted that Moore’s loss vindicated his endorsement of Strange in the primary:
The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
-- “Trump had obsessed over the race in recent days, including asking associates last weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort about Moore and his chances,” per Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker. “The president watched the race unfold Tuesday night after a quick holiday party at the White House, devouring the results on television and receiving updates from his political team. He was joined by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who stayed with the president at the White House well into the evening and took updates from the staff to pass along …
“By late Tuesday night, aides had already begun guessing where the mercurial Trump would hurl the blame — and how he would distance himself from Moore … One White House official also said the consensus among some in the West Wing was that [Mitch] McConnell deserved more blame than [Steve] Bannon — or Trump. McConnell, this person said, cut off money to Moore, told voters that their candidate would face an ethics investigation, encouraged others to criticize him and tried to change the whole election. … As the results rolled in, some aides worked to ready talking points. … But many of Trump’s advisers who were skeptical of Moore were at Il Canale in Georgetown, attending a holiday party thrown by Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic adviser and a registered Democrat.”
2. Alabamians, black and white, did not want to be embarrassed. Moore played right into every negative stereotype of Dixie that most Alabamians resent.
“Every single county swung left compared to 2016, with some moving more than 15 points,” per Kim Soffen, Dan Keating, Kevin Schaul and Kevin Uhrmacher. “Moore lost 12 counties that Trump won. Moore underperformed Trump’s results by 14 percentage points in the North and Central region, by 9 points in the Black Belt and by 11 points in Southern Alabama. Typically reliable and sizable Republican wins in the rural North and South of the state evaporated into razor thin margins. Between that and an increased margin in the Black Belt, Jones was able to eke out a 21,000-vote victory, while Republicans normally win by more than half a million votes …
“These swings can be seen in counties majority white and black, Republican and Democrat. And that means it couldn’t have just been a surge in African American turnout, or just rural Trump voters staying home, or just Republicans crossing over to vote for Jones. Jones’ campaign was able to achieve a combination of the three that drove him to victory. Despite it being an off-year special election in December, Jones got 92 percent of Hillary Clinton’s vote total. Moore just got 49 percent of Trump’s.” (Our graphics team produced some impressive visuals to show the results.)
Exit polls demonstrated the class divide that I explored in Monday’s 202: Jones won college graduates by 11 points (54-43), while Moore won non-college graduates by five points (52-47). Moore led by almost 50 points among white women without degrees, but he was neck-and-neck with Jones with white women who went to college.
There was a stark generational divide that mirrored the tension in the race between Alabama’s future and its past. Mitt Romney won among Alabama voters under 45 in 2012. On Tuesday, Jones beat Moore by 22 percent among this group — which accounted for 13 percent of the electorate. The older the voter, the higher the likelihood that they supported Moore. He pulled 59 percent among those 65 and over, 51 percent among those 45 to 64, and 38 percent among 30-to-44-year-olds.
Worth noting that most African-American women, who gave Doug Jones a huge boost, are churchgoers. They’re “values voters,” every bit as much as evangelicals and other faith groups. pic.twitter.com/pXgGjuV0Qh— Daniel Burke (@BurkeCNN) December 13, 2017
3. The GOP civil war will rage on.
The past few weeks offered a gut-check litmus test for Republicans, as Trump embraced a candidate who had been credibly accused of predatory, sexual behavior toward teenage girls when he was a district attorney in his 30s.
Leaders from the establishment wing seized on the results as evidence that the party must reject Bannonism. “It should be a hurricane siren for every Republican,” said Josh Holmes, a former top aide to McConnell. “This is what the death of a party looks like, and without an immediate course correction and rejection of the Steve Bannon view of the world, you can lose races in states like Alabama. … If I had the top five Republican minds in politics and we spent three months attempting to conceive of a way to lose an Alabama Senate race, I’m not sure that we could come up with it. You could literally take any name out of a phone book except Roy Moore’s and win by double digits. And we managed to get the only guy in Alabama that could lose to a Democrat.”
Steven Law, another former McConnell chief of staff who runs the Senate Leadership Fund, ripped into Bannon in a news release: “Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the president of the United States into his fiasco,” he said.
Holmes and Law hope that Moore’s loss makes it easier for more electable candidates to fend off Bannonites in GOP primaries next year in Arizona and Nevada. “This is now the sixth Senate seat that Republicans have lost since 2010 with deeply flawed candidates winning contested primaries, but it is easily the biggest upset given how conservative Alabama is,” Paul Kane reports.
“Many Republicans will privately be pleased to see Bannon and even Trump get their comeuppance. But that doesn’t resolve the split within the party over the direction it should take,” Dan Balz writes. “As long as Trump is president, this is the division and the reality that Republicans will live with — an uneasy coalition at best.”
GOP traditionalists believe last night’s results will help their party regain some of the dignity it has lost in the Trump era. They are pleased that he will not join the GOP conference in the Senate, which they’re certain would have meant constant headaches.
Decency wins— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) December 13, 2017
The daughter of Arizona’s other Republican senator put a slightly different spin on it:
Suck it, Bannon— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) December 13, 2017
Here’s how the governor of Ohio responded:
Thankfully, today enough Republicans chose country over party. Tomorrow we must redouble our efforts to support candidates worthy of the office they seek.#TwoPaths— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) December 13, 2017
Many credited Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) for going on TV to say he believed the accusers and couldn’t vote for Moore in good conscience.
From the policy director on Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign:
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee’s brand took a big hit. Ronna Romney McDaniel, who stopped using her maiden name this year at Trump’s request (because the president doesn’t like her relative Mitt Romney), demonstrated that she’s a weak chair by going along with Trump’s request to reopen the spigots for Moore despite her private reservations.
From a reporter for the conservative Washington Examiner:
Source close to the RNC tells me folks there are furious with Ronna McDaniel over their move to jump back in the race for Moore.— Al Weaver (@alweaver22) December 13, 2017
“Congratulations on dropping the Romney name and picking up a pedophile. Proud day for the RNC.”
4. The Democratic path to winning the Senate next year just got easier, but it remains a heavy lift.
Aaron Blake explains: “At the start of the cycle, the math for Democrats winning the Senate majority in 2018 — even in a very good environment — appeared prohibitive. They had only two bona fide pickup opportunities, they needed three pickups, and they had to defend 10 swing and red states that President Trump won. The map was just brutal. But since then, they’ve gotten the news they need to at least put the Senate in play. Potential takeovers in Arizona and Nevada look increasingly promising. An open seat has popped up in Tennessee, where last week Democrats landed popular former governor Phil Bredesen as a candidate, and now they've nabbed one of the three pickups they needed a year early in Alabama. The math is still tough, but it’s clearly within the realm of possibility now. And with Democrats claiming a double-digit lead on the generic ballot, things are very much looking up.”
The political handicappers are already adjusting their forecasts:
Suddenly, the Senate is in play in 2018. Democrats can get to 3 if every race falls for them. Still a challenge, but now possible.— Stuart Rothenberg (@StuPolitics) December 13, 2017
Mitch McConnell's approval rating in Alabama: 16%. pic.twitter.com/OThhCfB7bU— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) December 13, 2017
5. Losing this seat will make it harder for Republicans to advance their legislative agenda.
Alabama’s secretary of state expects the election to be certified between Dec. 27 and Jan. 3, per Michael Scherer. That gives Republicans two weeks to pass their tax cuts with a 52-to-48 majority. Once Jones gets seated, they can only afford one GOP defection — with Vice President Pence casting the tiebreaking vote — instead of three.
“And other big potential Republican priorities for 2018 — including potential bills to boost infrastructure spending and cut back on entitlement programs — are now in limbo as every last vote comes under the election-year spotlight,” Mike DeBonis notes. “Barring a new effort at bipartisan dealmaking that has been largely absent so far under the Trump administration, the GOP appears on track to head into the November midterms with only one major accomplishment to tout: a tax-cut bill that has polled poorly and delivers most of its direct benefit to corporations and the wealthy.”
6. Moore’s loss underscores the potency of sexual misconduct allegations and the power of the #MeToo moment.
Tuesday felt, in some ways, like the reckoning that never fully materialized after the emergence of the “Access Hollywood” tape in October 2016, Karen Tumulty writes. “But the sense of grievance remained, and gained force this fall with the toppling of movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the once-revered figures in media and politics who have been taken down in his wake. [Jones’s] unlikely victory may also be a sign that the formula for winning in a deeply polarized political climate, perfected by Trump, may not be so reliable as it seemed.”
Voters were split on the credibility of the accusations against Moore, which he categorically denied: 51 percent said they were definitely or probably true, and 44 percent said they were definitely or probably false.
This is not a normal exit poll question. pic.twitter.com/fmzXlxdnnb— Philip Bump (@pbump) December 13, 2017
“Even one-party states have their limits,” David Von Drehle writes. “There was a Louisiana politician in the politically incorrect days of 1983, a man equal parts corrupt and quotable named Edwin Edwards, who said the only way he could lose an election ‘is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy.’ Horrible. Pushed to the wall, Alabama Republicans responded with Moore’s Law: Getting caught with live girls is fatal, too.”
GET TO KNOW SENATOR-ELECT JONES:
-- As U.S. attorney in Alabama, Jones successfully prosecuted two KKK members for their role in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. (DeNeen L. Brown has the full story.)
-- “Running for Senate was always something [Jones] wanted to do,” Sean Sullivan writes in a profile. “As it turned out, he was in the right place at the right time — a candidate who was lifted to victory in large measure by a series of twists and turns on the GOP side.”
-- Jones had never run for office before, but he worked as a staff counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the late Howell Heflin, Alabama’s last Democratic senator.
-- An open question: What kind of a senator will Jones be? Is he going to try to position himself to get reelected in 2020? Or will he vote consistently with the Democratic caucus with the expectation he won’t survive?
From the communications director of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.):
Let this sink in - Jefferson Beauregard Sessions’ Senate seat was taken by a civil rights lawyer who convicted Klansmen. Justice is sweet.— Lily Adams (@adamslily) December 13, 2017
HOW IT’S PLAYING—
WAPO TEAM COVERAGE:
- Marc Fisher: “How abortion became Roy Moore’s response to sexual misconduct allegations.”
- Robin Givhan: “Roy Moore rode to the polls as a cowboy after spending an entire campaign in costume.”
- David Weigel: “Alabama Democrats revel in victory after Doug Jones captures Senate seat.”
- Robert Costa: “Democrats are … newly confident about 2018.”
- Sarah Pulliam Bailey: “‘A spiritual battle:’ How Moore tested white evangelical allegiance to the Republican Party.”
- Margaret Sullivan: “Moore thought attacking the press could save his campaign. Voters opted for the truth.”
- Rick Noack: “Alabama election result seen as ‘miracle’ in a Europe horrified by Trump.”
- Philip Bump: “Alabama presented the demographic nightmare that’s been looming for the Republican Party.”
- Amber Phillips: “Democrats just won Alabama — and their clearest path yet to taking back the Senate.”
ON THE OPINION PAGE:
- The Editorial Board: “Thank you, Alabama.”
- Marc A. Thiessen: “Congratulations, Steve Bannon, you just elected a Democrat in Alabama.”
- Joseph Lowndes: “Moore lost the battle, but he’s winning the war.”
- Jennifer Rubin: “Democrats’ miraculous victory in Alabama.”
- David Von Drehle: “Doug Jones’s victory should make Trump nervous.”
- Birmingham News: “AL GOP: We will hold Doug Jones accountable.”
- Politico: “Trump suffers 'big black eye' in Alabama.”
- Time: “Trump Blamed Write-In Votes for Roy Moore's Loss. How Likely Is That?”
- HuffPost: “Knives Out For Steve Bannon After Democrat Wins Senate Seat In Alabama.”
- The Daily Beast: “‘I Think Bannon Made an Ass of Himself’: Republicans Rejoice in Breitbart Chief’s Alabama Humiliation.”
- The Atlantic: “African American Voters Made Doug Jones a U.S. Senator in Alabama.”
- New York Daily News: “How Roy Moore, Steve Bannon gift-wrapped Alabama Senate seat for Doug Jones.”
- Boston Globe: “Doug Jones tops Roy Moore in Alabama election.”
- New York Times: “Doug Jones: A Lawyer in the Thick of Alabama’s Big Moments.”
- Wall Street Journal: “With Alabama Loss, Trump and GOP Face Political Reckoning.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- The Palestinian president announced he would no longer allow the U.S. to play any role in the Mideast peace process given Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. AP’s Zeynep Bilginsoy and Sarah El Deeb report: “Mahmoud Abbas spoke at a gathering of heads of state and top officials from Islamic nations at a summit in Turkey that is expected to forge a unified Muslim world’s stance against Trump’s move. Abbas called Trump’s decision a ‘crime’ that threatened world peace. He called on the United Nations to take charge of the peace process and create a new mechanism, arguing that Washington is no longer ‘fit’ for the task. The Palestinians are committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abbas said, but after Trump’s seismic shift on Jerusalem, Washington is not accepted as a fair negotiator.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Federal prosecutors filed terrorism charges against suspected New York City subway bomber Akayed Ullah. In the criminal complaint, authorities said the 27-year-old taunted Trump before detonating the explosive and proclaimed his allegiance to the Islamic State. (Devlin Barrett and Mark Berman)
The trial began for the first police officer to face terrorism charges in the U.S. Nicholas Young was investigated by the FBI from 2010 to August 2016, when Young allegedly bought Google Play gift cards meant for ISIS recruits to download encrypted messaging applications. (Rachel Weiner)
- A former Facebook executive said the site is destroying society with “dopamine-driven feedback loops.” “I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of our minds, we kind of knew something bad could happen,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, who left the company in 2011 and does not allow his own children to use Facebook. “But I think the way we defined it was not like this.” (Amy B Wang)
Multiple factors are to blame for the severe devastation wrought by the California wildfires. They include the Diablo winds, the proximity of homes to wildlands and the state’s climate. (Darryl Fears)
- The temperature in one Alaska city has warmed so fast this year that an algorithm automatically flagged it as unreal and purged it from a closely monitored climate database, according to scientists. (Angela Fritz)
Thousands of North Korean women have been sold as brides to Chinese men. The women are lured across the border with the promise of work and are then sold to men, mostly poor farmers in border provinces. (AP)
A New York state senator allegedly impersonated a police officer and ran several red lights while threatening to take a cyclist “to the precinct.” The cyclist claims the vehicle of Brooklyn state Sen. Martin Golden (R) even swerved into a lane of oncoming traffic. (New York Daily News)
Los Angeles is considering a proposal that would shift the city’s shelter dogs to a vegan diet. Supporters argue the change would put Los Angeles dogs at the forefront of a meat-free movement, but some vets say a vegan diet would deny the dogs of important nutrients. (Karin Brulliard)
-- Republican negotiators are inching toward a plan that will cut taxes for the highest-earning Americans, from 39.6 percent to 37 percent. Erica Werner and Damian Paletta report: “Wealthy individuals in New York, California and other high-tax states had complained that their taxes might go up under the (GOP) plan, which curtails the ability of taxpayers to deduct state and local taxes. And conservative House Republicans had said it did not go far enough to bring down top rates — long a principle of Republican economic orthodoxy. But there were signs of immediate resistance to the idea from at least two Senate Republicans, [Susan Collins (Maine) and Marco Rubio (Fla.)] and the GOP can only afford to lose the support of one if they want to pass the bill.” Republicans are also discussing raising the corporate rate in the plan to 21 percent instead of 20, and they still hope to hold a vote on the plan by the end of next week.
-- Democratic leadership is backing off threats to shut the government down over “dreamers.” Politico’s Heather Caygle and Elana Schor report: “[Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi] haven’t stopped fighting to deliver something on immigration by the end of the month. But they’ve subtly shifted their rhetoric in recent days and aren’t insisting that deportation relief be paired with a government funding bill this year. Top Democrats’ retreat from demands on a deal before 2018 ensures they won’t get blamed for a possible shutdown and won’t upend Senate talks on a bipartisan deal combining relief for Dreamers with border security. Those negotiations appear to be gaining momentum and may well bear fruit this month[.]”
-- Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pushed back against two of Trump’s judicial picks, urging the White House to reconsider their nominations. Karoun Demirjian reports: “[Grassley] said he has advised the Trump administration that ‘they ought to reconsider’ Jeff Mateer’s nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Mateer has come under fire for comments he made in 2015 defending discrimination, for saying that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and that transgender children were part of ‘Satan’s plan,’ as first reported by CNN. Grassley added that he ‘would advise the White House not to proceed’ with the nomination of Brett Talley to the federal district court in Alabama, after reports emerged that in 2011 he had defended ‘the first KKK’ on an online message board and had failed to disclose to the Judiciary Committee that his wife is the chief of staff to White House counsel Don McGahn.”
-- The 9th Circuit upheld the ban on uranium mining around Grand Canyon National Park that the Trump administration has considered lifting. Juliet Eilperin reports: “The 2012 ban blocked new mining claims and placed restrictions on mine development on existing claims in a million-acre area around the Grand Canyon park, though the Interior Department indicated that up to 11 claims could proceed. The appellate court ruled that imposing a freeze on new claims ‘for a limited period will permit more careful, longer-term study of the uncertain effects of uranium mining in the area and better-informed decision making in the future.’"
-- The defense authorization bill Trump signed includes an amendment to help shield immigrant recruits from deportation. The measure protects foreign-born troops from enlistment contract cancellations, which open them up to deportation, as they wait for their background checks to be completed. (Alex Horton)
-- A DEA official who runs the office regulating pharmaceutical opioids advised senators to revise a 2016 law curbing the agency’s ability to crack down on drug distributors. Demetra Ashley, head of the DEA’s Diversion Control Division, told senators the law had hindered agents’ ability to shut down shipments of painkillers they considered harmful. (Lenny Bernstein and Scott Higham)
-- House Republicans are moving quickly to overhaul the federal law governing higher education — without hearings and over the objections of education officials. Danielle Douglas-Gabriel reports: “The legislation is the first significant step in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which has remained largely untouched for nearly a decade. As a result, university, student and consumer groups are pleading with the committee to slow down. Barely two weeks have passed since [Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.)] released the 542-page bill, a tome that would change everything from the way families finance education to the way colleges are held accountable for their performance."
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Texts between two FBI officials involved in both the probe of Hillary Clinton’s emails and possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia show that the pair frequently discussed their political views — including their intense dislike of Trump and fears that he might win the election. Devlin Barrett reports: “A review of the texts between senior FBI agent Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page were sent to lawmakers Tuesday night. The texts are the subject of an ethics investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general, and they show the senior officials repeatedly offering harsh opinions about political figures. Among many other comments, the two called Trump ‘an idiot.’ … [Strzok], the deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI, was removed from his position in late July as top FBI agent on [Robert Mueller’s team] when his bosses learned about the texts between him and Page. Page had also worked on Mueller’s team … but left that position earlier in July for what officials have said were unrelated reasons.” The texts were sent to Congress hours before Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is slated to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
-- Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said a second special counsel should be appointed to investigate alleged corruption at the FBI and the Justice Department. Philip Rucker reports: “Sekulow did not allege wrongdoing on the part of Mueller or his team, [saying] his call for a second special counsel has ‘nothing to do with Bob Mueller.’ But Sekulow argued that alleged conflicts of interest among FBI and Justice Department officials demand a full investigation by a special counsel. He singled out a Fox News report last week that Bruce G. Ohr, a senior Justice Department official, was demoted amid an investigation of his contacts with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned a salacious dossier documenting Trump's ties to Russia. ‘This is the kind of situation that, in my view, warrants a special counsel,’ Sekulow said.” When asked if he was speaking on Trump’s behalf, Sekulow would not answer.
-- Rex Tillerson acknowledged in a closed-door meeting with U.S. diplomats that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, backing the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community even as Trump continues to describe any meddling attempts as “fake news.” The Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman reports: “The purpose of the closed-door town hall was not immediately clear … Some State Department reporters were able to watch it on closed-circuit TV and tweeted highlights. Tillerson said ‘the footprints in places like Paris and Rome are too large,’ the official told The Daily Beast. The official summarized Tillerson’s position as: ‘they are nice places, but is there really work there for all the employees? He basically says to take people from those places and send them to conflict [zones and] hotspots.’”
-- Donald Trump Jr. requested an investigation of the House Intelligence Committee over leaks from his closed-door interview with lawmakers. Tom Hamburger reports: “The four-page letter, addressed to Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), the panel chairman overseeing the Russia investigation, complains about public comments made by three members of the panel, all Democrats, including the highest-ranking minority member of the panel, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.). The letter says that members and staffers began ‘selectively leaking information’ even before the closed-door meeting ended. … Schiff’s spokesman said Tuesday: ‘While we do not discuss the substance of a witness’s testimony, we do reserve the right to inform the public of their noncooperation and do not allow them to conceal that behind closed doors.’”
-- Trump signed legislation banning the use of Kaspersky Lab software within the U.S. government after reports that it is vulnerable to influence from the Kremlin. Reuters’s Dustin Volz reports: “The ban, included as part of a broader defense policy spending bill that Trump signed, reinforces a directive issued by the Trump administration in September that civilian agencies remove Kaspersky Lab software within 90 days. The law applies to both civilian and military networks."
TRUMP VS. GILLIBRAND:
-- Trump's attack on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) — who he claimed would do “just about anything” for money — prompted swift backlash. Gillibrand — who was attending a bipartisan Bible study Tuesday morning when Trump’s tweet landed — called the president’s remarks “a sexist smear attempting to silence my voice.” “I will not be silent on this issue, neither will women who stood up to the president yesterday and neither will the millions of women who have been marching since the Women’s March …” she said. Gillibrand also called on GOP congressional leaders to launch investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct by Trump.
-- THIS IS BIG: USA Today’s editorial board says Trump’s latest attack proves “he is not fit for office.” The board writes: “Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low. … And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment. A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.”
-- Elizabeth Warren accused Trump of trying to “bully, intimidate and slut-shame” her colleague. “Do you know who you're picking a fight with?” Warren tweeted. “Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump.”
-- Hours after the tweet, six Democratic senators called on Trump to resign, and more than 100 House Democrats signed onto a letter calling for a congressional investigation into the president. John Wagner, Ed O'Keefe and Ashley Parker report: “[Sarah Huckabee Sanders] disputed the characterization of Trump’s tweet as sexually suggestive, telling reporters that ‘there’s no way this is sexist at all’ and later adding: ‘I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way.’ Sanders said Trump was trying to make a point about the corrosive nature of money in politics and characterized Gillibrand as ‘a wholly owned subsidiary of people who donate to her campaign.’ ‘He’s used that same terminology many times in reference to men,’ Sanders said of the language in Trump’s tweet.”
-- “It is part of a long line of statements [Trump's] made about women that seem to suggest something offensive, while leaving enough ambiguity for a defensive response,” writes Eli Rosenberg for The Fix. “Perhaps the most famous among Trump's comments was about Megyn Kelly, then an anchor for Fox News, after a presidential debate last year, that she had ‘blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.’"
-- CNN’s Jim Acosta said Sanders threatened to pull his access if he asked about Trump’s Gillibrand tweet. He ignored her. “Mr. President, what did you mean when you said that Kirsten Gillibrand would do anything for a campaign contribution?” Acosta asked after Trump signed an NDAA. In return, Trump glared and proceeded to exit the room. Erik Wemple writes: “Later on, Acosta told CNN colleague Wolf Blitzer about how desperately the White House wanted to sidestep that uncomfortable encounter. ‘In the moments before I asked the president the question … [Sanders] pulled me aside … And she warned me that if I asked the president a question at this pool spray, as we call them, that she could not promise that I would be allowed into a pool spray again,’ said Acosta. ‘Wolf, this was a direct threat coming from the press secretary to me, warning me not to ask a question and, of course, I went ahead and asked the question anyway and the president did not respond. But Wolf, as you know, we don’t respond to threats, we’re not going to be intimidated.'”
MEN BEHAVING BADLY:
-- Actual fake news: A falsified court document alleging sexual misconduct by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was shopped to news outlets. Axios’s Mike Allen reports: “The document, which is dated 2012 and has the file name ‘Schumer_Complaint,’ looks like a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. … The woman named in the document was a legislative staffer for Schumer from 2009 to 2012, and is now a career employee of the federal government. The former staffer said she took the matter to Washington, D.C. police on Tuesday. … She told me in a statement: ‘The claims in this document are completely false, my signature is forged, and even basic facts about me are wrong. I have contacted law enforcement to determine who is responsible. I parted with Senator Schumer's office on good terms and have nothing but the fondest memories of my time there.’”
-- A federal judge has banned former House speaker Dennis Hastert from being left alone with minors. The AP reports: “U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin didn’t explain in his brief order why that and other new restrictions on the 75-year-old were called for now, three months into his two-year period of supervised release from prison. Others included barring Hastert from possessing pornography and using ‘any sex-related telephone numbers.’ He also must allow — and pay for — the installation of software that records all his computer activity, from browser history to email correspondence and internet chats.”
-- Kentucky lawmaker Dan Johnson is refusing bipartisan calls to resign after he was accused of molesting a member of his church when she was 17. The allegations were published Monday by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting and detailed how the Republican state representative allegedly woke his daughter’s friend during a 2013 sleepover and forced himself on her. “What you did was beyond mean, it was evil,” the victim reportedly wrote in Facebook message to Johnson shortly after the incident. Johnson has denied the accusations. “The KyCIR report highlights how Johnson … painted a picture of himself over the years as a pro-gun, pro-life ‘patriot,’ which helped propel him into the Kentucky legislature in 2016, when he won the House’s 49th District seat,” Marwa Eltagouri writes. “But the seven-month investigation, comprised of more than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of public records, alleges the Republican’s persona is orchestrated to mask a series of concerning incidents — including sexual abuse, arson and false testimony.”
-- New details of the sexual misconduct allegations against celebrity chef Mario Batali have emerged. Maura Judkis and Emily Heil report: “Holly Gunderson, [the special events director for Batali’s Los Angeles restaurant], was in charge of making sure [a party at the restaurant] went smoothly. It was a difficult task, she says, considering that Batali had arrived late, bleary-eyed, off-kilter in his gait, slightly slurring his words and more ruddy-faced than usual — apparently drunk. As she escorted the chef to greet his guests, he turned to Gunderson, she alleges, and ‘looked me up and down and he said, you know, with a twinkle in his eye, “I want to see you naked in my hot tub back in the hotel.”’ … She said she had brushed off the comment and tried to avoid him the rest of the night, but he found her later, while she was leaning over a high-top table. Batali, she alleges, walked by and grabbed her in the crotch.”
-- Ten women accused New York restaurateur Ken Friedman of making unwanted sexual advances. The New York Times’s Julia Moskin and Kim Severson report: “Amy Dee Richardson, a bar manager [at Friedman’s restaurant the Spotted Pig], didn’t quit in 2004, when she says Mr. Friedman bit her on the waist as he bent down to duck under the bar. Neither did Trish Nelson, a longtime server who said he grabbed her head and pulled it toward his crotch in front of Amy Poehler in 2007 as Ms. Nelson knelt to collect glasses from a low shelf. But one night in 2012, Mr. Friedman pushed Ms. Nelson too far, she said: He invited her into his car to smoke marijuana and almost immediately lunged forward and pushed his tongue into her mouth.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), who sent a letter warning of the danger of Roy Moore to teenage Senate pages if elected, experienced this:
Another #RoyMoore supporter just called my office posing as an @AP reporter.— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) December 12, 2017
Once their cover was blown they started screaming & called me & my staff the n-word & other racial slurs.
I won't be intimidated.
I won't stop speaking out.
You will not shut me down.
An NBC News reporter shared this update from the Alabama father who lost his daughter, who was gay, to suicide:
Just talked with Nathan Mathis, the father in this video. He says tonight: “Hopefully people in politics will stop using gay folk to bash them. The voters need to make them stop...People in Alabama are good people--very good people." https://t.co/LpxoVu2mnY— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) December 13, 2017
From an opinion writer for The Post:
The women who shared their stories about Roy Moore with my colleagues at @washingtonpost are incredibly brave. I hope they feel safe and vindicated tonight.— Alyssa Rosenberg (@AlyssaRosenberg) December 13, 2017
CSPAN's communications director tweeted out this piece of trivia:
The last time a Democratic Senator from Alabama made remarks on the floor of the Senate? October 3, 1996 .... Howell Heflin. pic.twitter.com/zUZaZPM2J3— Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) December 13, 2017
Moore arrived on horseback to vote. But his erratic riding style quickly sparked criticism on Twitter (and one Deadline writer suggested he seemed to “suck at riding a horse"):
One Twitter user made this comparison:
He can't even ride a gaited horse! That's literally the equivalent of not being able to ride a tricycle WITH training wheels on it!— Kristen Lea Vibbert (@KVibb13) December 12, 2017
By the end of the day, the horse had its own Twitter account:
LOOK! I AM ON TV!— Roy Moore's Horse (@RoyMooresHorse) December 12, 2017
I DID NOT CHOOSE THIS LIFE. https://t.co/DKJWM4qsXv
The horse even made the cover of New York Daily News:
One of The Post's correspondents jokingly reported this before results came in:
Early exit polls show John Kerry in the lead.— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) December 12, 2017
And Kerry replied:
Photos refuted Trump's claim that he did not “know and/or have never met” the women who have accused him of sexual misconduct:
From a reporter for the Boston Globe:
President Trump says his accusers are “women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Here is a photo of him with Jill Harth. And he never denied knowing her, in court depositions or an interview with me. pic.twitter.com/JCn6xHgnBK— Matt Viser (@mviser) December 12, 2017
From a Post reporter:
President Trump calls his accusers “women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” The list includes a former business partner, a contestant in one of his beauty pageants, a reporter who interviewed him and an Apprentice contestant. https://t.co/H0m8AgWHry— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) December 12, 2017
A HuffPost reporter quoted the response by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa):
Ernst on Trump’s Gillibrand tweet: “I’m sorry I don’t follow his Twitter.”— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) December 12, 2017
After a reporter offered to show her the tweet, Ernst says, “No, I would rather not. Thank you.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) struck a similar note, per an NBC News reporter:
Asked about Trump’s tweet RE: Gillibrand, @BobCorker says he hasn’t seen it.— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) December 12, 2017
*Reporter offers to show him.*
Corker: “I don’t know that I want you to show it to me, I can’t respond if I don’t know anything about it.”
From Joe Biden's former chief of staff:
To the GOP Senators keeping silent about Trump's attack on @SenGillibrand -- and giving Trump their votes on his priorities: Don't kid yourself. It's only a matter of time until he tweets something similar about you.— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) December 12, 2017
From The Post's White House bureau chief:
Inbox: "The Gillibrand Grift."— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) December 12, 2017
The RNC blasts out its opposition research points on Sen. Gillibrand after Trump's sexually suggestive tweet about her.
From a NYT White House reporter:
Trump advisers had to tell him in 2010 that he had to start donating to Rs if he actually planned to run bc he always gave to mostly Dems https://t.co/edvdtzDUIz— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 12, 2017
American Urban Radio Networks's April Ryan's reaction to the White House press secretary became a gif:
Ryan responded to the GIF:
The Republican Governors Association's communications director responded to yesterday's 202, featuring an interview with incoming DGA chair Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.):
Inslee talks a big game, but DGA is still suffering from weak fundraising & poor candidate recruitment. The candidates they do get are far left, pro-taxes, anti-business & can't win in red states. @PowerPost https://t.co/KFmYiU0FjR— Jon Thompson (@JonThompsonGOP) December 12, 2017
The Romneys sent out their Christmas card:
It’s here: The 2017 Romney Family Christmas card. Five sons, five daughters in law, 24 grandchildren and a very happy Mitt & Ann gathered together in Wolfeboro. pic.twitter.com/sWLIZREBwW— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) December 12, 2017
And a writer for Tablet magazine reminded his followers how far the world has come to mark the beginning of Hanukkah:
Germany's Brandenburg Gate in 1939 vs. 2017.— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) December 12, 2017
Happy Hanukkah! pic.twitter.com/hxMuL2zU0b
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- In the months before joining Trump’s campaign, Steve Bannon and his Breitbart News associates had been planning a “broad” financial, legal, and editorial campaign to sabotage Twitter. BuzzFeed News’s Joseph Bernstein and Ryan Mac report: “[Messages and other] documents … reveal a strategy to conduct a sustained, three-pronged war against Twitter. It included a deluge of negative coverage about Twitter on Breitbart, explorations of potential litigation against the San Francisco company, and nascent plans to sabotage Twitter’s volatile stock with financial institutions and traders. While social media companies have become regular targets of the pro-Trump right, Bannon’s focus on Twitter … illustrates how these companies, desperate to be seen as neutral actors, have been dragged out of that position by dogged political forces. The emails within Breitbart also highlight the complex relationship the alt-right’s enablers had with Twitter, which was instrumental in spreading their ideas and electing their candidate, but whose alleged censorship made it a magnet for their antagonism.”
-- The Center for Public Integrity, “Veterans charity raises millions to help those who’ve served. But telemarketers are pocketing most of it,” by Sarah Kleiner: “With the help of his fundraisers-for-hire, [Brian Arthur] Hampton had increased Circle of Friends for American Veterans’ income by an astounding amount — tenfold within three years. But there was a catch — a costly one. The fundraisers were keeping most of the contributions donors were giving to the charity. Almost all of the money left over paid for overhead costs, such as Hampton’s salary. Veterans themselves received scraps. … Hampton is now expanding his operation into the largely unregulated world of political fundraising, sponsoring a veterans-focused political action committee that’s using the same money-generating tactics as his nonprofit groups[.]”
-- The New York Times, “‘Fake News,’ Trump’s Obsession, Is Now a Cudgel for Strongmen,” by Steven Erlanger: “Around the world, authoritarians, populists and other political leaders have seized on the phrase ‘fake news’ — and the legitimacy conferred upon it by an American president — as a tool for attacking their critics and, in some cases, deliberately undermining the institutions of democracy. In countries where press freedom is restricted or under considerable threat — including Russia, China, Turkey, Libya, Poland, Hungary, Thailand, Somalia and others — political leaders have invoked ‘fake news’ as justification for beating back media scrutiny.”
-- New York Magazine, “The Plot to Bomb Garden City, Kansas,” by Jessica Pressler: “The town welcomed hundreds of Somali refugees. Then a private militia decided to go ‘ISIS hunting.’”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Virginia student says he was thrown out of class for not saying the pledge,” from Debbie Truong: “A Fairfax County teacher who allegedly disciplined a high school student for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance breached system rules and will not be returning to the classroom, school district administrators [said]. The episode was reported to officials at Centreville High School by the student, who said the teacher yelled for him to stand and then yanked him from his seat when he wouldn’t. Employees in the Fairfax County Public Schools are forbidden from disciplining students who do not participate in the pledge … [And the student] hasn’t stood for the morning recitation since encountering the Black Lives Matter movement … during the eighth grade. He views the quiet demonstration as his way of drawing attention to unequal racial treatment and other forms of inequality, he said.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Emails: Disney annoyed by Obama push to use ‘Frozen’ brand,” from The Hill: “Emails unearthed by The Hill show Disney’s leadership was frustrated and annoyed by an Obama [official’s] public statements suggesting it was considering using characters in the popular film ‘Frozen’ to teach children about climate change. Robert Papp, a State Department official, spoke twice in 2015 about the possibility of Disney agreeing to let the department use Olaf the snowman and other characters from the film as part of an effort to warn about the dangers of global warming. … The effort to use ‘Frozen’ for climate messaging was part of an extensive plan by the Obama administration to convince Americans and the world that climate change is a major issue with enormous consequences. … Besides Papp’s meeting … a four-page briefing document shows that Papp wanted to ‘elicit a firm commitment from Disney to work with us in some way on our Arctic Council Chairmanship public outreach campaign.’”
Trump will have lunch with members of the conference committees for the GOP tax plan. He will then participate in Gregory Katsas’s swearing-in ceremony for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and later give a speech on the tax plan.
Pence will join Trump for his lunch and his speech on taxes.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
When asked about the chances of a government shutdown, Mitch McConnell said, “There isn’t any chance that we’re going to shut the government down. … The American people need not worry that there’s going to be any kind of government shutdown. I don’t sense the Democrats want to do it, and we don’t either.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be cold and windy in the District, with temperatures hovering in the 30s. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Cold and windy is the story today, despite mostly sunny skies through much of the day. Morning temperatures slowly rise into and through the 20s with afternoon highs only in the low-to-mid 30s. Add in winds from the west gusting to near 35 mph, and you’ve got wind chills mainly in the teens and 20s.”
-- The Capitals beat the Avalanche 5-2. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- The Wizards lost to the Nets 103-98. (Candace Buckner)
-- Republican Ed Gillespie gave his first interview since losing Virginia’s gubernatorial race last month and said he does not recommend running for office in this “poisonous atmosphere.” Fenit Nirappil reports: “During an 80-minute appearance on ‘The Axe Files’ podcast with Democratic strategist David Axelrod, Gillespie lamented polarization in politics, the challenges of running with [Trump] in the White House and how journalists cover campaigns. … Gillespie said running for governor this year was much more challenging than when he challenged U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) in 2014 — and nearly won. ‘It’s a much more poisonous atmosphere. I don’t know if there’s causality or correlation, I leave that for others to determine,’ Gillespie said. ‘But I could not honestly say to someone that I like and think is a halfway decent human being, “Yeah, you ought to run for office.'”
-- Maryland’s legislative leaders approved changes requiring officials to collect data on sexual misconduct allegations against state lawmakers and their staffers. But the identities of accused harassers will not be included in the human resources department’s annual report to the Legislative Policy Committee. (Fenit Nirappil and Ovetta Wiggins)
-- Drivers near Dulles Airport faced major delays during afternoon rush hour after a man who took off his clothes and jumped on a vehicle was arrested on airport property. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Stephen Colbert mocked Roy Moore's horseback rides to the polls:
A Moore campaign spokesman stumbled badly during an interview on CNN last night before polls closed:
Trump vowed to end the “green card lottery” and “chain migration” during a news conference:
The Post fact-checked Jimmy Kimmel's monologue about CHIP funding:
The cast of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” discussed Carrie Fisher's legacy:
And a start-up is producing smart doghouses to help city residents spend more time with their dogs: