with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: A trio of progressive groups will spend $10 million between now and Election Day on digital ads to boost 75 largely obscure candidates running for state legislature.

The primary goal is to give Democrats control of chambers that will play an outsized role in the next round of reapportionment, so the money will be spread across just five states: Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Acronym, a 501(c)(4) organization that was set up last year to help the left rebuild its atrophied digital capacity, will oversee the execution of what organizers are calling the largest ever online program focused on these down-ballot races.

The targets have been carefully chosen and refined based on six months of polling by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the group led by former attorney general Eric Holder.

“On the digital front, we’ve seen Republicans spend more aggressively and it’s a much higher percentage of their overall spend. This is catch-up without overcorrection,” said Rebecca Pearcey, the director of the DLCC’s independent expenditure arm. “Most state legislative candidates can’t afford TV, so it’s another way to reach more voters where they’re at.”

The GOP took over many state legislatures during the wave years of 2010 and 2014, and now Democrats are trying to capitalize if the pendulum swings their way in 2018 because of backlash to President Trump. Liberal major donors, who were often distracted by higher-profile federal races when Barack Obama was president, now see more value in controlling state-level institutions to check Republican power in Washington.

-- One striking feature of the project is that the money will go entirely toward running positive ads that promote Democratic candidates, rather than trying to tear down GOP nominees. The goal is to make sure lower-propensity voters know the names of down-ballot candidates so that they remember to also vote for them if they show up to vote in U.S. House and Senate races. “If you can pull two to three percent, or up to five percent, by increasing a candidate’s name ID in a cycle with a Democratic-leaning electorate, you can make some significant gains in some of these chambers,” said John Bisognano, the director of campaigns for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “That’s the goal.”

Tara McGowan, who runs Acronym, oversaw a $42 million digital program in 2016 for Priorities USA, the primary super PAC for Hillary Clinton. Before that, she worked on digital for billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer in 2014 and the Obama reelection campaign in 2012.

McGowan said she’s excited to push positive ads about up-and-coming Democrats after primarily running negative attacks against Trump two years ago. “I kind of believe in a Hippocratic oath for super PACs, which is to first do no harm,” she explained in an interview Monday afternoon. “Traditionally, super PACs do the dirty work. But that’s changing. … I want to make sure these voters know their names. This is our bench.”

“Even though we know negative persuasion works — I am not discounting that whatsoever, and it is still necessary — I do believe it has had negative consequences on both motivation and voter trust in politics and politicians.”

-- These local contests are often decided by surprisingly small margins. That’s what inspired McGowan to reach out to the other two groups about working together. She coordinated $3 million in digital spending to help statewide candidates at the top of the ticket during Virginia’s off-year elections. But she kept hearing from candidates for the General Assembly who were raising a lot of money late in the process and wanted to spend it on Facebook ads. They were being advised by their consultants, though, to put it toward direct mail. “It broke my heart a little bit because they had the resources and they knew they wanted to put money online, but they didn’t know how to make that happen,” said McGowan.

Before the election, Republicans had a seemingly insurmountable 66-34 majority in the Virginia House. Ultimately, control came down to one race that was tied — even after a recount. The GOP wound up keeping control only because its candidate’s name was pulled out of a bowl during a random drawing.

-- McGowan said the $10 million that will be spent has already been raised, but she is not legally required to disclose her donors and declined to do so. The groups also do not plan to list the 75 candidates who they’re helping. Some operatives fear that doing so could prompt Republicans to match the spending or open local politicians up to attacks for getting national help. Pearcey noted, however, that many of the top targets are already on the DLCC’s list of “spotlight races.” And the effort is focused solely on winning the state Senate in Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin but both the House and Senate in Michigan and Minnesota.

-- Republicans involved in state legislative races said they’ve heard Democrats talk a big game about spending on digital before, and they’ll believe it when they see it. “Every cycle, the Democrats release arbitrary numbers on races, or dollars spent, littered with doomsday predictions for the GOP which do not come true in an effort to win back some of the 1,000 seats they have lost in the past decade,” said David James, a spokesman for the Republican State Leadership Committee. “But it’s Republicans that have been smarter and more strategic with their digital dollars.”

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As Hurricane Florence heads towards the Carolinas, it looks to be tracking a pattern further south, bringing high winds, heavy rains and powerful storm surges. (Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)

-- State and local officials have ordered 1.5 million people to evacuate coastlines across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, moving to preempt the potentially catastrophic Hurricane Florence as it continues to rapidly intensify. It is expected to make landfall on Thursday. Kirk Ross, Jason Samenow and Abigail Hauslohner report: “Florence [became] a Category 4 hurricane and [doubled] the size of its hurricane-force wind zone Monday. The unusually warm water that awaits Florence as it nears the U.S. coast could accelerate the storm’s winds to 155 miles per hour — nearly Category 5 intensity — before it strikes land, probably near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. Forecasts late Monday predicted that Florence’s path would head toward North Carolina, but it could still veer north or south and is likely to affect a large part of the region with pounding rains, perhaps for days. States and counties along the Eastern Seaboard from Maryland to Georgia are bracing for the impact of what the National Hurricane Center warned could be a 'life-threatening storm surge' along the coast, and 'life-threatening freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall' from the coast to areas much further inland.”

-- U.S. intelligence agencies consider Russia to be the main suspect in the mysterious attacks on U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China. NBC News’s Josh Lederman, Courtney Kube, Abigail Williams and Ken Dilanian report: “The suspicion that Russia is likely behind the alleged attacks is backed up by evidence from communications intercepts, known in the spy world as signals intelligence, amassed during a lengthy and ongoing investigation involving the FBI, the CIA and other U.S. agencies. … The evidence is not yet conclusive enough, however, for the U.S. to formally assign blame to Moscow for incidents that started in late 2016 and have continued in 2018, causing a major rupture in U.S.-Cuba relations.”


  1. Failed Senate candidate Roy Moore dropped his defamation lawsuit against a super PAC that bankrolled a 2017 campaign ad blitz that focused on sexual misconduct allegations against him. The motion doesn’t explain why Moore and his wife, Kayla, want to drop the lawsuit. (AP)
  2. The Secret Service confirmed it was aware of comments from Benghazi survivor Kris “Tonto” Paronto that he wanted to “grab” and “choke” Barack Obama after the former president criticized conspiracy theories about the 2012 attack. In his Friday speech, Obama said Republicans had seized on “wild conspiracy theories like those surrounding Benghazi.” (Alex Horton)
  3. Alex Jones’s digital merchandise stores continue to operate on Facebook and Twitter, even though the platforms have closed other accounts connected to the conspiracy theorist. Transactions on Infowarsstore.com have not been affected by the tech industry’s crackdown on Jones. (Craig Timberg)
  4. Amber Guyger, the off-duty Dallas police officer who fatally shot a neighbor she mistook for an intruder, told officials she didn’t realize she was in the wrong apartment until she called 911. Guyger said that after seeing the apartment door ajar, she initially thought a burglar broke into the home, leading her to fire her service weapon at Botham Shem Jean. (Deanna Paul and Kristine Phillips)  
  5. Levi Strauss & Co. is acting to support the push for stricter gun laws. The company pledged more than $1 million to nonprofits and youth activists dedicated to ending gun violence and has also teamed up with Michael Bloomberg to create a coalition of business leaders advocating gun-control measures. (Abha Bhattarai)

  6. A new study found doctors provided no valid reason for prescribing opioids in nearly a third of cases between 2006 and 2015. The study, conducted by a team at Harvard Medical School and the Rand Corp., bolsters experts claims that inappropriate prescribing practices helped fuel the opioid epidemic. (NBC News)
  7. U.S. News has revamped the formula it uses to determine its annual ranking of “best colleges” after a report found the list promoted economic inequality on campus. The new formula drops a former “acceptance rate” calculation that rewarded schools for turning away the most students — and now includes rewards for universities that enroll and graduate more low-income students. (Politico)
  8. The number of U.S. children diagnosed with ADHD  reached more than 10 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to a new study,  surpassing rates from the past two decades. Researchers said the rise was most pronounced among girls and minority students and that the increase isn't a result of children being overdiagnosed. (Rachel Bluth)
  9. New studies show that school-aged children, especially students who are nonwhite or male, benefit more from teachers who share their race and gender. The findings underscore the need for diversity in the teacher workforce, which is currently 77 percent female and 80 percent white. (New York Times)
  10. An Air Force colonel was arrested for disorderly conduct in Kettering, Ohio, last week, while attending a Thompson Twins concert at the Culture Club. Authorities said the colonel caused a disturbance by “shoving people in an attempt to get closer to the stage area” and ultimately shoved staffers at the venue as well. (Dayton Daily)
  11. Australian cartoonist Mark Knight once again came under fire for how he illustrated a black person — in this case, Serena Williams. Knight depicted the 23-time Grand Slam champion as a young child throwing a tantrum after her controversial U.S. Open final, but the drawing of Williams reflects many racist facial features common in Jim Crow caricatures. (Michael Cavna)

  12. Adam Clymer, a legendary political reporter for the New York Times who covered eight presidential campaigns, died at 81. (New York Times)


-- Mitt Romney ripped Republicans for abandoning their commitment to deficit reduction. In a message posted to his website, the nominee to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Republicans “have been shouting about this as long as I can remember. We called for an amendment to balance the budget. Just a few years ago, the Tea Party movement brought new energy to the issue. But now that Republicans are in charge in Washington, we appear to have become silent about deficits and debt.” He's not wrong. (Felicia Sonmez)

-- House and Senate lawmakers reached an agreement on the first package of spending bills to avert a government shutdown at the end of this month, which includes an additional $1 million for lawmaker security. Felicia reports: “Also in the spending package is a $174,000 ‘death gratuity’ to Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Such payments are typical when a member of Congress dies. Other notable parts of the package include funding for paid congressional internships, a boost in nuclear security spending, a new requirement that Senate candidates file their campaign disclosure forms directly to the Federal Election Commission and the continuation of a pay freeze for members of Congress that was first instituted in 2009. … The package includes three of the 12 bills needed to keep the government funded past Sept. 30.”

-- The Trump administration will soon take two major steps to roll back methane regulations on energy companies. The New York Times’s Coral Davenport reports: “The [EPA], perhaps as soon as this week, plans to make public a proposal to weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks … In a related move, the Interior Department is also expected in coming days to release its final version of a draft rule, proposed in February, that essentially repeals a restriction on the intentional venting and ‘flaring,’ or burning, of methane from drilling operations. The new rules follow two regulatory rollbacks this year that, taken together, represent the foundation of the United States’ effort to rein in global warming.”

-- NASA is looking into selling naming rights to spacecraft and allowing astronauts to appear in commercials. Christian Davenport reports: “While officials stress that nothing has been decided, the idea could mark a giant cultural leap for the taxpayer-funded government agency and could run into ethics regulations that prevent government officials from using public office for private gain. Astronauts may be the most venerated employees in the federal government, but they are still civil servants bound by regulations. … [Administrator Jim] Bridenstine announced he was setting up a committee to examine what he called the ‘provocative questions’ of turning its rockets into corporate billboards the way advertisements decorate NASCAR racecars.”

-- An Education Department analysis found that Betsy DeVos's push to loosen rules requiring schools to seriously investigate allegations of sexual misconduct will lead to fewer investigations and save money. The New York Times’s Erica L. Green reports: “Among the most significant changes in the proposed rules would be the department’s move to clarify and narrow the scope of complaints that schools are obligated to investigate. … Those specific limitations, department officials wrote, would drive down the bulk of the complaints, and generate savings to the tune of $19 million for colleges and universities and $54 million for school districts. The entire regulation, the department projected, would save $327.7 million to $408.9 million over the next decade. … Victims' rights advocates said the proposed regulations ignored the most significant cost. ‘It strikes me that one thing that’s not included in the cost is the one in five women dropping out of school because their school won’t investigate their complaints of sexual violence, and that is a cost that affects everybody,’ said Adaku Onyeka-Crawford, senior counsel for education at the National Women’s Law Center.”

-- Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, acknowledged that Trump made a false statement about the economy in a tweet yesterday. From Damian Paletta and Jeff Stein: “On Monday morning, Trump tweeted that ‘The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!’ The Washington Post, Fox News, Bloomberg News and several other news organizations published reports finding that the tweet was untrue. Such a relationship between GDP and the unemployment rate has occurred many times … Hassett said the statement the president should have made is that the GDP rate rising above the unemployment rate had not happened in 10 years. Hassett said the ‘100 years’ statement was a mistake he could not explain.”


-- Some migrant parents remain separated from their children due to contested allegations of gang membership. Michael E. Miller and Aaron C. Davis report: “Six weeks after the deadline, more than 400 separated children remain in U.S. government shelters. Most of their parents have been deported, but several dozen remain in ICE custody, many barred from being reunited with their kids for deportation or released because of ‘red flags.’ Though most of these red flags are U.S. criminal records, some aren’t convictions at all but rather contested allegations of gang involvement in Central America. One mother has been imprisoned without her son since March because of a warrant in El Salvador accusing her of ties to MS-13, according to her attorneys, who say the charge is baseless. Another has been separated from her daughter for more than two months after telling an asylum officer that 18th Street made her hide weapons in Honduras.”

-- Border Patrol agents in South Texas said the number of Central American families arrested for illegally entering the country surged again last month. Nick Miroff reports: “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expected to publish the most recent border arrest totals this week, and the numbers will be used to gauge the effect of [Trump’s] order halting the separation of migrant parents from their children. Agents working in the Rio Grande Valley, the nation’s busiest corridor for illegal crossings, say they’ve seen more families turn themselves in and ask for asylum in recent weeks, a potential indication that the policy reversal has encouraged more Central Americans to head north.”

-- To accelerate deportations, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to boost the number of U.S. immigration judges by 50 percent before the end of the year. Politico’s Hugh T. Ferguson reports: “'Counting you along with existing judges, we currently have the most active immigration judges in history. This class puts us at the top, but we are not going to stop there,’ Sessions said in remarks to 44 judges for the Executive Office for Immigration Review. James McHenry, director of EOIR, said the additions of 44 immigration judges and two new supervising judges make for the largest class of judges in the department’s history and reiterated the attorney general’s pledge, saying the department will ‘keep hiring until we run out of space or money.’”

-- Sessions warned the incoming immigration judges against allowing a sense of sympathy for the people appearing before them to shape their decisions. “When we depart from the law and create nebulous legal standards out of a sense of sympathy for the personal circumstances of a respondent in our immigration courts, we do violence to the rule of law and constitutional fabric that bind this great nation. Your job is to apply the law — even in tough cases,” Sessions said. The comments immediately sparked criticism from the union representing the judges. “The reality is that it is a political statement which does not articulate a legal concept that judges are required to be aware of and follow,” said Dana Marks, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Immigration Judges. (BuzzFeed News)


-- Sessions said through a lawyer that he stands by his sworn congressional testimony that he admonished former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos for suggesting a meeting between then-candidate Trump and Vladimir Putin. Papadopoulos has disputed the attorney general’s account, alleging Sessions was “quite enthusiastic about a potential meeting.” Sessions’s lawyer said in a statement that his client “has publicly testified under oath about his recollection of this meeting, and he stands by his testimony.” (New York Times)

-- A federal judge denied Maria Butina’s bail request, saying the Russian national and suspected foreign agent posed a “serious” flight risk. She is currently being detained in Alexandria, Va. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “[U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan] also imposed a gag order after slamming prosecutors for their mistaken claim in court filings that Butina traded sex for access and her defense for repeated public statements that the judge said could bias potential jurors. ‘I cannot envision any scenario where it is not possible … for Ms. Butina to walk out of jail, be put in a car with diplomatic tags and taken to an airport,’ Chutkan said. …

In a measured tone before a packed but silent courtroom, Chutkan [also] excoriated prosecutors [for] opening the case with a ‘salacious’ and ‘notorious’ claim that Butina at least once offered sex in exchange ‘for a position with a special interest organization,’ which the government admitted in a late-night filing Friday was based on a misreading of three-year-old text messages. 'It took me five minutes to review the evidence and tell they were [joking],' Chutkan said of the text messages, saying she was “dismayed” that “someone at the U.S. attorney’s office … could look at those exchanges and conclude they were serious.” Butina’s next court hearing was also scheduled for Nov. 13.

-- During her time in the United States, Butina, now 29, shopped access to Putin and touted her connections to other high-ranking Kremlin officials. ABC News’s Pete Madden and Matthew Mosk report: “Dozens of pages of email correspondence between August 2015 and November 2016 … reveal Butina’s hand in a pair of potentially explosive projects: appearing to arrange a meeting for a delegation of high-ranking members of the [NRA] with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and working with the Outdoor Channel to develop a television show highlighting Putin’s ‘love of the outdoors’ [featuring Putin himself]. … But while Butina appears to have succeeded in arranging the meeting with Lavrov . . . her amateur effort to engineer a television show starring Putin never gained significant traction, raising questions about the extent and authenticity of her Kremlin connections.”

-- The Associated Press broke down Russia's suspected timeline for Butina to infiltrate U.S. conservative groups. It dates as far back as 2001 — or the year that her mentor, Alexander Torshin, was first elected to Russia's upper house of parliament. (It was also the year that he first made contact with the NRA.)

-- Butina was involved with GOP consultant Paul Erickson in 2014 while he tried to sell investors on an oil-rich real estate deal in North Dakota — using a company that “appears not to have existed” on land “he did not own,” the Daily Beast’s Erin Banco reports: “The details behind the deal Erickson promoted in North Dakota shed new light on [Erickson], who is now being probed by the U.S. attorney’s office in South Dakota and the FBI … The Bakken deal also raises questions about how Erickson used the investment money he accumulated. His former business partners now wonder whether the money from the deal went into any of his activities with Butina.”

The White House said Sept. 10 that President Trump received a "very positive" letter from North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un asking for a second meeting. (Reuters)


-- The White House said it is working to organize a second meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un, seeking to revive talks over North Korea’s nuclear program that have stalled since the Singapore summit in June. Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that Kim recently requested the follow-up meeting in a letter to Trump, which she described as “warm” and “very positive.” David Nakamura and Felicia Sonmez report: “'It’s something that we want to take place and are already working on making that happen,’ Sanders said . . . The announcement was the latest sign that Trump, despite growing frustration, remains heavily invested . . . Sanders said the White House would not release a copy of Kim’s letter without Pyongyang’s permission. She cited North Korea’s decision not to include ballistic missiles in a military parade in Pyongyang over the weekend as a sign that the Kim regime was taking steps not to antagonize the United States.” The press secretary also touted Kim’s letter to Trump as “evidence … [that] the president has achieved tremendous success with his policies so far.”

Other White House aides are being much more cautious to avoid another Lucy and the football moment: National security adviser John Bolton said the administration is “still waiting for them’ “to take significant action. He noted that Pyongyang has still not provided a detailed declaration of the size of its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals. “Trump can’t make North Korea walk through the door he’s holding open,” Bolton said. “They’re the ones that have to take the steps to denuclearize, and that’s what we’re waiting for.”

Foreign policy analysts warned that Kim’s willingness to meet with Trump was not a signal that Pyongyang would move forward with serious efforts to denuclearize: “Rather, they said, Kim’s goal is to convince Trump to sign onto a deal that would declare a formal end to the Korean War, without giving up significant concessions.”

-- The administration is weighing sanctions against senior Chinese officials over reports about the country’s internment camps for minority Muslims. The New York Times’s Edward Wong reports: “The economic penalties would be one of the first times the Trump administration has taken action against China because of human rights violations. United States officials are also seeking to limit American sales of surveillance technology that Chinese security agencies and companies are using to monitor Uighurs throughout northwest China. Discussions to rebuke China for its treatment of its minority Muslims have been underway for months among officials at the White House and the Treasury and State Departments. But they gained urgency two weeks ago, after members of Congress asked [Pompeo] and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on seven Chinese officials.”

-- Palestinians fear the Trump administration’s closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington is the latest sign that they won’t have much of a say in peace negotiations with Israel, and that the U.S. is not committed to negotiating in good faith. Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris report: “The PLO is recognized by most of the world as the ‘legitimate representative’ of Palestinians. Its office in Washington — while not recognized as an embassy, since there is no recognition of a Palestinian state — is one of the few Palestinian vehicles for communication with the levers of U.S. power. … But Monday’s order to shutter it within 30 days comes amid the Trump administration’s systematic chipping way at the core tenets of Palestinian aspirations for any negotiations and its ramping up of financial pressure on the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank. … The Palestinians say those measures are designed to lay the groundwork for a yet-to-be-revealed U.S. peace proposal that they charge is already rigged in Israel’s favor.”


-- Levi Sanders, the son of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), is expected to decisively lose today’s Democratic primary in New Hampshire’s 1st District — after his father declined to endorse him. Gabriel Pogrund reports: “‘In the Sanders family, we don’t ‘do’ dynastic politics,’ [the younger Sanders] explained. Does he have any political differences with his father? ‘No,’ said Sanders, whose campaign website is decorated with pictures of the pair together and calls for a system that ‘represents the 99 percent, not the 1 percent who have never had it so good,’ a line lifted straight out of Bernie’s primary playbook from 2016. … Bernie Sanders has not discussed his son’s race beyond a statement he issued in June. At a Labor Day event in Manchester, he briefly introduced Levi Sanders but did not campaign with him.” (I wrote about the crowded New Hampshire primary in yesterday's Daily 202.)

-- Democrats are pouring money into North Carolina in the hopes of breaking the GOP’s supermajority in the state legislature. Amy Gardner reports: “‘North Carolina has been a beacon in the South, and I had to try and stop this Republican leadership from tarnishing our brand,’ said the leader of the campaign, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has seen the GOP’s legislative supermajority override his vetoes 20 times since he narrowly ousted a Republican incumbent two years ago. The campaign reflects an often-overlooked subplot of the Democratic Party’s broader push to engineer a ‘blue wave’ across the country in the November midterms — tapping into voter anger over [Trump] as well as Republican policies on school funding, taxes and health care to chip away at GOP dominance in state capitals.”

-- The administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who faces Cynthia Nixon in Thursday’s Democratic primary, offered incentives to the contractor building the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge if they met a late August deadline to open. The New York Times’s Shane Goldmacher reports: “[T]he bridge over the Hudson River did not open as planned. Engineers worried that a ‘potentially dangerous situation’ had developed involving the neighboring old Tappan Zee Bridge, which had destabilized and threatened to impact traffic on the new eastern span of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. … Mr. Cuomo’s political opponents, including Ms. Nixon, accused the governor of pushing for the bridge to be fully open ahead of Thursday’s primary.

“The governor and his administration have denied playing a role in the timetable for the bridge’s opening. But in July, Mr. Cuomo’s administration was involved in negotiations about the timing of the opening. [A letter], dated July 18, was sent from Jamey Barbas, the state official at the New York Thruway Authority overseeing the bridge project, to Terry Towle, the president of Tappan Zee Constructors, the contractor. ‘I am directing Tappan Zee Constructors (T.Z.C.) to complete all necessary work’ for the new span to open on Aug. 24, 2018, Ms. Barbas wrote. She offered to absorb ‘premium additional costs’ and absolve the contractor of responsibility for accidents that might occur if bridge work was continuing while traffic flowed.

-- Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis (R) announced he is resigning his congressional seat to focus on his bid for governor. Politico’s Matt Dixon reports: “The three-term congressman said the move was needed because it’s ‘inappropriate’ for him to continue to draw his $174,000-per-year salary while he's on the campaign trail and missing official congressional business. … DeSantis’ resignation deprives Trump of one of his key allies on the Hill, but it will also allow DeSantis to miss at least a handful of votes that could prove politically tricky in his general election battle against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. The federal government, for instance, is set to run out of money in September, which will again set up a contentious vote over keeping the lights on or forcing another government shutdown.”

-- DeSantis is hoping to win the votes of Florida’s many Latinos by denouncing socialism, which he has misleadingly connected to his opponent. The New York Times’s Patricia Mazzei reports: “Republicans across the country have accused their Democratic opponents of being anti-capitalist … But deploying the strategy in South Florida, a community fundamentally shaped by Cubans who fled the Caribbean island after the 1959 revolution, has higher stakes. It represents the core of Florida Republicans’ push to keep non-Cuban Hispanic voters from decamping to the Democratic Party for the long haul.”

-- Shaun Brown, the independent candidate in Virginia’s 2nd District who was accused of election fraud, is seeking to overturn a judge’s decision that her name be removed from the ballot. Gregory S. Schneider reports: “A lawyer for [Brown] filed an appeal Monday, claiming that a Circuit Court judge had no jurisdiction to remove Brown from the ballot after she had been certified by the State Board of Elections. Brown is seeking to challenge Rep. Scott Taylor (R) and his Democratic opponent, Elaine Luria, for the Hampton Roads-area congressional seat. Taylor’s campaign staff took the unusual step of gathering signatures to help Brown qualify for the ballot before a deadline in June. Last week, Richmond Circuit Judge Gregory L. Rupe found that signatures collected by Taylor’s staff were riddled with forgeries and ‘out and out fraud.’”

-- White men are in the minority among House Democratic candidates, according to a Politico analysis. Elena Schneider reports: “Democrats have nominated a whopping 180 female candidates in House primaries — shattering the party’s previous record of 120, according to Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics. Heading into the final primaries of 2018 this week, Democrats have also nominated at least 133 people of color and 158 first-time candidates to run for the House. … Their success in primaries could herald a major shift in Congress, which is majority-white, majority-male and still mostly made up of former state legislators who climbed the political ladder to Washington.”


-- “In Hollywood, there’s a nerdy new hobby: Flipping the House,” by Michelle Ye Hee Lee: “Bill Chais, co-executive producer of the CBS drama ‘Bull,’ said he has become ‘maniacal’ about helping Democrats take back the House in 2018. But rather than cutting a check to the Democratic Party, he is picking individual candidates — poring over endorsements by Emily’s List and trading political handicapping emails with Hollywood friends. Hollywood’s fervor for this year’s midterm elections rivals that of recent presidential campaigns, according to Democratic donors and strategists in the Los Angeles area who say the energy is driven by a belief that a Democratic-controlled House can serve as a powerful check on [Trump].”

-- The donor network aligned with billionaire Charles Koch has launched a new super PAC ahead of this year’s midterm. Michelle reports: “Through the new super PAC, Americans for Prosperity Action, the network’s political arm will be able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to call on voters to elect or defeat specific candidates — as long as they do not coordinate with the campaigns. … Koch officials did not specify how much the super PAC aims to raise and spend, but the network previously announced it plans to spend as much as $400 million on policy issues and political campaigns during the 2018 cycle.”

-- Rogue billionaires are increasingly giving headaches to both major parties. McClatchyDC’s Adam Wollner reports: “Republican Richard Uihlein and Democrat Tom Steyer have poured tens of millions of dollars into the 2018 campaign. And their political parties are irritated about it. The two billionaires have backed candidates and causes that Republican and Democratic leaders believe are detrimental to their chances in November. Uihlein, the founder of a Wisconsin-based shipping supplies company, has boosted insurgent conservative candidates over the GOP’s choices in several races. ... He hasn’t picked many winners ... Steyer, a San Francisco hedge fund manager, has poured cash into a campaign to impeach [Trump], an effort many Democrats view as counterproductive at best. Only Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam have outpaced [their spending at] this point.”

-- Lacking the cash for big TV buys, a number of first-time underdog Democratic candidates have managed to break through in their races by airing personal campaign videos that went viral. The New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters and Sapna Maheshwari report: “The wave of female, minority and outsider candidates that is breaking cultural barriers and toppling incumbents in the Democratic Party is also sweeping aside a longstanding norm in campaigns: That the public image of politicians — especially women — should be upbeat, uncontroversial and utterly conventional. … Using documentary-style storytelling, which can last for several minutes, candidates have found a successful alternative to the traditional model of raising huge sums of money that get spent on expensive, 30-second television commercials. The videos are chiefly intended as ads, but they also served a fund-raising purpose. For a fraction of the cost, these videos can help to spread a candidate’s story in a way that is easily shareable and can inspire donations.”

-- Expecting Republicans to lose the House, K Street bigwigs feel a growing urgency to hire Democratic staffers from Capitol Hill and hedge their bets by backing away from the GOP. David M. Drucker reports for Vanity Fair: “The lobby shops and advocacy organizations that play both sides and thrive on proximity to power are preparing for a changing of the gavel and moving to forge connections with Democratic committee chairmen in the House beginning in January of 2019, when the 116th Congress is seated.” “At this stage of the game, losing the House is the most likely proposition,” one Republican strategist said. “It’s just a matter of how bad it gets.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Justice Department should “look into” an anonymous op-ed published by the New York Times. (Reuters)


-- Trump’s overall approval rating stands at 36 percent, down from 42 percent last month, and has hit a new low among independents, according to the latest CNN-SSRS poll. From CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta: “Among independents, the drop has been sharper, from 47% approval last month to 31% now. … Trump has also lost ground on several personal attributes, most notably perceptions of his honesty: Just 32% say they see the President as honest and trustworthy, the worst read in CNN polling. About a third, 32%, say he's someone they are proud to have as President, down 6 points since March and the lowest since Trump took office.”

-- Sarah Huckabee Sanders echoed Trump’s call for the DOJ to investigate the identity of the Times op-ed author. “Certainly if there was an individual, if that individual is in meetings where national security is being discussed or other important topics, they are attempting to undermine the executive branch which would be problematic in something the Department of Justice should look into,” Sanders said. But the press secretary could not identify what laws the op-ed author may have violated. (ABC News)

-- The White House has changed its cellphone policy — again — following the recent revelation that Omarosa Manigault Newman secretly recorded a conversation with John Kelly in the Situation Room. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reports: “Going forward, staffers would not be allowed to leave their phones — even the government-issued ones — in lockers in the small entry area outside the Situation Room, as they had done for the previous 19 months … Instead, staffers were directed to go back and put their White House-issued devices in their offices or alongside their personal phones in lockers stationed near the West Wing entrances before being buzzed into the Situation Room. This change was made quietly, but two senior administration officials told CNN they believed it was in direct response to the news that Manigault Newman had taped Kelly. . . . Amid the chaos, Manigault Newman released another tape Monday on ABC's ‘The View’ — this time of a conversation between Trump, [Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Hope Hicks] describing how to publicly tie the Russia investigation to Hillary Clinton's campaign.”

-- Manigault Newman also told hosts of “The View”  that she suspects Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, penned the anonymous New York Times op-ed. Emily Heil reports: “’I suspect it is Pence’s chief of staff,’ she said, fingering [Ayers] as the anonymous author . . . A follow-up: Pence, she says, is already lining up donors and building a team to run for president. She then discussed how she and other top staffers sort of joked about Trump being removed from office, backing up a claim by the anonymous op-ed author … Omarosa said she and other White House staffers ‘coped’ with their boss’s bad behavior by sending each other messages with orange emoji or the hashtag #TFA, an acronym for the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which deals with presidential incapacity and succession.”

-- Stormy Daniels's attorney Michael Avenatti fired back at Trump’s attempt to dismiss her lawsuit over a 2016 nondisclosure agreement, arguing in a newly filed court document that her case must be allowed to proceed, because neither Trump nor Michael Cohen has faced “any true consequences or a meaningful inquiry into the truth.” Elise Viebeck reports: Avenatti “charged that recent attempts by Trump and [Cohen] to invalidate the lawsuit from Daniels are designed to protect the defendants from having to testify under oath about hush-money payments [made during the 2016 election]. Avenatti, who has vowed to depose Trump and Cohen in the coming months, called on [U.S. Judge James Otero] to dismiss arguments to lift a stay in the case and allow the evidence-gathering phase to begin.” “Mr. Cohen is a criminal. And Mr. Trump is a co-conspirator,” Avenatti wrote in the filing. “The public interest in continuing with this case is self-evident. Terminating the case now after all of the lies, deceit, and chicanery set forth above would be premature and would erode public confidence in the courts. Nor would it be legally proper.”


-- Memorial services will take place across the country today as Americans mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The AP’s Jennifer Peltz reports: “Thousands of 9/11 victims’ relatives, survivors, rescuers and others are expected at Tuesday’s anniversary ceremony at the World Trade Center, while [Trump] and [Pence] will head to the two other places where hijacked planes crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the deadliest terror attack on American soil. The president and first lady Melania Trump plan to join an observance at the Sept. 11 memorial in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a new ‘Tower of Voices’ was dedicated Saturday. Pence is attending a ceremony at the Pentagon.”

-- “The most iconic photos from Sept. 11 and its aftermath,” by Amanda Finnegan: “Survivors fleeing, covered in debris. First responders hoisting the American flag over rubble. The New York skyline filled with ash — its two twin towers newly missing. Seventeen years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, these are the images that are still etched in Americans’ minds.”

-- Some veterans running for office trace their decisions to enter the military back to 9/11. CNN’s Dan Merica reports: “Before September 11, 2001, Elissa Slotkin was a 20-something graduate student at Columbia University with an interest in foreign affairs. After she watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center from a student lounge, her life's trajectory was changed forever: She changed her course of study, later met with recruiters from the CIA and signed up for a job that would take her on three tours of Iraq during the War on Terror. Slotkin, 17 years removed from that fateful day, is now running for Congress.”


Trump complimented his personal lawyer on the anniversary of 9/11:

Trump’s social media director shared a photo of him signing a proclamation to commemorate 9/11:

Trump directed his attention to Hurricane Florence last night, calling on people to heed official warnings to evacuate:

Grocery stores in states affected by the hurricane evacuations have seen their inventories cleared out:

Trump also tweeted this video to take credit for the strength of the U.S. economy:

In response, PBS NewsHour tweeted the unedited version of Obama's answer about job creation during a 2016 town hall:

A Post reporter questioned whether the strong U.S. economy will aid Republicans' midterm efforts:

A member of Trump's legal team echoed the president's talking point of “no collusion”:

A House Democrat replied to Giuliani:

A Post media reporter shared this excerpt from the late Ben Bradlee's biography:

The chairman of the American Conservative Union suggested a coordinated attack was being carried out against Trump:

But a Post reporter was skeptical:

The question of the op-ed author's identity is ricocheting all around D.C. From a CNN reporter:

New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon defended her controversial bagel order — a cinnamon raisin bagel with lox and capers:

But longtime political analyst Jeff Greenfield was horrified:

The Daily Beast's editor in chief proposed a drastic solution:

But Nixon turned the controversy into a fundraising opportunity:

A Post reporter had two celebrity sightings in D.C.:

Columnist Connie Schultz, who is married to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), offered well wishes to an MSNBC host:

And a Post pop culture writer applauded the ingenuity of the D.C. rat population:


-- Wall Street Journal, “CBS’s Handling of Les Moonves Accusations Hampered by Battle for Control,” by Keach Hagey and Joe Flint: “Initially, it seemed Mr. Moonves wouldn’t leave without a fight. He didn’t step aside temporarily pending the investigation. … On Aug. 15, Mr. Moonves was accidentally copied on an email to the entire CBS board detailing damaging findings in the law firms’ investigations and discussing how to proceed should he need to be put on leave, according to people familiar with the matter. In recent weeks, Mr. Moonves appeared to ‘hit the wall,’ as one former associate put it. He hunkered down in his Studio City office. Some of his top lieutenants didn’t seen him.”

-- Politico, “Tinder woes and snarky bosses: Young and Russian in DC,” by Ben Schreckinger: “Their Tinder dates keep asking them if they’re spies. Their landlords are interrogating them. Their resumes are getting tossed in the trash, and when they do get the job, their boss might warn them not to mention their nationality to people at the office. If that sounds bad, many of them — especially opposition figures and gay men in exile — are regarded with more suspicion by their own government back home than by their new neighbors here. … To be young and Russian in Washington is, often, to live in the gray ambiguities of a John Le Carré Cold War spy novel. You’re pretty sure those questions about being a spy are innocent flirtations, and your boss might be joking when he asks you to keep your birthplace to yourself, but it is not totally clear. Then there’s the too-good-to-be true job offer on LinkedIn: Have you lucked out, or are you being recruited for something else…?”

-- The Atlantic, “The Democrat Who Could Lead Trump’s Impeachment Isn’t Sure It’s Warranted,” by Russell Berman: “If the House flips, Representative Jerry Nadler would head the committee that could try to oust the president. But he’ll have to be convinced first.”

-- Foreign Affairs, “Battlefield Internet: A Plan for Securing Cyberspace,” by Michèle Flournoy and Michael Sulmeyer: “Cyberspace has been recognized as a new arena for competition among states ever since it came into existence. In the United States, there have long been warnings of a ‘cyber — Pearl Harbor’ — a massive digital attack that could cripple the country’s critical infrastructure without a single shot being fired.  Yet the Internet has always been much more than a venue for conflict and competition; it is the backbone of global commerce and communication. That said, cyberspace is not, as is often thought, simply part of the global commons in the way that the air or the sea is. … [And] it turns out that for all the increasingly vehement warnings about a cyber — Pearl Harbor, states have shown little appetite for using cyberattacks for large-scale destruction. The immediate threat is more corrosive than explosive. … States are using the tools of cyberwarfare to undermine the very foundation of the Internet: trust.”


“This Mayor Just Banned Nike Products From His City’s Recreation Facilities,” from HuffPost: “The mayor of a Louisiana town has banned Nike products from city recreation facilities, days after the sports apparel company hired former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for its new advertising campaign. Kenner Mayor E. Ben Zahn III’s order, dated Wednesday, also demands that purchases made by sports booster clubs for ‘apparel, shoes, athletic equipment and/or any athletic product’ for use at city recreation facilities be approved by the city. ‘Under no circumstances will any Nike product or any product with the Nike logo be purchased for use or delivery at any City of Kenner Recreation facility,’ the mayor wrote. The mayor issued the memo in the wake of Nike’s announcement that Kaepernick would be the face of its 30th anniversary ‘Just do it’ advertising campaign. … Nike’s online sales jumped double digits since the campaign was announced.”



“Carole Cook on Trump: ‘Where’s John Wilkes Booth when you need him?’” from TMZ: “Legendary Broadway star Carole Cook said something so shocking when asked about Donald Trump — ‘Where's John Wilkes Booth when you need him?’ Cook and her husband were leaving Craig's in WeHo Sunday night when our photog asked about a performance of ‘Frozen’ last week, when a member of the audience unfurled a banner that read, ‘Trump 2020.’ An actor onstage ripped it from the guy's hands and threw it off stage. Cook clearly thinks more drastic measures are required, and the most shocking part is that she clearly knew what she was going to say. Based on her husband's reaction it's something they've said before. … Cook didn't stop there ... she asked if her comment would put her on an Enemies List -- referring to Richard Nixon's famous document -- and she clearly would wear that as a badge of honor."



Trump and the first lady will attend the Sept. 11 memorial service for Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa., this morning. After returning to Washington, he will meet with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and later have another meeting with the DHS secretary and FEMA administrator.


“If he acts like a 5-year-old … I want more 5-year-olds on the National Security Council.” — Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, defending Trump’s leadership on national security issues in an interview with Politico’s Annie Karni



-- Washingtonians should expect more of the same from yesterday: mugginess combined with possible storms. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Clouds dominate the day with mainly afternoon to evening scattered showers and storms. Temperatures gradually warm with highs closer to 80 today, but moderate to high humidity persists with dew points in the upper 60s to lower 70s. Thunderstorms could deliver some heavy downpours and gusty winds. Rainfall totals today are quite scattered from nothing/trace to a half inch or higher if you get a storm.”

-- The D.C. Board of Elections ruled council candidate S. Kathryn Allen’s name would be taken off November ballots due to election fraud. From Fenit Nirappil: “Elections officials upheld a request by incumbent council member Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) to disqualify hundreds of signatures from a pair of circulators who were listed on Allen’s petitions, but said they didn’t collect the signatures and their names were forged. They also disqualified some signatures collected by Allen’s campaign manager that appeared to be copied from petition sheets for another council candidate. That left Allen with only 2,426 of the required 3,000 valid signatures.”

-- Democratic congressional candidate David Trone will undergo surgery for cancer today but said that he would be back on the campaign trail in Maryland after two weeks of recuperation. Trone brushed off any suggestions that his illness would affect his efforts to succeed Rep. John Delaney (D) in the House. (Paul Schwartzman)

-- A new GAO report found that Metro’s rising pension costs could imperil its future service. Faiz Siddiqui and Robert McCartney report: “The 53-page report raises concerns about Metro’s nearly $3 billion in unfunded retirement and health-care costs, and notes that its $4.7 billion in total pension liabilities represents about 6.5 times what the agency spends annually on salaries and wages. … With the scale of the obligations, the report posits that in the event of an unfavorable financial market, Metro could be backed into a corner to cover its obligations.”

-- The trial for the 2015 murders of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper is set to begin today in D.C. Superior Court. From Keith L. Alexander: “Daron Wint, 36, is charged with 20 counts, including first-degree murder, kidnapping and other crimes. He has pleaded not guilty. Federal prosecutors allege that Wint held the victims hostage as he ordered Savvas Savopoulos to have $40,000 delivered to the house as ransom. Wint then killed the victims, prosecutors allege, and made off with the cash, fleeing in the family’s blue Porsche.”


Reprising an iconic ad from his 2010 campaign, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) released a new ad showing him shooting his Republican opponent's lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act:

Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has released an ad criticizing opponent Patrick Morrisey's attempt to deny certain people health care. (Joe Manchin)

Zephyr Teachout, one of New York's Democratic attorney general candidates, is out with a new ad that includes her ultrasound:

(The law professor is due to give birth next month.)

Ben Folds wrote a song about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for The Washington Post Magazine. Folds explained why he chose the longtime bureaucrat as his subject and not, say, Anthony Scaramucci:

The Washington Post Magazine asked Ben Folds to write a song about anything. He chose Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)

(Listen to the full song, “Mister Peepers,” and read its lyrics here.)

Stephen Colbert opened his show by addressing Les Moonves's exit from CBS over sexual misconduct allegations:

Colbert also sat down with Bob Woodward to talk about his new book:

The Fact Checker awarded four Pinnochios to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) after she tweeted out a misleading video from Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) misleadingly trimmed crucial words Kavanaugh said in a discussion of a case concerning access to contraceptives. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

And a member of the Baltimore Ravens' marching band perfected his air drumming: