With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: As crazy as it sounds a decade later, Michael Bloomberg considered Anthony Weiner his most formidable potential challenger as he prepared to seek a third term as mayor of New York City in 2009. Sparing no expense, the billionaire’s political team used a grab bag of tricks to successfully dissuade the then-congressman from running. Bloomberg’s campaign manager, Bradley Tusk, offers an entertaining window into the dark arts of opposition research and tips on getting inside a rival’s head in a chapter of his new book, “The Fixer.”
This was before a procession of sexting scandals forced Weiner to resign from the House in 2011; derailed his 2013 mayoral campaign; led circuitously to the FBI reopening its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private emails in 2016 — which she still believes cost her the election; wrecked his marriage and prompted him to plead guilty in 2017 to asking a 15-year-old girl to send him naked pictures of herself.
Bloomberg this week re-registered as a Democrat, after stints as a Republican and then independent. Combined with the $100 million he’s committed to spend for Democratic candidates in this year’s midterm elections, that’s triggered a fresh round of speculation that the 76-year-old will try to run for president in 2020.
Simultaneously, the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced that Weiner will be freed from a Massachusetts penitentiary in May 2019, three months earlier than planned, because of good behavior behind bars — where he doesn’t have access to a cellphone or Twitter.
Against the backdrop of these stories, it’s an apropos time for Tusk to walk down memory lane.
Bloomberg’s team believed that, running as an independent, he was far more vulnerable to a challenge than pundits and reporters realized. He’d alienated conservatives by quitting the Republican Party. They thought any Democratic nominee had a built-in floor of around 45 percent because of automatic support from Latinos and African Americans. Bloomberg’s push to change the term limits law so he could stay in office bothered many who had voted for him in the past. They also feared a populist tide after Wall Street’s collapse.
The stable of operatives kept on retainer by Bloomberg were especially nervous about Weiner for several reasons: His fights with Republicans on Capitol Hill had energized liberals. He was a hard worker and could raise money from the Clinton network — because his then-wife, Huma Abedin, was Hillary’s top aide – but he also was “a Jewish guy with an Italian first name … [who] came from white ethnic Queens,” Tusk explains. “Weiner had to be stopped before he started,” he writes. “You have to pick your enemies whenever you can. You have to strangle the baby in the crib.”
They thought about having Bloomberg offer to endorse Weiner in 2013, but they feared such a deal would blow up on them in spectacular fashion. So instead of honey, Bloomberg’s political apparatus focused on using vinegar. There was an 8 a.m. conference call every day to talk about what they could do to drive Weiner from the race.
Here are six of the hardball tactics that they came up with, which political junkies will appreciate:
Oppo: Weiner played hockey with friends every Tuesday night in Chelsea Piers. Bloomberg’s campaign sent a photographer to stake out the rink each week. When Weiner skipped votes in the House to man the goal, they sent the photos to the New York Post — which ran them with the headline: “Weiner’s a Pucking Goof-Off.” Tusk also takes credit for pitching other negative stories to the New York Post about Weiner, including his work to get more visas for female models and taking campaign contributions from foreign nationals.
A very targeted field program: Normally door knocking wouldn’t begin until the summer, but Bloomberg hired canvassers starting in early April to focus on the neighborhoods where Weiner and his parents lived. “Of course the door knock itself meant almost nothing that early in the campaign, but when Anthony’s mom opened the door and there we were, it sent a message,” writes Tusk. “When Anthony’s neighbors all said they’d already been door knocked, it sent a message.”
Digital: Now every serious campaign does it, but geo-targeting was a novel concept in 2009. You can pick a Zip code and buy the banner ads that appear on websites people visit in that area. Bloomberg consultant Jonah Seiger bought up all the available ad inventory in Weiner’s neighborhood. “Every time Anthony opened his computer, we wanted him to see us,” writes Tusk. “Every time, he logged off, we wanted to be the last thing he saw.”
Lobbying: They made diagrams, charts and lists of people friendly to Bloomberg who were connected to Weiner. They carefully courted these people and tracked when they’d commit to call Weiner and tell him he couldn’t win. “In politics, perception is reality,” writes Tusk.
Earned media: Tusk told the New York Times that Bloomberg would spend an extra $20 million on negative ads if Weiner ran, and they made sure he saw the story.
Paid media: Bloomberg’s pollsters Doug Schoen and Bernard Whitman had worked at the same firm as Weiner’s pollster Joel Benenson. Schoen said he knew how Benenson thought and how he talked to clients. They said he would advise Weiner to run if he was down by less than 10 points on Memorial Day weekend. Because Weiner wasn’t a candidate, they couldn’t run negative ads against him. But money was no object, so Bloomberg spent massively in April to run positive ads promoting himself. It was designed entirely to drive up his positives before Benenson went into the field. “If you run enough positive ads without anyone on the air against you, you can move your numbers,” Tusk writes. “The support may be soft, but at least short-term, it registers.”
-- In the book, Tusk complains that most people don’t understand how to read polls but said this worked to their advantage in 2009. “One thing the press — and I guess Anthony’s own team — never realized is that while Mike was always up by around fifteen in every public poll, the margin was always something like 50-33,” he notes. “Reporters would always look at it and say, ‘Bloomberg’s up by seventeen. He’s miles ahead.’ In reality, this was a huge problem. We couldn’t get past 50 percent in our own polling, regardless of how many ads we ran or doors we knocked on. And after eight years in office and more than $150 million spent in the first two campaigns alone, the undecideds weren’t really undecided. If you weren’t for us at that point, you weren’t going to be. If the press could have accurately read the polling, Weiner might have run…”
Tusk says the only number that matters in a poll when a candidate is running for reelection is, “Do you want to reelect X?”
-- Tusk wound up becoming fabulously wealthy because Uber hired him after he worked for Bloomberg to fight back against opposition from the taxi cab industry. The new ride-sharing company didn’t have enough cash to pay him when it sought his help, so he agreed to take a share in the company — which is today reportedly worth something like $100 million. Now Tusk works with other start-ups, ranging from the nascent cannabis industry to online gambling sites, to help them navigate their regulatory challenges in exchange for equity. (That’s still relatively little compared to Bloomberg, who Forbes says is the 10th richest man in America with $46.6 billion.)
Before he worked for Bloomberg, Tusk had been Chuck Schumer’s communications director. He writes that the press-hungry Schumer took it hard when Hillary got elected to the Senate in 2000 and overshadowed him. Tusk recounts his herculean efforts to blunt a bad story about the bad relationship between Schumer and Clinton. The same day he succeeded, in his telling, Schumer yelled at him because he thought HRC had taken credit for one of his initiatives during an event in Buffalo. Feeling unappreciated, Tusk decided to quit.
He wound up becoming the deputy governor of Illinois under Rod Blagojevich. Tusk says he was mostly given leeway to do his job, except for one time that the now-imprisoned Blago told him to try shaking down then-congressman Rahm Emanuel to get a fundraiser in exchange for a state grant to a school in his district. Tusk says he put the kibosh on the idea. After a short stop at Lehman Brothers, where he was an investment banker as the firm collapsed, Tusk joined Team Bloomberg.
It’s been quite a journey for someone who just turned 45. Looking back, Tusk didn’t know all the skeletons in Weiner’s closet when he obsessively focused on intimidating him into not running for mayor. But, in retrospect, he’s especially glad the effort worked. “Just imagine what would have happened if Anthony did run and he won: All of his sex scandals most likely still would have happened — but at city hall,” Tusk concludes. “Obviously, it’s not like we knew what we were saving New York from at the time, but thank god we did.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who attracted intense criticism for his handling of sexual-abuse allegations. Michelle Boorstein reports: “Pope Francis, in a letter published on the Washington archdiocese website, said that he had asked Wuerl to stay on as an ‘apostolic administrator’ until a successor was found. Wuerl began hinting — and then confirmed — last month that he’d spoken with, and even urged Francis to accept his resignation. … That Wuerl, who had been expected to stay in the high-visibility role until at least when he turned 80, would ask to go, and that Francis would let him at such a crucial time in the U.S. church, are being viewed by some observers as small but much needed signs of change.”
GET SMART FAST:
- The Dow tumbled nearly 550 points — pushing its two-day loss to nearly 1,400 points as investors continued to fret over rising interest rates that could trigger an economic slowdown. But markets in Asia and Europe appeared to stabilize today after mirroring the U.S. tumble yesterday. (Taylor Telford, Anna Fifield and Gerry Shih)
- Most federal retirees are slated to receive a 2.8 percent spike in their monthly annuity benefits by January. It will be the largest cost-of-living increase since 2012. (Eric Yoder)
- The Washington state Supreme Court unanimously voted to strike down that state's death penalty, ruling it “unconstitutional” and “racially biased.” The order makes Washington the 20th state to abandon capital punishment in recent years. (Mark Berman)
- A Michigan jury is considering charges against a retired firefighter who shot at a black teenager in April after he missed the bus and knocked on the man’s door for directions. (Alex Horton and Eli Rosenberg)
- The percentage of young U.S. children who didn't receive their recommended vaccines has quadrupled since 2001. Newly released federal health data highlights the growing concern about kids who aren't protected against preventable diseases. (Lena H. Sun)
- The number of Ebola cases has spiked in two heavily populated provinces in the eastern Congo, as terrified residents (including those already infected) stop cooperating with health-care workers. Two months after the latest outbreak, health officials said 194 cases were identified in that area and infections are increasing at a rate of more than 30 per week. (The Hill)
- A Russian rocket malfunctioned while transporting two astronauts, an American and a Russian, to the International Space Station, triggering an automatic abort command that jettisoned the two-man crew back down to safety. (Anton Troianovski, Amie Ferris-Rotman and Joel Achenbach)
- Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old University of Wyoming student whose brutal 1998 slaying remains one of the worst anti-gay hate crimes in the United States, will be interred at Washington National Cathedral. Shepard was never buried after his horrific death — instead, his parents had him cremated, citing a fear that his gravesite would be desecrated. (Michelle Boorstein)
- Fyre Festival co-founder Billy McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison, one year after luring thousands of people to the Bahamas for what he billed as a luxury music festival. Attendees instead discovered a barely inhabitable world filled with half-built huts, cold cheese sandwiches and travel delays that left them stranded for days. (Vice News)
HURRICANE MICHAEL FALLOUT:
-- Hurricane Michael is no more, having moved off the East Coast into the Atlantic Ocean overnight, but the death toll from its destruction has spiked to 11. Virginia alone reported five storm-related deaths. Mark Berman, Antonia Noori Farzan, Eli Rosenberg and J. Freedom du Lac report: “Authorities in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina had previously linked at least six deaths to the storm, a toll officials have worried will continue to rise as search-and-rescue efforts continue. … William ‘Brock’ Long, the FEMA administrator, said Thursday that ‘search and rescue is where we are hyper-focused this morning.’”
-- Authorities continue to assess the catastrophic damage Michael released in the Florida Panhandle. From Luz Lazo, Mark Berman, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Kevin Sullivan: “Tiny Mexico Beach, Fla., a town of about 1,000 residents, appeared to be have been almost destroyed by Michael’s 155 mph impact — just 1 mph short of a Category 5 storm. Aerial footage showed much of the seaside enclave reduced to kindling, trees sheared off just above the ground, tangles of power lines strewn in the streets and cars and boats piled up like rubbish. Entire blocks seemed essentially empty, with houses and everything else that had been on them smashed by storm surge and wind and presumably washed out to sea.”
-- Florida’s largest psychiatric hospital was left completely inaccessible after Michael passed through, leaving 1,400 patients and staff — who were not evacuated before the storm — stranded inside the facility. An emergency radio was their only means of contacting first responders, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
-- “‘I wasn’t going anywhere’: On land of former slaves, a sturdy home gives shelter from the storm,” by Patricia Sullivan and Frances Stead Sellers: “The modest one-story brick house on Old U.S. Road meant more to Leroy Wilson and his family than a roof over their heads. Their ancestors lived on this land as slaves before Wilson’s grandfather acquired five acres here in 1874, right after emancipation. … So as Hurricane Michael ripped the top off a 50-year-old dwelling next door, brought a tree down on Leroy’s daughter’s home and snapped nearby pine trees like pencils, the Wilsons stayed put in their brick house on Wednesday, opening the doors to neighbors whose homes were succumbing under Michael’s powerful winds.”
THE LATEST ON JAMAL:
-- The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that they have audio and video recordings to support their conclusion that Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Shane Harris, Souad Mekhenne, John Hudson and Anne Gearan report: “The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body . . . The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death . . . ‘The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,’ said one person with knowledge of the recording … ‘You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic. . . . You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.’
“The existence of such evidence would explain why Turkish officials were quick to blame Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s killing. But Turkish officials are wary of releasing the recordings, fearing they could divulge how the Turks spy on foreign entities in their country . . . It’s not clear that U.S. officials have seen the footage or listened to the audio, but Turkish officials have described their contents to their American counterparts.”
-- The Khashoggi crisis has cast renewed light on Trump’s business ties to Saudi Arabia. David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell report: “Trump’s business relationships with the Saudi government — and rich Saudi business executives — go back to at least the 1990s. In Trump’s hard times, a Saudi prince bought a superyacht and hotel from him. The Saudi government paid him $4.5 million for an apartment near the United Nations. Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump’s hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump’s hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors. … The Trump Organization issued a statement Thursday saying that although it has pursued new hotel deals in Saudi Arabia in the past, it has no current plans to do so.”
-- Turkey and Saudi Arabia agreed to form a joint committee to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance. Kareem Fahim reports: “The Saudi request to cooperate with Turkey, which was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top adviser Thursday, was a possible sign that the Saudi leadership may be searching for an exit from the crisis as it faces growing international pressure to explain Khashoggi’s fate. … On Thursday, a London-based activist group, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, urged the Natural History Museum in London to cancel an evening reception hosted by the Saudi Embassy.”
-- “Everything points to Saudi Arabia, and it would appear he's not alive,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is privy to sensitive intelligence. “I would think that if it were Saudi Arabia and he was alive, with all that's happening right now, they would produce him.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added that it looks “increasingly likely” Khashoggi was dead and “all the indicators” pointed to Saudi Arabia. (CNN)
-- But Trump reiterated his opposition to blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to the Khashoggi case. “That would not be acceptable to me,” he said. From John Wagner: “Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he was open to other actions but questioned the wisdom of not selling military weapons, saying Saudi Arabia could instead turn to Russia or China, hurting U.S. defense companies. ‘What good does that do us?’ Trump asked.”
-- Western business leaders are distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance. Jeanne Whalen reports: “[Virgin Group founder Richard Branson] said he was suspending his work as a director of two Saudi tourism projects and suspending discussions with the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund about a proposed investment in the space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit. … [Tech investor Steve] Case said he was putting on hold plans to attend a big investment conference in Riyadh later this month, and to participate in a Saudi tourism project.”
-- Some good news: “The White House expects North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson to be released by the Turkish government and returned to the U.S. in coming days, two years after he was detained,” NBC News’s Carol E. Lee and Courtney Kube report. “Under an agreement senior Trump administration officials recently reached with Turkey, Brunson is supposed to be released after certain charges against him are dropped at his next court hearing, currently scheduled for Friday … The details of the deal are unclear, but those familiar with the discussions said it includes a commitment by the U.S. to ease economic pressure on Turkey. The Trump administration, however, isn't fully confident that Turkey will follow through with the Brunson agreement because Ankara was close to a commitment to release him several months ago but did not … The Turkish government has accused Brunson of helping terrorist groups, charges he has denied. The Trump administration has aggressively pushed for his release, saying he was wrongfully detained.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (AND WOMEN?):
-- Dina Powell withdrew from consideration to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador. Ashley Parker and Felicia Sonmez report: “The news removes from consideration a former deputy national security adviser and current Goldman Sachs executive who [Trump] had told some advisers was his preferred choice for the job. Powell withdrew her name Thursday in a ‘warm’ phone conversation with Trump...”
-- Trump’s advisers hope replacing Haley with another woman could help narrow the historic gender gap expected in the midterms, Politico’s Gabby Orr reports: “The expanded list [of candidates] now includes Nancy Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation ... as well as New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, whom two senators, including one of Trump's close friends, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), suggested as a good fit for the job ... The added duo joins Kelly Knight Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, on the White House’s list … Outside advisers have also recommended Kay Bailey Hutchison, the current U.S. ambassador to NATO, although it’s unclear whether she’s in contention for the job.”
-- Trump is mulling at least five potential candidates to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is acting on the assumption that he will be pushed out as attorney general after the midterms. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender reports: “The potential candidates include [HHS Secretary] Alex Azar, Transportation Department general counsel Steven Bradbury, former Attorney General Bill Barr, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan and Janice Rogers Brown, a retired appeals court judge … While Mr. Trump has spent more than a year undercutting his attorney general, he has rarely spoken about replacements[.] His discussion of these candidates represents a shift, signaling for the first time that Mr. Trump is envisioning what his administration might look like without Mr. Sessions in the cabinet. . . . Mr. Sessions isn’t currently planning to leave, but privately has said that he anticipates he may be asked to resign … [Sessions] has told people the request may come on the president’s Twitter feed.”
-- Contradicting his previous congressional testimony, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says he now remembers discussing adding a citizenship question to the Census with both Sessions and Steve Bannon. Tara Bahrampour reports: “[A document filed Thursday by the Justice Department], part of a multistate lawsuit against the Trump administration over the question, said Ross recalls Bannon calling him in the spring of 2017 to ask whether Ross would speak to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about ideas for a possible citizenship question on the census. The document appears to contradict Ross’s testimony to Congress this year. When asked at a hearing on March 20 by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) whether the president or anyone in the White House had discussed the citizenship question with him, Ross said, ‘I am not aware of any such.’ … The document was released as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether Ross can be deposed in the case.”
-- Related: Depending on how Democrats perform in the elections, they may be able to block the addition of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Bahrampour explains: “If Democrats take the House, the Senate or both, they may wield enough legislative power to block the citizenship question, perhaps by defunding any census form that includes the question. They also vow to probe more deeply into whether Trump administration officials lied about why the question was added.”
-- White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, then serving as homeland security secretary, described Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) as an “impolite arrogant woman” in an email last year. BuzzFeed News’s Jason Leopold reports on a document he got from a FOIA request: “‘Absolutely most insulting conversation I have ever had with anyone,’ [Kelly] wrote to Kevin Carroll, who was then his senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, in an email from Feb. 8, 2017. ‘What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah.’ The court order Kelly had referred to was a temporary restraining order issued by federal judges in Massachusetts and New York on Jan. 28 and 29, 2017, which blocked the implementation of [Trump’s travel ban].”
-- It's triage time. Republican strategists are zeroing in on a handful of House races they have deemed most likely to help them prevent Democrats from capturing control of the chamber. The New York Times’s Alexander Burns reports: “Republican Party leaders are racing to reinforce their candidates in about two-dozen districts, trying to create a barricade around their imperiled majority. They are pouring money and effort mainly into moderate suburban areas … that they see as critical to holding the chamber by even a one-seat margin. And they have begun to pull millions of dollars away from Republican candidates who have fallen substantially behind in once-competitive races. Republicans steering the House effort … believe that by intensifying their efforts in a smaller number of districts, they can limit Democratic gains to perhaps 20 seats on Nov. 6 — just short of the 23 seats Democrats need to take over the House.
- “There are between 60 and 70 Republican-held districts that are being seriously contested. In a tactical retreat, Republican groups have already withdrawn some or all funding from a few embattled incumbents, mainly in suburbs where Trump is unpopular, including Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mike Bishop of Michigan.
- “They have abandoned more than half a dozen seats where Republican lawmakers are not running for re-election. On Wednesday they cut loose the Tucson, Ariz.-based seat of Representative Martha McSally, who left to run for Senate.
- “Party strategists said several other incumbents must recover quickly or risk losing funding, including Representatives Peter Roskam of Illinois and Mimi Walters of California, who represent white-collar suburbs near Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively.
- “The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently began advertising in six conservative-leaning seats, from rural Pennsylvania to the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., where they see Republicans slipping. On Thursday, the group began spending money against two more targets: Representatives Brian Mast of Florida, whose red-hued district stretches north from Palm Beach, and Mia Love of Utah, in the Salt Lake City suburbs.
- “Republicans say they are prepared to make ruthless choices in these districts. In the suburbs ringing Philadelphia, for example, [the GOP] may soon redirect money out of an open-seat race where they are trailing, in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District, and funnel it to Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, who are in difficult races.”
-- Republicans are warning of a “GREEN WAVE” of Democratic cash ahead of this year’s midterm elections — prompting concern among GOP candidates that they will be financially overwhelmed by their opponents in the 11th hour of the race. Paul Kane reports: “To be sure, Republicans have a committed group of mega-donors who have seeded outside conservative groups with seven- and eight-figure checks . . . And there is still time for more mega-donors to arrive and provide CLF and other super PACs with dollars that will level the playing field. But, overall, Democrats have an edge financially in the final weeks of the season, and that edge could be decisive because candidates get better advertising rates than party committees and super PACs. [Congressional Leadership Fund executive director Corry Bliss] sent a memo to donors Tuesday . . . about the financial deficits GOP candidates face. ‘The GOP is now facing a green wave, not a blue wave,’ he said. Some 60 Democrats raised more than $1 million in the third quarter, a big number for House races, but 30 of those raised more than $2 million and eight raised more than $3 million — those are levels usually reached by statewide candidates for Senate or governor.”
-- Megadonor Sheldon Adelson dropped tens of millions more into Republican campaign coffers to try closing this gap. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt and Jake Sherman report: “The contributions were made to a pair of GOP super PACs tied to congressional Republicans, Senate Leadership Fund and Congressional Leadership Fund. They are expected to be reported in public [FEC filings] by Oct. 15. The figures would almost certainly make Adelson . . . the biggest GOP donor of the 2018 election cycle. Even before his most recent contributions, the 85-year-old mogul and his wife Miriam had given $25 million to the Senate super PAC and $30 million to the House super PAC.” (This news comes a day after a ProPublica story said Trump has personally intervened with foreign leaders to boost Adelson's casinos and other business interests. Adelson is also saving more than $1 billion because of the GOP tax cuts, so his return on investment is quite high.)
-- Senate Democrats struck a deal with Mitch McConnell to allow votes on 15 of Trump’s judicial nominees in order to wrap up business until after the midterms, sending vulnerable incumbents home to campaign. Mike DeBonis reports: “[McConnell] had threatened to keep senators in Washington, voting on Trump’s nominees, until Election Day. But ultimately Democrats paid McConnell’s ransom to get their incumbents back home. Under the deal, the Senate confirmed all 15 judicial nominees Thursday evening. The Senate also confirmed 21 executive-branch nominees by unanimous consent Thursday, including several assistant secretaries of state, an assistant secretary of defense and deputy administrators for [FEMA] and NASA. … Trump and McConnell can now take credit for installing 84 judges to lifetime appointments on the nation’s courts — two on the Supreme Court, 29 appellate judges on the circuit courts and 53 on the district courts.”
-- McConnell said in an NPR interview that Kavanaugh's confirmation has made him “increasingly optimistic” that he'll continue to be majority leader next year. “One of the good things about the Supreme Court fight is it underscores for Republican voters that the Senate is in the personnel business,” McConnell said. “Lose the Senate and the project of confirming judges is over for the last two years of President Trump.” (Felicia Sonmez)
-- Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is facing growing backlash from some of his own campaign volunteers after coming out in support of Kavanaugh. Politico’s James Arkin and Burgess Everett report: “Campaign volunteers have been calling to cancel door-knocking and phone-banking shifts for Bredesen since his statement backing Kavanaugh, according to an internal spreadsheet maintained by the campaign … At least 22 volunteers so far have reached out to express frustration with the decision. ... [Politico] spoke with five who contacted the campaign to vent their anger. It's a small fraction of Bredesen's total volunteer force, which numbers in the thousands ... But it's also just one slice of the frustration roiling Democrats ... ‘As a woman voter in Tennessee, I felt torpedoed by the statement,’ said Rhonda McDowell, a campaign volunteer in Memphis … McDowell [said] she had volunteered twice a week for the past four or five weeks, but she told campaign staff she could not continue after Bredesen backed Kavanaugh.”
-- John Rice-Cameron, the president of the Stanford College Republicans and the son of former Obama administration official Susan Rice, is pressing charges against a student he says shoved him while he was expressing support for Kavanaugh’s nomination. From the San Jose Mercury News’s Casey Tolan: “The student he accused, sophomore Melissa Hernandez, was given a citation for misdemeanor battery after interviews with witnesses, Stanford Department of Public Safety spokesman Bill Larson said. The dust-up … took place Tuesday afternoon at White Plaza in the heart of Stanford’s campus, where Rice-Cameron and other members of the university’s Republican club were sitting at tables decorated with signs backing Kavanaugh. Hernandez claimed that she only touched Rice-Cameron while he was filming her with his phone, the Daily reported.”
-- The campaign of Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams called on her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, to resign as secretary of state following reports that he is holding up tens of thousands of voter registrations — mostly from black residents. CNN’s Gregory Krieg reports: “[Abrams spokeswoman Abigail Collazo] pushed for Kemp to step down ‘so that Georgia voters can have confidence that their Secretary of State competently and impartially oversee this election.’ Georgia Democrats were rebuffed when they made a similar request earlier in the year. Kemp's campaign maintains voters whose names were tied up in the system would still be able to either sort out the documentation at elections sites or, if not, cast provisional ballots. It also touted the state's growing rolls, saying they were likely to surpass 7 million once the final numbers came in following Tuesday's registration deadline.”
-- A coalition of civil rights groups is suing Kemp over the held-up registrations. The lawsuit was filed by the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, New Georgia Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Atlanta and others. (Meagan Flynn)
-- The Republican candidate in Maine’s gubernatorial race settled a sex discrimination complaint in 2006 after he allegedly said a single mother wasn’t up for her job after giving birth. The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin reports: “In 2006, [Jill] Hayward, a former member of management at a Moody’s store, filed a sexual discrimination complaint against [Shawn] Moody with the Maine Human Rights Commission, accusing him of firing her because he did not think she was up to the job after giving birth to her son. ‘I want to see you grow,’ he told her, according to the previously undisclosed complaint, but with her new parental obligations, ‘I’m not sure that can you can do that in this job.’ Mr. Moody ultimately settled the complaint and, she said, paid her around $20,000. … Moody repeatedly cited the settlement to indicate he was restricted from addressing Ms. Hayward’s accusations.”
-- Vote-counting to determine control of the House and the Senate may go on for days after Nov. 6. Bloomberg News’s John McCormick and Gregory Giroux report: “The unusually large number of close contests, many in states known for slow ballot counting, means the first congressional election of [Trump’s] presidency could go into overtime, perhaps for days … State election officials will be contending with potentially narrow margins, absentee and provisional ballots as well as the potential for contested results. … [E]ven a rout is no guarantee of a quick resolution. In 2006, the last wave election, it took two days to determine that Democrats had flipped control of the U.S. Senate because of close results in Virginia and Montana.”
-- Facebook announced it purged more than 800 U.S. publishers and accounts for promoting political spam. Elizabeth Dwoskin and Tony Romm report: “In doing so, Facebook demonstrated its increased willingness to wade into the thorny territory of policing domestic political activity. Some of the accounts had been in existence for years, had amassed millions of followers, and professed support for conservative or liberal ideas, such as one page that billed itself as ‘the first publication to endorse President Donald J. Trump.’ … But Facebook only named five of the hundreds of pages it removed. Two of the page operators said that they were legitimate political activists, not profit-driven operators of clickbait ‘ad farms,’ as Facebook claimed in a blog post. They said were still unsure which Facebook rules they had violated or why they had been singled out for behavior that is standard in online organizing.”
What's changed: “In 2016, before the presidential election, state-backed Russian operatives exploited Facebook and Twitter to sway voters . . . Now . . . such influence campaigns are increasingly a domestic phenomenon fomented by Americans on the left and the right,” the New York Times’s Sheera Frenkel reports.
-- A new NBC News-Marist poll finds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) trailing his Democratic challenger, Tony Evers, by 10 points — at odds with another poll released a day earlier that showed the pair virtually tied. From NBC News’s Mark Murray: “Evers gets support from 53 percent of likely voters in a head-to-head matchup, while Walker gets 43 percent. Among the larger pool of registered voters in the state, Evers’ lead is 9 points, 52 percent to 43 percent — down from his 13-point lead in July’s NBC/Marist poll. … In Wisconsin’s Senate race, the NBC/Marist poll finds Baldwin getting support from 54 percent of likely voters, and GOP challenger Leah Vukmir getting 40 percent.”
-- Democratic officials in Maryland insist the spike in absentee ballot requests from 2014 foretells a “blue wave.” Ovetta Wiggins reports: “The number of Maryland Democratic voters requesting absentee ballots has more than doubled this year over the 2014 election cycle … With less than a month before Election Day, 45,543 Democrats have asked for absentee ballots, compared with 24,831 independents and Republicans. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans more than 2 to 1 in the state.”
-- Republicans are pushing back harder against Democratic attacks that they would strip health-care protections from those with preexisting conditions. Colby Itkowitz and Paulina Firozi report: “They are doing so by releasing personal campaign ads in which they share their own health stories such as a child’s illness like leukemia — and by suddenly introducing bills in Congress to require that people with prior coverage don’t lose access to affordable health care.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to meet next month at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in hopes of defusing the trade war. Danielle Paquette and David J. Lynch report: “The planned sit-down — which Beijing sought to forestall further U.S. tariffs — would represent the first direct talks since August, as well as a temporary victory for administration moderates. Yet with U.S.-China relations fraying on an array of issues, few analysts anticipate a major breakthrough. ‘The problem is neither side seems to be confident that it understands the other side’s bottom line negotiating demand,’ said Michael Pillsbury … an occasional White House adviser. Xi is expected to push the president to abandon or at least defer plans for further tariffs, according to Pillsbury. The meeting represents a short-term triumph for U.S. officials who want to conclude the trade war before economic damage spreads, including [Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow]. Chinese officials hope they can circumvent hard-liners, such as [Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro] by making a personal appeal to Trump in Buenos Aires.”
-- When Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the TPP just days after taking office, he unwittingly set in motion a far-reaching ripple effect across Asia — and delivered a setback to democracy in Vietnam. Simon Denyer and David Nakamura report: “Freed from conditions imposed by the Obama administration to join the trade pact, Vietnam’s Communist government has scrapped plans to allow independent trade unions and unleashed its most severe clampdown on dissent in decades. … The United States’ decision to construct and then exit from the TPP struck an enormous blow to its credibility in Asia[.] The decision also exacted a real human cost here in Vietnam, activists say. … As the TPP was being negotiated, a budding movement of Vietnamese activists used social media to spread ideas about workers’ rights [and] democracy. The U.S. government had engineered the trade agreement to also secure promises from Vietnam’s leadership that it would permit independent trade unions, strengthen environmental controls and allow a free and open Internet. When the TPP was scrapped, that dynamic was thrown into reverse.”
-- China’s tariffs on U.S. agricultural products have provided a big boon for Brazilian farmers, just as they deliver a blow to Americans in states like Iowa. Reuters’s Jake Spring and Tom Polansek report: “China, the world’s largest importer of soybeans, has scaled back purchases of U.S. grain to feed its massive hog herd. It is turning instead to Brazil, which has ridden the wave of Chinese demand for two decades to become a global agricultural powerhouse. Brazilian soybean exports to the Asian country jumped 22 percent by value between January and September, compared to the same period a year ago. … Prices for U.S. soybeans, meanwhile, recently sunk to decade lows that farmers say are below the cost of production. The slump has made the agricultural sector a drag on an otherwise healthy U.S. economy.”
-- “The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would sharply restrict exports of civilian nuclear technology to China that officials claimed was being diverted to power new generations of Chinese submarines, aircraft carriers and floating nuclear power plants,” the New York Times’s David Sanger reports. “The announcement mixed security warnings with longstanding complaints that Beijing was continuing to steal nuclear-related technology from American firms to benefit Chinese state-owned companies. In a call with reporters, however, administration officials revealed little of the intelligence evidence that they said would back up their claims. The move appeared to be part of a more concerted effort by the administration to put new pressure on China beyond the tariffs that [Trump] has announced on Chinese goods. … China is not a major customer for American nuclear technology; only about $170 million in nuclear-related sales went to Chinese customers last year. But the announcement on Thursday amounted to a significant setback in cooperative agreements that have had a checkered history since the Reagan administration.”
-- “How a change in U.S. abortion policy reverberated around the globe,” by Max Bearak and Carol Morello: “Madagascar is one of dozens of countries where health providers are facing cutbacks or other disruptions after a dramatic change to foreign aid by the Trump administration. … The policy change was one of Trump’s first acts as president. On Jan. 23, 2017, he signed an executive order that denied U.S. assistance to any foreign-based organization that performs, promotes or offers information on abortion. A similar plan, known as the Mexico City policy, was in effect under past Republican presidents. But Trump expanded it exponentially to apply not just to around $600 million in overseas family-planning funds, but to the entire $8.8 billion in annual U.S. global health aid.”
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump’s legal team is preparing written answers to questions provided by Bob Mueller. CNN’s Dana Bash, Gloria Borger and Evan Perez report: “The move represents a major development after months of negotiations and signals that the Mueller investigation could be entering a final phase with regard to the President. The questions are focused on matters related to the investigation of possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians seeking to meddle in the 2016 election . . . Trump's lawyers are preparing written responses, in part relying on documents previously provided to the special counsel … There may be more rounds of questions after the first answers are returned. The special counsel had insisted that there be a chance for follow-up questions as well. But after a prolonged back-and-forth over months, the two sides agreed to start with a first round of questions. Additionally, the two sides have still not come to agreement on whether the President will be interviewed in person by investigators who are also probing whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey.”
-- U.S. Judge T.S. Ellis, who oversaw Paul Manafort’s criminal trial in the Eastern District of Virginia in August, threw a potential obstacle into his plea deal on Thursday, after he criticized as “highly unusual” Mueller’s plan to seek the dismissal of 10 deadlocked charges only after he “successfully cooperates” with prosecutors. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein report: “[Ellis ordered both parties] back to his Alexandria courtroom for a hearing Oct. 19 to resolve the situation and to set a sentencing date for the longtime GOP operative. Ellis’ latest move doesn’t appear to jeopardize the overall deal with Manafort but has the potential to remove one of several incentives for the former Trump campaign chairman to cooperate and could lead to details of Mueller’s investigative interests being made public sooner than the special counsel might like. Under the [plea agreement], Manafort avoided a second criminal trial in Washington, D.C., by pleading guilty . . . along with a pledge to ‘cooperate fully and truthfully’ with the special counsel’s probe … In exchange, Mueller’s team dropped charges against Manafort in Washington[.] Upon Manafort’s ‘successful cooperation’ with Mueller's team, the special counsel also agreed to seek the dismissal of 10 charges related to bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud on which a Virginia jury failed to reach a verdict in August.”
-- Former FBI acting director Andrew McCabe is accusing the bureau of stalling publication of his highly anticipated new book, “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump.” McCabe was ousted in March, just two days before his retirement benefits were slated to take effect. ABC News’s Mike Levine reports: “Based on FBI policy requiring that the FBI have an opportunity to review agency-related information before it's released publicly, McCabe submitted a draft of his book to the FBI more than two months ago, and the book was set to be published in early December. But the FBI has yet to reach a conclusion on McCabe's proposed revelations, so the book's publication date has now been pushed back to February 2019, according to McCabe. … A source familiar with the matter … said McCabe's team and FBI officials have exchanged ‘countless calls and emails,’ but there is still ‘zero clarity’ about what the source described as a review that ‘has gone outside of the norms and protocol of pre-publication review.’” “Having been singled out for irregular, unfair treatment over the past year, I am concerned that it could be happening again,” McCabe said in a statement.
-- Former Trump aide and Manafort deputy Rick Gates is being sued by his previous attorneys for allegedly failing to pay them $369,000 in legal fees. Politico’s Brent D. Griffiths reports: “According to the complaint … Gates retained the New York law firm Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack to represent him in November 2017 after [Mueller's] team filed a number of charges against Gates . . . In February, the firm ceased working with Gates … a decision rooted in the piling up of unpaid bills and a deteriorating relationship between both sides. Out of the hefty remaining bill, the complaint says Gates has paid just $20,000. The firm is suing for the remaining money and interest, along with court costs and other disbursements.”
-- Former Trump attorney and consigliere Michael Cohen changed his party registration yesterday from a Republican to a Democrat. “Cohen went online around noon to the Albany-based New York State Board of elections to make the [change],” Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports. “The move fits a pattern of Cohen publicly breaking from the man for whom he once said he’d take ‘a bullet.’ [And] this isn't the first time Cohen has changed his party registration. He was a registered Democrat before 2017, when he became a Republican after being asked, and agreeing to become, deputy chairman of the Republican National Committee’s finance committee.”
THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- “The Five-Year-Old Who Was Detained at the Border and Persuaded to Sign Away Her Rights,” by the New Yorker’s Sarah Stillman: “Helen — a smart, cheerful five-year-old girl — is an asylum seeker from Honduras. … In July, Helen fled Honduras with her grandmother, Noehmi, and several other relatives … When the family reached the scrubland of southern Texas, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended them and moved them through a series of detention centers. A month earlier, the Trump Administration had announced, amid public outcry over its systemic separation of migrant families at the border, that it would halt the practice. … Noehmi remained in a cold holding cell, clutching Helen. Soon, she recalled, a plainclothes official arrived and informed her that she and Helen would be separated. … ‘I thought we would never see her again,’ Noehmi said. She couldn’t square her family’s fate with the TV news, which insisted that the government had stopped separating migrant families. …
“[I]n early August, an unknown official handed Helen a legal document, a ‘Request for a Flores Bond Hearing,’ which described a set of legal proceedings and rights that would have been difficult for Helen to comprehend. … On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, ‘I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.’ Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.”
-- Congressional Republicans promised a fight over border-wall spending after the midterms, raising the possibility of a government shutdown as soon as December. Erica Werner and Josh Dawsey report: “[A]fter spending months persuading Trump to put off his border wall fight until after the election, GOP leaders now face the possibility of emerging empty-handed from the fight they postponed. They don’t have enough votes in the Senate to push through a big wall-funding increase, and the midterm elections could weaken their position even further. That leaves a partial government shutdown as a real possibility, because no one on Capitol Hill or at the White House has come up with a viable strategy to increase border wall funding to the levels Trump wants. Asked this week if there was a plan to get Trump his wall money, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) replied: ‘Not that I know of. And I think I’d know.’”
-- U.S. judges are increasingly balking at immigration officials’ efforts to detain those charged with illegally entering the country, even after they have posted bail. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “The rulings complicate the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown on defendants who are charged with illegally crossing the border but whom judges have determined do not pose a flight or safety risk. The decisions force prosecutors to make a choice — charge defendants with illegal entry or reentry and risk that a federal judge releases them pending trial, or keep suspects locked up in civil detention pending deportation proceedings and forego criminal prosecution.”
-- The average premium for the most popular level of insurance sold through the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace has dropped slightly for the first time since the health plans were created, according to new federal figures released this week. Amy Goldstein reports: “In the 39 states that rely on HealthCare.gov, the monthly premium is dipping by 1.5 percent for 2019 in a tier of coverage that forms the basis for the ACA’s federal insurance subsidies … The figures also show that, after several years of defections, some insurers are returning to sell ACA health plans, and fewer consumers around the country will have only one insurance company in their marketplace. In issuing this new portrait of the marketplaces on the cusp of the Nov. 1 yearly sign-up period, administration officials did an about-face from President Trump’s declarations since his campaign that the ACA was ‘dead’ and its insurance exchanges were collapsing — a refrain popular among Republicans.”
-- The U.S. Postal Service proposed price hikes but denied that they had anything to do with Trump’s frequent attacks on Amazon. Politico’s Cristiano Lima reports: “The changes announced Wednesday include an increase of up to 12 percent for the Parcel Select service. Large shippers like Amazon use that option to complete the final leg of delivery for packages. But the extent of the impact on Amazon was not immediately clear. … Trump has repeatedly alleged that Amazon is to blame for the Postal Service's financial woes, and accuses the e-commerce giant of ripping off the agency and treating it like a ‘delivery boy.’ … Trump equates Amazon with The Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and is a target of Trump's anger about media coverage.”
THE TRUMP SHOW:
-- “For more than 10 minutes Thursday, [Trump] was struck nearly speechless as rapper, activist, entrepreneur and MAGA-hat wearing, Trump-loving, dragon-energy-exuding Kanye West held forth in an Oval Office soliloquy that included an f-bomb, references to male genitalia and a presidential hug that looked more like a mauling,” Anne Gearan and Felicia Sonmez report. “West, slouched in a chair facing the president, called himself a ‘crazy mother- (expletive)’ and rued the ‘bull- (expletive)’ the president endures. He called the 72-year-old president ‘bro.’ He wore no tie and he kept the red hat on throughout.”
-- Fox News showered praise on West, a complete reversal from how the network handled rappers’ appearances in the Obama White House. From Eli Rosenberg: “Prime-time anchor Tucker Carlson could barely contain himself, admitting [West] came across as a bit scattered but calling his comments amazing, poignant and brave. … After Obama visited Jay-Z’s 40/40 club for a fundraiser in the months before the 2012 election, Sean Hannity honed in on the rapper’s rough-and-tumble upbringing. ‘For only 40,000 bucks,’ he said of the fundraiser, ‘you could have rubbed shoulders with a president and a rapper who has admitted to selling crack and shooting his own brother.’”
-- In a freewheeling “Fox & Friends” interview, Trump hinted that he would try to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress. From John Wagner: “Trump said serving in the White House has cost him billions. He called the rhetoric of former attorney general Eric Holder ‘dangerous.’ He said he could work with Democrats on rebuilding the country’s infrastructure if they take control of the House. And he asserted that Hillary Clinton should have been taken off the campaign trail and jailed. … And he made clear that if [Jeff Sessions] doesn’t agree with him on criminal justice reform, Trump will have the final say. ‘If he doesn’t, he gets overruled by me, because I make the decision, he doesn’t,’ Trump said.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
The House Democrat who represents the Virginia district where Jamal Khashoggi was living in exile had this message for Trump:
A CNN reporter made this argument:
It’s astounding how many “experts” in media, business and politics fell for and abetted the PR campaign of the Saudi crown prince when it was apparent to so many people it was a farce.— Nathan McDermott (@natemcdermott) October 11, 2018
It’s hard to see any reason for it other than that they simply wanted it to be true. https://t.co/GhZfQlHdpH
A New York Times columnist backed out of an event in Saudi Arabia because of Khashoggi's disappearance:
I’m terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder. I will no longer be participating in the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.— Andrew Ross Sorkin (@andrewrsorkin) October 11, 2018
Khashoggi's editor at The Post became emotional while discussing his disappearance:
After more than 10 interviews talking about #JamalKhashoggi (@jkhashoggi) I've largely held it together.— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) October 11, 2018
I finally broke down into tears when Reuters asked me if I had a message for my friend and writer Jamal, who I worked closely with for a year. https://t.co/hAIz6iZwDj
Florida's governor expressed his thanks to first responders after the hurricane:
Today, the top focus is the enormous search and rescue efforts currently underway. These law enforcement and first responders are heroes and are leaving their families to help others. We cannot thank them enough. pic.twitter.com/Flbh0YdX9U— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) October 11, 2018
Andrew Gillum, mayor of Tallahassee and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, went to work cleaning up the damage from Hurricane Michael:
Hillary Clinton challenged Trump's claim about the 2016 election:
Seriously, you asked Russia to hack me on national television. https://t.co/YPktJyQ7Gx— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 11, 2018
The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee clarified a Trump quote:
This morning, Trump said @SenatorBurr had found "no collusion." Burr's response to Trump: "The president's using a quote from three weeks ago, that you heard that I said we didn't have any hard evidence. That's fine. But we have a lot of investigation left."— Jeremy Herb (@jeremyherb) October 11, 2018
Elizabeth Warren addressed John Kelly calling her “an impolite arrogant woman”:
Twitter marveled over Kanye West's visit to the White House. From a CBS News reporter:
West also embraced an ABC News reporter:
West explained his personal connection to Trump's campaign slogan, per an NBC News reporter:
#KanyeWest says he married into a family without a lot of male energy. He claims the MAGA hat gives him power.— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) October 11, 2018
From a reporter for the Religion News Service:
He just asked to give a “keynote” on top a table.— Jack Jenkins (@jackmjenkins) October 11, 2018
He’s doing it. pic.twitter.com/y30F1bU9aj
From a Post reporter:
Words I never thought I’d hear from a White House official: “Let me get through a few Kanye things this morning and I’ll get back to you.”— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) October 11, 2018
Trump's press secretary shared a photo with West:
One Republican senator seemed dismayed by West's visit, per a Post reporter:
Sen. Flake, alone with his wireless earbuds on, is looking down into his phone and watching video of Kanye West in the Oval.— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 11, 2018
Walk over and pull him aside in the Senate basement.
“Reality meets reality television,” Flake tells me, shaking his head.
Kid Rock weighed in on personnel matters, per a New York Times reporter:
Whee. Reporter: “Kid Rock, should President Trump fire Jeff Sessions?”— Katie Rogers (@katierogers) October 11, 2018
Kid Rock: “Fire you.” pic.twitter.com/kduul4a5t4
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) shared the results of his staff photo day:
Today was our annual DC staff photo day. Enjoy. pic.twitter.com/O0Td8UB3cw— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) October 10, 2018
A Post reporter discovered relics from his family's time inside a Japanese internment camp:
My 101-year-old grandmother Toshiko died three weeks ago. We are cleaning out her home and I found these relics from their time in the Topaz, Utah, relocation camps in WWII—my grandfather’s WRA cards, my father’s school essay years later and the Topaz Times camp newspaper. pic.twitter.com/iVMy14fdrN— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) October 11, 2018
-- Democrats are considering whether they need to put up their own celebrity candidate to attempt to defeat Trump in 2020. Ashley Parker and Robert Costa report: “On Sunday, Taylor Swift endorsed two Tennessee Democratic candidates for Congress … On Thursday, Kanye West joined [Trump] for a lunch visit at the White House … And this weekend, Alec Baldwin, known for spoofing Trump on NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live,’ is headed to New Hampshire to speak at a fundraising dinner for Democrats. … Within the expanding but unofficial Democratic field, the definition of who constitutes a celebrity remains amorphous — and who will actually run largely a subject of speculation. But Trump’s presidency has created both an urgency and appetite among Democrats eager to defeat him in 2020, with some believing that a progressive candidate in Trump’s mold might hold the party’s best chance.” (I wrote about the celebrification of politics in Tuesday’s Daily 202.)
-- The Economist, “The next recession:” “[T]he rich world in particular is ill-prepared to deal with even a mild recession. That is partly because the policy arsenal is still depleted from fighting the last downturn. In the past half-century, the Fed has typically cut interest rates by five or so percentage points in a downturn. Today it has less than half that room before it reaches zero; the euro zone and Japan have no room at all.”
-- “A daughter’s hilarious obituary unravels her father’s mysterious life. You have to read to the end to get it,” by Allison Klein: “The obituary that ran last week in Delaware Online is a mystery, the tale of a globe-trotting Renaissance man who disappeared in a single-engine plane over the Atlantic Ocean after learning he had cancer. It was written by Alex Walsh about her father, Rick Stein, 71, a man who she said had an endless appetite for comedy. The huge response on social media has been comfort to the mourning family, she said, as people who never knew her father have been sending condolences by the dozens.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Trump Prosecutor Gets First Illegal Voting Conviction. The Penalty Is $200 And Possible Deportation,” from HuffPost: “One of several legal permanent U.S. residents from North Carolina charged by the Justice Department with voter fraud was sentenced this week to pay a $200 fine, but the longtime U.S. resident and green card-holder may also be deported. Alessandro Cannizzaro, a 47-year-old father of two who has been in the U.S. since 1985, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of voting by an alien. Cannizzaro, who is originally from Italy, was registered to vote as a Republican and cast a ballot in 2016. … It’s unclear whether Cannizzaro’s guilty plea will make him a target for deportation. A spokesman for [the U.S. attorney in his district] did not respond to a request for comment on whether the office had referred the case to [ICE]. Joyce Vance, who served as U.S. attorney [under Obama], said the case was a poor use of a federal prosecutor’s resources. ‘There are serious crimes out there, and here resources are being used on misdemeanor voting fraud … [rather than] voter suppression or just to other more serious crimes in general,’ she said.””
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“New SF school board president skips Pledge of Allegiance at first meeting,” from the San Francisco Chronicle: “For the first time in memory, the San Francisco school board bypassed the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of its meeting Tuesday night, a purposeful omission by the board’s new president. Stevon Cook, presiding over his first meeting, said he had been mulling over the idea of replacing the recitation of the pledge after he was elected to lead the board … He told only a few board members prior to Tuesday’s meeting, and instead of asking people to stand and recite the pledge, he read a quote from poet Maya Angelou[.] If anyone in the audience or on the board noticed, they didn’t say anything. ‘There are a lot of ways to express gratitude and appreciation for the country and its citizens,’ Cook said Wednesday morning. ‘This is how I plan to do that.’ State education code requires schools to conduct a daily patriotic exercise … but that law doesn’t extend to public meetings, district officials said.”
Trump will travel to Ohio today for a roundtable with supporters in Cincinnati and a campaign rally in Lebanon.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“If this turns out as everyone thinks it will, Devin Nunes should get the Medal of Honor.” — Trump weighing in on the Justice Department during a “Fox & Friends” interview.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will be blustery but mostly sunny in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Autumnal! It’s blustery behind Michael, but with generally bright and dry conditions. Your body may not be used to wind chills! When combining the air temperature with gusty morning winds (perhaps near 35 mph at times), it could feel briefly like it’s in the upper 40s to around 50 degrees. It’s less windy as the afternoon progresses. By late afternoon we may see our temperatures rebound slightly, into the low to mid-60s. Can’t rule out some passing clouds and an isolated shower.”
-- The Capitals lost to the Devils 6-0. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s endorsement of council candidate Dionne Reeder has triggered a flow of donations to her campaign. Fenit Nirappil reports: “Reeder, who is trying to unseat D.C. Council Member Elissa Silverman next month, co-owns a Ward 8 restaurant and is not broadly known across the city. In August, her campaign was nearly broke, with just $2,000 in cash on hand. But she raised more than $100,000 in the past two months — with most of it flooding in after the mayor endorsed her on Sept. 19, according to campaign finance reports.”
-- A Maryland man was found guilty of second-degree murder after prosecutors argued he purposefully struck another man with his car out of revenge. Gregory Bowyer was allegedly trying to get back at Nathaniel McKinnon, who was involved in a dispute with Bowyer’s daughter the day before he was struck by the car. (Lynh Bui)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Late-night hosts had a field day with Kanye West’s visit to the White House:
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he hopes someone runs against Trump in the 2020 GOP primary:
Aerial footage revealed the devastation from Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach:
The sergeant at arms in London's House of Commons created an awkward moment when he dropped his sword:
And The Post's Department of Satire imagined weather forecasts by Trump after he described Hurricane Michael as a "massive tornado":