With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA:
DETROIT — Instead of trying to woo working-class whites in the suburbs of Macomb County who defected to Donald Trump after voting for Barack Obama, the Service Employees International Union decided early to focus its program in Michigan for the midterms on mobilizing African Americans who didn’t turn out at all.
“We lost by 10,000 votes in the state of Michigan, and there were 200,000 voters that didn't show up in the city of Detroit. That is criminal, and it way overshadows the number of Obama-Obama-Trump voters in that state,” said SEIU president Mary Kay Henry. “People debate the exact number, but the way you win Michigan is you need to have 40,000, 50,000 or 60,000 more voters turn out in Detroit than have normally turned out in off-year elections.”
Mobilizing infrequent voters is much harder than turning out those who reliably participate in elections and thus need little prodding, but the union of 2 million members has spent tens of millions of dollars on a massive field operation to try expanding the electorate in 2018. Democrats are well positioned to make significant gains in the Wolverine State, including picking up the governorship and two or more House seats, but it will take precinct-level returns to show whether organized labor’s investment paid off.
Its political program is active in battlegrounds across the country, but the SEIU has put extra emphasis on the Midwestern states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania where Trump won unexpectedly in 2016 and Republican governors took a sledgehammer to union power over the course of the past eight years by signing right-to-work laws or otherwise making it harder to organize and collect dues.
A key part of the strategy has involved coupling its years-long crusade to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour with more traditional electioneering efforts. Internal research found that the infrequent voters they’re trying to reach can be motivated more easily by issues that matter to them than individual candidates, who they tend to view more cynically.
-- Jessica Jackson-Bowie, 25, was one of 10 canvassers going door-to-door on Detroit’s west side late last week as part of the push to increase minority turnout. They have been trying to get low-propensity voters to sign cards pledging to vote and to hand over their cellphone numbers so they can get personalized text messages reminding them to follow through. They are also handing out yard signs to anyone who will take one that simply notes there’s an election coming up on Nov. 6.
Jackson-Bowie makes $9.35 an hour as a cashier at a movie-theater box office. She’s worked there for three years and had to go back to work two weeks after her son was born in August because she wasn’t eligible for paid family leave. “They allowed me to take as much time as I wanted and told me they’d keep my job open for me, but I needed a paycheck,” she said. “I just hated leaving my baby to go back to work, but I needed the paycheck.”
An SEIU organizer knocked on her door back in June while canvassing, and she was so happy to hear about its “Fight for $15” that she volunteered to help without being paid. “That could be the difference between putting food on the table or not,” she said of a $15 minimum wage. “I want to be able to build a safety net financially for my family.”
Clean water is another issue that motivated Jackson-Bowie to spend four hours knocking on doors while her mom watched the kids. Her 6-year-old daughter is in first grade at a Detroit public school. “They’re doing hydration stations because a lot of the schools have tested positive for lead and copper in the water,” she sighed.
-- The young woman was paired off with Deloris Mitchell, 61, who has 15 grandchildren. She spent most of her career as a janitor, rising from crew member to area manager for a custodial company. She saved up enough so that, when her kids started to have kids, she was able to open a small boutique for women called Bougies just off Detroit’s Seven Mile Road. Walking across yellow leaves that had fallen from the trees but hadn’t quite become crunchy yet, she explained that she decided to become a canvasser for SEIU as a side job back in the spring because she was so disturbed about what she sees as a resurgence of racial hostility toward African Americans.
“What really got me started was all the racism,” she said. “Being a single black mom of five sons, racism is a real issue to worry about and something has to be done about it. … Somebody’s got to get out here to fight. I’ve always voted, but I call this being on the front line where you’re really trying to get a change. I’d never been on the front line before.”
Mitchell lamented that it’s been challenging to get the dozens of people she talks to around Detroit every day to channel their disenchantment and frustration with the system into electoral politics. “You’d be surprised: A lot of people I talk to don’t even know an election is coming up,” she said. “You also talk to people who are felons who didn’t know they could vote. [Unlike many states, convicted felons in Michigan get their voting rights restored automatically when they’re released from prison.] It’s a learning experience both ways. I’ve been to neighborhoods I didn’t know existed. I’ve been in some neighborhoods where it literally hurts my heart because it pains me that they allowed our city to get like this.”
She recalled a conversation she recently had with a young mother in a crime-ridden part of town. “I talked to a young girl who said she’s not voting, but then I went down the list of issues and said, ‘Don’t you want to get education or health care for your babies? You’ve got to care for somebody else sometimes. If you don’t do it for us, do it for them,’” Mitchell said. “She wasn’t going to sign the pledge card at first, but I wore her down and by the end she did. If nothing else, I put a thought in her mind. Sometimes you need someone to flip the switch. I’m trying to flip the switch.”
Seconds after recounting that episode, Mitchell spotted a 20-something African American male who gave his name as Markus exiting a house that was on her list. As he approached his car, she called out to ask if he plans to vote. “I really don’t know yet,” he replied. “Really?!” she shot back, sounding like a mom who was disappointed in something her son had done. He paused and respectfully listened to her pitch. When she rattled off several issues, Markus replied that he cares about good-paying jobs. He agreed to consider casting a ballot on Nov. 6. Mitchell smiled broadly. Once again, she hoped, she might have “flipped the switch.”
Other times she knows people are inside in their houses but not answering their doors. When that happens, she often persists in knocking until they come talk to her. “I knock, and I listen for movement,” she said. “If the dog barks and no one tells it to be quiet, I know no one is home. I’ve been doing this for so long that I can kind of feel it.”
-- It was a 42-degree autumn afternoon, but the wind made it feel cooler and dusk was approaching. All 10 of the canvassers wore red “Fight for $15” shirts over their coats and sweaters. They’ve been meeting since May almost every weekday at 3 p.m. in a community center, where they receive a 20-minute briefing and then cram into a white Ford van to head out together to wherever their “turf” will be that day. They stay out until 7 p.m.
Anthony Rogers, 38, led a chant as the group trekked to its assigned neighborhood last week. Suddenly he cried out, “What are we fighting for!?” The others yelled back without missing a beat: “Change! Change! Change!” They repeated the back-and-forth twice more. This is their daily warm-up.
Rogers worked on a landscaping crew until allergies forced him to give up cutting grass. Then he got a maintenance job at Checkers, the drive-in chain. An SEIU organizer came by one day and told him about its movement to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers like him. He went to a rally, learned he could be paid to knock on doors and quit his job. That was two years ago.
Discussing lessons he’s learned as a professional canvasser, Rogers spoke about the virtues of being patient when doors get slammed in your face or people talk to you from behind metal screen doors that they keep closed. “Sometimes you have to go to 10 doors before someone answers because you have people not home, sleeping or working different shifts,” he said. “Be nice. A smile goes a long way. And stay humble no matter what type of attitude they have.”
-- The SEIU is part of a coalition called Win Justice that includes three other groups: Planned Parenthood Votes, Center for Community Change Action and Color Of Change PAC. Together, these organizations and their local partners will spend $30 million to engage a universe of 2.5 million voters in three states —— Florida, Michigan and Nevada. The universe includes people of color, women and young people.
Ariana Hawk, 28, is a paid field organizer for Color Of Change in her hometown of Flint, Mich. “I didn’t vote for Obama [either time] because I felt the system was rigged and I didn’t think my vote mattered,” she said. Then the water in her city became undrinkable for her five kids, a crisis that drew national attention. “I didn’t care about the governor’s race four years ago. Now I look back and it’s like, ‘Dang! I wish I had,’” she said.
Hawk has helped recruit a team of 22 volunteers in Flint. Together they’ve knocked on 5,000 doors this year. “I’m only 28, so when people see me they’re shocked I’m even talking about voting,” she said. “You can strike up a conversation and they say, ‘If you care, then I should care.’”
-- Another partner organization in Detroit is the Michigan People’s Campaign, which says it has 50 trained organizers who have struck up tens of thousands of conversations with African Americans and Latinos about why they should vote in 2018. Bartosz Kumor, the director of movement politics for the group, said they’ve been experimenting with new techniques of relational voting. “People are matching up the contacts in their phones to the voter file,” he said. “We have a microtargeted list of voters we’re trying to reach. Then they’re texting them and engaging them about what this election means to them personally.”
Many of the people reached had registered to vote for Obama but stayed home in 2014 and 2016. “The voters we’ve been talking to are the voters who are often the least likely to vote,” Kumor said. “We’re talking to them about issues that really affect their lives, from immigrant rights to mass incarceration to family care. In one form of another, what we’re hearing on doors is that people are hurting but there’s also a lot of hope that this election can bring about real change in people’s lives. I think we’ll see a lot of folks who missed 2016 showing up in 2018. Part of it is the consequences of the 2016 election.”
-- During an extended interview in her corner office on the eighth floor of SEIU’s national headquarters off Dupont Circle in Washington, Henry said she continues to get pushback from some prominent progressives over her spending so much on trying to reach minority populations who are perceived as unlikely to vote in the midterms. “I have to tell you, in most of my engagements outside of our union, I end up getting into an argument about why it matters, which is kind of shocking to me, because the discourse is still about white working-class defections to Trump,” she said.
The SEIU president emphasized that half of her members are from communities of color. “We also represent white men, and I don't think they should be written off,” said Henry. “They understand the union as their vehicle for at least economic security, if not a voice in our democracy. Some of our white male members might not see the union as a more global advocacy tool, but they sure as hell care about health care and their retirement. And we're not going to address those key issues unless the union is bigger than our wages, hours and working conditions. We've tested it. We worked with Demos [a progressive organization] in January and February to figure out how to deal with race and class way more head on, so that our white members don’t fall to the divide-and-conquer messaging coming from the opposition, and we’ve found that to be very effective as well.”
Even if Democrats make huge gains the week after next, Henry won’t be content. “Success will require rewarding people's decision to overcome their own cynicism and decide to act,” she said. “For me, it has to be more than a blue wave. It has to be grounded in people's deep sense that, ‘I'm overworked and I’m underpaid. Don't tell me about an economy that's booming, because it's not booming in my day-to-day life.’ Having candidates speak to that and workers feel like, ‘If I show up and vote, I can begin to make a change’ are the key ingredients to what we hope will signal the beginning of a turnaround.”
The SEIU sees this as a long-term project. “We talk about it as ’18, then ’20, then ’22,” said Henry. “We have to do what they did — our opposition — which is to play the long game. They chipped away [at union power]. We’ve got to make gains in a similar way.”
-- Point of personal privilege: A big thank you today to Breanne Deppisch, who spent two-and-a-half years as a research assistant for The Daily 202. Breanne joined the newsletter at a very hectic time right before the Iowa caucuses in 2016 and put in a lot of overnight hours covering the Trump campaign and its aftermath. Breanne is heading to The Aspen Institute as a senior staff writer, where she will help anchor a new initiative in the field of cyber and national security. We wish her well and will miss her.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Trump is considering shutting the southern border to Central American migrants, denying them a chance to apply for asylum in a strategy reminiscent of last year’s travel ban. “The White House is also preparing to deploy as many as 1,000 additional U.S. troops to assist in security operations at the southern border in anticipation of the [migrant] caravan’s arrival,” Nick Miroff, Dan Lamothe and Josh Dawsey report. “Under U.S. law, foreign nationals fleeing persecution have the right to apply for asylum once they reach American soil, but the executive order under consideration would suspend that provision and bar Central Americans as a matter of national security . . . Such a move would probably trigger immediate challenges in U.S. courts. … Several administration officials cautioned that the proposal is not yet finalized and is one of several measures under consideration.”
-- “During the final stretch of every campaign since his presidential effort began in 2015, Trump has always returned to the topic of immigration, launching an angry, nativist appeal at his core supporters,” Matt Viser and Josh Dawsey report. “It’s an attempt to dominate the conversation, to flood the airwaves in a way that connotes an immediate threat, even if the group of immigrants is still about 1,000 miles away from the U.S. border. The White House has begun a daily call about the caravan, according to people familiar with the call, with officials from both the administration and Congress. White House and Republican Party officials also are urging surrogates to go on TV and talk about it.”
-- “Why travel with the caravan? To avoid one of the world’s most dangerous smuggling routes,” by Kevin Sieff: “Each year, when tens of thousands of Central Americans make the journey to the United States, they travel through a network of smugglers, or coyotes, whose prices have risen exponentially over the past decade, as criminal groups have become increasingly involved in the trade, and as border security has tightened. According to a report last year from the Department of Homeland Security, a journey that cost roughly $2,000 in 2008 cost an average of $9,200 in 2017. Then came the caravan: A journey to the border offered free of charge, promising security in numbers and public attention. Unlike the smugglers’ proposition, though, it wouldn’t help the migrants cross into the United States.”
-- The Trump administration acknowledged it undercounted the number of migrant children it separated from their parents, causing the children to be left in federal custody for months. Politico’s Dan Diamond reports: “The Trump administration failed to include at least 14 migrant children in its count of minors whom officials separated from their parents at the border … The revelation was contained in a [court] filing in which administration officials acknowledged that their previous count of 2,654 separated children was inaccurate, and raising it to 2,668.”
-- The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annual growth rate in the third quarter of 2018. “Growth dipped from the second quarter’s 4.2 percent rate, but the economy still posted its best back-to-back quarters in four years,” David J. Lynch reports. “The latest economic report card capped a week of mixed economic news. On Thursday, the Census Bureau said new orders for durable goods rose a better-than-expected 0.8 percent in September. And the labor market remained strong with new claims for unemployment insurance remaining near half-century lows, according to a separate Labor Department report. But with mortgage rates topping 5 percent, the housing market showed signs of weakening.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Category 5 Typhoon Yutu became the worst tropical cyclone to hit any part of the United States since 1935, devastating the Northern Mariana Islands. At least one death has already been reported. Yutu’s powerful winds knocked down hundreds of power poles and reduced many buildings to rubble. (Chris Mooney, Juliet Eilperin and Allyson Chiu)
A shipment of weapons recently seized by the U.S. Navy may provide new evidence of Iranian support for Houthi rebels in Yemen. U.N. investigators are seeking to identify the origin of the 2,500 AK-47s, which are being stored aboard the USS Jason Dunham in the Persian Gulf. (Missy Ryan)
A New York state judge appeared skeptical of arguments from one of Trump’s lawyers that a lawsuit involving his charity should be dismissed. Lawyer Alan Futerfas argued that any possible infractions committed by the Donald J. Trump Foundation were too minor to merit a lawsuit, but Judge Saliann Scarpulla emphasized the president’s charity still needed to comply with relevant laws. Futerfas also claimed Trump had to spend $10,000 of the charity’s money on a portrait of himself because the painting attracted no other bidders during a 2014 auction. (David A. Fahrenthold)
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) met with members of a far-right Austrian party with historic Nazi ties during a trip funded by a Holocaust memorial group. King, who is known for his hard line immigration views, spoke to a website associated with the party after a five-day trip to Jewish and Holocaust historical sites in Poland, including Auschwitz. (Mike DeBonis)
A new CDC report said fewer than 4 in 10 U.S. adults got flu shots last winter. Vaccinations were the lowest in seven years and could have been a reason last year’s flu season was the deadliest in decades. (Lena H. Sun)
- Japanese journalist Jumpei Yasuda returned home after being kidnapped and jailed for three years by Syrian militants. The circumstances surrounding Yasuda’s release from what he described as his personal “hell” are unclear, though he is believed to have been captured by fighters linked to al-Qaeda while on a reporting trip to northern Syria. (Louisa Loveluck)
Megyn Kelly and NBC executives are negotiating her exit from the network. Her departure is expected to be announced in the coming days, and she will not return to “Megyn Kelly Today.” (CNN)
MORE ON THE MIDTERMS:
-- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been telling associates that Republicans are in a strong position to hold the Senate and could pad their narrow majority by a couple of seats. Sean Sullivan reports on the state of play: “The optimism marks a shift from early September, when officials were fretting over struggling candidates and contemplating the possibility of losing both chambers of Congress. Although Republicans still feel like underdogs to hold the House amid anger with Trump, especially in the suburbs, they believe they have energized enough voters in Trump-friendly regions to keep the Senate, thanks to an uptick in the president’s popularity and GOP outrage with Democratic efforts to prevent the confirmation of [Brett] Kavanaugh…
“Republicans say they are well positioned to pick up a seat in North Dakota and are closing in on another one in Missouri, where polls show a close race. But struggles in the Upper Midwest and fresh worries about Florida have raised questions about how many more they can add. GOP strategists also think they have gained the advantage in Texas and Tennessee, two states that caused nervousness earlier this year. Nevada and Arizona, which they are also defending, are still vulnerable but are winnable, they said. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — all states Trump won — Democratic incumbents are heavily favored to win reelection.
“In West Virginia, a state Trump won by 42 percentage points, GOP leaders are not optimistic about defeating Sen. Joe Manchin … A couple of other contests have attracted spending from outside groups in recent weeks. In Montana, Republicans haven’t given up on unseating Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, though public polls have shown him leading. In New Jersey, a national Democratic super PAC has spent money defending Sen. Robert Menendez (D), who avoided conviction in a federal corruption trial last year. He is favored to win reelection.
“The president’s political team is trying to remain flexible on his schedule for as long as possible to allow polling, early voting and other emerging data to identify the Senate, House and governors’ races where he can maximize his impact … ‘These are not red states, these are not Republican states. These are Trump states,’ said White House political director Bill Stepien.”
-- Mindful of the GOP's image problems on health care, Trump outlined an election-eve plan to begin following through on his 2016 promises to lower drug prices. The president said in a speech at the Health and Human Services Department that his administration would allow Medicare to directly negotiate prices with drug companies, which he called a “revolutionary” step. “Americans pay more so other countries can pay less,” Trump said. “It’s wrong. It’s unfair.” (Paige Winfield Cunningham and Felicia Sonmez)
-- The White House is devoting extra time and attention to Florida’s races out of fear that Democratic wins could imperil Trump’s chances for 2020. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “Trump is expected to visit the state at least twice, according to two people familiar with the plans. Visits from several Cabinet members are likely, as well. Presidential text messages are being sent to Floridians who still haven’t cast their absentee ballots. And discussions are underway about blanketing the state with robocalls from Trump. … Behind the scenes, Trump aides have been in contact with top Florida Republicans on a near daily basis, and people close to the president concede that they are worried. … It’s the governor’s race that most concerns the White House.”
-- Georgia Democratic officials said that more than 4,700 vote-by-mail applications were missing in the liberal-leaning DeKalb County. The New York Times’s Matt Flegenheimer, Jonathan Martin and Astead W. Herndon report: “County officials acknowledged the missing applications in a phone conversation this week with Democratic voter protection officials, and pledged to call the thousands of voters to inform them of the error[.]”
-- Breaking with recent predecessors, Melania Trump is staying far away from the campaign trail and the fundraising circuit — even though she's way more popular than her husband. Emily Heil reports: “First ladies have been not-so-secret weapons in previous midterm elections . . . But Melania Trump’s decision to stay out of the midterm fray isn’t surprising to some. She isn’t a natural campaigner, and her role in her husband’s 2016 campaign was more limited than that of other candidates’ spouses. She has seemed nervous when delivering public remarks, unlike her husband, who relishes the attention of chanting crowds and reporters with outstretched microphones.”
-- Supporters of Democratic congressional candidate Jennifer Wexton in a Northern Virginia swing district are more motivated to oppose GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock than to vote for Wexton. Jenna Portnoy and Emily Guskin report: “The opposite is true in 69 battleground districts across the country where more voters who support Democrats say they are rooting proactively for the party’s candidate rather than against the Republican . . . In another departure from the national picture, the Republican Party’s reputation is weaker in the Northern Virginia district represented by Comstock than in battleground districts overall.”
-- Caitlyn Jenner wrote a Post op-ed expressing regret for arguing in 2016 that Trump would help the LGBTQ community: “I believed I could work within the party and the Trump administration to shift the minds of those who most needed shifting. … Sadly, I was wrong. The reality is that the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president. The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community. He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity. He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party, claiming his anti-transgender policies are meant to ‘protect the country.’ This is politics at its worst. It is unacceptable, it is upsetting, and it has deeply, personally hurt me.”
-- Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) raised more than $12 million during the first two weeks of October, which coincided with her vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Politico’s Maggie Severns reports: “Heitkamp’s haul in that short period was more than three times what the senator had raised during the previous fundraising quarter, when she brought in $3.7 million over three months. The disclosure filed Thursday with the [FEC] indicated that after Heitkamp announced her decision to vote against confirming Kavanaugh, the number of donors to her campaign spiked. While Heitkamp received an average of 221 donations a day in early October, she received an average of more than 3,000 donations per day on and after Oct. 4, the day she said she would vote no.”
-- Michael Bloomberg donated $43 million to Democratic super PACs in the first half of October. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy report: “Bloomberg, who recently registered as a Democrat from independent, divided the $43 million between his super PAC Independence USA and the Senate Majority PAC, which works to elect Democrats to the Senate, [FEC] records filed Thursday night show. … His latest giving brings his total contributions this cycle to at least $57 million, and he is expected to inject more cash through Election Day. This week, Independence USA reported ad buys for the final stretch of the campaign in two of the most competitive House races: $4.5 million in support of Katie Hill, the challenger in California’s 25th Congressional District, and another $4 million boosting the Democratic challenger Harley Rouda against incumbent GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in California’s 48th Congressional District.”
AMERICA ON EDGE:
-- Three more suspected pipe bombs — addressed to Robert De Niro and Joe Biden — were discovered, intensifying the search for a serial bomber. Devlin Barrett, Mark Berman and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. report: “One lead being pursued by investigators is that some of the devices may have been mailed from South Florida, but officials were cautious Thursday and urged the public to call in with tips from anywhere. The packages had many of the hallmarks of suspicious mail, including large block lettering and excessive postage aimed at making it harder to track, said Matthew Doherty, who formerly led the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center. The fact that none detonated provides investigators with considerable evidence.”
The timeline: “[T]he fourth day of the investigation began in the early morning hours when a retired NYPD detective who now works for De Niro saw an image of one of the suspect devices on the news. ‘It struck him that that looked very much like a package he had seen on Tuesday for mail he was to screen for Robert De Niro Productions,’ said John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism. … The bomb squad was called to De Niro’s offices in Lower Manhattan, and the device was found and removed by 6:30 a.m., officials said. Hours later, the FBI announced it had found two similar packages in Delaware. Both were addressed to Biden, but neither had made it to his home, officials said.” (Here is a full timeline of events since the first suspicious package was discovered Monday.)
-- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) issued a defiant response to the bomb threats against her: “I ain’t scared.” Felicia Sonmez reports: “In a video of an interview posted Thursday by the website Blavity, Waters said ‘we must not be intimidated’ in the wake of such violent threats. ‘We have to keep doing what we’re doing in order to make this country right,’ Waters said. ‘That’s what I intend to do. And as the young people say, ‘I ain’t scared.’ ’”
-- Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) received a death threat on social media. According to Curbelo’s office, U.S. Capitol Police were “immediately notified and quickly identified the individual responsible.” His home and district office are being monitored by Miami-Dade police officers, and he is making no changes to his schedule. (Felicia Sonmez)
-- A pair of false alarms caused panic in California and New York. A mailroom employee in one of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s California offices contacted authorities about a suspicious package that was later deemed safe. The Time Warner Center in Manhattan was partially evacuated as authorities investigated a “pair of unattended packages,” which were later given the “all clear.”
-- Trump attacked CNN around 3 a.m. Friday in his harshest terms since the network's headquarters received a pipe bomb on Wednesday:
Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, “it’s just not Presidential!”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2018
-- Many of Trump’s Republican allies have started echoing his finger-pointing at the media in the wake of the mail bombs. Politico’s Andrew Restuccia and Gabby Orr report: “White House officials and outside advisers bitterly protested the notion that Trump’s vitriolic rhetoric might have inspired whoever sent the packages. The alleged main offender was a familiar one — the news media, which conservatives insisted had rushed to unfair conclusions in an effort to undermine the president less than two weeks before the midterm elections. … ‘Look, it’s the media’s doing what the media does, which is any narrative that they can twist against Trump, they will do so,’ Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.”
-- “Why false narratives about the migrant caravan and mail bombs won’t go away on social media,” by Drew Harwell, Tony Romm and Craig Timberg: “Despite hiring thousands of employees and investing in teams dedicated to quelling phony information two years after the problem emerged during the 2016 presidential election, the country’s most influential tech companies have struggled to respond. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have resisted demands to remove some of the viral conspiracy theories and extremist content — a reflection both of the gravity of the task and of their belief that they should not serve as arbiters of truth.”
-- CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed Trump on the audio recording she heard in Turkey that purportedly captured the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as the Saudi government acknowledged his killing was “premeditated.” Karen DeYoung, Tamer El-Ghobashy and Kareem Fahim report: “The White House declined to provide details of her Thursday briefing, saying only that she had informed the president on her ‘findings and discussions.’ The briefing, which the State Department said [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo attended, coincided with the new statement by the Saudi prosecutor, which appeared designed at least in part to jump ahead of any conclusions the administration might draw from the new information. … It was not immediately clear how Haspel’s report and the announcement from Riyadh would affect the administration’s thinking amid bipartisan demands from Congress for severe punishment of Saudi Arabia[.]”
-- The European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution urging a European-wide arms embargo on Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi's death. Quentin Aries and James McAuley report: “The resolution came several days after Germany became the first Western government to suspend future arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest arms importer. On Sunday, [Angela Merkel] told reporters . . . ‘arms exports can’t take place in the current circumstances.’ But it remains unclear whether Thursday’s resolution will pressure the governments of individual E.U. member states to follow suit in giving up their own lucrative Saudi contracts. After the United States, Britain and France are Saudi Arabia’s two largest sources of arms. So far, both have issued scathing condemnations of Khashoggi’s killing but have stopped short of heeding Merkel’s example.”
-- Harvard and MIT, which have each accepted millions of dollars from Saudi entities, said they are looking into their relationships with the kingdom. The Boston Globe's Michael Levenson reports: “MIT has accepted at least $25 million from Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, since 2012, using the money to launch the MIT Energy Initiative, which is focused on developing clean and renewable energy. … In 2005, Harvard accepted $20 million from [the crown prince’s] cousin, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, to launch the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program, which has three endowed professorships that bear the prince’s name.”
-- Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have examined a series of January 2017 meetings between Michael Flynn and Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri — the Saudi intelligence chief blamed for Khashoggi’s killing — to discuss regime change in Iran. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff and Erin Banco report: “[Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] dispatched Assiri from Riyadh for the meetings, which took place over the course of two days … The January meetings have come under scrutiny by [Mueller’s] office as part of his probe into foreign governments’ attempts to gain influence in the Trump campaign and in the White House[.] The New York meetings were attended and brokered by George Nader, a Lebanese-American with close ties to leaders in the [UAE] who is currently cooperating with Mueller’s team … Steve Bannon was involved as well in conversations on Iran regime change during those two days in January[.]
“The communications show that participants in the meetings discussed a multipronged strategy for eroding, and eventually ending, the current Iranian regime — including economic, information, and military tactics for weakening the Tehran government.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN:
-- Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a key Trump ally, called for FBI and Justice Department officials to be investigated after a closed-door interview with George Papadopoulos. Karoun Demirjian reports: “‘Not only was there no collusion but there was not even the opportunity for collusion based on his contacts’ with alleged Russian intermediaries, [Meadows said]. … [Meadows accused] federal law enforcement officials of acting unconstitutionally by investigating Papadopoulos. … He said he would recommend that an unspecified number of officers be referred to the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, though he declined to identify them.”
-- National security adviser John Bolton is trying to force out Defense Secretary Jim Mattis by spreading rumors about his imminent departure. Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman reports: “Bolton and Mira Ricardel, the deputy national security advisor, who has repeatedly clashed with Mattis over Defense Department personnel appointments, believe the defense secretary is ‘not ideologically aligned’ with [Trump’s] administration, according to [a former senior defense official]. The two are trying ‘to build the sense that he is done for,’ the former official said. ‘They have the knives out.’ One Trump administration official noted, ‘Mira and Bolton are the only ones who benefit if Secretary Mattis leaves.’”
-- Pulling a Cheney: The administration has riled police groups with its selection of Uttam Dhillon as DEA chief after he was involved in vetting candidates for the job. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender reports: “As one of [Trump’s] top compliance and ethics attorneys in the White House, [Dhillon] had urged several candidates for [DEA] chief to withdraw from consideration, citing concerns about their background checks. Then, he accepted the job himself. … [Police groups] had pushed the White House to choose a DEA administrator with a law-enforcement background."
-- Brett Kavanaugh appears to be close friends with Noel Francisco, Trump’s solicitor general who will be arguing cases on the administration’s behalf before the Supreme Court. The Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports: “Emails obtained by the Guardian show that [Kavanaugh] participated in monthly evening cocktails and dinners from 2001 to 2003 with a group of men that included [Francisco]. It is not clear whether the dinners continued after Kavanaugh became a federal judge in 2006. … While it would not have been improper for Kavanaugh and other like-minded Bush administration officials to regularly meet for dinner and drinks at that time, new revelations about the identity of his circle of professional friends raise questions about how the close-knit relationships Kavanaugh forged with other lawyers might influence his rulings in the future.”
-- “Tom Barrack Got Trump Right, Then Things Went Wrong,” by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Caleb Melby: “Helping a fading reality-TV star with no political experience capture the White House might have led to a role in the administration or made [Barrack’s investment firm, Colony Capital,] a magnet for money from around the world. But mixing business and politics hasn’t worked out for Colony’s 71-year-old executive chairman. Instead, he damaged relations with the Qatari royal family, his best business partner in the Middle East, by helping orchestrate a relationship between the White House and the Saudis. Meanwhile, Colony hemorrhaged talent, raised only half the debt fund’s target, and entered into an ill-fated merger. Its shares have fallen about 60 percent since Trump’s inauguration, even as U.S. market indexes have risen more than 20 percent.”
THE #METOO MOVEMENT:
-- The former acting chief of staff to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) filed a complaint with a special congressional office claiming she was fired for getting pregnant. Elise Viebeck reports: “Kristie Small submitted a request for counseling Monday with the Office of Compliance … after she was terminated [last week]. Small said that when she asked the Texas lawmaker to meet to discuss plans for her maternity leave, he told her she was on a 90-day ‘probation period’ and set two new markers for her performance that he later claimed she had failed to meet. ‘I knew I was doing an excellent job,’ Small said [in an interview]. ‘All of this started happening in response to my maternity-leave email. It’s 100 percent clear to me that had I not been pregnant, I would still be in this job.’ … Small said Cuellar had never raised concerns about her performance before then.” An analysis released earlier this year found that Cuellar had the House’s fifth-highest level of staff turnover between 2001 and 2016.
-- “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android,’” by the New York Times's Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner: “Google gave Andy Rubin, the creator of Android mobile software, a hero’s farewell when he left the company in October 2014. … What Google did not make public was that an employee had accused Mr. Rubin of sexual misconduct. [The woman said Rubin coerced her into sexual acts] in a hotel room in 2013 … Google investigated and concluded her claim was credible[.] Google could have fired Mr. Rubin and paid him little to nothing on the way out. Instead, the company handed him a $90 million exit package … Mr. Rubin was one of three executives that Google protected over the past decade after they were accused of sexual misconduct.”
-- In response to the Times report, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees in an internal memo that as many as 48 people have been fired from the company over sexual harassment allegations over the past two years. Brian Fung reports: “Pichai said the company is ‘dead serious’ about dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct in [the memo] … ‘None of these individuals [who were fired over sexual harassment claims] received an exit package,’ he wrote in the memo, which was co-signed by Eileen Naughton, vice president of people operations.”
MICHAEL AVENATTI IS STILL IN THE NEWS:
-- Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) referred Michael Avenatti and one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Julie Swetnick, to the DOJ for a criminal probe, alleging they made “materially false” statements to the Senate panel. Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck report: “Swetnick said in a September affidavit that Kavanaugh attended a 1982 house party during which she says she was gang raped — an accusation Kavanaugh vehemently denied and said was from the ‘Twilight Zone.’ Grassley said he is asking [DOJ] to look into whether Swetnick and Avenatti potentially conspired to give materially false statements to Congress and obstruct a congressional investigation.”
-- “Michael Avenatti's Past Won't Stop Him From Running in 2020,” by Time's Molly Ball and Alana Abramson: “If it suddenly seems like Avenatti is everywhere, that’s because he is. His knack for inserting himself into the liberal crusade of the moment has made him ubiquitous on cable TV, [and] this fall he has become equally visible on the campaign trail … All this has clearly been good for Avenatti … whose main occupational hazard, he tells TIME, is telling apart the naked pictures sent by political opponents trying to entrap him from those sent by sincere admirers. But is it good for the Democrats? Does a party that spends its every waking moment deriding Trump as a divisive egomaniac really want to rally behind another pugilistic neophyte? . . . Even as he fought for Stormy, Swetnick and separated mothers, he has been embroiled in personal and professional disputes … including IRS probes, long-running lawsuits against him and his firm, and a contentious, expensive divorce.”
-- Avenatti was sharply criticized by many on the left for telling Time magazine it would be beneficial for Democrats to nominate a white male for president in 2020. “I think it better be a white male,” he said. “When you have a white male making the arguments, they carry more weight . . . Should they carry more weight? Absolutely not. But do they? Yes.” (Eli Rosenberg)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
An ad from The Post demanded more answers from Saudi Arabia about Jamal Khashoggi's death:
Beginning today, The Washington Post will run its second iteration of ads to further push for information on Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s death. pic.twitter.com/O40YBtPx0f— Washington Post PR (@WashPostPR) October 25, 2018
Many pointed out that Trump's tweet claiming he rarely uses a cellphone was posted from an iPhone:
Trump tweeted from an iPhone about how he doesn't use an iPhone pic.twitter.com/NMh8u43qMZ— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) October 25, 2018
The New Yorker lampooned Trump's cellphone usage with a cartoon:
Trump also said the United States should model its immigration policy after Italy's:
...I agree with their stance 100%, and the United States is likewise taking a very hard line on illegal immigration. The Prime Minister is working very hard on the economy of Italy - he will be successful!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2018
A former CIA director said Trump should blame himself for the anger in society:
Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror. Your inflammatory rhetoric, insults, lies, & encouragement of physical violence are disgraceful. Clean up your act....try to act Presidential. The American people deserve much better. BTW, your critics will not be intimidated into silence. https://t.co/cS5qNiuU7o— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) October 25, 2018
A Post reporter shared these anti-CNN images from Trump's rally after the network's headquarters was targeted with a pipe bomb:
Just a handful of examples of anti-CNN rhetoric from President Trump’s recent rallies... pic.twitter.com/8wFtT0Bi2k— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) October 25, 2018
Our senior congressional correspondent questioned Chuck Grassley's move against one of Kavanaugh's accusers:
Odd move by Grassley: To charge Swetnick with lying to Congress, FBI probably needs to thoroughly investigate Kavanaugh's Georgetown Prep years to disprove her allegations.— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) October 25, 2018
Does Grassley really want the FBI probing any Justice's high school years?https://t.co/CbLfrjVWBH
Michael Avenatti appeared to backtrack on his comments to Time about Democrats nominating a white male in 2020:
Let me be clear: I have consistently called on white males like me to step, take responsibility, and be a part of stoping the sexism and bigotry that other white males engage in. It is especially important for them to call out other white males. I make this pt in my speeches.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) October 25, 2018
But Avenatti's original comments still attracted fierce criticism. From a former Democratic South Carolina legislator and CNN commentator:
You perpetuated a myth of supremacy, do you get that? Do you understand how that makes nonwhite males feel?— Bakari Sellers (@Bakari_Sellers) October 25, 2018
Your theory of white male supremacy is easily disproved. Who is a better lawyer, Cochran or Avenatti? A better politician Obama or Avenatti?
I’m furious and disappointed. https://t.co/XugOrhHxBA
A former House speaker shocked an audience with this comment:
If Dems take control of the House and subpoena Trump's tax returns, Gingrich told @ktumulty that the legal fight would go to the Supreme Court "AND WE WILL SEE WHETHER OR NOT THE KAVANAUGH FIGHT WAS WORTH IT." Audible gasps in audience as he spoke: https://t.co/LkE6CbkUA1— Mary Jordan (@marycjordan) October 25, 2018
Beto O'Rourke continues to attract large crowds in Texas, per a Dallas Morning News reporter:
A Republican lawmaker provided a creative reason for why he may not be able to appear alongside Trump when he visits Illinois: The president's event is on Saturday, and he's got somewhere to be on Sunday:
Why one GOP congressman may not be able to join Trump for his upcoming visit to Illinois, via Chicago Tribune --> pic.twitter.com/dsmgAJszim— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) October 25, 2018
A GOP congressman and Senate candidate welcomed a new granddaughter to the world:
Grandchild #5, Willa Ruth Senne was born at 7:30 this evening and is healthy and beautiful. Annie, Nick and Nico are all great too. God is good! pic.twitter.com/hxczE5Wvg0— Rep. Kevin Cramer (@RepKevinCramer) October 25, 2018
-- New York Times, “A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun,” by Mikhail Gorbachev: “Trump says he plans to withdraw from a nonproliferation treaty that I signed with Ronald Reagan. It’s just the latest victim in the militarization of world affairs.”
-- Wall Street Journal, “At Netflix, Radical Transparency and Blunt Firings Unsettle the Ranks,” by Shalini Ramachandran and Joe Flint: “At a Netflix Inc. corporate retreat in July, Chief Executive Reed Hastings teared up as he addressed some 500 executives. Mr. Hastings had recently fired his chief communications officer for saying the ‘N-word’ in full form. … The company’s handling of the ensuing backlash put on stark display the ‘Netflix way’ — a culture where radical candor and transparency are among the highest virtues, and where openly discussing whether people should be fired, and explaining why they were, are common rituals. … Netflix takes its culture seriously, believing it a crucial ingredient in the success the company has enjoyed en route to becoming a behemoth with 137 million global subscribers. To many Netflixers, the culture, at its worst, can also be ruthless, demoralizing and transparent to the point of dysfunctional.”
-- “‘Just get rid of her’: Megyn Kelly is again in trouble, but NBC colleagues rejected her long before,” by Sarah Ellison: “In interviews, a half-dozen current and former NBC staffers … outlined a compounding list of problems: Inside the building, colleagues had grown envious of [Kelly’s] large salary, exasperated by her on-air gaffes and disdainful of her low ratings. ‘Everyone’s feeling is, even if you have to pay her [the remainder of her contract], pay her,’ said another NBC staffer. ‘Andy [Lack], you can save face with this entire thing. Just get rid of her.’”
-- “‘He’s moving away’: Matthew Shepard’s parents prepare to lay their son to rest at Washington National Cathedral,” by Samantha Schmidt: “It wasn’t until Judy and Dennis Shepard were sitting on the plane, leaving their home state of Wyoming for the nation’s capital, carrying their son’s ashes, that the feeling sank in. ‘Matt’s moving away now,’ Judy Shepard, 66, recalled thinking as the flight took off earlier this week. Twenty years after their son, Matthew Shepard, was brutally pistol-whipped and left to die on a buck-rail fence in a cold Wyoming prairie, making him a lasting symbol of the gay rights movement, his parents were on their way to lay his remains to rest — in a crypt in Washington National Cathedral.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Pew survey: It’s getting harder to be Latino in America,” from Arelis R. Hernández, Abigail Hauslohner and Samantha Schmidt: “It is harder to be Latino in America than it was before [Trump] was elected, according to a new survey from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. Nearly half of Hispanics say the situation has worsened for people of their ethnicity in the past year — up from about a third just after the 2016 elections. A similar percentage are insecure about their place in the United States with Trump as president, and over 6 in 10 are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country — the highest rate since the 2008 Recession. … Though political engagement varies among subgroups, the survey found that Latinos are generally more interested in and focused on the midterm elections than they have been in the past. . . .[And] among the 23 percent of Hispanic adults who identify or lean Republican, roughly 6 in 10 approve of Trump’s performance, compared with fewer than 1 in 10 Latino Democrats.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Meghan McCain Regrets Saying She Hates Hillary Clinton,” from HuffPost: “Meghan McCain says that she’s been doing some soul-searching regarding her own rhetoric on television and what her father, the late Sen. John McCain, would say if he were still alive. ‘Last year on this show I said ‘I hate Hillary Clinton’ and I called her ‘Crooked Hillary,’’ McCain said on ‘The View’ Thursday. ‘And it is one of the things I regret doing.’ ‘‘Hate’ is not a word that should be coming out of my mouth on television about someone of a different political persuasion,’ McCain said. ‘So I need to hold myself to the same standard that I would like to hold the president.’ McCain’s comments sprout from yesterday’s news that at least 10 explosive devices were mailed to CNN and various outspoken critics of [Trump] … [including Hillary Clinton]. McCain ended by asking everyone in the public eye to consider how their words might be doing more harm than good. ‘I implore everyone else in media, because I think we should cop to our mistakes,’ McCain said.”
Trump will speak at the 2018 Young Black Leadership Summit. He will then have lunch with Mike Pompeo and later travel to a campaign rally in Charlotte.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“He’s an intentional liar … It’s very different from just being a liar-liar.” — Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, speaking about Trump in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Nor’easter rains will soak Washington by this afternoon. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Before clouds, rain and breezes completely take over our afternoon, we may have a portion of our morning hours to get our last outdoor activities or errands done. Still, tote that umbrella with you in case the rain arrives before late morning (it’s possible with coastal storm systems). As the overcast and increasingly damp afternoon progresses, rain and easterly breeze intensity slowly increase. We could see some lower 50s for high temperatures before the rain arrives in earnest, but some locations could get capped in the upper 40s. It’s possible temperatures rise a bit higher near midnight but that remains to be seen.”
-- The Capitals lost to the Oilers 4-1. (Samantha Pell)
-- Maryland state employees are demanding raises and better working conditions from Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “Hundreds of state employees, including social workers, demonstrated outside the Maryland State House late Wednesday night … The public rebuke of Hogan, from workers represented by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 3, came just before the start of early voting in the highly charged governor’s race[.]”
-- Daron Wint was found guilty of killing the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper. Keith L. Alexander and Spencer S. Hsu report: “The jury’s Thursday verdict in the case against [Wint] came after an emotional — and often graphic — six-week trial that included hundreds of pieces of evidence and dozens of witnesses. Wint was the sole person charged in the killings of married couple Savvas Savopoulos, 46, and Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip, 10; and the family’s housekeeper, 57-year-old Veralicia ‘Vera’ Figueroa. Wint was convicted of multiple counts of murder as well as kidnapping, burglary and arson.”
-- Ronald Hamilton, who was convicted of killing his wife and a Prince William police officer, received life in prison without parole after a Virginia jury deadlocked on whether to impose a death sentence. (Ian Shapira)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Seth Meyers mocked “low-energy Trump”:
Stephen Colbert picked apart the Florida gubernatorial debate:
Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath released an ad about prioritizing country over party:
The Fact Checker declined to award any Pinocchios to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for her comments about the unemployment rate, but, as Glenn Kessler writes, “she needs to be careful”:
Michelle Obama surprised a group of high school seniors with free tickets to her book tour:
And The Post’s Department of Satire obtained “exclusive footage” of Trump tweeting from a hard line: