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The Daily 202: Four ways the midterm results challenged conventional wisdom

Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) carries a campaign sign outside a polling station in El Paso on Tuesday. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

with Joanie Greve

With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: There’s a trivial debate about whether this week’s results constitute a “blue wave.

That’s semantics.

Here’s reality: Democrats picked up more House seats than they have in any midterm election since 1974, three months after Richard Nixon’s resignation, and a dozen races still remain uncalled by the Associated Press. That’s all the more remarkable considering that the economy is booming, unemployment is historically low and wages are growing.

The whippersnappers elected in the class of 1974 were called “Watergate babies.” They took on the old guard and changed how Congress works. Among the Democrats who served as freshmen together were George Miller, Henry Waxman, Norm Mineta, Paul Tsongas and Jim Blanchard. Several went on to the Senate, from Max Baucus and Tom Harkin to Chris Dodd and Paul Simon.

The class of 2018 has many members who might similarly transform the institution. Many didn’t talk much about the president on the campaign trail, and they might resist the label, but they can fairly be described as “Trump babies.” Unlike 44 years ago, most members of this new guard are women and racial minorities. You’ll be hearing for years, and in some cases decades, from incoming freshmen like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Abigail Spanberger, Deb Haaland, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Other fresh faces like Antonio Delgado, Lucy McBath, Colin Allred and Xochitl Torres Small can expect challenging reelection races but could become formidable figures if they find a way to survive.

Democrats were expected to win the House and struggle in the Senate. That surprised no one. But here are four things that happened on Tuesday which challenged the conventional wisdom expressed by many pundits and prognosticators:

1. Latinos turned out.

A deluge of splashy stories in the weeks before the election suggested that the sleeping giant of Latino voters would stay in its slumber through 2018. Democratic strategists worried this could cost them pickup opportunities in Nevada, California and Arizona.

But exit polling showed that 11 percent of the electorate nationally this year was Latino — the same percentage as African Americans. That was up from 8 percent in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 midterms.

Lisa Garcia Bedolla, a political scientist at University of California at Berkeley, estimates that there was a nearly 120 percent increase in absentee and early ballots cast by Latinos in 2018 compared with 2014, based on her analysis of data from the research firm Catalist. Of those, 76 percent came from “strong” Democrats: “In Texas, Latinos requested 365 percent more early and absentee ballots than in 2014,” Bedolla writes. “Florida saw a 129 percent increase. In contrast, in California — which this year had a handful of highly competitive congressional races but no competitive statewide races — early and absentee ballots requested by Latinos still were up almost 50 percent over 2014.”

“Dónde votar,” which translates to “where to vote,” was one of the most searched terms during Tuesday on Google.

Democrats wound up winning the competitive Senate and governor’s races in Nevada, thanks partly to heavy Latino early voting in Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas.

Republicans thought Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) could be vulnerable in his majority-Latino district that includes Fresno because there’s historically low turnout from the community. Conservative media heavily promoted Elizabeth Heng, a young Cambodian American who attended Stanford. Costa wound up winning by nine points because Latinos showed up. In doing so, it looks like they might have also helped Democrats pick up two state Senate districts in semirural areas — which could give them back their supermajority in that chamber.

There will be at least 42 Latinos in Congress next year, a record. “Thirty-three of 44 Latino Democratic candidates and seven of 15 Latino Republican candidates won their races,” the AP tabulates. “About 64 percent of Latinos voted for Democratic congressional candidates and 33 percent voted for Republicans.”

To be sure, the Latino diaspora is not a monolith. Far from it. Florida Hispanics, such as Puerto Ricans and Cubans, tend to care less than their counterparts from Central and South America in the rest of the Sun Belt about immigration policy. Many second- and third- generation Hispanic immigrants support Republicans and don’t like undocumented immigrants who they feel are cutting in line to get citizenship. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Latino community is still nowhere near its full potential to sway elections. 

2. Some of the left’s biggest stars belly-flopped.

Liberal groups spent months hyping progressive candidates in tough races across the country, saying that their victories would prove Democrats can safely nominate an unapologetic liberal for president in 2020. But they lost almost across the board.

The two liberal candidates who won primary upsets over more moderate Democrats favored by the DCCC both lost on Tuesday. Kara Eastman lost by three points to Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) in Omaha, and Dana Balter lost by seven points to Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) in a Syracuse district that Hillary Clinton had carried.

Katie Porter ran as an acolyte of her mentor and former law professor Elizabeth Warren. That allowed her to win a crowded primary in Orange County, but she's trailing by two points to Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Calif.) with provisional ballots still being counted. Another progressive favorite, Randy “Ironstache” Bryce, lost by 12 points in the open race to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Former NAACP president Ben Jealous got crushed in the Maryland governor’s race, losing to incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan by 13 points — in a state Clinton won by 26 points two years ago.

Two groups from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, Our Revolution and Justice Democrats, failed to flip a single House seat. The moderate New Democrat Coalition won in 23 of the 29 races where it picked a horse, per NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald.

Trying to spin a disappointing election for themselves, liberal groups have taken to claiming credit for candidates they didn’t support, Dave Weigel notes.  As he writes in his newsletter The Trailer, “New York's Antonio Delgado, for example, pushed past some challengers who warned that he was not a true ‘progressive,’ yet in a pre-Tuesday memo, the Working Families Party included Delgado in a list of eight ‘races the DCCC would never have considered viral.’ That wasn't true, as Democrats had always intended to contest Delgado's 19th District. What was true? The other seven candidates on the WFP's list lost, and the progressive-backed challenger there in the 2016 election had lost, too.”

This narrative could shift if Andrew Gillum in Florida or Stacey Abrams in Georgia somehow prevails in a recount or a runoff, but both trail their opponents at this point. 

3. Democrats patched up the blue wall. They did not rebuild it. And Ohio is a huge problem for them with 2020 on the horizon.

Democrats made gains in several of the states that flipped from Barack Obama to Donald Trump. But they didn’t pick up as many House seats as they hoped in Pennsylvania, despite court-ordered redistricting that created a more favorable map. There was additional evidence that Michigan and Wisconsin will be hard fought again in the next presidential.

The returns from Ohio, though, were full of warning signs for Democrats. For a very long time, the Buckeye State has been the quintessential presidential swing state — both in deciding the winner and closely tracking with the national vote. But Trump won it by eight points in 2016, and Republicans outperformed expectations.

Democrats got their base voters out to the polls, but Richard Cordray still lost the governor’s race to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine by four points. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) won reelection with a message of economic populism against an underfunded opponent by six points, which was less than most polls forecast.

ProPublica reporter Alec MacGillis, who has spent a lot of time writing about Ohio the past few years, noted in a Thursday Twitter thread that Democrats lost every other statewide race and failed to pick up a single House seat. In fact, Democrats lost a state Senate seat in the Mahoning Valley near Youngstown. He suggests that “there’s a transformation underway in Ohio that is going to put the state ever further out of reach.”

“To put it bluntly, that is going to make the state closer to IN and MO politically than MI, PA and WI,” he tweeted. “As the share of white non-college voters drops nationwide, it’s holding strong in Ohio. The state is 82 percent white and only 28 percent of Ohioans have completed some higher ed. That’s partly because of brain drain — college grads leaving the state. But it’s also because the state’s investment in education has fallen way off. In the past decade, it actually declined. The state also tilts old. Only [750,000] of those registered to vote are between 18-24 compared to the 3.2 million who are 55 and over.”

In 2012, Obama won almost 40 percent of the vote in Meigs County, which is in rural southeast Ohio. But Clinton got only 23 percent there in 2016. Cordray did better, but he still wound up with 29 percent.

“If the party is still going to give Ohio a shot, it’s going to mean reckoning in a serious way with the gathering crisis in rural America,” said MacGillis. “Regional inequality is creating big winners and losers even at the state level. It’s benefiting Democrats personally in the sense that they are increasingly concentrated in the winner cities. But it’s not helping them politically in a state like Ohio. Columbus (and Cleveland and Cincinnati) can only deliver so many votes. And being so clustered in Columbus also limits one’s perspective. It’s hard to understand how rough things are getting elsewhere, what people are up against. And they’re getting pretty rough.”

4. Democrats finally won races by running on gun control.

Even with an influx of money from groups that support strict new gun laws, the conventional wisdom has remained that gun owners would be most motivated to vote around the issue. There were lots of stories written after the February shooting in Parkland, Fla., that downplayed the potency of the issue for Democrats and highlighted the risks of running on it. But Tuesday brought fresh evidence that the politics of gun control are changing, at least incrementally.

In 1994, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington State lost his House seat because he voted for the assault weapons ban. This week, his state overwhelmingly passed a ballot initiative to toughen the state’s gun laws.

“Such groups as the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Everytown for Gun Safety went toe to toe against the national gun lobby, helping defeat such longtime favorites of the National Rifle Association as Reps. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Pete Sessions (R-Tex.),” an editorial in today’s paper notes. “In Kansas, NRA A-rated Kris Kobach (R) lost the governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly, an advocate of common-sense reforms. In Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, the winner was Lucy McBath (D), who spoke powerfully about the cost of gun violence after losing her son to it.

“There clearly were other factors at play in these races, but as recently as five years ago it would have been unthinkable for candidates in Texas, Kansas and Georgia to campaign on gun reform,” the editorial concludes. “Sadly, a change in political thinking arises from the lengthening roster of grieving communities: Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; Sutherland Springs, Tex.; Las Vegas; Parkland, Fla.; Thousand Oaks. ‘It couldn’t happen here’ applies nowhere.”

This will be a live issue in the next Congress. As police officers processed the scene at a dance hall outside of Los Angeles, Nancy Pelosi pledged yesterday to fight for “bipartisan, common sense solutions” on guns in 2019. It’s almost impossible to imagine a Republican-controlled Senate passing any significant gun-control legislation, let alone Trump signing it as he heads into full-fledged reelection mode. But Pelosi can force a vote in her chamber and create a national debate.

A few hours after Republican Karen Handel conceded in the Atlanta suburbs, McBath promised to do all she can to pass tougher gun laws. “It is unfortunately not surprising that on the very same day I officially became a congresswoman-elect, other families in this country are receiving the same exact call that I did six years ago when I learned my son had been murdered,” she said in a statement. “I pray that Congress will support me in taking action to prevent these tragedies from affecting the lives of so many.”

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-- A federal judge temporarily blocked construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Fred Barbash and Allyson Chiu report: “It was a major defeat for [Trump], who attacked the Obama administration for failing to move ahead in the face of protests based largely on environmental concerns. Trump signed an executive order two days into his presidency setting in motion a course reversal on the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline. The decision, issued by Judge Brian Morris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, does not permanently block a permit but requires the administration to conduct a more complete review of potential adverse impacts related to climate change, cultural resources and endangered species. It basically ordered a do-over.”

-- Just before leaving the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions drastically limited the agency’s ability to use consent decrees to overhaul police departments accused of abuses. The New York Times’s Katie Benner reports: “In a major last-minute act, Mr. Sessions signed a memorandum on Wednesday before [Trump] fired him sharply curtailing the use of so-called consent decrees, court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governments that create a road map of changes for law enforcement and other institutions. The move means that the decrees, used aggressively by Obama-era Justice Department officials to fight police abuses, will be more difficult to enact. Mr. Sessions had signaled he would pull back on their use soon after he took office when he ordered a review of the existing agreements[.]”

-- First look: In her new memoir “Becoming,” which comes out Tuesday, Michelle Obama accuses Trump of putting her family’s safety at risk by spreading the false birther conspiracy against her husband. “The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” the former first lady writes. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”

She recalls that her “body buzzed with fury” when she heard the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump bragging about groping women: “It was an expression of hatred that had generally been kept out of polite company, but still lived in the marrow of our supposedly enlightened society — alive and accepted enough that someone like Donald Trump could afford to be cavalier about it.”

The 426-page book is divided into three parts: Becoming Me [about her upbringing in Chicago], Becoming Us [about her romance with Barack] and Becoming More [about her time on the public stage]. “As she campaigned for her husband’s reelection in 2012, she writes that she felt 'haunted' by the ways she’d been criticized and by people who had made assumptions about her based on the color of her skin,” reports Krissah Thompson, who obtained the early copy. “She thought then about what she owed and to whom: 'I carried a history with me, and it wasn’t that of presidents or first ladies. I’d never related to the story of John Quincy Adams the way I did to that of Sojourner Truth.'

She returns to a discussion of what she calls the angry black woman 'trap' that dogged her: 'I was female, black and strong, which to certain people . . . translated only to ‘angry.’ It was another damaging cliche, one that’s been forever used to sweep minority women to the perimeter of every room . . . I was now starting to actually feel a bit angry, which then made me feel worse, as if I were fulfilling some prophecy laid out for me by the haters.'

She also shares intimate details for the first time, for instance, that she and her husband had trouble getting pregnant, suffered a miscarriage, and that both daughters were conceived through in vitro fertilization. And that she did a great deal of this while her husband was away serving in the state legislature, leaving her to administer the shots that are a part of that process herself. ... She seeks to put an end to calls for her to run for office: 'I’ve never been a fan of politics, and my experience over the last ten years has done little to change that. I continue to be put off by the nastiness.'”


  1. Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she would give “a long, hard thought of consideration” to running for president in 2020. “I’ve seen the hatred and the division that President Trump has put out into our country, and it has called me to fight as hard as I possibly can to restore the moral compass of this country,” Gillibrand, who just won reelection, told Stephen Colbert. (John Wagner)

  2. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault, is still receiving threats. “Justice Kavanaugh ascended to the Supreme Court, but the threats to Dr. Ford continue,” her lawyers said in a statement. (NPR)

  3. Police are investigating an anti-fascist group’s protest that targeted Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s D.C. home as a suspected hate crime with “anti-political” bias. Carlson and his children were not home at the time, but his wife locked herself in the house’s pantry and called 911 as she feared the protesters would attempt to break in. (Allyson Chiu, Perry Stein and Emma Brown)

  4. Looking for a soft landing, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has reportedly reached out to Fox News to ask if they'd hire him as a contributor if he departs Trump's Cabinet. Zinke is being scrutinized for possible ethical violations being investigated by the Justice Department, and Trump said he would likely make an announcement next week about Zinke's future. A Fox News spokesperson said no one at the network has spoken to Zinke about such a role. (Politico)
  5. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was accused of promoting visual propaganda after she tweeted a video of CNN reporter Jim Acosta altered to exaggerate the aggressiveness of his interaction with an intern. The video, which was apparently made by a contributor to Infowars, was criticized by the president of the White House News Photographers Association as “deceptive, dangerous and unethical.” (Paul Farhi)

  6. The Fed declined to raise interest rates but indicated that a December hike is likely. Three more increases are expected to occur next year — likely angering the president. (Heather Long)

  7. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hospitalization for three fractured ribs is a reminder of Trump’s ability to continue reshaping the high court with a fortified Senate Republican majority. Ginsburg has kept up her court work through much more serious ailments, and the 85-year old has said she wants to serve for at least another five years. But the advanced age of Ginsburg and 80-year-old Stephen Breyer could give Trump more Supreme Court nominations if they choose to step aside. (Sean Sullivan)
  8. Former New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman (D) will not face criminal charges after multiple women accused him of assault. “I personally interviewed each of the women who cooperated with our investigation along with their attorneys,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “I believe the women who shared their experiences with our investigation team. However legal impediments, including statutes of limitations, preclude criminal prosecution.” (CNN)

  9. The FDA is expected to impose strict regulations on the sale of e-cigarette products. The regulations, which could be announced as soon as next week, come amid growing concern over the huge increase in vaping among minors. (Laurie McGinley)

  10. The Camp Fire in Northern California has already burned through roughly 18,000 acres and was zero percent contained as of last night. California officials scrambled to evacuate residents as the fire spread rapidly due to intense winds and extremely dry conditions. (Eli Rosenberg and Jason Samenow)

Twelve people, including a sheriff's deputy, were fatally shot Nov. 7 at the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif. (Video: Allie Caren, Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)


-- More details have emerged about the shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., which left 13 people dead. Katie Zezima, Mark Berman and David A. Fahrenthold report: “It was college night at a country-music bar in the third-safest city in America. Inside, people were line dancing. Outside, a man in black clothing approached the door. He shot the security guard with a .45-caliber handgun. Then he went inside. In the next few minutes, the gunman — identified by police as 28-year-old Ian David Long — killed 11 other people in the Borderline Bar & Grill, including a sheriff’s sergeant who rushed in to stop him. For many of those inside, there was a grim benefit to being young in America during an age of massacres: They knew exactly what this was, and they knew exactly what to do, in the way that past generations knew how to hide from tornadoes or nuclear bombs. … At least one survivor of the Las Vegas shooting was in the bar Wednesday — again trying to enjoy country music while on a night out — his second mass shooting in 13 months.”

-- Some of the shooting victims have been identified. They include Ron Helus, Alaina Housley, Dan Manrique, Justin Meek and Noel Sparks. With the exception of Helus — a sergeant with the sheriff’s office who entered the bar minutes after the first 911 calls came in — all of them were under the age of 35.

-- The shooter appeared to have killed himself after the massacre. Katie, Mark and David report: “Long grew up in the area, played high school varsity baseball, and joined the Marine Corps in 2008, the year he graduated. He served as a machine-gunner in Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011 and became a corporal two months later. He left the Marine Corps in 2013, and attended California State University at Northridge between 2013 and 2016 and did not graduate. … In recent years, police said they had ‘several contacts’ with Long, mostly for minor events including traffic accidents. In April, deputies were called to the home Long shared with his mother for a reported disturbance ... Neighbors described that incident as looking like a standoff, with police cars blocking the street and officers taking cover with rifles.”

 -- The deaths of an unarmed security guard and a sheriff’s sergeant have reignited the persistent debate over how public spaces should be defended against potential mass shooters. Justin Jouvenal and Alex Horton report: “The massacre, and others like it in recent months, show how difficult devising an effective strategy to head off an attack can be — and the exceptionally high cost it can exact on those on the front lines. The debate has gained urgency during the past year, as [Trump] and others have repeatedly said security guards — specifically armed ones — could have prevented the nation’s mass shootings … But several experts said there is little evidence to show armed security guards do much to curtail mass shootings.”

Over a series of 2017 interviews, acting attorney general Matthew G. Whitaker expressed skepticism about the Russia probe. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)


-- Acting attorney general Matt Whitaker does not intend to recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation. Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey report: “On Thursday, two people close to Whitaker said he does not plan to take himself off the Russia case. They also said he is deeply skeptical of any effort to force the president’s testimony through a subpoena. … If Whitaker were to take the threat of a subpoena off the table, that could alter the equilibrium between [Trump’s legal team and Mueller’s prosecutors] and significantly reduce the chances that the president ever sits for an interview.”

-- Conservative legal scholar George Conway, who is married to senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, co-wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Whitaker’s installation “unconstitutional.” Neal K. Katyal, former acting solicitor general for Obama, and Conway write: “A principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate. … [That] means that Mr. Trump’s installation of [Whitaker] after forcing the resignation of [Sessions] is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.Constitutionally, Matthew Whitaker is a nobody. His job as [Sessions’s] chief of staff did not require Senate confirmation. (Yes, he was confirmed as a federal prosecutor in Iowa, in 2004, but Mr. Trump can’t cut and paste that old, lapsed confirmation to today.) For the president to install Mr. Whitaker as our chief law enforcement officer is to betray the entire structure of our charter document.

-- Trump’s firing of Sessions highlights how he has become “unbound” now that the midterms are over. Philip Rucker reports: “For more than a year, Trump has mused privately and publicly about his desire to remove [Sessions] because he believed the attorney general was disloyal by recusing himself from the Russia investigation due to conflicts of interest. But Trump’s advisers, including his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, counseled him against the firing — at least until after the midterm elections. So on the day after the election, he did it. … [One] former official suggested part of Trump’s calculus may be that whatever political damage he suffers from ousting the attorney general could wear off before he faces reelection in 2020.”

-- Whitaker’s involvement with an invention-promotion company accused of fraud continues to attract headlines. Carol D. Leonnig, Rosalind S. Helderman and Robert O'Harrow Jr. report: “It is unclear how Whitaker — who [served on the company’s advisory board] — responded to a [FTC] subpoena to his law firm. In the end, the FTC filed a complaint against Miami-based World Patent Marketing, accusing it of misleading investors and falsely promising that it would help them patent and profit from their inventions, according to court filings. … World Patent Marketing — founded by Miami businessman Scott J. Cooper, who had donated $2,600 to Whitaker’s [2014] Senate campaign — prominently highlighted Whitaker’s résumé as a former U.S. attorney, which helped lend the company credibility.”

-- Whitaker said in an interview last year that “there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign.” The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff, Maxwell Tani and Will Sommer report: “[Whitaker] said in an interview on the Wilkow Majority show, ‘There was interference by the Russians into the election, but that was not collusion with the campaign. That’s where the left seems to be combining those two issues. The last thing they want right now is for the truth to come out, and for the fact that there’s not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Trump campaign had any illegal or any improper relationships with the Russians. It’s that simple.’"

-- House Democrats have discussed ways they could potentially protect Mueller’s probe. The New York Times’s Mark Mazzetti and Charlie Savage report: “Among the plans discussed, [one] lawmaker said, were a resolution to protect Mr. Mueller’s work, and efforts to insert language into must-pass year-end spending bills to insulate the investigation through judicial review and requiring critical documents be preserved.”

-- Mitch McConnell said he does not believe there is “any chance” Trump would shut down the Mueller investigation. “The president has said on multiple occasions the Mueller investigation should be completed,” the Senate majority leader said ...“He [wishes] it would happen sooner. But I don’t think there’s any chance that the Mueller investigation will not be allowed to finish.” (Felicia Sonmez)

-- Blood in the water: Several senior White House officials said the negative reaction to Whitaker’s installment could prevent him from remaining in the role. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Betsy Klein report: “[The officials said] they were surprised by the criticism … It was not widely known among White House staff that he'd commented repeatedly on the special counsel's investigation in interviews and on television — which is ironic given that this is what drew [Trump] to him and raises continued questions over the depth of the administration's vetting process. Sam Clovis, a 2016 Trump campaign national chairman who has close ties to Whitaker, encouraged him to get a regular commentary gig on cable television to get Trump's attention, according to friends Whitaker told at the time.”

-- Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is emerging as a top contender to take the attorney general position after multiple other candidates said they were not interested. Politico’s Eliana Johnson, Gabby Orr, Annie Karni and Ben White report: “Acosta has told associates he is unlikely to accept the job if it is offered before Mueller issues his report, according to two sources familiar with the ongoing conversations. And two other candidates approached by the White House about the position signaled they were not interested in the job. As a result, [Christie] has emerged as a strong contender … The president has said in recent days that he believes Christie, the first prominent Republican to back his presidential bid, has patiently waited his turn after being passed over for the job during the post-2016 election transition.”

-- More than 6,000 people took to the streets of New York City to protest Sessions’s firing. NBC New York’s Ray Villeda reports: “The demonstration was one of hundreds across the U.S. and overseas, quickly organized by the Move On advocacy group into a network called ‘Nobody Is Above the Law.’”

On Feb. 20, 2020, Roger Stone was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. President Trump commuted Stone’s sentence on July 10, 2020. (Video: Monica Akhtar, Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post)

-- During a Post interview, Roger Stone insisted he has done nothing illegal in his capacity as a Trump adviser. Manuel Roig-Franzia, Monica Akhtar and Erin Patrick O'Connor report: “Stone, a longtime Trump confidant, has for months urged the president to fire Sessions. … ‘I’m certainly guilty of bluffing and posturing and punking the Democrats,’ Stone said. ‘Unless they’ve passed some law against bulls--- and I missed it, I’m engaging in tradecraft. It’s politics.’”

-- One of Stone’s associates is challenging the validity of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. Ann E. Marimow reports: “Andrew Miller, a former assistant to Stone, appealed after losing his bid to block a grand-jury subpoena from Mueller. Miller was held in contempt, but that ruling is on hold pending the outcome of his appeals case. … Government attorney Michael Dreeben provided insight Thursday into how Mueller’s team has been operating under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. There is day-to-day independence, but the team has to report major developments, he said. Rosenstein can ask for explanations of prosecutorial decisions, and the team needs approval to grant immunity to witnesses, for instance, or to subpoena a member of the media.”

President Trump is restricting the path to asylum in his quest to curb immigration into the United States. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)


-- The Trump administration introduced measures to deny asylum to migrants, invoking the same authority cited in last year’s travel ban as the migrant caravan approaches the southern border. Nick Miroff reports: “The measures are expected to face swift legal challenges. Immigrant advocacy groups insist that U.S. laws clearly extend asylum protections to anyone who reaches the United States and expresses a fear of persecution, no matter how they enter the country. Administration officials said that the Supreme Court has upheld the president’s broad executive powers on such matters and that the restrictions rolled out Thursday represent a reasonable response as the nation’s immigration system is drowning in what they characterized as frivolous asylum claims by migrants who cross illegally. … Trump is preparing to issue a proclamation asserting the emergency powers, and the rule changes will be published Friday in the Federal Register[.]”

-- A federal appeals court ruled that Trump cannot immediately end DACA. The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit makes it more likely that the Supreme Court will settle the question,” Robert Barnes reports. “The Trump administration has asked the justices to add it to the docket for this term. … [A] number of courts around the country have ruled that the administration’s reasoning was incorrect and kept the program in place. Like the other courts, the panel did not question the administration’s power but faulted its approach. … The panel’s decision keeps in place an injunction from the lower court that allows DACA recipients to renew their applications.”

-- A lawsuit is demanding that Greyhound Lines stop allowing federal immigration agents to board its buses and demand proof of citizenship. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status for all California residents, was filed in Alameda County by a U.S. citizen, Rocío Córdova, who said she was traveling from San Diego to Phoenix by Greyhound in November 2017 when the bus on which she was riding pulled over on a highway to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to interrogate passengers."


-- Florida's Senate and gubernatorial elections may both be headed toward recounts, as Republican leads in each race narrowed to less than 0.5 percent. Michael Scherer reports: “Hundreds of party and interest-group volunteers spent the day trying to track down people who had cast provisional ballots, seeking affidavits to prove their votes should be counted. And in an echo of the 2000 presidential election, state Republicans tried to preempt the coming fight by accusing Democratic lawyers of heading to Broward County to ‘steal’ the election. In the Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott (R) had a lead of just more than 15,000 votes, or 0.18 percent, over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) as of Thursday night. In the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) trailed former congressman Ron DeSantis (R) by more than 36,000 votes, or 0.44 percent. Under Florida law, a statewide machine recount is conducted when the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent, and a manual recount is ordered if the margin is less than 0.25 percent. ... The stakes were evident when the Gillum campaign, in a rare exercise in American politics, backed away from the candidate’s election night concession.

-- Scott’s campaign and the Senate Republican campaign arm have filed lawsuits against two elections supervisors in the counties at the center of the controversy. CNN’s Maeve Reston, Jennifer Agiesta and Aaron Kessler report: “The lawsuits allege that the supervisors have not been transparent either about the collection of the vote or about the vote count, in violation of Florida law. … In his news conference, Scott accused the election supervisors of ‘mysteriously’ finding votes and called for a full ‘law enforcement’ investigation, promising to take any legal action necessary. … The campaign for [Nelson] said the governor's actions appeared to be ‘politically motivated.’”

-- Trump weighed in on Twitter overnight:

-- The top Senate Democrat fired back:

-- Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took a narrow lead over Republican Martha McSally in the Arizona Senate race, with fewer than 10,000 votes separating them as of last night. The Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reports: “The results were updated after 5 p.m. Thursday, the first time since election night that the tallies had been substantially updated. Sinema was leading as of 6:20 p.m. She had 932,870 votes, representing 49.10 percent of the total reported votes while McSally had 923,260 votes, or 48.59 percent. Green Party candidate Angela Green had earned 43,838."

-- Republican Brian Kemp resigned from his role as Georgia secretary of state and declared victory in the gubernatorial race, even as Democrat Stacey Abrams stood by her assertion that enough uncounted ballots remained to force a runoff. Elise Viebeck reports: “‘We won the race,’ Kemp told reporters. ‘It’s very clear now. We are moving forward with the transition.’ Kemp had 50.3 percent of the vote to Abrams’s 48.7 percent as of midday Thursday ... But the Abrams' campaign argued that balloting had been grossly mishandled, citing reports of voting hurdles and problems with vote-counting."

-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he believes race played a role in the contests of Gillum and Abrams, both black candidates. “I think you know there are a lot of white folks out there who are not necessarily racist who felt uncomfortable for the first time in their lives about whether or not they wanted to vote for an African-American,” Sanders said. “I think next time around, by the way, it will be a lot easier for them to do that.” (Daily Beast)


-- As Nancy Pelosi expressed “total” confidence that she will retake the speaker’s gavel, fellow Democrats who oppose her continued leadership scrambled to organize. Mike DeBonis reports: “[Pelosi’s opponents] are especially focused, according to aides and members familiar with their conversations, on a sizable group of incoming Democratic freshmen who expressed opposition to [Pelosi] on the campaign trail. Some of those members have said they will not vote for Pelosi under any circumstance, whether in an internal party vote this month or in the January floor vote to choose a speaker. Others have been more circumspect, calling for new leadership but stopping short of ruling out support for Pelosi. But arithmetic is everything: With Democrats on track to claim a roughly 12-seat majority as votes continued to be counted Thursday, those members — and their resolve in demanding new leadership — could be decisive...

The anti-Pelosi faction, led by Democratic Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.), Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), Tim Ryan (Ohio) and others, say that at least a dozen incumbent Democrats would vote to oppose Pelosi on the floor and that about as many freshmen could be persuaded to join them. Pelosi allies, however, doubt that tally and say only a handful will ultimately oppose her — especially with no declared alternative.”

-- The GOP's midterm losses have made it easier for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to become House minority leader. The Los Angeles Times’s Sarah D. Wire reports: “McCarthy spent the months since [Paul Ryan] announced his retirement quietly shoring up his support for a bid for speaker among the Republican conference and acting as a top campaign surrogate by raising money and support for colleagues across the country. … But some had questioned if McCarthy had done enough to court the most conservative members of the conference. … But the calculus is different for a minority leader race compared with a speaker’s race, which should make it easier for McCarthy to lock it down.”

-- The announcement by GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) that she would not seek another term as conference chairwoman cleared the way for Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, to join the Republican leadership team. DeBonis reports: “Cheney is the only candidate who has declared a desire for the post. If she is chosen in next week’s Republican leadership elections, it would mark a swift ascent for Cheney, 52, who was first elected to the House in 2016 but has long shown a desire to climb the GOP ranks[.]”

-- Reminder: Dick Cheney was the GOP conference chair from 1987 to 1989, when he stepped down to become George H.W. Bush's secretary of defense. He was 48 when he got the post.

-- House Democrats are planning a vote for early next year on protecting people with preexisting conditions. Erica Werner reports: “Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), who will be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee next year, said such a vote should happen immediately upon Democrats assuming control of the House in January. The vote would be the natural sequel to Democrats’ successful midterm strategy of focusing on health care and attacking Republicans relentlessly over their attempts to repeal [Obamacare]. During the campaign, many Republicans insisted they wanted preexisting conditions protected, a shift Democrats called disingenuous. A vote on the issue would give Republicans a chance to follow through.”

-- Pelosi said she wants to establish a House diversity office as one of the first acts of the new Congress. The AP’s Lisa Mascaro reports: “[Pelosi] is tapping into an issue that has been a priority for the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats and that reflects the results of the midterm election that swept more female and minority representatives into office. The House Diversity Initiative calls for creating a permanent office in the House with sufficient staff to help recruit and retain diverse employees to work in Congress, said a Pelosi aide.”

-- Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), the likely next chairman of the House Transportation Committee, believes Trump’s comments about striking a bipartisan infrastructure deal are sincere. Ashley Halsey III reports: “‘Trump is a builder. He gets it,’ DeFazio said. ‘The president got that as a candidate. He got derailed by the [economic advisers] he brought on board.’ DeFazio also declined to rule out a return to earmarks, a process in which members funded pet projects in their districts, bypassing the Department of Transportation or other federal agencies that normally control such funding.”


-- Trump will head to Paris today for a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I as foreign leaders wonder whether the midterm results will affect his “America first” agenda. David Nakamura reports: “European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, … have been mostly muted in their reaction to the election outcome. Foreign-affairs analysts said the Europeans, bruised by Trump’s sharp-elbowed posture, are under no illusions that his tone toward them will change despite the ballot box rebuke, and they are bracing for the possibility that the president could be emboldened to take more confrontational or destabilizing actions abroad if he is hemmed in at home. At the same time, foreign officials will be trying to assess whether the erosion of Trump’s political power signals a potential, if not immediate, shift back toward a more traditional U.S. leadership role internationally, propelled by the American public.”

-- House Democrats said they would use their new majority to scrutinize Trump’s conversations with world leaders. Carol Morello reports: “What a Democratic-controlled House can do is set the stage for 2020, making the case that Democrats are better at foreign policy and national security than Republicans. … The Democrats’ wish list includes hearings advancing alternatives to White House policies on climate change, refugees and migration, according to a Democratic aide[.]”

-- A Democratic House could pose problems for the renegotiated NAFTA deal. The Wall Street Journal’s William Mauldin and Vivian Salama report: “Securing congressional passage of the makeover of [NAFTA] will get a lot harder with a split Congress. A Democrat-led House gives Mr. Trump’s political opponents power to demand concessions in exchange for ratification of the new agreement … Most Democrats, backed by unions, have voiced skepticism about liberalizing trade unless the deals allow workers in the other countries to take advantage of higher labor standards and wages.”

-- The Trump administration is considering naming Yemen’s Houthi rebels a terrorist group. Missy Ryan reports: “The terrorist designation, which would inject an unpredictable new element into fragile diplomatic efforts to initiate peace talks, has been discussed periodically since at least 2016, according to several [sources]. But the matter has received renewed examination in recent months as the White House seeks to stake out a tough stance on Iranian-linked groups across the Middle East, they said. … [B]ut critics warn that such a move might also worsen already dire humanitarian conditions without pushing the conflict closer to a conclusion.”

-- Russia is demonstrating its influence on the world stage by hosting peace talks between Afghan officials and their Taliban rivals. Amie Ferris-Rotman reports: “Russia’s unprecedented hosting of the peace conference almost 30 years after it pulled out of Afghanistan in disgrace comes after the efforts of the United States and others have repeatedly failed to stem the constant fighting. … There are few expectations of significant breakthroughs during the Moscow meeting, which was attended by representatives of 11 countries, including regional heavyweights China, Iran and Pakistan.”


A Post reporter reflected on the frequency of mass shootings in America:

The commandant of the U.S. Marines offered his condolences to those affected by the shooting:

From a Post reporter:

A bipartisan pair of senators are pushing a bill to protect Mueller's probe:

A group of Democratic state attorneys general called on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe:

A former CIA director used emojis to express his anger about Whitaker's efforts to downplay Russian interference in the 2016 election:

A Post reporter noted Trump's silence on the caravan:

A CNN analyst commented on the midterm results:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) criticized the vote-counting process in Broward County as the Senate race remained uncalled:

He later clarified his comments:

A Democratic senator replied:

A former Republican congressman slammed Rick Scott's response to the delayed count:

Cindy McCain, the widow of the late senator John McCain, wants her ballot counted as the Arizona Senate race remains uncalled:

The Democrat who challenged Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) thanked his supporters:

Journalists who have covered autocratic governments expressed shock at the White House revoking a reporter's press credentials. As a New York Times reporter put it:

From a reporter for the UAE outlet the National:

From The Post's Jason Rezaian‏, who was jailed in Iran for two years:

This 2013 Trump tweet recirculated in light of the Acosta decision:

The Senate is out, but Mitch McConnell is in. He met yesterday with the owner of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal:


-- “Politicians’ sex lives used to be off limits. One scandal changed everything,” by Paul Farhi: “Gary Hart, then the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination for 1988, was confronted in an alley behind his Washington townhouse by reporters from the Miami Herald. A day earlier, the Herald team, acting on an anonymous tip, had tracked a young woman to Washington, where they spotted her entering the former Colorado senator’s home. They didn’t see her leave that night. Chaos ensued, briefly. … The frenzy devoured Hart’s nascent presidential campaign. That’s the rough outline of the story. The more important question — as [director Jason] Reitman explores in ‘The Front Runner,’ his dramatized account of the Hart episode that opens nationally Nov. 16 — is how and why it all came to that.”

-- Politico Magazine, “‘You’re Going to Know My Name! I’m Richard Ojeda!’” by Michael Kruse: “After he lost, the loudest, feistiest, most in-your-face congressional candidate in the country this year didn’t credit his opponent. He blamed Donald Trump. ‘To the president of the United States, I did not lose this race because of Carol Miller!’ boomed Richard Ojeda, the buzz-cut, tattooed Army paratrooper turned populist Democrat. … Losing candidates don’t admit defeat easily, and they seldom acknowledge missteps so soon after the votes have been tallied. But [Ojeda] insisted to me even in the wake of the loss that he still believes how he ran his race should be a ‘blueprint’ for how Democrats should run races in red states everywhere.”


“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Will Push Washington. Will Washington Push Back?” from the New York Times Magazine: “Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman elected to the United States House of Representatives, capping a meteoric rise for someone who began the year as a bartender at a Union Square restaurant. … Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said the transition period will be ‘very unusual, because I can’t really take a salary. I have three months without a salary before I’m a member of Congress. So, how do I get an apartment? Those little things are very real.’ She said she saved money before leaving her job at the restaurant, and planned accordingly with her partner. ‘We’re kind of just dealing with the logistics of it day by day, but I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January.’”



“Music tour ends after Benton Blount posts photo wearing ‘Make America Great Again' hat,” from the Greenville News: “Greenville singer and ‘America's Got Talent’ finalist Benton Blount said he was banned from Facebook for 24 hours and removed from his opening slot on Billy Gibbons' tour after posting a photo of himself wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat and an ‘I voted’ sticker. Blount was four shows into a seven-show slot opening shows for ZZ Top's Gibbons when he learned he had been kicked off the tour. The photo, which Blount shared on his Facebook page, also showed him eating a Chick-Fil-A sandwich, with the caption, ’Someone reading this just got offended multiple times. My work here is done! #Vote.’ … Blount said he wasn't given a reason for the temporary Facebook ban other than that his post ‘did not meet community standards.’”



Trump and the first lady will fly to Paris today.


Prince Charles was asked whether he will continue to weigh in on controversial issues after he ascends to the throne: “I’m not that stupid. I do realize that it is a separate exercise being sovereign. So of course I understand entirely how that should operate.” (Karla Adam)



-- Washingtonians should prepare for rain and possibly storms today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Upper 40s to low and mid-50s are about the best we can do. Showers and drizzle are the main theme until potentially widespread late afternoon or evening rains move in. Light but fairly steady east-northeasterly breezes should slowly shift to northwesterly by late afternoon.”

-- D.C. was one of the rainiest places in the United States this year. From Ian Livingston: “With 55.90 inches, the city’s rainfall total ranks as the sixth wettest on record for any calendar year dating to the 1870s. And, with more than 50 days left in 2018, this amount will rise. This rainfall output is neck-and-neck with some of the historically wettest cities in the nation in 2018 and, in some cases, wetter.”

-- Four years after kicking then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor out of office, Republican Dave Brat ran a rather timid (and ultimately unsuccessful) campaign. Laura Vozzella reports: “After Democratic protesters shouted him down at two town hall meetings last year, Brat stuck to tightly scripted public appearances. Campaign events were mostly closed to the media and publicized only after the fact; he last advertised one on Facebook in July. … [Brat] did not even appear at his own election night party. … His reticence on the campaign trail seemed out of character for someone remembered by former Randolph-Macon College colleagues for aggressively mixing it up on the basketball court and in faculty meetings.”

-- Urbano Vazquez, a Catholic priest at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Northwest Washington, has been accused of sexually abusing three teenage girls in 2015. Michelle Boorstein, Marisa Iati and Peter Hermann report: “The arrest of [Vazquez] on a single count of second-degree child sexual abuse marked the first new claim of abuse in a parish of the Archdiocese of Washington in almost 20 years, according to church officials.”


Jimmy Kimmel criticized the installation of Matt Whitaker at the head of the Justice Department:

Stephen Colbert lamented "the worst intern assignment":

Matt Wennerstrom, a survivor of the Thousands Oaks shooting, was applauded on social media after he described how he broke a window to help dozens of people to safety:

Here are scenes from a vigil last night:

Residents of Thousand Oaks, Calif. gathered for a vigil Nov. 8 after a mass shooting at a local country-music bar left 12 people dead. (Video: Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)

The Post fact-checked DHS’s claims about the alleged presence of criminals among the migrant caravan:

The Department of Homeland Security is stretching for data to back up the president's assertions. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

And a man captured his harrowing escape from the Camp Fire in California:

Colton Percifield took a video from his truck on Nov. 8, as he fled the Camp Fire in Northern California. (Video: Colton Percifield)