With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: As Florida’s 67 counties retabulate their ballots and lawyers duke it out in court, Rick Scott is hiring staff for a Senate office, conferring with Mitch McConnell about committee assignments and considering what asks he might make of President Trump to increase his effectiveness as a freshman.

Unofficial tallies show the Republican leading three-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by 12,562 votes out of more than 8 million ballots cast, a margin of 0.15 percent. Nelson, who never conceded, remains hopeful he will come out on top after recounts by machine and then, if the current margin holds, by hand.

Scott notes that this would require five times more votes shifting than during any recount in American history. He won both his terms as governor in the nation’s biggest swing state by one percentage point. So he always assumed — win or lose — his 2018 bid would be thisclose.

In a telephone interview on Sunday, Scott projected certitude that he will prevail as he reflected on what lessons Republicans might learn from his apparent midterm success in Florida and outlined his priorities for 2019.

“We won the election,” he said. “I'm looking forward to being up there. I'm looking forward to working hard. I've got a very specific agenda I've put out of what I want to accomplish. I know it's going to be hard. I won't make everyone happy. I did the same thing in Tallahassee. And it all worked out.”

Scott said he hasn’t decided when to fly to Washington. The Senate leadership elections are scheduled for Wednesday, and he’d like to participate. National Republicans have also encouraged him to attend new member orientation.

The 65-year-old said the committees he’d join have not been finalized and declined to elaborate on his choices. Nelson, 76, is the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee and formerly chaired the Aging Committee.

-- Scott hopes his friendship with McConnell will help him hit the ground running. Since I first asked the governor more than three years ago whether he planned to challenge Nelson in 2018, he has repeatedly reminded me that he was once a “constituent” of the Senate majority leader. As chief executive of the Columbia/HCA hospital company, he lived in Kentucky for a stretch during the 1990s. The two men have often met when Scott was in town for other events. “Elaine Chao and the senator are good friends,” he said, referring to McConnell’s wife (who is the secretary of transportation).

He noted that he’s also been friendly with several members of the Cabinet before they got their current jobs. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, for example, became one of Scott’s closest friends when he was governor of Texas.

-- The governor has also cultivated a relationship with Trump himself, whose reelection will require carrying Florida in 2020. At times Scott kept some distance during this campaign, though they stood side-by-side during the president’s final rally in the state before the election. He’s not as chummy with the president as Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, who is also locked in a recount. But he’s dined with Trump several times, from the Trump hotel in D.C. to the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

“My experience in life has been that if you go build relationships with people, and you don't ask for things that are foolish, you get things done,” Scott said.

On Monday morning, Trump again tweeted support for Scott and DeSantis:

-- Governors historically struggle to adjust when they first arrive in the Senate, especially when they come from big states. A governor gets a 24-hour security detail of troopers, commands his state’s National Guard and makes important executive decisions. A senator is one of a hundred members in the world’s most exclusive club. Over time they often get settled in and learn how to wield their influence to steer the ship of state, but sometimes it takes a while and often it feels unsatisfying.

A sitting senator who previously served as a governor once told me that, when he and his wife arrived at DCA ahead of his swearing-in, she asked him where their security detail was. He said she was floored when he told her that they had to take a cab into the city.

If the numbers hold, Scott would not be the only incoming senator who might face a difficult adjustment. Mitt Romney, his party’s nominee for the presidency six years ago, will be Utah’s junior senator.

Scott has pronounced himself totally unconcerned about the loss of such perquisites. The former CEO said his goal is to bring more of a “business attitude” to the legislative branch. He said he will comb through the national budget and look for ways to propose efficiencies. He will also seek to find tangible ways to get a higher “return on investment” for federal spending. And one of his top goals is to get more federal funding for Florida.

Asked if he’s interested in chairing the NRSC, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm, Scott sounded open to it. He didn’t rule it in or out but emphasized instead that he’s interested in doing whatever will make him most effective as a legislator. Perhaps raising money to elect other Republicans is one smart avenue to do so. “I’m going up there to get things done,” he said.

-- Scott put more than $64 million of his personal fortune into this Senate campaign, starting with an early ad blitz that successfully drove up Nelson’s negatives. His net worth, including assets in his wife’s name, is estimated at around $500 million, though it’s hard to know for sure because the ranges in the disclosure reports are so broad. He spent $75 million to win the 2010 governor’s race and $15 million on his 2014 reelection. If the results are certified, Scott will overtake Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) as the richest senator. (Warner made his money by getting in on the ground floor of the cellphone industry.)

Whatever happens, the Republican senators in the class of 2018 will always be grateful for how much of his own money Scott spent. Because Nelson was not a particularly prodigious fundraiser, national groups poured money into the megastate to keep the Democrat competitive. All told, outside Democratic groups invested close to $50 million. “Chuck Schumer and his left-wing groups spent over $50 million against me, and it didn't work,” Scott said.

Scott benefited from his own super PAC, but outside Republican groups not linked to the governor spent only a few million bucks on his behalf. That meant those groups could put more money into less expensive states like Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota, where GOP challengers defeated Democratic incumbents.

-- Scott thinks that the national GOP can learn from what happened in Florida, where Republican base turnout surpassed expectations while he also made inroads with Hispanic voters. He said his response to hurricanes last year and this fall showed voters that he cared about them and their problems. After Hurricane Maria, for example, he took eight trips to Puerto Rico and opened relief centers in Miami and Orlando. “I've been very vocal on the problems with the Castro brothers, with [Nicolas] Maduro in Venezuela and with [Daniel] Ortega in Nicaragua because those are issues that are important to that community,” he said. “My job is to be a full-service governor. That's what I was. I will be a full-service senator. I will represent everybody in the state.”

He offered a more global lesson for a party that has struggled, especially in the Trump era, with how to talk to minority groups. “We clearly do well as Republicans here [in Florida], but the reality is you have to sell everybody,” Scott said. “I think you should do this everywhere. You have got to tell people why they should give you their vote. ... It’s always going to be hard fought.”

Scott joked that everything a candidate or campaign does in a close election can be described as decisive: “For the people that raise money, that was the most important thing. For the people that do the ads, that was most important. For the people that do grass roots, that was most important. When you win by 12,000 votes, they all were the most important. I just think it was everything we did!”

THE LATEST ON THE LEGAL FIGHT:

-- The ghosts of the 2000 election haunt Florida as the machine recounts continue in earnest this morning, amid a fresh round of weekend stories about flawed ballot designs has brought flashbacks to the national fixation on hanging chads and a 5-to-4 Supreme Court decision that delivered the presidency to George W. Bush.

-- Accusing Democrats of trying to “commit fraud” to win, the Scott campaign filed lawsuits Sunday against Brenda Snipes and Susan Bucher, the election supervisors in the Democratic strongholds of Broward and Palm Beach counties.State officials said they have no evidence of criminal conduct in the still-unresolved Senate election,” my colleagues Sean Sullivan, Beth Reinhard and Felicia Sonmez report from the ground. “Pressed on his fraud claim, Scott referred to a lawsuit Nelson has filed to reexamine ballots with signature issues. He also mentioned an incident, being reported by conservative media, in which a lawyer claiming to represent Nelson objected in a public hearing to tossing out a provisional ballot from a noncitizen. Nelson’s lead recount attorney, Marc Elias, said in a statement that the lawyer at a meeting of election officials in Palm Beach County was ‘not someone we had authorized to make such an objection. Non-citizens cannot vote in U.S. elections.’

If the margin in the Senate race holds … it would be slim enough to trigger a hand recount. In that scenario, officials would have three days to personally inspect ballots with overvotes or undervotes — ballots on which the voter selected no candidate or more than one candidate in the race — provided there are enough to change the outcome. That could spark disputes over whether the voter intended to mark it that way or not. A lawsuit filed by Nelson seeking another look at absentee and provisional ballots with signatures that don’t match voter registration records will be heard by a federal judge this week and could have a major impact on the election’s outcome.

The machine recount itself will be time-consuming. In Broward County, it could take more than 30 hours just to sort through the pages with races that need to be recounted, according to election operations coordinator Fred Bellis. … In its new lawsuits against Snipes and Bucher, Scott’s campaign seeks to have authorities ‘impound and secure all voting machines, tallying devices, and ballots when not in use until such time as any recounts, election contests, or litigation related to the 2018 general election for the office of United States Senator are complete.’

The Scott campaign filed another lawsuit asking that ballots counted in Broward County after a noon Saturday deadline to submit results not be included in the county’s official returns. In an interview, Snipes denied that she missed the noon deadline. ‘There’s no rampant fraud here,’ she said. Amid some Republican complaints about a recount delay, Snipes vowed, ‘We’ll make the deadlines if we have to work 24 hours a day.’”

-- Nelson promised to fight on and said Scott’s lawsuits show desperation: “If Rick Scott wanted to make sure every legal ballot is counted, he would not be suing to try and stop voters from having their legal ballot counted as intended,” the incumbent said in a statement last night. “He's doing this for the same reason he's been making false and panicked claims about voter fraud. He's worried that when all the votes are counted he'll lose this election. We will not allow him to undermine the democratic process and will use every legal tool available to protect the rights of Florida voters.”

-- Juan Penalosa, the executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, issued an alarmist statement on Sunday night that likened Scott to a dictator and captured the sky-is-falling rhetoric emanating from many partisans. “In suing to seize ballots and impound voting machines, Rick Scott is doing his best to impersonate Latin American dictators who have overthrown democracies in Venezuela and Cuba,” said Penalosa. “The governor is using his position to consolidate power by cutting at the very core of our democracy.”

“Somebody needs to cut down on the Red Bull,” replied Scott spokesman Chris Hartline. “We requested that ballots and voting machines be protected when not in use. The only reason not to protect the integrity of the ballots and the voting machines is if you are actively promoting or hoping for fraud.”

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GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The Camp Fire in Northern California has been blamed for 29 deaths as critical fire conditions continue in Southern California. The death toll tied the deadliest blaze in state history, the 1933 Griffith Park wildfire in Los Angeles. (Joel Achenbach and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
  2. The U.S. Geological Survey concluded that the storm surge from Hurricane Michael was even more intense than previously estimated. Using data from a sensor that went missing during the hurricane, researchers concluded the storm surge at Mexico Beach had reached 15.55 feet, a half-foot higher than the previous estimate. Combined with the waves, the water level reached close to the height of a two-story building. (Joel Achenbach, Kevin Begos and Jason Samenow)
  3. Eight people died after a covert Israeli operation inside the Gaza Strip was apparently uncovered. The fatalities included a senior Israeli military officer and a Hamas commander. The exchange of gunfire and air strikes could undermine recent relative calm in the region. (Ruth Eglash and Hazem Balousha)

  4. The average daily population in ICE detention has hit a record high of 44,631 people. The figure has prompted questions from Democrats and immigrant-rights groups about how the agency has managed to pay to detain 4,000 more people than Congress has funded. (Daily Beast)

  5. Fox News is engaged in a civil war pitting its news anchors against its pundits. The latest flare-up came after hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro appeared alongside Trump at one of the president’s campaign rallies. Hannity said Trump’s invitation to join him onstage was unexpected. One current Fox News staffer said of that claim, “You know he’s lying through his teeth, right?” (Sarah Ellison)
  6. A country club patron is considering suing Tucker Carlson after a video emerged appearing to show the Fox News host threatening the man. Carlson claimed the man called his daughter a misogynistic slur, an allegation the man vehemently denies. (Avi Selk)
  7. The shooting last month of two African Americans at a Kroger supermarket has shaken the largely white Kentucky community where it occurred and the historically black church that was initially targeted. The shooter was unable to enter the church in Jeffersontown, Ky., which has kept its doors locked since the 2015 Charleston shooting. The church now has a security guard on watch, and the shooting is being investigated by the FBI as a possible hate crime. (DeNeen L. Brown)

  8. Sacramento is offering cash incentives to young men close to gang-related violence to prevent shootings. The program, called Advance Peace, is considered a radical approach to lower the city’s number of homicides. (Wesley Lowery and Steven Rich)

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Senior House Democrats indicated they would launch aggressive investigations into Trump once they formally retake the majority in January. Felicia Sonmez and Colby Itkowitz report: “Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is poised to take control of the House Judiciary Committee, said he will call [acting attorney general Matt] Whitaker as a first witness to testify about his ‘expressed hostility’ to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation. Nadler said he is prepared to subpoena Whitaker if necessary. Another incoming chairman, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) of the House Intelligence Committee, raised the possibility of investigating whether Trump used ‘instruments of state power’ in an effort to punish companies associated with news outlets that have reported critically on him, including CNN and The Washington Post. And Democrats on the House Oversight Committee plan to expand their efforts to investigate Trump’s involvement in payments to women who alleged affairs with him before the 2016 election, a committee aide said Sunday night, potentially opening up the president’s finances to further scrutiny. … But party leaders have urged calm, emphasizing that before any serious talk of impeachment, a host of investigations — including Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign — must first be allowed to bear fruit.”

-- House Democrats have already requested records from the Trump Organization to begin probing the hush payments. The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus reports: “The [paper] on Friday reported that Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements arranged by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. That contradicted two years of denials by the president, his advisers and his legal team … An inquiry by House Democrats … would open up a new avenue of investigation into whether Mr. Trump committed campaign-finance violations during the 2016 election. [Nadler] told CNN Sunday that if the president was involved in criminal campaign-finance violations, ‘that might very well be an impeachable offense.’”

-- Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump knows Whitaker, just two days after the president claimed he did not personally know the acting attorney general. Felicia Sonmez reports: “‘The president does know Matt Whitaker, has gotten to know him over the course of the last year, since he has been the chief of staff to the attorney general,’ Conway said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’ … Trump on Friday repeatedly claimed that he did not personally know Whitaker, telling reporters, ‘I don’t know Whitaker.’ That contradicted Trump’s statement last month in a Fox News interview, during which the president said, ‘I know Matt Whitaker.’”

-- Whitaker has told colleagues he will not move to slash Mueller’s budget. Bloomberg News’s Chris Strohm reports: “In July 2017, Whitaker said during an interview on CNN that he could envision a scenario in which an acting attorney general doesn’t fire Mueller but ‘just reduces his budget to so low that his investigations grind to almost a halt.’ Whitaker’s telling associates he won’t follow that course now that he has the job, but will allow Mueller’s probe to continue.”

-- The firing of Jeff Sessions and the installation of Whitaker underscore how difficult Democrats may find it to stick to the agenda they laid out on the campaign trail. The New York Times’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports: “Democrats, who remained remarkably focused during their campaigns, must now figure out how to put forward their own agenda — one [Nancy] Pelosi says will be focused on lowering drug costs, rebuilding the nation’s roads and bridges, and cleaning up government corruption — even as they deal with the provocations of a president who relishes confrontation and disdains institutional norms. … [Pelosi] has encouraged fellow Democrats in private meetings to resist the urge to leap at Mr. Trump’s every utterance and misdeed — ‘I don’t think we’ll have any scattershot freelancing,’ she told reporters last week — lest they lose focus and play into his hands.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Trump’s relatively subdued visit to Paris to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I still managed to spark controversy. David Nakamura reports: “Aside from a critical tweet aimed at French President Emmanuel Macron when Trump landed in Paris late Friday ... Trump didn’t throw any sharp elbows at his peers here. It was still all about him. In this case, it was because of the images. He looked uncomfortable and listless in a bilateral meeting with Macron, whose sinewy energy stood in stark contrast to Trump’s downbeat expression as the French leader patted him on the thigh. He was a no-show at a scheduled tour of a military cemetery for Americans, while other world leaders publicly paid homage to those who died on the battlefield. Instead, the president holed up at the U.S. ambassador’s residence, announcing hours later that he had spent a few hours making calls and attending meetings — but not offering to whom or about what.

“And on Sunday, Trump arrived separately from the 60 other leaders at a World War I remembrance at the Arc de Triomphe. He had no speaking role, sitting stone-faced as Macron railed against the rise of nationalism — a rebuke of Trump’s professed worldview. The overall takeaway to many was a president turning away from the world, a man occupying the office of the leader of the free world who appeared withdrawn and unenthusiastic on the global stage.”

-- Macron’s denunciation of nationalism as a “betrayal of patriotism” was read as criticism of Trump and Vladimir Putin, who also attended the Paris ceremony. David Nakamura, Seung Min Kim and James McAuley report: “Speaking in French, Macron emphasized that a global order based on liberal values is worth defending against those who have sought to disrupt that system. The millions of soldiers who died in the Great War fought to defend the ‘universal values’ of France, he said, and to reject the ‘selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests. Because patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism.’ … Amid growing divisions in Europe that have strained the European Union, Macron defended that institution and the United Nations, declaring that the ‘spirit of cooperation’ has ‘defended the common good of the world.’”

-- Putin told reporters he and Trump did not meet at the request of the French. The Daily Beast reports: “Putin told reporters he’d managed to have some interaction with Trump, but it appeared limited to a brief exchange of pleasantries. Putin was spotted grinning and giving Trump a thumbs up upon his arrival at the Arc de Triomphe, and Trump was captured in photographs beaming right back at the Russian leader even as other world leaders met Putin with grave expressions. But the two decided not to hold a meeting so as not to ‘disrupt the schedule’ of events set by the French, Putin said. ‘At their request we’re not holding any meetings here,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with RT.”

-- New satellite images show North Korea has continued its development of ballistic missiles at 16 hidden bases. The New York Times’s David E. Sanger and William J. Broad report: “The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads. The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.”

-- U.S. officials have prosecuted multiple cases in recent years centered around China-linked nonprofits allegedly attempting to bribe U.N. officials. Yahoo News’s Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, Nick McKenzie and Zach Dorfman report: “The former Hong Kong official [Patrick Ho] was indicted on a number of foreign bribery and money-laundering charges, but the investigation surrounding Ho, his nonprofit and its parent company, and the United Nations wasn’t about just corruption. A flurry of recent court filings reveal that the government collected at least some of Ho’s communications under a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a secret order used to monitor suspected foreign agents. And records related to the case — including documents submitted by Ho’s own attorney — now connect Ho’s alleged payments to promotion of a major Beijing foreign policy push called the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature venture advancing investment and infrastructure projects around the world."

-- Melania and Ivanka Trump’s separate trips to Africa demonstrate how their roles as first lady and first daughter have appeared to sometimes be in conflict. The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman and Katie Rogers report: “Mrs. Trump spent five days last month in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt, a trip that generated mostly positive coverage, topped off with a glossy network special. And soon the president’s eldest daughter and senior adviser will follow suit, traveling to Africa with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the president’s most loyal defenders. … By all accounts, the two women have a complicated dynamic, and they coexist with little overlap in their roles. But they have not hosted a joint initiative carried out solely between their staffs since Mrs. Trump moved full time to the White House last year after spending the first months of her husband’s administration with her son in New York. They have rarely appeared together. And they clearly see their roles differently.”

-- Saudi intelligence officials close to the crown prince discussed the possibility of assassinating Iranian enemies more than a year before the killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The New York Times’s Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman and David D. Kirkpatrick report: “The Saudis inquired at a time when [Prince Mohammed bin Salman], then the deputy crown prince and defense minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the kingdom. Their discussions … indicate that top Saudi officials have considered assassinations since the beginning of Prince Mohammed’s ascent. Saudi officials have portrayed Mr. Khashoggi’s death as a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired. But that official, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, was present for a meeting in March 2017 in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where [a group of] businessmen pitched a $2 billion plan to use private intelligence operatives to try to sabotage the Iranian economy.”

-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has surprisingly come to the crown prince’s defense. Jackson Diehl writes in a column: “Why throw a lifeline to this killer? For Netanyahu, the Khashoggi crisis threatens to undo a carefully constructed regional strategy built around the 33-year-old Saudi crown prince — and [Trump]. The idea is to forge a de facto alliance between Israel and the Middle East’s new generation of Sunni dictators, united against Iran — and to enlist the United States to provide muscle. As a side benefit, Mohammed would support a Trump Middle East peace plan that, while yet to be unveiled, seems to amount to coercing Palestinians into accepting Israel’s terms.”

OTHER UNCALLED RACES:

-- Democrat Stacey Abrams filed a new lawsuit to try to force a runoff in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. Vanessa Williams reports: “[Republican Brian Kemp’s] lead has narrowed since Tuesday, but is still above the 50 percent required for an outright win. As of Sunday afternoon, the secretary of state’s website showed Kemp with 50.3 percent to Abrams’s 48.8 percent. The Republican is leading by less than 59,000 votes out of more than 3.9 million cast. Over the weekend, 5,000 votes were added to the tally, most of them favoring Abrams, which the campaign has cited in urging that county and state officials not rush the process but work to make sure all ballots are collected and counted. The campaign said Abrams would need more than 21,700 additional votes to force a runoff or more than 19,300 to force a recount.”

-- Kyrsten Sinema has widened her lead in the Arizona Senate race as hundreds of thousands of ballots remain uncounted. The Arizona Republic’s Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ronald J. Hansen report: “Sinema expanded her lead to 32,292 votes — a 1.5 percentage-point lead — as of 6:20 p.m. Sunday, according to updated counts posted by the Arizona Secretary of State. Her campaign manager predicted her victory was inevitable. … The Arizona Republic estimates about 215,000 ballots remain to be counted statewide. To remain competitive, McSally needs to outperform all of her previous showings in Maricopa County, the state's most populous area and one that Sinema has dominated. Sinema's campaign manager wrote in a statement that McSally would need a miracle to pull out a win. …

As Sinema's lead has grown, GOP officials nationally have suggested that Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, was ‘cooking the books’ for Sinema. … Earlier Sunday, a top national Republican sidestepped his group's assertion that Fontes, the top Maricopa County election official, is ‘cooking the books’ for Sinema in the Senate race. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, made the comments on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ and NBC's ‘Meet the Press’ ahead of Sunday's tabulation. Gardner offered no evidence for the NRSC's book-cooking assertion on the political shows.”

-- Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith — who is facing a runoff next month for her Senate seat against Democrat Mike Espy, who is black — drew major blowback for joking about a “public hanging.” Michael Brice-Saddler reports: “‘If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,’ [Hyde-Smith] is heard saying in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday morning. The full context of her comment was not immediately clear, but she faced swift backlash. Lamar White Jr., a journalist and blogger who tweeted the video, said in his tweet that Hyde-Smith made the remark while campaigning with a cattle rancher in Tupelo, Miss. … In a statement Sunday, Espy called Hyde-Smith’s comments ‘reprehensible.’ He added, ‘They have no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country.’ … In her own statement Sunday, Hyde-Smith asserted that her remark was an ‘exaggerated expression of regard.’ … ‘[A]ny attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.’”

-- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), an outspoken supporter of the Kremlin, officially lost his reelection. Elise Viebeck reports: “Democrat Harley Rouda, a real estate executive, beat [Rohrabacher] in one of the state’s most closely watched congressional races, the Associated Press projected on Saturday. Rohrabacher’s strong identification with [Trump] and his unabashed support for Russia had made him ripe for a challenge in an affluent district that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Rouda had 109,591 votes to Rohrabacher’s 101,081 votes, with 52 percent of the vote to the Republican’s 48 percent, according to the AP.”

MORE MIDTERM FALLOUT:

-- West Virginia Democrat Richard Ojeda has filed paperwork to run for president. Politico’s Natasha Korecki reports: “The new filing with the [FEC] came on the same day Ojeda told supporters to be prepared for a Monday announcement. ‘I hope you will join me tomorrow at noon EST for an important announcement,’ he said in a Sunday email to supporters. ‘Because like I said, we are not done fighting.’ On Tuesday, Republican Carol Miller defeated Ojeda 56 percent to 44 percent in the southern West Virginia-based 3rd District. … In an email to supporters on Sunday, the state senator and former Army paratrooper said he learned from his congressional run that he wanted to take his campaign to a bigger stage.” “The reason why the Democratic Party fell from grace is because they become nothing more than elitist, that was it. Goldman Sachs, that’s who they were. The Democratic Party is supposed to be the party that fights for the working class and that’s exactly what I do,” Ojeda told the Intercept.

-- The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin profiles former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, another potential 2020 contender: “Patrick has no illusions about the difficulty he will have distinguishing himself from the crowd. … Still, Patrick would enter the race with one significant distinction: he is a kind of political heir to Barack Obama, and enjoys broad support from people close to the former President. … [Diane, Patrick’s wife,] suffered from depression during Patrick’s first term, and received in-patient treatment at a Massachusetts hospital. She returned to work, and slowly grew into her new role … But she remains wary of public attention. People close to both families told me that Michelle Obama recently met with Diane, to persuade her to embrace a Presidential run by Patrick. According to these accounts, Diane agreed to do so.”

-- House Democrats who oppose Pelosi’s return to the speakership are struggling to coalesce around one alternative candidate. Politico’s Rachael Bade and John Bresnahan report: “The naysayers claim they have the 15 to 20 votes it would take to block Pelosi on the House floor. But so far, no one's stepped up as an alternative, and it's unclear who might. Also unknown is whether that person would have a prayer against the experienced Pelosi, as flawed as her detractors say she is. Pelosi is acting like the next speaker already, and any effort to replace her faces immense obstacles without a viable alternative, said Democratic lawmakers and aides.”

-- Republican strategists are scrambling to come up with a conservative counterpart to ActBlue, the liberal fundraising website that funneled more than $700 million to Democratic candidates this past election system. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “Mitch McConnell stood before a roomful of Republican donors on Wednesday night to thank them for their help in the midterms. But the Senate leader also issued a dire warning: Democrats had just thumped them in the all-important online donor game, and the GOP badly needs to catch up. … The GOP leader said Republicans were getting swamped in the hunt for online givers and that he’d charged his political team with coming up with a solution to enable them to compete in 2020.”

-- Decisive state-level victories by Colorado Democrats have Republicans anxious about the 2020 reelection bid of Sen. Cory Gardner (R). The Denver Post’s Nic Garcia reports: “Before the election, Colorado Republicans controlled the state Senate, occupied three of the state’s five statewide offices and held five of the state’s nine seats in Congress. Then nearly 900,000 unaffiliated voters cast their ballots and handed decisive victories to Democrats. … [Colorado GOP strategists say] Gardner’s re-election prospects are grim unless the party can develop a new message that appeals to both the Trump loyalists and the independent voters who dislike the president.”

-- Although Republican Gov. Larry Hogan won a second term, Maryland Democrats are celebrating a string of losses among his possible successors. Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins report: “Party leaders have largely rationalized Hogan’s resounding victory over former NAACP chief Ben Jealous as an anomaly, according to interviews with more than a dozen prominent Democrats and strategists. … Hogan sought to flip enough legislative seats to break the super­majority Democrats have held in both chambers for nearly 50 years. Instead, he faces a Senate with more left-of-center Democrats and a House of Delegates with an even larger supermajority — Democrats picked up at least five seats in that chamber.”

-- Nevada Republicans suffered defeats in the Senate and gubernatorial races partly because they lost Washoe County, an area that historically resisted electing candidates from the southern part of the state. The Nevada Independent’s Daniel Rothberg and Megan Messerly report: “The two Republican candidates at the top of the ballot had strong ties to Northern Nevada, usually a boon for candidates trying to win historically swingy Washoe County. … Their Democratic opponents were southerners … Turnout in Washoe County hit a record high for an off-year election, with 70.1 percent of active registered voters casting early ballots or flocking to the polls on Tuesday. … The two Southern Nevada Democrats posted significant leads in Washoe County, where Republicans have a slight registration advantage and where voters often pride themselves on steering clear of politicians that live in the south. … Washoe County went blue, and so did the state.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Arizona's retiring Republican senator Jeff Flake, who sounds open to a primary against Trump in 2020, blasted the NRSC for suggesting voter fraud in the election to replace him. Here's his response to the NRSC's press secretary:

From a former top strategist to the late senator John McCain:

From McCain's former chief of staff:

From a CNN analyst:

Florida election workers prepared for a recount:

A Los Angeles Times political reporter analyzed the congressional results in California:

A Cook Political Report editor noted the performance of 2018 candidates:

The new cover of the New Yorker portrays the changing face of Congress:

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee insisted that the acting attorney general would be “held accountable”:

The NRA instructed doctors to “stay in their lane” when it comes to gun violence:

Doctors and nurses responded forcefully to the NRA's statement:

The president and first lady celebrated Veterans Day in Paris:

The Army chief of staff shared a video for the holiday:

The French president tweeted a message of solidarity with the German chancellor:

A former senior Republican strategist commented on Trump skipping a visit to a military cemetery: 

From a former National Security Council spokesman under Obama:

From a presidential historian:

A Reuters reporter shared a photo of Trump's handshake with Macron:

A Post reporter tweeted another picture from Trump's Paris trip:

A Post reporter recognized a valued member of the Secret Service:

And a former secretary of state replied to one of his Twitter critics:

GOOD READS:

-- New York Times, “In China, Desperate Patients Smuggle Drugs. Or Make Their Own,” by Sui-Lee Wee: “China’s aging population is increasingly stricken with deadly diseases like cancer and diabetes, but many can’t find or afford drugs. The country’s rudimentary insurance system doesn’t begin to cover the ever-rising prices of treatments and drugs. Coverage also depends on where somebody lives, and some rural residents still lack access to certain drugs. … To stay alive, many sick people in China — and the people who love them — break the law. Online marketplaces are filled with illegal pharmaceuticals. Dealers run underground pharmacies. In some cases, cancer patients and their families make the drugs themselves, finding the ingredients and the instructions online.”

-- “Pair survived the Las Vegas massacre. A California shooting took one away,” by Katie Mettler: “The first frantic message buzzed Brendan Hoolihan’s phone at about midnight Wednesday, and for hours the messages continued to flood his Snapchat group text. His friends had created the chain after the Las Vegas shooting massacre a year earlier, just in case something unimaginable like that ever happened again. It had. … The Snapchat group message was where the friends had been coordinating their plans for Wednesday night, which included a trip to Borderline Bar and Grill, where [Telemachus ‘Tel’] Orfanos worked as a bouncer and promoter. … Eighty miles away in Orange County, Hoolihan wondered whether Orfanos, with whom he had survived one mass shooting, had made it through this one, too.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Famed First Amendment lawyer says CNN should sue the White House over Acosta access,” from CNN: “A veteran First Amendment lawyer says that CNN should sue the White House for revoking press access from reporter Jim Acosta. Floyd Abrams, a constitutional law expert who has appeared frequently before the Supreme Court, [said] Sunday that CNN has a case. ‘I think it's a really strong lawsuit,’ Abrams said. ‘I can understand CNN being reluctant to sue because the president keeps saying CNN is the enemy of me, and CNN might have reluctance to have a lawsuit titled 'CNN vs. Donald Trump.' That said, yes, I think they should sue.’ Abrams said. … Abrams said Acosta's ouster sets a dangerous precedent. ‘This is going to happen again,’ he said. ‘It's likely to happen again. So whether it's CNN suing or the next company suing, someone is going to have to bring a lawsuit.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Why Did Facebook Fire a Top Executive? Hint: It Had Something to Do With Trump,” from the Wall Street Journal: “[Facebook] executive and virtual-reality wunderkind Palmer Luckey was a rising star of Silicon Valley when, at the height of the 2016 presidential contest, he donated $10,000 to an anti-Hillary Clinton group. His donation sparked a backlash from his colleagues. Six months later, he was out. … More recently, he has told people the reason was his support for Donald Trump and the furor that his political beliefs sparked within Facebook and Silicon Valley, some [sources] say. Internal Facebook emails suggest the matter was discussed at the highest levels of the company. In the fall of 2016, as unhappiness over the donation simmered, Facebook executives including [Mark] Zuckerberg pressured Mr. Luckey to publicly voice support for libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, despite Mr. Luckey’s yearslong support of Mr. Trump[.]”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump has no events on his public schedule.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“[T]he president seems to believe that if he wants to do something, it should be done. Constitution aside, even Congress aside, certainly, other than his base, the American people aside. And it doesn’t work that way. And he’s not going to get away with it.” — Former ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson. (CNN)

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- D.C. may see even more rain this evening. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “The day gets off to a cold start, with many of us near and below freezing. Temperatures should eventually rise through the 40s but hold up around 50 as clouds increase throughout the day. Areas southwest of Washington could see a little light rain move during the late afternoon. … Rain overspreads the entire region during the evening and may become moderate at times.”

-- The Redskins beat the Buccaneers 16-3. (Barry Svrluga)

-- The Capitals lost to the Coyotes 4-1. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- Another incident of hazing among Maryland high school football players has been reported. Donna St. George and Dan Morse report: “The new case in Montgomery County involved students at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown. Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman, said the agency investigated allegations of unwanted sexual touching among football players at the school on Sept. 18. Detectives learned there were multiple possible suspects and one possible victim. It was never clear what may have happened and whether the alleged incident amounted to an assault or a sexual assault, according to Starks. Also, the alleged victim did not want to pursue the case, Starks said. No charges were filed.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

SNL's Pete Davidson apologized on air and in person to congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw, who Davidson mocked for his injury sustained while fighting in Afghanistan:

SNL also parodied Jeff Sessions’s departure from the Justice Department:

The “Baby Trump” balloon flew over Paris as Trump visited the world capital:

The Fact Checker awarded three Pinocchios to Trump's claims about birthright citizenship applying to the children of foreign generals or dictators:

California authorities attempted to contain a wildfire in the Santa Monica Mountains:

And Egyptian officials announced a fascinating new discovery: