With Joanie Greve.
THE BIG IDEA: With Democrats in control of the House, will the Congressional Progressive Caucus become a lefty version of the Freedom Caucus? The bloc of three dozen conservatives ousted John Boehner and caused countless headaches for Paul Ryan, making the House ungovernable at times over the past eight years.
“The question comes up often,” said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. “Are you guys the tea party on the left? The difference is the tea party liked to say no, and we like to say yes. We've got lots of great policy ideas that we're going to be advocating for. ... That's the biggest distinction.”
Pocan led a day-long orientation session on Monday at the AFL-CIO headquarters for the 20 or so incoming House members who plan to join the group, which will bring its total membership to about 90. The exact number depends on the outcome of a handful of races that still haven’t been called a week after the election. Behind closed doors, they discussed how they can best leverage these numbers to maximize their influence in the upcoming House leadership elections and perhaps force votes on bills that advance their top priorities, such as Medicare-for-all, even if they’re dead on arrival in the Senate and certain to be vetoed by President Trump.
“A number of [Democratic] members … prefer to spend their life in the fetal position, rocking in the corner of a room,” Pocan said. “We don't do that. We're the folks out there trying to advocate for big change. We're going to fight like hell to get those things done, and that's what we're going to expect out of leadership, as well.”
Democrats will probably end up with a majority of between 13 to 16 seats, which leaves little margin for error and thus gives liberals immense bargaining power if they stick together. Thirteen current members of the Progressive Caucus are poised to become committee chairs, and another 30 are slated to lead subcommittees. This could create a governing challenge for Nancy Pelosi, assuming she becomes speaker, because many incoming freshmen ran as moderates in typically right-leaning suburban swing districts.
“It's not just about Pelosi,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), an incoming co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. “Pelosi is a progressive. She was one of the founders of the Progressive Caucus. But if she's speaker of the House, she can't hold that progressive line. Her job is to really bring people together. Anybody in that role, that is their job.”
Jayapal and Pocan have a sit-down scheduled for Thursday with the San Francisco congresswoman, plus separate sessions with Steny Hoyer, who is her No. 2, and Jim Clyburn, who is No. 3. “We are concerned not only about the top spot,” said Jayapal, the first Indian American woman elected to Congress. “We think there needs to be strong progressive voices in a number of different spots in order to reflect the size of the Progressive Caucus and the energy that came from the base [in the election].”
She’s personally supporting Barbara Lee from Oakland in the race for Democratic caucus chair, for example. That job is only open because Joe Crowley of Queens lost unexpectedly to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a primary this spring. Lee, a member of the Progressive Caucus, is facing Brooklyn’s Hakeem Jeffries, another African American who is also a member.
-- Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29 just became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, has joined the Progressive Caucus and appeared at a news conference on the sidelines of the orientation session. She spoke critically of Pelosi during the campaign but declined to say how she’ll vote in the leadership races. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez made headlines when she said she cannot afford to pay rent for an apartment in the District until her government salary kicks in come January. The former bartender, who identifies as a democratic socialist, said Monday that she’s spending as much time as possible in her hometown until then. She said she’s saved up enough to make it work.
“I don’t need to move to D.C. until work starts anyway,” said Ocasio-Cortez.
“She, and everyone, is welcome to crash at my place,” Pocan told the group.
Ocasio-Cortez was one of several outspoken liberals at Monday’s event who became national political celebrities this year: Rashida Tlaib of Detroit and Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis are the first Muslim women ever elected to Congress. Ayanna Pressley of Boston toppled 10-term incumbent Mike Capuano in a primary to become the first African American woman to represent Massachusetts. Joseph Neguse, the 33-year-old son of Eritrean refugees, won an open seat outside Denver. Veronica Escobar, a Latina from El Paso, will replace Beto O’Rourke. Deb Haaland in Albuquerque will be one of the first Native American women in Congress.
-- With this fresh crop of new faces, the Progressive Caucus has ambitious plans to take on a much bigger public profile. Its PAC raised $300,000 last year — and $1.8 million this year. Last month, the group launched a center to improve coordination with liberal outside groups. There are plans to raise money to hire and place full-time fellows in congressional offices. The group even paid last month for the first time to conduct a national poll to help shape its messaging. Another extensive poll is planned for January. “We want people to know this isn't your mother or father's Progressive Caucus,” said Pocan.
-- The sheer size of the Progressive Caucus will make it harder for them to stick together than it has been for the Freedom Caucus. But Republicans have also learned over the past two years that it’s much easier to stay united when there’s a president of the opposite party. Barack Obama kept the factions of the GOP together most of the time. For Democrats, dislike for Trump will be the biggest driving factor behind party unity for the next two — maybe six — years.
-- Republicans will vote this week on their leaders, and current No. 2 Kevin McCarthy is expected to easily best Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan for the role of House minority leader. But the Democratic leadership votes won’t take place until after Thanksgiving. Two weeks is an eternity during these kinds of fights because they play out largely behind the scenes and can involve Machiavellian machinations.
No one has stepped forward to challenge either Pelosi for speaker or Hoyer (Md.) for majority leader. Clyburn, of South Carolina, is facing a challenge from Diana DeGette of Denver for the No. 3 spot of majority whip.
There are other competitive races, as well, though they may turn less on ideology than personality. Rhode Island’s David Cicilline, a member of the Progressive Caucus, faces New Mexico’s Ben Ray Luján in a competitive race for the No. 4 position of assistant leader. As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Lujan just delivered the majority for Democrats, so he has lots of chits to call in. He’s not a member of the Progressive Caucus.
There are four candidates now vying to replace Lujan as DCCC chair: Cheri Bustos of downstate Illinois, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York and Suzan DelBene and Denny Heck of Washington State. None are members of the Progressive Caucus.
-- For her part, Pelosi still hasn’t locked down the votes to regain the speaker’s gavel, but every pillar of the Democratic establishment is falling in line to make sure they maintain their seats at the table in her office. Emily’s List is calling the women they just got elected to tout Pelosi’s record as a feminist who delivers results. The presidents of the AFSCME, AFT and AFL-CIO unions each issued public endorsements of Pelosi. The pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign said, “We need her leadership now more than ever.” The League of Conservation Voters called her “the most pro-environment Speaker of the House in our nation’s history.” And incoming committee chairs, from Elijah Cummings on Oversight to Richie Neal on Ways and Means, are sending “Dear Colleagues” letters that insist a leadership fight for the top spot would be self-defeating.
-- “Pelosi is expected to easily win an internal party nomination vote scheduled for the end of the month, but she would then need to win a majority of the House in a January floor vote to become speaker,” Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck report. “At least eight sitting members have signaled they will not vote for her in that scenario, and at least four incoming freshmen have said the same — such as Rep.-elect Max Rose (D-N.Y.), who said Monday he is looking for another candidate to step forward. ‘I am not voting for her — no if, ands or buts, under any circumstances,’ Rose told Fox News. A dozen other incoming freshmen have called generally for new leadership without saying specifically that they will oppose Pelosi in a floor vote.
“The internal resistance to Pelosi will get an initial test Wednesday, when House Democrats meet for the first time since the election and debate a change to party rules, advanced by Pelosi critics, to require a 218-vote majority to win the party’s nomination for speaker. Fourteen House Democrats loyal to Pelosi criticized that move in a letter Monday.”
-- Congress returns today for a lame-duck session that will be dominated by a fight over funding for the border wall. Trump no longer says Mexico will pay for it. Now he wants taxpayers to pick up the tab. “Before breaking for the election, Congress funded 75 percent of the federal government, including the Pentagon, through Sept. 30. But the portion left undone includes the Department of Homeland Security, whose budget pays for border infrastructure. That money will run out Dec. 7, raising the specter of a partial government shutdown if Congress and Trump can’t reach an agreement in the 12 legislative days before the deadline,” Mike DeBonis and Erica Werner report.
“A fresh complication for any end-of-the-year deal is a Democratic effort to protect the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III from political interference by the Trump administration. Trump’s decision last week to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a loyalist has prompted new demands from Democrats and a few Republicans to add legislation shielding Mueller to the final spending bills.”
-- These four quotes neatly capture the tension on the Hill as lawmakers fly back today:
“We need the money to build the wall — the whole wall, not pieces of it all over,” Trump said during a news conference last week.
“It’s going to have to be the president who decides whether he’s willing to fight for the funding; the House certainly will,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
“If it’s wall or nothing, they’re going to get nothing,” replied Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“I can’t imagine, with all the things that we have to do here to wrap up this Congress, that we would revisit immigration,” added Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), “but who knows?”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Trump has told advisers he plans to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, possibly as soon as this week. Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker scoop: “Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend that he wants her out as soon as possible ... The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity. … Trump has changed his mind on key personnel decisions before, and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is fighting Nielsen’s pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it, aides say. But Kelly’s future in the administration also is shaky, according to three White House officials.
“Nielsen has been reluctant to leave the administration before reaching the one-year mark as secretary on Dec. 6, but she has been unhappy in the job for several months, according to colleagues. … Nielsen’s departure would leave a leadership void at the government’s third-largest agency, which has 240,000 employees and a $60 billion budget. The deputy secretary job at DHS has been vacant since April, and the White House has not submitted to Congress a nomination for that post. Unless Trump were to name another official to lead DHS in an acting capacity, the day-to-day task of running the agency would fall to Claire M. Grady, the undersecretary for management.
“Kris Kobach’s loss in the Kansas governor’s race has generated speculation that Trump could attempt to nominate him as a replacement for Nielsen, but Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, remains a polarizing figure whose hard-line views — especially on immigration — are considered by many observers to be too extreme to win Senate confirmation.”
-- Amazon will split its second headquarters — and up to 50,000 jobs — between Northern Virginia’s Crystal City and New York City. Jonathan O'Connell, Robert McCartney and Patricia Sullivan report: “An announcement could come as early as Tuesday … The choice of Crystal City in Arlington County as one of the winners could cement Northern Virginia’s reputation as a magnet for business and potentially reshape the Washington region into an eastern outpost of Silicon Valley over the next decade. … The decision hands Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and local leaders the largest economic-development prize in a generation — one promising billions of dollars in capital investments alone — but could also put pressure on the region’s already steep housing prices, congested roads, and yawning divide between wealthy and low-income residents. It also would represent a victory for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who had joked that he would change his name to ‘Amazon Cuomo’ if necessary to land the project.”
GET SMART FAST:
An Illinois police officer shot and killed a black armed security guard named Jemel Roberson who had just detained a gunman. Illinois police will investigate Roberson’s killing, which has sparked renewed debate over whether “good guys with guns” can effectively respond to potential mass shootings without putting themselves in danger. (Mark Guarino, Alex Horton and Michael Brice-Saddler)
In the Turkish recording of the killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a member of the hit squad can be heard instructing someone over the phone to “tell your boss” the mission had been completed. The “boss” is believed to be Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, providing some of the most concrete evidence yet of MBS's involvement in Khashoggi’s death. But national security adviser John Bolton denied the recording showed a link between MBS and the killers. (New York Times)
The Vatican instructed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to postpone voting on measures meant to combat sexual abuse. The Congregation for Bishops asked the U.S. branch to postpone action until after a worldwide meeting of Catholic leaders in February. Victims and their advocates say church leaders are trying to drag their feet and buy time to thwart action. (Julie Zauzmer and Michelle Boorstein)
Israeli military forces and militant Gaza groups exchanged airstrikes and rocket fire in their worst outbreak of violence since 2014. The conflict followed the apparent uncovering of a covert operation by Israel inside Gaza that resulted in death on both sides. (Ruth Eglash, Loveday Morris and Hazem Ballousha)
The methadone industry has added 254 new clinics since 2014 to help fight the opioid epidemic. Indiana, Maryland and New York are a few of the states most aggressively expanding the clinics in rural and suburban communities, while other states still limit licensing of them. (Stateline)
D.C. public schools will become one of the nation’s first systems to allow parents to choose “non-binary” as their child’s gender when filling out enrollment forms. The change is scheduled to go into effect for the next school year. (Perry Stein)
A Wisconsin school district launched an investigation after a large group of high school boys were photographed displaying an apparent Nazi salute. The photo — which was taken last spring at a high school prom in Baraboo, Wis. — was posted to Twitter with the caption, “We even got the black kid to throw it up #BarabooProud.” (Laura Meckler and Deanna Paul)
New government guidelines assert Americans can stay healthy by exercising for even just a few minutes at a time. The previous guidelines recommended physical activity in sessions of at least 10 minutes. (Lenny Bernstein)
Stan Lee, who was credited with transforming Marvel Comics into a powerhouse, died at age 95. Lee joined the company that would become Marvel as a teenage assistant and stayed there for much of his adult life, helping to create characters like Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. (Alexander F. Remington and Michael Cavna)
A CALL IN ARIZONA:
-- Democrat Kyrsten Sinema was declared the winner in Arizona’s Senate race, becoming the state’s first female senator and narrowing Republicans’ Senate majority. Elise Viebeck reports: “Nearly a week after Election Day, the Associated Press projected Sinema as the winner on Monday. She had 49.7 percent of the vote to [Republican Martha] McSally’s 48 percent after mail-in and absentee ballots were counted. Of the more than 2.2 million ballots cast, Sinema won by 38,197 votes. She will replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) … It has been 30 years since Democrats held a Senate seat in Arizona. … It was unclear what will happen to the state’s other Senate seat, which is held by Republican Jon Kyl. Kyl was appointed to replace [the late senator John] McCain and has not committed to serving past this year. It is possible that Republican Gov. Doug Ducey would appoint McSally to the seat.”
BUT OTHER RACES REMAIN UP IN THE AIR:
-- Following Trump’s example, Republicans are sowing mistrust about the electoral process by pursuing unfounded allegations of voter fraud — most notably in Florida. Beth Reinhard, Sean Sullivan and Amy Gardner report: “[Florida] Gov. Rick Scott is tapping the powers of his administration to defend his slender lead in the U.S. Senate race and accusing Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of ‘trying to steal an election.’ … What appears to be a coordinated Republican strategy to undercut post-election vote counting is also evident in New Mexico, where Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) is refusing to concede her race to Democrat Xochitl Torres Small after absentee ballots changed her status from winner to loser ... "
-- Nelson called on Scott to recuse himself from overseeing the recount as a Florida judge scolded the politics of the process. Amy Gardner, Felicia Sonmez and Sean Sullivan report: “As local officials scrambled to meet Thursday’s machine-recount deadline, lawsuits mounted from all sides — including a complaint by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Florida seeking to bar Scott from using his position to influence the ballot-counting process. Earlier Monday, a state judge rejected a request from Scott to seize voting machines and ballots in closely watched Broward County, ruling there was no evidence of voter fraud. Meanwhile, Scott pressed forward with plans to travel to Washington this week for orientation activities designed for newly elected senators. ‘I’m headed to Washington tomorrow to start the process of becoming the next U.S. senator,’ Scott said Monday night in an appearance on Fox News.”
-- Republicans’ stance on the Florida recount is an extension of the campaign intended to bolster GOP morale in an election where the party lost ground. The New York Times’s Jeremy W. Peters and Maggie Haberman report: “The concerted effort by Republicans in Washington and Florida to discredit the state’s recount as illegitimate and potentially rife with fraud reflects a cold political calculation: Treat the recount as the next phase of a campaign to secure the party’s majority and agenda in the Senate. That imperative — described by Republican lawyers, strategists and advisers involved in the effort — reflects the G.O.P.’s determination to tighten its hold on power in the narrowly divided Senate. … Everyone from donors to rank-and-file lawmakers is determined to keep Democrats from notching another victory.”
-- A federal judge delayed the certification of Georgia’s election results, as Democrat Stacey Abrams holds out hope she might still be able to force a runoff against Republican Brian Kemp. The New York Times’s Alan Blinder reports: “Georgia’s secretary of state, Robyn A. Crittenden, had been preparing to certify the outcome of the election as soon as Wednesday, one day after Georgia’s 159 counties were to complete their tabulations and six days before state law mandated certification. But in a 56-page ruling on Monday night, Judge Totenberg forbade Ms. Crittenden, who assumed office only last week, from certifying the results until at least Friday evening.”
-- Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) refused to elaborate on her comment about a “public hanging” as she faces a runoff next month against Democrat Mike Espy, who is black. Michael Brice-Saddler and Deanna Paul report: “Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) demanded a public apology — for all Mississippians — from [Hyde-Smith], who drew harsh criticism for [the comment] … Thompson released a statement Monday, calling the senator’s comments on public hanging ‘beyond disrespectful and offensive,’ adding that Mississippi’s history includes ‘one of the highest numbers of public lynching, that we know of, than any other state in this country.’ … ‘I put out a statement yesterday, and that’s all I’m gonna say about it,’ Hyde-Smith said when asked by reporters if she was familiar with the history of hangings in Mississippi.”
-- California Democrats have won supermajorities in both chambers of the state legislature. The AP’s Don Thompson reports: “Democrats have won two Republican-held California state Senate seats in the Central Valley … The victories give Democrats a two-thirds advantage in the 40-member Senate. The party also has that advantage in the 80-seat Assembly. The party also holds every statewide office, led by Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom. Two-thirds majorities allow Democrats to raise taxes, suspend legislative rules and override vetoes without Republican votes.”
-- Democrats’ fortunes look better now than they did on Election Day, as later results have favored them. The AP’s Steve Peoples reports: “The blue shift alters the trajectory of Trump’s next two years in the White House, breaking up the Republican monopoly in Washington. It also gives Democrats stronger footing in key states ahead of the next presidential race and in the redrawing of congressional districts — a complicated process that has been dominated by the GOP, which has drawn favorable boundaries for their candidates.”
-- Newly reelected Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said he is weighing a presidential run. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Sabrina Eaton reports: “In an interview with cleveland.com, Brown said that he's heard from an ‘overwhelming’ number of people who have told him he should think of a presidential run, and that he and his family intend to discuss it over the holidays, when his children and grandchildren will be around. ‘This will very much be a family decision,’ said Brown. ‘It would affect a decade of our lives. It is a very personal, serious decision.’ He said he believes the message of worker empowerment that he espoused in this year's re-election should be a blueprint for the national Democrats to win back the White House in 2020 and that he'd be happy if his message is adopted by other Democrats running for president.”
-- The Weekly Standard published an audio recording of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) referring to immigrants as “dirt.” Kristine Phillips reports: “[King] dared [the] conservative magazine to show evidence that he had called immigrants ‘dirt.’ ‘Just release the full tape,’ King, who eked out a victory last week despite affiliations with white nationalists, told the Weekly Standard’s online managing editor Saturday on Twitter ... The Weekly Standard released the recording — a two-minute audio in which King can be heard bantering with a handful of supporters at the back of an Iowa restaurant during a campaign stop on Nov. 5 ... He talked about pheasant hunting and his ‘patented pheasant noodle soup’ sprinkled with whole jalapeño peppers he had grown himself. Around the 1:20 mark, King joked that he’d have to get some ‘dirt from Mexico’ to grow his next batch of peppers because they didn’t have enough bite.”
-- Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), who lost his reelection bid in the south suburbs of the Twin Cities, wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed blaming John McCain’s vote against repealing Obamacare for Republican losses. From Felicia Sonmez: “In the piece, titled ‘Who Lost the House? John McCain,’ Lewis makes a novel argument: that McCain’s famous thumbs-down vote last year against a ‘skinny’ repeal of the Affordable Care Act doomed Republicans by making it more difficult for them to counter Democratic claims that GOP lawmakers would do away with protections for those with preexisting conditions. The catch, of course, is that if Republicans had ultimately succeeded in their efforts to repeal the health-care law, they would have done just that.”
-- In at least three battleground states, Democrats failed to seize control of the statehouses despite winning a majority of the ballots cast for the legislative races. Christopher Ingraham reports: “[G]errymandering is just as much of an issue at the state government level, as the cases of Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina illustrate. In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates won 54 percent of the statewide House popular vote, but they walked away with 92 seats in the 203-seat state legislature, or 45 percent. … Michigan Democrats won 200,000 more votes statewide than Republicans did but will get 52 out of 110 seats. North Carolina Democrats prevailed in the popular vote by 79,000 votes but won 54 out of 120 seats.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Conservative author Jerome Corsi, who has ties to Trump ally Roger Stone, said he expects to be indicted by special counsel Bob Mueller for lying to investigators. Rosalind S. Helderman, Manuel Roig-Franzia and Carol D. Leonnig report: “Corsi, a writer who has promoted political conspiracy theories, provided research during the White House race to [Stone], who Mueller has been scrutinizing for possible ties to WikiLeaks. On Monday, Corsi told listeners of his daily live-stream Web program that he turned over two computers, emails and other communications to Mueller and sat for six interviews totaling more than 40 hours since receiving a subpoena two months ago. But he said that his cooperation had ‘exploded’ in recent weeks and that Mueller’s team has said he will be criminally charged. … In a text message to The Washington Post on Monday, Stone said he has not been contacted by Mueller’s team. He said that his attorneys have ‘fully reviewed’ his communications with Corsi. … Appearing on the Infowars website Monday evening, Stone said that ‘perhaps they have squeezed poor Dr. Corsi to frame me.’”
-- Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen arrived in Washington. ABC News’s Shannon K. Crawford and Luke Barr report: “The purpose of Cohen’s travel is unclear, and Cohen declined to answer any questions from ABC News about why he was there. Cohen has previously participated in multiple interview sessions totaling more than 40 hours with investigators from [Mueller’s office] in Washington, D.C., and federal prosecutors in New York City.”
-- Top congressional Democrats are demanding to know whether the Justice Department’s ethics chief advised acting attorney general Matt Whitaker to recuse himself from Mueller’s probe. Karoun Demirjian reports: “In their letter, seven leading Democrats ask ethics chief Lee Lofthus to tell them ‘immediately’ whether he or others advised Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe or provided other ethical guidance related to his new job leading the Justice Department. The letter argues that Whitaker’s stated views about Mueller and past connections to the Trump campaign ‘indicate a clear bias against the investigation that would cause a reasonable person to question his impartiality.’”
-- Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, wrote a Post op-ed entitled, “Matthew Whitaker, we’re watching you:” “The president and Whitaker should heed this warning: The new Democratic majority will protect the special counsel and the integrity of the Justice Department. Should Whitaker fail to recuse himself — all indications are that he plans not to — and seek to obstruct the investigation, serve as a back channel to the president or his legal team or interfere in the investigations in any way, he will be called to answer. His actions will be exposed.”
-- The state of Maryland is asking a federal judge for an injunction declaring Whitaker is not the legitimate acting attorney general. The New York Times’s Charlie Savage reports: “Mr. Trump may not ‘bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office,’ the plaintiffs said in a draft filing … Maryland is asking a judge — Ellen L. Hollander of the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland, a 2010 Obama appointee — to rule on who is the real acting attorney general as part of a lawsuit in which it sued [Jeff] Sessions in his official capacity. Because Mr. Sessions is no longer the attorney general, the judge must substitute his successor as a defendant in the litigation, so she has to decide who that successor legally is.”
-- But the Justice Department plans to issue a legal opinion supporting Whitaker’s installation. The Wall Street Journal’s Sadie Gurman and Byron Tau report: “The department’s Office of Legal Counsel is expected to say that [Trump] had the ability to appoint Mr. Whitaker, [one] person said. … The opinion is expected to support the Trump administration’s position that the president’s authority to tap Mr. Whitaker is affirmed by guidance the office issued in 2003. At that time, the office concluded that President George W. Bush could name a non-confirmed employee of the Office of Management and Budget as the agency’s acting director.”
-- After Facebook granted several device-makers access to user data, the social media giant failed to police how those partners handled the data. The New York Times’s Nicholas Confessore, Michael LaForgia and Gabriel J.X. Dance report: “Facebook’s loose oversight of the partnerships was detected by the company’s government-approved privacy monitor in 2013. But it was never revealed to Facebook users, most of whom had not explicitly given the company permission to share their information. Details of those oversight practices were revealed in a letter Facebook sent last month to Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, a privacy advocate and frequent critic of the social media giant.”
THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- House Democrats said their first bill will focus on strengthening voting rights and government ethics. NPR’s Peter Overby reports: “The bill would establish automatic voter registration and reinvigorate the Voting Rights Act, crippled by a Supreme Court decision in 2013. It would take away redistricting power from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions. Other provisions would overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which declared political spending is First Amendment free speech; they would mandate more disclosure of outside money and establish a public financing match for small contributions.” But the effort is unlikely to pass with a Republican-controlled Senate and make it through Trump.
-- A bipartisan group of senators have reached an agreement on overhauling sentencing and prison laws. The New York Times’s Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman report: “The lawmakers believe they can get the measure to [Trump] during the final weeks of the year, if the president embraces it. The compromise would eliminate the so-called stacking regulation that makes it a federal crime to possess a firearm while committing another crime, like a drug offense; expand the ‘drug safety valve’ allowing judges to sidestep mandatory minimums for nonviolent drug offenders; and shorten mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, according to draft text of the bill … It would also retroactively extend a reduction in the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine signed into law in 2010, potentially affecting thousands of drug offenders serving lengthy sentences.”
CALIFORNIA ON FIRE:
-- The Camp Fire has now claimed at least 42 lives, making it the deadliest fire in state history. Scott Wilson reports: “The thing about Paradise is that people expected to live out their lives here in the hills. The more than three dozen residents who burned to death — in cars, in homes, on foot — just imagined those lives would last longer. … The fire also stands as the most destructive in California history. More than 6,000 buildings have been destroyed, the vast majority of them homes. The Camp Fire tops the Tubbs Fire in its devastation, and the Tubbs Fire, which burned down large swaths of Santa Rosa, set the record less than a year ago. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has called the intensifying fires, which include two others still burning uncontained just north of Los Angeles, the state’s ‘new abnormal.’”
-- Trump’s disparate reactions to tragedies in red states and blue states threatens to heighten the nation’s intense partisan divisions. Matt Viser and Seung Min Kim report: “When Hurricane Harvey pummeled Texas last year, he traveled to Houston, and when Hurricane Michael hit Florida and Georgia last month, he and the first lady quickly went to the Gulf Coast. But as California has convulsed in tragedy — a mass shooting and an outbreak of wildfires that included the deadliest in the state’s history — the president has not only offered little comfort; he has also heaped on criticism. … A president who prizes and craves loyalty more than any other attribute, Trump has divided states into ones that voted for him and the ones that didn’t, and found that last group wanting. In California, that has meant state officials are having to fight not only killer fires but also the combustible rhetoric coming from Oval Office.”
-- Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that Democrats will seek $720 million for wildfire relief. Erica Werner reports: “[Leahy] dismissed criticism from [Trump] blaming the fires on poor fire management in California and threatening to cut off federal dollars unless the supposed problems are remedied. ‘You have firefighters risking their life,’ Leahy told reporters on a conference call. ‘For them to see a tweet saying the U.S. Government won’t support you, come on.’”
-- The wildfires have largely prevented the Thousand Oaks community from processing the mass shooting that struck a local bar just last week. Katie Mettler reports: “The second tragedy of the week had somehow dwarfed the first. Outside Borderline there was a memorial, but it was scant: a floral cross and a small group of votive candles on the street corner. … The nation’s mass shootings have begun to follow a somber and common protocol: the crime, the mayhem of the moment and the sobriety of the body count, the name of the shooter, the names of the victims, the vigils, the funerals, the questions that rarely produce answers. But what does that process look like in the middle of a natural disaster?”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump attacked Emmanuel Macron on a range of issues – from trade to national security to his approval rating – after the French president criticized nationalism in a thinly veiled rebuke of the U.S. president:
Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How did that work out for France? They were starting to learn German in Paris before the U.S. came along. Pay for NATO or not!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
On Trade, France makes excellent wine, but so does the U.S. The problem is that France makes it very hard for the U.S. to sell its wines into France, and charges big Tariffs, whereas the U.S. makes it easy for French wines, and charges very small Tariffs. Not fair, must change!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
The problem is that Emmanuel suffers from a very low Approval Rating in France, 26%, and an unemployment rate of almost 10%. He was just trying to get onto another subject. By the way, there is no country more Nationalist than France, very proud people-and rightfully so!........— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
......MAKE FRANCE GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
And he pushed back against reports that he canceled a visit to an American cemetery outside of Paris due to rain:
By the way, when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO, too far from airport & big Paris shutdown. Speech next day at American Cemetary in pouring rain! Little reported-Fake News!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
Trump also promised emergency funding for California days after he accused officials of “gross mismanagement”:
I just approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of California. Wanted to respond quickly in order to alleviate some of the incredible suffering going on. I am with you all the way. God Bless all of the victims and families affected.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
McSally offered warm wishes to Sinema as the race was called in Sinema's favor:
Congrats to @kyrstensinema. I wish her success. I’m grateful to all those who supported me in this journey. I’m inspired by Arizonans’ spirit and our state’s best days are ahead of us. pic.twitter.com/tw0uKgi3oO— McSally For Senate (@MarthaMcSally) November 13, 2018
Sen. Jeff Flake congratulated his replacement:
Congratulations to @kyrstensinema on a race well run, and won. It’s been a wonderful honor representing Arizona in the Senate. You’ll be great.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 13, 2018
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) celebrated the victory of Sinema, who will become the nation's first openly bisexual senator:
Very happy to say I’m no longer the *only* openly LGBTQ U.S. Senator.— Tammy Baldwin (@tammybaldwin) November 13, 2018
Congratulations to @kyrstensinema on a well-deserved victory. The upper chamber is lucky to have your steady leadership.
From a National Journal editor:
How Kyrsten Sinema won: She picked off 12% of Republican voters in Arizona // more than any other D Senate candidate except Joe Manchin (17%).— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) November 13, 2018
From the communications director of the Democratic Governors Association:
Columnist Connie Schultz, who is married to Sherrod Brown, addressed his possible presidential bid:
A new senator-elect was spotted in Washington:
New member alert! Just ran into @MittRomney walking by himself behind the Library of Congress- he seemed excited about orientation and says he has to figure out where he’s going to live here in DC.— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) November 12, 2018
Meghan McCain slammed Rep. Jason Lewis's op-ed blaming her late father for GOP losses in the midterms:
From John McCain's former communications director:
Absolutely disgraceful @WSJ ran an oped by defeated @RepJasonLewis blaming John McCain for R's losing the House— Julie Tarallo (@julietarallo) November 12, 2018
Things that contributed to Lewis losing his seat by 6 points: calling women "sluts" & shaming sexual assault survivors
Things that DIDN'T contribute: John McCain https://t.co/ffhL5m03zV
A ProPublica reporter noted this big change:
Wow. In 1992, Republicans still held half of the 30 House districts with the highest level of educational attainment.— Alec MacGillis (@AlecMacGillis) November 12, 2018
Now they hold just two. Two out of 30. (via WSJ) pic.twitter.com/oeaWxWLRja
Sen. Bill Nelson accused his opponent of obstructing the voting process:
Seems my opponent is worried he'll lose this election if all the votes are counted. Why else would he sue to stop every vote from being counted? Why make false charges of voter fraud? We won't allow him to undermine the democratic process this way.— Nelson for U.S. Senate (@NelsonForSenate) November 12, 2018
Rick Scott shared a clip of Brad Todd, one of his strategists, accusing Nelson's lawyers of dragging out vote-counting to pad their legal bills:
"Nelson's lawyers get paid a lot- they’d like to do this all winter but…he has to decide on Thurs when he’s going to trail significantly, does he want his entire legacy to be painted as the guy who wouldn’t go away when he was voted out by the ppl of FL?" https://t.co/AKInXbDH2s— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) November 12, 2018
A Bloomberg News reporter highlighted the background of the Florida judge who said he has seen no evidence of vote tampering:
This judge was appointed by Jeb Bush. https://t.co/tCrBVWX24C— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) November 12, 2018
A New York magazine columnist joked about one of the latest developments from Florida:
Quick, everybody switch your talking points on “count every vote” https://t.co/doYhsvfIET— Josh Barro (@jbarro) November 12, 2018
A writer for The Fix analyzed Trump's tweet on the close Florida races:
Florida accepts overseas/military ballots through Nov. 16, (provided they were postmarked by Nov. 6).— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 12, 2018
The president is effectively calling for the disenfranchisement of military service-members ... the day after Veteran's Day. https://t.co/bg00BACUv3
A Post editor highlighted an absence from Trump's Veterans Day schedule:
No Arlington Cemetery on Veterans Day. https://t.co/WDSAkZpIe7— lori montgomery (@loriamontgomery) November 12, 2018
From a Post reporter:
Since I realize not everyone has visited D.C. or knows the area's layout: Arlington Cemetery is about 2 miles from the White House. A person could walk there in under an hour. A person with a motorcade could get there in under 10 minutes. And rain isn't forecast until the evening https://t.co/ScoBiyDpXc— Mark Berman (@markberman) November 12, 2018
A Democratic senator and veteran celebrated her “Alive Day”:
I was quite literally in pieces, but my buddies risked their lives and refused to leave me behind. Every day I think about what they did for me and what I can do to repay them. Making sure I don’t let them down is what drives me to do everything I can for our Veterans and troops.— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) November 12, 2018
And the French army appeared to troll Trump with this tweet that translates to, “There is rain, but it's not a big deal. We are still motivated”:
-- New York Times, “They Were Stopped at the Texas Border. Their Nightmare Had Only Just Begun,” by Manny Fernandez: “The Border Patrol’s parent agency, Customs and Border Protection, is the largest law enforcement agency in the country, with nearly twice the staff of the F.B.I. Through the years, a small number of officers have succumbed to temptation and reached for a share of the millions of dollars generated in the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people across the southwest border. But a civil suit stemming from the March 2014 attack near McAllen, now making its way through the courts, is shedding light on a more sinister kind of corruption. Over the past four years, at least 10 people in South Texas have been victims of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping or rape — all, according to prosecutors and officials, at the hands of Border Patrol agents who suddenly and violently snapped.”
-- “1 million Americans live in RVs. Meet the ‘modern nomads,’” by Heather Long: “When Robert and Jessica Meinhofer told friends they were moving into an RV in 2015, most thought they were crazy. … The Meinhofers are doing this by choice, not financial desperation. They are part of a movement of people ditching ‘sticks and bricks’ homes that have long embodied the American Dream and embracing a life of travel, minimal belongings and working when they want.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Conservatives are irate the Parkland shooter registered to vote from jail — as a Republican,” from Avi Selk: “A father of a Parkland school shooting victim appeared on ‘Fox & Friends’ over the weekend and suggested, without evidence, that Democrats registered the accused shooter to vote from jail as part of an effort to steal Florida’s election. … There was a kernel of truth at the heart of the segment and the spiraling social media outrage that accompanied it: Nikolas Jacob Cruz really did register to vote in July, listing his home address as the county jail where he awaits trial after police say he confessed to the mass shooting. He registered as a Republican, which ‘Fox & Friends’ didn’t mention.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Fox News Twitter Account Remains Dark for Fourth Day Over Tucker Carlson Protest,” from Variety: “Fox News continued its Twitter boycott for a fourth day on Monday in an apparent attempt to protest how the social media platform handled tweets surrounding a recent rally against Fox News host Tucker Carlson. Both the network’s main Twitter account as well as the accounts of some of its hosts remained silent Monday. … The company hasn’t released any official statement over its Twitter absence, and a spokesperson declined to comment. Multiple outlets reported over the weekend that the Twitter break was to protest the social media company’s slow response to requests to delete tweets that contained Carlson’s home address.”
Trump will receive his intelligence briefing and participate in a Diwali ceremony.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Senator John McCain stood for everything we stand for as Arizonans: fighting for what you believe in, standing up for what’s right — even if you stand alone — and serving a cause that is greater than one’s self. … He taught us to always assume the best in others, to seek compromise instead of sewing division and to always put country ahead of party. Senator McCain is irreplaceable but his example will guide our next steps forward.” — Democratic Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema. (CNN)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- Washington may see more rain this morning, but it should quickly subside. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Early commuters could run into the tail end of the overnight rain, but it tapers down quickly and should be over by the time most people get on the road. Spotty, scattered showers are possible through the afternoon. Highs range in the upper 40s to middle 50s with winds from the northwest at 5 to 10 mph and higher gusts as the cold front sweeps through.”
-- The Wizards beat the Magic 117-109 for their first back-to-back wins this season. (Roman Stubbs)
-- The Nationals’ Juan Soto was the runner-up in the National League’s rookie of the year race. Soto finished second to Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (Jesse Dougherty)
-- Three Democratic women in Virginia who won seats in Congress formed “a quiet camaraderie as they helped make history,” Jenna Portnoy reports. “Virginia’s three congresswomen-elect, who are in Washington this week for new-member orientation, texted regularly and tracked one another’s races on election night. [Jennifer Wexton, Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria] said the low-key support provided a lift in an election season defined by the #MeToo movement and resistance to President Trump. (Three other Democratic women, Leslie Cockburn, Jennifer Lewis and Vangie Williams, lost their Virginia congressional races last week.)”
-- A new poll found a narrow majority of Marylanders support legalizing sports betting. Will Hobson and Emily Guskin report: “[A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll] found 53 percent of registered voters are in favor of legal professional sports gambling, with 37 percent opposed, and 10 percent of voters having no opinion. Those with strong opinions on the issue were about evenly divided, with 26 percent strongly disapproving of legal sports betting, and 24 percent strongly approving.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Not ready for prime time, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) awkwardly refused to answer any questions from local reporters about her “public hanging” comment:
In today’s press conference receiving an endorsement from the National Right to Life President, @SenHydeSmith was only asked questions regarding her statement on “public hangings” this is what she and Gov. @PhilBryantMS had to say: #mssen #mselex pic.twitter.com/HuFZlNlq34— Yall Politics (@MSyallpolitics) November 12, 2018
(Reporters on Capitol Hill have similarly found Hyde-Smith to be nonresponsive since she was appointed to succeed Thad Cochran.)
Stephen Colbert slammed Trump's initial response to the California wildfires:
Trevor Noah said there's not enough time to process all the news happening:
After SNL's Pete Davidson apologized to congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw, The Post remembered other rare moments when the show has issued apologies:
And a baby white rhino born in Australia surveyed her new surroundings: