With Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: The FBI announced on Tuesday a disturbing 17 percent increase in reported hate crimes last year. Law enforcement agencies disclosed 7,175 hate crimes in America during 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016. This is the third consecutive year that reported hate crimes have increased, and it’s the single biggest spike since the surge of incidents targeting Muslims in 2001 after the attacks on Sept. 11.
But the reporting of these incidents remains uneven and inconsistent, both by victims and law enforcement. The definition of “hate crimes” varies by state, as do punishments, and even the federal standard has shifted over time. The FBI, which has pleaded for more cooperation from local law enforcement, notes that about 1,000 more agencies contributed information for this year’s report than last year’s. But those additional numbers don’t explain much of the increase. Massachusetts reports lots of incidents, for example, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are more hate crimes per capita than in Mississippi, which experts say underreports.
-- “Of the hate crimes that likely occur each year in our country, only about 1 percent are reported in official federal statistics,” estimates Maya Berry, executive director of the Arab American Institute.
-- One especially startling figure: The FBI’s new report shows anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent in 2017. “The new FBI data comes less than a month after the worst anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history — a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 and wounded six,” Devlin Barrett notes. “The suspect in that attack has been charged with dozens of federal hate crimes, and that one incident alone accounted for nearly as many hate crime killings as were recorded all of last year in the United States: 15.”
-- But the Anti-Defamation League’s independent annual audit of anti-Semitic incidents, which the group has been tracking closely since 1979, found an even bigger jump of 57 percent in 2017, compared to 2016.
The ADL notes that 16,149 law enforcement agencies participated in the FBI’s 2017 crime data collection effort, but only 2,040 of these agencies, about 13 percent, reported one or more hate crimes to the FBI. That means 87 percent of police agencies reported that there were zero hate crimes to the FBI. To prod them to be more forthcoming and/or change the way they classify incidents, the ADL posted a list of 91 cities with populations exceeding 100,000 people that either did not report any data to the FBI about hate crimes or reported that there were zero such crimes in their jurisdiction during 2017.
-- Not knowing just how many hate crimes are truly happening makes it harder to address the problem. “You can’t move what you can’t measure,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive. “It is incumbent on police departments, mayors, governors and county officials across the country to tally hate crimes data and report it to the FBI. The FBI can only report the data they receive. We must do more to make sure that cities report credible data.”
-- A few specific examples: “In 2017, the city of Miami reported zero hate crimes, while Miami-Dade County reported one,” the Los Angeles Times’s Jaweed Kaleem reports. “Of the 28 law enforcement agencies the FBI requested numbers from in Mississippi, 27 reported zero hate crimes or did not respond. The one that replied said there was one hate crime during the year. … Olathe, Kan., the location of last year’s deadly shooting of an Indian-born engineer after a man yelled at him about his immigration status, reported zero hate crimes.”
-- Some observers say that the climate of racial hatred has been stoked by President Trump's incendiary rhetoric, in which he has demeaned illegal immigrants, insulted African American reporters and suggested Jewish businessman George Soros, a prominent liberal donor, might be responsible for funding the migrant caravan headed to the U.S. border.
WHAT CAN BE DONE:
-- After the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, the DOJ announced an $840,000 grant to study the collection of hate-crimes data. “In a typical year, the Justice Department charges a few dozen people with hate crimes, and local and state law-enforcement agencies deal with a few thousand of their own cases. But the Justice Department itself — through its research arm, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which conducts surveys of crime victims — has found reason to believe that about two hundred and fifty thousand hate crimes were committed in the United States each year between 2004 and 2015,” the New Yorker’s Eric Lach reports.
-- The Brennan Center, part of NYU’s law school, released a report last month suggesting that Congress could pass legislation to standardize what information must be reported and to require that it be more specific.
-- Last night, the city council in Charleston, S.C. — where nine African Americans were killed by a white supremacist at their church in 2015 — voted to advance a new “hate intimidation” ordinance. The local government decided to act because the state government has failed to do so. “South Carolina is one of five states that does not legally recognize hate crimes. That means it is up to the Department of Justice to determine if they’ll seek prosecution,” according to WCSC, the Charleston CBS affiliate. “The ordinance says people will be punished if they have the intent to intimidate another person because of their perceived race, color, creed, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability or national origin.” In August, a transgender woman was attacked in downtown Charleston. The police chief said the new law could have applied to that assault case if it had been on the books.
-- There are other yawning gaps in the law. The white man accused of fatally shooting two African Americans inside a Kroger grocery store last month is facing murder charges in Kentucky, and authorities say the incident was racially motivated. But the local prosecutor says he cannot charge Gregory Bush with a hate crime because the state’s hate crimes statute does not cover homicides.
IN OUR OWN BACKYARD:
-- Don’t delude yourself: This is not a regional problem. This is a national crisis.
-- The most chilling story you will read today: “A D.C. man who described himself as a white nationalist to law enforcement officers and became a social-media follower of the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting has been arrested on a gun charge,” Spencer Hsu and Peter Hermann report. “Jeffrey R. Clark Jr., 30, is charged with illegally possessing a firearm and a high-capacity magazine and made his initial court appearance Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington. … Clark, who lives in the Bloomingdale neighborhood, was arrested … after two family members alerted police to his increasingly agitated outbursts, including that the 11 victims of the Pittsburgh shooting ‘deserved it.’ The outbursts occurred in the wake of Clark’s brother’s suicide.
“Relatives told police both brothers had been involved in alt-right movements … Jeffrey Clark told FBI agents he and his brother became interested in guns in 2016 ‘because they believed there was going to be a civil war,’ according to an account of his statement filed in court. Court papers assert that after his brother’s death, Jeffrey Clark posted on Gab a photo of the brothers wearing masks and holding a shotgun and a rifle, in front of a flag with a skull and cross bones. … Of the attack on the synagogue, court papers said Jeffrey Clark posted a picture of the suspected gunman spattered in what appears to be blood and wrote, ‘This was a dry run for things to come.’
“Authorities said in the court documents that the brothers ‘fantasized about killing “Jews and blacks”' … The documents said the brothers had four guns between them … Court papers said Clark’s relatives told authorities that Clark admired Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and killer Charles Manson and that relatives said ‘Jeffrey and Edward Clark believed there would be a race revolution and they wanted to expedite it.’ Clark, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, did not enter a plea and said little at the hearing beyond confirming that he was a high school graduate and needed an appointed attorney.”
-- Also: It got lost last week because the news broke on the afternoon of Election Day, but a D.C. firefighter was charged with a hate crime in Pennsylvania related to a road rage incident. When he was off duty, the 32-year-old allegedly waved a handgun from inside his pickup truck at two African Americans, yelled racial slurs and said he’d hang the male driver from a tree. He denies the charges and is now on leave pending the outcomes of the criminal proceedings.
ARE THE KIDS ALRIGHT?
-- We hear all the time about supposed P.C. culture on campus, but often overlooked are near daily flashes of hate at colleges that are clearly intended to demean racial and religious minorities. The AP’s Collin Binkley reported last week on several such incidents in October alone that drew little national attention:
“Kevyn Perkins stopped cold when he saw the letters scrawled on the door to his dorm: ‘N----- go back’ it said, inked in messy red marker. First he was blinded by confusion. Then rage. And then all he could think about was dropping out, finding a new school, escaping for good. ‘I thought maybe I don’t belong here. So I called my brother and I said, ‘pick me up,’’ said Perkins, 19, a freshman at the University of St. Thomas, a private and mostly white school in St. Paul, Minnesota. ‘He said that’s what they want you to do — you have to stay there and stay strong.’ … Since he found the note Oct. 19, Perkins has become more withdrawn, he said, less outgoing. And although he decided to stay at St. Thomas, he’s left to wonder who on campus felt such hatred for him, and why.
“At the College of the Holy Cross in central Massachusetts, a student was beaten in an assault that officials say was motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation. No one has been arrested in connection with the crime. Students at DePauw University in Indiana reported four separate cases of hate speech in October. In three, racial and homophobic slurs and threats were yelled from cars passing by campus. In another case, a threat with the N-word was found in an elevator on campus. Anti-Semitic posters appeared at the University of California, Davis, blaming Jews for allegations of sexual assault that were made against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“An Indiana woman was arrested last week after leaving a racist letter directed at African-American neighbors, urging them to leave the neighborhood because black people weren’t welcome. As early voting started in North Carolina, a black Republican volunteer was accosted with slurs and had a gun pulled on him at a polling place, leading to one man’s arrest. An Uber passenger in Colorado was arrested after threatening his Middle Eastern driver and chasing him down the street because police said he ‘hated all brown people.’ Violent clashes broke out in New York City after a speech by the founder of a far-right group, leading to three arrests. In a Texas courtroom, a man was sentenced to 24 years in prison on Oct. 17 for torching a mosque near the U.S.-Mexico border last year because of what authorities said was a ‘rabid hatred’ of Muslims.”
WHAT PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP CAN DO:
-- Ronald Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, recalls a little remembered but symbolically significant moment of her father’s presidency in an op-ed for today’s newspaper:
“On the morning of May 3, 1982, my father read a story in The Post about a black family in Maryland — the Butlers — who’d had a cross burned on their lawn in 1977. William M. Aitcheson, an ‘exalted cyclops’ of the Ku Klux Klan, was charged with the crime. Now, five years later, a federal judge had ordered him to pay the Butlers a civil judgment of $23,000. Except Aitcheson had apparently disappeared. When my father went down to the Oval Office that morning, he announced that he wanted to go visit the Butlers — that day.
“My parents sat with them in their living room and listened to what they had been subjected to as one of only five black families in the area. A car had driven onto their front lawn and taken out their lamppost. Garbage had been dumped onto their property. Then came the cross-burning. The cross was six feet tall and heavy. It was doubtful that Aitcheson had carried out the burning alone, but he had been the only one charged. ‘This isn’t something that should ever happen in America,’ my father told them.
“Thirty-five years later, another president learned of neo-Nazis marching through the streets of Charlottesville, which had led to the death of a young woman who bravely came out to counterprotest. The president’s reaction: ‘There are very fine people on both sides.’
“This isn’t something that should ever happen in America. We need to remember this when a campaign ad put out by the current president’s political team is so racist that even Fox News won’t run it. Or when the president proudly calls himself a nationalist and berates black female journalists, calling their questions ‘stupid’ and them incompetent. We need to remember, when children are ripped from their mothers’ arms and put into cages, that there was a time when such a thing wouldn’t happen in this country. These days, when blatant racism has been allowed to emerge from the shadows and sweep through neighborhoods, so that young black boys are yelled at for mowing a neighbor’s lawn, we need to think about how other presidents — including my father — viewed leadership.”
GET SMART FAST:
- The CIA considered using a “truth serum” on terrorist detainees in the years after 9/11. The agency weighed whether “drug-based interviews” would be a preferable alternative to brutal interrogation tactics like waterboarding. The effort, named Project Medication, was shelved in 2003. (Eli Rosenberg)
A bipartisan commission created by Congress concluded the U.S. military has lost its edge against China and Russia. “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the National Defense Strategy Commission’s report said. (Paul Sonne and Shane Harris)
A group of LGBT asylum seekers from the migrant caravan reached the southern border. The group was the first from the caravan to reach Tijuana as the majority of migrants remained far from the border. (Sarah Kinosian and Joshua Partlow)
Israel’s hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned over his opposition to a cease-fire with Hamas. The cease-fire, which was announced by Hamas and appeared to be holding despite no formal acceptance from Israel, followed the worst violence between the Islamist militant group and Israeli forces since 2014. (Ruth Eglash)
El Chapo’s trial began in New York. Defense attorneys for Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera portrayed the alleged drug kingpin as a scapegoat to distract from government corruption, while prosecutors argued Guzmán built a narcotics empire by ruthlessly tearing down anyone in his way. (Matt Zapotosky)
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed the Supreme Court’s session yesterday. She was discharged Friday from George Washington Hospital after fracturing her ribs on her left side. The court’s public information officer said in a statement, “She continues to improve and is working from home this morning.” (John Wagner)
- Federal prosecutors have dropped their investigation into Jane Sanders, the wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), according to Sanders’s former presidential campaign manager. Jeff Weaver said in a statement that prosecutors decided not to bring any charges against Jane Sanders for her involvement in a land deal while running Burlington College. (John Wagner)
Amazon is attracting political scrutiny as it moves ahead with plans to expand in New York and Northern Virginia. But the retail giant’s status as the second-largest U.S. employer may help it beat back questions about how it chose its second headquarters and the $2.4 billion in incentives it won. (Jonathan O'Connell and Rachel Siegel)
Juul Labs announced it would stop selling most of its flavored e-cigarette products in stores and halt social media advertising. The announcement came the same day the FDA commissioner signaled the agency would take action against flavored cigars to try to reduce underage vaping and smoking. (Laurie McGinley)
Four members of a family were charged in the 2016 murders of eight people in Ohio’s Pike County. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the motive for the execution-style killings had to do with custody battles. “There was an obsession with custody, obsession with control of the children,” DeWine said. “This is the most bizarre story I have ever seen, being involved with law enforcement.” (Michael Brice-Saddler)
A team of Greek archaeologists unearthed evidence of a lost ancient city named Tenea. Evidence hinting at the city’s existence has periodically been uncovered, but the discovery of stone walls that likely belonged to Tenea houses provides the first concrete proof of its status as an ancient settlement. (Amy B Wang)
WEST WING INTRIGUE:
-- Trump has been lashing out in frustration over the midterm results and his poorly received Europe trip. Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker report: “As he jetted to Paris last Friday, [Trump] received a congratulatory phone call aboard Air Force One. British Prime Minister Theresa May was calling to celebrate the Republican Party’s wins in the midterm elections — never mind that Democrats seized control of the House — but her appeal to the American president’s vanity was met with an ornery outburst. Trump berated May for Britain not doing enough, in his assessment, to contain Iran. He questioned her over Brexit and complained about the trade deals he sees as unfair with European countries. May has endured Trump’s churlish temper before, but still her aides were shaken by his especially foul mood … that testy call set the tone for five days of fury — evident in Trump’s splenetic tweets and described in interviews with 14 senior administration officials, outside Trump confidants and foreign diplomats...
“During his 43-hour stay in Paris, Trump brooded over the Florida recounts and sulked over key races being called for Democrats in the midterm elections that he had claimed as a ‘big victory.’ He erupted at his staff over media coverage of his decision to skip a ceremony honoring the military sacrifice of World War I. The president also was angry and resentful over French President Emmanuel Macron’s public rebuke of rising nationalism, which Trump considered a personal attack. And that was after his difficult meeting with Macron, where officials said little progress was made as Trump again brought up his frustrations over trade and Iran. ... 'He was frustrated with the trip. And he’s itching to make some changes,' said one senior White House official. 'This is a week where things could get really dicey.'
“He told advisers over the weekend that he … was seriously considering replacing White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, who scrambled early this week to try to save [DHS Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen’s job. The senior White House official, who speaks to the president regularly, said Trump has been grousing lately about getting rid of Kelly. ‘But he’s done this three or four times before,’ the person said. ‘Nothing is ever real until he sends the tweet.’
“During Sunday’s flight to Washington from Paris, aides filed into the president’s private cabin to lobby against the leading contender to replace Kelly, Nick Ayers, who is Vice President Pence’s chief of staff. These aides told Trump that appointing Ayers would lower staff morale and perhaps trigger an exodus. But the president has continued to praise Ayers, who also enjoys the support of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to multiple White House officials.
“First lady Melania Trump shared her husband’s irritation and impatience with some of the staff. On Tuesday, amid reports that the president had decided to oust deputy national security adviser Mira R. Ricardel over tensions between her and other administration officials, the first lady’s office issued an extraordinary statement to reporters calling for her firing. … In her role as No. 2 to national security adviser John Bolton, Ricardel berated colleagues in meetings, yelled at military aides and White House professional staff, argued with Melania Trump regarding her recent trip to Africa and spread rumors about Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, according to three current and two former White House officials. Kelly has sought for months to oust Ricardel, calling her a problematic hire in the West Wing, and Mattis has told advisers that he wants her out as well.”
-- The first lady’s problems with Ricardel appear to stem from her trip last month to Africa. The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman, Helene Cooper and Ron Nixon report: “Ms. Ricardel had announced the trip before it was fully planned, according to one [source], and then threatened to pull resources for it after learning that she did not have a seat on Mrs. Trump’s plane. After the trip ended, Ms. Ricardel made accusations of inappropriate behavior by Mrs. Trump’s most trusted staff members, including Lindsay Reynolds, the first lady’s chief of staff — claims that a person close to the first lady said were false.”
-- NBC News reports that Kelly may soon exit the White House after clashes with the first lady over staffing and travel requests. Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Courtney Kube report: “Some of the disputes with the East Wing have escalated to the president, ... seven people familiar with the clashes said. … Melania Trump raised concerns with her husband earlier this year, amid the height of the controversy over his alleged affair with porn actress Stormy Daniels, that Kelly had repeatedly denied her requests to promote some of her aides, two White House officials [said]. … Trump was especially annoyed, according to people familiar with his thinking, that he had to get involved in disputes involving his wife. His message to Kelly, according to one of them, repeatedly has been: ‘Deal with it.’ … A White House official said the first lady has not pushed for his departure, noting that she likes Kelly personally and gets along with him. But tensions with her office, on top of his intensifying power struggle with Bolton, have reignited speculation that Trump will replace him before the end of the year.”
-- Trump is considering former acting ICE director Thomas Homan to replace Nielsen. Politico’s Gabby Orr and Ted Hesson report: “Tapping Homan to run the Department of Homeland Security would almost certainly energize Trump’s base. The tough-talking lawman once recommended charging so-called sanctuary city politicians ‘with crimes’ and has pugnaciously defended even Trump’s most controversial immigration moves, including separating children from their parents at the border.”
-- CNN filed a lawsuit against the White House to get reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass restored. Paul Farhi reports: “The unusual lawsuit, an escalation of Trump’s long-running war of words with CNN, seeks a judge’s intervention after Trump banished Acosta from the White House grounds for an indefinite period after a brief altercation between Acosta and a White House press aide. … Late Tuesday afternoon, the judge in the case, Timothy J. Kelly, ordered the White House and the other defendants to respond to CNN’s motion for a temporary restraining order by 11 a.m. Wednesday. He set a hearing on the restraining order — which would temporarily restore Acosta’s press credential, pending the outcome of a trial — for 3 p.m. Wednesday. Legal experts say the network’s chances of winning in court are favorable.”
-- Trump has refused to consider arguments against nationalism, which Macron called a “betrayal of patriotism.” Anne Gearan reports: “Instead, Trump, who once avoided calling himself a nationalist, flaunted his embrace of the term and suggested that Macron do the same while arguing the French president was criticizing him to distract from his poor poll numbers.”
-- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed defending Trump’s embrace of nationalism: “Trump is right to embrace the label ‘nationalist,’ because a true American nationalism isn’t about a national identity based on race, religion or ethnicity. Instead, it is based on our identity as a nation committed to the idea that all people are created equal, with a God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
-- Trump will nominate retired Army Gen. John Abizaid to become the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Anne Gearan and Dan Lamothe report: “[The vacancy] was spotlighted by the difficult diplomacy between the United States and Riyadh over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The post has been vacant throughout Trump’s presidency. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have blamed Senate Democrats for holding up nominations, but no one had been nominated for the job until now. Turkey, where [Post columnist] Khashoggi was killed last month, also has no U.S. ambassador. Abizaid, best known from his time overseeing the Iraq War, is now a consultant and a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.”
THE NEW CONGRESS:
-- House Democrats fear a Freedom Caucus-like insurgency from the liberal wing could derail their plans once they take control of the chamber. Mike DeBonis reports: “[Nancy] Pelosi’s opponents are threatening to withhold their votes on the House floor even after an anticipated party vote nominating her as the next speaker. That is a page straight out of the Freedom Caucus playbook — used to deny Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) the speakership in 2015. Top Democrats are warning rank-and-file members not to go down that road, underscoring a growing backlash to the anti-Pelosi faction. … A critical test may come later this week as Democrats consider an internal rule change to raise the threshold vote for nominating a speaker candidate from a simple majority to 218 votes. The change is expected to fail, in a boost for Pelosi.”
-- Pelosi has launched an aggressive charm offensive to try to snag the speakership. Politico’s John Bresnahan, Rachael Bade and Kyle Cheney report: “On Tuesday afternoon, Pelosi held a reception for all Democrats at Osteria Morini, an Italian restaurant by the D.C. waterfront. On Wednesday, the members-elect will be introduced to their colleagues at a Democratic Caucus meeting, a lengthy process that will put them onstage with Pelosi. The California Democrat will follow that up with an appearance at the Congressional Black Caucus … Democratic Party luminaries are calling members-elect on Pelosi's behalf as well. Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania have weighed in, as have former Vice President Al Gore and former Secretary of State and longtime Democratic Sen. John Kerry, according to Democratic aides.”
-- Nine centrist Democrats are demanding a vote on their proposed rules changes to House operations in exchange for their support of Pelosi. From DeBonis: “The reforms range from making it easier to get amendment votes to ending the ability of a single disgruntled lawmaker to force a vote on ousting a sitting speaker. The centerpieces of the effort are mechanisms that would streamline the process of considering bills with broad bipartisan support on the House floor — at the price of eroding the power of the majority party’s leadership to control what gets put up for a vote.”
-- House Republicans will hold closed-door elections today, with Kevin McCarthy expected to cruise to the top role of minority leader. The AP’s Lisa Mascaro reports: “But the Californian has struggled in the past to build support from conservatives. He faces a longshot challenge from Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus who has support from outside conservative groups and got a second-look during a nearly two-hour candidate forum Tuesday. … Most GOP lawmakers, though, prefer McCarthy’s more affable approach, and he remained favored to win Wednesday.”
House Republicans vented frustrations about their loss of the majority during a closed-door meeting last night. From Mascaro: “Republicans complained about the unpopularity of the GOP tax law they blamed for losses in New York and other key states, some attendees told reporters after the meeting. Some in the meeting said Republicans should have tried harder to fulfill [Trump’s] priorities, like funding for the border wall with Mexico. They also warned that they need a new fundraising mechanism to compete with the small-dollar online donors that powered Democrats to victory.”
-- Trump has urged McCarthy to strike a deal with Jordan. Politico’s Rachael Bade, John Bresnahan and Kyle Cheney report: “It remains unclear what exactly the deal would entail. The discussions between the president and McCarthy about Jordan, which took place last week, set off a round of speculation among lawmakers inside the Capitol that Trump may try to push Jordan to become the top Republican lawmaker on the House Judiciary Committee … Jordan wants that position, according to GOP lawmakers and aides. And Trump thinks Jordan would be a ferocious defender.”
-- Democrats are on track to hold about 30 House seats that went for Trump in 2016, which could complicate their legislative agenda. From Paul Kane: “That’s a large degree of political exposure, given that the size of their House majority will be about half that when the final races are called … They now must decide how to govern: Go bold, brandishing an aggressive liberal agenda that tells voters what Democrats stand for and what to expect from their eventual presidential standard-bearer in 2020; or play it safe with a disciplined approach that doesn’t scare off independent voters ahead of the battle for the White House.”
-- Mitch McConnell wrote an op-ed advising House Democrats to “work together [with the Republican Senate] and actually make a difference.” He writes on FoxNews.com: “Last week, the American people made it abundantly clear that they prefer that Congress focus on making a difference. That message may have been lost on a few House Democrats, who have made clear their preference for investigations over policy results. After years of rhetoric, it’s hardly news that some are more interested in fanning the flames of division than reaching across the aisle. But however Democrats interpret the latest message from voters, Senate Republicans will continue our commitment to delivering results.”
FLORIDA, FLORIDA, FLORIDA:
-- Sen. Bill Nelson (D) filed a lawsuit to extend the deadline to finish the recount in the close Senate race against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Sean Sullivan, Beth Reinhard, Vanessa Williams and Lori Rozsa report: “[Nelson] and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a suit in federal court Tuesday evening seeking to extend the deadline to finish the count in all 67 counties. Separately, Nelson and the state party went to court to try to loosen the rules for a manual recount as both parties braced for the ultra-close Senate race to come down to a hand inspection of ballots. On Capitol Hill, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged Florida elections officials to take as much time as they need to tally votes, even if they blow past a key deadline. He also demanded that [Scott], who is narrowly ahead of Nelson in the Senate race, recuse himself from the recount. Scott’s campaign swiftly rejected that notion, which is the subject of a suit expected to be heard in federal court this week.”
-- Top officials in both parties privately agree Nelson’s gap will be difficult to overcome.
-- Two Florida election officials at the center of the recount were harassed online. Craig Timberg and Beth Reinhard report: “Several pro-Trump Facebook pages and one Twitter account on Monday posted the home address and phone number of [Brenda Snipes,] the Broward County, Fla., election supervisor who has been the target of blistering criticism from the president and other Republicans amid highly politicized vote recounts. … Facebook confirmed Tuesday that it had removed personal information about Snipes after the incident was reported to the company. It also confirmed a similar incident involving Palm Beach County’s Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, whose home address and phone number also were posted on a Facebook page.”
-- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been offering Trump updates on the Florida recounts as she angles for a position in the administration. Politico’s Annie Karni and Marc Caputo report: “[S]ince the midterms, she has been serving as one of [Trump’s] point people on the ground there, remaining in frequent contact with the president and giving him personal updates, according to a senior White House official and Florida officials. For the longtime close friend of Trump’s, the timing of the Florida recount, which the president has seized on to push unsupported theories about widespread voter fraud, offers a new chance to be front and center in his mind while he is also reorganizing his Cabinet and quickly shedding officials he has grown weary of.”
MORE RESULTS COMING IN:
-- Another House race was called: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) lost his reelection bid to Democrat Josh Harder. The Associated Press declared Harder the winner in California’s 10th District, which is in the Central Valley east of San Jose. The former venture capitalist leads by around 4,900 votes. Denham was elected with the tea party wave in 2010.
-- Democrat Katie Porter has taken a 261-vote lead over GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in California’s 45th District. “That means Democrats now lead in six out of nine uncalled House races,” KTLA’s Erika Martin reports: “During her last election in 2016, Walters, a former investment banker, won by 17 percentage points. But that same year, the district went for Hillary Clinton by more than 5 points after previously electing Mitt Romney by 12 points in 2012. … And in California’s 39th Congressional District, where a seat opened up after long-serving GOP Rep. Ed Royce announced his retirement, Democrat Gil Cisneros is catching up to Republican Young Kim, who had a healthy lead on election night. … On election night, Kim was ahead by nearly 4,000. But on Tuesday, she led by only 711.”
-- Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) trails Democrat Ben McAdams by 0.6 points. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Benjamin Wood reports: “McAdams held his tenuous lead over [Love] on Tuesday after the addition of roughly 40,000 votes to Utah County’s election totals and 17,000 votes in Salt Lake County. McAdams now leads with 50.3 percent of the vote, compared with 49.7 percent for Love, a margin of 1,229 votes. Dave Hansen, Love’s campaign manager, expressed optimism after seeing the new Utah County figures.”
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Trump’s move to install loyalist Matt Whitaker at the Justice Department helm is backfiring politically. Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Darren Samuelsohn report: “The uproar over the appointment, which effectively removes Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as [special counsel Bob] Mueller’s primary supervisor, has put Whitaker in a difficult spot, trapped between setting off a political firestorm by clipping Mueller’s wings and angering a president intent on having him do just that. Even Trump’s Justice Department is wavering about whether Whitaker will do the deed the president wanted him for.
“Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec issued a statement late Tuesday signaling that Whitaker could still recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation, a shift from the department’s initial position in the immediate aftermath of Sessions’ ouster that Whitaker had no plans to step out of the way on the Russia probe. … There is also the fact that Mueller’s investigation may be too far along to merely smother it. A Washington-based defense lawyer representing a senior Trump official in the Russia investigation said Whitaker couldn’t make decisions ‘based on his seat-of-the-pants preferences.’”
-- Another bad headline: Public records show that, while in private business, Whitaker abandoned a taxpayer-subsidized apartment-rehabilitation project in Iowa amid ongoing problems. The AP’s Ryan J. Foley and David Pitt report: “The city of Des Moines ultimately yanked an affordable housing loan that Whitaker’s company had been awarded, and another lender began foreclosure proceedings after Whitaker defaulted on a separate loan for nearly $700,000. Several contractors complained they were not paid, and a process server for one could not even find Whitaker or his company to serve him with a lawsuit.”
-- John Yoo, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, called Whitaker’s appointment unconstitutional. He writes in The Atlantic: “To prevent the president from using appointments to advance his private interests, just as Trump critics today charge, the Constitution prohibits filling the position of attorney general with a series of officials who never received Senate consent. [Rosenstein], Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the several assistant attorneys general, even any of the 93 U.S. attorneys in the nation’s major cities could all temporarily fill in for Sessions, as they received senatorial advice and consent. Whitaker, and any other Justice Department official or employee, cannot.”
-- Mueller is seeking more information about Nigel Farage, a key pro-Brexit campaigner who forged close ties with the 2016 Trump campaign. The Guardian’s Jon Swaine and Stephanie Kirchgaessner report: “Jerome Corsi, a conservative author, said prosecutors working for Mueller questioned him about [Farage] two weeks ago in Washington. Corsi said investigators for the special counsel also pressed him for information on Ted Malloch, a London-based American academic with ties to Farage, who informally advised [Trump] and was interviewed by FBI agents earlier this year."
-- Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) expressed support for a bill to protect Mueller’s probe and urged McConnell to allow a vote on it. “I would certainly vote for it,” Graham told reporters. “I don’t see any movement to get rid of Mueller. But it probably would be good to have this legislation in place just for the future.” McConnell said last week he did not consider the legislation necessary. (Reuters)
-- Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the likely incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, instructed the FBI and Justice to respond to outstanding requests from Democrats before they assume the majority. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Nadler stopped short of issuing a threat, subpoena or otherwise, in demanding that [Whitaker] and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray respond by the end of the year to committee Democrats who have written to ask for documents and other information. But the letter serves as a reminder nonetheless that committee Democrats plan to hit the ground running in January — and offers a hint of where they will focus their attention.”
-- Top economists predict the U.S. economy could be grappling with a recession as Trump fights for reelection in 2020. Heather Long wrote the most forward-looking story you'll read today: “Most economists are predicting that the economy will be weaker — or even in a recession — by the time voters go to the polls in 2020. For Trump and the GOP, the economy was probably a tail wind in these midterms, but it could turn into a substantial head wind by then.
“Pessimism is growing on Wall Street about future prospects for earnings and the economy. More than a third of top economic forecasters now predict a U.S. recession in 2020, according to the latest Blue Chip forecast, and 44 percent of fund managers in the latest Bank of America Merrill Lynch survey expect global growth to slow in the next year, the worst outlook for the world economy since November 2008. The list of head winds is expanding: higher borrowing costs, a strong dollar, a weakening global economy, an escalating tariff war, and fading fiscal stimulus from the tax cuts and extra government spending. 'Our forecast has [economic growth] stalling — that is, zero growth quarter on quarter — in the first half of 2020,' Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note to clients. 'Gravity can’t be defied forever.'
“The president will have to decide: Does he take further action to boost growth, or does he blame others for any slowdown?”
-- Michael Bloomberg pledged to make a decision on a White House run by early next year. The AP’s Steve Peoples reports: “‘I think January, February would be about as late as you can do it and as early as you can gather enough information,’ Bloomberg said ... The 76-year-old billionaire said his decision would have little to do with other Democratic presidential prospects ... ‘Thanksgiving, Christmas and then maybe a few weeks into January — that’s when you really gotta sit down, talk to your advisers and say, ‘Look, do I have a chance?’ I think I know why I would want to run. I think I know what I think this country should do and what I would do. But I just don’t know whether it’s possible,’ Bloomberg [said]. …
“Should he run, Bloomberg would bring virtually limitless resources and a pragmatic governing approach to what is expected to be a massive 2020 Democratic field. … Long an active political donor to candidates in both parties, Bloomberg gave almost exclusively to Democrats this year for the first time. The decision, he explained, was born out of his concern that Republicans who controlled the House and Senate weren’t providing an adequate check on the Trump presidency. Yet this political season marked a permanent shift in his political identity, he said. ‘I will be a Democrat for the rest of my life,’ Bloomberg said.”
-- Julián Castro met with donors to discuss a possible 2020 campaign. Politico’s Alex Thompson reports: “Castro and his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, brought together about 20 of their loyal donors and bundlers in San Antonio to begin to sketch out a national bid, according [two sources]. The session lasted several hours and invited the potential donors to ask questions about a potential presidential campaign.”
-- The midterm results point to Democratic hurdles as they seek to take back the White House in 2020. The New York Times’s Nate Cohn writes: “[Democrats’] triumph was a somewhat narrow one, concentrated in well-educated, affluent communities. Over all, the distribution of Democratic and Republican support was reminiscent of the 2016 election, when Democrats won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College. Yes, Democrats can muscle their way through those disadvantages with a big enough win, like their seven-point advantage in the House popular vote. But white voters without a degree are overrepresented in the most important Midwestern battleground states. The most straightforward alternative for Democrats goes through Florida, which probably gave Republicans their most promising results last week.”
-- But the GOP will need to repair its relationship with suburban women to undo some of the midterm losses it sustained. Dan Balz writes: “For many suburban women — not all, by any means, but for many — Trump is toxic. It is not just that they disagree with him. … It was the president’s style, his behavior, his treatment of other people, the allegations of sexual misconduct, the disrespect he has shown. … Those in the Republican Party … who worry about their deficit among suburban women cannot deny the role their president has played in creating the conditions that led to last week’s results. Whether they will act on that is another question. So far it doesn’t look like they are prepared to do so.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump dismissed reports that North Korea has continued its development of ballistic missiles:
The story in the New York Times concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate. We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new - and nothing happening out of the normal. Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
(A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies used satellite imagery and interviews with former North Korean officials to identify 13 missile bases.)
The first lady's only tweet of the day sidestepped any mention of West Wing turmoil:
The top Senate Democrat welcomed two new female members to Capitol Hill:
Women of the West. Two new great women Democratic senators from the western part of the United States, Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona and Jacky Rosen from Nevada. So proud we’ll be working with them in January. pic.twitter.com/jx3heTQFde— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 13, 2018
A writer for The Fix compared three officials with nearly identical first names:
RISING: Kyrsten— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 13, 2018
WAITING IN THE WINGS: Kirsten
Democrats' and Republicans' freshman members of Congress look quite different from each other:
House Republicans-elect look pretty different from House Democrats-elect. pic.twitter.com/KSgFVU4cFx— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) November 13, 2018
A well-known freshman Democrat visited Nancy Pelosi's office:
Alexandra Ocasio Cortez makes her first visit to Nancy Pelosi’s office — for a climate change protest. pic.twitter.com/PXTBoGcWcb— Sheryl Gay Stolberg (@SherylNYT) November 13, 2018
Pelosi encouraged the protest:
We welcome the presence of these activists, and we strongly urge the Capitol Police to allow them to continue to organize and participate in our democracy.— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) November 13, 2018
Ocasio-Cortez responded by outlining her asks:
Next, we should define the standards of that committee. To be truly effective, it should:— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
1. Have a mandate to draft a Green New Deal plan by 2020;
2. Not have officials appointed to it that accept fossil fuel industry contributions
Ocasio-Cortez also posted a photo of herself with fellow incoming congresswomen Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar:
Tlaib, who will be one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, is angling to serve on the House Appropriations Committee:
New generation of public servants means new voices needed at the table. This is the committee I am advocating to serve on. Representing #13thDistrictStrong, 3rd poorest district in the nation, deserves a voice. #rootedincommunity pic.twitter.com/iKRIImMSsy— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) November 13, 2018
The first Native American women elected to Congress also took a photo together:
I am honored to be a part of this time in history when so many new voices are being included in our national discussion. It will be a special privilege to serve alongside @Deb4CongressNM. I am inspired by the work she has done for her community & am grateful for her friendship. pic.twitter.com/fUHCubmE3M— Sharice Davids (@sharicedavids) November 13, 2018
Mitt Romney has been assigned a temporary Senate office in the bowels of the Capitol:
Senate Romneymentum begins —> pic.twitter.com/AKpf66mUur— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) November 13, 2018
A writer for Roll Call joked about the shifting state affiliations of an incoming senator and current ambassador:
I look forward to Ambassador Brown of (checks notes) New Hampshire meeting with Senator Romney of (checks notes) Utah.— Niels Lesniewski (@nielslesniewski) November 13, 2018
The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee issued a warning to the acting attorney general, a fellow Iowan:
Senator Chuck Grassley delivers a message to Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, Iowan to Iowan: "He oughta forget that. I'm not a lawyer but Marbury v Madison is the basis for the judicial branch checking the other two branches of government, far as I'm concerned."— Carrie Johnson (@johnson_carrie) November 13, 2018
A New York Times reporter noted the background of the lawyer representing CNN in the Jim Acosta case:
Ted OLSON, who Trump praised in one of his Fla tweets and who Trump tried repeatedly to hire for his own personal legal team (Olson said no), is repping CNN in suit against the White House re Acosta hard pass. https://t.co/BaOUgre0Zu— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 13, 2018
Another Times reporter reflected on the White House's shifting explanations for revoking Acosta's press pass:
White House shifts its explanation for barring @Acosta — no more mention of “placing his hands” on anyone, now the issue supposedly is that he kept asking questions. So if they think he monopolizes a press conference, why do they call on him?— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) November 13, 2018
A CNN reporter shared this photo from Switzerland:
The artwork at the US ambassador’s residence here in Switzerland 🇨🇭 pic.twitter.com/8m4xbkTQDu— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) November 13, 2018
And one Twitter exchange perfectly summed up the platform:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times, “A Search in Fire-Ravaged California for What No One Wants to Find,” by Julie Turkewitz and Thomas Fuller: “It is a measure of how frequent and deadly wildfires have become in California that identifying badly burned remains has become an area of expertise. … One search team on Tuesday toured the foundation of a flattened home in this singed stretch of Paradise, Calif. Carefully they circled the charred bathtub, the melted kitchen floor, the skeletal playground — poking everywhere with long metal poles. In white hazmat suits and red hard hats, the group of specialists was searching for two things no one wants to find: bodies and bones.”
-- New York Times, “Trump’s Tax Cut Was Supposed to Change Corporate Behavior. Here’s What Happened,” by Jim Tankersley and Matt Phillips: “Economists across the ideological spectrum predicted the new law would fuel consumer spending, in classic fashion: When the government borrows money and dumps it into the economy, growth tends to accelerate. But Republicans did not sell the law as a sugar-high stimulus. They sold it as a refashioning of the incentives in the American economy — one that would unleash more investment, better efficiency and higher wages, along with enough growth to offset any revenue lost to the government from lower tax rates. Ten months after the law took effect, that promised ‘supply-side’ bump is harder to find than the sugar-high stimulus.”
-- Vanity Fair, “‘Who Gets To Live In Victimville?’: Why I Participated In A New Docuseries On The Clinton Affair,” by Monica Lewinsky: “[S]ociety will no doubt weigh in again on my classification—Victim or Vixen?—when people see a new docuseries I chose to participate in. (It’s titled The Clinton Affair. Bye-bye, Lewinsky scandal . . . I think 20 years is enough time to carry that mantle.) … Even as I began my own self-reckoning, in 2018, another shift occurred. After occupying distant orbits for two decades, we finally reached the perigee. For the first time in more than 15 years, Bill Clinton was being asked directly about what transpired. If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“I Take Back My Praise of Jeff Flake’s Book,” from the New York Times’s Jennifer Senior: “For just over two years, I was a daily book critic for this paper. I second-guessed myself more than I’d care to admit. But there are almost no reviews I’d take back. Now, however, I’m seriously reconsidering my mostly kind review of ‘Conscience of a Conservative’ by Senator Jeff Flake, the Republican from Arizona … I said that Flake’s book had rhetorical power. But looking back on it, it didn’t. Jeff Flake’s book couldn’t even convince Jeff Flake. As of this writing, he has voted with Trump 84 percent of the time. … He wrote of the despair he was feeling beneath the lacquered smile. But Flake, as a sitting senator, has been in the position to do more than despair.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Disney World banned a man who waved ‘Trump 2020’ banner on Splash Mountain,” from Lindsey Bever: “Dion Cini calls his photos at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort ‘guerrilla marketing.’ One picture shows the 49-year-old with a slight smile, holding a ‘Trump 2020’ banner on the Splash Mountain log ride. … His plan, he said, was to go viral, drawing support for [Trump’s] campaign. … But, he said, it was his campaigning last week at the Disney theme park that became an issue — and got him banned from all Disney properties, including theme parks and resorts, for inciting a crowd. ‘I did not break the rules,’ Cini said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview with The Washington Post. ‘I was on a ride. I was not inciting a crowd. There was no crowd.’”
-- Trump will receive his intelligence briefing and have lunch with Mike Pompeo.
-- A new era of women in politics: Tomorrow (Nov. 15), The Washington Post will host an event at our headquarters to discuss the results of a historic election cycle for women. Speakers, including White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp and newly elected House Democrats Ayanna Pressley, Jennifer Wexton, Ilhan Omar and others, will evaluate the midterm election results for female candidates, discuss differences in party performance and look ahead to how women will help shape the policy agenda of the Trump administration and the 116th Congress. The program runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. If you’re interested in attending, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Space is limited).
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“I’m a part of this institution. I care about it a lot and that’s something I’m not going to be talking about.” — Justice Elena Kagan addressing a law student’s question about whether the Supreme Court has credibility to decide cases on violence against women now that two of its members have been accused of sexual misconduct. (Globe and Mail)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- A wintry mix could arrive late tonight in D.C. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Cold high pressure in control provides partly sunny skies and chilly temperatures, climbing from the low 30s this morning into the low-to-mid 40s this afternoon. … Clouds increase this evening and skies turn mostly cloudy overnight, with temperatures dropping to near or a little below freezing, as our first wintry weather-maker of the season approaches from the southwest. A wintry mix of sleet, snow, and freezing rain arrives between approximately 3 and 6 a.m.”
-- The Capitals beat the Wild 5-2. (Barry Svrluga)
-- The D.C. Council gave final approval to some of the nation’s strictest regulations on Airbnb and other short-term rentals. Robert McCartney and Peter Jamison report: “If signed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), the measure would prevent D.C. property owners from renting out second homes on a short-term basis and bar them from renting spare rooms or basements in their primary residences for more than 90 days per year when the host is away. Bowser has said she thinks the bill is too restrictive but has not threatened to veto it — partly because it passed with enough votes to override a veto.”
-- Crystal City residents expressed mixed feelings about Amazon’s imminent arrival. Patricia Sullivan reports: “The prospect of tens of thousands of well-paid jobs and spinoff businesses attracted lots of praise — and some worry — from the commuter crowd as they hustled between high-rise offices on chilly Crystal Drive. … At the same time, the region’s infuriating traffic jams, lack of affordable housing and overcrowded schools caused most residents to pause.”
-- The owner of a Georgetown mansion where Jackie Kennedy once lived was fined more than $50,000 for removing a tree from the property and trimming another. (Justin Wm. Moyer)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Stephen Colbert revealed Melania Trump's “traditional goodbye gift” for ousted administration officials:
This clip of Mitt Romney declining to answer a question about Whitaker suggests that he's going to disappoint a lot of Trump critics who hope he'll pick up the mantle of Jeff Flake, Bob Corker or John McCain:
Romney asked by fmr Romney embed @GarrettHaake if Whitaker should recuse himself:— Alan He (@alanhe) November 13, 2018
"That’s really a very important question and I’m sure I’ll get a chance to talk to you about that. But not yet. This is an orientation day and I’m getting orientated..." pic.twitter.com/aZk9gFrijI
Trump participated in a White House Diwali ceremony:
Michelle Obama kicked off her book tour:
And The Post's Department of Satire sped up some moments from Trump's presidency to parody the altered Jim Acosta video: