With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: An 1879 act of Congress enshrined confidentiality as a fundamental part of the census. Every household in the country is surveyed every 10 years, and policymakers want people to fill out the forms honestly since so much is at stake, from congressional apportionment to the allocation of federal spending. Congress took the confidentiality of the decennial count, mandated by the Constitution, so seriously that another law in 1954 made it a serious crime for anyone at the Commerce Department to share the data with other government agencies or even the courts. Violators are subject to up to five years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.

For the Trump administration, however, this apparently is not a settled issue. The government was forced to turn over documents Friday night as part of the discovery process in one of six pending lawsuits against the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form. One email reveals private discussions among President Trump’s appointees at the Justice Department about the possibility of sharing future census information with law enforcement, which could help the government round up undocumented immigrants for deportation.

“After a congressional hearing in May about the citizenship question, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) submitted a written query about whether the Justice Department agreed with a memo it had issued in 2010 saying the USA Patriot Act could not override the confidentiality of the census,” Tara Bahrampour reports. “In a June 12 email, department officials discussed among themselves how to answer Gomez’s question in a way that left the answer open. Justice Department attorney Ben Aguinaga suggested to acting assistant attorney general John Gore that they not say ‘too much’ in response to Gomez’s question, in case the issue were to ‘come up later for renewed debate.’

The message could emerge as important evidence in a case that’s set to go to trial in January. The Justice Department declined to comment last night on the email or whether census confidentiality is still up for debate. The mere fact these discussions are taking place will have a chilling effect that could scare off many people from filling out the forms.

The disclosure of the startling internal email is one of several fresh reminders of just how far Trump is trying to push the envelope on immigration and test the limits of the law, even if it means likely defeat in the courtroom.

-- A federal judge issued a temporary nationwide restraining order last night to block Trump from denying asylum to migrants who cross the southern border into the United States, saying the policy unveiled by the president on Nov. 9 likely violates federal law.

“Whatever the scope of the President’s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” Judge Jon Tigar of the U.S. District Court of San Francisco writes in a stinging 37-page order. “And if what [Justice Department lawyers] intend to say is that the President by proclamation can override Congress’s clearly expressed legislative intent, simply because a statute conflicts with the President’s policy goals, the Court rejects that argument also.”

The administration will likely appeal the order by Tigar, who was appointed to the bench by Barack Obama in 2012. It’s the latest setback for Trump’s immigration agenda in the courts. Judges appointed by presidents of both parties have blocked his efforts to defund so-called “sanctuary cities” and to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors. The Supreme Court upheld Trump’s revised travel ban on a 5-to-4 vote in June, and Brett Kavanaugh may provide the pivotal vote as some of these cases end up before the justices.

-- Meanwhile, the Army general in charge of Trump’s border deployment wants to start sending some of the troops back to their home bases. “The shift would come as the military seeks to adjust to realities on the ground, where soldiers have spent days stringing miles of barbed concertina wire and some have said that they spent days waiting for assignments,” Dan Lamothe reports. “Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said in an interview with Politico on Monday that he would probably focus first on redeploying some soldiers focused on logistics. They constitute the majority of the border force and have focused both on installing concertina wire and other barriers to slow down any rush of migrants and building temporary camps in which U.S. soldiers can live nearby.”

-- Immigration authorities have taken several steps to “harden” the southern border as more members of the migrant caravan arrived in Tijuana. “Homeland Security officials said Monday they have further restricted vehicle traffic at the San Ysidro border crossing, the nation’s busiest, after receiving reports that crowds of migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, might attempt to overrun their checkpoints,” Nick Miroff reports. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection closed the entire San Ysidro crossing in San Diego for several hours before dawn, installing additional layers of razor wire and concrete barriers. It reopened with 10 of the port’s 26 vehicle lanes closed.”

-- Against this backdrop: Trump continues to threaten to force a partial shutdown of the federal government on Dec. 7 if Congress doesn’t fully fund his border wall, something Democrats have no appetite to do. (Sixty votes are needed to pass a spending bill through the Senate, so nine Democrats would need to defect during the lame-duck session.) “This would be a very good time to do a shutdown,” the president said on Saturday as he flew to California to tour fire damage.

-- Personnel is policy: Rather than being fired, the Trump appointee at HHS who has been widely blamed internally and externally for making the family separation crisis worse simply got reassigned to another senior job at the agency. “Scott Lloyd, who has come under fire for his oversight of migrant children in federal custody, is being moved to the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, where he'll be a senior adviser,” Politico’s Rachana Pradhan reports. “Democrats have long sought Lloyd's ouster over his efforts to block unaccompanied teens in federal custody from obtaining abortions. Lloyd, a longtime anti-abortion advocate, is writing a book about his views on abortion.

“Lloyd was effectively removed as refugee director this summer after his office struggled to care for and reunite thousands of migrant children who were separated from their families under the Trump administration's now-defunct ‘zero tolerance’ border policy,” Pradhan adds. “A top HHS official has been reviewing the department's handling of the migrant crisis, and senior officials believe Lloyd mismanaged aspects of the response. For instance, Lloyd told staff to stop keeping a spreadsheet tracking separated families. At one point during the height of the crisis, HHS Secretary Alex Azar personally stepped in to review case files after he learned Lloyd's office had yet to review hundreds. … Prior to joining the Trump administration, Lloyd had little experience in helping refugees. He was previously an attorney for the Knights of Columbus…”

-- Another D.C. lawyer with no formal diplomatic experience, Christopher Landau, is now under serious consideration to become Trump’s ambassador to Mexico. BuzzFeed News’s Zoe Tillman and Emily Tamkin report: “According to one DC lawyer with firsthand knowledge, Landau, a partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, is undergoing background checks, a sign that he’s far along in the vetting process. … It’s not unusual to have ambassadors with no diplomatic experience, but the US — Mexico relationship is a critical one, and not only because of trade between the two countries, which came to an estimated $615.9 billion last year. … The next ambassador will also need to manage relations with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who will be sworn in as president of Mexico next month. López Obrador is an avowed leftist who published a book called ‘Listen up, Trump’ criticizing the US president’s approach to immigration and Mexico.”

Landau was considered, but passed over, for Kavanaugh’s vacant seat on the D.C. Circuit. He is a partner at the same firm as Bill Burck, a close friend of Kavanaugh’s who oversaw document production for the George W. Bush library during the confirmation process. Landau clerked for Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. “The ambassador post in Mexico has been vacant since Roberta Jacobson left the position in May 2018,” per BuzzFeed. “Jacobson, unlike Landau, had decades of diplomatic experience and was assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs before becoming ambassador.”

-- Ron Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has written that the Democratic Party should be renamed the “Liberalcratic party or the NeoKlanist party.” He expressed regret for the 2015 Twitter post during his confirmation hearing last Thursday to get the job permanently. “It was a mistake,” the 55-year-old told the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “It was a momentary lapse of judgment, and I apologize. It was meant as a joke.”

But his incendiary rhetoric was overshadowed by his refusal to rule out that he and the Trump administration might once again separate migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border, despite the national furor when they tried it over the summer. “That option and that discussion is underway,” said Vitiello. “We’ll get less people bringing their children. It is an option.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Ivanka Trump often conducted government business last year using a personal email account in violation of federal records rules. Carol D. Leonnig and Josh Dawsey report: “White House ethics officials learned of Trump’s repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner. [It's called “ijkfamily.com."] The discovery alarmed some advisers to [the president], who feared that his daughter’s practices bore similarities to the personal email use of Hillary Clinton …

“Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump’s personal emails — and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. She said she was not familiar with some details of the rules ... The White House referred requests for comment to Ivanka Trump’s attorney and ethics counsel, Abbe Lowell. In a statement, Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Lowell, acknowledged that the president’s daughter occasionally used her private email before she was briefed on the rules, but he said none of her messages contained classified information. [That's what the Clinton lawyers said initially, too.]

“After discovering the extent of her email use in September 2017, White House lawyers relied on Lowell ... to help review her personal emails to determine which were personal and which were official business … The White House Counsel’s Office did not have access to her personal account and could not review it without invading her privacy and possibly violating privileged communications with her attorneys, people familiar with the review said. After his review, Lowell forwarded emails that he had determined were related to official business to Ivanka Trump’s government account, a move he viewed as rectifying any violations of the records law … Lowell’s review found fewer than 1,000 personal emails in which Trump shared her official schedule and travel plans with herself and her personal assistants, according to two people familiar with the review. Separately, there were fewer than 100 emails in which Trump used her personal account to discuss official business with other administration officials.”

Hypocrisy alert: “During the campaign, Donald Trump … called her personal email use ‘bigger than Watergate.’ Trump supporters still chant ‘Lock her up!’ at his rallies, and the president, nearly two years into his administration, continues to tweet about Clinton’s emails.”

Key quote: “She was the worst offender in the White House,” said a former senior U.S. government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal dynamics.  (That raises the question: Are there others?)

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. A shooting at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital left at least four dead. The shooter first argued in the hospital parking lot with a woman believed to be his former fiancee. He killed her, a police officer and a pharmaceutical assistant before being fatally shot by authorities. (Michael Brice-Saddler, Mark Guarino and Keith McMillan)

  2. Stocks fell for tech giants, causing the Dow to close down 396 points. Facebook stock fell nearly 6 percent as recent reports have cast the company’s internal politics in a negative light. Apple’s stock also tumbled after the Wall Street Journal reported it had cut orders for the newest round of iPhones. (CNN)

  3. Biographer Ron Chernow will headline the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. The group’s selection of Chernow breaks with a decades-old tradition of having the event hosted by a comedian. But the performance of last spring’s guest, comedian Michelle Wolf, was controversial. (Emily Heil)

  4. Of the 22 charities that abandoned Mar-a-Lago last year after Trump’s comment about there being “very fine people” among the white nationalists in Charlottesville, only two have returned this year. The disruption of Mar-a-Lago’s banquet business has deprived Trump’s club of a source of income and an opportunity to associate itself with Palm Beach’s old-money crowd. (David A. Fahrenthold)

  5. Hackers gained access to thousands of certified email accounts in Italy earlier this month. The accounts of 9,000 magistrates and members of a top security agency may have been affected in the cyberattack. (Reuters)
  6. An AP cameraman was shot and wounded while covering a demonstration in the Gaza Strip. Rashed Rashid was hit in the leg, and his co-workers said the shot appeared to come from the Israeli side of the border. (AP)

  7. A judge ordered construction halted on a Texas school after the remains of likely former slaves who were worked to death on sugar cane plantations were discovered at the site. According to the ruling, the remains will stay at the site pending an investigation, including DNA testing. (Meagan Flynn and Lindsey Bever)

  8. A Harvard senior became the first DACA recipient to win a Rhodes Scholarship. Jin K. Park’s hopes of becoming a scholar helped shape the Rhodes Trust's decision to open the program to dreamers. (Harvard Crimson)

  9. A new study found that bisexual women are at particularly high risk of misusing prescription opioids. The study’s authors said the results reaffirm that sexual minorities are more likely to report alcohol and substance abuse. (Samantha Schmidt)

  10. A Colorado father who pleaded guilty to murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters was sentenced to three consecutive lifetimes in prison. Prosecutors detailed how Christopher Watts plotted the August murders of Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts in the hopes of starting a new life with his girlfriend. (Avi Selk)

  11. A woman in Upstate New York was fatally shot as her husband was “performing maintenance” on his handgun. Ashley Rosenbrock went viral in 2014 after she created a Facebook page called “Vivienne’s RAOK” — random act of kindness — to inspire moments of charity. The effort was named after Rosenbrock’s young daughter, who died of sepsis pneumonia at age 1. (Alex Horton)

CALIFORNIA ON FIRE:

-- The death toll from the Camp Fire rose again to 79, as 699 people remain listed as missing. The number of missing people decreased by 294 from a day earlier, and a local sheriff warned that the list may include repeated or misspelled names. The blaze was 70 percent contained as of last night, and expected rain will likely help. (KCRA)

-- Camp Fire evacuees who were already facing overcrowding and disease in temporary shelters are now being threatened by possible flooding. Frances Stead Sellers, Scott Wilson and Tim Craig report: “The most devastating fire in California history began in the Sierra foothills in the morning hours of Nov. 8, prompting a hectic evacuation that has left at least 52,000 people in hotels, relatives’ homes, parking lots and makeshift shelters such as this one in Yuba City. More than 10 days later, those temporary accommodations are being overwhelmed by overcrowding and disease. As heavy rain moves into the area for the first time since the fire began, those living in tents face the threat of flooding, too. More than 120 people have been taken to hospitals in recent days with stomach ailments that resemble the symptoms of norovirus, a highly contagious infection. The symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea and, like many such infections, fall hardest on children.”

-- Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke blamed the devastation of the fire on “radical environmentalists” who supposedly prevent forest management. The LA Times’s Alejandra Reyes-Velarde and Joseph Serna report: “In an interview with Breitbart News, Zinke said he agrees with Trump’s comments about the fires being a result of poor forest management, and repeatedly said radical environmentalists were responsible for the destruction caused by the fires. ‘It's not time for finger-pointing,’ Zinke said. ‘We know the problem. It’s been years of neglect, and in many cases it’s been these radical environmentalists that want nature to take its course.…You know what? This is on them.’ He said the damage he saw during his visit to California was unlike anything he had seen before.”

THE PRESIDENT'S PRIORITIES:

-- Trump is considering visiting U.S. troops deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan for the first time during his presidency. Josh Dawsey and Paul Sonne report: “Trump has so far declined to visit those combat regions, saying he does not want to associate himself with wars he views as failures, according to current and former advisers … Current advisers said Trump is not expected to visit a war zone during the Thanksgiving break, which he will spend at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida. … In meetings about a potential visit, he has described the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as ‘a total shame,’ according to the advisers. He also cited the long flights and potential security risks as reasons he has avoided combat-zone visits.”

-- One of Trump's regional EPA administrators has resigned after being indicted on ethics charges. Scott Pruitt had tapped him for the role. Brady Dennis reports: “Trey Glenn, who oversaw eight states in the Southeast as the EPA’s Region 4 leader, faces charges of using his office for personal gain and soliciting or receiving a ‘thing of value’ from a principal or lobbyist, according to the Alabama Ethics Commission. He was booked at the Jefferson County Jail on Thursday in Birmingham and later released on a $30,000 bond, records show.”

-- CNN dropped its lawsuit against the administration after the White House permanently restored reporter Jim Acosta’s press pass. Paul Farhi and Meagan Flynn report: “The White House’s move to restore Acosta’s pass, announced in a letter to the news network, appeared to be a capitulation to CNN in its brief legal fight against the administration. … [press secretary Sarah Sanders and deputy chief of staff Bill Shine] said they had made a ‘final determination’ that Acosta’s pass would be restored permanently as long as he followed new rules guiding reporters’ conduct at White House news conferences. … Among the rules: Reporters must ask only one question of the president at news conferences, but they can follow up with another if the president consents. A reporter must then ‘yield the floor,’ including giving up a microphone. Failure to abide by these rules, the White House letter said, will result in revocation of a journalist’s White House pass.”

THE LEADERSHIP FIGHT:

-- Sixteen Democratic House members signed a letter saying they would oppose Nancy Pelosi’s speakership bid on the floor. Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa report: “The insurrection against Pelosi stands as the only official obstacle to unity in the top leadership ranks, after Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) on Monday withdrew her challenge for the No. 3 job held by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Pelosi endorsed her leadership team. Two Democratic aides said Pelosi inquired with at least one incoming member about whether they would be willing to vote present — a move that would lower the threshold for becoming speaker while also allowing Pelosi’s critics to keep their word in opposing her. ... In her conversations with individual members, Pelosi has started inquiring about their policy priorities and committee assignment preferences. The Democratic Caucus gives its top leader wide leeway to make those decisions, crucial to a lawmaker’s legislative career.”

One of Pelosi’s main opponents, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), was confronted by pro-Pelosi protesters at a town hall: “At a town hall meeting in Amesbury, Mass., Monday night, Moulton heard an earful from Pelosi supporters — including about 20 organized protesters who held signs reading ‘I Stand With Nancy.’ Many of them saw sexism and ageism in the push to oust Pelosi. ‘I almost feel like I’m targeted — I’m old and I’m a woman,’ said Lynda Christian, 80, of nearby Burlington, Mass. ‘Nancy Pelosi, I don’t know her, but she’s done a fantastic job. Who fires somebody who does something well?’ Addressing the sometimes testy crowd, Moulton said it would be ‘failing the American people’ to keep Pelosi in place after 16 years in charge.”

Pelosi can afford to lose 16 Democratic votes on the floor, but there are a handful of Democrats who have promised to oppose her and did not sign the letter: “Two of the 16 signers, Anthony Brindisi (New York) and Ben McAdams (Utah), have yet to be declared winners. Also signing the letter were Reps. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Bill Foster (Ill.), Seth Moulton (Mass.), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Stephen F. Lynch (Mass.), Ed Perlmutter (Colo.), Kathleen Rice (N.Y.), Tim Ryan (Ohio), Linda T. Sánchez (Calif.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Filemon Vela (Tex.), and newly elected members Joe Cunningham (S.C.), Max Rose (N.Y.) and Jeff Van Drew (N.J.). Five other Democrats — Rep. Conor Lamb (Pa.) and Reps.-elect Jason Crow (Colo.), Jared Golden (Maine), Mikie Sherrill (N.J.) and Abigail Spanberger (Va.) — have made firm statements saying they would not vote for Pelosi but did not sign the letter. Representatives for Crow, Lamb and Spanberger each said Monday that their positions on Pelosi had not changed and that they intend to vote against her in the January floor vote."

-- Pelosi's rivals have revived questions over whether her form of dealmaking is incompatible with Trump’s presidency. The New York Times Magazine’s Robert Draper reports: “Pelosi told me that she and the House Democrats had every intention of working with [Trump] on things like lowering prescription-drug costs, rebuilding America’s infrastructure and protecting the young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation. … There were a lot of Democrats, I suggested, who believed that bipartisanship had been rendered antique in the Trump era. ‘Yeah,’ Pelosi replied, smirking, ‘and I have those who want to be for impeachment and for abolishing ICE’ … ‘Two really winning issues for us, right? In the districts we have to win? I don’t even think they’re the right thing to do. If the evidence from Mueller is compelling, it should be compelling for Republicans as well, and that may be a moment of truth. But that’s not where we are.’”

-- A new poll found Democratic voters are divided on whether Pelosi should retake the speakership. Forty-nine percent of Democrats said they would like to see Pelosi become speaker again, while 40 percent preferred another Democrat. (CBS News)

MIDTERMS FALLOUT:

-- Mitch McConnell is trying to convince Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to appoint Martha McSally to replace Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). CNN’s Devan Cole and John King report: “McSally, a Republican congresswoman who once worked for Kyl, lost her Senate bid two weeks ago to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema. Kyl, who was picked by the governor in September to fill the seat vacated by the late Sen. John McCain, [said] last week he has decided whether to leave office before his term ends at the end of next year. He wouldn't reveal his decision, but said he will talk to Ducey about it. CNN has since learned that McConnell and other national Republican powerhouses are asking Ducey to name McSally as Kyl's replacement, according to several Republican sources familiar with the conversations. If chosen, McSally would fill the position through the end of 2020, at which point the state would hold a special election to fill the remaining two years of McCain's term.”

-- Democrat Ben McAdams declared victory over Rep. Mia Love in Utah, but the Republican incumbent has not yet conceded. The Salt Lake Tribune’s Lee Davidson reports: “[McAdams] gained a 739-vote lead in ballot updates from Utah and Salt Lake counties. Love did not yet concede, and a few votes still remain uncounted in the two big counties before their vote canvasses Tuesday formally conclude two weeks of tallying ballots. But McAdams said even his small lead is insurmountable with the few ballots remaining to be counted.”

-- Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones conceded to Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) after a judge denied her request to extend a deadline for counting provisional ballots. The Dallas Morning News’s James Barragán reports: “Hurd, who declared victory the day after the election, even as Jones contended that the 689 votes that separated them made the race too close to call, again asserted his win Friday after a majority of the provisional ballots had been counted in the district saying the people of ‘the 23rd Congressional District of Texas made their voices heard and clearly chose Will Hurd.’”

-- Marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried appears to have won the race for Florida agriculture commissioner following a recount. Lori Rozsa reports: “The Associated Press reported Sunday that Fried was ahead of [Republican Matt] Caldwell by 6,753 votes out of more than 8 million cast. … [T]he race between Fried and Caldwell also was the subject of the historic statewide recount. And Democrats clung to Fried’s win as a sign that all is not lost for them in the nation’s largest battleground state, as the country heads into campaign season for the next presidential election.”

-- Republicans’ tax bill may have actually cost them seats in states with high taxes. The New York Times’s Jim Tankersley and Ben Casselman report: “House Republicans suffered heavy Election Day losses in districts where large concentrations of taxpayers claim a popular tax break — the state and local tax deduction — which the law capped at $10,000 per household. The new limit resulted in an effective tax increase for high-earning residents of high-tax states who claim more than $10,000 per year in SALT. Democrats swept four Republican-held districts in Orange County, Calif., where at least 40 percent of taxpayers claim the SALT tax break … The SALT cap may not have been the primary motivation for voters in choosing Democratic candidates.  But a review of polling data over the past year suggests that the limit has some key Republican constituencies feeling bittersweet about the new law — and more willing to back Democrats in House elections.”

-- Democratic strategist Steve Schale writes that Republican Ron DeSantis was able to defeat Democrat Andrew Gillum in Florida’s gubernatorial race by replicating Trump’s success in the state: “[J]ust like [Hillary] Clinton, Gillum ran up new high-water mark margins in the urban areas, particularly around Orlando. In total, Gillum won the urban counties of I-4 by 120,000 more votes than [former Democratic governor Charlie] Crist did …  However, where Crist lost the suburban and exurban counties around I-4 by about 157K votes, Gillum lost them by 355K. Or more simply:  the counties around the urban I-4 counties delivered DeSantis with more of an increased margin than the Miami media market delivered for Gillum.  In a race where most everything else stayed the same – that made the difference.”

-- A new wave of progressive district attorneys is pushing liberal changes to the U.S. criminal justice system. Justin Jouvenal reports: “They are freezing the use of the death penalty, decriminalizing marijuana possession, diverting low-level offenders to classes and treatment instead of jail, seeking less severe sentences and vowing to aggressively prosecute police-involved shootings. In a field that is 95 percent white and overwhelmingly male, many are minorities, women or gays and hail from unlikely backgrounds, such as civil rights work or the public defender’s office. … They had notable successes in Boston, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as in the race for Delaware attorney general, an office that handles criminal cases.”

-- Billionaire activist Tom Steyer is expected to take action today toward a presidential bid. Politico’s Alex Thompson reports: “That will include a six-figure web ad buy on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, along with a full-page ad in USA Today and other Gannett newspapers outlining a political platform, a revamped TomSteyer.com and the announcement of five town halls across the country, the first of which will be in the crucial early primary state of South Carolina … ”

-- New England Democrats expected to run for president are already trying to gain an advantage in the early primary state of New Hampshire. The AP’s Steve Peoples reports: “Democrats on the ground expect a rush of presidential announcements soon after New Year’s. That could include as many as five high-profile candidates from neighboring states, a historically large contingent of New Englanders led by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Both have quietly begun courting potential staff, top activists and elected officials. At the same time, outsiders like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker are fighting for a foothold in the state … ”

-- The election results in Wisconsin have elevated its status as a top battleground state for 2020. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert reports: “The state swung back to Democrats for governor and U.S. Senate after [Trump] carried Wisconsin for president two years ago. But Democrats failed to dent the GOP’s stranglehold on the state Legislature, and they won the governor’s race by scarcely more than a percentage point. Taken together, the razor-thin battles for president in 2016 and governor in 2018 have underscored this state’s essentially ‘swingy’ character. They have also laid bare the limits of each party’s appeal and the challenges both sides face in the Great Lakes battlegrounds that could easily tip the 2020 election.”

-- Texas Democrats believe they have a chance to flip more congressional seats and possibly even the statehouse in 2020. The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek reports: “Democrats picked up two seats on Nov. 6, dislodging Republican U.S. Reps. John Culberson of Houston and Pete Sessions of Dallas. But they also came surprisingly close in several districts that were once considered far out of reach, and the Democratic nominees in those races emerged as local rock stars who are already being encouraged to try again in 2020. … Farther down the ballot, Democrats are already setting their sights on capturing the state House majority in 2020 — a huge prize ahead of the next redistricting round."

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Special counsel Bob Mueller’s team defended his appointment in court. Ann E. Marimow reports: “The special counsel’s office was responding to an inquiry from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a case brought by Andrew Miller, an associate of Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to [Trump]. The case challenges the constitutionality of Mueller’s position and centers on who is doing what job at [Justice] and oversight of the 18-month-long probe. After oral argument this month, a three-judge panel asked Mueller and Miller to address implications for the case of the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general — and the president’s selection of [Matt] Whitaker to succeed him until a permanent attorney general is chosen. … ‘The designation has no effect on the case,’ Mueller’s team said of Whitaker’s new position. ‘The validity of the Special Counsel’s appointment’ in May 2017 ‘cannot be retroactively affected by a change in the official who is serving as the Acting Attorney General.’”

-- Trump is expected to hand over written answers to questions from Mueller’s team as early as today. Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Darren Samuelsohn report: “Trump’s lawyers set an informal Thanksgiving deadline for the president to finalize his responses on topics surrounding the Russian hacking of the 2016 election, and he’s almost ready to submit them, according to two sources familiar with the conversations. The president’s written answers — which carry the same legal burden for truthfulness as an in-person interview — are likely to be submitted as Trump settles into his Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida for the Thanksgiving holiday. … Trump over the past week has spent several hours with his legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, Jay Sekulow and Jane Raskin, finalizing his answers to questions from the special counsel focusing on his time before he was sworn in as president.”

-- Three Democratic senators filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Whitaker’s appointment. Felicia Sonmez reports: “Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) filed a complaint Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint asks the court to declare Trump’s appointment of Whitaker as unconstitutional and to block him from his current role. … Others, including the trio of senators who filed Monday’s lawsuit, have argued that Whitaker’s appointment violates the Constitution because Whitaker, who worked as Sessions’s chief of staff, is not a Senate-confirmed official.”

-- The Kremlin said it is supporting a veteran Russian Interior Ministry official to become Interpol’s next president. The Wall Street Journal’s Ann M. Simmons reports: “The potential appointment of Maj. Gen. Alexander Prokopchuk when Interpol’s general assembly votes for its next president in Dubai on Wednesday has sparked criticism from human-rights groups and government officials who say Moscow has used the organization to pursue and persecute political enemies.” Russian media reports cited the other candidate in the race as Interpol’s acting president, Kim Jong Yang of South Korea.

-- British financier Bill Browder – who played a fundamental role in the passage of the Magnitsky Act, which allows U.S. officials to freeze assets and ban visas for Russian human-rights abusers – penned a Post op-ed condemning the possible promotion of a Russian official to the head of Inteprol: “Since [the Magnitsy Act passed], Russian President Vladimir Putin has embarked on a vendetta against me. This has taken a number of forms, including death threats and plans for illegal renditions. But one of the most pernicious has been Moscow’s repeated attempts to misuse Interpol to try to have me arrested and extradited back to Russia, where they will likely torture and kill me. … In total, Russia has tried to use Interpol seven times to have me arrested. If there ever was a case for why Russia should not have any authority at Interpol, I am that case.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Amid the outcry over the death of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, some Saudi royals have turned against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s expected ascension to the throne. Reuters reports: “Dozens of princes and cousins from powerful branches of the Al Saud family want to see a change in the line of succession but would not act while King Salman — the crown prince’s 82-year-old father — is still alive, the sources said. They recognize that the king is unlikely to turn against his favorite son … Rather, they are discussing the possibility with other family members that after the king’s death, Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, 76, a younger full brother of King Salman and uncle of the crown prince, could take the throne, according to the sources.”

-- Experts predict the U.S.-Saudi relationship will survive the international condemnation over Khashoggi’s killing due to strategic ties between the countries. Karen DeYoung reports: “Trump may not be focused on counterterrorism cooperation and support for U.S. strategic aims in the region — the basis of the U.S.-Saudi relationship under his two immediate predecessors — but others in his administration are clearly concerned. … Even as a growing bipartisan coalition in Congress has blamed Mohammed for Khashoggi’s death and demanded harsh punishment, some current and former U.S. officials, along with experts in the region, say that shared interests and deep roots will ensure that key bonds survive.”

-- The Trump administration is preparing to add Venezuela to the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. John Hudson and Lena H. Sun report: “The list is reserved for governments accused of repeatedly providing ‘support for acts of international terrorism’ and includes only Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. Republican lawmakers led by Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) have pushed for the designation, citing Venezuela’s alleged ties to Lebanese Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and other groups."

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has emerged as the leading opponent of bipartisan legislation, endorsed last week by Trump and heavily backed by the Koch network, that would help prisoners reenter society and overhaul the criminal justice system. He's been trying to rally opposition on the right. He said this to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.):

Republican Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) replied to Cotton by calling his tweets “fake news”:

Cotton replied:

Lee then accused Cotton of deflecting:

A surprisingly large number of Republican Senate staffers deeply dislike Cotton, who they see as disingenuous. The chief strategist for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another supporter of the sentencing bill, piled on with this criticism of the junior senator from Arkansas:

Another GOP senator demanded that Trump “show respect” toward the White House chief of staff:

Trump doubled down on his criticism of the bin Laden raid:

A bipartisan chorus of voices came to the defense of the admiral who led the operation after Trump insulted him. From Marco Rubio:

The Republican land commissioner of Texas, who is the son of Jeb Bush, broke with his own family and endorsed Trump in 2016, presumably to boost his future political ambitions. But the attacks on McRaven appeared to be too much for him:

From the Navy SEAL who killed bin Laden:

A writer for The Fix noted this of O'Neill:

A Democratic congressman mocked Trump for his lack of military service:

The RNC came to Trump's defense:

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) explained why a group of Democratic senators is challenging the constitutionality of Matt Whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general:

A Cook Political Report editor highlighted which Democrats have signed the anti-Pelosi letter:

From a Post reporter:

A historian shared another instance when Pelosi was embroiled in a leadership fight:

A New York Times reporter visited the home of a civil-rights hero:

Meghan McCain shared some memories her father:

View this post on Instagram

84 days without you. You used to get up early in the morning and go get us all Starbucks in town in the Cottonwood Safeway and then come home and make eggs and bacon. You always had a giant venti cappuccino. We would eat on the porch and talk about life and politics while you read the newspaper and watched out for the hawks to fly by. I want to tell you about everything and get your opinion on everything - just like we used to do. I don’t know how you go from talking to someone seven times a day to never. It is still so indescribably surreal to go through the motions of life without sharing all of it with you - like some awful parallel universe I fell into. The pain of missing you and the grief that comes with it continues to be sharp and primal. Some waves are more intense than others but they come every day relentlessly. Stay with me. Stay with me. Stay with me. I fight on because that is what you told me I had to do and demanded of me. I know you made me so tough and strong with the intensity that only you could have purposefully - and for that I am the most grateful. You raised me “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” you always said. Thank you for always, always being on my team and for being my best friend. I love you forever. To anyone else in my place or those who are not - I wish we wouldn’t put time limits or rules on grief, we all do it differently in different ways. I shared my father on social media while he was here (and he loved it) and I choose to continue sharing him now that he is not. There’s always the unfollow button if recognizing the impact of death and loss makes anyone uncomfortable. ♥️

A post shared by Meghan McCain (@meghanmccain) on

Barack Obama attended his foundation's summit:

A CBS News reporter shared this perspective of the Camp Fire:

Comedian Michelle Wolf reacted to the White House Correspondents' Association decision to feature an author as the speaker at their annual dinner after Wolf's performance earlier this year drew controversy:

And the White House kicked off the holiday season:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- Weekly Standard, “A Speech in Search of a Candidate,” by Charles J. Sykes: “Good morning, my name is [TBD]. I’m here today to announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. After four years, we can no longer be under any illusions about Donald Trump’s character, competence, or values. Ignorant and indifferent to our history, and unappreciative of our laws and cultural legacy, Donald Trump has ripped at the fabric of our democratic culture. He cannot insult, bluster, lie, or tweet America to greatness; instead, he has left us divided and isolated. It is time to make America Good Again.”

-- New York Times, “How China Walled Off the Internet,” by Raymond Zhong: “Today, China has the world’s only internet companies that can match America’s in ambition and reach. … And it is host to a supernova of creative expression — in short videos, podcasts, blogs and streaming TV — that ought to dispel any notions of Chinese culture as drearily conformist. All this, on a patch of cyberspace that is walled off from Facebook and Google, policed by tens of thousands of censors and subject to strict controls on how data is collected, stored and shared.”

-- New York Times, “‘Like a Terror Movie’: How Climate Change Will Cause More Simultaneous Disasters,” by John Schwartz: “Global warming is posing such wide-ranging risks to humanity, involving so many types of phenomena, that by the end of this century some parts of the world could face as many as six climate-related crises at the same time, researchers say.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“FBI now classifies far-right Proud Boys as 'extremist group', documents say,” from the Guardian: “The FBI now classifies the far-right Proud Boys as an ‘extremist group with ties to white nationalism’, according to a document produced by Washington state law enforcement. … The Proud Boys was founded by the Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes. McInnes has insisted that his group is not white nationalist or ‘alt-right’ but the Proud Boys have a history of misogyny and glorifying violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) lists them as a hate group. The document also says: ‘The FBI has warned local law enforcement agencies that the Proud Boys are actively recruiting in the Pacific north-west’, and: ‘Proud Boys members have contributed to the recent escalation of violence at political rallies held on college campuses, and in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington.’”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Women’s March Founder Calls on Leaders to Step Down amid Accusations of Bigotry,” from National Review: “Theresa Shook, founder of the Women’s March, called on leaders of the liberal political-protest movement to step down on Monday amid widespread backlash against their refusal to condemn anti-Semitic and homophobic allies. [Shook wrote in a Monday Facebook post,] ‘Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the Movement away from its true course[.] … [T]hey have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs. I call for the current Co-Chairs to step down and to let others lead who can restore faith in the Movement and its original intent.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump and the first lady will participate in the annual turkey pardoning before flying to Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) was asked whether her predecessor, Beto O’Rourke, should seek the presidency: “I think he should run. I really do,” Escobar said, calling O’Rourke the kind of “credible public servant that our country has been longing for.” (Felicia Sonmez)

 

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

-- It will be a little unseasonably cold in D.C. today, but the city should avoid any rain or snow. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Some sunshine attempts to break through for partly sunny skies, but temperatures still run mostly to the cooler side of normal with upper 40s to maybe middle 50s for afternoon peaks. Breezy conditions make it feel a bit cooler at times, with winds from the northwest at 5 to 10 mph and higher gusts over 20 mph possible at times.”

-- The Capitals beat the Canadiens 5-4 in overtime. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- Redskins quarterback Alex Smith’s recovery is expected to take six to eight months. Kareem Copeland reports: “Smith broke two bones in his lower right leg during Sunday’s 23-21 loss to the Houston Texans. Colt McCoy is taking over Smith’s starting job for the rest of the season, while the team signed veteran Mark Sanchez on Monday to back him up.”

-- The District offered Amazon up to $1 billion in tax incentives to open its second headquarters in the city. Jonathan O'Connell reports: “The package, released Monday by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), offered a combination of discounts on property, sales and corporate franchise taxes over a 15-year period as outlined in a law aimed at luring tech jobs to the city. Bowser’s office estimated the package’s value at between $488 million and $1.053 billion, depending on the number of jobs Amazon would have created, how many were filled by District residents, how much office space the company occupied and other factors.”

-- The family of a young girl who was critically injured when she received a strong electrical shock at MGM National Harbor has sued the casino. The lawsuit claims MGM knew for days that the lighted handrail the girl grabbed was defective and in need of repair. (Rachel Chason and Lynh Bui)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Chicago's mayor had an emotional response to the city's latest shooting:

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has been walking her supporters through congressional orientation on Instagram:

Here are the turkeys Trump will pardon:

And kids tried to explain to The Post's video team how to cook a turkey: