With Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: The president of General Motors faced a contentious confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense when Dwight Eisenhower nominated him in 1953. A member of Ike’s own party, Sen. Robert Hendrickson (R-N.J.), grilled Charles Wilson about whether his decisions would be shaded by holding millions in stock of an automaker that had extensive government contracts. “If a situation did arise where you had to make a decision which was extremely adverse to the interests of General Motors [but] in the interests of the United States government,” the senator wondered, “could you make that decision?”
“I cannot conceive of one,” Wilson told the Armed Services Committee, “because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country.”
Monday underscored that, perhaps now more than ever, what’s good for GM is not necessarily what’s good for America. The company announced that it will save $6 billion by eliminating 14,000 jobs, or 15 percent of its workforce, and halting production next year at four U.S. plants, from Macomb County in Michigan to Trumbull County in Ohio, that make the Chevy Impala, Cruze and Volt, the Cadillac CT6 and the Buick LaCrosse. But as 14,000 people and their families fretted looming unemployment, with Christmas just weeks away, investors celebrated. GM stock closed up 5 percent.
This points to the growing disconnect between what’s good for Wall Street and what’s good for Main Street. That has fueled the inequality and polarization that are dividing the country — and helped facilitate for the ascendancy of President Trump.
-- “GM layoffs are another victory for capital over labor,” Chris Ingraham notes on Wonkblog: “As this chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows, corporate profits and labor income — the total wages and salaries paid to American workers — tracked pretty closely for most of the latter half of the 20th century: In percentage terms, the two rose roughly in tandem from 1947 until about 2003 … But starting in 2003, profits take off, leaving wages in the dust. The Great Recession took a bite out of corporate profits, but since about 2009, profits have been on an unstoppable tear while labor income has plodded along much more slowly. … The American economy has been rewarding owners and shareholders much more richly than workers.”
“Never have corporate profits outgrown employee compensation so clearly and for so long,” the St. Louis Fed said in a report this summer.
“There are a lot of factors driving the divergence,” Chris explains. “Workers have become much more productive, contributing more and more to companies' bottom lines, but companies haven’t been sharing those profits with the employees who make them possible. Union membership continues to decline, making it harder for workers to negotiate favorable terms of employment. In an era of rising health-care costs, companies are shifting more and more of that expense to workers.”
-- This growing disconnect between capital and labor is causing many Americans to lose faith in the economic system that made ours the most powerful country in the world. That, in turn, concerns many thoughtful people on the right and the left who love capitalism and want it to be sustainable over the long-term.
One person who has grown alarmed that capitalism itself cannot survive without changes is Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.). The 38-year-old is political royalty. He’s the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, the assassinated former attorney general. JK3, as he’s known around the Capitol, earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford and then went to Harvard Law School, where Elizabeth Warren was a favorite professor, after two years in the Dominican Republic for the Peace Corps, which his great-uncle JFK created by executive order. He worked briefly as a county prosecutor before winning an open House seat in 2012.
After six years of keeping a relatively low profile in the minority, with the notable exception of delivering this year’s Democratic response to the State of the Union, the young Kennedy feels ready to take on a bigger leadership role in the next Congress. He has ruled out a run for president in 2020, but he’s closely allied himself with Nancy Pelosi and will benefit if she, as expected, regains the speaker’s gavel. He’s also better positioned than anyone else in Massachusetts to replace Warren in the Senate if she gives up her seat to become president.
Kennedy campaigned extensively for Democratic candidates across the country this fall, from Arizona and Texas to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, plus Minnesota and many more. On the stump, he said he saw the “anger” that powered Trump and picked up on “a deep sense of unease that Americans are working harder and harder for less and less.” The congressman tried to crystallize some of his observations in a speech Monday morning during a New England Council breakfast.
“American capitalism has done great good for a great number of people,” he said. “It has given our average citizen a better standard of living than anywhere else in the world, lifted millions out of poverty and powered the globe. But its current iteration is badly broken. The sooner we admit that, the sooner we can strip it to the studs and build something better.”
Kennedy advocated for a “moral capitalism” that would be “judged not just by how much it produces, but how widely it shares; how good it does for how many; and how well it takes care of all of us.” He believes it’s imperative that House Democrats use their newfound majority to craft an agenda that “lets our businesses thrive but our people breathe.”
“Our people need an alternative to the trickle-down, feed-the-top, if-you’re-struggling-try-harder narrative that conservatives have masterfully entrenched in American consciousness, but for years, the left has failed to offer a competing — compelling — economic vision,” said Kennedy. “We’ll have to do more than tax the rich to meet our needs in infrastructure, child care, health care, college and climate change.”
-- Kennedy said the left’s failure to offer a competing vision to Reaganomics created the vacuum that has made socialism so alluring to many Democrats. For instance, the most famous incoming freshman, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), identifies as a democratic socialist. So does Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the runner-up for the party’s nomination in 2016. “Our country bears the scars of economic injustice on the left and the right, on the fringe and in the center,” said Kennedy. “We hear it in the demands of a new generation that feels socialism better speaks its language.”
A Gallup poll this summer found that more Democrats now have a positive view of socialism than capitalism by a margin of 57 percent to 47 percent. It didn’t used to be that way. The number of Democrats viewing “capitalism” as a good thing has dipped nine points in just the past two years. Among all Americans, 56 percent saw capitalism positively in the Gallup survey versus 37 percent who said the same of socialism.
Speaking of capitalism, Kennedy said: “I believe in that system. Let me be clear.” But he warned that the safety net is buckling under the pressure. “And the average American family is left on its own, facing an economy they can’t access, a government they can’t depend on and a system they can’t possibly afford,” he continued. “This is the injustice we have to solve not just because of some political map but because our system will not survive if we don’t.”
Sounding very much like his famous grandfather did in Appalachia during the 1968 primaries, he noted that a full-time minimum wage worker can no longer afford a two-bedroom apartment in a single state. One in four American families skip doctor visits for fear of the bills that will follow. Low-income families spend half their monthly income on child care. And a quarter of workers make less than $10 an hour, putting them below the federal poverty line.
“Meanwhile the top 1 percent owns 40 percent of our country’s wealth,” he said. “The average CEO makes 361 times what their average worker makes. Payouts to shareholders after the GOP tax bill will hit $1.3 trillion this year while wages still hover at the lowest they’ve been in over half a century. Even in Massachusetts — where we hold ourselves up as a beacon for progress and inclusion and equity — the top 1 percent of earners in Suffolk County make over 50 times more than the bottom 99 percent.”
Then, in a historical rarity, a Kennedy quoted Richard Nixon to make his point. When he was Ike’s vice president in 1959, Nixon wound up shoulder to shoulder with Nikita Khrushchev at the American National Exhibition in Moscow. And they had an impromptu debate about which system — communism or capitalism — provided the greatest prosperity for its people. It played out while the men stood in the kitchen of a model American home, filled with everyday gadgets, that Nixon boasted any American family could afford. “That was the point of pride,” Kennedy explained. “That was the barometer of economic success our country proudly offered the world. It was not based on summer homes or private jets or pricey schools but on a basic prosperity everyone could access.”
Kennedy said corporations began to break the social contract that was forged during and after World War II as “they lurched towards self-preservation — cutting costs, wages, benefits and jobs.” He complained that government assisted them by cutting corporate taxes, creating incentives to move production abroad, failing to block mergers that created monopolies, removing employer obligations to pension funds and weakening worker safety rules. “Through deliberate choice and conscious action, we recalibrated the American economy -- away from workers, families and communities and toward capital, profit and shareholders,” he said.
He sees the GM news as more than just the consequence of one company’s choices. “It’s the result of a system that has loosened the terms of its social contract 1,000 times, 1,000 ways over the past 50 years,” he said last night.
-- Trump identified many of the same problems as Kennedy when he sought the presidency, and he said addressing them would be a priority. But he’s overpromised and underdelivered. On the eve of the election in 2016, Trump visited Warren, Mich., where a GM transmission plant will close next year. “If I’m elected, you won’t lose one plant,” he told the crowd. “I promise you that!”
Visiting Youngstown last summer, a few miles from a Chevy plant that’s going to close, Trump said: “Let me tell you folks in Ohio and in this area, don’t sell your house! Do not sell it. We’re going to get those values up. We’re going to get those jobs coming back, and we’re going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build new ones.”
-- Compare his rhetoric to the reality: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump tweeted in March.
“Raw-material costs have soared as a result of Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, with Ford saying it absorbed a $1 billion hit because of the president’s policies,” David Lynch and Taylor Telford report on the front page of today’s newspaper. “The new North American trade deal with Mexico and Canada includes sourcing requirements that will complicate industry supply chains, and the president also is considering imposing 25 percent tariffs on imported vehicles, a policy that would increase the cost of imported cars by an estimated $6,000 and eliminate 600,000 industry jobs, according to the American Automotive Policy Council. Philip Levy, a White House economist in the George W. Bush administration, said the auto industry layoffs could prompt Trump to go ahead with additional trade barriers. ‘While he should take the GM move as a prompt to reconsider his approach, he seems much more inclined to double down reflexively,’ Levy wrote in an email.”
-- At the White House on Monday, Trump told reporters that he complained directly to GM chief executive Mary Barra about the layoffs and closures. “I was very tough,” the president said. “I said, ‘You know, this country has done a lot for General Motors. You better get back in there soon.’”
He specifically singled out the plant in Ohio. Trump said he’s pushing the company to repurpose the Lordstown plant, which makes the Chevy Cruze, so it can produce new vehicles. Back in May, I wrote a Big Idea about how that facility was losing its second shift partly as a result of Trump’s decision to roll back EPA fuel standards. It was one illustration of the unintended consequences of the president’s policies backfiring on people who supported him. Now the plant will close altogether.
But Trump pledged on Monday that everything will work out. “I have no doubt that, in a not-too-distant future, they’ll put something else,” he said. “They better put something else in!”
-- Closing with some good news: The 202 franchise continues to grow. Next Tuesday, Dec. 4, we’re launching The Technology 202. Cat Zakrzewski has joined our team from the Wall Street Journal’s Silicon Valley bureau, where she was covering venture capital, to helm the new daily offering. It’s part of a massive investment this newspaper is making in the tech space. Cat will focus like a laser on the intersection between Washington and Big Tech, exploring how the evolving relationship impacts everything from privacy regulations to artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It’s going to be awesome. Sign up here.
GET SMART FAST:
NASA’s InSight explorer successfully landed on Mars. The probe will operate on the Red Planet for the next two years — exploring its interior using a seismometer, a heat sensor and radio antenna. (Sarah Kaplan)
The FDA said only romaine lettuce from certain parts of California is unsafe to eat, updating its health warning on the E. coli outbreak. But FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb instructed consumers to avoid consuming the lettuce if they cannot determine where it was grown. (Lena H. Sun)
The FDA approved a cancer drug linked to the somewhat controversial field of “precision medicine.” The drug, called Vitrakvi, treats a wide range of cancers that share a common mutation. But, like many other forms of precision medicine, it comes with a hefty price tag — $32,800 for a 30-day supply of capsules for adults. (Laurie McGinley)
The Supreme Court appeared open to arguments that Apple’s App Store constitutes an unfair monopoly. A class-action lawsuit claims Apple is using its control of the market to raise the price of iPhone apps. If the court allows the suit to advance, it could have far-reaching implications for the tech giant. (Robert Barnes)
The first commercially viable sea ranch operating in U.S. federal waters has attracted support from the Trump administration and environmentalists. The administration hopes projects like the Catalina Sea Ranch — which operates off the coast of Huntington Beach, Calif. — could lower the country’s seafood trade deficit, while environmentalists think they could become a substitute for the terrestrial farming that has depleted land and animal species. (Scott Wilson)
A federal judge dismissed a D.C. wine bar’s civil suit against Trump International Hotel, which alleged the president’s affiliation with the hotel violates the city’s anti-competition law. The owners of Cork Wine Bar in Logan Circle claimed Trump had unfairly leveraged his presidency to attract customers to the hotel. (Jonathan O'Connell)
The Government Accountability Office will investigate whether three individuals connected to Mar-a-Lago had sway over the Department of Veterans Affairs. An August article from ProPublica raised questions about whether Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach-area doctor Bruce Moskowitz and attorney Marc Sherman affected decisions at the department. (CNN)
Former Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon was arraigned on charges of lying to police about sexual abuse allegations against former sports physician Larry Nassar. Simon sat at the table where Nassar was sentenced as she acknowledged that she understood the charges against her. (Susan Svrluga)
Hilton Grand Vacations in Orlando fired an employee deemed responsible for posting a racist image of Willie Taggart, the first black head coach at Florida State University. The man, who has not been identified, superimposed Taggart’s face over the body of a black man hanging from a tree. (Cindy Boren)
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Special counsel Bob Mueller’s team of prosecutors accused Paul Manafort of lying to them after pleading guilty and asked that the former Trump campaign chairman be sentenced immediately. Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Devlin Barrett report: “Manafort denied doing so intentionally, but both sides agreed in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District should set sentencing immediately. The apparent collapse of Manafort’s cooperation agreement is the latest stunning turnaround in his case, exposing the longtime Republican consultant to at least a decade behind bars after he pleaded guilty in September to charges of cheating the [IRS], violating foreign-lobbying laws and attempting to obstruct justice. The filing also indicated that Mueller’s team may have lost its potentially most valuable witness in Manafort, a top campaign official present at discussions at the heart of the special counsel’s mission to determine if any Americans conspired with Russia’s efforts to sway the U.S. election. Still, prosecutors may know more about Manafort’s interactions than he realized, allowing them to catch him in alleged lies.”
-- Jerome Corsi, a former associate of Trump ally Roger Stone, rejected a plea deal from Mueller’s team — seemingly denying the special counsel another cooperating witness. Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Manuel Roig-Franzia report: “[Corsi said] he would have been forced to say untruthfully that he intentionally lied to investigators. In fact, Corsi said he was merely forgetful in his initial answers to Mueller’s team about his interest in the activities of WikiLeaks, which released hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign. His apparent rejection of a plea offer is the latest twist in a months-long effort by Mueller’s team to secure the cooperation of the author and conspiracy theorist. … In several interviews Monday, Corsi alleged that Mueller is trying to use him to build a case that a Trump associate coordinated with WikiLeaks. …
“In his sessions with Mueller’s team, prosecutors seized on inconsistencies between his statements and emails, Corsi told The Washington Post. He said he first told investigators that he never encouraged anyone to go see [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange in the summer of 2016. However, Corsi told The Post, he amended his testimony after Mueller’s investigators allowed him to refresh his memory and review his emails, which were housed on a laptop he had provided under a subpoena.
... Corsi told The Post that after reviewing his emails, he realized that between July 2016 and August 2016 he had offered to go visit Assange in the Ecuadoran embassy if his then-boss, WorldNetDaily editor in chief Joseph Farah, purchased him a plane ticket to London. Corsi said he also forwarded to his friend Ted Malloch an email in which Corsi said Stone urged that someone ‘get to Assange’ immediately. … Stone confirmed Monday that he emailed Corsi to suggest that Malloch meet with Assange. … Stone said the exchange … supports his claim that he had no advance knowledge of the impending WikiLeaks releases. ‘Why would I be asking for something I already had?’ Stone said.”
-- Trump appeared to preemptively attack any report from Mueller’s team by going after the special counsel himself. “When Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble?” Trump wrote on Twitter, providing no examples. “Will he be putting in statements from hundreds of people closely involved with my campaign who never met, saw or spoke to a Russian during this period?”
-- One of Trump’s judicial nominees who has been criticized for his stance on voting rights is teetering on the brink of Senate rejection. Politico’s Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett report: “Thomas Farr can lose only one additional Senate vote in his bid to be a District Judge in North Carolina after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reiterated Monday that he would vote against Farr’s nomination if Republican leadership did not bring to a vote legislation to protect [Mueller]. … That leaves Republicans no margin for error in the narrowly divided Senate, since all 49 Democrats are opposed to the nomination. Democrats said privately they believed that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) or Susan Collins (R-Maine) might be swayed to oppose Farr.”
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Homeland Security officials defended the use of tear gas at the southern border and predicted more confrontations and port of entry closures. Nick Miroff and Tracy Jan report: “Facing dismal conditions in Mexico and long waits for the chance to request asylum in the United States, thousands of Central American migrants are becoming more agitated, and officials see no quick resolution ... Desperation there could leave U.S. border agents facing volatile crowds in two locations. On Monday, critics of the Trump administration denounced border agents’ use of force on groups that included families with children, but U.S. officials praised what they called ‘quick and effective action’ against crowds of stone-slinging young men who pried open the border fence at multiple locations to squeeze through.”
-- Trump suggested without evidence that some of the migrants who were tear-gassed were “grabbers” who had used other people’s children to protect themselves. Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez report: “Earlier Monday, Trump denied that women and children were among those affected by the tear gas. But in his remarks to reporters here, he shifted his response, first claiming that the tear gas was ‘very safe,’ then blaming migrants with children for being in harm’s way and finally questioning whether the children were theirs at all.”
-- Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen echoed Trump’s claims by alleging migrants were using women and children as “human shields.” “It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as ‘human shields’ when they confront law enforcement,” she said in a statement. “They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting vulnerable people in harms way.” (Isaac Stanley-Becker)
-- The woman featured in a widely published photo from the tear-gassing incident described her reaction to the confrontation. BuzzFeed News’s Adolfo Flores reports: “In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Maria Meza, 39, of Honduras said she was standing by the border fence with her five children when Border Patrol agents fired at least three tear gas canisters at them. ‘I felt sad, I was scared. I wanted to cry. That’s when I grabbed my daughters and ran,’ Meza [said]. ‘I thought my kids were going to die with me because of the gas we inhaled.’ The photo, taken by Kim Kyung-Hoon of Reuters, shows the single mother running from the gas in the Tijuana River bed, clutching her twin daughters’ arms.”
-- The clashes between immigration officials and caravan members could become a critical test as Trump prepares to fight for funding for his border wall. From David Nakamura: “Trump’s presidency is shaping up as a crucible to test the belief among border hawks that an all-consuming focus on enforcement and deterrence will drive down illegal immigration more effectively than other ideas from moderates and liberals, including additional legal pathways for migrants to remain in the country. … The violent clashes at the border between San Diego and Tijuana over the weekend represent the third major inflection point in the Trump administration’s shock-and-awe enforcement strategy — after the limitations of the travel ban and the failure of a family separation policy.”
-- Republican leadership is struggling to balance Trump’s border-wall demands with the deals they previously struck with Democrats. Politico’s John Bresnahan, Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris report: “Senate GOP leaders have discussed with the president the possibility of providing Trump with $5 billion in guaranteed money for the wall but spread over two years, according to two Republicans familiar with internal discussions. Trump has not ruled out the idea, according to a Republican senator, but it's unclear whether Democrats will go along with that minor concession. … There's still no clear way out of a bipartisan jam: Republicans promised Trump that they would fight for his wall money after the election. And Democrats say they already have a deal on $1.6 billion in border security, far less than the $5 billion preferred by the president and his allies in Congress.”
-- Senate Republicans are considering making changes to the chamber’s bipartisan criminal justice bill, potentially jeopardizing its passage. Seung Min Kim reports: “The changes being mulled, confirmed by senators and others familiar with the talks, reflect in part proposals put forward by the National Sheriffs’ Association, which is opposed to the legislation as written. Though a slew of law enforcement groups already support the bill, getting more of them on board is almost certain to improve its prospects among Republicans. One change that has been discussed privately is tightening the ‘safety valve’ provision, which provides more discretion to judges when they issue sentences.”
THE MISSISSIPPI RUNOFF:
-- Democrats hope energized turnout among Mississippi’s black voters will allow Senate candidate Mike Espy to pull off an unexpected upset in today's runoff. Matt Viser and David Weigel report: “The state’s long struggle with racism has emerged as an unavoidable theme, with two nooses found outside the state Capitol on Monday morning. But African Americans make up a larger share of the electorate here than they do in any other state, and in recent days, Espy and groups backing him have flooded the state with volunteers, radio ads and social media posts — seeking out potential voters in churches and on historically black college campuses.”
Trump visited the state last night for two rallies to support GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith: “Trump’s presence highlighted the divisions of the race, as well as the broader fault lines of American politics that have grown more intense over this year’s midterms. As the president spoke before largely white crowds, Espy headlined a black church event here in the state capital called the ‘Rise Above Rally and Gospel Explosion,’ with passionate prayers, loud music and frequent references to ‘Senator Espy.’ … But the president on Monday sought to portray Espy as the one who is out of step with modern-day Mississippi. ‘How does he fit in with Mississippi?’ Trump asked. ‘How does he fit in?’”
-- Trump’s rallies underscored GOP anxiety about winning the seat. From Philip Rucker: “By yoking himself with Hyde-Smith, Trump is backing a politician who said she would sit with a supporter in the front row of a public hanging, donned a Confederate uniform to promote tourism at Jefferson Davis’s homestead, and graduated from one segregation academy while sending her daughter to another. ‘Race is always the key in which life in Mississippi is played,’ said Stuart Stevens, a Republican strategist and Mississippi native who wrote a book about growing up here. ‘It’s just always present and it is the greatest determinant, still, in Mississippi of one’s path through life.’ … Republican strategists privately say Hyde-Smith has stumbled badly and struggled to generate momentum, though they are confident that she ultimately will prevail.”
-- Democratic strategists privately concede Hyde-Smith will probably win, as well.
-- Google became the latest company to request that its donation to Hyde-Smith’s campaign be returned. Politico’s John Hendel reports: “A spokeswoman for the search giant confirmed the company is requesting a refund but declined to elaborate. Records show Google donated $5,000 to the Hyde-Smith campaign on Nov. 13. … Civil rights nonprofit Color of Change had petitioned Google to take back its money over the senator's ‘brutal and degenerate rhetoric.’”
THE LEADERSHIP FIGHT:
-- One of Nancy Pelosi’s leading Democratic opponents appeared to soften his stance on her speakership bid. But hurdles still remain for her to recapture the gavel (though she's very likely to be renominated by her caucus in party elections today). Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa report: “Rep.-elect Gil Cisneros (Calif.) said Monday that he was joining 15 other Democrats who are calling for fresh leadership, saying that 'it’s time for a new generation to rise' — and that Pelosi, the House minority leader, is not part of the equation. Cisneros’s opposition came hours after one of the leaders of the resistance, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), signaled he was open to negotiations about changes to Pelosi’s leadership team — a retreat from his previous demand that Pelosi step aside. Meanwhile, Pelosi (D-Calif.) faced another challenge from a group of nine centrist Democrats from the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus who renewed a vow to oppose her unless she agrees to rule changes aimed at easing cross-aisle legislating. …
“The flurry of developments underscored two running themes in House Democratic politics following this month’s sweeping gains in the midterm elections: Pelosi has deep and wide support among her colleagues and the party at large, but she still faces doubts from incoming freshmen who faced Pelosi-themed attacks in the campaign as well as disgruntled incumbents unwilling to pass up the opportunity to install new leaders.”
-- Pelosi has not indicated a willingness to negotiate with Moulton or consider removing either of her top deputies, Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Jim Clyburn (S.C.). From Costa: “Still, associates of Moulton, 40, said he is hoping to sit down with Pelosi to discuss possible terms for the support of his group, in particular possibly rallying behind a younger member to be House majority leader or House majority whip, with an emphasis on bringing in a new generation to the leadership in the wake of the Democrats’ sweeping gains in the midterm elections.”
-- The centrist group No Labels has been privately pushing for Pelosi’s ouster. The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein and Lachlan Markay report: “Behind the scenes, No Labels and its leader, political strategist Nancy Jacobson, have been more skeptical of Pelosi and more willing to try and marginalize her among her members. [Internal emails] show that No Labels leadership contemplated a campaign to attack Pelosi aggressively after the primary campaign of centrist Rep. Dan Lipinski, who faced a primary challenge this year from Marie Newman, a progressive political neophyte. … Pelosi had endorsed Lipinski. But No Labels leadership was convinced that her support was a fig leaf. Jacobson ... was convinced that Pelosi had secretly tried to scuttle the congressman’s reelection and proposed publicly attacking the Democratic leader in the run-up to the midterms.”
-- GOP Rep. Mia Love formally conceded in her Utah race and delivered parting shots at Trump. John Wagner reports: “Trump had called out Love by name at a combative White House news conference the day after Election Day, criticizing her and other defeated Republicans and suggesting that they lost because they did not sufficiently ‘embrace’ him. … Speaking in Salt Lake City on Monday, Love said she was taken aback by Trump’s ‘jab’ at her. ‘The president’s behavior towards me made me wonder: What did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican?’ Love said. She said Trump’s comments ‘gave me a clear vision of his world as it is: no real relationships, just convenient transactions. That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy.’ Love, an African American, continued: ‘This election experience and these comments shines a spotlight on the problems Washington politicians have with minorities and black Americans — it’s transactional, it’s not personal.”
-- Democrat T.J. Cox has taken an incredibly narrow lead over GOP Rep. David Valadao in their California race. Felicia Sonmez reports: “After the latest results from Kern County were tallied Monday night, Cox was leading with 55,650 votes to Valadao’s 55,212, a margin of less than one percentage point. The latest figures mark a turnaround from election night, when Valadao was ahead by nearly 4,400 votes and the Associated Press projected that victory was in the Republican’s hands. AP retracted that call Monday night.”
-- Former Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke declined to rule out a 2020 presidential bid during an El Paso town hall. Michael Scherer reports: “‘Amy and I made a decision not to rule anything out,’ he told reporters afterward, admitting that his position is different from the one he took on 2020 during his campaign. … With just weeks remaining in his congressional job, O’Rourke had already made clear that he intends to remain a part of the national conversation, penning occasional online essays, including a piece Sunday critiquing [Trump’s] treatment of asylum seekers on the southern border. ‘We can either give into the fear of walls and tear-gassing children in diapers,’ he told the crowd of more than 120 Monday, at his first public event since losing the election. ‘Or we can live up to the best traditions, potential promise of what we are as Americans.’”
-- Former Republican Senate candidate John James is being considered to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador. Bloomberg News’s Jennifer Jacobs reports: “James was at the White House last week talking about an administration post with Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, two people said. James is an Iraq War veteran who is president of closely held James Group International, a supply-chain management firm based in Detroit. If chosen, he would become one of a few black officials in the top ranks of the Trump administration.”
-- Alex Villanueva became the first candidate in a Los Angeles County sheriff’s race to unseat an incumbent in more than a century. The LA Times’s Maya Lau reports: “Villanueva, who served in the Sheriff’s Department for three decades, won despite his lack of experience at the upper levels of law enforcement. His campaign launch, on a grassy slope outside the sheriff’s East Los Angeles station last year, was sparsely attended. … But the dark horse candidate used the county’s political mood to his advantage, experts said, trumpeting his status as a Democrat and claiming he would be the first Democratic sheriff in the county in 138 years. That message in the nonpartisan race was advertised on social media and direct mailers to voters.”
-- “Democrats won the House with the largest margin of victory in a midterms election for either party,” NBC News’s Jane C. Timm reports. “While votes are still being tallied, Democratic House candidates currently hold an 8,805,130 vote lead over Republicans as of Monday morning. The Democrats' national margin of victory in House contests smashes the previous midterms record of 8.7 million votes in 1974, won just months after President Richard Nixon resigned from office in disgrace amid the Watergate scandal. Of the more than 111 million votes cast in House races nationwide, Democrats took 53.1 percent … while Republicans received 45.2 percent of the vote.”
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Days before his planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said he intends to move forward with raising tariff levels on $200 billion of Chinese imports. The Wall Street Journal’s Bob Davis reports: “Mr. Trump suggested that if negotiations don’t produce a favorable outcome for the U.S., he would also put tariffs on the rest of Chinese imports that are currently not subject to duties. ‘If we don’t make a deal, then I’m going to put the $267 billion additional on’ at a tariff rate of either 10% or 25%, Mr. Trump said.”
-- Trump dealt a blow to British Prime Minister Theresa May by describing her Brexit agreement as a “great deal” for the European Union. The Guardian’s Julian Borger, Daniel Boffey and Dan Sabbagh report: “Trump was speaking to reporters outside the White House when he was asked about the deal May struck with the EU’s other 27 heads of state and government on Sunday. ‘Sounds like a great deal for the EU,’ the president said. ‘I think we have to take a look at, seriously, whether or not the UK is allowed to trade. Because, you know, right now, if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us … And, hopefully, she’ll be able to do something about that.’ Trump’s intervention caught Downing Street off-guard and is likely to weaken May’s hand at a time when she is seeking to get the deal approved by parliament.”
-- The Trump administration withdrew a retired admiral’s nomination to join the U.S. Agency for International Development over his involvement in the “Fat Leonard” corruption scandal. Craig Whitlock reports: “Mark C. Montgomery received a letter of censure from the Navy last week after an investigation concluded he had committed graft and taken illicit gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has admitted to bribing scores of officers. The investigation concluded that besides accepting gifts, Montgomery also ‘took action to financially benefit’ Francis’s company between 2007 and 2009, when the Navy officer served as the commander of a destroyer squadron based in Asia, according to Cmdr. Jereal Dorsey, a Navy spokesman.”
-- World leaders encouraged Russia and Ukraine to de-escalate their conflict over the Black Sea as Ukraine’s parliament voted to impose martial law in parts of the country. The AP’s Nataliya Vasilyeva and Efrem Lukatsky report: “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko asked lawmakers in Kiev to institute martial law ... After a five-hour debate, parliament overwhelmingly approved his proposal, voting to impose martial law for 30 days starting Wednesday morning in 10 of Ukraine’s 27 regions — those bordering Russia, Belarus and Moldova’s pro-Moscow breakaway republic of Trans-Dniester. … Poroshenko said it was necessary because of intelligence about ‘a highly serious threat of a ground operation against Ukraine.’ He did not elaborate.”
-- Argentine prosecutors are considering possible criminal charges against the Saudi crown prince as he prepares to attend the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. The New York Times’s Daniel Politi and David D. Kirkpatrick report: “The inquiry, centering on allegations of war crimes during the Saudi-led military intervention in neighboring Yemen, is the most significant test yet of [Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s] ability to move past the international uproar that has surrounded him since the killing of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and Washington Post columnist. The Khashoggi case, too, is expected to be part of the inquiry as well as allegations of torture in Saudi Arabia ... Argentine officials called it extremely unlikely that the inquiry might produce an arrest warrant before the gathering, which is set to begin on Friday.”
-- Jared Kushner inflated to $110 billion a potential arms deal between the United States and Saudi Arabia — which has become a sticking point in Trump’s reaction to the Khashoggi case. ABC News’s Tara Palmeri reports: “Kushner ... pushed State and Defense officials to inflate the figure with arms exchanges that were aspirational at best. Secretary of Defense James Mattis supported Kushner's effort and ultimately endorsed the memorandum, according to a former NSC official familiar with the matter.”
-- The Senate plans to vote on revoking U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. From Karoun Demirjian: “The expected vote on a measure to invoke the War Powers Resolution — likely to take place Wednesday or Thursday — will be the first test of whether the slaying of [Khashoggi] has broken Congress’s long-standing pattern of prioritizing the sanctity of the U.S.-Saudi alliance through weapons sales and other cooperative military ventures over repeated, documented human rights violations.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
A government agency contradicted Trump's comments about the clash at the border, per a Bloomberg News reporter:
CBP Commissioner contradicts Trump, saying none of his agents were seriously injured at the border Sunday.— Toluse Olorunnipa (@ToluseO) November 27, 2018
Trump just told the press pool: "Three border patrol people yesterday were very badly hurt, getting hit with rocks and stones." https://t.co/sH1sLAGkdG
A Democratic congresswoman-elect defended those seeking asylum:
Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 25, 2018
It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany.
It wasn’t for targeted families fleeing Rwanda.
It wasn’t for communities fleeing war-torn Syria.
And it isn’t for those fleeing violence in Central America. https://t.co/qhv7Rr1itn
A civil rights activist compared the border incident to the Ferguson protests:
Every time something deplorable happens in this country there's a level of fake shock that comes with it.— Johnetta Elzie (@Nettaaaaaaaa) November 26, 2018
You've seen children be teargassed before. In Ferguson, four year ago. American children teargassed in the streets. What's happening at the border shouldn't be shocking.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) gave his view on the situation at the border:
The current chaos at our southern border must be dealt with properly or we will never find a solution to our broken immigration system.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) November 26, 2018
Americans want an immigration policy which we control, not one where illegal immigrants control us.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) November 26, 2018
We are a nation of immigrants. We are also a kind and generous people. But Americans will not be played for fools.
The communications director for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) highlighted the rise in asylum applications over the past decade:
Asylum requests went from 5000 in 2009 to more than 90000 in 2016. You can blame Trump for a lot of things but he did not create the migrant crisis. https://t.co/gCQJb5OIaA— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) November 26, 2018
Trump defended Cindy Hyde-Smith over her “public hanging” comment, per a PBS NewsHour reporter:
I just asked President Trump at the WH what he thought about Senator Hyde-Smith’s comments about attending a public hanging and voter suppression and he said that he had talked to her about them and that she has apologized and expressed her regret to him personally.— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) November 26, 2018
Hyde-Smith directly tied her campaign to Trump's agenda:
Make no mistake — a vote for me is a vote for @realDonaldTrump and #MAGA. It's why Liberal Mike Espy and the radical DNC have targeted our campaign for defeat, and it's why we need to make sure EVERY MS conservative gets to the polls on 11/27. #TeamCindy #Cindy2018 #MSSEN pic.twitter.com/gJ3GFqzcPR— Cindy Hyde-Smith (@cindyhydesmith) November 26, 2018
A Post reporter reflected on a Trump rally in Mississippi:
No state has a higher proportion of African Americans than Mississippi. Standing behind him on stage not one black person is visible.— Matt Viser (@mviser) November 26, 2018
Trump proposed a state-sponsored network to counter CNN:
....and false way. Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2018
A former Obama-era NSC spokesman mocked the suggestion:
A Cook Political Report editor provided more in-depth analysis of Republicans' midterm losses:
House Republicans will represent 17% fewer seats in January. But they'll also represent:— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 27, 2018
37% fewer Asian constituents
28% fewer Latino constituents
22% fewer college grads
22% fewer Clinton voters
13% fewer Trump voters
Bonus fact: they'll give up just *5%* of their land area.
An MSNBC producer noted a link between a decision made by the Trump administration and the recent E.coli outbreak:
Six months before people were sickened by contaminated romaine, Trump's FDA — responding to pressure from the farm industry and Trump's order to eliminate regulations — shelved Obama-era water-testing rules for at least four years. https://t.co/nyq5epHsaK— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 26, 2018
Congress will take up a critical piece of legislation before adjourning, per a Post reporter:
The 115th Congress will not adjourn before naming a post office after Jimi Hendrix pic.twitter.com/3LehzEaXFw— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) November 26, 2018
A Republican senator went casual on Capitol Hill. From a Weekly Standard reporter:
Thom Tillis is dressed like a dad in a camping store commercial tonight pic.twitter.com/BDyDFajuhO— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) November 26, 2018
Another Senate Republican returned to work with a beard:
Ted Cruz grew a beard over Thanksgiving! pic.twitter.com/g8I58uPn9o— Joe Perticone (@JoePerticone) November 26, 2018
And the Dalai Lama offered these sage words:
Even more important than the warmth and affection we receive, is the warmth and affection we give. It is by giving warmth and affection, by having a genuine sense of concern for others, in other words through compassion, that we gain the conditions for genuine happiness.— Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) November 26, 2018
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- HuffPost, “The Proud Boys Are Imploding,” by Andy Campbell: “The Proud Boys, a punch-happy extremist gang whose members spend their time harassing people online and attacking them in real life, fell apart at the seams last week as the rest of the country gave thanks. Over the course of the Thanksgiving holiday, the Proud Boys were revealed as an extremist group in the eyes of the FBI; saw their leader, Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, publicly bail on them; added two of their members to a growing list of defendants in a rioting case in New York City; and named a new leader in Jason Lee Van Dyke, their lawyer who himself is a serial harasser and racist criminal.”
-- Washingtonian, “The Inside Story of Mike Isabella’s Fallen Empire,” by Jessica Sidman and Anna Spiegel: “The arc of Isabella Eatery, in a way, is the story of Mike Isabella writ small — outsize ambition, a workforce that was loyal until enough was enough, and an ignominious crash. Yes, to a certain extent, Isabella’s resounding fall after his lightning rise reads like a #MeToo reckoning. But the underpinnings of his downfall are more complicated — and have broader implications for the capital’s culinary scene and those who care about it. How the prince of Washington dining became its pariah is the story of a chef who was addicted to the spotlight, but also of a city that was starving for hometown stars and a gentrifying restaurant economy that was all too eager to feed them.”
-- New York Times, “He Says He Got Away With 90 Murders. Now He’s Confessing to Them All,” by Timothy Williams: “Day by day, the authorities say, he has recounted details of long-ago murders: faces, places, the layouts of small towns. He has described how he picked up vulnerable women from bars, nightclubs and along streets and strangled them to death in the back seat of his car. The man, Samuel Little, 78, has confessed to more than 90 murders, investigators say, stretching back almost half a century. Mr. Little already is serving three life sentences for the murders of three Los Angeles women during the 1980s, but the authorities suspect him of killing women in at least 14 states. Investigators say they have established Mr. Little’s ties to about 30 of the murders so far, and have little reason to doubt his confessions.”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Goodlatte: ‘It’s awfully tough’ for Ivanka Trump to comply with email standards,” from Politico: “The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), said on Monday that it was ‘awfully tough’ for government officials such as Ivanka Trump to comply with agency standards for secure communications when sending emails. ‘When things like this come up, it’s important people understand, they need to make sure they’re doing what they can,’ Goodlatte said during an interview on CNN. ‘And it’s awfully tough, as everyone knows, when you’re sending emails about a lot of different things to make sure that you’re doing it according to the rules in the White House or wherever you’re doing it,’ he added. Goodlatte also suggested that [Trump’s] daughter’s use of a personal email account to conduct government business ... was 'very different' from the private email server Hillary Clinton employed during her time as secretary of State.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“Netflix for Conservatives? Fox News Introduces Fox Nation, a Streaming App,” from New York Times: “If you have ever wondered about the culinary skills of a ‘Fox & Friends’ co-host, wonder no longer. On the new show ‘Cooking With Steve Doocy,’ the pink-faced Fox News anchor makes chili with Dr. Oz, shares a kitchen with Kellyanne Conway and whips up stromboli with Anthony Scaramucci and his wife. ‘Steve poured the wine!’ Mr. Scaramucci wrote in an email. ‘It was an awesome time.’ Fox News viewers are fiercely loyal to their network. But will they pay to watch a ‘Fox & Friend’ work a griddle? That, in a gourmet nutshell, is the question for Fox Nation, the subscription-only streaming service — think Netflix for conservatives — that debuts on Tuesday and ushers the cable news business into a brave, uncertain new era. For $5.99 a month, viewers can purchase on-demand access to live political commentary and hundreds of hours of original programming from familiar Fox News faces.”
Trump will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and then meet with House Republican leadership. He and the first lady will later participate in the White House Christmas reception and the Secret Service Christmas reception.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“To clarify, the type of deterrent they used is OC pepper spray — it’s literally water, pepper, with a small amount of alcohol for evaporation purposes. It’s natural, you could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.” — Ron Colburn, a former deputy chief for U.S. Border Patrol, defending the use of tear gas against members of the migrant caravan. (Michael Brice-Saddler)
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- It will by sunny but cold in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mostly sunny skies are no match for the frigid air mass that swept in last night behind the cold front. Highs only manage to reach the low to mid-40s this afternoon. Winds from the northwest are blustery at 10 to 15 mph with gusts to 20 to 25 mph, generating wind chills in the 20s this morning and 30s this afternoon. The cold air really dries things out as dew points fall into the teens by the afternoon.”
-- The Wizards beat the Rockets 135-131. (Gene Wang)
-- The Capitals beat the Islanders 4-1. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) created an “emergency” commission to redraw the state’s congressional districts. Erin Cox reports: “Hogan said his nine-member commission would adjust the boundaries of the 6th District, which are the focus of a gerrymandering case pending before the Supreme Court. Maryland is one of three states whose maps are so contorted by partisan intent that judges have declared them illegal. This month, a panel of federal judges gave the state until March 7 to come up with a new map that fixes the 6th District, but Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. Hogan on Monday said his commission will comply with the appeals court ruling, calling the situation ‘an embarrassment to our state.’”
-- Four Maryland high school football players appeared in court for the first time after being accused of sexual assault. Dan Morse and Donna St. George report: “When the sophomore football players entered the freshman locker room, authorities say, one held up a four-foot broom. He pumped his fist and chanted. Lights went off. The handle of the broom could be heard banging against a wall. ‘It’s time,’ another sophomore said. One of the freshmen tried to leave. A sophomore blocked him from doing so. This prelude — as described by prosecutors in court on Monday — came before what authorities said was a terrifying series of sexual assaults against four teammates on Oct. 31 inside a locker room at Damascus High School in Maryland.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah mocked Trump's response to his administration's climate change report:
Melania Trump unveiled the White House's holiday decorations, skipping the traditional press preview that dates back to Nancy Reagan:
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith dodged a reporter's question on race:
"Senator, can I ask you, why not speak to us about the issue of race here?"— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 26, 2018
Ahead of Senate runoff this week, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith avoids answering tough questions from @VaughnHillyard. pic.twitter.com/IMZ6gWAOCI
Trump compared himself to Elvis during one of his Mississippi rallies:
And a video was released showing the moment a gender-reveal party in Arizona sparked a wildfire: