With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: It’s another first — and a fitting coda to what has indisputably been another Year of the Woman. After a historic gender gap propelled a blue wave, electing record numbers of female candidates in its wake, four women now lead the main campaign committees responsible for House, Senate, gubernatorial and state legislative races. They each replaced a man, though their GOP counterparts remain men.

These four groups, which have supplanted the Democratic National Committee in relevance by many key measures, wield immense influence over candidate recruitment and resource allocation. They also give their leaders nationwide platforms and access to major donors, which are among the reasons they’ve been steppingstones for many of the men who have come before.

“About time,” said Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, who beat three colleagues to take charge of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last Thursday. She defeated Washington state Rep. Denny Heck 117 to 83 and will succeed New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo was elected Saturday as chair of the Democratic Governors Association at the group’s annual meeting in New Orleans, replacing Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “The party is changing and becoming responsive to the people that we serve,” Raimondo said in an interview afterward. “Women are half the population, half of the brainpower and need to be at the table.”

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was tapped last month to lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, following Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen. “I'm honored to serve as the first Latina and as the second woman chair,” she said in an emailed statement.

Oregon state House Speaker Tina Kotek will win reelection later today as chair of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. The first woman to win the post two years ago, she doubled fundraising and is now unopposed for a second term after her party flipped nearly 400 state legislative seats from red to blue. “Often the committees have worked in their own silos. I think having women at the head will facilitate better collaboration,” she said by phone Sunday night from her home. “It is a big deal, and I’m pleased to be a part of it.”

-- All four chairs say they’re eager to work together. Bustos said she took Cortez Masto out for breakfast at Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill soon after she arrived in town last year, replacing former Democratic leader Harry Reid, and they played together on the congressional women’s softball team. “I have asked my team to get everyone’s cell numbers so I can make contact with them,” Bustos said. “Women, by our nature, are relationship builders.”

Bustos is the first female DCCC chair since New York Rep. Nita Lowey in 2002. Raimondo is the first woman at the top of the DGA since then-Kanas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in 2006. Cortez Masto is the first woman to lead the Democratic Senate arm since Washington Sen. Patty Murray in 2012. There’s no precedent for women leading the various committees at once.

-- Meanwhile, men continue to command all four of the Republican campaign committees. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts replaced Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam as chairman of the Republican Governors Association on Thursday in Scottsdale. House Republicans voted for Rep. Tom Emmer (Minn.) to succeed Steve Stivers (Ohio) during their leadership elections. Senate Republicans elected Todd Young (Ind.) to sub out for Cory Gardner (Colo.). Former Florida attorney general Bill McCollum has been the longtime chair of the Republican State Leadership Committee.

The Republican National Committee is led by Ronna McDaniel, who was promoted when Reince Priebus resigned to become White House chief of staff. Trump says he’ll keep her on for his reelection effort.

-- For their part, several House Republican women are frustrated with GOP leadership for snubbing their female colleagues since the election. For example, Emmer became NRCC chair because he got incoming Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s blessing over Rep. Ann Wagner, who represents the St. Louis suburbs. Rep. Mimi Walters (Calif.) had planned to seek the post and was reportedly making calls on Election Day about her bid, but she withdrew after losing reelection.

“After dutifully serving on the less-than-desired House ethics panel, Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana lost her very-much-desired post on the steering committee, which controls committee assignments, to a male colleague,” today’s New York Times notes. “Representative Kay Granger, a long-serving lawmaker from Texas, was nearly denied the ranking member slot on the House Appropriations Committee for a more junior male colleague, winning the post by a single vote on the third ballot. … ‘If we don’t learn some lessons from this election, we will not be a majority party,’ said [Wagner].”

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) says she’ll use her PAC to help more women win Republican primaries in 2020. “There has been close to no introspection in the GOP conference and really no coming to grips with the shifting demographics that get to why we lost those seats,” she told Jonathan Martin.

-- In an interview on Saturday afternoon, Bustos explained her theory of the case for holding the Democratic majority in 2020. She defeated an incumbent Republican in 2012 and then beat him again in a 2014 rematch by a bigger margin. Bustos won by 24 points this year, the largest margin of victory for any House Democrat in a district that Trump carried in 2016. This ability to win in a tough district made her compelling to colleagues. After all, Democrats will need to defend 31 seats two years from now in districts Trump carried in 2016 — when he will again be on the ballot.

After the last election, Bustos partnered with Robin Johnson, a political science professor at a college in her district, to study Democrats who have been able to win in the heartland. They interviewed 72 Democrats from eight Midwestern states and wrote a 52-page report. (Read it here.)

Bustos said the three fundamentals for members to win in tough districts are to work hard, fight for your constituents and get results for your region. She says House Democrats will pass bills that would expand infrastructure, bring down prescription drug prices and tighten ethics rules to demonstrate that they’re on the side of the people who gave them the majority.

-- Raimondo, the new DGA chair, noted that six Democratic women won governors races this year, the most ever. Four years ago, she was the first woman elected governor of Rhode Island. Janet Mills just broke that glass ceiling in Maine. Overall, Democrats picked up seven governorships this year, including in three states Trump carried. Two of those three new governors are women: Laura Kelly in Kansas and Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan.

Next year brings a tough map for Raimondo. The three governors races of 2019 will be in Louisiana, Kentucky and Mississippi. But she expressed confidence that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards can win a second term in Louisiana. “I know we will be competitive in Kentucky and Mississippi,” she said. “They won’t be easy, but we’re going to have great candidates and we’re going to get behind them. … 2018 proved we can win anywhere.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was elected vice chair this weekend, which positions him to succeed Raimondo next year. He said it’s “a huge badge of honor” for the DGA to be led by a woman. “I think it’s a huge deal,” he said. “It’s a statement that we are the party that is the inclusive party, that we stand for equal access and equal opportunity.”

-- Kotek, the DLCC leader, noted that victories by female candidates this year will help ensure long-term changes to the political system. About 1,200 Democratic women were elected to state legislatures in the midterms, for example. “When you see that sea change of candidates, now they are the incumbents. They are the folks who will run again. They are building a pipeline of new faces and new perspectives. You don’t go backwards from that,” said Kotek, who became the first openly lesbian speaker of any state House in America in 2013.

In her home state of Oregon, 58 percent of the House Democratic caucus is now female. She believes this will change public policy. “When you see better representation, you’re going to see different types of policy because you’re bringing in different perspectives,” she said. “So I know it will change the policy landscape. I would even argue that the level of civility that you will see in legislative chambers across the country will also improve. Because women talk before we fight.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- A Hungarian university founded by George Soros to help educate future leaders after the collapse of communism said it has been kicked out of the country. Griff Witte reports: “The ejection marked one of the surest signals to date of autocracy’s return to the country, and the region, after decades of relative freedom. It is the first time a university has been forced out of an E.U. nation. Central European University has long been considered among the world’s finest graduate schools, attracting students from across the globe, and it is widely seen as the best in Hungary. But the university … had also been the target for nearly two years of a right-wing government that has systematically consolidated control and marginalized dissent.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The Justice Department will attempt to persuade the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to halt the emoluments lawsuit from Maryland and the District of Columbia. The rare move will allow federal government lawyers to once again seek an appeal of early rulings in the case that went against Trump after a district court judge initially denied their request to do so. The lawsuit focuses on whether Trump is using his luxury D.C. hotel to unconstitutionally profit from his office. (Politico)

  2. French officials would not rule out declaring a state of emergency after the country witnessed a third weekend of nationwide protests. Prime Minister Édouard Philippe will start meeting today with representatives of the “Yellow Vests” protest movement, which is mainly made up of working-class people opposed to a planned hike in fuel taxes and their decreasing purchase power. (New York Times)

  3. Israeli police recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges. Israel’s attorney general will decide in the coming months whether Netanyahu should stand trial on a range of corruption accusations. (AP)

  4. Pope Francis said he is “very worried” about homosexuality in the church, marking a reversal from his stance when he was first elected. Francis earned praise from LGBT advocates back in 2013 when he said of gay priests, “If a person seeks God and has goodwill, then who am I to judge?” (Daily Beast)

  5. The Post confirms the Wall Street Journal's reporting that CIA intercepts picked up Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sending at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death. And CNN has obtained 400 WhatsApp messages that Khashoggi sent to a fellow Saudi exile, which reveal a far harsher perspective on MBS than he aired publicly. He described MBS as a “beast” and a “pac-man” who would devour all in his path, even his supporters. “The more victims he eats, the more he wants,” Khashoggi wrote in May. 

  6. Qatar, the victim of a Saudi-led boycott, announced it will pull out of the OPEC cartel ahead of a key meeting to set oil prices. While Qatar, which has been a member since 1961, is one of OPEC's smallest oil producers, it is one of the world's largest producers of liquefied natural gas. (CNBC)

  7. The families of Americans detained in Iran have asked the Trump administration to deny U.S. visas to the children of top-ranking Iranian officials. But the administration has not acted on the request, a delay that the families fear signals the White House’s lack of commitment to securing their loved ones’ release. (NBC News)

  8. Fox Entertainment Group and the producers of “Cosmos” are investigating sexual misconduct allegations against Neil deGrasse Tyson. The celebrity astrophysicist has been accused of groping, sexual harassment and sexual assault by three women. Tyson has denied the assault allegation and said he didn’t recognize the other women’s discomfort in the instances they described. (Sarah Kaplan and Ben Guarino)

  9. A Yellowstone wolf was legally killed by a hunter six years after the wolf’s mother died the same way. The death of Spitfire, as the wolf was known, has reignited a debate over protection of the wolves. (Alex Horton)

  10. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari denied a widely circulated (but baseless) social media rumor that he died last year and was replaced by a Sudanese impostor. “It’s the real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday, and I will still go strong,” Buhari said. (Reuters)

  11. The Green Bay Packers fired Coach Mike McCarthy after 13 seasons. The dramatic decision followed the team’s 20-17 loss to the dismal Arizona Cardinals. (Adam Kilgore)

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Despite a pause in Trump’s trade war with China, the effect of the two countries’ escalating threats is expected to linger in their economic relationship. David J. Lynch reports: “Over dinner following the Group of 20 summit Saturday, Trump agreed to cancel a planned Jan. 1 tariff increase in return for increased Chinese purchases of American farm and industrial goods. The two sides also will commence talks about ‘structural changes’ in Chinese practices, including forced technology transfer, trade secrets theft, and non-tariff barriers. The goal is to secure an agreement in 90 days. … But almost a year of heated U.S. rhetoric, escalating tariffs and tighter investment and export controls have shaken Chinese government officials and global business executives. As repeated tariff salvos prompt companies to rethink their reliance upon Chinese factories, Beijing is stepping up efforts to wean itself from what it sees as an unpredictable American partner, according to trade analysts, business executives and former government officials.”

-- The latest development: Trump said in a late-night tweet that China has agreed to cut tariffs on American cars. The Wall Street Journal’s Trefor Moss reports: “‘China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%,’ Mr. Trump said … Chinese officials have neither confirmed nor denied the tariff plan, as reported by Mr. Trump. At a regular foreign ministry briefing in Beijing on Monday, spokesman Geng Shuang said ‘the two leaders had reached an important consensus’ over the weekend and that they ‘will follow through on that consensus.’ He didn’t respond directly to questions about car tariffs.”

-- Lawmakers appeared skeptical of Trump’s threat to cancel NAFTA, an apparent attempt to force congressional passage of his renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico. From Paige Winfield Cunningham: “ ‘I think we should see if we can get it passed first,’ Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on NBC News’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘I want to see how many Democratic votes come on board for this.’ Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said he will not support the new trade deal as it stands because it ‘doesn’t live up’ to the president’s promises to help workers and halt outsourcing … U.S. lawmakers from both parties, including Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), said last week that they would oppose it barring significant revisions.”

-- Trump’s performance at the G-20 summit suggests he is scaling back his international agenda as he faces mounting domestic crises. From David Nakamura and John Hudson: “For Trump, there appears to be diminishing bandwidth to focus on foreign affairs, given that he is weighing a Cabinet shake-up and has threatened a partial government shutdown this month over border wall funding. Furthermore, the Democrats’ looming takeover of the House has posed new dangers for the White House in the form of potential subpoenas and investigations. And bombshell revelations last week involving former Trump associates in [special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe] have rattled the White House.”

BUSH 41 REMEMBERED:

-- George H.W. Bush will lie in state at the Capitol starting tonight until his funeral Wednesday at Washington National Cathedral. The AP’s Juan A. Lozano reports: “Bush will lie in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol from Monday at 7:30 p.m. EST until Wednesday at 8:45 a.m. EST. His casket will be transported by motorcade Wednesday morning to [Washington National Cathedral], where a state funeral will be held at 11 a.m. EST. [Trump], who ordered federal offices closed on Wednesday for a national day of mourning, is to attend with first lady Melania Trump.” Bush will be buried at the site of his presidential library near his wife and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3.

-- Tributes continued to pour in for the 41st president, who died Friday at age 94. Felicia Sonmez and Paige Winfield Cunningham report: “Former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the late president’s eldest son, paid tribute in appearances on CBS’s ‘60 Minutes.’ Asked what his father had told him when he became president, the younger Bush responded with the same words the two exchanged shortly before his father’s death: ‘I love you.’ … The younger Bush predicted that his father would be remembered as ‘the greatest one-term president ever, because of his foreign policy, deftly handling the end of the Cold War, for example, reunification of Germany.’ Obama praised the late Bush’s foreign policy as well, noting that Bush ‘had to land the plane’ when the Berlin Wall came toppling down. … Clinton read the note that Bush left for him in 1993, when Clinton entered the Oval Office for the first time as president. ‘Your success now is our country’s success,’ Bush wrote, in part. ‘I am rooting hard for you.’ ‘This letter is a statement of who he is,’ Clinton said.”

-- The reflections on Bush's life have led many to contrast the late president’s legacy and Trump’s behavior as commander in chief. From Greg Jaffe: “In death, presidents are measured not only by their accomplishments but by what their tenure says about sitting presidents — and in this case, the contrast appears stark. ... Bush was America’s last war hero president, whose life was defined by service in Congress, the State Department, the CIA and finally the White House. Born into an elite family, his father a senator from Connecticut, he soaked up the mores and customs of Washington from a young age. He preached compromise, modesty and respect, if not reverence, for Washington’s institutions and even its somewhat arcane policymaking processes. … Trump’s time in office, by contrast, has been defined by a war on virtually all of the norms and institutions that Bush held dear, especially the CIA.”

-- Dan Balz explains how Bush accelerated the transformation of the GOP by not living up to his “read my lips” promise to not raise taxes: “In the statement, Bush said, ‘It is clear to me’ that a series of elements had to be included in any budget agreement, among them ‘tax revenue increases.’ … [But] the agreement also empowered [Newt] Gingrich, a onetime backbencher, in his quest to remake the party. On the day that Bush and the other leaders assembled at the White House to announce that they had an agreement, Gingrich balked. ‘I think you may destroy your presidency,’ he told Bush. He then left the president and the other leaders at the White House and returned to the Capitol to begin mustering the forces of opposition. It was the beginning of a new Republican Party.”

-- Bush’s love of sports often inspired him to call Post sportswriter Thomas Boswell for putting tips or fishing stories. Boswell writes: “During an interview in the Oval Office, I asked President Bush, since he was known as a slick glove man, whether he still knew where his old first baseman’s mitt was. He gave a strange little look, then opened a drawer of his desk. ‘It’s right here,’ he said, taking out his George McQuinn claw model. The glove was practically black from age but kept supple, oiled and in working condition. He pounded his fist in its pocket as so many of us have when we need to think about something — perhaps something difficult, probably not baseball. I thought, then and now: ‘What a fine man. And what a great country.’ ”

-- “Nobody understood our relationship — least of all us. It was, admittedly, odd. ‘I like you,’ the first President Bush wrote me once, after he was out of office. ‘Please don’t tell anyone,’ ” writes New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd: “In another life, I probably would have been serving President Bush his vodka martini, made to perfection with a splash of dry vermouth, two olives and a cocktail onion. … But I came along just as the old world of Ivy League white men running everything was breaking up. … And that was a shock to the system for H.W. He was all noblesse oblige and I was all class rage. … At dinner one night, President Bush’s pollster, Bob Teeter, had a couple of martinis and got frank with me: ‘We just don’t see you as The New York Times White House reporter. We see you more at a newspaper like the New York Daily News or the Chicago Tribune.’ Dumbfounded, I stammered, ‘You mean because I’m a woman with an ethnic, working-class background?’ Yes, Teeter replied. And thus began the screwball story, spanning decades, mystifying everyone, of the patrician president and the impertinent reporter.”

-- A Union Pacific locomotive named after Bush will transport him from Spring, Tex., to his presidential library in College Station. Brittney Martin reports: “The locomotive, painted the same blue colors that adorned Air Force One during Bush’s presidency, was unveiled by the company in October 2005. At the time, Bush was fascinated by the train’s mechanics and asked whether he could take it for a spin, according to Mike Iden, a retired Union Pacific general director of car and locomotive engineering. After some brief training and under the supervision of an engineer, ‘the former president operated the locomotive for about two miles,’ Iden said.”

MORE MIDTERMS FALLOUT:

-- The small group of elected Republicans who were willing to endorse the consensus of scientists on climate change was decimated by the elections and drowned out by Trump. Matt Viser reports: “The House Climate Solutions Caucus, co-founded in 2016 by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and once thought of as a catalyst for climate-friendly legislation, lost 24 of its 45 Republican members to retirement or election defeat this year — including Curbelo.”

-- Some of Trump’s Republican critics are using their final days in office to push the president on certain issues. From Sean Sullivan: “ ‘This is the president’s party now. It really is. I don’t think you can read it any other way,’ said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is retiring and has frequently voiced concerns about Trump. But first, he is trying to use his remaining time in office to press for a vote on a bill to protect [Mueller] … Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), another Trump critic who is retiring, has voiced concerns about Trump’s strong support for [MBS] … [Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.)] is spending his final days in Congress warning that turning the GOP over to Trump could lead to the party spending a long time in the House minority as it abandons its principles in favor of pleasing a base of voters deeply committed to the president.”

-- Georgia will hold two runoff elections tomorrow for secretary of state and public service commissioner, but Democrats are worried about the relatively low level of energy surrounding the races. David Weigel reports from the ground: “Days before the year's final competitive elections, the turnout machine was dramatically smaller than the one that had changed the state's electorate in an unsuccessful attempt to elect Stacey Abrams to the governor's office. … But even with Abrams's urging and the controversy around the Nov. 6 vote, formerly bustling campaign offices are seeing notably less traffic. The celebrities who flew in to endorse Abrams have stayed home. The airwaves have largely been reconquered by local businesses, with only occasional election spots. The relatively low-key election worries Democrats.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Former FBI director Jim Comey has reached an agreement with Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee to appear for a deposition on Friday in exchange for being able to release the full transcript. Spencer S. Hsu and Felicia Sonmez report: “Comey will appear voluntarily Friday before the House Judiciary Committee, which has agreed to withdraw a subpoena, Comey’s attorney said Sunday. In a three-paragraph joint court filing Sunday, Comey’s lawyers also withdrew his request to a federal judge to quash the subpoena to testify before the House judiciary and oversight committees … Comey agreed to sit for a voluntary interview on Friday under terms that include that ‘so long as the interview proceeds as a voluntary interview, an FBI representative will be present to advise concerning the disclosure of FBI information,’ said his lawyer David N. Kelley. ... After an initial hearing on the challenge Friday, U.S. District Judge Trevor N. McFadden did not rule but indicated he was unlikely to grant Comey’s motion. Both sides were due to return Monday before McFadden. ... During Friday’s court session, Thomas G. Hungar, the general counsel for the Judiciary Committee, said Comey would be free to speak to reporters after his Hill appearance and to release a transcript, something that is typically available within a day.”

-- Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Michael Cohen’s guilty plea suggests Russia may have compromising information on Trump. Felicia Sonmez and Paige Winfield Cunningham report: “‘Does the Kremlin have a hold on him over other things?’ Nadler said. ‘There certainly was leverage during the campaign period and until recently because they knew he was lying, they knew he had major business dealings or that Cohen on his behalf had major business dealings.’ Nadler also said lawmakers ‘must do whatever we can’ to protect [Mueller’s] Russia investigation from interference by Trump.”

-- The Supreme Court’s consideration of a case on state and federal convictions for the same crime could have vast implications for Paul Manafort’s potential prosecutions by state government. Robert Barnes reports: “The Supreme Court next week takes up the case of a small-time Alabama felon, Terance Gamble, who complains that his convictions by state and federal prosecutors for the same gun possession crime violate constitutional protections against double jeopardy. But likely to be watching the proceedings closely will be those concerned about [Trump's former campaign chairman], who was prosecuted by [Mueller] for tax fraud. … The outcome in the case could affect nascent plans by states to prosecute Manafort under their own tax evasion laws — New York, in particular, has expressed interest — should Trump pardon Manafort on his federal convictions.”

-- Trump ally Roger Stone insisted he has never been in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Felicia Sonmez reports: “ ‘That is absolutely correct,’ Stone said on ABC News’s ‘This Week’ when asked whether it was true that he had never spoken with Assange. ‘I turned over one direct message to the House Intelligence Committee between the flack for WikiLeaks and I, in which he essentially brushed me off. That immediately leaked to Atlantic magazine, who then edited the context and published it. No, I had no contact with Assange.’ Stone also said that he has had no contact with [Mueller] … ‘Again, where is the crime?’ Stone said, when asked by host George Stephanopoulos whether the fact that he has not been contacted by Mueller’s team suggests that he may be a target of the probe.”

2020 WATCH:

-- Some former top aides to Barack Obama — as well as Obama himself — seem to be encouraging Beto O’Rourke to weigh a White House run. NBC News’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports: “Obama said as much at an event in Chicago last week and some of his former political lieutenants have been publicly encouraging O'Rourke to consider a 2020 presidential bid, while privately counseling him on what to expect should he jump in. … Obama didn't even endorse O'Rourke in his Senate campaign. But in O'Rourke, Obama veterans see not only an inspiring political celebrity, but, like Obama, a tactical innovator who eschewed the political industrial complex of pollsters and consultants and used technology in new ways to connect directly with supporters and multiply the force of his fundraising and ground game.”

-- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she would decide whether to pursue a presidential run “over the holiday.” From Felicia Sonmez: “ ‘Over the holiday, I will make that decision with my family,’ Harris said ... Harris added that if she does decide to run against President Trump, she is prepared for things to get ‘ugly,’ given that her candidacy would be a boundary-breaking one. ‘When you break things, it is painful,’ she said. ‘And you get cut. And you bleed.’ ”

-- Advisers to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are describing his potential candidacy as an inevitability, but the expected wide field of competitors in 2020 could hurt his chances. The AP’s Steve Peoples reports: “A final decision has not been made, but those closest to the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist suggest that neither age nor interest from a glut of progressive presidential prospects would dissuade him from undertaking a second shot at the presidency. … Amid the enthusiasm — and there was plenty in Burlington as the Sanders Institute convened his celebrity supporters, former campaign staff and progressive policy leaders — there were also signs of cracks in Sanders’ political base. His loyalists are sizing up a prospective 2020 Democratic field likely to feature a collection of ambitious liberal leaders — and not the establishment-minded Hillary Clinton.”

-- Michael Avenatti’s prospects as a potential 2020 candidate have sharply diminished following his arrest on domestic abuse allegations and a public dispute with his most well-known client, Stormy Daniels. Politico’s Natasha Korecki reports: “Avenatti’s cable TV bookings have dwindled. He was uninvited from one prominent Democratic event and skipped out on another. Now his highest-profile client is bringing new allegations against him. … Even some of his most loyal supporters are questioning whether he can survive the latest round of challenges and remain a viable candidate. … While Avenatti has overcome his share of obstacles to gain a place in the 2020 discussion, the weight of the latest round of allegations is serving to cement the case against the bellicose attorney in the eyes of those in the party who have long raised red flags about his candidacy.”

-- Potential Democratic 2020 candidates are rewriting the rules of the “invisible primary” as they actively seek out donors and test campaign themes. Politico’s David Siders reports: “For decades, the most critical early stages of a presidential campaign unfolded largely out of public view, with candidates quietly courting financiers, party bosses and interest groups influential in the nominating process. … New Democratic Party rules have stripped party leaders of much of their power in selecting a nominee. The prevalence of small-dollar fundraising has tilted the presidential landscape toward more public maneuvers designed to build massive lists of supporters online. And the rise of progressive populism is making its mark, prioritizing high-profile appeals and personal brand-building — typically through digital platforms — over the behind-the-scenes pursuit of party elites.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Bush's service dog guarded his casket:

View this post on Instagram

Mission complete.

A post shared by Sully H.W. Bush (@sullyhwbush) on

A CNN reporter provided some background on Sully:

Bush's spokesman shared a photo as the former president prepares to take his final Air Force One voyage:

An editorial cartoonist captured the recent deaths of both Bush and his wife, Barbara:

A CNN reporter remembered Bush reassuring another person who lost a presidential race:

A conservative commentator compared the presidencies of Bush and Trump:

From a Republican strategist:

One of Trump's attorneys waved off Cohen's guilty plea:

From The Post's Fact Checker columnist:

A former strategist for John Kasich and John McCain reflected on the latest Russia investigation news:

From a former Republican congressman:

A Democratic congresswoman-elect made an argument for Medicare-for-all:

A presidential historian shared this unsent message from a former president:

A former CIA director thanked those who have sent good wishes since his stroke:

And a Senate Republican provided an update from his office:

GOOD READS:

-- “Her 7-year-old big sister was killed by gunfire. Then she, too, was shot,” by DeNeen L. Brown: “In a city where 284 people have been killed this year and gun violence has mostly lost its power to shock, [Amy Hayes’s] shooting on Nov. 19 left many people [in Baltimore] reeling. She was, they learned, the half sister of a 7-year-old who was shot in July. And though Amy Hayes is recovering from her injuries, Taylor Hayes did not. The second-grader died two weeks after she was hit by gunfire in the back seat of a car in Edmondson Village. … Eight victims of fatal shootings this year have been under 18, according to a Baltimore Sun homicide database, including 13-year-old Montrell Mouzon, who was killed in October.”

-- New York Times, “He’s Built an Empire, With Detained Migrant Children as the Bricks,” by Kim Barker, Nicholas Kulish and Rebecca R. Ruiz: “[Juan] Sanchez has built an empire on the back of a crisis. His organization, Southwest Key Programs, now houses more migrant children than any other in the nation. Casting himself as a social-justice warrior, he calls himself El Presidente, a title inscribed outside his office and on the government contracts that helped make him rich. Southwest Key has collected $1.7 billion in federal grants in the past decade, including $626 million in the past year alone. But as it has grown, tripling its revenue in three years, the organization has left a record of sloppy management and possible financial improprieties, according to dozens of interviews and an examination of documents. It has stockpiled tens of millions of taxpayer dollars with little government oversight and possibly engaged in self-dealing with top executives.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“On Kennedy Center Honors red carpet, Cher shares what she would’ve said to Trump if he attended: ‘Go away,’ ” from Emily Heil and Helena Andrews-Dyer: “Finally, Cher rolled up in the most Cher manner possible (that is, highly anticipated, with no fewer than seven leather belts cinching her waist), and declared herself to be in the ‘who, me?’ camp, mostly because she thought she was ‘a little out there’ for the august honor. ‘I was never expecting this,’ she said. And she answered the question doubtless on everyone’s lips: What would she have said to [Trump], if the night had actually brought her IRL contact with the target of so many of her critical tweets? Her answer was as succinct as one of her catchy pop lyrics: ‘Oh, go away.’ ”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Springsteen says Trump is headed for second term, says democrats don’t speak same language,” from Fox News: “Bruce Springsteen — the famous liberal rocker — believes that [Trump] is headed for a second term at the White House. In a Sunday interview with the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, the 69-year-old singer-songwriter said he hasn’t seen a democratic contender who could effectively win over blue-collar voters by speaking Trump’s language. ‘I don’t see anyone out there at the moment … the man who can beat Trump, or the woman who can beat Trump,’ Spring told the paper. ‘You need someone who can speak some of the same language [as Trump] … and the Democrats don’t have an obvious, effective presidential candidate.’ "

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will receive his intelligence briefing and meet with HUD Secretary Ben Carson.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“He knew what combat was all about. He knew that combat meant the death of people, people on your side and people on the other side. And so, he wanted to avoid a war.” — Former secretary of state Colin Powell on Bush being the last president to serve in combat. (ABC News)

 

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

-- D.C. will finally see some sunshine as temperatures rise into the 50s. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “For the first time in four days, the sun returns — although some clouds may linger for the first part of the morning. Temperatures respond by pushing well into the 50s, but a chilly breeze from the northwest starts to draw in cooler air late in the day. Those breezes gust up to 20 to 25 mph during the afternoon.”

-- The Capitals lost to the Ducks 6-5. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- A suspect was arrested in the shooting at the H Street NE Whole Foods Market that left one employee injured. Ann E. Marimow, Faiz Siddiqui and Peter Hermann report: “D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the victim, a cashier, was struck twice after struggling with the gunman, who demanded money and tried to reach into the cashier’s drawer. The cashier ‘heroically’ resisted, Newsham said. The victim was transported to a hospital in serious condition but has since stabilized, Newsham said. No one else was harmed, the chief told reporters outside the store. A suspect has been arrested, police said Sunday night. They said Michael Whatley Jr., 28, of Southeast, was charged with assault with intent to rob while armed.”

-- The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland is pushing to raise the state’s required age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21. Ovetta Wiggins reports: “The decision for the caucus to include the anti-tobacco measure as part of its 2019 legislative priorities follows action taken by lawmakers in the District, New York City, California and Massachusetts in response to public health warnings about the effects of smoking and the increased popularity of e-cigarettes.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Alec Baldwin returned to SNL as Trump for the first time since the actor's arrest last month:

At the end of “Weekend Update,” SNL remembered Bush’s ability to laugh at himself:

The Secret Service produced a video tribute to Bush:

And New York police tracked down a couple who lost their engagement ring to a utility grate: