With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA:  When George H.W. Bush departed the Oval Office in 1993, he left a gracious note for the man who had defeated him. “Your success now is our country’s success,” he wrote. “I am rooting hard for you.”

This gesture still touches Bill Clinton 25 years later. “No words of mine or others can better reveal the heart of who he was than those he wrote himself,” Clinton wrote in a tribute this weekend to an opponent who became a friend.

Outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is sending quite a different message to the man who denied him a third term last month. He is working with Republicans in the legislature to rush through a bill, which could come to the floor as early as today, that would significantly reduce the power of Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D), as well as the incoming Democratic attorney general. It would also ratchet back early voting, which has increased minority participation and benefited Democrats. Hundreds protested at the State Capitol in Madison last night as a committee markup dragged on until midnight.

During a menorah lighting ceremony at the governor’s mansion last night, Walker defended the raw power play. “Members of the legislature were elected not to a term that ends on Election Day,” he said. “They were elected to a term that ends in January. Just like my term ends in January.” When the shoe was on the other foot eight years ago, today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, Walker demanded that the outgoing Democratic governor stop negotiating state contracts during the transition so that he could do so once he took office.

What’s happening is formally known as an “extraordinary session,” in which legislative leaders call lawmakers back to town after the normal window for passing bills has closed. But it’s really more akin to the loser of a board game changing the rules to make it easier for him to win the next time. It’s also a reflection of the Republican Party’s wholesale embrace of smash-mouth, zero-sum politics in the Trump era.

“Democracies ultimately depend on having stable rules and norms that support those rules — even when things don’t go your way,” said Georgetown University public policy professor Donald Moynihan. “We agree to this basic logic as citizens; it’s central to our social contract with the state. We should expect the same of our elected officials. Politicians who change the rules of the game because they don’t like the outcomes are a danger to democracy.”

It’s not the only arrow being shot this autumn into the notion of an orderly transfer of power. In Michigan, for example, the Republican-controlled legislature is considering measures in its lame-duck session to limit the power of incoming Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. One proposal would let the legislature intervene in legal cases when the AG won’t. Social conservatives complain that Nessel pledged on the campaign trail that she would not defend a 2015 state law that allows adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Another bill under consideration would take oversight power over campaign finance matters away from the independently elected secretary of state and put it under a commission where each party would get to pick three members, according to the Detroit News. It is no coincidence that the GOP is pursuing this only after Michigan elected its first Democratic secretary of state since 1994.

Similar battles are also playing out at the local level, too. “In Arizona’s Maricopa County — with 4.3 million residents, the nation’s fourth most populous — the Republican-dominated board of supervisors said last month that it was studying a takeover of some Election Day logistics now handled by the county recorder, a newly elected Democrat,” today’s New York Times reports.

-- These Republicans were all inspired by the example their colleagues set in North Carolina after they lost the governorship in 2016. On his way out the door, after losing reelection even as Donald Trump carried the state, then-Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill to strip power from Roy Cooper, the Democrat who beat him. It reduced the number of appointments the governor gets to make from 1,500 to 300, required that the state Senate confirm the governor’s cabinet picks and stripped the incoming governor of his ability to appoint trustees for the University of North Carolina.

Just as in Wisconsin, Republicans in the Tar Heel State were especially concerned about maintaining as much power as possible over voting. One bill McCrory signed reduced the size of the State Board of Elections from five members — three of whom the governor got to appoint — to four members, with the stipulation that each party gets to pick two. Squabbling over the legality of all this continues two years later. The GOP legislature put constitutional amendments on the ballot this fall to limit the governor’s power over judicial vacancies and to restructure the board of elections. Voters rejected both.

-- The single biggest issue during the final months of the Wisconsin governor's race was the state’s participation in a federal lawsuit that seeks to strike down the Affordable Care Act. The suit alleges that, because the GOP tax bill neutered the individual mandate, the rationale that Chief Justice John Roberts used to uphold the constitutionality of the law back in 2012 no longer exists. If the suit succeeds, health-care companies could again deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions. Democrats relentlessly hammered Walker on this. The governor responded that he’d call a special session to come up with a fix for people with preexisting conditions if the litigation succeeded, but polls consistently showed that this issue became a significant liability for him.

In a race that was decided by just 1 percentage point, in fact, it may have been decisive. Yet the bill Republicans have advanced would restrict the ability of the new governor and attorney general to pull out of this politically unpopular lawsuit without the approval of the legislature, denying them the right to follow through on what they can legitimately argue is their electoral mandate. The legislation would also allow the legislature to hire its own outside counsel to replace the state’s attorney general in court to defend challenges against controversial measures such as the state’s voter ID law.

-- The GOP will maintain its majorities in the Wisconsin legislature next year, partly because of gerrymandering, but Evers will have veto power. In written testimony submitted to the state Senate yesterday, the governor-elect decried “unfettered attempts to override and ignore what the people of Wisconsin asked for this November.” “It flies in the face of democratic institutions and the checks and balances that are intended to prevent power-hungry politicians from clinging to control when they do not get their way,” he wrote. “On November 6th, Wisconsinites said they agree that we are more than the sum of our differences, and they said it is time for a change from ‘divide-and-conquer’ politics.”

That’s a reference to when Walker promised his largest donor — billionaire Diane Hendricks — that he would use a “divide and conquer” approach to sap the power of organized labor in 2011. It was caught on camera by a documentarian.

-- Moynihan, who taught at the University of Wisconsin at Madison from 2005 until earlier this year, notes that Evers would also lose power historically reserved by Wisconsin governors to seek waivers from federal programs under the GOP proposal, something Republicans have long claimed is essential for federalism to flourish. “It’s how then-Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) developed welfare reform and how Walker imposed work requirements on Medicaid recipients,” he writes in an op-ed for today’s paper. “If Republicans get their way, the legislature would take charge of federal waivers. In the short run, this would mean that Evers could not withdraw from Walker’s new Medicaid work requirements. Similar work requirements have led thousands to lose their health insurance in Arkansas.”

-- State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) acknowledged yesterday that they would not be doing this if Walker had won reelection. He said the bills are necessary now because they “don’t trust” Evers. “The manufactured outrage by the Democrats right now is hilarious,” he told a local conservative radio host yesterday. “Most of these items are things we never really had to … address because, guess what, we trusted Scott Walker.”

-- Bowing to blowback from local GOP election officials, Republican legislative leaders did agree last night to drop part of their package that would have moved the 2020 presidential primary from April to March. A conservative state Supreme Court justice will be up for reelection on the ballot in April, no matter what, and GOP strategists fear Democrats will turn out in high numbers to vote for their presidential nominee but that Republicans won’t because Trump doesn’t face a primary challenger. Adding a separate election would have cost the state millions of dollars, though, and forced local governments to put on three separate elections in just three months.

-- Bigger picture, the machinations in Madison can be viewed against the backdrop of the American system’s continuing drift from the Madisonian model — as in James Madison, the Wisconsin capital’s namesake — toward majoritarianism.

Nationally, congressional Republicans have repeatedly pursued policies over the past two years that were designed to benefit red states at the expense of blue states, including changes to Medicaid reimbursement in the proposed health-care bill that failed by one vote in the Senate last year and changes to deductions in the tax system overhaul that passed last December. (For what it’s worth, SALT played a direct role in the GOP narrowly losing several House seats in New Jersey and California.)

Republicans literally changed the rules of the Senate so that Supreme Court justices could be confirmed by a simple majority, rather than the historic norm of 60 senators. Harry Reid had “gone nuclear” in 2013 to confirm district and circuit court nominees, but he stopped short of ending the filibuster for the high court. Neither Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh would have been able to get confirmed under the old rules.

Before the 2016 election, recall that Trump declined to say whether he’d accept the results if he lost. Even when he won, the president sought to explain his loss in the national popular vote by claiming repeatedly and without evidence that millions of undocumented immigrants illegally voted for Hillary Clinton.

-- If you believe demographics are destiny, and that Trump has accelerated a national political realignment, then more of this kind of political conflict seems inevitable, not less.

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GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland said they are moving forward with subpoenas in their emoluments case involving the Trump International Hotel. A U.S. district judge approved the legal discovery schedule in the case, even as the Justice Department appeals to the circuit court. (AP)

  2. A trial in West Palm Beach, Fla., involving alleged serial sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein is set to begin today. The trial is meant to render a judgment on Epstein’s claims that attorneys for his alleged victims ginned up the sexual molestation accusations, but it will provide an opportunity for dozens of women to share their stories of how Epstein allegedly abused them while they were minors. (Marc Fisher)

  3. The French government will temporarily suspend a carbon tax plan that triggered violent protests across the country. The six-month suspension of the taxes, designed to help curb climate change, represents a major reversal for President Emmanuel Macron as his approval rating continues to slide. (James McAuley)

  4. The corruption trial for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and his wife, Margaret, was set for September 2019. The couple have pleaded not guilty to all 60 charges, including conspiracy wire fraud and making false reports to the FEC. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

  5. CNN President Jeff Zucker said he’s “still interested” in running for office. “I still harbor somewhere in my gut that I'm still very interested in politics,” he said in an interview with David Axelrod, a former chief strategist for Barack Obama. “Give me a call if you're thinking about it,” Axelrod said. (Hollywood Reporter)

  6. A former investigator for Jack Burkman was sentenced to nine years in prison for shooting and wounding the Seth Rich conspiracy theorist. Kevin Doherty admitted he lured Burkman to a hotel parking garage with the false promise of details on FBI misconduct after the pair had a professional dispute. (Rachel Weiner)

  7. A North Dakota man admitted in federal court that he made a plan last year to assassinate Trump using a stolen forklift. Federal prosecutors said Gregory Lee Leingang intended to use the forklift to flip Trump’s limo while the president was visiting North Dakota last fall to tout the GOP tax overhaul. (Amy B Wang)

  8. Chief Justice John Roberts read aloud from the bench an exchange of letters to formally mark Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. In a letter that began “Dear Tony,” Kennedy’s former colleagues praised his “example of ceaseless civility.” (Ann E. Marimow)

  9. A new study found that dental painkillers prescribed after teenagers and young adults get their wisdom teeth pulled may put them at risk of opioid addiction. Dentists, who have been documented as the most-frequent prescribers of opioids for those between the ages of 10 and 19, have started reconsidering the use of narcotics after the procedure in light of the epidemic. (Ronnie Cohen)

  10. Tumblr announced it would ban nearly all nudity from its platform. The decision may have been prompted by Apple’s announcement that it was dropping Tumblr’s software from the App Store after child pornography was found on the site. (Eli Rosenberg)

  11. Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels discussed her book, “Full Disclosure,” and her history with Trump during a talk at the D.C. establishment Politics and Prose. Daniels did not stick around after the talk, which was moderated by former Post writer Sally Quinn, for questions or book-signing because of another engagement: a performance at a D.C. strip club. (Emily Heil)

BUSH 41 REMEMBERED:

-- The Bushes are going out of their way to avoid anti-Trump tension during George H.W. Bush's memorial service. “The Bush family contacted the White House this past summer to say that [Trump] would be welcome at the funeral, scheduled Wednesday at Washington National Cathedral, and to assure him that the focus would be on Bush’s life rather than their disagreements,” Kevin Sullivan and Josh Dawsey report. “The truce with Trump allows the Bush family, and the nation, to honor the legacy of a president who guided the United States through the 1991 Gulf War and the breakup of the Soviet Union without becoming mired in today’s toxic politics. Trump in turn has been effusive in his praise of Bush since his death Friday …

While Trump will not deliver a eulogy, he will be seated in the front row alongside former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. [George W. Bush] will deliver a eulogy. Neither he nor the other eulogists — former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, former senator Alan K. Simpson, and presidential historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham — are expected to focus on the stark differences between the genteel and patrician Bush and the bombastic Trump. ... Three current and former administration officials said there had been deep frustration in the White House over the anti-Trump tone of the Sept. 1 funeral for [John] McCain, which Trump did not attend. One senior administration official said Trump’s reaction to the criticism was 'almost paralyzing for a week,' and officials have been assured that Bush’s funeral would be different.”

-- Bush's body arrived yesterday afternoon at the Capitol to lie in state. Michael E. Ruane, Arelis R. Hernández and DeNeen L. Brown report: “As the sky grew pink and the U.S. Army Band played hymns, an eight-man military team of bearers carried the casket up the long flight of stairs at the eastern front of the Capitol. The crash of an artillery salute echoed over the grounds. Inside, the casket was placed on the same pine board catafalque, covered in black fabric, that held the coffin of Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated in 1865. One hundred eighty feet above, in the ‘eye’ of the Rotunda, was the 1851 fresco depicting the exaltation of the nation’s first president, George Washington. Scores of dignitaries and legislators were gathered and were unanimous in their praise. ... [Trump] and first lady Melania Trump arrived about 8:30 p.m., long after the ceremony. They bowed their heads in silent meditation before the president saluted and the two left."

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Prosecutors working for special counsel Bob Mueller have implied the investigation is nearing its end. Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff reports: “Mueller’s prosecutors have told defense lawyers in recent weeks that they are 'tying up loose ends' in their investigation, providing the clearest clues yet that the [investigation] may be coming to its climax, potentially in the next few weeks, according to multiple sources close to the matter. The new information about the state of Mueller’s investigation comes during a pivotal week when the special counsel’s prosecutors are planning to file memos about three of their most high profile defendants — former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen. A Flynn sentencing memo is due Tuesday, and memos about Manafort and Cohen are slated for Friday. All three documents are expected to yield significant new details on what cooperation the three of them provided to the Russia investigation.”

-- The president attracted criticism for demanding on Twitter that Cohen, his longtime fixer and personal attorney, serve a “full and complete” sentence after flipping on him, while praising his longtime confidant Roger Stone for saying he would never testify against the president in court. Trump said of Cohen in Monday morning tweets: “You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself. ... He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.” He later added of Stone: “This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rogue and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about ‘President Trump.’ Nice to know that some people still have ‘guts!’ ” (John Wagner and Matt Zapotosky)

-- Several legal experts argued that Trump’s tweets constitute obstruction of justice and witness tampering. From Deanna Paul: “Norman Eisen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said that the most striking thing about Monday was that there were two statements in proximity. ‘It comes very close to the statutory definition of witness tampering,’ he said. ‘It’s a mirror image of the first tweet, only he’s praising a witness for not cooperating with the implication of reward,’ he said, adding that Trump has pardon power over Stone. ‘We’re so used to President Trump transgressing norms in his public declarations,’ Eisen said, ‘but he may have crossed the legal line.’ ”

-- Why has Cohen confessed so much without obtaining a traditional cooperation deal to help ensure a more lenient sentence? From the New York Times’s Benjamin Weiser: “Cohen has concluded that his life has been utterly destroyed by his relationship with Mr. Trump and his own actions, and to begin anew he needed to speed up the legal process by quickly confessing his crimes and serving any sentence he receives, according to his friends and associates, and analysis of documents in the case. He has told friends that he is mystified that he is taking the fall for actions he carried out on behalf of Mr. Trump, who remains unscathed. Still, he is resigned to accepting responsibility.”

-- Manafort tried to help broker a deal last year between Ecuador and the United States to arrange for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to U.S. authorities. The New York Times’s Kenneth P. Vogel and Nicholas Casey report: “In mid-May 2017, [Manafort], facing intensifying pressure to settle debts and pay mounting legal bills, flew to Ecuador to offer his services to a potentially lucrative new client — the country’s incoming president, Lenín Moreno. … The talks turned to a diplomatic sticking point between the United States and Ecuador: the fate of [Assange]. In at least two meetings with Mr. Manafort, Mr. Moreno and his aides discussed their desire to rid themselves of Mr. Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, in exchange for concessions like debt relief from the United States, according to three people familiar with the talks … They said Mr. Manafort suggested he could help negotiate a deal for the handover of Mr. Assange to the United States …

Within a couple of days of Mr. Manafort’s final meeting in Quito, [Mueller was appointed as special counsel], and it quickly became clear that Mr. Manafort was a primary target. His talks with Ecuador ended without any deals. There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort was working with — or even briefing — [Trump] or other administration officials on his discussions with the Ecuadoreans about Mr. Assange.”

-- Mitch McConnell called outgoing Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s attempts to block judicial nominations in order to force a vote on a bill to protect Mueller a “futile gesture” and said the measure to protect the special counsel is “blatantly unconstitutional.” “I’m perplexed, frankly, by his pushing for the Mueller protection bill,” the Senate majority leader said last night. McConnell argued that the House “would never pass it” and that the president “would never sign it,” per Newsweek’s Ramsey Touchberry.

THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:

-- Congress plans to pass a short-term funding bill to delay a fight over Trump’s border wall until Dec. 21. CNBC’s Jacob Pramuk and Ylan Mui report: “The Republican-controlled Congress hoped to strike a spending deal with Democrats this week, even as [Trump's] demand for $5 billion to fund his proposed border wall raised the prospects of a partial government shutdown. But [Bush's funeral] shifted the focus in Washington away from funding talks this week. Trump was set to meet with Senate and House Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, respectively, on Tuesday morning to discuss government funding. They delayed the talks until next week after Bush's death, Democratic aides said Monday.”

-- McConnell predicted lawmakers will avoid a partial government shutdown. From the Wall Street Journal’s Joshua Jamerson: “ ‘I don’t think we’ll get to that point,’ Mr. McConnell said Monday ... The Kentucky Republican suggested that [Trump] negotiate with Democrats, whom he said were ‘not irrelevant’ in Washington after last month’s midterm elections gave the party control of the House.”

-- Trump is trying to woo congressional Democrats in the hopes of passing bipartisan legislation next year. Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey report: “Trump’s charm offensive was on display Monday when he hosted Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) at the White House for a meeting that the two men had spent days trying to schedule. … In recent days, Trump has invited the top Democratic congressional leaders to the White House amid a pressing government funding battle and privately told a Democratic senator he would consider legislation to help stem the loss of auto manufacturing jobs in Ohio. Trump’s top aides have also been a regular presence on Capitol Hill, discussing legislative goals even as Democrats begin plotting investigations into an administration they argue has escaped serious congressional scrutiny. The overtures are a signal that Trump and his White House are at least feeling out whether the self-professed dealmaker can find common ground with Democrats next year even as he faces pressure from Republicans to keep the opposition party at arm’s length.”

-- Forty-six incoming House Democrats signed a letter to the Democratic leadership team imploring it to focus on legislation rather than investigations when Democrats retake control of the chamber. “While we have a duty to exercise oversight over the Executive Branch, particularly when the Administration crosses legal lines or contravenes American values, we must prioritize action on topics such as the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, our crumbling infrastructure, immigration, gun safety, the environment, and criminal justice reform,” the freshmen wrote. (Mike DeBonis)

-- The Pentagon will start sending thousands of green-card holders to recruit training after a judge ruled last month against stricter screening for such prospective service members. Dan Lamothe reports: “The policy called for green-card holders to submit to and complete a full background check and respond to any concerns before they could go to boot camp. That was in addition to standard requirements for green-card applicants, such as biometrics screening.”

-- The House and Senate bills aimed at revising Congress’s process for handling sexual harassment claims are on the brink of expiring. HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reports: “The House unanimously passed a bill in February making badly needed updates to Congress’ policies on sexual harassment and discrimination. The Senate came around in May and passed its version of the bill. All they had left to do was hash out their differences and agree on a final version. But they can’t seem to work it out. The heart of the problem is that the House wants tough punishments and more transparency when lawmakers sexually harass or discriminate against staffers, but the Senate wants to water down those provisions. If they don’t reach a deal in the next couple of weeks, both bills will expire and they’ll have to start all over in the next Congress. Or they could drop the matter entirely.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Trump is struggling to follow through on the trade developments he announced over the weekend. Damian Paletta and Erica Werner report: “On Monday, White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Trump was expecting immediate concessions from China as part of a broad package of changes both countries agreed to pursue during the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. At the same time, Trump’s updated North America trade proposal was encountering a rough reception on Capitol Hill, where both parties have deep divisions over trade that will be on full display as a newly Democratic-controlled House takes up the pact along with the Republican-led Senate. …

White House and Chinese officials have described the terms of the agreement reached Saturday much differently, and some of the goals appear unclear. Trump, for example, wrote in a Twitter post Sunday night that China had agreed to ‘reduce and remove’ all tariffs on U.S. auto imports, a change that could have major implications for American companies shipping cars overseas ... Kudlow, speaking to reporters, was a bit more circumspect about what China said it would do. ‘We don’t yet have a specific agreement on that, but I will just tell you, as an involved participant, we expect those tariffs to go to zero,’ he said.”

-- A promising U.S.-China agreement on controlling fentanyl smuggling is not expected to trigger an immediate decrease in overdose deaths. Lenny Bernstein and Katie Zezima report: “Trump said Sunday evening that Beijing has agreed to treat the powerful opioid and its many analogues as controlled substances, a decision the White House said would subject the country’s illegal fentanyl dealers ‘to China’s maximum penalty under the law.’ That is certainly a positive step, said academic and law enforcement authorities who track the problem. But left unclear — in part because the White House offered few details — is exactly how China plans to curb the extremely powerful drug that now dominates illegal opioid traffic in the United States.”

-- CIA Director Gina Haspel will brief key senators today behind closed doors on the killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The briefing will be just for Senate leaders and the heads of national security committees seen as having an interest in Saudi policy regarding Yemen and the intelligence surrounding Khashoggi’s killing, according to multiple people familiar with plans. Bipartisan leaders from the Foreign Relations Committee, the Armed Services Committee, the Intelligence Committee and the Appropriations subcommittees that fund the State and Defense departments are expected to be included.”

MIDTERMS FALLOUT:

-- State investigators probing potential election fraud in the House race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District are focusing on a GOP operative previously convicted of fraud, perjury and passing a worthless check. Amy Gardner and Kirk Ross report from Dublin, N.C.: “In a low-slung, aging commercial strip across the street from an online-gaming parlor here, a local operative named Leslie McCrae Dowless ran his command center for Republican Mark Harris in the 9th Congressional District primary this spring. Dowless sat at a desk at the back of one of the strip’s vacant storefronts, where he oversaw a crew of workers who collected absentee ballots from voters and updated the Harris campaign on the numbers, according to Jeff Smith, who is the building’s owner and a former Dowless friend. … Dowless is now at the center of a burgeoning fraud investigation that has delayed the certification of Harris’s narrow victory and could prompt officials to call for a new election between him and Democrat Dan McCready, who are separated by 905 votes, according to unofficial returns.”

-- A local ABC affiliate in Charlotte reported it had uncovered “a targeted effort to illegally pick up ballots” in the 9th District. WSOCTV’s Joe Bruno reports: “Consistently, Channel 9 found the same people signing as witnesses for the people voting, which is very rare. … Channel 9’s political reporter Joe Bruno went door-to-door in Bladen County trying to find out who these people are. … [Ginger] Eason said [Dowless] paid her $75 to $100 a week to go around and pick up finished absentee ballots. … Eason said she never discarded ballots or saw who people were voting for, but after picking them up, she didn’t mail them. She said she gave them to Dowless.”

-- Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced he would not enter next year’s gubernatorial election against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. John Wagner reports: “Kennedy, known as one of the most quotable members of the Senate, would have started the race as the leading Republican challenging [Edwards], the only Democratic governor in the Deep South. ‘I love being in the United States Senate,’ Kennedy, who had been eyeing the gubernatorial race for about a year, said in a statement in which he also heavily criticized the state of affairs in Louisiana."

2020 WATCH:

-- Democrat Stacey Abrams says she's considering a run for Senate in 2020 or governor in 2022. Politico’s David Siders reports: “Asked if she is considering a presidential campaign, Abrams said, ‘No … I haven’t thought about it.’ She stopped short of ruling out a campaign, however, saying, ‘I am open to all options, and it’s too soon after the election to know exactly what I’m going to do.’ Abrams’ more likely trajectory appears to be to challenge Republican Sen. David Perdue in two years or wait for a rematch with Brian Kemp, the Republican who defeated her in November, in four. ‘I am thinking about both,’ she [said] of the Senate and gubernatorial races from the sidelines of a donor conference [in Manhattan Beach, Calif.].”

-- Probable 2020 candidate Michael Bloomberg penned a Des Moines Register op-ed titled “Why I'm coming to Iowa.” The former New York mayor writes of his visit to the nation’s first caucus state: “Tuesday evening I will join local business and community leaders in Des Moines for a screening of a new documentary film called ‘Paris to Pittsburgh.’ It tells the stories of everyday Americans who are helping us tackle climate change — and Iowans play a starring role. … Iowans understand what too many leaders in Washington don’t: Fighting climate change is good for our health and our economy.”

-- Democratic leaders in Iowa say they want a younger nominee who will signal a generational shift for the party. The Wall Street Journal’s Reid J. Epstein and Janet Hook report: “A Wall Street Journal survey of Democratic chairmen and chairwomen in the state’s 99 counties also found support for a contender who can appeal to the ethnically and racially diverse voters who helped power the party’s midterm election victories. Of the 76 Democratic county party leaders who responded to the survey, 43 said they would prefer a young candidate.”

-- Potential Democratic candidates are scrambling to line up nonwhite senior advisers for their campaigns. Politico’s Daniel Strauss reports: “Among the already small pool of capable operatives, there’s an even smaller pool of nonwhite campaign managers and senior advisers. The shortage could have serious repercussions given the large number of expected candidates and the diverse makeup of the Democratic electorate. The party’s base is increasingly young and diverse, and candidates, especially older ones, need staffers who understand how to stitch together coalitions across racial and economic lines.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

A Democratic senator reiterated his call for a bill to protect Mueller after Trump's morning tweets:

From the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee:

From a fellow for the libertarian Cato Institute:

A former chief of staff to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) provided a cheat sheet for potentially relevant criminal codes:

From lawyer George Conway, who is married to White House adviser Kellyanne Conway:

One of the president's sons responded:

From a New York magazine writer:

A Reuters reporter questioned Trump's punctuation choice:

A dictionary corrected Trump’s use of “Scott Free”:

And “some guy” reacted to the misspelling:

The White House covered a portrait of Bush 41 to mark his death:

Bush, “a self-proclaimed sock man,” will be buried wearing a pair that pays homage to his Navy service:

A Republican congressman-elect visited Bush lying in state at the Capitol:

Bush’s service dog continues to accompany him as the country remembers his life:

A Post reporter noted Congress’s inaction this week:

A pair of Democrats vowed to work together in Congress on environmental policy:

A New York Times editor listed some of the people who received votes to be the state’s governor:

A Bloomberg News reporter reflected on Capitol Hill’s unpaid internships:

And a Post reporter marked the loss of a hero:

GOOD READS:

-- “An Affair. The Mob. A Murder,” by Mary Jordan: “Margaret ‘Muffie’ Yeatman was a 46-year-old Defense Department employee who had been fatally shot in 1986. Now her best friend, a retired D.C. police officer named Linda Tague, was on the phone explaining what happened next. As we spoke, I searched online for my Washington Post article, which I’d written when I was 25. The headline on the nine-paragraph, July 15, 1986, dispatch: ‘Slain Woman’s Friend Probed.’ … I had not written a local crime article in decades. I’d spent 14 years as a foreign correspondent in Tokyo, Mexico City and London. I was back in Washington covering the presidential campaign when Tague reached me at my desk in September 2015. I wound up talking to her for a while. She seemed so certain, so precise with details, so completely credible. ‘What happened?’ Tague asked me. ‘Why was the case just dropped?’ ”

-- WBEZ Chicago, “A Generation of School Closings,” by Linda Lutton, Becky Vevea, Sarah Karp, Adriana Cardona-Maguigad and Kate McGee: “In the time it has taken for a child to grow up in Chicago, city leaders have either closed or radically shaken up some 200 public schools — nearly a third of the entire district — a comprehensive new tally by WBEZ finds. These decisions, defended as the best and only way to improve chronically low-performing schools or deal with serious under-enrollment, have meant 70,160 children — the vast majority of them black — have seen their schools closed or all staff in them fired. That's more than all of the students and schools in Boston.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Sheriff Punishes SWAT Officer Who Wore QAnon Patch in Pence Photo,” from the Daily Beast: “The Florida SWAT officer who was photographed with [Pence] while wearing a patch supporting QAnon will be punished, according to law-enforcement officials. Broward County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Matt Patten intentionally wore a patch that said ‘Q’ while working on Pence’s security detail last week, according to an internal report. Patten intended to use his proximity to Pence to promote the QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that [Trump] is ... engaged in a secret war with high-ranking Democratic pedophiles. An internal investigation found that Patten violated conduct rules by putting the patch on his SWAT uniform. As punishment, Patten received a written reprimand and was removed from the SWAT team. ‘Q’ is representative of a controversial conservative political conspiracy group identified as ‘Qanon,’ the reprimand reads.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Slate Ruined the Heartwarming Story of George H.W. Bush’s Service Dog Sully and Animal Lovers are Irate: ‘You Soulless’ Monsters,” from Mediaite: “Sully, the departed president’s labrador retriever, has captivated political observers for the last few days as the nation mourns the ex-president’s passing. People became particularly enamored with the dog thanks to the widely-circulated photo of him lying in front of his owner’s casket. In response to all of this public adulation, Slate published a piece titled Don’t Spend Your Emotional Energy on Sully H.W. Bush. According to the article, Sully served Bush for less than six months — so it’s not like he was the former president’s beloved lifelong pet. Animal-lovers are not happy that Slate has rained on their parade.” “That Sully was only with George H.W. Bush for six months makes him sleeping next to his casket all the more amazing, you soulless monster,” one user wrote.

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will sign a bill, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: Climate change. … If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” – British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough at the U.N. climate conference in Poland. (NPR)

 

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

-- Washington will get more sunshine today, but slightly colder weather returns. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mostly sunny skies and colder with highs in the lower to middle 40s. Winds at 10 to 15 mph from the northwest and occasionally gusty causes it to feel like the 30s at times.”

-- The Redskins lost to the Eagles 28-13. (Scott Allen)

-- The Wizards beat the Knicks 110-107. (Candace Buckner)

-- The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee said it will donate $1 million to try to flip the Virginia Senate and House blue next year. Laura Vozzella reports: “All 100 seats in the House of Delegates and all 40 in the state Senate will be on the ballot in November. Virginia Democrats have, in recent election cycles, pulled nearly even with Republicans in the legislature and cemented their hold on statewide offices. The stakes for both parties are particularly high given that [Democratic Gov. Ralph] Northam and the legislature elected in November will decide the state’s legislative and congressional maps in 2021, following the 2020 Census.”

-- The Indianapolis schools superintendent was named the next leader of D.C. Public Schools. Perry Stein reports: “Lewis D. Ferebee, who served for five years as superintendent in Indiana’s largest school system, will be the District’s sixth permanent school leader since 2000. If approved by the D.C. Council, he will preside over a school system that his predecessors transformed into a closely watched experiment in urban education policies. … But the 44-year-old Ferebee, who will earn $280,000 a year, arrives at a fraught moment, as the D.C. schools emerge from a year marked by controversy and continue to struggle with a wide gap in achievement between more affluent students and those from low-income families.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Late-night hosts reacted to the latest revelations from the Russia investigation — and Trump’s tweets on them:

A military cannon salute announced Bush 41's arrival at Joint Base Andrews before he was transported to the Capitol:

Police body-cam footage captured the clashes between authorities and protesters in Paris:

And Illinois was struck by an outbreak of late-season tornadoes: