with Joanie Greve

With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: In his eulogy at George H.W. Bush’s funeral on Wednesday, former Republican senator Alan Simpson recalled encouraging the then-president to accept a budget compromise in 1990 that broke his “read my lips” campaign promise not to raise taxes. Convinced the deal was fiscally prudent, if politically perilous, Bush told his friend from Wyoming: “Go for it.”

“He often said, ‘When the really tough choices come, it’s the country, not me. It’s not about Democrats or Republicans. It’s for our country that I fought for,’ ” Simpson told a crowd of 3,000 mourners.

By happenstance, as his motorcade made its way from the White House to Washington National Cathedral, the Daily Beast published a story on how unserious President Trump has been about tackling the deficit. Last year, according to the piece, senior officials presented him with charts that projected a “hockey stick” spike in the national debt if the federal government continues on its present trajectory.

“Yeah, but I won’t be here,” the president reportedly said, according to a source who was in the room, adding that the spike wouldn’t come until after he finished his second term.

Bush, who passed away at 94, tried to take the long view and not kick the can down the road. During the 1980 GOP primaries, he had dismissed supply-side theories being espoused by Ronald Reagan as “voodoo economics.” Always a loyal solider, he defended the ballooning debt during the Reagan years. But, in his heart, he believed in self-discipline — and fiscal discipline.

Simpson insisted that Bush never regretted making that deal to reduce the deficit, even though it gave fodder for Pat Buchanan’s 1992 primary challenge from his right, widened the lane for Ross Perot and ultimately bolstered Bill Clinton’s economy-centered campaign. The compromise passed the Senate but fell apart because of a rebellion led by Newt Gingrich in the House. Ironically, that forced Bush to grant concessions in exchange for Democratic votes — which made the package even less desirable for conservatives. The ensuing backlash became a pivot point that forever transformed the GOP.

Historian Jon Meacham delivered the first eulogy Dec. 5 at a Washington National Cathedral memorial service for former president George H.W. Bush. (The Washington Post)

Most politicians, most of the time, think more about the next election than the next generation. The four men who eulogized Bush portrayed him as someone who tried to be different.

“He stood in the breach in Washington against unthinking partisanship,” said Bush biographer Jon Meacham. “His life code was: Tell the truth. Don’t blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Try hard. Forgive. Stay the course. And that was, and is, the most American of creeds.”

Meacham made the case that Bush, while a one-termer, should be seen among the pantheon of great presidents who “believed in causes larger than themselves.” Invoking the Bush campaign slogan that Trump mocked in July, he said: “Abraham Lincoln’s ‘better angels of our nature’ and George H.W. Bush’s ‘thousand points of light’ are companion verses in America’s national hymn, for Lincoln and Bush both called on us to choose the right over the convenient, to hope rather than to fear, and to heed not our worst impulses but our best instincts.”

Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney praised Bush specifically for signing the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act. “There’s a word for this. It’s called ‘leadership,’ ” Mulroney said.

The eulogies were full of such implicit contrasts with the current occupant of the Oval Office, who was sitting in the front row. “When George Bush was president of the United States of America, every single head of government in the world knew that they were dealing with a gentleman,” Mulroney added.

“He never hated anyone,” said Simpson. “He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in. … He was a man of such great humility. Those who travel the high road of humility in Washington, D.C., are not bothered by heavy traffic.”

“In victory, he shared credit. When he lost, he shouldered the blame,” said George W. Bush, his oldest son. “He showed me what it means to be a president who serves with integrity, leads with courage and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country.”

Former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), who was an old friend of the late George H.W. Bush, gave a eulogy Dec. 5 at Washington National Cathedral. (The Washington Post)

-- Simpson noted that Bush’s loyalty “coursed through his blood,” but his view included “a loyalty to the institutions of government.” Trump famously demands loyalty, but he often seems to view it more as fealty. Simpson’s approval rating had taken a big hit when he championed cuts to Social Security and Medicare to tackle the debt, something Trump has resisted on the grounds that it wouldn’t play well politically. At the peak of his popularity, in the wake of the Gulf War, Bush brought Simpson to Camp David.

“George, I am not unmindful as to what you are doing,” the former senator, now 87, said he told him. “You are propping up your old wounded duck pal.”

“Yep,” Bush replied, in Simpson’s telling. “There were staff, Al, who told me not to do this, but, Al, this is about friendship and loyalty.”

Former president George W. Bush became emotional during his eulogy for his father, former president George H.W. Bush, on Dec. 5. (The Washington Post)


--George W. Bush was eulogizing his father with a perfect mix of serious and funny, remembering his bravery in combat and his dislike of broccoli, his patriotism and his lousy dancing. Then a burst of raw emotion rose up, and a grieving son nearly doubled over as he recalled ‘the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man, the best father a son or daughter could have,’ ” Kevin Sullivan, Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck report. “[His] tribute was the emotional high point, and the cathedral filled with sustained applause as he passed his father’s flag-wrapped casket, resting on a bier that once held the remains of Abraham Lincoln, returned to his seat and wiped away tears. …

“Bush’s death last week at age 94 coincides with the end of the fiscally conservative and socially moderate Republican Party that his family had come to embody. The ‘kinder, gentler’ party Bush promised has now been subsumed by Trump’s party of nationalist anger and anti-establishment disruption. But on Wednesday, in Washington’s grand stone cathedral, the day belonged to tradition and bipartisanship — to the establishment. The Bushes, like the Kennedys on the left, are U.S. political aristocracy, families whose names connote tradition, public service and a recognized set of values — which are now largely under fire. …

Establishment figures facing their own populist revolts came from around the world to salute Bush. Prince Charles of Britain paid his respects, while his government at home was debating its nasty Brexit divorce from Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was there, too, representing a solidly centrist German establishment that has also been buffeted by furious nationalism. Other guests seemed lifted from the pages of Bush’s résumé: Representatives from Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, all deeply affected by the 1991 Gulf War, were there. So was King Abdullah II of Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally whose father, King Hussein, while a longtime CIA asset, was publicly skeptical of Bush’s coalition efforts against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Former Polish president Lech Walesa joined the mourners, as both a Bush contemporary in power and a symbol of the post-Soviet order that Bush helped nurture during his presidency from 1988 to 1992.”

--The words of praise for Bush seemed to contrast with a jarring reality: A generation after he left office, the presidency has become all consuming in American life, yet it has also never seemed smaller and more prone to failure,” Greg Jaffe observes. “The smallness (and meanness) was evident the moment President Trump entered Washington National Cathedral for Bush’s state funeral, shed his overcoat and took a seat with his fellow commanders in chief. Trump briefly shook hands with former president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Beyond that exchange, the four presidents in the front row seemed incapable of even fleeting contact. Former president Bill Clinton glanced quickly in Trump’s direction and then looked away. Rather than shake Trump’s hand, former president Jimmy Carter checked his watch. Trump, arms folded across his chest, stared stoically throughout, as traits of his predecessor, so different from his own, were praised.”

As former president George W. Bush arrived Dec. 5 at his father’s memorial service, he appeared to hand former first lady Michelle Obama a mint. (The Washington Post)

--Trump sits with fellow presidents but still stands alone,” writes Phil Rucker. “When the others sang an opening hymn, his mouth did not move. When the others read the Apostles’ Creed, he stood stoically. And when one eulogist after another testified to Bush’s integrity and character and honesty and bravery and compassion, Trump sat and listened, often with his lips pursed and his arms crossed over his chest. … The mourners did not deliver the searing rebukes of Trump the nation witnessed in September for the funeral of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). But despite being crafted to honor Bush’s legacy, their words also served to underscore the singular nature of Trump’s presidency.”

--Bush, before his death, said he wanted President Trump to attend his funeral, a generous gesture that forgave the cavalcade of insults that Trump has rained on the Bush family. It was a final show of the sound judgment Bush exercised in life,” writes columnist Dana Milbank. “Trump’s name was mentioned not once by the four eulogists at Washington National Cathedral on Wednesday. … They spoke of what made Bush a great leader, which are the very traits that, by their absence, make Trump so woefully inadequate. …

Bush’s funeral was so powerful a renunciation of his current successor because it was a celebration of character. Friendship was invoked 21 times by his eulogists. Loyalty, 10. ‘Honor,’ ‘integrity,’ ‘dignity,’ ‘decency’ and inner peace all recurred. Certainly, Bush could be a fierce partisan and a brutal politician (remember Willie Horton?), but his service in World War II — he was shot down over the Pacific — left him with lessons that fueled his generation’s greatness: The opposition is not the enemy. There are causes greater than self. Political defeat is not the worst thing. And American leadership in the world is indispensable. Trump, for whom no cause is greater than self, must have struggled to sit through 90 minutes of something that was not all about him. Rather, it was all about what he is not.”

An arrival ceremony was held Dec. 5 at Ellington Field in Houston for the return of former president George H.W. Bush's remains. (The Washington Post)

--Al Simpson was Bush’s best buddy in Congress. Few presidents have those confidants,” Paul Kane writes from the Capitol. “Simpson first met Bush in 1962 as his father, an incoming senator, took the office of Prescott Bush (R-Conn.), the departing senator and father of the future president. By the time Simpson arrived in the Senate himself, in 1979, his family had already sold their home to Bush during his brief stint in Congress. Their friendship grew stronger as Bush served eight years as vice president and four as president. … It’s hard to envision any of [the five living presidents], whenever the time comes, will choose a former colleague from Congress as one of their eulogists, and some lawmakers lament that change over the last few decades. Lately personal outreach has devolved to the vice presidents: Richard Cheney (R), Joe Biden (D) and Vice President Pence have been regular presences in the Capitol the past 18 years.”

-- “Grief has two dimensions: one, the magnitude of what is lost; the other, the inadequacy of what is left. That was the tension woven into the tributes,” notes columnist Karen Tumulty. “His funeral … managed, like the man himself, to do something that is nearly impossible — to be both regal and modest at the same time. … [The overarching] message was more a summons than a censure.

It was a coda to the closing lines of George H.W. Bush’s 1989 inaugural address, in which he said: ‘Some see leadership as high drama and the sound of trumpets calling, and sometimes it is that. But I see history as a book with many pages, and each day we fill a page with acts of hopefulness and meaning. The new breeze blows, a page turns, the story unfolds.’ Bush’s own final page has turned. The book is closed. But the story continues to unfold, and perhaps reflecting on his better qualities might help us find them in ourselves.”

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  1. Global emissions of carbon dioxide are expected to reach a record high this year. The projected 2.7 percent increase dashed hopes that emissions were leveling off after they remained largely flat between 2014 and 2016. (Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney)

  2. Two Marines have been rescued after a fighter jet and a refueling plane collided in midair off the coast of Japan, but five more remain missing. Japan’s maritime forces are continuing search-and-rescue efforts as the two Marines receive medical care. (Simon Denyer)

  3. Northern Californians who evacuated because of the Camp Fire are starting to return home. Many residents of the community of Magalia returned to sift through the burned remains of their homes for keepsakes. The town of Paradise will remain closed to the public for some time. (Scott Wilson)
  4. A new system for determining the allocation of livers for transplant attracted criticism. The policy will move the liver transplant system a step closer to a “sickest first” model benefiting patients who show the greatest need. But rural transplant centers argued that such a model disadvantages their patients, who previously had first shot at livers collected at hospitals near them. (Lenny Bernstein)

  5. USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy. The organization’s recently appointed board chairman said the move would allow it to expedite payment of claims to sexual abuse victims of former sports physician Larry Nassar. But an attorney for more than 100 of Nassar’s victims called that argument a “transparent falsehood” and “laughable.” (Liz Clarke)

  6. Texas prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty against Juan David Ortiz, the Border Patrol agent accused of killing four sex workers. Ortiz was initially charged with four counts of murder, but a grand jury upgraded the charge and indicted him for capital murder. (Alex Horton and Eli Rosenberg)

  7. A man was arrested after a giveaway at a Northern Virginia Cheesecake Factory got out of hand. Officers were responding to the restaurant, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, to help direct heavy traffic when a fight was reported inside. The officers then arrested a “disorderly person” who disobeyed their commands. (Justin Wm. Moyer)

  8. Two dozen Amazon workers were sent to the hospital after a robot accidentally punctured a can of bear repellent in a New Jersey warehouse. One of the workers remains in critical condition. (ABC News)

Protesters at the Wisconsin statehouse booed Gov. Scott Walker as legislators clashed in a marathon session where GOP lawmakers sought to curb Democrats' power. (Reuters)


-- Wisconsin Republicans approved legislation to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general despite protests at the State Capitol. Isaac Stanley-Becker, Katie Zezima and Mark Berman report: “The legislation consolidates power in the legislature and strips it from Gov.-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, both Democrats. … Amid a throng of protesters, the legislature stayed in session all night to pass the bills, which will make it harder for Evers and Kaul to enact their proposed agendas. The state Senate approved the legislative package 17 to 16, and the Assembly passed it 56 to 27.”

-- Advocacy groups are threatening legal action to challenge the Wisconsin bills. Mark Berman, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Dan Simmons report: “Caroline Fredrickson, president of the left-leaning American Constitution Society, said that legal action likely will be taken against many of the provisions in Wisconsin. ‘The basic question is, ‘Who’s been injured?’ ’ by the Republicans’ efforts to curb the governor’s authority, she said. ‘And you could say the voters of Wisconsin are the ones who have been injured.’ During an ACS event Tuesday, former Democratic governor Jim Doyle, who also served as attorney general, called the efforts ‘a very obvious violation of the separation of powers’ codified in the Constitution.”

-- New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D) narrowly won a 22nd term despite criticism of his participation in Trump’s voter fraud commission. Felicia Sonmez reports: “At a joint session of the New Hampshire state Senate and House of Representatives, Gardner won 209 votes to Colin Van Ostern’s 205, with one lawmaker casting a ‘scatter’ vote for neither candidate. Gardner’s win came in the second round of voting; the first round ended in a dramatic standoff, with Gardner taking 208 votes to Van Ostern’s 207 — both shy of the majority-plus-one needed for victory.”

-- Nancy Pelosi is considering enacting term limits on Democratic committee chairs to pick up some holdout votes for her speakership bid. HuffPost’s Matt Fuller reports: “According to two Democratic sources, Pelosi held a meeting with one of her holdouts Tuesday, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), and offered to support term limits for chairs in exchange for his vote for her as speaker. While Perlmutter was noncommittal, the move could be a significant concession for Pelosi ― one that would anger many senior members in the House Democratic Caucus but also provide a pathway for newer members to move up in Congress. Currently, Democrats have no term limits on chairs, while Republicans have rules allowing members to serve only three terms as a chair of a committee.”

-- A Democratic member of the House Oversight Committee called for an emergency hearing to probe alleged election fraud in a North Carolina congressional race. Beth Reinhard reports: “ ‘Real election fraud is playing out right before us,’ said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), a senior oversight committee member. ‘Votes have been stolen by preying on senior and minority voters, and now a cloud of doubt and suspicion hangs over this election result.’ A spokesman for the Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, said the House Administration Committee has primary jurisdiction over election matters.”

-- The Charlotte Observer’s editorial board called for a new election in the district: “There may be no way … to know how widespread the fraud was, or whether it involved enough ballots to potentially change the outcome of the election — a 905-vote victory for Republican Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. But we do know enough. Unless new evidence somehow clears the clouds hanging over this election, the Board of Elections should toss out the 9th District results.”

-- House Democrats want to roll back a rule allowing lawmakers to carry guns around the Capitol. Mike DeBonis reports: “The effort has been spearheaded by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), who has pressed Capitol Hill authorities to revisit the 1967 regulation for months, and he now has the support of [Pelosi] … It is unclear how common it is for lawmakers to keep guns in their offices. Multiple Republican lawmakers said this week that they are aware of colleagues who keep guns in the Capitol complex but do not know how widespread the practice is.”


--Lobbyists representing the Saudi government reserved blocks of rooms at President Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel within a month of Trump’s election in 2016 — paying for an estimated 500 nights at the luxury hotel in just three months,” David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell report. “At the time, these lobbyists were reserving large numbers of D.C.-area hotel rooms as part of an unorthodox campaign that offered U.S. military veterans a free trip to Washington — then sent them to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed … At first, lobbyists for the Saudis put the veterans up in Northern Virginia. Then, in December 2016, they switched most of their business to the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington. In all, the lobbyists spent more than $270,000 to house six groups of visiting veterans at the Trump hotel … Those bookings have fueled a pair of federal lawsuits alleging Trump violated the Constitution by taking improper payments from foreign governments. … Some of the veterans who stayed at Trump’s hotel say they were kept in the dark about the Saudis’ role in the trips.”

-- A bipartisan group of senators filed a resolution to formally blame the Saudi crown prince for the killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “This resolution — without equivocation — definitively states that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and has been a wrecking ball to the region jeopardizing our national security interests on multiple fronts,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement accompanying the resolution’s release. “It will be up to Saudi Arabia as to how to deal with this matter. But it is up to the United States to firmly stand for who we are and what we believe.” (Karoun Demirjian)

-- Amid escalating trade tensions, the chief financial officer of the Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies was arrested in Canada and faces possible extradition to the United States. Emily Rauhala and Ellen Nakashima: “Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive who is also the daughter of the tech giant’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver on Dec. 1, according to Canada’s Department of Justice. A bail hearing has been set for Friday. … A spokesman from the Chinese Embassy in Canada confirmed the arrest of Meng and said in a statement that Beijing ‘strongly protests over such kind of actions which seriously harmed the human rights of the victim.’ China has lodged a protest to the United States and Canada, urging them ‘to immediately correct the wrongdoing,’ the spokesman said. … U.S. authorities have been investigating Huawei since 2016 [over allegations that she violated] export controls and U.S. sanctions related to Iran and other countries. It is unclear how Huawei might have violated sanctions.” Global stocks fell as investors feared Meng’s arrest signaled a setback in the United States and China reaching a possible trade deal.

-- New satellite images show North Korea has expanded one of its missile bases. CNN’s Zachary Cohen reports: “The satellite imagery offers evidence that the Yeongjeo-dong missile base and a nearby, previously unreported site remain active and have been continuously upgraded, underscoring the reality of just how far apart Washington and Pyongyang are on the issue of denuclearization despite five months of sporadic talks. While the base at Yeongjeo-dong has long been known to US intelligence agencies and analysts, researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey [said] that the images reveal construction on a new facility just seven miles away from the older site that had not been previously publicly identified.”


-- The foreign lobbying investigation into the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, two D.C. firms that did work for Paul Manafort, is ramping up. The AP’s Eric Tucker, Desmond Butler and Chad Day report: “The investigation had been quiet for months since special counsel Robert Mueller referred it to authorities in Manhattan because it fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia. But in a flurry of new activity, Justice Department prosecutors in the last several weeks have begun interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, the people familiar with the inquiry said.”

-- Another investigation, into Turkish lobbying that once involved Michael Flynn, has continued, despite Mueller’s recommendation the former national security adviser serve no prison time. The New York Times’s Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman report: “[Mueller] had been handling the case and at some point referred it back to prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., who had originally opened the investigation … Prosecutors for Mr. Mueller appeared to make reference to the investigation in documents released on Tuesday that enumerated Mr. Flynn’s cooperation in the Russia inquiry. The heavily redacted documents created an air of mystery about Mr. Flynn’s ‘substantial help’ in several unspecified but continuing investigations. … The Turkey case appears to fit as one of those inquiries because Mr. Flynn has direct knowledge of aspects under scrutiny. Prosecutors are examining Mr. Flynn’s former business partners and clients who financed a campaign against Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in Pennsylvania whom the Turkish government has accused of helping instigate a failed coup.”

-- GOP strategist Paul Erickson, the boyfriend of accused Russian agent Maria Butina, is under investigation for allegedly acting as a secret operative for Moscow. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff and Erin Banco report: “The Daily Beast reviewed a ‘target letter’ that federal investigators sent Erickson’s lawyer, which said they are considering bringing charges against him under Section 951 of the U.S. code—the law barring people from secretly acting as agents of foreign governments. The letter also said the government may bring a conspiracy charge against Erickson … If prosecutors bring the charges named in the [September] letter, Erickson would be the first American embroiled in the 2016 Russia investigation charged under a statute that Justice Department lawyers describe as ‘espionage-lite.’ ”

-- The Senate Judiciary Committee canceled a meeting as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reiterated his pledge to oppose all pending judicial nominations until he gets a vote on a bill to protect Mueller. CNN’s Manu Raju reports: “This is the second meeting in consecutive weeks the committee has scrapped, delaying 22 nominees from floor consideration by the end of the year. That's because with [the] Arizona Republican opposed to the nominees, they are unlikely to win a favorable vote in committee given that the GOP has a one-seat advantage on the panel. If they are not confirmed by year's end, the White House will have to renominate them next year.”

-- After they regain the majority, House Democrats intend to send Mueller transcripts of testimony from Trump aides so they can be reviewed for falsehoods. Reuters’s Mark Hosenball reports: “Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, son Donald Trump Jr, former advisers Roger Stone and Corey Lewandowski, personal aide Rhona Graff and former personal aides Hope Hicks and Keith Schiller all testified before the House Intelligence Committee while it was under control of its outgoing Republican majority. The sources said the transcripts of those interviews will be among those sent to Mueller’s team.”

-- Russia is again a power in the Middle East. Liz Sly reports: “Three decades after the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States emerged as the undisputed superpower in the Middle East and North Africa, a resurgent Russia is back. Under the personal direction of [President Vladimir] Putin, Russia is stepping into the vacuum left by the disengagement of the Obama administration and the unpredictability of the Trump one to challenge the United States’ dominant role in the region. Russian oilmen, arms dealers and financiers have been fanning out across the region, striking billions of dollars’ worth of deals, reviving old relationships and forging new ones from Libya to the Persian Gulf. At the center of it all is Putin, whose strongman image resonates with the region’s authoritarian rulers at a time when doubts are growing about Washington’s commitment to the Middle East.”


-- Newly disclosed emails revealed that VA’s chief diversity officer was discouraged from condemning white nationalism after last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, apparently at the direction of the White House. Lisa Rein reports: “The tense exchange between Georgia Coffey, a nationally recognized expert in workplace diversity and race relations, and John Ullyot, who remains VA’s chief communications official, occurred during a low point in Trump’s presidency: when he blamed ‘many sides’ for the deadly clash in Charlottesville without singling out the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who rallied there. … Coffey, a career senior executive at VA, pressed the agency’s leaders to issue a statement making it clear that VA stood against such a ‘repugnant display of hate and bigotry by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan,’ according to the emails. … Ullyot told Coffey to stand down, the emails show. A person familiar with their dispute … told The Post that Ullyot was enforcing a directive from the White House, where officials were scrambling to contain the fallout from Trump’s comments, and they did not want government officials to call further attention to the controversy.”

-- Meanwhile, the murder trial of rally attendee James A. Fields Jr., who is accused of killing counterprotester Heather Heyer with his car, continued in Charlottesville. Kristine Phillips reports: “Hayden Calhoun and his girlfriend, Sarah Bolstad, met [Fields] just before the fatal crash … ‘He didn’t seem angry,’ Bolstad testified during the second week of Fields’s first-degree murder trial in Charlottesville Circuit Court, just blocks from where Heyer was killed. She added later: ‘He didn’t seem like the kind of person who would do that.’ … Calhoun’s and Bolstad’s accounts on Wednesday are the first indication of what Fields’s demeanor might have been shortly before Heyer was killed. Defense attorneys called them to the stand as they try to convince jurors that Fields did not travel to Charlottesville that summer day with the intention of killing or harming anyone.”

-- Trump’s slow pace to replace departing senior officials has stalled planning of his agenda for next year. Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett report: “Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of a legislative vision for 2019 beyond approval of a new trade deal and vague references to infrastructure. His only clear priority is enforcing border security. … While many presidents shake up their cabinets after their first two years, Trump has turned what might have been a natural transition point into a months-long ordeal that has left many advisers in limbo, inhibiting their ability to prepare for the next two years, according to senior Trump officials and experts on the presidency.”

-- Quibbling over the definition of a “border wall” is impeding government funding talks. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine report: “Senators came to a bipartisan agreement this summer to provide $1.6 billion for 65 miles of a beefed-up barrier along the Southwest border. … But now the two parties can’t even agree on whether the $1.6 billion is for Trump’s wall or not. … That has led [Chuck Schumer] to argue that the bill gives Trump zero dollars for the ‘wall’ and instead provides for ‘border security,’ even as some progressives urge the Senate to abandon the deal. In the face of Schumer’s stance, Republicans are defending the $1.6 billion pact as giving the president exactly what he’s requesting, worried that may be all that can get through the Senate and that anything more would lead to a shutdown just days before Christmas.”

-- A Chinese-born soldier who has been deployed to the southern border described to The Post his fear of immigration agents discovering he is in the country illegally. From Alex Horton: “His duties do not often intersect with Customs and Border Protection agents, he said, but he has avoided them out of fear they will learn that one of 5,400 troops in their orbit is in violation of immigration law. That has placed him in the unusual situation of serving a nation that has not recognized him as a citizen, despite promises from the Pentagon to quickly naturalize skilled immigrants in exchange for service, as they had done for thousands of troops since 2009.”

2020 WATCH:

-- During a 2020 strategy session this week, Trump and his advisers discussed replacing Mike Pence as the president’s running mate, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reports: “ ‘They’re beginning to think about whether Mike Pence should be running again,’ [one] source said, adding that the advisers presented Trump with new polling that shows Pence doesn’t expand Trump’s coalition. ‘He doesn’t detract from it, but he doesn’t add anything either,’ the source said. … Part of what’s driving the debate over Pence’s political value is Trump’s stalled search for a chief of staff to replace John Kelly. According to a source, Kelly has recently been telling Trump that Pence doesn’t help him politically. The theory is that Kelly is unhappy that Pence’s 36-year-old chief of staff, Nick Ayers, has been openly campaigning for Kelly’s job. ‘Kelly has started to get more political and he’s whispering to Trump that Trump needs a running mate who can help him more politically,’ the source said.”

-- Advisers to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) fear her decision to take a DNA test to prove her Native American ancestry could be a drag on her likely 2020 campaign. The New York Times’s Astead W. Herndon reports: “Conservatives have continued to ridicule her. More worrisome to supporters of Ms. Warren’s presidential ambitions, she has yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science — and, in doing so, played into Mr. Trump’s hands. Advisers close to Ms. Warren say she has privately expressed concern that she may have damaged her relationships to Native American groups and her own standing with progressive activists, particularly those who are racial minorities. Several outside advisers are even more worried: They say they believe a plan should be made to repair that damage, possibly including a strong statement of apology.”

-- Sen. Jon Tester backtracked after he said that Gov. Steve Bullock, another Montana Democrat, would run for the Senate in 2020. Felicia Sonmez reports: “Tester’s office said Wednesday that the senator thought he was answering a question about whether Bullock was running for president, not Senate. ‘Last evening at a political forum at American University, Senator Tester misheard a question about Governor Bullock and his future,’ Tester’s chief of staff, Aaron Murphy, said in a statement. … In a since-deleted video posted on Facebook by the American University College Democrats, Tester fielded a question about whether he thinks Bullock will run against [Republican Sen. Steve] Daines in 2020. ‘Geez, I don’t know,’ Tester said, according to a video of the exchange posted by Associated Press reporter Matt Volz. ‘You want to bet 100,000 bucks?’ As the crowd responded with laughter, Tester added: ‘Yeah, he’s running. Yeah, he is.’ ”

-- Jeff Sessions is showing no desire to return to the Senate after some Republican allies suggested he should challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in 2020. Politico’s Burgess Everett reports: “ ‘I've been clearing my brain. I think that's a fair statement,’ Sessions said during a ride on the Senate subway following George H.W. Bush’s state funeral. ‘I’ll go to Alabama, do some things and then that will clarify things a little more before I worry about making a statement.’ … He also made clear he’s not itching to get his old Senate office back. ‘No. I mean, no,’ the 71-year-old former senator said when asked whether he misses the chamber in which he served for two decades. ‘I could go back and spend time in the woods. I’ve got 10 grandchildren, oldest is 11.’ ”

-- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is interviewing staffers for a possible 2020 campaign. The AP’s Nicholas Riccardi and James Anderson report: “He’s already launched a political action committee that allows him to raise money nationally and hired his 2014 campaign manager, Brad Komar, to run it. Since the PAC was formed in September, Komar has done 80 interviews with possible campaign staffers, [one] person said. Of those, Hickenlooper has conducted or participated in 30 interviews. The operation has hired Democratic veteran Anna Greenberg as its pollster and FK & Co. as national fundraisers; it raises money for Democratic senators including [Chuck Schumer].”

-- A senior adviser to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is expected to run for president, resigned after a harassment and retaliation settlement involving him came to light. The Sacramento Bee’s Alexei Koseff reports: “Larry Wallace, who served as the director of the Division of Law Enforcement under [then-California] Attorney General Harris, was accused by his former executive assistant in December 2016 of ‘gender harassment’ and other demeaning behavior, including frequently asking her to crawl under his desk to change the paper in his printer. The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 30, 2016, when Harris was still attorney general but preparing to be sworn in as California’s newly elected Democratic senator. It was settled less than five months later ... ‘We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously. This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it,’ Harris spokeswoman Lily Adams wrote in an email.”

-- The alleged failure of top aides to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to respond to a rape allegation has blown up into a major controversy in Trenton. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Andrew Seidman reports: “An official in the Murphy administration described in harrowing terms Tuesday how high-ranking members of [Murphy's] campaign and staff, including the governor himself, failed to act when she tried to alert them about a campaign aide who she says raped her. ‘I had access to people in the highest positions of power in the State of New Jersey,’ Katie Brennan, chief of staff for the state's housing agency, testified during a legislative hearing. ‘And at each turn, my pleas for help went unanswered. Somehow, it wasn't a priority to address my sexual assault and working with my rapist until it impacted them.’ ”


Bush 41 traveled from D.C. to Houston after his funeral at Washington National Cathedral:

George W. Bush's former press secretary noted an absence at Bush 41's funeral:

One of Bush's eulogists read his speech to the former president before his death, per an NBC host:

From an NBC News reporter:

The Daily Show displayed some of Trump's old tweets to demonstrate the comments he has made about fellow attendees of the funeral:

From a Yahoo News reporter:

Bush 43 once again shared candy with Michelle Obama, as he did at John McCain's funeral:

But liberal comedian Kathy Griffin highlighted a moment of apparent tension at the funeral:

From a CBS News reporter:

One of Trump's allies is benefiting from his tweets that some have said are evidence of obstruction of justice, per a CNN host:

Another Post journalist joked about Trump's reported stance on the national debt with an image from an episode of “The Simpsons”:

A Democratic senator laid out her vision for America's future:

And one of her Republican colleagues replied:

New Hampshire's Republican governor celebrated Bill Gardner's victory:

A Roll Call columnist made this prediction from the New Hampshire election:


-- BuzzFeed News, “Nobody Believed Neil deGrasse Tyson's First Accuser. Now There Are Three More,” by Azeen Ghorayshi: “Ashley Watson was ecstatic, earlier this year, when she got the job to be Neil deGrasse Tyson's driver. She wanted to be a Hollywood producer, and thought this gig with his hit TV show, Cosmos — even if she was just shuttling him to and from the set — could help her make useful industry connections. So when a friend sent her an article from a fringe website claiming that the famous astrophysicist had drugged and raped a woman in the 1980s, Watson, then 28, didn’t think much of it. … But Watson would come to deeply regret dismissing those claims.”

-- New York Times, “‘Already an Exception’: Merkel’s Legacy Is Shaped by Migration and Austerity,” by Katrin Bennhold: “As [Angela] Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Party gathers this week to choose her successor as party leader — and the likely future chancellor of Germany — the values she embodied through 13 years in power are in danger. Some now ask whether her leadership, in particular on migration and economic austerity, helped plant the seeds of the forces now tearing Europe apart.”


“Her Super PAC Ran A Racist Ad. Now She Runs West Virginia’s Minority Affairs Office,” from HuffPost: “There were calls for West Virginia state Del. Jill Upson to resign over her role in an appalling radio ad that argued Democrats would be ‘lynching black folk again’ if they won in the midterm elections. Now, Upson will head West Virginia’s minority affairs office. On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice appointed Upson as the executive director of the state’s Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, where she’ll award grants, review policies that affect minority populations and make recommendations to the governor and the legislature, according to the Register-Herald. … The ad used the sexual assault allegations lodged against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh as a peg to flame all Democratic candidates.”



“Lena Dunham apologizes for defending friend accused of sexual assault,” from CBS News: “Lena Dunham has issued an open letter of apology to Aurora Perrineau a year after the ‘Girls’ creator came under fire for defending her friend, ‘Girls’ writer Murray Miller, who Perrineau had accused of sexual assault. At the time, Dunham, who had worked with Miller for years, said she believed the accusation was false. In November 2017, Perrineau told police in Los Angeles that Miller had sexually assaulted her in 2012 when she was 17 years old. An attorney for Miller said at the time he ‘categorically and vehemently’ denied the accusations. Dunham came to Miller's defense last year but later apologized. Now she is doubling down with a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter.”



Trump will have lunch with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and speak at two Hanukkah receptions.


Fox News host Andrew Napolitano said he expects Donald Trump Jr. to be indicted. When asked by ABC News’s Dan Abrams whether he expects anyone in Trump’s inner circle to be indicted, Napolitano said: “Yes. I don’t know who, but I do know that Donald Jr. has told friends he expects to be indicted.” Abrams asked whether Napolitano expects the president’s son to be indicted. “Yes,” Napolitano replied. (Mediaite)



-- It will be sunny but cold in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Cloudy patches are likely to pass over the area on occasion but plenty of sunshine, too. Winds are light from the west. Highs are mainly in the upper 30s to low 40s.”

-- The Wizards beat the Hawks 131-117. (Candace Buckner)

-- A new poll found majorities of Virginia voters approve of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and the state’s future Amazon office. Laura Vozzella reports: “Eleven months into his four-year term, Northam enjoys support from 59 percent of voters, including 32 percent of Republicans, a poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University found. The poll, released Wednesday morning, found that 24 percent of voters disapprove of the job Northam is doing. President Trump got much lower marks, with 35 percent of voters saying they approve of the job he’s doing and 57 percent of voters saying they disapprove. … Voters support [the Amazon] deal by more than a 2-to-1 margin, with 68 percent saying they approve and 30 percent saying they disapprove.”

-- The Washington Area Bicyclist Association demanded that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) move faster to make city roads safer for cyclists. Fredrick Kunkle reports: “The WABA has issued a new action plan on traffic safety that calls for building 25 miles of bike lanes a year and reducing the number of vehicles that come into downtown D.C., perhaps through congestion tolling. The plan also urged the city to impose stricter speed limits, crack down on distracted driving, increase the ‘absurdly low’ residential parking fee, require drivers to be retested before their licenses can be renewed, and ban all right turns on red.”


Seth Meyers took a closer look at the Mueller investigation:

A storm chaser shared footage of one of the tornadoes that struck Illinois last weekend:

A tornado touched down in Havana, Ill., on Dec. 1. Initial storm surveys indicated at least 18 tornadoes occurred across the state. (SVLMedia/Cory Pagel via Storyful)

Stars Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas married in New Delhi:

Following a three-day long wedding celebration, Indian star Priyanka Chopra and American pop star Nick Jonas enjoyed a wedding reception in New Delhi on Dec. 4. (Reuters)