With Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: More than a month after the midterms, the results in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District still haven’t been certified because of credible allegations of election fraud. It’s possible a second race will be held.

Meanwhile, legislative and legal debates have raged this week over voting rights from Michigan to Maine and New Hampshire to Wisconsin. Activists and legislators in both parties are becoming more engaged, even obsessed, with the rules and processes behind elections than they used to be. Many feel the outcome of political battles during lame-duck sessions, runoffs or referendums could prove decisive – for or against them – if elections in 2020 are again close, as so many were this fall. This raises the stakes and makes the partisan warfare all the more intense.

Maintaining public confidence that elections are honest, and that vote counts are legitimate, is essential to a healthy democracy, but challenging results and suggesting something nefarious has become more commonplace. And it appears that the trend is accelerating. Legal challenges have multiplied, and it seems inevitable that courts will be forced to weigh in on a multitude of pending matters. The Supreme Court will probably take up voting cases in the coming years that could lead to landmark decisions.

-- In the case of North Carolina, there were early warning signs of voting irregularities. Amy Gardner and Beth Reinhard report: “When GOP Rep. Robert Pittenger lost his primary by a narrow margin in May, he suspected something was amiss. The congressman turned to a group of friends and family who had gathered with him on election night at a steakhouse near Charlotte and blamed the ‘ballot stuffers in Bladen,’ according to three people at the gathering. Pittenger’s concern stemmed from the vote tallies in rural Bladen County, where his challenger, a pastor from the Charlotte suburbs named Mark Harris, had won 437 absentee mail-in votes. Pittenger, a three-term incumbent, had received just 17. In the days immediately after the race, aides to Pittenger told the executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party and a regional political director for the National Republican Congressional Committee that they believed fraud had occurred, according to people familiar with their discussions. …

“Since reports of irregularities in the 9th District emerged last month, GOP leaders in the state — including Dallas Woodhouse, the state GOP executive director — initially played down concerns that laws were broken. They repeatedly cast the situation in political terms, asserting that any voting irregularities were not widespread enough to change the outcome of the election. In recent days, amid mounting allegations of a ballot-harvesting operation, state Republicans have shifted their rhetoric. Woodhouse told The Post on Thursday that if the state elections board can ‘show a substantial likelihood’ that possible fraud could have changed the outcome of November’s vote, ‘then we fully would support a new election.’”

Democratic candidate Dan McCready withdrew his concession last night. “Over the last week, we have seen the criminal activity come to light, and we have seen that my opponent, Mark Harris, has bankrolled this criminal activity,” McCready said. The North Carolina State Board of Elections has indicated that it will hold a hearing on the latest allegations by Dec. 21 and could decide afterward whether to certify a winner, call a new election or take some other course of action.

-- President Trump still has not commented on the situation in North Carolina, despite a steady stream of commentary during the recounts in Florida last month. But outgoing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Trump ally who co-chaired his voter integrity panel, expressed worry that Republican fraud might have tainted the election. “Based on what I have read, I am very concerned that voter fraud did occur,” Kobach told Sean Sullivan, adding that it’s unclear whether the alleged wrongdoing was broad enough to change the outcome of the election.

“Throughout his presidency, Trump has not been shy about alleging fraud in elections,” Sean notes. “Without presenting evidence, he told lawmakers last year that between 3 million and 5 million illegal ballots caused him to lose the popular vote. He also formed a now-defunct commission to probe alleged voter fraud … Kobach, who with Trump’s support made an unsuccessful bid for governor, said: ‘Voter fraud happens on both sides of the aisle. And if nothing else, I’m glad Democrats are acknowledging that it exists.’”

-- Meanwhile, Michigan Republicans are moving forward with plans to limit the power of incoming Democrats, similar to the strategy pursued by state legislators in Wisconsin, before a Democratic governor takes over.

The G.O.P.-led State Senate in Michigan, voting largely along party lines, passed a bill [yesterday] that strips the incoming secretary of state of the authority to oversee campaign finance issues and hands it to a new bipartisan commission,” the New York Times’s Astead Herndon reports. “Other bills, which are likely to be approved next week, include proposals that would weaken the ability of the governor and attorney general to control the state’s position in court cases. … Democrats think their best chance of success lies with [Republican Gov. Rick] Snyder, who has, at times, broken with the most conservative members of his own party.”

One of the bills passed out of a state Senate committee this week would require unions representing government workers to hold and pay for recertification elections every other year,” adds HuffPost’s Dave Jamieson. “Under the proposal, if the union doesn’t win votes from a majority of workers in the bargaining unit, regardless of how many workers vote in the election, it would lose its status as the workers’ designated representative, a process known as decertification. It so happens that the workplace elections would take place between August and November of even-numbered years — the same time frame in which unions normally work on state and federal political campaigns and get-out-the-vote efforts, typically in favor of Democrats. ‘I think there’s no question that’s part of the timing,’ said Doug Pratt, a spokesman for the Michigan Education Association teacher’s union. ‘Why else would you hold them during August to November of even-numbered years? It’s pretty blatant!’”

-- Over in Wisconsin, state Sen. Robert Cowles — the sole GOP lawmaker who voted on Wednesday against the bill to restrict early voting to only two weeks before the election — says his party “crossed the line.” He told his hometown paper, the Green Bay Press-Gazette, that the bills are “excessive.” Cowles, not known as a moderate, said that each municipality should be able to determine the length of the early voting period, not the state government.

Today’s Janesville Gazette quotes local clerks complaining that the bill will mean longer lines for early voters if Walker signs it into law, as expected. Civil rights advocates, however, are much more worried it will depress minority turnout in the big cities: “The proposal … will be challenged in court, as was a similar proposal in 2016, when a court injunction kept it from taking effect, said Rock County Clerk Lisa Tollefson. A federal judge later ruled the law unconstitutional. However, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) has said he believes courts will approve the new measure because unlike the 2016 bill, it allows early voting at night and on weekends.”

Charlie Sykes, who for decades was the leading conservative talk radio host in Wisconsin, elevated now-outgoing Gov. Scott Walker by giving him a platform when he was an obscure but ambitious Milwaukee GOP activist. Sykes, who has remained a Never Trumper, urges the Republican to veto the legislative package in a new piece for the Atlantic. “In its arrogant insularity, the Wisconsin GOP became a national symbol of win-at-all-costs, norms-be-damned politics,” he writes. “Signing the lame-duck legislation would be an especially classless way for Walker to leave office; it will tarnish his reputation in ways that I’m not sure he grasps. And, frankly, it’s just not worth it.”

“Wisconsin Republicans are not staging a physical coup. But there is more than one way to steal power. They are exploiting the democratic legislative process to attack democracy itself,” MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent, Ari Melber, argues in a piece that will run in Sunday’s Outlook section. “Some defenders argue that the legislature has the technical power to reform the offices in question, and to limit their future actions. That may be technically accurate, but it misses the point. Of course a legislature has powers to decide how the government operates. The issue is whether explicitly legislating to undermine election results is an abuse of those powers. …

“Legal scholars such as Mark Tushnet and Jack Balkin call this kind of power grab ‘constitutional hardball.’ Balkin argues that the disruptive nature of these ploys are the whole point — they feature politicians stoking fights that are ‘high-stakes and designed to alter the existing order’s power relations.’ If you put ethics and democratic norms to the side, perhaps it is not surprising that a party that struggles to achieve national electoral majorities — Republicans won fewer votes than Democrats in six of the past seven presidential races — is the party pushing risky confrontations to cement power that cannot be won at the ballot box. To protect democracy over the long term, that kind of approach must not only lose in the courts and in public opinion. It must also be punished by judges and voters so aggressively that it is no longer considered a legitimate option in the first place.”

Today’s New York Times portrays what’s happening in Wisconsin as a power grab by rural interests at the expense of the urban centers. “In much of Wisconsin, ‘Madison and Milwaukee’ are code words (to some, dog whistles) for the parts of the state that are nonwhite, elite, different: The cities are where people don’t have to work hard with their hands, because they’re collecting welfare or public-sector paychecks,” Emily Badger reports. “That stereotype updates a very old idea in American politics, one pervading Wisconsin’s bitter Statehouse fights today and increasingly those in other states: Urban voters are an exception. If you discount them, you get a truer picture of the politics — and the will of voters — in a state.Wisconsin Republicans amplified that idea this week, arguing that the legislature is the more representative branch of government, and then voting to limit the power of the incoming Democratic governor. …

Republican gerrymandering in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina have pushed the limits of how much the urban voter can be devalued. In Wisconsin, Democratic candidates for the State Assembly won 54 percent of the vote statewide. But they will hold only 36 of 99 seats. They picked up just one more seat than in the current Assembly, a result of a gerrymander drawn so well that it protected nearly every Republican seat in a Democratic wave election. In North Carolina, Democrats won 51 percent of the popular vote for the lower chamber in the statehouse but just 45 percent of the seats. In Michigan, where a lame-duck session fight similar to Wisconsin’s is playing out, Democrats won 53 percent of the vote but just 47 percent of those seats. (In states like Illinois and Maryland, where Democrats drew the gerrymanders, they won a disproportionate share of seats.)”

-- From coast to coast, the administration of elections is growing increasingly politicized.

On Wednesday, for instance, a new guard of liberal Democrats in New Hampshire nearly removed the secretary of state, who has held the job since 1976, partly because he participated in Trump’s voter fraud commission. The Manchester Union Leader reports: “In a day of high drama at the State House, Bill Gardner, the nation’s longest-serving Secretary of State, held off a formidable challenge by former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, eking out a four-vote win to another two-year term. … Gardner had the support of all Republicans and many powerful Democrats, like former Gov. John Lynch and Manchester Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, the dean of the Senate. Many newcomers and incumbent Democrats supported Van Ostern. …

“Van Ostern began his campaign for the Secretary of State position soon after he lost the gubernatorial race to Gov. Chris Sununu in 2016, working on behalf of many Democratic representative candidates and helping them raise money. Gardner did not actively campaign, having been re-elected by majorities of Democrats and Republicans for decades, but in the past two years he antagonized many of his fellow Democrats with his support for election laws they opposed … Unlike most other states, where the Secretary of State is chosen by the electorate, New Hampshire’s top election official is chosen in a vote of representatives and senators.”

-- On Tuesday, Republicans won a runoff in Georgia to retain the secretary of state’s office. “Turnout was never expected to be high, especially not compared with the Nov. 6 election that pitted Democrat Stacey Abrams against Republican Brian Kemp. But the falloff was dramatic,” Dave Weigel reports in The Trailer, his campaigns newsletter. “In November, Georgians cast 3,875,899 votes in the race for secretary of state. This week, it fell to 1,454,786. Incredibly, that was fewer total votes than were cast last month for either Kemp or Abrams. … Last month, Republican Brad Raffensperger led the race for secretary of state by 0.5 points; he won by four points. Democrat John Barrow, who had represented a wide stretch of rural Georgia before being ousted from Congress in 2014, hit around 50 percent of his November vote in that old district — he even won two counties, Burke and Washington, that had rejected Abrams. …

“What did him in was a collapse in Democratic voting in Atlanta's suburbs. In Cobb and Gwinnett counties, fast-growing and diverse places that Democrats have begun to win in federal elections, Abrams had won 346,864 votes. On Tuesday, Barrow won just 111,407 votes across those counties … Had Barrow held onto just 50 percent of Abrams's vote, in just those two counties, he would have narrowly won the election. Had he held on to 50 percent across the Atlanta area, Republicans would have lost decisively. Barrow, who had been one of the House's most conservative Democrats, was not able to outrun a vote deficit from Atlanta with his resilience in rural Georgia. Those numbers will be studied by Democrats — including Abrams herself — as they strategize for 2020.”

“Only last week did [Abrams] file a federal suit that detailed an extraordinary barrier-filled playbook wielded by [Kemp] to thwart multitudes,” Steven Rosenfeld, the author of “Democracy Betrayed,” writes for Salon. “Go back a few weeks and there were GOP-led barriers in North Dakota in the form of a new state law that said voters must show IDs with street addresses to get a ballot, which thousands of Native Americans lacked. …In Arizona, the GOP Secretary of State offered bland excuses when advocacy groups noted that the motor vehicle agency was not forwarding address changes from 380,000 Arizonans to county officials, which would stymie delivery of mail-in ballots. Missouri faced another version of this voter data snafu. In Kansas, a GOP Secretary of State lost the governor’s race, but not before his allies tried to limit Latino voting. And Florida’s U.S. Senate recount was marked by GOP accusations of vote fraud until their candidate won in a recount by less than 0.002 percent of 8-million-plus votes cast statewide.”

-- There are lots of fights ahead that could draw the national spotlight. In Florida, for example, voters approved a constitutional amendment last month to make it easier for nonviolent convicted felons to regain their voting rights, which experts believe will more likely than not benefit Democrats electorally in 2020. But the GOP-controlled legislature will play a role in implementing the measure, and there are some ambiguities that could let them water it down. Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis (R) opposed the amendment on the campaign trail.

-- Outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan cast doubt about the balloting process in California, where Democrats picked up seven House seats after weeks of counting, though he stopped short of accusing the state of wrongdoing. “The way the absentee ballot program used to work and works now, it just seems pretty loosey-goose,” Ryan said during a Daily 202 Live event last Thursday. “Point being, when you have candidates that win the absentee ballot vote, win the day of the vote and then lose three weeks later because of provisionals, that’s really bizarre. And so I just think that’s a very, very strange outcome.”

“After election night, millions of ballots that had been mailed in still needed to be hand counted to determine their legitimacy,” Colby Itkowitz explains. “Ryan’s mention of ‘ballot harvesting’ echoed complaints from other Republicans, including Orange County Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker. The term describes when a voter hands over a completed ballot to a third party to be cast for them. This was the first year the practice was legal in California. … Rep. Jeff Denham, one of the Republicans who lost, told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ that California needed to revisit its election laws because it’s ‘statistically impossible’ that all six seats that Republicans were winning on election night flipped weeks later once provisional ballots were counted.”

Alex Padilla, California’s Democratic secretary of state, replied to Ryan. “In California we make sure every ballot is properly counted and accounted for,” he tweeted. “That's not ‘bizarre,’ that's DEMOCRACY.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Trump intends to nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador. John Hudson, Carol Morello and Josh Dawsey report: “If confirmed by the Senate, the nomination would elevate a foreign policy novice into the top echelons of U.S. diplomacy as the Trump administration ramps up pressure against Iran and demands that allies take on more responsibility for their own security. Nauert joined the State Department last year with no government experience after a career as an anchor and correspondent at Fox News. … In her new role, Nauert would be responsible for maintaining international support for economic sanctions against North Korea and continuing the Trump administration's unflinching support for Israel in the face of mounting scrutiny at the United Nations. ...

“Nauert, who left Fox in April 2017, earned a reputation as a stalwart defender of the president even through the turbulent tenure of Trump's first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. She and the Texas oilman never established a close working relationship. She did not accompany him on overseas trips or participate in his meetings with foreign dignitaries, and aides confided it was largely because he considered her a White House loyalist with particularly close ties to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Under Mike Pompeo, whose foreign policy views more closely align with Trump’s than Tillerson’s did, Nauert became part of the inner circle. They met regularly, and she usually traveled with Pompeo on trips abroad. He promoted her to undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, a job vacated by Steve Goldstein, who was fired along with Tillerson.”

-- The U.S. economy missed expectations by adding 155,000 jobs last month, keeping unemployment at 3.7 percent. Danielle Paquette reports: “Even in the face of economic curveballs — trade tensions, jittery markets, hurricanes — hiring has remained strong overall as 2018 wraps up: American employers have added more than 200,000 jobs in four of the past six months. Analysts predict that payroll growth in 2018 is on track to beat the previous year’s average monthly gains of 182,000 positions and could surpass 2016’s particularly solid levels (195,000). ‘Most measures of the U.S. economy have been holding up quite nicely,’ said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, a personal finance website. ‘The question is: How much slowing is there on the horizon?’ ”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Comedian Kevin Hart said he was stepping down as the host of the Oscars after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked him to apologize for old tweets containing homophobic language. “I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s,” Hart wrote in a tweet. “This is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.” (Travis M. Andrews)

  2. Police issued an all-clear after CNN’s New York office was targeted with a bomb threat. The building was evacuated and Don Lemon's “CNN Tonight” was taken off the air as officers investigated a phoned-in threat they later said was not substantiated. (CNN)

  3. A Wisconsin billionaire gave former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt $50,000 for his legal defense fund, a financial disclosure form revealed. It wasn't clear when GOP donor Diane Hendricks donated the money or even whether Pruitt spent it, but EPA officials made clear they didn't know about the contribution when he accepted it. (Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin)

  4. The Marine Corps released the findings of its investigation into a July 2017 plane crash that killed 15 Marines and one sailor. The service concluded that its deadliest aviation accident in more than a dozen years was caused by an unnoticed fatigue crack on a propeller blade. (Dan Lamothe)

  5. A woman who accused "60 Minutes” creator Don Hewitt, who died in 2009, of repeated sexual assault received a settlement of more than $5 million from CBS. The settlement, which was reached in the 1990s and has been amended multiple times, was revealed in a report written by lawyers hired to investigate the workplace culture of “60 Minutes.” (New York Times)
  6. Newly released Census Bureau data showed that neighborhood segregation persists in large cities. According to the bureau’s latest American Community Survey data, segregation between black and white residents remains the most entrenched. (Tara Bahrampour)

  7. Almost half of U.S. adults have seen an immediate family member go to prison for at least one night, a new study found. The numbers were higher among black and Native American adults than Latino and white adults. (Rachel Weiner)

  8. Apple said its new watch technology to detect atrial fibrillation should not be used by people who actually have atrial fibrillation. Health officials said the watch’s technology is not accurate enough to assess a medical condition as serious as having an irregular heartbeat. (Christopher Rowland)

THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:

-- The EPA will reverse a rule requiring new U.S. coal plants to install technology to capture their carbon dioxide emissions. Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson report: “Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said at an afternoon news conference that the Obama administration’s rule, which effectively required any new coal plant to have costly carbon capture equipment to meet certain emissions standards, was ‘disingenuous’ because the costs of the technology made new coal plants infeasible.”

-- The administration will also roll back protections for the sage grouse to expand drilling and mining activities. The New York Times’s Coral Davenport reports: “In one stroke, the action would open more land to drilling than any other step the administration has taken, environmental policy experts said. It drew immediate criticism from environmentalists while energy-industry representatives praised the move, saying that the earlier policy represented an overreach of federal authority. … In reducing protections for the sage grouse, which has been a candidate for endangered-species protection in the past and has habitat in 10 oil-rich Western states, the government would be freeing up land that oil and gas companies have long thirsted after.”

-- Mitch McConnell told the White House the Senate is unlikely to take up a bipartisan criminal justice bill before the end of the year. Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey report: “Despite pressure from the president, [McConnell] has told White House officials and others close to him that a vote is unlikely on the Senate floor, according to people familiar with his comments. One McConnell adviser said the senator does not intend to have a vote on the legislation because he does not have enough time and is more focused on other things — like funding the government and confirming judges.”

-- Chuck Schumer wrote a Post op-ed arguing that any potential deal between Trump and congressional Democrats on infrastructure will have to address climate change. Schumer writes: “Now that Democrats will soon control one branch of Congress, [Trump] is again signaling that infrastructure could be an area of compromise. We agree, but if the president wanted to earn Democratic support in the Senate, any infrastructure bill would have to include policies and funding that help transition our country to a clean-energy economy and mitigate the risks the United States already faces from climate change.”

-- The Senate narrowly confirmed Trump’s nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Renae Merle reports: “The chamber voted 50 to 49, along party lines, in favor of Kathy Kraninger’s nomination. Kraninger will replace the bureau’s acting director, Mick Mulvaney, who is also the White House budget chief and Kraninger’s current boss. Her nomination took much of Washington by surprise. [She] has no experience in consumer finance but now will become one of the country’s most powerful banking regulators.”

-- The Fed is considering a slowdown in interest rate hikes after this month’s expected increase. The Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos reports: “Officials still think the broad direction of short-term interest rates will be higher in 2019, according to recent interviews and public statements. But as they push up their benchmark, they are becoming less sure how fast they will need to act or how far they will need to go, and they want to assess how the economy is holding up under moves they have already made. How they manage this new, less-predictable approach will depend in large part on the performance of the economy and markets in the weeks ahead.”

THE IMMIGRATION WARS:

-- An undocumented woman who works as a housekeeper at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., told her story to the New York Times. Miriam Jordan reports: “[Victorina] Morales’s journey from cultivating corn in rural Guatemala to fluffing pillows at an exclusive golf resort took her from the southwest border, where she said she crossed illegally in 1999, to the horse country of New Jersey, where she was hired at the Trump property in 2013 with documents she said were phony. She said she was not the only worker at the club who was in the country illegally. Sandra Diaz, 46, a native of Costa Rica who is now a legal resident of the United States, said she, too, was undocumented when she worked at Bedminster between 2010 and 2013.

“The two women said they worked for years as part of a group of housekeeping, maintenance and landscaping employees at the golf club that included a number of undocumented workers, though they could not say precisely how many. There is no evidence that Mr. Trump or Trump Organization executives knew of their immigration status. But at least two supervisors at the club were aware of it, the women said, and took steps to help workers evade detection and keep their jobs.

“During the presidential campaign, when the Trump International Hotel opened for business in Washington, Mr. Trump boasted that he had used an electronic verification system, E-Verify, to ensure that only those legally entitled to work were hired. ‘We didn’t have one illegal immigrant on the job,’ Mr. Trump said then. But throughout his campaign and his administration, Ms. Morales, 45, has been reporting for work at Mr. Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, where she is still on the payroll. An employee of the golf course drives her and a group of others to work every day, she says, because it is known that they cannot legally obtain driver’s licenses.

-- Morales said mistreatment by her supervisor helped motivate her to come forward. Nick Miroff, Tracy Jan and David A. Fahrenthold report: “In an interview Thursday evening with The Washington Post from her attorney’s office, Morales said she has not been fired or heard from her employer since the publication of the Times article, in which she said she presented phony identity documents when she was hired at Trump National Golf Club. Morales said she was scheduled to report to work Friday but did not plan to go, and said she made the decision to come forward because of mistreatment by her direct supervisor at the golf resort, including what she described as ‘physical abuse’ on three occasions.”

-- Monthly border arrests reached a new high for the Trump presidency last month. Miroff reports: “During a month when the president’s attention was fixed on caravan groups of Central American migrants streaming into the Mexican border city of Tijuana, large groups of parents with children crossed into southern Arizona and the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas with far less fanfare. U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained 25,172 members of ‘family units’ in November, the highest number ever recorded, as well as 5,283 ‘unaccompanied minors.’ Combined, those two groups accounted for nearly 60 percent of all border arrests in November. Overall, CBP arrested or denied entry to 62,456 border-crossers in November, up from 60,772 in October.”

-- Trump claimed without evidence that border officials are “bracing for a massive surge.” “Arizona, together with our Military and Border Patrol, is bracing for a massive surge at a NON-WALLED area. WE WILL NOT LET THEM THROUGH. Big danger,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Nancy and Chuck must approve Boarder Security and the Wall!”

-- A growing number of immigrants facing deportation argue they would return to grave danger in their home countries, putting increased pressure on a strained legal system. Maria Sacchetti reports: “In a shaky voice, [Santos] Chirino described the MS-13 gang attack that had nearly killed him, his decision to testify against the assailants in a Northern Virginia courtroom and the threats that came next. … ‘I’m sure they are going to kill me,’ Chirino, a married father of two teenagers, told the judge. … [He] believed Chirino was afraid to return to Honduras. But the judge ruled that he could not stay in the United States. … Nearly a year after he was deported, his 18-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son arrived in the Arlington immigration court for their own asylum hearing. They were accompanied by their father’s lawyer, Benjamin Osorio. ‘Your honor, this is a difficult case,’ Osorio told Judge John Bryant, asking to speed the process. ‘I represented their father, Santos Chirino Cruz. . . . I lost the case in this courtroom . . . . He was murdered in April.’ "

-- The president and House Democrats appear to have no appetite for an immigration compromise involving border wall funding and the “dreamers.” David Nakamura reports: “Trump and Democratic leaders are rejecting talk of a grand bargain on immigration that would provide $25 billion for the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border in exchange for permanent legal status, and possible citizenship, for up to 1.7 million young undocumented immigrants known as ‘dreamers.’ That plan was reportedly on the table in January before the White House derailed the talks by insisting on additional concessions, including slashing legal immigration and speeding up deportations. Asked by reporters Thursday whether House Democrats would be interested in the original deal, possible incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) bluntly replied: ‘No.’ The wall money and the dreamers ‘are two different subjects,’ she said.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Former attorney general William Barr is Trump’s leading candidate to take over the Justice Department. Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey report: “Barr, 68, a well-respected Republican lawyer who served as attorney general from 1991 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush, has emerged as a favorite among a number of Trump administration officials, including senior lawyers in the White House Counsel’s Office ... Two people familiar with internal discussions said the president has told advisers in recent days that he plans to nominate Barr. Administration officials are preparing for the likelihood that Barr’s nomination will be announced in the coming days Barr’s past statements about the Russia probe, in which he has questioned the political tilt of Mueller’s team, could give some Democrats fodder to attack Barr’s nomination, but several Republican operatives who support Barr for the position noted he once worked alongside Mueller in the Justice Department and said his track record from the Bush administration should ease any Democratic concerns that the department would see its independence eroded.”

-- Barr penned an op-ed for The Post last year defending Trump’s decision to fire Jim Comey as FBI director. He wrote: “Comey is an extraordinarily gifted man who has contributed much during his many years of public service. Unfortunately, beginning in July, when he announced the outcome of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, he crossed a line that is fundamental to the allocation of authority in the Justice Department. While the FBI carries out investigative work, the responsibility for supervising, directing and ultimately determining the resolution of investigations is solely the province of the Justice Department’s prosecutors. … By unilaterally announcing his conclusions regarding how the matter should be resolved, Comey arrogated the attorney general’s authority to himself.”

-- Barr has previously suggested Clinton should face more scrutiny from federal investigators. From Aaron Blake: “In fact, in November 2017, Barr told the New York Times that there was actually more basis to investigate Clinton for the Uranium One deal than there is to investigate Trump for potential collusion with Russia. He went so far as to say the Justice Department was wrong to give Clinton a pass. … Earlier that same month, Barr also explicitly called for more investigation of the Clintons, telling The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Matt Zapotosky, ‘I don’t think all this stuff about throwing [Clinton] in jail or jumping to the conclusion that she should be prosecuted is appropriate.’ Then he added: ‘But I do think that there are things that should be investigated that haven’t been investigated.’ ”

-- If nominated and confirmed, Barr would become the boss of Mary Daly, his daughter and the Trump administration’s point person on the opioid crisis. From Colby Itkowitz: “Daly and her father seem to share a tough-on-crime philosophy on drug offenses, in line with the ‘War on Drugs’ policies of the 80s and early 90s that sent a disproportionate number of minorities to jail. [Barr] oversaw those policies during his time [as Bush’s attorney general]. … [Daly] supported rolling back the Obama administration’s policy to be more lenient with lower-level drug offenders, according to a CBS News article about her from April, and has advocated for strict enforcement when it comes to addressing the nations' opioid epidemic.” But Daly, who works in the deputy attorney general’s office, would not directly report to her dad.

-- A judge ordered the Justice and State departments to reopen a narrow inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “The order risks reopening partisan wounds that have barely healed since Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid, but in issuing the order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act required it. In a narrow but sharply worded 10-page opinion, Lamberth wrote that despite the government’s claimed presumption of transparency, ‘faced with one of the gravest modern offenses to government openness, [the Obama administration’s] State and Justice departments fell far short’ of the law’s requirements in a lawsuit for documents. Lamberth added that despite [Trump’s] repeated campaign attacks against Clinton for not making her emails public, ‘the current Justice Department made things worse’ by taking the position that agencies are not obliged to search for records not in the government’s possession when a FOIA request is made.”

-- In response to Trump’s firing of Comey, an obstruction of justice investigation into the president’s actions was opened even before the appointment of special counsel Bob Mueller. CNN’s Pamela Brown and Jeremy Herb report: “In the hectic eight days after [Trump] fired [Comey], Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and top FBI officials viewed Trump as a leader who needed to be reined in, according to two sources describing the sentiment at the time. They discussed a range of options, including the idea of Rosenstein wearing a wire while speaking with Trump, which Rosenstein later denied. Ultimately, then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe took the extraordinary step of opening an obstruction of justice investigation even before [Mueller] was appointed, the sources said.”

-- Comey will meet behind closed doors today with members of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees. Karoun Demirjian reports: “The House probe, which has been driven exclusively by the GOP, is hurtling toward a close by the year’s end. … Comey’s testimony is likely one of the last sessions that the joint panels will hear.”

-- Mueller’s office may reveal more details about its dealings with Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen in a pair of court documents expected today. CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Katelyn Polantz and Erica Orden report: “Mueller's office has a Friday deadline to explain to the court why it accused Manafort of lying to investigators and breaking his cooperation deal. Separately, the special counsel's office and federal prosecutors in New York have to provide memos to recommend a sentence for Cohen — filings that are expected to detail how he has cooperated in multiple investigations.”

-- Mueller is reportedly probing Trump campaign adviser Ted Malloch’s appearances on the Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT. The Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Jon Swaine report: “Mueller’s investigators have asked [Malloch], the London-based American academic who is also close to Nigel Farage, about his frequent appearances on RT, which US intelligence authorities have called Russia’s principal propaganda arm. The special counsel’s alleged focus on RT is important because the Russian news channel also has a close relationship with the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”

-- In a case that could have far-reaching implications for Manafort, the Supreme Court appeared likely to uphold a legal doctrine allowing the federal government and states to prosecute someone for the same criminal conduct. Robert Barnes reports: “Under the status quo, states might still be able to prosecute under their own laws those who receive a presidential pardon, which applies only to federal charges. Usual ideological pairings were scrambled as the court took a deep dive into the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment, which says no one shall be ‘subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.’ The doctrine allowing dual prosecutions in state and federal courts is an exception to the prohibition, recognized by the Supreme Court since the 19th century.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- The U.S. stock market tumbled out of fear that the arrest and possible extradition of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou signaled escalating tensions between the United States and China. David J. Lynch, Anna Fifield and Josh Dawsey report: “The incident added an unpredictable element to already unsettled prospects for talks designed to ease [the U.S.-China] trade conflict … The arrest, on the same day [Trump] and China’s President Xi Jinping met for dinner in Buenos Aires for trade and national security talks, is being viewed in China as politically motivated. Trump learned of Meng’s arrest only after his 2½-hour dinner with Xi and was livid when he was told, according to a senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter.”

-- “The timing of the arrest, some experts said, could feed the suspicion of Chinese officials that nationalist factions in the Trump administration were trying to sabotage the trade deal,” the New York Times’s Mark Landler, Edward Wong and Katie Benner report. “Their mood had already soured since Saturday, when the White House announced the two sides had agreed to 90 days of talks, amid confusion over the timetable and doubts that the Chinese would agree to the trade concessions described by Mr. Trump. … Huawei and Ms. Meng, who in addition to being the company’s chief financial officer is the daughter of its founder, are at the pinnacle of China’s corporate world, which will increase the pressure on Mr. Xi to demand her release.”

-- Trade experts fear the conflict over Meng's arrest could chill commercial ties between the United States and China and trigger retaliatory arrests. Jeanne Whalen reports: “China watchers could recall few arrests at the level of [Meng] … The news is likely to make American executives wary about visiting China in the near term, out of concern over retaliatory arrests, some experts said. ‘Huawei is China’s most powerful, most prized company,’ said one U.S. lobbyist … ‘I think U.S. executives in the tech space should be afraid. This is very serious.’ ”

-- The Senate is expected to vote next week on ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, retaliation for the killing of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Growing momentum to punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for ordering Khashoggi’s killing — and rebuke [Trump] for supporting Mohammed’s denials — is running into a traditional biannual roadblock: the end of the congressional session. With only days left on the legislative calendar, leaders are loath to devote precious floor time to anything that isn’t already a must-do — a limitation that threatens to leave the most substantive Saudi proposals unaddressed.”

-- Some of the local Yemeni militias funded by the Saudis are turning on one another, sparking more violence in the war-ravaged country. Sudarsan Raghavan reports: “This internecine fight is aggravating a humanitarian crisis now considered the most dire in the world and clouding the prospects for peace in this crippled country. The violent saga unfolding here in Taiz, the country’s third-largest city, reveals how the wartime decisions made by Saudi Arabia — and its de facto leader, [MBS] — are threatening to fuel turmoil in Yemen for years if not decades to come.”

-- Stephen Biegun, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s envoy to North Korea, has had difficulty meeting with any officials from Pyongyang. Bloomberg News’s Nick Wadhams reports: “The standstill is a sign of how negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have faltered, forcing a lowering of expectations, since [Trump] met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June."

BUSH 41 REMEMBERED:

-- “George Herbert Walker Bush was laid to rest Thursday beneath the rich soil of Texas, where he arrived 70 years ago as a young New Englander looking to make a new life and ended up rising to the pinnacle of American political power,” Stephanie Kuzydym, Ken Hoffman and Kevin Sullivan report. “After a formal funeral in Washington on Wednesday and a folksier one in Houston on Thursday, the 41st president’s body was taken by train to his presidential library in College Station, where he was buried on a cool and rainy afternoon. Texans turned out all along the 70-mile route as the train rolled through the towns of Spring, Pinehurst, Magnolia and Navasota, paying tribute to Bush, whose flag-draped casket was borne in a glass-sided train car pulled by Union Pacific locomotive 4141, painted in the baby-blue and white of Air Force One.”

-- The train carrying Bush’s casket rolled through some of the tiny Texas towns he had vowed to represent while president. Annie Gowen reports: “ ‘Is it coming?’ everybody kept asking, peering down the tracks, where the residents of Navasota — population 8,000 — were lined up for blocks under their umbrellas. Few among them remembered the last time a president’s casket had traveled by funeral train — that was 1969, with Eisenhower — but all were aware they were witnessing history. … The Bush train was perhaps the most exciting thing that had ever happened in Navasota, a tiny town built around the railroad and cotton farms in 1854. It’s not far from the symbolic heart of the state, Washington-on-the-Brazos, where Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836.”

MIDTERMS FALLOUT:

-- GOP Rep. David Valadao conceded in his California congressional race against Democrat TJ Cox. The New York Times’s Adam Nagourney reports: “Democrats completed a clean sweep of all the Republican-held seats in California districts where Hillary Clinton had defeated [Trump]. Democrats are now likely to take 40 seats from Republicans as they decisively capture control of Congress. … Mr. Valadao’s loss was a particularly dispiriting turn of events for Republicans because he had initially been declared the winner of the race by The Associated Press.” Valadao and Cox were separated by just 862 votes out of more than 113,000 cast as of yesterday.

-- The outgoing California GOP chairman warned the state represents “the canary in the coal mine” for the party’s fortunes. Politico’s Carla Marinucci reports: “ ‘We have not yet been able to figure out how to effectively communicate and get significant numbers of votes from non-whites,’ said former state Sen. Jim Brulte ... Despite trend lines that show the ‘the entire country will be majority minority by 2044,’ he said, the GOP has failed to confront the reality of those changes — or recognize the possibility that the recent ‘blue tsunami’ midterm election in California was a harbinger of what lies ahead for the national party.”

-- The Missouri secretary of state has launched an investigation into how Republican Sen.-elect Josh Hawley ran his office as Missouri attorney general. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jack Suntrup reports: “The American Democracy Legal Fund wrote to Ashcroft on Nov. 2, days before the midterm elections, alleging that Hawley may have ‘used public funds as Attorney General to support his candidacy for U.S. Senate.’ The complaint came after the Kansas City Star reported on Oct. 31 that political advisers who would run Hawley’s U.S. Senate campaign also directed taxpayer-funded staff, confusing the attorney general office’s chain of command. … ‘This office will commence an investigation into the alleged offense,’ Khristine A. Heisinger wrote to Brad Woodhouse, president of the legal fund.”

-- Both parties increasingly used “pop-up” super PACS this election cycle to run ads right before Election Day without having to disclose their donors. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy report: “A mysterious Texas-based super PAC that received $2.3 million from undisclosed donors to run last-minute ads in support of Democrat Rep. Beto O’Rourke was funded by the Senate Democrat-aligned Senate Majority PAC, according to new federal election filings made public Thursday evening. SMP donated the money to the super PAC, Texas Forever, in a way that circumvented federal election deadlines that trigger donor disclosure — an increasingly common tactic employed by both Democrats and Republicans this election cycle that, while legal, critics say violate the spirit of disclosure requirements for super PACs.”

2020 WATCH:

-- Just like Amazon: Trump’s reelection offices are expected to be split between New York City and the D.C. region. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reports: “The campaign will again be headquartered at Trump Tower, according to two senior advisers to the president. But this time, the campaign will have a pair of satellite offices — one at the Republican National Committee’s building on Capitol Hill and another in nearby Rosslyn, Virginia. RNC staffers and Trump campaign staffers will share office space at the Capitol Hill and Rosslyn locations. … [The plan is] geared toward fostering collaboration between aides to Trump and the RNC and avoiding the infighting between the two sides that occurred in 2016.”

-- Trump’s advisers fear a recession in 2020 could destroy his chances at reelection. Politico’s Nancy Cook reports: “Many of Trump’s political allies acknowledge that his reelection prospects hinge in large part on how Americans judge their economic prospects at the time of the next election. But many independent analysts say that recent market turbulence is a warning sign that the U.S. economy will likely slow and maybe even tip into recession by 2020.”

-- Government documents suggest the Trump campaign may have illegally coordinated with the NRA in 2016. Mother Jones’s Mike Spies reports: “The NRA and the Trump campaign employed the same operation — at times, the exact same people — to craft and execute their advertising strategies for the 2016 presidential election. The investigation, which involved a review of more than 1,000 pages of [FCC and FEC] documents, found multiple instances in which National Media, through its affiliates Red Eagle and AMAG, executed ad buys for Trump and the NRA that seemed coordinated to enhance each other. Individuals working for National Media or its affiliated companies either signed or were named in FCC documents, demonstrating that they had knowledge of both the NRA and the Trump campaign’s advertising plans. Experts say the arrangement appears to violate campaign finance laws.”

-- Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski got into a fight with Republican state senators in Florida over how much credit the president deserved for GOP victories in the state, an argument that could foreshadow internal conflicts in 2020. Politico’s Marc Caputo reports: “[Florida Senate President Bill Galvano], who was in charge of running GOP campaigns for the Florida Senate in the last election cycle, reportedly agreed that Trump deserved credit but added, said [one] witness, that the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee he led and the various GOP candidates and committees spent a record $44 million on their campaigns across the state, thereby driving GOP turnout that helped in the top-of-the-ticket races. ‘There were lots of efforts put forward,’ Galvano said, according to a witness. ‘Maybe it helped that FRSCC and our candidates knocked on 725,000 doors?’ ‘Nooo! I know Florida!’ Lewandowski said, raising his voice, witnesses said. ‘It was Trump!’ ”

-- Former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick said he would not pursue a 2020 presidential bid. John Wagner reports: “ ‘After a lot of conversation, reflection and prayer, I’ve decided that a 2020 campaign for president is not for me,’ Patrick, said in a statement on Facebook that confirmed a decision he had shared with friends in recent days. … In his statement, Patrick, 62, cited the ‘cruelty’ of White House campaigns as a factor in his decision and referenced his wife. ‘Knowing that the cruelty of our elections process would ultimately splash back on people whom Diane and I love, but who hadn’t signed up for the journey, was more than I could ask,’ he said.”

-- The Boston Globe’s editorial board suggested Patrick’s decision could serve as inspiration for another Massachusetts Democrat: Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The board writes: “Warren missed her moment in 2016, and there’s reason to be skeptical of her prospective candidacy in 2020. … While Warren is an effective and impactful senator with an important voice nationally, she has become a divisive figure. A unifying voice is what the country needs now after the polarizing politics of Donald Trump. Politicians who ‘explore’ or ‘consider’ presidential campaigns set in motion a machine that can be hard to stop. Patrick did, and that’s to his credit. There’s no shame in testing the waters and deciding to stay on the beach.”

-- Michael Bloomberg said he may end political coverage at Bloomberg News if he runs for president. BuzzFeed News’s Steven Perlberg reports: “Bloomberg said in a Radio Iowa interview on Tuesday that if he ran, he would likely move to sell his company, Bloomberg LP, or place it into a blind trust. … The interview quickly caused paranoia within Bloomberg’s news division, according to sources familiar with the matter. The politics team, in particular, has been rankled by what Bloomberg said about how in-house political reporters should handle his potential campaign (not at all). ‘Quite honestly, I don’t want all the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me,’ Bloomberg said through laughter during the interview. One serious option for handling his campaign, he said, would be to ‘not cover politics at all,’ ceding all political coverage to other outlets’ wire stories.”

-- Bloomberg held meetings this week with top Iowa Democrats. Politico’s Natasha Korecki reports: “Bloomberg met with Iowa’s Democratic Party chair Troy Price on Wednesday, Price confirmed … He also met with former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack — a one-time presidential contender himself — earlier this week, as well as with longtime Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. Miller, a consistent top vote-getter in the state, provided a key early endorsement to Barack Obama in 2007, helping him get traction in Iowa in his successful 2008 bid there against Hillary Clinton.”

-- Billionaire activist Tom Steyer became the latest 2020 contender to oppose Sen. Joe Manchin’s (W.Va.) elevation to ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Felicia Sonmez reports: “‘Democrats must offer a bold, positive path forward — but Senator Manchin does not offer that vision and should not be the Democratic leader on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,’ Steyer said. ‘Senate Democrats owe it to their constituents to tell the truth, acknowledge the urgent climate crisis we’re in and do what’s right — instead of what’s politically expedient for them.’ ”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump said his legal team would put out a file to counter Mueller's findings:

And he aimed to spin any findings from Mueller's team by accusing the special counsel of having conflicts of interest:

He specifically called out one of Mueller’s deputies, Andrew Weissmann, who is best known for prosecuting mob bosses and Enron:

(Trump appeared to be referring to the Enron-related conviction of accounting firm Arthur Andersen, which was unanimously overturned because of objections to the trial judge's instructions to the jury.)

He then accused his deputy attorney general of having conflicts of interest:

Trump once again attacked the media for covering the Democrats taking control of the House:

A BuzzFeed News reporter added this context to Trump's tweet:

A photojournalist for the Capital Gazette chose to share a story about a friend he lost in the June shooting that targeted the Capital newsroom:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren bemoaned the confirmation of Trump’s CFPB nominee:

A New York Times editor provided this background on the newspaper's story about undocumented workers at Trump's Bedminster golf club:

Democratic congressional candidate TJ Cox celebrated his victory:

Two incoming House Democrats expressed frustration with an orientation on Capitol Hill:

A policy analyst at the Cato Institute questioned the Trump administration's strategy with China:

A Post reporter looked back on some of the most inaccurate takes from 2016:

One of Bush's grandsons thanked those who have honored his grandfather:

And a Republican congressman shared this letter his son received from a former president:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- New York Times, “Isabel Wilkerson on Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ and the Great Migration,” by Isabel Wilkerson: “The former first lady’s long-awaited new memoir recounts with insight, candor and wit her family’s trajectory from the Jim Crow South to Chicago’s South Side and her own improbable journey from there to the White House.”

-- New York Times, “‘I Want to Live Like a Human Being’: Where N.Y. Fails Its Mentally Ill,” by Joaquin Sapien and Tom Jennings: “Hundreds of severely mentally ill New York City residents [have] been moved out of institutions into private apartments over the past four years under a landmark 2014 settlement. The approach is meant to be a national model for the rights of the mentally ill to live independently. … But more than 200 interviews and thousands of pages of medical, social work and housing records reviewed by ProPublica and the PBS series Frontline, in collaboration with The New York Times, show that for some residents, the sudden shift from an institution to independence has proved perilous, and even deadly.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Rep. Louie Gohmert falsely says George Soros helped take property from fellow Jews,” from Felicia Sonmez: “Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) is coming under criticism for falsely claiming in an interview that billionaire philanthropist George Soros, known for his funding of liberal and pro-democracy groups, ‘helped take the property’ owned by fellow Jews. Patrick Gaspard, president of Soros’s Open Society Foundations, sent a letter to Gohmert on Thursday afternoon asking him to apologize for the ‘disturbing and false anti-Semitic slur.’ … [Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney] moved on without addressing Gohmert’s statements. He later distanced himself and the network from Gohmert’s views, the Daily Beast reported. … Gohmert on Thursday was referencing a false claim that Soros helped the Nazis confiscate property from Jews during World War II.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Tucker Carlson says Trump is ‘not capable’ and hasn’t kept his promises,” from Deanna Paul: “Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson set straight any misinformation concerning his views on [Trump]: ‘I don’t think he’s capable,’ he said during an interview on Tuesday. Urs Gehriger, an editor at ‘Die Weltwoche,’ Switzerland’s leading German-language opinion weekly, noted that Carlson’s new book, ‘Ship of Fools,’ is silent on Trump but comments on his critics. And so, Gehriger jump-started the conversation by asking what Carlson thought of Trump’s first two years in office. Carlson said he cannot stand Trump’s self-aggrandizement and boasting. Then, when asked whether Trump has kept his promises, the usually quick-witted and long-winded Carlson had just one word: ‘No.’ ”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will travel to Kansas City, Mo., to speak at the Project Safe Neighborhoods national conference. After returning to Washington, he and the first lady will attend a dinner with senior White House staff.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money. We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.” —  Victorina Morales on working for Trump as an undocumented immigrant (New York Times)

 

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

-- A bright Friday will help compensate for the cold temperatures. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Sun may battle some periodic clouds, but we’ll take what we can get. Upper 30s to low 40s for high temperatures won’t feel that warm, with northwesterly breezes occasionally gusting near 15 mph by late afternoon. Bundle up! (If you weren’t already.)”

-- The Capitals beat the Coyotes 4-2. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)

-- Metro announced that it is extending the deadline for companies to apply to manage the second phase of the Silver Line. Lori Aratani reports: “Metro recently held a pre-proposal conference and four-day tour of the rail line’s operations that attracted interest from 70 people representing two dozen companies. Another 115 people took part in the conference through a virtual meeting room. … The second phase of the Silver Line will extend service to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County. It is expected to open for passenger service in 2020.”

-- George Washington University Hospital has halted talks with the District to build a hospital east of the Anacostia River. Peter Jamison reports: “Kimberly Russo, the hospital’s chief executive, sent a letter Wednesday to City Administrator Rashad M. Young explaining that she still hoped plans for the new hospital in Ward 8 could move forward. However, she said, that would happen only if council members remove the restrictions on the project they adopted at a meeting Tuesday.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

“The Daily Show” mocked Trump after the New York Times shared the story of an undocumented housekeeper at one of his golf clubs:

Seth Meyers "translated" a tweet from George Conway, who is married to White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, criticizing Trump:

Here are moments when Bush 41's humor brought comfort to his loved ones as they mourned his death:

The Fact Checker corrected a claim Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) made about the GOP tax overhaul:

A group of fishermen helped save a man after his car crashed in Florida:

A Pennsylvania woman was found guilty of disorderly conduct after surveillance footage captured her peacock pooping outside an elementary school: