With Mariana Alfaro
THE BIG IDEA: Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar attacked Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-for-all plan. Tulsi Gabbard questioned her lack of foreign policy credentials. Andrew Yang said she’s wrong about what’s causing job losses. Kamala Harris ripped her for not supporting a gimmicky idea that Twitter should suspend President Trump's account.
Seven of Warren’s 11 Democratic rivals onstage Tuesday night in Ohio directly criticized her at least once. “Sometimes I think that Senator Warren is more focused on being punitive and pitting some part of the country against the other, instead of lifting people up,” said Beto O’Rourke, criticizing her wealth tax.
“Senator Warren, I've been talking to Americans around the country about automation, and they’re smart,” said Yang. “Saying this is a rules problem is ignoring the reality that Americans see around us every single day.”
“I want to give a reality check to Elizabeth,” said Klobuchar. “I appreciate Elizabeth’s work. But, again, the difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.”
And so it went.
-- Biden often faded into the background. No one onstage wanted to criticize Hunter Biden’s foreign buckraking, fearing it would backfire and make them look like they were carrying water for Trump. “My son did nothing wrong,” Biden said. “I did nothing wrong.” Relative to the previous debates, the former vice president was often an afterthought over the course of the three-hour telecast on CNN. That left Warren to feel the heat that comes with being considered a front-runner.
-- Warren dominated the conversation. She talked the most, by far, with 23.1 minutes, compared to 16.6 minutes for Biden and just about 13 minutes each for Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Buttigieg. Partly this is because Warren, once the Oklahoma state champion in high school debate, would never let the moderators cut her off and finished every point she wanted to make.
-- In the short term, the pile-on helps Warren. It solidifies the impressions not just that she’s ascendant, but that she’s now the candidate to beat. She exuded confidence and looked strong by making no apologies for her positions. Her preparation showed, and she committed no errors. Warren looked big while the others, in some cases desperate to secure a spot in the next debate, collectively looked small. “I understand that this is hard, but I think as Democrats, we are going to succeed when we dream big and fight hard, not when we dream small and quit before we get started,” Warren said.
-- Warren’s rivals seemed determined to undercut her brand as a teller of hard truths by repeatedly calling out her steadfast unwillingness to acknowledge that taxes will inevitably go up for the middle class under her Medicare-for-all plan. She declined to do so four separate times on Tuesday. “Well, we heard it tonight: a yes or no question that didn't get a yes or no answer," said Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind. “Look, this is why people here in the Midwest are so frustrated with Washington in general and Capitol Hill in particular. Your signature, senator, is to have a plan for everything. Except this!”
Warren is sensitive to being lumped in with the Beltway set. She made a point to quickly attack “Washington insiders” and emphasized that she didn’t get into politics until later in her career after studying and teaching bankruptcy law. Listen carefully, and you’ll notice that she carefully avoids saying the H-word – Harvard – with its connotations of elitism. But she also showed she’s no wilting lily: Responding to Buttigieg, she described his “Medicare for all who want it” proposal as “Medicare for all who can afford it.”
“I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families,” Warren promised.
Sanders chimed in. “I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up,” he said.
“At least Bernie's being honest here and saying how he's going to pay for this, and that taxes are going to go up,” Klobuchar said. “And I'm sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we're going to send the invoice.”
-- It should be said: This is more than just posturing and preening. Warren’s perceived holier-than-thou ethos – derived from an apparent conviction that she’s purer than other politicians – genuinely grates on several of her rivals and fellow senators. I’ve heard multiple presidential candidates and their top advisers grumble about this privately over the past several months. Those exasperations bubbled over last night.
“We have different approaches. Your idea is not the only idea,” Klobuchar told Warren during the discussion about wealth. Referring to hedge funder Tom Steyer, making his first appearance in a debate, Klobuchar continued: “No one on this stage wants to protect billionaires. Not even the billionaire wants to protect billionaires.”
Warren, as much a pitchfork populist as anyone in the field, eggs on her crowds with soak-the-rich rhetoric. Supporters chant “two cents” at her rallies when she calls for a 2 percent annual tax on all assets worth more than $50 million. But last night, like the police chief in “Casablanca,” she pronounced herself “really shocked” – shocked! – “at the notion that anyone thinks I'm punitive” when O’Rourke said her wealth tax proposal pits people against each other. “Look, I don't have a beef with billionaires,” she said. “All I'm saying is, you make it to the top, the top 0.1 percent, then pitch in two cents so every other kid in America has a chance to make it.”
As other candidates expressed substantive disagreement with Warren’s plan, she replied: “My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax? It’s why is it that everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?”
Biden jumped in: “No one is supporting billionaires!”
Criticizing her on health care specifically, Buttigieg suggested that Warren might be too divisive as president at a time when America needs a leader who can heal. “We’re competing to be president for the day after Trump,” the boyish mayor noted. “After everything we’ve been through, after everything we are about to go through, this country will be even more divided. Why unnecessarily divide this country over health care when there’s a better way to deliver coverage for all?”
-- In the longer term, besides fears that she’s too liberal to beat Trump, the debate highlighted two other reasons that Democratic pooh-bahs continue to express varying degrees of concerns about Warren’s electability: her lack of national security experience and tangible achievements in Congress.
Warren spoke less during the foreign policy round than any other part of the debate. “I think that we ought to get out of the Middle East,” she said during a discussion about Trump pulling out of Syria. “I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East. But we have to do it the right way, the smart way.”
As she geared up for a presidential run a few years ago, Warren maneuvered to secure a seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee – something she noted on Tuesday. But that pales in comparison to Biden, her main rival, who could talk about his extensive personal experience with Russia and Turkey. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton had also sat on Armed Services, served as secretary of state and visited more than 100 countries as the nation’s chief diplomat. That didn’t seem to do a bit of good for her in 2016. Unlike Clinton and Biden, though, Warren did not vote to go to war in Iraq.
Toward the end of the debate, Biden declared that he’s the only one onstage who has accomplished anything significant legislatively. Warren responded that she helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before coming to the Senate. “I convinced people to vote for it,” Biden replied. Warren replied that she’s “deeply grateful” to Barack Obama for making sure the agency was included in the final version of Dodd-Frank. Biden smiled.
-- Reflecting her status, even Yang swiped at Warren on three separate issues. He disagreed with her that bad trade policies are more to blame than automation for job losses in the heartland. He also said Warren’s wealth tax idea has been tried – and then abandoned – in Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden. And he argued that breaking up big tech companies is overly simplistic.
Yang is obviously not a real threat to her, but Warren – eager to show she’s a fighter – still took the time to say that her plan to expand Social Security benefits would do more to help people than Yang’s plan to give every American a universal basic income with a $1,000-per-month check.
That wasn’t the only time Warren sought to signal to Democratic voters that she’s a counterpuncher who won’t look the other way when Trump attacks. Warren turned Harris’s Twitter attack around by hinting at how much money the California senator has taken from Silicon Valley and other corporate interests. “I don't just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter, I want to push him out of the White House,” Warren said.
-- Warren easily defused a moderator’s question about her age – she’s a very energetic 70 – with a laugh line that hinted Trump might not be the GOP standard-bearer next year. “Well, I say, I will out-work, out-organize and outlast anyone, and that includes Donald Trump, Mike Pence, or whoever the Republicans get stuck with,” she said. (Biden, 76, also leaned into a question about his age: “With it comes wisdom.”)
-- Sanders may be fading in the polls, but he remains a force to be reckoned with on Warren’s left flank. The 78-year-old pronounced himself healthy – “I'm feeling great,” he said – when asked about his recent heart attack. Sanders doesn’t have much range, but he showed his sense of humor. When Cory Booker pointed out that Sanders favors legalizing marijuana, Sanders deadpanned: “I'm not on it tonight.”
In a blow to Warren, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) plans to endorse Sanders for president and appear with him at a rally on Saturday in Queens. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), another member of the “Squad,” backed Sanders by sending out a news release shortly after the debate. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) reportedly plans to follow suit. “Sanders and Warren have been battling for the support of the women, holding individual meetings with them, co-sponsoring their legislation and wishing them well on social media,” Sean Sullivan and Dave Weigel report. “On Tuesday, Sanders unveiled legislation with Omar to enact a universal school meals program.”
-- Another indicator that Biden is not a front-runner came in lackluster campaign finance filings released late last night: His campaign struggled to gain financial steam in the past three months — spending money at a faster clip and entering this month with a smaller campaign war chest than his leading competitors, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy report. Biden’s share of small-dollar donations, a signal of enthusiasm, was also significantly lower. The top fundraisers of the quarter were Sanders ($25.3 million); Warren ($24.7 million); Buttigieg ($19.2 million); Biden ($15.7 million); and Harris ($11.8 million). Sanders had $33.7 million cash on hand at the end of the quarter. Warren had $25.7 million; Buttigieg had $23.4 million; Harris had $10.5 million; and Biden had just $9 million. Among those five, Harris and Biden spent more money in the third quarter than they raised.
“Meanwhile, Trump’s reelection campaign and two affiliated committees raised $85 million in the third quarter,” Michelle and Anu note. “Along with the Republican National Committee, pro-Trump committees have $158 million on hand … Trump’s main campaign committee saw a surge in legal fees in the third quarter, paying more than $2 million to various law firms. And Trump properties continued to benefit from the reelection effort, with Trump Victory spending $130,000 at the president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla.”
-- Another takeaway from the debate: Democrats have flipped the script on national security, writes columnist Dana Milbank: “A dozen years ago, President George W. Bush memorably attacked Democrats who wanted to pull out of Iraq: ‘The party of FDR, the party of Harry Truman, has become the party of cut and run.’ Now, a Republican president has recklessly pulled U.S. troops out of northern Syria, to calamitous effect, and it can truly be said: The party of Ronald Reagan has become the party of cut and run. … Democrats couldn’t agree on much at Tuesday night’s debate … But for 25 minutes during the second of three tedious hours, Democrats asserted themselves as the defenders of the American military and American security. Though a couple of them [Gabbard and Steyer] went their own ways, the others claimed the moral high ground once ceded to Republicans.”
-- What pundits are saying about who won and lost:
- The Fix’s Aaron Blake names Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar, Yang and America’s Millennials as the winners. His losers are Biden, Steyer, Booker’s attack on the moderator questions about Hunter Biden’s overseas work, as well as Biden’s answer to that question, and the question Warren still won’t answer: Whether her Medicare-for-all proposal would increase taxes for the middle class.
- Newsweek’s Harriet Sinclair calls Warren the “force to be reckoned with,” as Biden floundered and Buttigieg and Sanders impressed.
- USA Today’s Rebecca Morin and Savannah Behrmann call Klobuchar and Buttigieg the winners. They include the candidates who didn’t qualify to get onstage on their list of losers: Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Tim Ryan, Joe Sestak and Marianne Williamson.
- CNN’s Chris Cillizza picked Buttigieg, Yang, Klobuchar and Sanders as the winners. He said Warren, Biden, Harris and Steyer lost.
- David Axelrod, the CNN commentator and former chief strategist for Barack Obama, thinks Buttigieg “brought something more” to the debate.
- Vox called Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, opioid epidemic activists and universal basic income the winners, while Gabbard, Biden and free trade lost.
- Business Insider said Buttigieg had the strongest performance of the night, followed by Sanders, Klobuchar and Yang. Biden and O’Rourke didn’t fare as well.
- Art Cullen, the editor of a small-town newspaper in Storm Lake, Iowa, told the Guardian that Sanders had the “highlight of the night.”
- Fox News’s Doug Schoen called Warren the night’s biggest winner. Sanders and Buttigieg were his “surprise winners.” Biden was his biggest loser, followed by the rest of the 2020 hopefuls.
-- Looking ahead: Getting attention, which has always been a challenge for the lesser-known candidates, is only going to get harder because of the impeachment inquiry and Trump’s knack for monopolizing the bully pulpit. “Trump isn’t the only problem the Democrats face in gaining a hearing from voters. The sheer size of the field inevitably has drawn more attention to the best-known candidates,” writes chief correspondent Dan Balz. “An adviser to one of the candidates looking for a breakthrough emailed this assessment: ‘The questions in the debate are disproportionately directed towards those who are already ahead in polls. Then the post-debate coverage is framed about what happened to and between those candidates. So it’s largely a self-fulfilling prophecy.’”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Moments after the debate ended, the Nationals won the pennant! Washington is going to the World Series! Jesse Dougherty and Sam Fortier report: “After 86 years, after losing a baseball team for decades, then getting it back, then wondering if it would ever win the big game — or ever stop breaking hearts — the city had one more wait. It had to wait for a finish that seemed predetermined when the Washington Nationals stepped on the field Tuesday night. It had to wait because, in this sport, there’s nothing more dangerous than assumption. The Nationals were going to the World Series. That felt clear once they scored seven runs in a first inning that left little doubt. It felt clear long before the Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-4, to complete a four-game sweep in a National League Championship Series that was one-sided from the start. It felt a little less clear after Patrick Corbin wilted, giving four runs back, but the bullpen held strong, navigated the last 12 outs and, with that, turned waiting into sheer delirium. …
“‘I can’t put this into words,’ said Manager Dave Martinez, standing on a stage over second base, surrounded by ownership and the front office and the players that made this possible. Then Martinez reached for something his mother always told him. ‘I’ll say this: Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places. And this is a beautiful place.’ That triggered one of the biggest cheers of the night. The Nationals will soon play either the Houston Astros or the New York Yankees for the title. They’ll arrive there having slipped to 19-31 in mid-May, surged through the final four months of a once-lost season and collected themselves for two dances with death in the earlier rounds.”
-- These Nats have proved everyone wrong, writes columnist Thomas Boswell: “Two points, both apparent in Game 4, should be made about these Nats — akin to noting that lightning cannot only electrocute you but also knock down trees on your head. … In their past 123 games, only the Yankees have scored more runs per game. The Nats’ lineup, in their current state of perfect health, is one of the deepest and most multifaceted in the majors. … The other Nats weapon that has brought them to this city-delighting pennant is depth. … In the glee that now sweeps over Washington, don’t bet the house on the Nats beating the 107-win Astros or 103-win Yankees. But it might be worth taking out a second mortgage on your gardening shed.”
-- Washington’s baseball scars have healed, writes Barry Svrluga: “The heartache of previous Nationals teams is fresh in the minds of so many who crowded in Tuesday night. But the angst that goes back generations here is rooted not only in baseball failures but, worse, baseball’s absence.”
-- The Nats didn’t just sweep the Cardinals. They killed their identity, writes Isabelle Khurshudyan: “These Cardinals won their division with a commitment to fundamental, clean baseball – pitching well and committing the fewest errors of any team – but as they struggled at the plate, stymied by the Nationals’ starting pitching, those frustration eroded the aspects of their game that had been considered team strengths.”
-- First baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been through it all with the Nats. For him, this is “surreal,” writes Roman Stubbs: “‘A lot of people play for as long as I do and don’t get a chance to do this,’ he added. ‘So I consider myself pretty lucky to still be able to do this. It definitely makes it a little sweeter.’ What else was there to say? Zimmerman simply didn’t have time Tuesday night to trace his path back to 2005, when he became the team’s first draft pick after it moved to Washington, when he was called up right away and quickly became a franchise cornerstone.”
-- In the American League, the Astros lead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series after beating the Yankees 4-1. The earliest the Astros can clinch is Thursday, while the earliest the Yankees can clinch is Saturday. If neither does, a potential Game 7 to decide who the Nats will face in the World Series would happen on Sunday. The World Series starts on Oct. 22. While game times are yet to be announced, you should count on the first pitch to be sometime around 8 p.m. Eastern. (Scott Allen)
THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY:
-- A top State Department official testified that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting this spring in which officials were determined to take Ukraine policy out of the traditional channels, putting Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in charge instead. Paul Kane, Karoun Demirjian and Rachael Bade report: “George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, told House investigators he was instructed to ‘lay low,’ focus on the five other countries in his portfolio and defer to Volker, Sondland and Perry — who called themselves the ‘three amigos’ — on matters related to Ukraine, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters Tuesday. Kent took that as a sign … that having been critical of the plan he was being pushed aside ‘because what he was saying was not welcome’ at high levels of the government.
“Mulvaney’s meeting, which Kent told lawmakers took place on May 23, … was just days after the administration recalled Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. … Administration officials informed the Ukrainians of their decision to shift authority for Ukraine policy in June, according to two people familiar with Kent’s testimony. ‘For some Americans from the embassy, that was news to them,’ he added. ...
“Internal documents turned over to Congress by the State Department inspector general in early October showed that Kent suspected beginning in March that Yovanovitch had become the target of a ‘classic disinformation operation’ — and that he raised concerns to his superiors in the hope they would defend their own. Connolly said Kent testified that [Rudy] Giuliani relied on now-former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko for information damaging to Yovanovitch, which was also shared with John Solomon, a former columnist for the Hill newspaper. Lutsenko wanted to get Yovanovitch out of the way, Connolly recalled Kent as saying, and persuaded Giuliani with disinformation that she would also be a problem. Giuliani then persuaded Trump …
“In an interview Tuesday, Solomon denied he participated in a disinformation campaign. Giuliani and the Hill had alleged earlier this year that Yovanovitch provided a ‘do not prosecute list’ to Ukrainian officials to protect the Bidens and other allies. But Kent, according to the documents, told his colleagues that the list was phony, pointing to incorrect name spellings that longtime officials like Yovanovitch and himself would never have gotten wrong … ‘One key sign of it being fake is that most of the names are misspelled in English — we would never spell most that way,’ Kent, who is fluent in Russian and Ukrainian, said in one email to colleagues.”
-- Mulvaney has emerged as a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure Ukraine. Greg Miller, Josh Dawsey and Greg Jaffe go deeper: “Mulvaney declined requests for comment. Some of his defenders have said he knew very little about the details of the trio’s efforts in Ukraine and was mainly orchestrating meetings for the president. … But current and former officials … said Mulvaney contributed substantially to the unfolding political crisis, both through his connection to key events related to the attempt to pressure Kiev and through his general approach to the chief of staff job, which was driven by a perceived reluctance to displease the president. … U.S. officials said Mulvaney met frequently with Sondland and that details of their discussions were kept from then-National Security Adviser John Bolton and other officials who were raising internal concerns about the hidden Ukraine agenda. …
“That largely off-the-books effort could not have proceeded, current and former administration officials said, without Mulvaney facilitating meetings, halting the flow of aid and circumventing the national security bureaucracy. … Sondland ‘was talking to Mulvaney all the time,’ said a former U.S. official familiar with their interactions. When confronted by Bolton or Hill, the official said, Sondland would rebuff them, saying he felt no obligation to coordinate with them because he had direct lines to Trump and Mulvaney. … U.S. officials said the friction between Mulvaney and Bolton led to a series of ruptures, including one on the day of the July 25 phone call. The White House has launched a formal internal review of the call and the circumstances around it, according to a senior administration official. … One of Mulvaney’s top aides, Rob Blair, listened to the Trump-Zelensky call and briefed Mulvaney afterward, a White House official said.”
-- Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding off on the vote to authorize Trump’s impeachment inquiry. From Politico: “Democratic leadership sources caution, however, that the decision could be ‘reassessed at some point.’ The move came amid opposition from key chairmen and members of leadership, as well as a number of centrist Democrats facing tough reelection bids. … ‘We're not here to call bluffs. We're here to find the truth, to uphold the Constitution of the United States,’ Pelosi added. ‘This is not a game for us, this is deadly serious.’”
-- A Ukrainian oligarch wanted by U.S. law enforcement has been helping Giuliani attack Biden, according to Time magazine: “Close allies of the President have received key documents and information from [Dmitry Firtash], a Ukrainian oligarch wanted in the U.S. on corruption charges … [He] has spent the last five years in Vienna fighting extradition to the U.S. on bribery and racketeering charges. The U.S. Department of Justice said in 2017 he was among the ‘upper echelon associates of Russian organized crime’—something Firtash vigorously denies, along with all charges against him. As part of his legal defense, Firtash’s lawyers have gathered documents that make controversial allegations against former special counsel Robert Mueller and [Biden]. Firtash’s lawyers have passed these documents and other information to associates of [Giuliani]. In his frequent appearances on cable news, Giuliani has presented some of these documents to the American public as evidence for his claims of wrongdoing by Mueller and Biden. … He did not mention that the affidavit was obtained by the Firtash legal team.”
-- Giuliani also privately urged Trump in 2017 to extradite a Turkish cleric living in exile in the United States, a top priority of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to multiple former administration officials familiar with the discussions. Turkey has demanded that the United States turn over Fethullah Gulen, a permanent U.S. resident who lives in Pennsylvania, to stand trial on charges of plotting a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan. Gulen has denied involvement in the plot. Carol Leonnig, Ellen Nakashima, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger report:
“The former New York mayor brought up Gulen so frequently with Trump during visits to the White House that one former official described the subject as Giuliani’s ‘hobby horse.’ He was so focused on the issue — ‘it was all Gulen,’ recalled a second former official — that White House aides worried that Giuliani was making the case on behalf of the Turkish government … Trump appeared receptive to the idea, pressing his advisers about Gulen’s status … One former senior administration official recalled that Trump asked frequently about why Gulen couldn’t be turned over to Turkey, referring to Erdogan as ‘my friend.’ Administration officials were overwhelmingly opposed to the idea and told the president that the move could violate the legal process and damage him politically.
“In 2017, Giuliani unsuccessfully pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help on another matter important to Erdogan: helping stop the U.S. prosecution of a Turkish Iranian trader … Giuliani is not registered as a foreign lobbyist, as he would be required to do if he were being paid to lobby the U.S. government on a policy matter for a foreign interest. Giuliani told The Post … that he never represented Turkey and so he does not need to register as a foreign lobbyist. … In interviews in recent months, Giuliani has acknowledged working with clients in Romania, Brazil, Bahrain, Colombia and Ukraine. He has represented an Iranian dissident group, once so controversial it was placed on the State Department list of terrorist organizations.”
-- Giuliani and Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that they will not cooperate with the House’s impeachment probe or hand over documents sought by investigators. (Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner)
-- Chaser: Giuliani, as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, jailed organized crime leader Joseph Bonanno in 1985 after he refused to testify. (NYT)
-- Also: During Bill Clinton’s impeachment, Giuliani said Watergate proved presidents are not allowed to ignore subpoenas and must comply. (CNN)
-- Giuliani's personal attorney, Jon Sale, will no longer represent him, per CNN.
-- Former congressman Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) was subpoenaed over his interactions with Giuliani and his associates. From the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Sessions is a longtime friend of Mr. Giuliani whose interactions with two of Mr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, was detailed in the indictment unsealed last week. Matt Mackowiak, a spokesman for Mr. Sessions, said he is cooperating with the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and would be ‘providing documents to their office related to this matter over the next couple of weeks as requested.’”
-- The New Yorker details how Parnas, one of Giuliani’s two indicted associates, became part of the Trump campaign’s “one big family.” “In June, 2015, Parnas’s teen-age son, Aaron, called his father. ‘Dad, I think one of your friends is running for President,’ he joked. Aaron told me that, after Trump announced his candidacy, he called the Trump campaign to get passes to go with his father to a Trump rally in Florida. Parnas soon became a regular at Trump’s rallies and other gatherings. ‘I started donating. We started to help raise money,’ he said. Gradually, Parnas said that he got to know other Trump donors, including Tommy Hicks, Jr., a private-equity investor in Texas who is close to Donald Trump, Jr. (Hicks has since become the co-chair of the Republican National Committee.) ‘We became one big family,’ Parnas said."
-- Parnas was photographed attending George H.W. Bush’s state funeral last year with Giuliani. Jeb Bush told BuzzFeed News that they didn’t intend for Parnas to be there, suggesting that he was likely Giuliani’s guest. “Disappointing,” the former Florida governor said.
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Erdogan rejected the Trump administration’s offer to mediate a cease-fire between Turkish forces and Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, brushing off threats of sanctions and vowing to press ahead with the military offensive. Erin Cunningham reports: “Erdogan told reporters late Tuesday that Turkey would ‘never declare a cease-fire’ and that he was unconcerned with U.S. sanctions targeting senior Turkish officials. ‘They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear,’ he said of the United States and other Western nations, in remarks carried by the state-owned Anadolu news agency. He said he refused a U.S. proposal to broker a truce with Syrian Kurdish militants, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, which had partnered with the United States to battle the Islamic State in Syria.”
-- Ashamed U.S. troops say Trump’s withdrawal from Syria betrayed an ally. Dan Lamothe reports: “Watching the rapid disintegration of security in Syria and the U.S. withdrawal, Marty Palmer recalled the night an Islamic State car bomb exploded near the Kurdish unit partnered with his Army Special Forces team. The attack in the summer of 2017 killed about eight Kurdish fighters, Palmer said. U.S. soldiers spent much of the night patching up about a dozen survivors, who were then whisked away to a nearby Kurdish medical facility. … Palmer, 32, is among several thousand U.S. troops and veterans who served in northern Syria and are witnessing the messy end of a years-long alliance with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. … ‘It feels like we’re abandoning our closest ally in the fight against ISIS, and we’re abandoning them to a fate that is going to end very poorly for them,’ said Palmer, who left active duty last year. To ‘completely abandon’ a force that has ‘given thousands of lives for this conflict is really tough to watch.’ ...
“At least eight U.S. service members who served with Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq expressed disgust in interviews with The Washington Post about the rapid U.S. changes and the lack of a clear plan to prevent a crisis. Many of them, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, doubted that Turkish forces would have launched an assault into northern Syria if the White House had not said it would stand aside. ‘I can’t even look at the atrocities,’ an Army officer who served in Syria last year said of videos posted online of Turkish-backed fighters executing Kurdish civilians. ‘The ISIS mission is going to stop, ISIS is going to have a resurgence, and we’re going to have to go back in five years and do it all again.’”
-- Fearing U.S. abandonment, the Kurds opened a back channel to the Syrian government and the Russians a year ago. From the AP: “‘We warned the Kurds that the Americans will ditch them,’ Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, told Russia’s Tass news agency on Monday. The switch in allegiances is a stark illustration of how American foes like Russia and Syria are working steadily to fill the vacuum left by [Trump’s] retreat in the region. It also betrays the anxiety that U.S. allies across the globe now feel in the face of Trump’s seemingly impulsive foreign policy decisions, which often come as a surprise to allies and critics alike. When Trump announced Oct. 6 that he was pulling American troops back from northeastern Syria, paving the way for an assault by Turkey, the Kurds knew exactly where to turn.”
-- The secretary general of the Kurdish Future Syria Party, Hevrin Khalaf, was murdered by armed men who ambushed her car. This has caused an outcry within Kurdish communities, who call it a war crime. Sarah Dadouch reports: “Kurdish leaders have accused an Islamist fighter of Khalaf’s killing, identifying him as a member of the rebel group Ahrar al-Sharqiya. The group falls under the Syrian National Army, an umbrella group fighting alongside Turkish armed forces in northeastern Syria. A State Department spokesman, speaking on background, said Tuesday that reports of the killing of Khalaf and several captured SDF fighters were ‘extremely troubling, reflecting the overall destabilization of northeast Syria since the commencement of hostilities.’ … The killing is under investigation by Ahrar al-Sharqiya, said Ziad al-Khalaf, a member of the group. But Khalaf told The Washington Post that ‘until now, there has been no proof’ that a member of the group was responsible for the killing. Hassan al-Shami, a spokesman for the group, said Hevrin Khalaf was not a politician but an agent of U.S. intelligence, noting that her party was established on Washington’s orders.”
-- Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and senior campaign adviser, defended Trump’s decision to abandon Kurdish allies in Syria by claiming that the “average American” doesn’t even know who they are. “I think we should start with the fact that if you ask the average American out there, I think they would have to Google ‘Who are the Kurds, and why is America even over there fighting this war?'” Trump told Fox News host Shannon Bream.
-- A Russian indicted by Mueller for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election was detained in Belarus for less than a week on the American charges, but she was released. Will Englund reports: “The suspect, Anna Bogacheva, immediately headed back to Russia with her husband and small child after being freed from detention in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, a Russian watchdog group said. Alexander Malkevich, head of the Moscow-based Foundation for National Values Protection, which monitors cases of Russian citizens who have been detained or arrested abroad, called it ‘absolutely unacceptable’ for Bogacheva to be held. It has been assumed from the beginning that none of the Russians indicted by Mueller would ever see the inside of an American courtroom, as long as they kept clear of the United States.”
-- Chinese authorities condemned the passage of a U.S. House bill that paves the way for economic sanctions against those who undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy. David Crawshaw and Shibani Mahtani report: “The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, approved unanimously by the House Tuesday, requires the U.S. government to consider annually whether it should continue to treat Hong Kong as a separate trading entity from mainland China in response to political developments in the city. That special status has allowed Hong Kong to cement its role as an international financial center and exempts its goods and services from the Trump administration’s tariffs. … China voiced indignation at what it characterized as U.S. interference, with state news agency Xinhua branding the House’s move ‘arrogant and dangerous.’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China would take strong measures to safeguard its interests. He said the bill demonstrated a ‘naked double standard, which fully exposes the extreme hypocrisy of some people in the U.S. on the issues of human rights and democracy and their sinister intentions to undermine Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability and contain China’s development.’”
-- Hong Kong demonstrators burned LeBron James’s jersey in the streets after he accused Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey of being “misinformed” when he expressed support for the pro-democracy movement. (Des Bieler)
-- Chinese tech giant Huawei said it remains unbothered by a U.S.-led pressure campaign. Anna Fifield reports: The company “reported surprisingly strong sales in the first nine months of this year, defying expectations that American pressure would crimp its international business. The company, the world’s largest maker of telecom network equipment, also said it has signed more than 60 commercial contracts to supply 5G technology to leading global carriers.”
-- British and European negotiators talked into the early morning to try to finalize a Brexit deal. Michael Birnbaum and William Booth report: “But even though policymakers on both sides seemed more optimistic than they had in months that a deal might be imminent, it was far from clear whether it will actually happen. Not only does [British Prime Minister Boris] Johnson first have to strike a bargain with the European Union — itself a difficult task — he then must sell it at home.”
THE OVERSHADOWED DOMESTIC AGENDA:
-- The Trump administration is taking a big step to open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging. Juliet Eilperin reports: “Trump instructed federal officials to reverse long-standing limits on tree cutting at the request of Alaska’s top elected officials, on the grounds that it will boost the local economy. But critics say that protections under the ‘roadless rule,’ finalized … in 2001, are critical to protecting the region’s lucrative salmon fishery and tourism operations. The U.S. Forest Service said it would publish a draft environmental impact statement this week that, if enacted, would exempt the Tongass from the 2001 roadless rule. …
"Tongass, which lies in southeast Alaska, is home to massive old-growth stands and provides habitat for a range of wildlife. Roughly 40 percent of wild salmon that swim along the West Coast spawn in the Tongass, generating a fishery that the Forest Service estimates is worth $986 million a year. The agency said in a statement that the Tongass — which ranks as the single largest holding in the federal forest system — covers 80 percent of the land along the 500-mile Southeast Alaska Panhandle. ‘It is rich in natural resources and cultural heritage,’ the statement said.”
-- The high-profile trial over who should pay for the opioid crisis begins today. Lenny Bernstein reports from Cleveland: “That effort begins Wednesday in U.S. District Judge Dan Aaron Polster’s courtroom on the 18th floor of the federal building here, where attorneys will start picking a jury for the landmark trial. Described as the most complex litigation ever, the trial will begin to sort out the welter of accusations over the crisis. While six drug companies are defendants in the case, jurors also may hear blame cast widely on doctors, government agencies and perhaps even drug users themselves. The jury’s response will help decide who should bear the cost of one of this century’s worst public health crises. … The plaintiffs need a unanimous verdict for any company to be held liable, and predicting a jury’s reaction is difficult. More than 4 in 10 people know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers, and 1 in 5 knows someone who died of an overdose of prescription opioids, according to polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But those same polls show that 69 percent blame doctors for the prescription drug epidemic, 68 percent blame people who use the drugs, and 60 percent blame drug companies.”
-- Uber and Lyft are skipping a House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing scheduled for today aimed at examining their safety and labor practices. Transportation Committee Chairman Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) said the panel will press ahead with legislation that could encompass safety and labor for transportation companies or ride-hailing companies without their cooperation, Faiz Siddiqui reports.
-- Newly obtained Trump tax documents show major inconsistencies in how the president’s businesses reported expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, ProPublica reports: “The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax. For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street. Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call ‘leasing momentum.’ Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.”
-- A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit claiming that Trump is illegally profiting from foreign and state government visitors at his Washington, D.C., hotel. Ann E. Marimow reports: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit agreed to rehear the lawsuit, brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District, which was dismissed over the summer by a three-judge panel of the court. The brief order set oral arguments before a full panel of judges for Dec. 12 and essentially gives the novel lawsuit, which tests the anti-corruption emoluments provisions of the Constitution, a second chance.”
-- The Supreme Court seems hesitant to disrupt the work of a financial board overseeing Puerto Rico’s catastrophic economic problems. Robert Barnes reports: “If the hundreds of billions of dollars at stake were not enough, the justices were warned that upholding a constitutional challenge to the way the board’s members were appointed could hold serious repercussions for other territories and enclaves where the federal government plays an outsized role in government affairs, such as the District of Columbia.”
-- A British family is currently in U.S. immigration custody after making what U.S. agents believe was a deliberate attempt to enter the country illegally from Canada. Nick Miroff reports: “The arrest and detention of the Connors family has received extensive coverage in the United States and Britain after their attorney described them as tourists who accidentally drove across the border and ended up jailed with their small children in what they called squalid conditions. … CBP officials disputed the family’s version of events and said the Connors were spotted via video surveillance ‘slowly and deliberately driving through a ditch onto Boundary Road in Lynden, Washington,’ between parallel roadways on the U.S. and Canadian sides. The roads are not connected by cross streets, and the only legal way to traverse between the countries is through staffed border stations throughout the region. … The CBP statement said U.S. agents also determined that two of the family members had applied for travel authorization to visit the United States and were denied. A senior CBP official said the Connors applied for visa waivers last year, and it was not immediately clear why they were rejected.”
-- The black woman who was killed by a white officer in her home in Fort Worth heard noises outside and drew her legally owned gun, her nephew told authorities. Derek Hawkins reports: “The details in the affidavit add weight to earlier accounts of the shooting from family members and city officials who said Atatiana Jefferson was trying to protect herself and the 8-year-old boy from what she thought was an intruder when she was killed early Saturday. … According to the affidavit, Jefferson’s nephew told a forensic interviewer that he and his aunt were playing video games in a back bedroom when Jefferson ‘heard noises coming from outside’ and ‘took her handgun from her purse.’ The boy told the interviewer that Jefferson ‘raised her handgun, pointed it toward the window’ and ‘was shot and fell to the ground,’ according to the affidavit. She was pronounced dead at the scene.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Trump's trade adviser has consistently cited a trade scholar who doesn't exist:
Peter Navarro, Trump's trade adviser and chief cheerleader of his China policy, has apparently been quoting staunch China hawk "Ron Vara" in his books for years. But:— Megan Cassella (@mmcassella) October 15, 2019
1. Ron Vara is an anagram of Navarro.
2. Ron Vara doesn't exist.@tebartl digs in: https://t.co/6GJb24pjmq
A Russian war ship accidentally slipped into a Republican lawmaker's birthday wishes:
Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend overshared at a rally in San Antonio last night:
She now adds that, when diagnosing the Democrats as "losing it," that while she is "not a doctor, Junior likes it when I play nurse once in a while"— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) October 15, 2019
Many pointed out the irony of Don Jr. accusing the Bidens of nepotism:
have you ever heard of...you— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 15, 2019
The complete lack of self awareness of trump’s children and the gop attacking hunter Biden for making money off his last name is a whole new level.— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) October 15, 2019
(The Daily Beast rounded up other comments made by nepotists who apparently also lack self-awareness.)
A disgraced former Fox News host expressed skepticism over a story Beto O'Rourke shared on the debate stage. The former congressman then shared proof:
This is her. Her name is Gina. Her daughter's name is Summer. The problem with our economy is she has to live in her car—while a disgraced TV host like you makes millions. https://t.co/J1Scsu3GJ5 pic.twitter.com/W1shXxVyeg— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) October 16, 2019
Pete Buttigieg's campaign saw a spike in online traffic:
Actress Rosario Dawson showed up to the debate to support her boyfriend:
Nancy Pelosi paid a special visit to an Adam Schiff news conference:
A former FBI agent criticized Trump's handling of foreign policy:
In 2016, we learned a person with limited to no understanding of U.S. government & foreign policy could become President. In 2019, we learned a person with limited to no understanding of U.S. government & foreign policy is unlikely to be a good President. #Ukraine #Syria— Clint Watts (@selectedwisdom) October 15, 2019
A Post reporter poked fun at the name of a conference room:
For meetings that don’t last as long as you expect them to pic.twitter.com/4rF4uDgQfc— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) October 15, 2019
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean:
At the iconic Pakistan National Monument The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, after arriving by tuk-tuk, are celebrating the very best of Pakistani music and culture, as well as highlighting the prosperous UK-Pakistan relationship. #RoyalVisitPakistan pic.twitter.com/oxElHjLZcm— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 15, 2019
And Kim Jong Un rode a white horse:
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "All roads seem to lead to Putin," when it comes to Trump, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (AP)
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Trevor Noah broke down the debate on "The Daily Show":
Jimmy Kimmel joked that The Post's tally of 13,000 false statements made by Trump does not include the ones he makes to the first lady: