with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro


LOUISVILLE – Democrats have not had as much success talking about health care in this fall’s off-year elections as they did in the midterms.

Andy Beshear, the Democratic candidate for governor of Kentucky, held an event at an addiction treatment center here to attack Gov. Matt Bevin (R) for trying to roll back access to Medicaid by imposing work requirements.

“Work requirements like Matt Bevin's aren't designed to get people to work,” Beshear said after taking a tour of Centerstone Kentucky. “They're designed to kick people off of their coverage. They are callous. They are wrong. … As governor, I am going to immediately rescind it.”

But Beshear has struggled to elevate this issue. It’s been largely overshadowed by President Trump’s visit to the state on Monday night and Republican efforts to turn the contest into a referendum on impeachment. Both sides agree the election is neck-and-neck. The final public poll showed the race tied. Internal polls show Democratic efforts to remove the president from office have galvanized conservatives in a state Trump carried by 30 points in 2016 and may give the relatively unpopular incumbent a second term.

Even if the issue is not front and center in voters’ minds, today’s election could have major implications for the fate of Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and beyond. Because of personal and intensive lobbying by Bevin, Kentucky became the first state in the country last year to receive federal permission to require that poor residents either hold a job, participate in a job training program or volunteer in their community to retain their health insurance coverage.

Bevin’s own administration forecasts that the work requirements, if they go into effect, could result in as many as 95,000 of the 400,000 Kentuckians currently on Medicaid being dropped from the rolls. He was about to implement this plan when U.S. District Judge James Boasberg blocked the requirements from going into effect. Arkansas started to put its own rules in motion, causing about 18,000 people on Medicaid in that state to lose their insurance, but Boasberg also issued an injunction to freeze that program. Those two rulings have been appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. During oral arguments last month, all three members of a panel of judges sounded skeptical of the Trump Justice Department’s defense of the work requirements.

In an interview, Bevin said he expects to lose before the D.C. Circuit and, if he gets reelected, he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court. “We'll win at the U.S. Supreme Court, but it takes time, and there's people that are hoping to wait me out, hoping I won't be around to push this,” he said. “But I'm telling you, we're going to win. And this will be the first entitlement reform of any significance in America since the mid-'90s. And it is needed.”

The conservative governor says this will help taxpayers by getting people off the dole and push the poor to become more self-reliant. When I noted that the federal government covers 90 percent of the cost of expanded Medicaid, Bevin replied that it’s still unsustainable for the state budget. “Nobody can afford to have able-bodied people on Medicaid with states paying 10 percent of it,” he said.

Kentucky is one of nine states that have now received formal approval from the Trump administration to impose such requirements. Nine other states asked for federal permission and are awaiting an answer. In the last two weeks, two states have retreated from their plans to impose work requirements. Indiana and Arizona both cited the ongoing litigation involving Kentucky’s program in postponing plans to cut off benefits to people who do not meet new work requirements.

-- Bevin talked nonstop about his opposition to Obamacare on the trail four years ago, but the politics of health care have shifted significantly since 2015. “It's not as topical as it was four years ago,” he told me when we sat down outside a Mexican restaurant recently. “I mean I'm running against a guy who's trying to make it topical, but it really just isn't. Because the sky never fell. All of these threats of this, that or the other thing didn't come to pass.”

Bevin estimated that 9 in 10 of the people who bring up health care when they’re talking to him do so in order to complain about the high cost of premiums. “I don't bring it up,” the governor said. “I don't even talk about it. Every time health care comes up in a debate or something, it's my opponent who's trying to flash back to four years ago when he thought this was a winner.”

Bevin speculated that the attack ads don’t pack the same punch that they used to because voters have now seen them so many times. “They're running the same foolishness that they ran four years ago,” he said, referring to ads from Beshear and a Democratic outside group that’s run ACA-focused commercials. “It's trying to ingratiate themselves with people who want things for free from people who work, and it gets old. It's the old drum that the Democrats always beat. It tweaks the heartstrings. It makes people feel sympathetic.”

-- In an interview, Beshear countered that he constantly meets people as he travels around the state who have benefitted from Medicaid expansion and fear that the work requirements would hurt them. He recounted meeting a woman in Harlan, Ky., who used to manage a McDonald's until it closed. Now she works part-time at the Dairy Queen in town but no longer has health benefits. “She chose to work, but she didn't make enough and expanded Medicaid helped cover that gap,” Beshear said. “Expanded Medicaid is already encouraging people to get back to work. Let's not create new obstacles.”

Beshear points to a report released last month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office that found Kentucky expects to pay $272 million in the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years on information technology and administrative costs related to implementing the work requirements. “He isn't going about this in a way that's legitimate for better health outcomes,” the Democrat said. “He's doing this to tear people off their health care.”

-- When he ran for governor in 2015, Bevin pledged to go even further. He promised to end the Medicaid expansion altogether. One big reason this year’s race has become so bitter and personal is that this was the signature achievement of former governor Steve Beshear, Andy’s father, who made Kentucky the first Southern state to take advantage of the money made available under Obamacare. Instead, Bevin chose to pursue work requirements, concluding that they’d be more achievable.

Before Trump chose her to be the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seema Verma was a consultant who helped design Kentucky's plan. She traveled to Frankfort regularly to coach Bevin’s aides as they applied for the federal waiver, positioning Kentucky to be the key test case.

-- Bevin and the younger Beshear, elected attorney general the same day Bevin won the governorship, have been on the opposite sides of multiple ACA-related lawsuits over the past four years. There’s no love lost between the two men. Beshear, 41, calls Bevin cruel and heartless. Bevin, 52, refers to his challenger as “the Hunter Biden of Kentucky.”

-- Bevin points out that he’s the only candidate who grew up without health insurance. “I didn't have it until I was in my 20s when I was a military officer,” the governor said. “I'm the only one who's ever lost coverage in recent years for preexisting conditions. Me and my entire family had no health-care coverage for a year-and-a-half because of preexisting conditions. He plays this, 'I'm the hero of this, that and the other thing.' He says, ‘I'm the hero for people with no health-care coverage.’ He's never been there. I have. … So he's a phony. He's an absolute fraud.”

-- Policy experts will watch tonight’s results in the Bluegrass State closely. One dynamic is whether Beshear can make inroads in the rural areas of the state that are most reliant on Medicaid. Four years ago, Bevin won partly because turnout was so low. It turned out that the specter of losing Medicaid did not drive as many voters to go to the polls as Democrats hoped. Some folks who stand to lose coverage will, of course, also vote against their economic interests because they care more about issues like abortion and guns.

-- During an 80-minute speech at his rally last night, Trump emphasized Bevin’s access to the White House and told the audience that he always returns the governor’s frequent phone calls. “He’s such a pain in the ass, but that’s what you want,” the president joked to the crowd. “This guy, Beshear, is a major leftie,” Trump added. The men appeared before about 20,000 people at Rupp Arena in Lexington, where the University of Kentucky’s basketball team plays.

Beshear countered that Bevin is hiding behind Trump because he doesn’t want to talk about health care. “This race isn’t about what’s going on in the White House,” he said. “It’s about what’s going on in our houses.”

-- “If Bevin wins, he’s got Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to thank,” said Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), who is known to have a poor relationship with Bevin and entertained a primary challenge against him earlier this year. Unprompted, Comer told my colleague Seung Min Kim that his internal polling last year showed Trump with a 69 percent approval rating in his western Kentucky district, while Bevin was at 29 percent. Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state by 30 percentage points in 2016. If Bevin loses, “it has nothing to do with Trump,” Comer said. “It’s just Bevin.”

Democrats hope the anti-Bevin fervor, as well as Beshear’s focus on state issues, will do the trick. “Matt Bevin is kind of the antithesis of any politician I’ve ever been around in that he seems to get up every day and decides, ‘Well, who am I going to piss off today? ” said Rep. John Yarmuth, the sole Democrat left in the state’s congressional delegation.

-- Even though Kentucky is a solidly red state in the presidential election, Democrats still maintain a voter registration advantage. They continued to fare well in non-federal elections long after the GOP obtained single-party dominance in similar Southern states. A Beshear loss today would codify the conventional wisdom that the national political realignment is putting a state like Kentucky out of reach for Democrats.

For his part, Bevin is confident about victory but still sees himself as an underdog taking on entrenched power structures. “I am only the fourth Republican in 100 years as governor,” he said in our interview. “There's never been a Republican that followed a Republican. No Republican has ever won reelection, nor has any Republican ever followed one. So, in some measure, there’s still a sense that we're trying to do something that's unprecedented. And there's still an assumption that, if a Republican gets in, that they won't be there for more than four years. And there's still a desire on the part of people who have owned this state politically for the better part of a century to just get their hands back in the cookie jar. And my job is to prevent that from happening.”

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-- Iran announced it will begin injecting uranium gas into more than 1,000 centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility in its latest step away from the 2015 nuclear accord. President Hassan Rouhani announced live on state television he will order Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization to begin the new measures on Wednesday. Under the nuclear agreement, Iran" is banned from enriching uranium or even bringing uranium to the site for 15 years from the start of the accord,” Erin Cunningham reports from the region. “The measures marked the fourth step Iran has taken this year to reduce its obligations under the pact … Iran in recent months has exceeded caps on the size and purity of its enriched uranium stockpile and doubled the number of its advanced centrifuges, in what Iranian officials say is a bid to persuade European nations to offset the effects of U.S. sanctions.”

-- America Alone, cont.: The Trump administration notified the international community it plans to officially withdraw from the Paris climate accord next fall, a move that leaves the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases as the only nation to abandon the global effort to combat climate change. Brady Dennis reports: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration had sent official notification of its plans to the United Nations. … Environmental and public health activists quickly condemned the decision, even as it came as no surprise. … The Paris climate agreement legally entered into force Nov. 4, 2016 ... Under rules set out by the United Nations, no country could leave the accord for three years, after which there is a one-year waiting period for the withdrawal to fully take effect. Monday marked the first day that the Trump administration could give that one-year notice, and it wasted no time.

That means the United States can now officially leave the Paris agreement Nov. 4, 2020 — the day after next year’s presidential election. Should a Democrat win the White House, the nation could reenter the agreement after a short absence — as numerous candidates have pledged. But if Trump prevails, his reelection would probably cement the long-term withdrawal of the United States, which was a key force in helping forge the global effort under President Barack Obama.”

-- At least nine members of a Mormon family, part of a community of dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, were killed in northern Mexico, authorities said. Three women and six children were killed in a brutal assault that highlighted the growing danger posed by organized-crime groups around the country. President Trump offered to help Mexico strike back at the cartels. (Mary Beth Sheridan)

President Trump on Nov. 4 downplayed his relationship with former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after her closed-door testimony was released. (The Washington Post)

-- An attorney for Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who was arrested last month as he tried to fly out of Dulles with a one-way plane ticket, said his client is willing to comply with the House impeachment inquiry — and challenged the notion that Trump does not know Parnas. Deanna Paul, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey report: "In a statement to The Washington Post, Joseph A. Bondy noted that Parnas had a number of interactions with the president and his personal attorney, [Rudy] Giuliani, despite Trump’s claim that he was not familiar with his client. … He also said that Parnas plans to ‘honor and not avoid’ requests from congressional investigators, ‘to the extent they are legally proper while scrupulously protecting Mr. Parnas’ privileges including that of the Fifth Amendment’ to avoid self-incrimination. …Parnas’s willingness to comply with the impeachment inquiry could provide congressional investigators with a trove of information about Giuliani’s shadow foreign policy efforts in Ukraine. Parnas and [his associate Igor Fruman] helped Giuliani in his attempts to locate information in Ukraine that is damaging to Democrats. ...

"It is unclear whether House Democrats would be willing to grant Parnas congressional immunity to secure his testimony. Such immunity is a seldom-granted privilege that prevents prosecutors from using in a criminal case whatever a witness tells lawmakers. That can significantly complicate prosecutors’ ability to proceed, as it essentially taints even evidence they have gathered independent of Congress."

-- Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testified she felt threatened by Trump’s comments about her and that she was the target of a shadow campaign to remove her from office, according to a transcript of her deposition released by House Democrats. Greg Miller, Karoun Demirjian and Devil Barrett report: “Yovanovitch said that she remained worried that she would be a target of retaliation by Trump, who referred to her in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president as ‘bad news’ and someone who was ‘going to go through some things.’ ‘I was very concerned’ upon reading Trump’s words when the rough transcript of the call was released, Yovanovitch testified. ‘I still am.’ Asked whether she felt threatened, she replied, ‘Yes.’ … Yovanovitch’s deposition describes the involvement of [Giuliani] in the early stages of what became a coordinated campaign to coerce the new leader of Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents.

“Yovanovitch’s account was augmented by the separate release of the impeachment deposition of Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who resigned his position last month in protest over how Yovanovitch and others caught up in the Ukraine scandal were being treated. Both transcripts provide fresh insights into the hostility Yovanovitch faced while serving in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and the fallout among career officials at the State Department when it became clear that Pompeo had no intention of intervening to protect the ambassador or issue a public statement supporting her. McKinley also testified he was concerned the State Department was being dragged into an attempted shakedown of a sovereign country. …

"At one point, Yovanovitch said, she was advised by a colleague to turn to Twitter to improve her standing with the president before it was too late. The advice came from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, who became embroiled in Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine for political dirt after Yovanovitch’s ouster. ‘You need to go big or go home,’ Sondland told Yovanovitch. … Yovanovitch said she felt it was not appropriate for someone in her position to write such a tweet. ...

Yovanovitch said that late last year she began to hear cryptic warnings from Ukrainian officials in touch with her staff that Giuliani was in talks with Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general, Yuri Lutsenko, ‘and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me.’"

-- Publicly, Republicans complain Democrats have rigged the impeachment investigation by holding hearings behind closed doors. But inside the Capitol basement room where the hearings happen, these same Republicans have used their time to complain that testimony is leaking. Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian report: “The transcript showed Democrats and Republican staffers trying to focus on the central issues surrounding her knowledge of the Trump administration’s relations with Ukraine, with [Rep. Adam] Schiff imploring GOP lawmakers over and over to leave their complaints about process and bias at the door. … Republicans alleged early in Yovanovitch’s interview that the witnesses were corrupting the process by leaking information to the news media before committee staffers were able to review it. They pressed Yovanovitch and her lawyer on whether she even had the authority to testify, given that the State Department had ordered its employees not to comply with congressional requests.”

-- Ukraine, meanwhile, will fire the prosecutor who discussed Joe and Hunter Biden with Giuliani. From Reuters: “Giuliani has acknowledged meeting the prosecutor, Kostiantyn Kulyk, to discuss accusations against the Bidens. The decision to sideline someone who played an important role in Giuliani’s efforts to find out damaging information about the Bidens comes as Ukraine has tried to avoid getting drawn into a partisan fight in Washington. … The source said a decision had been taken to fire Kulyk for failing to show up for an exam that all employees of the General Prosecutor’s Office have been ordered to pass to keep their jobs during a clean-up of the prosecution service. Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka has already fired more than 400 prosecutors, or around a third of all staff."

-- Pompeo is facing a growing revolt from his own diplomats, as he gets more deeply implicated in the impeachment investigation. From the Times: “Mr. Pompeo, 55, now finds himself at the most perilous moment of his political life as veteran diplomats testify to Congress that Mr. Trump and his allies hijacked Ukraine policy for political gain — and as congressional investigators look into what Mr. Pompeo knew of the machinations of Mr. Trump and [Giuliani] … Many diplomats now contend that Mr. Pompeo has done more damage to the 75,000-person agency than even his predecessor Rex Tillerson, an aloof oil executive reviled by department employees. … Mr. Pompeo’s problems are growing as his frequent trips to Kansas, his adopted home state, come under greater scrutiny. … Many people speculate that Mr. Pompeo [plans] to run for the Senate next year, and that the trips amount to a shadow campaign.”

-- Republicans are considering moving Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) to the House Intelligence Committee. From CBS News: “Jordan, currently the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee and an outspoken defender of President Trump, has essentially led Republican efforts in the closed-door impeachment proceedings thus far, where three committees have been able to participate. His top investigator, Steve Castor, has conducted the bulk of witness questioning. If Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were to temporarily assign Jordan to the Intelligence Committee, he would have to make room for him by removing a current member. The move would also undermine Devin Nunes, the committee's top Republican. McCarthy has sole discretion over Intelligence Committee assignments.”

-- At Trump's rally last night, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called on the media to print the name of the anonymous whistleblower who first highlighted concerns about a possible quid pro quo. “I say to the media, do your job and print his name,” Paul said at the rally. Trump said Paul’s call for outing of the whistleblower was “excellent.” People behind Trump on stage wore T-shirts that said "Read the transcript." (AP)

-- A federal judge has fast-tracked Charles Kupperman’s request for the courts to decide whether he must comply with the House subpoena or a White House order not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Spencer S. Hsu reports: “U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon of Washington ordered final arguments to be held Dec. 10 at the request of [the] former deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration. Leon had previously said he intended not to take up the merits of the lawsuit until a later date. His shift comes as more White House officials have defied subpoenas but sets up a potentially landmark legal battle over the White House’s ability to defy Congress’s impeachment powers. Kupperman, who served as deputy to former national security adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit asking for a court to resolve the competing demands.”

-- Roger Stone's trial starts today in federal court, where prosecutors plan to revisit an episode of political chicanery, alleged lies and conspiratorial texts that parallels the impeachment inquiry. Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu and Manuel Roig-Franzia have a preview: Stone "has been charged with lying to Congress and trying to tamper with a witness during a congressional investigation into interference in the 2016 election. … Prosecutors aim to show that Stone’s private text and email conversations prove that his statements to lawmakers in 2017 were lies meant to hide the extent of his election-year efforts to learn what dirt WikiLeaks might have against Clinton, and when WikiLeaks might release the information.”

-- A federal appeals court rejected Trump’s effort to block New York prosecutors from accessing his tax records. Jonathan O’Connell and Ann E. Marimow report: In trying to block a subpoena for his private financial records from New York prosecutors investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election, "Trump’s attorneys have argued that as president Trump is immune not only from prosecution but from investigations. But in the decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that ‘any presidential immunity from a state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such subpoena' … The ruling does not mean that Trump’s tax records will be turned over immediately. Trump plans to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, according to Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president.”

-- Fishing expedition: The Justice Department is trying to unearth identifying details about the anonymous Trump administration official who excoriated the president’s “amorality” in an unsigned New York Times opinion column last year and is now publishing a book. Reis Thebault reports: “... Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt wants proof that the writer is not bound by a government nondisclosure agreement. Either that, Hunt wrote in the letter, or the book’s publisher and the author’s agents should turn over the official’s employment information: where in the government the person worked, and when he or she worked there. If the official had access to classified information, Hunt warned, the book should be ‘submitted for pre-publication review.’

The book has been billed as the behind-the-scenes sequel to the searing column, which described a White House in dangerous disarray and an internal ‘resistance’ force that sought to thwart Trump’s ‘misguided impulses.’ … The letter — addressed to Carol Ross at the publishing company Hachette Book Group and literary agents Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn of Javelin — was part of the agency’s ‘routine fact-gathering process,’ said a Justice Department official. But Latimer denounced Hunt’s request as an attempt to ‘intimidate and expose the senior official who has seen misconduct at the highest levels.’ … In a response to Hunt, Ross wrote that her firm has ‘made a commitment of confidentiality to Anonymous and we intend to honor that commitment.’” (Preorder the book here.)

-- E. Jean Carroll, the New York writer who accused Trump of sexual assault, has sued him for defamation, which could allow for discovery. Beth Reinhard reports: “E. Jean Carroll publicly described the alleged assault for the first time in June, in a published excerpt of a memoir. … Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. … Trump has denied ever meeting her and has said she was trying to promote her book. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Monday called the lawsuit ‘frivolous’ and Carroll ‘a fraud.’ … Carroll’s assertion in the lawsuit that he ‘raped her’ stands apart from less violent allegations regarding Trump’s treatment of women. Under New York law, the alleged incident occurred too long ago to try to press criminal charges.”

-- The Republican National Committee paid to generate thousands of calls to the congressional offices of nearly three dozen House Democrats in an attempt to tie up their phone lines and shape opinion on the impeachment inquiry. From the Times: “The fact that the calls to congressional offices, estimated to number 11,000, were partly intended to jam the phone lines of House Democrats — potentially thwarting access to government offices — was described at a recent dinner of more than a dozen Republican aides, advisers and elected officials ... Officials with the Republican National Committee told others at the dinner about the calls, suggesting they were automated and indicating that the aim was to tie up the phones in Democratic offices, according to two people briefed on what was said."


-- A vast system of credit that includes financial institutions supported by the U.S. and the World Bank are enabling loans to migrants that are then used to pay smugglers who promise to help them cross the border. Kevin Sieff reports from Nebaj, Guatemala, a town at the epicenter of the country’s migrant exodus: “The U.S. government and the World Bank have each extended tens of millions of dollars in funding and loan guarantees, money that helped create what is now Guatemala’s biggest microfinance organization, Fundación Génesis Empresarial, and backed one of its largest banks, Banrural. But in Nebaj and communities like it around the country, those financial institutions now serve Guatemalans eager to migrate. Access to credit has helped make this Central American nation the largest single source of migrants to the United States over the past year. About 2 percent of the population has been apprehended at the U.S. border since 2018.

"It has also had devastating consequences for those who fail in their journeys — those who are deported before they earn enough to pay back their loans. They become ensnared by debt, losing savings, businesses and homes, which makes them more likely to try to migrate again. …  U.S. officials say they stopped supporting direct-lending microfinance programs in Guatemala more than 10 years ago. The World Bank funded Génesis Empresarial as recently as last year. Increasing access to finance among the world’s poorest people has been a crucial tool for development, U.S. and World Bank officials say. Vetting borrowers, they say, has always been the responsibility of the banks and microfinance outfits they have supported."

-- Cubans used to be privileged migrants to the U.S. Now they’re stuck at the border, like everyone else. Mary Beth Sheridan reports: “As the Trump administration clamps down on immigration, perhaps no group has suffered such a dramatic reversal as Cubans. For decades, they were A-list immigrants. The U.S. government, citing repression by the island’s communist government, welcomed them as residents… That protection ended at the beginning of 2017, part of the Obama administration’s Cuban thaw. And the Trump administration has made it tougher for people seeking asylum from any country. Its goal is mainly to discourage the Central American families."

-- The federal government will run out of money in three weeks, which means Congress and the administration are accelerating efforts to solve politically difficult spending questions, including border-wall funding. From the Journal: “Under a short-term funding extension passed in September, the government is funded through Nov. 21. But Congress has yet to pass a single full-year spending bill through both the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-led Senate, making another stopgap measure necessary to avoid a shutdown this month. … House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) last Monday and agreed to try to pass by Dec. 31 each of the 12 spending measures that would fund the government for the full year, according to two people familiar with the conversation. House and Senate Appropriations Committee staffers met with White House budget and legislative staffers last week, two different people familiar with the meeting said. … The longstanding debate over how much new money to put toward building a wall along the southern border … has encroached into several other parts of the legislative process.”

-- An asylum-seeking migrant detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement was taken off life support over his family’s objections. From USA Today: “More than a month later, the man's body remains in the USA, his relatives said they have been given little information about his death, and his brother has twice been denied a visa to travel to the USA to identify the body and accompany it back home to Cameroon. Nebane Abienwi, 37, a father of six who fled his embattled country this summer, died Oct. 1 after suffering a ‘medical emergency’ while being detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center..., according to ICE. Abienwi's youngest brother said he has been scrambling between U.S. embassies in South Africa and Cameroon, pleading for a visa to travel to California to get some answers. He said he wants to make sure it's really his brother's body and to perform cultural rites on the body before the casket is sealed. He wants to know why doctors removed the ventilator that kept his brother breathing after he asked them to keep it in place until a relative could arrive.”

-- A quarter of the leadership positions on the Department of Homeland Security’s website are either “acting” or vacant. From Axios: “19 of 75 senior leadership positions are acting or vacant, according to the DHS website's last update on Oct. 30. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman Julie Kirchner also recently offered her resignation. There are vacancies for deputy secretary, undersecretary for science and technology, and director of ICE. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Office of the General Counsel are all led by acting leaders. A lack of leadership only allows agencies to do the ‘status quo’ and prevents big decisions from being made, said Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

-- ICE’s deportation and removal numbers resulting from daily detention operations have dipped under Trump, despite the blustery rhetoric of the administration. From the Los Angeles Times: “The Trump administration is on track to remove about 8% more foreigners in fiscal year 2019 than President Obama did during his final year in office, according to ICE data. But during the height of deportations under Obama, in 2012, immigration officials removed 409,849 foreigners. By comparison, peak removals under Trump occurred this year, with 257,000 as of Sept. 21 — a few days shy of the close of this fiscal year."

-- A Milwaukee man said he was walking into a Mexican restaurant when a stranger threw acid on his face in what he said was a hate-fueled attack. Katie Mettler reports: “Milwaukee police announced Monday that they had arrested a 61-year-old man in the alleged attack. The victim, 42-year-old Mahud Villalaz, believes he endured a hate crime, that he was targeted because he is Latino. At a news conference Saturday, Villalaz said he parked his truck outside the Mexican restaurant at 8:30 p.m. and began to walk toward it to have dinner when a man at a nearby bus stop approached him, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Villalaz told ABC affiliate WISN 12 that the man chastised him for parking in a bus lane. Then, Villalaz said, the man asked him: ‘Why did you come here and invade my country?’”

-- A San Diego man beat a Syrian refugee for speaking in Arabic. Meagan Flynn reports: “There were plenty of open seats on the San Diego trolley, but Adrian Richard Vergara chose the one right next to a teenage Syrian refugee. … Traveling on his way home from school, he was talking on FaceTime with a friend, speaking in Arabic — when suddenly the man next to him ripped the earbud out of the boy’s ear. ‘What trash are you speaking?’ Vergara asked him, as prosecutors described at his arraignment last month. And when the teen refugee responded, “Arabic,” prosecutors said, that’s when the brutal beating began. On Monday, Vergara, 26, pleaded guilty to the Oct. 15 felony hate-crime assault after surveillance video on the trolley identified him as the attacker. Vergara is expected to be sentenced next month to five years in prison, KGTV reported.”

-- A new study found that today’s immigrant youth are more likely to achieve the American Dream than their U.S.-born peers. From CBS News: “Children of immigrants achieve higher economic mobility than their U.S.-born peers, new research from Princeton, Stanford and University of California-Davis economists found. … Notably, later waves of immigrant children have been no less successful than those from Europe. … That held true whether the immigrants were rich or poor, the researchers also said.  … Today, many children of immigrants are also out-earning their U.S.-born peers. Adult children of poor Chinese, Indian and Vietnamese immigrants earn at about the 60th percentile or higher, compared with the 46th percentile for adult children of poor U.S. families, the researchers found.”

2020 WATCH:

-- Trump is trailing Democratic rivals in a Washington Post-ABC national poll, as independents move away from him. Dan Balz and Scott Clement report: “The new poll highlights the degree to which most of the country already has made a judgment about the president’s performance and their voting preferences next year. Among the 39 percent of registered voters who approve of Trump’s job performance, Trump is winning at least 95 percent support against each of five possible Democratic opponents. But among the 58 percent of voters who disapprove of Trump, he receives no more than 7 percent support. … The national results represent a shift away from Trump since the summer, when only Biden had a clear advantage over the incumbent.”

-- Pete Buttigieg is surging in Iowa, filling the middle ground that’s opened between Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the hard left and Joe Biden, who has been dogged by the Ukraine saga and faces growing questions about whether he’s got the stamina for the presidency. Holly Bailey and Amy Wang open a new dispatch from Des Moines with a revealing anecdote: The Buttigieg campaign scheduled a rally on a Saturday night that conflicted with an Iowa Hawkeyes football game, but more than 700 people still showed up and waited for hours — even though it was drizzling and cold. “A big football game and lousy weather, and he gets 700 people? Things like that just don’t happen,” said Matt Paul, a local Democratic strategist who ran Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Iowa campaign. “Something is clearly going on.” Indeed.

Key quote: “I’m hearing from a lot of people that they like what Elizabeth Warren is saying, but they worry she may turn off voters who are moderates and Republicans,” said Steve Drahozal, chairman of the Democratic Party in Dubuque County, a working-class area in northeastern Iowa that flipped to Trump in 2016. More than 800 people recently turned out to hear Buttigieg speak there along the Mississippi River, one of the largest rallies in the state this cycle. While Biden remains loved and respected, Drahozal told my colleagues, Buttigieg is viewed by some Democrats there as a “more palatable candidate” who could win over liberal voters without scaring moderates.

Buttigieg is modulating and triangulating to reposition himself so he better matches the moment: “Buttigieg made early headlines by … talking up big liberal ideas, like abolishing the electoral college and restructuring the Supreme Court. While his campaign says he still supports those policies, he rarely mentions them on the campaign trail these days. Since late summer, he’s cast himself as a Midwestern pragmatist who offers ‘real solutions, not more polarization,’ a slogan that dings both the less-defined Biden approach and the plan-heavy Warren strategy.”

“Iowa is critical to Buttigieg’s campaign,” Holly and Amy note. “While he has moved up in polling in the first voting state, below Warren but competitive with Biden and Sanders, he has not yet seen as significant a shift in national polling. He remains far less known outside the early states … His campaign hopes that a strong showing in the caucuses in February could vault him into the top tier across a wider range of states, particularly those not dominated by the white and educated voters who now represent his strongest supporters.

 … Buttigieg has an advantage, however, having quickly put together one of the largest campaign operations on the ground, with more than 110 staffers and 21 offices, on par with Warren and Biden. He is spending heavily on television advertising in the state — financed by the more than $51 million he’s raised so far this year.”

­-- Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) dismissed the "trope" that black voters are homophobic after Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told CNN there was “no question” that Buttigieg’s sexuality could hurt his popularity among older black voters. From Politico: “The California senator — one of the few black candidates running for president — called the narrative ‘a trope’ that was ‘just nonsense,’ and said that the trope has developed ‘among some Democrats’ to suggest African Americans are homophobic and transphobic. … Still, Harris on Monday said she wasn’t targeting Clyburn, ‘who I respect a lot.’ Bias, she said, exists in all communities. Buttigieg has struggled to win over black voters, especially as he tries to compete with [Biden] for the moderate lane and gain momentum in South Carolina.”

-- A staffer for billionaire Tom Steyer stole valuable volunteer data collected by Harris’s campaign using an account from when he worked for the South Carolina Democratic Party, according to the Charleston Post & Courier: “The Steyer campaign said that it does not have possession of the data and that Democratic officials were only aware of the download, which they said was inadvertent, because they proactively notified them. Both the Democratic National Committee and S.C. Democratic Party denied that. The Democratic National Committee said they quickly caught the attempt on Friday by Steyer’s deputy S.C. state director Dwane Sims to export Harris’ data, which contained thousands of volunteer contacts collected over the course of the campaign in this critical early-voting primary state."

-- Former housing secretary Julián Castro will lay off his campaign staff in New Hampshire and South Carolina. From Politico: “The source said the campaign will continue focusing on Iowa and Nevada with a $50,000 television ad buy in Iowa beginning Tuesday morning. The moves amount to a long-shot attempt to remain in the presidential contest in the hopes of catching fire before the first contests begin next February."

-- The Trump campaign loves holding contests. Does anyone actually win them? From Popular Information: “Last Monday, Trump was supposed to have lunch with a contest winner in Chicago. Numerous Facebook ads promised people who donated to his campaign a ‘VIP trip’ and an ‘epic’ meal. ... The winner of the Chicago lunch [if there really was one] and 14 other completed contests for meals with Trump remain shrouded in mystery. These contests were promoted heavily via email and Facebook. The Trump campaign has sent at least 86 emails over the last two years about the meals. But neither Trump nor the campaign ever publicly disclosed the winners. This is perplexing because even something as simple as releasing a photo of the meal is an easy way to generate positive news coverage and increase interest in the next contest.”

-- The RNC covered the $60,000 cost for Trump and his entourage to attend a cage-fighting match. Josh Dawsey reports: “The price included the ringside seats for Trump and his guests, catering and security ... The president’s guests included [Kevin McCarthy] and Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), all Republican allies, along with his two adult sons. It was unclear what each ticket cost, as one official said the $60,000 total tab included catering and security. Public ticket prices before the event ranged from about $100 to nearly $700. … Members of the House are allowed to take free tickets for sporting events if the event is a ‘bona fide’ fundraiser, according to House ethics rules. The event was not an official fundraiser nor a campaign event, so it is unclear how the lawmakers could accept tickets. Members also have to receive written approval to take a gift. The official said the RNC paid because the president attended.”

-- Former NAACP chief and congressman Kweisi Mfume said he will run for the House seat vacated by the death of Elijah Cummings. Jenna Portnoy reports: “Considered an elder statesman in Baltimore politics, Mfume, 71, occupied Maryland’s 7th District seat from 1987 to 1996, when he stepped aside to lead the NAACP. Cummings (D) then ran for the seat and won. … Mfume has said he and Cummings met in the late 1970s, when Mfume was an activist and radio commentator, and hit it off immediately, despite campaigning for opposing political factions. They remained close friends until Cummings’s death.”

-- D.C. Council member Jack Evans repeatedly used his office to benefit private clients, receiving over $400,000 for doing little or no documented work for consulting clients, an investigation found. Fenit Nirappil reports: “The confidential report by O’Melveny & Myers, distributed Monday to lawmakers and reviewed by The Washington Post, identified 11 instances since 2014 in which Evans violated the council’s rules governing ethics. … As a council member, Evans ‘repeatedly participated in his official capacity in ‘particular matters’ in which his outside employers or his personal clients had direct financial interests, failing to recognize the inherent conflict that should have been disclosed and addressed,’ O’Melveny & Myers concluded.”


The president routinely claims during his rallies that CNN has just stopped covering the event live. But he appears to be making this up, according to a CNN fact checker:

Trump, who promised in 2016 to release his tax returns, once again ignored questions about why he won't do so after another adverse legal ruling:

A former senior Obama adviser argued that more moderate does not necesarily mean more electable:

Some noted the irony behind Rand Paul's call for the name of the first whistleblower:

Rep. Justin Amash had a suggestion for the president: 

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer continues his run on "Dancing With the Stars," buoyed by votes from Trump supporters. From Mitch McConnell's former chief of staff:

And here's what the Supreme Court looks like up north:


"You can see from these letters that Kim wants to be friends with Trump, but his father told him never to give up the weapons. That’s his only security. Trump is like a new father figure. So, it is not an easy transition," said Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a top White House adviser, said of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Fox News



Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki donned a red “Make America Great Again” cap when he was summoned to the lectern by Trump during the Nationals’ visit to the White House. Trump gave him a brief bear hug:

Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki put on a "Make America Great Again" hat when President Trump introduced him at a Nov. 4 World Series celebration. (The Washington Post)

On Friday, reliever Sean Doolittle became the first Nationals player to publicly confirm that he would not attend Monday’s ceremony, and he explained his reasons in a lengthy interview with The Post. The other Nationals not in attendance were Anthony Rendon, Javy Guerra, Joe Ross, Wander Suero, Wilmer Difo, Michael A. Taylor, Victor Robles, Raudy Read, Tres Barrera and Roenis Elías. Most of their absences were not explained; Guerra told The Post he was preparing for his wedding. The Nationals did not speak to reporters at the White House. Here are highlights for those who did attend:

After winning the World Series, the Washington Nationals visited President Trump at the White House on Nov. 4. (The Washington Post)

A black cat ran around the field during "Monday Night Football":

Trevor Noah joked about how Trump’s “big, beautiful border wall” is not impenetrable:

Seth Meyers took a look at the many ways White House officials are trying to stonewall the House investigation:

Stephen Colbert thinks Republicans have been backed into a corner by the investigation: