With Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: He’s a “Mad Men” president in a #MeToo world.

President Trump mimicked a Hispanic accent during a meeting in the Oval Office to complain about migrants crossing the southern border, according to a new book by an unnamed author. “We get these women coming in with like seven children,” he allegedly told aides. “They are saying, ‘Oh, please help! My husband left me!’ They are useless. They don’t do anything for our country. At least if they came in with a husband we could put him in the fields to pick corn or something.”

This anecdote comes from “A Warning,” which The Washington Post obtained ahead of its Nov. 19 release. Described only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” this book is by the same anonymous person who penned the September 2018 New York Times op-ed about resisting the president from the inside.

“I’ve sat and listened in uncomfortable silence as he talks about a woman’s appearance or performance,” the author writes. “He comments on makeup. He makes jokes about weight. He critiques clothing. He questions the toughness of women in and around his orbit. He uses words like ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’ to address accomplished professionals. This is precisely the way a boss shouldn’t act in the work environment.”

-- White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham dismissed the book as “a work of fiction” and issued a blanket denial. “The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies,” Grisham emailed. The president has previously suggested that the person doesn’t exist, but earlier this week the Justice Department warned the author’s agents at Javelin – who both served in the George W. Bush administration –  that whomever has written the book may be violating “one or more nondisclosure agreements” by not going through a classification review.

-- Phil Rucker, our White House bureau chief who got ahold of the early copy, describes “A Warning” as a “chilling portrait of the president as cruel, inept and a danger to the nation he was elected to lead.” Among the allegations spread across 259 pages: “Senior Trump administration officials considered resigning en masse last year in a ‘midnight self-massacre’ … but rejected the idea because they believed it would further destabilize an already teetering government … Trump considered presidential pardons as ‘unlimited ''Get Out of Jail Free'' cards on a Monopoly board’ … Trump once asked White House lawyers to draft a bill to send to Congress reducing the number of federal judges. ‘Can we just get rid of the judges? Let’s get rid of the [expletive] judges,’ the president said, according to the book. ‘There shouldn’t be any at all, really.’ …

The book contains a handful of startling assertions that are not backed up with evidence, such as a claim that if a majority of the Cabinet were prepared to remove Trump from office under the 25th Amendment, Vice President Pence would have been supportive. Pence denied this on Thursday, calling the book ‘appalling,’” Rucker reports. “The author portrays Trump as fearful of coups against him and suspicious of note-takers on his staff. According to the book, the president shouted at an aide who was scribbling in a notebook during a meeting, ‘What the [expletive] are you doing?’ He added, ‘Are you [expletive] taking notes?’ The aide apologized and closed the notebook.”

-- The comments about women attributed to Trump in the book track with a long record of other degrading and inappropriate statements, including to a member of his own Cabinet. The Times reported last month that Trump called then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “sweetheart” and “honey” during a conversation about securing the U.S.-Mexico border. “Kirstjen, you didn't hear me the first time, honey,” Trump said, two people familiar with the conversation told the Times. “Shoot 'em down. Sweetheart, just shoot 'em out of the sky, O.K.?”

-- Trump has mocked the #MeToo movement and said it’s gone too far. He impersonated and ridiculed professor Christine Blasey Ford after she testified against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who denied her allegations of sexual asault. Most notoriously, the 73-year-old who has been married three times was caught on a hot mic boasting during a 2005 conversation with “Access Hollywood” personality Billy Bush about grabbing women by the genitals and propositioning married women. “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said.

When the video emerged in October 2016, Trump apologized for what he called “locker-room banter.”

"Nobody has more respect for women than I do," the GOP nominee said during a debate with Hillary Clinton. "Nobody! Nobody has more respect."

After he got elected, Trump started suggesting without evidence that the video was not authentic. It is.

-- Trump has routinely attacked individual women in harshly personal terms, including with comments about their appearance. Last year, the president referred to Stormy Daniels as “Horseface” on Twitter. She’s the adult-film actress who was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about her allegations that they had an extramarital affair. The year before, he accused MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski of “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when she visited Mar-a-Lago. In 2015, discussing former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, a then-rival for the GOP nomination, Trump told Rolling Stone: “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president? I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not supposed to say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?”

He’s also assigned numbers to rate women on their level of physical attractiveness. A few years ago, Trump said supermodel Heidi Klum is no longer a “10.” She responded by posting a photo of herself wearing a shirt that said “10” on it.

-- As president, he has used the word “nasty” to describe many women, from the prime minister of Denmark after she wouldn’t entertain selling Greenland to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Duchess Meghan Markle and Clinton, the former secretary of state.

-- Trump has perpetuated archaic female stereotypes in several of his own books. “There’s nothing I love more than women, but they’re really a lot different than portrayed. They are far worse than men, far more aggressive, and boy, can they be smart,” Trump wrote in “The Art of the Comeback,” which came out in 1997.

“Women have one of the great acts of all time,” he added. “The smart ones act very feminine and needy, but inside they are real killers. The person who came up with the expression ‘the weaker sex’ was either very naive or had to be kidding. I have seen women manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye — or perhaps another body part.”

He recalled urging a friend with a “nagging” wife, Trump’s word, to file for divorce. “If he doesn’t lose the ballbreaker, his career will go nowhere,” Trump recalled telling the man. “For a man to be successful he needs support at home, just like my father had from my mother, not someone who is always griping and bitching," the future president explained. "When a man has to endure a woman who is not supportive and complains constantly about his not being home enough or not being attentive enough, he will not be very successful unless he is able to cut the cord.”

Trump suggested that his first marriage failed when he allowed his wife to work outside the home: “My big mistake with Ivana was taking her out of the role of wife and allowing her to run one of my casinos in Atlantic City, then the Plaza Hotel,” he lamented. “The problem was, work was all she wanted to talk about. When I got home at night, rather than talking about the softer subjects of life, she wanted to tell me how well the Plaza was doing, or what a great day the casino had. … I will never again give a wife responsibility within my business.”

-- Trump continues to be dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct, which he categorically denies. Consider two stories from just this week:

A writer and longtime women’s advice columnist sued the president on Monday for defamation after she claimed he sexually assaulted her more than two decades ago and he responded that she’s “not my type” and “totally lying.” E. Jean Carroll publicly described the alleged assault for the first time in June in a memoir. “At that time and in the new lawsuit, she said that after running into the then-real estate developer at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996, they chatted and shopped together before he attacked her in a dressing room. She said he knocked her head against a wall, pulled down her tights and briefly penetrated her before she pushed him off and ran out,” Beth Reinhard reports. “Carroll is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. … White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Monday called the lawsuit ‘frivolous’ and Carroll ‘a fraud.’”

On Tuesday, phone records emerged in another defamation suit against the president in New York from a second women he called a liar after she accused him of sexual assault. Trump made the calls from his cellphone to a former contestant on “The Apprentice” around the same time that she says he sexually assaulted her. “The excerpts from Trump’s Verizon cellphone bills over a three-month period in 2007 and 2008 show that Trump exchanged calls with Summer Zervos on at least six occasions, including on a day that Trump’s private calendar has shown that he was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel,” Josh Partlow reports. “That hotel stay is a key part of Zervos’s defamation lawsuit against Trump in New York State Supreme Court. Zervos says that Trump forced himself on her with unwanted kissing and groping while she visited him for lunch in his hotel room.”

-- These cases are likely to drag into 2020 and could become high-profile clouds over the president’s reelection campaign. What’s already been established about Trump’s conduct helps explain why he’s repelled so many college-educated suburban women who have historically voted for Republicans. The consequences of this were on display once again in Tuesday’s off-year elections, the third year in a row that Democrats have made gains in down-ballot races because of this constituency’s distaste for Trump.

-- Two other memorable metaphors about Trump in the new anonymous book are also generating buzz: Discussing his Twitter tirades, the official writes: “It’s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him.” The writer also compares Trump to “a twelve-year-old in an air traffic control tower, pushing the buttons of government indiscriminately, indifferent to the planes skidding across the runway and the flights frantically diverting away from the airport.”

-- The Times published a quite negative review of the book last night, criticizing the lack of detailed anecdotes and the unwillingness of the author to attach their name: “How can a book that has been denuded of anything too specific do anything more than pale against a formal whistle-blower complaint? It’s hard to look like a heroic truth teller by comparison, but Anonymous tries very hard,” Jennifer Szalai writes. “Anonymous has seen disturbing things. Anonymous has heard disturbing things. You, the reader, will already recognize most of what Anonymous has seen and heard as revealed in this book if you have been paying any attention to the news. Did you know that the president isn’t much of a reader? That he’s inordinately fond of autocrats? That ‘he stumbles, slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information’?

“‘A Warning,’ Anonymous says, is intended for a ‘broad audience,’ though to judge by the parade of bland, methodical arguments (Anonymous loves to qualify criticisms with a lawyerly ‘in fairness’), the ideal reader would seem to be an undecided voter who has lived in a cave for the past three years, and is irresistibly moved by quotations from Teddy Roosevelt and solemn invocations of Cicero.”

-- The author preemptively defends the decision to conceal his or her identity: “Some will call this ‘cowardice.’ My feelings are not hurt by the accusation. Nor am I unprepared to attach my name to criticism of President Trump. I may do so, in due course.”

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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is making plans to enter the Democratic presidential primary campaign this week. Matt Viser and Michael Scherer report: “Bloomberg, who as one of the world’s richest men would bring significant financial resources to his own campaign but also inflame the populist wing of the party, plans to file paperwork and has dispatched staff to Alabama to ensure he can get onto the ballot in a state that has a Friday filing deadline. He has been calling top party officials to let them know of his plans and could make an announcement as early as next week."

This should be read as a rebuke of Joe Biden's flailing campaign that reflects rising fear among centrist plutocrats of Elizabeth Warren: "One of the driving reasons Bloomberg decided against joining the race earlier this year — he announced his decision seven weeks before Biden entered — was his view that Biden was too formidable a contender. But in the months since, Biden has been underwhelming, remaining among the race’s leaders but halting in his debate performances and stumbling over raising the tens of millions necessary to mount a strong campaign. … Bloomberg, 77, has been outspoken in his opposition to Warren’s and [Bernie] Sanders’s intentions to raise taxes on the extremely wealthy like himself, and on Thursday they returned the ill sentiments. ... 'Welcome to the race, @MikeBloomberg!' Warren tweeted, providing a link to the impacts her policies would have on billionaires."

It is still possible that Bloomberg won't ultimately enter the race, but he is taking steps to ensure he will be on the ballot: “The Democratic field has winnowed recently from two dozen to 16, but Bloomberg’s decision could also open the door to other announcements. Former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. has not ruled out a possible entry, nor has … Hillary Clinton. Oprah Winfrey, an early backer of Barack Obama, has repeatedly begged Disney chief executive Bob Iger to jump into the race, but he has so far been unwilling.”

An unorthodox strategy: “Bloomberg has decided not to raise money for his bid if he does move forward, which would preclude him from entry in the Democratic debates under rules that require a growing number of donors to qualify. … It is also possible that he decides to skip the first four voting states … and place far more emphasis on the Super Tuesday contests of March 3, when the race will become more nationalized — and more expensive.”

-- In related billionaire-for-president news: A top aide to Tom Steyer has been privately offering campaign contributions to local politicians in Iowa in exchange for endorsing Steyer’s bid, the AP reports. “The overtures from Pat Murphy, a former state House speaker who is serving as a top adviser on Steyer’s Iowa campaign, aren’t illegal — though payments for endorsements would violate campaign finance laws if not disclosed. There’s no evidence that any Iowans accepted the offer or received contributions from Steyer’s campaign as compensation for their backing. But the proposals could revive criticism that the billionaire Steyer is trying to buy his way into the White House. Several state lawmakers and political candidates said they were surprised Steyer’s campaign would think he could purchase their support.”

THE IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY:

-- The House GOP's emerging plan to save Trump is to blame three of his deputies: E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, Rudy Giuliani and, possibly, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Karoun Demijrian and Rachael Bade report: “As Republicans argue that most of the testimony against Trump is based on faulty secondhand information, they are sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys. … Their evolving strategy comes as House Democrats settle on their argument that Trump tried to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to undertake two politically advantageous investigations as a precondition for U.S. military aid and a White House meeting between the two heads of state. … Republicans, however, face several potential problems if they try to pin a quid pro quo on Sondland alone. Sondland testified that he was ‘assuming’ Giuliani was speaking for Trump when he said the president wanted Zelensky to investigate the Ukrainian energy company Burisma … But while Giuliani is Trump’s personal lawyer, GOP lawmakers appear to think they can argue he was not coordinating his actions with the president."

-- House investigators subpoenaed Mulvaney to testify today, but he is not expected to appear. (AP)

-- Trump’s demands for Ukraine came down to three words -- “Investigations, Biden and Clinton” – according to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, who oversaw Ukraine policy. The transcript of his deposition, published yesterday afternoon, lays out in perhaps the starkest terms to date Trump’s shadow efforts to coerce Ukraine’s leadership to open investigations that would benefit him politically, Greg Jaffe and Mike DeBonis report: “Trump ‘wanted nothing less than President Zelensky to go to a microphone and say investigations, Biden and Clinton,’ Kent told House impeachment investigators. Kent’s assessment came from a summary of a conversation that Trump had with [Sondland]. The senior diplomat … also blasted [Giuliani], whom he described as waging a ‘campaign of lies’ aimed at the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine." 

-- Kent and acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor are expected to testify publicly next Wednesday. To get a taste of what to expect, read the full transcript of Kent’s deposition here.

-- Previewing his messaging plans, Trump tweeted that Joe and Hunter Biden "must testify" as part of the impeachment proceedings.

-- Adding to the intrigue: Kent also testified that Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Robert Portman (Ohio) and Mitch McConnell (Ky.) called Trump to ask him directly about his hold on Ukraine aid before it was lifted. (Politico)

-- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied discussing the ousting of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch with his former senior adviser Michael McKinley, who told investigators last month he asked Pompeo about the issue. John Hudson reports: “‘When Ambassador Yovanovitch returned to the U.S., he didn’t raise that issue with me,’ Pompeo said Thursday. He added that because McKinley’s focus wasn’t Ukraine ‘it shouldn’t surprise anyone that in May when that took place, he didn’t say a thing to me.’ McKinley testified that in September, after the administration released [the July 25 rough transcript], he pushed for the State Department to defend Yovanovitch by issuing a statement [in support of her]. … McKinley said in his testimony that he wanted a statement to underscore Yovanovitch’s ‘professionalism and courage.’ Pompeo decided against it, McKinley told impeachment investigators, saying he did not want to ‘draw undue attention to her.’”

-- The position of U.S. special envoy to Ukraine will probably be scrapped. It was formerly held by Kurt Volker, the first senior official to step down in the impeachment inquiry. From Foreign Policy: “The responsibilities of Volker’s role are expected to be taken up by other State Department officials whose portfolios include Ukraine. The demise of the special envoy post, which was part-time and unpaid, is one of the first tangible signs that fallout from the impeachment probe has left a lasting impact on U.S. policy toward Ukraine…The move leaves Kyiv without a clearly designated U.S. diplomat to watch its back in talks as [Zelensky] pushes for peace five years into a simmering war in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk that has killed more than 13,000 people. … Current and former officials say the position will likely be scrapped in large part because the administration would be hard-pressed to find someone to fill the role given how fraught working on Ukraine policy has become.

-- A star witness in the trial of former Trump confidant Roger Stone took the stand, cracking jokes and offering to do impressions while starkly contradicting Stone’s testimony to Congress about efforts to learn about Democratic emails hacked by Russia. Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu and Matt Zapotosky report: “Former radio host Randy Credico told jurors that — contrary to what Stone told lawmakers — he was not Stone’s secret back channel to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks, which published the emails that authorities say were hacked and ultimately released to benefit Trump’s campaign. … Prosecutors sought to prove to jurors that Stone had lied and obstructed — comparing documentary evidence to Stone’s recorded words to the House committee, and displaying inflammatory messages that Stone sent to Credico. ‘You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends,’ Stone wrote in April 2018, adding later, ‘I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die. . . .’ As Credico testified, Stone, 67, stared impassively at him — at times tilting his head back, and resting his right elbow at the defense table.”

-- Infowars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones threatened on his radio show to name someone he believes to be a juror in the Stone trial. That might be jury tampering. Deanna Paul reports: “Jones broadcast on his show the name and face of an individual whom he believed had been seated on Stone’s jury, calling the person an anti-Trump ‘minion’ and launching a flurry of witness tampering and obstruction of justice allegations. Although Jones held up a photo of a person who had no connection to the Stone trial, legal experts maintained the effect was the same as if the person had been a juror. … It doesn’t matter whether he revealed the right or wrong name or image, according to Mimi Rocah, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. His actions were not about a particular juror, but rather they were aimed at intimidating the others on the jury, she said.”

-- A federal judge slammed Trump for repeatedly attacking and insulting judges he dislikes. Katie Shepherd reports: “U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman of the District of Columbia said Trump’s rhetoric ‘violates all recognized democratic norms’ during a speech at the annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture in Washington on Wednesday. ‘We are in unchartered territory,’ said Friedman, 75, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. ‘We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.’ … Other judges have raised similar concerns about Trump’s rhetoric and the increasingly partisan interpretation of judicial rulings, but as a senior judge and secretary of the American Law Institute, Friedman’s criticism carries weight.”

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS THAT SHOULD NOT BE OVERLOOKED: 

-- A New York judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million in damages for misusing funds from his tax-exempt charity. David Fahrenthold and Joshua Partlow report: Trump took “the charity’s money to pay debts for his for-profit businesses, to boost his 2016 campaign and to buy a painting of himself, according to court documents. That order, from state Judge Saliann Scarpulla, settled a lawsuit filed against Trump last year by the New York attorney general. It marked an extraordinary moment: The president of the United States acknowledged in a court filing that he had failed to follow basic laws about how charities should be governed. Previously, Trump had insisted the charity was run properly and the suit was a partisan sham. … But in a statement tweeted out late Thursday, Trump seemed to play down the settlement he had just agreed to — saying, in spite of the failures he had just acknowledged, that the foundation’s money was spent properly and the lawsuit was politically motivated. … The June 2018 lawsuit … alleged ‘persistently illegal conduct’ at the Donald J. Trump Foundation …

As part of the settlement, Trump also agreed to disburse the $1.8 million remaining in the foundation to a set of charities, and to shutter it for good. In a statement signed by Trump’s attorney, the president admitted to poor oversight of the charity. … The president [agreed] to submit to extra monitoring of any future charitable activities in New York. … If Trump does ever join a charity board — or starts a new charity of his own — the charity must fill a majority of board seats with people who have no relationship to Trump. It also must hire a qualified attorney, submit to audits and agree never to pay Trump or his company for any services. … Trump’s three eldest children — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric — were also named in the original lawsuit, because they were listed as board members at the foundation. In reality, the board did not meet at all for 19 straight years, from 1999 to 2018. The three Trump children were required to take an ‘in-person interactive’ training class in how to be better board members, and the suit against them was dismissed, court documents say.”

-- My take: This settlement makes Trump much more likely to house his future presidential library and foundation in Florida, rather than New York, where he'd now face much more onerous oversight burdens. The president also recently changed his residency from the Empire State to the Sunshine State.

-- Ivanka Trump, who works in the White House, accused the Bidens of creating “wealth as a derivative” of public service, while her family made money with their businesses before her father became president. In an interview with the AP that just posted, she also said the identity of the whistleblower is “not particularly relevant.” She insisted she hasn’t been involved in discussions about the possible sale of the president’s Washington hotel. She led the acquisition and development of the hotel a few blocks from the White House.

-- The president vs. the presidency: Trump likes to boast that his landmark First Step Act has freed more than 3,000 inmates, but his own people at the Justice Department are trying to send many of them back to prison. Neena Satija, Wesley Lowery and Josh Dawsey report: “The five former inmates assembled on the White House stage weren’t scheduled to speak, but President Trump couldn’t help himself. … From behind the president, Gregory Allen saluted and then made his way to the microphone. ‘Two months ago, I was in a prison cell, and I’m in the White House,’ declared Allen, a Florida resident who had been freed under Trump’s signature criminal justice legislation. The gathering in April was a triumphant celebration of the First Step Act, the most sweeping overhaul of the federal criminal justice system in a generation. Since its passage nearly a year ago, the law has led to the release of more than 3,000 inmates — including Allen, who was convicted of cocaine trafficking in 2001.

“The Justice Department, though, had never wanted to let Allen out of prison. In fact, even as he and Trump shared a joyous embrace on television, federal prosecutors were trying to persuade a judge to put Allen back behind bars. … Neither the advocates who organized the April 1 event nor White House staff were aware that federal prosecutors had already notified the court that they would seek to reincarcerate him … Two weeks after local newscasts led the evening news with images of Allen smiling and embracing the president, the former inmate got another phone call: The government was dropping its appeal. Allen never received a formal explanation of why prosecutors changed course. But he gave The Post his theory: ‘Once they saw they gave me a presidential invite, they had to rethink things.’"

What's the rub? “The First Step Act aims to lessen long-standing disparities in punishment for nonviolent drug offenses involving crack cocaine. … But federal prosecutors are arguing in hundreds of cases that inmates who have applied for this type of relief are ineligible, according to a review of court records and interviews with defense attorneys. In at least half a dozen cases, prosecutors are seeking to reincarcerate offenders who have been released under the First Step Act. The department has told federal prosecutors that when determining whether to challenge an application for early release, they should consider not the amount of crack an inmate was convicted of having or trafficking — but rather the amount that court records suggest they may have actually had, which is often much larger. …

In the vast majority of cases reviewed by The Washington Post, judges have disagreed with the Justice Department’s interpretation. Some of the people involved in writing the legislation also disagree, including Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney in Utah. He and other supporters of the law note that the text of the legislation does not explicitly instruct courts to consider the actual amount of crack an offender allegedly had. ‘This is not a faithful implementation of this part of the First Step Act,’ said Tolman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.”

-- Environmental Protection Agency officials are in a standoff with the agency’s independent watchdog over a probe of a top EPA official’s attempts to influence a scientist ahead of her congressional testimony. Juliet Eilperin reports: “In a letter released publicly Wednesday, acting EPA inspector general Charles J. Sheehan informed Congress that his office had encountered a ‘flagrant problem’ in light of [EPA chief of staff Ryan] Jackson’s refusal to cooperate with an ongoing audit and investigation focused on his activities while in office. ‘To countenance open defiance even in one instance — much less two, both by a senior official setting precedent for himself and all agency staff — is ruinous,’ Sheehan wrote. Agency officials have pushed back at the accusations, arguing that they had sought to accommodate the IG’s requests.”

-- The IG is also asking witnesses whether Jackson has routinely destroyed politically sensitive documents, Politico reports. 

-- Senior aides at the Commerce Department forced NOAA to publicly rebuke its weather forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., for contradicting Trump’s comments about the threat Hurricane Dorian posed there. Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman report: “According to emails released via a Freedom of Information Act request from The Post and other news organizations, Julie Kay Roberts, NOAA’s deputy chief of staff and communications director, was told on Sept. 2 about the motivation behind a tweet that the National Weather Service office in Birmingham had sent at 11:11 a.m. the day before. When forecasters there tweeted that ‘Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,’ they were responding to an influx of calls from worried residents and not to an earlier tweet from Trump. Trump had wrongly tweeted at 10:51 a.m. the same day that Alabama would ‘most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,’ sparking confusion and fear in the state. … ‘I wanted to let you know that the forecasters in Birmingham who made the clarification post for Alabama [were] unaware of the POTUS tweet when they made their post,’ Susan Buchanan, director of public affairs for the National Weather Service, wrote to Weather Service and NOAA officials.”

-- JBS, a Brazilian company that is the largest meat producer in the world, has received $78 million as part of Trump's $16 billion bailout meant for farmers getting crushed because of his trade war. That’s more than any domestic pork producer. Kimberly Kindy reports: “JBS’s winning hand in securing a quarter of all of the pork bailout contracts is one example of the power a small number of multinational meat companies now hold in the United States. JBS has become a major player in the United States even as it faces price-fixing and other investigations from the federal government. … A dozen years ago, JBS did not own a single U.S. meat plant. Today, JBS and three other food companies control about 85 percent of beef production. … JBS said in a written statement that its American subsidiary, JBS USA, is a vital part of the agricultural economy. The company employs more than 60,000 people in the United States and buys from more than 11,000 U.S. farmers and ranchers. ...

"Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) recently challenged whether JBS’s entry into the U.S. market should have been allowed. Corruption scandals have engulfed JBS in Brazil, the senators wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and company officials have ‘admitted criminal conduct to secure loans that were used for investment in the United States.’ They’ve asked for a review of the purchases.”

-- A new chain of Christian pregnancy centers will provide contraception. Sarah Puliiam Bailey reports: “Eight independent Texas-based pregnancy centers merged earlier this year to form a chain called The Source. With Christian women’s health centers in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, the nonprofit organization plans to offer a full array of medical services, to include testing for sexually transmitted diseases, first-trimester prenatal care and contraception choices. … Planned Parenthood announced in August its plans to forgo about $60 million in Title X family planning funds rather than comply with new Trump administration rules ... Now the Source group, which will not refer patients for abortion, plans to vie for the money in 2020. The decision to provide contraception is a huge cultural shift for Christian centers that, for religious reasons, do not normally offer birth control. But it represents what some in the antiabortion movement say is a much-needed rebranding for pregnancy centers.”

-- Walgreens handled nearly one in five of the most addictive opioids at the height of the epidemic. Jenn Abelson, Aaron Williams, Andrew Ba Tran and Meryl Kornfield report: “Walgreens dominated the nation’s retail opioid market from 2006 through 2012, buying about 13 billion pills — 3 billion more than CVS, its closest competitor, according to a Drug Enforcement Administration database of opioid shipments. Over those years, Walgreens more than doubled its purchases of oxycodone. The company had ‘runaway growth’ of oxycodone sales because it continued to send pills to stores ‘without limit or review,’ Edward Bratton, Walgreens manager of pharmaceutical integrity, wrote to another employee in 2013. The email is among thousands of documents recently disclosed in a federal lawsuit that seeks to hold Walgreens and other businesses responsible for the nation’s opioid crisis. … By acting as its own distributor, Walgreens took on the responsibility of alerting the DEA to suspicious orders by its own pharmacies and stopping those shipments. Instead, about 2,400 cities and counties nationwide allege that Walgreens failed to report signs of diversion and incentivized pharmacists with bonuses to fill more prescriptions of highly addictive opioids.”

-- Bernie Sanders released his immigration plan, which would give undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years the chance to stay without the risk of deportation. From the Times: “[He] called for ending virtually all of the Trump administration’s immigration policies and creating a ‘swift, fair pathway to citizenship’ for undocumented immigrants … If elected, Mr. Sanders would, on his first day in office, place a moratorium on all deportations until his administration conducted a ‘thorough audit of current and past practices and policies,’ his campaign said. And he would seek to restructure the Department of Homeland Security, reassigning responsibilities for border enforcement, naturalization and citizenship and customs authority to other cabinet agencies. In doing so, he would ‘break up’ Immigrations and Customs Enforcement … splitting its responsibilities between the Justice and State Departments. … He also said he would decriminalize unauthorized border crossings, making them a civil offense, an idea pushed by Julián Castro.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Iran barred the U.N. nuclear inspector from entering a uranium-enrichment plant after Iranian officials said she tested positive for explosive nitrates. Erin Cunningham and Steve Hendrix report: “The move drew condemnation from the United States, which called Iran’s decision to expel the inspector an ‘outrageous provocation.’ A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, confirmed that one of its inspectors was ‘temporarily prevented from leaving Iran’ last week. … According to Iranian officials, the inspector was halted by security at the gate of Iran’s main enrichment plant in Natanz after triggering an alarm. The alert raised officials’ concerns she was carrying ‘suspicious material.’ … ‘We repeated the [security] process with different detectors and also her suitcase, and the alarms went off every time,’ Kazem Gharbabadi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said in an interview Thursday with Iranian state television.”

-- The top American diplomat in northern Syria said the Trump administration didn’t do enough to prevent Turkey’s military offensive and said Turkish-backed military fighters committed “war crimes and ethnic cleansing.” From the Times: “In a searing internal memo, the diplomat, William V. Roebuck, raised the question of whether tougher American diplomacy, blunter threats of economic sanctions and increased military patrols could have deterred Turkey from attacking. Similar measures had dissuaded Turkish military action before. ‘It’s a tough call, and the answer is probably not,’ Mr. Roebuck wrote in the 3,200-word memo. ‘But we won’t know because we didn’t try.’ He did note several reasons the Turks might not have been deterred: the small American military presence at two border outposts, Turkey’s decades-long standing as a NATO ally and its formidable army massing at the Syrian frontier.”

-- French President Emmanuel Macron told the Economist that NATO has suffered “brain death.” Adam Taylor reports: “‘What will Article 5 mean tomorrow?’ the French leader said in an interview with the Economist, referring to the article of the North Atlantic Treaty on collective defense. ‘If the Bashar al-Assad regime [in Syria] decides to retaliate against Turkey, will we commit ourselves under it? It’s a crucial question.’ Macron’s comments are among the most pessimistic made by a leader of a European NATO power in recent years. They follow years of criticism of NATO by [Trump]. … The remarks drew a rebuke Thursday afternoon in Berlin, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the French president had used ‘drastic words’ that did not reflect her view. ‘NATO remains a cornerstone of our security,’ Merkel said at a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who emphasized the need for unity in the alliance. Some analysts warned that although Macron may be trying to rally European allies with his remarks, his comments could backfire.”

-- Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, children of a united Germany remain divided. Loveday Morris and Luisa Beck report: “Events celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise this week are tempered by soul-searching about continued rifts in society. Although economic divisions between East and West have narrowed, the East still lags behind. And political and psychological divisions, which until recent years had been written off by some politicians as issues of the past, have become increasingly obvious. That’s especially the case within the generation raised after reunification and without memory of the communist state that preceded it. Only 38 percent of East Germans think reunification succeeded, according to a government report released in September. That drops to 20 percent among those younger than 40, who experienced East Germany only as children or not at all.”

-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party could break Israel’s political deadlock by dumping him. But it likely won’t. Ruth Eglash reports: “Such a rebellion has never happened in Likud’s long history, and there is little talk of one now. … [Former military chief and Netanyahu rival Benny] Gantz has less than two weeks left to pull together a coalition in parliament and says he’s willing, even prefers, to join forces with Likud, but he has also made very clear his reluctance to sit in government with a leader facing criminal indictment. If Gantz falls short, Israel could be headed back to a third national election in less than a year. …  There are subtle signs Netanyahu’s position is weakening. Present and former Likudniks — as members are known in Hebrew — are beginning to express disillusionment with the direction he is taking the party and asking why he’s still there after a year of failures.” 

-- A Hong Kong student died following a police operation, provoking a new wave of anger among protesters. Casey Quackenbush reports: “Chow Tsz-lok, a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, had been in a coma since early Monday, when he fell one story in a parking lot in the Tseung Kwan O neighborhood while police officers were dispersing protesters nearby. The 22-year-old died shortly after 8 a.m. Friday, the city’s Hospital Authority said. Chow’s death could be the first directly connected to police confrontation with protesters, but the details of what exactly happened in the lead-up to the fall are not clear. … The development quickly ignited the city’s pro-democracy movement. By Friday afternoon, crowds of black-clad people began gathering across the city to commemorate Chow’s death, with marchers brandishing signs denouncing the police, bearing white flowers, and calling for revenge.”

-- Newly published diplomatic cables show that the U.S. ambassadors to El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras asked administration officials to abandon plans to send hundreds of thousands of migrants back to their home countries. From the AP: “As the Trump administration in its early days tried to push through hardline immigration policies, it appeared to calculate their possible impact on the 2020 presidential race while rejecting national security warnings from U.S. diplomats, according to State Department memos … The apparent injection of electoral politics in what was supposed to be a policy decision about humanitarian protections for migrants from some of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest and most violent countries came from then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s policy planning staff.”

-- Mourners flooded the small fundamentalist Mormon community in Northern Mexico for the first funerals after the massacre that left nine dead. Kevin Sieff reports: “The first caskets carried Dawna Langford, 43, and her sons Trevor, 11, and Rogan, 2. Family members wept as they delivered their eulogies. … Hundreds of mourners, many of them family, streamed into this town settled in the 1950s by American fundamentalist Mormons for the first of the services, held in Langford’s backyard. … In eulogy after eulogy, mourners spoke of La Mora and other nearby Mormon communities as one large extended family, members now leaning on each other as they mourn their losses and face the uncertainty of what comes next.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Donald Trump Jr. writes in his new book that visiting Arlington National Cemetery with his father to lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns reminded him of his family’s sacrifices. “I rarely get emotional, if ever,” Trump Jr. writes in the book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” “In that moment, I also thought of all the attacks we’d already suffered as a family, and about all the sacrifices we’d have to make to help my father succeed — voluntarily giving up a huge chunk of our business and all international deals to avoid the appearance that we were ‘profiting off the office,’” Trump Jr. explained.

From a Democratic congressman who served in the Iraq War:

From another Iraq War veteran:

Another billionaire has joined the 2020 race, and Trump's wealth pales in comparison:

The Post's Fact Checker pointed out that Bloomberg's money may have better use elsewhere: 

From a Post reporter who used to cover New York City government: 

Bloomberg's top strategist defended his client:

The three most recent New York City mayors are all somehow involved in the 2020 drama: Giuliani, Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, who dropped out of the race a while ago. A writer for the New Republic quipped:

Only one surviving former NYC mayor is sitting this one out:

A top Senate Republican is calling on Democrats to let the impeachment inquiry drag out by waiting for the courts to adjudicate disputes over subpoenas. If Democrats were to do so, it's safe to guess that these same lawmakers would also criticize Democrats for wasting too much time -- in an election year -- on the process:

The testimony of Roger Stone's former associate was everything but boring:

A former 2020 candidate who ran on a platform of combating climate change gave a popular meme a try:

And "The Apprentice: White House" may be coming to your TV soon: 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I live in the United States. Not Nazi Germany. Not Stalinist Russia. Not North Korea,” attorney Mark Zaid, who represents the whistleblower, said in response to Eric Trump’s suggestion that Zaid go to prison.

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Jeff Sessions officially launched his Senate campaign in Alabama by praising the president who fired him:

Julián Castro hit back at Pete Buttigieg during an appearance on “The Daily Show”:

Stephen Colbert said Trump adviser Stephen Miller might be the only person who is happy in the White House right now:

Seth Meyers joked that Trump is a pioneer of the English language:

Jimmy Kimmel laughed at the irony of Trump thinking news outlets don’t use fact checkers anymore:

And here's a beluga whale playing fetch: