From gubernatorial wins to a record number of women in Congress, here's where the 2018 midterm election saw historic gains on both state and national levels. (Joyce Koh /The Washington Post)
On The Hill
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: As the most diverse (and most female) House Democratic class arrives in Washington this week, there's one word some will be shouting from the monument tops and others probably won't even want to whisper: impeachment.
According to a Power Up analysis of statements made during the campaign by the 52 Democrats who won election to the House this year, only 11 — or 21 percent — have said they want to immediately move to impeach President Trump. Thirteen Democratic freshmen outright oppose impeachment and the largest number — 17 Democrats or 33 percent — said they wanted to see Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump officials had links to the Kremlin before deciding whether to move ahead on impeaching the president. We couldn't find a record in news reports of 11 more Democrats commenting on the issue.
Democrats' conflicting views on the “I word” are likely to cause major headaches for the new Democratic House leadership. Speaker hopeful Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said before the elections she wouldn't charge ahead with impeachment before Mueller delivers his report — and even then such a move would have to be bipartisan. Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose committee would spearhead hearings, said Sunday that Democrats were “far from” impeachment proceedings at the moment.
Pelosi has been “pretty clear that Democrats top priority is advancing legislation connected to our 'For the People' agenda and that impeachment would depend on the facts,” Pelosi's communications director Ashley Etienne wrote us in an email.
Nonetheless, the tension between the freshman class — many of whom rode to power on intense dislike of Trump — and the House Democratic leadership will be a big story line in the new Congress when it convenes in January. Just ask House Republican leaders who tried to corral the 2010 tea-party class.
More on impeachment:
Flipping out: Of the 30 lawmakers who oppose impeachment or are waiting for Mueller's probe to end, 24 ran in districts they were trying to flip from red to blue — meaning they toed a fine line on the issue during their winning campaigns and are likely to do so in Washington.
Risky: In Colorado’s 6th district, for example, Rep.-elect Jason Crow (D) said he opposed impeachment. In Texas’s 32nd district, rising Democratic star Rep.-elect Colin Allred (D) said it was important to allow Mueller to finish his work. Crow ousted Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) and Allred defeated Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).
Not risky: Eight of the 11 pro-impeachment lawmakers hailed from districts already controlled by Democrats. They include Reps-elect Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who represent liberal bastions in Minneapolis and the Bronx. Omar has called the president a “tyrant” and said he “has developed tendencies of dictatorship,” while Ocasio-Cortez cited Trump’s alleged violation of the Constitution's emoluments clause and alleged campaign finance abuses as grounds for impeachment.
What Democratic voters want: “Around 40 percent of 2018 voters said they want [Trump] impeached, according to CNN's national exit polls . . . 77 percent of self identified Democrats supported impeachment in the exit polls,” CNN's Grace Sparks reports.
- Threading the needle: “The new Democratic leadership and the entire Democratic caucus will really have to pull together to ensure a unified legislative agenda that appeals to constituents in Brooklyn, New York, while appealing to constituents in Brooklyn, Iowa,” said Steve Israel, a former congressman from New York and one-time chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The way to keep these new Democrats in 2020 is not to do things that force their voters to reconsider, and that won’t be easy,” per the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg's excellent piece on the freshman House Democrats.
At the White House
FRESH OFF THE PRESSES: The Post's Nick Miroff, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker report that Trump is preparing to remove Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary as early as this week.
- The key quote: “Trump canceled a planned trip with Nielsen this week to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas and told aides over the weekend that he wants her out as soon as possible, these officials said. The president has grumbled for months about what he views as Nielsen’s lackluster performance on immigration enforcement and is believed to be looking for a replacement who will implement his policy ideas with more alacrity.”
- The other key quote: “Trump has changed his mind on key personnel decisions before, and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is fighting Nielsen’s pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it, aides say. But Kelly’s future in the administration also is shaky, according to three White House officials,” The Post reports.
Veterans Day: In light of the criticism the president received for not visiting Arlington Ceremony yesterday, it's worth revisiting an answer he provided during an Associated Press interview last month.
- AP: On the subject of American soldiers and military overseas, why have you not yet visited a military base in a combat zone like in Iraq and Afghanistan?
- Trump: “Well, I will do that at some point, but I don’t think it’s overly necessary. I’ve been very busy with everything that’s taking place here. We have the greatest economy in the history of our country. I mean, this is the greatest economy we’ve ever had, best unemployment numbers ... Nobody has been better at the military. Hey, I just got them a pay raise. I haven’t had a pay raise in 11 years ... I just got them new equipment. They have stuff that was so old that the grandfathers used to fly it. I have done more for the military than any president in many, many years.”
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema delivered her victory speech Nov. 12, after winning the U.S. Senate seat in Arizona over Republican challenger Martha McSally. (Reuters)
Outside the Beltway
ONE MORE SENATE DEMOCRAT: For the first time in 30 years, a Democrat will hold the Arizona Senate seat after the race was called last night for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). She defeated her Rep. Martha McSally (R), making her “the first female senator in Arizona's history” and also the only one who is openly bisexual, The Post's Elise Viebeck reports.
- It's possible that McSally will still serve in the Senate: Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was appointed to replace Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) after his death but Kyl has not committed to serving next year. “It is possible that Republican Gov. Doug Ducey would appoint McSally to the seat,” Elise reports.
Graceful loser: McSally posted a concession on Twitter, wishing her good luck from her couch alongside her dog. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who Sinema will be replacing, also congratulated Sinema on Twitter “on a race well run, and won. It’s been a wonderful honor representing Arizona in the Senate. You’ll be great.”
Meanwhile in Florida, per The Post's Beth Reinhard, Sean Sullivan, and Amy Gardner: Gov. Rick Scott's (R) lead over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) “has narrowed to 12,562 votes out of more than 8 million ballots cast, or a margin of 0.15 percent . . . State law mandates a machine recount if the margin is half a percentage point or smaller and a manual recount if the margin is a quarter of a point or smaller. Counties are racing to meet a Thursday deadline to finish the machine recount.
. . . So far, courts and state agencies are resisting Scott’s demands to intervene in the recount. In Broward, a state judge on Monday rejected Scott’s request to have ballots and machines not used in the recount be impounded, admonishing him to 'ramp down the rhetoric' and let elections workers do their job. The secretary of state, which is in charge of monitoring elections, has said the office has found no evidence of criminal activity.”
Read more on Republicans fanning unfounded worries of voter fraud in Florida and other contests here.
MICHELLE'S MOMENT: Former first lady Michelle Obama's memoir, “Becoming,” is out today but it's already been No. 1 on Amazon since Friday. The book, which Oprah quickly selected as her latest book club pick, is being hailed as a vulnerable and intimate look back at Obama's private life and upbringing, lessons gleaned after eight years in the White House and the transition to again becoming a private citizen. Here are some of the highlights:
On Trump's birther conspiracy theory that put Obama's “family's safety at risk”: " . . . I don’t think he knew what he was doing. For him it was a game. But the threats that you face as the commander in chief are real . . . I want the country to take this in, in a way I didn't say out loud, but I am saying now. It was reckless, it put my family in danger, and it wasn't true. And he knew it wasn't true,” Obama also told Oprah during their Elle interview.
On #RelationshipGoals: “I felt like, I need to anchor myself in who I was so I wouldn't be this woman following this man. I really felt that I could get caught up in his swerving, that I would just become part of his swerve rather then figuring out my own self. So, yes, it was destabilizing but it was a motivator . . . So that I didn't just become his woman, which I knew I didn't want to be,” Obama writes, per an NPR excerpt.
Sasha Obama was once shot by a tranquilizer dart on the White House South Lawn: “Someone — a man named Lloyd, from an agency not identified — had set up a petting zoo on the South Lawn for the Obama family to enjoy. Amazingly, there was a lion, a tiger, a panther and a cheetah. They had been sedated to make them safe to walk among them, he assured them. But when they did, the cheetah bolted. 'We've got a contingency plan for exactly this scenario!' Lloyd assured her. Secret Service agents fired guns loaded with tranquilizer darts — hitting daughter Sasha in the right arm. 'This is your plan?' Michelle Obama screamed. 'Are you kidding me?,' according to USA Today's review.
Paging Melania Trump: “Optics governed more or less everything in the political world, and I factored this into every outfit,” Obama writes about dressing for life in the White House, per Elle.
Obama's closing message — optimism is the antidote to fear: “I continue, too, to keep myself connected to a force that’s larger and more potent than any one election, or leader, or news story — and that’s optimism. For me, this is a form of faith, an antidote to fear,” according to an excerpt of the book Oprah read to Obama.
Bonus Listen: Obama reads two sections of her book to NPR. Listen here.
In the Media
- What the Justice Department is reading: Opinion | Matthew Whitaker, we’re watching you by Adam Schiff, via The Post
- What the 2020 hopefuls are reading: Deval Patrick's presidential prospects by Jeffrey Toobin via The New Yorker
- What to read when deciding what to read: We read all 25 National Book Award finalists for 2018. Here’s what we thought by the staff of Vox
- What to read, on or off the court: What the hell happened to Darius Miles? by Darius Miles via The Players' Tribune