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"FIVE DAYS OF FURY”: Have you been reading President Trump's "splenetic" recent tweets? The Post's Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker have new details about the president's "foul mood" since he jetted off to Paris last Friday.
- Trump berated British Prime Minister Theresa May for “not doing enough, in his assessment, to contain Iran" and complained about trade deals and Brexit after she called to congratulate him on GOP wins post the midterms.
- Trump “erupted at his staff over media coverage of his decision to skip a ceremony honoring the military sacrifice of World War I.”
- “The president also was angry and resentful over French President Emmanuel Macron’s public rebuke of rising nationalism, which Trump considered a personal attack.”
- Trump “told advisers over the weekend that he had decided to remove Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and that he also was seriously considering replacing White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, who scrambled early this week to try to save Nielsen’s job.”
- “On his flight there and throughout the weekend, Trump was preoccupied by political developments back in the United States . . . He also complained about the lack of congressional funding for his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.”
On The Hill
TRUMP'S MVP: House Republicans are expected to pick Kevin McCarthy as their minority leader when the party meets today for leadership elections. House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is challenging McCarthy, but isn't expected to best the California lawmaker despite GOP grousing about losing the House majority in the midterms.
Will McCarthy's close bond with Trump and his fluency in #MAGA-speak be his greatest asset or at odds with his new responsibilities to lead Republicans back from the wilderness in 2020 alongside a president whose divisive status, some say, is partly to blame for last week's bruising defeat? We talked to some people about it:
Understanding Trump and McCarthy's affinity for one another: It's no surprise to those who know the two men that Trump and “my Kevin,” as the president calls him — both described as “backslapping” and “affable” by allies — get along. But their relationship dates back to the infamous “Access Hollywood” episode in 2016.
- Per a source close to the White House: “On a weekend when almost every member of the GOP establishment and every member of Republican leadership chastised and attacked Trump — McCarthy was the lone member of leadership publicly defending Trump . . . and that’s something that stuck with both the president and the people around him. When he was in his darkest hour, McCarthy didn't tuck tail and run away from him — he stood up and fought with him. He took the exact opposite approach that Paul Ryan and the rest of the establishment took and that cemented their relationship.”
How McCarthy has shaped the House in Trump's GOP: Hill GOP sources and those close to the White House point to McCarthy's success in unifying the House GOP's ideological factions as majority leader. But some also contend, correctly, that as majority leader, McCarthy helped lead the GOP into defeat along with outgoing House Speaker Ryan (R-Wis.).
- Sources point to McCarthy's support for an ideologically diverse leadership slate as a strength. For example, the two Republicans running for the no. 5 leadership spot — chair of the GOP policy committee — are from the Freedom Caucus. McCarthy's “supported leadership that is more ideologically in line with GOP voters than probably at any time in the last decade,” a source close to the White House said.
- McCarthy has also mirrored Trump on immigration: He introduced right before the elections the “Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act,” which full funds Trump's $23.4 billion dollar wall along the Southern border. The bill also cuts off funds for sanctuary cities.
- But: McCarthy also comes from California, one of the most problematic states for a GOP lurching rightward. Republicans stand to lose several Republican incumbents in the Golden State with the Associated Press calling the race against Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) last night, and Rep. Mimi Walters (R) and GOP candidate Young Kim in trouble there too.
How McCarthy can be most effective: Marc Short, Trump's former director of legislative affairs, said that McCarthy's greatest asset will be providing Trump advice on how policy positions will play out politically and how the president's rhetoric or actions will impact individual House members.
- Politics: “I recall when we had our retreat back in January . . . Kevin laid out the political map and the way he saw things going — he has the uncanny ability to retain information on almost every House district that Republicans occupy or that are swing districts,” Short added.
- Policy: Trump freed federal funds for the California wildfires after berating the state for “gross mismanagement” following a phone call from McCarthy, who explained the devastation, on Monday night, the New York Times's Julie Davis reports.
GOPers say the House GOP defeat won't hurt McCarthy: “Kevin is overwhelmingly going to get these votes because he has earned the trust of these members — they understand he's got their backs. He's also an asset in terms of his ability to attract money and resources and recruitment,” Eric Cantor, former House majority leader, told Power Up.
Supporting Evidence: Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) sang McCarthy's praises yesterday. “I feel [McCarthy] invested a lot of time and interest in our area. He personally flew down to the Everglades with me, and looked at all the Okeechobee watershed restoration projects, stayed at our house. I've seen him work effectively to help us get major appropriations needed to restore the Everglades. I feel very close to [McCarthy] and think he would be a great minority leader."
Yet will he sufficiently push back on Trump when Republicans need to?: Hill sources described Ryan as a figure who could at times be diametrically opposed to some of Trump speaker.
- Cantor: “He'll be most effective to offer advice on where there's opportunities to put some points on the board and offer wins . . . he knows how to navigate the institution, has been there a long time and knows what's possible and how to deliver,” Cantor said.
- Short: His advice is "discreet but also trusted. I don’t think there's a sense that when Kevin speaks to the president that he is trying to whip him or trying to articulate something with a particular agenda.”
After pushing off questions about House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi until after the election, many non-incumbent Democrats are still dodging questions about her. (JM Rieger/The Washington Post)
President Trump on Nov. 5 said "for the most part" he "loves" his Cabinet and said he would announce the next ambassador to the U.N. by the end of the week. (The Washington Post)
At the White House
PERSONNEL DRAMA: The post-midterm staffing upheaval we were all bracing for at the White House is in motion.
- Battle for chief of staff: The Post reported earlier this week that Chief of Staff John Kelly's “future in the administration is shaky.” Yesterday, NBC News' Carol E. Lee, Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Courtney Kube reported that Kelly, “mired in conflicts with a widening array of officials from the National Security Council to the office of the first lady, may soon depart the Trump administration, according to seven people familiar with the discussions.”
- Tensions with the first lady's staff: “There have been instances where the East Wing staff were not treated as equals to the male-dominated decision makers in Chief Kelly’s office,” one White House official told NBC. “Promotions were denied then finally granted after months of requests,” the official said . . . Some people close to the president believe Kelly’s handling of the East Wing at times is a significant threat to him maintaining his job.”
- Potential replacements: The leading contender to replace Kelly is Vice President Mike Pence's Chief of Staff Nick Ayers. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney also has expressed interested in the job. A source close to Mulvaney told Power Up that Mulvaney is interested in the “promotion” while another source close to Mulvaney said he is “no longer interested in chief of staff.”
- BUT: The Post reports that “aides told Trump that appointing Ayers would lower staff morale and perhaps trigger an exodus. [Trump] has continued to praise Ayers, who also enjoys the support of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, according to multiple White House officials.”
- More from the East Wing: Mira Ricardel, the deputy national security adviser, appeared headed for the exits after Melania Trump's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, released an extraordinary statemen: “It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House.”
- Why? A source told Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs the bad blood stemmed from FLOTUS's tussle with Ricardel after she threatened “to withhold National Security Council resources during Melania Trump’s trip to Africa last month unless Ricardel or another NSC official was included in her entourage, one person familiar with the matter said.” Ricardel was one of John Bolton's first hires.
- And finally: Retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, perhaps best known for overseeing the Iraq War, was named U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. This pick comes as the Trump administration has lagged on punishing Saudi Arabia for the killing of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Read Anne Gearan and Dan Lamothe's report on Abizaid here.
Five current and former White House officials said Tuesday that Ricardel had berated people in meetings, yelled at professional staff, argued with first lady & spread rumors about Mattis. All five officials said she was deeply disliked in the White House. https://t.co/5cCjVU3N4M— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) November 13, 2018
Outside the Beltway
THE LAMEST DUCKS: Technically speaking, the congressional lame duck session is not supposed to exist. In the 1930s, a band of progressive lawmakers thought they had killed it, but it has lived on, weathering biennial torrents of criticism and even a constitutional amendment designed to end the practice. This week, as the 2018 version session kicks off, Power Up talked to Jeffery A. Jenkins, a public policy professor at the University of Southern California, about the curious history behind defeated lawmakers returning to Capitol Hill for one last hurrah.
- Nearly as old as our government: The term “lame duck,” once considered quite the insult, comes from 18th century Britain, when it was used to describe “bankrupt businessmen, who were considered 'lame,' like a game bird injured by shot,” wrote Jane Hudiburg of the congressional Research Service. By the 1830s, a disaffected citizenry began applying the term to politicians still serving after having not won reelection.
- 'A national menace': Americans have heaped invective on lame ducks for more than 100 years, calling them “a national menace” and “has-beens.” Jenkins explained the furor: “The issue involves accountability,” he told us. “Lame ducks no longer have this 'electoral connection' to shape their behavior. They are free to behave (vote) any way they like, without repercussion . . . they could sell their votes to corporations, interest groups, etc., in exchange for some downstream payoff (like a job).”
- 'Lame duck ending' . . . or not: In 1933, lawmakers thought they'd eliminated lame ducks through the 20th Amendment. “This amendment will free Congress of the dead hand of the so-called 'lame duck,' " one congressman said at the time. The Post's own front page even blared, "'LAME DUCK' ENDING.” The thing is, lawmakers moved Congress's end date from March to January, thinking legislators would never make the long journey back to Washington during the holiday season.
- Except for that one thing: “The big mistake of the crafters of the 20th Amendment was that they didn't really anticipate airplane travel,” Bruce Ackerman, a Yale University law professor, told The Post in 2010.
- Duck and cover: In the last-quarter century, the lame duck has become a fact of life, Jenkins told us, with legislators pushing ambitious agenda items like immigration and “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”
- What's waiting in the wings: “This year is special,” Jenkins said. “The GOP will lose the House come January, so they only have a few months of unified government left” to consider polarizing issues.
A U.S. think tank said on Monday it had identified at least 13 of an estimated 20 undeclared missile operating bases inside North Korea, underscoring the challenge for American negotiators. (Reuters)
ALERT EMOJI: In the days after a Washington think tank revealed the existence of more than a dozen hidden missile operating bases in North Korea, we touched base with The Post's Tokyo bureau chief Simon Denyer, who covers Japan, South Korea and North Korea. We asked him what the revelation meant for U.S.-North Korea negotiations and American strategy in the region. Here's Simon:
- "The fact that North Korea has missile bases and is keeping them maintained in apparently working order them shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The bigger problem right now — that the existence of these bases underlines — is the North Koreans have apparently signaled they’re unwilling to hand over a list of their nuclear facilities to the Americans, believing that would just give the U.S. military a list of targets. They are even less willing to let international inspectors roam freely inside their country."
- On delayed meetings between U.S. and North Korean officials: "We don’t know for sure why the North Korean negotiating team didn’t arrive in New York to meet [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo as planned last week. One diplomat told us it was because [North Korean official] Kim Yong Chol wanted to personally deliver a letter from Kim to Trump, but the president was too busy with mid-terms to receive him."
- All about the sanctions: "The North Koreans have made it increasingly clear they won’t take any further steps unless there is sanctions relief. And Pompeo has made it equally clear he won’t agree to lifting sanctions until North Korea fully and verifiably disarms. Given how far North Korea is from meeting that condition, the two sides are still a long way apart."
- But anything is possible: "Still, don’t rule out further progress. Trump and Kim are hoping to meet in in the new year, and they could easily get the process moving again."
The story in the New York Times concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate. We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new - and nothing happening out of the normal. Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2018
NEW ERA OF WOMEN IN POLITICS (SOME IRL PROGRAMMING!): On Thursday from 4:30 — 6 p.m., The Post will host an event to discuss the results of a historic election cycle for women. Speakers include White House Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp and newly-elected House Democrats Ayanna Pressley, Jennifer Wexton, Ilhan Omar and others. If you want to attend, please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Live stream and additional information here.