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From the Courts
BROKEN: Prosecutors with special counsel Robert Mueller said that President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort breached his plea agreement, accusing him of lying repeatedly to them in their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, The Post reported on Monday night. Manafort denied that he "intentionally" lied.
- From the prosecutors: “After signing the plea agreement, Manafort committed federal crimes by lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Counsel’s Office on a variety of subject matters, which constitute breaches of the agreement,” prosecutors wrote.
- Sentencing should begin now: “The government will file a detailed sentencing submission to the Probation Department and the Court in advance of sentencing that sets forth the nature of the defendant’s crimes and lies.”
- The bottom line: "The filing also indicated that Mueller’s team may have lost its potentially most valuable witness in Manafort, a top campaign official present at discussions at the heart of the special counsel’s mission to determine if any Americans conspired with Russia’s efforts to sway the U.S. election," Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Devlin Barrett reported.
At the White House
ALL EYES ON MISSISSIPPI: Trump spent Monday jetting around Mississippi aiming to push GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) over the finish line in today's Senate runoff, “a rescue mission” in an election “riven by divergent attitudes here about the legacy of segregation and lynching,” our Phil Rucker, who was traveling with the president on Air Force One, reports.
- Advantage GOP: Trump, who won Mississippi by 18 percentage points in the 2016 election, called today “one of the most important elections of your lives,” adding that a win by Democrat Mike Espy would “revoke” Republican's Senate victory.
- Apologia: Trump unequivocally defended Hyde-Smith's “public hanging” comments that turned the race into “into a proxy of sorts for a debate over the identity of Mississippi,” Rucker writes: “First of all, there was an apology made,” Trump told reporters in Gulfport. "I heard that loud and clear. Second of all, really it was something that was sad and it was a little flip . . . I know where her heart is, and her heart is good. That’s not what she was meaning when she said that.”
VISER'S VIEW: Our Matt Viser wrote to Power Up from Jackson in advance of the runoff. Viser (along with Dave Weigel) has been tracking Democratic efforts to turn out African American voters in hopes that Espy will upset Hyde-Smith in the deeply conservative state. Viser writes:
- “There are billboards around Mississippi. 'VOTE AGAIN' they read, attempting to remind voters there is an election. Another one. A last one ... 'We had our turkey, our dressing, our cranberry sauce,' Espy said. 'Thanksgiving is over. We have a job to do.'
- “In the final hours, President Trump was at twin rallies comparing himself to Elvis and urging voters to support [Hyde-Smith] (who said she’d always champion Trump). [Espy] was swaying to the gospel music inside a church as supporters rose to their feet and swayed their arms.
- “Both sides are preparing for a long night of slow vote-counting. And both are making a statement of sorts with their election night locations: Espy will be at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum . . . Hyde-Smith will be a half-mile away at the Westin, where she’s held previous election nights."
TRUMP on GM plant closures: "We don't like it. I believe they'll be opening up something else. And I was very tough. I spoke with her when I heard they were closing and I said, you know, this country has done a lot for general motors. You better get back in there soon." pic.twitter.com/ggV5YgEwyz— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 26, 2018
Outside the Beltway
COMMUNITIES SHAKEN AS GM ANNOUNCES CUTS: General Motors announced it was closing five of its factories and laying off nearly 15,000 workers. It’s a jarring move that sent shock waves through swaths of Trump country where the president has pledged to protect and promote exactly the sort of jobs the automaker just eliminated. The cutbacks — at plants in Oshawa, Ontario; Detroit-Hamtramck; Lordstown, Ohio; White Marsh, Md.; and Warren, Mich. — will reportedly save GM $6 billion.
The trade factor: Some blamed tariffs Trump imposed on imported raw materials like steel and aluminum for increasing the cost of making cars.
- In July, GM “slashed its profits forecast for 2018, a move that helped send its stock down 4.6 percent,” because of higher steel costs due to the tariffs, the New York Times reported. “Higher prices for steel and aluminum could add as much as $700 million to General Motors’ costs this year,” Chuck Stevens, the company’s chief financial officer, said at the time.
- Full-steam ahead: But Trump told the Wall Street Journal he “expects to move ahead with boosting tariff levels on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25%, calling it 'highly unlikely' that he would accept Beijing’s request to hold off on the increase,” Bob Davis reports.
“If we don’t make a deal, then I’m going to put the $267 billion additional on” at a tariff rate of either 10 percent or 25 percent, said Trump, who is slated to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping this weekend at the G-20 summit.
Power Up talked to Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), a veteran former GM lobbyist who counts the auto industry among her top legislative priorities:
- Boom and bust: “Here’s the reality: this is a cyclical industry,” Dingell told us. “We’ve had the longest period of strong sales there’s ever been in the history of the industry, so there’s going to be a certain softening anyway.”
- Trade: Dingell echoed some of Trump's complaints about trade policy and said lawmakers should ensure jobs don't move overseas to Mexico. “We don’t have a clear trade policy and that’s a part of the problem,” Dingell said. “We don’t have a government that fights, that levels the playing field.”
- GM must also step up: Dingell said she’d like to see her former employer take a bigger role in trade talks in the same way as Ford, Chrysler and the United Auto Workers Union.
- Down the road: The Michigan lawmaker plans to spearhead a bipartisan effort at trying to reverse GM's decision. “This is the future of America’s economy. We have no choice. This industry is the backbone of the American economy and we have to work together.”
The backlash — against Trump and GM, and from the left and from the right — was swift:
- Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) tweeted that “GM owes the community answers” and said the decision “is corporate greed at its worst.” Brown, on MSNBC, added he warned Trump something like this might happen and asked the president to speak with GM CEO Mary Barra on Ohio’s behalf. But, Brown said, “The president was silent — he didn’t want to stand up to her.”
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said that “GM let Northeast Ohio down.” Portman said Barra and GM to produce a new vehicle at the Lordstown plant, “particularly if they're moving to focus on electric vehicles — those vehicles should be made in America.”
- Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) told laid-off employees at the UAW Local 1112 hall: “This is not a political issue. This is not a partisan issue. This is an American issue,” per The Vindicator's Jordyn Grzelewski.
- Trump echoed the lawmakers’ frustrations with GM, but stopped short of shouldering any of the blame, telling a reporter the layoffs had nothing to do with his tariffs. “I spoke with [Barra] when I heard they were closing and I said, ‘You know, this country has done a lot for General Motors. You better get back in there soon.’” The president added, “They’d better put something else in.”
That last line sounds like a warning, but it may also be a recognition that job losses in key Trump counties could translate to electoral losses for the president and his party in 2020.
- As The Post’s Philip Bump pointed out, Trumbull County, Ohio, where the Lordstown plant is located, is a prototypical blue-collar county that swung from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016. It's “a place no longer as dependent on manufacturing as it had been but a place still more dependent on it than others.”
- In 2018, the county voted for Democrats in the Senate and gubernatorial elections. If voters there see the GM move as Trump’s broken promise, that could have even greater ripple effects two years from now.
On The Hill
A BORDER WALL AND A POSSIBLE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, DOUBLY UNPOPULAR?: As a clashes unfolded along the southern border, Trump again urged Congress to fund the construction of a border wall between Mexico and the United States. “They are NOT coming into the U.S.A.," Trump tweeted. “We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
Trump's demand echoed his recent suggestion he was prepared to shut down the government if Congress fails to allocate money for his border wall, a step that would unite the two unpopular policies. Lawmakers must pass a spending bill by Dec. 7 to keep the government open, and Trump wants the border wall money to be included in that measure.
- 'A very good time': “There's no time like the present for a shutdown over immigration,” Trump said earlier this month, referring to the caravan of Central American migrants then making its way north. “This would be a very good time to do a shutdown.”
- $$$: The president asked Congress to provide $5 billion for the wall, but ran into staunch Democratic opposition. Earlier this year, the Senate floated a bipartisan compromise that included just $1.6 billion. Trump said he thinks Democrats will cave.
- The wall of opposition: The majority of voters don't like the idea of a border wall, they don't like the idea of a shutdown and they definitely don't like the idea of a shutdown because of the wall. A recent Morning Consult poll found that 55 percent of registered voters — including 34 percent of Republicans — say funding the wall is not worth a shutdown.
- 'Human shields': Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the use of tear gas by U.S. troops on Central American migrants, including children, who tried to jump the border fence on Sunday. “It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as ‘human shields’ when they confront law enforcement,” she said in a statement. “They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting vulnerable people in harms way.”
The devil is in the details: The Post reported the Trump administration and Mexican officials have agreed to a new policy that would see Central American migrants stay in Mexico while they apply for asylum to the United States instead of being released here while their claim is processed.
Power Up spoke with a handful of immigration experts who were dubious the plan would hold:
- Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2014 to 2017, told us the policy would be “a huge burden for the Mexicans,” and would hurt incoming President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador from a political standpoint.
- “Collateral consequences”: Rodriguez listed a series of questions that have yet to be answered by either Mexico or the Trump administration about the migrants in Mexico: “How will they be housed? What due process will they be afforded while they are waiting processing? . . . Will the kids go to school while they wait? What quality of health care will they receive? What will be collateral impact of Mexicans living on border regions?”
- “It might look interesting in the beginning but without thinking through collateral consequences, it could become a serious issue and it will keep driving people away from ports of entry and encourage people toward more illegal migration,” Rodriguez warned.
- This isn't a novel idea: Gil Kerlikowske, U.S. Border and Customs Patrol head under Obama, said that administration broached the same idea, but it was "not popular" with either country. "If the government of Mexico is willing to house people, feed and provide medical care for months or even longer, at a time, that’s a significant change and I would be totally surprised if in fact that came about,” Kerlikowske told us.
In the Media
What the DCCC is
celebrating reading: Democrats smash Watergate record for House popular vote in midterms by Jane Timm via NBC News
What Chuck Grassley probably hopes Trump is reading: Grassley begs Trump to nominate new attorney general: ‘How long does it take for you to make up your mind?’ by Al Weaver via The Washington Examiner
FACT CHECK: A Former Border Patrol Chief Said You Could Put Pepper Spray On Your Nachos, And Actual Medical Experts Said No, Nope, You Cannot by Otillia Steadman via Buzzfeed News
Our @NASAInSight spacecraft stuck the #MarsLanding!— NASA (@NASA) November 26, 2018
Its new home is Elysium Planitia, a still, flat region where it’s set to study seismic waves and heat deep below the surface of the Red Planet for a planned two-year mission. Learn more: https://t.co/fIPATUugFo pic.twitter.com/j0hXTjhV6I