with Brent D. Griffiths

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The Campaign

HOW THE WEINSTEIN FALLOUT DID AND DID NOT CHANGE POLITICS: Today marks the debut of New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey's book detailing Harvey Weinstein's decades-long track record of alleged sexual harassment and assault. Almost two years after Kantor and Twohey broke the story that sparked the #MeToo movement, its “seismic social change” is still influencing politics as not so usual.

  • “The key to change,” Kantor and Twohey write in “She Said,” “was a new sense of accountability.”

But last night in North Carolina — in a sign the Trump family remains unconcerned about the political reckoning from the wave of women speaking out about male misbehavior — Donald Trump Jr. made a #MeToo joke at his dad's campaign rally. Pollsters and political strategists believe that's a big mistake. 

  • “I will not be getting #MeToo'd this evening, alright?" Trump Jr. joked to the Fayetteville crowd after kissing his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, noting she had consented to it. “Kimberly may #MeToo me later but that's a different story.”
  • It was not the first time Trump Jr. made light of the global phenomenon that has toppled powerful men. 

'Women are fueling that difference': The newfound currency of accountability — along with the election of Donald Trump and the political awakening among many female voters that followed — has shifted the previously accepted parameters of what women and victims of assault and harassment expect from campaigns and candidates. The #MeToo movement and the female political awakening it sparked helped propel the record raft of women who ran for office in 2018 — and won. 

  • “There are candidates that are literally not viable today who would have been viable before the #MeToo movement and candidates who have paid a significant price in terms of having to resign,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake told Power Up. “Women voters are fueling that difference. It's millennial women turning out in record numbers and it's baby boomer and independent suburban women voting against these candidates.” 
  • “They want their voices heard and the #MeToo movement has empowered that,” Sarah Chamberlain, the president of Republican Main Street Partnership and the founder of the Women2Women National Conversations tour, told Power Up. “We are 52 percent of this population and it's resonating into politics.” 
  • “We are not just survivors, right? We are a constituency, and we’re a base,” Tarana Burke, a civil rights activist who founded the #MeToo movement told my colleague Hailey Fuchs earlier in August

Trump Jr.'s joke also highlighted another reality that has vexed the Democratic Party. There remains one figure who has remained seemingly impervious to the consequences of the cultural reckoning: his dad. 

  • Just this past summer, magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll became the 16th woman to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump; she claimed that he attacked her in a dressing room in the mid '90s. 
  • The news landed “with barely a political whimper,” my colleagues Colby Itkowitz, Emily Davies, and Hailey Fuchs wrote, with Republicans — and even some Democrats — remaining largely silent. The official position of Trump's White House is that the allegations are untrue.

But strategists told us the forces that gave rise to #MeToo have changed the political calculus headed into 2020, even if the president is indirectly affected. The gender gap is real, according to polling.

  • “Suburban women aren't happy with the way that the GOP is talking with them,” said Chamberlain, who has been traveling the country to meet with and focus group the demographic.
  • What women want: More talk about health care, equal pay, gun control, and the cost of childcare, she says.
  • Lake said that women, however, aren't really voting on Trump's alleged misbehavior: “You did have college-educated women turning against Trump and at the last minute in 2016, they bounced back. In 2018, they voted solidly Democratic, and in 2020, it looks like they'll do the same,” Lake told us. “But they're not just voting #MeToo — they're voting on the public policy, not the president's private actions … I think voters were exposed to just so much of his behavior that it's baked into their judgment and they view it as past behavior versus present.” 

By the numbers: 2017 study by the nonpartisan Barbara Lee Family Foundation and Lake's firm showed the issue of sexual harassment has “the potential to make a real difference at the ballot box.”

  • “52% of voters agree that they would never vote for a person accused of sexual harassment,” and “51% of voters agree they would never vote for someone who didn't make addressing sexual harassment a priority,” per the study. 
  • “We tested a number of messages that questioned or belittled the #MeToo movement and that did very poorly with voters — including that this is a low priority message. That type of messaging did very poorly,” the the foundation's communications director Amanda Hunter told us. “This is not a niche issue. Voters across the board agree that sexual harassment is a serious problem and it should be easier to report in the workplace.”

2020 starts … tonight: Look no further than tonight's election in North Carolina, where Trump Jr., President Trump and Vice President Pence rallied on Monday night, for the first serious electoral test of the way women split the vote going into 2020. Democratic candidate Dan McCready is running against GOP candidate Dan Bishop for a seat that President Trump won by 12 points in 2016. 

  • "[Trump] is down there trying to drive out rural voters but then there's suburban women — do they turn out to vote and then do they vote for the GOP? That's the test,” Chamberlain told us.

IN OTHER CAMPAIGN NEWS: "Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff said he will challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and “mount a ruthless assault on corruption in our political system” that’s prevented Congress from addressing urgent issues," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Greg Bluestein reports.

  • "Ossoff’s campaign, which he’ll formally announce Tuesday, makes him the fourth Democrat in the race against Perdue, a first-term Republican and former Fortune 500 chief executive with strong ties to President Donald Trump. He also becomes arguably the best known contender thanks to his nationally-watched campaign for Georgia’s 6th District." 

In the Agencies

SHARPIEGATE CONTINUES: "The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts last Friday after the agency’s Birmingham office contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion," the New York Times's  Christopher Flavelle, Lisa Friedman and Peter Baker scooped yesterday.

  • The threat came before that weird unsigned statement: "That threat led to an unusual, unsigned statement later that Friday by the agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, disavowing the National Weather Service’s position that Alabama was not at risk," Flavelle, Friedman and Baker report. "The reversal caused widespread anger within the agency and drew accusations from the scientific community that the National Weather Service, which is part of NOAA, had been bent to political purposes."
  • The entire episode is now under investigation: "NOAA’s statement on Friday is now being examined by the Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, and employees have been asked to preserve their files. NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department."

Three former NOAA administrators weigh in: "If political appointees overrule trained scientists, imposing political concerns on scientific matters, they endanger public safety as well as the credibility and morale of the agency charged with protecting that safety," Jane Lubchenco, D. James Baker, and Kathryn Sullivan write in a Post op-ed.

Global Power

THE U.S. HAD A SPY WITH DIRECT ACCESS TO PUTIN: "Decades ago, the C.I.A. recruited and carefully cultivated a midlevel Russian official who began rapidly advancing through the governmental ranks. Eventually, American spies struck gold: The longtime source landed an influential position that came with access to the highest level of the Kremlin," the Times's Julian E. Barnes, Adam Goldman and David E. Sanger report of the now exfiltrated source.

  • How close was the source?: Here's what CNN's Jim Sciutto, who broke the story of the spy's exfiltratation on Monday had to say.
  • The source was key to the intel community's findings on Russian interference in 2016: “As American officials began to realize that Russia was trying to sabotage the 2016 presidential election, the informant became one of the C.I.A.’s most important — and highly protected — assets,” Barnes, Goldman and Sanger write.

So what happened? The CIA became worried the spy was in danger and needed to remove the operative from Russia. "The exfiltration took place sometime after an Oval Office meeting in May 2017, when President Trump revealed highly classified counterterrorism information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador, said the current and former officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation," our colleagues Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima report

  • But Trump wasn't completely to blame: “That disclosure alarmed U.S. national security officials, but it was not the reason for the decision to remove the CIA asset, who had provided information to the United States for more than a decade, according to the current and former officials,” Shane and Ellen write. 

But those aren't even the craziest details. According to NBC News, the former CIA asset is living in the D.C. area. He will now mostly likely be moved as the Russians have previously attempted to kill those who help foreign intelligence services even after they leave Moscow.

  • The spy next door: “An NBC News correspondent went to the man’s house in the Washington area and rang the doorbell,” NBC's Ken Dilanian reports. “Five minutes later, two young men in an SUV came racing up the street and parked immediately adjacent to the correspondent’s car … A former senior national security official said the men were likely U.S. government agents monitoring the Russian's house.”

BREXIT UPDATE: "British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s dreams of an election that would clear his path to Brexit by the end of October were decisively dashed after midnight Tuesday morning, leaving him with no obvious means of making good on his vow of a “do or die” exit from the European Union," our colleagues Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Amanda Ferguson report. "The latest obstacle to Johnson’s plans came in the form of yet another defeat in the House of Commons, where the once-swaggering prime minister has lost every key vote of his young premiership."

  • It's unclear what comes next: "With Parliament suspended for the next five weeks, Tuesday’s defeat leaves Johnson with virtually no chance of getting a fresh vote before Oct. 31, the deadline by which Britain is due to leave the E.U.," Griff, Karla and Amanda write. "Instead, Johnson is in a bind: He has insisted he will not ask the E.U. for an extension — he said last week that he would 'rather be dead in a ditch.' But a law passed by rebel lawmakers requires him to seek one if there’s still no deal by Oct. 19."
  • There is talk of Johnson breaking the law: "Hard-line Brexiteers have suggested, and Johnson critics have warned, that the prime minister could defy the law. Johnson himself has refused to say he will comply. There is no modern precedent for a British leader willfully ignoring an act of Parliament. To do so would risk being held in contempt of court — and put in jail. Top ministers insist that will not happen."

The People

A HISTORIC MOMENT IN THE LABOR MARKET: "The surge of minority women getting jobs has helped push the U.S. workforce across a historic threshold. For the first time, most new hires of prime working age (25 to 54) are people of color, according to a Washington Post analysis of data the Labor Department began collecting in the 1970s," our colleagues Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam report. "Minority hires overtook white hires last year."

  • Who runs the world: "Women are predominantly driving this trend, which is so powerful that even many women who weren’t thinking about working — because they were in school, caring for kids or at home for other reasons — are being lured into employment, according to The Post’s analysis."
  • The trend is occurring as baby boomers are retiring: "Minority women began to pour into the labor market in 2015, and they have begun to reshape the demographics of the U.S. workforce, especially because many white baby boomers have been retiring. There are 5.2 million more people in the United States with jobs than at the end of 2016, and 4.5 million of them are minorities, according to The Post’s analysis of Labor Department data."