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Opinion Happy Hour Roundup

* Erica Werner reports that Democrats are going to offer Trump a deal:

Democratic leaders plan to offer President Trump $1.3 billion in funding for a border fence when they meet Tuesday at the White House, a bid that falls far short of the $5 billion Trump is demanding to fund a border wall.
Democrats, Republicans and the White House have until Dec. 21 reach a budget deal if they are to avert a partial government shutdown, but talks are deadlocked over funding for the wall.
As House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) prepare for the Tuesday morning, Democrats and Trump are, if anything, moving further apart.
Schumer had previously suggested Trump accept $1.6 billion in border funding, the funding level included in a Senate bill with bipartisan support. But that $1.6 billion would struggle to pass the House, where Democrats won’t support it because they say it’s too much and Republicans because it’s not enough.

He could take the deal and then announce that $1.3 billion is way more than $5 billion, so he really took them to the cleaners. Which is something you could actually see him doing.

* Rosalind Helderman and Spencer Hsu report that another minor figure in the Russia scandal is headed for the pokey:

Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist, is poised to plead guilty in a case involving accusations that she was working as an agent for the Kremlin in the United States, according to a new court filing.
Federal prosecutors and attorneys for Butina jointly requested in court documents Monday that U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan set a time for Butina to withdraw her previous plea of not guilty.
“The parties have resolved this matter,” Butina’s attorneys and D.C.-based prosecutors wrote in their joint filing.

You can go here to see pictures of Butina with Donald Trump Jr., Rick Santorum, Wayne LaPierre, and other GOP luminaries.

* Rick Hasen eviscerates the new Republican claim that all Trump did in the case of the mistress payoffs was commit a minor campaign finance violation of the kind many candidates have before:

These were not “paperwork” errors, as both Trump and Rand Paul have spuriously claimed. Campaigns do make paperwork errors all the time, especially large campaigns like Obama’s or John McCain’s, which failed to file some reports within 48 hours of making some campaign expenditures. When campaigns make these minor errors, they promptly file a corrected report with the Federal Election Commission and then pay civil fines if necessary. What they don’t do: Deny for more than a year that they made an error, and try to hide campaign payments by funneling money through unreported corporate loans, LLCs, and payoffs falsely described as legal and technical services. These are serious criminal activities for which others have gone to jail, and for which Cohen apparently will spend time behind bars following his guilty plea.

It’s almost like they knew what they were doing was criminal.

* Nic Robertson reports that the transcript of what happened during Jamal Khashoggi’s murder shows that his last words were “I can’t breathe.”

* Rebecca Leber and Dan Spinelli explains how coal-o-phile Joe Manchin will end up being the ranking member on the Senate committee in charge of environmental regulation.

* David Leonhardt reports that companies like Walgreens are bankrolling the Republican power grab in Wisconsin.

* Lindsey McPherson reports that there are at least 15 Democrats who remain committed to voting for someone other than Nancy Pelosi for speaker, and she can only afford to lose 17 votes.

* Jason Sattler offers a nice look at how fate of democracy now rests on whether Democrats can expand voting rights faster than Republicans can restrict them.

* David Dayen looks at how Sen. John Kyl, former and future lobbyist, will inevitably monetize his turn as a temporary replacement for John McCain.

* Natasha Korecki reports on all the preparation Elizabeth Warren has already done to launch a 2020 presidential campaign.

* Daniel Drezner explains why Trump’s legacy and accomplishments, such as they are, will likely be so insubstantial that the next president will have little trouble reversing them.

* At the American Prospect, I argued that it was inevitable that we would arrive at this place in the Trump presidency.

* And Robert Schlesinger explains why Trump can’t hire “the very best people” even if he wanted to: They’d never work for him, given how awful he is.