With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: After a week of impressive message discipline across Asia, President Trump reopened a wound Saturday when he indicated that he believes Vladimir Putin’s denials that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign.
“I asked him again,” Trump told reporters during a 26-minute gaggle on Air Force One, as he flew from Danang to Hanoi on the ninth day of his overseas trip. “You can only ask so many times. … He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did. … I really believe that, when he tells me that, he means it. … I think he’s very insulted, if you want to know the truth.”
Trump then lamented that the ongoing Russia investigations are an “artificial Democratic hit job” that could prevent cooperation on a range of issues, including stopping North Korea’s nuclear program. “It’s a shame … because people will die because of it,” he warned direly. Trump then blasted former CIA director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. as “political hacks.”
These remarks prompted immediate pushback from lawmakers in both parties and the CIA, which noted in a statement that Director Mike Pompeo – who was appointed by Trump – “stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community assessment … with regard to Russian election meddling.”
Asked again about Putin later, Trump tried to parse his remarks. “What I said is that I believe [Putin] believes that,” Trump said during a news conference with Vietnam’s president. “As to whether I believe it or not, I’m with our [intelligence] agencies, especially as currently constituted.”
Still defiant, though, he also tweeted this:
When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. There always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2017
— Here are six reasons that the weekend’s comments on Putin widen Trump’s credibility gap and, consequently, erode America’s standing on the world stage:
1. Trump looks weak and creates the impression, true or not, that he’s hiding something.
Why has he never talked tough on Putin — before, during or after the 2016 election? Trump keeps begging that $64,000 question. The president says he won’t rip into the Russians because working with the Kremlin is in America’s interest, yet he has no qualms about trashing leaders of his own party who he desperately needs to advance his domestic agenda, from Mitch McConnell to John McCain and Bob Corker.
Our fact-checking unit just posted a 5,000-word timeline to lay out all the *known* meetings between the Trump campaign and the Russians. We’ll keep updating it as more information becomes available. “Despite denials from the campaign and the White House, it’s now clear that members of the Trump campaign corresponded or met with Russians at least 30 times throughout the campaign,” Meg Kelly tabulates. “Knowledge of these communications went to the highest levels of Donald Trump’s operation — both Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort, two of the campaign’s three managers, were aware of it. Since the information about members of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians has come out in dribs and drabs, as a public service, we compiled a comprehensive timeline of what we now know from media reports and court documents detailing which members of the campaign met with Russians during the campaign as well as internal discussions about those meetings.”
Here is how Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes depicts the latest donnybrook:
2. Trump looks naive.
The two former intelligence chiefs who Trump called “political hacks” appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday to rebut the president:
“I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint,” said Brennan. “I don’t know why the ambiguity about this. Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy and our whole process. And to try paint it in any other way is, I think, astounding, and, in fact, poses a peril to this country.”
“He seems very susceptible to rolling out the red carpet and honor guards and all the trappings and pomp and circumstance that come with the office, and I think that appeals to him, and I think it plays to his insecurities,” Clapper said.
Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin says that Trump is “putty in the hands of wily autocrats”: “Trump and his followers are willing to believe anything because they want to believe anything that confirms their counterfactual world. It renders Trump susceptible — eager, even — to believe our enemies … He’s therefore the type of target that counterintelligence operatives dream of — an arrogant fool.”
From a writer for the Atlantic:
In my years of reporting on Russia, I too have found that if you ask a former KGB agent an accusatory question about his actions, he will generally be straight with you. https://t.co/V3L6kAKEDn
— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) November 11, 2017
From an editor at the Los Angeles Times:
Saying Russia will help “solve” Syria & Ukraine is like saying the arsonist is willing to help put out the fire.
1 “There” is not grammatical.
2 “haters & fools” is not presidential & neither is believing Putin over the unanimous opinion of your intel agencies https://t.co/dGYXrBiB68
— Jackie Calmes (@jackiekcalmes) November 12, 2017
From a former U.S. ambassador to Russia:
If by praising Putin, Trump can get Russia to leave Crimea, Assad to step down, & North Korea to give up nukes , I will praise profusely his Russia policy. https://t.co/rTgA1Lh2ND
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) November 12, 2017
For his part, Putin said at a news conference of his own that he and Trump “hardly know each other.” But he praised him as “very professional, very friendly (and) he behaves very appropriately.”
3. Trump’s inconsistency means his words pack less of a punch. It’s hard for friends or foes to know where he stands, and it’s difficult for anyone to take Trump either literally or seriously when he might change his position on any given issue the next time he’s asked about it — as he appeared to do with the question of Russian interference.
From a former CIA official (who has given to Democrats):
This will follow the Charlottesville model:
1. He said what he inexplicably believes.
2. Advisors coaxed him into begrudgingly saying what everyone wants him to say.
3. He’ll repeat #1 before long. https://t.co/yQQN2qXhfb
— Ned Price (@nedprice) November 12, 2017
A similar dynamic has been at play with North Korea. Only a few weeks ago, Trump said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was wasting his time by trying to negotiate with Kim Jong Un and suggested that there was no diplomatic solution to Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Then he abruptly shifted his position in Seoul. “I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world,” the president said. “I do see certain movement, yes. But let’s see what happens.”
4. For all the world to see, Trump’s comments about Putin highlighted continuing tensions between the intelligence community and the commander in chief. Adversaries can use that to their advantage.
“Former CIA director Michael V. Hayden said he was so concerned by Trump’s statement that he contacted the agency to confirm that it stood by the January assessment,” Karen DeYoung, Ashley Parker and David Nakamura report. “He described Trump’s remarks as ‘egregious comments on the character of folks who have been public servants … [and] the public should know that these guys are thoroughgoing professionals, and what the president left unsaid is that the people he put into these jobs agree with the so-called hacks.’ Senior officials in the intelligence community will be dismayed by the disparagement of two respected intelligence veterans, Hayden said. ‘People have a right to ask at senior levels: ‘Does what I do make a difference anymore?’
“Michael Morell, a former acting director and deputy director of the CIA, said Trump was ‘biting hook, line and sinker’ the word of Putin, a former intelligence officer who is a ‘trained liar and manipulator.’ Although progress had been made in the intelligence community’s initial raw relationship with Trump, Morell said in an email, ‘this will most definitely be a step backward.’”
5. Trump’s waffling undercuts the ability of the U.S. to forcefully respond to future interference. If the Russians believe there will be no consequences for meddling, they will be emboldened to become even more aggressive and blatant.
“Trump’s willingness to confront Putin will be tested in the coming months,” CNN’s Kevin Liptak notes. “Trump is required to impose new sanctions on Russian entities by January 29 under a law passed by Congress over the summer. … In his remarks on Sunday, Trump suggested that imposing new sanctions on Russia was misguided. ‘People don’t realize Russia has been very, very heavily sanctioned,’ Trump said. ‘They were sanctioned at a very high level, and that took place very recently. It’s now time to get back to healing a world that is shattered and broken.’”
Meanwhile, Trump continues to grant legitimacy to Putin without getting any concessions in return. Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan “each softened their tone toward the Soviets in exchange for major arms control agreements — although neither ever ignored the underside of communism,” Princeton history professor Julian Zelizer writes on CNN. “Indeed, they were both careful to acknowledge publicly the unacceptable parts of Soviet behavior so they could enter into the negotiations with legitimacy among US allies and so that the Soviets understood the United States would not simply cave to every demand. Trump has systematically undercut the efforts of previous presidents and the current Congress to intensify pressure on Russia. Instead, as he has now done on this trip, he is Putin’s ally-in-chief.”
6. Trump once again undercut his own staff, which makes it harder for them to do their jobs. Administration officials devote a huge amount of their time to squaring the president’s public comments with official policy. In addition to the CIA director putting out a statement siding with the career professionals who work for him over Putin, White House surrogates on the Sunday shows found themselves once again trying to explain what Trump really meant.
Marc Short, Trump’s liaison to Capitol Hill, suggested that the president was trying to say that — while he agrees with the intelligence community — “there is zero evidence of any ballot being impacted by Russian interference.” “What the president is trying to do right now is recognize the gravest threat that America faces is North Korea developing nuclear weapons,” Short explained on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And nuclear weapons in North Korea is a greater threat than Russia buying Facebook ads in America.”
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was asked in Hanoi yesterday about Trump’s latest flurry of tweets. He brushed aside the question, saying that he has told the West Wing staff not to react to them. “We don’t, I don’t, I don’t allow the staff to,” Kelly said. The tweets, he added, “are what they are.”
— Back home, on social media, lawmakers and thought leaders in both parties continued to express concern about Trump’s comments vis-à-vis Putin:
From the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee:
There’s nothing “America First” about taking the word of KGB colonel over US intelligence community. There’s no “principled realism” in cooperating w/ Russia to prop up murderous Assad regime. To believe otherwise is naive & places nat’l security at risk. https://t.co/SYiVHtHXPX
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 11, 2017
From the former GOP chair of the House Intelligence Committee:
Our intelligence community concluded that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election. We should expect them to attempt to do so again. That’s a clear and present danger to our democracy.
— Mike Rogers (@RepMikeRogers) November 12, 2017
From the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
.@realDonaldTrump believes an ex-KGB agent over 17 U.S. intel agencies. That’s outrageous..@POTUS ‘s denial of facts is troubling, & I continue to question his willingness to fully implement the Russia sanctions law overwhelmingly passed by Congress.
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) November 11, 2017
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) served four tours in Iraq before leaving the Marines in 2008 as a captain:
When will the haters and fools look themselves in the mirror…?
I know you dodged the draft so it’s hard to appreciate this, but Russia has tried to kill Americans since WWII. That makes Russia what is called, to use a technical military term, our ENEMY. https://t.co/B5vNcgCHAg
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) November 12, 2017
From a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee:
Trump again taking the word of Putin that Russia did not interfere. Just weeks after we exposed how Russia paid for digital ads in Rubles…
— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) November 11, 2017
From a House Democrat on the intelligence and foreign affairs committees:
Trump’s strategy is to let Russia abuse American democracy in order to save Syria, Ukraine, North Korea. What happened to America First? https://t.co/ZgfN8SUvIk
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) November 12, 2017
From George W. Bush’s former communications director:
GOP is dead. 43: we have a political culture that “emboldens bigotry” – 45 trusts Putin not IC and conservative press defending a pedophile. https://t.co/tfLELbXYPT
— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) November 11, 2017
From Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol:
Trump’s foreign policy seems to be less America First than Dictators First. Which was the case with the original America First as well.
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 12, 2017
Obama’s former chief strategist came across this sign:
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Over 300 people have already been killed by the earthquake that struck along the Iran-Iraq border, with the death toll expected to rise. Erin Cunningham reports: “The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency said Monday that 328 people had been killed and 3,950 injured mainly in Iran’s western provinces after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the Iraqi side of the border, sending seismic shock waves as far as Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey. Seven people were killed in Iraq, officials there said. The majority of the casualties . . . appeared to be centered in Iran’s Kermanshah province, which borders Iraq. Videos and images from the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, located roughly 10 miles from the border, showed partially collapsed buildings and residents wrapped in blankets in the streets.”
— POTUS is now in the Philippines, where reporters wanted to know if he would criticize the nation’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, for his drug war resulting in thousands of extrajudicial killings. David Nakamura and Emily Rauhala report: “Trump had praised Duterte for doing an ‘unbelievable job’ in combating the illicit drug trade during a private phone call in April that focused mostly on North Korea. … On two occasions, however, Trump declined to answer shouted questions from reporters about whether he had pressed Duterte on human rights. … White House aides said Trump routinely brings up human rights in his private conversations with world leaders, and in a couple of notable instances he has addressed the matter in public on his five-nation Asia trip. … Yet Trump has not talked about human rights more broadly outside the context of North Korea.”
— Duterte likes Trump better than Obama. The New York Times’s Richard C. Paddock and Felipe Villamor report: “[T]he more charming side of Mr. Duterte’s personality was on display, both in his meetings with Mr. Trump and in his foreign policy goal of closer relations with China. … President Trump is a marked improvement in Mr. Duterte’s eyes over Barack Obama, who urged the Philippine leader to follow the rule of law in tackling the illegal drug trade. … But the longer-term game for Mr. Duterte has been his determination to court China. . . . Mr. Duterte hopes his strategy will bring billions of dollars in Chinese investment, though the money has been slow in coming, said Richard Javad Heydarian, an assistant professor of political science at De La Salle University in Manila.”
— Meanwhile, 11 Pacific Rim nations are going ahead with the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal without the United States. The Wall Street Journal’s Ben Otto and Paul Vieira: “[D]isagreements from Canada prevented a final deal. Trade ministers said they had agreed on ‘core elements’ of a revised version of the [TPP] without America, a deal that still brings together Japan, Mexico and Australia and a host of other countries with a combined GDP of more than $10 trillion. An agreement would be a win for countries advocating a multilateral trading order at a time when Mr. Trump is pushing for bilateral deals and protectionism is rising globally. … Negotiators say they have left the door open for the U.S. to re-enter the pact at a later date, if desired.”
— Trump fumbled the traditional handshake while appearing at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. Ashley Parker reports: “Trump was momentarily befuddled by the traditional group handshake, in which the leaders cross their right arm over their left and grasp the hands of the fellow participants on both sides. … The president first crossed his hands in front of him, and then, after glancing at the leaders on either side, made a second attempt, this time lifting his arms outward, according to an Associated Press report. Finally, Trump alighted on the correct pose: He strained to reach the hand of the far shorter [Duterte] on his left and completed the maneuver with a wincing grimace.”
GET SMART FAST:
- An estimated 60,000 far-right protesters traveled to Warsaw to participate in a nationalist demonstration — burning flares, chanting “white Europe” and holding signs that read “Clean Blood,” “Pray for an Islamic Holocaust” and more white nationalist calls-to-arm. (Avi Selk)
- The ex-wife of Texas church gunman Devin Kelley said he once threatened to kill her during their relationship, putting a gun to her head and asking her “whether she wanted to die” after she received a speeding ticket. (Eli Rosenberg)
- Sam Clovis, Trump’s former campaign co-chairman, testified in late October before the grand jury impaneled by Robert Mueller. (Reuters)
The perpetrators of an attack against American diplomats in Havana may have used Cold War-era technology. Intelligence officials are reportedly confident the attack was carried out with an “energy directed” or “acoustic” device similar to that used by Soviet intelligence “as far back as the 1960s.” (Politico)
The Supreme Court will allow the public to access briefs and other case documents from its website for the first time. “The courts will often choose to be late to the harvest of American ingenuity,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote when he announced the project in 2014. (Robert Barnes)
Legendary gossip columnist Liz Smith died at 94. Smith’s column was once published in over 70 newspapers, and she publicly feuded with Trump. (Lisa Grace Lednicer)
“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot is reportedly demanding that Brett Ratner be removed from the franchise before she signs on for a sequel. Ratner has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge. (Page Six)
- A museum in Indonesia that allowed visitors to take selfies with a life-size statue of Hitler (and an Auschwitz concentration camp background) has removed the exhibit amid international outrage. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- United Airlines has temporarily suspended all flights to New Delhi due to toxic smog, which one official said has turned India’s capital city into a “gas chamber.” (Vidhi Doshi and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
- Scientists have discovered prehistoric “frilled sharks” still lurking in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Their discovery makes the serpentine creatures — which can grow up to six feet long, and boast at least 25 rows of razor-sharp teeth — some of the scariest and longest-living creatures on the planet. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr.)
MOORE FALLOUT CONTINUES:
— A former colleague of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore at the Etowah County District Attorney’s Office, Teresa Jones, told CNN it was “common knowledge that Roy dated high school girls.” Jones added, “Everyone we knew thought it was weird. … We wondered why someone his age would hang out at high school football games and the mall[.]” (CNN)
— Senior Trump aide Marc Short said Moore needs “more time to defend himself” against allegations of pursuing sexual and romantic relations with teenage girls while in his 30s. “There’s no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia,” Short said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I mean that’s reality. But having said that, he has not been proven guilty. We have to afford him the chance to defend himself.” Short noted that Moore this week “plans to come forward with more evidence to support his innocence.” (John Wagner and Dino Grandoni)
— Kellyanne Conway said that if the Moore allegations are true, he should step aside – though she repeatedly refused to say whether she believes them. “I know what I read,” Conway said. “I don’t know the accusers, and I don’t know Judge Moore. But I also want to make sure that we as a nation are not always prosecuting people through the press.” When pressed on the “standard of proof” she would need for her to advise Trump to call for Moore to step aside, Conway noted only that Moore is “not on trial.” “It would be a very dangerous precedent for any of us, for any person in this country, to just be cast aside as guilty because of press reports,” she added.
— Steven Mnuchin said that the allegations “require a closer look.” “I’m not an expert on this issue, but what I would say is people should investigate this issue and get the facts,” he said. “And if these allegations are true, then absolutely, this is incredibly inappropriate behavior.”
— Failed GOP Virginia gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart also defended Moore, saying during the allegations are “forty years old” and “unsubstantiated.” “There’s no way to prove it,” said Stewart, who is running for the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “They didn’t prove it, but you’re presumed guilty? That’s not right,” he said. “Until there’s proof, I don’t believe it[.] … Until there’s proof, we’re not going to judge Judge Roy Moore.” (Jenna Portnoy)
MEANWHILE, IN ALABAMA:
— As a handful of Republican senators rescinded their support of Moore, the judge dismissed the accusations as a partisan conspiracy. Elise Viebeck and Tom Hamburger report: “In his first public appearance since The Washington Post reported the allegations, Moore called the claims ‘a desperate attempt to stop my campaign’ and cast doubt on the intentions of his accusers[.] … ‘These allegations came only four-and-a-half weeks before the election,’ Moore told about 100 supporters at a Veterans Day breakfast [in Vestavia Hills, Ala.] ‘That’s not a coincidence. It’s an intentional act to stop a campaign. . . . We do not intend to let the Democrats or the establishment Republicans or anybody else behind this story stop this campaign,’ he said.”
— Moore is threatening to investigate his accusers and sue The Post. Elise Viebeck, Dino Grandoni and John Wagner report: Moore “sought to refocus his campaign on the conservative religious ideals most likely to motivate his base voters, dismissing the national firestorm[.] … ‘We can be proud of where we came from and where we’re going if we go back to God,’ Moore said at [a gathering at the Huntsville Christian Academy,] his second public event since The Post reported the allegations of misconduct last week. ‘If we go back to God, we can be unified again,’ he said.”
— Moore’s loyalists are sticking with him. NBC News’s Adam Edelman interviewed 15 GOP voters in the candidate’s hometown: “Most said they didn’t believe the allegations and some said even if they are true, that wouldn’t sway their vote for him next month because they think Moore is a good man, should be forgiven and they could never bring themselves to vote for a Democrat anyway.
Several attacked the media. … Some voters even said the allegations endeared them even more to the GOP candidate. [Outside one local convenience store in Moore’s hometown, a woman named] Carol said she has known Moore her whole life and called him a good man. Carol doesn’t believe Moore’s accusers, but she said even if the allegations are true, ‘there’s a thing called grace — God’s grace,’ noting that the allegations are decades old. Inside the store, a man who declined to give his name said, ‘This is Republican town, man. (Moore) could have killed Obama, and we wouldn’t care.’”
— Steve Bannon dispatched two Breitbart reporters to Alabama this weekend with the mission of trying to discredit Moore’s accusers. They’ve failed to do so. (Axios’s Jonathan Swan)
THE HOUSE TAX PLAN COULD PASS THIS WEEK:
— The full House and the Senate Finance Committee expect to vote on their plans this week, but there are major differences between the proposals. Damian Paletta and John Wagner report: “House and Senate Republicans risk colliding over whether Americans should be able to deduct local property taxes from their federal taxable income. … House and Senate bills [also] differ importantly on how a huge corporate tax cut would go into effect. … Congressional Republicans have not indicated how they plan to address this discrepancy, but finding agreement on the timing of the cuts and how to treat property tax income would resolve some of the biggest outstanding issues.”
— House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said he can guarantee the House won’t approve a plan eliminating deductions for state and local taxes (which could prove fatal to the bill in that chamber as moderate Republicans from high-tax states are balking). This could set up a showdown with the Senate, which has cut those deductions. (Axios)
— Bottom line, per Damian and John: “[T]here is enough overlap and — so far — muted intraparty resistance, making the White House increasingly optimistic that an agreement can come by Christmas, as President Trump has repeatedly promised.”
- Two GOP lawmakers who are currently “no” votes said that they have not heard from Republican leaders in two weeks, suggesting Paul Ryan already has the 218 votes to pass the plan. (Politico)
— 400 American millionaires and billionaires will send a letter to Congress this week asking lawmakers not to cut their taxes. Heather Long reports: “The letter calls on Congress not to pass any tax bill that ‘further exacerbates inequality’ and adds to the debt. Instead of petitioning tax cuts for the wealthy, the letter tells Congress to raises taxes on rich people like them. It is being released publicly this week[.] … The letter was put together by Responsible Wealth, a group that advocates progressive causes. Signers include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher, billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller[.]”
— Another hurdle: Republican leadership is searching for an economic model predicting its plan(s) won’t send the deficit skyrocketing. The New York Times’s Jim Tankersley reports: “Finding a model that supports the ambitious economic growth projections is critical to their ability to pass a tax cut along party lines. The House and Senate bills have been introduced and amended at a rapid clip, and economists are only now beginning to plug their details into sophisticated models that predict how much additional growth the cuts might produce. So far, every so-called dynamic analysis that scrutinizes the full details of the bills and factors in economic growth finds that those plans would add at least $500 billion and as much as $1.7 trillion to the deficit.”
— The plans do seem to make it easier to file your taxes — largely because so many families would take the increased standard deduction rather than itemizing, Richard Rubin notes. “The GOP plans would repeal the alternative minimum tax, a parallel tax system affecting more than four million households. The House bill would consolidate a tangle of tax breaks for higher education. Both plans would remove—temporarily—thorny depreciation rules. Narrow deductions for tax-preparation fees, teachers’ out-of-pocket expenses and moving costs would vanish under the House plan, removing lines from tax forms and pages from Internal Revenue Service publications. … For many households, simpler isn’t necessarily better. A married couple with $30,000 in deductible medical expenses for nursing-home care generally fares worse under the House bill than today.”
PERSONNEL IS POLICY:
— Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted last week to advance Trump judicial nominee Brett Talley — making the 36-year-old, who writes horror novels and has never tried a single case before – one step closer to becoming a federal judge for life. Kristine Phillips reports: “Talley is the latest federal judicial nominee to draw scrutiny for what some say is his limited experience in practicing law and the level of partisanship he had shown on social media, on his political blog and on several opinion pieces he had written for CNN. He has also received a ‘not qualified’ rating from the American Bar Association, which vets federal judicial nominees.”
— Trump is installing an attorney as his interim IRS chief whose accounting firm helped clients dodge billions in taxes. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports: “[David] Kautter’s LinkedIn biography says he was the director of the national tax practice for the accounting firm Ernst & Young from 2000 to 2010. In that role, he oversaw tax guidance for all of the firm’s federal and state tax work. From 1999 to 2004, partners and managers at Ernst & Young mastered the art of creating tax shelters, according to a settlement the firm entered into with the Justice Department[.] They designed, marketed, implemented, and defended those shelters in order to slash the tax bills of their ultra-wealthy clients. They kept 200 clients from paying, in total, more than $2 billion in taxes. A spokesperson for the Treasury said Kautter was not involved in the firm’s tax shelter work.”
— A1 of the New York Times today, “Security Breach and Spilled Secrets Have Shaken the N.S.A. to Its Core,” by Scott Shane, Nicole Perlroth and David E. Sanger: “Fifteen months into a wide-ranging investigation by the agency’s counterintelligence arm, known as Q Group, and the F.B.I., officials still do not know whether the N.S.A. is the victim of a brilliantly executed hack, with Russia as the most likely perpetrator, an insider’s leak, or both. Three employees have been arrested since 2015 for taking classified files, but there is fear that one or more leakers may still be in place. And there is broad agreement that the damage from the Shadow Brokers already far exceeds the harm to American intelligence done by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who fled with four laptops of classified material in 2013.”
— Ongoing probes into former HHS Secretary Tom Price’s private plane travels continue to roil the department. Politico’s Rachana Pradhan and Dan Diamond report: “The department’s inspector-general’s probe will review who approved — or should have been approving — Price’s use of private jets[.] … The investigation, along with escalating demands from Congress for information on how Price obtained permission to use at least $400,000 of taxpayer money for the private jets, adds an extra dose of uncertainty to a department that’s already roiled by questions of who will replace Price, and internal feuds over who may have leaked information about Price’s travels[.]”
THE TRUMP EFFECT:
— Trump’s rise has emboldened a wave of tough-talking sheriffs, who are mimicking the president’s style in their own communities. Tim Craig reports: “With Trump dominating the national conversation through tweets, sheriffs are mimicking his antagonistic political style, alarming progressives and some legal observers who fear an increasingly undisciplined justice system. Some have even gone to battle with Democratic officials, bucking their ‘politically correct’ policies and using rhetoric that puts some residents on edge. Over the past nine months, various elected sheriffs have been filmed saying that they would call [ICE] on undocumented residents, have threatened to bar sex offenders from hurricane shelters, and have proposed sending inmates to help build Trump’s planned Mexican border wall.”
In Brevard County, Sheriff Wayne Ivey is urging his constituents to arm themselves as a “countywide militia.” Along with other sheriffs, he produces videos that are “designed to show toughness” – and include images of deputies beating in doors. In an interview, Ivey told Craig he sees it “as his duty” to be supportive of Trump.
— Trump reportedly plans to establish an official presidential faith initiative, expanding his outreach to evangelicals. Frances Stead Sellers reports: “Trump’s early alliance with evangelicals did not seem like a natural fit. Several said Trump’s multiple marriages, tabloid lifestyle and intemperate tweeting made them reluctant to meet him. But throughout his career, Trump drew upon lessons taught by Norman Vincent Peale, the pastor at his boyhood church who preached the ‘power of positive thinking.’ Trump’s fascination with Christian broadcasting dates back at least to the start of his own foray into the entertainment business in 2004 with the launch of ‘The Apprentice.’ As ratings for his reality show soared, Trump jetted off to give speeches, filling convention halls with crowds eager to hear his vision for personal success.”
— New data shows a recent decline in the number of international students entering U.S. universities. Nick Anderson reports: “The data from the Institute of International Education are likely to fuel questions about how the divisive 2016 presidential campaign and U.S. policy shifts since President Trump took office have influenced the global academic market.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
James Comey, who has repeatedly been called a liar by Trump, tweeted this:
“If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is light as a feather and a breath will carry it.” Rev. Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1855). pic.twitter.com/YZf4q88wyi
— James Comey (@Comey) November 11, 2017
Trump traded insults with Kim Jong Un, prompting criticism and alarm from some Washington insiders:
Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2017
From Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.):
No no no no no no.
This is a dream, right? A horrible, horrible dream… https://t.co/cbTgGg7Pfp
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 12, 2017
From Obama’s former national security adviser:
From George W. Bush’s former speechwriter:
They should not let Trump go on these international trips. He cannot cope with them, even more unstable & irrational than at home
— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 12, 2017
From a Never Trump conservative:
The President is tweeting like a mean girl at a rogue nuclear state while we argue over whether a guy in Alabama who dated teens as a grown man should be a US senator.
We had a good run, America.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) November 12, 2017
From the former director of the Office of Government Ethics:
With the nuclear codes in your possession, you have the power to end humans as a species on this planet. Show some respect for the high office you occupy and stop writing childish insults like this tweet.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) November 12, 2017
In Vietnam, Trump skipped a regular stop where dignitaries normally go:
President Trump departs Vietnam. On his visit, he did not visit Hoa Lo Prison aka Hanoi Hilton like Clinton, Bush and others have done. If he had, he would have seen this photo of @SenJohnMcCain pic.twitter.com/cK8M7q1rje
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) November 12, 2017
Far-right pundit Ann Coulter continues to support Roy Moore:
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) November 11, 2017
Conservative commentator Charlie Sykes responded to Coulter:
Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter activity drew some attention, per a CNN reporter:
Donald Trump Jr. liked a tweet saying someone with multiple divorces and three bankruptcies wasn’t credible. Donald. Trump. Jr. https://t.co/YdpoE5RZaS
— andrew kaczynski🤔 (@KFILE) November 12, 2017
Women on Twitter shared photos of themselves at the age of 14 to draw more attention to the accusations against Moore. From the co-creator of the Daily Show:
This is me at 14. I was on the gymnastics team and sang in the choir. I was not dating a 32 year old man. Who were you at 14? Tweet a pic, tell us who you were and pic to the top of your page #MeAt14 #NoMoore pic.twitter.com/HPVzMgaD8h
— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) November 12, 2017
From a comedy writer:
— Eden Dranger (@Eden_Eats) November 11, 2017
From journalist Katie Couric:
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) November 12, 2017
From the MSNBC host:
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 12, 2017
From Conan O’Brien:
I’m ready for the all-female reboot of America.
— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) November 11, 2017
A New York Times photographer protested the low level of press access on Trump’s Asia trip:
This what our APEC Summit photo coverage looks today in Da Nang Vietnam. Blank. No coverage by the White House Travel Pool photographers traveling with @realDonaldTrump #APEC2017 #apec pic.twitter.com/jFgsJW5OcO
— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) November 11, 2017
Ivanka Trump will go on the road for the GOP tax plan:
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 12, 2017
Hillary Clinton guest-edited Teen Vogue:
Today, we’re announcing a very special issue of Teen Vogue, guest-edited by @HillaryClinton — the first-ever female Presidential candidate nominated by a major party, a woman who sits at the center of a historic paradigm shift. pic.twitter.com/uC1f5asL4w
— Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) November 8, 2017
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 12, 2017
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— The Daily Beast, “Green Beret Discovered SEALs’ Illicit Cash. Then He Was Killed,” by Kevin Maurer and Spencer Ackerman: “With Melgar dead, an apparent panic set in. The SEALs told superiors that Melgar was drunk during so-called combatives—that is, hand-to-hand fighting exercises. … It was the worst excuse the SEALs could have made up.”
— The New York Times, “Despite Recent Wins for Democrats, Gerrymanders Dim Hopes for 2018,” by Alexander Burns, Michael Wines and Trip Gabriel: “[F]or all the optimism, the elections in Virginia last week vividly reflected why the reality might be a good deal harsher. While Democrats won the governorship by nearly nine percentage points and won a similar margin in total votes in legislative races, it appears likely, unless recounts reverse seats, that they will fall just short of taking control of the state’s heavily gerrymandered House of Delegates. And around the country, gerrymandering, refined to a high art, and increasingly restrictive voting laws have left many experts wary of assuming that the intensity of Democratic voters will translate into equally robust electoral gains.”
— New York Magazine, “Your Reckoning. And Mine,” by Rebecca Traister: “In the shock of the house lights having been suddenly brought up — of being forced to stare at the ugly scaffolding on which so much of our professional lives has been built — we’ve had scant chance to parse what exactly is inflaming us and who. It’s our tormentors, obviously, but sometimes also our friends, our mentors, ourselves.”
— NBC News, “Biden Book Looks Back at the Path He Didn’t Take (but Still Could)” by Mike Memoli: “[F]ar more of the book’s 260 pages are a real-time accounting of Biden grappling with his son’s fight for his life at the same time he tended to the consequential work as vice president in President Obama’s second term, especially on foreign policy. He describes in heartbreaking detail the course of Beau’s diagnoses and treatments, many of them ultimately experimental ones that took a heavy toll on his son, and the family.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
“Anti-transgender tweet draws criticism for Minnesota lawmaker,” from St. Cloud Times: “Republican Rep. Mary Franson, of Alexandria, posted a tweet on her personal Twitter account after two transgender candidates were elected to the Minneapolis City Council. The tweet read: ‘A guy who thinks he’s a girl is still a guy with a mental health condition.’ Minnesota DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said in a statement that ‘Franson’s hurtful remarks attempt to cheapen this historic victory and take the wind out of the sails of equality.’ Franson released a response to the backlash on her Facebook page, saying she ‘should have shown grace and not come across the way’ she did.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
“New Jersey bar boycotts NFL in honor of Veterans Day,” from New York Daily News: “Woody’s Roadside Tavern in Farmingdale tuned out football after a Vietnam veteran and regular customer expressed to the owners that he felt disrespected by players who have protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. ‘While it’ll probably costs us some money, we thought it was more important to stand with our veterans and send a message, however big or small it might turn out to be,’ co-owner Rob Johnson [said]. ‘For us, it’s not a political statement. We’re here supporting our veterans on Veterans Day weekend.’”
Trump’s Asia swing has moved on to the Philippines, where he participated in an embassy meet and greet.
Pence has a meeting with the Vatican’s secretary of state followed by a swearing-in ceremony for Kenneth Juster, the U.S. ambassador to India. He will later attend a fundraiser for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
DNC Chairman Tom Perez responded to Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer’s ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment: “I am not talking about impeachment,” Perez said on ABC’s “This Week.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— It should get sunnier as the day progresses. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After some spotty light rain early on, skies will slowly clear with sunshine by the afternoon. It’s a chilly day overall, mostly in the 40s — maybe touching 50 this afternoon.”
— The Redskins lost to the Vikings 38-30. (Liz Clarke)
— The Capitals beat the Oilers 2-1 after a shootout. (Isabelle Khurshudyan)
— Virginia officials will begin counting provisional ballots today to determine the outcome of three House of Delegates races, which will in turn determine which party controls the legislature. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
— The D.C. Council is proposing decriminalizing Metro fare evasion, lowering the maximum possible fine from $300 to $100 and eliminating the possibility of jail time. Martine Powers reports.
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
SNL’s cold open addressed the accusations against Roy Moore:
SNL also mocked the Democratic Party as out of touch:
Pence laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Arlington Cemetery:
Sutherland Springs’s First Baptist Church has been transformed into a memorial:
And a veteran who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan ran 31 marathons in 31 days: