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On the roster: Dems cornering GOP on creeps - Trump talks tough ahead of Friday shutdown deadline - Bannon hits Romney over Mormon faith - Claim: Flynn texted nuclear plans at inauguration - When you’re too good at acting
DEMS CORNERING GOP ON CREEPS
Democrats are winning the arms race on dealing with powerful men who mistreat women.
But will it benefit them at the ballot box?
With a clumsiness that has been the hallmark of his entire response to allegations of sexual misconduct levied against him, soon-to-be-former Sen. Al Franken D-Minn., responded to calls from his fellow Senate Democrats to resign today by declaring he would hold a press conference on Thursday.
If he was still working for Lorne Michaels, Franken would have been made to cut this sketch a lot shorter.
Whether Franken resigns in public remarks, with a press release or by semaphore from the roof of Union Station, it doesn’t matter. He can ask John Conyers: Resigned is resigned.
Still serving is Nevada Congressman Ruben Kihuen. He has adopted a novel defense for his prior misconduct, arguing that he can refuse to resign despite the demands of his party’s leaders because they knew about it before.
Kihuen here is adopting the Trumpian standard, which is to say all past misdeeds are covered by any intervening election. Kihuen may be able to do some damage to Nancy Pelosi on his way out by highlighting her hypocrisy for backing him for reelection despite alleged knowledge of his misdeeds. But he will go, too.
Whether it’s Wilbur Mills or Bob Packwood or Larry Craig, it may take some time, but they usually go, Ted Kennedy notwithstanding.
Forced to face their many sins of the past, in substantial part because Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand D-N.Y. was willing to confront the now-wheezing Clinton machine, Democrats are cleaning house.
We don’t wish to be cynical, and certainly believe Gillibrand and those who are ushering out Franken & Co. are sincere. But there is also the consideration for Democrats of how best to beat the brains out of Republicans who are so far unable to do similar housekeeping.
As what the New York Post has perfectly dubbed “pervnado” has wreaked destruction through the bastions of power from Hollywood to Manhattan to Capitol Hill, Republicans have mostly remained in the root cellar.
This is partly understandable since the storm truly began with the accusations against then candidate Donald Trump.
Our collective memory places too much emphasis on Trump’s gruesome hot-mic humor about grabbing women by their genitals. But what really put Trump in trouble were the women who came forward to accuse him of misconduct. What Trump told Billy Bush was just the explanation point.
As you recall, many Republicans, including party leaders, did what Democrats are doing now, and demanded that Trump leave the race, stepping aside so Mike Pence could run. When Trump did not, Republicans sheepishly waited for what they assumed would be a retributive wrath from female voters in November.
The wrath never fully materialized. Trump got elected and Republicans generally came to embrace Trump’s point of view that if it didn’t matter enough to voters to cost him the election then the issue was settled.
Like disappointed adherents of an apocalypse cult, Trump-denouncing Republicans had to go back to real life.
This embarrassment has left the party whopperjawed on the issue of sexual misconduct. The same guys who ousted two House speakers and impeached a president over this stuff have lost their nerve.
Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold still sits representing the folks from Lockhart to Corpus Christi despite sticking taxpayers with the bill for his own misadventures with his former communications director.
And Trump trumped his party on the matter of Roy Moore, the Senate nominee in Alabama who famously defended his amorous interest in teenager as a prosecuting attorney by pointing out that he always asked their mothers’ permission.
What Democrats can now plainly see is that if they want to be able to press Trump and his party on these subjects effectively, they will need to be spotless on the subject. They remember how Trump used the many alleged abuses of power by Bill Clinton to blunt the charges against him. This time, they don’t want to have to mumble when they call out the president and other Republicans.
What we don’t know yet is whether voters will respond differently than they did last year? Pervnado has changed the way Americans do business, but will it change the way they vote?
We’ll get a peek at the future next week in Alabama.
THE RULEBOOK: MILD, MEDIUM OR HOT?
“…a principle, in short, which, if it is to be executed at all, must substitute the violent and sanguinary agency of the sword to the mild influence of the magistracy.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15
TIME OUT: BOOMTOWN BUST
NYT: “Chicago in 1850 … [had] barely 30,000 people. Within two decades, it was 10 times that size. Within another two decades, that number had tripled. By 1910, Chicago … had more than two million residents. … But … migration patterns like the one that fed Chicago have broken down in today’s America. Interstate mobility nationwide has slowed over the last 30 years. But, more specifically and of greater concern, migration has stalled in the very places with the most opportunity. As Mr. Schleicher puts it, local economic booms no longer create boomtowns in America. … The places that are booming in size aren’t the economic boomtowns… In theory, we’d expect those metros, like the Bay Area, Boston and New York, to be rapidly expanding, as people move from regions with high unemployment and meager wages to those with high salaries and strong job markets. That we’re not seeing such a pattern suggests that something is fundamentally amiss. The magnets aren’t working.”
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Trump net job-approval rating: -20.4 points
Change from one week ago: down 2.4 points
[President Trump’s score is determined by subtracting his average job disapproval rating in the five most recent, methodologically sound public polls from his average approval rating, calculated in the same fashion.]
TRUMP TALKS TOUGH AHEAD OF FRIDAY SHUTDOWN DEADLINE
AP: “President Donald Trump warned Wednesday that a government shutdown was possible this weekend because Democrats were demanding to have ‘illegal immigrants pouring into our country,’ tossing incendiary rhetoric onto a partisan showdown that had been showing signs of easing. Trump’s comments risked roiling a White House meeting with congressional leaders of both parties planned for Thursday aimed at averting a shutdown and sorting through year-end disputes over the budget, immigration and other issues. With money for federal agencies running out at midnight Friday, Republican leaders plan to push a bill through Congress this week financing the government through Dec. 22. That would give bargainers time to work through their disagreements, but they will need Democratic votes to succeed. Democrats have been using their leverage to insist on spending boosts for health care, infrastructure and other domestic programs that would match increases Republicans want for defense.”
Tax lawyers find cracks in tax bill - Politico: “Republicans’ tax-rewrite plans are riddled with bugs, loopholes and other potential problems that could plague lawmakers long after their legislation is signed into law. Some of the provisions could be easily gamed, tax lawyers say. Their plans to cut taxes on ‘pass-through’ businesses in particular could open broad avenues for tax avoidance. Others would have unintended results, like a last-minute decision by the Senate to keep the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to make sure wealthy people and corporations don’t escape taxes altogether. For many businesses, that would nullify the value of a hugely popular break for research and development expenses.”
New Jersey GOPers try to undo tax hike - Politico: “With many New Jersey taxpayers likely to be hit hard by the tax cut bill working its way through Congress, a bipartisan House duo from the Garden State is proposing a ‘fix.’ Republican Rep. Leonard Lance and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer announced they’re putting forward a proposal to the House conference committee to save the state and local tax deduction, or SALT, in its entirety, which under the bill would be reduced to $10,000. … Lance and Gottheimer both represent well-heeled suburban districts where many homeowners pay well above $10,000 a year in property taxes alone.”
Is ObamaCare fix falling apart? - Axios: “Just a few weeks ago, the Affordable Care Act stabilization bill from Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray looked like a common-sense fix with a decent shot at finding its way into Congress’ big end-of-the-year package. But that was before Republicans were on the cusp of repealing the individual mandate. Now the bill’s constituency is eroding — on every front. … [Sam Baker] asked several of the smartest experts around whether they’d rather enter this new reality with or without Alexander-Murray. They were unanimous — they’d rather take their chances without it, keeping higher premium subsidies instead. … The Wall Street Journal reports that it won’t be attached to the two-week spending bill Congress takes up this week…”
MCCONNELL NOT BUDGING ON MOORE MONEY
Politico: “Senate Republicans are still trying to keep their distance from Roy Moore, creating a fresh break with President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, which have re-embraced Moore less than a week before a key special Senate election despite accusations of child molestation against the Alabama Republican. Both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC controlled by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said they plan on staying out of the contest. Several Republican senators furiously protested the RNC’s decision on Tuesday. But there’s a clear sense of resignation among GOP senators who have tried to block Moore from winning the race, acknowledging that the explicit seal of approval from Trump has left them no good options in the Dec. 12 contest. McConnell has acknowledged that he can’t force Moore out of the race.”
Contradictions surface regarding how Moore and wife met - WashEx: “Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s account of when he began dating his wife Kayla would place the start of their courtship before her divorce from her first husband, according to court documents. … On Tuesday afternoon, the Washington Examiner asked Moore’s campaign to explain apparent contradictions between his account of his relationship with Kayla Kisor and information contained in public records. … Moore claims in his 2005 book ‘So Help Me God’ to have met Kayla at a church gathering the week before Christmas in 1984.”
Jones invokes recent sex scandal in call to reject Moore - AL.com: “In a major speech Tuesday a week before Election Day, Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones implored Alabama voters to look beyond political party when casting their ballots and to make the election a referendum on Roy Moore’s character. ‘We need to look at this as parents, not voters. Will we tell our daughters that if you are abused and if you speak out, you will be believed, and Alabama will stand with you regardless of when you come forward?’ Jones said in a speech live streamed on his Facebook page. ‘Or will we tell our young sons this behavior, this disturbing behavior is O.K.?’ … In his speech, Jones pointed out that former Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley was forced to resign earlier this year on charges stemming from an alleged affair with his senior political advisor.”
Flake gets Sassed - WashTimes: “Sen. Ben Sasse criticized fellow Republican Sen. Jeff Flake for making a political donation to Democratic Alabama Senate candidate Doug Jones as a protest against embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore, calling the stunt a ‘bad idea.’ ‘This donation is a bad idea,’ Mr. Sasse, of Nebraska, tweeted Wednesday morning. ‘It’s possible to be against BOTH partial birth abortion AND child molestation. Happily, most Americans are.’… Mr. Sasse said Mr. Jones and Mr. Moore are both bad choices for Alabama and that Mr. Flake, of Arizona, should have just stayed out of it.”
BANNON HITS ROMNEY OVER MORMON FAITH
WaPo: “Former White House political strategist Stephen K. Bannon rallied for Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore by picking another fight with a figure from the so-called Republican establishment: 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. ‘Judge Roy Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinkie finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA,’ Bannon said in his 30-minute speech at Oak Hollow Farm. ‘You hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam. Do not talk to me about honor and integrity,’ he said, referencing Romney’s Mormon faith. Romney, one of many Republicans who called on Moore to quit the race last month, had taken another swing at the candidate after President Trump officially endorsed him. Like all but one of those Republicans — Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — Romney criticized Moore without urging voters to support his Democratic rival.”
Mmmhmm… Conway says Trump, Romney had ‘wonderful’ talk - WashTimes: “Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday that President Trump and Mitt Romney have a good relationship, but she declined to say whether the president would support the former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential nominee in a possible Senate run in Utah. ‘They had a wonderful conversation, according to President Trump. They discussed among other things, what President Trump did the day before in Utah, with the national monuments and talking about historic tax cuts and the like,’ Mrs. Conway, counselor to the president, said on CNN. She said the president and Mr. Romney spoke late Tuesday, but did not say if Mr. Trump would support Mr. Romney in a possible Senate run. Mrs. Conway said that current Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch has not made a decision on his plans, and until then the president would not show support for another candidate.”
TRUMP CALLS JERUSALEM ISRAEL’S CAPITAL
Fox News: “President Trump on Wednesday formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying it’s time to ‘acknowledge the obvious’ as he ordered the State Department to begin moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. ‘I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,’ the president said during a speech in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House. The move fulfills a campaign promise made to religious conservatives. But it could also inflame tensions across the Middle East. ‘This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,’ Trump said. ‘It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.’ Trump acknowledged the opposition from other countries in the Middle East to his decision, saying Vice President Mike Pence will be ‘traveling to the region’ in the coming days. … During his remarks, Trump emphasized he is still committed to a peace deal between the two sides.”
Continetti: ‘Why President Trump is right to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital’ - Free Beacon: “It is one of the boldest moves any U.S. president has made since the beginning of the Oslo ‘peace process’ in 1993. That process collapsed at Camp David in 2000 when Yasir Arafat rejected President Clinton’s offer of a Palestinian state. And the process has been moribund ever since… That is why the warnings from Trump critics that his decision may wreck the peace process ring hollow. There is no peace process to wreck. The conflict is frozen. And the largest barriers to the resumption of negotiations are found not in U.S. or Israeli policy but in Palestinian autocracy, corruption, and incitement. … President Trump has no background in or admiration for the routines, manners, and norms of the U.S. foreign service… This has enabled him to state unequivocally the fact others would prefer to avoid…”
Richard Cohen: ‘American Jews vs. Israel’ - WaPo: “When I was a kid, I went door to door in my neighborhood, asking for donations to the Jewish National Fund, best known then for its Israel forestation program. … If I went to my neighbors today, my imaginary grove might be barren. Of all the divisions regarding Israel — Arab vs. Jew, etc. — maybe the most consequential in the long run is the widening gap between American Jews and the policies of the Netanyahu government. This does not mean that American Jews — largely Democratic and liberal — no longer support Israel. They do. But that support is conflicted, fraught with worry and dismay, and, increasingly among the younger generation, sometimes barely existent.”
CLAIM: FLYNN TEXTED NUCLEAR PLANS AT INAUGURATION
Politico: “Congressional Democrats said Wednesday they have evidence from a confidential whistleblower that within minutes of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, then-national security adviser Michael Flynn sent assurances to former business partners that a plan to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East was ‘good to go.’ Democrats on the House oversight committee said in a letter dated Wednesday that the whistleblower reported attending an inauguration day event with Flynn’s former business associate Alex Copson, the managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners. The whistleblower said Copson gushed that Trump’s inauguration was ‘the best day of my life’ because it meant his company’s effort to create a U.S.-Russia energy partnership in the Middle East, which reportedly would have included more than two dozen nuclear plants in the region, was moving forward.”
Trump Jr. asked for info on Clinton Foundation - NBC News: “Donald Trump Jr. asked a Russian lawyer at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting whether she had evidence of illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation, the lawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee in answers to written questions obtained exclusively by NBC News. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, told the committee that she didn’t have any such evidence, and that she believes Trump misunderstood the nature of the meeting after receiving emails from a music promoter promising incriminating information on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent. Once it became apparent that she did not have meaningful information about Clinton, Trump seemed to lose interest, Veselnitskaya said, and the meeting petered out.”
Scrutiny for bank with Russia ties that backed trump - WSJ: “Deutsche Bank received a subpoena earlier in the fall from U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller’s office concerning people or entities affiliated with President Donald Trump, according to a person briefed on the matter. The subpoena requested documents and data about accounts and other dealings tied to relationships with Mr. Trump and people close to him, the person said. … Ty Cobb, the White House’s chief lawyer handling the Russia investigation, said bank records of Mr. Trump and his family weren’t subpoenaed. “Previous reports today about subpoenas for financial records relating to the president and his family are false,” … Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Mr. Trump goes back decades. Since 1998, the lender has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump… Deutsche Bank faces ongoing questions about a series of Russian trades that have been scrutinized in multiple investigations in the U.S. and Europe…”
Nunes to get texts that cost FBI agent his post on Muller’s team - Fox News: “The Justice Department is in the process of handing over to the House Intelligence Committee the anti-Trump text messages that got a key FBI official removed from Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, Fox News has learned -- a move that comes as the panel weighs a possible contempt resolution. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., had demanded the text messages between FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was romantically involved. Both were part of Mueller’s Russia team at the time. Page has since returned to the FBI, and Strzok was reassigned to the FBI’s HR department after the discovery of the anti-Trump texts. … A source familiar with the discussion between the DOJ and House panel told Fox News on Tuesday that Nunes has been assured those messages will be turned over in the coming days.”
Democrats move to defend Mueller against Trump allies - Politico: “Democrats are making a fresh push to defend special counsel Robert Mueller as conservatives escalate their political assault on the Russia investigator. President Donald Trump’s allies in recent days have renewed their attacks on Mueller amid reports that a top deputy traded anti-Trump texts over the summer, evidence of what they claim is a festering bias. … The developments are raising new alarms among Democrats that Trump could follow through on his past flirtation with firing Mueller, although Republicans say they don’t see a pressing need to protect the special counsel. … Moving forward on the Mueller-protection bills is an ‘absolutely necessary’ step after the guilty plea by Michael Flynn, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in an interview.”
John Conyers III arrested earlier this year for domestic violence suspicions - NBC News
Kirstjen Nielsen officially confirmed as new Homeland Security secretary - Politico
AUDIBLE: IT’S ALSO ABOUT HAVING THE VOTES…
“As I have said before, this is not about Democrats, it is about democracy. It is not about Republicans, it is about the fate of our Republic.” – Rep. Al Green in a memo to his House colleagues regarding his resolution to impeach Trump. Lawmakers immediately voted to effectively kill his resolution today.
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WHEN YOU’RE TOO GOOD AT ACTING
Page Six: “A dog ran amok at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’ this week. Spies at the Neil Simon Theatre tell us an audience member’s service dog ‘got away from its owner and ran after [the character] Bombalurina, performed by actress Mackenzie Warren, during the opening number.’ Luckily, a fast-moving usher ‘intervened and returned the wayward canine to its mortified owner.’ A spokesperson for the mega musical confirmed the incident, adding, ‘In the storied history of ‘Cats,’ this is the first time one of the actual cats was involved in an incident with a dog. We’re pleased to report that no animals or humans were harmed in the dust-up, and the performance continued without a hitch.’”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.