Podesta news should rattle Dems on Russia

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On the roster: Podesta news should rattle Dems on Russia - Trump keeps up feud with soldier’s widow - Gobble, gobble: Trump moves up tax timeline - Dem House candidates raking in the dough - Everybody dance now! (Not you)

The most attractive lie partisans tell themselves after a defeat is that they were victims of their own virtue. 

The implicit argument from Democrats has been that their party lost a stunning upset in 2016 for the basic reason that the Republicans were more rotten. The sometimes explicit accusation that Republicans colluded with Russian operatives is as much a self-consolation for Democrats as it is an attack on their rivals. 

Probably even before Henry Clay said that he would rather be right than president, pretty much everyone who loses has determined that excessive rightness is probably to blame. 

What Democrats have forgotten, however, is that political rightness and rottenness are relative. With the news that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team is on the scent of Tony Podesta, bag man and influence peddler extraordinaire, they are being reminded. 

A little history here might be instructive. In the high-rolling, ethically freewheeling Clinton era of Washington in the 1990’s, Podesta was the preferred conduit for special interests looking to sluice money into Clinton Inc. 

You are probably more familiar with his brother, John, the good cop of the family’s extraordinary lucrative tag-team. John did the policy stuff and nerd wrangling while Tony made it rain. 

On the expectation of the restoration of the House of Clinton, those in the business of buying influence were going long on the Podestas. 

According to NBC News, Kremlin allies were among those looking to get in on the game. The network reports that Podesta’s firm failed to disclose work on behalf of Kremlin-backed forces in Ukraine. Which is, of course, the baseline accusation against former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort

There is something analogous here to the recent revelations about sexual misconduct in Hollywood. When leading figures on the left were found to fall short of standards applied by Democrats to Trump, things got ugly quickly. 

We have no way to know which of these chirps and squeaks we hear about the Mueller investigation are important and which are ancillary. But we do know that the investigation looks likely to sweep up more than just a handful of Trump insiders.

Remember, until fairly late in 2016 the two major parties were in reverse relationship vis-à-vis Russia. For most of the Cold War and the Putin era, it was Republicans who took the harder line with Moscow and Democrats who wanted to make a deal. 

The revelation of successful Russian efforts to hobble Hillary Clinton’s already balky candidacy has made Russophobes of the doviest doves and resettingest reseters.

Meanwhile, Republican hawks have been dropping like flies as they prepare to defend their president against some pretty unseemly allegations. 

The GOP has been trying for months to make the Russia story about the Obama administration spying on Trump, depicting the new president as a victim of a frame-up. Partisans have understandably focused on this to the almost exclusion in some cases of the more substantive question about ties to Team Trump and the Russians. 

What we found out today, though, ought to be enough to have politicos on both sides of the aisle nervous. 

If Mueller really is in the business of exposing the full efforts of the Kremlin to influence American politics and government in recent years, there will be plenty of hacks, flacks, lobbyists and elected officials who will sleep less soundly tonight.  

“From this view of the subject it may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 10

On this day in 1960, United Artists released John Sturges’ “The Magnificent Seven,” the greatest western and one of the greatest movies of any kind from the studio system era of Hollywood. The Ringer: “The Magnificent Seven is one of the few successful relocations of a foreign classic … and a rare example of Hollywood taking something great and not making it worse. Seven Samurai is one of the true classics of action cinema. It created the grammar of how to shoot fight scenes. If you want to know why seemingly every movie fight scene happens in the rain, watch the final 20 minutes of Seven Samurai. The film is paced like a Western, and its story is universal, one as old as Robin Hood: A band of outcasts come together with the community that’s rejected them in order to save it.”

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Trump net job-approval rating: -20.6 points
Change from one week ago: down 0.4 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.]

WashTimes: “The widow of Sgt. La David Johnson said Monday that President Trump couldn’t remember her husband’s name. ‘[Mr. Trump] said he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyways. And I was – it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said it. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name [was] because he told me he had my husband’s report in front of him, and that’s when he actually said ‘La David,’’ Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sgt. Johnson, said on ABC News. … Mr. Trump took to Twitter to dispute the widow’s claim. … Mrs. Johnson… has numerous questions surrounding her husband’s death. ‘I want to know why it took them 48 hours to find my husband. Why couldn’t I see my husband? Every time I asked to see my husband they wouldn’t let me,’ she said.”

Jimmy Carter (!) defends Trump -
 USA Today: “President Trump has an unexpected defender: Jimmy Carter. ‘I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,’ Carter told New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. ‘I think they feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.’ Carter also defended Trump against claims that the current president's aggressive style is souring U.S. relations with the world. … ‘The United States has been the dominant character in the whole world and now we’re not anymore. And we’re not going to be. Russia’s coming back and India and China are coming forward.’ Perhaps Carter is seeking to placate Trump as part of a job interview: The 93-year-old former president said he is willing to undertake a diplomatic mission to North Korea to discuss its nuclear weapons program.”

Bone (spur) to pick: McCain mocks rich kids like Trump who avoided draft - NPR: “In a week that saw two of President Trump's predecessors issue thinly veiled warnings about where the country is heading under Trump's leadership, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain fired off what appeared to be a long-delayed riposte to the man who once mocked his war record. In an interview broadcast Sunday on C-SPAN, McCain spoke on the 50th anniversary of his being shot down over North Vietnam — an event that led to his capture by communist forces and a 5 1/2-year stay in the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison. ‘One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur,’ McCain said, in an apparent reference to the diagnosis that allowed Trump to be medically disqualified for service in 1968.”

LAT: “President Trump raised expectations Sunday about Republicans’ timetable for completing tax reform, indicating he expects the as-yet unwritten overhaul of the tax code on his desk by Thanksgiving. ‘I want to get it by the end of the year, but I’d be very disappointed if it took that long,’ he said on Fox’s ‘Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo.’ He said lawmakers should forgo their Thanksgiving break if they can’t send him a measure by then. Republican leaders have painted an optimistic picture of the overhaul’s chances… But many have predicted a vote could roll over into 2018, particularly with Trump’s abrupt addition of several issues to their agenda. That includes coming up with a legislative fix for the legal status of immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, reaching a bipartisan agreement to stabilize health insurance markets … and responding to Trump’s refusal to recertify the Iranian nuclear deal.”

Trump urges House GOP to adopt Senate budget - The Hill: “President Trump on Sunday pressed House Republicans to adopt their Senate counterparts’ budget so that they can start moving tax-reform legislation. In a conference call with House Republicans, Trump and GOP leaders said that agreeing to the Senate budget swiftly would help get the process moving faster. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said he wants the House to pass a tax bill in November, with a goal of enacting it into law by the end of the year. ‘We are on the verge of doing something very, very historic,’ Trump said, according to a GOP source. Vice President Pence was also on the call, the GOP source noted.”

Trump vows no changes to 401(k) tax shelter - Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday dismissed the possibility of limiting popular 401(k) retirement savings plans to help pay for Republicans’ sweeping tax plan and expressed doubts about adding another top bracket targeting high earners. Trump, in an interview aired on Monday on Fox Business Network, also said he wanted tax reform to be approved by Congress before the end of the year. … ‘There will be NO change to your 401(k),’ Trump said in a Twitter post. ‘This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!’”

Ivanka remerges to sell tax plan - Axios: “Ivanka Trump heads to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on Monday to talk tax reform, according to a senior administration official. She’ll appear at a White House tax reform town hall, alongside U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza, and former New York Rep. Nan Hayworth will moderate the event. … Since the campaign, Ivanka has openly pushed for expanding the child tax credit. The Big Six tax reform plan would do that. But some fiscal conservatives worry it will only make the deficit worse. It remains to be seen whether House Republicans’ final tax plan will keep the child tax credit expansion that Ivanka and the administration are lobbying for as part of their plan for ‘middle class relief.’ So that will be a big part of her focus in Pennsylvania.”

McConnell ready for vote on health deal - NYT: “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on Sunday that he would be willing to bring a bipartisan proposal to stabilize health insurance markets up for debate if President Trump signaled his support. ‘If there’s a need for some kind of interim step here to stabilize the market, we need a bill the president will actually sign,’ Mr. McConnell said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ’And I’m not certain yet what the president is looking for here, but I’ll be happy to bring a bill to the floor if I know President Trump would sign it.’ Mr. McConnell’s comments shift attention to Mr. Trump, who has sent mixed signals about a proposal unveiled last week by Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington. The president has left enough of an opening for the plan to proceed tentatively.”

Politico: “Democratic candidates are reporting historic early fundraising totals, alarming GOP strategists and raising the prospect that 2018 could feature the most expansive House battlefield in years. …at least 162 Democratic candidates in 82 GOP-held districts have raised over $100,000 so far this year, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest FEC data. That’s about four times as many candidates as House Democrats had at this point before the 2016 or 2014 elections… Nearly three dozen Republican incumbents were outraised by Democratic challengers in the third quarter of this year – a stunning figure. Nine GOP incumbents already trail a Democratic opponent in cash on hand, increasing the likelihood that many veteran incumbents will face tough opposition for the first time in years. The Democrats’ fundraising success, especially from a glut of candidates who have never run for office before, is unsettling to those charged with protecting the GOP majority.”

Trump money men to gather in Texas - Politico: “President Donald Trump’s political operation will accelerate its planning for the 2018 and 2020 elections this week, with a group of deep-pocketed donors gathering in Texas to plot the path forward, according to four people involved in planning the event. Oilman T. Boone Pickens will host Trump’s financial backers at his Mesa Vista ranch on Tuesday. The group of two dozen contributors, which will include Republican businessmen Roy Bailey and Tommy Hicks, will lay out plans to raise money for the Trump-aligned America First Action super PAC. The organization, which is the primary Trump-backed outside group, is expected to play a role in a number of 2018 midterm races.”

DNC has a case of the nerves about Virginia - WaPo: “It’s a surprising case of the jitters over a place that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in eight years… But nationally, Democrats haven’t won a marquee race since losing the presidency. They lag Republicans in fundraising. A loss for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam against Republican Ed Gillespie on Nov. 7 could stir doubts about message and strategy just as the party is gearing up nationally for next year’s all-important midterm elections. ‘We’re Ground Zero,’ Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said inside the Bally’s casino here, where party leaders and activists from all 57 states and territories gathered over the past few days. ‘All eyes are on us. I can understand that, because last year broke my heart.’ Less clear is whether the jitters will help — or whether a Northam victory gives Democrats any kind of road map for 2018.”

Bernie disses Dems again - The Hill: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has confirmed that he will run for re-election in the Senate as an independent in 2018, despite recent pressure from some Democrats to join the party. Sanders told Fox News of his decision to hold onto his independent status during an interview Sunday night. ‘I am an independent and I have always run in Vermont as an independent, while I caucus with the Democrats in the United States Senate. That’s what I’ve been doing for a long time and that’s what I’ll continue to do,’ Sanders told Fox News. Sanders had been facing pressure from some Democrats to officially run as a member of the Democratic Party. Sanders caucuses with Democrats in the Senate.”

Salt Lake paper implores Romney to make Senate run - Fox News: “An influential newspaper in Utah on Sunday called on former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to run for Senate to replace Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and be a ‘savior for Republicans exhausted by President Trump.’ ‘Mitt Romney should run for Senate,’ read The Salt Lake Tribune's editorial, claiming the former candidate has a real shot to win, should he run. ‘His notoriety as a well-mannered foe would help him work across the aisle in the contentious Senate. And his reputation for statesmanship would launch him into leadership roles most freshmen congressmen only dream of,’ it added. The Tribune editorial mentioned his well-known animosity toward the president.”

Cuban would likely pick GOP if he makes 2020 run - The Hill: “Billionaire investor Mark Cuban said he would likely run as a Republican if he launched a bid for the White House in 2020. During an interview on Fox News, Cuban was asked whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. Cuban said he was ‘fiercely independent.’ He was then pressed on which party he would run with if he had to choose. ‘Probably Republican,’ he said. ‘Because I think there’s a place for somebody who is socially a centrist, but I’m very fiscally conservative, but I think there’s better ways now to make governments smaller.’ Cuban continued to emphasize the importance of technology and its impact on jobs.”

House Intel will interview Trump’s campaign digital director - The Hill 

House to probe Obama-era Uranium One deal
 - Fox News

Trump advisers uncertain about Trump’s Federal Reserve Chairman pick - Axios

Gillian Turner: ‘We won the ground war with ISIS, but must now go to battle online’ The Hill

Gallup: Trump ­approval slips in third quarter Gallup

“I think the Democrats are crazy to not try and deal with him directly. Seven years ago, he was a Democrat. It doesn’t take any brains to realize that he’d be open.” – Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah, talking to the WaPo about negotiating with Trump.

“An interesting take on disputes over patriotism would be to contrast them with those of 50 years ago. You note that ‘both sides claim to be on the side of the war dead.’ It was often made clear during the opposition to the Vietnam War that was hardly the case. A sizable segment of war protestors, Jane Fonda, and Country Joe and the Fish it clear that our soldiers had no claim to such righteousness, nor did their families. With both sides now at least claiming to be on that side, things may be better, or worse, depending on one’s penchant for sincerity. As George Burns pointed out, if you can fake that, you’ve really made it.” – Joseph P. Reilly, Scottsdale, Ariz.

[Ed. note: I give credit to the modern anti-war movement for learning from the mistakes of history and taking great pains to avoid presenting members of the military, particularly those killed in action, as the bad guys. There are times, however, when it feels like America’s troops are treated as objects of sympathy, though. Two competing mythologies have emerged. In one, every man and woman in uniform, from a reservist motor pool mechanic to a navy SEAL, is turned into Sgt. Alvin York. In the other competing narrative, the military exploits poor Americans lacking opportunity and uses them to execute its imperial ambitions. To say that these simplistic narratives miss the mark is a tragic understatement. The concept of the citizen soldier is not just important for the purposes of limiting the power of the federal leviathan, but also for how we treat and respect those in service and those who have served. Understanding that the members of the military are our friends, neighbors, fellow parishioners and relatives helps us to treat them rightly: as human beings first.]

“Chris… all I can say about your comments today regarding patriotism is ‘Amen.’ As a follow-up question, many of the political scuffles going on are based on documents we have not seen yet, or only viewed in heavily redacted form. President Trump is the chief executive, and could conceivably order, say for example, A.G. Sessions to release the full and complete documents regarding former A.G. Lynch’s (in)famous meeting on the tarmac with former President Bill Clinton? Why has he not done so? Is the deep state that powerful? In closing, if one is known by the company he keeps, your proximity to the inestimable Ms. [Dana Perino] greatly enhances your stature.” – Jim Wofford, Upperville, Va.

[Ed. note: You ain’t kiddin’, Mr. Wofford! I am incredibly lucky to have Dana as a colleague, and even more as a friend. Plus, when I stand next to her people think I’m seven feet tall, so “stature” indeed. As for what Sessions does or does not release, there are a couple of considerations. First, criminal investigations are supposed to be independent in nature. Having the president intervene into what is obviously an ongoing investigation would be counterproductive to say the least. Second, as we have seen, the Mueller investigation may be an issue here, since the special counsel’s team seems to be on the scent of some possible misdeeds from members of the Blue Team. The president will have to do like the rest of his fellow Americans and wait to find out.]

“Other than allowing Congress to continue spending at current rates, the 401(k) cap idea appears to be little more than robbing Peter to pay Paul. While it may lower bracketed tax rates now, I fear it would discourage people saving for a future in which Social Security payments may well have to be reduced in order to maintain solvency. This sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Are they being shortsighted or am I missing something?” – Triche Osborne, Baton Rouge, La.

[Ed. note: When it comes to entitlements, we have already robbed Peter to pay Paul to such a great extent that almost 30 percent of our federal debt is to taxpayers. The Social Security Trust Fund is sitting on almost $3 trillion in IOU’s. Medicare has almost $300 billion and retirement funds for government employees hold more than $1.8 trillion combined. We have for decades used excess revenues from payroll taxes intended to fund Social Security and Medicare for the general expenditures of the government. But those revenues aren’t really “excess” in the sense that the money those trust funds don’t need today will surely be needed tomorrow. As Congress considers how to truss up this bird they call tax reform, they are not just looking at the possibility of taxing private retirement funds, but also cutting those payroll taxes intended to fund already insolvent entitlement programs. One of the reasons tax reform is so hard is that deficit spending is so attractive. But what is government debt but a tax on future generations who themselves have no representation in the current debate.]

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CTV News: “A [Canadian] man’s love of music is proving costly after he said he was given a $149 ticket for singing ‘Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)’ while driving. …Taoufik Moalla was… cheerfully singing along to the 1990 C+C Music Factory hit, when he heard a police siren behind him. … Police checked his license and registration and came back with the ticket for screaming in his car. ‘I don’t know if my voice was very bad and that’s why I got the ticket,’ he said. … He’s [contested the ticket] and is currently waiting for a court date… He said he simply plans to tell a judge how he got the ticket. As for his wife, she isn’t surprised that her husband’s vocal abilities ended up in a fine. ‘She told me, if it was for singing, I’d have given you a ticket for $300,’ he said.” 

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.