THE LULL … CONGRESS is expected to pass a two-week extension of government funding this week by unanimous consent. We don’t expect any problems. But this has given D.C. a strange, two-week lull, during which very little is expected to happen. The real back-and-forth between the two parties is expected to kick off next week, when PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, NANCY PELOSI and CHUCK SCHUMER are likely to meet at the White House. But even then, the Capitol Hill action won’t get real until the week of Dec. 17.
RIGHT NOW, Democrats and Republicans can’t even agree on the definition of what a border wall is and isn’t. Check out Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine’s story for more
— ONE ELEMENT THAT’S NOT GETTING ENOUGH ATTENTION: It’s not just government funding that runs out at year’s end. Congress needs to pass new disaster funding, the Violence Against Women Act needs to be renewed, and so do the farm bill and flood insurance.
NEWS … JOHN BRESNAHAN and ALEX ISENSTADT: “Hill veteran Poling tapped as NRCC executive director”: “Parker Poling, top aide to Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), will serve as executive director at the National Republican Congressional Committee next cycle, according to GOP officials.
“Poling will serve under Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), the newly appointed NRCC chairman. They will face a formidable task rebuilding GOP fortunes following a Democratic wipeout on Election Day. That will only get harder during the 2020 election cycle with President Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket.” POLITICO
— WHAT NO ONE WILL SAY ON THE RECORD: The knock on the NRCC — and any party committee, for that matter — is that it takes dues from members, and doesn’t always support them electorally when they need it. Poling is among the most savvy at dealing with Republican members of Congress. So her skill here will be particularly valuable.
THE NRCC has its work cut out for it. Republicans will be deep in the minority and the committee is facing flak for not telling top members of leadership or the rank and file it was hacked during the election season.
Good Thursday morning. MARKETS POINTING DOWNWARD … FT: “Global stocks extended their declines on Thursday after the arrest in Canada of a top executive at Huawei, one of China’s national technology champions, fanned concern over the ability of Washington and Beijing to make their trade truce permanent.
“Chinese equities tumbled more than 2 per cent, most major European stocks weakened 1 per cent and U.S. futures fell about 1 per cent after the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and the daughter of its founder, following an extradition request from the U.S.” FT
— S&P FUTURES are down nearly 2% this morning.
— WHY THE MARKETS ARE GOING HAYWIRE … BLOOMBERG’S SHAWN DONNAN: “Trump Weaponizes Uncertainty in Trade War, and Finds Its Limits”
ELIANA JOHNSON and BURGESS EVERETT: “Trump’s slow-motion staff ‘shakeup’ stunts 2019 planning”: “President Donald Trump is still looking for a new United Nations ambassador. He has no deputy national security adviser. His attorney general and EPA administrator are serving in an acting capacity, and his constant badmouthing of his chief of staff and Secretary of Homeland Security has undermined their authority.
“The president once openly signaled plans to revamp his cabinet and staff after the midterm elections, calling it a ‘very customary’ act — and his aides acknowledged that big changes might be coming. But while he demanded the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions the day after last month’s midterm elections, the once-breathless anticipation of his next personnel move has stretched into a long and awkward waiting game.
“The result is an administration in a holding pattern. Trump has offered almost nothing in the way of a legislative vision for 2019 beyond approval of a new trade deal and vague references to infrastructure. His only clear priority is enforcing border security. The White House has even sent mixed signals about its desire to fight for a criminal justice reform bill that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, played a key role in shaping. …
“In the latest clue that [John] Kelly’s days may be numbered, his deputy, Zachary Fuentes, has circulated his resume to other cabinet agencies, including the Department of Defense, according to three sources with knowledge of the situation.” POLITICO
SPEAKING OF THE POST-TRUMP LIFE … BURGESS EVERETT: “Sessions hints he’s done with politics”: “Jeff Sessions doesn’t sound eager to run for his old Senate seat in 2020. The former attorney general and Alabama senator said in an interview on Wednesday that he doesn’t miss being a senator and won’t decide on a run anytime soon. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) is seen as the most vulnerable incumbent on the ballot in two years — and Sessions is viewed as a prime candidate to beat him. …
“‘I’ve been clearing my brain. I think that’s a fair statement,’ he said during a ride on the Senate subway following George H.W. Bush’s state funeral. ‘I’ll go to Alabama, do some things and then that will clarify things a little more before I worry about making a statement.’” POLITICO
FROM 30,000 FEET — JOHN HARRIS in POLITICO Magazine ON THE BUSH FUNERAL: “Bush’s Funeral Wasn’t About Trump. But Of Course It Was”: “The memorial service for George H.W. Bush was a perfectly civil and eminently civilized event, and if one was listening in a literal-minded way it all sounded like a grand exception to life in modern Washington — two hours of stories and tributes that were entirely bereft of political tension.
“The only way to listen in a literal frame of mind, of course, was through some equivalent of self-lobotomy — to be willfully oblivious of context, guileless in a way that certainly does not describe Bush or any of the people he chose to speak at his farewell.
“The service was replete with praise for the 41st president that could, with just the slightest nudge of interpretation, be heard as implied rebuke of the 45th president. But only implied, never explicit—this, unlike almost everything else in American politics today, was not about Donald Trump.
“And yet it very much was. Speakers rhapsodized about Bush’s natural good cheer and optimism; his willingness to share credit and accept blame; his preference for self-deprecating humor; his gift for personal diplomacy; his loyalty to friends when they were down; his talent at assembling international coalitions; his mistrust of ‘unthinking partisanship’; his inaugural address in which he said that Americans must judge our lives by kindness to friends and neighbors rather than the pursuit of ‘a bigger car, a bigger bank account’; his commitment to truth and to living up to the obligations of a ‘gentleman.’” POLITICO
REINING IN TRUMP … NAHAL TOOSI and MARIANNE LEVINE: “Congress looks to usurp Trump’s foreign policy powers”: “The Senate is on the verge of an extraordinary rebuke of Donald Trump’s foreign policy, underscoring a bipartisan willingness to encroach on the president’s powers as commander in chief. From forcing Trump to impose sanctions on Russia to raising questions about his nuclear trigger finger, lawmakers are repeatedly asserting themselves in an area long dominated by the executive branch.
“And now the fury is so great on Capitol Hill over the Saudi murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi — and the Trump administration’s tepid response — that senators are deliberating over whether to pull U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.
“That senators have allowed the debate to even reach this stage is itself a reproach to Trump, who has downplayed evidence implicating the powerful Saudi crown prince suspected of masterminding the killing.” POLITICO
WHO GOT THE POINTS? … WAPO’S DAVID FAHRENTHOLD and JONATHAN O’CONNELL: “Saudi-funded lobbyist paid for 500 rooms at Trump’s hotel after 2016 election”: “Lobbyists representing the Saudi government reserved blocks of rooms at President Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel within a month of Trump’s election in 2016 — paying for an estimated 500 nights at the luxury hotel in just three months, according to organizers of the trips and documents obtained by The Washington Post.
“At the time, these lobbyists were reserving large numbers of D.C.-area hotel rooms as part of an unorthodox campaign that offered U.S. military veterans a free trip to Washington — then sent them to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed, according to veterans and organizers.” WaPo
MANCHIN IN THE MIDDLE …
— ANTHONY ADRAGNA, DARIUS DIXON and NICK JULIANO: “Manchin calls for climate action in opposing FERC nominee”: “Manchin came out against FERC nominee Bernard McNamee because of his past denial of humans’ responsibility for climate change. The reversal comes as environmental activists are trying to prevent Manchin from becoming the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and just a week after Manchin voted to support McNamee in committee.” More for POLITICO Pros
— WAPO’S FELICIA SONMEZ: “In an email to supporters Tuesday, [Washington State Gov. Jay] Inslee argued that Manchin, a moderate Democrat, ‘simply can’t be trusted to make the bold, progressive decisions we need’ and should not be allowed to become the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
“‘I need your help to stop this,’ Inslee said in the email. ‘Our party must be wholly committed to ending America’s dependence on fossil fuels and building a robust clean energy economy. And Joe Manchin literally shot climate legislation in one of his campaign ads. He supports Donald Trump’s dirty energy agenda.’” WaPo
NEW POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — STEVE SHEPARD: “A new poll shows most voters side with elements of the federal government that sounded the alarm last month in a dire report on climate change rather than with the head of that government — and the nation’s leading climate-change denier — President Donald Trump.
“According to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, two-thirds of voters say they are very or somewhat concerned about the report. A 58 percent majority agrees with the scientific consensus — and disagrees with Trump — that climate change is being caused by human activity.” POLITICO
NOT FIRING MISSILES, BUT … CNN’S ZACHARY COHEN: “New satellite images reveal activity at unidentified North Korean missile base”: “New satellite images obtained exclusively by CNN reveal North Korea has significantly expanded a key long-range missile base located in the mountainous interior of the country, offering yet another reminder that diplomatic talks with the US have done little to prevent Kim Jong Un from pursuing his promise to mass produce and deploy the existing types of nuclear warheads in his arsenal.
“The satellite imagery offers evidence that the Yeongjeo-dong missile base and a nearby, previously unreported site remain active and have been continuously upgraded, underscoring the reality of just how far apart Washington and Pyongyang are on the issue of denuclearization despite five months of sporadic talks.
“While the base at Yeongjeo-dong has long been known to U.S. intelligence agencies and analysts, researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told CNN that the images reveal construction on a new facility just seven miles away from the older site that had not been previously publicly identified.” CNN
2020 WATCH …
— DAVID SIDERS: “‘Big game of chicken’: Democratic convulsions shake 2020 lineup”: “First Michael Avenatti imploded, announcing he will not run for president in 2020. Then came Deval Patrick, who told allies that he, too, is out, despite spending the fall campaigning with candidates across the country. Joe Biden, meanwhile, was declaring himself ‘the most qualified person in the country to be president,’ edging closer to a full-on campaign.
“In just one convulsive 24-hour period, Democrats got a glimpse of the primary election to come, a precursor to a year of volatility in the party’s historic, sprawling 2020 presidential field.” POLITICO
— AP’S NICHOLAS RICCARDI and JAMES ANDERSON in Denver: “Colorado’s Hickenlooper staffs up for possible 2020 bid”: “Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and his allies are taking new steps toward launching a presidential campaign, including interviews with dozens of potential staffers and hiring a pollster and national fundraiser, according to a person close to the Democrat. He’s already launched a political action committee that allows him to raise money nationally and hired his 2014 campaign manager, Brad Komar, to run it.
“Since the PAC was formed in September, Komar has done 80 interviews with possible campaign staffers, the person said. Of those, Hickenlooper has conducted or participated in 30 interviews. The operation has hired Democratic veteran Anna Greenberg as its pollster and FK & Co. as national fundraisers; it raises money for Democratic senators including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.” AP
— “Kamala Harris aide resigns after harassment, retaliation settlement surfaces,” by SacBee’s Alexei Koseff: “A longtime top staff member of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris resigned Wednesday after The Sacramento Bee inquired about a $400,000 harassment and retaliation settlement resulting from his time working for Harris at the California Department of Justice.
“Larry Wallace, who served as the director of the Division of Law Enforcement under then-Attorney General Harris, was accused by his former executive assistant in December 2016 of ‘gender harassment’ and other demeaning behavior, including frequently asking her to crawl under his desk to change the paper in his printer.
“The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 30, 2016, when Harris was still attorney general but preparing to be sworn in as California’s newly elected Democratic senator. It was settled less than five months later, in May 2017, by Xavier Becerra, who was appointed to replace her as attorney general.” SacBee
— ALEX THOMPSON in San Juan: “‘We have a crisis’: Democrats at war over voter data trove: A plan pushed by the Democratic National Committee has triggered a fierce backlash within the party, which is already lagging behind Donald Trump.”
TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president will have lunch with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at 12:30 p.m. Trump is also scheduled to speak at Hanukkah receptions at 4 p.m. and at 8 p.m. in the East Room.
THE INVESTIGATIONS …
— NYT’S MARK MAZZETTI and ADAM GOLDMAN: “As Flynn Case Winds Down, Investigation of Turkish Lobbying Persists”: “Federal prosecutors in Virginia are investigating a secret Turkish lobbying effort that once involved Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, even as Mr. Flynn’s role in the special counsel’s investigation winds down, according to people familiar with the inquiry.
“Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, had been handling the case and at some point referred it back to prosecutors in Alexandria, Va., who had originally opened the investigation, the people said.
“A veteran national security prosecutor is overseeing the case, and a grand jury has been empaneled to hear evidence. Prosecutors for Mr. Mueller appeared to make reference to the investigation in documents released on Tuesday that enumerated Mr. Flynn’s cooperation in the Russia inquiry. The heavily redacted documents created an air of mystery about Mr. Flynn’s ‘substantial help’ in several unspecified but continuing investigations.” NYT
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “Don’t condemn white nationalists, Veterans Affairs’ diversity chief was told after Charlottesville, emails show,” by WaPo’s Lisa Rein: “A top White House appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs sought to silence the agency’s chief diversity officer, who — in the aftermath of last year’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville — pushed for a forceful condemnation that was at odds with President Trump’s response, newly disclosed emails show.
“The tense exchange between Georgia Coffey, a nationally recognized expert in workplace diversity and race relations, and John Ullyot, who remains VA’s chief communications official, occurred during a low point in Trump’s presidency … Coffey, a career senior executive at VA, pressed the agency’s leaders to issue a statement making it clear that VA stood against such a ‘repugnant display of hate and bigotry by white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan,’ according to the emails.” WaPo
THE NEW DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY … HEATHER CAYGLE and JOHN BRESNAHAN: “Pelosi ‘sympathetic’ to term limits despite CBC opposition”: “A generational fight is brewing inside the Democratic Caucus as a significant bloc of younger members is pushing for term limits for committee chairmen. And in a potentially major shift that could anger the Congressional Black Caucus and other veteran lawmakers, Nancy Pelosi seems to be warming to the idea.” POLITICO
— DAN DIAMOND spoke with REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WASH.) in the latest “Pulse Check” podcast about her “Medicare for All” strategy for House Democrats. Listen and subscribe
OUT AND ABOUT — The Smithsonian hosted its Ingenuity Awards last night at the National Portrait Gallery. SPOTTED: Stevie Wonder, Cheech Marin, John Leguizamo, Janelle Monae, John Krasinski, David Skorton, Julissa Marenco, Al Horvath, Sam Lancaster, Mitch Rose, Juan Otero, Ellen Stofan, Kirk Johnson, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Scott Simon, Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), David Rubinstein, Eric Schmidt and Kim Scardino.
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Rep.-elect Ben McAdams (D-Utah) turned 44 … Bob Beecroft turned 78
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Roy Schultheis, partner at Potomac Partners DC and former COS for Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), celebrating with his wife Ruth Guerra on their honeymoon in Buenos Aires. A fun fact about Roy: “My father fled communism in Eastern Europe and my mother did the same when her and her family were forced to leave Cuba. Two totally different parts of the world, but the results from communism are always the same. However, without the need for my parents to seek freedom they would have never met in Miami, Fla. and I wouldn’t be around to answer these questions!” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is 61 … former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is 73 (hat tip: Jill Zuckman) … Julian Zelizer, political historian at Princeton and a CNN political analyst … Cogan Schneier (h/t roommate and former colleague Eliza Collins) … Dave Lugar … Shareblue Media’s Eric Boehlert … former Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), now chairman and CEO of the Nickles Group, is 7-0 … Craigslist founder Craig Newmark is 66 … Hugo Gurdon, editorial director at the Washington Examiner … Maia Johnson … Mike Scotto … Meg Reilly … Angelica Annino … Antoniya Puleva (h/t Jon Haber) … Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) is 43 … Maria Stainer … Mike Johnson … POLITICO Europe’s Oriana Henry … Mike Netherton … Nickie Titus … Cynné Simpson … Bruno Florio … Dana Brisbane … Nancy Brinker (h/t Michael Greenwald) …
… Michael Greenstone, an economist at the University of Chicago and a former chief economist with President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers (h/t Karen Anderson) … Edelman’s Brendan Daley … Dan Levitan of BerlinRosen … MSNBC’s Natalie Johnson … Joe Florio … WSJ’s Sara Germano … John Dogero … Bill Greene … Trav Robertson … Francis Brennan, co-founder of the NTK Network, is 29 (h/t Jeff Bechdel) … Evelyn Chang … Bennett Roth … Rouben Gregorian (h/t Nika Nour) … Peg Bailey … CNN and WSJ alum Jon Ostrower … Jack Gocke … Smyth Fleming … VOA’s Jamie Dettmer … Amy Well … Oliver Willis … Ryan Sellinger … Emily Barocas Carruth … Lisa Antonelli Bacon … Jeff Parcher … Greg Butler is 61 … Kimberlin Love … Luke Letlow … Jerad Reimers … Glenn Rushing … Sera Alptekin … JoAnna Richard … Jeff Mayers … J.D. Stier (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)