The Daily 202: McCain and Kerry outline lessons from Vietnam after watching new Ken Burns documentary
Posted by James Hohmann on 13th September 2017
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This post was originally published on THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICS

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With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Hundreds of Washington insiders gathered last night in the Kennedy Center Opera House for an advance screening of Ken Burns’s new documentary on Vietnam.

Before he showed half a dozen choice clips from his 10-part, 18-hour film, which premieres Sunday, the director asked everyone who served in the military during the war to stand so they could be recognized.

John McCain and John Kerry were among those who rose, along with other famous veterans like Bob Kerrey and Mike Mullen.

Burns then asked anyone who protested Vietnam to also stand. Dozens did.

“I couldn’t tell the difference,” the director said, referring to the two groups.

The veterans, including McCain, joined the audience in applauding the antiwar demonstrators.

That moment set a tone of reconciliation and harmony for a discussion about one of the darkest and most divisive chapters in American history.

— Forty-two years after the fall of Saigon, McCain believes “it is the right time to take notes.” “There has to be a period of time after a conflict where the passion cools,” he said during a panel that followed the screening. “Maybe we can look back at the Vietnam conflict and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes that we did before.”

The 81-year-old, who is undergoing chemotherapy as he battles an aggressive form of brain cancer, said that watching “the magnificent work” reminded him of just how young so many of the Americans were who died. With sorrow in his voice, he talked about “the 18-, 19-, 20-year-old kids who had no idea what they were getting into.”

“Their leaders didn’t lead, whether they were military or civilian,” said the Arizona Republican, who spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war after getting shot down on a bombing mission over Hanoi in 1967. “By telling the American people one thing, which was not true, about the progress in the war and the body counts, it caused a wave of pessimism to go across this country, which bolstered the antiwar movement. We can learn lessons today because the world is in such turmoil: Tell the American people the truth!

McCain said he visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial as often as he can to take in the names of the more than 58,000 Americans who died. “Depends on the weather,” he said. “Sometimes once a week. Sometimes once every couple of weeks. I try to go very early in the morning or when it’s near sunset. … It’s really an incredibly emotional experience. … These young men died because of inadequate or corrupt leadership.”

As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, McCain is managing the defense reauthorization bill on the Senate floor this week. Whenever troops go into combat, he explained, it is essential that the country decides “what victory means” and, then, “do not forget it!”

“We need to be able to have leaders who will lead and who will be able to give (the troops) a path to victory so that we will not sacrifice them ever again in a lost cause,” McCain said.

Kerry, who captained a swift boat in Vietnam before returning home to protest the war, echoed similar themes and alluded to the Trump administration’s credibility gap.

“Vietnam has always stood out to me a stunning failure of leadership,” said the former secretary of state. “We were operating without facts back then. In today’s world, it’s (also) really hard to figure out what the facts are. And people won’t honor facts. You know what they are, but you have your ‘alternative facts.’”

The 73-year-old spoke of feeling betrayed by “the best and the brightest” who he had looked up to in the American government. He singled out Robert McNamara, who was secretary of defense under John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

“I thought I had felt all the anger I could feel about the war, but I hadn’t until I read ‘A Bright Shining Lie’ by Neil Sheehan,” Kerry said, referring to the classic book that came out in 1988. “All the way up the chain of command, people were just putting in gobbledygook information, and lives were being lost based on those lies and those distortions.”

Martha Raddatz of ABC News, who moderated the discussion, asked Kerry how society can learn “the right lessons” from Vietnam. “A lot of people don’t,” he replied. “It’s that simple.”

The five-term Massachusetts senator said that war should always be “a choice of last resort” after diplomatic options have been exhausted. He spoke of the need to have an endgame before going in. “So many missed opportunities,” Kerry said, shaking his head. “I hope never again will any generation have to face a moment like we did.”

Kerry explained that his combat experience as a young man has been “tricky” at times, and that he tried to not let it overly color his approach to the world during his tenure at Foggy Bottom. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t a captive of Vietnam,” he said. “Not everything is Vietnam!”

— By sparking new conversations, Burns hopes to heal old wounds. Famous for his in-depth explorations of the Civil War and World War II, the director highlighted additional parallels between Vietnam and the present moment: “Mass demonstrations taking place all across the country against the administration … A president certain the news media is lying … Asymmetrical warfare that taxes the might of the United States military … A country divided in half … Huge document drops of stolen, classified material into the public sphere … Accusations that a political campaign reached out to a foreign power during a national election to affect the outcome.”

“So much of the division that we experience today, the hyper-partisanship that besets us, we think the seeds of that were sown in Vietnam,” Burns said.

— Kerry recounted his work with McCain in the 1990s to normalize relations with Vietnam, which grew out a conversation they had during an all-night flight on a CODEL to the Middle East. “We decided consciously to work on this because we felt very, very deeply that the country was still at war with itself, and that we needed to move forward in the relationship with Vietnam in order to be able to move forward with the relationship here at home,” Kerry said. “We wanted to be able to talk about Vietnam as a country, not as a war.”

As the 2004 Democratic nominee for president spoke, the 2008 Republican nominee interjected to say that Bill Clinton deserves credit for backing them up at a time (before he got reelected) when it was not politically easy.

— Former defense secretary Chuck Hagel, who enlisted to fight in Vietnam and received two Purple Hearts as an infantryman, praised the documentary for humanizing the war. “We too often don’t humanize the mechanics of war,” the former Nebraska Republican senator lamented. “We say, ‘Well, we’re going to send six or seven divisions or three battalions or squadrons of planes.’ But what does that mean to the men and women who are fighting and dying? … As secretary of defense, I saw that from many years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The same was true for Vietnam.”

— “The Vietnam War” premieres Sunday on PBS at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT.

— Special supplement: Washington Post Pop Culture Columnist Alyssa Rosenberg got exclusive access to the production process over the past year. She made a special companion podcast to accompany each of the 10 episodes in the miniseries. (Listen to her preview here.)

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— One round for the Trump administration on its travel ban — the Supreme Court agreed to block a lower-court ruling allowing 24,000 sponsored refugees into the country. From Robert Barnes and Matt Zapotosky: “The court issued a one-paragraph statement granting the administration’s request for a stay of the latest legal maneuvering … There were no recorded dissents to the decision … At issue is whether the president can block a group of about 24,000 refugees, who have assurances from sponsors, from entering the United States.”

The ruling follows a June decision that no person with a “bona fide” connection to the United States could be denied entry, which the administration determined did not include extended family members or refugees with assurances. “The Justice Department this week asked the Supreme Court to step in again — although only to block refugees, not grandparents and other relatives beyond the nuclear family. Even those refugees with formal assurances from a resettlement agency lack the sort of connection that should exempt them from the ban, the Justice Department argued in its new filing to the Supreme Court.”

— The administration is also weighing slashing the number of refugee admissions to below 50,000, which would be the fewest since at least 1980. The New York Times’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Miriam Jordan report: “In recent weeks, as the deadline approached for Mr. Trump to issue the annual determination for refugee admissions required by the Refugee Act of 1980, some inside the White House — led by Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser for policy — have pressed to set the ceiling even lower.” But other administration members — including officials in the National Security Council, the State Department and the Pentagon — are opposed to the idea, which has not been finalized.

— The Supreme Court also ruled that Texas did not immediately have to redraw electoral maps found to diminish the impact of minority voters. Robert Barnes reports: “The 5-to-4 ruling almost surely means the 2018 midterm elections will be conducted in the disputed congressional and legislative districts. The justices gave no reasons in their one-paragraph statement granting a request from Texas that it not be forced to draw new districts until the Supreme Court reviewed the lower court’s decision. But the court’s liberals — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — signaled their unhappiness by noting they would not have agreed to Texas’s request. The court’s intervention was a victory for Texas Republicans, who had drawn the districts. It disappointed civil rights groups, who had noted that even though growth in the state’s Hispanic population was the reason for additional congressional seats, none were drawn to favor minority candidates.”

— Exclusive: Internal Democratic poll shows Jeff Flake is in real trouble. Senate Majority PAC, the lead outside group focused on the upper chamber, commissioned an internal poll last week that shows Arizona’s Republican senator in danger of losing both the primary and the general election. He’s lost support from Trump supporters by challenging the president, but he’s not getting credit from independents for standing up to the White House. The survey, conducted by GBA Strategies, found that primary challenger Kelli Ward currently leads Flake by 27 points, 58 percent to 31 percent, in a head-to-head match-up among Republicans. Among GOP primary voters, the first-term Flake’s favorable rating is 25 percent – with 56 percent viewing him unfavorably. His job approval rating with his own party is 34 percent in the survey, while his overall approval rating is 38 percent (with 50 percent disapproval.)

Against Kyrsten Sinema, the likely Democratic candidate, Flake currently trails by 7 points – 47 percent to 40 percent.

The survey also shows that Senate Majority Leader McConnell is viewed favorably by just 17 percent of Republican primary voters in Arizona, while 42 percent see him unfavorably.

The live-caller survey of 600 likely 2018 general election voters and 500 likely Republican primary voters was in the field from Aug. 30 to Sept. 7. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent for the general and 4.4 percent for the primary. “Arizona is clearly an opportunity for Senate Democrats to pick up a seat,” said JB Poersch, president of Senate Majority PAC. “The political climate in Arizona hints growing problems for the GOP Congressional brand.”

To be sure, it’s early. Breitbart played up a poll at this point two years ago that showed John McCain losing to Ward by 9 points, and he wound up winning comfortably. The filing deadline is not until May 30, and the primary is not until Aug. 30. Someone else could still jump into the primary. Establishment Republicans believe Ward would get crushed in a general, even in a reddish state like Arizona, and Flake is more competitive. They say this is why Democrats are sharing a poll like this.

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. America’s middle class had its highest-earning year ever in 2016, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report. Officials said the median household income in America was $59,039 last year, surpassing the previous record of $58,655 set in 1999. (Heather Long)
  2. Apple unveiled three new editions of the iPhone, including a premium version costing $999. The premium iPhone X will have enhanced cameras for facial recognition, allowing users to unlock the phone just by looking at it. (Hayley Tsukayama)
  3. Edith Windsor, whose Supreme Court case paved the way for legalizing same-sex marriage, died at 88. Barack Obama called her one of the “quiet heroes” who had advanced equality. (AP)
  4. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation following a fifth claim of child sex abuse — this one from his cousin, who said the alleged abuse happened decades ago in New York. Murray has repeatedly denied the accusations, which began in April, and claimed they are part of a political takedown. (The Seattle Times)
  5. Georgia Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R) and his wife are recovering from nonlife threatening injuries after their car was rear-ended and “flipped multiple times” on their way back to Washington. Both were released from the hospital Tuesday, a representative said. (WSB Radio)
  6. More than 370,000 refugees from Burma’s long-persecuted Rohingya ethnic group have fled their country for neighboring Bangladesh, international migration groups said Tuesday. The Rohingya are desperately seeking to escape a crisis the United Nations human rights chief called a “textbook example” of ethnic cleansing. (Annie Gowen)

  7. Five years after the Benghazi attacks, a federal court in Washington has begun searching for potential jurors in the terrorism trial. The 28-page questionnaire extends far beyond routine vetting inquiries for would-be jurors, asking them about views on whether the U.S. government acts fairly toward mostly Muslim countries and aggressively enough to fight terrorism. (Spencer S. Hsu)
  8. The founder of a company that uses artificial intelligence to help people fight parking tickets online has created a free chatbot to help people sue Equifax, a credit-rating agency that was hacked and exposed the information of more than 143 million U.S. consumers. With the help of the bot, customers can sue Equifax for thousands of dollars in just minutes. (Peter Holley)
  9. The World Anti-Doping Agency has agreed to clear 95 Russian athletes who were implicated in the country’s longtime doping program — a decision that is likely to fuel debate over Russian athletes’ eligibility in sporting events. (New York Times)
  10. In Beijing, people are getting married for license plates. The spike in sham marriages comes as authorities began issuing new plates via a six-time-a-year lottery system to reduce congestion in the crowded capital city. The new system is daunting, but allows loopholes for spouses — and many single, would-be drivers are cashing in. (The Atlantic)
  11. Authorities in suburban Chicago are investigating the death of a 19-year-old woman, who was found this weekend in a hotel’s industrial walk-in freezer. Her mother has since lashed out at the hotel and local police department, saying they “helped kill her child” by failing to act fast enough after learning of her disappearance. (Andrew deGrandpre)
  12. A contentious lawsuit over the rights to a “selfie” taken by a monkey was settled on Tuesday, capping a years-long legal battle that ensued after a primate grabbed a wildlife photographer’s camera — and quickly snapped a shot of his own smiling face. (Amy B Wang

AFTER THE STORMS:

— Trump will visit Florida Thursday in Irma’s wake. David Nakamura reports: “[For an] administration whose first eight months has been marked by internecine squabbles and a lack of legislative accomplishments, the initial competence in managing the storms represented a relief — and a rare chance to take credit … Several major policy questions have been raised in the wake of the storms, including whether Trump will reconsider his proposals to slash FEMA’s grant programs and his administration’s hostility to [environmental] regulations … But overall, emergency management veterans said, Trump and his team deserve acknowledgment for getting through the first phase of the crisis in a way that inspired public confidence.” “[Trump], for all the negatives we’ve heard about him, has done the right thing,” said Clinton-era FEMA official Mark Merritt. “He picked a great team and let them do their job.”

— Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) criticized officials who deny the connection between extreme weather and climate change. Politico’s Michael Grunwald reports: “Nelson said it’s clear that manmade global warming made Irma worse by increasing the temperature and the height of the seas that fueled the storm. He said he didn’t want to play partisan politics in the aftermath of a hurricane, but then went on to criticize Republicans in general and [Florida Gov. Rick] Scott in particular—though not by name—for opposing climate action. He noted that both the Trump administration in Washington and the Scott administration in Tallahassee have reportedly discouraged government employees from even talking about climate change.”

— But millions of Floridians remain without power, and officials worry the lights may not come back on for weeks. Patricia Sullivan, Mark Berman and Katie Zezima report: “Across the nation’s third most-populous state, that discomfort played out in homes that were silent without the usual thrum of perpetual air-conditioning. It meant refrigerators were unable to cool milk, laundry machines were unable to clean clothes and, for the particularly young and old, potential danger in a state where the temperatures can range from warm to stifling. Even for those who had power, some also were struggling to maintain cellphone service or Internet access, sending Floridians into tree-riddled streets in an effort to spot a few precious bars of signal to contact loved ones. …

“At its peak, the Department of Homeland Security said about 15 million Floridians — an astonishing three out of four state residents — lacked power … Duke Energy Florida said it would restore power to most customers by Sunday, a week after Irma made its first landfall in Florida. Some harder-hit areas could take longer due to the rebuilding effort.”

— And it’s not just Florida: almost 900,000 residents of Georgia were still without power yesterday. Over 300,000 of them were just in the Atlanta-metro area. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

— For some, the lack of power is about much more than discomfort. Patricia Sullivan has a story on an assisted living facility that went without electricity for three days: “Cape Coral Shores, on a peninsula west of Fort Myers on the Florida Gulf Coast, had 20 patients stay during the storm … Power went out at the facility … and was not restored for days even as homes and businesses all around it saw their lights come back on … A handful of small fans powered by a borrowed generator were all that kept the situation from devolving into a medical emergency[.]”

— Jacksonville reckoned with historic flooding. Lori Rozsa reports: “Driven by tidal flow, an already saturated inland waterway system and Irma’s powerful winds and rains, the swollen and fast-rushing St. Johns River crashed over sea walls and sandbags and left much of the area underwater. Officials called the flooding ‘epic’ and ‘historic,’ with the river through this city of nearly 900,000 hitting levels not seen since 1846 — a year after Florida became a state. On Tuesday the city started to recover, but meteorologists warned that some flooding is likely to return as storm-generated waters rush south from the Carolinas toward the Atlantic Ocean.”

— St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands has been essentially razed by Irma. Anthony Faiola reports: “[T]his 20-square-mile island is now perhaps the site of Irma’s worst devastation on American soil. Six days after the storm … the island finally has an active-theater disaster zone. Military helicopters buzz overhead and a Navy aircraft carrier is anchored off the coast, as the National Guard patrols the streets. The Coast Guard is ferrying the last of St. John’s dazed tourists to large cruise ships … More than a few locals, cut off from the world with no power, no landlines and no cellular … are leaving, too, some of them in tears. …

A drive up formerly picturesque mountain roads reveals a landscape of such astonishing devastation that it looks as if it were bombed. Entire houses have disappeared. Others are tilting on their sides. Horizons of waxy-green bay leaf trees on jade-colored hills have turned to barren wastelands, as if the world’s largest weed whacker had hedged the entire island. … And that’s just damage from the weather.  In the days following the storm, lawlessness broke out — here and on other Caribbean islands. Thieves hit a string of businesses. Houses were burgled, entire ATM machines stolen.”

SINGLE-PAYER ON STAGE LEFT:

— Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is expected to introduce his single-payer health-care legislation today with the backing of a record 15 Democratic senators. David Weigel reports: “Sanders’s bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, has no chance of passage in a Republican-run Congress. But after months of behind-the-scenes meetings and a public pressure campaign, the bill is already backed by most of the senators seen as likely 2020 Democratic candidates — if not by most senators facing tough reelection battles in 2018. The bill would revolutionize America’s health-care system, replacing it with a public system that would be paid for by higher taxes. … As he described his legislation, Sanders focused on its simplicity, suggesting that Americans would be happy to pay higher taxes if it meant the end of wrangling with health-care companies. The size of the tax increase, he said, would be determined in a separate bill.”

Republicans, bruised and exhausted by a failed campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act, were giddy about the chance to attack Democrats and Sanders … Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a medical doctor, crowed that Sanders’s bill had become ‘the litmus test for the liberal left’ and that Americans would reject any costly plan for universal insurance coverage.”

— Sanders makes the case in a Times op-ed this morning: “Needless to say, there will be huge opposition to this legislation from the powerful special interests that profit from the current wasteful system. The insurance companies, the drug companies and Wall Street will undoubtedly devote a lot of money to lobbying, campaign contributions and television ads to defeat this proposal. But they are on the wrong side of history.”

— Nancy Pelosi tries to keep the tent big. Kelsey Snell and David Weigel report: “Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to endorse ‘Medicare for All’ legislation backed by [Sanders] and instead called on Democrats to release a wide range of proposals to fix and improve [Obamacare]. … ‘I don’t think it’s a litmus test,’ Pelosi said in an interview. ‘What we want is to have as many people as possible, everybody, covered, and I think that’s something that we all embrace.’ Pelosi said that she would like a variety of health-care ideas to be vetted and analyzed by budget scorekeepers but that she thinks none of them will succeed while the ACA is under attack from Republicans. ‘Right now I’m protecting the Affordable Care Act,’ Pelosi said. ‘None of these things, whether it’s Bernie’s or others, can really prevail unless we protect the Affordable Care Act.’”

— Why this is still pie-in-the-sky, explains the New York Times’s Margot Sanger-Katz: “[L]ast week, a detailed analysis of the Sanders health care plan from researchers at the Urban Institute showed that it would probably cost the government double what the campaign proposed. It is the second credible analysis to suggest that the Sanders plan costs more than advertised. … The Sanders plan is light on some key details, but even in sketch form, it seems clear that it would require even bigger tax increases than the sizable ones the campaign has called for. If you look around the world, lots of countries have single-payer systems. … So how could a single-payer system here still be so expensive? … Here’s why: Medicare pays doctors and hospitals higher prices than single-payer systems do in other countries.

— Meanwhile, Republicans are still debating whether they should try to gut the ACA. Politico’s Burgess Everett and Jennifer Haberkorn report: “Republicans are paralyzed over what to do about health care, caught between a bipartisan effort to shore up Obamacare and the opportunity to take one last swing at their years-long promise to repeal the law. Leaders of both efforts have less than three weeks to gather enough support[.] … A group of senators is making a last gasp effort to repeal some of the law and replace it with a block grant program to the states, though many Senate Republicans are pessimistic they will be able to get the 50 of their 52 senators needed to support it in the coming days.” Time is running out — the budget resolution containing the instructions that allows Republicans to push through health-care legislation without Democratic support expires on Sept. 30.

REPUBLICANS PIN THEIR HOPES ON A TAX REWRITE:

— But some conservatives are skeptical of Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn’s ability to advance tax reform with Republicans. Politico’s Nancy Cook and Rachael Bade report: “Neither man has ever worked in or with the legislative branch. They lack inside knowledge about how to navigate Congress at an especially fractious time. Cohn remains a registered Democrat; Mnuchin is a Republican, but he also has a long history of donating to the other party. … Republicans throughout Washington are concerned that if the White House can’t craft a plan that unifies the GOP, Trump’s tax writers will once again circumvent Hill Republicans in order to score a win. … The idea of the White House totally undercutting GOP leaders’ tax strategy and striking a deal with Democrats is not altogether inconceivable, especially after last week’s debt deal.”

–They might have reason to worry: Trump is meeting today with bipartisan members of the Problem Solvers’ Caucus. And he had dinner last night at the White House with several key Democratic senators in red states won by Trump in 2016 — and Finance Committee Chair Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah). At the meeting were Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.). “Manchin, Heitkamp and Donnelly are the only Democratic senators who did not sign a letter addressed to Republican leaders and Trump that said the Democratic caucus would not support a tax overhaul that cuts taxes for the ‘top 1 percent’ or adds to the government’s $20 trillion debt,” the AP reported.

— But Democrats still have a long list of non-starters on taxes. The New York Times’s Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan report: “Senate Democrats on Tuesday warned they would work to block any rewrite of the tax code that repealed the estate tax and the deduction for state and local taxes[.] … Congressional Republicans and the White House agree that the tax on inheritances should be scrapped … The red lines from Democrats are becoming increasingly stark. [Chuck] Schumer also said that a repeal of the deduction for state and local taxes and any changes to the mortgage interest deduction would also be non-starters with Democrats.”

— How will taxes happen? House Budget Chair Diane Black is pushing Paul Ryan to bring a budget to the floor this month, even as the House Freedom Caucus continues to insist on seeing a comprehensive tax plan before agreeing to a budget. Politico’s Sarah Ferris reports: “Black, frustrated by her party’s divisions, is daring die-hard conservatives to vote no, forcing them to take the fall for choking off the party’s chances at tax reform. ‘Sometimes when you get this close, perhaps you just need to put it on the floor,’ Black (R-Tenn.) [said].”

— Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are preparing to move on one of Ivanka Trump’s signature issues: affordable childcare. Politico’s Burgess Everett: “Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will lead the introduction of the “Child Care for Working Families Act” on Thursday, an aide familiar with the effort said. The move is intended to showcase broad Democratic buy-in on the bill compared to President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans’ halting progress on the issue. The bill, which has been under development for months, will focus on early learning, child care costs and people who administer child care. “

DEALING WITH DACA:

— White House legislative director Marc Short signaled the White House may back off its calls to include funding for Trump’s border wall in legislation to protect to DACA recipients. Kelsey Snell, Ashley Parker and Ed O’Keefe report: “[Short] told a breakfast gathering … that Trump ‘believes that a physical barrier is important’ between the United States and Mexico. But he said that the administration does not ‘want to bind ourselves into a construct that makes reaching a conclusion on DACA impossible.’ … But the issue of border wall funding is still likely to be a point of contention in spending negotiations later this year. Congress voted last week to extend current spending levels through Dec. 8, leaving lawmakers three months to work out a long-term spending agreement. Short hinted Tuesday that Trump may demand border funding as a part of those negotiations.”

— House leaders from both parties are planning to huddle today to discuss possibly taking up DACA legislation. Ed O’Keefe reports: “The meeting … is a signal that congressional leaders are indeed trying to build support for a broader plan that would pair some kind of legislation to deal with dreamers … with a plan to expandsecurity along the U.S.-Mexico border. … Pelosi and her lieutenants had requested a meeting with [Paul] Ryan shortly after Trump decided to end the DACA program in March of next year unless Congress can resolve the issue. She told reporters Tuesday that House Democrats are quickly coalescing around legislation that would grant legal protections to DACA recipients and set them on a years-long course to apply for U.S. citizenship.

— Mitch McConnell expressed hesitation yesterday about ending the debt ceiling, as Trump had discussed with Chuck Schumer. Sean Sullivan reports: “‘Getting Congress to give up the tool like that would probably be quite a challenge,’ [McConnell] said. [He] predicted that the debt ceiling ‘will continue and we’ll have to decide when these intervals come along the best way to handle it.’ … McConnell said Tuesday that he does not expect to have to raise the debt ceiling again until ‘some time next year.’”

— Congress has sent a resolution to Trump condemning the Charlottesville violence and encouraging him to speak out against hate groups. Mike DeBonis and Jenna Portnoy report: “The legislation, which passed by unanimous consent in the Senate on Monday and in the House on Tuesday, will be presented to Trump for his signature in an effort by lawmakers to secure a more forceful denunciation of racist extremism from the president. … The text of the resolution was negotiated on a bipartisan basis by the members of Virginia’s congressional delegation, overcoming early differences between Republicans and Democrats about how to characterize the events in Charlottesville and whether to explicitly criticize Trump’s response. … The authors of the legislation purposely introduced it as a joint resolution, which is sent for a president’s signature, rather than as a simple or concurrent resolution, which are not.” The text notably categorizes the killing of Heather Heyer as a “domestic terrorist attack.”

— Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) joined Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)’s campaign to force a debate on Congress approving a new Authorization for Use of Military Force. Karoun Demirjian reports: “But Kaine’s decision to join Paul’s efforts did not inspire other senators to follow suit, as leading Republicans and Democrats argued against putting an expiration date on existing authorizations for the United States’ engagement in high-stakes conflicts around the world. … It’s a change of heart for Kaine, who was quick to criticize last week when Paul launched his effort to add to the defense bill a six-month deadline to pass an authorization for military force.” The Senate will vote today on the measure to force an AUMF debate, Karoun reports. It’s expected to fail.

— Sen. Ted Cruz blamed his Twitter account’s “liking” an illicit adult video on a “staffing issue.” Ed O’Keefe and Avi Selk report: “By late morning, reporters were waiting outside the U.S. Capitol to question the flesh-and-blood Cruz about his online alias’s handiwork, which he disavowed. ‘It was a staffing issue and it was inadvertent,’ the senator said. ‘It was a mistake.’ He said ‘a number of people’ in his office had access to his account[.] … ‘This was not how I envisioned waking up this morning,’ Cruz told his journalist interrogators at the Capitol, and then got in a crack of his own: ‘If I had known that this would trend so quickly, then perhaps we should have posted something like this during the Indiana primary.’”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— Another Flynn omission? Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have failed to disclose a trip to the Middle East to negotiate a business deal with the Saudi government and a Russian government agency, CNN’s Manu Raju and Marshall Cohen write this morning. House ” Democrats allege the retired Army lieutenant general broke the law by omitting the trip, according to the letter they sent to Flynn’s former business partners requesting more information about his overseas travels and contacts.”

— Flynn is refusing a new request to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee. CNN’s Jim Sciutto reports: “Flynn first declined to comply with a Senate subpoena in May, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights. More recently, the committee has reiterated its request and Flynn has declined again, the source said. Flynn has also been subpoenaed by the House intelligence committee, which is conducting a separate probe into Russia’s election meddling. Flynn had offered to testify before both the Senate and House intelligence committees in exchange for immunity, but neither committee accepted the offer.”

— Putin sought a “broad reset” of U.S.-Russian relations in the third month of Trump’s presidency — dispatching a Moscow diplomat to the State Department to propose “full normalization” across “all major branches of government.” Buzzfeed News’s John Hudson reports: “The proposal … called for the wholesale restoration of diplomatic, military and intelligence channels severed between the two countries after Russia’s military interventions in Ukraine and Syria. The broad scope of the Kremlin’s reset plan came with an ambitious launch date: immediately. … [And it] reveals one of Moscow’s unspoken assumptions – that Trump wouldn’t share the lingering US anger over Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and might accept a lightning fast rapprochement.” In meetings with Russian officials, members of the administration, including Rex Tillerson, signaled that such an arrangement would not be feasible.

Putin’s proposed timeline: “By April, a top Russian cyber official, Andrey Krutskikh, would meet with his American counterpart for consultations on ‘information security,’ the document proposed. By May, the two countries would hold ‘special consultations’ on the war in Afghanistan, the Iran nuclear deal, the ‘situation in Ukraine,’ and efforts to denuclearize the ‘Korean Peninsula.’ And by the time Putin and Trump held their first meeting, the heads of the CIA, FBI, National Security Council and Pentagon would meet face-to-face with their Russian counterparts to discuss areas of mutual interest. A raft of other military and diplomatic channels opened during the Obama administration’s first-term ‘reset’ would also be restored.”

— The Trump campaign has begun turning over documents to Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. The Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff reports: “John Dowd, an attorney representing the president, said that the campaign is in ‘total cooperation’ with Mueller on the matter. … The Trump campaign has previously turned over documents to congressional investigators looking into the possibility of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. That those documents have now been given to Mueller is a sign that the two investigations are covering similar ground, albeit from unique investigative vantage points[.]”

THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE:

— The Malaysian prime minister visited the White House yesterday despite concerns from human rights groups. The Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports: “Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is linked to a multibillion-dollar embezzlement scandal, and human rights groups say he has limited free speech, imprisoned opposition leaders, and locked up Malaysians who have ‘insulted’ the government. But on Tuesday, Najib was greeted at the White House by President Trump, who listened to his guest’s pledge to invest billions of dollars for US infrastructure while publicly ignoring his links to the scandal that the Justice Department is actively probing. … It’s the latest example of Trump’s compliments directed at dictators[.] … Presidents often meet leaders who’ve done unsavory deeds — Obama played golf with Najib in December 2014 — but what’s different now is the absence of a public slap on the wrist.”

A key statistic: “Of the 32 foreign leaders from sovereign countries that Trump has invited to the White House so far, 15 rule over nations that either score in the bottom half of the Global Democracy Ranking, which uses metrics to measure the health of 112 democracies in the world, or hail from countries like Saudi Arabia that have no pretense of democratic rule.”

— Trump’s voter fraud commission came under fire as it met yesterday in New Hampshire, where the commission’s vice chairman claimed voter fraud occurred in November. John Wagner reports: “Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) largely defended an article published Friday in which he pointed to statistics showing that more than 6,000 people had voted in a close election here using out-of-state driver’s licenses to prove their identity. He suggested that was evidence of people taking advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration and heading to the Granite State to cast fraudulent votes. … Kobach’s article has been rebuked by election experts and among those who criticized his argument was New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D), a fellow commission member[.] … Gardner defended the Senate election result as ‘real and valid’ and said Kobach’s article … showed why the commission needs to be more careful about its assertions moving forward.”

— The Campaign Legal Center announced the Heritage Foundation pushed back on naming Democrats or mainstream Republicans to the voter fraud commission: “The [Heritage] employee wrote personally to Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushing back on even a single Democrat being named to the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity and discouraging the White House from naming mainstream Republican officials and/or academics to the commission. The Heritage Foundation employee, whose name has been redacted by the Department of Justice, complained that the White House did not consult with their ‘experts’ who ‘have written more on the voter fraud issue than anyone in the country on our side of the political aisle.’ A few months later, President Donald Trump appointed Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation to the Pence-Kobach Commission. Mr. von Spakovsky is widely considered the architect of the voter fraud myth.”

— Trump’s longtime adviser Hope Hicks was named White House communications director yesterday. Hicks was already serving in the role on an interim basis, but she now shifts to it permanently. (Anne Gearan)

— Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said yesterday the Justice Department should consider prosecuting former FBI Director Jim Comey for actions that “were improper and likely could have been illegal.” Anne Gearan reports: “‘I think if there’s ever a moment where we feel someone’s broken the law, particularly if they’re the head of the FBI, I think that’s something that certainly should be looked at,’ Sanders said. She said that recommending such a prosecution is ‘not the president’s role,’ and that the White House is not encouraging it. ‘That’s the job of the Department of Justice, and something they should certainly look at,’ Sanders said. Asked to clarify, Sanders said this: ‘Anybody that breaks the law, whatever that process is that needs to be followed, should certainly be looked at,’ Sanders said. ‘If they determine that that’s the course of action to take, then they should certainly do that, but I’m not here to ever direct DOJ in — in the actions that they should take.’”

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST:

— The White House sought to downplay questions about Malaysian Prime Minister Razak’s visit to Trump’s D.C. hotel on Tuesday, with Huckabee Sanders telling reporters the administration “certainly [didn’t] book their hotel accommodations.” “[But] the prime minister’s official White House visit also brought at least 24 hours of activity and sales to the [hotel],” Jonathan O’Connell reports. “And it is likely to escalate debate over whether the president is benefiting from a luxury property that has become Washington’s new power center — and, its critics say, a staging area for those seeking White House access. …[Signs] of the Malaysia delegation’s presence were obvious at the property[:]  At lunchtime Monday, more than a dozen members of Najib’s entourage relaxed in a lounge area reserved for hotel guests. On Tuesday morning, dozens of delegation members convened in meeting rooms [while] some attended a white-tablecloth breakfast … Events of this scale would probably mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for the Trump Organization …”

— Trump’s resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., is seeking permission from the government to hire more foreign guest workers as housekeepers. Buzzfeed News’s Jessica Garrison, Jeremy Singer-Vine and Ken Bensinger report: “The resort, which is near Miami, licenses [Trump’s] name but is owned by the International Resorts Management Group. It asked for permission to bring in 10 housekeepers, claiming no Americans wanted the jobs. Including this latest request, companies owned by Trump or bearing his name have already sought to hire at least 380 foreign guest workers under the federal H-2 visa guest worker programs since [he launched his] presidential campaign.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

— North Korea lashed out at the new “vicious” sanctions package approved by the U.N. Security Council this week, reiterating its warnings through a spokesman that the United States would “suffer the greatest pain” for leading the sanctions effort. (Michelle Ye Hee Lee)

— One day earlier, the State Department’s top official on North Korea quietly visited Moscow to urge support for the new sanctions, Josh Rogin reports. But the two countries issued two very different statement about the meeting:

  • “This visit is an example of our ongoing discussions with the international community to increase pressure on [North Korea],” a State Department spokesman said Monday. “The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
  • But a statement from the Russian foreign ministry Tuesday had a very different take: “The Russian side stressed that there is no other way to settle the problems of the Korean Peninsula … other than by political and diplomatic means,” the ministry said. “The sides noted readiness for joint efforts … including in the context of the implementation of the Russian-Chinese roadmap for the Korean settlement.” (Both Washington and Seoul have publicly and repeatedly rejected the “freeze for freeze” option advocated by Moscow and Beijing.)

— The State Department has reported additional American diplomats harmed in Cuba. Anne Gearan reports: “There are now 21 reported cases, up from 19 on Sept. 1, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. A U.S. investigation is ongoing, Nauert said. The Trump administration has not blamed the Cuban government for what the union representing Foreign Service officers called ‘sonic harassment attacks’ dating to late 2016. Cuba has denied wrongdoing in the mysterious events. Victims have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries, hearing loss and other neurological and physical ailments, the union said.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump’s voter fraud panel met in a public setting for the first time. From conservative firebrand Ann Coulter:

Bernie Sanders’s former press secretary offered the opposite take:

Hillary Clinton gave dual credit for this famous line in her new book:

The former chief of staff to Al Gore and Joe Biden gave the book a positive review:

But Trump’s former press secretary wrote it off:

Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum replied to Spicer’s criticism:

From the Washington Examiner’s White House correspondent:

The editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight responded to the list:

The president sent out this tweet the same day that Clinton’s book dropped:

From Trump’s former Office of Government Ethics director:

Presidential historian Michael Beschloss marked the 55th anniversary of this moment:

Two of Trump’s chroniclers are writing a book:

The top Senate Democrat may need to upgrade to the new iPhone:

CNN’s Jake Tapper mocked Ted Cruz’s Twitter investigation:

A nun in South Florida took the Irma clean-up effort into her own hands:

And Eric Trump welcomed his first child, the president’s ninth grandchild:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— Chicago Magazine, “Blago: His Life in Prison,” by David Bernstein: “Five years ago, Rod Blagojevich kissed his wife and daughters goodbye, waved one last time to reporters, and flew to Colorado to start a 14-year sentence. ‘I’ll see you guys when I see ya,’ he called out … For Blagojevich, a man who rose to political heights from modest [roots], prison has been a humbling experience, full of little indignities. As at most correctional facilities, inmates are assigned menial jobs, such as washing dishes, mopping floors, and scrubbing toilets. At the low-security facility, Blagojevich did a three-month stint in the kitchen, one of the toughest tasks, but primarily worked in the law library and taught classes on the Civil War and World War II. His current job as an orderly at the camp pays $8.40 a month. ‘My jurisdiction was once all of the State of Illinois. Now I’ve got two hallways to clean,’ he says.”

— Buzzfeed News, “There’s Blood In The Water In Silicon Valley,” by Ben Smith: “The blinding rise of [Trump] over the past year has masked another major trend in American politics: the palpable, and perhaps permanent, turn against the tech industry. The new corporate leviathans that used to be seen as bright new avatars of American innovation are increasingly portrayed as sinister new centers of unaccountable power, a transformation likely to have major consequences for the industry and for American politics.  Tech is manifestly unready for this new era. They’ve been playing small-ball politics of regulation, and coasting on incredibly high approval ratings. But there are signs they feel the winds changing … And the political class can smell blood.”

— The Daily Beast, “How Omarosa Became the Most ‘Despised’ Person in the Trump White House,” by Lachlan Markay and Asawin Suebsaeng: “According to four sources in and outside the West Wing, the longtime Trump confidant is isolated inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as she quietly plots against her fellow senior officials. Colleagues regularly complain about Manigault’s behavior and work ethic. She frequently derails internal meetings with irrelevant or counterproductive interjections and she’s earned a reputation for attempting to micromanage [communications] operations. [John Kelly] has tried to curtail Manigault’s direct access … But her continued proximity to Trump—he speaks with her over the phone, even in the middle of the night—underscores just how thorny her tenure has been for those tasked with managing the administration.” “She doesn’t have any friends in high places—except the one place [where] it matters,” said one Republican official. 

HOT ON THE LEFT

“Luis Gutiérrez doubles down, calls John Kelly ‘mean’ for supporting DACA’s demise,” from Ed O’Keefe: “Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) doubled down on his criticisms of White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly on Tuesday, saying that President Trump’s top aide is ‘mean’ for standing by while the administration prepares to deport hundreds of thousands of immigrants known as ‘dreamers.’ … Asked whether it was inappropriate to attack Kelly, a key GOP broker on the immigration debate and a former Marine general, Gutiérrez insisted he saw no issue. ‘He’s a politician, okay, not a general. I don’t see a uniform. He’s a politician who works for Donald Trump,’ Gutiérrez [said].”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Christopher Columbus statue defaced in Central Park,” from the New York Post: “A vandal defiled a larger-than-life statue of Christopher Columbus in Central Park on Tuesday, leaving ‘blood’-red paint on the explorer’s hands and scrawling ‘Hate will not be tolerated’ on its pedestal. The vandal also left an apparent threat at the base of the 7-foot-tall bronze: ‘’#somethingscoming.’  Monuments dedicated to Columbus have become a hot-button issue in the Big Apple amid a national debate on statues honoring controversial figures. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently assembled a commission to review and recommend the removal of any ‘oppressive’ monuments … [and] City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito urged that the 76-foot structure honoring Columbus at Columbus Circle be reviewed for potential removal.”

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a meeting with his Domestic Policy Council, which Pence will join, and another with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). The president will then sit down with the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked whether Trump would read Hillary Clinton’s new book: “Whether or not he’s going to read Hillary Clinton’s book, I’m not sure. He’s pretty well-versed on What Happened.” 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

— It may rain during D.C.’s morning commute, but it should clear up later in the day. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “The chance of a lingering early-to-mid-morning shower is about the only weather inconvenience today, unless you count mostly cloudy morning skies. We should see skies brighten by mid-to-late afternoon, as highs reach near 80 to the low 80s with moderate humidity and light winds.”

— The Nationals lost to the Braves in an 8-0 rout. (Chelsea Janes)

— The DOJ announced that it would not pursue civil rights charges against the police officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death. Matt Zapotosky, Keith L. Alexander and Peter Hermann report: “In a news release, the Justice Department said its investigation had found ‘insufficient evidence’ to support charges in the case, and pointed to the high bar prosecutors would have had to meet to prove federal charges. … The decision likely forecloses any chance that the officers involved in Gray’s high-profile death will face criminal consequences[.]”

— The Petersen House, where Abraham Lincoln died, will close for six months of renovation beginning Christmas Day. (Michael E. Ruane)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Jimmy Kimmel read the children’s book version of Hillary Clinton’s “What Happened”:

The Post’s Nicole Lewis fact-checked Trump’s claim that countries are unhappy with GDP growth rates of 7 to 8 percent:

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who accepted the 2017 Freedom Award from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society this week, discussed the importance of arts education with The Post:

A celebrity telethon raised nearly $15 million for the victims of Harvey and Irma:

And a Florida police officer helped ease one Irma victim’s concerns by dancing with her: