POLITICO Playbook: First look: ‘The Hill to Die On’

FIRST LOOK … “THE HILL TO DIE ON” … A note from Jake and Anna: Over the last 18 months, we’ve poured our hearts into reporting and writing a behind-the-scenes book about Congress in the era of Trump. “The Hill to Die On: The Battle for Congress and the Future of Trump’s America” details the palace intrigue and the fight for power in Washington during Trump’s presidency. Some of the most fascinating figures on Capitol Hill and in Washington have given us amazing access into their worlds — and we hope to tell you the story about how D.C. and governing worked in these fascinating times.

WE LIKE TO SAY IT’S LIKE “HOUSE OF CARDS” but better, and real. Buy a book, come to a Playbook event and we’ll be happy to sign it. Pre-order now Amazon Barnes and Noble

AN INTERROGATION GONE WRONG? … CNN: "Surveillance Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: First look: ‘The Hill to Die On’”

Trump gets ready to play midterm blowout blame game

At his rallies, President Donald Trump argues that the midterms are about one person — Donald Trump. “Get out in 2018,” Trump told a crowd in Missouri last month, “because you’re voting for me!”

Privately, the president says the exact opposite.

According to two people familiar with the conversations, Trump is distancing himself from a potential Republican thumping on Election Day. He’s telling confidantes that he doesn’t see the midterms as a referendum on himself, describing his 2020 reelection bid as “the real election.” And he says that he holds House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responsible for protecting their congressional majorities.

According to one person with knowledge of these talks, Trump has said of Ryan and McConnell: “These are their elections … and if they screw it up, it’s not my fault.”

Other sources said Trump is sure to lash out at Continue reading “Trump gets ready to play midterm blowout blame game”

Trump and Democrats gain

16 DAYS UNTIL ELECTION DAY … NEW WSJ/NBC POLL … PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’s approval rating has jumped to 47% … DEMOCRATS hold a nine-point advantage on the preference of control of Congress …

— WSJ’S JANET HOOK: “Nearly two thirds of registered voters showed a high level of interest in the election—the highest ever recorded in a midterm election since the Journal/NBC poll began asking the question in 2006.” WSJ

NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN in ANN ARBOR: “G.O.P. Candidates Struggling in Key Battlegrounds, With House at Stake”: “Republican leaders are increasingly worried that their candidates for governor and Senate are in political trouble across Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and other states that the party prizes, and that the difficulties could spill into House races that the G.O.P. needs to win in November to keep control of the chamber.

“Their concerns also extend to Democratic-leaning states like Continue reading “Trump and Democrats gain”

A short-term Pelosi speakership

THE L.A. TIMES’ MARK Z. BARABAK — a Bay Area-based political correspondent — went on the trail to Miami to interview NANCY PELOSI. Pelosi is crossing the country, trying to whip up support for Democrats. Pelosi said this: “I see myself as a transitional figure … I have things to do. Books to write; places to go; grandchildren, first and foremost, to love.” The L.A. Times story

LET’S GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY FIRST: Nancy Pelosi is the undoubted favorite to be speaker of the House if Democrats take back the majority. The question to most Democratic insiders was: how will she do it? And now a question will be: how does she define transitional?

A TRANSITIONAL SPEAKER — an argument Steny Hoyer has tried to make — would be a way for Pelosi to get to the speakership. People who would’ve otherwise voted against her Continue reading “A short-term Pelosi speakership”

POLITICO Playbook: What if Republicans hold on

WHAT IF REPUBLICANS HOLD ON? … RACHAEL BADE:How Republicans could (barely) hang on to the House: Unlikely? Definitely. Impossible? No”: “House Republicans — and privately, even a few Democrats — say the GOP could still hang on, if only by a few seats. The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has given GOP voters a badly needed enthusiasm boost, they argue, and several races seen as unwinnable just weeks ago are suddenly back within reach for Republicans. …

“[R]epublicans say there’s no question that their lot has improved in the past few weeks. Their internal polls show the president’s approval ratings have increased by an average of 5 points in a handful of swing districts, giving Republicans who were underwater a fighting chance.” POLITICO

— THIS IS A SCENARIO, as Rachael notes, that Republicans find themselves thinking about out on the campaign trail. Internal polling Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: What if Republicans hold on”

POLITICO Playbook: 19 DAYS … PENCE preps work requirement push

NEWS … THE WHITE HOUSE is gearing up to launch a public push for Congress to pass a farm bill with work requirements for food stamps ahead of Election Day. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has enlisted VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE to lead the push, alongside Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.

THE FARM BILL — which includes renewal of food stamps alongside agricultural policy — is currently stalled in negotiations between the House and Senate.

THE WHITE HOUSE is expected to make the case that there are jobs that need to be filled in America, so Democrats should accede to work requirements for food stamps — something that they say has doomed the usually bipartisan farm-policy legislation.

TRUMP is expected to pick up this message in his stump speeches: House Democrats voted against the farm bill and vulnerable Senate Democrats have held it up in negotiations.

CONGRESS is out until after Election Day, Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: 19 DAYS … PENCE preps work requirement push”

POLITICO Playbook: Pelosi gives Playbook a preview of the Democratic majority

BREAKING … SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO has arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. Photo, courtesy State Department

— FASCINATING NUGGET, from NYT’s Gardiner Harris, David Kirkpatrick and Eileen Sullivan: “The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, left Washington last week, returned to Riyadh and will not be returning, a current and a former American official said on Monday. It was not clear when he might be replaced, or by whom. Prince Khalid is the crown prince’s younger brother.” NYTPrince Khalid bin Salman has been ambassador to the U.S. since 2017.

EXCLUSIVE … PELOSI DETAILS HER PLANS FOR THE MAJORITY … HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.) was on the campaign trail in Philadelphia over the weekend — stumping for Mary Gay Scanlon and Madeleine Dean — Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: Pelosi gives Playbook a preview of the Democratic majority”

POLITICO Playbook: Pelosi gives Playbook a preview of the Democratic majority

BREAKING … SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO has arrived in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. Photo, courtesy State Department

— FASCINATING NUGGET, from NYT’s Gardiner Harris, David Kirkpatrick and Eileen Sullivan: “The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, left Washington last week, returned to Riyadh and will not be returning, a current and a former American official said on Monday. It was not clear when he might be replaced, or by whom. Prince Khalid is the crown prince’s younger brother.” NYTPrince Khalid bin Salman has been ambassador to the U.S. since 2017.

EXCLUSIVE … PELOSI DETAILS HER PLANS FOR THE MAJORITY … HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI (D-CALIF.) was on the campaign trail in Philadelphia over the weekend — stumping for Mary Gay Scanlon and Madeleine Dean — Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: Pelosi gives Playbook a preview of the Democratic majority”

POLITICO Playbook: Will the House be decided on Election Day?

BREAKING … THE DUCHESS OF SUSSEX — Meghan Markle — is pregnant, and due in the spring, according to Kensington Palace. … WSJ: Sears has filed for bankruptcy.

THE TRUMP DOCTRINE: SHOULDER SHRUG. Last night on “60 Minutes,” Lesley Stahl asked PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP if Vladimir Putin “is involved in assassinations” and poisonings. Trump said, “Probably he is, yeah. Probably. … But I rely on them, it’s not in our country.”

— ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE, the president seems to essentially dismiss things that he believes to be out of his control, instead of altering U.S. policy to try to change behavior. He’s been asked about canceling Saudi Arabia’s weapons orders in the wake of the apparent killing of a journalist. He says he won’t — it will hurt jobs. Stahl said Kim Jong Un "presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation … slave labor, public executions. Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: Will the House be decided on Election Day?”

Trump says Mattis is ‘sort of a Democrat’

THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK … Tuesday: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Wednesday: There will be an 11:30 a.m. Cabinet meeting, and at 4 p.m., the president will present a Medal of Honor. Thursday: The president will go to Missoula, Mont., for a political rally. Friday: Trump will go to Mesa, Ariz., for a political rally. Saturday: The president will go to Elko, Nev., for a political rally.

— ARIZONA REPUBLIC FRONT PAGE: “Trump returns to Ariz. on Friday”

THE KINGDOM SWIPES BACK … WAPO’S LOVEDAY MORRIS in ISTANBUL: “Saudi Arabia on Sunday said it rejects threats’ and political pressure over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi in its consulate in Istanbul, a day after President Trump said there would be ‘severe punishment’ if Saudi Arabia is found to have killed the Washington Post Global Opinions columnist.

“Threatening to impose Continue reading “Trump says Mattis is ‘sort of a Democrat’”

Trump talks Saudi Arabia on ‘60 Minutes’

SNEAK PEEK … PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP on “60 MINUTES” from the White House. Interviewer is Lesley Stahl, who interviewed Trump after he won the presidency.

STAHL: “Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist, the Saudi journalist. Was he murdered by the Saudis? And did the prince give the order to kill him?” TRUMP: “Well, nobody knows yet, but we’ll probably be able to find out. It’s being investigated, it’s being looked at very very strongly. And we would be very upset and angry if that were the case. As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes.”

STAHL: “Jared, your son-in-law, got on the phone and asked the prince. Did he deny it? TRUMP: “They deny it. They deny it every way you can imagine. In the not too distant future I think we’ll know an answer.”

STAHL: “What are your options? Continue reading “Trump talks Saudi Arabia on ‘60 Minutes’”

POLITICO Playbook: Mike Bloomberg re-registers as a DEMOCRAT … Trump in USA Today: Democrats want to model U.S. after Venezuela

27 DAYS until Election Day … PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP pens an op-ed in USA TODAY with a dire message: “Democrats ‘Medicare for All’ plan will demolish promises to seniors”: “The truth is that the centrist Democratic Party is dead. The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.

“If Democrats win control of Congress this November, we will come dangerously closer to socialism in America. Government-run health care is just the beginning. Democrats are also pushing massive government control of education, private-sector businesses and other major sectors of the U.S. economy.

“Every single citizen will be harmed by such a radical shift in American culture and life. Virtually everywhere it has been tried, socialism has brought suffering, misery and decay. Today’s Democratic Party is for open-borders socialism. This radical agenda would destroy American prosperity. Under its vision, costs will spiral out of control. Taxes Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: Mike Bloomberg re-registers as a DEMOCRAT … Trump in USA Today: Democrats want to model U.S. after Venezuela”

POLITICO Playbook: Exclusive: Democrats reach into deep red Arkansas

SPOTTED: SUSAN RICE chatting with locals at the Portland, Maine, airport Monday afternoon. AP: “Kavanaugh vote reshapes Maine senator’s political future”

28 DAYS OUT … EXCLUSIVE: DEMOCRATS REACH INTO DEEP RED ARKANSAS … THE DCCC is dropping $250,000 on a new TV ad in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District, a deep red, R+7 seat anchored in Little Rock that is represented by GOP REP. FRENCH HILL. A quarter-million bucks buys two weeks of broadcast — 1,400 points.

— THE AD shows Hill in a duck-hunting outfit slowly transforming into a suit-wearing politician outside the Capitol — Dems clearly see the play here is to lump Hill in with the “swamp.” The 30-second spot

— THERE HAS BEEN very little outside spending in this district. House Majority PAC, the Democratic super PAC, has spent just short of a quarter-million bucks — it is the top outside spender there. Hill is facing Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: Exclusive: Democrats reach into deep red Arkansas”

POLITICO Playbook: Exclusive: Democrats reach into deep red Arkansas

SPOTTED: SUSAN RICE chatting with locals at the Portland, Maine, airport Monday afternoon. AP: “Kavanaugh vote reshapes Maine senator’s political future”

28 DAYS OUT … EXCLUSIVE: DEMOCRATS REACH INTO DEEP RED ARKANSAS … THE DCCC is dropping $250,000 on a new TV ad in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District, a deep red, R+7 seat anchored in Little Rock that is represented by GOP REP. FRENCH HILL. A quarter-million bucks buys two weeks of broadcast — 1,400 points.

— THE AD shows Hill in a duck-hunting outfit slowly transforming into a suit-wearing politician outside the Capitol — Dems clearly see the play here is to lump Hill in with the “swamp.” The 30-second spot

— THERE HAS BEEN very little outside spending in this district. House Majority PAC, the Democratic super PAC, has spent just short of a quarter-million bucks — it is the top outside spender there. Hill is facing Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: Exclusive: Democrats reach into deep red Arkansas”

POLITICO Playbook: New poll: Democrats have a ‘narrow edge’ in battleground districts

BULLETIN — AP: “2 American researchers win Nobel economics prize,” by David Keyton and Jim Heintz in Stockholm: “Two American researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize for economics for studying the interplay of climate change and technological innovation with economics.

“William Nordhaus of Yale University and Paul Romer of New York University were announced winners of the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize on Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.” AP

JUST POSTED … WAPO’S SCOTT CLEMENT and DAN BALZ: “Survey of battleground House districts shows Democrats with narrow edge”: “Likely voters who live in 69 battleground House districts across the country narrowly prefer Democratic candidates, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School survey, a potentially worrying sign for Republicans given that the overwhelming percentage of these districts are currently in GOP hands.

“With just a month to the midterm elections and with early voting set to Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: New poll: Democrats have a ‘narrow edge’ in battleground districts”

POLITICO Playbook: New poll: Democrats have a ‘narrow edge’ in battleground districts

BULLETIN — AP: “2 American researchers win Nobel economics prize,” by David Keyton and Jim Heintz in Stockholm: “Two American researchers have been awarded the Nobel Prize for economics for studying the interplay of climate change and technological innovation with economics.

“William Nordhaus of Yale University and Paul Romer of New York University were announced winners of the 9-million-kronor ($1.01 million) prize on Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.” AP

JUST POSTED … WAPO’S SCOTT CLEMENT and DAN BALZ: “Survey of battleground House districts shows Democrats with narrow edge”: “Likely voters who live in 69 battleground House districts across the country narrowly prefer Democratic candidates, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School survey, a potentially worrying sign for Republicans given that the overwhelming percentage of these districts are currently in GOP hands.

“With just a month to the midterm elections and with early voting set to Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: New poll: Democrats have a ‘narrow edge’ in battleground districts”

Kavanaugh confirmed

THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD … MONDAY: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP will participate in a swearing-in ceremony for Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court. Trump will also deliver remarks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual convention. TUESDAY: The president will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He will also travel to Iowa for a political rally.

WEDNESDAY: Trump will have lunch with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. He will also travel to Pennsylvania for a political rally. FRIDAY: He will travel to Ohio for a political rally.

SUNDAY BEST — SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-MAINE) MAKES THE SUNDAY SHOW ROUNDS …

— JOHN DICKERSON spoke with COLLINS for CBS’ “FACE THE NATION”: DICKERSON: “Hardest decision you’ve ever made?” COLLINS: “It certainly ranks right up there. There’s no doubt about it. There have been out there very difficult decisions but this was a tough Continue reading “Kavanaugh confirmed”

Senate set to vote on Kavanaugh

THE SENATE is poised to put BRETT KAVANAUGH on the Supreme Court. The final vote is scheduled to happen this afternoon around 5 p.m. Senate Democrats have taken to the Senate floor this morning giving impassioned speeches against Kavanaugh’s appointment to the court.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS’ (R-MAINE) defense of KAVANAUGH was, perhaps, better than anything money can buy for Republicans. A woman defending the Supreme Court nominee, standing in front of three women aired live on cable television for almost an hour.

FROM INSIDE THE CHAMBER … COLLINS walked onto the floor at around 2:55 p.m., and sat down at her desk, which is in the middle of the chamber on the aisle. Behind her were Sens. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-W.Va.), JONI ERNST (R-Iowa) and CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R-Miss.) — all sitting in other senators’ seats, presumably as a sign of support for Collins. Collins Continue reading “Senate set to vote on Kavanaugh”

POLITICO Playbook: Kavanaugh inches forward as tensions run high in the Capitol

BULLETIN … THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE was just awarded to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” AP story

THE MOOD IN THE CAPITOL … AS BRETT KAVANAUGH’S nomination appears to be inching toward the finish line, the Capitol has become flooded with protesters, harking back to 2010, when the right loudly opposed the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

THREE HUNDRED AND TWO people were arrested on Capitol Hill yesterday for “unlawfully demonstrating” in Senate office buildings. Capitol Police were walking around with zip ties looped around their belts. They were checking staffers’ badges multiple times while walking through the Capitol complex. And they have closed off hallways typically open to reporters and the public.

WHEN WE went to get a coffee at Cups — in the Russell office building — we Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: Kavanaugh inches forward as tensions run high in the Capitol”

POLITICO Playbook: BREAKING this morning: Kavanaugh FBI report is now on the Hill

BREAKING … SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IOWA) said at 4:07 a.m. that he has received the FBI report for JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH.

THREE GRASSLEY TWEETS … @ChuckGrassley: “Supplemental FBI background file for Judge Kavanaugh has been received by @senjudiciary Ranking Member Feinstein & I have agreed to alternating EQUAL access for senators to study content from additional background info gathered by non-partisan FBI agents 1/3 …

— “FBI supplement requested Friday sept 28 by bipartisan group of senators w specific scope of current/credible allegations. Dr Ford & Judge Kavanaugh had opportunity to testify under oath b4 public/cmte to tell senators what they know 2/3 …

— “This FBI material will b handled per 2009 memorandum of understanding/MOU signed btwn Obama WHCounsel & then-SJC Chairman Leahy. Thats latest memorialization of this ‘loan agreement’ of ExecBranch material. Feinstein, Durbin, Schumer, & others were on SJC in 09 & Continue reading “POLITICO Playbook: BREAKING this morning: Kavanaugh FBI report is now on the Hill”