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The Finance 202: Some corporate interests swiftly align against tax overhaul – Washington Post

THE TICKER

Want to keep smart and easy tabs on the tax reform debate in Washington? We have you covered here.

House Republicans have finally released their tax package today. But an unusual array of corporate interests — which typically ally with Republicans in major legislative battles — are siding against it in what could be an ominous development.

The prominent naysayers include the National Association of Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which immediately said they couldn’t support the overhaul that makes changes to both the individual and corporate side of the tax code. The National Association of Home Builders had already announced it’s opposition and vowed to fight the revamp with its considerable firepower. “We will do everything we can to defeat this thing,” said Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders, even before the plan made its debut to House Republicans this morning.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the release of the bill, but said in a statement that “a lot of work needs to be done.” And The BUILD Coalition — which represents financial services companies, real-estate developers, and farm interests — has come out against the bill’s proposed limitation of the deduction for interest on business debt.

#NFIB is unable to support #tax bill in current form. Our full statement: https://t.co/3bNQr6FEIq#taxreform

— NFIB (@NFIB) November 2, 2017

The biggest problem for Republicans appears to be the decision to halve — rather than keep entirely intact — the deduction for mortgage interest. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would reduce that deduction to homeowners with $500,000 mortgages instead of the $1 million mortgages that are currently allowed. Property tax deductions would now be capped at $10,000.

Moderate Republicans from high-cost states like New York and New Jersey had fiercely opposed any changes to the state-and-local tax deduction and early reports had thought the final product would potentially eliminate it. But that was not the case, provoking opposition from them as well.

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) is apparently one of the foes, per a Fox News reporter:

GOP NY Rep Zeldin: I am a No to this bill in its current form. We need to fix this State and Local Tax deduction issue.

— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) November 2, 2017

The overhaul would slash the corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent — a bid pushed by President Trump in order, he hopes, to lure American companies back into the country. It would collapse the individual side of the code from seven brackets to four.

Other major proposals in the bill include, per Mike and Damian:

  • Doubling the standard deduction from $12,700 per family to $24,000.
  • Creating a new “family credit” and raise the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600 per child.
  • Eliminating deductions for medical expenses and and property and casualty losses were eliminated.
  • Changing the way college-savings plans and tax-exempt churches and charities are taxed.

Yet Republican leaders proclaimed their members “excited” about the effort:

Democrats, not so much:

The initial pushback is not a good sign for Republicans desperate to obtain a legislative win as they head into the 2018 midterms.

Much haggling and negotiations remain to occur — and reports of the plan’s death, which will come with some frequency, are likely to be exaggerated. Nonetheless, the instant backlash suggests this will be an uphill battle.

You are reading The Finance 202, our must-read tipsheet on where Wall Street meets Washington.
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MARKET MOVERS

The rental truck used by Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, who drove down a bike path for twenty blocks killing eight people and injuring several more, is hauled away on a New York City Police flatbed on Wednesday. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK TERROR ATTACK: 

Charges filedNYT: “Federal prosecutors on Wednesday filed charges accusing the driver in the Manhattan truck attack of carrying out a long-planned plot, spurred by Islamic State propaganda videos, to kill people celebrating Halloween. The charges, filed just over 24 hours after the deadliest terror attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, placed the case in the civilian courts even as President Trump denounced the American criminal justice system as ‘a joke’ and ‘a laughingstock.’ The charges describe the driver, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a voracious consumer and meticulous student of ISIS propaganda, and detail how he said he was spurred to attack by an ISIS video questioning the killing of Muslims in Iraq.”

Trump dispatched with the presumption of innocence late Wednesday to declare that Saipov should get the death penalty: 

NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

That followed a day in which Trump used the attack to renew a push for his hard-line policies. David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe: “The president said he would move to eliminate a popular “diversity lottery” for foreigners seeking U.S. visas and direct the State Department to ramp up “extreme vetting” of immigrants. He also suggested he would consider sending the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, a legal permanent resident of the United States, to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Terror by truck. The method is now a go-to for ISIS, used seven times in Western cities over the last year. The Post: “The results of the Halloween attack underscore the reasons for its popularity, terrorism experts say: The tactic requires no special skill or instruction, or formal membership in a terrorist group. And it is nearly impossible to prevent or stop.” … Neighbors say they saw Saipov practice driving a truck around his suburban New Jersey neighborhood in recent weeks. 

FED WATCH: 

Jerome Powell. (Zach Gibson / Bloomberg)

Powell gets the rose. The announcement is coming today. WSJ offers some historical perspective: “Mr. Powell’s nomination would mark the first time in nearly four decades that a new president hasn’t asked the serving Fed leader to stay on for another term, even though that person was nominated by a president of a different party. The last time a first-term president didn’t do that was in 1978, when President Jimmy Carter chose G. William Miller to succeed Arthur Burns… Reached by phone Wednesday, both Mr. Powell and Ms. Yellen declined to comment. A Fed spokeswoman also declined to comment.” 

Investors cheer continuity. Bloomberg’s Sarah Ponczek and Elena Popina: “Investors enjoying the fruits of a decade-long bull market in equities expect to find an ally in Jerome Powell… Barring the reappointment of Yellen, Powell was viewed as one of the best options for bulls, an extension of the dovish policies that helped the S&P 500 rise 45 percent during her tenure… Equities have been on an upswing since Bloomberg News reported Trump was leaning toward Powell on Friday, with the biggest exchange-traded fund rising three of four days. S&P 500 Index futures were little changed late Wednesday after the Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Trump intends to nominate the 64-year-old Fed governor on Thursday. The dollar and Treasuries showed little reaction.”

Fed leaves rates alone. In the shadow of Thursday’s big announcement, the central bank on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged. WSJ’s David Harrison: “Officials have penciled in one more move for 2017 if the economy stays on track. The Fed has one more meeting scheduled before the end of the year, on Dec. 12-13. The central bank has raised its benchmark federal-funds rate four times since late 2015, in quarter-percentage-point steps, to a current range between 1% and 1.25%.”

The former Goldman Sachs president, now Trump’s top economic adviser, was a front-runner for the Fed job until August, when he publicly broke with the president over his handling of fatal neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Politico

Goldman Sachs economists on Wednesday upgraded their forecast on U.S. nonfarm payrolls for October to a 340,000 increase from a 325,000 gain, based on the latest data on company hiring from ADP and factory activity from the Institute for Supply Management.

Reuters

MONEY ON THE HILL

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). (Alex Wong/Getty)

TAX FLY-AROUND:

Today’s remainning schedule for the tax bill. Courtesy of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) press office: 

  • 1:30 pm: Speaker Ryan/Ways and Means members meet with President Trump at the White House.
  • 2:30 pm: Speaker Ryan interview with Fox News’ The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino airs.

More GOP infighting ahead. Bloomberg’s Anna Edgerton: “A leading House Republican conservative warned that the unveiling of the tax bill Thursday would unleash dissent ‘like you’ve never seen.’ But that doesn’t mean Republicans will fail, said Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. ‘It may be a little messy, it may not be as fun as we would all have liked to have seen it be over the past few weeks,’ Meadows told reporters Wednesday after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. ‘But we’re going to get it done, and failure is not an option.'”

Trump throws a curveball. Damian: “Trump on Wednesday said congressional Republicans should make a major change to their upcoming tax cut bill by including changes to the Affordable Care Act, an idea that has divided the GOP for months. The idea had already been rejected one day earlier by… Brady, who had said it risked bogging down the process. But Trump, in two Twitter posts Wednesday, pushed the idea, which has gained currency with some Senate Republicans. The biggest proponent of the idea is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).”

Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

….for the Middle Class. The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along. Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

Mnuchin resists corporate fade-in. Bloomberg’s Saleha Mohsin  and Jennifer Jacobs: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is resisting a gradual phase in of the proposed 20 percent corporate rate out of concern the move wouldn’t boost economic growth as much as he’s anticipated, according to a Trump administration official and another person familiar with Mnuchin’s thinking. Mnuchin is worried that a slow reduction of the corporate rate from its current 35 percent would also make the U.S. less competitive, as other countries cut their rates faster and foreigners delay their investments in the U.S., said the official, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.”

He’s got history on his side, a new analysis suggests. “Ladling out corporate tax cuts bit by bit is a bad idea. Look at history,” Bloomberg’s Sarah Ponczek writes. “So goes an argument being pushed by analysts at Strategas Research Partners, who say Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush came to regret their gradualist approaches in 1981 and 2001. ‘Phasing in the corporate tax rate cut for five years is a terrible idea,’ the analysts, led by Daniel Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas, wrote in a note Tuesday. ‘Taxpayers will delay their economic activity in anticipation of the lower tax rate in future years.'”

Colleges, charities on Senate menu. Politico’s Brian Faler: “Universities, charities, life insurance companies and others could all lose cherished tax breaks under a Senate plan to rewrite the tax code. Senate Republicans are considering a number of sure-to-be controversial changes, including imposing a new 2 percent excise tax on the endowment earnings of private universities, according to a summary POLITICO obtained.

They may reduce the tax breaks people receive for fringe benefits at work, such as a deductions for entertainment- and transportation-related expenses. Another proposal, apparently aimed at Silicon Valley firms, would limit write-offs businesses can take for providing meals to employees. Uber drivers, people who rent their homes through Airbnb and others participating in the ‘gig economy’ could see tougher income reporting requirements that make it harder for them to avoid paying taxes. Insurance companies could lose a host of tax breaks worth more than $31 billion.”

WH blasé about delay. Politico’s Nancy Cook reports that the administration was okay with the fact that House Republicans missed their initial target of a Wednesday rollout, “provided it doesn’t extend into the weekend, according to three senior administration officials—and Trump even told Ryan he’d be fine if it takes until Friday, said two people briefed on their conversation.” 

But Trump wouldn’t be accepting responsibility if another of his priorities goes down. Here he was Wednesday making clear he will blame Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn if the tax overhaul fails:

Cut, cut, cut. ABC News: “Ryan’s office initially asked the White House for input because of the president’s knack for branding, according to a senior Hill aide. Trump has been insistent that the bill be called the ‘Cut Cut Cut Act’ according to the administration officials. Ryan and Brady have pushed back on the name of the bill. However, Trump has held firm.”

— A new $100 million force. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt: “Trump’s super PAC is drawing up plans to spend $100 million on an all-out push to sell tax reform and elect pro-Trump Republicans in 2018. The group, dubbed America First Action, is expected to host a fundraiser in the coming months that will be attended by Vice President Mike Pence and is in talks with the administration to get Trump to headline an event. It has tapped oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm, a Trump ally whose net worth exceeds $11 billion, to boost its fundraising campaign. And it is recruiting major Republican Party donors across the country.

Last week, America First officials met with top Trump advisers at the White House to brief them on a multimillion dollar campaign to promote tax reform and discuss how the legislative battle is likely to play out. But the stepped-up activity, which strategists revealed in interviews for the first time, is an abrupt change for the super PAC. The group has been dormant for much of the year, much to the frustration of the White House. America First has suffered from infighting, leadership shake-ups, and questions over its strategy and approach since its founding after the 2016 election.”

Former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.). (AP /Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Garrett’s rough day. WSJ’s Andrew Ackerman: “Trump’s choice to head the Export-Import Bank didn’t appear to sway waffling Republican senators on a key panel into supporting him, putting his confirmation at risk. Lawmakers from both parties criticized Scott Garrett during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Wednesday, saying his past votes to shut down the bank while serving in the House made him unsuitable to run the agency.

Mr. Garrett reversed his prior opposition to the agency in testimony before the committee, pledging to keep the bank ‘fully functioning.’ But lawmakers indicated they weren’t satisfied by his remarks. No Democrats on the committee are expected to back Mr. Garrett, meaning attracting enough Republican support is crucial to getting his nomination through the panel and advancing it to the full Senate. Industry groups that benefit from the Ex-Im Bank, which provides financing for U.S. exports, are pressuring lawmakers to oppose Mr. Garrett.

‘What would have made you change your mind about whether or not the Export-Import Bank should exist?’ asked Sen. Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) who said he had met with Mr. Garrett twice and hadn’t received a satisfactory answer. ‘This is critical, that you be able to share what has changed your mind.’… Mr. Scott bantered with Mr. Garrett during the hearing but later told reporters he was still undecided.”

TRUMP TRACKER

President Trump. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

RUSSIA WATCH: 

Trump isn’t angry. He says so himself. The NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker: “Trump projected an air of calm on Wednesday after charges against his former campaign chief and a foreign policy aide roiled Washington, insisting to The New York Times that he was not ‘angry at anybody’ and that investigations into his campaign’s links to Russia had not come near him personally. ‘I’m not under investigation, as you know,’ Mr. Trump said in a brief telephone call late Wednesday afternoon. Pointing to the indictment of his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, the president said, ‘And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.’ ‘It has nothing to do with us,’ Mr. Trump said.  He also pushed back against a report published Monday night by The Washington Post, which the president said described him as ‘angry at everybody.’ ‘I’m actually not angry at anybody,’ Mr. Trump told The Times.”

He might be a little bit angry. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman: “Trump… has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends. He’s frustrated that the investigation seems to have no end in sight. ‘Trump wants to be critical of Mueller,’ one person who’s been briefed on Trump’s thinking says. ‘He thinks it’s unfair criticism. Clinton hasn’t gotten anything like this. And what about Tony Podesta? Trump is like, When is that going to end?’ 

According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far. Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call.

When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. ‘Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,’ Nunberg said. ‘I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.'”

Tech giants face more Hill heat. The Post: “Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia’s campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. In the second of three Capitol Hill hearings this week on Russian’s online information operation, members of the Senate intelligence committee challenged Facebook, Google and Twitter in strikingly direct terms that, at times, seemed to carry the implicit threat of legislation that could rein in the nation’s wildly profitable technology industry.

‘I don’t think you get it,’ said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose home state includes all three companies. ‘What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyber-warfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. We are not going to go away gentlemen. And this is a very big deal.'”

Watch the summary of tech companies’ Senate Intelligence testimony, in three minutes:

One message senators delivered repeatedly to the lawyers sent to represent the companies: Next time, bring your CEOs

The day wasn’t all bad for Facebook, at least. The company posted a 79 percent surge in profit to $4.7 billion, beating Wall Street expectations. 

THE REGULATORS

The Securities and Exchange Commission took a first step on Wednesday to head off the recent trend of celebrities endorsing new virtual currencies, warning that they could be breaking laws.

NYT

CHART TOPPER

Here’s an example of what Russian Facebook ads you might have seen if you were a Hillary Clinton supporter. The Post’s Dan Keating, Kevin Schaul and Leslie Shapiro take a look at a few other examples of how people were targeted on Facebook based on interests, political leanings, location, age and other traits.

DAYBOOK

POST PROGRAMMING ALERT: The Post and Live Nation will bring the “Can He Do That?” podcast to a live audience at the Warner Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 7. In this live taping, political reporters Bob Woodward, David Fahrenthold and Karen Tumulty will join host Allison Michaels to review the past year in President Trump’s White House and the biggest moments that made people wonder “Can He Do That?” Tickets can be purchased now at Live Nation. Attendees will also receive a free 30-day digital subscription to The Washington Post. 

Today

Coming Up

  • The Heritage Foundation holds an event on reforming the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on Friday.

  • The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities and Investment holds a hearing on “Legislative Proposals to Improve Small Businesses’ and Communities’ Access to Capital” on Friday.

  • The Washington Examiner holds an event on the tax bill with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on Nov. 8.

THE FUNNIES

From the New Yorker:

BULL SESSION

Here are the ads that Russian-linked groups posted on social media:

Donald Trump Jr.’s Halloween socialism lesson, according to the Internet:

Hillary Clinton chats with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show:

[embedded content]

Samantha Bee says chief of staff John Kelly is not the adult in the White House:

[embedded content]

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Republicans Release Tax Plan, Cutting Corporate and Middle-Class Taxes – New York Times

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers unveiled the most sweeping rewrite of the tax code in decades, outlining a $1.51 trillion plan to cut taxes for corporations, reduce them for some middle-class families and tilt the United States closer, but not entirely, toward the kind of tax system long championed by businesses, according to talking points circulated on Thursday.

The House plan, released after weeks of internal debate, conflict and delay, is far from final and will ignite a legislative and lobbying fight as Democrats, business groups and other special interests tear into the text ahead of a Republican sprint to get the legislation passed and to President Trump’s desk by Christmas.

Representative Kevin Brady, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, said the bill is estimated to cost $1.51 trillion over a decade. Lawmakers must keep the cost of the bill to $1.5 trillion if they want to pass it along party lines and avoid a fillibuster by Democrats. Lawmakers have been scrambling for days to find a way to make cuts that are expected to cost trillions of dollars into a $1.5 trillion hole. That has prompted a host of changes on the corporate and individual side, including a new twist that would limit the mortgage interest deduction by capping it at $500,000.

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

“This isn’t the last product,” said Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “This is just the kickoff to this tax reform exercise.”

Individual tax rates will change

The plan establishes three tax brackets, 12, 25 and 35 percent, and also keeps a top rate of 39.6 percent for the highest-earners, collapsing the total number of brackets from seven. The brackets, as described by Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and Republican of Texas, fall along the following lines:

Single filers making up to $24,000 will pay no income tax; up to $90,000 will be in the 12 percent bracket, up to $260,000 in the 25 percent bracket and up to $1 million in the 35 percent bracket. Those making above $1 million will be in the 39.6 percent bracket, which is currently the top rate for millionaires.

Changes for the middle class

The proposal roughly doubles the standard deduction for middle-class families, expanding it to $24,000 for married couples, from $12,700, and setting it at $12,000 for individuals, from $6,530 today. Republicans also plan to expand the child tax credit to $1,600 from $1,000 and add a $300 credit for each parent and nonchild dependent, such as older family members.

No changes to 401(k) retirement plans

After much nail-biting debate, the House will not make any changes to the pretax treatment of 401(k) plans. “Americans will be able to continuing making both traditional, pretax contributions and ‘Roth’ contributions in the way that works best for them,” the talking points say.

Changing the mortgage interest deduction

One of the biggest flash points will be proposed changes to the popular mortgage interest deduction. Under the Republican plan, existing homeowners can keep the deduction, but future purchases will be capped at $500,000.

The National Association of Realtors came out swinging against the bill, suggesting a huge fight awaits over how real estate is treated.

“Eliminating or nullifying the tax incentives for homeownership puts home values and middle-class homeowners at risk, and from a cursory examination this legislation appears to do just that,” said William E. Brown, president of the National Association of Realtors. “We will have additional details upon a more thorough reading of the bill.”

Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Homebuilders, said he was very disappointed in the Republican tax plan and warned that it could create a recession in the housing market.

“It puts such severe limitations on home buyers ability to use the mortgage interest deduction that home values will fall,” Mr. Howard said in an interview. “If a home seller takes a loss, that’s money they were counting on for retirement.”

Mr. Howard said the bill amounts to a broken promise.

“Contrary to their assertions, the Republicans are picking winners and losers,” he said. “They are picking rich Americans and corporations over small businesses and the middle class.”

Eliminating the medical expense deduction

A big change may be in store for those who deduct medical expenses. The talking points outlined by Republicans say the deduction will go away but that families will be made whole by the overall lowering of tax rates and doubling the standard deduction. But those who make heavy use of the medical expense deduction — including many middle-class families — may be opposed to that change.

Repealing the estate tax — eventually

The proposal will double the estate tax exemption to roughly $11 million, from $5.49 million, meaning families can avoid paying taxes on large inheritance. And it eventually repeals the estate tax altogether, phasing it out entirely in six years.

Adding limits to the state and local tax deduction

One of the biggest flash points will be how the bill treats the state and local tax deduction, which lawmakers are proposing to limit to property taxes and cap at $10,000. That will not be enough for Republicans in some high-tax states, where middle-class families make heavy use of the deduction, which currently applies to state and local income taxes and general sales taxes as well as property taxes.

House Republicans had intended to roll out the tax proposal on Wednesday, but ended up delaying its release by a day, providing a signal of the steep challenge they face in making the math work while also assembling the votes they need to get a bill through the chamber.

Representative Dan Donovan, a Republican from New York, said he remained concerned about the impact of the state and local tax deduction as he left a briefing on the bill but said he would assess the proposed changes on their entirety.

“I’m looking for a benefit for the people I represent,” he said. “The people of New York City deserve a tax break.”

Multinational corporations face big changes

For the first time, the United States is proposing to have a global minimum tax of 10 percent, which would apply to income that American companies earn anywhere in the world. The effort is aimed at preventing companies from shifting profits abroad and grabbing back some of the tax revenue on income earned overseas. Those profits are currently not taxed until they are returned to the United States, giving companies an incentive to keep that money offshore since they are taxed at the current corporate tax rate of 35 percent.

Republican leaders are encouraged

Walking into the men’s restroom, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, said of his colleagues, “It looks very positive, these people are excited.” He added: “this is why they came to Congress.”

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There’s a Void in the Great Pyramid at Giza, but It May Not Be So Mysterious – New York Times

The Great Pyramid of Giza has towered over Egypt for more than 4,500 years. Built during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu, the monument was a testament to the ruler’s architectural prowess and is thought to have been a home for his mummified remains.

For centuries, archaeologists have ventured into the Pyramid of Khufu, as it is also known, and marveled at the King’s chamber, the Queen’s chamber and the Grand Gallery. Now, using a technique from the field of particle physics, an international team of researchers has harnessed cosmic ray collisions to peek inside and uncover a hidden “void” within the pyramid’s stones that is roughly 100 feet long, similar to the Statue of Liberty from her heel to her head .

“We don’t know if it’s a chamber, a tunnel, a big gallery or things like that,” said Mehdi Tayoubi, co-director of the ScanPyramids project, which published the finding Thursday in the journal Nature. “We have chosen the word ‘void’ and nothing else because we don’t know what this void is.”

Many archaeologists questioned whether the study offered any new information about the ancient Egyptians, and were quick to note that the team most likely did not find a hidden room filled with the pharaoh’s riches. They said the so-called void was probably empty space designed by the pyramid’s architects to lessen the weight on its chambers and prevent them from collapsing, an example of features that were already documented in the construction of the ancient monuments.

However, the study may suggest that advances in technology can offer a richer understanding of wonders of the ancient world that have long fascinated the human imagination.

Khufu, also known by his Greek name Cheops, is thought to have ruled from 2509 B.C. to 2483 B.C., during Egypt’s fourth dynasty. Though he constructed the largest pyramid Egypt has ever seen, the only intact three-dimensional figure of him that archaeologists have found measures a mere three inches tall. Very little is known about him, so his pyramid offers one of the few looks into his life and reign. The site at Giza where his pyramid was built also contains two other major pyramids and the Sphinx.

Since 2015, Dr. Tayoubi and his colleagues, now consisting of three separate teams of physicists and engineers, have investigated the pyramid using a particle physics technique known as muon-tomography to see through to its core.

“We tried to do for the pyramid what a doctor can do with X-rays,” Dr. Tayoubi said.

Instead of X-rays, the team used muons, the heavy cousins of electrons that form when cosmic rays from outer space collide with particles in Earth’s atmosphere. The fallout from the collisions creates a constant bombardment of harmless particles that can penetrate deep into the planet. As the muons pass through matter they lose energy and decay, so if the team detected a small amount of muons, that means they were passing through matter. But if they detected more muons, it suggests the particles were passing through empty space or less dense material.

The technology was previously used by Luis Alvarez, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, to investigate whether there were hidden chambers in the Pyramid of Khafre in the 1960s. As muon detector resolution has greatly improved over the decades, it has since been used to see the inner structures of volcanos as well as the irradiated Fukushima nuclear reactor.

In 2016, Dr. Tayoubi’s colleagues stood in the Queen’s chamber and used muon detectors capable of making improved measurements to study particles as they passed through the pyramid. When they analyzed their data from a region above the Grand Gallery, a long inclined passageway that leads to the King’s Chamber, they found something strange: an unexpected excess of muons.

They found a void.

The first measurements were made by researchers from Nagoya University in Japan who were a part of the project. Then two more teams associated with ScanPyramids, one from France and another from Japan, also confirmed the anomaly with muon tomography, even from outside the pyramid. The discovery comes on the footsteps of the team’s previous work which detected a small void behind the north face of the pyramid in 2016.

Christopher Morris, a physicist who conducts research using muon tomography at Los Alamos National Laboratory and was not involved in the study, called the findings “pretty amazing,” adding that all the team needed to do was set up their muon detectors and reap the rewards.

“All the other physicists who could have done it, and didn’t, are jealous,” he said.

Arturo Menchaca-Rocha a physicist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico who has used muon detection to investigate the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico, echoed Dr. Morris’s sentiments and said the project’s physics supported its claims.

But archaeologists were more critical of the work.

Mark Lehner, an Egyptologist from the Ancient Egypt Research Associates, said that previous work had shown that the ancient Egyptians most likely constructed gaps in their pyramids and that the voids the team found are nothing special, or new.

“The great pyramid of Khufu is more Swiss cheese than cheddar,” he said. He added that the steep incline of the void also casts doubts on whether it was some sort of room. “At that angle, it doesn’t make much sense for it to be a chamber that would contain artifacts, burials and objects and that sort of thing.”

Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist, former Egyptian government minister and head of the scientific committee appointed by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities to review the work, was more critical of the finding.

“They found nothing,” said Dr. Hawass, noting that such construction gaps had been known of for at least two decades. “This paper offers nothing to Egyptology. Zero.”

Both Dr. Lehner and Dr. Hawass agreed that the scanning work should continue in hopes that the teams can retrieve higher resolution data about the inner workings of the pyramid, specifically the shape and size of the anomaly.

Hany Helal, who is also co-director of the ScanPyramids project, responded to the criticism saying that from an engineering perspective, it would not make sense to have such a big void above the Gallery if its purpose was to relieve pressure.

He said the next steps are to have an international discussion with archaeologists to figure out the structure’s purpose. In the future, he added that scientists may use drones to explore the void once they have more information about it.

“We are sure there is a void,” he said. “Now let us continue our research.”

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Trump nominee for top Agriculture post withdraws amid Russia probe – CNN

“We respect Mr. Clovis’ decision to withdraw his nomination,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement to pool reporters.
Trump had picked Clovis for the position despite him not having a background in science, and that lack of experience, alongside a history of racially charged and homophobic comments, made his nomination particularly controversial.
But sources told CNN earlier Thursday that Clovis’ nomination was imperiled over his connections to the ongoing Russia probe. The development is the latest sign that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign and Russian collusion is impacting the day-to-day of Trump’s administration, despite top White House aides — including Trump himself — claiming that the indictments of former top Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort and Rick Gates had nothing to do with the administration or the campaign.
“The political climate inside Washington has made it impossible for me to receive balanced and fair consideration for this position,” Clovis wrote in a letter addressed to Trump that was dated Wednesday. “The relentless assaults on you and your team seem to be a blood sport that only increases in intensity each day. As I am focused on your success and the success of this administration, I do not want to be a distraction or negative influence, particularly with so much important work left to do for the American people.”
Clovis, who was already serving as the senior White House adviser on the Agriculture Department, added that he will “continue to serve at the pleasure of you and the secretary of agriculture.”
Questions are swirling over Clovis’ relationship with George Papadopoulos — the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who has admitted to making a false statement to the FBI regarding his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government — and a trip Papadopoulos took during the election where he met with a Russian figure.
The White House did not comment Wednesday night, and messages to Clovis’ attorney regarding the latest developments in the Russia investigation were not returned.
Trump pick Sam Clovis blasted schools for 'indoctrinating' students with ideas like 'environmentalism' and 'racism'Trump pick Sam Clovis blasted schools for 'indoctrinating' students with ideas like 'environmentalism' and 'racism'
Asked Monday if Trump was “still comfortable” with Clovis serving in the administration, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders responded, “I’m not aware of any change that would be necessary.”
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Clovis was one of the campaign officials referred to in court documents who Papadopoulos was emailing with. The FBI did not identify Clovis.
In the wake of the Post’s report, Clovis’ attorney said that inside the campaign, Clovis always “vigorously” opposed any Russian trip for Trump or staff. The attorney, Victoria Toensing, said in a statement that if a volunteer made a foreign policy suggestion, as a “polite gentleman from Iowa (he) would have expressed courtesy and appreciation.”
She also said that Clovis would have had no authority to prohibit personal travel.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the ranking Democrat on the Senate agriculture committee, said court records released this week raised more questions over Clovis’ nomination.
Who is George Papadopoulos?Who is George Papadopoulos?
“From early on, I have strongly opposed the nomination of Sam Clovis to be the chief scientist at USDA,” she said in a statement. “The emerging information about his role in the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia raises serious concerns. As we consider his nomination, I will be looking into these facts, along with his questionable qualifications and long history of divisive and outrageous statements.”
Clovis, a former conservative radio talk show host in Iowa who was a frequent guest on CNN during the election, became an early supporter of Trump’s two years ago. He quickly rose through the ranks of the campaign after Trump’s strong finish in the Iowa caucuses, taking a national role in the organization as officials scrambled to build a campaign team.
Clovis, a novice to national presidential campaigns, was supervising Papadopoulos and became a visible spokesman for Trump on CNN and other networks.
A Republican official close to Clovis told CNN earlier Thursday that he remained loyal to Trump, adding that Clovis would not have fought the White House in backing away from his USDA nomination if asked.
“There’s no way he would fight this or cause trouble for the White House,” a Republican official and longtime associate of Clovis said.
Clovis’ decision to step aside followed weeks of reports about incendiary comments he had previously made that had not disqualified him from the administration post.
Clovis previously argued that protections for LGBT people would lead to protections for pedophilia, and as a radio host and political activist, he promoted the hoax that former President Barack Obama was not born in the US. Likewise, he called Obama a “Maoist” and said Attorney General Eric Holder is a “racist black.”
This story has been updated to reflect Clovis’ withdrawal.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Clovis’ letter was dated on Wednesday.

CNN’s Eli Watkins and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.

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GOP leaders unveil key details in new tax plan – CNN

“This is it. This is a very important and special moment for our country,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said at a news conference on Capitol Hill, surrounded by GOP leaders in the chamber. “This is our chance to make sure that generations to come don’t just get by, they get ahead in this country.”
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said during the news conference that the tax bill “has President Trump’s full support.”
READ: The Republican tax planREAD: The Republican tax plan
In advance of the bill’s release — which will be called the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” according to a source in a meeting with GOP members Thursday — a source shared a summary of the plan, which would permanently lowers the corporate tax rate to 20% and limit the home interest deduction to loans up to $500,000.
The bill would also increase the standard deduction for individuals and households, repeal the alternative minimum tax and increase the child tax credit to $1,600. The House GOP bill will also repeal the estate tax in 2024.
According to another source in the GOP meeting, Brady started his tax presentation with a quote from Ronald Reagan, the last President to sign a massive tax reform bill.
“I feel like we just played the World Series of Tax Reform and the American people won,” Brady said, quoting remarks Reagan made when signing his tax overhaul from the 1980s. Brady is a Texas Republican whose Houston Astros won the World Series just hours before.
Members are reviewing the tax framework Thursday morning when the House ways and means committee releases its bill. There are still key questions about what will be in the bill and whether the leadership can wrangle the votes they will need to deliver President Donald Trump a major legislative victory by the end of the year.
Now, the hard work begins of both selling the bill and keeping special interests at bay. Many lobbyists on K Street and outside groups admit the GOP lawmakers have kept a tight lid on the process. Once groups see what has been cut and what has been saved, winners and losers will be defined and the fight to preserve valuable tax breaks will begin. Over the weekend, one group, the National Association of Home Builders, already came out against the not-even-released bill.
The legislation has also struck a nerve with a group of New Jersey and New York Republicans who are opposed to rolling back a popular local and state tax deduction known as SALT. Brady already made a key concession when he said that he will still allow individuals to deduct their property taxes in the new bill. But that still wasn’t enough for some who wanted to see the income deduction restored as well.
“We are not there yet,” said Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican from New York told reporters just hours before the bill was released.
Details unveiled in advance of the bill’s release showed individuals would still be able to deduct their local and state property taxes, but only up to $10,000.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, notes he’s from a state with high state and local taxes and says lawmakers pushing for changes need to take a broader look at how the reform package will benefit their constituents.
“What’s happening is people are looking at this as one item instead of looking at everything we are doing, lowering the rate, doubling the standard deduction,” McCarthy told CNN. “You’re better off with this.”
In advance of the bill’s release, some Republicans were already criticizing the details. On Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the $600 proposed child tax credit increase in the House’s tax reform plan wasn’t enough.
“House #TaxReform plan is only starting point.But $600 #ChildTaxCredit increase doesn’t achieve our & @POTUS goal of helping working families,” he wrote.
During a conversation with reporters last Wednesday, Rubio said a $2,000 child tax credit was necessary to provide tangible relief to middle-class families. In 2015, Rubio, joined by Republican Sen. Mike Lee, proposed a child tax credit worth $2,500 per child.

Lessons from health care failure

Republican leaders have argued that the party learned valuable lessons from the health care debate that crashed and burned in the Senate this summer.
But, already, the GOP encountered a setback Tuesday with deadlines when Brady announced that the bill’s release would be delayed by a single day. Some members also fear the GOP’s tax effort in the House has shared some frustrating parallels with Obamacare repeal.
For one, Republicans are spooked by the ambitious timeline that has been laid out by their leadership. Members are expecting to get a massive tax bill Thursday only to turn around and amend it in committee days later.
“We started differently on tax reform than we did health care, but I hope that we don’t end up back on the same tracks that led us to the debacle on health care,” said Rep. Mark Walker, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee. “We know this is going to be hundreds of pages and being able to take the time to process it fairly is something that is crucial.”

Repealing Obamacare mandate?

Another twist that came up in the hours before the bill was released came from Trump himself.
The President tweeted Wednesday morning that he wanted to see a repeal of the individual mandate in the tax bill, a move that many House and Senate republicans openly admitted would complicate the process.
“Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts for the Middle Class. The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along. Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER,” Trump wrote in a series of two consecutive tweets.
“I do not believe you are going to see anything health care related in this bill — at the eleventh hour 59 minute, 58 second mark, I don’t,” Republican Rep. Chris Collins of New York told reporters.
“There’s no time to even deal with it, that I see,” Collins said flatly, adding, “I believe we are too far along.”
New Jersey GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur, who has been pressing leaders to maintain a tax deduction for property taxes told reporters he’s still negotiating with leaders, and if he and others from high tax states don’t get what they want in the bill unveiled tomorrow they will keep pushing as the measure moves through the legislative process.
“If the bill can’t pass, there will be compromises,” MacArthur said. “I guarantee you that.”
This story has been updated and will continue to update with additional developments.

CNN’s Betsy Klein, Liz Landers and Phil Mattingly contributed to this report.

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Investigators probe New York attack suspect’s communications while Trump calls for death penalty – Washington Post

Investigators continued Thursday to probe the 29-year-old Uzbek immigrant charged with the New York truck attack, poring over his communications to see if he had any help or guidance before carrying out his deadly rampage, while President Trump publicly weighed in on the federal prosecution of the suspect.

New York police officials say the attacker appears to have radicalized himself online and that it does not appear anyone else was involved, though they said that continues to be a key question in the international investigation launched after the Halloween attack in Lower Manhattan killed eight people and wounded a dozen others.

Federal authorities charged Sayfullo Saipov, the suspected attacker, with providing support to a terrorist organization, saying that he was inspired by the Islamic State to carry out the rampage. The militant group, also known as ISIS, has urged its supporters to use vehicles for attacks.

[ Before the New York attack: Practicing turns in a truck and watching ISIS videos ]

In the charging document, filed Wednesday, authorities said Saipov planned for a year to carry out an attack in the United States and ultimately chose Halloween because he believed more people would be outside as potential targets.

The federal prosecution against Saipov was just hours old when a potentially complicating factor emerged in the form of a presidential tweet. Since the attack, Trump has publicly criticized the American criminal justice system and weighed sending Saipov to the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

In messages posted on Twitter late Wednesday and early Thursday, Trump twice called for Saipov to get the death penalty, while also abandoning the Guantanamo Bay idea.

“Would love to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo but statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system,” Trump wrote early Thursday. He continued: “There is also something appropriate about keeping him in the home of the horrible crime he committed. Should move fast. DEATH PENALTY!”

Trump’s comments, much like remarks he made about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, could create a hurdle in the federal case. While one of the charges against Saipov — one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle — could carry with it a possible death sentence, the Justice Department has not yet said whether it will seek that penalty. If prosecutors do pursue a rare federal death sentence against Saipov, defense attorneys could argue that Trump’s tweets may prevent a jury from giving the suspect a fair trial.

[ Old friends from Argentina reunited in New York. Five died together in a terrorist attack. ]

The remarks from Trump broke from the tradition that presidents and other senior officials refrain from commenting on ongoing cases in ways that could complicate proceedings, though he is not the first commander in chief to do so. In 2009, then-President Barack Obama weighed in on the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and suggested he would get the death penalty; Obama then backtracked and said he did not mean to prejudge the case.

In a statement released before Trump’s comments, David Patton, Saipov’s attorney, said: “In a case like this involving so much tragedy, it’s more important than ever to let the judicial process play out. How we as a society treat Mr. Saipov will say more about us than it will about him.”

At a speech Thursday in New York City that was scheduled before the truck attack, Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted the work federal prosecutors have done bringing cases against terrorism suspects in federal court.

He noted particularly the recent conviction of Ahmad Khan Rahimi, who set off bombs in New York and New Jersey last year; the recent unsealing of charges against three men who plotted to bomb the New York City subway and Times Square; and the apprehension of Mustafa al-Imam, a Libyan national charged with participating in the 2012 Benghazi attacks.

The remarks, in some ways, seemed to be a subtle hint to the president that terror suspects can face justice in American courts. But Sessions, a vocal supporter of using the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, also made mention of the facility there.

“Terrorists should know: this Administration will use all lawful tools at our disposal, including prosecution in Article III courts and at Guantanamo Bay,” Sessions said, according to a prepared copy of his remarks. “If anyone has any doubt about that, they can ask the more than 500 criminals whom the Department of Justice has convicted of terrorism-related offenses since 9/11. And they can ask the dozens of enemy combatants in Guantanamo Bay.”

[ Trump seizes on N.Y. attack to push immigration and vetting policies ]

Sessions, who attended a roll call Thursday with officers, also heaped praise on the New York City Police Department, in particular the officer who shot and wounded Saipov.

The attorney general has had a strained relationship with New York City’s leaders, and in April declared that gang murders there were the “predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.” Sessions’s remarks drew pushback from New York officials, as have some of Trump’s comments.

Trump, in one of his tweets about the New York attack, cited one of the most incendiary parts of the criminal complaint filed against Saipov. Authorities said that Saipov told them he felt good about what he had done and, while speaking to investigators, “requested to display ISIS’s flag in his hospital room.”

Investigators on Wednesday at the scene of the attack. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

In the criminal complaint, the FBI described what Saipov said in his Manhattan hospital room, depicting him as a man who had reams of Islamic State propaganda on his phones and carefully plotted what he was doing.

Saipov told agents he wanted to kill as many people as he could, court papers state, and he considered putting Islamic State flags at the front and back of his truck before deciding that would draw too much attention.

Authorities said Saipov told them that while he first decided a year ago to carry out an attack in the United States — the country where he moved in 2010 on a diversity visa and became a legal permanent resident — he only decided to use a truck two months before.

[ A reconstruction of the New York City truck attack ]

Saipov rented one on the week before the attack to practice making turns with it, authorities said. A neighbor said he thought it was suspicious that Saipov was driving an apparently empty truck in recent weeks near their homes in New Jersey.

Police say that on Tuesday afternoon, Saipov drove a truck onto the bike path along the west side of Manhattan and targeted cyclists and pedestrians as he careened south. Among those Saipov is accused of killing were a group of childhood friends from Argentina, now in their late 40s, who had been planning a trip to New York for years; a young mother; and two men in their 20s and 30s from New York and New Jersey.

Saipov told authorities he was particularly inspired by a video capturing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asking Muslims in the United States what they were doing to respond to the killing of other members of their faith in Iraq, the complaint states.

Officials have said that Saipov apparently became radicalized online after he came to the United States. He “appears to have followed almost exactly to a T the instructions that ISIS has put out in its social media channels” laying out guidance for carrying out an attack, according to John Miller, the deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism at the New York City Police Department.

Among other things, officials say Saipov used a rented truck, had brought knives and a stun gun as additional weapons and left behind notes declaring his allegiance. According to court papers, one note, written in Arabic, could be translated in part to read: “Islamic Supplication. It will endure.”

[ For ISIS followers, terror by truck is now the default choice and the hardest to stop ]

As the Islamic State has suffered battlefield losses and seen its self-declared caliphate shrink, terrorism by vehicle has become the attack of choice for the group’s adherents and supporters in other areas. The tactic has been used, with deadly results, in France, Britain, Germany, Sweden, Spain and Canada.

Investigators are still exploring whether anyone else had any knowledge of or aided in the New York plot. The FBI said briefly on Wednesday it was seeking another man — 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, or Muhammad Kadirov — in connection with the investigation. The bureau gave no indication why they were seeking him and, minutes later, reversed course, saying they had found him but providing no further details.

A person who was in touch with both Saipov’s and Kadirov’s families on Wednesday said that Kadirov is in New Jersey, has retained an attorney and is cooperating with law enforcement officials, but that he was not under arrest as of Wednesday evening. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said Kadirov is Saipov’s cousin and seemed “utterly shocked and horrified” by what Saipov had done.

The rampage on Tuesday afternoon ended when Saipov crashed into a school bus and emerged from his truck armed with a paintball gun and pellet gun, police said. A passer-by flagged down police officers responding to an unrelated call at a school in the area, and one of them shot and wounded Saipov, police said.

Authorities also said Saipov intended to continue his attack beyond the bike path. He told investigators he intended to keep going to the Brooklyn Bridge to kill even more people, the complaint states, but was apparently unable to after crashing the truck.

Eli Rosenberg and Abigail Hauslohner in Paterson, N.J.; Renae Merle in New York; and Devlin Barrett, Sari Horwitz, Julie Tate, Philip Rucker, Amy B Wang and Samantha Schmidt in Washington contributed to this report.

Read more:

The last bicycle ride of Darren Drake, a young American killed in the New York terrorist attack

Belgian woman killed in New York terrorist attack was ‘the most beautiful mom’

A reconstruction of the New York City truck attack

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The Finance 202: Playbook to kill tax overhaul already written before bill’s debut – Washington Post

THE TICKER

President Donald Trump talks with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.). (AP /Evan Vucci)

Today’s note will self-destruct in roughly two hours. And then again — and likely again.

That’s when House Republican leaders are expected — finally — to release the first draft of a tax code overhaul they’ve spent months developing behind closed doors. The debut time has been set for 11:15 a.m. this morning.

The last few days suggest the project remains in what could charitably be described as rough shape. Scrambling to find sources of revenue to pay for a sprawling, $5 trillion wish list of tax cuts, GOP tax writers on Wednesday also appeared to be scaling back their ambitions — both on the individual and corporate side of the code.

Here’s what we can say at this point: The successful pushback against efforts to kill the state and income tax deduction — as well as lobbying to kill pre-contribution taxing of 401(k) retirement contributions — has established a playbook for every industry group or business that combs through the forthcoming text and decides they’d be better off under the status quo. Simply cobble together a couple dozen of the most like-minded Republicans and convince them to threaten to bolt if leaders don’t drop the offending provision. 

After such efforts, today’s bill could abandon a central aim of the entire effort — to permanently chop the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent — in favor of a temporary cut. Or not.

Per my colleagues Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta:

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) “said he had to make changes to keep his upcoming bill in line with rules Republicans need to abide by if they hope to pass the measure through the Senate without Democratic support. He added he hopes to make changes during negotiations with the Senate at some point to make the cuts long-term, but at this time he is unable to propose a permanent cut.”

“It’s going to take several steps through the process to achieve” permanence on the corporate rate, Brady said, citing what he termed “those awfully funny” Senate rules. “That will enter into the discussion.”

But Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported late Thursday that the corporate rate cut will in fact be permanent, and when I asked Brady about it shortly before 11 p.m., he said, “12 hours,” indicating the time until Republicans unveil the details. By Thursday morning, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg were also reporting that the rate cut in fact will be permanent.

And the New York Times reports the move to a temporary cut itself is intended to be temporary — a “place holder” until Republicans can rustle up the revenue to offset the estimated $1.6 trillion cost of embedding the cut in the code for good. 

Nevertheless, backing off such a central pillar of the original plan would mark a defeat — and could spook investors who are counting on a wholesale reduction in the corporate rate to help turbocharge economic growth. 

Republicans on the Ways and Means panel, for their part, broadcast cheeriness about the imminent launch of the package as they filed out of a Wednesday night meeting that stretched for over three hours as they reviewed the fine print. 

“We’re doing great — on schedule for the morning and excited,” Brady said. “We’ll continue to listen. We’re going to make improvements at every step. We’re going very bold, so we expect people and families and businesses to respond and tell us what they think.”

Want your own copy of the bill text (to fight or rally behind, as the case may be)? Text TAXES to 50589 and it’s all yours:

Don’t forget! Text TAXREFORM to 50589 to be the first to see our new #taxreform plan. pic.twitter.com/KJixW88xFz

— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) November 1, 2017

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). (AP /J. Scott Applewhite)

But the chaos spilled over into proposed changes to the individual side of the tax code, as well. Republican leaders were still struggling Wednesday to forge a compromise with their rank-and-file from high-tax states like New Jersey and New York — a cohort threatening to oppose the package because it proposes to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes (otherwise known as the SALT deduction).

More from Damian and Mike: “Several members said Wednesday that Republicans were looking at capping the property tax deduction at around $10,000, though discussions remained fluid. Still, several members said the changes weren’t sufficient. If enough Republicans refuse to accept the adjustment, they could oppose the bill and potentially kill it on the House floor.”

And the AP reports that Republicans are likewise backing off plans to wring out some new funding for their proposal by limiting tax-free contributions to retirement plans, including 401(k)s, after the idea met resistance both from President Trump and some of their own in the chamber. 

Furthermore, following what can only be termed as  unhelpful pre-rollout tweets from President Trump, Republicans are considering including the elimination of the individual mandate to buy health care — though the language isn’t expected to be in today’s draft.

Damian and Mike, again: “Three Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee and a GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said that there has been serious discussion about including the individual mandate repeal in the tax bill. But they said that the committee is divided on the issue and that it is unlikely to be included in the initial draft.”

Republican leaders have held their plans close in part to forestall that bloodletting. Even still, the process wasn’t airtight, and the National Association of Home Builders and the National Association of Realtors both are already putting their considerable muscle behind opposition campaigns.

Untold others will begin laying plans to join them in the hours ahead. Buckle up. 

And President Trump, as always, is a wildcard that could upend the negotiations at any moment.

You are reading The Finance 202, our must-read tipsheet on where Wall Street meets Washington.
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MARKET MOVERS

The rental truck used by Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, who drove down a bike path for twenty blocks killing eight people and injuring several more, is hauled away on a New York City Police flatbed on Wednesday. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK TERROR ATTACK: 

Charges filedNYT: “Federal prosecutors on Wednesday filed charges accusing the driver in the Manhattan truck attack of carrying out a long-planned plot, spurred by Islamic State propaganda videos, to kill people celebrating Halloween. The charges, filed just over 24 hours after the deadliest terror attack on New York City since Sept. 11, 2001, placed the case in the civilian courts even as President Trump denounced the American criminal justice system as ‘a joke’ and ‘a laughingstock.’ The charges describe the driver, Sayfullo Saipov, 29, as a voracious consumer and meticulous student of ISIS propaganda, and detail how he said he was spurred to attack by an ISIS video questioning the killing of Muslims in Iraq.”

Trump dispatched with the presumption of innocence late Wednesday to declare that Saipov should get the death penalty: 

NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

That followed a day in which Trump used the attack to renew a push for his hard-line policies. David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe: “The president said he would move to eliminate a popular “diversity lottery” for foreigners seeking U.S. visas and direct the State Department to ramp up “extreme vetting” of immigrants. He also suggested he would consider sending the suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, a legal permanent resident of the United States, to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

Terror by truck. The method is now a go-to for ISIS, used seven times in Western cities over the last year. The Post: “The results of the Halloween attack underscore the reasons for its popularity, terrorism experts say: The tactic requires no special skill or instruction, or formal membership in a terrorist group. And it is nearly impossible to prevent or stop.” … Neighbors say they saw Saipov practice driving a truck around his suburban New Jersey neighborhood in recent weeks. 

FED WATCH: 

Jerome Powell. (Zach Gibson / Bloomberg)

Powell gets the rose. The announcement is coming today. WSJ offers some historical perspective: “Mr. Powell’s nomination would mark the first time in nearly four decades that a new president hasn’t asked the serving Fed leader to stay on for another term, even though that person was nominated by a president of a different party. The last time a first-term president didn’t do that was in 1978, when President Jimmy Carter chose G. William Miller to succeed Arthur Burns… Reached by phone Wednesday, both Mr. Powell and Ms. Yellen declined to comment. A Fed spokeswoman also declined to comment.” 

Investors cheer continuity. Bloomberg’s Sarah Ponczek and Elena Popina: “Investors enjoying the fruits of a decade-long bull market in equities expect to find an ally in Jerome Powell… Barring the reappointment of Yellen, Powell was viewed as one of the best options for bulls, an extension of the dovish policies that helped the S&P 500 rise 45 percent during her tenure… Equities have been on an upswing since Bloomberg News reported Trump was leaning toward Powell on Friday, with the biggest exchange-traded fund rising three of four days. S&P 500 Index futures were little changed late Wednesday after the Wall Street Journal earlier reported that Trump intends to nominate the 64-year-old Fed governor on Thursday. The dollar and Treasuries showed little reaction.”

Fed leaves rates alone. In the shadow of Thursday’s big announcement, the central bank on Wednesday left interest rates unchanged. WSJ’s David Harrison: “Officials have penciled in one more move for 2017 if the economy stays on track. The Fed has one more meeting scheduled before the end of the year, on Dec. 12-13. The central bank has raised its benchmark federal-funds rate four times since late 2015, in quarter-percentage-point steps, to a current range between 1% and 1.25%.”

The former Goldman Sachs president, now Trump’s top economic adviser, was a front-runner for the Fed job until August, when he publicly broke with the president over his handling of fatal neo-Nazi violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Politico

Goldman Sachs economists on Wednesday upgraded their forecast on U.S. nonfarm payrolls for October to a 340,000 increase from a 325,000 gain, based on the latest data on company hiring from ADP and factory activity from the Institute for Supply Management.

Reuters

MONEY ON THE HILL

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). (Alex Wong/Getty)

TAX FLY-AROUND:

Today’s schedule for the tax bill’s unveiling. Courtesy of Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) press office: 

  • 9:00 am: GOP Conference meeting to walk members through text.
  • 10:30 am: Ways and Means’ off-camera reporter briefing, embargoed until 11:15 a.m.
  • 11:15 am: GOP Leadership/Ways and Means press conference.
  • 12:00 pm: Speaker Ryan interview with CNN’s Phil Mattingly airs.
  • 1:30 pm: Speaker Ryan/Ways and Means members meet with President Trump at the White House.
  • 2:30 pm: Speaker Ryan interview with Fox News’ The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino airs.

More GOP infighting ahead. Bloomberg’s Anna Edgerton: “A leading House Republican conservative warned that the unveiling of the tax bill Thursday would unleash dissent ‘like you’ve never seen.’ But that doesn’t mean Republicans will fail, said Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. ‘It may be a little messy, it may not be as fun as we would all have liked to have seen it be over the past few weeks,’ Meadows told reporters Wednesday after meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. ‘But we’re going to get it done, and failure is not an option.'”

Trump throws a curveball. Damian: “Trump on Wednesday said congressional Republicans should make a major change to their upcoming tax cut bill by including changes to the Affordable Care Act, an idea that has divided the GOP for months. The idea had already been rejected one day earlier by… Brady, who had said it risked bogging down the process. But Trump, in two Twitter posts Wednesday, pushed the idea, which has gained currency with some Senate Republicans. The biggest proponent of the idea is Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).”

Wouldn’t it be great to Repeal the very unfair and unpopular Individual Mandate in ObamaCare and use those savings for further Tax Cuts…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

….for the Middle Class. The House and Senate should consider ASAP as the process of final approval moves along. Push Biggest Tax Cuts EVER

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2017

Mnuchin resists corporate fade-in. Bloomberg’s Saleha Mohsin  and Jennifer Jacobs: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is resisting a gradual phase in of the proposed 20 percent corporate rate out of concern the move wouldn’t boost economic growth as much as he’s anticipated, according to a Trump administration official and another person familiar with Mnuchin’s thinking. Mnuchin is worried that a slow reduction of the corporate rate from its current 35 percent would also make the U.S. less competitive, as other countries cut their rates faster and foreigners delay their investments in the U.S., said the official, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.”

He’s got history on his side, a new analysis suggests. “Ladling out corporate tax cuts bit by bit is a bad idea. Look at history,” Bloomberg’s Sarah Ponczek writes. “So goes an argument being pushed by analysts at Strategas Research Partners, who say Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush came to regret their gradualist approaches in 1981 and 2001. ‘Phasing in the corporate tax rate cut for five years is a terrible idea,’ the analysts, led by Daniel Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas, wrote in a note Tuesday. ‘Taxpayers will delay their economic activity in anticipation of the lower tax rate in future years.'”

Colleges, charities on Senate menu. Politico’s Brian Faler: “Universities, charities, life insurance companies and others could all lose cherished tax breaks under a Senate plan to rewrite the tax code. Senate Republicans are considering a number of sure-to-be controversial changes, including imposing a new 2 percent excise tax on the endowment earnings of private universities, according to a summary POLITICO obtained.

They may reduce the tax breaks people receive for fringe benefits at work, such as a deductions for entertainment- and transportation-related expenses. Another proposal, apparently aimed at Silicon Valley firms, would limit write-offs businesses can take for providing meals to employees. Uber drivers, people who rent their homes through Airbnb and others participating in the ‘gig economy’ could see tougher income reporting requirements that make it harder for them to avoid paying taxes. Insurance companies could lose a host of tax breaks worth more than $31 billion.”

WH blasé about delay. Politico’s Nancy Cook reports that the administration was okay with the fact that House Republicans missed their initial target of a Wednesday rollout, “provided it doesn’t extend into the weekend, according to three senior administration officials—and Trump even told Ryan he’d be fine if it takes until Friday, said two people briefed on their conversation.” 

But Trump wouldn’t be accepting responsibility if another of his priorities goes down. Here he was Wednesday making clear he will blame Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn if the tax overhaul fails:

Cut, cut, cut. ABC News: “Ryan’s office initially asked the White House for input because of the president’s knack for branding, according to a senior Hill aide. Trump has been insistent that the bill be called the ‘Cut Cut Cut Act’ according to the administration officials. Ryan and Brady have pushed back on the name of the bill. However, Trump has held firm.”

— A new $100 million force. Politico’s Alex Isenstadt: “Trump’s super PAC is drawing up plans to spend $100 million on an all-out push to sell tax reform and elect pro-Trump Republicans in 2018. The group, dubbed America First Action, is expected to host a fundraiser in the coming months that will be attended by Vice President Mike Pence and is in talks with the administration to get Trump to headline an event. It has tapped oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm, a Trump ally whose net worth exceeds $11 billion, to boost its fundraising campaign. And it is recruiting major Republican Party donors across the country.

Last week, America First officials met with top Trump advisers at the White House to brief them on a multimillion dollar campaign to promote tax reform and discuss how the legislative battle is likely to play out. But the stepped-up activity, which strategists revealed in interviews for the first time, is an abrupt change for the super PAC. The group has been dormant for much of the year, much to the frustration of the White House. America First has suffered from infighting, leadership shake-ups, and questions over its strategy and approach since its founding after the 2016 election.”

Former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.). (AP /Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Garrett’s rough day. WSJ’s Andrew Ackerman: “Trump’s choice to head the Export-Import Bank didn’t appear to sway waffling Republican senators on a key panel into supporting him, putting his confirmation at risk. Lawmakers from both parties criticized Scott Garrett during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Wednesday, saying his past votes to shut down the bank while serving in the House made him unsuitable to run the agency.

Mr. Garrett reversed his prior opposition to the agency in testimony before the committee, pledging to keep the bank ‘fully functioning.’ But lawmakers indicated they weren’t satisfied by his remarks. No Democrats on the committee are expected to back Mr. Garrett, meaning attracting enough Republican support is crucial to getting his nomination through the panel and advancing it to the full Senate. Industry groups that benefit from the Ex-Im Bank, which provides financing for U.S. exports, are pressuring lawmakers to oppose Mr. Garrett.

‘What would have made you change your mind about whether or not the Export-Import Bank should exist?’ asked Sen. Mike Rounds (R., S.D.) who said he had met with Mr. Garrett twice and hadn’t received a satisfactory answer. ‘This is critical, that you be able to share what has changed your mind.’… Mr. Scott bantered with Mr. Garrett during the hearing but later told reporters he was still undecided.”

TRUMP TRACKER

President Trump. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

RUSSIA WATCH: 

Trump isn’t angry. He says so himself. The NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker: “Trump projected an air of calm on Wednesday after charges against his former campaign chief and a foreign policy aide roiled Washington, insisting to The New York Times that he was not ‘angry at anybody’ and that investigations into his campaign’s links to Russia had not come near him personally. ‘I’m not under investigation, as you know,’ Mr. Trump said in a brief telephone call late Wednesday afternoon. Pointing to the indictment of his former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, the president said, ‘And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.’ ‘It has nothing to do with us,’ Mr. Trump said.  He also pushed back against a report published Monday night by The Washington Post, which the president said described him as ‘angry at everybody.’ ‘I’m actually not angry at anybody,’ Mr. Trump told The Times.”

He might be a little bit angry. Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman: “Trump… has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends. He’s frustrated that the investigation seems to have no end in sight. ‘Trump wants to be critical of Mueller,’ one person who’s been briefed on Trump’s thinking says. ‘He thinks it’s unfair criticism. Clinton hasn’t gotten anything like this. And what about Tony Podesta? Trump is like, When is that going to end?’ 

According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far. Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller’s appointment, according to a source briefed on the call.

When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. ‘Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,’ Nunberg said. ‘I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.'”

Tech giants face more Hill heat. The Post: “Senators from both parties took tech company officials to task in a hearing Wednesday for failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia’s campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign. In the second of three Capitol Hill hearings this week on Russian’s online information operation, members of the Senate intelligence committee challenged Facebook, Google and Twitter in strikingly direct terms that, at times, seemed to carry the implicit threat of legislation that could rein in the nation’s wildly profitable technology industry.

‘I don’t think you get it,’ said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whose home state includes all three companies. ‘What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyber-warfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. We are not going to go away gentlemen. And this is a very big deal.'”

Watch the summary of tech companies’ Senate Intelligence testimony, in three minutes:

One message senators delivered repeatedly to the lawyers sent to represent the companies: Next time, bring your CEOs

The day wasn’t all bad for Facebook, at least. The company posted a 79 percent surge in profit to $4.7 billion, beating Wall Street expectations. 

THE REGULATORS

The Securities and Exchange Commission took a first step on Wednesday to head off the recent trend of celebrities endorsing new virtual currencies, warning that they could be breaking laws.

NYT

CHART TOPPER

Here’s an example of what Russian Facebook ads you might have seen if you were a Hillary Clinton supporter. The Post’s Dan Keating, Kevin Schaul and Leslie Shapiro take a look at a few other examples of how people were targeted on Facebook based on interests, political leanings, location, age and other traits.

DAYBOOK

POST PROGRAMMING ALERT: The Post and Live Nation will bring the “Can He Do That?” podcast to a live audience at the Warner Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 7. In this live taping, political reporters Bob Woodward, David Fahrenthold and Karen Tumulty will join host Allison Michaels to review the past year in President Trump’s White House and the biggest moments that made people wonder “Can He Do That?” Tickets can be purchased now at Live Nation. Attendees will also receive a free 30-day digital subscription to The Washington Post. 

Today

Coming Up

  • The Heritage Foundation holds an event on reforming the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on Friday.

  • The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities and Investment holds a hearing on “Legislative Proposals to Improve Small Businesses’ and Communities’ Access to Capital” on Friday.

  • The Washington Examiner holds an event on the tax bill with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on Nov. 8.

THE FUNNIES

From the New Yorker:

BULL SESSION

Here are the ads that Russian-linked groups posted on social media:

Donald Trump Jr.’s Halloween socialism lesson, according to the Internet:

Hillary Clinton chats with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show:

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Samantha Bee says chief of staff John Kelly is not the adult in the White House:

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Trump Abandons Idea of Sending Terrorism Suspect to Guantánamo – New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday backed off his threat to send the suspect in this week’s New York terrorist attack to the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but once again called for the man to be executed, a public intervention in the case that could come back to haunt prosecutors in any future trial.

In response to questions from reporters, Mr. Trump on Wednesday had said he would be open to transferring Sayfullo Saipov, the immigrant from Uzbekistan charged with plowing a pickup truck into passers-by in Manhattan, from the civilian justice system to the military system at Guantánamo. “Send him to Gitmo, I would certainly consider that, yes,” he said.

But after his offhand and unscripted remark, aides sought to walk back the idea, saying it was merely notional. And the president was evidently briefed or saw something on television afterward about how the civilian courts have been more effective at convicting terrorism suspects than the troubled military tribunal system installed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

The argument that Mr. Saipov should be tried in the same place where the terrorist attack that killed eight was committed mirrored the contention that President Barack Obama’s administration made when it sought to put Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, on trial in a civilian court in New York. But an uproar among city officials and business leaders at the time forced Mr. Obama’s Justice Department to abandon the plan and keep Mr. Mohammed at Guantánamo.

Mr. Trump’s call for capital punishment for Mr. Saipov, however, introduced a surprise complication that may burden prosecutors and help defense attorneys. Mr. Trump first broached the subject in a Twitter message posted shortly before midnight on Wednesday evening.

Presidents are typically advised never to publicly weigh in on pending criminal cases. Such comments can be used by defense attorneys to argue that their clients cannot get a fair trial — especially when the head of the executive branch that will prosecute a case advocates the ultimate punishment before a judge has heard a single shred of evidence at trial.

But Mr. Trump is not one for cautious detachment, and he has disregarded such advice before. Just this week, a military judge said he would consider similar comments by Mr. Trump as evidence in favor of a lighter sentence for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who pleaded guilty to desertion and endangering fellow troops by walking away from his post in Afghanistan, where he was later captured and held prisoner by the Taliban for five years.

Other presidents have been criticized for offering public verdicts about pending criminal cases. In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon declared that Charles Manson “was guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason” in the middle of his trial in the killings of the actress Sharon Tate and others.

By the end of the day, the Manson team’s lawyers had moved for a mistrial, citing the president’s remarks, and Nixon issued what his press secretary called a “clarification” taking them back.

“The last thing I would do is prejudice the legal rights of any person, in any circumstances,” Nixon said. The defendant later held up in court a newspaper with the headline “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares.” But the judge allowed the trial to proceed, ultimately ending with a conviction.

In 2005, President George W. Bush expressed his confidence that Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the former Republican majority leader, would be acquitted, weeks before his trial on money laundering charges was to open. “I hope that he will, ’cause I like him, and plus, when he’s over there, we get our votes through the House,” Mr. Bush told a television interviewer.

His successor, Mr. Obama, forecast an execution for Mr. Mohammed, the Sept. 11 detainee. Defending the later-aborted decision to try Mr. Mohammed in civilian court rather than a military tribunal, Mr. Obama said critics would not find it “offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.”

The impact of such comments is more pronounced in military justice cases since the president is commander in chief of the judges and juries that determine guilt or innocence and hand down sentences.

Responding to a wave of sexual harassment allegations in the military, Mr. Obama declared in 2013 that troops who commit sexual assault should be “prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged.” In this instance, he was not commenting on a particular defendant, but attorneys nonetheless argued that it constituted “unlawful command influence.”

Such influence refers to actions by commanders that could be seen as an attempt to sway a court-martial. Defense lawyers in multiple cases cited Mr. Obama’s words. In one case in South Carolina, a judge noted the command influence issue in dismissing sexual assault charges against an Army officer. In another in Hawaii, a Navy judge decided that two defendants could not be punitively discharged because of the president’s comments.

Mr. Trump has more than once offered strong words about people suspected of major crimes. He called the man who opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas last month a “very sick man” and “a very demented person,” but since the man was killed, there will be no trial to influence. On Wednesday, he called Mr. Saipov “this animal.”

Mr. Trump was unflinchingly vocal about Sergeant Bergdahl as a candidate, calling him a “dirty rotten traitor” who should be executed. A military judge in February called the comments “disturbing and disappointing,” but decided since they were made when Mr. Trump was a private citizen, not the president, they did not constitute undue command influence.

Mr. Trump was more restrained when asked about Sergeant Bergdahl’s case last month, but not so much that it did not come up in court. “I can’t comment on Bowe Bergdahl,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden. “But I think people have heard my comments in the past.”

After concerns were raised about the “but” in his comment, the White House sought to mitigate any possible damage with a statement. “The president expects all military personnel who are involved in any way in the military justice process to exercise their independent professional judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations,” the statement said.

Col. Jeffery R. Nance, the Army judge presiding over the case, rejected a request that he dismiss the case or limit the potential sentence because of Mr. Trump’s remarks, saying he had not been influenced. But he indicated that he would weigh the president’s comments before determining punishment. “I will consider the president’s comments as mitigation evidence as I arrive at an appropriate sentence,” he said.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter: @peterbakernyt.

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The Daily 202: Red state Democrats are proposing lots of ideas to cut taxes and work with Trump – Washington Post

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) listens to constituents during a roundtable on trade at USW Local 135 in Warren, Ohio. (Dustin Franz for The Washington Post)

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA:

DUBLIN, Ohio — During a meeting at the White House two weeks ago, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) handed President Trump copies of two tax bills he’s proposed. One would expand access to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. The other would give tax credits to companies that pay workers at least $15 an hour and offer health-care and retirement benefits.

“Trump said he likes them and, with some enthusiasm, he said that’s what he wants to do, that it’s all about workers and the middle class. He went on a little bit about that,” Brown said in an interview on Monday. “There’s a clear fork in the road. He either works with Democrats or he goes to Mitch McConnell writing a bill in the backroom. … I take the president at his word that he’s going to do the right thing.”

Brown is one of 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection next year in a state that Trump carried in 2016. These lawmakers each insist they are not just willing, but eager, to work with the president on taxes.

The senator believes that voters in his state draw a distinction between Trump, who remains relatively popular in Ohio, and congressional leaders like McConnell and Paul Ryan, who even many Republicans now dislike.

Brown says that he will back Trump up if he tries to follow through on his campaign rhetoric about helping the little guy, but that he won’t go along with the “trickle-down economics” espoused by the Senate majority leader and House speaker.

“They’re going to cut taxes for the rich, they’re going to give the middle class a tiny little bit and then five years from now they’re going to say, ‘We’ve got this much bigger deficit. We can’t believe this happened,’” Brown said, predicting that the GOP will cite the ballooning debt that they are about to cause as a justification for cutting Social Security benefits down the road. “If we follow McConnell’s backroom deal way of doing business, the rich will get richer and the middle class will shrink.”

The second-term incumbent is personally well-liked back home, but the president won Ohio by 8 points and he’s likely to face a well-funded challenge from state treasurer Josh Mandel (R).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addresses a rally against the Republican tax plan outside the Capitol yesterday. The rally was organized by Patriotic Millionaires, a left-wing group that believes that the rich should shoulder a greater burden of taxes. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Brown’s posture mirrors the nine other Senate Democrats who are in a similar spot. Their messaging stands in stark contrast to the rhetoric heard during a rally outside the Capitol yesterday, in which liberal firebrands like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi pledged to fight the Republican proposal tooth and nail. These politicians are also making a big show of calling for Trump to release his tax returns.

Thered state Democrats are bending over backward to show that they’re not kneejerk “no” votes. Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, for example, traveled with Trump to Indianapolis on Air Force One in September so he could listen to his speech on taxes. He also attended an event Vice President Pence, the state’s former governor, held to promote the cuts. Donnelly’s main message back home is that any changes to the tax code ought to discourage the outsourcing of jobs. He tells voters that he personally pitched the president on his “End Outsourcing Act” during a September dinner. He let it be known back in February that he talked about the bill during a meeting at the White House. He also put word out in June when he discussed his proposal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

In truth, despite all the public shows of outreach, Trump is moving full steam ahead without any Democratic buy-in and Republicans have frozen these members out of the negotiation process. After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations and numerous delays, House Republican leaders will today release a draft of their tax plan. It is designed with the expectation that not a single Democrat will support it.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said Wednesday that the bill he will introduce would not permanently lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent. Instead, the cut would be temporary, and that reduction would expire in around eight years,” Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta report on the front page of today’s newspaper. “Brady saidhe had to make changes to keep his upcoming bill in line with rules Republicans need to abide by if they hope to pass the measure through the Senate without Democratic support. He added he hopes to make changes during negotiations with the Senate at some point to make the cuts long-term, but at this time he is unable to propose a permanent cut.”

Brady said Republicans cannot make the corporate cuts permanent because of “those awfully funny” reconciliation rules in the Senate that let a bill pass with just 50 votes, instead of 60. This is notable because the White House has repeatedly promised companies that the corporate rate reductions will be permanent.

Meanwhile, the president yesterday endorsed repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate in the tax bill — just minutes after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) promoted the idea on Fox News. “Three Republican members of the Ways and Means Committee and a GOP leadership aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations, said that there has been serious discussion about including the individual mandate repeal in the tax bill,” per Mike and Damian. “But they said that the committee is divided on the issue and that it is unlikely to be included in the initial draft.”

Including a repeal of the individual mandate would make it harder to woo GOP moderates for the final package and impossible to win over any Democratic senators. (The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that this would lead to about 15 million fewer Americans having health insurance.)

— Some Democrats on the Hill say they hope the Republican tax bill goes down the way that their Obamacare repeal proposals did, and that the White House is then so desperate for a win that Trump comes to negotiate with moderates who might be willing to support something more scaled back.

— Several Democrats are proposing a flurry of bills to demonstrate that they’re supportive of cutting taxes, protecting retirement plans from any changes and making the system simpler.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow unveiled a plan Tuesday to expand the contribution limits for 401(k) plans, offer new tax credits for employers to match worker contributions and provide auto-IRAs as a saving option for Americans who do not have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin unveiled the “Support Our Start-Ups Act” during an event two weeks ago at a small-business incubator in Milwaukee. The measure would increase the start-up deduction for new small businesses from $5,000 to $20,000, among other things. “Wisconsin’s small businesses need a tax break, and that’s what I’m working for,” the senator said at the event.

In August, Baldwin introduced “the 21st Century Manufacturing Act” to let companies deduct some purchases of manufacturing equipment and create new tax credits to encourage research and development.

Since the start of the year, Baldwin has repeatedly called on Trump to endorse her Carried Interest Fairness Act, which would close a loophole that lets investment fund managers pay the capital gains rate of 20 percent on income that they receive as compensation (instead of a 39.6 percent income tax rate). Trump endorsed this approach as a candidate, as he argued that hedge fund managers get away with avoiding too many taxes.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester unveiled a web portal on Tuesday to solicit “thoughts, concerns, and ideas” from constituents about the tax debate. “We need to make sure the process is bipartisan, transparent, and open to the public — not just special interests,” Tester said in a news release. “Tax reform affects each and every one of us and I want to ensure folks from every corner of the state have an easy way to communicate with me on this critical issue.”

He sent an open letter to Trump in September “to express my interest in working with you on tax reform legislation,” adding that he’d “welcome an opportunity to join you in Montana … for this important discussion.”

Tester has also drawn a marker to justify his eventual “no” vote by emphasizing that he cannot vote for proposals that would add to the national debt. Republicans agreed to a compromise when they passed their budget resolution last month that the tax bill cannot add more than $1.5 trillion to deficits over 10 years. But they’re struggling to comply with that framework because they have promised more than $4 trillion in cuts and still have not identified enough politically palatable places to get new revenue from elsewhere.

— Regardless of what winds up getting through Congress, tax policy will be a top-tier campaign issue in 2018. Overhauling the tax code is the top priority, by far, for the network led by the billionaire Koch brothers. Americans for Prosperity, one of its affiliates, has already spent millions on TV ads and mobilized its grass-roots army to put pressure on vulnerable Democrats to vote for a GOP tax bill. In addition to a handful of squishy Republicans, AFP has run ads against eight of the 10 red state Democrats.

The past few days in Wisconsin, which Trump was the first Republican presidential nominee to win since Ronald Reagan, offer a taste of what’s to come next year:

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is also part of the Koch network, launched a $1.6 million ad campaign that accuses Baldwin of voting to raise taxes five times. “When Congress is trying to reform the tax code and let people keep more of their hard-earned money, Tammy Baldwin is standing with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to obstruct at all costs,” said Bill Riggs, a spokesman for the group.

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Senate Majority PAC, a leading Democratic outside group, quickly put $1 million behind a response ad that says Baldwin actually “voted over 50 times to cut taxes for the middle class.” “There’s a reason out of state billionaires are smearing Tammy Baldwin,” a narrator says. “They want a new Republican tax plan that benefits the top 1 percent — but leaves Wisconsin behind.”

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— To be sure, many of the aforementioned proposals are designed to give Democratic incumbents air cover next year when Republicans inevitably run ads accusing them of voting to raise taxes. But they’re not all for show. Democrats, especially those who sit on the Finance Committee, convey genuine passion about proposals that would make the tax system fairer. Even if they know they’re never going to pass.

— Bigger picture, Democrats in red states are laying the foundation to highlight the disconnect between Trump’s popular populist rhetoric and the more conventional reality of how he governs. Yesterday, for instance, the president signed a bill that kills the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Arbitration Agreements Rule. This will make it harder for folks who are wronged by the big banks to seek redress in the courts. Instead, they will be forced into arbitration processes that favor the financial institutions. Trump went along with Wall Street lobbyists despite pleas from veterans’ groups and other consumer advocates. This is not the change most Trump voters were looking for. Perhaps that’s why he signed the measure behind closed doors and with no fanfare. The White House statement announcing he had done so didn’t go out until 5:37 p.m. It was just one sentence long.

In our interview, Brown applauded the president for trying to renegotiate NAFTA while chastising him for overturning the arbitration rule. “So far, my criticism of Trump has been pretty specific,” the Ohio Democrat explained. “When they’re doing the right thing, I am going to say positive things. When they’re not, I won’t. Just like with (Barack) Obama. Most of the time I said positive things, but on trade I didn’t. Because what he was trying to do on TPP was wrong.”

— “Voters want Democrats to resist everything that Trump’s put forward in his agenda, but they don’t want us to be resistance for resistance sake,” said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. “We have to be open to working with him if he actually puts forward a good idea, but voters haven’t see any of those from him in the first year.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.), whose panel is charged with writing tax law, talks to reporters at the Capitol yesterday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

A ROCKY ROLLOUT:

— Today’s Republican reveal is getting pretty bad press this morning — in the major daily newspapers, the Hill rags, the financial press and on broadcast television.

  • ABC News: “Trump has told senior congressional leaders that he wants to name the forthcoming tax overhaul bill ‘the Cut Cut Cut Act’Less than 24 hours before the bill is slated to be revealed, there is still dispute over the name, according to a senior congressional aide and a senior White House official. … Behind closed doors, there has been back-and-forth between House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady about the name … including multiple phone calls in the past week. … Internal White House polling showed that Americans respond more favorably to language that highlights tax cuts over tax reform, according to a senior White House official.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “Realtors Launch Blitz to Block GOP Tax Proposals. Real-estate agents seek to retain deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes.”
  • The Journal’s main analysis story: “GOP Goes With the Global Flow: Tax People, Not Companies. The Republican tax plan is a tacit admission of something the rest of the world has already concluded.”
  • The headline on the front page of today’s New York Times is: “Math Problem Bedevils Republican Tax Rewrite.” From their story: “The tax rewrite is pitting businesses against individuals, as lawmakers look for ways to offset trillions of dollars of personal and corporate income tax cuts by limiting popular individual tax breaks, including preferential treatment for 401(k) plans and the state and local tax deduction. … On Wednesday, lawmakers were discussing a potential bandage solution to buy themselves time to figure out the hard math.”
  • Politico: “Republican tax writers could be heard speaking in raised voices Tuesday night during a more than two-hour meeting at the Capitol. Sources say there was some unhappiness among rank-and-file members who feel the plan has been written largely by party leaders without their input.”
  • Los Angeles Times A1: “Conservatives lament retention of top tax rate in GOP plan, but the wealthy still reap big benefits.
  • Bloomberg: “GOP Braces for ‘All Hell’ to Break Loose When Tax Bill Finally Drops.
  • Reuters: “Trump Tax Plan Stumbles on Local Tax Deduction, 401(k).
  • Associated Press: “Republican NY Senate leader slams GOP’s federal tax cut plan.
  • Financial Times: “Trump throws healthcare into Republican scramble on tax plan.
  • Business Insider: “The rocky start for the Republican tax reform bill is a troubling sign of things to come.
  • Washington Examiner: “Battle over loopholes still hobbling GOP’s tax reform rollout.”
  • Dallas Morning News on Brady: “Many GOPers are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. … (But) even some Texas Republicans nod at growing jitters over the high-stakes process. Dallas Rep. Pete Sessions said the delivery ‘has not been as fast as members probably wanted.’ Corpus Christi Rep. Blake Farenthold said all he knows about the bill is ‘from people on TV and the newspaper.’ And Austin Rep. Roger Williams said the lack of specifics raises some concerns.”
  • Right Turn’s Jennifer Rubin: “Republicans’ tax plan so far can’t pass the laugh test.
  • The Plum Line’s Paul Waldman: “Don’t buy the latest spin. The GOP tax plan is still a huge giveaway to the rich.
  • Time Magazine op-ed by Lee Price and Steve Quick: “We Worked on Tax Reform Under Reagan. The Republican Plan Is a Corporate Sellout.

THE MESSAGING WAR TO COME:

— By finally putting out real legislative language today, Republicans are opening themselves up to lots of criticism from special interest groups and others who would be negatively affected. That’s problematic because they are already in a hole when it comes to public opinion. But they can still win the argument if they persuade people in the middle class that they will be the primary beneficiaries.

“What’s clear from numerous polls in recent weeks and months is that Americans across the political spectrum don’t think the wealthy or big businesses should get a tax cut. And few see taxes as the top issue Congress should tackle,” Heather Long writes on Wonkblog. “What does have solid support in recent polls is tax cuts for small businesses and the middle and lower classes.”

  • A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll released Sunday found that only 25 percent think the tax bill is a “good idea.”
  • A Politico-Morning Consult poll published yesterday showed 48 percent “support” or “somewhat support” a tax bill. But sentiment dropped sharply when people are asked about some of the specifics that will be in the GOP bill, especially a tax cut for business.
  • A Washington Post-ABC News poll in September asked, “Do you support or oppose Trump’s tax plan?” 28 percent said they “strongly” or “somewhat” supported the plan; 73 percent believe that the current tax system favors the wealthy; and 65 percent believe businesses pay too little.
  • A CBS poll released Wednesday found 80 percent think that taxes for big business should stay the same or go up; 56 percent said Trump’s plan will benefit the rich, while 13 percent said it would benefit the middle class; and 70 percent said Congress should address other issues before passing a tax bill.
  • Gallup found this April that 51 percent of Americans feel their taxes are “too high.” In 1985, the last time the system was overhauled, 63 percent felt that way.

— For your radar: To get some social conservatives on board, House Republicans are likely to include a full repeal of the Johnson Amendment in today’s proposal. This measure prevents churches and other tax-exempt entities from participating in political campaigns.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

— A gunman opened fire in a Colorado Walmart, killing three. Police in Thornton, Colo., said that the suspect is not yet in custody. (Kyle Swenson)

Houston Astros catcher Brian McCann and starting pitcher Charlie Morton after winning the 2017 World Series. (Matt Slocum/AP)

— The Astros defeated the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 7 of the World Series, taking home their first championship in franchise history.Dave Sheinin reports: “In a definitive and thorough 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the American League champion Astros broke a taut, nine-day stalemate with the National League champs, in a series full of intrigue and drama, and validated the organization’s long teardown and rebuild that for a long while made them an industry laughingstock. ‘Going through Boston and going through New York,’ Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said, naming the two American League behemoths they conquered to win the pennant, ‘and now coming to Los Angeles and winning the World Series, it’s pretty unbelievable. It’s hard to draw it up any better.’”

HOUSTON STRONG: “The Astros’ first championship comes 55 years after the franchise was born as the Colt .45’s, 12 years after they lost to the Chicago White Sox in their only other Series appearance, four years after their teardown bottomed out with 111 losses, three years after Sports Illustrated foresaw their rise and anointed them ‘Your 2017 World Series Champs’ and two months after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area and thrust the Astros into the center of the region’s emotional rebuild.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Two deadly Navy collisions this summer resulting in the deaths of 17 sailors were preventable, investigators said on Wednesday, and were caused by “multiple failures” by service members standing guard on the guided-missile destroyers. (Dan Lamothe)
  2. Bowe Bergdahl’s defense team rested its case in his sentencing hearing. Closing arguments will be heard today, with a final decision expected later in the day or tomorrow. (Alex Horton)
  3. The Democratic super PAC Priorities USA plans to spend $50 million in digital ads over the next year electing Democrats nationally. The plan, set to be unveiled today, represents a new strategy for the group, which spent $200 million on traditional television and radio advertising for Hillary Clinton’s campaign. (Ed O’Keefe)
  4. A new poll found that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is now more popular among Democrats than Republicans. Fifty-two percent of Democrats have a positive opinion of the longtime senator, while only 35 percent of Republicans say the same. (Wall Street Journal)
  5. Supporters of a cross-shaped monument in Maryland deemed unconstitutional asked an appeals court to revisit its decision. A three-judge panel ruled last month that the taxpayer-funded monument “excessively entangles the government in religion.” (Ann E. Marimow)
  6. A Stanford professor is suing the National Academy of Sciences for publishing a study criticizing his views. Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson, who has argued the United States can fully power itself with alternative energy, alleges the study’s lead author “knew and was informed prior to publication that many of the statements in the [paper] were false.” (Chris Mooney)
  7. During Peru’s Miss Universe Pageant, participants chose to list statistics of gender violence in the country rather than their body measurements. The break with tradition comes a year after thousands of women in Peru marched against gender-based violence. (BBC)

TERROR ATTACK LATEST:

— Authorities said Wednesday that Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old man accused of mowing down pedestrians and cyclists in Manhattan in the name of ISIS, began plotting a year ago but only recently decided on using a vehicle. Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Mark Berman report: “Saipov said he was proud of what he had done — even requesting to display the Islamic State flag in his hospital room — and that he was inspired particularly after he watched a video of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, court papers say. In that video, Baghdadi questioned what Muslims in the United States were doing to respond to the killing of other members of their faith in Iraq, Saipov told the FBI.” Authorities also alleged that Saipov chose Halloween to conduct his attack because he hoped there would be more people on the street.

— In recent weeks, neighbors noticed Saipov driving a Home Depot truck down the block in apparent preparation for the attack, Eli Rosenberg, Devlin Barrett and Sari Horwitz report.

Joby Warrick notes that terrorism by vehicle has now become the standard method of violence among ISIS’s Western followers: “Over the past year, the same scene has played out at least seven times in Western cities, from Berlin’s crowded Breitscheidplatz Christmas market to a hockey arena parking lot in Edmonton, Alberta. In the wake of Tuesday’s truck rampage in Lower Manhattan, investigators were piecing together a basic narrative that has now become distressingly familiar — rented vehicle, soft target, homegrown perpetrator armed with a crude weapon and the simplest of plans. … The results of the Halloween attack underscore the reasons for its popularity, terrorism experts say: The tactic requires no special skill or instruction, or formal membership in a terrorist group. And it is nearly impossible to prevent or stop.”

— A fuller picture of Saipov’s life is also emerging, our colleagues add: “Saipov emigrated to the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010, and before moving to Paterson[, N.J.,] he lived in Ohio and Florida. Counterterrorism officials say they had not previously investigated him, but his name had surfaced in an FBI probe of a friend, and he was named as a point of contact on immigration paperwork for other immigrants. Law enforcement officials cautioned that in the small, tightknit world of Uzbek immigrants . . . it was not that unusual for Saipov’s name to surface in multiple settings. They added that until Monday, federal agents had not found anything to prompt specific concerns about him.”

— Saipov has now been charged with a terrorism offense. Our colleagues report: “In addition to the terrorism charge, Saipov faces one count of violence and destruction of a motor vehicle — a charge that, because prosecutors allege someone died as a result, could carry with it the death sentence. It was not immediately clear whether investigators had found any evidence that others had knowledge of, or assisted with, the plot. The FBI said briefly Wednesday night that agents were looking for another man, identified as 32-year-old Mukhammadzoir Kadirov, or Muhammad Kadirov, in connection with the investigation.”

TRUMP’S RESPONSE:

— Trump seized on the crime to push for harsher immigration and vetting policies — two campaign promises that have largely stalled in Congress and the courts. David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe report: “’We have to get much tougher,’ Trump said. ‘We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything.’ It was not clear how much action Trump could take on his own to make good on his renewed pledges.”

He also called the U.S. justice system a “laughingstock” and said perpetrators of such crimes are “animals” in threatening to send the accused to Guantanamo. “Speaking generally, Trump said U.S. immigration laws and the criminal justice system’s handling of suspects are ‘a joke’ and ‘a laughingstock,’ Philip Rucker reports. Trump said: “The U.S. ‘needs a system of “punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years . . . We need quick justice, and we need strong justice.’”

Trump also asserted — without evidence — that Saipov was responsible for the entry of 23 immigrants, many of them family members. “The president said this ‘chain migration’ endangers national security. Asked whether Saipov’s family members represent a security threat, Trump said, ‘They certainly could. He did. They certainly could represent a threat.’”

— Trump singled out the diversity visa lottery in going after Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Philip adds: “In 1990, Schumer, then a House member, introduced the bill that helped create the visa program, which passed Congress with a bipartisan majority and was signed into law by former president George H.W. Bush, a Republican. In 2013, however, Schumer was part of a bipartisan group of senators who sought to end the program as part of a comprehensive immigration reform package.”

­Schumer’s response: “I have always believed and continue to believe that immigration is good for America,” Schumer said in a statement. “President Trump, instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, should be focusing on the real solution — anti-terrorism funding — which he proposed cutting in his most recent budget.”

— Trump said Saipov should get the death penality on Twitter last night:

NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

Just spoke to President Macri of Argentina about the five proud and wonderful men killed in the West Side terror attack. God be with them!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2017

This Oct. 28 photo shows from left to right: Hernan Ferruchi, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, Ivan Brajckovic, Juan Pablo Trevisan, Hernan Mendoza, Diego Angelini and Ariel Benvenuto, as they gathered for a group photo at an airport in Argentina before their trip to New York City. Mendoza, Angelini, Pagnucco, Erlij and Ferruchi were killed in the bike path attack near the World Trade Center. They were part of a group of friends celebrating the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation with a trip to New York City. (Courtesy of Trevisan family/AP)

THE VICTIMS:

— Five childhood friends from Argentina, visiting New York to mark the 30th anniversary of their high school graduation, were among the victims. Max Radwin, Anthony Faiola, Samantha Schmidt and Amy B Wang report: “The eight men were in their late 40s, firmly in the realm of middle age. But as they posed for a photograph just before their departure from Argentina, they slung their arms over one another and grinned like schoolkids. They donned matching white T-shirts emblazoned with the same word: ‘LIBRE.’ Free. It is unclear when exactly they arrived in New York; they had planned to stop in Boston, to meet up with another former classmate. But what is certain is that on Tuesday — a beautiful, brisk fall afternoon in Manhattan — the men rode bicycles along a bike path flanking the Hudson River.”

— Darren Drake, a 32-year-old program manager at Moody’s Investors Services in the World Trade Center, also died in the attack. Avi Selk and Rachel Siegel report: “As afternoon turned into evening on Halloween Tuesday, Jimmy Drake and his wife, Barbara, asked one another: What if their son, Darren, had been one of the eight people killed in that day’s terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan. … ‘Five o’clock came along, no Darren,’ the elder Drake told reporters outside his home Wednesday. Darren Drake’s cellphone was dead. His office phone went to voice mail. By 7 p.m., Jimmy and Barbara left the home they shared with Darren in New Milford, N.J., and drove toward Manhattan. … Jimmy and Barbara Drake identified their son at the morgue later that day.”

— Anne-Laure Decadt, a 31-year-old Belgian mother of two young sons, was the only woman killed in the attack. Amy B Wang reports: Decadt “was biking along the West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan with her mother and two sisters, when a man driving a truck turned onto the bike path[.] … Her husband, Alexander Naessens, learned of her death less than an hour after the attack when officials at New York-Presbyterian Hospital called him, according to the New York Times … Decadt’s mother and two sisters were not harmed, he said.”

— Nicholas Cleves was the only native New Yorker among the victims. Renae Merle and Marwa Eltagouri report: “The 23-year-old software engineer lived in a West Village apartment within biking distance of the Hudson River . . . His building, The Archive, is a New York historic landmark. ‘He was a really, really kind, not heartless, intelligent and curious person,’ Bahij Chancey, Cleves’s friend, told ABC 7. ‘He’s from the village, he grew up in the village, and, like me, he grew up biking around New York to get around,’ Chancey said.”

THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

— A newly obtained digital hit list shows that the hackers who targeted the U.S. election also went after thousands of persons of interest to the Kremlin. AP’s Raphael Satter, Jeff Donn and Justin Myers report: “The list provides the most detailed forensic evidence yet of the close alignment between the hackers and the Russian government, exposing an operation that stretched back years and tried to break into the inboxes of 4,700 Gmail users across the globe — from the pope’s representative in Kiev to the punk band Pussy Riot in Moscow. … Secureworks’ list covers the period between March 2015 and May 2016. Most of the identified targets were in the United States, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and Syria.

“In the United States, which was Russia’s Cold War rival, Fancy Bear tried to pry open at least 573 inboxes belonging to those in the top echelons of the country’s diplomatic and security services: then-Secretary of State John Kerry, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-NATO Supreme Commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, and one of his predecessors, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark. The list skewed toward workers for defense contractors such as Boeing, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin or senior intelligence figures, prominent Russia watchers and — especially — Democrats.”

— The Senate Intelligence Committee publicly shared several of the 3,000 Facebook ads purchased by Russian operatives during the 2016 election, highlighting the extent to which Moscow sought to inflame some of the deepest social divides. Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Karoun Demirjian report:“The ads — some of which directly praise [Trump] or denigrate [Clinton] — made visceral appeals to voters upset about illegal immigration, the declining economic fortunes of coal miners or the rising prominence of Muslims in some U.S. communities.”

  • One ad from the Russian-controlled group, Heart of Texas, announced a rally for May 21 under the banner of ‘Stop Islamization of Texas.” “[Meanwhile], a separate Russian-controlled group, United Muslims of America, publicized a competing rally to ‘Save Islamic Knowledge’ at the same place and time, causing the two groups to face off in competing demonstrations in Houston …” (The “Heart of Texas” group also promoted a spate of anti-immigrant, anti-Clinton rallies across the state in the final week of the presidential race.)
  • One free post from the Russian-controlled account “Army of Jesus”showed Clinton dressed as Satan — donning horns, boxing gloves, and appearing to punch Jesus, who was bathed in heavenly light. “’LIKE’ IF YOU WANT JESUS TO WIN!,” the post said.
  • And a Facebook page called “‘Being Patriotic’ bought an ad touting a ‘Miners for Trump’ rally in Pennsylvania, one of several key swing states. ‘Mr. Trump pursues the goal of creating more jobs and supports the working class,” says the ad, which features images of [Trump] in a miner’s protective hard hat. ‘He said he would put miners back to work.’”
  • (Want to know more? The Post’s Leslie Shapiro has a helpful explainer on the “anatomy of a Russian Facebook ad.”)

A Facebook post from a Russian-owned page during the 2016 presidential race. 

Moment of today’s social media hearing. Feinstein: “I must say I don’t think you get it… We are not going to go away, gentlemen.” (CSPAN) pic.twitter.com/xOwhnJRiEA

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 1, 2017

— “This crossover of online influence to real-world consequences was among the issues raised in contentious Capitol Hill hearings Wednesday, as lawmakers scolded attorneys for technology companies they said did not do enough to thwart Russian disinformation,” our colleagues write

  • “I don’t think you get it,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said during the hearing. “What we’re talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyberwarfare. What we’re talking about is a major foreign power with sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country. . . . [This] is a very big deal.”
  • Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed concerns about the Russian threat, and called on tech companies to commit more resources to the issue. Russian operatives are still “using us against ourselves and to undermine our democracy,” he said. “They did it during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. They are still doing now.”

— During last year’s presidential race, Twitter courted Russia’s state-owned television network RT — even extending a $3 million deal allowing the company to purchase 15 percent of its total U.S. election ad space. BuzzFeed News’s Alex Kantrowitz reports: “RT may no longer be a Twitter customer now, as the company made clear at the hearings, but not long ago it was a multimillion-dollar sales prospect. … RT’s share of voice was 2% at the time of the pitch[.] The $3 million spent would multiply RT’s share of voice more than sevenfold …” The Russian news agency declined the offer. “[And] after courting RT’s ad dollars during the 2016 election, Twitter reversed course last week when it said it would prohibit accounts owned by the network from advertising on its platform.”

— Ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn followed Russian troll accounts and promoted their content in the immediate pre-election days. The Daily Beast’s Ben Collins and Kevin Poulsen report: “Just three days before the 2016 election, Flynn posted that a Ten_GOP tweet ‘must be retweeted frequently,’ tagging Trump campaign social media director Dan Scavino, his son Mike Flynn Jr., and far-right agitator Mike Cernovich.”

President Trump talks to then-chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior adviser Jared Kushner at the White House. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

A TALE OF TWO TRUMP ADMINISTRATIONS:

Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman reported Wednesday that the first criminal indictments in Robert Mueller’s probe have left Trump “apoplectic,” with some aides fearing impeachment. “’Here’s what Manafort’s indictment tells me: Mueller is going to go over every financial dealing of Jared Kushner and the Trump Organization,’ said former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg. ‘Trump is at 33 percent in Gallup. You can’t go any lower. He’s f—–.'”

Trump, according to Sherman, agrees that Kushner gave him bad advice to fire Flynn and James Comey. “When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed. “’Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history,” Nunberg said. “I’m only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress.’”

— BUT, Trump phoned the New York Times Wednesday afternoon to rebut the idea of a White House under siege —insisting that, contrary to recent reports, he is “not angry at anybody,” and the investigation “has nothing to do with us.” NYT’s Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker report: “’I’m not under investigation, as you know,’ Mr. Trump said … Pointing to the indictment of [Paul Manafort, he added]: ‘And even if you look at that, there’s not even a mention of Trump in there.’ In private moments, Mr. Trump, who is prone to venting, blows off steam about the investigation but then moves on, according to one of the advisers. The president is ‘annoyed’ by the omnipresent Russia fever, the adviser said, but he is comfortable with the strategy adopted by Ty Cobb, a senior White House lawyer, who has insisted on cooperating with Mr. Mueller without attacking him, in hopes of a speedy resolution. There is no talk of firing the special counsel, the adviser said.” 

— During his call with the Times, Trump said he was buoyed by new and “fantastic” polling numbers he just received from swing states, though he did not cite any specific polls or reveal any numbers. He also expressed excitement about his upcoming trip to Asia, which begins Friday. “I’m in the office early and leave late; it’s very smooth.” “Honestly,” he said, “I’m really enjoying it.”

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, walks from the federal district court in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

MUELLER, MUELLER, MUELLER:

— Trump reportedly did not dismiss the idea of meeting with Vladimir Putin during a meeting with his foreign policy team last year. CNN’s Manu Raju and Jim Acosta report: “The idea was raised by George Papadopoulos as he introduced himself at a March 2016 meeting of the Republican candidate’s foreign policy advisers, according to a court filing. ‘He didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no,’ the official said, declining to be more specific about Trump’s response to Papadopoulos. But the chairman of Trump’s national security team, then Alabama senator and now attorney general Jeff Sessions, shut down the idea of a Putin meeting at the March 31, 2016, gathering, according to the source. His reaction was confirmed with another source who had discussed Session’s role. Trump’s response to Papadopoulos’ offer could be of interest to special counsel’s office.”

— The Justice Department may bring charges against six Russian officials determined to have been involved in the DNC hacking. The Wall Street Journal’s Aruna Viswanatha and Del Quentin Wilber report: “Prosecutors and agents have assembled evidence to charge the Russian officials and could bring a case next year, these people said. Discussions about the case are in the early stages, they said. If filed, the case would provide the clearest picture yet of the actors behind the DNC intrusion.”

— A prominent New York publicist says Paul Manafort and Rick Gates previously asked him if he could avoid registering with the Justice Department under FARA rules while working for them, and whether he would consent to being paid for Ukraine lobbying work via offshore accounts. Business Insider’s Natasha Bertrand reports: “Ronn Torossian, the CEO of 5WPR, [said] he met and/or spoke with Manafort and Gates ‘on multiple occasions in [2012]’ to discuss a prospective PR campaign ‘for billionaires and the Ukrainian government.’ But things went south, Torossian said, when Gates and Manafort asked him whether he could [avoid registering under FARA]. ‘They also asked if I had a problem being paid from offshore accounts,’ he added, [which worried him further]. ‘They said they made way more money offshore than in the U.S . . .”

— FIRST PERSON: “I worked for Paul Manafort. He always lacked a moral compass,” by K. Riva Levinson. Worth the click, the narrative paints Manafort as unconcerned about ethics as he tried to land unsavory world strongmen as clients. In dispatching Levinson and a colleague to Somalia to sign leader Mohamed Siad Barre, Manafort said: “We all know Barre is a bad guy, Riva. We just have to make sure he’s our bad guy. Have a great trip!”

— Fusion GPS disclosed that it paid $168,000 to former MI6 officer Christopher Steele’s company to compile information that became the Trump dossier. (Reuters)

— Longtime Trump body guard Keith Schiller is expected to sit down with the House Intelligence Committee next Tuesday. (CNN)

Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon leaves 10 Downing Street after a cabinet meeting. (Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

THE WEINSTEIN EFFECT RIPPLES ACROSS THE POND:

— Britain’s defense secretary Michael Fallon abruptly resigned on Wednesday following accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior. Karla Adam and William Booth report: “Fallon, 65, is the first British lawmaker to resign amid a growing number of claims against British politicians that have emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal[.] In his letter of resignation, Fallon wrote, ‘A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct. Many of these have been false but I accept in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the armed forces that I have the honour to represent.’”

— Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is now urging his colleagues to make anti-sexual-harassment training mandatory for their employees. Elise Viebeck and Michelle Ye Hee Lee report: “Grassley’s endorsement could accelerate a change in policy on Capitol Hill, where new stories of sexual harassment have emerged following a rash of allegations of abuse and misbehavior by movie producer Harvey Weinstein. The Iowa Republican wrote the 1995 law creating some workplace protections for congressional employees, but anti-harassment training is still voluntary, unlike in most federal agencies[.]”

— In an attempt to get a defamation complaint thrown out, Trump’s lawyers are arguing the president’s dismissal of women accusing him of sexual misconduct as “liars” represents a political opinion. Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Mark Berman report: “In the new 36-page legal filing, Trump’s attorneys argue that previous legal cases have established ‘wide latitude’ for political speech, and that Trump’s comments were effectively campaign rhetoric . . .  ‘All of the Statements occurred on political forums — a campaign website, on Mr. Trump’s Twitter account, in a presidential debate, and at campaign rallies — where the listeners expect to hear public debate, taken as political opinion rather than a defamatory statement,’ they argued.”

— Top NPR editor Michael Oreskes resigned on Wednesday following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. He has been accused of two incidents of inappropriate behavior while at the New York Times; and NPR itself reported that a 26-year-old news assistant said he made unwanted overtures starting in October 2015. “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility,” Oreskes said in a statement. (CNNMoney)

Paul Farhi reports that NPR knew of complaints against Oreskes during the past two years but didn’t dismiss until media reports surfaced: “NPR’s chief executive, Jarl Mohn, and chief legal officer, Jonathan Hart, were aware of all three allegations against Oreskes but didn’t act to remove him until Tuesday[.] … Oreskes’s behavior, and the organization’s response to it, has stirred a virtual rebellion in NPR’s newsroom, particularly among female employees. … Current and former NPR employees said Oreskes’s misconduct was an open secret in the newsroom and expressed dismay that he was allowed to keep such a powerful job despite management’s awareness of the accusations.”

— Dustin Hoffman has now been accused of sexually harassing a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV adaptation of “Death of a Salesman.” In a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter, Anna Graham Hunter describes Hoffman flirting with her, grabbing her body and talking about sex to her as a teenager.

— Six women have accused filmmaker Brett Ratner, who has directed or produced dozens of box-office hits including “Rush Hour,” “The Revenant,” and “Horrible Bosses,” of sexual harassment or misconduct. An attorney for Ratner said Wednesday that he “categorically” disputes the accounts. (LA Times)

Warner Bros. has now reportedly cut ties with Ratner. LA Times’s Ryan Faughnder and Daniel Miller report.

— A Toronto actress has launched a $4-million lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, accusing him of sexually assaulting her twice in 2000. (Toronto Sun)

— TripAdvisor is now under fire for alleging removing users’ posts describing assaults and rapes at resorts in Mexico. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Raquel Rutledge and Andrew Mollica report: “Since July, when the Journal Sentinel began investigating the mysterious death of a Wisconsin college student in Mexico — and found widespread problems with tainted alcohol, derelict law enforcement and price gouging from hospitals — more than a dozen travelers from across the country have said TripAdvisor muzzled their first-hand stories of blackouts, rapes and other ways they were injured while vacationing in Mexico.”

DIVIDED AMERICA:

— When asked yesterday by reporter April Ryan whether the president believes slavery is wrong, Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied,I think it is disgusting and absurd to suggest that anyone inside of this building would support slavery.” (Eugene Scott)

— A former police chief in New Jersey has been arrested on federal hate crime charges after he equated black Americans to ISIS. Matt Zapotosky reports: “Frank Nucera Jr., 60, who had been chief of the Bordentown Township Police Department, was arrested, and the charges against him were unsealed Wednesday. The allegations are notable for the blatant racism they describe in a law enforcement leader. According to a criminal complaint in the case, filed in federal district court in New Jersey, Nucera frequently referred to African Americans by racial slurs and espoused violence toward them.”

— The CEO of Papa John’s blamed the ongoing anthem protests among NFL players for sagging pizza sales. Cindy Boren and Des Bieler report: “‘This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,’ John Schnatter said in prepared remarks[.] … ‘Like many sponsors, we are in contact with the NFL and once the issue is resolved between the players and the owners, we are optimistic that the NFL’s best years are ahead. But good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.’ … [T]his is not the first time Schnatter, a Republican Party donor, has weighed in on a political issue in the context of his company’s performance. In 2012, he warned that Papa John’s might have to raise prices on its pizza by 11 to 14 cents per pie to offset penalties he claimed would be imposed under the Affordable Care Act.”

— Uber and Lyft have banned far-right activist Laura Loomer from using their services after she complained about Muslim drivers online. In a string of widely criticized tweets, Loomer lamented that she was late to an NYPD news conference because she “could not find a driver” whom she did not believe was Muslim. “This is insanity!” she complained. (Business Insider)

— The rift between the Wall Street Journal’s reporters and editorial staff is widening over the Mueller probe, reports Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo: “ . . . several current reporters told me that the recent Mueller commentary — particularly the call for him to resign — has been a source of frustration. That frustration partly stems from the fact that the Journal … has been breaking through in its coverage of the White House and the Russia probes. … ‘People are always mad about our editorials undermining our reporting,’ a Journal reporter told me, ‘but it is definitely more infuriating on this topic than anything else since we’ve made good progress on Russia lately. It’s frustrating to have to contend with this, even if smart people recognize the separation between the editorial side and news.’” 

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

— In advance of his Asia trip beginning Friday, Trump has criticized Barack Obama for his icy relationship with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Aaron Blake writes: “Trump is no stranger to attacking [Obama]. But these asides — in which he seems to be bragging about his ability to woo Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a way Obama didn’t — are exceedingly strange. The first reason is that Obama actually called off his meeting with Duterte — not the Philippines. … And Obama had some pretty good reasons for not meeting with Duterte. Chief among them is that police in the Philippines, with Duterte’s apparent blessing, have killed thousands of people without due process during Duterte’s drug war.”

— North Korea is reportedly working on an advanced version of its existing ICBM that could possibly reach the United States. CNN’s Barbara Starr reports: “This newly assessed ICBM is just one part of an accelerated effort by Kim Jong Un’s regime to improve every part of its missile and nuclear weapons attack capability as quickly as possible . . . All of these improvements are forcing the US to recalculate the timing of the threat that a North Korean missile could pose to the US, and the need to continuously update US military response options.”

— The CIA has released another batch of files seized during the Obama bin Laden raid. BBC reports: “The new material includes his personal diary, documents and audio and video files — including a clip showing his son Hamza as an adult, at his wedding. It is the fourth release by the CIA of material found in the raid[.]”

The Affordable Care Act’s fifth enrollment season opens with daunting challenges ahead.

THE REST OF TRUMP’S AGENDA:

— Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis offered dozens of suggestions to address the raging epidemic. Lenny Bernstein reports: “The commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), called for expanding drug courts — an alternative system that tries to channel substance abusers accused of crimes into treatment — into all 94 federal court jurisdictions. Currently they are in fewer than half.”

— By the end of the week, Mitch McConnell will have added four solidly conservative judges to the federal circuit courts. Paul Kane writes: “It will be McConnell’s most significant achievement since the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch. It’s also a testament to how little else Republicans have accomplished this year that McConnell was under so much pressure to show progress in this area.”

— “A Fake Jihadist Has Landed a Top Job at Homeland Security,” by Mother Jones’s Noah Lanard: “Donning a round Afghan pakol hat and a kaffiyeh scarf, the bearded man speaks straight into the camera. ‘This is message for the American devils,’ Fuad Wasul declares in thickly accented English. ‘The enemies of Islam always ask the mujahedeen, like me, “Why is that we’re make jihad?”…We’re make jihad for to prepare the final earth judgment day of Allah!’ The gun-slinging man is not a terrorist. His Arab accent is fake. And the person pretending to be him, Frank Wuco, is now in charge of implementing the president’s executive orders at the Department of Homeland Security. … Prior to joining the administration, Wuco made a career of advising military officials and concerned citizens about the mindset of a violent jihadist. To do so, he often took on the persona of Wasul[.]”

— Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) accused Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of violating her pledge that, if confirmed, she and her husband would “not be involved in any political contributions.” Moriah Balingit reports: “The Detroit News reported Monday that the secretary’s husband, who is an heir to the Amway direct-sales fortune, donated $5,000 to political action committees this year, after his wife was confirmed Feb. 8. Murray’s office found two other donations to Michigan-based political action committees totaling $15,000.”

— Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump’s nominee for the top White House environmental policy adviser,has said publicly the goal of the U.N. and climate change activists is an “all powerful government” that would “effectively end democracy.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Chris Massi report: “White has a long history of questioning established science on climate change, [including calling] support for climate change science a ‘kind of paganism’ and describing the goals of climate change activists as ‘one-world state ruled by planetary managers’ . . . [In a 2016 radio interview], White argued the ‘climate crusade’ would effectively end democracy” She also invoked the economies under Hitler and the Soviet Union as examples. 

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) came to Sen. Chuck Schumer’s defense after Trump accused the New York Democrat of endorsing policies that led to the Manhattan terrorist attack:

Actually, the Gang of 8, including @SenSchumer, did away with the Diversity Visa Program as part of broader reforms. I know, I was there https://t.co/QQFJzPyRzC

— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 1, 2017

MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid criticized Trump’s attacks on Schumer:

Typically presidents don’t attack representatives of a state that just suffered a tragedy or attack. Presidents usually try to be statesmen. https://t.co/p49Y8CkfPt

— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 1, 2017

CNN’s senior White House correspondent noted this:

After Vegas, Trump said he wanted to wait to have a conversation about gun control. After NYC, POTUS immediately pounced on immigration.

— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) November 1, 2017

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) accused Trump of selective outrage in the face of these tragedies:

Now I get it. If the killer is an immigrant you can talk about policy change, but if he’s natural born, you’re “politicizing the tragedy”.

— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 1, 2017

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) responded to Trump’s characterization of the justice system as a “joke”:

What the President of the United States calls a “joke,” the rest of us call the Constitution. https://t.co/4U8KcyZAo7

— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 1, 2017

Obama’s former deputy communications director called for “extreme vetting” of a different nature:

We needed more extreme vetting during the election, because he elected one of the worst people imaginable https://t.co/wu2Op4lzez

— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer) November 1, 2017

One of The Post’s political reporters made this point:

Trump talks about the economy like he became president this year. He talks about terrorism/health care as if someone else runs the country.

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) November 1, 2017

A former senior CIA official posed this question about the attempts from Trump associates to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from the Russians:

Why didn’t a single person in the campaign over all those months say seeking stolen documents from a hostile power is wrong, and tell FBI?

— John Sipher (@john_sipher) October 31, 2017

Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) was overhead in a Capitol elevator telling a colleague whether she would run for Senate:

OH in Capitol elevator, Mia Love response to Q about running for Senate:

“No, but Hatch isn’t sticking around. We’re trying to get Mitt.”

— Colin Wilhelm (@colinwilhelm) November 1, 2017

The press shop for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) offered a backhanded response to the quote:

Statement from Hatch’s spokesperson: pic.twitter.com/LYhaiSDlke

— Colin Wilhelm (@colinwilhelm) November 1, 2017

Love then said the overheard conversation had been “reported out of context”:

pic.twitter.com/rywgO8JxrD

— Mia Love (@MiaBLove) November 1, 2017

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) criticized John Kelly’s comment that a lack of compromise caused the Civil War:

Would the compromise have been: you’re enslaved on Mon, Wed., Fri., you’re free on Tues., Thurs., Sat., and on Sunday, you decide? (2/2)

— Rep Frederica Wilson (@RepWilson) November 1, 2017

ESPN’s Jemele Hill mocked the founder of Papa John’s complaint that NFL anthem protests have gone on for over a year:

Sorry racial injustice couldn’t be ended as easily as adding an extra topping and a side of ranch. https://t.co/XjhlxSMOR2

— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 1, 2017

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) shared this proud moment from his state:

More than 35 farmers showed up to help harvest 600 acres for the family of a Nebr. man who died in a motorcycle crash.
beautiful #neighborspic.twitter.com/bktFGDp2k5

— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) November 2, 2017

Nancy Pelosi paid Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) this compliment while appearing on James Corden’s show:

Asked to say one nice thing about Sen. Ted Cruz, @NancyPelosi responds: He “memorized the constitution. That’s a good thing.”

Lol https://t.co/pqQr1l85Gn

— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) November 1, 2017

House Republicans’ chief tax writer Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) rooted for his hometown team in the World Series:

At my desk, wearing my #Astros tie, putting final touches on the first bold #TaxReform in 31 years. pic.twitter.com/dAYvnNN9XX

— RepKevinBrady (@RepKevinBrady) November 1, 2017

Barack Obama participated in a breakout session during the Obama Summit to launch his foundation:

Guy sitting in the back row of breakout session at #obamasummit looks sort of familiar: pic.twitter.com/FQk8NIFaj2

— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) November 1, 2017

And Ivanka Trump prepared to join her father on his trip through Asia:

I’m looking forward to visiting Japan, but sure will miss these three! pic.twitter.com/ADtS9OQqbq

— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) November 1, 2017

President Barack Obama laughs and high-fives with children after reading the storybook “Where the Wild Things Are.” (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

— New York Times Magazine, “A Post-Obama Democratic Party in Search of Itself,” by Robert Draper: “There [is] a stiff-jointedness to the whole spectacle, a sense of the Democrats’ trying to regain the use of muscles they had let atrophy over the previous eight years. Obama, after all, used to make this sort of thing look easy. Conflating the American story with his own — ‘This is who we are’ — the president conveyed, even in policy irresolution, an unshakable sense of his and America’s place in the world. ‘I love the guy, I miss him,’ [Scott Peters, a congressman from California], said of Obama. “But organizationally, the party is in disarray. We’re at the lowest level of elected officeholders since Hoover. We got a bit lazy and found ourselves relying on Barack Obama’s charisma, and it left us in bad shape.”

— Politico Magazine, “The Education of Betsy DeVos,” by Tim Alberta: “Anyone who witnessed the manic, sky-is-falling opposition to DeVos’ nomination … could be excused for believing that DeVos was being handed autocratic power to redraw America’s scholastic landscape. Yet she runs the administration’s smallest and arguably least potent federal department … When it comes to the most contentious debates surrounding America’s K-12 system — vouchers, standards, incentives, tests — DeVos had more tangible influence as a private citizen in Michigan than she does now in Washington. … [Now], armed with ideas, and having transitioned from successful outsider to struggling insider — becoming Public Enemy No. 2 in the process — Betsy DeVos is still capable of shaking up American education. But not to the extent she or her enemies once imagined.”

— The Atlantic, “Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates: “For the past 50 years, some of this country’s most celebrated historians have taken up the task of making Americans less stupid about the Civil War. These historians have been more effective than generally realized. It’s worth remembering that General Kelly’s remarks, which were greeted with mass howls of protests, reflected the way much of this country’s [stupid] intellectual class once understood the Civil War. I do not contend that this improved history has solved everything. But it is a ray of light cutting through the gloom of stupid. You should run to that light.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Lots of American’s don’t think slavery caused the Civil War,” from John Sides: “[John Kelly] is embroiled in a new controversy … [after his comments on the Civil War] elicited considerable dismay from historians, who believe that he downplayed the real cause of the war: slavery. In short, large pluralities and even majorities of Americans do not believe the Civil War was primarily about slavery. Consider this graph, which was compiled by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research from 2011 polls conducted around the Civil War’s 150th anniversary … With one exception these polls found more Americans cited states’ rights than slavery as the Civil War’s main cause. So for Kelly to downplay slavery’s role clearly rejects the actual history, but it doesn’t make him a cloistered military officer with a fringe view. To many Americans, his view will seem entirely conventional.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Prominent ex-NYT reporter comes out as longtime Planned Parenthood donor,” from the Washington Examiner: “The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who was the chief U.S. Supreme Court reporter at The New York Times for 40 years has admitted to making monthly donations to Planned Parenthood while working at the paper of record. In her new book … Linda Greenhouse contends her support for the pro-choice movement was merely an extension of her civic duty and had no bearing on her impartiality as a journalist. Mallory Quigley, communications director for the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said Ms. Greenhouse is infamous in the pro-life community for her slanted news coverage. ‘There’s a clear pro-abortion bias throughout her writing,’ Ms. Quigley said. … ‘Suffice it to say … I was not shocked to find this out.’”

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a morning meeting with GOP senators and an afternoon meeting with the House’s Republican leadership and members of the Ways and Means Committee. He will also make announcements on jobs and his pick for Fed chair.

Pence will join Trump’s meeting with Republican senators before flying to Orlando for an event on rewriting the tax code. In the evening, he will give a speech at the state party’s Statesman’s Dinner.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

During the White House press briefing, NBC News’s Peter Alexander asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders what Trump’s flaws are, and she replied, “Probably that he has to deal with you guys on a daily basis.”

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

— D.C. will have some clouds but overall mild weather today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “A cloudy start to the day is likely and even a predawn sprinkle is possible. Not to worry, plenty of cloud breaks appear during the morning with sunshine becoming more prevalent in the afternoon. Light winds from the south assist the warm-up, with highs in the low to mid-70s.”

— The Wizards lost to the Suns 122-116. (Candace Buckner)

— Races for Virginia’s House of Delegates have drawn an unusual amount of interest from Democrats across the country. Fenit Nirappil reports: “For a new crop of Democratic groups, Virginia is the opening salvo and a testing ground ahead of what they hope is a wave election in 2018. … It’s also a purple state where Democrats have been winning statewide since 2009, but Republicans hold 66 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates. Democrats are running in 54 GOP-held districts this year, and scores of groups — some well-financed, some loosely organized, are looking to leave their mark on those contests.”

— Metro’s declining ridership could become a deciding factor in Maryland’s legal appeal to continue building the Purple Line. (Katherine Shaver)

— D.C. Council member Brandon T. Todd (D-Ward 4) has introduced a bill to create the position of director of the Office of Nightlife. Rachel Chason reports: “The director, who would be appointed by the mayor, would act as a liaison between government, community leaders and business owners to ensure that all residents benefit from the proliferation of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues in the nation’s capitol in recent years, Todd said.”

— A bar in Logan Circle is offering $5 “Moscow Muellers” anytime that a Trump associate is indicted. The Bird already has a $4 special on happy hour cocktails, beers, and wines when someone in the administration gets fired. (Washingtonian)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

Trevor Noah sat down with Hillary Clinton to discuss her book and Russian meddling:

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Samantha Bee criticized John Kelly’s remarks on the Civil War:

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Paul Ryan has a consistent excuse when questioned about controversial tweets and unpopular legislation: “I haven’t read that”:

NEW VIDEO – Paul Ryan has no idea what is ever going on, apparently.pic.twitter.com/2Erc4qwm7T

— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) November 1, 2017

Barack Obama encouraged Americans to sign up for ACA coverage as the enrollment season began with minimal advertising from Trump’s administration:

Today’s the day! You can go to https://t.co/p8DQwo89C7 and sign up for health coverage. Need a pep talk first? @BarackObama has you covered. pic.twitter.com/78DAFgUV77

— Get America Covered (@GetUSCovered) November 1, 2017

A liberal blogger argued that his violent arrest while trying to ask Ed Gillespie questions was illegal:

And Germany’s postal service has begun using robots to help with deliveries:

Let’s block ads! (Why?)