IN THE LAST FEW DAYS: President DONALD TRUMP was apparently so angry with CBS’ LESLEY STAHL that he cut short an interview and tweeted out a clip of the anchor without a mask. He said he was considering posting the interview “PRIOR TO AIRTIME!” CNN’s KAITLAN COLLINS and KHALIL ABDALLAH reported that TRUMP decided against sitting for a joint interview with VP MIKE PENCE. WaPo on the “60 Minutes” mess … BEFORE THAT, TRUMP retweeted a conspiracy theory that OSAMA BIN LADEN was alive.
… HE HAS CONTINUED attacking ANTHONY FAUCI, who, according to the new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, is viewed as having done an excellent or good job of handling the coronavirus by 63% of Americans. Just 38% say TRUMP has done an excellent or good job on the virus.
36% of respondents in the poll think the U.S. is headed in the right direction, and 64% say it’s headed off on the wrong track. … 44% approve of the job TRUMP is doing as president. …
JOE BIDEN holds a 45-44 edge in who people trust to handle the economy.
NEW … JONATHAN MARTIN and ALEX BURNS of the NYT — both POLITICO alums — are writing a book “that aims to be the definitive assessment of the 2020 election as a turning point in American politics and the most complete account of the Trump-Biden campaign and its consequences.”
FROM SIMON AND SCHUSTER, which will publish the book: “With deep reporting from both parties, their book will document a period of crisis in the country: a presidential race rocked by plague and protest, followed by a new administration facing overlapping national emergencies and the erosion of an old political order. Currently untitled, the book is slated for publication in 2022.”
ANOTHER TRUMP TAX BOMBSHELL … NYT, A1: “Trump Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits,” by Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig: “Mr. Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state. He spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company.
“And it turns out that China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Mr. Trump maintains a bank account, according to an analysis of the president’s tax records, which were obtained by The New York Times. The foreign accounts do not show up on Mr. Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The identities of the financial institutions are not clear.
“The Chinese account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management L.L.C., which the tax records show paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015.
“The tax records do not include details on how much money may have passed through the overseas accounts, though the Internal Revenue Service does require filers to report the portion of their income derived from other countries. The British and Irish accounts are held by companies that operate Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Scotland and Ireland, which regularly report millions of dollars in revenue from those countries. Trump International Hotels Management reported just a few thousand dollars from China.”
Good Wednesday morning.
EYES EMOJI … CNN’S JAKE TAPPER: “Administration officials alarmed by White House push to fast track lucrative 5G spectrum contract, sources say”
DAY 92 … Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN and Speaker NANCY PELOSI are scheduled to talk this afternoon upon MNUCHIN’S return from the Middle East to see if they can continue to make progress on a Covid relief deal.
A FEW NOTABLE ELEMENTS: PELOSI said in a letter Tuesday night to her Democratic colleagues that said she has made progress with MNUCHIN and is kicking over some of the technical details to committees — something we’re not accustomed to PELOSI doing in a situation like this.
A HEADLINE PELOSI-WORLD WILL LIKE — “McConnell Moves to Head Off Stimulus Deal as Pelosi Reports Progress,” by NYT’s Emily Cochrane and Nick Fandos: “Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, privately told Republican senators on Tuesday that he had warned the White House not to strike a pre-election deal with Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a new round of stimulus, moving to head off an agreement that President Trump has demanded but most in his party oppose.”
THE BIG PICTURE, from HEATHER CAYGLE and SARAH FERRIS: “Pelosi and Mnuchin brush past stimulus deadline amid hopes for a deal”
WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? — PELOSI held out against a lot of medium-sized deals during these last three months in search of a big one, and is now seeing MNUCHIN completely capitulate in front of her eyes, upping his offer to nearly $2 trillion in spending. She sees how the White House has played this: Say no repeatedly over three months, and then say yes at the last minute, score no policy wins, relent on all of your previous views and split your party while accruing little political benefit to yourself because your timing is so bad.
EVEN IF PELOSI and MNUCHIN reach a deal, it’s not certain that whatever they produce will pass the Senate before or after the election. So, it’s fair to ask this: Why is PELOSI still in the game? Well, she believes the country needs it. Plus, no one wants to be left holding the bag if this falls apart. And it validates her view that Republicans were always going to crawl back to the table if she held out long enough.
THEN THERE’S MNUCHIN, who clearly wants a deal badly enough that he was able to nudge aside White House chief of staff MARK MEADOWS after a few months and restart talks on his own, relenting on policies and top lines. MNUCHIN seems eager to get a relief bill, and to please TRUMP, who clearly wants a deal.
AS FOR TRUMP, he clearly wants something to brag about. His presidential campaign has turned into an unfunny episode of “Seinfeld.” It’s about nothing, yet everything at once. This deal would give him something to talk about.
WHAT ABOUT MCCONNELL? A LEADER’S POWER is keeping his troops together, and if the majority leader were to put the $2 trillion relief bill on the floor the week before the election, more than half of Republicans would vote against it. Endangered lawmakers who voted for it would not be guaranteed a political bounce. So, he’s sitting on his hands in the Capitol, and urging the White House to pump the brakes. He is not involved in the talks, won’t get involved and will see how it shakes out. His world believes that a deal is further off than PELOSI and MNUCHIN are letting on, and if an accord is reached, they do not believe there will be time to get it through before Election Day. He’s also not looking to get ahead of TRUMP, a president whose opinion frequently changes by the hour. MCCONNELL will allow Senate Republicans to vote on a $500 billion bill today, though, which theoretically gives them some political cover.
LET’S PROJECT OUT A BIT. Let’s say PELOSI and MNUCHIN come to an agreement Friday — after the debate between TRUMP and BIDEN. Let’s assume it takes all weekend to get drafted, and gets released Monday. The House has a 72-hour rule, so the earliest a vote could be is next Wednesday, which is Oct. 28, or six days before Election Day. The Senate would need at least a few days to process this bill. Do you think senators will rush back to D.C. to consider this bill in the days before the election in a chamber controlled by MCCONNELL, who has urged the White House to abandon this deal and said he would consider it at “some point”? Or will they wait until after Nov. 3?
CORONAVIRUS RAGING … AT LEAST 8.2 MILLION Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus. … 221,076 Americans have died.
BEYOND THE BELTWAY — “Overwhelmed by cases, North Dakota tells residents with COVID-19 to do their own contact tracing,” by Fargo Forum’s Jeremy Turley in Bismarck
HMM — “White House looks at cutting Covid funds, newborn screenings in ‘anarchist’ cities,” by Brianna Ehley and Rachel Roubein: “The White House is considering slashing millions of dollars for coronavirus relief, HIV treatment, screenings for newborns and other programs in Democratic-led cities that President Donald Trump has deemed ‘anarchist jurisdictions,’ according to documents obtained by POLITICO.
“New York, Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., and Seattle could lose funding for a wide swath of programs that serve their poorest, sickest residents after the president moved last month to restrict funding, escalating his political battle against liberal cities he’s sought to use as a campaign foil.
“The Department of Health and Human Services has identified federal grants covering those services, which are among the nearly 200 health programs that could be in line for cuts as part of a sweeping government-wide directive the administration is advancing during the final weeks of the presidential campaign and amid an intensifying pandemic Trump has downplayed.”
WILL DIFI MAKE IT? … JOHN BRESNAHAN and BURGESS EVERETT: “Senate Dems agonize over embattled Feinstein”: “Chuck Schumer refused to defend Sen. Dianne Feinstein over calls from progressive groups for her removal as top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, with the Senate minority leader divulging he had a ‘long and serious talk’ recently with the California senator.
“Senate Democrats are grappling with how to handle Feinstein’s future role on the panel. Liberal groups say Feinstein was far too accommodating to Republicans during last week’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. And while Democrats tread carefully in public on Tuesday, refusing to criticize the 87-year-old Feinstein — the first woman to serve as ranking member on Judiciary — her loudest supporters were actually Republicans.
“Democrats mostly refused to comment on the controversy, with some praising Feinstein’s long record of service but few touting her performance last week. … In a brief interview, Feinstein said she had ‘no comment’ about the groups calling for her to step down. Feinstein waved away a question about whether she would run again for the top Democratic slot on the Judiciary Committee during the next Congress.
“The normally voluble Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who could be in line for the position if Feinstein stepped down, was uncharacteristically terse about calls for her to be demoted. ‘You keep asking me that question. I’m not going to answer it,’ he said on Tuesday. The Democratic Party is highly unlikely to overtly force Feinstein to step down. Several Democratic sources said that if she did leave the top slot of the Judiciary Committee it would be of her own accord.”
ALL ABOUT THE CASH — “Bloomberg knocks Trump back on his heels in Florida,” by Marc Caputo and David Siders: “Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s $100 million investment in Florida to defeat Donald Trump is recasting the presidential contest in the president’s must-win state, forcing his campaign to spend big to shore up his position and freeing up Democratic cash to expand the electoral map elsewhere.
“Bloomberg’s massive advertising and ground-game spending, which began roughly a month ago, has thrown Trump into a defensive crouch across the arc of Sunbelt states. As a result, the president‘s campaign has scaled back its TV ad buys in crucial Northern swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan — a vacuum being filled by a constellation of outside political groups backing Joe Biden.”
— NYT: “Trump Campaign’s $63 Million Dwarfed by Biden’s $177 Million,” by Shane Goldmacher and Rachel Shorey: “President Trump’s re-election campaign committee ended September with only $63.1 million in the bank despite canceling some television buys late last month, leaving him badly outmatched financially against Joseph R. Biden Jr., who reported $177.3 million in cash on hand for the final stretch of the campaign.
“New filings with the Federal Election Commission showed the extent of Mr. Trump’s cash troubles, which are severe enough that he diverted time from key battleground states and flew to California on Sunday for a fund-raiser with just over two weeks until Election Day. The president ended September with just over half as much money as he had at the beginning of the month.” NYT
BATTLE FOR THE SENATE — “Why Jaime Harrison won’t say a bad word about Trump,” by Andrew Desiderio in Charleston, S.C.: “Jaime Harrison doesn’t want to talk about Donald Trump. In fact, he doesn’t even think he needs to. In his bid to oust Sen. Lindsey Graham, Harrison has raked in tens of millions of dollars from Democrats across the country who despise the president and, by extension, one of his top allies, Graham.
“But as the president remains popular in South Carolina, the Democratic Senate hopeful has not gone after Trump directly, strategically avoiding the ideological battle lines that could drive voters here to Graham. It’s a gambit that has helped put Harrison within striking distance of a historic upset — and one that could provide a blueprint for Democrats trying to win in the South.
“‘Listen, I’m a Democrat. I understand that,’ Harrison said in an interview as the sun set behind him over the Ashley River, an apparent acknowledgment of the headwinds his campaign has always faced. ‘But at the end of the day I’m a South Carolinian and I’m an American first.’ Harrison has run perhaps the most disciplined campaign this cycle, a systematic offensive against a top ally of a president who is almost certain to win South Carolina’s nine electoral votes. But he’s not going scorched-earth against Trump; it won’t work here, and Harrison knows it.” POLITICO
TRUMP’S WEDNESDAY — The president will leave the White House at 4:45 p.m. and travel to Gastonia, N.C. He will arrive at Gastonia Municipal Airport at 6:55 p.m. and speak at a campaign rally at 7 p.m.. Afterward, Trump will return to Washington, arriving at the White House at 10:30 p.m.
— PENCE will travel to Portsmouth, N.H., and speak at a campaign rally. He will also travel to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he will speak at another campaign rally. Afterward, Pence will return to D.C.
ON THE TRAIL … Sen. KAMALA HARRIS (D-Calif.) will travel to Asheville, N.C., and speak at an early vote launch mobilization event. She will then travel to Charlotte, where she will attend virtual fundraising events and a voter mobilization event.
PROUD BOYS MYSTERY — “Threatening emails reportedly sent to Democratic voters in three swing states, sparking investigations,” by WaPo’s Isaac Stanley-Becker and Craig Timberg: “Authorities in Florida and Alaska on Tuesday were investigating threatening emails sent to Democratic voters that claimed to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right group supportive of President Trump, but appeared instead to be a deceptive campaign making use of a vulnerability in the organization’s online network.
“The emails, which appeared to target Democrats using data from digital databases known as ‘voter files,’ told recipients the group was ‘in possession of all your information’ and instructed voters to change their party registration and cast their ballots for Trump. ‘You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you,’ warned the emails, which by Tuesday night were said to have reached voters in four states, three of them hotly contested swing states in the coming presidential election.”
JOSH GERSTEIN: “Federal appeals court won’t lift North Carolina ballot-receipt extension”: “A bitterly divided federal appeals court has denied an attempt by Republicans to block an agreement by North Carolina state officials allowing absentee ballots in next month’s election to be counted if they are postmarked by Election Day and received up to nine days later.
“The Tar Heel state typically counts absentee ballots that arrive up to three days after the election, but last month the State Board of Elections agreed to extend that window to nine days due to the increased ballot requests related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as well concerns about mail delays due to recent Postal Service changes. In a ruling released Tuesday night, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 12-3 to deny an emergency stay that GOP legislative leaders sought to reimpose the ordinary, three-day-after-Election-Day rule.
“The Richmond-based appeals court issued no majority opinion explaining its decision, but backers and opponents of the ruling filed 45 pages of opinions jousting and wrangling over the legal issues, often in a vitriolic tone not commonly seen in such courts.”
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — “Lawyers say they can’t find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by Trump administration,” by Julia Ainsley and Jacob Soboroff: “Lawyers appointed by a federal judge to identify migrant families who were separated by the Trump administration say that they have yet to track down the parents of 545 children and that about two-thirds of those parents were deported to Central America without their children, according to a filing Tuesday from the American Civil Liberties Union.” NBC
WEST COAST DRAMA — “Garcetti advisor Rick Jacobs to ‘take a leave’ amid sexual misconduct allegations,” by the L.A. Times’ Dakota Smith: “Rick Jacobs, a top political advisor to Mayor Eric Garcetti, said Tuesday night he will ‘take a leave’ from his work with Garcetti amid allegations of sexual misconduct. ‘For the past seventeen years, I have dedicated myself to advocacy and public service. I do not want this to be a distraction. Therefore, I will take a leave from my non-profit work and my volunteer political work with the mayor,’ Jacobs said in an emailed statement.
“A Los Angeles police officer who had been a bodyguard for Garcetti filed a lawsuit this summer alleging sexual harassment by Jacobs. On Monday, in a first-person article posted online, journalist Yashar Ali accused Jacobs of sexual misconduct. Jacobs has denied the police officer’s allegations, which were made at a time when tensions were high between the police union and the mayor. Jacobs has not responded for comment about Ali’s accusations.”
VALLEY TALK — “Why breaking up (Google) is so hard to do,” by Leah Nylen: “The Justice Department’s suit against Google marks the first time in more than 20 years that the government is looking at splitting up a company for quashing competition. And if the judge decides that Google is an illegal monopoly, the case could be the first time in more than 100 years that a court actually orders a company breakup.
“But there’s a reason why the government hasn’t forced a company to break up since 1911: Antitrust cases require judges to make complicated predictions about the future and they’re often afraid of making things worse.
“‘Historically courts have seen [breakups] as intimidating,’ said William Kovacic, who served as Federal Trade Commission chairman under President George W. Bush. ‘They are being asked to perform surgery and they want confidence the surgery is not going to kill the patient. They want assurances that a break-up will make things better and not worse.’
“DOJ’s complaint does not say exactly what fixes the administration will pursue, but it mentions ‘structural relief’ — a remedy that could include separating business lines or selling off parts of its operations. If Google has to put parts of its business on the market, that would be the nation’s biggest breakup of a corporate giant on antitrust grounds since AT&T was dismembered in the 1980s as part of a negotiated settlement.” POLITICO
NEW “GLOBAL TRANSLATIONS” SEASON OUT TODAY — From closed factories to closed borders, the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of America’s systems, creating a period of scarcity where demand for everything from N95 masks to deep freezers skyrocketed — and the country couldn’t supply items fast enough. In this episode, hosts Luiza Savage and Ryan Heath take a deep dive with experts on global supply chains and explore what America’s reliance on China and the rest of the world means for all of us. Listen and subscribe
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SPOTTED at a Zoom launch party for Evan Osnos’ new book, “Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now” ($23 on Amazon), hosted by Chris Schroeder, Sandy Coburn, Nate Fick and Margaret Angell: Marcus Brauchli, Kate Seelye, Jim Goldgeier, Tim Wirth, Don Graham and Amanda Bennett, Sarabeth Berman, Craig Mullaney, Peter and Susan Osnos, Mike Dorning, Mark Mazzetti, Bay Fang, Yochi Dreazen, Sally Quinn, Jorge Guajardo, Karim Sadjadpour, Martin Indyk, Vivian Schiller, David Kirkpatrick, Sarah Stillman, Chris Costa, James Crabtree, Tevi Troy, Zachary Karabell and Michael O’Hanlon.
TRANSITION — Stephen Spaulding will be senior adviser to the president of Common Cause and senior counsel for public policy and government affairs. He previously was senior elections counsel to House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and committee Dems.
ENGAGED — Alina Czekai, senior adviser to CMS Administrator Seema Verma, and Ross Pedersen, who is in the Army currently training at Fort Bragg to become a Green Beret, got engaged in August in Rochester, N.Y. They met on Maggie Brooks’ 2012 congressional campaign and are planning to celebrate their marriage in May 2022. Pic
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Alison Baker, partner at Straus/Baker. A trend she thinks doesn’t get enough attention: “What I see now is how much social media and ActBlue is democratizing political fundraising. Also: how deeply influenced my 11- and 13-year-olds are by TikTok. If their teachers taught via TikTok, they could be ready for college by ninth grade.” Playbook Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is 71 … Hope Hicks … Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) is 49 … NYT’s Mikayla Bouchard is 31 (h/t Ben Chang) … Cate Martel, national political reporter at The Hill … Bob Charrow, general counsel at HHS … Axios’ Kim Hart … POLITICO’s Ben Lefebvre and Rachel Jongerius … Hannah Edwards … FEMA chief of staff Eric Heighberger … Dafna Linzer, managing editor of politics for NBC News/MSNBC … Jamari Torrence, body man for Raphael Warnock … Megan Smith, CEO of shift7 … Lorraine Kuchmy … NBC’s Anna Schecter Zigler … NYT’s Taylor Lorenz … former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) … former Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) is 86 … Edelman’s Alex Abrahamson … Tina Andreadis … Brian Doory …
… Joe Franco, founding president of the Advocacy Association, is 38 … Charlie Joughin, comms director for the First Five Years Fund (h/t Kristina Schake) … Lindsay Curren … Courtney Lukitsch, CEO and founder at Gotham PR … Max Goetschel … Alyssa Fields … Perry Trethaway … Dan Simon … Mark Glaze … Jon Rawlson … Steve Odland … Jason Czerwiec … Wilson Baldwin … Charlotte Stewart … Gyan Parida … Lauren Waldron … Sam Hiersteiner … Mike Fazzino … Jamie Novogrod … Jonathan Poe … Mandy Fletcher Fraher … Edith Gregson (h/ts Tim and Kiki Burger) … Christopher Boutlier … Clare Pritchett Lorimer … Alexandra Ritter … Stavros Drakoularakos (h/t Jon Haber) … David Brunton … Christina Lien (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)