FIRST IN PLAYBOOK … THE PRESIDENT’S WEEK AHEAD: Monday: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP will participate in a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration and he will attend a dinner for the NRSC. Tuesday: TRUMP will host Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House. Thursday: TRUMP will go to Las Vegas.
A NEWSY DAY ON THE SUNDAY SHOWS … SUNDAY BEST …
— CHUCK TODD spoke to FEMA ADMINISTRATOR BROCK LONG on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: TODD: “Final question, Wall Street Journal headline, a bit disconcerting, I’m sure, for you as you’re preparing, saying your job — that the White House considered replacing you before Hurricane Florence hit, having to do with your use of travel back home to North Carolina. Were you aware of this investigation? Are you cooperating?”
LONG: “Oh, yeah, absolutely. And look, let me go ahead and clear up all the news. Secretary Nielsen has never asked me to resign. We have a very functional and professional relationship. We talk every day. We are both solely focused on Florence. And let’s put some context around this. So, these vehicles, I mean, the FEMA administration position, the position that I hold, is incredibly complex, Chuck. You do not want to trade jobs with me.
“The bottom line is, is that these vehicles were designed to support Presidential Preparedness Direction 40. I have a very critical and important role to make sure that this government works on the nation’s worst day, through continuity of government. These vehicles are designed to provide secure communications. And the program was actually developed back in 2008. It ran for me the same way it’s run for anybody else. And you know, it’s my understanding that maybe some policies were not developed around these vehicles that we will get cleared up and pushed forward. So, yeah.” POLITICO’s Daniel Lippman and Eliana Johnson first reported last week that Long was under investigation
— CHRIS WALLACE, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s “Tex” McCrary Award for Journalism on Saturday at the U.S. Naval Academy, spoke to LONG on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY.” WALLACE: “Simple, factual question: Do you dispute this number of 3,000 hurricane related deaths?” LONG: “Well, there are several different studies out there that are all over the place when it comes to death … There’s a lot of issues with numbers being all over the place. It’s hard to tell what’s accurate and what’s not.”
— REBECCA JARVIS spoke to JAMIE DIMON on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: JARVIS: “So you’re, you’re done with politics?” DIMON: “Yes.” JARVIS: “No running for president for you.” DIMON: “No.” JARVIS: “Ever?” DIMON: “I never say never to anything but no.” Dimon also said President Trump deserved something around a B+ or A- for his performance on the economy.
— JAKE TAPPER talks to SEN. DOUG JONES (D-ALA.) on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION”: TAPPER: “You’re hoping to meet with [Brett] Kavanaugh this week, are you going to bring up this accusation?” JONES: “Oh, I’m sure I will, if I get a chance to meet. It’s a very serious allegation, but at this point, it’s an anonymous letter, you’re not going to be able to really test it unless somebody comes forward with more information. If I get a chance to meet, obviously I obviously would have to bring that up.”
— TAPPER also had ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ on “State of the Union”: TAPPER: “Your platform has called for various new programs, including Medicare for all, housing as a federal right, a federal jobs guarantee, tuition-free public college, canceling all student loan debt.
“According to nonpartisan and left-leaning studies friendly to your cause, including the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities or the Tax Policy Center, the overall price tag is more than $40 trillion in the next decade. You recently said in an interview that increasing taxes on the very wealthy, plus an increased corporate tax rate, would make $2 trillion over the next 10 years. So, where is the other $38 trillion going to come from?”
… MOMENTS LATER, after Ocasio-Cortez did not answer the question…TAPPER: “So, I’m assuming I’m not going to get an answer for the other $38 trillion. But we will have you back, and maybe we can go over that.”
— KEN STARR to Tapper, on whether Trump should be impeached: “I hope not, because one of the lessons in the book is, impeachment is hell. The country should not be taken through that. The founding generation wisely knew that it was such a serious action, it should require a two-thirds majority in the Senate. Unless there is a growing national consensus that impeachment is proper, it’s doomed to fail and it’s just the wrong way to go.”
— JOHN DICKERSON spoke with NORTH CAROLINA SEN. THOM TILLIS on CBS’ “FACE THE NATION”: DICKERSON: “Senator when you get back to Washington you got a vote on Tuesday and the Judiciary Committee which you sit on. There’s been some information about sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh the president’s nominee. Have you looked at the letter that is now a part of his file? … Have you looked at that?”
TILLIS: “I haven’t seen the letter. As a matter of fact, I believe that the member that first received the letter was as late as July. And quite honestly I’m shocked that the matter didn’t come up in the nearly 32 hours of testimony that Judge Kavanaugh was before as in the open session or the nearly hour and a half session that we had in a closed session. That information never came up. So when we get back to Washington this week we’ll take a look at it but it really raises a question in my mind about if — if — if this was material to the confirmation process, why on earth over the past four to six weeks hasn’t it been discussed among the committee members?”
DICKERSON: “Very quickly Senator you think he’ll be confirmed by the Senate?” TILLIS: “Oh I do.”
— QUOTE OF THE MORNING … SEN. JOHN N. KENNEDY (R-LA.) to Wallace on FNS: WALLACE: “What do you make of this allegation against Kavanaugh back when he was a teenager? Do you think it will do anything to derail his nomination, his confirmation?”
KENNEDY: “I’m fairly confident that our founding fathers did not intend the process to work this way. So far it’s pretty much been an intergalactic freak show.”
Good Sunday morning. THE PRESIDENT will be briefed about the hurricane at 1:30 p.m.
NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN and ALEX BURNS on A1, “The Economy Is Humming, but Trump Is Tweeting. Republicans Are Worried”: “As Democrats enter the fall midterm campaign with palpable confidence about reclaiming the House and perhaps even the Senate, tensions are rising between the White House and congressional Republicans over who is to blame for political difficulties facing the party, with President Trump’s advisers pointing to the high number of G.O.P. retirements and lawmakers placing the blame squarely on the president’s divisive style. Yet Republican leaders do agree on one surprising element in the battle for Congress: They cannot rely on the booming economy to win over undecided voters.
“To the dismay of party leaders, the healthy economy and Mr. Trump have become countervailing forces. The decline in unemployment and soaring gross domestic product, along with the tax overhaul Republicans argue is fueling the growth, have been obscured by the president’s inflammatory moves on immigration, Vladimir V. Putin and other fronts, party leaders say. These self-inflicted wounds since early summer have helped push Mr. Trump’s approval ratings below 40 percent and the fortunes of his party down with them.
“‘This is very much a referendum on the president,’ Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said of the November election. ‘If we had to fight this campaign on what we accomplished in Congress and on the state of the economy, I think we’d almost certainly keep our majority.’” NYT … A1 PDF
— GREAT NUGGET FROM THE JMART/BURNS STORY: “America First Action, a political committee aligned with Mr. Trump, conducted a series of focus groups over the summer and concluded the party had a severe voter-turnout problem, brought on in part by contentment about the economy and a refusal by Republicans to believe that Democrats could actually win the midterm elections.
“Conservative-leaning voters in the study routinely dismissed the possibility of a Democratic wave election, with some describing the prospect as ‘fake news,’ said an official familiar with the research, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the data was not intended to be disclosed. Breaking that attitude of complacency is now the Republicans’ top priority, far more than wooing moderates with gentler messaging about economic growth.”
WHAT AMERICA IS READING … SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: “For Feinstein, bipartisanship still way to go” … STAMFORD ADVOCATE (story about Candace Owens): “From victim to firebrand: Stamford native pivots threats into political idealism” … TAMPA BAY TIMES: “Scott didn’t put them to work: Pockets of Florida aren’t feeling the economic boom touted by the governor. Things have gotten worse” …
… ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: “Abrams is quiet on source of millions” … INDIANAPOLIS STAR: “Tariffs loom large over Senate race: Wildly varying results for state’s industries creates tricky terrain” … ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH: “Ten votes that have helped define the views of Sen. Claire McCaskill” …
THE LATEST ON THE STORM … POST AND COURIER: “Florence’s slow march through South Carolina raises fears of record floods,” by Tony Bartelme, Chloe Johnson and Thad Moore: “Spinning as if in slow-motion, Tropical Storm Florence continued its agonizing march across South Carolina on Saturday, dropping record amounts of rain and leaving fears of catastrophic floods in its wake.
“Rivers swelled in the Carolinas even as more rain bombs fell. Rain totals in North Carolina were measured in feet, and great pulses of water there were headed downriver toward South Carolina. …
“All told, the storm was expected to dump 18 trillion gallons on the region, enough to cover the entire state of Texas with 4 inches of water, a forecaster said. It has claimed at least 13 lives, including two people in Horry County who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside their home. It triggered hundreds of rescues in North Carolina and knocked out power to nearly a million people.” Post and Courier
NOT DETERRED BY THE STORM … BIG WEDDING … POOL REPORT FROM WSJ’S REID EPSTEIN: “POLITICO’s Elena Schneider and Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times and MSNBC were married Saturday in the midst of the outer bands of Hurricane Florence.
“A galaxy of friends from three continents braved the elements to celebrate the wedding at Augsburg Lutheran Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. The couple’s first dance was to a John Mayer cover of Beyoncé’s ‘XO.’ There was a reading of a W.H. Auden poem at the ceremony and a rogue bat that invaded the reception. Elena and Eli marched out of their reception through wind-blown sheets of rain under a canopy of sparklers held by friends and family.”
SPOTTED: Sopan Deb and Wesley Dietrich, Alan Rappeport and Kristen Looney, Mike Bender and Ashley Parker, Reid Epstein and Kate Goodloe, Jonathan and Wesley Epstein, Theo Meyer, Phil Rucker, Nick Corasaniti, Josh Dawsey, Jon Lemire, James Arkin, Lara Naaman and Annie Sachs, Kevin Robillard, Jeremy Nemeth and Noah Skinner. The NYT wedding announcement, with a pic … Instapics … Instapic … Video on Insta
POLITICO N.J.’S MATT FRIEDMAN: “Bob Menendez’s political fight for survival”: “It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Sen. Bob Menendez.
“Though the New Jersey Democrat is still favored to defeat Republican Bob Hugin in November, Menendez is being forced to fight to keep his seat. Hugin’s relentless negative ad campaign and deep pockets, combined with Menendez’s unpopularity among New Jersey voters, are making the race closer than most anticipated.
“Now, national Democrats are putting resources into a state that normally would not be in play. … A spokesman for the [DSCC] said the group has made a ‘six-figure’ coordinated ad buy with the Menendez campaign. The North Jersey Record reported in late August the committee had spent nearly $450,000 on cable television ads to help Menendez. The DSSC didn’t do any coordinated spending with the Menendez campaign in 2012, according to [FEC] records.” POLITICO
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Chief Justice Roberts halts campaign finance ruling,” by Quint Forgey and Josh Gerstein.
TRADE WARS – “Trump to Announce New Tariffs on $200 Billion in Chinese Imports,” by WSJ’s Bob Davis and Jake Schlesinger: “The Trump administration plans to announce within days new tariffs on as much as $200 billion in Chinese goods, further pressuring Beijing before high-level, U.S.-China talks set for later this month, say people familiar with the matter.
“President Trump’s decision—to go into effect within weeks—is designed to give the U.S. more leverage in discussions with China over allegations that Beijing coerces American firms into handing over valuable technology to Chinese partners. But the decision’s timing risks deepening the already bitter trade fight by starting another tit-for-tat round of tariffs.
“The administration plans to start with tariffs of around 10% on as much as $200 billion of goods, below the 25% level announced in early August. The level was lowered following extensive public hearings and the submission of written comments where importers and others complained of the possible impact of the duties—and to try to reduce the bite on American consumers ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season, these people said.” WSJ
LIFE AFTER GOVERNMENT … PRESS HERALD (Maine): “Former State Department diplomat settles on historic Maine farm”: “[Susan Thornton] and her husband, Joe Daley, closed on Lisbon’s 480-acre Packard-Littlefield farm on June 29, within days of learning that the White House would not continue to pursue her nomination. Thornton announced her resignation from the State Department on June 30. The youngest of her three children had just graduated from high school, severing the last obligation they had to stay in Washington. They’ve now moved into their new home, and are ‘just sorting out internet and lawnmowers,’ she said.” Press Herald
NYT’S BARI WEISS, in BOSTON, gets SETH KLARMAN to talk … “‘I’m kind of a loner,’ Mr. Klarman said last week in his 17th-floor office close to the Boston Common. ‘One of the reasons I’m willing to come out of my shell and talk to you is because I think democracy is at stake. And maybe I’ll be able to convince some other people of that. And get them to support Democrats in 2018.’
“Not two years ago, Mr. Klarman, a registered independent, was the biggest donor to the Republican Party in New England. According to The Boston Globe, during the Obama administration, Mr. Klarman gave more than $7 million to the party. If you look at his Federal Election Commission filings for 2016, you will find $100,000 to the Hillary Action Fund, but mostly a long list of donations to names like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and the [RNC].” NYT
JOIN US — ANNA and JAKE are headed to Columbus on Thursday for a special Playbook Elections event in Ohio with REP. JIM RENACCI (R-OHIO), who is running for Senate, and DEMOCRAT RICHARD CORDRAY, who is running for governor, to discuss how the 2018 midterm elections are shaping up. RSVP
YIKES – “U.S. Border Patrol agent arrested in 4 deaths described as serial killer,” by CNN’s Ed Lavandera and Amir Vera: “A US Border Patrol agent arrested in connection with the slayings of four people and the kidnapping of a woman who escaped was described by authorities as a serial killer who hunted for his victims. Juan David Ortiz, 35, confessed to killing four people between September 3 and September 15, according to a criminal complaint filed in Webb County, Texas.
“Ortiz was charged with four murder charges and one unlawful restraint with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to Webb County District Attorney Isidro R. ‘Chilo’ Alaniz. The bodies of four victims were found over the past two weeks, sheriff’s spokesman Eduardo Chapa told CNN. Chapa said investigators are not ruling out the possibility of more victims. … The victims were shot in the head, according to the affidavit.” CNN
BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from San Francisco:
— “How America’s ‘most reckless’ billionaire created the fracking boom,” by Bethany McLean in the Guardian – per TheBrowser.com’s description: “Profile of Aubrey McClendon, founder of Chesapeake Energy, which borrowed billions of dollars to buy oil and gas lands across America and exploit their reserves using new technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’. The strategy helped turn America into the world’s largest producer of natural gas. But McClendon failed to see that more gas meant cheaper gas. Chesapeake almost collapsed. McClendon killed himself in a car crash.” Guardian
— “The Most Honest Book About Climate Change Yet,” by Nathaniel Rich in October’s Atlantic: William T. “Vollmann declares that he will not offer any solutions, because he does not believe any are possible. Nothing can be done to save the world as we know it. His wish is for future readers to appreciate that they would have made the same mistakes we have. This might seem a humble ambition for a project of this scope, but only if you mistake Carbon Ideologies for a work of activism. Vollmann’s project is nothing so conventional. His ‘letter to the future’ is a suicide note.” Atlantic … $23.63 on Amazon
— “Where in the World Is Larry Page?” by Mark Bergen and Austin Carr in Bloomberg Businessweek: “While Alphabet faces existential challenges, its co-founder is exercising his right to be forgotten. … What’s occupying Page’s time today? People who know him say he’s disappearing more frequently to his private, white-sand Caribbean island. That’s not to imply that, at 45, he’s already living the daiquiri lifestyle.” Bloomberg
— “‘Bless Nixon for Those Tapes’: An Interview with John Dean,” by Claudia Dreifus in the N.Y. Review of Books: “I see some differences. Nixon knew what he was doing. Trump does not. It makes a difference on criminal intent … John Ehrlichman claimed he didn’t commit conspiracy to obstruct justice because he didn’t intend to. The jury didn’t buy that defense. We might get a similar defense from Trump. He might say, ‘Well, I didn’t know anything about that. I’m not a criminal lawyer’. However, to conspire to obstruct justice, all you need is a corrupt intention — typically, something you’re consciously aware of.” NYRB
— “The Return to Great-Power Rivalry Was Inevitable,” by Thomas Wright in The Atlantic: “Moscow and Beijing came to understand that Western governments will always face pressure to back democracy activists, regardless of what cooperative relations existed beforehand. They saw how media organizations published material that destabilized their regimes. They worried about Google and social-media companies. Crucially, they realized that these companies made their choices independent of Washington. They were an intrinsic part of the liberal order.” The Atlantic
— “Parry and Thrust,” by Jim Holt in Lapham’s Quarterly: Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley “were each … patrician in manner, glamorous in aura, irregularly handsome, consumedly narcissistic, ornate in vocabulary, casually erudite, irrepressibly witty, highly telegenic, and by all accounts great fun to be around. Each spoke in a theatrical accent of his own invention: they did not merely have opinions, they pronounced them. Also, they warmly hated each other. The antipathy Buckley and Vidal felt for each other was personal, perhaps even psychosexual.” Lapham’s Quarterly (h/t ALDaily.com)
— “Forging Islamic science,” by Nir Shafir in Aeon Magazine: “The problem goes beyond gullible tourists and the occasional academic being duped: Many of those who publicly present the history of Islamic science have committed themselves to a similar sort of fakery. There now exist entire museums filled with reimagined objects, fashioned in the past 20 years but intended to represent the scientific traditions of the Islamic world.” Aeon (h/t TheBrowser.com)
— “Exodus,” by Ross Andersen in Aeon in Sept. 2014: “Elon Musk argues that we must put a million people on Mars if we are to ensure that humanity has a future.” Aeon
— “Country pride: what I learned growing up in rural America,” by Sarah Smarsh in the Guardian: “I was raised on a farm in Kansas, where I’d slopped the hogs and helped harvest the wheat. What did it mean to be ‘country’?” Guardian
— “The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Perfume,” by Katy Kelleher in Longreads: “For more than a thousand years, we humans have been adorning our bodies with animal products like ambergris, and putrid-smelling plant derivatives like jasmine absolute. It’s not always about simply smelling good. We want to smell complex, so that others will keep coming back, like bees to a flower, to sniff us again and again. We want to smell intoxicating, and truly intoxicating things are often a little bit nasty — they have an edge that cuts deeper than simple sensory pleasure.” Longreads
— “Descend Into Great Britain’s Network of Secret Nuclear Bunkers,” by Kate Ravilious in Atlas Obscura – per Longform.org’s description: “In the mid-20th century, Great Britain maintained a network of 1,500 underground, volunteer-staffed bunkers in case of nuclear war. Now, one man is restoring two of these abandoned shelters to period-perfect condition.” Atlas Obscura
— “What Happened at The Lake,” by Jordan Smith in the Intercept: “A father took his 10-year-old fishing. She fell in the water and drowned. It was a tragic accident — then he was charged with murder.” Intercept
OUT AND ABOUT — SPOTTED at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual black-tie national dinner at the D.C. Convention Center: Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, Eric Holder, Anne Hathaway, Danica Roem, Adam Rippon, Chad Griffin, Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Jonathan Capehart and Nick Schmit, Kara Swisher, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Larry Milstein, Alex Halpern Levy, Eric Kuhn, Hilary Rosen, and Brady Walkinshaw.
— SPOTTED last night at a party at the home of Kirsten Powers and Robert Draper for the NYT bestseller “Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt ($16.80 on Amazon): Carl Cannon, Eli Lake, Sally Quinn, Jamie Kirchick, Greg Lukianoff and Michelle LeBlanc, David and Asila Swerdlick, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Robby Soave, Elizabeth Drew, Anushay Hossain and Matt Lewis and Erin DeLullo.
— SPOTTED IN NYC at the Estée Lauder mansion on the Upper East Side for an award dinner honoring Ronald Lauder for his work on the two-state solution given by Chemi Peres, son of the late Israeli President Shimon Peres, and hosted by Peres Center for Peace and Innovation: Ray Kelly and Greg Kelly, Hadassah Lieberman, Mimi Perlman, Russell Robinson, Robert Singer, Michal Grayevsky, Bari Weiss, Alex Halpern Levy, Alex Barbara Winston and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Jill Moschak
BIRTHDAYS OF THE DAY: Richard Engel, chief foreign correspondent for NBC News, is 45. How he got his start in journalism: “I packed a couple of bags, grabbed two thousand dollars in savings, and moved to Cairo without any contacts to set myself up as a freelance writer/reporter/fixer. I took a gamble. I thought – this was in 1996 – that since the Soviet Union had collapsed there would be a reset in the world and that the Middle East would emerge as the next big story. I ended up living in and reporting from the region for the next two decades.” Playbook Plus Q&A
— Laurie Knight, EVP of government affairs at the National Beer Wholesalers Association. How she got her start in politics: “My grandfather was in the Texas House and Texas Senate in the 40s, so the origin of my political career as well as my legal career begins with him. Additionally, I am forever grateful to former Rep. Jim Turner (D-Texas) for giving me the opportunity to work for him on Capitol Hill, which was my first job in Washington, D.C.” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Hogan Gidley (hat tips: Sarah Sanders and Michael Falcone) … Christine Ciccone … Josh Benson, co-founder of Old Town Media, is 45 … Jason Zengerle, political correspondent at GQ and contributing writer at NYT Mag … Ben Finzel, president and founder of RENEWPR … Josh Ginsberg is 36 … Tamron Hall … Melissa Lafsky Wall … Cleta Mitchell … Luke Hornblower is 37 (h/t Sarah Elizabeth Clark) … Andy Serwer is 59 … Carol Kresse … Michael J. Totten … Oliver Schwab, former chief of staff to Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) … WSJ’s Rachel Louise Ensign (hubby tip: Andrew Kaczynski) … Sandhya Kotha … Paul Orzulak, founding partner of West Wing Writers, is 52 … DNC research director Lauren Dillon … Jill Lesser … BuzzFeed’s Molly Hensley-Clancy … Jesse Steinmetz … Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-La.) is 64 … Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) is 4-0. She’s celebrating with her kids in Florida (h/t Kristen Hawn) … Julian Castro is 44 … Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) is 44 (h/ts Miguel Solis) … Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is 52 … Ambassador Derek Mitchell, the new president of NDI, is 54 (h/t Ben Chang) …
… Facebook’s Jackie Rooney (h/t Tucker Bounds) … Angelica Grimaldi, a producer with Jake Tapper’s CNN weekday show “The Lead,” is 30 (h/t Cassie McNamara) … Politico’s Taylor Clark … Lloyd Pierson … Dawn Smalls, partner at Boies Schiller Flexner … Mark Egan … Emily Bolton … Pa. State Rep. Brian Sims is 4-0 … NPR managing editor Sara Goo … Johannes Boehm … Tristan White … Macey Sevcik … former Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) is 53 … Jordan Stoick, VP of government relations at NAM … Ian Walton … Jill Lesser … Chuck Westover … Katie Schulz … Suzy Goldenkranz … Allison Silver … Evan Carr … Vernice Coleman … John Neurohr … Katie Kimball … Joe Lee … Sheila Weller … H.F. Yeomans … Stu Johnson is 59 … David Lavan … Scott Spector … Ed Conlow … Liesl Newton … Elliot Vice (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)