A number of institutional investors in ExxonMobil Corp have said they will file a shareholder resolution which calls on the world's largest oil company to set targets for lowering its greenhouse gas emissions.
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Earlier this year, the chief financial officer of global insurance giant Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. explained to analysts how the company had turned a little-known U.S. energy subsidy into a profit machine, worth hundreds of millions of dollars to its bottom line.
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President Donald Trump's role in decisions about a new FBI headquarters will face intense scrutiny when Democrats take control of a key U.S. House of Representatives committee in January, one of the panel's leaders said on Tuesday.
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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is due to receive proposals from regional grid operators revising market rules to create participation models for energy storage. The federal regulator wants to enable storage to provide capacity, energy, and ancillary services and to ensure that the batteries can set the market clearing price as both a seller and a buyer. ISO New England Inc. recently filled revisions with the commission for a new market design which would recognize the ability of batteries to transition continuously and rapidly from a charging to a discharge state, and also allow them to simultaneously take part in the energy, reserves and regulation markets. Currently, 19 megawatts of battery storage facilities are participating in the New England market and over 800 megawatts of stand-alone proposals were on the grid operator's interconnection queue as of Sept. 1
THE BIG IDEA: The president of General Motors faced a contentious confirmation hearing to become secretary of defense when Dwight Eisenhower nominated him in 1953. A member of Ike's own party, Sen. Robert Hendrickson (R-N.J.), grilled Charles Wilson about whether his decisions would be shaded by holding millions in stock of an automaker that had extensive government contracts. "If a situation did arise where you had to make a decision which was extremely adverse to the interests of General Motors [but] in the interests of the United States government," the senator wondered, "could you make that decision?"
"I cannot conceive of one," Wilson told the Armed Services Committee, "because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country."
Monday underscored that, perhaps now more than ever, what's good for GM is not necessarily what's good for America. The company announced that it will save $6 billion by eliminating 14,000 jobs, or 15 percent of its workforce, and halting production next year at four U.S. plants, from Macomb County in Michigan to Trumbull County in Ohio, that make the Chevy Impala, Cruze and Volt, the Cadillac CT6 and the Buick LaCrosse. But as 14,000 people and their families fretted looming unemployment, with Christmas just weeks away, investors celebrated. GM stock closed up 5 percent.
This points to the growing disconnect between what's good for Wall Street and what's good for Main Street. That has fueled the inequality and polarization that are dividing the country – and helped facilitate for the ascendancy of President Trump.
-- "GM layoffs are another victory for capital over labor," Chris Ingraham notes on Wonkblog: "As this chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve shows, corporate profits and labor income — the total wages and salaries paid to American workers — tracked pretty closely for most of the latter half of the 20th century: In percentage terms, the two rose roughly in tandem from 1947 until about 2003 … But starting in 2003, profits take off, leaving wages in the dust. The Great Recession took a bite out of corporate profits, but since about 2009, profits have been on an unstoppable tear while labor income has plodded along much more slowly. … The American economy has been rewarding owners and shareholders much more richly than workers."
"Never have corporate profits outgrown employee compensation so clearly and for so long," the St. Louis Fed said in a report this summer.
"There are a lot of factors driving the divergence," Chris explains. "Workers have become much more productive, contributing more and more to companies' bottom lines, but companies haven't been sharing those profits with the employees who make them possible. Union membership continues to decline, making it harder for workers to negotiate favorable terms of employment. In an era of rising health-care costs, companies are shifting more and more of that expense to workers."
Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) prepared to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to the State of the Union 2018. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
-- This growing disconnect between capital and labor is causing many Americans to lose faith in the economic system that made ours the most powerful country in the world. That, in turn, concerns many thoughtful people on the right and the left who love capitalism and want it to be sustainable over the long-term.
One person who has grown alarmed that capitalism itself cannot survive without changes is Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.). The 38-year-old is political royalty. He's the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, the assassinated former attorney general. JK3, as he's known around the Capitol, earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford and then went to Harvard Law School, where Elizabeth Warren was a favorite professor, after two years in the Dominican Republic for the Peace Corps, which his great-uncle JFK created by executive order. He worked briefly as a county prosecutor before winning an open House seat in 2012.
After six years of keeping a relatively low profile in the minority, with the notable exception of delivering this year's Democratic response to the State of the Union, the young Kennedy feels ready to take on a bigger leadership role in the next Congress. He has ruled out a run for president in 2020, but he's closely allied himself with Nancy Pelosi and will benefit if she, as expected, regains the speaker's gavel. He's also better positioned than anyone else in Massachusetts to replace Warren in the Senate if she gives up her seat to become president.
Kennedy campaigned extensively for Democratic candidates across the country this fall, from Arizona and Texas to Pennsylvania and West Virginia, plus Minnesota and many more. On the stump, he said he saw the "anger" that powered Trump and picked up on "a deep sense of unease that Americans are working harder and harder for less and less." The congressman tried to crystalize some of his observations in a speech Monday morning during a New England Council breakfast.
"American capitalism has done great good for a great number of people," he said. "It has given our average citizen a better standard of living than anywhere else in the world, lifted millions out of poverty and powered the globe. But its current iteration is badly broken. The sooner we admit that, the sooner we can strip it to the studs and build something better."
Kennedy advocated for a "moral capitalism" that would be "judged not just by how much it produces, but how widely it shares; how good it does for how many; and how well it takes care of all of us." He believes it's imperative that House Democrats use their newfound majority to craft an agenda that "lets our businesses thrive but our people breathe."
"Our people need an alternative to the trickle-down, feed-the-top, if-you're-struggling-try-harder narrative that conservatives have masterfully entrenched in American consciousness, but for years, the left has failed to offer a competing – compelling – economic vision," said Kennedy. "We'll have to do more than tax the rich to meet our needs in infrastructure, childcare, health care, college and climate change."
GM to slash jobs and production in U.S. and Canada
-- Kennedy said the left's failure to offer a competing vision to Reaganomics created the vacuum that has made socialism so alluring to many Democrats. For instance, the most famous incoming freshman, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), identifies as a democratic socialist. So does Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the runner-up for the party's nomination in 2016. "Our country bears the scars of economic injustice on the left and the right, on the fringe and in the center," said Kennedy. "We hear it in the demands of a new generation that feels socialism better speaks its language."
A Gallup poll this summer found that more Democrats now have a positive view of socialism than capitalism by a margin of 57 percent to 47 percent. It didn't used to be that way. The number of Democrats viewing "capitalism" as a good thing has dipped nine points in just the past two years. Among all Americans, 56 percent saw capitalism positively in the Gallup survey versus 37 percent who said the same of socialism.
Speaking of capitalism, Kennedy said: "I believe in that system. Let me be clear." But he warned that the safety net is buckling under the pressure. "And the average American family is left on its own, facing an economy they can't access, a government they can't depend on and a system they can't possibly afford," he continued. "This is the injustice we have to solve not just because of some political map but because our system will not survive if we don't."
Sounding very much like his famous grandfather did in Appalachia during the 1968 primaries, he noted that a full-time minimum wage worker can no longer afford a two-bedroom apartment in a single state. One in four American families skip doctor visits for fear of the bills that will follow. Low-income families spend half their monthly income on child care. And a quarter of workers make less than $10 an hour, putting them below the federal poverty line.
"Meanwhile the top 1 percent owns 40 percent of our country's wealth," he said. "The average CEO makes 361 times what their average worker makes. Payouts to shareholders after the GOP tax bill will hit $1.3 trillion this year while wages still hover at the lowest they've been in over half a century. Even in Massachusetts – where we hold ourselves up as a beacon for progress and inclusion and equity – the top 1 percent of earners in Suffolk County make over 50 times more than the bottom 99 percent."
Then, in a historical rarity, a Kennedy quoted Richard Nixon to make his point. When he was Ike's vice president in 1959, Nixon wound up shoulder to shoulder with Nikita Khrushchev at the American National Exhibition in Moscow. And they had an impromptu debate about which system – communism or capitalism – provided the greatest prosperity for its people. It played out while the men stood in the kitchen of a model American home, filled with everyday gadgets, that Nixon boasted any American family could afford. "That was the point of pride," Kennedy explained. "That was the barometer of economic success our country proudly offered the world. It was not based on summer homes or private jets or pricey schools but on a basic prosperity everyone could access."
Kennedy said corporations began to break the social contract that was forged during and after World War II as "they lurched towards self-preservation – cutting costs, wages, benefits and jobs." He complained that government assisted them by cutting corporate taxes, creating incentives to move production abroad, failing to block mergers that created monopolies, removing employer obligations to pension funds and weakening worker safety rules. "Through deliberate choice and conscious action, we recalibrated the American economy -- away from workers, families and communities and toward capital, profit and shareholders," he said.
He sees the GM news as more than just the consequence of one company's choices. "It's the result of a system that has loosened the terms of its social contract 1,000 times, 1,000 ways over the past 50 years," he said last night.
Trump 'not happy' about GM's plan to close Ohio plant
-- Trump identified many of the same problems as Kennedy when he sought the presidency, and he said addressing them would be a priority. But he's overpromised and underdelivered. On the eve of the election in 2016, Trump visited Warren, Mich., where a GM transmission plant will close next year. "If I'm elected, you won't lose one plant," he told the crowd. "I promise you that!"
Visiting Youngstown last summer, a few miles from a Chevy plant that's going to close, Trump said: "Let me tell you folks in Ohio and in this area, don't sell your house! Do not sell it. We're going to get those values up. We're going to get those jobs coming back, and we're going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build new ones."
-- Compare his rhetoric to the reality: "Trade wars are good, and easy to win," Trump tweeted in March.
"Raw-material costs have soared as a result of Trump's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, with Ford saying it absorbed a $1 billion hit because of the president's policies," David Lynch and Taylor Telford report on the front page of today's newspaper. "The new North American trade deal with Mexico and Canada includes sourcing requirements that will complicate industry supply chains, and the president also is considering imposing 25 percent tariffs on imported vehicles, a policy that would increase the cost of imported cars by an estimated $6,000 and eliminate 600,000 industry jobs, according to the American Automotive Policy Council. Philip Levy, a White House economist in the George W. Bush administration, said the auto industry layoffs could prompt Trump to go ahead with additional trade barriers. 'While he should take the GM move as a prompt to reconsider his approach, he seems much more inclined to double down reflexively,' Levy wrote in an email."
-- At the White House on Monday, Trump told reporters that he complained directly to GM chief executive Mary Barra about the layoffs and closures. "I was very tough," the president said. "I said, 'You know, this country has done a lot for General Motors. You better get back in there soon.'"
He specifically singled out the plant in Ohio. Trump said he's pushing the company to repurpose the Lordstown plant, which makes the Chevy Cruze, so it can produce new vehicles. Back in May, I wrote a Big Idea about how that facility was losing its second shift partly as a result of Trump's decision to roll back EPA fuel standards. It was one illustration of the unintended consequences of the president's policies backfiring on people who supported him. Now the plant will close altogether.
But Trump pledged on Monday that everything will work out. "I have no doubt that, in a not-too-distant future, they'll put something else," he said. "They better put something else in!"
-- Closing with some good news: The 202 franchise continues to grow. Next Tuesday, Dec. 4, we're launching The Technology 202. Cat Zakrzewski has joined our team from the Wall Street Journal's Silicon Valley bureau, where she was covering venture capital, to helm the new daily offering. It's part of a massive investment this newspaper is making in the tech space. Cat will focus like a laser on the intersection between Washington and Big Tech, exploring how the evolving relationship impacts everything from privacy regulations to artificial intelligence and quantum computing. It's going to be awesome. Sign up here.
NASA engineers celebrate at the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., as the spaceship InSight lands on the surface of Mars after a six-month journey. (Al Seib/Pool/Reuters)
GET SMART FAST:
NASA's InSight explorer successfully landed on Mars. The probe will operate on the Red Planet for the next two years — exploring its interior using a seismometer, a heat sensor and radio antenna. (Sarah Kaplan)
The FDA said only romaine lettuce from certain parts of California is unsafe to eat, updating its health warning on the E. coli outbreak. But FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb instructed consumers to avoid consuming the lettuce if they cannot determine where it was grown. (Lena H. Sun)
The FDA approved a cancer drug linked to the somewhat controversial field of "precision medicine." The drug, called Vitrakvi, treats a wide range of cancers that share a common mutation. But, like many other forms of precision medicine, it comes with a hefty price tag — $32,800 for a 30-day supply of capsules for adults. (Laurie McGinley)
The Supreme Court appeared open to arguments that Apple's App Store constitutes an unfair monopoly. A class-action lawsuit claims Apple is using its control of the market to raise the price of iPhone apps. If the court allows the suit to advance, it could have far-reaching implications for the tech giant. (Robert Barnes)
The first commercially viable sea ranch operating in U.S. federal waters has attracted support from the Trump administration and environmentalists. The administration hopes projects like the Catalina Sea Ranch — which operates off the coast of Huntington Beach, Calif. — could lower the country's seafood trade deficit, while environmentalists think they could become a substitute for the terrestrial farming that has depleted land and animal species. (Scott Wilson)
A federal judge dismissed a D.C. wine bar's civil suit against Trump International Hotel, which alleged the president's affiliation with the hotel violates the city's anti-competition law. The owners of Cork Wine Bar in Logan Circle claimed Trump had unfairly leveraged his presidency to attract customers to the hotel. (Jonathan O'Connell)
The Government Accountability Office will investigate whether three individuals connected to Mar-a-Lago had sway over the Department of Veterans Affairs. An August article from ProPublica raised questions about whether Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, Palm Beach-area doctor Bruce Moskowitz and attorney Marc Sherman affected decisions at the department. (CNN)
Former Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon was arraigned on charges of lying to police about sexual abuse allegations against former sports physician Larry Nassar. Simon sat at the table where Nassar was sentenced as she acknowledged that she understood the charges against her. (Susan Svrluga)
Hilton Grand Vacations in Orlando fired an employee deemed responsible for posting a racist image of Willie Taggart, the first black head coach at Florida State University. The man, who has not been identified, superimposed Taggart's face over the body of a black man hanging from a tree. (Cindy Boren)
The spectacular rise and fall of Paul Manafort
THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Special counsel Bob Mueller's team of prosecutors accused Paul Manafort of lying to them after pleading guilty and asked that the former Trump campaign chairman be sentenced immediately. Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Devlin Barrett report: "Manafort denied doing so intentionally, but both sides agreed in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District should set sentencing immediately. The apparent collapse of Manafort's cooperation agreement is the latest stunning turnaround in his case, exposing the longtime Republican consultant to at least a decade behind bars after he pleaded guilty in September to charges of cheating the [IRS], violating foreign-lobbying laws and attempting to obstruct justice. The filing also indicated that Mueller's team may have lost its potentially most valuable witness in Manafort, a top campaign official present at discussions at the heart of the special counsel's mission to determine if any Americans conspired with Russia's efforts to sway the U.S. election. Still, prosecutors may know more about Manafort's interactions than he realized, allowing them to catch him in alleged lies."
-- Jerome Corsi, a former associate of Trump ally Roger Stone, rejected a plea deal from Mueller's team — seemingly denying the special counsel another cooperating witness. Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Manuel Roig-Franzia report: "[Corsi said] he would have been forced to say untruthfully that he intentionally lied to investigators. In fact, Corsi said he was merely forgetful in his initial answers to Mueller's team about his interest in the activities of WikiLeaks, which released hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign. His apparent rejection of a plea offer is the latest twist in a months-long effort by Mueller's team to secure the cooperation of the author and conspiracy theorist. … In several interviews Monday, Corsi alleged that Mueller is trying to use him to build a case that a Trump associate coordinated with WikiLeaks. …
"In his sessions with Mueller's team, prosecutors seized on inconsistencies between his statements and emails, Corsi told The Washington Post. He said he first told investigators that he never encouraged anyone to go see [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange in the summer of 2016. However, Corsi told The Post, he amended his testimony after Mueller's investigators allowed him to refresh his memory and review his emails, which were housed on a laptop he had provided under a subpoena.
... Corsi told The Post that after reviewing his emails, he realized that between July 2016 and August 2016 he had offered to go visit Assange in the Ecuadoran embassyif his then-boss, WorldNetDaily editor in chief Joseph Farah, purchased him a plane ticket to London. Corsi said he also forwarded to his friend Ted Malloch an email in which Corsi said Stone urged that someone 'get to Assange' immediately. … Stone confirmed Monday that he emailed Corsi to suggest that Malloch meet with Assange. … Stone said the exchange … supports his claim that he had no advance knowledge of the impending WikiLeaks releases.'Why would I be asking for something I already had?' Stone said."
-- Trump appeared to preemptively attack any report from Mueller's team by going after the special counsel himself. "When Mueller does his final report, will he be covering all of his conflicts of interest in a preamble?" Trump wrote on Twitter, providing no examples. "Will he be putting in statements from hundreds of people closely involved with my campaign who never met, saw or spoke to a Russian during this period?"
-- One of Trump's judicial nominees who has been criticized for his stance on voting rights is teetering on the brink of Senate rejection. Politico's Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett report: "Thomas Farr can lose only one additional Senate vote in his bid to be a District Judge in North Carolina after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reiterated Monday that he would vote against Farr's nomination if Republican leadership did not bring to a vote legislation to protect [Mueller]. … That leaves Republicans no margin for error in the narrowly divided Senate, since all 49 Democrats are opposed to the nomination. Democrats said privately they believed that Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) or Susan Collins (R-Maine) might be swayed to oppose Farr."
Migrant caravan crisis escalates with tear gas at border fence
THE IMMIGRATION WARS:
-- Homeland Security officials defended the use of tear gas at the southern border and predicted more confrontations and port of entry closures. Nick Miroff and Tracy Jan report: "Facing dismal conditions in Mexico and long waits for the chance to request asylum in the United States, thousands of Central American migrants are becoming more agitated, and officials see no quick resolution ... Desperation there could leave U.S. border agents facing volatile crowds in two locations. On Monday, critics of the Trump administration denounced border agents' use of force on groups that included families with children, but U.S. officials praised what they called 'quick and effective action' against crowds of stone-slinging young men who pried open the border fence at multiple locations to squeeze through."
-- Trump suggested without evidence that some of the migrants who were tear-gassed were "grabbers" who had used other people's children to protect themselves. Philip Rucker and Felicia Sonmez report: "Earlier Monday, Trump denied that women and children were among those affected by the tear gas. But in his remarks to reporters here, he shifted his response, first claiming that the tear gas was 'very safe,' then blaming migrants with children for being in harm's way and finally questioning whether the children were theirs at all."
-- Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen echoed Trump's claims by alleging migrants were using women and children as "human shields." "It appears in some cases that the limited number of women and children in the caravan are being used by the organizers as 'human shields' when they confront law enforcement," she said in a statement. "They are being put at risk by the caravan organizers as we saw at the Mexico-Guatemala border. This is putting vulnerable people in harms way." (Isaac Stanley-Becker)
-- The woman featured in a widely published photo from the tear-gassing incident described her reaction to the confrontation. BuzzFeed News's Adolfo Flores reports: "In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Maria Meza, 39, of Honduras said she was standing by the border fence with her five children when Border Patrol agents fired at least three tear gas canisters at them. 'I felt sad, I was scared. I wanted to cry. That's when I grabbed my daughters and ran,' Meza [said]. 'I thought my kids were going to die with me because of the gas we inhaled.' The photo, taken by Kim Kyung-Hoon of Reuters, shows the single mother running from the gas in the Tijuana River bed, clutching her twin daughters' arms."
-- The clashes between immigration officials and caravan members could become a critical test as Trump prepares to fight for funding for his border wall. From David Nakamura: "Trump's presidency is shaping up as a crucible to test the belief among border hawks that an all-consuming focus on enforcement and deterrence will drive down illegal immigration more effectively than other ideas from moderates and liberals, including additional legal pathways for migrants to remain in the country. … The violent clashes at the border between San Diego and Tijuana over the weekend represent the third major inflection point in the Trump administration's shock-and-awe enforcement strategy — after the limitations of the travel ban and the failure of a family separation policy."
-- Republican leadership is struggling to balance Trump's border-wall demands with the deals they previously struck with Democrats. Politico's John Bresnahan, Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris report: "Senate GOP leaders have discussed with the president the possibility of providing Trump with $5 billion in guaranteed money for the wall but spread over two years, according to two Republicans familiar with internal discussions. Trump has not ruled out the idea, according to a Republican senator, but it's unclear whether Democrats will go along with that minor concession. … There's still no clear way out of a bipartisan jam: Republicans promised Trump that they would fight for his wall money after the election. And Democrats say they already have a deal on $1.6 billion in border security, far less than the $5 billion preferred by the president and his allies in Congress."
-- Senate Republicans are considering making changes to the chamber's bipartisan criminal justice bill, potentially jeopardizing its passage. Seung Min Kim reports: "The changes being mulled, confirmed by senators and others familiar with the talks, reflect in part proposals put forward by the National Sheriffs' Association, which is opposed to the legislation as written. Though a slew of law enforcement groups already support the bill, getting more of them on board is almost certain to improve its prospects among Republicans. One change that has been discussed privately is tightening the 'safety valve' provision, which provides more discretion to judges when they issue sentences."
President Trump and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) wave to supporters after arriving for a rally in Tupelo, Miss. (Thomas Graning/AP)
THE MISSISSIPPI RUNOFF:
-- Democrats hope energized turnout among Mississippi's black voters will allow Senate candidate Mike Espy to pull off an unexpected upset in today's runoff. Matt Viser and David Weigel report: "The state's long struggle with racism has emerged as an unavoidable theme, with two nooses found outside the state Capitol on Monday morning. But African Americans make up a larger share of the electorate here than they do in any other state, and in recent days, Espy and groups backing him have flooded the state with volunteers, radio ads and social media posts — seeking out potential voters in churches and on historically black college campuses."
Trump visited the state last night for two rallies to support GOP Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith: "Trump's presence highlighted the divisions of the race, as well as the broader fault lines of American politics that have grown more intense over this year's midterms. As the president spoke before largely white crowds, Espy headlined a black church event here in the state capital called the 'Rise Above Rally and Gospel Explosion,' with passionate prayers, loud music and frequent references to 'Senator Espy.' … But the president on Monday sought to portray Espy as the one who is out of step with modern-day Mississippi. 'How does he fit in with Mississippi?' Trump asked. 'How does he fit in?'"
-- Trump's rallies underscored GOP anxiety about winning the seat. From Philip Rucker: "By yoking himself with Hyde-Smith, Trump is backing a politician who said she would sit with a supporter in the front row of a public hanging, donned a Confederate uniform to promote tourism at Jefferson Davis's homestead, and graduated from one segregation academy while sending her daughter to another. 'Race is always the key in which life in Mississippi is played,' said Stuart Stevens, a Republican strategist and Mississippi native who wrote a book about growing up here. 'It's just always present and it is the greatest determinant, still, in Mississippi of one's path through life.' … Republican strategists privately say Hyde-Smith has stumbled badly and struggled to generate momentum, though they are confident that she ultimately will prevail."
-- Democratic strategists privately concede Hyde-Smith will probably win, as well.
-- Google became the latest company to request that its donation to Hyde-Smith's campaign be returned. Politico's John Hendel reports: "A spokeswoman for the search giant confirmed the company is requesting a refund but declined to elaborate. Records show Google donated $5,000 to the Hyde-Smith campaign on Nov. 13. … Civil rights nonprofit Color of Change had petitioned Google to take back its money over the senator's 'brutal and degenerate rhetoric.'"
Nancy Pelosi walks through the basement of the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
THE LEADERSHIP FIGHT:
-- One of Nancy Pelosi's leading Democratic opponents appeared to soften his stance on her speakership bid. But hurdles still remain for her to recapture the gavel (though she's very likely to be renominated by her caucus in party elections today). Mike DeBonis and Robert Costa report: "Rep.-elect Gil Cisneros (Calif.) said Monday that he was joining 15 other Democrats who are calling for fresh leadership, saying that 'it's time for a new generation to rise' — and that Pelosi, the House minority leader, is not part of the equation. Cisneros's opposition came hours after one of the leaders of the resistance, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), signaled he was open to negotiations about changes to Pelosi's leadership team — a retreat from his previous demand that Pelosi step aside. Meanwhile, Pelosi (D-Calif.) faced another challenge from a group of nine centrist Democrats from the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus who renewed a vow to oppose her unless she agrees to rule changes aimed at easing cross-aisle legislating. …
"The flurry of developments underscored two running themes in House Democratic politics following this month's sweeping gains in the midterm elections: Pelosi has deep and wide support among her colleagues and the party at large, but she still faces doubts from incoming freshmen who faced Pelosi-themed attacks in the campaign as well as disgruntled incumbents unwilling to pass up the opportunity to install new leaders."
-- Pelosi has not indicated a willingness to negotiate with Moulton or consider removing either of her top deputies, Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Jim Clyburn (S.C.). From Costa: "Still, associates of Moulton, 40, said he is hoping to sit down with Pelosi to discuss possible terms for the support of his group, in particular possibly rallying behind a younger member to be House majority leader or House majority whip, with an emphasis on bringing in a new generation to the leadership in the wake of the Democrats' sweeping gains in the midterm elections."
-- The centrist group No Labels has been privately pushing for Pelosi's ouster. The Daily Beast's Sam Stein and Lachlan Markay report: "Behind the scenes, No Labels and its leader, political strategist Nancy Jacobson, have been more skeptical of Pelosi and more willing to try and marginalize her among her members. [Internal emails] show that No Labels leadership contemplated a campaign to attack Pelosi aggressively after the primary campaign of centrist Rep. Dan Lipinski, who faced a primary challenge this year from Marie Newman, a progressive political neophyte. … Pelosi had endorsed Lipinski. But No Labels leadership was convinced that her support was a fig leaf. Jacobson ... was convinced that Pelosi had secretly tried to scuttle the congressman's reelection and proposed publicly attacking the Democratic leader in the run-up to the midterms."
'I am not going away': GOP Rep. Mia Love concedes Utah House race
-- GOP Rep. Mia Love formally conceded in her Utah race and delivered parting shots at Trump. John Wagner reports: "Trump had called out Love by name at a combative White House news conference the day after Election Day, criticizing her and other defeated Republicans and suggesting that they lost because they did not sufficiently 'embrace' him. … Speaking in Salt Lake City on Monday, Love said she was taken aback by Trump's 'jab' at her. 'The president's behavior towards me made me wonder: What did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican?' Love said. She said Trump's comments 'gave me a clear vision of his world as it is: no real relationships, just convenient transactions. That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy.' Love, an African American, continued: 'This election experience and these comments shines a spotlight on the problems Washington politicians have with minorities and black Americans — it's transactional, it's not personal."
-- Democrat T.J. Cox has taken an incredibly narrow lead over GOP Rep. David Valadao in their California race. Felicia Sonmez reports: "After the latest results from Kern County were tallied Monday night, Cox was leading with 55,650 votes to Valadao's 55,212, a margin of less than one percentage point. The latest figures mark a turnaround from election night, when Valadao was ahead by nearly 4,400 votes and the Associated Press projected that victory was in the Republican's hands. AP retracted that call Monday night."
-- Former Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke declined to rule out a 2020 presidential bid during an El Paso town hall. Michael Scherer reports: "'Amy and I made a decision not to rule anything out,' he told reporters afterward, admitting that his position is different from the one he took on 2020 during his campaign. … With just weeks remaining in his congressional job, O'Rourke had already made clear that he intends to remain a part of the national conversation, penning occasional online essays, including a piece Sunday critiquing [Trump's] treatment of asylum seekers on the southern border. 'We can either give into the fear of walls and tear-gassing children in diapers,' he told the crowd of more than 120 Monday, at his first public event since losing the election. 'Or we can live up to the best traditions, potential promise of what we are as Americans.'"
-- Former Republican Senate candidate John James is being considered to replace Nikki Haley as U.N. ambassador. Bloomberg News's Jennifer Jacobs reports: "James was at the White House last week talking about an administration post with Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence, two people said. James is an Iraq War veteran who is president of closely held James Group International, a supply-chain management firm based in Detroit. If chosen, he would become one of a few black officials in the top ranks of the Trump administration."
-- Alex Villanueva became the first candidate in a Los Angeles County sheriff's race to unseat an incumbent in more than a century. The LA Times's Maya Lau reports: "Villanueva, who served in the Sheriff's Department for three decades, won despite his lack of experience at the upper levels of law enforcement. His campaign launch, on a grassy slope outside the sheriff's East Los Angeles station last year, was sparsely attended. … But the dark horse candidate used the county's political mood to his advantage, experts said, trumpeting his status as a Democrat and claiming he would be the first Democratic sheriff in the county in 138 years. That message in the nonpartisan race was advertised on social media and direct mailers to voters."
-- "Democrats won the House with the largest margin of victory in a midterms election for either party," NBC News's Jane C. Timm reports. "While votes are still being tallied, Democratic House candidates currently hold an 8,805,130 vote lead over Republicans as of Monday morning. The Democrats' national margin of victory in House contests smashes the previous midterms record of 8.7 million votes in 1974, won just months after President Richard Nixon resigned from office in disgrace amid the Watergate scandal. Of the more than 111 million votes cast in House races nationwide, Democrats took 53.1 percent … while Republicans received 45.2 percent of the vote."
The U.S. Navy's USS Ronald Reagan anchored last week in Hong Kong. (Kin Cheung/AP)
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- Days before his planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump said he intends to move forward with raising tariff levels on $200 billion of Chinese imports. The Wall Street Journal's Bob Davis reports: "Mr. Trump suggested that if negotiations don't produce a favorable outcome for the U.S., he would also put tariffs on the rest of Chinese imports that are currently not subject to duties. 'If we don't make a deal, then I'm going to put the $267 billion additional on' at a tariff rate of either 10% or 25%, Mr. Trump said."
-- Trump dealt a blow to British Prime Minister Theresa May by describing her Brexit agreement as a "great deal" for the European Union. The Guardian's Julian Borger, Daniel Boffey and Dan Sabbagh report: "Trump was speaking to reporters outside the White House when he was asked about the deal May struck with the EU's other 27 heads of state and government on Sunday. 'Sounds like a great deal for the EU,' the president said. 'I think we have to take a look at, seriously, whether or not the UK is allowed to trade. Because, you know, right now, if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us … And, hopefully, she'll be able to do something about that.' Trump's intervention caught Downing Street off-guard and is likely to weaken May's hand at a time when she is seeking to get the deal approved by parliament."
-- The Trump administration withdrew a retired admiral's nomination to join the U.S. Agency for International Development over his involvement in the "Fat Leonard" corruption scandal. Craig Whitlock reports: "Mark C. Montgomery received a letter of censure from the Navy last week after an investigation concluded he had committed graft and taken illicit gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has admitted to bribing scores of officers. The investigation concluded that besides accepting gifts, Montgomery also 'took action to financially benefit' Francis's company between 2007 and 2009, when the Navy officer served as the commander of a destroyer squadron based in Asia, according to Cmdr. Jereal Dorsey, a Navy spokesman."
-- World leaders encouraged Russia and Ukraine to de-escala