TRUMP WARNS OF ‘VIOLENCE’ IF DEMS TAKE POWER … PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP is taking another massive whack at public institutions, this time the American electoral system. He told evangelical leaders earlier this week that Democrats “will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently” if they take over the House. The peaceful transition of power is one of the important pillars of democracy — and the chances that Democrats would launch a violent revolution are slim to none.
COMBINE THAT WITH THE PRESIDENT’S insistence that Google is rigging search engine results against him and the Justice Department is filled with Democrats looking to bring him down, and it’s been quite a stretch of Trump trying to erode trust in public entities. NBC … NYT
AUGUST SCORECARD … WHERE THEY STAND … Washington is about to enter the extraordinarily consequential month of September, during which government funding expires, the Senate will begin considering the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the battle for control of the House will get further settled. BUT … let’s check in on where people stand going into the fall.
— CHUCK SCHUMER. The Senate minority leader was quickly able to split Republicans this week, when he suggested the Senate name the Russell building after the recently deceased John McCain instead of Georgia’s Richard Russell, an avowed segregationist. But Schumer has a tough month ahead: the Supreme Court battle could have several of his Democratic colleagues voting to approve Kavanaugh, and he could have a government funding fight in the offing.
— NANCY PELOSI. Even Trump, in his own way, says that Democrats might take the House back in November. If that happens, Pelosi is still the odds-on favorite to be the next speaker of the House. Yes, we understand that dozens of Democrats have said they won’t back her, but we’ve seen her in power before. She’s persuasive, and one can totally see her making the argument that this is not the time to ditch the woman who brought Democrats back to the majority. Think you can’t be swayed by Pelosi? Just wait until she lines up every party stalwart imaginable to tell the House Democratic Caucus that it was Pelosi who got you Obamacare and some of the most progressive policies of the last two decades.
— BRETT KAVANAUGH. The Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings start next week, and Democrats have not really been able to lay a glove on Trump’s second nominee for the Supreme Court. He’s expected to get confirmed, and Trump will have changed the high court for the next two or more decades. Josh Gerstein on Bob Bennett’s endorsement: “Clinton lawyer backs Kavanaugh”
— MITCH MCCONNELL. He’s helped engineer a remaking of the judicial system in two years. It looks like he could keep the Senate. And he has no dissent in his ranks. He’ll have to deal with Trump and his wall this month and possibly a fight for a new attorney general — neither of those things will be fun.
— JEFF SESSIONS. Is there anyone in town worse off than the attorney general? The guy gave up a safe Senate seat to become Trump’s punching bag. At first, he had the support of senators, now even they’re turning against him! (BTW: There are lots of lawyers in the Senate …) Sessions’ expiration date is clearly rapidly approaching. The only question is does he go quietly. … WaPo on Trump, again, wanting to fire Sessions, and the growing number of GOP senators no longer opposed to getting rid of Sessions WaPo … WSJ on senators urging Sessions to stay through the midterms WSJ
— HOUSE REPUBLICANS. Two of them have been indicted this summer. Polls are showing the majority slipping away. And, when they return, they’ll have the leadership pushing to avoid a government shutdown, and Jim Jordan — the Freedom Caucus stalwart and candidate for speaker — pushing for Trump’s wall. It’ll be messy.
THE BIG TAKE: JOHN BRESNAHAN: “Senate void left by McCain’s death won’t be filled soon — if ever”: “Can John McCain be replaced? And does anyone really want that to happen? As senators went to the floor to pay tribute to the late Arizona Republican this week, there was an overwhelming sense that the Senate had lost a singular figure, the rare lawmaker able to bridge the gulf between the parties and make bipartisan deals. …
“Trump — a man for whom McCain had little respect, an enmity returned by Trump many times over — is in the White House, and the country and Republican Party won’t ever be the same. The Senate is led by sharply partisan former campaign committee chairmen in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“Committee chairmen no longer have the power they once had, and partisan media on each side mercilessly pound any senator who even dares thinks of crossing the aisle to vote with the opposition. McConnell, at the urging of Trump and many Senate Republicans, kept the chamber in session during August because Democrats have filibustered many of Trump’s nominees, dragging out the process of staffing up the administration deep into the 115th Congress.
“And with Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh getting a hearing on his Supreme Court nomination next week, the specter of Merrick Garland is never far from Democrats’ minds. McCain’s successor, a loyal Republican selected by Arizona GOP Gov. Doug Ducey, will almost certainly vote on the Senate floor to approve that nomination as early as next month.
“In fact, the week of celebrations of McCain’s life and bipartisan spirit are like a bittersweet daydream, a flashback to the halcyon days of the Senate’s past during a feverishly hot August stretch in Washington. Congress will come back into session after Labor Day and everything will go back to the new normal — more Trump attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller, a possible government shutdown this fall. And the November midterm elections will creep ever closer, with the possibility of a Democratic takeover of the House and Trump’s impeachment.” POLITICO
HONORING MCCAIN …
— “Republicans resist plan to rename Senate building for McCain,” by AP’s Matt Daly: “A proposal to rename the Senate’s oldest office building for John McCain ran into resistance Tuesday from Republican senators reluctant to take away an honor already bestowed on an earlier Senate titan — and a leader of Southern senators during a tumultuous era in the nation’s history.
“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, looking to defuse a budding controversy, said he will form a bipartisan panel to solicit ideas on the best way to honor the late Arizona senator. McCain ‘meant so much to so many of us — inside this chamber and out,’ McConnell said Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor. ‘The Senate is eager to work on concrete ways to continue this momentum and provide a lasting tribute to this American hero long after this week’s observances are complete.’” AP
— JOSH MEYER: “McCain’s choice of Russian dissident as pallbearer is final dig at Putin, Trump”: “Even in death, John McCain has one final burn planned for two of his biggest foes — Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump — at a moment when much of the world will be watching. The Republican senator from Arizona, who planned his own funeral, chose Russian dissident Vladimir Kara-Murza as one of the dignitaries to carry his coffin to the front of the Washington National Cathedral at Saturday’s memorial service. …
“The choice of Kara-Murza, who twice suffered organ failure from poisoning, appears aimed at sending a last message to Putin and Trump, who McCain had criticized for sounding too cozy with the Russian leader, amid an investigation into whether the U.S. president’s allies cooperated with Moscow’s efforts to intervene in the 2016 election.” POLITICO
— CNN’S JEFF ZELENY: “Inside McCain’s surprise eulogy invitation to Obama”: “It was a day in early April when Barack Obama received an unexpected call from McCain, who was battling brain cancer and said he had a blunt question to ask: Would you deliver one of the eulogies at my funeral? Obama, who is responsible for extinguishing McCain’s second bid for the White House a decade ago, immediately answered that he would. He was taken aback by the request, aides say, as was George W. Bush, another former rival, who received a similar call from McCain this spring.” CNN
THE REPLACEMENT — “Cindy McCain wields quiet influence over Senate replacement,” by Chris Cadelago, Daniel Strauss and Daniel Lippman: “Arizona Sen. John McCain’s widow Cindy hasn’t expressed any desire to serve out her late husband’s term in Washington — but she will wield immense influence over the selection of his replacement. More than a dozen McCain family friends and Republicans familiar with the search said that while Cindy McCain isn’t expected to take an active political role, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wants to avoid alienating her as he heads into a tough reelection fight.” POLITICO
SPOTTED: Gary Cohn at the Buddha Berry in Sag Harbor … Bob Gates alumni John Kelly, Ryan McCarthy, Geoff Morrell, Christian Marrone and Robert Rangel having dinner in a private room last night at the Crystal City Morton’s … Jason Greenblatt last night at Char Bar
STEVEN SHEPARD: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM LAST NIGHT’S PRIMARIES — “Trump remakes the Florida GOP … Republicans dodge another bullet … A fall barn-burner in Florida … Democrats’ left turn for governor … A mixed night for House Democrats.” POLITICO
— MARC CAPUTO: “How Ron DeSantis won the Fox News primary”: “One of the key ingredients in Ron DeSantis’ victory in the Florida GOP governor’s race turned out to be makeup. The once little-known congressman spent so much time broadcasting Fox News TV hits from Washington this year that he learned to apply his own powder so he could look as polished as he sounded. … Since [Trump’s endorsement on Dec. 22], DeSantis has made 121 appearances on Fox and Fox Business — his campaign estimates it would have cost his campaign $9.3 million to purchase all that air time.” POLITICO
— “Florida governor’s race shocker sets up Trump-fueled showdown,” by Matt Dixon in Orlando and Marc Caputo in Miami: “Democrat Andrew Gillum shocked Florida’s political class Tuesday night and became the first black nominee for governor in the nation’s largest swing state, setting up a November showdown against Rep. Ron DeSantis, who won the GOP primary with the enthusiastic backing of President Donald Trump. Gillum’s 33-31 percent victory over former Rep. Gwen Graham, fueled by grassroots energy and big donor dollars, presents Florida voters with the starkest of choices in style and substance come Nov. 6.
“Gillum is a Bernie Sanders-endorsed, Medicare-for-all candidate; DeSantis is a Trump ally who voted several times to abolish Obamacare. Gillum is a dynamic speaker who wows liberal crowds with his deep voice; the Harvard-educated DeSantis has a more bookish delivery in a higher pitch. Gillum was inspired by former president Barack Obama’s ‘Dreams of My Father’; DeSantis wrote his own book as a refutation of Obama’s and called it ‘Dreams of Our Founding Fathers.’ DeSantis, meanwhile, serves as such a stand-in for Trump that his campaign amounts to the first Florida volley in the president’s 2020 reelection effort.” POLITICO
WOMEN RULE: THE NEXT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ? — ANNA went up to Boston to spend time with AYANNA PRESSLEY, a Democrat who is challenging REP. MIKE CAPUANO, in her bid to become the state’s first black woman member of Congress as part of our three-part “Women Rule: Tracking the Candidate” series.
VIA REENA FLORES: “With headlines pronouncing her the next Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley acknowledges their similarities as women of color who fought against 10-term congressmen: ‘Her candidacy – like mine and that of so many throughout the country – challenges conventional narratives and wisdom, disrupts status quo thinking about who has a right to run, when they should run, and whether or not they can win,’ she told POLITICO’s Women Rule podcast earlier this summer.
“But Pressley’s campaign also allows for this truth: She’s not that much of an outsider. ‘If politics is like dog years, you know, I’m probably 80 right now,’ Pressley said on the podcast. ‘Even though I’m only 44.’” The podcast … Subscribe
ALEX ISENSTADT: “‘The race has tightened’: Cruz allies sound alarm about Texas Senate race”: “Republicans are sounding the alarm about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s closer-than-expected reelection contest, with an influential conservative group racing to his aid. The Club for Growth, a Washington-based anti-tax group, is drawing up plans for a major TV ad campaign boosting Cruz — the first such intervention by a Republican outside group in this race.
“The move comes as Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an online fundraising behemoth who has attracted national support, continues to narrow the gap in polling. David McIntosh, the Club for Growth’s president, said on Tuesday the organization is planning a seven-figure-plus offensive targeting O’Rourke. McIntosh was speaking from Texas, where he is meeting with pro-Cruz donors who could help fund the effort.” POLITICO
THINGS ARE GETTY DIRTY — “C.I.A. Officer-Turned-Candidate Says PAC Obtained Her Security Application,” by NYT’s Mike Tackett: “A former C.I.A. officer running for Congress accused a super PAC aligned with Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Tuesday of improperly obtaining her entire federal security clearance application — a highly sensitive document containing extensive personal information — and then using it for political purposes. Abigail Spanberger, the Democratic candidate challenging Representative Dave Brat of Virginia, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Corry Bliss, the executive director of the Congressional Leadership Fund, which has raised more than $100 million to help Republicans in the midterm elections.
“She demanded that the super PAC destroy all copies of the form and agree to not use the information in any fashion. ‘I write as a former civil servant and as an American, in shock and anger, that you have tried to exploit my service to our country by exposing my most personal information in the name of politics,’ she wrote. The super PAC released a statement on Tuesday strongly denying Ms. Spanberger’s charge, saying that the document was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the United States Postal Service by America Rising, a separate Republican-aligned research firm.” NYT
BLAME THE PAPERWORK! “White House insists former CIA chief Brennan has no security clearance, says paperwork ‘delayed,’” by WaPo’s Shane Harris and Josh Dawsey: “The White House reaffirmed Tuesday that former CIA director John Brennan has been stripped of his security clearance, after Brennan said earlier he has yet to receive formal notice about the matter.
“‘The President’s order went into effect immediately, and Mr. Brennan no longer has access to classified information,’ White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said. Earlier this month, President Trump announced in a statement read by his press secretary that he had revoked Brennan’s clearance, citing Brennan’s criticism of the administration and alleging that he had abused his position. Paperwork to formally revoke the clearance has been ‘delayed,’ a senior White House official said, without offering any explanation.” WaPo
TRADE WARS — “Canada and U.S. Meet as Trump Moves Ahead With Mexico Trade Deal,” by NYT’s Ana Swanson, Alan Rappeport and Emily Baumgaertner: “A day after President Trump threatened to exclude Canada from a revised North American Free Trade Agreement, top Canadian officials raced to Washington and said they were moving ‘full steam ahead’ to try to reach a compromise that could save the trilateral pact. ‘This is a really big deal,’ Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, said on Tuesday after meeting with the United States trade representative. ‘We are encouraged by the progress that the U.S. and Mexico have made, particularly on cars and labor,’ she said, adding that those concessions were ‘going to be valuable for workers in Canada and the United States.’” NYT
THE JUICE …
— Concerned Veterans for America-Wisconsin is launching a new ad campaign attacking Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). The ad, “Showing Up,” says Baldwin didn’t show up to important hearings on veterans and fighting opioid abuse. The campaign will be in excess of $800,000, they say. The ad
TRUMP’S WEDNESDAY — The president will announce a grant to support programs focused on drug-free communities. Trump and first lady Melania Trump will attend a White House Historical Association Reception.
ONE LAST TIME … PLAYBOOK ON THE ROAD — Tweet or send us a photo of you, your friends and companions reading Playbook to @playbookplus using hashtag #PlaybookLoyal or email them to Daniel at [email protected] for the chance to be featured this Friday.
2020 WATCH — “Bloomberg to headline Pennsylvania Democratic fundraiser,” by David Siders: “Michael Bloomberg will headline a Democratic Party fundraiser in Pennsylvania in October, as the billionaire mulls a run for president in 2020.
“Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, will speak at the Montgomery County Democratic Committee’s annual fall dinner on Oct. 21, a county committee official confirmed Tuesday.
“Two Pennsylvania Democratic operatives said Bloomberg was also in talks to appear at an event in neighboring Delaware County. Colleen Guiney, chairwoman of the Delaware County Democratic Committee, did not respond to a request for comment. Nor did Bloomberg advisers.” POLITICO
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Administration decides not to roll back foreign aid funds,” by WaPo’s Carol Morello and Erica Werner: “The administration has dropped a proposal to cut billions of dollars in foreign aid after bipartisan resistance from members of Congress who considered it a back-door effort to hijack spending they had already approved. The Office of Management and Budget, which had considered taking back more than $3 billion in unspent foreign aid as the fiscal year nears an end, notified members of Congress on Tuesday that the rollback will not occur, according to congressional aides.” WaPo
— “Exclusive: Iran-based political influence operation — bigger, persistent, global,” by Reuters’ Jack Stubbs in London and Christopher Bing in D.C.: “An apparent Iranian influence operation targeting internet users worldwide is significantly bigger than previously identified, Reuters has found, encompassing a sprawling network of anonymous websites and social media accounts in 11 different languages.
“Facebook and other companies said last week that multiple social media accounts and websites were part of an Iranian project to covertly influence public opinion in other countries. A Reuters analysis has identified 10 more sites and dozens of social media accounts across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.” Reuters
VALLEY TALK — “Dozens at Facebook Unite to Challenge Its ‘Intolerant’ Liberal Culture,” by NYT’s Kate Conger and Sheera Frenkel in SF: “The post went up quietly on Facebook’s internal message board last week. Titled ‘We Have a Problem With Political Diversity,’ it quickly took off inside the social network. ‘We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views,’ Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, wrote in the post, which was obtained by The New York Times.
“‘We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.’ Since the post went up, more than 100 Facebook employees have joined Mr. Amerige to form an online group called FB’ers for Political Diversity.” NYT
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — TRANSITION: Eric Wilson, former digital director for Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign and Ed Gillespie’s 2017 Virginia gubernatorial race, is joining Definers Public Affairs as chief digital officer.
BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Emma Tomaszewski of the Bipartisan Policy Center (hat tip: Kate Constantini) … Ben Halle, press secretary for PPFA and Planned Parenthood Action Fund (h/t Andrew Taverrite)
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Charlie Spies, leader of Clark Hill’s national political law practice. How he got his start in politics: “I grew up in Grand Rapids (Mich.), which is Gerald Ford country, and my first political memory is my father getting fired as U.S. Attorney. I knew at age 5 that Jimmy Carter was a bad man (not realizing at that age that it’s traditional for incoming administrations to appoint their own people). When I was in college in Ann Arbor I worked on the Ronna Romney for U.S. Senate campaign and so it’s great to see her daughter Ronna (now McDaniel) doing such an impressive job as Chairwoman of the RNC.” Playbook Plus Q&A
BIRTHDAYS: Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is 51 … WSJ DC bureau chief Paul Beckett is 51 … Robert Rubin, former U.S. treasury secretary and co-chair emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, is 8-0 … Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association … former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is 63 … Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky is 37 … Connie Milstein (h/t Tammy Haddad) … POLITICO’s Nancy Scola, Kyle Daly, Morgan Granger and Noura Arzaz … Rachael Cusick … Amy Nathan … lobbyist Tom Jolly … Rich Cooper … Sacha Zimmerman … Andrew Adair … Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo is 57 … Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) is 68 … Stacey Hughes, president and founding partner of The Nickles Group … Ryan Hagemann, senior director for policy at the Niskanen Center (h/t Joey Coon) … Edelman’s Anna English … Sal Albanese is 69 … Ed Wyatt, senior communications officer at the Gates Foundation … Beau Cribbs (h/t Jim Dau) … Al Lengel (h/t Tim Burger) …
… Sewell Chan, who was recently hired as deputy managing editor at the LA Times … Jerr Rosenbaum, partner at HLP&R Advocacy … Garrett Arwa, COS at Democratic Super PAC For Our Future (h/t Eric Heggie) … Duncan Neasham, communications manager at Microsoft … Roger McShane of The Economist … Maurice Simpson Jr. … Anna Adams-Sarthou … Tim Warner is 5-0 … Kendra Marr Chaikind … Sam Hudis … Molly Phillips Fogarty, SVP of corporate affairs at Nestle … Paul Coussan … Catherine Hill, director for Brunswick Group in SF (h/t Nick Massella) … ONE’s Meagan Bond … Beth Mlynarczyk … Suzanne Henkels … Christina Silva, news director at Newsweek … Ryann DuRant … former Sen. David Pryor (D-Ark.) is 84 (h/t Tim Griffin) … Ben Martello … Adam Shapiro … Sarah Smith-Clevenger … Amy Storey … Susan Markham … Barb Worcester … Paige Ennis … Kevin Sweeney … Alison Schwartz (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)