Happy Wednesday morning, and welcome to November.
TAX ROLLOUT: TOP RATE STAYS AT 39.6, ROLLOUT DELAYED — WSJ’S RICH RUBIN, SIOBHAN HUGHES and KRISTINA PETERSON: “The House Republican tax plan will preserve a top individual tax rate of 39.6%, according to people familiar with the matter, though party leaders are delaying its release by a day to iron out unresolved issues.
Story Continued Below
“The plan for the top rate marks a retreat for Republicans on a question that has spurred intense debate in Washington: How will a tax overhaul treat the most affluent Americans? Republicans last year had been discussing a top rate of 33%, and then moved to 35% earlier this year. But they left themselves open to the possibility of keeping it unchanged or lowering it by some smaller amount.” http://on.wsj.com/2z3p02P
— RACHAEL BADE, BERNIE BECKER, BRIAN FALER and AARON LORENZO: “Ryan told conservative group leaders Thursday that the [top] income threshold for the top rate would likely be higher than it currently is, likely between $750,000 and $1 million. He said the estate tax would likewise be repealed but may have to be phased out to save money in the short term.
“But it’s the unresolved issues that caused Ways and Means members the most heartburn this week — and ultimately led to the delay. Those include: how to win over GOP lawmakers from high-tax states that are balking over curbing the state and local tax deduction, which their constituents rely on. There are also question about how to ensure that wealthy individuals don’t take advantage of the lower 25 percent small business or ‘pass-through’ rate. Many of the unresolved items are hot-button issues, including what to do with 401(k) retirement plans.” http://politi.co/2zn8fAl
— MORE DETAILS FROM NANCY COOK: “Ryan was fuzzy with them on where the one-time repatriation tax would fall. The estate tax is definitely going away but might have to be phased out. It would definitely be gone by year three. …
“The delay on the timing of the House GOP tax bill also forced the White House to re-jigger its roll-out plans. President Trump had tentatively planned to host some Republican members of the House Ways & Means Committee to the Oval Office for a photo-op and statements, following the unveil of the House bill, according to a congressional source familiar with the planning — but that too got disrupted.”
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ABOUT THE DELAY … The idea that this bill rollout would slip to Thursday truly isn’t a surprise to people in Washington. We put in Playbook Tuesday that President Trump was going to do a tax event “if House Republicans are able to get their tax bill out.”
TWO WAYS TO THINK ABOUT THIS — … Republicans want you to think this delay isn’t a big deal. And, in many ways, it’s not. Massive bills — and this one will be 1,000-plus pages — are hard and they take time. That’s why it was nonsensical that the White House wanted this done before the end of the year. (Although clearing this before year end would allow another run at health care in early 2018.) And, from a practical standpoint, this isn’t a big setback. The rollout is delayed by one single day.
— BUT, BUT, BUT … Tax reform isn’t a walk in the park. This is only going to get harder. Remember: we haven’t seen a single detail yet. Not one. The delay helps highlight that this is a long, arduous and tricky process.
REMINDER — Up on Capitol Hill and among Republican political operatives, the success of tax reform is seen as existential, and binary. Finish it and get it into law, and keep the House. Fail, and the House could be gone. IT’S SO IMPORTANT — AMERICAN ACTION NETWORK, the top House GOP outside group, is likely to spend between $20 million and $25 million to support the package. They’ve already spent close to $15 million.
BEHIND THE SCENES — TRUMP sat down with nearly a dozen trade association heads to talk about tax reform Tuesday. He asked how many of them had been working on tax policy when Congress and President Ronald Reagan rewrote the code in the 1980s. THE ANSWER: Just 2. TOM DONOHUE of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and DIRK VAN DONGEN of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. SPOTTED: Robert Cresanti of IFA, Matt Shay of NRF, Karen Kerrigan of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and Rob Nichols of ABA, among others. MISSING: JERRY HOWARD, head of the National Association of Homebuilders, who has come out against the tax package.
YOU’RE INVITED! DEPT. OF GOOD TIMING — JAKE and ANNA will sit down FRIDAY with HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS CHAIRMAN KEVIN BRADY — Kevin Brady is the House’s top tax writer, putting him in the middle of Republicans’ biggest and most important legislative push. He will explain the tax bill to us — and to Washington — in a Playbook Interview. LOCATION: The Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW). TIME: Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the event starts at noon. RSVP http://bit.ly/politicobrady EMAIL US if you have questions for the chairman. Our coordinates are at the top of the newsletter.
— @ChadPergram at 10:43 p.m.: “McConnell, Ryan, WH Cos Kelly, Nat’l Sec Adviser McMaster & DefSec Mattis all had dinner tonight”.
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NEW POLITICO/MORNING CONSULT POLL — “Poll: Voters like tax reform overall but cool to corporate cut,” by Toby Eckert: “Overall public support for the tax plan outlined in September by President Donald Trump and GOP Hill leaders remains steady, but opposition to a corporate rate cut has edged up, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Forty-eight percent of registered voters who responded to the poll said they “strongly support” or “somewhat support” the overall proposal based on what they knew about it, compared to 37 percent who opposed it. Those numbers are unchanged from a similar poll earlier this month, conducted shortly after the White House and congressional Republicans released their tax overhaul framework.
“The proposal’s popularity was driven by overwhelming Republican support, with 83 percent of GOP voters supporting it, compared to 24 percent of Democrats and 39 percent of independents. But a key part of the plan, lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, remains one of its least popular aspects. A plurality of respondents — 41 percent — said it shouldn’t be part of tax legislation, compared to 39 percent who said it should.” http://politi.co/2xIsHXV
THE LATEST ON THE TERROR ATTACK IN NYC — “NYC truck attack: Investigators scour driver’s background,” by AP’s Colleen Long and Matt Sedensky: “Investigators worked through the night to determine what led a truck driver to plow down people on a riverfront bike path near the World Trade Center, brandishing air guns and yelling ‘God is great’ in Arabic as his deadly route of terror ended with a crash, authorities said.
“Eight people were killed and 11 seriously injured in a Halloween afternoon attack that the mayor called ‘a particularly cowardly act of terror.’ The driver — identified by officials as an immigrant from Uzbekistan — was in critical condition but expected to survive after a police officer shot him in the abdomen.” http://bit.ly/2ikTIdz
— NYT: “The rampage ended when the motorist — whom the police identified as Sayfullo Saipov, 29 — smashed into a school bus, jumped out of his truck and ran up and down the highway waving a pellet gun and paintball gun and shouting ‘Allahu akbar,’ Arabic for ‘God is great,’ before he was shot in the abdomen by the officer. He remained in critical condition on Tuesday evening.” http://nyti.ms/2huDEq2
— “A Mangled School Bus, Bodies Everywhere; ‘It Was Surreal’,” by NYT’s Jose DelReal and Corey Kilgannon: http://nyti.ms/2zaaUfJ
–“Terror suspect was a ‘very friendly’ Uzbek immigrant who drove for Uber,” by N.Y. Post’s Gabrielle Fonrouge: “Kobiljon Matkarov, 37, met suspected terrorist Sayfullo Saipov in Florida about five years ago shortly after Saipov came from Uzbekistan– the two connected over their mutual heritage. ‘He is very good guy, he is very friendly… he is like little brother… he look at me like big brother,’ Matkarov said by phone Tuesday from his home in Miamisburg, Ohio. Matkarov said he’d been working for Uber and living in New Jersey as recently as this summer.” http://nyp.st/2iQXrU4
— TRUMP’S REACTION — @realDonaldTrump at 5:30 p.m.: “In NYC, looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person. Law enforcement is following this closely. NOT IN THE U.S.A.!” … at 6:31 p.m.: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!” … at 6:57 p.m.: “My thoughts, condolences and prayers to the victims and families of the New York City terrorist attack. God and your country are with you!” … at 9:26 p.m.: “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”
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AP’S ZEKE MILLER: “The real John Kelly slowly revealing himself at White House”: “In his three months on the job, John Kelly has been credited with bringing order to a chaotic West Wing, but don’t call him a moderate. President Donald Trump’s chief of staff was the enforcer of Trump’s controversial immigration policies, has frequently criticized the president’s enemies, and this week echoed his boss’ defense of Confederate monuments. It all suggests that ‘The Chief,’ as he is known among aides, may have instilled order, but he is more ideologically aligned with Trump than many believed.
“Much has been made of the imagery of Kelly silently lurking on the sidelines of presidential addresses, seeming to cringe when Trump gets out of line. But it may be wishful thinking by Trump’s critics to believe that he’s tugging the president in another direction. White House officials and Kelly allies say he is not so much partisan as he is ideological, holding hawkish views on issues like immigration and national security.” http://bit.ly/2zX8QoE
WHERE TRUMP’S HEAD IS — “Trump rejecting Bannon’s hard line against Mueller — for now,” by CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, Gloria Borger and Kevin Liptak: “President Donald Trump has decided — for now — to stick with his strategy of cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller, a day after the Russia investigation ensnared three of his campaign aides. That’s despite being urged to take a harder line by his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon. Bannon spoke with Trump following Monday’s announcements from the special counsel, and advocated taking a harsher approach to Mueller …
“While Trump encouraged Bannon to lead the public charge against Mueller, the President made clear to aides Tuesday that he’s not adopting Bannon’s advice. As the President stews about the recent developments in the Russia investigation, he’s receiving conflicting arguments about how to proceed. His current legal team and strategy has the support of White House chief of staff John Kelly and — perhaps most importantly — members of the President’s family.” http://cnn.it/2yiQsKJ
MUELLER WATCH — “Papadopoulos Claimed Trump Campaign Approved Russia Meeting,” by Bloomberg’s Greg Farrell, David Voreacos and Henry Meyer: “Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos made a significant claim in an email: Top Trump campaign officials agreed to a pre-election meeting with representatives of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The message, if true, would bolster claims that Trump’s campaign attempted to collude with Russian interests. But it’s unclear whether Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was merely boasting when he sent the July 14, 2016, email to a Kremlin-linked contact. There’s also no indication such a meeting ever occurred.” https://bloom.bg/2z8v8GO
— “Andrew Weissmann, Mueller’s Legal Pit Bull,” by NYT’s Matt Flegenheimer: “It is not clear if President Trump and his charges fear Mr. Weissmann as they gird for the slog ahead. It is quite clear, former colleagues and opponents say, that they should. ‘I’m no fan of Donald Trump,’ said Dan Cogdell, a Houston defense lawyer who tangled with Mr. Weissmann when Mr. Weissmann helped lead the federal task force investigating Enron in the early 2000s. ‘Frankly, I can’t think of two people who deserve each other more than Andrew Weissmann and Donald Trump.’” http://nyti.ms/2gTk7Ps
THE NEXT TURN OF THE SCREW — “Mueller schedules interview with Hope Hicks,” by Annie Karni and Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump’s longtime aide and current communications director, Hope Hicks, is scheduled to speak with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in mid-November, following the president’s trip to Asia, multiple people familiar with the schedule told POLITICO. Mueller’s team is also expected to interview three or four other current White House officials as early as this week …
“Mueller’s team already has interviewed former aides, including Trump’s first chief of staff Reince Priebus and former press secretary Sean Spicer. But the latest round of interviews appears to mark a new phase of the investigation — hauling in current administration officials for daylong depositions.” http://politi.co/2z2H9OA
GETTING POTUS READY FOR ASIA — “Trump advisers try to focus the president’s attention on Asia trip,” by Andrew Restuccia, Nahal Toosi, and Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump has been holed up in a series of rapid-fire briefing sessions on his upcoming 12-day, five-country tour through Asia — an effort the White House hopes will help avoid the kind of diplomatic snafus that have dogged his presidency. … Trump’s top advisers — including national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer — have met with the president in recent days to go over details of the trip, including in an hourlong briefing Friday in the Oval Office, according to administration officials.
“Top aides have sought to keep the briefings short to avoid overloading the president with details but have scheduled dozens of them to plan public remarks and outline what he should say about North Korea on defense and China on trade.” http://politi.co/2z87B92
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Exclusive: U.S. pursues direct diplomacy with North Korea despite Trump rejection,” by Reuters’ Arshad Mohammed and Matt Spetalnick: “The United States is quietly pursuing direct diplomacy with North Korea, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday, despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s public assertion that such talks are a waste of time. Using the so-called ‘New York channel,’ Joseph Yun, U.S. negotiator with North Korea, has been in contact with diplomats at Pyongyang’s United Nations mission, the official said, at a time when an exchange of bellicose insults between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has fueled fears of military conflict.” http://reut.rs/2lBgBOS
TRUMP’S WEDNESDAY — Trump is holding a cabinet meeting. This afternoon he will sign the National Veterans and Military Families Month Proclamation. He is having lunch with VP Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. He will also meet with RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel. He will also sign a bill “Disapproving of the Consumer Financial Bureau’s Arbitration Agreements Rule.”
SPORTS BLINK — TONIGHT: World Series, Game 7, Astros vs. Dodgers, 8:20 p.m. at Dodgers Park in Los Angeles
BETSY DEVOS PROFILE — TIM ALBERTA in the Nov./Dec. issue of POLITICO Magazine, “The Education of Betsy DeVos: President Donald Trump’s most controversial, ideological Cabinet pick is discovering the limits of her power”: “It is strange, if a bit unsettling, to see U.S. Marshals constantly hovering near the U.S. secretary of education, a 59-year-old evangelical Christian grandmother whose hobbies are bike riding, yoga and visiting grade schools. But as Betsy DeVos approached Kansas City Academy on a sunny Friday morning in mid-September, it was clear why she wants them there.
“It was the final day of her ‘Rethink School’ tour, the familiar fly-around trip taken by a Cabinet secretary to capture some local news coverage and emphasize priorities—in DeVos’ case, to highlight unique and innovative learning environments across the country. But at this particular stop, tension filled the air. Several hundred protesters gathered outside—vastly outnumbering the 76 students, grades 6 through 12, who attend the school—while a procession of speakers denounced DeVos as a destroyer of public education and an enabler of campus rape.” http://politi.co/2h0r0lx
K STREET FILES — “Podesta’s downfall sends shock waves through K Street: The departure of the Democratic super-lobbyist, and indictment of Paul Manafort, has other firms working to make sure they’re not next,” by Theo Meyer: http://politi.co/2ijCXzp
ROBERT DRAPER on the cover of the N.Y. Times Magazine, “A Post-Obama Democratic Party in Search of Itself: Barack Obama left office as one of the most popular departing presidents in American history. He also left behind a Democratic Party struggling to find an identity and a future without him — and to reconnect with voters in time for the 2018 elections”: “Most if not all Democrats are more than happy to watch Bannon’s kamikaze antics wreak havoc on the opposition. Still, some in the party rue the lack of pugnacity on their own side. ‘There are two types of Democrats,’ David Krone, Harry Reid’s former chief of staff, told me one afternoon this summer in the Midtown Manhattan office where he now works as a consultant for an investment firm. ‘There are killers, and there are whiners. Unfortunately, we have too many of the latter and not enough of the former.’” http://nyti.ms/2ijwuUZ … The cover http://politi.co/2ht2mqH
THE HARASSMENT FILES — “NPR’s top editor placed on leave after accusations of sexual harassment,” by WaPo’s Paul Farhi: “NPR is investigating allegations by two women who said the head of its news department made unwanted physical contact with them while he was employed by another news organization nearly two decades ago. The women, both journalists at the time of the alleged incidents, made the accusations in recent weeks against Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director at the Washington-based public broadcasting organization. In response to the allegations, NPR said Tuesday that it has placed Oreskes on indefinite leave.
“In separate complaints, the women said Oreskes — at the time, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times — abruptly kissed them while they were speaking with him about working at the newspaper. Both of them told similar stories: After meeting Oreskes and discussing their job prospects, they said he unexpectedly kissed them on the lips and stuck his tongue in their mouths.” http://wapo.st/2hs1YJ6
JOHN HEILEMANN SPEAKS OUT – “Mark Halperin’s ‘Game Change’ Partner Says He Was Unaware,” by NYT’s Michael M. Grynbaum: “‘I had never heard of, been exposed to or had any inkling of the notion that he had engaged in any behavior that could be described in even the broadest sense of being sexual harassment or sexual assault,’ Mr. Heilemann said, in his first public remarks since the claims against Mr. Halperin surfaced. He added, ‘I was flabbergasted and shocked.’ … It remains unclear what will become of Mr. Halperin’s contributions to the scuttled third installment in the ‘Game Change’ series.
“The pair had conducted roughly 300 interviews for the book in recent months, Mr. Heilemann said. ‘We’ve done reporting that touches on important things both for history and for the current national dialogue,’ he said. … ‘Mark was my friend,’ Mr. Heilemann said. ‘I cared about him then, and I care about him now. It’s also the case that Mark wasn’t in the circle of my closest friends.’ … Showtime said that the network remained on good terms with Mr. Heilemann and that it was examining whether ‘The Circus’ will go on without Mr. Halperin.” http://nyti.ms/2gPQaQ5
MEDIAWATCH — “‘I want to quit’: Fox News employees say their network’s Russia coverage was ‘an embarrassment,’” by CNN’s Oliver Darcy: “‘I’m watching now and screaming,’ one Fox News personality said in a text message to CNN as the person watched their network’s coverage. ‘I want to quit.’ ‘It is another blow to journalists at Fox who come in every day wanting to cover the news in a fair and objective way,’ one senior Fox News employee told CNN of their outlet’s coverage, adding that there were ‘many eye rolls” in the newsroom over how the news was covered. The person said, ‘Fox feels like an extension of the Trump White House.’” http://cnnmon.ie/2za3IjV
— MAJOR GARRETT is publishing a new book called “Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of the First Year with America’s 45th President,” which is expected to come out in fall of 2018. The publisher is All Points Books, the political and current affairs imprint of St. Martin’s Press.
SPOTTED: Frank Luntz in the second row behind home plate at World Series Game 6 yesterday – (Rep. Kevin McCarthy tweeted a pic of Frank on TV) http://bit.ly/2ijkMtK … at a bipartisan Senate “Halloween dog costume celebration” yesterday on the Hill, hosted by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.): Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) along with 100 dogs and at least 200 people – pic of Tillis and a dog http://politi.co/2z50g8c
OUT AND ABOUT — Among the trick or treaters at Robert and Elena Allbritton’s house last night, which had a doughnut truck in the driveway (Mama’s Doughnut Bites): Ivanka and her kids, Mark and Sally Ein, and CBS’ Nancy Cordes – pics http://bit.ly/2h2pLCm … http://bit.ly/2ijF7il … http://bit.ly/2zWoQY1 … http://bit.ly/2z1ROqf
— SPOTTED at the Adrienne Arsht Day of the Dead party last night at her Massachusetts Heights mansion: Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Hilary Ross, Kellyanne Conway, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Marie Royce, Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (wearing full skeleton face paint) and Dick DeVos, Ret. Gen. Jim Jones and Diane Jones, Amb. Stuart Bernstein, Stuart and Gwen Holliday …
… Mexican Amb. Geronimo Gutierrez, Amb. Capricia and Rob Marshall, Kathleen Biden, Boyden Gray, Brazilian Amb. Sergio Silva Do Amaral, Susan Blumenthal, Israeli Amb. Ron Dermer, Patrick Steel and Lee Satterfield, Monaco Amb. Maguy Doyle, Kathleen Stevens, Lucky Roosevelt, Jordanian Amb. Dina Kawar, Tom and Anne LeBlanc, Michelle Kosinski, Michael LaRosa, Katherine Bradley, Robert Pullen, and Paige Ennis.
TRANSITIONS — WILL JOHNSON has joined DailyKos as senior vice president for advertising strategy. He will lead the creation of a new unit focused on digital advertising sales. He is an alum of Talking Points Memo, NGP VAN, Bully Pulpit Interactive and Change. … Melika Willoughby starts today as comms director for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). She is a Hillsdale alumna who served as communications director for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
— John Thornton and former Singapore Amb. to the U.S. Chan Heng Chee have been named new co-chairs of the Asia Society. Caroline Kennedy and Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud have been named to the board. The organization is starting a $135 million capital campaign.
BIRTHDAYS OF THE DAY: David Bossie, president of Citizens United and former Trump deputy campaign manager. How he’s celebrating: “Enjoying dinner with my wife and four children at our favorite place GrillMarx, a small restaurant in Olney, Maryland.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2lzIbvI … WaPo non fiction book critic Carlos Lozada. How he got his start in journalism: “I started off as an associate editor at Foreign Policy magazine, beginning in late 1999. I was working at the Federal Reserve but wanted to try something new, and I’ll always be grateful to Moises Naim and James Gibney for hiring me. I had no business getting that job, but it sent me on my way.” Q&A: http://politi.co/2A4g2Qx
BIRTHDAYS: Charles Koch is 82 … Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is 64 … Katie (Walsh) Shields (hubby tip: Mike) … Apple CEO Tim Cook is 57 … Vanessa Morrone (hat tip: Sean Spicer) … Lee Fang, investigative journalist at The Intercept … Francesco Guerrera, head of EMEA at Dow Jones Media Group and publisher of Financial News … Politico’s Jason Shervinski and Cristina Brownell … GPG’s Alex Byers … Brian Mahoney … Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine) is 64 … John Oxtoby, VP of strategy and corporate development at Ariel Investments and Obama alum (h/t Andrew Bates) … Michael Byerly … Ram Sivalingam … Jamie Sterne, founder of hedge fund Skye Global Management … Eric Liu … Megan Wilson, lobbying reporter for The Hill (h/t Neil Grace) … Les Novitsky … Jay Villegas, bartender extraordinaire at Tosca (h/ts Maggie and Jon) …
… Liz Dougherty, general counsel and corporate secretary at Business Roundtable … Larry Flynt is 75. He’s celebrating with friends and family (h/t Nadia Szold) … Clare Steinberg, associate at Gibson, Dunn … Tyler Hernandez … Fergus M. Bordewich, historian and author of “The First Congress” (h/t Jean) … Chloe Mullins Taylor of Hawk Partners and alum of Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner … Ali Ahmad … Pearson Cummings, SVP for tech policy and public affairs at Edelman … Peter Urban … Jordan Mason … Greg Werkheiser … Bill Deere … Peter Newell … Leslie Pollner … Gabe Cramer is 23 (h/t Jewish Insider) … Doug Stevens … Jordan Mason … John Stipicevic … former Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) is 75 … Anthony DeAngelo, media relations manager at APCO Worldwide … Anthony Fragale … Sue Mahsem … Bo Harmon … John Seeley … Mitchell Wohlberg … country singer Richard Samet “Kinky” Friedman is 73 … CNN’s Marshall Cohen … Senate Chaplain Barry Black is 69 … Siri Uotila (h/t Teresa Vilmain)
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