GARY COHN and REINCE PRIEBUS break bread in the back of Capital Grille — SEXUAL HARASSMENT fallout hits the Hill — TAX REFORM by Thanksgiving? — SPOTTED at the Bush twins’ book party — B’DAY: Michael Calderone

Good Friday morning. SPOTTED: GARY COHN having dinner last night with REINCE PRIEBUS in a booth in the back of the Capital Grille.

FUN VIDEO — ABC News (@ABC): “Sec. of State Tillerson stops at statue while touring parks around Geneva: ‘Some days I feel like I need to do that. Curl up in a ball.’” 23-second video

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SEXUAL HARASSMENT FALLOUT HITS THE HILL — “Sexual harassment policies on Capitol Hill inhibit victims,” by Rachael Bade and Elana Schor: “Two female lawmakers and several congressional staffers are calling for an overhaul of Capitol Hill’s policies on sexual harassment, citing a culture of tolerance in a workplace long known as a boys’ club.

“The sexual harassment scandals involving major Hollywood and media figures are focusing new attention on Congress’ procedures, which critics say are woefully inadequate for deterring bad behavior in an institution filled with powerful men and young aides trying to advance their careers. Each congressional office operates as its own small, tightly-controlled fiefdom with its own rules and procedures, which makes it that much harder to come forward.

“Lawmakers and congressional aides are not required to undergo sexual harassment training — a shortcoming even the office that handles complaints says should be changed. And victims must submit to as long as three months of mandated ‘counseling’ and ‘mediation’ as well as what one lawyer involved in such cases called a ‘cooling off period,’ before filing a complaint against an alleged perpetrator. That’s assuming they’re even aware of how to lodge a grievance.”

MORE HALPERIN — “‘I don’t want to sit on your lap,’ she thought. But, she alleges, Mark Halperin insisted,” by WaPo’s Paul Farhi: “The alleged conduct ranged from relatively trivial unwelcome contact — grabbing and holding women’s hands, for example — to inappropriate late-night phone calls and aggressive and repeated sexual propositioning. Several of the accusers recounted episodes in which he rubbed his erect penis against them — a claim specifically denied by Halperin in an interview. One woman said he appeared wearing only an open robe when a young campaign operative was summoned to deliver information to his hotel room.

“Separately, Emily Miller, an author and political correspondent for the One America News cable network, said she was ‘sexually assaulted’ by Halperin when she worked at ABC News. ‘I did not report Halperin to ABC because I thought I was the only one, and I blamed myself, and I was embarrassed and I was scared of him,’ she wrote on Twitter and Facebook on Thursday. … Halperin … specifically denied her statement. The women who spoke to The Post said Halperin was at his most aggressive during the 2004 campaign, when he was in charge of ABC News’s political coverage.

“As political director for the Disney-owned network, he was empowered to select the embeds, a low-level position but an important step in a highly competitive business. Out of roughly 60 people who were interviewed for 13 positions, Halperin selected 11 women — all of them young, attractive, well-educated and ambitious.”

— “HBO, Penguin cancel ‘Game Change’ over Halperin’s alleged sexual harassment,” by Michael Calderone, whose birthday is today: “The 2016 edition of ‘Game Change,’ the most lucrative franchise in political journalism, appears doomed as Penguin Press canceled the much-anticipated book and HBO dropped the movie version in response to five women accusing co-writer Mark Halperin of sexual harassment during his time at ABC News.”

–JILL ABRAMSON in THE GUARDIAN: “I’ve spent the past two weeks investigating sexual harassment allegations at another media company. I’ve approached lots of scared young women who tell me about awful experiences but won’t talk on the record because they’ve signed non-disclosure agreements or fear becoming unemployable if they talk.”

THE TAX REFORM: BILL BY WEDNESDAY, DONE BY THANKSGIVING?– “Major divisions remain as GOP nears its tax deadline,” by WaPo’s Mike DeBonis and Damian Paletta: “Republicans set an aggressive timeline for passing legislation to overhaul the nation’s tax code, putting pressure on senior lawmakers and the White House to resolve major disagreements about the effort before a Wednesday deadline to introduce a bill.

“In a sign of the challenge to come, House Republicans narrowly passed a budget measure on Thursday allowing the tax overhaul to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion over a decade. The effort succeeded with support from only two lawmakers to spare, as a group of northeastern Republicans opposed the budget resolution because of concerns that the tax rewrite could hurt their constituents.

“The Wednesday deadline sets up what is likely to be several days of intense lobbying to shape the bill. The House and Senate aim to pass legislation by Thanksgiving, with the goal of finalizing the bill and sending it to President Trump by year’s end.”

— THE RICH RUBIN REPORT: “House and Senate leaders each want to pass tax legislation before Thanksgiving, which means going from having no publicly available bill to consequential votes in 22 days. …

“Obstacles loom in every direction. In the House, where Republicans have a 239-194 edge, opposition by members from high-local-tax states narrows the party’s margins significantly, though that won’t be the only issue. So far, party leaders haven’t been able to reach a compromise that would continue some federal tax break for local property taxes. New York and New Jersey lawmakers went to the leadership’s offices for a meeting on the issue after Thursday’s vote but emerged without an agreement.”

SEUNG MIN “SCOOP” KIM — “McConnell preps judicial confirmation frenzy”: “The top Senate Republican on Thursday teed up votes to install four nominees to the powerful appellate courts, which give the final word on the vast majority of cases that don’t reach the Supreme Court. The nominees are Allison Eid for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; Stephanos Bibas for the 3rd Circuit; Joan Larsen for the 6th Circuit; and Amy Coney Barrett for the 7th Circuit. Eid and Larsen are among the names Donald Trump floated during the presidential campaign last year as potential Supreme Court picks, adding more significance to their confirmations to the appellate courts.”

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TRUMP’S OPIOID ANNOUNCEMENT — “Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a ‘Health Emergency’ but Requests No Funds,” by NYT’s Julie Hirschfeld Davis: “[E]ven as he vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction and abuse that has swept the country — a priority that resonated strongly with the working-class voters who supported his presidential campaign — Mr. Trump fell short of fulfilling his promise in August to declare ‘a national emergency’ on opioids, which would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue.

“His directive does not on its own release any additional funds to deal with a drug crisis that claimed more than 59,000 lives in 2016, and the president did not request any, although his aides said he would soon do so. And he made little mention of the need for the rapid and costly expansion of medical treatment that public health specialists, including some in his own administration, argue is crucial to addressing the epidemic.”

TOUGH DALLAS MORNING NEWS EDITORIAL – “John Cornyn betrays himself and his party with embrace of Roy Moore”: “Sen. John Cornyn’s endorsement this week of Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate from Alabama is a new low not just for the former jurist and ex-Texas attorney general, but for the party he claims to love. We had hoped, as many have, that Cornyn would stand against the tide of populist, nativist and exclusionary politics that have come to dominate the Republican Party in Texas and elsewhere. That hope has now been all but extinguished.”

MUELLER WATCH — “Republicans spoil for a fight over Russia probe budget,” by Darren Samuelsohn: “Republicans trying to hobble Robert Mueller’s sprawling probe into President Donald Trump and Russia matters are about to get a new weapon: the special counsel’s budget. Lawmakers haven’t yet seen the Russia investigator’s first spending report, which must go through a Justice Department review before being made public. But they’re already setting up a fight over how much the probe is costing taxpayers — and the fact that there’s no end in sight.

“‘For them to say to us, ‘Vote for an open-ended appropriation into a Mueller witch hunt,’ I think you’ll see significant objection there,’ Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told POLITICO. Mueller’s public budget is expected to contain only top-line figures covering broad categories like staff salaries, travel, outside contracts, supplies and equipment. But money will become a recurring fight as the investigation drags on, because Mueller is required to produce public expense reports every six months — giving opponents repeated opportunities to paint him in a negative light.”

ABOUT THOSE RUSSIA PROBES — “GOP winds down Russia probes with Trump collusion unanswered,” by Kyle Cheney and Elana Schor: “Republican lawmakers say they’re approaching the end of their investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election even though the most politically explosive issue — whether associates of President Donald Trump colluded with the Kremlin — remains unresolved. That will present Democrats who have spent a year amplifying suspicions about Trump’s own ties to Russia with a wrenching choice: to join Republicans and set aside the most momentous aspect of their probes — or to break from the GOP and end any chance of presenting a united front against a continuing Russian threat.”

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Corker: Trump administration moving ahead on delayed Russia sanctions,” by Elana Schor: “The State Department is set to begin implementing new Russia sanctions after lawmakers in both parties raised questions about the weeks-long delay, according to a Thursday statement from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). At issue is an Oct. 1 deadline to identify entities in the Russian defense and intelligence sectors in line for new sanctions under a sweeping bipartisan bill that President Donald Trump signed in August. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle began clamoring for action after the Trump administration missed that deadline, urging Trump to use the powers they gave him to get tougher on Moscow.”

BUT, BUT, BUT — “State Department Scraps Sanctions Office,” by Foreign Policy’s Robbie Gramer and Dan De Luce: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson eliminated the Coordinator for Sanctions Policy office, which had been led by a veteran ambassador-rank diplomat with at least five staff, as part of an overhaul of the department, former diplomats and congressional sources told Foreign Policy. Instead, the role of coordinating U.S. sanctions across the State Department and other government agencies now falls to just one mid-level official — David Tessler, the deputy director of the Policy Planning Office.”

MAUREEN DOWD: “Mark Cuban’s Not Done Trolling Donald Trump”: “He puts the odds that he will challenge his fellow loud billionaire, master salesman and reality TV star in 2020 at 10 percent — ‘maybe 11.’ ‘I’m considering it, yes,’ he tells me. ‘I would put the odds against it right now for family reasons, but there is still plenty of time.’ …

“I met the voluble owner of the Dallas Mavericks at Jean-Georges in the Trump hotel at Columbus Circle, where he keeps an apartment. … When I ask if he would run as an independent, he replies: ‘Probably, or a Republican. I’m registered as an independent. I mean, I’d rather do it as an independent.’ But running as an independent has not proved successful in modern times. You just become a spoiler like Ross Perot. (Who is Cuban’s neighbor in Dallas, along with W.) ”


— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: VP MIKE PENCE is beefing up his legislative affairs staff, bringing on a top floor aide to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. CHRIS HODGSON, Scalise’s deputy floor director, will be the deputy director of House legislative affairs. Hodgson has been with Scalise for four years. In Hodgson, Pence gets someone who has been intricately involved in whipping. “As our deputy floor director, Chris has played an important role in many legislative victories for the American people and built strong relationships with members and staff alike,” Scalise said in a statement. “I’m confident that in his new role he will help bring about many more victories for American families as we work together to enact President Trump’s agenda.”

— FRIDAY NIGHT VIEWING: WASHINGTON WEEK: Bob Costa has Peter Baker, Nancy Cordes and Ed O’Keefe tonight on PBS.

TRUMP’S FRIDAY — THE PRESIDENT is meeting with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

COMING THIS WINTER — “Mar-a-Lago to host Trump booster bash Jan. 18,” by Palm Beach Post’s Alexandra Clough: “President Donald Trump’s fan club is throwing a party in January to celebrate his first year as president — and to support Trump’s Mar-a-Lago, which saw an exodus of private charity events booked for galas this coming winter season. The Trumpettes will host a Red, White and Blue Celebration for the first anniversary of Trump’s presidency … Toni Holt Kramer, the Trumpettes’ founder and an ardent Trump supporter … said she watched from afar as charity after charity canceled at Mar-a-Lago.”

ABOUT THOSE JFK FILES — “7 new findings from the latest JFK files,” by Cristiano Lima and Akela Lacy: “Strippers, surveillance and assassination plots: The wildest JFK Files”

— “What you won’t find in the final JFK assassination records,” by Bryan Bender: “Don’t expect an end to the conspiracy theories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy — even after the vast network of JFK-obsessed researchers pore over the final trove of government documents. That’s because the thousands of files made public by the National Archives late Thursday — and others that President Donald Trump announced will undergo an additional 180-day review — are still vastly incomplete, according to former government officials and leading assassination scholars, including those who believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and the many more who don’t.”

REUTERS’ NATHAN LAYNE: “While advising Trump in 2016, ex-CIA chief proposed plan to discredit Turkish cleric”: “Former CIA director James Woolsey pitched a $10 million contract to two Turkish businessmen to help discredit a controversial U.S.-based cleric while Woolsey was an adviser to Donald Trump’s election campaign, three people familiar with the proposal said. Just eight days after formally joining Trump’s campaign as an adviser on national security issues, Woolsey met on Sept. 20, 2016 with businessmen Ekim Alptekin and Sezgin Baran Korkmaz over lunch at the Peninsula Hotel in New York … Woolsey and his wife, Nancye Miller, proposed a lobbying and public relations campaign targeting Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in Pennsylvania.”

ON THE WORLD STAGE — “Tracking Down North Korea’s Elusive UN Ambassadors Isn’t Easy,” by Bloomberg’s Kambiz Foroohar: “North Korea’s UN mission is located on the 13th floor of a nondescript Manhattan office building above a Hallmark Cards store. The diplomatic outpost of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as it’s formally called, shares the floor with the ‘Delegation of the Basque Country in the U.S.’ and Cahn Capital Corp., an investment bank. … On repeated visits, no one answered the door and phone calls went unreturned.

“The mission’s lack of a bathroom is its most visible shortcoming: North Korean diplomats have to tread down the narrow corridor to the other end of the floor to a shared toilet facility. On a recent trip, after repeated unanswered ringing of the mission’s doorbell, the door inched open and a man in casual clothes holding a toothbrush in one hand edged out, closing the door behind him. The man shook his head when asked about meeting the ambassador.”

WHAT HAPPENED IN NIGER — “U.S. Soldiers Were Separated From Unit in Niger Ambush, Officials Say,” by NYT’s Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Eric Schmitt: “In the chaotic moments after an Army Special Forces team and 30 Nigerien troops were ambushed by militants in a remote corner of West Africa three weeks ago, four of the Americans were separated from the larger group. Their squad mates immediately alerted commanders that they were under attack — then called for help nearly an hour later, as a top Pentagon official said this week — and ground forces from Niger’s army and French Mirage jets were both dispatched.

“About two hours later, the firefight tapering off, French helicopters from nearby Mali swooped in to the rescue on the rolling wooded terrain. But they retrieved only seven of the 11 Americans. The four others were inexplicably left behind, no longer in radio contact and initially considered missing in action by the Pentagon, a status that officials say raises the possibility they were still alive when the helicopters took off without them.”

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HMM — “Georgia election server wiped after suit filed,” by AP’s Frank Bajak: “A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned. The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP.”

BUSINESS BURST – “CVS Makes Blockbuster Aetna Bid,” by WSJ’s Dana Mattioli, Sharon Terlep and Anna Wilde Mathews: “CVS Health Corp. is in talks to buy Aetna Inc. for more than $66 billion as the drugstore giant scrambles to fortify itself against looming competition from Inc. amid a continuing reordering of the health-care industry. CVS has made a proposal to buy the health insurer for more than $200 per share.”

— PROTECTING AGAINST AMAZON … NYT’S ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, MICHAEL J. DE LA MERCED and KATIE THOMAS: “The talks between CVS and Aetna appear to be in part an attempt to fend off a move by Amazon into the drug-selling business — or at least to insulate the companies in case Amazon does invade. Signs are emerging that Amazon has designs on the pharmacy industry, with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting on Thursday that Amazon had gained licenses in 12 states to become a wholesale prescription drug distributor. A larger company — CVS and Aetna have combined annual revenues of about $240 billion — could enjoy greater leverage in negotiations with drug companies, helping it defend itself against newcomers like Amazon.”

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Down hundreds of staff, Weather Service ‘teetering on the brink of failure,’ labor union says,” by WaPo’s Jason Samenow: “[T]he National Weather Service workforce is spread razor thin, with hundreds of vacant forecast positions. The National Weather Service Employees Organization, its labor union, said the lack of staff is taking a toll on forecasting operations and that the agency is ‘for the first time in its history teetering on the brink of failure.’ Managers are being forced to scale back certain operations, and staff are stressed and overworked. … [T]he team of 15 forecasters serving the Washington and Baltimore region will be short five full-time staff heading into the winter months.”

MEDIAWATCH — “12 hours v. 20 minutes: Fox’s uneven sex harassment coverage,” by AP’s David Bauder: “Bill O’Reilly and Harvey Weinstein are the celebrity faces of sexual harassment in 2017. But on Fox News Channel, O’Reilly’s former home, the Hollywood mogul’s fall has gotten far more coverage. Fox has devoted more than 12½ hours of airtime to Weinstein since Oct. 5, when The New York Times broke the story about his misconduct, according to the liberal media watchdog Media Matters for America. By contrast, Fox has spent 20 minutes, 46 seconds, on the accusations against O’Reilly since the Times revealed many of them in April.”

PLAYBOOK INBOX – From Fox News’ Jon Decker: “Great news! I just learned I passed the DC Bar!! First time. And I did it while covering this White House. I’m simply overjoyed!! I just wanted to share my good news.”

SPOTTED at an AEI dinner honoring Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks receiving the 2017 AEI Irving Kristol Award (transcript of his remarks: Dick Cheney, General Jack Keane, Amb. James Jeffrey, Josh Rogin, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Hadas Gold, Sam Feist, Hugo Gurdon

OUT AND ABOUT — Connie Milstein, Dr. Mark Dybul, Anita McBride and Tammy Haddad hosted a book party yesterday at the Jefferson Hotel to celebrate Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush’s new book, “Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life.” The book will premiere next week on the NYT bestseller list. $16.80 on Amazon

SPOTTED: Josh Bolten, UK Amb. Kim Darroch, Tim McBride, Bob Woodward, Greta Van Susteren and John Coale, Bret and Amy Baier, Fred Ryan and daughter Genevieve, Jason Claire, Kasie Hunt, Howard Fineman, David Lane, Amb. Pete Selfridge, Steve Clemons, Shailagh Murray, Evan Ryan, Stephanie Cutter, Jonathan Capehart, Juleanna Glover, Craig Gordon, Francesca Craig, Mark Ein, Ryan Williams, Addie Crimmins, Sarah Whitworth, Sara Bonjean, Matt Mowers, Dan Meyers, Robin Goldman, Kevin Cirilli and Susan Blumenthal.

–Pool report: “VIEW PAC (Value In Electing Women Political Action Committee) celebrated its 20th anniversary of working to elect Republican women to the House and Senate. Over the past two decades VIEW PAC has helped infuse over $4 million into the coffers of female GOP candidates and incumbents.” Pic

SPOTTED: Speaker Paul Ryan, Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers (Ohio), GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Mia Love (R-Utah), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Mimi Walters (R-Calif.), Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), and Karen Handel (R-Ga.), former Reps. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), Dave Camp (R-Mich.), and Connie Morella (R-Md.), Cindy Stevens, Becky Anderson, Chris Frech, Jo-Marie St. Martin, Kathryn Lehman, Sally Vastola, Megan Cummings and Sue Andres.

SUNDAY SO FAR — “Fox News Sunday”: Ohio Gov. John Kasich … Panel: Carly Fiorina, Jane Harman, Ari Fleischer, Mo Elleithee. Power Players: Miles Teller and Jason Hall of “Thank You for Your Service”

— CBS’ “Face the Nation”: Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) … New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Political panel: Ben Domenech, Ruth Marcus, David Nakamura, and Julie Pace … Jon Batiste, the band leader for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

— ABC’s “This Week”: Panel: Matthew Dowd, Roland Martin, Karen Finney, Katie Walsh, and Brian Kilmeade

— CNN’s “State of the Union”: Panel: Jennifer Granholm, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Charlie Sykes, Nina Turner

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Mike McCurry, former Clinton WH press secretary now distinguished professor of public theology at Wesley Theological Seminary and of counsel to Public Strategies Washington, is 63. A trend he thinks is undercovered: “The reduction in global poverty and the progress we are making in combating famine and diseases of poverty like Malaria. We still have a long way to go…but we are making progress. Also hunger in the U.S. – one in five kids in the U.S. faces ‘food insecurity’ – maybe not hunger but in a home where there may not be enough money to put food on the table. How can that be? (I work on these issues in my spare time.)” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A:

BIRTHDAYS: Nina Easton … Politico’s Michael Calderone and Ali Watkins … Richard Clarke, chairman and CEO of Good Harbor, is 67 … Stuart Roy of Strategic Action Public Affairs (hat tip: Blain Rethmeier) … American Airlines alum Will Ris … Phil Anderson, founding partner of Navigators Global … Jon Doggett, EVP at the National Corn Growers Association, is 62 … Chris Vlasto, senior EP for investigative reporting at ABC News … Clark Reid of the office of the Inspector General at Commerce …

… Zoé Zeigler, VP of content strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (h/ts Cally Baute and Jon Otto) … Christina Mountz, senior associate at Glover Park Group … Nicole Morrell (h/t Jon Haber) … Lori Otto Punke, founder of LOP Strategies … Nicholas Roosevelt … Mike Appel … Chrissy Terrell Murray, PR/comms for Gannett/USA Today Network … Ed Dippold … Jennifer Mandel … Abbey Shilling … Jackie Bray … Victoria Hargis … Mollie Rorrer Gore … George Landrith … Luke Harvey … Leslie Churchwell … Greg Gorman … Jonathan Sender … Gretchen Lee (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

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