WITH NINE DAYS until ELECTION DAY, violence, anti-Semitism and domestic terrorism are dominating the headlines. We started this week with mail bombings targeting prominent critics of PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP. Then there was a shooter in Kentucky who tried to break into a largely black church and later killed two in a grocery store. And Saturday, 11 were killed in a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue by a man who was spouting anti-Semitic rants.
WHILE REPUBLICANS in recent weeks felt like their chances in the midterms had rebounded after the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation battle, make no mistake — this is an extremely volatile backdrop for the election. And some Republicans are concerned that Democrats could make a convincing case to voters wanting a “check” on Trump for what they see as him stoking anger across the country.
“CONSOLER-IN-CHIEF” isn’t a role that Trump plays well. On the campaign trail yesterday he condemned the shootings as “pure evil.” But he also indicated that the shooter might not have been successful if people in the synagogue were armed. After years of using divisive rhetoric he couldn’t put genie back in the bottle. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to tone it down just a little bit,” Trump said. “Is that OK?” When the crowd responded negatively, the Trump said: “I had a feeling you might say that.”
HIS SUPPORTERS wanted the red meat that he has become famous for — chanting “lock her up” after Trump made a brief mention of Hillary Clinton. He went on to lightly attack Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and also mentioned Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).
FROM 30,000 FEET — “Critics say Trump has fostered the toxic environment for the political violence he denounces,” by WaPo’s David Nakamura: “Jewish Democratic donor George Soros, for instance, has become a major focus of Republican attack ads ahead of the midterms, even after a bomb was found in his mailbox last week. Trump has accused Soros, without evidence, of paying for protesters at his rallies.
“Such rhetoric and actions have provided tacit approval to fringe elements who are considering violence, Trump’s critics said. ‘The numerous statements he’s made, calling himself a ‘nationalist,’ crowds at his rallies chanting threats against George Soros — it’s all connected,’ said Cecilia Wang, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union.” WaPo
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE tells NBC NEWS that he sees no tie between Trump’s rhetoric and increased violence: “Everyone has their own style, and frankly, people on both sides of the aisle use strong language about our political differences … But I just don’t think you can connect it to acts or threats of violence.”
“The American people believe in the freedom of speech,” Pence said. “And throughout the history of this country we’ve always had vigorous debates and then we settle those debates in the ballot box. We don’t settle them through acts or threats of violence like the pipe bombs we saw sent to the Obamas, the Clintons, to CNN and others.” NBC News
— BUT, BUT, BUT … ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI told JAKE TAPPER on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION” that it’s time for the president to deescalate the rhetoric: “I would love to see this stuff dialed back on both sides. But good leadership requires that somebody goes first, and I’d like it to be him.”
TRAGEDY IN PITTSBURGH — CNN: “Hate crime charges filed in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that left 11 dead” – CNN: “Federal prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against a Pennsylvania man they say stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue and opened fire, killing 11 people. Robert Bowers, 46, of suburban Baldwin, surrendered to authorities after Saturday morning’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. He made anti-Semitic statements during the shooting and targeted Jews on social media, according to a federal law enforcement official.” CNN
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE’S DAVID SHRIBMAN: “Dispatch from Squirrel Hill: Dread in a peaceful place”: “We knew it could happen here — any here, anywhere — when we learned that nine people were killed three years ago in the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. We knew it could happen here – any here, anywhere — when we learned that six were killed in the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City last year. Now we know it can happen here, as anywhere, because it has.” Post-Gazette
THE VICTIMS — PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: “Dr. Karl Williams, chief medical examiner of Allegheny County, listed the names of 11 victims, which range in age from 54 to 97. Victims include Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland; Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross; Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill; Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood; brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill, and David Rosenthal, 54, of Squirrel Hill; married couple Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg, and Sylvan Simon, 86, of Wilkinsburg; Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill; Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill; and Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington. … Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto described the Saturday as the ‘darkest day in Pittsburgh’s history.’” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
NYT’S JULIE TURKEWITZ and KEVIN ROOSE: “An Attacker Who Spewed Anti-Semitism In Web Posts”: “The police arrested Mr. Bowers, who had 21 guns registered to his name, according to Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania. Officials said he was not known to law enforcement before the shooting, and a search of the Pennsylvania judiciary database shows only a 2015 traffic violation in his name. Mr. Bowers took to Gab, a social network that bills itself as a being dedicated to free speech and which is increasingly popular among alt-right activists and white nationalists.
“After opening an account on it in January, he had shared a stream of anti-Jewish slurs and conspiracy theories. It was on Gab where he found a like-minded community, reposting messages from Nazi supporters. ‘Jews are the children of Satan,’ read Mr. Bowers’ biography. Mr. Bowers lived about a 25-minute drive south of the synagogue in a brick apartment complex on a dead-end street, where he was frequently spotted smoking cigarettes outside. A neighbor said she could not remember seeing him speak to anyone, not in the two years she’d lived there.” NYT
— @NBCNews: “President Trump orders flags be flown at half-staff at the White House and all other public grounds and military posts in ‘solemn respect for the victims of the terrible act of violence perpetrated at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh’”.
SUNDAY BEST — STUNNING STAT: ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE CEO JONATHAN GREENBLATT on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: “What I can tell you is in 2016 we saw a 34 percent increase in acts of harassment, vandalism and violence against the Jewish community. But last year, a 57 percent increase, the single largest surge that we’ve ever seen in anti-Semitic acts in the United States.” ADL’s 2017 report
PITTSBURGH MAYOR BILL PEDUTO spoke with CHUCK TODD on NBC NEWS’ “MEET THE PRESS” about whether arming synagogues is the answer: PEDUTO: “I don’t think that the answer to this problem is solved by having our synagogues, mosques and churches filled with armed guards or our schools filled with armed guards.
“I think we’re dealing with an irrational person who acted irrationally. And trying to create laws around that is not the way that we should govern. We should try to stop irrational behavior from happening at the forefront. And not try to create laws around irrational behavior to continue.”
Good Sunday morning. The Red Sox are up 3-1 in the World Series after beating the LA Dodgers 9-6 last night. Game 5 is tonight at 8:15 p.m. in Los Angeles.
— PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S TAKE — (@realDonaldTrump) at 11:46 p.m.: “Watching the Dodgers/Red Sox final innings. It is amazing how a manager takes out a pitcher who is loose & dominating through almost 7 innings, Rich Hill of Dodgers, and brings in nervous reliever(s) who get shellacked. 4 run lead gone. Managers do it all the time, big mistake!”
NEW CBS NEWS BATTLEGROUND POLL: Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Rick Scott are tied 46-46 among likely voters … Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema is up 47-44 over Republican Martha McSally … Indiana Republican Senate candidate Mike Braun leads Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly 46-43. The full poll results
MORE SUNDAY BEST — CHRIS WALLACE spoke with DHS SECRETARY KIRSTJEN NIELSEN on FOX NEWS’ “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: WALLACE: “I understand that in fact DHS officials had been in this synagogue recently?” NIELSEN: “Yes. As recently as March, we actually conducted a site visit there with our protective security advisor in the area. This is something we often do.”
WALLACE: “And what’s the advice, how to handle an active shooter? Somebody comes in to a service in a synagogue, what can you do?” NIELSEN: “We’ve trained over 900,000 officials throughout the country. We will continue to do that. In some cases, the advice is to shelter in place, to some is to orderly evacuate, depends on the circumstances but you should always listen to the individuals there in charge who will direct you.”
— ON WHETHER THERE WAS AN ACCOMPLICE IN THE MAIL BOMB CASE: NIELSEN: “The investigation is still underway. What I can assure you is if there are additional perpetrators, they will also be brought to justice.”
— JOHN DICKERSON talked with SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OKLA.) on CBS’ “FACE THE NATION”: DICKERSON: “One of the things that the shooter in this horrible shooting apparently said, or was guided by, was this idea that this caravan coming from Central America was being supported by globalists, some people say George Soros’ name. President Trump has made that same case. Do you see any connection between the shooter motivated by that and the case the president has been making?”
LANKFORD: “I don’t because this particular shooter also condemned President Trump, saying he was a globalist and that he was allowing some of this to happen. So I — I don’t see any connection where you would connect the president to this particular shooting, just like I wouldn’t see that connecting Democrats when a person walked up to a baseball game last year in Washington, D.C. and said, ‘Is this where the Republicans are practicing?’ and then open fired on them simply because they were Republicans.”
THE LATEST ON THE MAIL BOMBS — “Mail bomb suspect made numerous references on Facebook to Russian associates and echoed pro-Kremlin views,” by WaPo’s Craig Timberg and Tony Romm: “A Facebook account apparently belonging to the man charged with sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats this week included references to Russian associates and propaganda links that echo Kremlin views on the Syrian civil war, alongside ramblings about soccer, women and U.S. politics. Cesar Sayoc, 56, a vocal supporter of President Trump who was arrested in Florida on Friday and charged with multiple federal crimes, apparently spoke of ‘my Russian brothers’ on several occasions on a Facebook page in 2015.
“The meaning of the references to Russians is not clear, nor is it clear how Sayoc came to view and share propaganda sympathetic to Russian actions in Syria. Facebook removed the account from public view after news spread of Sayoc’s arrest. But The Washington Post obtained hundreds of public posts from 2015 and 2016 from Columbia University social media researcher Jonathan Albright, who downloaded them Friday before Facebook removed the information.” WaPo
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION — NANCY COOK: “Trump Cabinet exodus likely after midterms”: “President Donald Trump could see up to six Cabinet officials depart in the weeks after next month’s midterm elections, according to interviews with a half-dozen current and former Trump officials and Republicans close to the White House.
“For a president who has already shed or shuffled up eight Cabinet officials, that would make for the highest turnover rate in recent history. It would also be a major disruption even by the standards of an ever-churning administration — possibly creating new confusion across departments and agencies and risking multiple bloody Senate confirmation fights.
“The list includes United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, who announced last month that she will depart by the end of the year, with no replacement in line. Trump is widely expected to oust Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he has criticized for months. Others who appear most likely to depart, according to administration sources and White House advisers, include Defense Secretary James Mattis, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, a close ally to chief-of-staff Gen. John Kelly.” POLITICO
2018 WATCH — “In Montana, the Trumps are still testy about Tester and Jackson,” by Burgess Everett in Missoula, Mont.: “The Trump family has not forgotten about Sen. Jon Tester’s role in bringing down Ronny Jackson. In his tour barnstorming the state on behalf of GOP Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, Donald Trump Jr. on Saturday repeatedly lashed Tester for unveiling numerous allegations of misconduct against the former Veteran Affairs nominee, who also serves as a White House doctor. Trump Jr. even said that the Secret Service agents that protect him ‘can’t stand’ Tester’s role in derailing his nomination, during an appearance in rural Ronan. …
“Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who is close to both Trump Jr. and his father, said there are ‘early plans’ for the president to come to the state again in the home stretch, though a visit has not been finalized.” POLITICO
— DEMS DOUBLE DOWN: NYT’S TRIP GABRIEL in Columbia, Mo.: “To Rally Voters, Democrats Focus on Health Care as Their Closing Argument”
THE LATEST ON KHASHOGGI — BURGESS EVERETT in Hamilton, Mont.: “Paul seeks to punish Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi killing”: “Sen. Rand Paul says he’s not going to let Saudi Arabia off the hook after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in Turkey by agents linked to the Saudi government. The Kentucky Republican says he’s intent on forcing another vote to block billions in arms sales to the autocratic Middle Eastern kingdom and won’t settle for targeted sanctions, seeking to capitalize on negative public sentiment surrounding the Oct. 2 killing.” POLITICO
TRUMP’S SUNDAY — The president and First Lady Melania Trump will host Halloween at the White House at 5:30 p.m.
COMING ATTRACTIONS — VP MIKE PENCE will join us Tuesday, one week before Election Day — for a live Playbook Interview about policy, politics and the midterm elections. Sign up for the waitlist
— LAST CHANCE TO RSVP — JOIN ANNA and JAKE for a special Playbook Elections event in Philadelphia TOMORROW with REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D-PA.) and REP. RYAN COSTELLO (R-PA.) to discuss the 2018 midterm cycle and issues shaping the races. Doors open at 8 a.m. RSVP
PLAYBOOK ELECTION CHALLENGE — Compete against the nation’s top political minds by correctly picking the winning candidates in some of the most competitive House, Senate and gubernatorial races in the country. Sign up today!
DRILL, BABY, DRILL — “Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands,” by NYT’s Eric Lipton and Hiroko Tabuchi: “The administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights and rolling back regulations, raising environmental concerns in states like Wyoming. Reversing a trend in the final years of the Obama presidency, the Trump administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights to oil and gas developers, a central component of the White House’s plan to work hand in glove with the industry to promote more domestic energy production.
“Seeing growth and profit opportunities at a time of rising oil prices and a pro-business administration, big energy companies like Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, and Anschutz Exploration are seizing on the federal lands free-for-all, as they collectively buy up tens of thousands of acres of new leases and apply for thousands of permits to drill.
“In total, more than 12.8 million acres of federally controlled oil and gas parcels were offered for lease in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, triple the average offered during President Barack Obama’s second term, according to an analysis by The New York Times of Interior Department data compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that advocates budget discipline.” NYT
TRADE WARS — WSJ: “Tariffs May Crown Corn King Again,” by Jesse Newman and Jacob Bunge
IN THE SUNSHINE STATE — L.A. TIMES SPLIT SCREEN: “Gavin Newsom is a career public servant and multimillionaire businessman. Here’s how he has made his wealth,” by Kim Christensen and Phil Willon: “For the last two decades, Gavin Newsom has been rising to the highest levels of California politics. At the same time, he also has become a multimillionaire businessman, with an upscale chain of wine stores, wineries, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels and retail shops stretching from the Bay Area and Napa Valley to Lake Tahoe and Palm Springs. He built some of those businesses with the Gettys, heirs to an oil fortune who have deep connections to the Democratic lieutenant governor’s family.” LA Times
— PHIL WILLON in Merrillville, Indiana: “Before he launched a bid for California governor, Republican John Cox made a fortune in real estate”: “Tucked away off the main drag in this northwest Indiana town, not far from a busy plasma donation center and a former Tepe’s Department Store that serves as the town hall, sits a cluster of nondescript apartment buildings. The Chapelle Le Grande, with its garden-style units, is among the more than 22 Midwest apartment complexes that have made Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox a wealthy man.
“Cox has tapped into the profits from those real estate ventures, combined with the proceeds from his Illinois-based law office, investment firm and property management business, to bankroll two decades of ambitious — and thus far unsuccessful — forays into politics.” LA Times
THE INVESTIGATIONS — ANTHONY ADRAGNA — “The powerful weapon House Republicans handed Democrats”: “Democrats eager to investigate the Trump administration if they seize the House would have the GOP to thank for one of their most potent tools — a sweeping subpoena authority that Democratic lawmakers denounced as an abusive power grab three years ago.
“House Republicans changed the rules in 2015 to allow many of their committee chairmen to issue subpoenas without consulting the minority party, overriding Democrats objections that likened the tactic to something out of the McCarthy era.
“Now the weapon that the GOP wielded dozens of times against Barack Obama’s agencies could allow Democrats to bombard President Donald Trump’s most controversial appointees with demands for information. And many Democrats are itching to use it.” POLITICO
BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman:
— “‘You Can’t Out-Lloyd Lloyd’: At Goldman Sachs, the David Solomon Era Begins with Subtle but Significant Changes,” by William D. Cohan in November’s Vanity Fair: “As Solomon succeeds legendary risk titan Lloyd Blankfein as C.E.O., he faces a slew of challenges: how to sort through the regulatory minefield, pivot to commercial banking, and maybe even make Goldman a little more woke in the process.” VF
— “A Rumor in Madrona,” by James Ross Gardner in Seattle Met: “Before Info Wars or Pizzagate, a right-wing conspiracy theory led to the murder of Seattle lawyer Charles Goldmark and his family. Can a decades-old deadly home invasion case help unmask the dangers of the misinformation age?” Seattle Met (h/t Longreads.com)
— “What’s the Frequency, Generation X?” by Charles McElwee in the American Conservative, reviewing “Zero Hour for Gen X: How the Last Adult Generation Can Save America from Millennials,” by Matthew Hennessey: “Hennessey compellingly makes the case for Gen X, calling them ‘the last adult generation.’ … They are the last generation to remember solitude as an inalienable right rather than a scheduled perk or dreaded outcome. From a demographic perspective, they are America’s best hope to challenge our present surveillance economy and its platforms, which incentivize outrage, instigate the masses, and provoke constant agitation.” American Conservative … $15.90 on Amazon
— “Brainwashed, Enslaved, and Trafficked in Mountain View,” by Nick Pachelli in San Francisco Magazine: “A slick-talking con artist turned an innocent brother and sister into his personal slaves. When one escaped, they learned they weren’t his first—or last—victims.” Modern Luxury (h/t Longform.org)
— “The Groaning Shelves,” by the Weekly Standard’s Andy Ferguson: “We read the Trump-era bestsellers so you don’t have to.” TWS
— “On the Front Line: Embedded With American Female Combat Soldiers in Afghanistan,” by Kasey Cordell in 5280: “This past spring, the U.S. Army sent a gender-integrated howitzer crew to a war zone for one of the first times. We embedded with the Fort Carson unit on its historic mission in Afghanistan.” 5280
— “Meet the Carousing, Harmonica-Playing Texan Who Just Won a Nobel for his Cancer Breakthrough,” by Charles Graeber in Wired. Wired (h/t TheBrowser.com)
— “AP Investigation: Hospital patients held hostage for cash,” by Maria Cheng in Nairobi: “At Kenyatta National Hospital and at an astonishing number of other hospitals around the world, if you don’t pay up, you don’t go home. The hospitals often illegally detain patients long after they should be medically discharged, using armed guards, locked doors and even chains to hold those who have not settled their accounts. Mothers and babies are sometimes separated.” AP
— “Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property?” by Charles Duhigg in the New Yorker: “Silicon Valley was built on job-hopping. But when a leader of Google’s self-driving-car unit joined Uber, Google filed suit. Now the Feds are on the case.” New Yorker
— “The City That Had Too Much Money,” by Matthew Campbell and Natalie Obiko Pearson in Bloomberg Businessweek: “Known abroad primarily for its stunning Pacific Coast setting and athletic lifestyle, the city [Vancouver] has since become one of the world’s largest sluices for questionable funds moving from Asia into Western economies.” Bloomberg (h/t Longform.org)
— “Stouffer’s Secret Restaurant Past,” by Alia Akkam in Taste “Before it became synonymous with Lean Cuisine and French-bread pizza, the frozen-foods monolith was just a little restaurant company that could.” Taste
WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Michelle Fields, founding partner at JMW Strategies, and Jamie Weinstein, host of National Review’s “Jamie Weinstein Show” podcast and also founding partner at JMW Strategies, on Thursday welcomed Harrison Gregory Weinstein, who is named after both of their late fathers. Instapics … Another pic
BIRTHDAYS: Bill Gates is 63 … David Ford, Fusion’s SVP of corporate comms. and PR … Doug Band … Teresa Vilmain is 6-0 (hat tip: Jon Haber) … Max Cummings is 33 … David Finkel is 63 … Bridget Walsh, VP of government affairs and public policy at Boehringer Ingelheim … E&E’s Dylan Brown … Jonny Slemrod, associate director for legislative affairs at OMB, is 31 … Matt Patton of Google … Jeanie Figg … Chadwick Vincent … CNN senior photojournalist Peter Morris … Ansley Rhyne … Alison Starling … Nikki Collins … Susan E. Roberts … Helena Andrews … Zach Hunter, comms director for House Energy & Commerce …
… Margaret Given, editorial producer for CNN’s “New Day” … Stefanie Christensen … Andrew Lee … Louise Dodsworth … Adam Bozzi … Acee Agoyo … Alex and Brett Harris … Brian Witkofsky is 51 … Steve Hartell, director of U.S. public policy at Amazon … Uber’s Alix Anfang … Peter Savodnik … Sam Weston … Jason Rodriguez … CBS News’ Meghan Zusi (h/t Rob Gifford) … Zach Williams … Asher Hildebrand, COS for Rep. David Price (R-N.C.) … Simon Pereira … Griffin Anderson … former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) is 61 … Justin Discigil … Darlene Setter … Scott Harrington … Connie Wimer … Nadia Garnett … Sarah Beaulieu … former president of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is 62 (h/t AP)