Kenya president’s election campaign used firm hired by Trump: privacy group

2017 12 14T183211Z 1 LYNXMPEDBD1N9 RTROPTP 0 KENYA POLITICS 1 150x150 - Kenya president’s election campaign used firm hired by Trump: privacy group

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta waves upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony where he will be sworn in as president at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi
FILE PHOTO: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta waves upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony where he will be sworn in as president at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

December 14, 2017

NAIROBI (Reuters) – In the run-up to Kenya’s August presidential election, the ruling party used divisive social media campaigns created by a U.S. company whose previous clients include President Donald Trump, a Britain-based privacy advocacy group said on Thursday.

Two websites – one detailing the accomplishments of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the other attacking opposition leader Raila Odinga – share an IP address with Texas-based Harris Media LLC, according to Privacy International’s report.

Privacy International said the company used data analytics to target audiences using information gleaned from social media accounts in Kenya, where 1,200 people were killed in inter-ethnic violence after a disputed election a decade ago.

Kenyans vote largely along ethnic lines, and candidates appeal to voters on that basis.

“This raises serious concerns about the role and responsibility of companies working for political campaigns in Kenya, in which tribal affiliation and region of origin are particularly politically sensitive data, and volatile ‘coded language’ was widely deployed,” Privacy International said.

Social media in the East African nation were flooded with ads linking to the “Real Raila” and “Uhuru for Us” sites in the weeks before the Aug. 26 vote.

An official for Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party denied the report, saying it handled all its campaigns locally. The company, U.S.-based Harris Media LLC, did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment on the report.

But the allegations by Privacy International recalled how, for the first time in Kenya’s history, social media including fake news, hashtags and trolls dominated the public discussion and stoked tensions in the run-up to the hotly contested presidential election on Aug. 26.

Kenyans went to the polls amid concerns over the credibility of the vote and bitter online hate campaigns stoking ethnic tensions, leading to fears of a return to the bloodshed that followed the disputed 2007 vote.

The August vote was eventually nullified by the Supreme Court over irregularities. Kenyatta won an October re-run that Odinga boycotted. But violence marred the extended election season, and more than 70 people were killed, mainly by police.

Raphael Tuju, Jubilee Party secretary general, denied the party had hired or used Harris Media.

“We have heard a lot of those kinds of accusations. We were running a campaign from the Jubilee Headquarters, and we employed local communications experts, led by our own team, and that is it for us,” he told Reuters by phone.

Days before the August vote, Facebook released a tool enabling Kenyan users to evaluate content displayed prominently when they log on. The tool contained tips on how to spot fake news, including checking web addresses and looking for other reports on the topic.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Maggie Fick and Hugh Lawson)

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POLITICO Playbook: CHEET SHEET for the next week in Washington and the TAX DEAL

20171214 donald trump getty 1160 150x150 - POLITICO Playbook: CHEET SHEET for the next week in Washington and the TAX DEAL

INSIDE MOSCOW’S MIND — AP/MOSCOW at 5:33 a.m. “Russian president says accusations of Trump collusion by his opponents damage U.S. political system.”

THE DECEMBER TIMELINE — Here’s a rough sketch of what you should expect for the next week. Friday: Republicans are scheduled to release their tax bill. Monday through Wednesday: Congress is going to finish up its tax debate. Remainder of the week: Government funding, which expires Friday, Dec. 22.

Story Continued Below

THERE IS NOW A CHANCE the House will move first on the tax bill now, according to multiple people involved in the talks. The Senate was supposed to vote Monday, followed by the House. But now there’s chatter the House will vote first, so they can push through a government-funding bill while the Senate wrestles with the tax bill.

— THE PROBLEMS. ABSENCES: Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is in the hospital. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) hasn’t voted in the past few days. GOVERNMENT FUNDING MISGIVINGS: House Republicans had a tense internal meeting yesterday afternoon, in which they laid out their plan to fund the Pentagon for a year, while keeping the rest of the government on a short-term spending plan that runs to Jan. 18. House Republican leaders are facing pressure to pass that bill, and leave town — an attempt to force the Senate to swallow it. But the Senate cannot pass this package — and most House Republicans recognize this. It’s a dangerous game of chicken. If they leave town, the government could shut down. Competing pressures abound: Texans want disaster money, hawks want defense money and some conservatives say they’re tired of kowtowing to the Senate.

Good Thursday morning. BREAKING — “John McCain, battling brain cancer, in Walter Reed from effects of treatment,” by WaPo’s Paul Kane: “Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for recovery from the side effects of another round of treatment for brain cancer … McCain, who missed a third straight day of Senate votes Wednesday, has been undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and radiation to treat glioblastoma, the terminal form of brain cancer he was diagnosed with in July. McCain has been undergoing treatments since early September at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, next to Walter Reed.”

TAX DEAL! — “House, Senate Republicans Reach Deal on Final Tax Bill,” by WSJ’s Rich Rubin and Siobhan Hughes: “The highest-earning Americans will get a lower tax rate and corporations will pay slightly more than in previous plans under a deal House and Senate Republicans reached on the party’s competing tax-overhaul bills. Full details of what is likely to be a $1.4 trillion tax cut over a decade will be released this week. If the House and Senate both pass the measure in votes that could come next week, President Donald Trump could sign it into law before Christmas.

“‘We’ve got a pretty good deal,’ Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R- Utah) told reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. Republicans hashed out the agreement without input from Democrats in advance of a formal meeting of the bipartisan House-Senate conference committee on Wednesday, and they announced the deal just before heading to a lunch at the White House with Mr. Trump. Democrats complained about the closed process, but to no avail.

“The agreement would set the top individual tax rate at 37%, two people familiar with the deal said. That is lower than today’s 39.6% and lower than the top rate in each of the bills that passed the House and Senate.”

BANNON VS. MCCONNELL — “Republican civil war erupts anew,” by Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt: “Democrat Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama — far from settling the score between the McConnell and Bannon wings of the Republican Party — instead touched off another round of internecine GOP infighting over who’s to blame for the party’s loss in one of the most conservative states in the country.

“From the outset, the race served as a proxy war between the tight-lipped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a paragon of the party establishment, and Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist who has dedicated himself to disrupting everything McConnell represents. Now, both sides are blaming the other for Tuesday’s loss, with each painting the results as a case study in the other’s political ineptitude.

“Bannon has argued from the outset that Republican leaders have positioned themselves against the president, determined to thwart his agenda. But McConnell and his allies are using Tuesday’s results to tell the president — whom Bannon helped to cajole into the race on Moore’s behalf — that his former chief strategist is a political liability.”

— TRUMP, BANNON STILL TALKING: “Behind the scenes, some advisers hoped the loss would persuade Mr. Trump to stop listening to Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist who has vowed war against the Republican establishment. But Mr. Trump talked with Mr. Bannon for 15 minutes by phone on Tuesday, aides said, and seemed disinclined to cut the adviser from his circle.”

SOMETHING NEW — “Trump’s unexpected reaction after Alabama loss: Magnanimity,” by Annie Karni: “President Donald Trump, famous for his tantrums and his Twitter tirades, appeared to take the loss of Roy Moore, the scandal-tarred Republican candidate he backed in the Alabama special Senate election, in stride on Wednesday as he basked in a soon-to-be victory on tax reform. ‘A lot of Republicans feel differently, they’re happy with the way it turned out,’ Trump conceded, speaking to reporters ahead of a tax reform meeting at the White House. ‘But I would have, as the leader of the party, I would have liked to have had the seat. I want to endorse the people that are running.’

“Setting aside his personal disappointment, Trump phoned the Democratic victor in the Alabama race, Doug Jones, congratulating him on the win and inviting him to visit the White House, even as Moore was still demanding a recount. It was a muted reaction to a stunning loss from a gut-trusting president who had endorsed the candidate against the advice of his own political shop and family members – and who rarely admits to being wrong. Trump didn’t go quite that far – on Twitter, he wrote that ‘I was right!’ for believing that Moore could not win a general election.”

DEMS ON OFFENSE — NYT’S SHERYL GAY STOLBERG: “Senate Democrats, buoyed by their upset victory, demanded that Republicans delay the final vote on a large tax overhaul until Mr. Jones can be sworn in. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called on Mr. McConnell to ‘hit pause’ on the tax vote. Mr. McConnell has no intention of doing so.

“‘It would be wrong for Senate Republicans to jam through this tax bill without giving the newly elected senator from Alabama the opportunity to cast his vote,’ Mr. Schumer said. Mr. Schumer cited precedent: the 2010 election of Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts, to the seat that had been held for decades by Senator Edward M. Kennedy. The Senate was weighing President Barack Obama’s health care bill at the time, and Democrats delayed the final vote — even though Mr. Brown’s election cost them their 60-vote filibuster-proof majority.”

BOSTON GLOBE’S DEVRA FIRST: “We tried to find the rabbi Roy Moore’s wife said they’re friends with. Here’s what happened”

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: The UAE and the US are partnering to create economic growth and jobs for people in both countries. For eight years in a row, the UAE has been the top market in the Middle East and North Africa for US exports. ******

A POLITICAL FORESHADOWING? — JOHN BRESNAHAN and ELANA SCHOR — “How Republicans are experiencing 2010 in reverse”: “A first-term president and unpopular congressional leaders are pushing a controversial legislative agenda that sparks a nationwide movement from the infuriated opposition. Retirements are suddenly putting the majority’s safe seats in play. Party leaders jam major legislation through Congress on a partisan vote, and are in such a hurry to pass it they’re rewriting it by hand hours before a vote. They lose control of their message and can’t find an easy way to get back on track. Then comes a stunning upset in a Senate special election for a seat the majority party had controlled for decades.

“That year was 2010, when Republican Scott Brown’s upset win in the Massachusetts’ Senate race to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy previewed a tea-party fueled Republican revolution that swept the GOP into power on Capitol Hill. But after Democrat Doug Jones’ upset in Alabama on Tuesday, it could also describe the political trajectory of 2017 – except with Democrats instead of Republicans on the winning side. Many Republicans insist that the similarities are superficial, that Brown’s shocking 2010 victory in deep-blue Massachusetts was a referendum on Obamacare while Tuesday’s win by Jones in dark-red Alabama only happened because of a deeply flawed Republican candidate, Roy Moore. They also point out that the U.S. economy is growing, job growth is strong and unemployment is low, all of which are dramatically different from 2010.”

— “Alabama win stokes Democratic Senate majority hopes,” by Kevin Robillard: “Democrats’ special election win in Alabama has cracked open a path to the Senate majority in 2018 that looked all but impassable before Tuesday night. The party will still have to defend 10 incumbents next year in states carried by President Donald Trump in 2016 — a long shot even in the best political environment — in addition to snagging Republican-held seats in Nevada and Arizona. But the party no longer needs to stage an upset in another forbidding red state — like Tennessee and Texas — on top of that.

“A long shot? Absolutely. Impossible? Not anymore. ‘I worry that the Senate is in play. I didn’t think that before yesterday,’ said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and partner at Firehouse Strategies who worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. ‘If the political environment is still like this in 11 months, Democrats might be able to defend their incumbents and pick up the seats they need out west.’”

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: DSCC victory memo.

ABOUT THAT INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN — “Democrats cool to Trump’s infrastructure pitch,” by Lauren Gardner and Tanya Snyder: “The White House is preparing to unveil its long-awaited $1 trillion infrastructure plan soon after President Donald Trump signs the GOP tax overhaul, hoping to begin 2018 with another big legislative win — but its approach is already drawing resistance from Democrats who are in no mood to cooperate.

“The plan set for release in January is expected to call for as much as $200 billion in federal spending over the next decade, with the rest coming from private investment, state or local funding and cuts to other federal programs. An administration official added new details this week, telling POLITICO that a wide variety of projects — from bridges to broadband — would have to compete for federal assistance, while showing they’re prepared to put their own money on the table. …

“None of the package’s details so far are music to the ears of Democrats, who have pitched their own proposal for $1 trillion in new federal infrastructure money and who have said they won’t support a plan stuffed with budget cuts and environmental rule rollbacks. An infrastructure package would need 60 votes in the Senate, making Democrats the key to its success, even before Alabama Sen.-elect Doug Jones’ upset victory Tuesday.”

YIKES — “Ex-Farenthold aide shares new details of vulgar and abusive behavior,” by CNN’s MJ Lee: “A former senior aide to Rep. Blake Farenthold has approached the House Ethics Committee to share a damning account of working for the Texas Republican, with the intent of describing the congressman as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning — and his congressional office as an intensely hostile environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.

“Michael Rekola, who was Farenthold’s communications director in 2015, described in an interview with CNN new details of the congressman’s abusive behavior. It ranged from making sexually graphic jokes to berating aides — bullying that Rekola says led him to seek medical treatment and psychological counseling, and at one point, caused him to vomit daily. One comment from the congressman was especially personal.

“Rekola was about to leave town to get married in July 2015, when, he said, Farenthold, standing within earshot of other staffers in his Capitol Hill office, said to the groom-to-be: ‘Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.’ He then proceeded to joke about whether Rekola’s now-wife could wear white on her wedding day — a clear reference, Rekola said, to whether she had had premarital sex. …

“Those crude remarks in the summer of 2015 marked just one of many instances in which Farenthold made sexually charged comments to or in the presence of aides, Rekola said. During the nine months that he worked for the congressman, Rekola said, he was also subject to a stream of angry behavior not sexual in nature — screaming fits of rage, slamming fists on desks and castigating aides, including regularly calling them ‘f**ktards.’”

— THIS REPORTING is almost certain to result in another round of questions about whether Republican leaders should force Farenthold to resign.

WOW — “Democratic lawmaker: Women’s clothing an ‘invitation’ to harassment,” by Heather Caygle: “Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) made the comments during a private Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday to discuss sexual harassment issues, according to two Democratic sources in the room. ‘I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,’ Kaptur said, according to the sources present. ‘And what I’ve seen … it’s really an invitation.’ The comments left many others in the room stunned, the sources said. Kaptur said women on Capitol Hill should have to abide by a stricter dress code, like those adopted by the military or corporations.”

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER’S DANIEL DESROCHERS and MORGAN EADS: “Accused of molesting teen, Ky. Rep. Dan Johnson commits suicide”: “A Kentucky lawmaker who on Tuesday denied accusations that he molested a 17-year-old girl in 2012 died Wednesday night of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Bullitt County coroner. State Rep. Dan Johnson died of a single gunshot wound on Greenwell Ford Road at an undetermined time Wednesday night, Bullitt County coroner Dave Billings confirmed.

“Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted the following statement Wednesday night: ‘Saddened to hear of tonight’s death of KY Representative Dan Johnson…My heart breaks for his wife and children…These are heavy days in Frankfort and in America…May God shed His grace on us all…We sure need it…’”

SPOTTED: Barack Obama dining at District Winery last night. He was there for the Obama Foundation holiday party. ALSO SPOTTED: Valerie Jarrett, Ray Mahmood, Barry White, Howard Gutman and Michelle Loewinger, Frank White, Ankit Desai and Nora Connors.

TRUMP’S THURSDAY — The president will have lunch with VP Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. He will participate in an event focused on deregulation and will meet with RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel.

— ABOUT THE DEREGULATION EVENT, from the White House: “The President will be updating the nation tomorrow on the administration’s promise to remove two regulations for every one added … and the overall effort to rid the federal government of bad, excessive, and outdated regulations. This occurs as the administration releases its first ‘Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions,’ a detailed look at how the administration manages the burden Washington puts on job creators and American tax payers.”


— SPOTTED: REINCE PRIEBUS in Taipei keynoting a lunch — co-sponsored by the Heritage Foundation — about U.S. policy in Taiwan. Pics EXCERPTS: “America First, in many ways, means getting our house in order to ensure our continued staying power in the world – including here in the Indo Pacific. It means building internal resiliency in the face of changing external dynamics. … Pyongyang grew accustomed to the United States simply ignoring its threats while the DPRK built its arsenal. But I can tell you, President Trump isn’t willing to allow Kim Jong Un to increase his capabilities to threaten the United States, or our allies.”

— GU POLITICS is announcing its spring 2018 fellows. The Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy fellows class will include: Nadeam Elshami, former chief of staff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and now EVP at Signal Group; Steven Law, president and CEO of the Senate Leadership Fund, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS; Dorothy McAuliffe, first lady of Virginia; Eugene Scott, political reporter at the Washington Post; Katie Walsh Shields, former deputy Trump White House chief of staff and senior adviser and former chief of staff at the RNC.

BACK STORY — NYT’S MAGGIE HABERMAN and YAMICHE ALCINDOR: “Omarosa Manigault Newman to Leave White House Job Next Month”: “One of the president’s prominent African-American supporters, Ms. Newman served as the director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison. But the division, which was absent a clear leader for most of the year, atrophied with her in a key position.

“Two people close to the administration said Ms. Newman neglected to find enough attendees for a Black History Month event early in the administration, for instance. And the office — which is crucial for building coalitions — became seen as what one person close to the White House described as the ‘island of misfit toys,’ where people who could not be slotted into other roles were sent. … Three administration officials described reports of Ms. Newman being hauled off the White House grounds as overstated.

“Still, all three said that there was a precipitating event that finally got Mr. Trump on board with an effort by John F. Kelly, the current chief of staff, to remove her. Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, was apprised throughout, one of the officials said. The event was kept at a close hold, and most advisers were uncertain about what happened, the officials said.”

— @maggieNYT: “The White House, where officials and Trump have accused news outlets of putting out false info intentionally, put out that Omarosa’s last day is Jan 20, all amicable etc. If so, why did Secret Service deactivate her pass last night?”

LOST ON MAIN ST., SOUTHAMPTON — “Security detail loses Wilbur Ross in Hamptons takeout joint,” by Page Six’s Ian Mohr: “It was the case of the missing cabinet member in the Hamptons last week when — well-heeled sources tell us — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross seemed to lose his security detail leading to an awkward search at a tony takeout joint. A source tells Page Six that guests grabbing grub at the Golden Pear cafe in Southampton were taken aback on Friday when agents entered asking if anyone had seen the secretary. …. ‘They gave out cards that said “Commerce Department security” — and told the owner, “If you see him, will you call us immediately?” … [A]nother source told us … that Ross was simply a few minutes late to grab a sandwich and meet his security squad at an assigned time.’

BUSINESS BURST — “As Bitcoin Soars, Advocates Seek to Head Off New Restrictions,” by Bloomberg’s Mark Niquette: “Advocacy groups are gearing up in Washington for a lobbying push in 2018, looking to limit legislation that would subject cryptocurrencies to more regulation and change tax-reporting requirements. Organizations such as the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Coin Center Inc. and the Bitcoin Foundation say applying the measures would stifle innovation. Their top targets include a Senate bill that would include digital currency in an overhaul of money-laundering laws, requiring more entities to police potentially illicit transactions.”

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: With trade in aviation, high tech, and defense, the UAE delivers a $19 billion trade surplus for the US. These exports support hundreds of thousands of American jobs. They also help the UAE diversify its economy. By working with the US, the UAE has become a center for innovation and opportunity in the Middle East. ******

MEDIAWATCH — “PBS Suspends ‘Tavis Smiley’ Following Sexual Misconduct Investigation,” by Variety’s Daniel Holloway: “PBS has suspended late-night talk show ‘Tavis Smiley’ amid misconduct allegations against its host and namesake. ‘Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of ‘Tavis Smiley,’ produced by TS Media, an independent production company,’ the public broadcaster said.

“‘PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.’”

— “New York Times D.C. bureau adds fact-checker,” by Jason Schwartz: “With greater scrutiny on media accuracy than ever, The New York Times has added a new, never-before-heard-of position to its D.C. bureau: fact-checker. ‘Given how much copy we’re moving these days, given how intense the atmosphere is, we’re just doubling down on making sure everything is as airtight as it can be,’ said Peter Baker, the Times’ chief White House correspondent. ‘It’s probably long overdue.’ … Times Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller said she hired Emily Cochrane, an intern, for the job in August to help deal with the Trump-era rush of news.”

— “Ousted ‘Young Turks’ reporter files $23.5 million suit against HuffPost,” by Cristiano Lima: “A former reporter for the digital program ‘The Young Turks’ is suing HuffPost for $23.5 million, alleging libel and defamation over a since-deleted post detailing allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him. In court documents filed with the Supreme Court of New York on Wednesday, Jordan Chariton seeks relief and monetary damages over an article, published in the contributors section of HuffPost, in which activist Christian Chiakulas accused the progressive reporter of committing sexual misconduct against former colleagues, including sexual assault. The post was later taken down after Chariton cast it as false and defamatory online. (Chiakulas later republished the allegations on a different platform.)”

SPOTTED last night at “Sing! An Irish Christmas” at the Kennedy Center: VP Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Amy Simon, Paige and Jameson Cunningham … at the Trump hotel last night: Jim Sullivan and Jeff Loveng at Benjamin Bar … Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and his wife at a table at Benjamin Bar … Katrina Pierson leaving BLT Steak.

HOLIDAY PARTY CIRCUIT — SPOTTED at the TechNet holiday party last night at Fig & Olive: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash), Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Jeff Dobrozsi, Ian Rayder, Steve Hartell, Mike Ward, Josh Pitcock, Jason Mahler, Israel Hernandez, Carol Danko, Yebbie Watkins, Beth Jafari, Sara Fischer, Jack Smith, Tiffany Watkins, Craig Albright, Heather Podesta, Linda Moore, Alex Burgos, Sue Hothem, Gideon Lett, and Dave Toomey

SPOTTED at the Entertainment Software Association holiday party last night at the Rock & Roll Hotel: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Reps. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Sean Spicer, Michael Beckerman, Norberto Salinas, Alex Wirth, David Najjab, Alan Lewis, Heather Pond, Connie Partoyan, Kaya Singleton, Nika Nour, Tyler Crowe, Gabe Brotman, Boyd Stephenson, Fred Dombo, Tim and Shana Teehan.

SPOTTED at Locust Street Group’s holiday party last night at the Showroom downtown (the party had a mechanical surfboard, an avocado bar and lots of cocktails): Ben Jenkins, David Barnhart, Sean and Rebecca Spicer, Robby Zirkelbach, Elena Tompkins, Andrew Kovalcin, David Culver, Patrick Mellody, Craig Gordon, Chris Gindlesperger, Matt Haller, Lyndon Boozer, Jeff Zeleny, Bennett Richardson, Jack Smith, Brad Bosserman, Hunter Moorhead, Hugh Gamble, Katy Summerlin, Devin O’Malley, Fred Brown, Rudy Takala, Benny Johnson, Lauren Ehrsam and Jason Gorey, Caitlin Carroll, Neil Grace, Alex Stroman, Laura Howard, Chris Bedford, Lauren Culbertson, Kelly Klass, Allison Schneider.

— Pool report: “The Bipartisan Congressional Hanukkah Party hosted by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Lee Zeldin took place under the gold-gilded ceiling of the Members Room of the Library of Congress, and featured remarks by the hosts, VA Secretary David Shulkin, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, and Rabbi Michael Safra.”

SPOTTED: Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), French Hill (R-Ark.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Susan Davis (D-Calif.) and Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), former Rep. Ron Klein, William Daroff, Lori Weinstein, Dorian Karp, Matthew Ellison, Jeremy Blumstone, Mark Hetfield, Joshua Karp, Dana Klein, Emma Nelson, Jesse Hunt and Matt Gorman.

SPOTTED at a reception for GOP leaders at French Ambassador Gérard Araud’s Kalorama residence last night: Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.), RNC co-chairman Bob Paduchik, former RNC chairmen Michael Steele and Bob Duncan, Sean and Rebecca Spicer, Doyle Webb, Tony Parker, Terry Campo, José Cunningham and Gregory Nelson, Marisa Schultz, Michael Moroney and Francesca Chambers, Dennis Lennox, Saul Anuzis, Alex Pfeiffer, Joely Friedman, Bob Cable and Joanne Young.

SPOTTED at an America First party last night at the Trump hotel: Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), Vice President Mike Pence, Donald Trump Jr., Boris Epshteyn, Katrina Pierson, Laura Howard, Cara Mason, Sheriff Dave Clarke and Brian O. Walsh.

TRANSITIONS — Douglas Sellers has been named the chief of staff at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Before joining OPIC, he served as personal aide and policy advisor to Mick Mulvaney, the OMB director, and also worked for Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) as legislative aide for financial services policy.

–OBAMA ALUMNI — Patrick Gaspard will become the new president of the Open Society Foundations on Jan. 1. Gaspard is the former ambassador to South Africa and was White House political director in Obama’s first term. … Doug Frantz, who was most recently deputy secretary general at OECD and has also served as former assistant secretary of State for public affairs, is joining the firm the Global Situation Room.

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Trey Ditto, CEO of Brooklyn-based firm Ditto PR. How he’s celebrating: “My wife and I are going to Tokyo Record Bar in NYC. They do a whiskey pairing with your meal. Our reservation is at 11 p.m., so don’t expect any Friday morning pitches.” Read his Playbook Plus Q&A:

BIRTHDAYS: CNN’s Abigail Crutchfield … Matt Beynon, senior communications strategist at BrabenderCox … Michael Ovitz is 71 … Stephanie Allen, manager of external relations at Promontory Financial Group … Raffi Williams, director of comms at HUD … John Ullyot … David Vennett … Kristin King, chief of staff at the George W. Bush Institute … Grace Gallo … Jude Barry (hat tip: Jon Haber) … Ryan Boles of USAID … Ryan Hagen … Bloomberg healthcare reporter Zach Tracer … former Australian Ambassador to the U.S. Kim Beazley is 69 … Suzanne Wrasse … Christopher Marcisz … Schuyler Ebersol … Sloane Speakman … Barry Karas (h/t Sam Tubman) … Elizabeth Wenk (hubby tip: Christopher) … Cindy Chetti, SVP of gov’t affairs at the National Mulitfamily Housing Council (h/t Lisa Costello) …

… Kirsten Powers, CNN political commentator and USA Today columnist … N.Y. Daily News editor Arthur Browne … NYGOP executive director Jason Weingartner … Politico’s Grace McKellip … Allison Schneider of Locust Street Group … Katie Johnson … Chuck Rocha … Matt Duss, foreign policy adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) … Howard Welinsky is 68 … Seth Siegel is 64 … Rebecca Brown … Ted Frank … Robin Schatz … Elizabeth Vale … Kyra Jennings … Kathryn Prael … Erin Daly Wilson, director of appointments for Texas Speaker Joe Straus (h/t Ed Cash) … Karen Maginnis … Lynne White … Derrick Max is 51 … Joan Mower … Sylvester Giustino is 39 … Quincy Hicks Crawford … Lesslie Hall … Lori Smith Johnson … R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. … Carol Plath Hainsey (h/t Teresa Vilmain)

****** A message from the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates: The UAE is a major investor in the US. UAE FDI in the US totaled $26 billion in 2016 – in sectors ranging from financial services, to transportation, to consumer products. That means jobs for thousands of Americans and liquidity for capital markets across the country. The UAE and the US are united in prosperity. ******

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Don Jr. Responds To The Hill Tweet

pjimage 33 e1513272440768 150x150 - Don Jr. Responds To The Hill Tweet

Photo of Benny Johnson

12:36 PM 12/14/2017

In the era of Trump, everything the first family does seems to be news.

From the shoes Melania is wearing to the toys Barron plays with to the number of Diet Cokes Trump drinks, every step the family takes is a headline.

So it was Wednesday with Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. on Capitol Hill testifying before the House Intel Committee. The closed door testimony is deeply consequential and worth covering. However, reporter Olivia Beavers of The Hill decided that Don Jr.’s bathroom visit was also worth a tweet.

Beavers tweeted a video of Don Jr. entering the men’s bathroom in a break during the testimony. She said “Trump Jr. takes a bathroom break from closed door meeting with Senate Intel Committee — meeting started at 10am”  and even put a red circle around him:


In response, Don Jr. nuked the journalism industry, saying “SurpriIngly, not fakenews. Riveting stuff though. Journalism is dead.”


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Disney to buy Fox film, TV businesses for $52 billion

2017 12 14T120936Z 1 LYNXMPEDBD0XX RTROPTP 0 USA STOCKS DISNEY 1 150x150 - Disney to buy Fox film, TV businesses for $52 billion

A screen shows the trading info for The Walt Disney Company company on the floor of the NYSE in New York
A screen shows the trading info for The Walt Disney Company company on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

December 14, 2017

By Aishwarya Venugopal

(Reuters) – Walt Disney Co on Thursday agreed to buy film, TV and international assets from Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox Inc for $52.4 billion as Disney seeks greater scale to tackle growing competition from Netflix and

Under the terms of the all-stock deal, Disney acquires significant assets from Fox, including the studios that produce the blockbuster Marvel superhero pictures and the “Avatar” franchise, as well as hit TV shows such as “The Simpsons”.

Fox shareholders will receive 0.2745 Disney shares for each share held. This translates to a value of $29.50 per share for the assets that Disney is buying, Reuters calculations based on Disney’s Wednesday market closing price show.

Immediately prior to the acquisition, Fox will separate the Fox Broadcasting network and stations, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, FS1, FS2 and Big Ten Network into a newly listed company that will be spun off to its shareholders.

The deal ends more than half a century of expansion by Murdoch, 86, who turned a single Australian newspaper he inherited from his father at the age of 21 into one of the world’s most important global news and film conglomerates.

Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, 66, will extend his tenure through the end of 2021 to oversee the integration of the Fox businesses. He has already postponed his retirement from Disney three times, saying in March he was committed to leaving the company in July 2019.

Disney will also assume about $13.7 billion of Fox’s net debt in the deal.

Through Fox’s stake in the Hulu video streaming service, Disney will assume majority control of one of Netflix Inc’s main competitors. Hulu is also partially owned by Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc.

Shares in both Disney and Fox were up nearly 1 percent in premarket trading.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

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South Korea prosecutors seek four-year jail term for Lotte group chief

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FILE PHOTO: Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin attends news conference in Seoul
FILE PHOTO: Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin attends a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, October 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

December 14, 2017

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s prosecutors are seeking a four-year jail term for Lotte Group chief Shin Dong-bin, the corporate group’s spokesman said by telephone on Thursday.

Prosecutors also demanded 25 years in jail for Choi Soon-sil, who was indicted last year on charges of forcing conglomerates such as Samsung Group and Lotte Corp to donate millions to foundations, Yonhap news said.

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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New Details Emerge About Discovery Of Strzok&

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The Justice Department’s office of the inspector general revealed new details Wednesday about how it discovered the anti-Trump text messages that led to FBI agent Peter Strzok’s removal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department watchdog, said that his office obtained the text messages from the FBI on July 20. A week later, he met with Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to inform them of the politically-charged texts. (RELATED: ‘We Can’t Take That Risk’ — FBI Officials Discussed ‘Insurance Policy’ To Prevent Trump Win)

Strzok was “immediately” removed from the investigation after Mueller was told of the texts.

The Strzok texts, which he exchanged with Lisa Page, his mistress and an FBI lawyer, were discovered as part of the inspector general’s investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

Ironically, Democrats pushed for the investigation. Many Clinton supporters blamed then-FBI Director James Comey’s actions during that investigation for Clinton’s election loss.

“This is highly encouraging and to be expected given Director Comey’s drastic deviation from Justice Department protocol,” Clinton campaign communications director Brian Fallon said back in January. “A probe of this sort, however long it takes to conduct, is utterly necessary in order to take the first step to restore the FBI’s reputation as a non-partisan institution.:

Horowitz, writing to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, said that his office obtained the Strzok texts after asking the FBI to produce communications from bureau-issued phones for a select group of employees who worked on the Clinton email probe. (RELATED: FBI Agent Praised Hillary Clinton While Investigating Her Emails)

Strzok, who then served as the FBI’s No. 2 counterintelligence official, conducted many of the biggest interviews in the investigation, including with Clinton and her top aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.

“After finding a number of politically-oriented text messages between Page and Strzok, the OIG sought from the FBI all text messages between Strzok and Page from their FBI-issued phones through November 30, 2016, which covered the entire period of the Clinton e-mail server investigation,” Horowitz wrote to Grassley and Johnson on Wednesday.

The FBI handed over those messages on July 20, 2017. After reviewing those exchanges, Horowitz expanded the investigation to include all of the text messages exchanged between Strzok and Page from Nov. 30, 2016 to July 28, 2017.

Horowitz’s office received those messages on Aug. 10.

Strzok’s departure from Mueller’s team was reported by ABC News on Aug. 16. The network reported that Strzok had been placed in a job in the FBI’s HR department.

The reason for Strzok’s demotion remained a secret for nearly four months as the Justice Department and Mueller’s office declined media and congressional requests for an explanation. The levy finally broke on Dec. 2, when The Washington Post and New York Times simultaneously reported the existence of the text messages.

A sample of the texts were released Tuesday night ahead of Rosenstein’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Rosenstein, who oversees the Mueller probe, was grilled about the Strzok texts. He repeatedly referred to the inspector general’s investigation, which is expected to end in the spring. A report will be released to the public after the investigation ends.

The Strzok/Page texts show a clear anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias. Their comments ranged from snide remarks about comments Trump made during the campaign to exchanges that could be interpreted as being more nefarious.

In one Oct. 20, 2016 exchange, Strzok called Trump a “f*cking idiot.” In early March of 2016, he said that he was likely to vote for Clinton.

But an Aug. 15, 2016 message has come under more serious scrutiny.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Strzok wrote to Page.

Andy is believed to be Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

“It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” Strzok added.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pressed Rosenstein on that text message, suggesting that Strzok was indicating that he planned to prevent Trump from being elected.

Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Rosenstein on Wednesday inquiring about the text message.

Rosenstein said Wednesday that the Justice Department and FBI plan to soon make Strzok available for an interview with the House Intelligence Committee.

Strzok’s cryptic Aug. 2016 text was sent just after he was handpicked to supervise the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Horowitz’s letter leaves a few questions unanswered. For one, it is not clear whether Strzok sent politically-charged texts with anyone else. It is also not clear whether the messages contained in the second requested batch of Strzok texts contain any controversial remarks.

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‘He was my monster’: Actress Salma Hayek alleges Harvey Weinstein misconduct

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FILE PHOTO: Actor Hayek attends the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and InStyle celebration of the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards season at Catch LA in West Hollywood
FILE PHOTO: Actor Salma Hayek attends the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and InStyle celebration of the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards season at Catch LA in West Hollywood, California, U.S. November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon/File Photo

December 14, 2017

(Editor’s Note: Please be advised that paragraph 9 contains a graphic description)

By Chris Kenning

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Mexican-born actress Salma Hayek has joined the ranks of Hollywood women accusing movie producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, calling him a “monster” in an article published by the New York Times on Tuesday.

“For years, he was my monster,” Hayek wrote in the opinion piece in which she included descriptions of sexual harassment, bullying and threats.

Holly Baird, a spokeswoman for Weinstein, reached by email on Wednesday, said she could not immediately provide a comment.

More than 50 women have claimed that Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades. Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone.

Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the accusations against Weinstein.

Hayek’s spokeswoman had no immediate comment on Wednesday.

Police in New York, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and London have said they are investigating allegations of sexual assault or rape by Weinstein.

Hayek wrote in the article that she was inspired to share her experiences after other women came forward. Her account largely centered around the time she was involved with making the 2002 film, “Frida,” in which she portrayed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Hayek wrote that she was pleased to have the opportunity to work with Weinstein and Miramax, which he then owned, because it was “synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking in films.” But, she wrote, she found herself rebuffing sexual advances and requests from Weinstein.

“No to letting him give me oral sex,” Hayek wrote as one of several examples. “And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage.”

Hayek wrote that Weinstein was threatening to shut down the production of “Frida” and that he pressured her into doing a sex scene with another woman in the film. Hayek said that when she went to film the scene, “… for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown.”

The actress, who called Weinstein a “passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster,” wrote, “I never showed Harvey how terrified I was of him.”

“Until there is equality in our industry, with men and women having the same value in every aspect of it, our community will continue to be a fertile ground for predators,” she wrote.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Ben Klayman)

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With Zach Montellaro and Daniel Strauss

The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races — and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (

Story Continued Below

SPECIAL ELECTION — “Alabama earthquake: Democrat Jones wins,” by Campaign Pro’s Daniel Strauss: “Democrat Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in a special election earthquake Tuesday, flipping an Alabama Senate seat to Democrats for the first time in a quarter-century and delivering a blow to President Donald Trump. … Jones’ win — after Moore was accused of sexual assault and other misconduct by multiple women in November — will shrink Republicans’ already tenuous Senate majority to 51-49, just as the party approaches final consideration of its sweeping tax bill and prepares for the 2018 midterm elections in a difficult political environment. Moore’s loss relieves Senate Republicans from one burden: Considering whether they would expel him from the chamber if he won. But the Republican defeat was a major setback for Trump, who gave Moore a full-throated endorsement in the final days of the race, in a state he won with over 60 percent of the vote in 2016.”

— “… As Moore’s campaign fought scandal, Jones became cause of national Democrats eager to defeat the Republican. Online donors flooded his campaign with money as Jones criss-crossed Alabama focusing on what he called ‘kitchen table issues’ (and rarely mentioning his party). His TV ads blanketed the airwaves, hammering Moore as a sexual predator while also introducing Jones as a Second Amendment-supporting federal prosecutor who had convicted Ku Klux Klansmen involved in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church during the civil rights era. Jones rode a surge of energy among black voters and got a key bump from white-collar suburbanites who often vote Republican but turned away from the controversial Moore. … Moore still won college-educated white voters 57 percent to 41 percent, according to the National Election Pool exit poll — but the group shifted hard in Democrats’ direction compared to past Alabama elections.” Full story.

See the results here, and be sure to scroll down to see the county-by-county swing using the 2016 presidential results as a baseline. Many of the biggest county swings to Jones came in Alabama’s most-educated counties, reflecting some of the same movement we’ve seen among college-educated white voters around the country — though for reasons unique to this race.

“Exit polls: How Doug Jones pulled off his stunning win,” by POLITICO’s Steven Shepard: “Doug Jones needed a surge of black voter turnout and a wide gender gap to pull off his stunning victory over embattled Republican Roy Moore in Tuesday’s special Senate election. … Jones also made some inroads among white voters — particularly women and those with college degrees. While Moore still won white voters by a more-than-2-to-1 margin, 68 percent to 30 percent, that is closer than other recent elections in which Republicans won nearly 4 out of 5 white voters. … Despite Alabama’s Republican orientation, Trump’s support was not a silver bullet [for Moore]. A combination of Trump’s eroded position nationally and Democratic enthusiasm at the ballot box led to this remarkable stat: The percentage of voters on Tuesday who disapproved of the job Trump is doing as president (48 percent) was equal to the percentage who approve of Trump (48 percent).” Full story.

— “Trump suffers ‘big black eye’ in Alabama,” by POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson: “Doug Jones didn’t just defeat Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate race on Tuesday night — he administered the most crushing and embarrassing political blow of President Donald Trump’s young presidency. Jones’ win meant that Trump, who had endorsed Luther Strange in the Republican primary before backing Moore in the general election, threw his weight behind the losing candidate not once, but twice, in the Alabama race. … Jones’ win, said one senior administration official, ‘is a big black eye for the president.’ For the president, who ignored the advice of both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his own political team at the White House to stay out of the race, it was a self-inflicted wound. … [Trump] tracked the race closely, asking to see poll numbers from his advisers. On Tuesday he followed news coverage that played on mute during his daily meetings. His former chief-strategist Steve Bannon, now the chairman of Breitbart News, was alone among the members of the Trump inner circle pushing him to back Moore. The two spoke Tuesday morning, and Bannon offered Trump assurances that Moore would prevail.” Full story.

— “5 takeaways from Alabama’s startling special election,” by POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti and Alex Isenstadt: “Moore’s loss deals a serious blow to the anti-establishment campaign Bannon had been planning for next year’s midterms, one that was predicated on defeating incumbents and other mainstream Republicans that are being propped up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. … [One] primary reason for Jones’ win was strong antipathy toward Moore among white, suburban, college-educated conservatives. Many of them chose to sit out the election or follow the lead of Sen. Richard Shelby and write in an option other than Moore. That follows the pattern of Republican under-performance in the suburbs during earlier races in 2017, and it creates a clear opportunity for Democrats in 2018 — especially given their enormous turnouts.” Full story.

ON TAP THIS MORNING — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to announce Franken replacement: Dayton has a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Central (11 Eastern) Wednesday morning where he will announce his pick to replace resigning Sen. Al Franken in the Senate. Dayton had settled early on Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as his pick for the position, POLITICO reported last week, and MPR reported Tuesday night that Smith told a person who spoke to her that she will run in a 2018 special election to complete Franken’s term, which lasts until 2020.

FROM THE HILL — “Quick transition to tax reform could mean surprises for taxpayers,” by POLITICO’s Brian Faler: “Republicans plan to implement their tax overhaul at the same speed they pushed it through Congress, with most provisions slated to begin taking effect Jan. 1, just days after they hope to have it signed into law. They want their mix of business and individual tax cuts up and running as quickly as possible to juice the economy in time for next year’s elections. But the quick start date is fueling complaints that lawmakers are leaving the public little time to adjust to the new plan, including a slew of tax increases that would come online alongside the tax cuts. Many of the provisions have been barely debated, and people may be surprised by sudden changes in policy.” Full story.

Days until the 2018 election: 328.

Upcoming election dates: Arizona 8th District special primary: Feb. 27. Texas primaries: March 6. Pennsylvania 18th District special election: March 13. Illinois primaries: March 20.

Thanks for joining us! You can email tips to the Campaign Pro team at,,, and

You can also follow us on Twitter: @politicoscott, @ec_schneider, @politicokevin, @danielstrauss4, and @maggieseverns.

Faster, Smarter Legislative Tracking: Don’t wait until 2018 to try Legislative Compass, POLITICO Pro’s powerful, easy-to-use tool for federal and state legislative tracking. 2017 preferred pricing expires 12/31. Start my trial.

SPECIAL ELECTION SEASON — Poll data out of AZ-08 primary: ABC15 Arizona and OH Predictive Insights conducted an IVR poll that found that former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump leads the potential nine-way primary field, followed by state Sen. Debbie Lesko and Maricopa County Supervisor Clint Hickman. Stump also leads on name ID and favorability. But 37 percent of the 400 likely Republican voters surveyed said they were still undecided. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 points.

CUOMO’S FIRST GOP CHALLENGER — “Kolb is the GOP’s first declared gubernatorial candidate,” by POLITICO New York’s Jimmy Vielkind: “Republicans have their first formally declared gubernatorial candidate: Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. The longtime legislator from the tony Finger Lakes city of Canandaigua has spent the last several months touring the state and said he’s ‘jumping off the cliff’ because most people he’s met don’t think the state government is working for them. ‘We need a new face that will listen to us. I do that,’ Kolb told POLITICO.” Full story.

ALL DONE — “After 9-point loss in Va., Gillespie says he would not encourage others to run for office because of ‘poisonous atmosphere’,” by The Washington Post’s Fenit Nirappil: “Gillespie said running for governor this year was much more challenging than when he challenged U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) in 2014 — and nearly won. ‘It’s a much more poisonous atmosphere. I don’t know if there’s causality or correlation, I leave that for others to determine,’ Gillespie said. ‘But I could not honestly say to someone that I like and think is a halfway decent human being, ‘Yeah, you ought to run for office’.’” Full story.

2020 WATCH — “Half of voters say sexual misconduct accusations against Trump are credible,” by POLITICO’s Steven Shepard: “Half of voters find sexual misconduct accusations against President Donald Trump to be credible, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted against the backdrop of a national discussion on sexual harassment. Fifty percent of registered voters think the allegations against Trump are credible, more than the 29 percent who think they are not credible. The remaining 21 percent of voters don’t know if the allegations are credible.” Full story.

— “Trump’s tweet creates a political opening for Gillibrand,” by POLITICO’s Annie Karni: “Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s phone buzzed Tuesday morning while she sat in the Hart Senate Office Building, participating in her bipartisan Bible study group. She ignored it. But when a member of her senior staff rang her again, and then again, the junior senator from New York finally stepped out into the hallway, bracing herself for a potential crisis. …The confrontation with Trump elevated a fight against sexual harassment that Gillibrand has been waging for years — and distinguished her from the pack of potential 2020 challengers all vying to play the role of Trump slayer.” Full story.

DIGITAL DOWNLOAD — “The problem with Millennial donors in the online giving era,” by Pacific Campaign House’s Cheryl Hori in Campaigns and Elections: “We are in the middle of a small-dollar donor crisis. Right now, campaigns are seeing more online donations than ever before. The money is great, but here’s the problem: The vast majority of online donors are over the age of 60. As a result, it’s safe to say the donor population is finite and aging. Enter the millennials, a generation even larger than the Baby Boomers. When it comes to purchasing power, millennials have been touted as one of the most powerful demographics. And yet, they’re strikingly absent when it comes to donating to campaigns. Why?” Full story.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s a tough tightrope to walk, and it may not be walkable, to be honest with you.” — Republican Ed Gillespie on running with Trump in the White House, The Hill reported.

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DoubleLine’s Gundlach says investors should add commodities in portfolios: CNBC

2017 12 13T181122Z 1 LYNXMPEDBC1KC RTROPTP 0 FUNDS SOHN 1 150x150 - DoubleLine’s Gundlach says investors should add commodities in portfolios: CNBC

FILE PHOTO - Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York
FILE PHOTO – Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of DoubleLine Capital, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

December 13, 2017

NEW YORK (Reuters) – DoubleLine CEO Jeffrey Gundlach said on Wednesday that his best investment idea for the new year is commodities, against the backdrop of increasing global economic activity and the valuation attractiveness of commodities relative to U.S. stocks.

“I think investors should add commodities to their portfolios,” said Gundlach on CNBC, pointing to the “remarkable” inverse relationship between the total return of the S&P 500 and the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index.

“You go into these massive cycles,” he said. “The repetition of this is almost eerie. And so if you look at that chart the value in commodities is, historically, exactly where you want it to be a buy.”

Gundlach noted that commodities are just as cheap relative to stocks as they were at turning points in previous cycles that began in the 1970s and 1990s. The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index is up 5 percent this year, versus the S&P 500’s 19 percent gain.

Fundamentals are also at play in commodities, Gundlach said. He pointed out that global economic activity is increasing, a tax cut could boost growth and the European Central Bank is implementing “absurd” stimulative policies in the euro zone. “I mean, GDP in Europe…Germany is higher than the U.S. for the last year-over-year in nominal terms,” he said.

(Reporting By Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia Osterman)

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Muslim Nations Unite Against Trump Move

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Photo of David Krayden

12:09 PM 12/13/2017

Muslim nations in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned President Donald Trump’s diplomatic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Organization has been meeting in Istanbul, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that the world should recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, in opposition to Trump’s commitment to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

A statement by the group released Wednesday said the U.S. move has encouraged Israel “to continue its policy of colonialism, settlement, apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

Erdogan again called Israel a “terror state” at the conference.

The conference brings together the 57 members of the OIC — Erdogan called for an emergency session of the Muslim nations after Trump made his Jerusalem announcement last week.

Erdogan told the OIC members that Trump wants to “legitimize Israel’s attempt to occupy Jerusalem,” but said Islamic nations will not allow that to happen because he has crossed a “red line” for Muslim nations around the world.

Turkey’s foreign minister echoed Erdogan’s sentiments. Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed the OIC was here “to say ‘stop’ to tyranny.”

“They expect the Islamic nations to remain silent,” he said. “But we will never be silent. This bullying eliminates the possibility of peace and the grounds for shared life. The U.S. decision is null for us.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants the U.S. banished from Middle East peace negotiations. He told OIC members that Trump’s plan for Jerusalem is a “crime” and endangers world peace. He suggested the United Nations take the lead because the U.S. was unfit to do so.

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