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Today's Playbook Power Briefing presented by PhRMA

 

By JAKE SHERMAN (; @JakeSherman), ANNA PALMER (; @apalmerdc), DANIEL LIPPMAN (; @dlippman) and ZACH MONTELLARO ( ; @ZachMontellaro)

 

 

COMING ATTRACTIONS -- EMAIL to the Washington press corps from Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn.) office at 12:26 p.m.: "Wanted to let you know that Senator Franken will be making an announcement tomorrow. More details to come.

SENATE DEMOCRATS TOSS FRANKEN TO THE CURB -- Democratic Sens. MAZIE HIRONO (HAWAII), KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (N.Y.), CLAIRE MCCASKILL (MO.), MAGGIE HASSAN (N.H.), PATTY MURRAY (WASH.), KAMALA HARRIS (CALIF.), TAMMY BALDWIN (WISC.), HEIDI HEITKAMP (N.D.), DEBBIE STABENOW (MICH.), MARIA CANTWELL (WASH.) have all called on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to step down after POLITICO's Heather Caygle reported on another allegation against Franken from a former Democratic congressional aide in 2006, when he was a radio host. THE FIRST MAN was SEN. BOB CASEY (PA.), followed by SHERROD BROWN (OHIO), JOE DONNELLY (IND.), DICK DURBIN (ILL.), ED MARKEY (MASS) and MICHAEL BENNET (COLO.). DNC CHAIR TOM PEREZ also called on Franken to resign.

-- HEATHER'S SCOOP: "A former Democratic congressional aide said Al Franken tried to forcibly kiss her after a taping of his radio show in 2006, three years before he became a U.S. senator. The aide, whose name POLITICO is withholding to protect her identity, said Franken (D-Minn.) pursued her after her boss had left the studio. She said she was gathering her belongings to follow her boss out of the room. When she turned around, Franken was in her face. The former staffer ducked to avoid Franken's lips. As she hastily left the room, she said, Franken told her: 'It's my right as an entertainer.'

"'He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like 'Wait, what is happening?' But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,' the aide said in an interview. 'I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, 'It's my right as an entertainer.'" ...

"Franken, who has been accused by six other women of groping or trying to forcibly kiss them, denied the accusation. 'This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation,' Franken said in a statement to POLITICO." http://politi.co/2BNoJQh

-- Gillibrand: "I have been shocked and disappointed to learn over the last few weeks that a colleague I am fond of personally has engaged in behavior towards women that is unacceptable. I consider Senator Franken to be a friend and have enjoyed working with him in the Senate in our shared fight to help American families.But this moment of reckoning about our friends and colleagues who have been accused of sexual misconduct is necessary, and it is painful. We must not lose sight that this watershed moment is bigger than any one industry, any one party, or any one person." Full statement http://bit.ly/2BPzK3I

MURRAY is a member of Senate Democratic leadership. It's tough to see how Franken hangs on now. INTERESTING LINE FROM MURRAY'S STATEMENT: "I believe service in politics and government is a noble pursuit, and all those who pursue it are flawed in some way. But I also believe public service demands higher standards - standards we choose to live by the moment we enter public life." Full statement http://bit.ly/2ktb9NO

-- @seungminkim: "Chris Coons reminds us, as he will about 47 times later today, that he is the vice chair of Ethics and can't comment on matters that may be pending before committee".

FAIR QUESTION: WHAT'S THE FREEDOM CAUCUS DOING? -- THE HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS , the group of 30 or so conservative Republican lawmakers who have outsized influence over the House floor, are asking leadership to plus up defense spending -- but leave domestic spending untouched. This is a non-starter, and many of them privately know this. But the Freedom Caucus wants the leadership to hold strong. This does not bode well for Washington's December.

-- BUT MARK YOUR CALENDARS: It is beginning to look like Congress will be here between Christmas and New Years.

AP'S KEN THOMAS (@KThomasDC): "I asked POTUS if we're going to have a shutdown. Trump: 'It could happen. The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous to our country. They are looking at shutting down ... they want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country.'"

Good Wednesday afternoon. DON'T FORGET to get your tickets to our first live podcast taping tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Sixth & I. Our guests include "The Daily" host Michael Barbaro, DCCC Executive Director Dan Sena and NRCC Executive Director John Rogers plus a panel of POLITICO stars Rachael Bade, Seung Min Kim and Annie Karni. On sale here http://bit.ly/2i1rIM4

SCOOP, from Jake and Rachael Bade : SPEAKER PAUL RYAN is transferring $2 million to the NRCC in November. Ryan has transferred $32 million to the NRCC this year.

FLYNN UPDATE -- "Flynn texted partners about nuclear plan during inauguration, whistleblower says," by Kyle Cheney: "Congressional Democrats said Wednesday they have evidence from a confidential whistleblower that within minutes of President Donald Trump's inauguration, then-national security adviser Michael Flynn sent assurances to former business partners that a plan to build nuclear reactors across the Middle East was 'good to go.' Democrats on the House oversight committee said in a letter dated Wednesday that the whistleblower reported attending an inauguration day event with Flynn's former business associate Alex Copson, the managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners." http://politi.co/2BQNX0j

HMM... -- "Romney and Trump spoke following trip to Utah, Conway says," by CNN's Maegan Vazquez: "White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Wednesday that President Donald Trump and Mitt Romney spoke by phone following the President's trip to Utah on Monday. 'The President and Gov. Romney spoke, I don't know, 10 hours ago, less than 12 hours ago, and people should know that because otherwise there's speculation,' Conway told CNN's Chris Cuomo on CNN's 'New Day.' Conway said that the two have a 'great relationship' and discussed tax cuts and Trump's recent decision to shrink the Bears Ears monument." http://cnn.it/2AWcXW9

PAGING CORY GARDNER -- @BenSasse, quote-tweeting a report that the RNC transferred cash to the Alabama Republican Party to boost Roy Moore: "This is a bad decision and very sad day. I believe the women--and RNC previously did too. What's changed? Or is the party just indifferent? ... If the political committee that I'm a part of (the NRSC) decides to contribute here, I will no longer be a donor to or fund-raiser for it."

****** A message from PhRMA: A medicine's path from the biopharmaceutical company to the patient involves many entities across the supply chain. A new report examines how money flows through this system - which includes wholesalers, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacies and insurers - and how that impacts what patients pay at the pharmacy. Read more. http://onphr.ma/2kgd6Nu ******

IT'S OFFICIAL -- @DHSgov: "Today, Kirstjen Nielsen was sworn-in as the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security." Pic -- with John Kelly holding the bible http://bit.ly/2BPK23Q

TIME'S PERSON OF THE YEAR -- "THE SILENCE BREAKERS" -- by Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman and Haley Sweetland Edwards: "This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought." http://ti.me/2BMtF7P

ON THE WORLD STAGE -- THE MOSCOW TIMES: "Putin Announces 2018 Presidential Bid, Surprising No One": "Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced he is running for the presidency in upcoming elections, seeking a fourth term next year that would extend his rule into 2024. The longtime president is practically guaranteed to win. A September poll by the independent Levada Center put his approval ratings at 83 percent. Next year's elections on March 18 are timed to coincide with the anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine - an event which largely consolidated Putin's popularity at home." http://bit.ly/2AWhFmI

DATA DIVE -- "We Got Government Data On 20 Years Of Workplace Sexual Harassment Claims. These Charts Break It Down," by BuzzFeed's Lam Thuy Vo: "BuzzFeed News received a trove of data on every sexual harassment claim filed between fiscal years 1995 and 2016 with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces laws meant to protect workers from discrimination. The more than 170,000 claims, which didn't include identifying details, represent just a sliver of the countless incidents in the everyday workplace that don't receive prominent attention or go unnoticed. Overall, women filed 83% of the claims; men filed 15%. The remaining 2% didn't specify a gender." http://bzfd.it/2BNFpHj

BEYOND THE BELTWAY -- California Republicans weather super PAC ads -- Massachusetts Republicans flip longtime Dem state Senate seat http://politi.co/2BM9WoW

-- "As Trump looms, Cuomo and Murphy tiptoe toward a perilous relationship," by POLITICO New York's Dana Rubinstein and Ryan Hutchins: "In their first press conference together -- a media call-cum-tirade against the Trump tax plan -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gov.-elect Phil Murphy of New Jersey expressed a chumminess that bordered on hokey. ... Their gestures of public affection belie a more precarious reality. As Cuomo tacks left in preparation for a potential presidential run in 2020, a Democrat is ascending to office in Cuomo's backyard with none of the baggage Cuomo carries from his seven years as a triangulating Democrat. ...

"If Murphy's expected, out-of-the-gate liberalism underscores Cuomo's own vulnerabilities on the progressive front, it's not the only potential pitfall in their formative relationship. There's also the state of the region's infrastructure and the limited pool of money available to address it. 'They're gonna kill each other,' said David Wildstein, the admitted mastermind of the George Washington Bridge scandal and a former Christie appointee at the Port Authority." http://politi.co/2AVIojd

VALLEYTALK -- "Inside Oracle's cloak-and-dagger political war with Google," by Recode's Tony Romm: "For the past year, the software and cloud computing giant [Oracle] has mounted a cloak-and-dagger, take-no-prisoners lobbying campaign against Google, perhaps hoping to cause the company intense political and financial pain at a time when the two tech giants are also warring in federal court over allegations of stolen computer code.

"Since 2010, Oracle has accused Google of copying Java and using key portions of it in the making of Android. Google, for its part, has fought those claims vigorously. More recently, though, their standoff has intensified. And as a sign of the worsening rift between them, this summer Oracle tried to sell reporters on a story about the privacy pitfalls of Android, two sources confirmed to Recode. ... Still, Oracle's campaign is undeniable. In Washington, D.C., for example, it has devoted a slice of its $8.8 million in lobbying spending so far in 2017 to challenging Google in key policy debates. It has sought penalties against Google in Europe, meanwhile, and it even purchased billboard ads in Tennessee just to antagonize its tech peer, sources said." http://bit.ly/2kt70cI

SPORTS BLINK -- NYT'S JERE LONGMAN: "Did Russia Get Off Easy in Olympic Ban? Read the Fine Print": "Despite hyperbolic language that Russia had been barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics, in truth it may have gotten off fairly lightly for undermining the previous Winter Games, which it hosted, with systematic doping. Russian athletes will still be allowed to compete in February in South Korea if they can show they have passed rigorous drug screening protocols. And they will wear uniforms that identify them as an 'Olympic Athlete From Russia' instead of as an independent athlete.

"Yes, the Russian Olympic Committee has been suspended. And its athletes would not march under the Russian flag at the opening ceremony or hear the Russian anthem played if they win gold medals (they will hear the Olympic anthem). But the punishment would have been much harsher with a prohibition of all Russian athletes." http://nyti.ms/2AWghAw

PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION -- "Spies, Dossiers, and the Insane Lengths Restaurants Go to Track and Influence Food Critics," by Washingtonian's Jessica Sidman: "A vast and complex Underworld is devoted to identifying and understanding critics. Some of it is pretty obvious. You'll find photos of food writers plastered in restaurant kitchens or embedded in staff training manuals. Many restaurants go further, applying CIA-level tactics to tracking personal information and preferences of the people who might write about them. One dossier -- or 'critic bible' -- I reported on a few years ago noted that [WaPo critic Tom] Sietsema 'tends to get wrapped up in his conversations,' among other observations about the local food-writer set.

"The handbook went on to list likes, dislikes, and which type of server would be best matched to which writer ('most personable,' 'engaging but hands off'). It rated each journalist's writing skill and food-and-beverage knowledge. The dossier's creator, it turned out, came from politics -- he considered the information to be opposition research of sorts. 'When you're in a field where somebody's there to criticize you,' he told me, 'you need as much information about that person as you can get to understand their position.'" http://bit.ly/2BMQMz7

TRANSITIONS -- Mellody Hobson, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, and retired Adm. James Stavridis have been named to the Rockefeller Foundation board of trustees. ... Kris Kitto has started as a VP in the San Francisco office of Brooklyn-based PR firm Ditto where he will oversee West Coast account teams and help managing director Blain Rethmeier with business development. Kitto was most recently a director at SHIFT Communications. ... Paris Dennard has been named as a member of the President's Commission on White House Fellowships.

REMEMBERING MICKEY CARROLL -- The longtime journalist, professor and spokesman for the Quinnipiac Poll died today at his home in New Jersey after a short illness. A memorial mass will be held December 14, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church in Morristown, NJ. Matt Friedman's obituary in POLITICO New Jersey http://politi.co/2kqrcvN

HOLIDAY PARTY WATCH -- VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE will be the special guest at America First Action's Christmas party at the Trump International Hotel next Wednesday.

SPOTTED: Audrey Gelman at breakfast this morning with Giovanna Lockhart at the Four Seasons

SPOTTED at Third Way's annual holiday party last night at their new offices: Matt Bennett, Jim Kessler, and Nancy Hale, Jeremy Joseph, Elizabeth Falcone, James Leuschen, Izzy Klein, Mark Henson, Jason Rae, Jonathan Stahler, Jonathan Kott, Erin Simpson, Loren Schulman, Lauren Oppenheimer, Ben Chang, Eric Spiegelman.

SPOTTED at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition's Tribute Dinner last night honoring U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, retired Gen. Tony Zinni and retired Adm. James Stavridis: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), David Abney, Sean Callahan, retired Gens. Michael Hayden and George Casey, retired Adms. James Loy, William Fallon and Eric Olson, Ambassador Deborah Birx, Kathy Calvin, Sherrie Westin, Joe Johns, Amanda Carpenter, Michelle Kosinski, Dan Reilly, Elise Labott, Matt Mowers, John Rader, Everett Eissenstat, Rob Blair, Rich Ashooh, Bill Steiger, Clete Willems, and Bill Inglee.

BONUS BIRTHDAY -- Evelyn Farkas, who is celebrating with a dinner party thrown by her friends ... Smyth Fleming, the pride of Public Citizen's Amanda Fleming and STG's Chris Fleming, is 13.

****** A message from PhRMA : In the competitive marketplace for medicines, negotiations between pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) and biopharmaceutical companies result in substantial rebates and fees. According to a new report, in many cases, this system often creates incentives for PBMs to prefer medicines with higher list prices and higher rebates. Read more about how money flows through the supply chain here: http://onphr.ma/2kgd6Nu ******

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