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Today's POLITICO Playbook presented by PhRMA

 

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

 

Listen to today's Audio Briefing | Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Visit the online home of Playbook

 

Driving the Day

BIG NEWS FOR DEMS -- NYT'S YAMICHE ALCINDOR -- "Conyers Won't Seek Re-election in Wake of Harassment Claims, Relative Says": "Mr. Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, will make the announcement by calling into a local radio show on Tuesday morning, Ian Conyers, a Michigan state senator, said in a phone interview early Tuesday. Ian Conyers, 29, the grandson of Mr. Conyers's brother, said he now planned to run for the seat held by his 88-year-old great-uncle, a Democrat who represents the Detroit area. 'He is not resigning. He is going to retire,' the younger Mr. Conyers said. 'His doctor advised him that the rigor of another campaign would be too much for him just in terms of his health.'" http://nyti.ms/2kmc8iN

-- THE DECISION could ratchet down pressure in the Democratic Caucus. But remember: many Democrats have said Conyers should resign immediately.

Good Tuesday morning. NEWS -- The joint House-Senate Republican legislative retreat will be held at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia in January. The retreat -- organized by the Congressional Institute -- will be Jan. 31 through Feb. 2. President Donald Trump is expected to attend. The Greenbrier is more than four hours from Washington in the West Virginia mountains. House Republican Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State is expected to make this announcement today in a closed party meeting.

PAGING TRUMP AND JARED: THE WORLD COMES OUT AGAINST THE U.S. NAMING JERUSALEM ISRAEL'S CAPITAL -- AP at 4:23 a.m.: "ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Turkey warns US that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is 'red line' for Muslims."

... BARAK RAVID, of Israel's Channel 10: If the U.S. declares Jerusalem the capital, it "might lead to cutting of diplomatic relations between Turkey & Israel" ... "German FM Gabriel: U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will be counterproductive & will only worsen the crisis. A solution to the issue of Jerusalem should be achieved through negotiations".

... JOE DYKE, AFP's Jerusalem bureau chief (@joedyke): "Breaking: US Jerusalem recognition would end Trump peace push, senior official Nabil Shaath announces. @AFP".

... SAUDI ARABIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia views this step, if taken, to be in contradiction of the principle of not affecting final status negotiations, and contradicts international resolutions that emphasize the historical and firm rights of the Palestinian People regarding Jerusalem, which cannot be changed, nor can an attempt to impose a new reality upon it be made. This step, if taken, will constitute a fundamental change, and an unwarranted shift in the United States' impartial position, at a time when the world looks to the United States of America to work on achieving the desired progress in the peace process."

NYT's MARK LANDLER: French President Emmanuel "Macron, ... reaffirmed that the status of Jerusalem must be resolved through peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and particularly those relating to the establishment of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with Jerusalem as their capital.'" http://nyti.ms/2jQgZol

-- "State Department warns of violence ahead of Trump Jerusalem decision," by Nahal Toosi: "The State Department has warned American embassies worldwide to heighten security ahead of a possible announcement Wednesday by President Donald Trump that the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The warning -- delivered in the past week via two classified cables described by State Department officials -- reflects concern that such an announcement could provoke fury in the Arab world even as Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner works to advance long-stalled peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

"Some Arab leaders have implored Trump not to change longstanding American policy on Jerusalem, saying it could make any peace agreement impossible and that it would spark mass protests and even terrorism. The militant group Hamas has already called for a new Palestinian 'intifada,' or uprising, if Trump declares Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish-majority state. 'The impending Jerusalem announcement has me very worried about the possibility of violent responses that could affect embassies,' one State Department official told POLITICO. 'I hope I'm wrong.'" http://politi.co/2jNWPvi

REUTERS' DAN WILLIAMS (@danwilliams): "Hearing that @netanyahu, asked during a closed-door meeting with Israeli parliamentarians yesterday what @realDonaldTrump would announce tomorrow regarding US policy on Jerusalem and the mooted embassy move, answered: 'I don't know.' No confirmation on that from @IsraeliPM aides."

TWEET OF THE MORNING -- AP'S JOSH LEDERMAN (@joshledermanAP): "'The State Department is not missing a beat,' Secretary Tillerson says at US Embassy in Brussels, where there's no US ambassador to EU or Belgium".

JUST POSTED - MCKAY COPPINS in The Atlantic's Jan./Feb. issue, "God's Plan for Mike Pence: Will the vice president-and the religious right-be rewarded for their embrace of Donald Trump?": "On Friday, October 7, 2016, The Washington Post published the Access Hollywood tape ... It's been reported that Pence sent Trump a letter saying he needed time to decide whether he could stay with the campaign. But in fact, according to several Republicans familiar with the situation, he wasn't just thinking about dropping out-he was contemplating a coup. Within hours of The Post 's bombshell, Pence made it clear to the [RNC] that he was ready to take Trump's place as the party's nominee. Such a move just four weeks before Election Day would have been unprecedented-but the situation seemed dire enough to call for radical action. ...

"Meanwhile, a small group of billionaires was trying to put together money for a 'buyout'-even going so far as to ask a Trump associate how much money the candidate would require to walk away from the race. According to someone with knowledge of the talks, they were given an answer of $800 million. (It's unclear whether Trump was aware of this discussion or whether the offer was actually made.) Republican donors and party leaders began buzzing about making Pence the nominee and drafting Condoleezza Rice as his running mate.

"Amid the chaos, Trump convened a meeting of his top advisers in his Manhattan penthouse. He went around the room and asked each person for his damage assessment. Priebus bluntly told Trump he could either drop out immediately or lose in a historic landslide. According to someone who was present, Priebus added that Pence and Rice were 'ready to step in.' ... The furtive plotting, several sources told me, was not just an act of political opportunism for Pence. He was genuinely shocked by the Access Hollywood tape. ... The couple was appalled by the video, however. Karen in particular was 'disgusted,' says a former campaign aide. 'She finds him reprehensible-just totally vile.'" http://theatln.tc/2nvmwWw

STICKING UP FOR THE FBI -- "Director Defends F.B.I. After Trump Says Bureau Is in 'Tatters,'" by NYT's Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage: "In a message to the F.B.I.'s 35,000 agents and support staff that was provided to The New York Times, [Christopher] Wray said that he was 'inspired by example after example of professionalism and dedication to justice demonstrated around the bureau. It is truly an honor to represent you.' He did not mention Mr. Trump by name. ... Mr. Wray, who has run the F.B.I. for about four months, told his employees to ignore any criticism and to continue to uphold the Constitution. 'We find ourselves under the microscope each and every day - and rightfully so. We do hard work for a living,' he said, adding that the F.B.I. should 'continue to keep focused on our critical mission.' The email concluded with one of his favorite maxims: 'Keep calm and tackle hard.'" http://nyti.ms/2kn0HYb

NEBRASKA AVE READ -- AP/SAN DIEGO -- "Border arrests plunge, deportation arrests soar," by Elliot Spagat: "The federal government, in the most complete statistical snapshot of immigration enforcement under President Donald Trump, says Border Patrol arrests plunged to a 45-year low while arrests by deportation officers soared.

"The Border Patrol made 310,531 arrests during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a decline of 25 percent from 415,816 a year earlier and the lowest level since 1971. Despite the significant decline, arrests increased every month since May - largely families and unaccompanied children.

"Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose officers pick up people for deportation away from the border, made 143,470 arrests, an increase of 25 percent from 114,434 a year earlier. After Trump took office, ICE arrests surged 40 percent from the same period a year earlier." http://bit.ly/2inpze9

DRAMA -- "House conservatives almost topple tax vote," by Bernie Becker, Sarah Ferris, and Colin Wilhelm: "House conservatives threatened to derail a key tax vote on Monday in an attempt to win more influence over the GOP's spending strategy, just four days before the deadline to fund the government. In a dramatic political stunt, more than a dozen members of the House Freedom Caucus withheld their support for a crucial procedural vote on the GOP's tax bill, threatening an embarrassing blow to GOP leadership.

"The conservatives eventually relented, approving what had been thought to be a formality - a motion to appoint negotiators to hammer out a final tax bill with the Senate. But the frenzy on the House floor underscored the divisions within the GOP over a spending strategy this month, and that the Republicans' march toward overhauling the tax code - which has proceeded with relatively little drama so far - could get caught up in the process.

"Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the Freedom Caucus chairman, said after Monday's vote that he 'felt very good' about his conversation on the floor with Speaker Paul Ryan, who personally involved himself in the arm-twisting of conservatives. Meadows had earlier stepped outside the House chamber to take a phone call from President Donald Trump, but declined to give any details on the president's message." http://politi.co/2iQOQ4a

-- IF YOU'RE A BETTING MAN OR WOMAN, this isn't over. The Freedom Caucus wants to change the date of the government funding expiration. Right now, funding is set to expire Dec. 22, at which time Congress will punt the deadline again into 2018 to cobble together a large, yearlong spending bill. Meadows and the Freedom Caucus want a Dec. 30 or Dec. 31 expiration, because they think it gives them leverage. This does not seem likely to happen.

-- THIS IS A GOOD REMINDER: The Freedom Caucus, when it's unified, can control the outcome on the House floor.

TO REVIEW -- The government shuts down on Friday. Meadows -- the leader of a bloc of more than 30 conservatives -- says he does not like the GOP leadership plan. Democrats have no intent to help Republican leaders pass a stop gap measure. And the first serious talks between principals -- Democratic and Republican leaders and President Donald Trump -- is Thursday, the day before the funding deadline.

****** 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 ******

ON TAXES -- "Republicans Sought to Undercut an Unfavorable Analysis of the Tax Plan," by NYT's Jim Tankersley: "A Republican requirement that Congress consider the full cost of major legislation threatened to derail the party's $1.5 trillion tax rewrite last week. So lawmakers went on the offensive to discredit the agency performing the analysis. In 2015, Republicans changed the budget rules in Congress so that official scorekeepers would be required to analyze the potential economic impact of major legislation when determining how it would affect federal revenues.

"But on Thursday, hours before they were set to vote on the largest tax cut Congress has considered in years, Senate Republicans opened an assault on that scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and its analysis, which showed the Senate plan would not, as lawmakers contended, pay for itself but would add $1 trillion to the federal budget deficit. Public statements and messaging documents obtained by The New York Times show a concerted push by Republican lawmakers to discredit a nonpartisan agency they had long praised. ...

"The attack on the joint committee and its analysis is a change from the praise Republicans have long heaped on the body, which is staffed with economists and other career bureaucrats who analyze legislation in depth. 'The people who prepare our cost estimates are the best in the business, and they've been working on this issue for years,' Republicans on the House Budget Committee said on a page that was restored to the committee's website on Monday afternoon, after what staff members said was an accidental deletion during a site redesign this year." http://nyti.ms/2zPH6mn

-- "Companies Push to Repeal AMT After Senate's Last-Minute Move to Keep It Alive," by WSJ's Theo Francis and Rich Rubin: "Technology, banking and other industries mounted a new round of lobbying Monday to save a wide range of tax breaks following the last-minute switch in the federal tax overhaul by the U.S. Senate. The Senate on Saturday decided to keep a corporate alternative minimum tax, or AMT, a move that gave the senators $40 billion over a decade to use on other priorities, according to the official estimate. The move blindsided CEOs and business groups, who acted quickly on Monday to try to persuade legislators to kill or modify the provision, arguing that keeping it would undercut several goals of the legislation, including fostering investment in the U.S." http://on.wsj.com/2BzJ1fe

BIG WIN FOR TRUMP -- "Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban while legal challenges continue," by WaPo's Robert Barnes: "The Supreme Court on Monday granted President Trump's request to fully enforce his revised order banning travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries while legal challenges to it proceed in lower courts. It was a victory for the White House, which has seen the courts trim back various iterations of the travel ban, and it bodes well for the administration if the Supreme Court is called upon to finally decide the merits of the president's actions." http://wapo.st/2BAFZHl

-- "Justices take up dispute over wedding cake for gay couple," by AP's Mark Sherman: "The Supreme Court is taking up the highly anticipated case of the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Tuesday's clash at the high court pits baker Jack Phillips' First Amendment claims of artistic freedom against the anti-discrimination arguments of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and two men Phillips turned away in 2012. The commission ruled that Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination law when he refused to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins." http://bit.ly/2BLJcFh

IMPORTANT READ -- "A congressman's accuser: Blackballed and babysitting for cash," by Rachael Bade: "North Carolina native Lauren Greene aspired to a career in politics when she arrived on Capitol Hill as an intern in 2009. She spent the next five years climbing the Capitol Hill ladder, ultimately becoming a communications director for a congressman in 2014. But Greene's budding career imploded, she said, the minute she accused Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) of sexually harassing her.

"Since the summer of 2014, when she says Farenthold fired her for raising concerns about a hostile work environment, Greene has been unable to land a full-time job. She's making $15 an hour working temporary gigs for a homebuilder. She babysits on the side to earn extra cash. Her family has had to support her financially. And Greene, now 30, has left D.C., with no illusions that she will ever work in politics again.

"'It's definitely turned my life upside down,' Greene said in her first interview since she made the accusations against Farenthold. 'It's been a tough road. Emotionally, it was tough. Professionally, it's been hard to figure out next steps. And it's definitely had an impact on my career.' She later added: 'I was told right away that I would be, quote-unquote, 'blackballed' if I came forward. ... That's exactly what happened.'" http://politi.co/2jfRNby

-- "Woman says Rep. Conyers groped her while they were in church," by AP's Corey Williams in Detroit: "A woman who says she worked for U.S. Rep. John Conyers for more than a decade says he slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while she was sitting next to him in the front row of a church. Elisa Grubbs made the allegation in an affidavit released late Monday by her attorney, Lisa Bloom.

"Grubbs is the cousin of another accuser, Marion Brown, who reached a confidential settlement with Conyers over sexual harassment allegations but broke a confidentiality agreement to speak publicly last week. Bloom posted Grubbs' affidavit on Twitter and confirmed to The Associated Press that it was genuine." http://bit.ly/2AtSoQp

-- "Woman shares new evidence of relationship with Roy Moore when she was 17," by WaPo's Stephanie McCrummen in Delray Beach, Florida: "Debbie Wesson Gibson was in her attic hauling out boxes of Christmas decorations last week when she noticed a storage bin she said she had forgotten about. Inside was a scrapbook from her senior year of high school, and taped to a page titled 'Those Who Inspire' was a graduation card. 'Happy graduation Debbie,' it read in slanted cursive handwriting. 'I wanted to give you this card myself. I know that you'll be a success in anything you do. Roy.' ... Gibson, who said that she publicly dated Moore when she was 17 and he was 34, a relationship she said she 'wore like a badge of honor' until she began reevaluating it in light of the accounts of other women, and now, Moore's own denials." http://wapo.st/2koiJJj

--"RNC to support Roy Moore in Senate race in Alabama, weeks after cutting ties with his campaign," by WaPo's Sean Sullivan, Michael Scherer and David Weigel: "President Trump led an aggressive charge Monday on behalf of embattled Senate nominee Roy Moore, with the [RNC] rejoining Moore's side in Alabama weeks after cutting ties with him following allegations of sexual misconduct. ... By day's end, the RNC was back in his corner and America First Action, a pro-Trump group, said it would spend $1.1 million to try to push Moore across the finish line. Senate Republican leaders, however, remained critical of Moore, warning that the former judge is likely to face an immediate ethics probe if he is elected next week." http://wapo.st/2ilHzoU

THE RUSSIA REPORT -- "McFarland Contradicted Herself on Russia Contacts, Congressional Testimony Shows," by NYT's Mike Schmidt and Sharon LaFraniere: "An email sent during the transition by President Trump's former deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, appears to contradict the testimony she gave to Congress over the summer about contacts between the Russian ambassador and Mr. Trump's former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Ms. McFarland had told lawmakers that she did not discuss or know anything about interactions between Sergey I. Kislyak, who had been Moscow's ambassador to the United States, and Mr. Flynn, according to Senate documents.

"But emails obtained by The New York Times appear to undermine those statements. In a Dec. 29 message about newly imposed Obama administration sanctions against Russia for its election interference, Ms. McFarland, then serving on Mr. Trump's transition team, told another transition official that Mr. Flynn would be talking to the Russian ambassador that evening." http://nyti.ms/2Ayud11

--"Prosecutors: Manafort tried to write op-ed with Russian operative while under house arrest," by Darren Samuelsohn: "Paul Manafort and a long-time Russia-based colleague with ties to Russian intelligence were caught last week ghost-writing an op-ed about his work in Ukraine, federal prosecutors working for special Russia counsel Robert Mueller said in a Monday court filing. Mueller's office argued that by working on the article, which was never published, Manafort violated a gag order imposed on his case. ... Prosecutors said the unauthorized move was a breach of trust that leads them to oppose an $11 million bail agreement that it had previously reached with Manafort." http://politi.co/2koY8ox

BLOOMBERG -- "Mueller Subpoenas Trump Deutsche Bank Records," by Steven Arons: "Special prosecutor Robert Mueller zeroed in on President Donald Trump's business dealings with Deutsche Bank AG as his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections widens.

"Mueller issued a subpoena to Germany's largest lender several weeks ago, forcing the bank to submit documents on its relationship with Trump and his family, according to a person briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the action has not been announced." https://bloom.bg/2AU4vqB

GOVERNMENT TAKING GUNS -- "Feds issue 4,000 orders to seize guns from people who failed background checks," by USA Today's Kevin Johnson: "Federal authorities sought to take back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them. ... It's the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according to FBI records- an especially striking statistic after revelations that a breakdown in the background check system allowed a troubled Air Force veteran to buy a rifle later used to kill 26 worshipers at a Texas church last month." https://usat.ly/2BAwzvw

TRUMP'S TUESDAY -- President Trump is having lunch with Republican senators. This afternoon he will talk with American business owners and their families. Tonight he and First Lady Melania Trump will host the Congressional Ball.

THE JUICE ...

-- FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: BEN HOWARD, part of the White House leg affairs team, is coming back to the Capitol to work as House Majority Whip Steve Scalise's (R-La.) floor director. Howard was previously House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) floor director. He starts in January. "Ben Howard has years of experience working in the House, Members trust him, and I am honored to welcome him to the Whip Team," Scalise said in a statement. "We have a lot of important work to do next year as we continue delivering on President Trump's agenda to create jobs and get our economy back on track, and Ben's unique experience in working both in the House and the administration will make him a strong asset to our team as we work to achieve significant legislative victories for the American people."

-- NYT'S JEREMY PETERS has sold a Trump-related book to Penguin Random House's Crown imprint for a "high six-figure sum following an auction among rival publishers," per Vanity Fair's Joe Pompeo. The book is titled "Insurgency: The Inside Story of the Battle for the Soul of the Republican Party," and is set for publication in 2019. http://bit.ly/2iQdbXO

WATCH LIVE at 8 A.M. - WOMEN RULE: 5TH ANNUAL SUMMIT - POLITICO hosts a full day of live conversations with female leaders as we ask: who are the new women shaping our future-and what are their agendas? Where can women find common ground at a time of division? How are women taking their place at the table in the public and private sectors-and what difference can they make there? Featured speakers include: actress Kate Bosworth, 'Me Too' movement founder Tarana Burke, Transportation Sec. Elaine Chao, Kellyanne Conway, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and more. Learn more http://politi.co/2Bzkreu ... Livestream http://politi.co/2jfMvMW

-- SPOTTED at the Women Rule VIP Happy Hour last night at the Four Seasons: Tarana Burke, Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Mistique Cano, Niki Christoff, Ambassador Vlora Citaku, Tasha Cole, Rebecca Cooper, Laurie Fabiano, Nancy Cook, Virginia Conye, Stephanie Cutter, Wade Davis, Carolyn DeWitt, Gloria Dittus, Heather Podesta, Amy Brandwein, Kristen Gentile, Julie Drews, Beth Helle, Jason Gold, Lucy Gettman, Maureen Griffin, Meredith Kelly, Jean Medina, Erin Loos Cutraro, Ambassador Sylvie Lucas, Trish Peva, Becky Tallent, Stephanie Schriock, Susannah Wellford and Scarlette Whyte.

YOU'RE INVITED -- Our first live podcast taping is this Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Sixth and I. Our inaugural guests: MICHAEL BARBARO, host of the New York Times' hit podcast "The Daily," DCCC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DAN SENA and NRCC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN ROGERS. And a panel of POLITICO stars: RACHAEL BADE, SEUNG MIN KIM and ANNIE KARNI. Get your tickets now! http://bit.ly/2hWK7tF

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Playbook Reads

US President Donald Trump pushes a shopping cart as he tours the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' food distribution center at LDS Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

PHOTO DU JOUR: President Donald Trump pushes a shopping cart as he tours the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' food distribution center at LDS Welfare Square in Salt Lake City on Dec 4. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

ALI WATKINS -- "Elite terrorist interrogation team withers under Trump": http://politi.co/2iQksqF

ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA -- "Microwave weapon could fry North Korean missile controls, say experts," by NBC News' Cynthia McFadden, William Arkin, Kevin Monahan and Kenzi Abou-Sabe: "The U.S. has microwave weapons that proponents believe could stop North Korea from launching missiles by frying their electronics. The weapons were discussed at an August White House meeting related to North Korea, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge. The microwave weapons, known as CHAMPs, are fitted into an air-launched cruise missile and delivered from B-52 bombers. With a range of 700 miles, they can fly into enemy airspace at low altitude and emit sharp pulses of microwave energy to disable electronic systems." http://nbcnews.to/2AP4DaP

ISAAC DOVERE talks with DAVID BOSSIE and COREY LEWANDOWSKI in the latest "Off Message podcast: "Trump's Threat to Take Down the GOP Still Stands": "His threat to take down the GOP if it resists, Bossie and Lewandowski told me in an interview for POLITICO's Off Message podcast, still stands. They wouldn't answer if they think the president will stay a member of the Republican Party, let alone committed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"The furthest Lewandowski would go: 'I think the president very much respects the Republican Party. He is very engaged with the Republican National Committee and helps them raise a lot of money and understands that having Republicans controlling Congress is a fundamentally different thing than having Democrats.' 'When you are fighting the establishment -- not just the Democrats, but there are some within the party and the deep state,' Bossie said, 'you're going to fight all of that and you're going to get some people, even in your own party, who don't like what you're doing.'" http://politi.co/2AtGfKW

TOP OP-ED: "Bill Clinton: Americans Must Decide Who We Really Are": http://nyti.ms/2A50sYJ

-- "Democrats question GOP commitment to Senate's Russia inquiry," by Elana Schor: "Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are raising fresh concerns about the GOP-led panel's appetite for digging into the Russian ties forged by multiple advisers to President Donald Trump. Friction on the committee last spiked in October, when the chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), sent a slew of letters to key figures in the Russia investigation without the signature of Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the panel's top Democrat.

"Feinstein has followed by sending four rounds of letters without Grassley's signature that seek material from other players in the Trump campaign's communications with Russian officials - the most recent series of letters coming on Monday. 'Asked about Grassley's decision to not sign on, Feinstein told reporters late Monday that 'I think there's an effort, subtle, not to go deeply.' 'And I hadn't realized it before, but I realize it now," she continued. "And we're going to have to find a way to deal with it." http://politi.co/2AyyyBl

****** 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 ******

HAPPENING TODAY -- "Cordray chooses hometown diner to announce run for governor," by Columbus Dispatch's Marty Schladen: "Life is coming full-circle for Richard Cordray, as the Grove City native returns to a diner in the heart of his home town Tuesday to launch his campaign for the top job in Ohio. Cordray will make his gubernatorial candidacy announcement at Lilly's Kitchen Table in Grove City, marking the start of a 'kitchen table' tour of the state." http://bit.ly/2ASSDFc

BUSINESS BURST -- "How Dollar General Became Rural America's Store of Choice," by WSJ's Sarah Nassauer: "While many large retailers are closing locations, Dollar General executives said they planned to build thousands more stores, mostly in small communities that have otherwise shown few signs of the U.S. economic recovery. The more the rural U.S. struggles, company officials said, the more places Dollar General has found to prosper. 'The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer,' Chief Executive Todd Vasos said in an interview ... 'We are putting stores today [in areas] that perhaps five years ago were just on the cusp of probably not being our demographic,' he said, 'and it has now turned to being our demographic.'" http://on.wsj.com/2il1Wmk

MEDIAWATCH -- "Bill O'Reilly Is Sued by Woman Who Settled Over Harassment Accusations," by NYT's Emily Steel: "A woman who reached a settlement with Bill O'Reilly over harassment allegations sued Mr. O'Reilly and Fox News on Monday for defamation and breach of contract, saying that public statements he and the network made violated the settlement and portrayed her as a liar and politically motivated extortionist. The woman, Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, is one of six known to have reached settlements after making accusations against Mr. O'Reilly. (Her allegations did not include sexual harassment.) ...

"Mr. O'Reilly has repeatedly said that the harassment allegations that led to his ouster from Fox News in April have no merit, that he never mistreated anyone and that he resolved the matters privately to protect his children. 'In fact, Mr. O'Reilly is the liar,' states the lawsuit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 'He mistreated Ms. Bernstein. She was forced out of her job at Fox News and paid a settlement because of his mistreatment.'" http://nyti.ms/2ArOdnV

--WHITE HOUSE GAGGLE KERFUFFLE -- per Brian Stelter's Reliable Sources newsletter: "President Trump flew to Utah on Monday, so there was no W.H. press briefing. Reporters thought there would be a 'gaggle' aboard Air Force One, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told the press pool that he would not answer any Q's on the record, which obviously defeats the purpose of a Q&A. Gidley made statements on several topics, including Jerusalem and Moore, but then told the press pool he would not answer any questions on the record.

"An excerpt from the haggling that ensued: Q: 'We have to ask the questions--' A: 'I understand that, you have a job to do and so do I.' Q: 'You're not doing your job. Your job is literally to take questions from us. That's the whole point of this.' If you don't want to do that, 'you can release paper statements if you want.' A: 'Please tell me more about my job if I get to tell you more about yours...' Once it was clear that Gidley wouldn't field ANY Q's on the record, the press pool scrapped it."

--"ABC News president excoriates staff over Brian Ross' Michael Flynn error," by CNN's Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter: "ABC News president James Goldston ... [also] announced that Ross, the network's chief investigative reporter, will no longer cover stories related to President Trump. ... 'I don't think ever in my career have I felt more rage and disappointment and frustration that I felt through this weekend and through the last half of Friday,' Goldston said [in ABC News' morning editorial call]. 'I don't even know how many times we've talked about this, how many times we have talked about the need to get it right,' he added. 'That how we have to be right and not first. About how in this particular moment, with the stakes as high as these stakes are right now, we cannot afford to get it wrong.'" http://cnnmon.ie/2AP4Xq3

--"PBS names CNN's Christiane Amanpour as Charlie Rose's interim replacement," by Brent D. Griffiths: "CNN International will continue to air Amanpour's shows on weekdays at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST. 'Amanpour on PBS' [began] airing on New York's PBS station on Monday and will roll out to other stations beginning Dec. 11." http://politi.co/2AqjCr3

ABOUT LAST NIGHT -- Oliver Darcy in CNN's Reliable Sources newsletter: "Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie's book is out on Tuesday... So the pair threw a book party Monday night at Del Frisco's in Midtown Manhattan. ... When Steve Bannon strolled in, he shouted 'fake news,' gave me a hug, and joked I probably found out about the event via a Breitbart Slack leak which he vowed to close. Bannon also said Matt Drudge 'is my homie,' calling the conservative news heavyweight 'the king,' despite the barbs Drudge has thrown his direction."

 

Playbookers

SPOTTED: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last night at Kinship

OUT AND ABOUT IN NYC - Pool report: "Last night, Mike Bloomberg hosted a gala dinner at Manhattan's Gotham Hall to fete the inaugural 'Bloomberg 50,' a new, annual list published by Bloomberg Businessweek that honors 50 icons and innovators who have changed the global business landscape in measurable ways. The event was emceed by Emmy and Peabody award-winner Keegan-Michael Key (who attended with his fiancé Elisa Pugliese), featured a special performance by recording artist, Broadway veteran and 'Hamilton' star Mandy Gonzalez." Pic http://bit.ly/2zOPzpM ... The list https://bloom.bg/2AsjJCj

SOME OF WHAT BLOOMBERG SAID: "Now, I know what you're all thinking: Why isn't Mike Bloomberg on the list?! Good question. I was wondering that myself. But I was told it would be seen as self-promotion -- and as we all know, the American people will not stand for a business executive who promotes himself at every turn. I'm glad to say that the Bloomberg 50 is already being copied by other media outlets. Time Magazine just announced that the Time 100 will be split in half -- with two separate issues. The Koch brothers couldn't agree on a list."

SPOTTED: Adam Silver, Jeffrey Bewkes, Agnes Gund, Georgette Mosbacher, Eric Schmidt, Jon Batiste, Mark Morris, Hilary Rosen, Tammy Haddad, Jordan Klepper, Ken Burns, Martha Stewart, Jane Seymour, Hannah Bronfman, John Overdeck and David Siegel, Coco Rocha, Paulina Porizkova, Tamron Hall, and Ty Hunter, Megan Murphy, John Micklethwait, Marty Schenker, Justin Smith, and Jason Schechter.

SPOTTED at Heritage Foundation's media Christmas party last night at the Metropolitan Club: Ed Feulner, Mike Needham, Craig Gordon, Alyssa Farah, Brad Rateike, Paul Teller, Kelly Sadler, Russ Vought, Jess Bravin, Francesca Chambers, Chris Stirewalt, David Smith, Robert Schlesinger, Alex Pfeiffer.

BIRTHWEEK (was yesterday): Sarah Paulos of Flanagan Fulkerson & Company (hat tip: Heather Purcell)

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Treasury chief of staff Eli Miller is 35. A fun fact about Eli: "I have constructed an impressive collection of USSS challenge coins over years of traveling. I have close to 100! My favorite is the USSS Special Agent Rescue Swimmer Coin. It's very rare and a difficult trade." Read his Playbook Plus Q&A: http://politi.co/2AWJBY1

BIRTHDAYS: NYT media correspondent Mike Grynbaum (h/t Rachel Adler) ... Jamie Rhoades (hubby tip: Matt) ... photographer Paul Morse ... University of Tennessee-Knoxville's Stuart N. Brotman (h/t son Gabe) ... Evan Burfield, co-founder of startup incubator 1776 and CEO of UNION, is 41 (h/t Peter Cherukuri) ... Andrew Williams, VP of media relations at Goldman Sachs ... WaPo's Rachel van Dongen ... Roy Schwartz, co-founder and president of Axios, is 42 ... Moira Mack Muntz ... Politico Europe's Stephen Brown ... Jamie Estrada ... Politico's Khorri Atkinson ... Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) is 61 ... NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown is 61 ... WRC NBC4 anchor Chris Lawrence ... Alex Simon ... Adam Casella, senior associate at Owl Rock Capital ... Katie Krieg ... Gray Johnson of the Atlantic Council ... Yana Mayayeva ... Jeremy Thompson ... Brai Odion-Esene ... Zoey Davidson ...

... Lisa Spies ... DJ Eckert ... Ashley Selden (h/ts Blake Waggoner) ... Ruiyong Chen, a principal on the paid media team at Precision Strategies (h/t Tom Zigo) ... Simon Jerome of the International Republican Institute ... Adam Rosenberg ... former Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) is 71 ... Mike Platt, assistant Commerce secretary ... Chad Krilow ... Bush DHS alum Caroline Dierker Poe ... Anne Trenolone ... Porter McNeil ... Zach Drennen, communications manager for Climate Advisers ... Susan Scott Neal ... Alex Traub ... Nicole Drummond, deputy digital director at Strategic Partners & Media ... Angelo Turner ... Mike O'Toole ... Anthony Bedell, deputy assistant secretary at DOT, is 5-0 ... Arthur Colby, MBA candidate at UChicago ... Calvin Trillin is 82 ... Kim Perkins ... Chuck Chvala (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

****** 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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