Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
Donald Trump’s shackles were apparently attached to his campaign’s wheels, because they’ve both come off. As the Republican presidential nominee faces a cavalcade of sexual harassment and assault allegations that appear primed to doom his candidacy once and for all, he’s conjuring increasingly baroque conspiracy theories to explain his fate. The latest, on Friday, has Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who holds the largest stake in the New York Times, orchestrating the paper’s reporting on two of his accusers. That, despite the fact that he isn’t pretending to have any evidence for the claim—and that the majority of the allegations have been reported by other outlets. And he deployed a new line of defense, suggesting at least two of his accusers aren’t physically attractive enough for him to have bothered.
But most disturbingly, Trump is now pushing the argument that the election itself has been fixed. Early Saturday, he tweeted that “this election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!” It’s all part of a globalist conspiracy, Trump said Thursday, alleging the “Clinton machine” is working “in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers, her special interest friends and her donors.”
Other Republican leaders are racing to contain the political damage, hoping to limit Trump’s down-ballot drag on Election Day and laying the groundwork for the reclamation project that will follow it. In that spirit, House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered an address Friday aimed at wresting control of the party’s message and direction back from its fading standard-bearer. Beyond an election that has taken “some dark—sometimes very dark—turns,” Ryan said, “lies a long-running debate between two governing philosophies: One that is in keeping with our nation’s founding principles—like freedom and equality—and another that seeks to replace them.” He never once mentioned Trump. But as we’re seeing, the GOP nominee has no intention of going quietly. On the contrary, he’s working to destroy public faith in our most sacred democratic norms to salve his personal pique. Republicans won’t be able to wake up Nov. 9 and wave away the memory of his candidacy like some rogue nightmare.
• New allegations batter Trump campaign
Donald Trump’s beleaguered presidential bid absorbed new body blows Friday as fresh accusations of sexually inappropriate behavior by the candidate rocked the campaign. Among the latest wave of accusers: A former contestant on his NBC reality show, “The Apprentice,” who claims Trump made aggressive and unwanted sexual advances toward her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2007. Trump continued defending himself against the allegations at public rallies, while acknowledging his campaign advisors want him to move on. He says they’re categorically untrue, the product of a conspiracy to derail his candidacy.
• Qatar may have contributed to Clinton fund after ban on foreign government money
Hillary Clinton promised the group now known as the Bill, Hillary, & Chelsea Clinton Foundation would stop receiving checks from foreign governments when she became Secretary of State. But an email uncovered as part of the latest WikiLeaks hack appears to show Qatar pledging $1 million to the fund to mark Bill Clinton’s birthday in 2011. It isn’t clear whether the nation followed through, though the foundation’s website lists it as having contributed at least that much without naming a date of the donation.
• House Republican super PAC scores record fundraising haul
The independent campaign account supporting House Republicans is raising money at a staggering clip, pulling in more than $31 million over the last quarter, or nine times its haul compared to the same period two years ago. The super PAC’s fundraising success points to the desire among major Republican donors to help House Speaker Paul Ryan shore up his majority, as fears mount that Trump’s down-ballot drag could jeopardize the GOP’s hold on the chamber. Most the total came thanks to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who contributed $20 million.
Around the Water Cooler
• Why are Americans down on the economy? It’s politics, stupid
What if it wasn’t people’s economic outlook that drove their political sentiments but rather the other way around? A new poll shows the public mood about the economy has soured considerably this year, with 30 percent of people saying they are very fearful of losing their job in the next six months, up from 10 percent last year, despite significant strengthening in the economy over that same period. One logical conclusion: The grim talk from the campaign trail is shading how people think about the economy, even when their personal experience of it points in the other direction.
• Comparing Trump and Clinton’s tax plans
Trump proposes to cut taxes for corporations, the rich, the slightly less rich, the middle class and the poor, in that order. Clinton plans to raise taxes on the rich, by a lot, to benefit low-income parents and pay for a major expansion of social welfare programs. Trump’s proposal would explode the deficit, absent a massive economic expansion, while Clinton’s leaves it roughly where it is. Neither, of course, is likely to become law without significant changes, if at all, but a side-by-side comparison helps clarify both candidates’ priorities and their theories of how to boost growth.
• Trump’s accusers, on a timeline
The cavalcade of sexual harassment and assault allegations facing Trump over the last few days has been head-spinning. A new accuser seems to be stepping forward every few hours, making it difficult to keep track of them all. So The Daily Beast on Friday afternoon assembled a timeline that plots their allegations in one place, in chronological order. At the time of their writing, his accusers numbered eleven. Trump is denying all of the charges, calling them the product of a conspiracy to derail his candidacy.
The Daily Beast
• More than a million stand to lose Obamacare health coverage
As many as 1.4 million people covered under Obamacare — or 13 percent of those receiving coverage from the law — could lose their plans as major insurers back out of the healthcare exchanges, a new report finds. Nearly half of that total who stand to lose coverage reside in Florida or North Carolina. In recent months, Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth have announced plans to stop selling insurance through most of the exchanges next year, citing losses in those markets. The development presents a big challenge to the longterm viability of the law, if policymakers can’t forge agreement on shoring it up.