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Post Politics Now: Biden says he’d meet with Putin if he’s interested in ending war with Ukraine

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 12/1/2022 John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro
French President Emannuel Macron and President Biden hold a joint news conference Thursday. © Tom Brenner/For the Washington Post French President Emannuel Macron and President Biden hold a joint news conference Thursday.

Today, President Biden said that he is prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin if he indicates he is interested in ending his country’s war with Ukraine. But Biden added: “He hasn’t done that yet.” Biden’s comments came during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron during which both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Ukraine. Macron’s visit to the White House will also include the first state dinner since Biden took office.

Meanwhile, the Senate passed legislation to avert a national rail strike. And later Thursday, former president Barack Obama was back in Georgia to campaign for Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) ahead of the senator’s Tuesday runoff against Republican Herschel Walker, the former football star.

8:44 PM: On our radar: Biden to meet with royals in Boston

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron arrive with President Biden and first lady Jill Biden at the grand staircase of the White House before a state dinner on Thursday. (Photo by Tom Brenner for The Washington Post) © Tom Brenner/For the Washington Post French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron arrive with President Biden and first lady Jill Biden at the grand staircase of the White House before a state dinner on Thursday. (Photo by Tom Brenner for The Washington Post)

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden hosted France’s Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, at the White House on Thursday night in their first state dinner. The celebration followed a busy day for Biden and Macron, who met with the press earlier Thursday to talk about the French-American alliance, investments and their joint efforts to help Ukraine in the war against Russia.

Here’s what we’ll be watching on Friday:

  • Biden will travel to Boston, where he’s expected to meet with Prince William and Princess Kate of Wales. The two are visiting the country for an awards ceremony. The president will be in Boston to participate in a Democratic National Committee event.
  • The House will work on legislation to increase funding for a program that serves pregnant women and new mothers. The bill is known as the Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022, named after the late Indiana Republican congresswoman who died earlier this year and who championed the fight against hunger.
  • The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet in Washington to discuss potential changes to the Democrats’ 2024 primary calendar. The Post reported earlier Thursday that Biden has asked leaders of the Democratic National Committee to make South Carolina the nation’s first primary state.

8:29 PM: The latest: Ariz. county ordered to certify election as GOP lawyers are sanctioned

A man protests outside the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors auditorium prior to the board's general election canvass meeting in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP) © Matt York/AP A man protests outside the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors auditorium prior to the board's general election canvass meeting in Phoenix. (Matt York/AP)

A judge in Arizona on Thursday ordered the governing board of a ruby-red county in the southeastern corner of the state to certify the results of the Nov. 8 election, finding that its members had no authority to shirk a duty required under state law, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez report.

“You will meet today,” Superior Court Judge Casey F. McGinley told the three members of the Cochise County Board of Supervisors. “You will canvass the election no later than 5 o’clock.”

When the board convened at 3:30 p.m., with one Republican absent, the two remaining supervisors, one Republican and one Democrat, voted to certify the results.

The surrender, under court order, ended a standoff in Cochise County that threatened to upend the state’s process for affirming the will of more than 2.5 million Arizona voters. The ensuing chaos could have undermined the projected victories of Republicans in a U.S. House seat and the statewide race for schools superintendent.

The denouement in Cochise County played out as a federal judge, also on Thursday afternoon, sanctioned lawyers for Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, the unsuccessful GOP candidates for governor and secretary of state, respectively. Taken together, the orders show how judges are scorning efforts to politicize ministerial roles and undermine election administration.
The federal judge, John Tuchi of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, wrote that sanctions would “make clear that the Court will not condone litigants … furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process.”

Read more on this decision here.

7:59 PM: Noted: Rapper Ye draws fresh denunciation for Hitler praise in Alex Jones interview

Rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, left, shakes hands with President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2018. © Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg Rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, left, shakes hands with President Donald Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 2018.

The rapper Ye praised Adolf Hitler and Nazis in an interview Thursday with far-right provocateur Alex Jones, drawing a fresh round of condemnation for his incendiary antisemitism a week after he dined with former president Donald Trump alongside white nationalist Nick Fuentes, Azi Paybarah reports.

Here’s what happened:

“I like Hitler,” a fully masked Ye told Jones. Minutes later, the rapper said, “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis.”
Jones laughed and quickly added, “Well, I have to disagree with that.”
Ye’s comments prompted sharp denunciations from across the political spectrum, including from some onetime supporters of the rapper, formerly known as Kanye West.
The House Judiciary GOP Twitter account on Thursday deleted a tweet it posted in October that said simply: “Kanye. Elon. Trump.”
A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment about Thursday’s show. Shortly after the Infowars segment ended, Ye’s Twitter account began retweeting posts about the “craziest interview in modern history.” ...
During Thursday’s show, Jones told Ye, “You’re not a Nazi” and “You don’t deserve to be called that and demonized.”
“Well,” he replied, “I see good things about Hitler.”

In a statement from the Republican Jewish Coalition, Chairman Norm Coleman, a former senator from Minnesota, and chief executive Matt Brooks called Jones, West and Fuentes “a disgusting triumvirate of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers, and antisemites.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, whose group combats extremism, wrote on Twitter that the latest comments attributed to Ye and his association with “a white supremacist” makes Ye “a vicious antisemite.” His comments Thursday, Greenblatt wrote, “put Jews in danger.”

Read more on Ye’s antisemitic statements here.

7:50 PM: The latest: There’s a big difference between 50 and 51 senators, Obama says in Georgia

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 01: Former U.S. President Barack Obama campaigns for Georgia Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (L) (D-GA) at a rally December 1, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Sen. Warnock continues to campaign throughout Georgia for the runoff election on December 6 against his Republican challenger Herschel Walker. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) © Win McNamee/Getty Images ATLANTA, GEORGIA - DECEMBER 01: Former U.S. President Barack Obama campaigns for Georgia Democratic Senate candidate U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock (L) (D-GA) at a rally December 1, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. Sen. Warnock continues to campaign throughout Georgia for the runoff election on December 6 against his Republican challenger Herschel Walker. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Former president Barack Obama, as he stumped for Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.) in Atlanta, delivered a blistering attack on Republican nominee Herschel Walker, who Obama said has been making “stuff up” on the campaign trail.

Warnock is in the midst of a tight runoff election against Walker.

Warnock, the former president said, “has been standing up for democracy” while Walker has been peddling conspiracy theories and talking about issues like “vampires versus werewolves” during his campaign events.

Obama was referring to comments about supernatural creatures that Walker made in a recent speech. Walker concluded those remarks by saying he would like to be a werewolf.

“As far as I’m concerned, he can be anything he wants to be — except a U.S. senator,” Obama said.

Walker once said he had played basketball against the former president, which Obama said didn’t happen.

“This would be funny, if he weren’t running for Senate,” Obama said.

The former president also said it’s important for Democrats to have 51 seats in the Senate instead of just 50. During the midterm elections, Democrats secured 50 seats, giving them a razor-thin majority with Vice President Harris empowered to cast tiebreaking votes.

A Warnock win, Obama said, would mean preventing “one person from holding up” votes in the chamber. It would also mean that a candidate who “chases wacky conspiracy theories” won’t be given power, he said.

“I’m here to tell you we can’t be complacent,” Obama told the crowd, which the Warnock campaign said totaled around 5,000.

In his remarks, Warnock joked about Walker’s past as an NFL player and a Texas resident. Before launching his Senate bid, Walker lived in the Lone Star State.

“You deserve a senator who actually lives in Georgia,” Warnock told the crowd. Walker, he noted, was once an excellent running back. “Come next Tuesday we’re going to send him running back to Texas.”

7:47 PM: Take a look: Dignitaries arrive at Biden’s first state dinner

Political dignitaries flooded the White House on Thursday for President Biden’s first state dinner, honoring French President Emmanuel Macron.

Lawmakers such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), as well as key administration figures such as White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, wore formal outfits as they walked into the celebration, which will feature a lavish dinner and decor celebrating the Franco-American bond.

Take a look:

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron of France at the North Portico of the White House before a State Dinner on Thursday. (Photo by Tom Brenner for The Washington Post) © Tom Brenner/For the Washington Post President Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron of France at the North Portico of the White House before a State Dinner on Thursday. (Photo by Tom Brenner for The Washington Post) President Biden and first lady Jill Biden wait to greet French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron as they arrive for a State Dinner on the North Portico of the White House on Thursday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) © Patrick Semansky/AP President Biden and first lady Jill Biden wait to greet French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron as they arrive for a State Dinner on the North Portico of the White House on Thursday. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) arrives for the State Dinner at teh White House with daughter Alexandra on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) © Susan Walsh/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) arrives for the State Dinner at teh White House with daughter Alexandra on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

7:41 PM: Noted: Obama says a vocal 4-year-old summed up his argument

Former president Barack Obama campaigns for Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock in Atlanta on Thursday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) © Win McNamee/Getty Images Former president Barack Obama campaigns for Georgia Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock in Atlanta on Thursday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In a crowd of 5,000, many people vocalized their agreement with Barack Obama’s speech Thursday night in Atlanta.

But the former president singled out a 4-year-old whose voice at times rose above the din.

At one point, the little boy said, “We’ve got the power.”

“He’s only 4 and he’s making sense,” Obama responded, saying the boy was obviously “getting straight A’s” in school.

A few moments later, the boy implored the crowd to vote for Raphael Warnock – and Obama joked that the boy was summing up his argument.

“From the mouths of babes,” Obama told the crowd.

The former president greeted the child at the end of his remarks. The little boy also shook hands with each Secret Service agent.

By: Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

7:13 PM: This just in: Biden pushes making South Carolina first primary state, elevating Georgia and Michigan

President Biden has asked leaders of the Democratic National Committee to make South Carolina the nation’s first primary state, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, with subsequent primaries in Georgia and Michigan, according to Democrats briefed on the plans.

As Michael Scherer and Tyler Pager report, the tectonic decision to radically remake his party’s presidential nominating calendar for 2024 came as a surprise to party officials and state leaders who had been lobbying in recent weeks to gain a place in the early calendar, which historically attracts millions of dollars in candidate spending and attention.

The proposal is likely to win approval from the Democratic officials, given the support from the leader of the party.

Per our colleagues:

By breaking with decades of tradition, Biden’s move is meant to signal his party’s commitment to elevating more variety — demographic, geographic and economic — in the early nominating process. Iowa, a largely White state that historically held the nation’s the first Democratic caucus and experienced embarrassing problems tabulating results in 2020, would have no early role in the Biden plan.
... In recent weeks, Biden has personally spoken with officials from Nevada, New Hampshire and Michigan about his plans. He spoke Wednesday with the co-chairs of the [DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee], James Roosevelt Jr. and Minyon Moore, about his thinking, Democratic officials said.
... Democrats in Michigan say they will be able to move the primary date, given their complete control of state government. Nevada Democrats are also optimistic they will be able to control their primary date, despite the election of a new Republican governor who will take office next year. The decision marked a let down for Democrats in Minnesota who had campaigned aggressively to be chosen over Michigan as the Midwestern replacement for Iowa.

But, but, but: The plan is expected to face resistance from Republicans — including possibly governors, legislative leaders or secretaries of state — in New Hampshire, Georgia and Nevada, since Democrats will not have the ability to unilaterally move the state-sanctioned primary dates next year. The Republican Party has already committed to the traditional order for 2024, allowing four states to go before all the others: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The plan must be ratified by the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which is meeting Friday and Saturday at a Washington hotel, and then approved by the full DNC in February, Democratic officials said.

Read more on this plan here.

6:45 PM: Noted: For Democrats, Thursday night is election eve

Obama’s remarks in Atlanta come at a pivotal point in the calendar for Georgia Democrats — the night before early voting ends.

Experts say Republicans have a historical numbers advantage in the state on Election Day, but Democrats have been able to get more of their voters to the polls early, offsetting that edge. Obama, the nation’s most popular Democrat, continues his role as closer, crystallizing his party’s arguments and values and taking pointed shots at Republicans.

Democrats hope his remarks galvanize the base — and possibly go viral, like his attacks on Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) a little over a month ago.

By: Cleve R. Wootson Jr.

6:24 PM: Noted: Democrats celebrate Obama’s return to the trail

Georgia Democrats praised Obama’s return to Georgia, and said an all-hands-on-deck effort is necessary with just five days until the runoff.

“Obama is definitely part of the reason I’m here,” said Rene Brinkley, a Warnock supporter from Atlanta. “But Obama can’t vote in Georgia, I can.”

“I know that after seeing him get into politics, it was what made me want to study what I’m studying in school and know that I can go into politics, I could possibly be president,” said Treasure Welle, a junior at Emory University, who said she came directly to the event from a final exam.

Tarryn Sampson, a Warnock supporter from Atlanta, said it is important for Obama to be out campaigning as a leader of the Democratic Party.

“I think his role as the past president is very important in showing his support for the party,” Sampson said. “Him showing up and stepping in to represent I believe is very important.”

By: Dylan Wells

5:52 PM: Analysis: The overblown, heavily political fear of American cities

While it’s true that crime rates have risen in the United States since the pandemic began, rates have, overall, fallen across the country compared with where they were three decades ago. As Philip Bump writes, we do know that things in the past have been much, much worse.

This raises the question: Why do so many people think cities are hopelessly dangerous?

A lot of it has to do with perception — the images of these cities painted by politicians, lawmakers and the media.

Let’s start with this: More people who voted for President Donald Trump in 2020 live in small metropolitan counties or rural ones than in large suburbs or large cities. Nearly two-thirds of Joe Biden voters, by comparison, lived in counties in those latter two categories.

And if those rural Americans don’t spend a lot of time in cities, they may be susceptible to overwrought presentations of what’s happening in them.
Presentations that outlets like Fox News are happy to stoke. When protests over police treatment of Black men and women began in the late spring of 2020, Fox News spent an enormous amount of air time covering vandalism and looting that occasionally spun out of the protests. In July 2020, Fox News talked about cities in the context of crime or violence at least 1,000 times. (Technically, in 1,088 15-second snippets of airtime.) For weeks, the network aired the same footage of vandalism that had occurred weeks prior; the narrative that Democratic cities were collapsing in paroxysms of violence overlapped neatly with Trump’s reelection messaging.
Since then, though, Fox’s focus on crime has persisted. There’s an obvious connection to elections, as there was in 2020, but also an almost traditional “if it bleeds, it leads” approach to what’s on-air. In 2022, the network has talked about cities in the context of crime in more than 2,750 segments.

This is not to claim that crime rates aren’t up. They are. But these rates are up in rural areas as well as urban ones.

There are fewer random subway attacks in rural Iowa than New York City, certainly, for obvious reasons, but there are also more random, observed acts of violence in a large city that make the news because there are more people around to interact and to observe what happened. Murder is down in New York City this year, though you wouldn’t know it from the coverage on Fox News.

Read more on this perception here.

5:50 PM: This just in: Appeals court strikes down special master in Trump Mar-a-Lago documents case

A panel of a federal appeals court on Thursday halted an outside review of thousands of documents seized from former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence, ruling that a lower-court judge was wrong to appoint an expert to decide whether any of the material should be shielded from criminal investigators.

As Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett report, Trump sought the outside arbiter, known as a special master, after the FBI executed a court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club, on Aug. 8, retrieving more than 13,000 documents related to Trump’s time in the White House. About 100 of the documents were classified, and some contained extremely sensitive government secrets, according to court records.

A Trump-appointed U.S. district judge, Aileen M. Cannon of Florida, agreed to name Judge Raymond J. Dearie of Brooklyn as special master to review the documents, rejecting the Justice Department’s argument that presidents do not retain executive privileges after leaving office. Cannon also noted that the FBI took some of Trump’s personal materials that were mixed with the government documents.

As Perry and Devlin write:

But special master appointments are rare, and judges at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit expressed concern at oral arguments that Cannon’s decision set a troubling precedent: allowing the target of a search warrant to go into court and request a special master that could interfere with an executive branch investigation before an indictment is ever issued.
“In considering these arguments, we are faced with a choice: apply our usual test; drastically expand the availability of equitable jurisdiction for every subject of a search warrant; or carve out an unprecedented exception in our law for former presidents,” the Thursday opinion read. “We choose the first option. So the case must be dismissed.”

Read more on this decision here.

5:04 PM: On our radar: Obama returns to Georgia to rally support for Warnock in tight runoff race

Former president Barack Obama will headline a rally for Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) on Thursday aimed at energizing Democratic voters ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Herschel Walker, Sabrina Rodriguez reports.

This is the second trip to the Peach State for Obama, who was widely viewed as the surrogate of choice for Democratic candidates across the country in the midterms. He is the most high-profile Democrat to come stump for Warnock, who has had few national Democrats come to Georgia to join him on the campaign trail.

By contrast, top Republicans have descended upon the state throughout the general election and the runoff to try to boost Walker, a Georgia football legend whose candidacy has been beset with controversy. Per Sabrina:

Walker on Thursday had been scheduled to campaign with former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, but Walker’s campaign said Pompeo was unable to make it due to a family emergency. In recent weeks, Walker has campaigned with Republicans — such as Sens. Ted Cruz (Tex.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel — some of whom have visited the state multiple times to stand with him.

Neither President Biden nor former president Donald Trump, who encouraged Walker to challenge Warnock, is expected to come to Georgia before Tuesday’s election.

Democrats have said Obama is the best surrogate the party has to rally the vote in Georgia:

“Obama is by far the most popular and influential Democrat nationally that we have. Him coming can only increase enthusiasm and focus attention on the task at hand, which is to get as many people as possible” out to vote, said Michael Thurmond, the chief executive of DeKalb County and a Democrat. “You could have no better surrogate and motivator-in-chief coming to Georgia.”

Read more on his visit here.

4:02 PM: This just in: Senate adopts deal to block rail strike, sending it to Biden

The Senate on Thursday passed a measure that forces a deal between national freight railroads and their unions, averting a potential Dec. 9 strike that could have crippled U.S. travel and commerce ahead of the holiday season.

The bipartisan 80-15 vote sends the measure to President Biden’s desk. The president — whose administration helped broker the original deal — has said he will sign the measure, which he urged lawmakers to pass quickly.

In the final measure, Congress was unable to provide rail workers with the additional paid sick days that union leaders vigorously sought.

Per Tony Romm and Lauren Kaori Gurley, under the deal rail workers are set to see a roughly 24 percent pay increase by 2024, while gaining more flexibility to take time off for doctor’s appointments and an additional day of paid leave.

In both the House and Senate, Democrats led last-minute efforts to add additional paid leave days to the deal, while Republicans tried to create a “cooling off period” that would have extended talks into next year — but both sides failed in their attempts to revise the terms the White House had brokered.
“Suppliers and businesses across the nation are going to begin shutting down operations soon if they think a strike is imminent,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned Thursday morning as he set the chamber on its course to vote, warning that a shutdown means “nobody wins and everybody loses.”
The Senate vote, following House passage a day earlier, quickly produced mixed, visceral reactions among labor groups that had been split over the deal from the start.
“We carry the country on our backs whether [Congress] realizes it or not,” said Tom Modica, 36, a rail mechanic in Chicago. “The fact that they are willing to force a contract down our throats to keep the railroads from shutting down means we’re important. But they get sick days, and we’re out here in the snow all day and we don’t. It’s pretty hypocritical.”

Read more on the deal here.

3:51 PM: The latest: Amendments to rail deal fail in the Senate

The Senate did not adopt two amendments to the deal that would avoid a rail strike ahead of a final vote on the measure.

By a vote 26 to 69, the chamber rejected an amendment introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) that would have extended the “cooling off period” that would have allowed railroads and workers to continue negotiating until they reach an agreement, or force both sides to enter arbitration, where a third-party mediator gets involved.

The Senate also rejected an amendment pushed by several Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to include seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers. That failed 52 to 43.

3:15 PM: This just in: Student debt forgiveness plan frozen as Supreme Court reviews it

The Supreme Court on Thursday announced it will expedite review of the legality of President Biden’s plan to cancel federal student loan debt for millions of borrowers, and hold oral arguments in February, Robert Barnes and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel report. This means the program will remain frozen while the court acts.

Lower courts have put the program, which the administration said was justified by repayment problems amplified by the pandemic, on hold. The Biden administration asked the justices to either allow it to go forward while legal challenges continue or to take up the issue themselves.

The White House recently extended the pause on federal loan repayment, which was scheduled to expire at the end of the year, to give the high court time to act.

The Biden plan would cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for more than 40 million borrowers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit had granted the request of a coalition of six Republican-led states to impose a nationwide injunction on the plan amid ongoing litigation.

The legal battles have left millions of student loan borrowers in limbo. More than half of eligible people had applied for the forgiveness program before it was halted by the courts, with the Education Department approving some 16 million applications. Despite the hold on the program, the department recently notified people that their applications were approved, assuring them that the administration will discharge the debt if it prevails in court.

Read more on this court decision here.

2:21 PM: This just in: Biden says he’d meet with Putin if he’s interested in ending war with Ukraine

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands following a joint press conference at the White House on Thursday. © Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands following a joint press conference at the White House on Thursday.

President Biden said Thursday that he is prepared to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin if he indicates he is interested in ending his country’s war with Ukraine. But Biden said Putin hasn’t done that yet.

Biden’s comments came during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron during which both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to supporting Ukraine.

I’m prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact … he’s looking for a way to end the war,” Biden told reporters in the East Room of the White House. “He hasn’t done that yet.”

Biden also emphasized his view that Russia will not prevail in the war.

“The idea that Putin is ever going to defeat Ukraine is beyond comprehension,” Biden said, saying it is impractical for Russian forces to occupy the country on a sustained basis.

“He’s miscalculated every single thing,” Biden said of Putin.

2:15 PM: The latest: Biden says he’s made it clear he’ll continue working for paid leave

President Biden, during a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, said he’s “made it fairly clear” that he will continue to fight for paid sick leave not just for railroad workers but for all workers.

Rail workers in some of the nation’s largest unions have threatened to strike over disagreements with rail companies on their new contract, including a dispute over paid sick days. Four of 12 unions involved in the rail dispute voted down the tentative contract, brokered by the White House, because it lacked paid sick days or changes to an attendance policy that rail workers say is punitive.

Biden was asked Thursday why he didn’t fight harder to add a paid leave increase to the deal that was negotiated.

“I negotiated a contract no one else could negotiate,” Biden said. “The only thing that was left out … was a paid leave. You know, I’ve been trying to get paid leave, not just for rail workers, for everybody, but that other team … the Republicans. … They said we couldn’t do it.”

Biden, standing next to Macron, said it “may surprise some of our European friends that there’s no paid leave in the United States of America.”

“By the way, there are only four unions … that didn’t agree,” Biden said. “It doesn’t mean because we are going to pass this … that we’re going to back off of paid leave. I made it really clear I’m going to continue to fight for paid leave for not only rail workers but for all workers.”

2:07 PM: Noted: Biden says ‘tweaks’ will be made for ‘glitches’ in Inflation Reduction Act

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference with President Biden in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) © Susan Walsh/AP French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference with President Biden in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Thursday. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Biden on Thursday acknowledged that there are some “glitches” in the Inflation Reduction Act that he signed into law in August, but said they can be reconciled and defended the bill as necessary to resolving supply-chain issues, tackling climate change and lowering health-care costs.

“There are occasions when you write a massive piece of legislation — and that has almost $360 billion for the largest investment in climate change in all of history — and so there’s obviously going to be glitches in it and need to reconcile changes in it,” Biden said at a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

As an example, Biden noted a provision in the bill granted an exception for “anyone who has a free-trade agreement with us.” The president said the lawmaker who wrote that has acknowledged he meant U.S. allies, not countries with a literal “free-trade agreement.” The essence of the legislation, he said, was to make sure the United States continued to not have to rely on anyone else’s supply chain, which is what he also hoped for Europe.

“There’s tweaks that we can make,” Biden said. “When I wrote the legislation, I never intended to exclude folks who were cooperating with us. That was not the intention. … My point is, we’re back in business, Europe is back in business, and we’re going to continue to create manufacturing jobs in America, but not at the expense of Europe.”

By: Amy B Wang

2:00 PM: The latest: Macron and Biden emphasize ongoing commitment to Ukraine

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron jointly condemned the Russian invasion on Ukraine during a news conference Thursday while restating their commitment to continuing to help Ukraine defend itself.

“We clearly condemn war immediately,” the French president said. “We led all the diplomatic actions to condemn this war, the war crimes committed by Russia on the Ukrainian soil.”

Macron voiced his country’s commitment to Ukraine since the earliest days of the war and its willingness to help the Eastern European country stabilize in the future. The leader thanked Biden and the United States for supporting Ukraine in the fight that he said is having a direct impact on Europe, given the location of the war.

Biden noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks that he can destroy Ukraine — and those beyond its border — but that he is mistaken.

“Putin thinks that he can crush the will of all those [who] oppose his imperial ambitions by attacking civilian infrastructures in Ukraine, choking off energy to Europe, and to drive up prices,” the president said.

Biden accused Putin of exacerbating a food crisis.

“That’s hurting very vulnerable people, not just in Ukraine, but around the world,” Biden said. “And he’s not going to succeed.”

By: Eugene Scott

1:20 PM: Analysis: Republicans in Congress are more likely to go sideways on their caucus

One of Donald Trump’s regular complaints during his presidency was that Democrats, unlike Republicans, were more likely to stick together in important votes on Capitol Hill. As was the case with many things Trump said, the observation was rooted more in what he wanted to see happen — Republicans falling in line to support him — than in studied consideration of what was actually happening.

But with Republicans ready to take control of the House and the contest to elect a speaker more unusually fraught, Philip Bump thought it would be worth assessing whether there was any truth to Trump’s claim, however inadvertently.

There is.

Philip looked at vote data from the past 10 congresses, from the start of the 108th Congress in 2003 to the most recent votes in the 117th Congress, taken on Wednesday. For each vote, he calculated the total number of votes cast by Democrats and the total number by Republicans, as well as the majority position of the caucus or, in rare cases, the plurality. That allowed him to calculate a metric he is calling call “party conformity”: the percentage of votes from a party that aligned with the majority position.

So let’s say that there were 220 votes cast on a bill by Republicans. Of those, 200 were “yea” votes. That would mean Republicans had 91 percent party conformity on that vote. By assessing those numbers over time, we can figure out how often each party’s members voted with the majority or, considered in reverse, how often members went sideways on the rest of their caucus.
In both the House and the Senate, the average party conformity score was higher for Democrats than Republicans over the nearly 18,000 total votes taken. Democrats in the House voted with their party 90.4 percent of the time. Republicans in the House, 89.3 percent of the time. In the Senate, the gulf was wider: Democrats lined up 89.8 percent of the time while Republicans did so only 86.6 percent of the time.
If we break the values out into buckets — conformity of 0 to 9 percent, 10 to 19 percent, etc. and then up to 90 to 99 percent and 100 percent — you can see that Democrats consistently had more votes in which they displayed more loyalty.

Read more on this breakdown here.

12:55 PM: Noted: Ga. Republican lieutenant governor leaves ballot blank rather than vote for Walker

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Atlanta on Jan. 6, 2021. (Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post) Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Atlanta on Jan. 6, 2021. (Kevin D. Liles for The Washington Post)

Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, one of his state’s highest-ranking Republicans, says he left his ballot blank rather than vote for GOP nominee Herschel Walker in the Senate runoff against Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.).

Duncan shared with CNN on Wednesday night that he waited in line for an hour to vote early at a busy polling site but decided he couldn’t vote for either candidate once the time came.

“It was the most disappointing ballot I’ve ever stared at in my entire life since I started voting,” Duncan said. “I had two candidates who I just couldn’t find anything that it made any sense to put my vote behind. So I walked out of that ballot box, showing up to vote but not voting for either one of them.”

In a subsequent interview published Thursday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Duncan elaborated on his decision.

“Like many conservatives across Georgia, I’ve been waiting for Herschel Walker to give me a reason to support him. Regrettably, he hasn’t, and that’s why I was forced to leave my ballot blank,” he said.

Duncan also made clear he’s not a fan of Warnock.

“Georgia deserves better than Senator Warnock, whose left-wing voting record is way out of step with their priorities and would never earn my support,” Duncan said. “The Republican Party deserves better than Herschel Walker. To rebuild, we need less team players and more team leaders.”

Walker gained fame as a college football player at the University of Georgia.

12:35 PM: On our radar: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan teases presidential bid, reflects on tenure

Hogan speaks at the Hanover event. © Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post Hogan speaks at the Hanover event.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan further teased his presidential ambitions Wednesday, throwing himself a fundraising party with supporters at a casino and taking a victory lap on his two terms as a popular Republican governor in a deeply Democratic state.

The Post’s Ovetta Wiggins and Erin Cox write that at an event where he celebrated his past eight years and contemplated his political future, the governor laid out his case for a White House run before 1,500 people packed into a ballroom at Maryland Live Casino and Hotel. But he stopped short of declaring a candidacy. Per our colleagues:

“I understand there has been some speculation about my future,” Hogan said.
The crowd cheered.
“I think you all know I do care very deeply about this country, and I’ve never been more concerned about the direction of our nation,” he said. “What I can tell you tonight is I am not about to give up on the Republican Party or on America.”

You can read the full story here.

12:16 PM: Analysis: The U.S. military has a politics problem

President Biden, left, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attend a ceremony at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post) President Biden, left, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attend a ceremony at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. (Oliver Contreras for The Washington Post)

It’s a tough time to be a major U.S. institution. Television news? Congress? Big Business? They’re all at major deficits when it comes to Americans’ confidence in them. Historically, the U.S. military has enjoyed much, much better ratings. But a new poll is sounding the alarm.

Writing in The Daily 202, The Post’s Olivier Knox notes that from 2018 to 2022, trust and confidence in the uniformed services plummeted from 70 percent to 48 percent, according to the Ronald Reagan Foundation and Institute survey. No other public institution has endured as steep and speedy a fall, the foundation warned.

Many factors have contributed to this collapse. But none more so than the public’s perception that military leadership has become overly politicized.

In his piece, Olivier notes that two recent defense secretaries — Jim Mattis under Trump, Lloyd Austin under President Biden — needed special congressional waivers to serve because they had not been retired long enough under a statute meant to reinforce civilian control of the military.

Per Olivier:

Among the potential negative effects, this may fuel the perception that a political appointment is the capstone to a great military career, and mid-level officers may take decisions with visions of future confirmation hearings dancing in their heads.
The poll doesn’t explicitly connect these concerns to recruitment shortfalls, but it found that, among Americans 18-29 years of age, just 13 percent say they are highly willing to join up, 25 percent are somewhat willing, 20 percent are not very willing, and 26 precent are a hard no.

You can read Olivier’s full analysis here.

11:53 AM: The latest: Pelosi praises committee chair for work getting Trump’s tax returns released

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday. © Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg News House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) praised the efforts of Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) to make Donald Trump’s tax returns available to the Ways and Means Committee, which Neal chairs.

“He handled this with dignity,” she said Thursday in her weekly briefing. “He handled it with its purpose. That is to say, we need to see how this works.”

“We need to possibly have legislation requiring candidates for president to reach a certain threshold that the public has a right to see their tax returns,” Pelosi added. “And so where they go next, I don’t know if they legally can release information from those returns.”

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that it had complied with a court order to make Trump’s tax returns available to the House Ways and Means Committee. The action came the week after the Supreme Court rejected the former president’s request for an order that would have prevented the department from providing six years of tax returns for Trump as well as some of his businesses to the committee.

By: Eugene Scott

11:44 AM: Noted: Pelosi says leadership changes show diversity of House Democrats

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says she is pleased with her caucus's handling of its leadership votes. © Sarah Silbiger/For The Washington Post House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says she is pleased with her caucus's handling of its leadership votes.

For the past two days, House Democrats have done something they haven’t done in two decades: vote on a full slate of new caucus leaders.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who stepped down from her leadership post along with Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), praised her caucus’s relatively smooth transition of power.

“It reflects, again, not only the diversity but the vibrancy of our caucus,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday. New leadership, she said, “always bring fresh ideas, entrepreneurial thinking, a different take on the vision and their path to achieving that vision will invigorate the caucus again.

“I’m personally grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve in leadership 20 years as leader or speaker [and] just a while as whip to begin with and consider it a great privilege,” she said.

Pelosi, the first woman to serve as speaker, will be succeeded by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the first Black person to lead any congressional caucus.

Hoyer and Clyburn, who are both in their 80s, will be replaced by Rep. Rep. Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), 59, and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), 43, respectively, though Clyburn will remain in leadership, in the No. 4 spot.

By: Azi Paybarah

11:25 AM: The latest: How fintech fueled covid aid fraud

Storm clouds over the Capitol. (Tom Brenner for The Washington Post) © Tom Brenner/For the Washington Post Storm clouds over the Capitol. (Tom Brenner for The Washington Post)

“The faster the better,” the workers were told at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, as the little-known financial technology company Blueacorn raced to review small businesses that sought federal loans.

Speeding through applications, Blueacorn employees and contractors allegedly began to overlook possible signs of fraud, according to interviews and communications later amassed by investigators on Capitol Hill. The company weighed whether to prioritize “monster loans that will get everyone paid,” as the firm’s co-founder once said. And investigators found that Blueacorn collected about $1 billion in processing fees — while its operators may have secured fraudulent loans of their own.

The Post’s Tony Romm reports that the allegations against Blueacorn and several other companies are laid out in a sprawling, roughly 120-page report released Thursday by the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, a congressional watchdog tasked to oversee roughly $5 trillion in federal pandemic aid. Per Tony:

The 18-month probe — spanning more than 83,000 pages of documents, and shared in advance with The Washington Post — contends there was rampant abuse among a set of companies known as fintechs, which jeopardized federal efforts to rescue the economy and siphoned off public funds for possible private gain.
Some of the companies involved had never before managed federal aid, the report found. At the height of the pandemic, they failed to hire the right staff to thwart fraud. They amassed major profits from fees generated from the loans — large and small, genuine and problematic — that they processed and reviewed. And they repeatedly escaped scrutiny from the Small Business Administration, putting billions of dollars at risk, the probe found.

You can read Tony’s full story here.

11:18 AM: Noted: Here’s how federal judges think about diversity in hiring law clerks

From left, U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, and Pepperdine law professor Mary S. Hoopes. © Courtesy Photos/Courtesy Photos From left, U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, and Pepperdine law professor Mary S. Hoopes.

An article published online this week suggests that many of the nation’s appeals court judges — one step below the Supreme Court — think about race and gender in evaluating applicants for highly coveted one-year clerkships in their chambers.

The Post’s Ann E. Marimow reports that a pair of judges and a law professor interviewed 50 judges from courthouses across the country, providing a rare look at how they approach hiring for jobs that influence judicial opinions and serve as steppingstones to even more prestigious Supreme Court clerkships and posts in government, academia and private practice. Per Ann:

U.S. District Judge Jeremy D. Fogel, Justice Goodwin Liu of the California Supreme Court and law professor Mary S. Hoopes say they were inspired to take on the project because of their concerns about the lack of diversity in the legal profession and among the ranks of federal law clerks, in addition to their own struggles to hire clerks who reflect the diversity of law school students.
“We know we are not the only ones to experience hiring challenges, yet there seems to be little systemic inquiry into what judges who seek more diversity, however defined, can do to achieve it,” they wrote.

You can read the full story here.

11:00 AM: Noted: McCarthy says Republicans will investigate Jan. 6 committee’s work

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is on the screen as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a prime time hearing July 21. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is on the screen as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol holds a prime time hearing July 21. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says Republicans will probe the work of the House select committee that has been investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, after the GOP takes control of the chamber next year.

The Post’s Amy B Wang reports that in a letter sent Wednesday to Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the bipartisan panel, McCarthy instructed the committee’s members to preserve all of its records and testimony transcripts, even as he acknowledged that that was already required under House rules. Per Amy:

McCarthy also vowed that Republicans would launch their own inquiry into “why the Capitol complex was not secure” on the day a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. Five people died in the insurrection or in its immediate aftermath, and dozens were injured, including at least 140 law enforcement officers, who were harassed, beaten and sprayed with gas substances by the mob.
“You have spent a year and a half and millions of taxpayers’ dollars conducting this investigation. It is imperative that all information collected be preserved not just for institutional prerogatives but for transparency to the American people,” McCarthy wrote. “The American people have a right to know that the allegations you have made are supported by the facts and to be able to view the transcripts."

You can read the full story here.

10:42 AM: Noted: Macron, in Washington, says Biden’s agenda could ‘fragment the West’

President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, wave to the crowd at the White House in Washington on Thursday. © Tom Brenner/For the Washington Post President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, wave to the crowd at the White House in Washington on Thursday.

There were nothing but smiles and warm wishes Thursday at a White House arrival ceremony, but French President Emmanuel Macron warned during a talk in Washington the day before that President Biden’s signature domestic policies could “fragment the West.”

The Post’s Yasmeen Abutaleb, Toluse Olorunnipa and Rick Noack note that the criticism, shortly after Macron touched down in Washington for the first state visit of the Biden presidency, was unusually blunt. Per our colleagues:

“There is a risk today that we must discuss among friends,” Macron said in a talk at the French embassy. “The risk is that, in the face of the challenges I mentioned, the U.S. looks first to the U.S., which is normal — we do the same.”
He added, “The choices made, whose goals I share — especially the IRA or the CHIPS Act — are choices that will fragment the West because they create such differences between the U.S. and Europe."
Macron was referring to the Inflation Reduction Act, which among other things provides billions to support the U.S. clean energy industry, and a separate measure that bolsters U.S. semiconductor manufacturers.

You can read the full story here.

10:35 AM: The latest: The Bidens also have gifts for Macron and his wife

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, to the White House on Thursday. © Nathan Howard/Getty Images President Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, to the White House on Thursday.

As noted earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Washington with gifts for President Biden and first Lady Jill Biden. The Bidens are also gifting during the visit.

According to the White House, the Bidens presented Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, with a custom mirror made of fallen wood from the White House grounds by an American furniture maker. The mirror is a reproduction of a mirror in the White House collection that hangs in the West Wing.

President Biden also gifted Macron a custom vinyl record collection of American musicians and an archival facsimile print of Thomas Edison’s 1877 patent of the American Phonograph.

Jill Biden gifted France’s first lady a gold-and-emerald pendant necklace designed by a French American designer, the White House said.

10:19 AM: The latest: Cicilline drops challenge to Clyburn for No. 4 position in House Democratic leadership

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), seen here in a file photo, is the author of a bill to ban assault weapons. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post) © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), seen here in a file photo, is the author of a bill to ban assault weapons. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) dropped a challenge to Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) for the No. 4 leadership in the House Democratic caucus next year, clearing the way for his colleagues to elect Clyburn as assistant leader by acclamation.

The Post’s Marianna Sotomayor relays that, as House Democratic leadership elections continued for a second day, Cicilline, who is openly gay, spoke about wanting to see an LGBTQ member in a top position. He announced a surprise bid to challenge Clyburn on Wednesday before withdrawing Thursday.

Cicilline told colleagues that diversity in leadership is especially important after the Colorado shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub and amid continuing attacks against his community.

Clyburn is currently the House majority whip, the No. 3 position in caucus leadership. He joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) in vacating the top three positions so that a younger generation could take over. But Clyburn decided to seek a lesser position, saying it was important to have the South represented in senior leadership.

9:57 AM: The latest: Biden welcomes ‘unwavering partner’ to the White House

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron take part in a welcoming ceremony at the White House in Washington on Thursday. © Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron take part in a welcoming ceremony at the White House in Washington on Thursday.

President Biden welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House in lavish style on Thursday, calling his country an “unwavering partner” to the United States and touting their solidarity in opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

France and the United States are facing down Vladimir Putin’s grasp and ambition for conquest and Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, which has once more shattered peace on the continent of Europe,” Biden said.

The war is expected to be a major topic when the two leaders meet behind closed doors at the White House later Thursday morning.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden greeted Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, on the South Lawn of the White House with hugs and kisses. U.S. military bands provided music, and the national anthems of both nations were played.

“The temperature may be a little chilly on this December day, but our hearts are warm,” Biden said. France is our oldest ally, our unwavering partner in freedom’s cause.”

After a bilateral meeting Thursday morning, Biden and Macron are scheduled to hold a joint news conference. A state dinner is planned for the evening.

9:22 AM: Noted: Judge sentences men behind election robocall scam to register new voters

Conservative operatives Jack Burkman, left, and Jacob Wohl hold a news conference outside the entrance to Burkman's townhouse in Arlington, Va., on May 8, 2019. © Dayna Smith/For the Washington Post Conservative operatives Jack Burkman, left, and Jacob Wohl hold a news conference outside the entrance to Burkman's townhouse in Arlington, Va., on May 8, 2019.

In the summer of 2020, tens of thousands of people across five states received robocalls urging them not to vote by mail. The calls falsely warned that mailing in their ballots that fall could lead to their information being harvested by police, debt collectors or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ohio prosecutors in October 2020 charged right-wing operatives Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl with telecommunications fraud in connection with the scheme, and two years later, the two men pleaded guilty.

Now, they have their punishment: They must spend 500 hours helping register people to vote, The Post’s Daniel Wu reports. Per Daniel:

Judge John Sutula in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court also sentenced Burkman and Wohl to two years of probation, fines of $2,500 each and electronic monitoring from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. for six months, according to the county prosecutor’s office.
“I think it’s a despicable thing that you guys have done,” the judge said on Tuesday, comparing the robocall scam to efforts to suppress Southern Black voters in the 1960s, Cleveland.com reported.

You can read the full story here.

9:05 AM: On our radar: Democrats under pressure on assault weapons ban

The Rev. Paula Stecker tidies up a memorial Nov. 29 outside Club Q in Colorado Springs. (Thomas Peipert/AP) © Thomas Peipert/AP The Rev. Paula Stecker tidies up a memorial Nov. 29 outside Club Q in Colorado Springs. (Thomas Peipert/AP)

As lawmakers hustle to avert a rail strike and keep the government funded, Democrats are still under pressure to take up long-shot legislation before they lose their House majority in January.

Writing in The Early 202, The Post’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer relay that March for Our Lives, Brady, Guns Down America and several other anti-gun-violence groups are sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday urging him to bring the assault weapons ban legislation that passed the House in July up for a vote in the Senate. Per our colleagues:

They’re making the push even though the bill lacks the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.
“Look, if we don’t hold the vote, then the votes certainly aren’t there,” said Igor Volsky, Guns Down America’s executive director.
“Part of our push here is to signal that the days of making rhetorical promises and not acting are over,” he added.
Other gun-control groups are holding off their efforts until it’s clear that such legislation has the votes to pass.

You can read The Early 202 in full here.

8:46 AM: Noted: Macron arrives bearing gifts for Biden, first lady

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron depart after eating dinner at Fiola Mare in Washington on Wednesday night. © Andrew Harnik/AP President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron depart after eating dinner at Fiola Mare in Washington on Wednesday night.

French President Emmanuel Macron is bearing gifts as he visits the White House on Thursday, including the soundtrack to a 1966 French film that President Biden and first lady Jill Biden saw on their first date.

That’s according to a list provided by the French government and shared by the foreign press pool.

Macron is reportedly giving Biden both the vinyl and compact disc version of the original soundtrack of Claude Lelouch’s film “Un Homme et une Femme” with music by French composer Francis Lai.

Biden is also getting a cup created by Christofle, the high-end French manufacturer and retailer. It pays tribute to the first links between France and the United States.

Also for Biden: a sweater from House Saint James and a watch from LIP Horlogerie Gifts, both French retailers.

First lady Jill Biden, meanwhile, can expect a pair of books by French writers: “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert; and “The Plague, The Fall, Exile and the Kingdom, and Selected Essays,” by Albert Camus.

Vice President Harris is receiving a model of the French-designed Ariane 5 rocket, according to the foreign press pool.

8:25 AM: On our radar: Lawmakers who benefited from FTX cash set to probe its collapse

FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in December. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post) © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in December. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Congress is launching its official response to the collapse of cryptocurrency giant FTX on Thursday, as investors and investigators struggle to understand the shocking implosion three weeks ago of one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world.

The Post’s Tory Newmyer reports that the Senate Agriculture Committee is the first of three congressional panels to convene a hearing on the matter, with Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Rostin Behnam set to testify. Per Tory:

Behnam, a former Senate Agriculture Committee staffer, has been angling for jurisdiction over crypto markets, and in the months before FTX’s collapse, both the committee and the company had been pushing to hand it to him.
Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), the committee’s leaders, introduced a bill in August with input from Behnam’s office that would give the CFTC the authority to regulate crypto spot markets.
The measure was also FTX’s top legislative priority. Former chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried argued to colleagues that the industry would receive more favorable treatment from the CFTC than the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is much larger and has staked out a more aggressive posture toward crypto interests.

You can read the full story here.

8:08 AM: Noted: Lobster at Macron state dinner cited by Maine Democrat in fisheries dispute

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) speaks at a Nov. 1 news conference at the State House in Augusta, Maine. © Robert F. Bukaty/AP Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) speaks at a Nov. 1 news conference at the State House in Augusta, Maine.

Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) is seeking to use a featured item on the menu at Thursday night’s state dinner to try to gain leverage in a dispute with the Biden administration over regulations affecting the lobster industry in his state.

Butter-poached lobster will be served at the dinner in honor of French President Emmanuel Macron, and Golden took notice when a reporter noted this week on Twitter that 200 live lobsters were being shipped from his state to the White House.

“If the Biden White House can prioritize purchasing 200 Maine lobsters for a fancy dinner, @POTUS should also take the time to meet with the Maine lobstermen his administration is currently regulating out of business,” Golden tweeted Wednesday night.

Golden has been a vocal opponent of Biden administration rules to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

The rules include limits on lobster traps and lines, which regulators say will help reduce the number of whales that get trapped in fishing gear. But the lobster industry argues the rules threaten its business and are excessive.

7:40 AM: The latest: Senate could take up rail legislation as early as today

The Biden administration announced its rail cybersecurity rules last year, in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and increased attention on hacks of critical infrastructure. (Luke Sharrett for The Washington Post) © Luke Sharrett/for the Washington Post The Biden administration announced its rail cybersecurity rules last year, in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack and increased attention on hacks of critical infrastructure. (Luke Sharrett for The Washington Post)

The Senate could take up legislation Thursday forcing a contract between national freight railroads and unions, averting a Dec. 9 strike that threatens travel, supply chains and the busy holiday shopping season.

The Post’s Lauren Kaori Gurley reports that the House-passed legislation, which imposes a White House-brokered deal and is opposed by some union workers, faces a tricky path in the Senate. Per Lauren:

Republican lawmakers, at least 10 of whom would be needed to consider the legislation, have an array of opinions on whether to intervene and force the tentative deal. Meanwhile, some of the more liberal Democrats are pushing to allow rail workers seven days of paid sick leave.
The timing of any Senate action remained unclear early Thursday, but Labor Secretary Marty Walsh and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are expected to head to Capitol Hill to talk with Democrats about the agreement.
Without congressional intervention, unions are poised to strike Dec. 9. Four of 12 unions involved in the rail dispute voted down the tentative contract, brokered by the White House, because it lacked paid sick days or changes to an attendance policy that rail workers say is punitive.

You can read the full story here.

7:14 AM: Analysis: The under-the-radar battle over opioid addiction treatment legislation

A methadone clinic located across from Taunton Police Station in Taunton, Mass. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post) © Salwan Georges/The Washington Post A methadone clinic located across from Taunton Police Station in Taunton, Mass. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

In the final legislative sprint of the year, a quiet battle is being waged in Congress over how best to treat certain drug addictions, as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage parts of the country and deaths from overdoses remain historically high.

Writing in The Early 202, The Post’s Leigh Ann Caldwell and Theodoric Meyer relay that in many ways, it is a classic Washington showdown: Lawmakers and certain advocates are pushing one policy, while an industry fights to keep it from being enacted. Per our colleagues:

But the life-or-death nature of the opioid crisis and the destructive path it has cut through all manner of communities have lent an intensity to the debate that you don’t find in the push-and-pull over which corporate tax breaks should be extended.
At issue is access to methadone as a treatment for opioid addiction and whether patients should have to show up at a treatment facility each day to receive their dose or if they can simply call their doctor.
Rep. Donald W. Norcross (D-N.J.) and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) are pushing legislation they introduced one year ago that would enable certified addiction-treatment physicians to prescribe methadone at a local pharmacy for stable patients who could then take the treatments at home. Certain patients would also be allowed to take home as much as a one-month supply of the medication.

You can read the full analysis here.

6:45 AM: On our radar: Obama returning to Georgia to stump for Warnock

Former president Barack Obama greets supporters during a rally with Georgia Democrats in College Park, Ga., on Friday. © Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post Former president Barack Obama greets supporters during a rally with Georgia Democrats in College Park, Ga., on Friday.

Former president Barack Obama is returning to Georgia to campaign with Sen. Raphael G. Warnock (D) on Thursday ahead of his Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Herschel Walker.

Obama is scheduled to appear at a rally in Atlanta on the eve of the final day of early voting in the state, with the aim of driving up Democratic turnout, particularly among Black voters.

Obama also campaigned for Warnock and other Georgia Democrats ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.

In the Senate contest, Warnock narrowly outpolled Walker, but neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold required by Georgia law to avoid a runoff. Without a Libertarian Party candidate on the ballot this time, one of them will prevail.

During Obama’s last appearance in the state, he questioned whether Walker is qualified to join the Senate.

“Some of you may not remember, but Herschel Walker was a heck of a football player,” Obama said. “But here’s the question: Does that make him the best person to represent you in the U.S. Senate? Does that make him equipped to weigh in on the critical decisions about our economy and our foreign policy and our future?”

6:28 AM: On our radar: Ukraine war high on agenda during Macron’s White House visit

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron depart after dining at Fiola Mare in Washington on Wednesday. © Ting Shen/Pool/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron depart after dining at Fiola Mare in Washington on Wednesday.

President Biden is preparing to welcome French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House on Thursday for a long-awaited discussion of topics, including the war in Ukraine, at a time when Macron has drawn criticism for showing far more willingness than other Western leaders to talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Post’s Yasmeen Abutaleb and Rick Noack report that Macron’s arrival Tuesday kicked off the first state visit of Biden’s presidency, which includes a lavish official dinner Thursday night, after the coronavirus pandemic precluded such gatherings for the past two years. Per our colleagues:

The visit also marks an ongoing effort by Biden to repair the damage to U.S.-French relations caused by an American submarine deal with Australia last year.
White House officials expect discussions about Ukraine to be front and center during the French president’s visit, but the leaders are also likely to delve into the challenges posed by China’s ascent and conflict in the Middle East, as well as tensions caused by Biden’s legislation designed to boost U.S. industry.
Biden and Macron have formed a close relationship despite the early rift over the submarine deal, aides said, noting that Macron, who became president in 2017, is among the longest-serving leaders in Europe, making him a stabilizing force amid political turmoil in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

You can read the full story here.

6:25 AM: Noted: House committee to release first-of-its-kind documentary on economic inequality

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the creation of the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth in June. Next to Pelosi, in a blue suit, is Rep. Jim Himes, who led the documentary project. © J. Scott Applewhite/AP House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the creation of the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth in June. Next to Pelosi, in a blue suit, is Rep. Jim Himes, who led the documentary project.

A bipartisan House select committee is set to release a first-of-its-kind documentary-style film on economic inequality in America, a modern historical record of three uniquely American stories that members hope bursts the political and partisan bubble around the issue in Washington.

The Post’s Jacqueline Alemany reports that Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in June 2020 to chair the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, has spearheaded a novel approach to the traditionally staid committee assignment. He has vowed to not only anchor the committee’s work outside Washington but also to create a more lasting and impactful product than yet another moldering congressional report. Per our colleague:

“I really wanted to put a huge emphasis on not just producing a sterile report, but on getting American stories out there in a very big way, in the service of understanding and moving away from stereotypical thinking and in the service of reducing polarization,” Himes told The Washington Post in an interview.
The 30-minute documentary, titled “Grit & Grace: The Fight for the American Dream,” is the first ever produced by the House and will premiere Dec. 13 at the National Archives as part of a field hearing centered around storytelling and the American Dream.

You can read the full story here.

6:22 AM: Noted: Colorado officials formally order recount in Boebert race

Adam Frisch, Democratic candidate for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, and incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.). © AP Adam Frisch, Democratic candidate for Colorado's 3rd Congressional District, and incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

Colorado election officials have formally ordered a mandatory recount in the close race between Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) and Democratic challenger Adam Frisch, who has conceded the election to the incumbent.

Boebert leads Frisch, a former Aspen City councilman, by 550 votes, and under state law, a mandatory recount is warranted if the number of votes separating the candidates is less than 0.5 percent of the number of votes cast for the leading candidate.

Boebert got 163,842 votes, and the margin is 0.3 percent of her total.

Jena Griswold, the Colorado secretary of state, tweeted Wednesday, “All counties within CD-3 have been notified to begin preparations to proceed with the recount which must be completed by Tuesday, December 13, 2022, as required by statute.”

Last month, Frisch called Boebert to concede and told reporters that the chances of a recount “changing more than a handful of votes is very small, very, very small.” He asked supporters to discontinue raising funds and “false hope.”

“Colorado elections are safe, accurate and secure. Please save your money for your groceries, your rent, your children, for other important causes and organizations,” Frisch said.

Boebert tweeted about the call, saying she looked forward to getting past the election and “focusing on conservative governance in the House majority.”

The race in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District — a wide swath of the state’s west — was a showdown between Boebert, a gun-toting Republican from the working-class town of Rifle on the banks of the Colorado River, and Frisch, a conservative Democrat from the ritzy ski town of Aspen.

6:19 AM: On our radar: Trump’s dinner with antisemites provides test of GOP response to extremism

President Donald Trump meets with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Oct. 11, 2018. © Calla Kessler/The Washington Post President Donald Trump meets with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Oct. 11, 2018.

Former president Donald Trump’s refusal to apologize for or disavow the outspoken antisemites he dined with last week is setting him increasingly at odds with leaders of his own party, providing the first test of his political endurance since launching his third run for the White House.

The Post’s Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey and Marianna Sotomayor write that the fracas is also testing how Republicans will handle the party’s extreme fringe in the months ahead after years of racist, misogynist and antisemitic speech flooding into the political bloodstream during the Trump era. Per our colleagues:

Trump has been taken aback by the backlash and maintained that the controversy over his Mar-a-Lago dinner with white nationalist Nick Fuentes and the rapper Ye, who has been vocally spouting antisemitic conspiracy theories, would blow over, according to advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential conversations. “I think it’s dying down,” they recalled Trump saying.
But the wave of denunciations only intensified as lawmakers returned to Washington from the Thanksgiving holiday this week, breaking a well-worn pattern of dodging or shrugging off Trump’s controversies during much of his presidency, possibly ushering in a new phase of more vocal criticism of him.

You can read the full story here.

6:17 AM: The latest: Garland praises Oath Keepers verdict, won’t say where Jan. 6 probe goes

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington on Oct. 24. © Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington on Oct. 24.

A day after a federal jury convicted two far-right extremists of leading a plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed that his Justice Department would continue to “work tirelessly” to hold accountable those responsible for efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

The Post’s Perry Stein, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett report that throughout the trial, prosecutors highlighted the defendants’ links to key allies of President Donald Trump, such as Roger Stone, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. Per our colleagues:

Garland declined to say Wednesday if he expected prosecutors to eventually file charges against them or any other people who did not physically participate in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“I don’t want to speculate on other investigations or parts of other investigations,” Garland told reporters at a briefing.

This week, a jury found Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy, Kelly Meggs, at least partially responsible for staging firearms and preparing to forcibly oppose federal authority. Both were convicted of “seditious conspiracy,” a rarely used charge that is among the most serious levied so far in the sprawling Jan. 6 investigation.

You can read the full story here.

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