Vulnerable Republicans planning to vote “no” on the tax reform plan Thursday include: Reps. Darrell Issa (CA-49), Leonard Lance (NJ-07), Elise Stefanik (R-21), John Faso (R-NY 19), Dan Donovan (NY-11), Lee Zeldin (NY-01) and Pete King (NY-02). But “Democrats aren’t about to give these members a free pass.The DCCC has signaled it will attack all Republicans for the tax vote, regardless of how they voted, just as it did after the House GOP’s health care vote earlier this year.” (Roll Call)
CALIFORNIA. “Eight of the state’s Republicans plan to vote for the bill, including Reps. Mimi Walters (R-45), Jeff Denham (R-10) and David Valadao (R-21) “and one is leaning toward voting yes. Four others are undecided,” including Reps. Ed Royce (R-39), Steve Knight (R-25), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-48), “and only” Issa “has said he will oppose the bill.” (Los Angeles Times)
NEW YORK. Faso said he plans to vote “no” on the bill. Meanwhile Reps. John Katko (R-24), Tom Reed (R-23) and Chris Collins (R-27) will vote for it. (Syracuse Post-Standard) Faso, Donovan, King and Zeldin held a press conference in the Capitol on Thursday to discuss their opposition. (release)
PENNSYLVANIA. Reps. Ryan Costello (R-06) and Pat Meehan (R-07) “sound like they both plan to back the Republican tax reform when it comes to a floor vote.” (Delco Daily Times)
FEELING GOOD. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-05) told a group of reporters Thursday he was increasingly confident Democrats could take back the House, placing the odds at 60 percent. He’s hitting the campaign trail this weekend to stump for 2016 NV-04 candidate Susie Lee (D) in the open NV-03 seat and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis (D) in the open KS-02 seat.
Hoyer also explained his donation and support to candidates in crowded primaries: “You need to have people win the primaries who can win the generals. There’s that sense that we want to try to get the strongest general-election candidate. That is not necessarily always the strongest primary candidate.
“We make a judgment. Is there a predominantly strong candidate in the race that we think can win the general and have the best shot at winning the general. Then we think it’s a responsibility as far as to try to step in and make sure that candidate wins.” (Hotline reporting)
MORE ENDORSEMENTS. Gabby Giffords’s gun-violence prevention group endorsed four more House challengers: Lee, former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ 01), 2016 nominee Angie Craig (D), and El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar (D) in the open TX-16 seat. (Refinery 29)
ON BOARD. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD Pac endorsed five new candidates: lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D) in CA-39; Mike Levin (D) in CA-49; former federal prosecutor Jay Hulings (D) in TX-23; ironworker Randy Bryce (D) in WI-01; and state Rep. Juana Matias (D) in the open MA-03. (release)
Meanwhile, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed nine openly LGBTQ Democrats, including four challengers in competitive seats: former Air Force intelligence officer Gina Ortiz Jones in TX-23, state Rep. David Richardson in the open FL-27 seat, former State Department adviser Lauren Baer in FL-18, and 2016 nominee Angie Craig in MN-02. (release)
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"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."
"Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections ... Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice." Mueller has faced pressure to wrap up the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said an official, who would receive the results of the investigation and have "some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released," if he remains at his post.