Term-limited Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) nomination to an ambassadorship “is returning to the White House because of U.S. Senate Rule 31, which requires that senators agree unanimously to continue considering nominees as a year ends. It wasn’t immediately clear which senator or senators objected to keeping Brownback’s nomination alive. Democrats have questioned his record on gay rights.”
Brownback “faces mounting pressure to clarify whether he or Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) will be in charge when the Kansas Legislature gets back to work in early January — even if that means Brownback’s early resignation.”
“The Legislature reconvenes Jan. 8, and the governor is expected to deliver the State of the State address and a budget proposal soon after.” (Kansas City Star)
The Kansas City Star editorial board called on Brownback to resign.
“Kansas needs new leadership as much as oppressed religious minorities around the world need your passion for their situation. We do wish you the best in that capacity, or in anything else you choose to do. But as a fictional victim of religious persecution in pre-revolutionary Russia — yes, in ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ — asked God to ‘bless and keep the tsar, far away from us,’ we wish you well, too, far from Topeka.” (Kansas City Star)
WEAVING A NARRATIVE. Republican consultant John Weaver, who “does not work for the Greg Orman campaign,” penned an op-ed praising the potential independent candidate.
Weaver: “What’s quickly become clear is that both political parties are threatened by Orman’s candidacy. They rightly view him as a disruptor of the status quo and their attacks demonstrate that they know he can win. And while the people of Kansas would be the winners under a Gov. Orman — a governor who would put the people ahead of partisanship — the political establishment would be the losers, and they don’t want that.” (Kansas City Star)
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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.
"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."