Rep. Bill Shuster (R) announced he will retire after nine terms, leaving open a safe, Republican seat in western Pennsylvania. The term-limited chairman of the House Transportation committee, who “has held the seat since 2001, said he does not want campaigning or anything else to get in the way of helping Trump” pass an infrastructure bill. (Washington Examiner)
THE FIELD. Shuster’s 2016 primary challenger Art Halvorson (R), whom Shuster narrowly beat in 2016, announced another campaign on Tuesday with a promise to serve only six terms. State Sen. Rich Alloway (R) is considering a run. (Chambersburg Public Opinion)
“Shuster, 56, appeared to be ready for a re-election campaign just a month ago. He had weathered a tough campaign in 2016 when he came under fire for dating Shelley Rubino, a vice president of Airlines for America. A4A, the leading trade group for the U.S. airline industry, lobbies the transportation committee.” (Chambersburg Public Opinion)
State Sen. John Eichelberger (R) “has expressed interest in running, a GOP source said. Two GOP sources cited” state House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R), “who lives in the district, as another potential contender.”
“Shuster narrowly won his most recent primary in April 2016, defeating … Halvorson by about 1,000 votes. Running as a tea-party candidate, Halvorson tried to paint the congressman as a Washington insider, pointing to his relationship with Rubino. Halvorson came up short, but he won enough write-in votes from Democrats that he was able to run on the Democratic ticket in the general election. He lost to Shuster by 27 points.” (Roll Call)
DEMOGRAPHICS. The district backed President Trump by 43 points, his largest victory margin of any of the state’s congressional districts. “PA-09 is a solidly red district and we look forward to electing the next Republican leader to represent it,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers said in a statement.
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"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."
The United States and South Korea have suspended "another major joint military exercise to give the diplomatic process with North Korea 'every opportunity to continue.'" Exercise Vigilant Ace, which last year "involved 12,000 US troops and some 230 military aircraft from the US and South Korea," was due to take place in December. Trump has canceled other operations in the past, which Gen. Robert Abrams said "had resulted in a 'slight degradation' to the readiness of US and Korean troops," but were a "prudent risk" to improve improve relations with Pyongyang.
"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has decided to take part in an anti-terror finance meeting with Saudi security officials and their Middle Eastern counterparts in Riyadh later this month, opting to attend despite growing global outrage over the suspected murder of a U.S.-based journalist at the hands of Saudi operatives, according to three people familiar with his travel plans. The security gathering next week is separate from a Riyadh financial summit that Mnuchin announced on Thursday he would not attend."
"Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, has been indicted on a felony count of tampering with evidence" in the sexual assault case against disgraced USA gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. Nassar was found guilty in January of sexually abusing dozens of young gymnasts, and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Penny, who was arrested on Wednesday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, "is accused of ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas," where much of Nassar's abuse occurred.
Defense attorneys involved in the Mueller probe say the public "shouldn’t expect a comprehensive and presidency-wrecking account of Kremlin meddling and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump — not to mention an explanation of the myriad subplots that have bedeviled lawmakers, journalists and amateur Mueller sleuths. ... Perhaps most unsatisfying: Mueller’s findings may never even see the light of day."