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Biden condemns ‘appalling assault’ on Israel

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Oct 07, 2023 View in browser

By Ryan Lizza, Rachael Bade and Eugene Daniels

Presented by

With help from Eli Okun and Garrett Ross

President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu this morning. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo


HAMAS ATTACKS ISRAEL — Shocking and fast-moving news overnight, via Reuters: “Palestinian Islamist group Hamas launched the biggest attack on Israel in years on Saturday, killing at least 100 people and claiming it had taken dozens of hostages in a surprise assault combining gunmen crossing into Israel and a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza. …

“The Israeli military said it had responded with air strikes into Gaza, where witnesses reported hearing heavy explosions and multiple dead and wounded being carried into hospitals. The Israeli military said navy forces killed dozens of Palestinian militants trying to infiltrate Israel by sea.”

The stepback … “It is hard to describe just how unprecedented today’s developments are,” writes veteran BBC correspondent Paul Adams. “Not only is this likely to be the worst intelligence failure since the 1973 Yom Kippur war (and the timing is no accident — it’s 50 years almost to the day), but rarely, if ever, has Israel lost control of its own towns.”

What Israel is saying … “Citizens of Israel, we are at war. Not an operation, not a round [of fighting], at war,” PM BENJAMIN NETANYAHU said in a video statement, per Times of Israel. “I am initiating an extensive mobilization of the reserves to fight back on a scale and intensity that the enemy has so far not experienced. The enemy will pay an unprecedented price.”

What Hamas is saying … “This is not a [hit-and-run] operation; we started an all-out battle. We expect fighting to continue and the fighting front to expand. We have one prime target: our freedom and the freedom of our holy sites,” deputy chief SALEH AL-AROURI told Al Jazeera. He has also claimed that Hamas “has enough Israeli captives to make Israel free all Palestinian prisoners in its jails.”

What the administration is saying … President JOE BIDEN spoke with Netanyahu this morning. “The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel,” he said in a statement. “My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”

Live updates: AP … NYT … BBC … Times of Israel … Al Jazeera English


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HOW TRUMP HELPS SOLVE BIDEN’S IMMIGRATION BIND — Two headlines over the last two days capture the zeitgeist of immigration politics and policy as the issue promises to be central to a likely Biden-Trump rematch in 2024.

The first, in the NYT, is being gleefully shared on the right and seems to capture the political bind that Biden faces: “Migrant Crisis Tests New Yorkers Who Thought They Supported Immigration”

New York has been the focus of liberals-mugged-by-reality coverage of the migrant crisis, egged on by Mayor ERIC ADAMS’ withering criticism of the Biden administration’s policies. “The president and the White House have failed New York City on this issue,” he said back in April. Adams has been trying to end his city’s status as a sanctuary city, and he was in Mexico this week telling migrants that NYC is “at capacity.”

It’s not just New York. The left’s favorite Democratic governor, Illinois’ J.B. PRITZKER, wrote a three-page letter addressed personally to Biden this week with a despairing tone about the “untenable situation” the administration created in his state. “It is time for the federal government to take a much more active role in managing the transport and destination of the transport of asylum seekers,” he said, calling for a new White House border-and-immigration czar.

In Ohio, a third-party group is trying to bolster Democratic Sen. SHERROD BROWN on the issue, the AP flags this morning, with a TV spot touting how Brown “wrote a bill signed by DONALD TRUMP to increase funding for Border Patrol.” Brown’s people had no comment on the ad.

Back in 2019 and 2020, when Biden was running against a new generation of progressives, the longtime moderate had to update his views on a host of issues, and immigration was at the top of that list. During one primary debate, he seemed to blame BARACK OBAMA for the mass deportations of the Obama-Biden years that outraged immigration activists on the left.

But privately he has had more misgivings about where Democrats had gone on the issue. Immigration “was the place where he was the most out of step with his evolving party’s leftward trajectory,” Frank Foer writes in “The Last Politician,” his account of the first two years of the Biden White House.

This week, with polls consistently showing low marks for Biden’s handling of the border, two policy announcements seemed to signal a shift to the right. The White House announced it would (1) resume building a portion of the Trump border wall and (2) restart deportations to Venezuela.

But at the same time the administration did everything it could to downplay the moves and distance Biden from them. Biden himself said the wall doesn’t work. Aides insisted the money for the barrier had to be spent by law. The Venezuela policy, they say, has been “a long-term goal.” It didn’t do much to tamp down the anger from some Biden allies.

So is this Biden’s version of the Sherrod Brown ad — emphasize tough immigration policies while keeping arms’ length from them?

Biden so far does not seem prepared to break cleanly with his party’s consensus on immigration policy. His campaign chair is Rep. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-Texas), one of the most high-profile progressive champions on the issue. As she has been pointing out in recent days, there is only so much Biden can do absent action by Congress.

There is some evidence for the Biden team’s belief that immigration is an issue that creates a lot of political headaches for Democrats but doesn’t translate into electoral damage. Look no further than the 2018, 2020 and 2022 elections, when the GOP ran on immigration as one of its main issues. Republicans lost in 2018 and 2020 and underperformed in 2022.

The reason? Trump. Like so many other potentially killer issues for the right, the Trump-MAGA sledgehammer approach to immigration has had more downside than upside in these extremely close elections.

And that brings us to that second headline, also in the Times, atop a piece that hasn’t received nearly enough attention and needs to be read in full: “Trump Escalates Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric With ‘Poisoning the Blood’ Comment”

The subhead adds, “When asked about immigration in a recent interview, the former president used language with echoes of white supremacy and [ADOLF] HITLER.”

The White House was eager to send over this response from deputy press secretary ANDREW BATES: “These abhorrent, dangerous remarks echo the rhetoric of violent white supremacists and attack the dignity of all Americans. The role of leaders is to bring people together; never to turn them against one another with divisive, self-serving poison.”

So boil all of this down and here’s how Biden world sees the politics of this: Maybe Democrats have a vulnerability when it comes to immigration, but as long as Trump is the face of this issue for Republicans, it won’t be the electoral winner they think it is.

More: “How Biden’s Promises to Reverse Trump’s Immigration Policies Crumbled,” NYT … “Biden border plan faces breakdown amid record influx of families,” WaPo … “Migrating Venezuelans undeterred by U.S. plan to resume deportation flights,” AP

Good Saturday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line with your takes on the politics of immigration: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza.

JUST IN — Rep. KEVIN HERN (R-Okla.) announced on X that he won’t be running for speaker: “House Republicans must unify — and do it fast.”

SCALISE SPEAKS — In a wide-ranging interview with Rachael yesterday afternoon — just hours after Trump endorsed his rival JIM JORDAN — House Majority Leader STEVE SCALISE pitched himself as just such a unifier: “somebody who’s built coalitions, who has united Republicans to come together on really tough things.”

To that end, Scalise said he plans to support whoever wins the Republican Conference nomination for speaker and called on any rivals to do the same. (He also, notably, is against raising the bar for the nomination from a majority of the conference to 218.) Throughout, Scalise refrained from taking shots at Jordan: “I’m laying out my vision. Jim and I are friends, so he’s gonna lay out his vision.”

Click through for more on Inside Congress Live on what Scalise is saying about the motion to vacate, spending levels, entitlements and his Day 1 priority if elected.

SCHUMER IN SHANGHAI — Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER and five other senators landed in Shanghai this morning for the kickoff of a three-day Asian tour. “The trip comes amid a sharp deterioration in relations between the U.S. and China and as officials try to lay the groundwork for a possible meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and XI JINPING in November,” AP reports. Schumer & Co. met with Shanghai’s top Communist Party official, telling him, “We are prepared to compete but we do not seek to conflict.”


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At the White House

Biden has nothing on his public schedule.

VP KAMALA HARRIS has nothing on her public schedule.


An appeals court turned down Donald Trump’s request to halt his ongoing business fraud trial. | Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images


1. AT THE TRUMP TRIAL: An appeals court yesterday stayed a judge’s order to take apart some of the Trump Organization’s most prized properties, per Reuters’ Jack Queen. The court decided to put the move by Judge ARTHUR ENGORON, who’s overseeing the major business fraud trial against Trump, on pause as it more fully considers Trump’s appeal. But the appeals court did not grant Trump’s request to halt that ongoing trial, AP’s Michael Sisak reports.

Yesterday in the trial, former Trump Organization controller JEFF McCONNEY testified that ERIC TRUMP had instructed him to take actions to inflate property valuations, CNN’s Lauren del Valle and Kara Scannell report. Next up: ALLEN WEISSELBERG on the stand Tuesday.

2. FOLLOW THE LEADER: “Ramaswamy may opt out of next GOP debate, Republican’s campaign says,” by USA Today’s Francesca Chambers: VIVEK “RAMASWAMY spokeswoman TRICIA McLAUGHLIN says the campaign is having internal discussions about whether he should participate … The entrepreneur and political newcomer became a punching bag for fellow contenders in the first two. … Debate moderators have not been able to maintain control of the events, Ramaswamy’s campaign says, and that has limited his opportunities to respond to the attacks on stage. Another factor in the discussion: declining viewership.”

3. STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: When was the last time an active Democratic presidential candidate spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference? ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., who hasn’t left the party for an expected independent bid quite yet, will be a CPAC headliner in Las Vegas this month, The Hill’s Nick Robertson reports.

And in another sign of how much Kennedy’s base has shifted to the right, Trump’s team is now worried about him as a spoiler threat, Semafor’s Shelby Talcott reports. The Trump campaign’s private polling shows RFK hurting Trump more than Biden. And they’re now planning a deluge of opposition research and attacks on Kennedy to paint him as more left-wing than his vaccine conspiracy theories would lead voters to believe. That “could be dangerous for Kennedy, who up until now has enjoyed the support of many pro-Trump figures and conservative media.”

4. DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK: “Sources: Tom Suozzi expected to announce run soon for 3rd Congressional District,” by City & State New York’s Rebecca Lewis: “Former Rep. TOM SUOZZI has been making calls in recent weeks to shore up support among members of the New York congressional delegation and may announce a bid for his old seat as soon as next week … [He] would join an already crowded field of Democrats seeking to replace scandal-ridden Rep. GEORGE SANTOS.”

5. STRIKE WATCH: United Auto Workers President SHAWN FAIN hailed “significant progress” in talks with the Big Three automakers yesterday, and for the first time in weeks said the union would not expand its strikes further, Nick Niedzwiadek reports. Fain said General Motors had given in to a major UAW demand to include electric vehicle battery production within the main agreement.

Meanwhile, another strike ended around the country as a three-day Kaiser Permanente work stoppage concluded yesterday without any contract agreement, Blake Jones reports.

6. KNOWING THE NEW SENATOR: “Once a Labor Leader, Butler Angered Unions by Consulting for Uber,” by NYT’s Kellen Browning and Michael Corkery: “[T]he appointment has also drawn ire from labor advocates, who have not forgotten [LAPHONZA] BUTLER’s work consulting with Uber, which some saw as an uncomfortable reversal from her history in the labor movement and the values she promoted there. … Supporters of Ms. Butler said her time consulting for Uber was scarcely a blip compared with her long history of labor advocacy.”

7. McCARTHY FALLOUT: Sarah Ferris and Olivia Beavers have some fascinating behind-the-scenes reporting about the Problem Solvers Caucus’ attempt to save KEVIN McCARTHY’s speakership. Democrats in the group offered to vote for McCarthy in exchange for reforms like giving the House Rules Committee an equal partisan split. But Republicans didn’t believe they were sincere, and it’s not clear if McCarthy was aware of the conversations. In the end, time ran out and Democrats stayed unified against McCarthy, leading to ongoing recriminations among the Problem Solvers.

— Related read: “Will the Motion to Vacate Be Vacated?” by NYT’s Carl Hulse

Meanwhile, McCarthy’s ouster has major implications for the GOP’s political and fundraising operations, which he’d made a juggernaut during his long ascent to speaker. “Effective control of the biggest electoral institutions that fund Republican House campaigns … is certain to pass to his successor,” WaPo’s Michael Scherer writes. “But the relationships that drive their bank accounts are not certain to follow, nor are the less well-known operations that support both groups in the shadows of campaign finance regulations.”


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8. AGAINST THE GRAIN: “For Biden and Trump, Age Really Is Just a Number,” by WSJ’s Josh Zumbrun: “[T]he concern that their age somehow disqualifies them from public office doesn’t really align with the state of aging in the year 2023. There’s biological truth to the adage that age is just a number. Americans on average are healthier in old age than before. Many of the factors that predict longer life favor Biden and Trump, based on publicly released information about their health.”

9. REDISTRICTING ROUNDUP: Rep. GABE VASQUEZ (D-N.M.) is breathing a little easier after a New Mexico state judge ruled yesterday that Democrats’ gerrymander was not so extreme that it needs to be undone, the Albuquerque Journal’s Ollie Reed Jr. reports. But Republicans plan to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Across the country, South Carolina’s congressional lines will go before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, when challengers will argue that the boundaries of Rep. NANCY MACE’s (R-S.C.) district discriminate against Black voters, the Washington Examiner’s Kaelan Deese previews.

CLICKER — “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker —15 funnies

M.Wuerker - POLITICO

GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Ryan Lizza:

— “Do Any of These People Stand a Chance Against Trump?” by N.Y. Mag’s Olivia Nuzzi: “On the trail with the candidates vying (in theory, anyway) for the Republican nomination.”

— “The insider: how Michael Lewis got a backstage pass for the fall of Sam Bankman-Fried,” by Samanth Subramanian in the Guardian: “As author of The Big Short and Moneyball, Michael Lewis is perhaps the most celebrated journalist of his generation. Now he delivers an astonishing portrait of the fallen crypto billionaire. But did he get too close?”

— “The Con, the Con Artist, and Me,” by Sean Williams in Rolling Stone: “Maverick Miles picked me to tell the story of his larger-than-life counterfeiting ring, but it turned out he was trying to make me an accomplice to his greatest scam of all.”

— “Life as El Chapo’s Wife,” by Emily Palmer in Elle: “The real story of Emma Coronel Aispuro.”

— “The Great Zelle Pool Scam,” by Devin Friedman in Insider: “All I wanted was a status symbol. What I got was a $31,000 lesson in the downside of payment apps.”

— “The Genius Behind Hollywood’s Most Indelible Sets,” by Noah Gallagher Shannon in the NYT Magazine: “How Jack Fisk, the master production designer behind ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ and many other films, brings the past to life.”

— “He’s a Dab of Glue in a Broken City. Can He Hold It Together?” by NYT’s Eli Saslow in Portland, Ore.: “In America’s overwhelmed downtowns, private security guards like Michael Bock have become the solution of last resort.”

— “Viola Fletcher waited 102 years for reparations. She’s still waiting,” by Wesley Lowery in WaPo: “The oldest living survivor of the Tulsa Massacre is a key witness for a national movement gaining momentum.”

— “How a Big Pharma Company Stalled a Potentially Lifesaving Vaccine in Pursuit of Bigger Profits,” by ProPublica’s Anna Maria Barry-Jester: “A vaccine against tuberculosis, the world’s deadliest infectious disease, has never been closer to reality, with the potential to save millions of lives. But its development slowed after its corporate owner focused on more profitable vaccines.”

— “American Dreams,” by Reuters’ Nicholas Brown in Linden, Tenn.: “Two families, one enslaved by the other. In many ways, their journeys since emancipation illustrate a broader truth about U.S. history: the lasting impact of discrimination on economic opportunities afforded Blacks and whites.”

— “Two Families Got Fed Up With Their States’ Politics. So They Moved Out,” by NYT’s Trip Gabriel: “The Nobles of Iowa moved to blue Minnesota. The Huckinses of Oregon moved to red Missouri. Their separate journeys, five weeks apart, illustrate the fracturing of America.”


Lauren Pratapas shared her “nightmare” miscarriage story.

Lina Hidalgo shared her experience with in-patient depression treatment, and how John Fetterman inspired her to get help.

Mary Peltola is coming back to Washington after her husband’s death.

Jason Crow is making a bid for House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee co-chair.

OUT AND ABOUT — EMILY’s List held its annual NYC conference and luncheon yesterday, including Sen. Laphonza Butler’s (D-Calif.) first spee

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Biden condemns ‘appalling assault’ on Israel


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