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October 15, 2018

"Republicans have begun to concede defeat in the evolving fight to preserve the House majority," The Associated Press reports. "And as they initiate a painful and strategic triage, the early Republican-on-Republican blame game has begun as well."

Republican incumbents being abandoned by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) complain that national House Republicans are not living up to their promise to spend $62 million, as outlined in a September memo declaring that "the cavalry is coming." The NRCC, which is taking out what AP describes as a "sizable loan," says it has to "hone in on what are the races we can actually win," as House Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) fundraising chief Spencer Zwick phrased it. And Ryan's allied super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, grouses it has had to step in to boost weak fundraising by GOP incumbents. The CLF notes it's the only GOP group spending any money in 14 out of the 30 races ranked as toss-ups.

Overall, according to filings submitted Friday, Democratic candidates have outspent their GOP rivals $116 million to $66 million in almost 80 competitive House districts since July, AP reports. The CLF has spent another $93 million in the same period, thanks largely to the deep pockets of GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. "This is going to be a devastating election for Republicans across the ballot," says GOP strategist Terry Sullivan. "Republican donors are smart folks," he added. "They're not going to give money to a losing cause."

The good news for Republicans, says Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, is that "Democratic prospects in the Senate are increasingly dire, having fallen to about 1 in 5. Indeed, it’s been hard to find any good news for Democrats in Senate polling lately. In the House, by contrast ... Democrats' chance of taking the House has ticked back upward to about 4 in 5."

You can read more about the polling at FiveThirtyEight and see which House races the GOP has abandoned at The Associated Press. Peter Weber

11:38 p.m.

When asked during a CNN town hall on Monday if the Boston Marathon bomber, terrorists, murderers, and sex offenders should have the right to vote, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said that since the United States is a democracy, he believes even "terrible people" should be able to cast ballots.

Sanders added that "once you start chipping away and you say, 'Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,' you're running down a slippery slope."

Sanders supports letting people who are currently incarcerated vote, he explained, because they are paying their price to society and the government "should not take away their inherent American right to participate in our democracy." Catherine Garcia

10:47 p.m.

A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that the practice of using tire-chalking to mark how long a car has been parked is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit decided this violates the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable searches," and is a form of trespass requiring a warrant, The Washington Post reports. Parking enforcement officers use tire-chalking to track how long a car has been parked; once it's determined the car is in violation of time limits, a ticket is issued, bringing in revenue for the city.

The appeals court based its decision on a 2012 Supreme Court ruling, which found that police must get a warrant before attaching a GPS device to a suspect's vehicle.

Attorney Philip Ellison of Saginaw, Michigan, brought the case after his law partner received a ticket while sitting in his car, which had been chalked. Ellison wrote about this on Facebook, and a friend, Alison Taylor, commented that she had received 15 tickets due to tire-chalking. Ellison filed a civil rights lawsuit against Saginaw on Taylor's behalf; the case was first thrown out by a district court, before being reversed by the appeals court. Catherine Garcia

9:39 p.m.

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn was cited 157 times in the Mueller report, more than any other witness, and that has Rudy Giuliani running scared.

In an interview Monday with The New York Times, Giuliani, a member of President Trump's legal team, admitted that he's worried Democrats could use the Mueller report to start impeachment proceedings against Trump, and he's now trying to chip away at McGahn's credibility, saying he has "no choice but to attack."

McGahn was still White House counsel when he first met with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team in November 2017. He was concerned that Trump would turn him into a scapegoat, the Times says, and now that the report is out and shows he discussed multiple incidents that could be viewed as obstruction, that's exactly what he's become.

Giuliani questioned McGahn's motives and memory and criticized the special counsel and how investigators interviewed McGahn, saying in one case it was a "cross-examination a law student could perform." McGahn was "hopelessly confused," Giuliani added, and disputed a section of the report that stated Trump demanded McGahn order the Department of Justice fire Mueller. The report, he concluded, is "a disgrace." McGahn's attorney, William Burck, defended his client, telling the Times the report "speaks for itself, and no amount of obfuscation by Mr. Giuliani is going to fool anyone."

Not everyone in the White House is onboard with Giuliani's tactics, two staffers told the Times, with many thinking Trump and his legal team should try a new strategy: remaining silent. Catherine Garcia

8:15 p.m.

The Supreme Court on Monday announced it has accepted three cases involving gay and transgender employees, and will deliver rulings on whether federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from firing workers due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The cases — Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia; Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda; and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC — will be decided during the court's term that will start in October. The justices will be tasked with deciding whether the protections granted by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and sex, also applies to people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia and Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda will be consolidated, as both involve employees who say they were fired for being gay. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC involves a transgender woman who was fired from a Michigan funeral home because of her gender identity. In Altitude Express, Inc. v. Zarda and R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC, lower courts sided with the plaintiffs, NPR reports, but in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, it was decided that Gerald Bostock was not fired from his job as a child welfare service coordinator because he is gay. Catherine Garcia

7:23 p.m.

The leader of a New Mexico militia arrested on Saturday allegedly boasted that his organization, the United Constitutional Patriots, trained to assassinate former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros, a complaint filed over the weekend states.

Larry Mitchell Hopkins, 69, was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. He is described as being the "commander" of the 20-member United Constitutional Patriots, a group that has been detaining migrant families crossing the southern border.

In the complaint, an FBI agent writes that someone called the agency's public tip line in October 2017, and said there was "alleged militia extremist activity" taking place in Hopkins' Flora Vista, New Mexico, home. This person also said Hopkins "allegedly made the statement that the United Constitutional Patriots were training to assassinate George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama," claiming that they were supporting anti-fascist activists. Hopkins' attorney denies his client said this.

FBI agents visited Hopkins' house in November 2017, and saw 10 firearms. Hopkins showed them several other weapons, and said they belonged to his common law wife, Fay Sanders Murphy, the affidavit says. After this visit, FBI agents found out Hopkins had prior felony convictions, including being found guilty in 2006 of criminal impersonation of a peace officer. Hopkins remains in custody, pending a preliminary hearing April 29 in Albuquerque. Catherine Garcia

6:33 p.m.

The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena to former White House Counsel Don McGahn on Monday, requesting he testify in front of the panel on May 21.

Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report "outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses," and it's now up to Congress to "determine for itself the full scope of the misconduct and to decide what steps to take in the exercise of our duties of oversight, legislation, and constitutional accountability." McGahn, who spent 30 hours being interviewed by Mueller's team, was "a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Mueller report," Nadler said, and his testimony "will help shed further light" on Trump's "attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same."

The subpoena also gives McGahn until May 7 to hand over documents related to ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn discussing sanctions with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak; Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey; and possible pardons for Flynn, Trump's ex-lawyer Michael Cohen, and Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Catherine Garcia

5:38 p.m.

Herman Cain here.

Those rumors about why the 2012 GOP presidential candidate dropped out of the running to be President Trump's next Federal Reserve Board nominee? They're not true, and Cain is the "only source you need" to get the real story, he writes in an op-ed for the conservative Western Journal published Monday.

While Cain hadn't even been nominated for a Fed spot, Trump tweeted Monday that his "friend Herman Cain" had "asked me not to nominate him for a seat." It seemed reasonable, seeing as enough Senate Republicans had already said they'd vote against Cain to doom his nomination. There's also the fact that sexual misconduct allegations forced Cain out of the 2012 presidential race, though he has denied those allegations.

But amid these reasonable explanations surrounding Cain's withdrawal, Cain wants to assure you that "Twitter wasn't inside my mind over the course of the past weekend," he wrote in his op-ed. Cain was more worried about divesting from his business interests, cutting his radio show and Fox Business appearances, and taking sizable pay cut in the process, he said.

Of course, Cain "did like the idea of serving on the Fed," he enthusiastically continued. Yet he wondered if he'd "be giving up too much influence to get a little bit of policy impact," Cain wrote — he reaches "close to 4 million people a month" with his "current media activities," after all. And after thinking, praying, and even drafting a now-discarded op-ed about why he wanted to continue pursuing the nomination, Cain ultimately decided to withdraw.

Read Cain's whole blog post — and answer his question of "Did Herman do the right thing?" — at The Western Journal. Kathryn Krawczyk

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