POLITICO Playbook: Inside the House Dem leadership talks

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP MET in the Capitol for the first time in a while Monday evening, and they began to confront what many of them see as an only-in-a-TRUMP-presidency question: If DONALD TRUMP loses, will he lash out and do something dramatic, like shut down the government?

THE SCENARIO was raised in the closed-door, no-staff meeting by Connecticut Democratic Rep. ROSA DELAURO, and it’s more than a passing political hypothetical. It’s a real-life governing challenge that Democrats believe they are being forced to confront in the coming days.

SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI is working with Treasury Secretary STEVEN MNUCHIN and Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL on how long to fund the government for after Sept. 30.

THERE ARE TWO GENERAL OPTIONS: 1) Extend government funding to sometime in December. This would make the most sense. THE UPSIDE: A mid-December expiration would give a tad bit of post-election breathing room for lawmakers. It would also give Congress a chance to try for some more Covid relief this calendar year with a cudgel to force action. THE DOWNSIDE: If the election is undecided, lawmakers may be hesitant to engage in big-ticket legislating. And with TRUMP as unpredictable as we’ve seen, could he shut down the government if things aren’t going his way, they asked?

2) CONGRESS could extend funding until February. But that’s a really long time to wait for another deadline to force through Covid relief. (Of course, Covid relief can move without a funding deadline, but let’s not give Congress too much credit.)

OF COURSE, Congress could just do its job and pass a full year of government funding, and more Covid relief for a nation reeling from the deadly virus. But … 2020.

A MASSIVE DAY FOR MIDDLE EAST POLITICS … ISRAEL, BAHRAIN and THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES will sign the Abraham Accords today at the White House. Here’s what to expect: ISRAEL and the UAE will sign a document, as will ISRAEL and BAHRAIN. Then all three parties will sign one together. THE UAE document will be longer because they had a longer negotiation. BAHRAIN just committed last week. “A FEW HUNDRED” people will be at the event, on the South Lawn, including some senior Democrats. …

… THE TEXT that the three countries will sign will not be made public until after the event, so we won’t really know what they are signing quite yet.

NOTABLE QUOTABLE, from a senior administration official on a background call with reporters: “Hi, everybody. This is [senior administration official], but I guess it’s on background. I don’t know why we can’t say who I am, but OK. Here we are.”

— NYT’S MICHAEL CROWLEY and DAVID KIRKPATRICK: “A White House Ceremony Will Celebrate a Diplomatic Win and Campaign Gift”: “[A]s proclaimed in new Trump campaign advertisements, they make up the heart of the president’s message on foreign policy as the 2020 campaign draws to a close: that for all his bellicose rhetoric and unpredictability, he is bringing new harmony to the chaotic Middle East.”

JOIN US at 1 P.M. for a virtual conversation with JEN O’MALLEY DILLON, JOE BIDEN’S campaign manager. Register to watch

Good Tuesday morning. 49 DAYS — or exactly SEVEN WEEKS — until Election Day. … TWO WEEKS until the first presidential debate.

SPEAKING OF 2020 … WAPO’S CHRISTIAN DAVENPORT (@wapodavenport): “So to sum up: The West is burning; the Arctic is melting; the National Hurricane Center is tracking eight major systems; and the WHO reports the largest single-day increase of coronavirus cases globally.”

— WAPO’S SEUNG MIN KIM and BRADY DENNIS: “Devastating wildfires out West inject climate change into the presidential campaign”: “[Trump in California and Biden speaking about climate in Delaware] injected the issue of climate change squarely into a presidential campaign that has been dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, a faltering economy, racial justice protests and questions about which candidate has the character to lead. But the warming of the planet and its impact on daily life are now difficult to ignore, with millions of acres burning in California, Oregon and Washington state, leading to dozens of deaths, tens of thousands displaced and skies filled with a smoky, dangerous haze that blocks out the sun.”

DAVID SIDERS and CHRIS CADELAGO in Los Angeles: “West Coast emerges as 2020 campaign’s ‘ideological battleground’”: “The West Coast is so reliably Democratic that the only thing it’s been good for in most presidential elections is raising money. And because of limitations on in-person gatherings, even that wasn’t happening much this year.

“But with the wildfires torching the West, the recent shooting of two sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles and Trump’s much-publicized feud with ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ in Washington and Oregon, the West Coast has suddenly become the locus of pressing debates about climate change, racial justice and public safety — some of the most urgent and consequential issues facing the country.

“The turmoil has fixed the West, which is typically overlooked in presidential politics because of its deep blue Democratic hue, as an ideological center of the campaign, even if its electoral votes aren’t in play.” POLITICO

THE BACKDROP … LAT: “More than 3.2 million acres have burned across California this year; death toll reaches at least 24,” by Alex Wigglesworth, Taryn Luna and Phil Willon: “As the death toll in California’s wildfires swelled to 24, authorities continued to search for a number of people still missing and firefighters toiled to keep multiple blazes from reaching populated communities ahead of an expected uptick in winds.

“More than 3.2 million acres have burned across the state this year, the largest amount on record. Together, the fires have destroyed at least 4,100 structures and forced more than 60,000 people from their homes.”

TO VAXX, OR NOT TO VAXX … CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: “In U.S. Senate debate, Cunningham says he’d be ‘hesitant’ to take coronavirus vaccine,” by Brian Murphy: “Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham said Monday that he would be ‘hesitant’ to take a coronavirus vaccine if it were developed by the end of the year, saying he would have a lot of questions about the ‘political and financial corruption’ in Washington.

“‘But I’m going to ask a lot of questions,’ he said. ‘I think that’s incumbent on all of us right now with the way we’ve seen politics intervening in Washington.’ Republican incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis called Cunningham’s response ‘irresponsible.’”

HAPPENING TODAY … MEL ZANONA and JOHN BRESNAHAN: “McCarthy unveils GOP roadmap in effort to win back the House”

THE GREAT WAIT — “Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin decided the 2016 election. We’ll have to wait on them in 2020,” by Zach Montellaro: “The most important states in the 2016 election are among the least likely states to count their votes and declare a winner on election night this year. Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are expecting huge surges in ballots cast by mail in 2020, like most states preparing to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. But all three Midwestern battlegrounds, which President Donald Trump flipped in 2016 to win the White House after years of Democratic presidential victories there, are among the states where local election officials are not allowed to start processing mail ballots until Election Day, according to a POLITICO review of election rules in 13 key states.

“Mail ballot processing involves everything from opening envelopes to checking voter signatures to flattening ballots that have been crumpled or creased in transit. The procedures can be time consuming, and that will create a backlog of millions of votes set to draw out the counting process for days after the polls close. That means that the country may be waiting, along with voters in the three Midwestern states, to see whether Trump or Joe Biden carried their electoral votes — and potentially the presidency.” POLITICO

— “Wisconsin’s Top Court Rules Against Reprinting of Ballots, Avoiding Election Chaos,” by NYT’s Stephanie Saul and Nick Corasaniti: “The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the Green Party’s presidential candidate will not appear on the state’s presidential ballot, a decision that prompted a sigh of relief among election officials who had worried that a wholesale reprinting of thousands of ballots could bring chaos to an already stressed electoral system.”

TRUMP ON THE TOOSI/BERTRAND STORY, at 11:04 p.m. Monday night: “According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani, which was carried out for his planning a future attack, murdering U.S. Troops, and the death & suffering……caused over so many years. Any attack by Iran, in any form, against the United States will be met with an attack on Iran that will be 1,000 times greater in magnitude!” The story, ICYMI

TRUMP’S TUESDAY — The president will participate in the arrival of Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani at 10:30 a.m. in the West Wing lobby. The two will hold a bilateral meeting at 10:35 a.m. in the Oval Office. Trump will participate in the arrival of UAE minister of foreigh affairs and international cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan at 10:55 a.m. in the West Wing lobby. The two will participate in a bilateral meeting at 11 a.m. in the Oval Office.

TRUMP and first lady Melania Trump will participate in the arrival of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at 11:20 a.m. in the West Wing lobby. Trump and Netanyahu will participate in a bilateral meeting at 11:25 a.m. in the Oval Office. The president and the first lady will participate in the Abraham Accords signing ceremony at noon on the south lawn. The foreign leaders and Trump will participate in a working lunch in the state dining room at 12:45 p.m.

THE PRESIDENT will leave the White House at 3:25 p.m. en route to Philadelphia. He will travel to the National Constitution Center and participate in an ABC News town hall at 5:30 p.m. Trump will depart at 6:35 p.m. and return to Washington, arriving at the White House at 8:05 p.m.

ON THE TRAIL … Sen. KAMALA HARRIS (D-Calif.) will meet with emergency personnel for an assessment of the California wildfires in Fresno, Calif. She will travel to Las Vegas to attend a conversation about the impact of the coronavirus on the Latino community.

— BIDEN is in Florida today.

E-RING READING … LARA SELIGMAN and SARAH CAMMARATA: “Esper promised more diversity at the Pentagon. The White House had other ideas”: “The Trump administration has moved or promoted at least 11 white men to senior positions at the Pentagon in the past three months, even as Defense Secretary Mark Esper has pledged to increase diversity at the department.

“Since the George Floyd protests in early June brought the issue of race and police brutality to the forefront, Esper has initiated a series of efforts designed to increase diversity and inclusion in the Pentagon, including banning the use of photos in promotion review boards, effectively banning the Confederate flag on military installations, and convening an internal board and an external advisory committee on the issue.

“Yet on Esper’s watch, the White House continues to install loyalists who are overwhelmingly white and male in senior Pentagon positions, as Trump and his team continue their post-impeachment campaign to root out people deemed disloyal to the president.”

FOR YOUR RADAR … AP/BEIJING: “U.S. issues sweeping new travel warning for China, Hong Kong”: “The U.S. on Tuesday issued a sweeping new advisory warning against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of ‘arbitrary detention’ and ‘arbitrary enforcement of local laws.’

“The advisory is likely to heighten tensions between the sides that have spiked since Beijing’s imposition on Hong Kong of a strict new national security law in June that has already been met with a series of U.S. punitive actions. The new advisory warned U.S. citizens that China imposes ‘arbitrary detention and exit bans’ to compel cooperation with investigations, pressure family members to return to China from abroad, influence civil disputes and ‘gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.’”

CARMEN PAUN: “25 years wiped out in 25 weeks: Pandemic sets the world back decades”: “In only half a year, the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out decades of global development in everything from health to the economy. Progress has not only stopped, but has regressed in areas like getting people out of poverty and improving conditions for women and children around the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation finds in its 2020 Goalkeepers report published Monday.

“Vaccination coverage, seen as a good indicator for how health systems are functioning, is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, it says. ‘In other words, we’ve been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks,’ the report says. ‘What the world does in the next months matters a great deal.’” POLITICO

BOOK CLUB — Lawfare’s Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith have a new book, “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency,” on sale today. The former Obama WH counsel and former assistant A.G. under Bush aim to “provide a comprehensive roadmap for reform of the presidency in the post-Trump era—whether that comes in four months or four years.” More from Lawfare $15.99 on Amazon

MEDIAWATCH — “A fake FBI raid orchestrated by right-wing activists dupes The Washington Post,” by Paul Farhi and Elahe Izadi

— Ephrat Livni is joining the NYT’s DealBook to cover politics, policy and law from D.C. She most recently was a senior law and politics reporter at Quartz. Talking Biz News

Send tips to Eli Okun and Garrett Ross at [email protected].

TRANSITIONS — Evan Williams is now director of the Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness. He previously was senior legislative assistant to Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) … Serve America PAC and Rep. Seth Moulton’s (D-Mass.) reelect have added Asher Smith as national finance director and Anna Fletcher as deputy national finance director. Smith previously managed Hillary Mueri’s congressional campaign, and Fletcher previously was finance director for Jake Auchincloss’ congressional campaign.

BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Wayne King, partner at Fidelis Government Relations and a Mark Meadows alum. How he thinks the Trump presidency is going: “I think the Trump presidency is going good. The promises he made on the campaign trail in 2016 are being delivered day by day. President Trump has been committed to the promises made/promises kept initiative, which is quite impressive in a town that often changes as the wind blows.” Playbook Q&A

BIRTHDAYS: Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) is 44 … Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) is 51 (h/t Michael Pleters) … Ashley Parker, WaPo White House reporter and MSNBC/NBC senior political analyst … Kirsten Kukowski … Sara Fagen, CEO of Deep Root Analytics … Christian Pinkston … speechwriter John McConnell (h/t Tim Burger) … Chris Lehmann … NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik … Ben Kamisar … “CBS This Morning” producer Adam Aigner-Treworgy … former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is 61 … POLITICO’s Kathy Wolfe, Jenn Miller and Hung-Su Nguyen … Eliza Shapiro … Tiffany Haverly, comms director for the House Energy & Commerce GOP … Sabrina Rush Ingraham … Sandra Alcalá, chief of staff for Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) … Maggie Moore, senior digital strategist at Stand Up America (h/t Ryan Thomas) … Zara Rahim …

… Chandler Smith Costello, SEC deputy director for public affairs … Ryan Nobles, CNN Washington correspondent … Herb Rothschild is 83 … Tony Mauro … League of Conservation Voters’ Dawn Cohea … Anthony Barsamian … Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa is 78 … Alexandra Berg … Jon Gossett … Todd Breasseale … Alana Russo … Veronica Lew … Katie Thompson … David Lloyd … Elizabeth Meyer … Cat Cheney … Don Irvine … Jodi Hanson Bond … Marya Hannun … Amy Sisk … Rebecca McGrath … Hannah Connaghan … Anya Kamenetz is 4-0 … Bryan Doyle … Mal Kline … Kristen Bor … Dave Shott … Bloomberg Opinion’s Max Berley … Nathan Hurst … Allyson Alvaré Kranz … Theola DeBose … Connie Carter … Neil Makhija … Marie Arana … Phil Zabriskie … Wayne Reynolds … Chip Rodgers … Todd Olsen … Jill Moschak … Abbie Green

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