December 11, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May traveled to the Netherlands on Tuesday in a bid to salvage her deal on Britain's exit from the European Union, reports The Associated Press.

May on Monday postponed a crucial parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal with the EU, saying it faced rejection. May is seeking concessions from European leaders, including on the question of how to keep goods flowing across the border of Northern Ireland in the U.K. and EU-member Ireland. British lawmakers want flexibility on that issue, a key sticking point.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that there was "no room whatsoever for renegotiation," but there is "room enough for clarification and further interpretations. The apparent impasse left no clear path forward for May's government ahead of the U.K.'s scheduled March exit from the European trading bloc.

The prime minister met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Netherlands, traveled to Germany to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and huddled with Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels. Read more at The Associated Press. The Week Staff

8:00 a.m.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has announced a plan to protect abortion rights as president, pledging to take executive action.

Booker on Wednesday said that if elected, he will "immediately and decisively take executive action to respond to these relentless efforts to erode Americans' rights to control their own bodies," CNN reports. His announcement comes amid a string of restrictive new laws across the country, and Booker said that "a coordinated attack requires a coordinated response."

This would involve creating a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom to protect abortion rights as well as to expand reproductive health care access, CBS News reports.

Booker's plan also includes rolling back the "conscience rule," a proposal that would let health care providers choose not to provide abortion access for religious reasons; end the "domestic gag rule," which prevents federal funding through Title IX from going to Planned Parenthood but has been blocked by a federal judge; and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding from being used for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is in danger. He also plans to guarantee employer-based coverage for contraceptive care, per CBS.

The New Jersey senator's announcement comes after his 2020 rival, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), also introduced a plan to protect abortion rights with new federal laws codifying Roe v. Wade, an aspect of Booker's proposal as well. Warren said she will "protect access to reproductive care from right-wing ideologues in the states," warning that efforts to have Roe v. Wade overturned "just might work." Brendan Morrow

7:20 a.m.

On Monday, the Republican majority in Tennessee's state House voted 45-24 in favor of a historic vote of no confidence in House Speaker Glen Casada (R), following a series of scandals including sexually explicit text messages about women he exchanged with his male former chief of staff. Casada said he won't resign. In neighboring Mississippi on Tuesday, it was House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) who called for the resignation of a member of his caucus, Rep. Doug McLeod (R), arrested on Saturday on allegations he punched his wife because she didn't undress quickly enough when he wanted to have sex.

"I have attempted to contact Rep. McLeod to request his resignation, if in fact, these allegations are true," Gunn said in a statement. "These actions are unacceptable for anyone."

According to a report from the George County Sheriff's Department, when deputies knocked on McLeod's door in Lucedale on Saturday night, the lawmaker was visibly drunk and holding an alcoholic drink. When they said they were there responding to reports of a domestic assault, the deputies reported, McLeod said, "Are you kidding me?" The report says McLeod's wife had a bloodied nose and there was blood on the bed and bedroom floor, and a second woman told the deputies she had locked herself and the wife in her room after the incident, McLeod had pounded on the door, and when she refused to open it, he had threatened to "kill her [expletive] dog."

McLeod, arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, "is free on bail," and "he didn't immediately respond to requests for comment," The Associated Press reports. "The 58-year-old McLeod has represented George and Stone counties since 2012. He's unopposed for re-election this year." Peter Weber

6:32 a.m.

Beto O'Rourke has spent the first two months of his presidential campaign driving around Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, interacting with voters at more than 150 town halls, or up to three a day. On Tuesday, before his first televised town hall on CNN, O'Rourke said he wasn't bothered that his local, meet-and-greet campaign has been rewarded with shrinking poll numbers. "In terms of the assessment, who the hell knows this far out from the first caucuses or elections," he said. But a big goal of his CNN town hall, at Drake University in Des Moines, was to reintroduce himself to a national audience.

O'Rourke's town hall experience showed, said Politico's David Siders. "Though he's slumped in polls, his performance served as a reminder of why O’Rourke was able to galvanize Democrats in his near-upset of Sen. Ted Cruz last year. He has an uncommon command of a stage — and an increasingly precise policy platform."

O'Rourke backed legalizing marijuana, universal gun-purchase background checks, and a ban on selling "weapons of war." He promised that as president, he would ensure "every nominee to every federal bench, including the Supreme Court, understands and believes the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land." And he endorsed immediate impeachment proceedings against President Trump, looking past any "short-term consequences to the consequences to the future of this country."

"If we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls or the politics or the repercussions in the next election, then we will have set a precedent for this country that in fact, some people, because of the position of power or public trust that they hold, are above the law," O'Rourke said. "We cannot let that precedent stand. There must be consequences, accountability, and justice. The only way to ensure that is to begin impeachment proceedings." Watch him tackle impeachment and two other issues below. Peter Weber

4:55 a.m.

The Democratic presidential field is split over whether to sit down for interviews on Fox News, a news network that has a decidedly anti-Democrat slant. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are on the no side, Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) got a warm welcome and appeared to win people over in his town hall, and on Sunday night, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg slammed Fox News hosts Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson — and got a standing ovation from the Fox News audience.

"Pete Buttigieg went on Fox News, trashed their most popular anchors, and then got a standing ovation at the end — that is amazing," Noah said. "Because if someone came to your house and told you how ugly your kids were, you'd probably be like, 'Get the hell out of here!' You wouldn't be like: 'Someone had to say it. You've got a big-a-- head, Billy. ... Some reporters on Fox News actually credited Buttigieg for coming on to their network. But, the kids with the big-a-- heads? They weren't as happy."

"Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade, they were all pretty pissed with Buttigieg's star turn on Fox," Noah said. "But there was one Fox viewer who was downright heartbroken." That would be President Trump, who complained about Buttigieg's town hall beforehand and slammed it at a rally on Monday night. "Aw, poor Trump," Noah said. "You realize what happened here: The news network that he loves the most flirted with a younger, hotter candidate, and he's clearly shook."

Noah didn't have a pat answer on whether Democrats should go on Fox New or stay away. "In many ways, it's just like eating an Oreo," he said. And that ended in a profane Ben Carson takedown. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:31 a.m.

"Congress might finally get a look at the president's finances, even though he very much doesn't want that to happen," Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. A federal judge upheld a House subpoena for Trump's records from his accounting firm on Monday, and while Trump has appealed the decision, "this is the best," Kimmel said: "The judge who might preside over that appeal is none other than Merrick Garland, the guy whose Supreme Court seat got squatted by Republicans in Congress."

"How perfect is that?" Kimmel asked. "Keep your fingers crossed. That's like if Donald and Melania renewed their vows, and the minister was Stormy Daniels." At a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday night, Trump "took shots at Joe Biden, the Oscars, Fox News, and even the lighting on stage," saying he prefers the sun to artificial lights, Kimmel said. "This, by the way, is coming from a man who sleeps in a tanning bed," he noted. But "he's right, the lights are very bright — maybe they should be president for a little while."

Kimmel also caught up on some crumbs from last week, namely Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) much-ridiculed warning about "space pirates." "Just when you think Ted Cruz can't get any weirder, he goes and becomes a Scientologist on us," Kimmel joked. But he took the remark seriously to create a trailer for Space Force 2, featuring, of course, space pirates.

The Late Show mocked Cruz last week, with some traditional space pirate shanties. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:37 a.m.

President Trump has decided to hire former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II in a new role coordinating immigration policy out of the Department of Homeland Security, The New York Times and The Washington Post reported Tuesday night. Cuccinelli is an immigration hardliner, but it isn't clear what his role will be at DHS. He will report to acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, but he will also regularly brief Trump at the White House, the Post reports, and his duties will overlap with McAleenan's responsibilities.

Before her ouster, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had pushed Trump to create an immigration czar position at the White House to coordinate the many federal agencies that handle immigration. "Putting an immigration czar at DHS is a total waste," a former DHS official told the Post. Others predicted conflict with McAleenan, who unlike Cuccinnelli, is broadly respected by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill. McAleenan was reportedly at the Oval Office meeting on Monday where Trump offered Cuccinelli the job.

Cuccinelli was tapped after former acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement chief Tom Homan turned Trump down, the Post reports. He beat out former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom Trump soured on in part because of a list of 10 demands Kobach reportedly handed the White House. "Cuccinelli, who has been hawkish on immigration policy during television appearances that also praise Trump, appears to fulfill the president's desire to have a forceful personality and a loyalist at the highest levels of DHS," the Post says.

But his chance of advancement is limited, the Post adds. "Cuccinelli is deeply disliked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has vowed to block Cuccinelli from any Senate-confirmed post for leading efforts in 2014 backing insurgent candidates that hurt the Senate GOP majority," and he's "even less popular with Democrats." Peter Weber

2:48 a.m.

At a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday night, President Trump went after former Vice President Joe Biden, who — according to public and apparently internal Trump campaign polling — is beating Trump in the Keystone State. "He's not from Pennsylvania," Trump said of Biden, who lived in Scranton until age 10. "I guess he was born here, but he left you folks. He left you for another state. Remember that, please."

Stephen Colbert's Late Show turned that into a mock Trump attack ad.

But Biden appeared to take the slight more seriously. "I've never forgotten where I came from," he wrote on Twitter. "My family did have to leave Pennsylvania when I was 10 — we moved to Delaware where my Dad found a job that could provide for our family."

Biden continued the pushback at a Florida fundraiser Tuesday night, deftly slipping in a coal reference

In a Quinnipiac poll released last week, Biden is beating Trump by 11 points in Pennsylvania, but to be fair, Trump is also losing to a handful of other Democrats, too. Peter Weber

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