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POLITICO Playbook: A Trump-backed Senate hopeful takes the stand

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PARNELL DOUBTS GROW — All eyes are on SEAN PARNELL when he testifies today for the second and final time in an ugly child custody battle with his estranged wife, LAURIE SNELL. Though Parnell unequivocally denied abusing his wife and children on the stand Monday, the Republican Senate candidate in Pennsylvania is starting to bleed high-level support, two sources familiar with the matter told Playbook.

The swirl surrounding Parnell has been intense: On Friday, Parnell was slated to hold a call with donors to answer questions about the status of his campaign but canceled at the last minute, according to a supporter who was slated to participate in the call. That same afternoon, DONALD TRUMP’s team announced he would hold a fundraiser for Parnell at Mar-a-Lago in January, even though the event had been planned weeks before.

After POLITICO reported that DINA POWELL MCCORMICK’s husband, DAVID McCORMICK, is considering entering the race, Trump spokesperson TAYLOR BUDOWICH then issued a statement seeming to double down in support of Parnell, claiming that the former president took “careful consideration” before making the endorsement.

We reported last month, however, that some people close to Trump think Parnell was not vetted closely enough, and that Trump was pressured by DONALD TRUMP JR. to make the nod.

Parnell’s issues are bigger than any frustrations with Trump’s endorsement. Snell has claimed that he struck her and their children. Parnell said under oath that he was never physically abusive.

One supporter said that some Parnell donors are worried about his ability to raise money after the trial. Parnell, who raised $1.1 million in the third quarter — a modest sum especially after the Trump endorsement — has not been a prolific fundraiser.

One adviser to the campaign said they believe Parnell can remain a viable candidate as long as he keeps custody of his children, which the judge in the case will decide in a matter of weeks. A loss in the custody battle would be difficult to withstand politically, the adviser added. The person said Parnell will likely remain in the race until a ruling, even if his campaign is in limbo, and expects to see a bounce for Parnell if it appears that he is vindicated.

But a supporter said that donors are getting anxious and that some are considering advising him as soon as this week to pull out of the race before the judge rules.

“Even if his wife is carried out in a straitjacket, [in] some of these text messages, he’s calling his wife a whore,” said the supporter. “This is not someone we should be sending to Washington.”

The Pennsylvania race is key to GOP hopes to retake the Senate. The seat is currently held by retiring GOP Sen. PAT TOOMEY, but it’s a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats.

Here’s the Philly Inquirer story on Parnell’s court testimony Monday.

Good Tuesday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

JAN. 6 COMMITTEE TARGETS MORE TRUMP AIDES — The panel issued subpoenas Monday to a half-dozen Trump advisers, including campaign manager BILL STEPIEN, campaign senior adviser JASON MILLER, national executive assistant to the campaign ANGELA MCCALLUM and former national security adviser MICHAEL FLYNN. WaPo’s Jacqueline Alemany, Tom Hamburger and Josh Dawsey write that two other subpoenas were issued to “scholar JOHN EASTMAN, who outlined a legal strategy in early January to delay or deny [JOE] BIDEN the presidency, and former New York City police commissioner BERNARD KERIK, who led efforts to investigate voting fraud in key states.”

One key line from the piece: “All of them reportedly participated in discussions about challenging the election results, though Stepien, according to published reports, was initially skeptical of claims made by some of Trump’s legal advisers, including his former personal attorney RUDOLPH W. GIULIANI.

POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney, who with Betsy Woodruff Swan has been all over Jan. 6 committee news, broke down Monday’s development for Playbook: “The latest batch of subpoena targets fall primarily into two groups, as committee members view them. The planners — Flynn and Eastman — helped Trump devise his strategy to stay in power despite losing the election. The implementers — Stepien, Miller and Kerik — were campaign operatives and surrogates who helped reconfigure Trump’s massive political apparatus into a disinformation megaphone, promoting ‘Stop the Steal’ messaging. The sixth target, McCallum, was a low-level campaign aide who received orders from someone — unclear who — to call state lawmakers in Michigan and urge them to reject Biden’s electors.”

The takeaway, per Kyle: “At a more fundamental level, the latest flurry of subpoenas featuring boldfaced Trump-world names shows that the committee has shifted into a higher gear, preparing to do battle on multiple fronts with prominent figures likely to resist their demands for testimony. There’s no indication the committee is done with its subpoena firehose either. Jan. 6 committee Chairman BENNIE THOMPSON has indicated that he signed 20 last week, but of those just the six reported today have become public.”

The coverage: “Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Trump allies linked to D.C. ‘war room,’” by Betsy and Kyle … “Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Flynn and Eastman, Scrutinizing Election Plot,” NYT … “Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Bill Stepien, Other Trump Allies,” WSJ

— MEANWHILE, via Kyle: “Former President Donald Trump filed an emergency request to a federal judge late Monday night to prevent the National Archives from sending sensitive records to Jan. 6 committee investigators by Friday. And just after midnight, Judge TANYA CHUTKAN rejected it, contending the request itself was legally defective and ‘premature.’ The unusual exchange, which happened in a span of two hours, comes as Chutkan is already considering an earlier request by Trump to prevent Congress from peering into his White House’s records about his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.”

BIDEN’S TUESDAY:

— 10:15 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.

— 4:40 p.m.: Biden will speak at a DNC virtual grassroots event, followed by speaking at a DNC virtual fundraising reception at 5:45 p.m.

VP KAMALA HARRIS’ TUESDAY (Eastern time): The VP and second gentleman DOUG EMHOFF arrived in Paris early this morning. Still to come:

— 8:45 a.m.: Harris and Emhoff will tour the Institut Pasteur and meet with American and French scientists working on pandemic response and preparedness.

— Overnight: Harris and Emhoff will remain in Paris.

Principal deputy press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE will brief at 1 p.m. with Commerce Secretary GINA RAIMONDO.

THE HOUSE and THE SENATE are out.

BIDEN’S WEEK AHEAD:

— Wednesday: Biden will meet with European Commission President URSULA VON DER LEYEN, and will head to the Port of Baltimore for an infrastructure event.

— Thursday: Biden will go to Arlington National Cemetery to honor Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and will speak at the Memorial Amphitheater.

— Friday: Biden will take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ meeting, and will hold a Cabinet meeting focused on the infrastructure bill.

WHITE HOUSE

FED UP — Biden interviewed LAEL BRAINARD to be Fed chair when she visited the White House last week, Bloomberg’s Craig Torres, Jennifer Jacobs, and Saleha Mohsin scooped. “[T]he White House has raised the possibility with some Senate Banking Committee members that [Chair JEROME] POWELL might not be reappointed,” they write. In addition, Fed Vice Chair for Supervision RANDAL QUARLES said Monday he’d step down shortly, giving Biden another opportunity to put his stamp on the central bank.

BIDEN DISAPPOINTS HBCUs — In recent weeks, dozens of Howard University students have taken over the social hub of the university to demand that the school fix their living conditions: Mold, rats and roaches are all over dorms and classrooms on their Washington, D.C., campus, the students say. The university says the complaints are exaggerated.

The students are also demanding that the Biden administration — including their most famous alum, Harris — and Congress follow through on a promise to provide adequate funding to HBCUs.

HBCUs have been underfunded for generations. The president’s Build Back Better agenda promised to improve their plight — to the tune of $45 billion proposed for minority-serving institutions (MSI), including HBCUs like Howard.

That total has been cut dramatically during negotiations. The latest BBB draft includes $10 billion in MSI funding, of which at least $2 billion would go to the more than 100 HBCUs. While that’s more than the federal government has ever dedicated to them, students are concerned it won’t cover badly needed upgrades.

All of this is potentially a real problem for a White House that’s already hemorrhaging political support.

The administration knows how it handles HBCUs will affect Biden’s standing with the Black community and especially young Black voters.

“[Biden] often says, ‘Dance with the one who brung you,’ and I think in many ways, African American institutions in particular and HBCUs in specific have been a big part of that, particularly during this election cycle,” said TONY ALLEN, the head of Biden’s HBCU advisory board, which provides advice and recommendations to the secretary of Education. Read Eugene’s story on this today

IMMIGRATION FILES — SUSAN RICE and other top officials quashed a plan this summer to vaccinate migrants in U.S. custody this summer, part of a trend in which centrists have taken the reins on Biden’s immigration policies to the dismay of progressives, report WaPo’s Nick Miroff and Sean Sullivan. Critics say the administration is elevating political concerns as “[m]ore recently, a group of Biden aides more attuned to national security and less sensitive to the activist community has begun asserting control,” in many cases breaking with Trump administration policies less than activists wanted.

ALL POLITICS

MAYOR PETE — Ruby Cramer spoke to JESSE MOSS, the director of “Mayor Pete,” a documentary about PETE BUTTIGIEG set to come out Friday, and Moss confessed that it was hard to get Buttigieg out of his shell.

“It’s not exactly that Buttigieg is ‘bullsh—ing’ us, as CHASTEN says in the first scene, or even that what you see is not, in fact, what you get. It’s the feeling of an inaccessible interior — of watching a person who is still becoming comfortable with himself and doing so on the biggest stage imaginable,” Cramer writes for POLITICO Magazine.

The documentary is really “a story about personal identity in politics — a man, then 37, a presidential candidate, a breakout star, now the most prominent member of Biden’s cabinet, who at every turn was unsure of how, or exactly how much, to share himself with the world.”

2022 WATCH — If STACEY ABRAMS opts not to challenge Georgia Gov. BRIAN KEMP to a rematch next year, DeKalb County CEO MICHAEL THURMOND sounds ready to jump into the race, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Patricia Murphy, Greg Bluestein and Tia Mitchell. “Thurmond said the GOP win in Virginia showed the need for Democrats to appeal to a broad coalition of progressives, moderates, and even disaffected Republicans to win statewide in Georgia.”

HOT ON THE LEFT — Buffalo Mayor BYRON BROWN’s write-in triumph over democratic socialist darling INDIA WALTON has progressives seeing red — and calling for his removal from a DNC position, report David Siders and Holly Otterbein. That’s not likely to happen. But the Democratic incumbent’s independent victory against the party nominee who dethroned him in the primary has left the left flank reeling, and frustrated over their inability to land big wins.

CONGRESS

TIME IS NOT ON THEIR SIDE — The Senate has only three work weeks left the rest of 2021, with a recess set for Dec. 10. But there’s “almost no chance that schedule holds at this point, with the Democratic majority facing a to-do list more daunting than a Black Friday sales rush. Congress has to fund the government past Dec. 3, pass a massive defense policy bill, finish out a $1.75 trillion party-line social spending bill and potentially maneuver around a U.S. credit default,” write Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine in a must-read for anyone in Washington politics making holiday plans.

SUCCESS BY TRUMP’S MEASURE — Stocks were on the upswing Monday, “buoyed by fresh optimism about the government spending that would be unlocked by the passage of Biden’s infrastructure plan,” NBC’s Martha White reports. “The S&P 500 closed above 4,700 for the first time, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added over 100 points, to close at 36,432.”

The River View Estate — part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon — sold last week for $48 million. The 16,000-square-foot mansion is among the most expensive homes ever sold in the D.C. region, according to news reports. Per Chesapeake Bay Magazine, it sits on 16.5 acres on the Potomac, and almost every room overlooks the waterfront. It “boasts luxuries like a 15-seat movie theater, spa with sauna, and a large home gym. A carriage house provides parking and a guest house.” Here’s the Zillow page

Paul Gosar tweeted a photoshopped anime of him killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking Joe Biden. Outrage ensued, to which Gosar’s spokeswoman said “everyone needs to relax.” AOC responded that Gosar — “a creepy member” — “will face no consequences” because Kevin McCarthy will give him a pass.

Donald Trump, naturally, said at an NRCC fundraiser that Glenn Youngkin would have lost without him. He’s also been complaining about Kevin McCarthy since 13 Republicans voted for BIF last week.

Barack Obama mistook Scotland for Ireland.

Beto O’Rourke really was born to be in it — at least based on his try-and-try-again approach to seeking public office. On Monday night he teased an announcement, presumably that he’s running for Texas governor.

Amy Klobuchar celebrated the reopening of the U.S.-Canada border in style.

SPOTTED: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) having breakfast in Manhattan at Michael’s with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

MEDIA MOVES — Kasie Hunt has hired “Meet the Press” senior producer Allie Sandza to be her supervising producer at CNN+. Her first full day was Monday. … Julian Pecquet has been named Washington correspondent for the Paris-based Jeune Afrique Group, publisher of The Africa Report. He previously founded Foreign Lobby Report and covered foreign policy for Al-Monitor and The Hill.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Kevin Walsh is joining Invariant. He previously was a government and regulatory affairs executive at IBM Corporation, and is a Claire McCaskill alum.

Brian Papp is now a managing director at FTI Government Affairs, working on the trade and labor client portfolios. He most recently was Democratic staff director on the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness.

Sarah Boison is now digital director at the Department of Transportation. She most recently was director of digital comms at the Climate Reality Project.

STAFFING UP — Katie Hendrickson is now director of congressional affairs for the USTR. She most recently was senior associate director for presidential boards and commissions at the White House. … Alexandra Robinson is now deputy speechwriter for the Department of Labor. She most recently was press assistant for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

TRANSITIONS — David Mann has been appointed VP of regulatory and government affairs at Oberon Fuels. He most recently has been a senior director in the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council. … Cole Lyle has been named executive director of Mission Roll Call. He most recently was president of the Working Warrior Foundation, and is a VA and Richard Burr alum. …

… Beverly Hart is now legislative director for Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.). She most recently was senior legislative assistant for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.). … Sam Kuebler is now legislative assistant for Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.). He previously was legislative assistant for Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). … Meghan Pazik is now legislative assistant for Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.). She previously was legislative assistant for Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.).

WEEKEND WEDDING — Jim Newell, senior politics writer at Slate, and Tierney Sneed, digital writer at CNN, got married Sunday in Key West. PicSPOTTED: Dave Weigel and Margarita Noriega, Dylan Scott, David Catanese, Paul McLeod and Sarah Mimms, Garrett Quinn, Ben Jacobs, Cameron Joseph, Liz Glover, Hamilton Nolan, Caitlin Owens and Lauren Fox.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: POLITICO co-founder John Harris … Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) … Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) … Sarah Isgur … Endpoints’ Zachary Brennan … USA Today’s David Mastio and Matt BrownHugh Ferguson … Sunshine Sachs’ Claire TonnesonPeter RoffHunter Hall of the Picard Group … Matthew EllisonNancy Jacobson of No Labels … Wisconsin state Treasurer Sarah GodlewskiMarcus SwitzerChelsea Rodriguez (3-0) … Geoff Verhoff of Akin Gump … László Baksay … HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney … Capital One’s Jill Shatzen KerrPeter Lichtenbaum of Covington & Burling … Glenn GerstellMatthias Reynolds of Targeted Victory … The Economist’s Idrees KahloonKendra KostekCatherine “Simmy” Jain … API’s Bethany AronhaltKevin Sullivan … former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) … Joel SeidmanMarie Baldassarre of Rep. Ro Khanna’s (D-Calif.) office … Catherine ChenKaren ScottTara PatelKevin BaileyAlex CurdMarc Kimball … former Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) … Charles KuppermanDavid Levine of BerlinRosen

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