President Biden is capping off a foreign policy focused week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in San Francisco.
MEXICO IS MOVING INTO FOCUS TODAY, as Biden prepares to meet with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. López Obrador has some of his country’s most pressing issues on his agenda — including strengthening regional cooperation to combat corruption and boosting trade. But he and Biden will have to address crucial challenges to their countries’ relationship, from surges of migration at the border to the flow of drugs such as fentanyl.
López Obrador has said that the world has taken the “wrong approach” by focusing on stemming the flow of people and militarizing borders instead of addressing the root causes that force people to leave their homes.
“The people don’t abandon their towns because they want to, but rather out of necessity,” he said in October.
APEC’S BIG-TICKET MEETING HAPPENED ON THE SIDELINES when Biden met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday. During a four-hour meeting, the two leaders took steps to ease tensions across the Indo-Pacific, opening a new chapter after a tumultuous period of uncertainty in the region (The Hill).
While experts say the Biden-Xi meeting does not remove many of the lingering tensions between China and the U.S., the leaders sent a message that conflict is not inevitable and relations are stable, even if they remain competitive nations. Biden said Wednesday the meeting resulted in “positive steps” between the world’s largest economies and said more diplomatic talks would follow.
Speaking to executives at the APEC summit Thursday, Biden noted that he and Xi had agreed to resume military-to-military communication to “reduce the risk of miscalculation” — a line that got a round of applause from the room.
“We have real differences with Beijing,” the president acknowledged. “We are going to continue to address them with smart policies and strong diplomacy.”
CNN: A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, when asked Thursday about Biden’s comment to reporters Wednesday that he views Xi as a dictator, called it “extremely erroneous” and an “irresponsible political maneuver, which China firmly opposes.”
There was a subtle shift in the power dynamic between the two countries on display this week, The New York Times reports, as Xi arrived at APEC with a list of requests for the U.S. — from a revival of American financial investments in China and a break in technology export controls that have reduced Beijing’s ability to make certain advanced semiconductors.
THE KEY QUESTION is whether the Chinese leader’s charm offensive — on display Wednesday night at a dinner for executives — is the sign of a lasting diplomatic shift or just a tactical maneuver.
- NBC News: Pandas may return to California, Xi said at a dinner with U.S. business elites.
- The Hill: Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva marks a month in a Russian prison.
- The Hill: U.S. and Ukrainian officials are appealing to Congress to back additional military assistance to Kyiv.
BIDEN’S ATTENTION HAS ALSO BEEN ON THE HOSTAGES being held by Hamas in Gaza. U.S. officials have been working for weeks on a deal to release some of them, with Egypt and Qatar acting as intermediaries. Biden said late Wednesday he was “mildly hopeful” about a possible deal. Negotiations are underway, CBS News reports, with the various players working on a framework. Under the proposal, Hamas would release a portion of the women and children abducted during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel for roughly the same number of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS News on Thursday that Israel is closer to releasing hostages captured by the Palestinian militant group Hamas than before their ground operation in Gaza. But the Israeli government has yet to produce findings that corroborate its claims that Al-Shifa sits atop a Hamas headquarters and was central to the militant group’s operations in northern Gaza (The Washington Post).
“Exactly why there should be assault rifles located next to an MRI machine escapes me and this is compelling evidence of the fact that Hamas embeds itself in civilian infrastructure of one kind or another,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC’s Lester Holt Thursday. “We have our own information that command-and-control nodes are located either in or under hospitals. There are several of them and this is something that’s really monstrous in what Hamas has done to try to embed itself among civilians.”
NBC News: The Israeli Defense Forces said they had found the body of Yehudit Weiss, a hostage, and that of Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old soldier. The military described both as being found “adjacent” to Al-Shifa hospital.
DEMOCRATIC LEADERS IN WASHINGTON ARE FACING PRESSURE to ask Israel to scale back military operations in Gaza. Rising civilian casualties have triggered human rights protests around the U.S. and sparked heightened calls for a cease-fire from Democratic lawmakers, administration officials and the party’s liberal base. The Hill’s Mike Lillis reports that Democratic leaders have pressed for billions of dollars in humanitarian assistance for civilian victims of the conflict — Israeli and Palestinian alike. But they’ve rebuffed the entreaties of their left flank to back a cease-fire.
“Hamas has already said publicly that they plan on attacking Israel again,” Biden said Wednesday in California. “And so the idea that they’re going to just stop and not do anything is not realistic.”
3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
LEADING THE DAY
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), an admitted serial fabricator facing 23 criminal charges in federal court, ended his bid for reelection Thursday shortly after a House panel reported that evidence of his alleged fraud and theft will be referred to the Justice Department.
The report asserts in blunt language that Santos duped donors and stole funds from his campaign using a variety of illegal schemes.
The committee did not recommend punishment, but Ethics Committee Chair Michael Guest (R-Miss.) said he will today introduce a new motion to expel Santos from the House. The House is not in session until after the Thanksgiving holiday, but CNN is tracking GOP lawmakers who are now publicly stating their support for expulsion.
The 35-year-old congressman, who has rejected calls to voluntarily step down from New York’s 3rd Congressional District, called a detailed committee report about his actions a “disgusting politicized smear” and later criticized “the process in Congress” as “dirty,” adding on X, formerly Twitter, that he will hold a news conference Nov. 30 at the Capitol.
The New York Times: Ferragamo, OnlyFans and Botox: How Santos spent donors’ money. The House committee investigation includes previously unseen texts, emails, financial records and other documents.
FACED WITH A NARROW HOUSE MAJORITY, Republican colleagues have maintained a careful distance from Santos’s controversies while expressing some reluctance to forfeit his House vote, or politically more damaging, his seat in a blue state.
Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) last month advocated “due process” for Santos. “We have a four-seat majority in the House. It is possible that number may be reduced even more in the coming weeks and months. And so, we’ll have what may be the most razor-thin majority in the history of the Congress. We have no margin for error,” Johnson told Fox News’s Sean Hannity. “And so, George Santos is due, due process, right? … We have to allow due process to play itself out. That’s what our system of justice is for.”
On Thursday, Johnson said the panel’s report contained “very troubling findings,” but he made no reference to any future House action (The New York Times).
The Hill: Five takeaways from Congress’s scathing, sprawling Santos report.
📉 WHAT ABOUT THOSE POLLS? Biden is hardly the first president to be confronted with survey data suggesting a vulnerable reelection bid. As The New York Times reports, the reelection campaigns rolled out by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who both won second terms, stand as reminders that polls a year out are not predictions of what will happen on Election Day.
“Biden has a very high degree of difficulty, but I think the race is winnable,” David Plouffe, who was a senior adviser to Obama’s reelection campaign, told The Times. “Listen, I have sympathy for an incumbent president or governor who says, ‘People need to know more about my accomplishments.’ That is true, but at the end of the day this is a comparative exercise. That’s the one thing we learned.”
The White House has dismissed polls — including a recent New York Times/Siena College poll of swing states — as a snapshot well ahead of when voters focus on general election nominees. Biden’s advisers point to Democratic wins in this month’s off-year elections as evidence that both the party and the incumbent are in good shape. After months of campaigning on his economic record, Biden has begun to turn his attention to the actions and policies of former President Trump.
“We are absolutely looking at ways that we can help drive the conversation around Trump and MAGA as much as we can,” Kevin Munoz, the Biden campaign spokesman, told The Times. “We are in a different position than Obama and Bush. We had very strong midterms. We have had very strong special elections. Our theory of the case was proved again last Tuesday.”
eeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico at 10 a.m. PT. An hour later, Biden begins the final day of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and transfers the APEC chair to Peru. He and first lady Jill Biden in the afternoon will depart California for Philadelphia, then travel to New Castle, Del., for the weekend. 🎂Biden, the oldest U.S. president in office, celebrates his 81st birthday Monday.
- Family Leader, an influential Christian organization, today hosts a political roundtable in Des Moines among GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.
- Haley is gaining slightly on frontrunner Trump ahead of New Hampshire’s primary, albeit in a distant second place, according to a CNN and University of New Hampshire poll released Thursday.
- A federal jury found attacker David DePape guilty on all charges in the home invasion assault with a hammer on Paul Pelosi, husband of former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). DePape could be sentenced to life in prison and faces state charges.
- A man who attacked Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) in her apartment building earlier this year was sentenced Thursday to 27 months in prison.
- A New Hampshire Democratic office was vandalized with antisemitic and white supremecist symbols, state party Chair Raymond Buckley said in a statement. He said the graffiti represents “vile ideology.”
- Retired Army Col. Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman (D) announced he will run to succeed Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger (Va.) who announced this week she will run for governor. Vindman, who helped flag a 2019 phone call between then-President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said he’s running to defend the U.S. against the “clear and present danger” of Trump.
- Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said Thursday that he will not seek reelection next year, citing his recent battle with cancer.
WHERE & WHEN
The House holds a pro forma session at 9 a.m.
The Senate convenes a pro forma session at 7:30 a.m.
The president begins his day in San Francisco with the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. PT. He will hold a bilateral meeting with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico at 10 a.m. PT. An hour later, Biden begins the final day of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and transfers the APEC chair to Peru. He and first lady Jill Biden in the afternoon will depart California for Philadelphia, then travel to New Castle, Del., for the weekend. 🎂Biden, the oldest U.S. president in office, celebrates his 81st birthday Monday.
Vice President Harris is in Los Angeles and has no public events.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken follows the president’s itinerary while in California.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is participating in APEC in San Francisco and will depart to return to Washington later today.
The first lady will travel to the Cupertino, Calif., campus of Apple at 9:30 a.m. PT for an event about mental health organized for spouses of APEC leaders. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy will participate.
At an emergency hearing Thursday, New York Appellate Judge David Friedman questioned New York Judge Arthur Engoron’s authority to police Trump’s free speech rights (The Associated Press).
Friedman temporarily lifted a gag order that Justice Engoron imposed on the voluble former president during a civil fraud trial after Trump disparaged a state law clerk on social media using personally identifying information.
Friedman said that while it’s true that judges often issue gag orders, they’re mostly used in criminal cases where there’s a fear that comments about the case could influence the jury. Trump’s civil trial doesn’t have a jury.
Trump lawyer Christopher Kise said the appellate judge “made the right decision and allowed President Trump to take full advantage of his constitutional First Amendment rights to talk about bias in his own trial, what he’s seeing and witnessing in his own trial — which, frankly, everyone needs to see.”
While campaigning for the White House, Trump is testing the limits of the First Amendment as a politician and as a defendant before the judiciary. He frequently asserts that charges in the civil fraud trial in New York were brought by a politically biased prosecutor and are being managed by a Democratic judge who is not an impartial referee.
DURING TESTIMONY, Trump criticized Engoron as an “extremely hostile” judge and said the trial was “very unfair.”
The trial involves multiple claims made in a lawsuit, including falsification of business records, insurance fraud and conspiracy. The judge previously determined that Trump misrepresented his wealth by millions of dollars. Prosecutors say Trump and the Trump Organization fraudulently gained advantageous loans and insurance premised on manipulated asset valuations. Trump says he did nothing wrong.
👉 The Washington Post on Thursday published a special interactive report with rarely seen or published photos and video from 11 mass shootings involving AR-15 rifles. It is wrenching to view.
Interviews with survivors and visual evidence underscore the grisly efficiency of the easy-to-operate and widely available weapon, used more than any other to carry out mass killings in America, the Post reports.
“We were standing there looking at the scene and the phones kept ringing and ringing and ringing in the backpacks and on the desk — of the parents calling their children. … They kept calling and calling and calling.” — Eulalio Diaz, justice of the peace and coroner, recalling a scene at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tex., in 2022, where 19 children and two adults were murdered.
“We decided that there is public value in illuminating the profound and repeated devastation left by tragedies that are often covered as isolated news events but rarely considered as part of a broader pattern of violence.” — Sally Buzbee, executive editor, The Washington Post.
Proposals to reimpose an expired U.S. ban on assault weapons and to outlaw high-capacity ammunition devices are blocked in Congress along political fault lines. State bans are being challenged in court (ABC News timeline).
■ Don’t just be horrified. Ban AR-15s, bump stocks and large magazines, by The Washington Post editorial board.
■ Cease-fire now. The killing in Gaza must stop, by the Los Angeles Times editorial board.
And finally … 👏👏👏 Kudos to this week’s Morning Report Quiz winners! They Googled, guessed and recalled historic trivia involving U.S. presidents with foreign leaders.
Here are the champion puzzlers who went 4/4: Richard E. Baznik, Phil Kirstein, Lynn Gardner, Stan Wasser, Patrick Kavanagh, Harry Strulovici, Pam Manges, David T. Johnson, Terry Pflaumer, John N. Dziennik, Robert Bradley, Randall S. Patrick, Ki Harvey, Jaina Mehta Buck, Jose A. Ramos and Steve James.
They knew that during the 1945 Yalta conference, former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin discussed terms of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender, splitting Berlin into zones and prosecution of Nazi war criminals. Thus, the best response was “all of the above.”
Former President Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met five times while each was still in office.
Trump met Kim Jong Un of North Korea in Singapore in 2018. Their summit definitely made news.
Former President John F. Kennedy was at Rathaus Schöneburg in Berlin in 1963 after the erection of the Berlin Wall when he famously declared “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
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