Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters are talking about in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast, where you get a glimpse of tomorrow’s headlines today.
1. More help wanted at the White House?
From CNN chief national correspondent John King:
Mick Mulvaney has not officially started as the new White House acting chief of staff, but already some important players on Team Trump are worried he isn’t up to the job.
Members of the President’s campaign and political team are pushing the idea of a new White House position: counselor to the President and chief strategist. The idea is that a Democratic House will only increase the investigative burden on the White House at a time it is essential to keep the White House in sync with the re-election campaign.
Some of these advisers don’t believe Mulvaney has the skillset for the coming challenge. He is a former House member who now serves as the President’s budget chief. Others see the need for another senior person regardless of whether Mulvaney transitions smoothly into the new role.
After this story published, Trump’s 2020 campaign chief Brad Parscale said the campaign supports Mulvaney.
“Fake news. The campaign supports @MickMulvaneyOMB and his ability to run the @WhiteHouse. This fake story with unnamed sources tries to imply that @POTUS needs a political chief strategist, false. We have the best chief strategist: @realDonaldTrump!” Parscale tweeted.
What’s unclear is whether the President sees the need for this new role, though he did take time this past week to complain to aides and allies about Mulvaney.
The conversations among some of his top campaign advisers include discussions of who might fit in such a role. Trump 2016 campaign aide David Bossie’s name gets mentioned as does veteran GOP strategist Ward Baker. It is no secret that many Republicans are hesitant, if not outright, unwilling to work in this White House, either for policy reasons or because of how badly the President treats those who work for him.
That reluctance is only exacerbated after the tumultuous week that just passed – and is often the source of dark humor among veteran Republicans who get periodic calls from Trump insiders to gauge their potential interest in administration jobs.
One such GOP hand added this to some insights on the conversations about the possibility of a new counselor role: “I produced my own death certificate.”
2. What will Beto do?
A few dozen Democrats are spending the holidays deciding whether to run for president. And the biggest question mark might be 46-year-old soon-to-be-former Congressman Beto O’Rourke.
“He is thinking more seriously about the country and this moment,” New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin said. “He issued a statement yesterday that was withering in his critique of President Trump and the last few days’ chaotic behavior. My understanding is this last week has gotten his attention.”
The early national polls of Democratic primary voters have O’Rourke running third, behind only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
“I talked to one senator last week,” Martin said. “A Democrat who said flatly that Beto is going to be our nominee.”
3. Women & 2020
Democrats can thank women and minorities for their big midterm victories – the party won 59% of women and 76% of non-white voters, according to exit polls.
And yet it’s the three aforementioned white men who are leading those early 2020 polls. The AP’s Elana Schor says the party is struggling with that dichotomy, and what lessons to learn from Hillary Clinton’s loss.
“Yes, there’s Warren, Klobuchar, Gillibrand and Harris,” Schor said, referring to four female senators likely to run for president next year. “But there’s a huge amount of problems, like with the media double standards a woman will face, trouble raising money and boosting their name recognition against those three men.”
4. Immigration investigations
House Democrats will likely launch dozens of investigations into the Trump administration next year. And they won’t all be about Russian collusion and the Mueller probe.
“Democrats are itching to investigate him on immigration,” New York Times White House reporter Michael Shear said. “He will face questions and hearings about the travel ban, about his decision to end DACA, about his decision to revamp the asylum system.”
The incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has already sent a letter to administration officials demanding information about the family separations. “I think you’ll see that policy, and all the other immigration topics, be a real thorn in President Trump’s side as he deals with this new Democratic majority,” Shear said.
5. House GOP shields Trump on Khashoggi
The Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution this month condemning the Saudi crown prince for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Don’t expect the House to follow suit, CNN’s Manu Raju reports.
“There’s been silence over whether or not the Republican leaders will move forward with this measure in the final days of this Congress,” Raju said. President Trump has defended Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, and says even if he was behind the murder, it’s not important enough to jeopardize US-Saudi relations.
“If the House passed this, it would land on President Trump’s desk and give him a decision,” Raju said. “Sign it and side with Congress, or veto it and side with the Saudis.”
Raju said House Speaker Paul Ryan has ignored questions about whether he’d allow it come up for a vote. “It appears the Republican leadership could be shielding the President from a very awkward decision.”
This story has been updated with Brad Parscale’s statement, which came after publication.