POLITICO Playbook: ‘Just say we won’: WaPo duo goes inside the Trump White House on Election Day

NEW — WaPo’s Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker have a juicy read on what former President DONALD TRUMP and his aides were saying on Election Night, excerpted from their forthcoming book, “I Alone Can Fix It” ($30) for WaPo today.

Some highlights:

— On the mood in the White House: “The morning of Nov. 3, 2020, President Trump was upbeat. The mood in the West Wing was good. Some aides talked giddily of a landslide. … Trump’s voice was hoarse from his mad dash of rallies, but he thought his exhausting final sprint had sealed the deal. He considered JOE BIDEN to be a lot of things, but a winner most definitely was not one of them. ‘I can’t lose to this f—— guy,’ Trump told aides.”

— On Fox News calling Arizona for Biden: “‘What the f— is Fox doing?’ Trump screamed. Then he barked orders to [JARED] KUSHNER: ‘Call Rupert! Call James and Lachlan!” And to Jason Miller: “Get Sammon. Get Hemmer. They’ve got to reverse this.’ The president was referring to Fox owner RUPERT MURDOCH and his sons, JAMES and LACHLAN, as well as BILL SAMMON, a top news executive at Fox. Trump’s tirade continued. ‘What the f—?’ he bellowed. ‘What the f— are these guys doing? How could they call this this early?’”

— RUDY GIULIANI, MARK MEADOWS, BILL STEPIEN and JASON MILLER discussing vote totals: “Giuliani went state by state asking Stepien, Meadows and Miller what they were seeing and what their plan was. ‘What’s happening in Michigan?’ he asked. They said it was too early to tell, votes were still being counted and they couldn’t say.

“‘Just say we won,’ Giuliani told them. Same thing in Pennsylvania. ‘Just say we won Pennsylvania,’ Giuliani said. Giuliani’s grand plan was to just say Trump won, state after state, based on nothing. Stepien, Miller and Meadows thought his argument was both incoherent and irresponsible. ‘We can’t do that,’ Meadows said, raising his voice. ‘We can’t.’” The full excerpt

GOP SENATORS GO WOBBLY ON BIF — It was after 9 p.m. on Friday, and staff for the bipartisan Senate infrastructure working group were hammering out legislative text over Zoom. Suddenly, the girlfriend of a staffer for Sen. ANGUS KING (I-Maine) walked into the room to announce they had a visitor. In walked the senator himself to thank those on the call — including aides to Sens. SUSAN COLLINS (R-Maine), JACKY ROSEN (D-Nev.), ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio) and JOE MANCHIN (D-W.Va.) — for their hard work.

Thought No. 1: These people really know how to live it up on a Friday night.

Thought No. 2: This could all be for naught. Here’s why: Yes, we heard that the bipartisan infrastructure group and their staffs had late-night calls and videos throughout the two-week recess. Three sources in the group told us staff are racing to finalize bill text to introduce it as early as this week. But as our Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine report, a crop of the 11 Republicans who originally backed the so-called BIF (“bipartisan infrastructure framework”) is getting cold feet amid “harsh scrutiny from the right.”

Support from the five GOP senators who negotiated the deal — Collins, Portman, MITT ROMNEY (Utah), LISA MURKOWSKI (Alaska) and BILL CASSIDY (Louisiana) — is “solid,” our colleagues write. But the other six, including JERRY MORAN (Kansas) and LINDSEY GRAHAM (S.C.), are raising concerns about pay-fors. Privately, BIF members in both parties expect the CBO may say the proposed pay-fors will fall short of covering the bill’s cost. There’s a quiet expectation that the IRS enforcement portion of the plan may not be “scorable,” leaving a $100 billion hole. It would present a perfect opportunity for Republicans looking for an out to jump ship.

The group will meet today at 5 p.m. to touch gloves. More in Burgess and Marianne’s story hereThe Hill also has a story about Graham’s concernAnd Natasha Korecki and Chris Cadelago sniff out a change in the White House’s messaging on infrastructure, spurred partly by climate activists.

VOTING RIGHTS DEJA VU — It’s Groundhog Day for the Democratic Party when it comes to voting rights. Once again, civil rights leaders and the left are clamoring for Biden to nix or alter the filibuster in order to pass the party’s voting rights bills. And once again, Biden is likely to disappoint.

The president is headed to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia this afternoon to give a speech on a topic where he just can’t win. But White House press secretary JEN PSAKI has made clear that Biden has no plans to mount a campaign against the filibuster.

Psaki dismissed House Majority Whip JIM CLYBURN’S (D-S.C.) suggestion that Biden should be pressuring Manchin to vote for a carveout on issues related to the Constitution or voting specifically. “Determination about making changes will be made by members of the Senate, not by this president or any president, frankly, moving forward,” she said at her briefing Monday, adding that Biden’s views on keeping the filibuster intact haven’t changed.

SO WHAT WILL BIDEN SAY? He “plans to ‘blast the denial of the right to vote as grounded in autocracy, undemocratic, un-American, and unpatriotic,’” Laura Barrón-López reports, while calling “for a ‘new coalition’ of advocates, activists, students, faith leaders, labor leaders, and business executives ‘to overcome this un-American trend and meet the moment’ through ‘turnout and voter education.’” Read her full preview here

MEANWHILE, Democratic members of the Texas legislature are engaging in their own version of a filibuster regarding voting rights, vowing to remain outside of Texas for the duration of the 30-day special summer session in order to block Republicans from passing their voting restrictions.

We caught up with some of the Democrats as they settled in in Washington and learned a few things:

— They made the decision to come here Sunday after the voting restriction bill made it out of committee and left Monday out of worry of getting compelled back if they are in Texas when the session starts today at 10 a.m.

— The Texas House Democratic Caucus paid for chartered jets to D.C. as well as accommodations (for now).

— They have to stay out of the state until the special summer session is over on Aug. 7 if they want to keep the bill from becoming law. Some of them intend to have their families come visit.

— They’ll be on the Hill today and are hoping to stay in D.C. as long as it takes to convince moderates to find a way to pass voting rights legislation. (See above for the likelihood of that.)

— They’ve been in touch with the White House about setting up a meeting.

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

LATEST IN CUBA — “Cuba arrests activists as government blames unrest on U.S. interference,” by Reuters’ Sarah Marsh and Nelson Acosta … And Sabrina Rodríguez and Nahal Toosi look at how the Biden administration is responding.

BIDEN’S TUESDAY:

— 9:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.

— 1 p.m.: Biden will leave the White House for Philadelphia, arriving at 2:05 p.m.

— 2:50 p.m.: Biden will speak about protecting the right to vote at the National Constitution Center.

— 4:10 p.m.: Biden will depart Philadelphia, getting back to the White House at 5:15 p.m.

Principal deputy press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE will gaggle on Air Force One on the way to Philadelphia.

THE SENATE will meet at 10 a.m. to take up UZRA ZEYA’S nomination to be undersecretary of State for civilian security, democracy and human rights, with a vote at 11:30 a.m. — the same time as a cloture vote for JULIE SU’S nomination as deputy Labor secretary. After a recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., if cloture has been invoked, the chamber will vote on Su’s confirmation at 2:30 p.m.

THE HOUSE will meet at 9 a.m. in a pro forma session.

CONGRESS

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — The U.S. Conference of Mayors — now led by NAN WHALEY of the great Dayton, Ohio — will announce today that more than 369 mayors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia support the bipartisan infrastructure framework. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Biden administration touts this missive when the president speaks about the BIF package later this week. Letter here

BERNIE SNUBS FLOATED $3.5 TRILLION RECONCILIATION FIGURE — On Sunday night, Axios quoted “key negotiators” saying they expect the Democrat-only infrastructure bill that emerges out of the Senate Budget Committee to total $3.5 trillion. It was seen by some on the Hill as a message to that committee’s chair, BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), that he can forget about the $6 trillion he’s eyeing for climate, child care, health care, education and the like.

Well, the Budget chair didn’t take kindly to the nudge from the unnamed Democratic negotiators. After meeting with Biden on Monday, he walked right up to a microphone and panned the idea of settling on $3.5 trillion. “No … I think, quite frankly, a strong majority of the members of the Democratic Caucus want to go as big as we possibly can.” JM Rieger has the video

Budget panel Democrats met Monday night and emerged without an agreement on a top-line number, though Sen. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Md.) told reporters he thought they were close on a deal and could strike one as soon as today. This is a first test for Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER, who needs all Democrats to unify behind a budget to unlock reconciliation. So sooner or later, Sanders and Manchin need to reach an agreement. Failure isn’t really an option for Democrats on this one.

ANOTHER BUDGET DILEMMA — “Hill security talks at a new impasse with Capitol Police running low on cash,” by Caitlin Emma and Nicholas Wu

TRUMP CARDS

TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL — “The Republican Party’s top lawyer called election fraud arguments by Trump’s lawyers a ‘joke’ that could mislead millions,” by WaPo’s Josh Dawsey: “JUSTIN RIEMER, the RNC’s chief counsel, sought to discourage a Republican Party staffer from posting claims about ballot fraud on RNC accounts, the email shows, as attempts by Trump and his associates to challenge results in a number of states, such as Arizona and Pennsylvania, intensified.

“‘What Rudy and Jenna are doing is a joke and they are getting laughed out of court,’ Riemer, a longtime Republican lawyer, wrote to LIZ HARRINGTON, a former party spokeswoman on Nov. 28, referring to Trump attorneys RUDY GIULIANI and JENNA ELLIS.

WEISSELBERG INDICTMENT FALLOUT — “Trump Organization CFO Removed as Officer of Subsidiaries, Records Show,” by WSJ’s Corinne Ramey: “The Trump Organization has removed longtime finance chief ALLEN WEISSELBERG as an officer at some of its subsidiaries, after prosecutors accused him and the company of a 15-year tax-fraud scheme, according to public filings and people familiar with the matter.”

STATE-SIDE

STILL NOT HAPPY AT STATE: A few days after Biden took office in January, we wrote about a general state of despair among career diplomats after four years working under Trump. Our unscientific sampling found serious doubts that things would improve much under Biden — particularly on the question of whether their loyalty to the State Department would be rewarded with promotions to higher positions.

Almost six months later, their skepticism appears well founded.

We’re hearing the same gripes from career officials that it’s taking way too long to be promoted — and that the new administration has left them in limbo about if or when it might happen. They are discouraged after watching other career officials who left during the Trump administration return for plum political appointments — while they waited around to be rewarded during the next administration. Many hoped that as Trump-era vacancies were filled, more rank-and-file career foreign service would move up in the process.

“There is almost more disillusionment and impatience with the rank and file than in the Trump years,” said one career official. “A lot of people have left or have one foot out the door.” Rep. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-Texas), who has taken up the issue of diversity and morale at State, blamed the Trump administration for the workforce blues. “Their mismanagement left numerous positions vacant and denied career diplomats promotion opportunities, creating significant backlogs,” he told Playbook in a statement. “Now the Biden administration needs to act with urgency to not only fill these appointments and retain top talent, but also ensure State’s senior leadership reflects the diversity of America.”

According to a Harvard study reported by Foreign Policy, “nearly a third of the U.S. State Department’s diplomats and professional support staff are considering leaving the department and are actively looking for new jobs.” The study argues that the problems at State go beyond the Trump years, “pointing to systemic management problems that will hinder the State Department’s ability to recruit and retain talent.”

A senior State department official responded that frustrations about promotions notwithstanding, only about 3% of these officials actually end up leaving the department annually — and that’s been consistent since the 1990s.

“It’s safe to say [promotions] will be in line with [the pace of] the past two years,” said a senior State Department official. One area of growth will be the civil service. The department is now focused on replacing colleagues who left during the 2017 hiring freeze under then-Secretary REX TILLERSON.

POLITICS ROUNDUP

WHOOPSIE — “Newsom won’t be listed as a Democrat on recall ballot, judge says,” L.A. Times: “Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM cannot identify himself as a Democrat on the September recall ballot because he missed the deadline to designate his party affiliation, a superior court judge in Sacramento ruled Monday. Superior Court Judge JAMES P. ARGUELLES said in his ruling that Newsom’s assertion that the oversight was a good-faith error on the part of his attorney was not enough to overcome the clear language of California election law.”

THE TRUMP EFFECT — “‘Get on the team or shut up’: How Trump created an army of GOP enforcers,” by David Siders and Stephanie Murray: “From the earliest days of his presidency, Donald Trump and his political team worked to re-engineer the infrastructure of the Republican Party, installing allies in top leadership posts in key states. The effect has been dramatic — and continues to reverberate nearly six months after he left office. …

“In red states, blue states and swing states, these leaders — nearly all of whom were elected during Trump’s presidency or right after — are redefining the traditional role of the state party chair. They are emerging not just as guardians of the former president’s political legacy, but as chief enforcers of Trumpism within the GOP. It figures to be a boon for him if he runs for another term in 2024, but also carries the risk of tying the party’s fortunes too closely to an ex-president whose political brand is toxic to many voters.”

ONE OF THESE IS A LOT LIKE THE OTHER — NYT’s Shane Goldmacher pointed out on Twitter that a flag promoting Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS looks a lot like Trump’s presidential campaign merch. The pics

A MOVING INTERVIEW — Bethesda Magazine’s Steve Roberts speaks with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Sarah Bloom Raskin “about meeting in law school at Harvard, how they were changed by the riot at the Capitol, and the acts of kindness inspired by the death of their son, Tommy.

SPOTTED at a champagne toast at MSNBC’s D.C. bureau to mark 25 years of the network being on air: Rashida Jones, Cesar Conde, Joy Reid, Andrea Mitchell, Kasie Hunt, Hallie Jackson, Tiffany Cross and Geoff Bennett. “We have gone through some very difficult times, but I really do believe that we are coming out of this stronger not just as individuals, not just as a team, but as a news organization,” Conde said.

FIRST LADY FILES — Glamour is announcing its College Women of the Year honorees, with help from first lady Jill Biden — in whose honor all of the women are from community colleges, for the first time. Glamour also talked to Biden about community colleges, being a mother in school and teaching. And there’s video of the first lady surprising two of the honorees.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Cady Stanton has joined USA TODAY as a digital editor fellow. She previously was a social media specialist at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

Erenia Michell has been hired as head booking producer for NewsNation’s new 8 p.m. Eastern primetime show “On Balance with Leland Vittert,” which premieres July 19. She most recently was segment producer/booker for Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

MEDIA MOVES — Thomas McKinless is now a video editor at Newsy, which is doubling the size of its newsroom ahead of an Oct. 1 over-the-air launch. He previously was video editor at Roll Call, where he did the Hits and Misses series. … The New Yorker is adding Parul Sehgal as a staff writer and Kyle Chayka, Matthew Hutson and Luke Mogelson as contributing writers. Sehgal currently is a book critic at the NYT.

TRANSITIONS — Amish Shah is joining the SEC’s Division of Enforcement as an attorney. He most recently was deputy chief investigative counsel for the House Oversight Dems. … Becca Charen is now campaign manager for Joseph Rocha’s congressional campaign in California. She most recently was research director for John Hickenlooper’s Senate campaign, and is a DSCC alum. … Ryan Thornton is joining Uber as senior associate of external affairs. He most recently was senior manager of comms at the Information Technology Industry Council. …

… Rachael Marsh has rejoined Bracewell as a partner in its energy regulatory practice. She previously held various positions at FERC, most recently as a top legal adviser to Commissioner Neil Chatterjee. … Allegra Harpootlian will be a comms strategist at the ACLU. She currently is comms manager for peace and security at ReThink Media. … Evie Fordham is now an account executive at District Media Group. She previously was a digital reporter at Fox News.

WEEKEND WEDDINGS — Cate Martel, author of The Hill’s 12:30 Report, and Danny Vinik, a recent Georgetown Law grad, got married Saturday in Newport, R.I. The POLITICO alums originally met during their college study abroad programs in Florence, Italy, and later reunited when they both moved to D.C., coincidentally living on the same floor of the same apartment building — and then both working at POLITICO. Pic, via Molly Lo Photography Another pic

— Mosheh Oinounou, founder of Mo Digital and a CBS Evening News alum, and Alexandra Sall, founder of ALSALL Studios, got married Saturday at the Peconic Bay Yacht Club in Southold, N.Y., before about 70 family members and close friends. The couple met on a dating app in 2018 and had their first date at the Jewish Food Society’s annual “Noshes and Spiels” festival. Pic, via Yumi Matsuo Another pic, via Janna Riggle

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Tara Hayes, director of human welfare policy at the American Action Forum, and Lt. Col. Ethan Hayes, a strategist for the U.S. Army, welcomed Aurelia Sienna on Saturday. Pic Another pic

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: WaPo’s Josh Dawsey and Devlin BarrettJoe Lockhart … Americans for Prosperity’s Tim PhillipsAnne SchroederWill Dempster … Microsoft’s Kate FrischmannAmanda Hunter of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation … Todd ZwillichJen HowardAlex Vogel Zaina Javaid … Punchbowl’s Max CohenJulie Eddy Rokala of Cassidy & Associates … Dan SmithPatricia BrooksMichelle GapsCasey KatimsCelia FischerElizabeth Bagley … former Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) (7-0) … Heather Larrison Gabby SeayAneesh ChopraJosé Andrés

Send Playbookers tips to [email protected]. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of Playbook misstated how much pay-fors could be expected to fall short of covering the infrastructure bill’s cost. There is a quiet expectation that the IRS enforcement portion of the plan may not be “scorable,” leaving a $100 billion hole.