TRUMP AGENDA: It's Mueller Time!
Breaking this morning: A senior U.S. official tells NBC News that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have been told to surrender to law enforcement today.
And in the New York Times: "The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, and Mr. Gates were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president's first year in office. Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort's firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show. Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying."
The New York Times, with the big picture: "After long expressing anger that his allies have not done enough to protect him from the inquiries, he is now enlisting White House and administration officials, employing his vast social media presence, and putting pressure on the Republican-led Congress to deflect any potentially damaging reports."
From one of us(!) on Sunday: "President Donald Trump's job approval rating has declined to the lowest point of his presidency, and nearly half of voters want their vote in the 2018 midterms to be a message for more Democrats in Congress to check Trump and congressional Republicans, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Thirty eight percent of Americans say they approve of Trump's job performance — down five points since September — while 58 percent disapprove."
NBC's Benjy Sarlin: "Millions of Americans will get a chance to shop for health insurance through Obamacare's exchanges starting on Wednesday — the fifth open enrollment period since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2013. But industry analysts and health experts are bracing for a bumpy ride, thanks in large part to changes by the Trump administration that are expected to sow uncertainty among customers while hiking premiums on some plans by large amounts (and lowering them for others)."
The Washington Post: "The Republican effort to overhaul the tax code suffered a bruising setback over the weekend when a powerful corporate interest group came out against the proposal just days ahead of when House leaders plan to release it to the public. The National Association of Home Builders, after learning that a "homeownership" tax credit it had wanted will not be in an initial version of the bill, is preparing a nationwide campaign against it. The development underscored just how difficult the prospect of a successful tax overhaul will be, given the complex and competing interests that President Trump and GOP lawmakers are trying to serve."
And from the Wall Street Journal: "The plan is to keep the tough trade-offs in the bill secret until after Halloween, then reach Thanksgiving with bills passed by the House and Senate and hit New Year's Day with a bill on Mr. Trump's desk. That's close to financial-crisis speed, pushing Congress into a kind of emergency lawmaking mode it typically uses only when inaction means cataclysm."
"Russia is increasingly wielding oil as a geopolitical tool, spreading its influence around the world and challenging the interests of the United States," writes the New York Times. "But Moscow risks running into trouble, as it lends money and makes deals in turbulent economies and shaky political climates."
Jared Kushner took an unannounced trip to Saudi Arabia last week.
New, from our NBC/WSJ poll this morning: "A new poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows that 48 percent of currently employed women in the United States say that they have personally experienced an unwelcome sexual advance or verbal or physical harassment at work….Two-thirds of Americans, 67 percent, believe that sexual harassment happens in most or almost all workplaces. Overall, 62 percent of men and 71 percent of women say that workplace sexual harassment is widespread, although men and women over 50 years old see the issue as somewhat less common than their younger counterparts… In addition to the nearly one-in-every-two working women who say they've personally experienced inappropriate conduct, 41 percent of currently employed men admit that they have personally witnessed the mistreatment of women in the workplace."
And finally: Don't miss Tim Alberta's long profile of John Boehner in POLITICO magazine.
OFF TO THE RACES: Once a "gentlemanly affair," VA GOV race gets ugly
The Washington Post looks at whether Nancy Pelosi will help or hurt Democrats in 2018.
AL-SEN: Check out this new Doug Jones ad: "In a new campaign ad released Monday, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate portrayed himself as a senator who will seek compromise if elected, referencing Civil War history -- and a Confederate colonel from Alabama -- to make his point. In the ad, titled "Honor," Jones tells the story of the battles at Little Round Top and Gettysburg, where Col. William Oates of Alabama and Col. Joshua Chamberlain of Maine led troops on opposing sides."
CA-GOV: "Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Sunday that he won't run for governor of California, ending speculation that he would scramble the Democratic field in the race to replace Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018."
OH-GOV: "The sole Democrat on the Ohio Supreme Court announced Sunday he will leave the bench to make a late entry into the race for governor next year," writes the Toledo Blade. "Justice William O'Neill's entry into the race comes after four other candidates had announced and were about to participate in their third debate in advance of next year's primary election."
NJ-SEN: Bob Menendez's lawyers are formally seeking a declaration of mistrial in his bribery case.
TN-SEN: Bob Corker, in an interview with a local news station: "[W]hen someone's acting like a bully, they kind of need to be punched in the nose and if you can add a little humor to it, it's okay."
VA-GOV: In POLITICO: "This year's Virginia governor's race, long a gentlemanly affair, is getting ugly. Democrat Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie have dropped all pretense of civility and are trading increasingly lurid attacks, looking for any advantage in the closely watched contest with nine days until voters head to the polls. Both parties see the race, one of just two gubernatorial campaigns in the country in 2017, as a key opportunity to demonstrate political momentum at the end of President Donald Trump's first year in the White House."