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Russia, China, Iran Aim to Sway Elections, Officials Warn
First came the dire election warning. Minutes later, more Russian meddling charges

Intelligence and homeland security officials are concerned about election meddling — and not just by Russian President Vladimir Putin. China and Iran are also threats. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman with election interference just as top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies warned that Russia, China, and Iran are running influence campaigns seeking to sway American voters in the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential campaigns.

“We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China and other foreign actors, including Iran, to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment and government policies,” said the statement issued jointly by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. “These activities also may seek to influence voter perceptions and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections.”

Brat to Inmates: ‘You Think You’re Having a Hard Time...’
Opponent Abigail Spanberger calls his remarks ‘an affront’ to those struggling with addictions

Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At a listening session with inmates recovering from substance abuse this week, Rep. Dave Brat pivoted the conversation to his own re-election race.

“You think you’re having a hard time — I’ve got $5 million worth of negative ads coming at me,” the Virginia Republican said. “How do you think I’m feeling? Nothing’s easy. For anybody.”

House GOP Incumbents Spent Hundreds of Thousands in Legal Fees to Head Off Crises
Mia Love, Scott Taylor, Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter all face competitive races

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., spent nearly $185,000 in campaign money on legal fees in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At least six House Republicans combined to spend more than $325,000 in campaign funds in the most recent quarter alone on legal or crisis management fees related to brewing scandals that have wended their way into the court of public opinion — and, in some cases, real courtrooms.

New York Rep. Chris Collins, whom federal authorities indicted on Aug. 8 on 10 counts related to insider trading and securities fraud, shelled out $30,980.25 from his campaign account to the D.C.-based law firm BakerHostetler just three days later.

Scott Taylor Campaign Spends Thousands on Legal Fees, Still Paid Staffers in Petition Fraud Scandal
Taylor maintains he knew nothing but promised to fire any involved staffers

Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., leaves the Capitol after the last votes in the House before the Memorial Day recess on May 24, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The political scandal surrounding Virginia Rep. Scott Taylor’s campaign is still simmering as a state special prosecutor investigates allegations that four of Taylor’s campaign staffers and advisers forged dozens — possibly hundreds — of constituent signatures to help a third-party candidate onto the ballot this November.

The 2nd District Republican continued to pay the four staffers accused of committing the forgeries, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine, his third-quarter filing with the Federal Elections Commission shows.

You’d Think Samuel Beckett Was In Charge of Our Health Care
Finding a path forward for the Affordable Care Act has been like waiting for Godot

Estragon and Vladimir — above as portrayed in a 1978 French production of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” — were stuck in limbo. After waiting on Congress to act on health care, we all know how they feel, Hoagland writes. (Fernand Michaud/Gallica Digital Library)

OPINION — Finding bipartisan agreement in Congress on a path forward for the Affordable Care Act has been like waiting for Godot. Polls tracking Americans’ views have consistently shown an evenly divided public. No single public policy issue captures the country’s polarization better than the debate that has surrounded this law.

That doesn’t mean we have to settle for “nothing to be done.” Improving health insurance markets is a goal worth pursuing, and Republicans and Democrats at the state level are already showing us the way.

One Way to Fix the Child Care Crisis? Look to the Tax Law
‘Opportunity Zones’ incentive can help close the early childhood gap

A Chicago teacher works with kids as part of an early childhood education program. The “Opportunity Zones” incentive could help expand such programs across the country, Smith and Shaw write. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — America faces a mounting child care crisis. Too many families lack access to safe, affordable and high-quality care for their infants and toddlers. But a small but important provision in last year’s tax law, designed to spur investment in under-resourced communities, could provide an unlikely solution.

That solution comes in the form of a new economic development incentive known as Opportunity Zones. Under the tax law, investors will receive a steep reduction in taxes on their capital gains in exchange for substantial and long-term investment in low-income communities designated as Opportunity Zones. This tax incentive could be combined with others in the economic development toolkit, such as the New Markets Tax Credit and historic building preservation tax credits, to support a wide variety of investments in real estate and businesses.

Scalise: Threatening to ‘Stomp All Over’ Opponent’s Face Is ‘Unacceptable’
Majority whip criticizes Scott Wagner’s Facebook Live video

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., did not like Wagner's tough rhetoric. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise criticized a Republican candidate in Pennsylvania who threatened to “stomp all over” his opponent’s face while wearing golf spikes.

Scott Wagner, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, made the threats in a Facebook Live video Friday.

Grassley Wants to Raise $3 Million for Collins Amid Kavanaugh Backlash
Three progressive groups have raised more than $4 million in what Collins calls ‘quid pro quo’ for her vote

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, wants to raise $3 million to help re-elect Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Judiciary chairman who helped guide new associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh through his confirmation process, wants to raise $3 million to support the 2020 re-election campaign of the decisive Republican swing voter, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Collins’ re-election is a far way off considering voters are still roughly a month away from heading to the polls for the 2018 midterms. But a cadre of progressive groups has already crowdsourced more than $4.4 million to bolster Collins’ Democratic opponent in 2020, money it would have used to back Collins had she voted against Kavanaugh, who was confirmed on Saturday on a mostly party line vote, 50-48.

GOP Rep. Mark Walker Reported Bomb Threat to Capitol Police
Montana man behind the account, which has also levied false allegations against North Carolina rep

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., reported bomb threats and harassing information requests regarding his family to the U.S. Capitol Police. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mark Walker reported to the U.S. Capitol Police a Twitter user who has sent bizarre allegations and threatening messages to his campaign for more than a year, including a bombing reference and asking for information about his daughter’s school.

“After a number of threatening messages, including bombing references, mentions of Walker and his family, and attempts to locate the school his daughter attends, our staff sent the message contents to the Capitol Police,” Jack Minor, Walker’s campaign spokesman, told The News and Observer in Raleigh.