December 18, 2018

Even Sen. Sherrod Brown's (D-Ohio) barber thinks he's running.

The Ohio senator is known for easily hanging onto his Senate seat despite his state going nearly all red in the most recent midterm elections. He's also known for his uncombed curls, recently trimmed short by Ohio barber Carlo Sarti, Cleveland.com reports.

After the Democrat secured an easy victory in a now-red state last month, some suggested he'd be the ideal choice to take on President Trump in 2020. Brown seemed to hear them, and revealed he was "seriously" considering a run just days after the midterms. Brown soon debuted a shorter, less messy hairstyle, leading some — including Sarti — to say he looks like he's leaning toward a run.

Not necessarily, Brown's wife Connie Schultz soon said. Brown was just too busy for weekly haircuts, so he had Sarti cut it shorter, the Pulitzer-winning journalist tweeted. Sarti, though, told Cleveland.com that Brown "looks more like a candidate for president" after the trim. He also has a sense of Brown's bipartisan popularity: Sarti doesn't talk politics with customers, but "most of 'em" like Brown, he said. And regardless of how customers feel politically, they're excited when they see Brown in the shop, Sarti added.

Brown still hasn't confirmed if he'll seek the Democratic nomination, but rest assured, his haircuts at Carlo's cost far less than $400. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:23 a.m.

There's apparently a right way and a wrong way to get an ambassadorship out of a Trump campaign donation.

Doug Manchester, who spent two and a half years waiting for a confirmation hearing after President Trump nominated him to be the U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas, was recently pulled from the running for the role. But before that happened, it seems Manchester told the Republican National Committee he'd send over a hefty donation if it got his confirmation process moving, CBS News reports.

Manchester, like impeachment-embroiled U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, is a Trump supporter who donated $1 million to the president's inauguration fund. But unlike Sondland, Manchester's nomination never came to the Senate floor. He seemed to try and scoot it along by bringing a private jet full of supplies to the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian hit the islands where he has a house — something that earned tweeted praised from Trump. And three days later, the RNC asked him for another donation.

In an email, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel asked Manchester if he would "consider putting together $500,000 ... from your family," CBS News reports. Manchester wrote back saying "As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000." He then acknowledged that he'd passed a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote and said "we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote." "Once confirmed," his "family will respond" to the donation request, Manchester continued.

An RNC spokesperson said the committee wasn't suggesting a donation would speed Manchester's confirmation and called his suggestion otherwise "totally inappropriate." Manchester also told CBS News that wasn't his or his wife's intentions with the donation. Read more at CBS News. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:43 a.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had an up-and-down weekend.

Her Democratic presidential campaign received a helpful endorsement, but reports of internal strife led to questions about the future of her White House bid. And while she reportedly received some hearty support during her speech at the California Democratic convention on Saturday, some strategists in her home state think the clock is ticking for the senator, who was once considered a serious contender for the nomination, Politico reports.

"Of course she should get out," said one leading Democratic strategist who declined to speak on the record. "But who's gonna tell her?"

Harris is struggling in the polls, but has reportedly told California insiders that she's not planning on dropping out of the race at least until after the Iowa caucus. But there are fears that even that could be too late and harm her reputation in the long run. "It's not happening," a leading grassroots organizer told Politico on the condition of anonymity. "She has her chance [to leave the race] ... she should take it."

One person who isn't buying the rumors of Harris' demise is California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who felt no need to speak anonymously and said he thinks there's still time and space for the senator to get back in the race. "She's too talented to be dismissed — she's too capable," he said. Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

9:28 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants President Trump to testify in the impeachment inquiry, and he's not shooting down the idea.

Pelosi on Sunday invited Trump to testify in the ongoing probe focused on whether he abused his power by pushing Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, with the Democratic leader saying he "could come right before the committee and talk, speak all the truth that he wants if he wants" and "could do it in writing."

In a tweet Monday morning, Trump at first lashed out at Pelosi, only to actually decide this isn't such a bad idea after all, promising he will "strongly consider" testifying.

Still, many were skeptical that Trump's supposed consideration will actually lead to anything, especially after he said he "wanted" to sit down for an interview with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, only to never do so. Mueller later testified that his team spent more than a year negotiating for an interview with the president but had "little success." Trump, instead, provided written answers to Mueller, but the former special counsel told Congress this was "certainly not as useful as the interview would be."

Regardless of whether this testimony will ultimately happen, though, Politico's Jake Sherman asked "how long Dems will give the president to do this" and wondered "could this delay their probe," also writing that "whether he does or not, there's an argument now they have to give him a reasonable timetable." Brendan Morrow

9:10 a.m.

Former White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told a group of bankers in Miami two weeks ago that his former boss President Trump "believes his personal chemistry with foreign leaders, including authoritarians like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, means that the U.S. relationship with those countries is a positive one," Axios reported last week. If that's the case, America's relationship with North Korea is ... complicated.

Kim has set a year-end deadline for a breakthrough in the U.S.-North Korea nuclear talks, and Trump tweeted Sunday that Kim "should act quickly, get the deal done." U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that the U.S. had indefinitely scrapped joint military exercises with South Korea as an "act of goodwill" toward Pyongyang to create space for diplomacy.

On Monday, North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan poured cold water on the Trump administration's outreach. "The U.S. only seeks to earn time, pretending it has made progress" with North Korea, he said. "We are no longer interested in such talks that bring nothing to us. As we have got nothing in return, we will no longer gift the U.S. president with something he can boast of."

North Korea has been ramping up its missile tests and publicizing its military drills. It's not clear what Kim is willing to put on the table, but along with suspending the joint military exercises with Seoul, Trump has asked Tokyo to pay four times as much to host U.S. troops in Japan and demanded that South Korea pay nearly five times as much, Foreign Policy and Reuters report. Bolton delivered the news in July.

"This kind of demand, not only the exorbitant number, but the way it is being done, could trigger anti-Americanism" in close allies, Bruce Klingner at the Heritage Foundation tells Foreign Policy. "If you weaken alliances, and potentially decrease deterrence and U.S. troop presence, that benefits North Korea, China, and Russia who see the potential for reduced U.S. influence and support for our allies." Peter Weber

8:31 a.m.

Most Americans are closely following the public impeachment hearings and believe the actions by President Trump that spawned them were wrong, a new poll has found.

In an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Monday, 70 percent of Americans said they believe Trump's actions tied to Ukraine were wrong. This comes after the first week of public hearings in the official impeachment inquiry, which is examining Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Of the 70 percent who say Trump's actions at the center of the inquiry were wrong, 51 percent say he should be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office by the Senate for them, while 13 percent believe his actions were wrong but don't support impeachment and removal, and another six percent believe they were wrong and support impeachment but not removal. Twenty-five percent of Americans believe Trump's actions weren't wrong.

Asked how closely they've been following the House's impeachment hearings, 37 percent said they've been following them somewhat closely, while 21 percent said they've been following very closely. Forty-two percent said they aren't following them that closely or closely at all. Twenty-one percent of those polled also said they made up their mind about whether Trump should be impeached and removed following this first public week of hearings, although 78 percent of those polled had already decided before the public hearings began, including 32 percent who had their mind made up prior to September, when the news about the whistleblower complaint concerning Trump's Ukraine actions was reported.

The ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by speaking to a random national sample of 506 adults on Nov. 16 and Nov. 17. The margin of error is 4.8 percentage points. Read more at ABC News. Brendan Morrow

7:15 a.m.

Ford on Sunday unveiled its all-electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E, an SUV based on the automaker's new EV architecture. The Mach-E marks an attempt to expand the appeal of the iconic Mustang and lure in a new generation of buyers. The Mach-E is the first Mustang that isn't a two-door sports car.

The vehicle, with a starting price of about $44,000, is part of Ford's $11 billion effort to introduce 40 new electric and hybrid models by 2022, reports CNBC. Ford said the Mach-E would get 210 miles to 300-plus miles on a charge, depending on the battery option. The Mach-E's performance and price will rival Tesla's Model Y SUV. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said the Mach-E also will have the company's new hands-free driver assist system, similar to Tesla's Autopilot and Cadillac's Super Cruise systems. Harold Maass

7:12 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday said that President Trump was welcome to testify in the House impeachment inquiry. If Trump has information to clear himself "then we look forward to seeing it," she said on CBS' Face the Nation. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said if Trump wants to counter testimony suggesting he abused his power by withholding military aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating Democrats, "He should come to the committee and testify under oath. And he should allow all those around him to come to the committee and testify under oath," The Associated Press reports. The remarks came ahead of the House Intelligence Committee's second week of public impeachment hearings. Trump's ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, is one of the people due to appear this week. Harold Maass

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