POLITICO Playbook PM: A Covid relief deal looks likelier than ever. A law, not so much

THE HUMAN YO-YO HAS BOUNCED BACK UP: President DONALD TRUMP now desperately wants a Covid relief deal, and his White House seems to be trying to make it happen for him.

BUT Senate Majority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL said today in Kentucky he thinks it is very unlikely something will get done in the next three weeks — and that explains the tension here.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS and Hill sources tell us that they plan to work through this weekend, all next week and possibly next weekend to get a deal.

WHO KNOWS WHY TRUMP WANTS THIS. He may want noise to fill the silence. Maybe he wants a bump in the stock market. We’re not mood readers or psychiatrists or psychics. This deal could’ve been cut 90 times between May and now.

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS WE PICKED UP ON this morning, which are likely to be represented in an offer we’re told the administration will transmit to Speaker NANCY PELOSI today:

— THE WHITE HOUSE’S top-line number is $1.8 trillion. The line the GOP can’t cross is $2 trillion. All depends on the details, but this is now significantly higher than the GOP’s previous top line, which was $1.5 trillion.

— THE ADMINISTRATION is aiming for $300 billion in state and local funding. Too low for Democrats, but in the right direction. The GOP will have to come up here. Also, there’s unspent money that could be counted.

— THEY WANT TO TRY TO REPLACE the Earned Income Tax Credit with a boost in stimulus payments. We’re not clear here on the details, but it shows that the GOP is looking to close up an unresolved element of the negotiations.

BUT HERE ARE THE PROBLEMS: Lots of details are still not worked out. And Republicans on Capitol Hill are going to hate this. It’s going to be hard to get through the House with many Republican votes, and it could land in the Senate as late as the end of this month or on the doorstep of early November. What do they do with a bill at that point? Probably ignore it.

CASE IN POINT — MCCONNELL today in BULLEIT COUNTY, KY.: “The situation is kind of murky, and I think the murkiness is a result of the proximity to the election and everybody kind of trying to elbow for political advantage. I’d like to see us rise above that like we did back in March and April, but I think that’s unlikely in the next three weeks.” More from Marianne LeVine

TAKEAWAY: DEAL, more likely than ever. A deal means MNUCHIN and PELOSI say they have reached a deal. AN ACTUAL LAW: Not terribly likely pre-election.

THERE IS A SPLIT MINDSHARE IN D.C.: Will MCCONNELL accede to the White House no matter the deal? Or will he hold his own, and decide for himself? ANY DEAL will have to have 30 GOP yes votes in the Senate.

LATEST NYT BOMBSHELL — “Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 As Campaign Funds Dwindled,” by Susanne Craig, Mike McIntire and Russ Buettner: “[T]he president’s long-hidden tax records, obtained by The New York Times, also reveal this: how he engineered a sudden financial windfall — more than $21 million in what experts describe as highly unusual one-off payments from the Las Vegas hotel he owns with his friend the casino mogul Phil Ruffin. …

“The tax records, by their nature, do not specify whether the more than $21 million in payments from the Trump-Ruffin hotel helped prop up Mr. Trump’s campaign, his businesses or both. But they do show how the cash flowed, in a chain of transactions, to several Trump-controlled companies and then directly to Mr. Trump himself.”

VALLEY TALK — “Twitter upends retweets in bid to stop spread of election misinformation,” by Nancy Scola

Happy Friday afternoon.

SAD NEWS: K Street hot spot Tosca is closing until spring 2021. The restaurant sent an email announcing the decision: “We are planning to reopen in the Spring with a fresh new look and an exciting menu; while keeping the original front of house staff that makes Tosca so special.”

FOX NEWS’ MARC SIEGEL — the network’s frequent guest doctor/commentator — will air an on-camera interview with TRUMP tonight at 8 p.m. on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” the president’s first since contracting the virus. NOTABLE: “Marc Siegel will conduct a medical evaluation and interview during the program.”

REP. MIKE BOST (R-Ill.) has Covid-19.

VP MIKE PENCE will be in Florida on Saturday for a bus tour.

WHO GETS TO VOTE — “Florida voter registration won’t be extended; judge rips state,” by Gary Fineout in Tallahassee: “A federal judge declined to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline, but not before ripping into Republican officials over the state’s repeated problems handling elections. …

“[Mark] Walker called his decision an ‘incredibly close call,’ but said he didn’t [want] to issue an order that would overwhelm local election supervisors less than a week before a presidential election … Seven civil rights and voting rights groups sued to extend the state’s Oct. 5 deadline after the online registration portal crashed on Monday amid heavy traffic.”

ELECTION SECURITY — “Intelligence chief briefed lawmakers of foreign influence threats to Congress,” by The Hill’s Olivia Beavers: “Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe led intelligence officials [last month] in separately briefing the House and Senate Intelligence panels behind closed doors on the threats, informing lawmakers that the burgeoning foreign influence threat is being perpetrated by the usual suspects: China, Russia and Iran, though he indicated that Beijing was the primary aggressor.

“Ratcliffe gave ballpark estimates of how many lawmakers have been targeted, suggesting it is from the dozens to roughly 50. But in the briefings, he declined to identify which members of Congress were the targets and he did not indicate if one party was being more heavily targeted than the other.” The Hill

WAPO’S SARAH ELLISON and JOSH DAWSEY go deep: “Hope Hicks returned to the White House to pull Trump across the finish line. Then coronavirus hit.”

THE BARRETT NOMINATION — “Barrett disclosure did not include work for troubled hospital group,” by NBC’s Heidi Przybyla: “U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett did not include on her Senate Judiciary disclosure forms a notable case in which she was one of two lead attorneys: defending a Pittsburgh steel magnate accused of helping drive a major Pennsylvania Hospital System into bankruptcy.” NBC

THE DURHAM INVESTIGATION — “Trump, Barr at odds over slow pace of Durham investigation,” by AP’s Michael Balsamo, Zeke Miller and Eric Tucker: “President Donald Trump is increasingly at odds with Attorney General William Barr over the status of the Justice Department’s investigation into the origin of the Russia probe, with the president growing ever more critical about a lack of arrests and Barr frustrated by Trump’s public pronouncements about the case, according to people familiar with the matter. …

“[A] year and a half into the investigation, and with less than one month until Election Day, there has been only one criminal case: a former FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering a government email about a former Trump campaign adviser who was a target of secret FBI surveillance. And there are no signs that the case will be completed by the election. With time running out for pre-election action on the case, Trump is increasingly airing his dissatisfaction in tweets and television appearances. Barr, meanwhile, has privately expressed frustration over the public comments, according to a person familiar with his thinking.” AP

SWING-STATE DISPATCHES — “Las Vegas Economy, Crippled by Coronavirus, Plays Key Role in Presidential Race,” by WSJ’s Eliza Collins and Katherine Sayre in Las Vegas: “Interviews here found some locals aim their frustrations over the economic turmoil at Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat whose closures of businesses and limits on public gatherings remained in place longer than in some other states. … Others said that they blame Mr. Trump …

“Unlike the Trump campaign, which had volunteers going door to door for months, the Biden campaign was mostly virtual until this month. Still, campaign advisers said Democrats have built an organizing edge here over several election cycles and expanded their ranks at the local and state level. A large part of that is because of the support of the Culinary Union, which was canvassing in person even when the Biden campaign was only doing so online.” WSJ

— NBC: “‘Not just politics’: How the 2020 campaign is dividing Houston’s booming suburbs: As Democrats gain ground in suburban communities, Trump warns of crime and destruction. Neighborhoods like Prestonwood Forest are caught in the middle,” by Mike Hixenbaugh in Houston

— “Strong or shaky? Black voter turnout for Biden in these 3 Midwestern cities viewed as key in race vs. Trump,” by the Chicago Tribune’s Bill Ruthhart in Detroit: “So far, party leaders and Biden’s African American surrogates in the three cities are projecting confidence that their voter outreach efforts will deliver … But interviews with more than 60 Black local elected officials, religious leaders, grassroots organizers and voters in visits to all three cities reflect a shakier situation — one where there is often little enthusiasm among African American voters for Biden and prevalent concerns that the campaign has to do more to improve turnout.”

READ ON FOR THE GADDAFI ANECDOTE … “Trump got a $21 million tax break for saving the forest outside his NY mansion. Now the deal is under investigation,” by WaPo’s Joshua Partlow, Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold: “In exchange for setting aside this land on his estate known as Seven Springs, Trump received a tax break of $21.1 million, according to court documents. The size of Trump’s tax windfall was set by a 2016 appraisal that valued Seven Springs at $56.5 million — more than double the value assessed by the three Westchester county towns that each contained a piece of the property.

“The valuation has now become a focal point of what could be one of the most consequential investigations facing President Trump as he heads into the election. New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of Seven Springs as part of the conservation easement on the property … The Seven Springs appraisal, obtained by The Washington Post, appears to have relied on unsupported assertions and misleading conclusions.” WaPo

DEEP DIVE — “An American journalist was murdered in Turkey. Why didn’t the U.S. investigate?” by ABC’s Fariba Nawa, James Gordon Meek, Aaron Glantz, Pete Madden and Chris Harland-Dunaway: “Halla Barakat and her mother, Orouba Barakat, devoted their lives to dangerous work. Halla, 23, was a reporter working for two news outlets in Turkey, where she covered the civil war in Syria that had forced millions of refugees to flee across the border. Orouba, 62, was a journalist-turned-activist, a fierce critic of ISIS and of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad …

“When the Barakats were killed in September 2017 in a brutal double murder in Istanbul that sparked headlines around the world, their family, friends and colleagues suspected that their work may have threatened powerful figures with the motive and means to silence them. … [R]ecords obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, filed by Reveal, show that despite assurances from officials in the White House National Security Council and U.S. Department of State to the contrary, the FBI never opened a case.”

2021 MANEUVERING — “Amid jostling for Biden energy roles, New Mexicans stake claim on Interior,” by Anthony Adragna and Ben Lefebvre: “The state’s Rep. Deb Haaland and Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have become increasingly visible in pitching themselves as potential heads of the Interior Department.”

THE FOX NEWS PRESIDENCY — “Conservative Activist Grabbed Trump’s Eye on Diversity Training,” by WSJ’s Paul Kiernan: “On Sept. 1, conservative activist Christopher Rufo appeared on television to discuss his work against an academic concept called ‘critical race theory.’ … White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called Mr. Rufo the morning after the TV program and asked him to share his findings, saying President Trump had watched it …

“Two days later, on Sept. 4, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a memo instructing all federal agencies ‘to begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or any other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests…that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or…that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.’” WSJ

WHERE WE’RE HEADED — “How the ‘QAnon Candidate’ Marjorie Taylor Greene Reached the Doorstep of Congress,” by The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea

WHITE HOUSE PROMOTIONS — Tim Pataki, director of the Office of Public Liaison, Brian Jack, director of political affairs, and Doug Hoelscher, director of intergovernmental affairs, have all been named assistants to the president. They previously were deputy assistants to the president.

BONUS BIRTHDAY: Former Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) is 53 (h/t John Barrow)

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