Good Monday morning. Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today.
• As President Trump and congressional leaders race to avert a partial government shutdown, one issue in particular is dividing them: Mr. Trump’s demand for $5 billion for a wall on the United States’ southern border. He is set to meet with Democratic leaders on Tuesday.
• In filings last week, prosecutors said Mr. Trump personally directed an illegal scheme to manipulate the 2016 election by silencing two women who say they had affairs with him. Mr. Trump and his team minimized the importance of any potential campaign finance violations. Democrats, however, said they could lead to impeachment.
• Since the early months of the Trump administration, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, has been having private, informal conversations with Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia. It has paid off well for the Saudis.
• Nick Ayers, Mr. Trump’s top choice to replace John F. Kelly as chief of staff, declined to take the job. He is expected to leave the administration in the coming weeks. Read more about the hunt for Mr. Kelly’s replacement.
• The political operative L. McCrae Dowless ran an operation in North Carolina that, despite his checkered past, drew little scrutiny — until he ended up in the middle of an election marred by fraud charges. Here’s a look at his past.
• The Democratic presidential contest has been jostled by a political threat that few contenders bothered considering until recently: Will a soon-to-be-former congressman who lost his recent Senate campaign upend their best-laid plans? Read about Beto O’Rourke, the 2020 wild card.
• Senator Cory Booker says he will decide about running for president over the coming holidays. But as he blitzed through New Hampshire on Saturday, he sounded less like a candidate in an early audition than one finishing a dress rehearsal. The state’s Democratic Party chair called Mr. Booker “the best friend New Hampshire Democrats had in 2018.”
• After the United States delivered an ultimatum to Russia last week that it was preparing to abandon a landmark weapons treaty, the specter of a nuclear arms race was widely seen as a rewind of the Cold War. But that encompasses only one slice of the problem — and perhaps the easiest part to manage.
• The U.S.-Mexico border wall is being fortified in Tijuana, Mexico, but residents aren’t preoccupied by it — even when it’s right in their backyards.
Today’s On Politics briefing was compiled by Noah Weiland in Washington.
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