The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and happy Tuesday! This daily email gets you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. (CLICK HERE to subscribe!) Alexis Simendinger is working solo for a spell while newsletter partner Jonathan Easley enjoys some R&R. Find her on Twitter @asimendinger.  



Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who accuses him of sexual misconduct at a party when they were teenagers will each testify publicly before senators on Monday in what will be one of the most closely watched hearings in decades

 

The hastily organized hearing – with President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorsi sues Mueller for alleged leaks and illegal surveillance Comey: Trump 'certainly close' to being unindicted co-conspirator Trump pushes back on reports that Ayers was first pick for chief of staff MORE’s blessing while he continues to back his nominee – could prove pivotal to Kavanaugh's confirmation, which was all but assumed in Washington until Christine Blasey Ford came forward publicly with her accusations on Sunday.

 

The White House said, “Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to a hearing where he can clear his name of this false allegation.”

 

Trump said he believes Democrats should have brought Ford’s complaint forward earlier, but said a pause in the process to explore the allegations was not a worry.

 

“Most importantly I want the American people to be happy because they’re getting somebody that is great. I want him to go in at the absolute highest level,” the president said. “And I think to do that you have to go through this. If it takes a little delay it'll take a little delay.”

 

The Hill: Judiciary Committee hearing to give allegations “a full airing,” Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care: House set to vote on bill targeting drug companies for overcharging Medicaid | Dems press Trump officials on pre-existing conditions | Tobacco giant invests .8B in Canadian marijuana grower House set to vote on bill cracking down on drug companies overcharging Medicaid Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Iowa) announced.

 

In truth, Trump and Senate Republicans had little choice. Senators on both sides of the aisle called for a public procedure to explore Ford’s detailed allegations and Kavanaugh’s forceful denials before they decide whether a 53-year-old appellate judge joins the nation’s highest court for a lifetime appointment.

 

The GOP does not at the moment have the committed votes to confirm Kavanaugh while Ford’s accusations hang in the air. And it is possible the nominee may not have the votes for confirmation following Monday’s hearing.

 

 

 

 

Kavanaugh visited the White House on Monday and reportedly hired a lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, of the firm Wilkinson Walsh and Eskovitz.

 

Senate Democrats, sensing an opening to block the conservative nominee, demanded an FBI investigation of Ford’s allegations and evidence (The Associated Press).

 

“This has to be done by an independent outside body.” – Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerPush to pay congressional interns an hour gains traction with progressives House approves two-week spending measure to avert shutdown Manchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives MORE (D-N.Y.)

 

But there’s a wrinkle: That direction has to come from the White House, and as of late Monday, it had not (Bloomberg). Kavanaugh’s defenders say he’s undergone six FBI background investigations during his government career, turning up no allegations of misconduct.

 

Upshot: The White House and Senate Republicans worry that in the near term, the Kavanaugh controversy could hurt GOP candidates this fall, especially as they reach out to female voters.

 

House and Senate candidates were thrown a curve ball with the sexual assault allegations. Many GOP candidates, who have to balance party pressures along with their appeals to suburban female voters, are stepping gingerly (The Hill).

 

Here’s one overnight example showing how Kavanaugh’s nomination has sharpened into a partisan and gender-based fault line on the trail: Janet Garrett, the Democratic challenger in Ohio’s 4th Congressional District facing Republican Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanComey’s confession: dossier not verified before, or after, FISA warrant Republicans missed best shot on keeping promise to cut spending Three Republicans battle to succeed Meadows at House Freedom Caucus MORE, leaped to assail the Freedom Caucus conservative for comments he made on Monday at a local Rotary Club that appeared to dismiss Ford’s account and support Kavanaugh’s denials prior to Monday’s Senate testimony.

 

“I shouldn't be surprised the man who opposes the Violence Against Women Act would rush to defend an accused assailant before his accuser gets a fair hearing,” Garrett said in a statement.

 

Perspectives:

Niall Stanage: Kavanaugh firestorm consumes the political world.

Alexandra Petri: Every man should be worried. If boys cannot be boys, then how can boys be men who rise to the highest offices in the land?

Michelle Goldberg: Kavanaugh’s accuser is credible. Will it matter?

Michael Gerson: Kavanaugh’s nomination hangs by the thinnest of strings.

David French: If there isn’t any corroboration or external evidence outside of Christine Ford’s three-decades-old recollections, that’s simply not sufficient basis for derailing the nomination of an outstanding jurist.

The New York Times editorial board: #BrettToo?





LEADING THE DAY

DISASTROUS WEATHER: Florence’s flooding continued to wallop North and South Carolina on Monday, and the death toll this morning was at least 32 in three states. The costs in the Carolinas could reach $22 billion, analysts said, and other states sustained damages, as well.

 

The North Carolina Department of Transportation reported 1,200 road closures because of high water and debris on Monday. Close to half a million people in the region were without power at midday. Rivers already swollen well above their banks kept rising, and temporary berms collapsed.

 

The city of Wilmington, N.C., with a population of about 120,000, was cut off by rising waters before a route was established to deliver handouts of food and supplies to residents, beginning this morning (The Associated Press).

 

Duke Energy Co.’s Brunswick nuclear power plant, about 30 miles south of Wilmington and 4 miles inland, declared a state of emergency Monday, with no threat to public safety, as flood waters made the location impassable, either in or out. The plant declared an “unusual event,” the lowest level of nuclear emergency (The News & Observer).

Federal officials said environmental hazards had begun to materialize in the Carolinas. Overwhelmed sewer systems are releasing untreated or partially treated water into floodwaters, neighborhoods and some structures (The Washington Post).

Evacuees are shelter-hopping as county shelters located in schools prepare to reopen and the American Red Cross shelters had to consolidate people flooded out of their homes. In some areas, North Carolina’s governor, pointing to the rising number of fatalities, pleaded with people on Monday not to attempt to return home just yet (The Herald Sun).

“This is a monumental disaster for our state.” – North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D)

 

 

 

 

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CONGRESS: Investigations: Responding to entreaties from House conservatives to release information tied to the Department of Justice’s handling of the Russia probe, Trump on Monday ordered the declassification of additional documents and text messages he believes can bolster his assertion that former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyComey: Trump 'certainly close' to being unindicted co-conspirator NRCC breach exposes gaps 2 years after Russia hacks Trump lashes out at Comey over House testimony: 'All lies!' MORE, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeComey reveals new details on Russia probe during House testimony Comey’s confession: dossier not verified before, or after, FISA warrant McCabe, Rosenstein opened obstruction probe after Trump fired Comey, before Mueller was hired: report MORE, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok, and Justice official Bruce Ohr took investigatory steps that were politically biased against his candidacy in 2016 (The Hill).

 

The president ordered the release of a secret federal court order that approved surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI, the intelligence community and the Justice Department’s watchdog previously denied there is evidence that political bias influenced investigatory or management decisions as part of the department’s Russia probe

 

Meanwhile, Bruce Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, who worked for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, may testify in closed session before GOP House investigators as early as Friday (The Hill).

 

> Congress has tackled the national opioid crisis in legislative waves. On Monday, the Senate passed a sweeping, bipartisan package to combat the problem by helping halt certain prescription painkillers from entering the United States, including by mail from China, and backing more treatment programs for addicts. The House passed a similar measure in June, and the two measures must be reconciled before heading to Trump’s desk. Congress approved $4.7 billion to deal with the opioid crisis in an omnibus budget bill approved in March, and an additional $3.7 billion may be appropriated for fiscal 2019 (The Hill).

 

 > Yemen: Lawmakers are planning their next steps to curtail or cut off U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war after the Trump administration sidestepped their last effort (The Hill).



IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Trump is expected to campaign in Las Vegas on Thursday and in Springfield, Mo., on Friday. In Nevada, the president is stumping for GOP Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerWhite House jumps into fight over energy subsidies One last fight for Sen. Orrin Hatch Trump threatens to cut federal incentives for GM’s electric cars MORE’s reelection (Las Vegas Review-Journal), in a race that’s neck-and-neck against challenger Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenSchumer walking tightrope with committee assignments 10 things we learned from the midterms Election Countdown: Florida fight ends with Scott, DeSantis wins | Dems see Sunbelt in play for 2020 | Trump to campaign in Mississippi ahead of runoff | GOP wipeout in Orange County | Ortiz Jones concedes in Texas House race MORE (D) (The Hill).

 

And Trump’s trip to the Show Me State is seen as a boost to Attorney General Josh Hawley, seeking to unseat Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri GOP Secretary of State launches investigation into Hawley’s time as AG The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress to act soon to avoid shutdown Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive MORE (Fox2Now).

 

> Money and politics in 2018: The Hill’s Reid Wilson unpacks the big-money groups backing House and Senate campaigns this cycle, and what their masterminds expect  this fall (The Hill).

 

> House Democrats aspire: A handful of progressives on the House Intelligence Committee see their expertise with intelligence and the Russia probe (and the news media exposure) as a potential launching pad to higher office. Included in that group: Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDems have new moniker for Trump: ‘Unindicted co-conspirator' Schiff: Trump may face ‘real prospect of jail time’ Sunday shows preview: Trade talks, Cohen sentencing memo take center stage MORE (D-Calif.) (The Hill).

 

> 2020: Is the Democratic presidential primary in two years big enough for Vermont’s Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress digs in for prolonged Saudi battle Santorum: Dems have a chance in 2020 if they pick someone ‘unexpected’ Dems have new moniker for Trump: ‘Unindicted co-conspirator' MORE, an independent, and Massachusetts liberal Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats wise to proceed cautiously on immigration Strategist behind Warren's political rise to meet with O'Rourke: report Warren fell for ‘Trump trap’ with DNA test, says progressive MORE? "They could cancel each other out," one Sanders ally suggested (The Hill).

 

> 2020 (a growing Democratic field): Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he might run for the White House as a Democrat, but The New York Times reports that his positions may be out of sync with progressives in 2018 … Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor of Virginia and former Democratic National Committee chairman, is in Des Moines, Iowa, today, trying to energize progressives with his view that they cannot afford “to sit on the sidelines when the heart and soul of our country is on the line” (WTOP).

 

> Senate polling: Democrats hold an advantage in two states that are critical to the party's chances of taking control of the Senate, according to a new CNN poll. The survey shows Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and former Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee leading their respective Republican opponents for open seats (CNN). Sinema tops Republican Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMaine’s 2nd District outcome proves value of ranked choice voting Arizona airport says Trump campaign owes K from October rally The 5 most competitive Senate races of 2020 MORE by 7 points, and Bredesen holds a 5-point edge over Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnCorker: Saudi Crown Prince is ‘out of control’ Corker: Trump governs by using ‘anger’ and ‘hate’ Tennessee New Members 2019 MORE (R).

 

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INTERNATIONAL: China: Following months of buildup, Trump escalated his trade war with Beijing on Monday, saying the United States would impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods and was prepared to tax all imports. The president said he was prepared to “immediately” place tariffs on another $267 billion worth of imports “if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries” (The New York Times). Beijing officials, who have been in and out of trade talks with the administration, vow to retaliate.

 

U.S. refugee policy: The administration on Monday lowered its cap on international refugees who can resettle in the United States next year, shifting the emphasis to providing U.S. aid in locations near refugees’ home countries. Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race Paul calls Trump's pick for attorney general's views on surveillance 'very troubling' Focus on Yemen, not the Saudi crown prince MORE said the United States will limit entry to 30,000 refugees next year, or 15,000 fewer than in 2018 (Reuters). Advocates for refugees say the administration’s goal is not national security but rather immigration limits, arguing the United States is accepting fewer refugees than the lowered caps suggest (NBC News).

 

North Korea: Beginning Tuesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets in Pyongyang during a three-day summit to discuss “practical measures” toward denuclearization (The Economist) … After a summer of challenges and false starts, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are also expected to hold talks on a declaration to formally end the Korean War, more than six decades after fighting was halted by an armistice (The Wall Street Journal).  

 

Russia: The Trump administration sternly rebuked Russia on two fronts on Monday. Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyJohn Kelly to leave White House at year's end Heather Nauert is the wrong choice for UN ambassador Overnight Defense: Nauert tapped for UN envoy | Trump teases changes to Joint Chiefs of Staff | Trump knocks Tillerson as 'dumb as a rock' | Scathing report details Air Force failures before Texas shooting MORE, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, accused Moscow of trying to weaken international resolve against North Korea, while Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump, in reversal, calls for Pentagon to raise budget request to 0B: reports Rubio: We don’t need direct evidence crown prince ‘ordered the code red’ on Khashoggi killing Kushner advised Saudi crown prince after Khashoggi killing: report MORE, traveling in Macedonia, condemned Russia’s efforts to build opposition to an upcoming vote that could pave the way for Macedonia to join NATO, a move Moscow opposes. Haley, at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, accused Russia of “actively working to undermine the enforcement of Security Council sanctions” (The Wall Street Journal). And Mattis said Russia “transferred money, and they’re also conducting broader influence campaigns” to meddle in the Macedonian vote (The Associated Press).

U.N. General Assembly: More than 140 world leaders will gather in New York beginning Tuesday for the opening of the annual assembly, but Trump is not expected to attend until next week. All eyes are on the president. The United States currently holds the monthly rotating chair of the Security Council, and this would be Trump’s first time wielding the U.N. gavel (CBS News). Vice President Pence is expected to attend bilateral meetings, events and dinners during the general assembly from Sept. 24-26.



The Morning Report is created by journalists Jonathan Easley jeasley@thehill.com & Alexis Simendinger asimendinger@thehill.com. Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!



OPINION

Accusations against Kavanaugh call for a full investigation, by David M. Shapiro, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2NRa5Ab

 

Republicans should not allow the hit on Kavanaugh to succeed, by Buck Sexton, co-host of “Rising” on Hill.TV. https://bit.ly/2xt095U



WHERE AND WHEN

The House is out this week.

 

The Senate meets at 10 a.m. and resumes consideration of the conference report that accompanies the fiscal 2019 appropriations measure covering the Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education departments. … Among committee action beginning at 10 a.m. today: Foreign Relations, on the status of U.S.-Russia arms control efforts as well as consideration of nominees; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, on "The Implications of the Reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement for Border Security and Illegal Immigration Incentives”; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, on "Reducing Health Care Costs: Examining How Transparency Can Lower Spending and Empower Patients."

 

The president signs a Biodefense National Security memorandum. Later he and Melania TrumpMelania TrumpJohn Kelly was always doomed to fail as chief of staff Trump to help impoverished nations educate their children Internet gambling addiction is a looming crisis MORE welcome Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda to the White House this afternoon. The two presidents will have a working lunch and hold a joint press conference at 2:10 p.m. At 3 p.m., Trump meets with Pompeo.

 

Treasury Assistant Secretary Heath Tarbert speaks at 9 a.m. about “National Security and International Trade: Investments, Sanctions and the Future of Export Controls”  to the Washington International Trade Association, meeting at Washington’s Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

 

Yom Kippur begins Tuesday evening and ends Wednesday evening.



ELSEWHERE

> Politics: American democracy is in crisis, by Hillary Rodham Clinton (The Atlantic)

 

> Products: Coca-Cola eyes the marijuana-infused beverage market (Reuters).

 

> Children: About one out of every three foster children in the United States may be administered powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, according to a report released on Monday by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office. Children in foster care are much more likely to receive psychiatric drugs than children overall (The Associated Press).



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THE CLOSER

And finally … The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that the Supreme Court confirmation of September 2018 looks a lot like a sequel to the October 1991 drama in which Clarence Thomas denied the sexually explicit harassment allegations of his former colleague, law professor Anita Hill (The Hill).

 

Hill described her experiences in detail and under oath beginning on Oct. 11, and by Oct. 15, the Senate confirmed Thomas by a vote of 52-48, the narrowest margin of approval in more than a century.

 

At the time, Americans overwhelmingly said they believed Thomas rather than Hill (48 percent vs. 29 percent), according to Gallup (CNN). That debate has never quite settled, however, and the politics of gender, “Me Too,” and our collective and intimate discoveries about the behavior of too many men in high places have come a long way.

 

The New York Times: Echoes of Anita Hill, but in a different era for women.