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The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify

The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify
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Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and TGIF! 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.

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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford both signaled on Thursday their willingness to testify about their clashing recollections of an alleged assault when they were both teenagers.

The date on which they will speak to senators remained uncertain, and the political jockeying in Washington continued to add to a week of speculation and high drama.

Ford, through her attorney, told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump officials ratchet up drug pricing fight Dems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October American Bar Association dropping Kavanaugh review MORE (R-Iowa) that she is prepared to testify, apparently without an FBI investigation she had requested. But she said it was “not possible” to appear on Monday, which was the hearing date set by the committee (The Hill). 

During discussions with Senate staff members in the evening, Ford’s attorney proposed that her client testify on Thursday, following Kavanaugh’s testimony and without having to be in the same room with the nominee (The Hill). She’s also opposed to being questioned by a counsel rather than senators, an option weighed by Republicans to avoid the optics of relying on a male-only lineup among the Judiciary Committee’s majority.

Ford’s requests were another twist in a negotiation process with Senate Republicans that has tried their patience and angered Democrats who think Ford is being unfairly pressured. Members of the Senate majority have said they would proceed to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination if his accuser declines to come before the committee (The New York Times).

Kavanaugh, who vigorously denies groping and forcibly pinning Ford down during a party at a private home in Maryland in the 1980s, wrote to Grassley late on Thursday to say he plans to appear on Monday and will testify to “clear my name” (The Hill).

“I will be there,” he said.

That schedule, however, is in flux.

The Washington Post: Ford debunks conjecture floated by a Kavanaugh advocate about mistaken identity and a possible look-alike attacker.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE, campaigning in Las Vegas Thursday night, praised his nominee as a “fine, fine person” and “a great gentleman,” adding, “We’re going to get Brett.”

Key figures in the controversy indicate they, their families or staffs have received ominous condemnations from strangers who have not waited to hear more before expressing opinions about whether Kavanaugh or Ford is a victim or victimizer. Kavanaugh’s accuser has turned over to the FBI threats made against her and her family.

USA Today: Death threats target families of Kavanaugh, Ford.

Following the assault allegations against the appellate court judge, polls showed little change in public opinion about Kavanaugh’s nomination (The Hill). But an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released on Thursday found more Americans now oppose his appointment to the high court than support it.

The New York Times: California Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein would 'absolutely' reopen Kavanaugh investigation if Dems win Senate Feinstein’s Dem challenger: 'It’s time that we stop biding our time and biting our tongue' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is under siege.



 

 



LEADING THE DAY

WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The Trump administration on Thursday confirmed that the United States will respond to cyberattacks with offensive actions against foreign adversaries – initiating cyberattacks as a form of deterrence. The official cyber strategy, signed by the president, is a more aggressive approach to cyber threats globally. White House national security adviser John Bolton said launching cyberattacks against actors in, or sponsored by, other nations will prevent those adversaries from attacking the U.S. in the first place (The Hill). 

> Spending: Trump lambasted congressional Republicans for not delivering on his request for border-wall funding as part of short-term spending bill passed by the Senate, raising questions about whether he would force a government shutdown at the end of the month, or was merely communicating to his base (The Washington Post). 

At his Nevada rally, the president said he was unhappy with appropriations approved to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico, but said he had been reassured by lawmakers that more funding would emerge “after the election...let’s see what they produce.”

 

 

 

> United Nations General Assembly: Trump next week will hold bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly annual gathering in New York with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom, the White House said.

> State Department: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US State Dept. denies report Pompeo heard recording of Khashoggi's murder The Memo: Saudi storm darkens for Trump MORE is a stickler for the correct placement of commas. Read without pause (CNN).

 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: “Promise me, you gotta get out for the midterms. Don’t be complacent...everybody’s gotta go out and vote,” Trump told a cheering Nevada audience. 

Trump was there on Thursday to help vulnerable Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerPoll: Dems lead in Indiana, West Virginia Senate races, tied in Nevada Poll:Majority of voters say health care 'very important' to them in midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (R), among other GOP candidates (The Hill). Although Heller and the president have clashed in the past, Trump invited the senator on stage and the senator heaped praise on the president.

Trump returned the accolades: “I’ve had no better friend in Congress than Dean Heller. … We have to keep him.”

Today, following a Las Vegas fundraiser, Trump headlines a rally in Springfield, Mo., to boost Republican Josh Hawley in his bid to defeat Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill campaign says ‘intern’ who filmed campaign had access to voter data McConnell defends Trump-backed lawsuit against ObamaCare McCaskill calls on GOP opponent to appoint special prosecutor to look into undercover video MORE (D) (KMOX Radio St. Louis)

Vice President Pence today stumps in Tennessee and Arkansas. In Knoxville, he’ll support Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnCelebrity endorsements aren't kingmakers, but they may be tiebreakers Election Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B Blackburn thanks restaurant owner for hosting event after social media backlash MORE (R-Tenn.), who is competing for a Senate seat against Democrat and former governor Phil Bredesen. In Arkansas, the vice president headlines a fundraiser for GOP Rep. French HillJames (French) French HillGOP lawmaker condemns ad warning black voters Dems will bring back 'lynchings' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify MORE, who is being challenged by Democrat Clarke Tucker, a state representative and attorney (Arkansas Times).

> Early voting: The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports that midterm voting is underway in some states, and it’s a theme Trump hit more than once in Nevada on Thursday. “October 20. You can vote early, but you’ve got to get out to vote,” the president said. “Early voting volks, early voting.”

In a number of states, the first absentee ballots are going out to requesters this week. The growing enthusiasm for early voting has changed the way campaigns are run — and in this cycle, because of expectations of Democratic momentum, the challenges worry some GOP candidates (The Hill).

Reuters: Democrats’ enthusiasm is soaring to blunt Trump through midterm contests, according to new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Early voting begins today in Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming, and in New Jersey it starts Saturday.

> Republicans are trying to blame Trump, GOP leaders in Congress, retiring members in the House and just about everyone else for a gloomy midterm outlook. "This election is all about Trump. The White House knows it and to shift blame is a ridiculous notion," one House Republican chief of staff says (The Hill).

> Republican Rep. Chris CollinsChristopher (Chris) Carl CollinsElection Countdown: Florida Senate fight resumes after hurricane | Cruz softens ObamaCare attacks | GOP worries Trump will lose suburban women | Latest Senate polls | Rep. Dave Brat gets Trump's 'total endorsement' | Dem candidates raise record B GOP Rep. Chris Collins raised from within district after indictment Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach MORE (R-N.Y.) is among those who have drawn ire among some GOP colleagues (while delighting Democrats). His decision to remain on the ballot while under federal indictment “is unhelpful,” Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist, explains (The Hill)

Other political headlines … A series of three debates begins today in Texas between Republican Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke gives 'a definitive no' to possibility of running in 2020 Vicente Fox endorses Beto O'Rourke in Texas Senate race Beto O'Rourke on impeachment: 'There is enough there to proceed' MORE and Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke (The Hill) … Former President Obama campaigns today in Pennsylvania to help Democratic candidates Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDems target small cluster of states in battle for House Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma — Trump officials move to require drug prices in TV ads | 4,000 more people lose Medicaid in Arkansas | New top official for Medicaid Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE Jr. and Gov. Tom Wolf, both seeking reelection this fall (The Morning Call) …

CONGRESS: The administration’s new policy to more strictly limit the number of refugees who can resettle in the United States is not sitting well with some Republican lawmakers. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteRosenstein to appear for House interview next week Fusion GPS co-founder pleads the Fifth following House GOP subpoena House Judiciary chairman threatens to subpoena Rosenstein MORE (R-Va.) on Thursday accused the State Department of defying the law. The charge marks a rare rebuke of the administration by Goodlatte, who wants officials to consult “immediately” with Congress (The Hill).

NBC News reports the new refugee policy is not the work of the State Department, but of Trump’s White House adviser Stephen Miller.

> Thanks to a new federal law, consumers who want to protect personal financial information can freeze credit files for free, beginning today. (Credit rating agencies in the past charged consumers unpopular fees) (CNBC).

> Federal Reserve: Lawmakers are the allies of choice for Chairman Jerome Powell, who is spending quality time on Capitol Hill, seeking to maintain the independence of the central bank with support from the legislative branch. Powell wants a firm backstop against Trump’s surprisingly public rebukes of the Fed’s decision to gradually raise interest rates (Bloomberg).

> Puerto Rico recovery: The administration sent a delegation to Puerto Rico on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Maria. It was led by Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Ben CarsonBenjamin (Ben) Solomon CarsonInspector general: Zinke used taxpayer-funded travel for his wife Overnight Energy: Inspector general finds Zinke used taxpayer-funded travel for family | Interior says Trump appointee won't be new watchdog | EPA chief says agency taking climate report 'very seriously' Trump official won’t be new Interior watchdog, agency says MORE. But the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wants to meet with top officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including Administrator Brock Long, to discuss continued recovery assistance for Puerto Rico. Needs continue to be significant on the island, and lawmakers want a status report (The Hill).

 

 

 

 



OPINION

Mob misogyny is nothing new. I have the death threats to prove it, by Suzanna Danuta Walters (The Washington Post). 

The midterm contests will have no bearing on Trump’s shot at reelection, by J.T. Young, opinion contributor with The Hill. https://bit.ly/2MRo6JB

 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House and Senate are out for the remainder of the week.

The president holds a morning political roundtable with supporters in Las Vegas, then heads to the Veterans Administration Southern Nevada Healthcare System facility to sign appropriations legislation and to deliver a speech. Trump then flies to Springfield, Mo., and hosts a political roundtable with supporters at the JQH Arena, then speaks at his rally there. The president flies from Missouri to the East Coast to spend the weekend at his home in Bedminster, N.J.

Pence will be in Knoxville, Tenn., to deliver remarks at 12:30 p.m. to the American Conservative Union’s CPAC 365. He’ll also headline political events in Tennessee and Little Rock, Ark.

When U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco accepted today’s speaking invitation, did he imagine it might sound so dramatic? His topic with the Federalist Society at noon: “Supreme Court Preview: What is in Store for October Term 2018?” Location: The Mayflower Hotel, Washington.

Invitation to join The Hill’s Newsmaker Series Sept. 26 for “Leadership in Action,” featuring Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingKey GOP lawmaker says public oblivious to consequences of opioid crisis Cook Political Report moves 5 GOP-held seats towards Dems The Hill's Morning Report — Kavanaugh could be confirmed within days MORE (R-N.Y.). Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack will sit down with the congressmen to discuss their visions for bridging the gaps between political parties, especially at a time when the country is seen as being its most partisan. RSVP Here.

 

ELSEWHERE

> The Kremlin’s plot: The most effective foreign interference in an American election took place in 2016. It is explained in a deep-dive overview (plus a who’s who chart in agate type) that untangles what’s known to date, written by Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti (The New York Times). There is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.”

> Travel costs: Airline fees for checked bags are up, up and away on Delta, United and JetBlue (CNNMoney). American Airlines has not announced its plans.

> Debugged: Scientists fear non-pest insects such as butterflies, bees, ladybugs, fireflies and moths are declining, but evidence is anecdotal and the causes may be multiple (The Associated Press). Possible culprits: Habitat loss, insecticide use, the killing of native weeds, single-crop agriculture, invasive species, light pollution, highway traffic and climate change.

 

 

 

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THE CLOSER

And finally … Morning Report QUIZ CONTEST readers knew a lot about the U.S. Senate’s confirmation of Supreme Court appointees.

We received many quiz responses (thank you!) and correct answers this week came from Mary Vita P. Treano, Milt Mungo, Patrick Alford and Warren Miller.

They knew the Senate’s first public confirmation hearing for a nominee to the Supreme Court occurred in 1916, and that Supreme Court nominees have not always appeared before the Senate in person. (The correct answer was “false.”)

The Senate confirmed Harry Blackmun, Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens with no opposition, achievements that occurred between 1970 and 1987.

President Jimmy Carter never nominated a candidate to the Supreme Court during his term in office. And during Justice Byron White’s 1962 confirmation, a third of senators’ questions dealt with his impressive pro-football career playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates (later called the Steelers) and the Detroit Lions.

 

 

 

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!