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.


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 GrassleySenate begins preparations for Trump trial Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat Appeals court skeptical of Trump rule on TV drug ads 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 TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' 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 FeinsteinSenate opens Trump impeachment trial Democrats ask if US citizens were detained at border checkpoints due to Iranian national origin Pelosi set to send impeachment articles to the Senate next week MORE, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is under siege.




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 PompeoDems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request House panel reinvites Pompeo to deliver Iran testimony MORE is a stickler for the correct placement of commas. Read without pause (CNN).



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 HellerLobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report 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 McCaskillThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade McCaskill: 'Mitch McConnell has presided over absolutely destroying Senate norms' Claire McCaskill: Young girls 'are now aspiring' to be like Warren, Klobuchar after debate MORE (D) (KMOX Radio St. Louis)

Vice President Pence today stumps in Tennessee and Arkansas. In Knoxville, he’ll support Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senator: 2020 candidates must recuse themselves from impeachment trial Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles 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 HillPelosi to Democrats: 'Are you ready?' The Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs An unintended burden on small businesses 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 CollinsFormer Rep. Chris Collins sentenced to 2 years in prison for insider trading GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Democrats running to replace Duncan Hunter, Chris Collins vow to support ethics package 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 CruzSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff 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 CaseySenate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations Advocates call for ObamaCare open enrollment extension after website glitches The US needs to lead again on disability rights 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 GoodlatteUSCIS chief Cuccinelli blames Paul Ryan for immigration inaction Immigrant advocacy groups shouldn't be opposing Trump's raids Top Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview 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 CarsonTrump administration ending delay on over B in Puerto Rico disaster aid HUD to roll back Obama-era housing desegregation rule Trump tells California, New York to 'politely' ask him for help with homeless population 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).






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.



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) KingLawmakers introduce bill taxing e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaigns Democrat who opposed Trump, Clinton impeachment inquiries faces big test House GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues 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.



> 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.





UANI: Celebrating 10 years. Please join us at our 2018 Iran Summit on Tuesday, September 25 in New York City:



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 & Alexis Simendinger Suggestions? Tips? We want to hear from you! Share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!