The Hill's Morning Report — Trump backs Kavanaugh, puts Rosenstein in limbo




Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report, and it’s 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.


*** The Hill continues today with its second of seven articles examining the GOP’s signature legislative achievement since 2017 – the enactment of major tax reductions. With interviews and behind-the-scenes details, today’s installment unpacks how Republicans pursued their tax ambitions following a searing failure to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Find the staff-written project HERE. ***

Even for a president who relishes brawls and upheaval, events surrounding Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE on Monday were dizzying.


Would he cut embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh loose?


“I am with him all the way,” Trump said as the judge defended himself against uncorroborated new allegations of sexual misconduct, which he and Republicans dismissed as a political plot.





Is Trump – with his hands otherwise full this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York – poised to purge Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinDOJ kept investigators from completing probe of Trump ties to Russia: report Five takeaways from final Senate Intel Russia report FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book MORE, the overseer of the special counsel’s Russia probe, because Rosenstein reportedly talked with colleagues last year about using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office?


“I’m meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday,” the president told reporters cautiously. “We’ll be determining what’s going on” (The Hill).    


Kavanaugh and Rosenstein: Two men in high places in government, each beginning his day believing his career teetered on a knife’s edge following bombshell news media reports, and each preparing for personal and professional showdowns on Thursday.


Even analysts steeped in Washington’s knife fights said it was a day overstuffed with political and dramatically contentious divisions.


Supreme Court… In advance of Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to weigh allegations against Kavanaugh made by Christine Blasey Ford about sexual misconduct, Trump said Democrats are to blame (CNBC) … Kavanaugh’s allies shift to a more combative counteroffensive (The Hill) … Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.), in a speech full of high dudgeon, said misconduct allegations against the nominee, published by The Washington Post and The New Yorker, are uncorroborated. He asserted that accusers’ recollections about Kavanaugh from more than three decades ago have stoked “a shameless smear campaign” (The Hill).


“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing,” Kavanaugh said in a Monday statement (The Hill). “I’m not going anywhere,” the 53-year-old judge repeated during an emotional and unprecedented interview for any Supreme Court nominee, broadcast by Fox News.


The Washington Post: Transcript of Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview.


The Associated Press: Republicans are digging in on Kavanaugh. Here’s why.


Kavanaugh’s confirmation ultimately comes down to a key Senate vote, that of a centrist Republican from Maine. The allegations are being litigated "for a jury of one: Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Poll: 57 percent of Americans think next president, Senate should fill Ginsburg vacancy On The Trail: Making sense of this week's polling tsunami MORE," a senior GOP aide said (The Hill). Judiciary Committee investigators should seek to question Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez, identified by The New Yorker, under oath, Collins urged on Monday (The Hill).


Senators said the Judiciary Committee could vote on Kavanaugh as early as Friday.


Rosenstein … The fate of the deputy attorney general is in limbo after he reportedly offered on Friday in a conversation with Trump’s chief of staff to resign in the wake of The New York Times’s explosive report describing Justice Department events in the spring of 2017.


Rosenstein arrived at the White House on Monday reportedly assuming he would be fired or would end his 28-year government career with a resignation. Trump, perhaps with November’s elections in mind, instead said he’ll seek “transparency” from the Justice Department’s No. 2 during a White House meeting on Thursday (The Hill). The president’s allies and critics united on Monday around the cautious view that Trump should not fire Rosenstein (The Hill).


> Department of Justice: Solicitor General Noel Francisco, a Trump loyalist, is in line to assume authority over special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE's Russia probe, should Rosenstein depart. Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRoy Moore sues Alabama over COVID-19 restrictions GOP set to release controversial Biden report Trump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs MORE, repeatedly assailed by the president, recused himself from the investigation last year (The Hill). There are complexities about succession at Justice in the current circumstances, and Trump has  different options under the law, should Rosenstein resign or be fired (The Washington Post).


Collins’s perspective on Monday’s events also included Rosenstein’s fate.








The New York Times: Rosenstein’s job is safe, for now. Inside his dramatic day.


WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: The president addresses the United Nations General Assembly this morning with a speech that’s expected to boast of policy advances led by his administration (NPR).


The president met Monday with South Korea's president about ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea during the opening day of the international gathering. Trump and South Korean president Moon Jae-in sealed a deal on a revised U.S.-Korea Free Trade agreement, which threatened to be a point of tension in the alliance. Meanwhile, U.S.-Iran tensions flared before Trump chairs a U.N. Security Council meeting on Wednesday about weapons proliferation that he has said will focus on the Islamic Republic (The Hill).


Bloomberg: The U.S.-Korea Free Trade pact marked the first time Trump finalized a major trade deal as president.


> U.S. - North Korea summit sequel: Trump says he’ll have a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “quite soon” (The Washington Post). He would like Kim to come to the United States (The Associated Press).


> U.S. to remain in Syria: White House national security adviser John Bolton says the United States will not be leaving Syria so long as Iranian forces continue to operate there. His comments to reporters on Monday suggest the administration embraced an expanded mission in the civil-war-torn country beyond the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (The Washington Post). Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies Trump says he wanted to take out Syria's Assad but Mattis opposed it Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE bookended Bolton’s remarks.








> “Trade bullyism”: It is what the United States is practicing against China with tariffs, to little positive effect on resolving trade disputes, complained China’s State Council, or cabinet, on Monday (Reuters).


> Department of Defense - 5G: The next generation of wireless internet could be a boon for the U.S. military, but the United States is in a race with China for dominance over lightning-fast internet speeds that can support futuristic new technologies. There are national security concerns about China’s role in the market (The Hill).


POLITICS & CAMPAIGNS: Many Republicans say they have struggled to capitalize with voters on a strong economy ahead of elections in November. A decade after the worst recession in modern U.S. history, the economy’s expansion has reached rural America, as Trump predicted during his 2016 campaign. But businesses in rural America find themselves racing to get ahead of the bite from new reciprocal tariffs (The Hill).


> Trump plans a rally for his reelection in Wheeling, W.Va., on Saturday, and another in Johnson City, Tenn., on Oct. 1.


In other political headlines … Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a potential Democratic presidential contender in two years, headlines a fundraiser tonight for the Democratic Midterm Victory Fund, to raise $1 million for 10 state Democratic parties nationwide (California, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin). ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel is the celebrity emcee (Variety) …


More politics … In Georgia, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFormer Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida MORE postponed Thursday’s campaign appearance on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, citing scheduling issues. Biden plans to reschedule in October as Abrams’s campaign against Republican Brian Kemp nears Election Day (The Associated Press) … In Maryland, six takeaways from Monday’s debate between Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and challenger Ben Jealous (D) (The Baltimore Sun) … In Arizona, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey debates challenger David Garcia (D) for the second time tonight (C-SPAN covers at 10 p.m.) (Arizona Republic).


Book news: “`What the Hell do You Have to Lose?’ – Trump’s War on Civil Rights” by Juan Williams, a columnist with The Hill, is in stores today. Find his latest opinion piece describing the “hidden story” behind “this administration’s systematic effort to turn back the clock,” putting the “civil rights movement on the line.”

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!


Why aren’t liberals fun anymore? by Stephen Moore of Freedom Works, opinion contributor with The Hill.


It is time for Kavanaugh to withdraw, by Steve Chapman (The Chicago Tribune).


The House convenes for speeches at noon and legislative business at 2 p.m. to consider 38 bills, including measures dealing with cybersecurity, border security and small business development. Voting takes place after 6:30 p.m.


The Senate meets at 10 a.m. to resume action on the nomination of Peter A. Feldman to be a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission

The president addresses world leaders at 10:15 a.m. at the 73rd annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. Trump will hold a bilateral meeting with Iván Duque Márquez, the president of Colombia, followed by a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. Trump will later meet with the assembly’s president, Maria Fernanda Espinosa. In the evening, the president attends a U.N. Security Council presidency reception hosted by Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) Haley'The soul' versus 'law and order' Author Ryan Girdusky: RNC worked best when highlighting 'regular people' as opposed to 'standard Republicans' GOP lobbyists pleasantly surprised by Republican convention MORE, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.


The vice president and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Trump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress  Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize MORE are attending the United Nations events today.


White House national security adviser Bolton speaks at the annual summit of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), convening at the Westin Grand Central Hotel in New York during the U.N. General Assembly. Former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), the chairman of UANI, also addresses the group.


U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE meets today in New York with Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for trade, to continue talks that began in the summer about regulatory barriers and tariffs.


The Federal Reserve begins a two-day meeting today.


Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim will speak at 10:30 a.m. at Georgetown University Law Center’s symposium on global antitrust enforcement in Washington. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roger Alford and acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers will participate in panel discussions about intellectual property and dominant firms, global antitrust enforcement and cartel enforcement.

On the West Coast, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Matthew Miner of the Justice Department’s criminal division speaks at 8:45 a.m. in San Francisco to the American Conference Institute’s gathering on Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement and compliance.


The U.S. Capitol Historical Society hosts an event from 9 a.m. to noon, “Separation of Powers: Audacious Vision, Uneven History and Uncertain Future,” in the Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Auditorium; free and open to the public.

Invitation to join The Hill’s Newsmaker Series on Wednesday for “Leadership in Action,” featuring Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingTrump holds private funeral service for brother Robert Trump at White House  Cheney clashes with Trump Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney 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.


> Bears: A U.S. judge on Monday ordered that federal protections be restored to grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park. The ruling halts a push for the first licensed trophy hunts of bears there in more than 40 years (The Hill).


> The Hill profile: Heather Wingate, senior vice president for government affairs at Delta Airlines. “I think I’ve sort of cut my teeth in crisis environments” (The Hill).


> Medical science: A formerly paralyzed man makes significant strides with spinal stimulation and rehab, and his mind (Nature Medicine/Science News).


And finally … On this day in 1981, the Supreme Court’s first female associate justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, was sworn in after a groundbreaking confirmation and a Senate vote of 99-0. A daughter of ranchers who earned a law degree at Stanford University, O’Connor became an Arizona state legislator, then an appeals court judge before former President Reagan nominated her to the high court, fulfilling one of his campaign promises. She retired in 2006 and remains active at age 88.


Today, Arizona State University and the city of Phoenix host Sandra Day O’Connor Day. We send along ...