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The Hill's Morning Report — How will the Kavanaugh saga impact the midterms?

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and happy Wednesday. 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!) Jonathan Easley is hosting solo this week while co-creator Alexis Simendinger is out of town. Find him on Twitter @joneasley.

Hill.TV’s “Rising” program, starting at 8 a.m., features interviews with Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsConservative rep slams Rosenstein's 'conflicts of interest' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump, Obama head to swing states with Senate majority in balance Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate MORE (R-N.C.), Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerLawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi's death Corker calls for 'collective' response from Western countries if Saudi crown prince found responsible in Khashoggi's death The Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Tenn.) and Kevin Brock, a former assistant director at the FBI. http://thehill.com/hilltv

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The confirmation battle for President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE’s Supreme Court nominee was never supposed to drag on this close to Nov. 6.

The allegations against Brett Kavanaugh appear to have electrified the bases of both parties with the midterm elections only five weeks away. The president predicted on Tuesday that the saga would boost turnout on the right.

            “I actually think it’s like a rallying cry for the Republicans.” - Trump

The Morning Report took that question to some of Washington’s top pollsters on both sides of the aisle. Here’s how they responded:

Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster:

“I think it will mobilize women, especially millennial women and unmarried women under 55. It will help women candidates. The Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeWorking together to improve diversity and inclusion The Hill's Morning Report — How will the Kavanaugh saga impact the midterms? Live coverage: Senate Judiciary to vote on Kavanaugh confirmation MORE study showed the issue of sexual harassment made women more likely to turn out to vote, especially millennial women. It sets up a strong agenda of stronger enforcement of sexual harassment and no taxpayer funds used for settlements. But it also has the potential to energize some Trump male voters, in particular.”

Robert Blizzard, Republican pollster:

            “I have seen an uptick in GOP enthusiasm the last couple weeks. But it’s important to note that the chaotic political environment shifts and changes at a rapid pace. If [Kavanaugh] gets confirmed this week, it could already be old news by next week.”

John Anzalone, Democratic pollster:

            “I think the GOP is kidding themselves that in an election cycle where political dynamics are being driven by women, that somehow Kavanaugh helps them. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll showed women oppose the Kavanaugh confirmation by 18 points and independents oppose him by 10. And these are shifts away from him from their previous poll. [Republicans] can spin it all they want, but sexual misconduct is not the narrative they want 35 days from an election.”

John McLaughlin, Republican pollster:

            “It will have an impact on who controls the Senate. Democrats already had the anti-Trump base motivated, so this late hit against Kavanaugh looks like an effort to deflate the conservative base. If Kavanaugh is withdrawn, you’d see fewer Republicans at the polls. It would be particularly devastating to social conservatives and Evangelicals, and would put states like Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Tennessee at risk. But If Republicans stand behind Kavanaugh, then Democrats are looking at losing seats in North Dakota and West Virginia if they don’t support him.”

Patrick Murray, independent pollster:

            “As of right now we are not seeing any notable impact on the House races.  Basically it is only reinforcing where voters already stand. This all could change though after the actual confirmation vote. And it’s not clear what that impact would be. We will have to wait and see.”

On to the news…

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FBI investigation into claims of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh could be completed as soon as today, keeping Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEx-lawmaker urges Americans to publicly confront officials Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Democrats slide in battle for Senate MORE (R-Ky.) on track to hold the confirmation vote at the end of the week or over the weekend.

The Hill: Senate GOP coy on when final vote will happen.

At a rally last night in Mississippi, Trump mocked the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a high school party in 1982.

    How did you get home? I don't remember. How'd you get there? I don't remember. Where is the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. What neighborhood was it in? I don't know. Where's the house? I don't know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don't know, but I had one beer. That's the only thing I remember." - Trump

Reuters: Amid Kavanaugh fight, Trump says it’s a “scary time” for young men.

Ford’s attorney fired back over Twitter.

 

 

Kavanaugh’s confirmation, even with the GOP holding a 51-49 majority in the Senate, is far from a sure thing. Trump’s taunts will do nothing to bring wavering Republicans on board.

The three Republican swing votes to watch are Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPoll: Palin unpopular in Alaska following jab at Murkowski Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Ex-Florida lawmaker leaves Republican Party MORE (Alaska). Republicans can only lose one of them if all Democrats vote no.

The Hill: 2020 primaries loom over GOP senators on Kavanaugh.

Murkowski made encouraging comments for Republicans on Tuesday when she addressed questions about the veracity of the FBI investigation.

            “I think the FBI is doing what we've tasked the FBI to do. That's all I can ask for.” – Murkowski

The Hill: FBI in the eye of Senate storm.

Reuters: Some potential witnesses say they have reached out to the FBI in vain.

Flake made comments that should alarm Republicans.

“[Kavanaugh’s] interaction with the [Senate Judiciary Committee] was sharp and partisan and that concerns me. I tell myself give a little leeway because of what he’s been through, but on the other hand, we can’t have this on the court.” – Flake

There is enormous pressure on red-state Democrats up for reelection this year as well, although only Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Democrats slide in battle for Senate Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada MORE (D-W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE (D-N.D.) remain undecided.

The conservative Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) launched a new round of television and digital ads on Tuesday in West Virginia and North Dakota, urging Manchin and Heitkamp to confirm Kavanaugh.

JCN pointed to two Public Opinion Strategies surveys released after the Kavanaugh hearings that found strong support for his confirmation in both states.

West Virginia: 58 percent support Kavanaugh’s nomination, 28 percent oppose.

North Dakota: 56 percent support Kavanaugh’s nomination, 26 percent oppose.

Perspectives

Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.): What the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh must look like.

Shan Wu: What to expect from the FBI investigation.

Laurie L. Levenson and John T. Nockleby: How to judge Kavanaugh’s credibility.

Former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.): First principles at stake in Kavanaugh fight.

Anna North: How Kavanaugh’s defenders misunderstand women’s anger.

Kristin Tate: Fate of the Republicans Party is tied to Kavanaugh, so don’t flake on us.

Robin Abcarian: Boohoo hoo. Kavanaugh is not a victim.

Jenna Ellis: Women must stand up for Kavanaugh.

Howell Raines: Kavanaugh hearings show GOP senators are sexist.


LEADING THE DAY

CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: More evidence of a “blue wave” in the House? The Hill’s Lisa Hagen dug into the latest fundraising numbers and found Democratic House candidates raking it in by the millions – astonishing figures that are on par with fundraising numbers for some Senate candidates.

Two House Democratic candidates, Amy McGrath in Kentucky and Josh Harder in California, each surpassed the $3 million mark. That’s more than a majority of Senate candidates running in this cycle’s most competitive races.

Read Hagen’s full analysis HERE.

> The Hill’s Reid Wilson takes us to California, where a GOP wipeout might give Democrats the House. Read HERE about the seats that might determine whether California Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMaxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — GOP faces ‘green wave’ in final stretch to the midterms Conservatives fear Trump will cut immigration deal MORE (R) is the next Speaker of the House or minority leader.

And across the country in Florida, The Hill’s Rafael Bernal checks in with Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloDems see blue 'tsunami' in House as Senate path narrows GOP spokeswoman says Republicans will lose House seats in midterms Cook Political Report shifts 7 more races towards Dems MORE (Fla.), the GOP centrist fighting to hold on in a district that went big for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Arizona newspaper backs Democrat in dead heat Senate race MORE in 2016 (The Hill).

Polling roundup

Quinnipiac University: Democrats lead generic House ballot by 8 points.

Strategic Research Associates: Florida governor, Senate races too close to call.

Monmouth University: Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockElizabeth Warren’s DNA test sounds more like ‘identity theft’ The Memo: Trump chats up media ahead of midterms Comey donates maximum amount to Democratic challenger in Virginia House race MORE (R-Va.) trails state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D) by 6 points.

NBC News/Survey Monkey: Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Katy Perry praises Taylor Swift for diving into politics Celebrity endorsements aren't kingmakers, but they may be tiebreakers MORE (R) is tied with former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) for Tennessee Senate; Brian Kemp (R) and Stacey Abrams (D) are tied in race for Alabama governor; Democrat Mike Espy is positioned to finish ahead of Republican Chris McDaniel and advance to a runoff election against Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) for Mississippi Senate.

More from the campaign trail … Trump is already sizing up his potential 2020 Democratic challengers (The Hill) … Takeaways from last night’s debate between Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue 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 MORE (D-Fla.) and Republican  Gov. Rick Scott (The Hill) … Jason Kander ends bid for Kansas City mayor to focus on depression, PTSD (The Kansas City Star) ... A Hazmat team responded to a suspicious package delivered to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Ex-lawmaker urges Americans to publicly confront officials O'Rourke on calling Cruz 'Lyin' Ted': 'That wasn't the best phrase for me to use' MORE’s (R-Texas) campaign headquarters in Houston on Tuesday (The Weekly Standard).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

 WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: A couple of news stories broke on Tuesday about the president’s personal life…

The New York Times has a deep dive into Trump’s finances.

From the Times:

            “The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.”

The New York Times: 11 takeaways from the Times investigation into Trump’s wealth.

The New York State Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the article (CNBC).

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responds:

    Fred Trump has been gone for nearly 20 years and it’s sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times. Many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions. The New York Times’s and other media outlets‘ credibility with the American people is at an all-time low because they are consumed with attacking the president and his family 24/7 instead of reporting the news.”

And The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Trump sought a restraining order against Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress who claims to have had an affair with the president.

The threat of a restraining order was apparently a last-ditch effort to keep Daniels from talking about the alleged affair. Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen has claimed that Trump directed him pay $130,000 to Daniels to not discuss the allegations.

Cohen has pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud and one campaign finance violation pertaining to the payment.

Elsewhere within the administration, some high level meetings are in the works:

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSaudis say journalist killed in ‘fight’ at consulate; 18 detained Pompeo asks Mexico to help tackle migration ‘crisis’ Trump: 'FAKE NEWS' that Pompeo heard tape of Saudi journalist's death MORE will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week. On the docket: A potential second summit between Trump and Kim as the two leaders continue negotiations over Pyongyang’s nuclear reach (The Associated Press).

And later this month, the president will meet with executives from Google and other internet companies amid allegations from Republicans that the tech giants are discriminating against conservative speech online (Reuters).

Meanwhile, one highly anticipated meeting has been delayed – Trump will not meet with Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinConservative rep slams Rosenstein's 'conflicts of interest' The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump, Obama head to swing states with Senate majority in balance Rosenstein to appear for House interview next week MORE until the Kavanaugh process is complete. Speculation is swirling about whether they’ll negotiate the parameters of Rosenstein’s exit from the Justice Department, if Trump doesn’t fire him first. Rosenstein is in charge of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s probe (The Hill).

More news from the administration … Controversial blog posts written by a senior Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official have plunged the divided agency into a bitter battle over racial discrimination (The Hill) … The Trump administration's lawsuit against California has opened a new front in the net neutrality wars (The Hill) … The Trump administration has abruptly ended a key law enforcement program aimed at protecting wildlife refuges (The Hill).

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

Trump’s trade deal is worse than the North American Free Trade Agreement, by Gustavo A. Flores-Macías and Mariano Sánchez-Talanquer, The New York Times. https://nyti.ms/2RjPXFS

Trump is winning on trade, by Krishnadev Calamur, The Atlantic. http://bit.ly/2P4Hu7X

WHERE AND WHEN

The House is in recess and will reconvene on Nov. 13.

The Senate reconvenes at 10 a.m. and will consider the long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The president meets with Pompeo and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyIn midst of political violence, America greatly needs unity Trump prefers woman for UN post, interviewing 5 candidates Mary Kissel expected to join State Department MORE.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBig Dem donors stick to sidelines as 2020 approaches Biden: American values being 'shredded' under Trump Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue MORE is raising money in Hollywood for his American Possibilities PAC. http://bit.ly/2xRGrBI

ELSEWHERE

> Ricin detected in mail sent to Pentagon (CNN).

> Amazon raises its minimum wage to $15, putting pressure on Walmart and Target to follow (CNBC).

> “New Fox” solidifies executive roster with Lachlan Murdoch at the top (The Hollywood Reporter).

> Tax cuts provide limited boost to workers’ wages, with companies instead directing savings to worker training programs (The Wall Street Journal).

> Deaths of Instagram model, other women shock Iraq (The Associated Press).

> A photo journal of undocumented immigrant workers in California’s Central Valley (The California Sunday Magazine).

THE CLOSER

And finally...

October baseball is here. Last night, the Colorado Rockies advanced to the National League divisional series, defeating the Chicago Cubs in an epic 13 inning game. Tonight, the New York Yankees host the Oakland Athletics in the American League wild card round.

Fans in those cities, as well as in Houston, Cleveland, Boston, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Milwaukee will be glued to their televisions sets for fall baseball over the next five weeks.

A look back on this date in in 1951: New York Giants outfielder Bobby Thomson hit the “Shot Heard Round the World,” a walk-off three-run home run against the Brooklyn Dodgers to clinch the National League pennant.

Giants broadcaster Russ Hodges’s call, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!,” is one of the most famous in baseball history. The Giants would go on to lose to the Yankees in the World Series.