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 MeadowsAtlanta airport checkpoint closed after worker tests positive for coronavirus House Republicans urge White House to support TSA giving travelers temperature checks The Hill's Morning Report - Republicans shift, urge people to wear masks MORE (R-N.C.), Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism 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 Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' 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 LeeNina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate House to vote on removing bust of Supreme Court justice who wrote Dred Scott ruling Black Caucus unveils next steps to combat racism 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 McConnellPublic awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Democrats: A moment in history, use it wisely 'Comrade' Trump gets 'endorsement' from Putin in new mock ad by Lincoln Project 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 FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday Senate passes extension of application deadline for PPP small-business loans MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Senators push to limit transfer of military-grade equipment to police 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) ManchinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Watchdog accuses Commerce of holding up 'Sharpiegate' report | Climate change erases millennia of cooling: study | Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget Senate nixes proposal limiting Energy Department's control on nuclear agency budget McConnell on filibuster talk: Democrats want to 'vandalize' Senate rules MORE (D-W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA 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 McCarthyOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue 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 CurbeloThe Memo: GOP cringes at new Trump race controversy Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy Republicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea MORE (Fla.), the GOP centrist fighting to hold on in a district that went big for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonCan Republicans handle the aftermath of Donald Trump? Biden seeks to supplant Trump in Georgia Hillary Clinton: 'I would have done a better job' handling coronavirus 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 ComstockLive coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings Gun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats MORE (R-Va.) trails state Sen. Jennifer Wexton (D) by 6 points.

NBC News/Survey Monkey: Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnUS lawmakers call on EU to label entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization Hillicon Valley: Trump tweet gets warning again | Australia under cyberattack | North Face pulls Facebook ads Republicans take aim at Google in fight to remove legal shield 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 NelsonNASA names DC headquarters after agency's first Black female engineer Mary W. Jackson NASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Lobbying world 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 CruzTrump administration grants funding extension for Texas testing sites Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down GOP lawmakers join social media app billed as alternative to Big Tech 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 PompeoIran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report To support Hong Kong's freedom, remember America's revolution Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law 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 RosensteinSupreme Court to hear dispute over Democrats' access to Mueller materials Republicans release newly declassified intelligence document on FBI source Steele GOP's Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst 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 (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 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) HaleyIf the US wants a better WTO, it should lead the way Bolton book shows nastiness rules at Trump White House George Floyd's brother calls on United Nations to study police brutality in US MORE.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCan Republicans handle the aftermath of Donald Trump? Biden seeks to supplant Trump in Georgia Trump's Mount Rushmore stunt will backfire 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.