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The Hill's Morning Report — Kavanaugh, Ford saga approaches bitter end

 

 

 

Welcome to The Hill's Morning Report and happy Thursday. 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., featuring interviews with Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany and Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White, who talks about his relationship with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE. http://thehill.com/hilltv

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It used to be that the House was the chamber of Congress that was routinely on the verge of meltdown or calamity.

But now, wracked by outside protests and reeling from a months-long partisan brawl over a swing vote on the Supreme Court, The Hill’s Jordain Carney writes that the Senate is, on the edge of a political precipice, with some lawmakers saying the fight may leave lasting damage.”

“I don’t know how we get back.” – Retiring Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSinema defeats McSally in Arizona Senate race Scott to attend new member orientation amid recount Scarborough: Trump throwing doubt into elections is ‘action of a tyrant’ MORE (R-Ariz.)

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton can report that the FBI will deliver its supplemental background check into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Senate today (The Hill). The White House already has a copy, according to Reuters. The details:

  • Only one copy of the report is being made available to the Senate.
  • Senate Republicans are restricting its viewing to one-hour increments for each party.
  • All 100 senators and a handful of staff will be able to view the report from a “secure compartmented information facility” in the Capitol Visitors Center.
  • Several GOP senators are urging for the report to be made public.

“I’m confident there will be leaks.” – Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordThe Hill's Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority Midterm vote to set cyber agenda The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump divides Republicans ahead of midterms MORE (R-Okla.)

Late last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPress: Trumpism takes a thumping The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Trump says Florida races should be called for GOP | Latest on California wildfires | Congress set for dramatic lame duck Congress braces for high-drama lame duck MORE (R-Ky.) set a procedural vote to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday. If Kavanaugh overcomes that hurdle, the Senate could take a final vote on his nomination as early as Saturday (The Hill).

The Washington Post: In 2:30 a.m. tweets, White House says FBI report supports Kavanaugh confirmation.

It’s been a wrenching week since Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when the two were in high school, testified before Congress.

Both Kavanaugh and Ford have been hit with attacks on their credibility. Kavanaugh’s drinking habits and partying as a young man have come under scrutiny, while conservatives have sought to highlight the missing or conflicting information in Ford’s account. Former friends and classmates from decades ago have come out of the woodwork to support or challenge each of their claims (The Hill).

 

 

 

Political fights are erupting at every turn.

Late Wednesday, Senate Democrats suggested that prior FBI background checks into Kavanaugh had turned up evidence of sexual misconduct (The Washington Post). Senate Republicans say these claims are false.

 

 

The debate over the scope of the FBI investigation is likely to endure, with Democrats believing that the White House blocked the bureau from interviewing key witnesses. The Trump administration insists it did not interfere in the investigation and instead gave free rein to the FBI.

And of course, the president inflamed the situation with his sarcastic mocking of Ford at a campaign rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night.

Trump’s taunts angered the trio of GOP senators who will decide Kavanaugh’s fate.

Flake called Trump’s remarks “appalling.” Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDems vow swift action on gun reform next year Collins reiterates call for legislation to protect Mueller investigation GOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally MORE (Maine) said the president was “plain wrong.” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump and Pelosi set to collide as Democrats celebrate their power Poll: Palin unpopular in Alaska following jab at Murkowski Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign MORE (Alaska) called the demonstration “unacceptable.”

The Memo: Trump’s shot at Ford seems to backfire.

The Hill: GOP sees Kavanaugh as a boost for the Senate, danger for the House.

Will the FBI investigation satisfy Collins, Murkowski and Flake? Will the report have any explosive or previously unknown allegations about Kavanaugh’s behavior? With polls moving against her reelection bid in deep red North Dakota, is it possible that Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampGOP nerves on edge after Sinema takes lead over McSally Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems McCaskill points finger at Fox following loss, calls it ‘state-owned news channel’ MORE (D) might vote to confirm? What will Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress Dems vow swift action on gun reform next year Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems MORE (D- W.Va.) do?

Stay tuned as the final chapter unfolds...

Perspectives

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): Kavanaugh’s righteous anger.

Bonnie Mann: Trump’s taunts and Kavanaugh’s defense show how misogyny rules.

Kirsten Powers: I was sexually assaulted and thought it was my fault. It’s time for a reckoning.

Julie Kelly: Dems risk losing suburban women with Kavanaugh attacks.

Joan Walsh: Women putting their anger into campaigning.

Anneke E. Green: We can believe Ford and confirm Kavanaugh.

Alice Stewart: Democrats want to win Senate confirmation battle at all costs.

Steve Israel: GOP sacrificing women, House Republicans with Kavanaugh plan.

Kelley Paul: An open letter to Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerKellyanne Conway responds to idea of Clinton 2020 campaign Schumer’s headaches to multiply in next Congress Trump mulls replacing Commerce chief Ross by end of year: reports MORE (D-N.J.).

Eugene Robinson: GOP senators want to put women in their place.

LEADING THE DAY

CAMPAIGNS & POLITICS: Trump and Vice President Pence have been lavishing attention on Minnesota, believing it will be a battleground state that could potentially provide them with a wider path to the White House when they seek reelection in 2020.

That continues tonight, when Trump holds a fundraiser in Minneapolis followed by a campaign rally in Rochester.

Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSinema invokes McCain in Senate acceptance speech Sinema defeats McSally in Arizona Senate race Hillicon Valley: Social media struggles with new forms of misinformation | US, Russia decline to join pledge on fighting cybercrimes | Trump hits Comcast after antitrust complaint | Zuckerberg pressed to testify before global panel MORE edged Trump in Minnesota by 2 points in 2016.

But Minnesota also factors into the 2018 midterm elections:

Republican Reps. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenOn The Money: Trump says he won't give up tax returns | Likely Dem chair vows to subpoena | Stocks rally on Dem House takeover | Tough midterm for many GOP tax writers Trump boasts about having 'retired' Flake: 'I did the country a great service' Democrat defeats GOP lawmaker Paulsen in Minnesota MORE and Jason LewisJason Mark LewisOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Medicaid expansion gets extra boost from governors' races | Utah's expansion to begin April 1 | GOP lawmaker blames McCain for Dems winning House Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases Defeated GOP lawmaker blames McCain for losing House — in Veterans Day op-ed MORE are fighting for their political lives. Both represent seats that The Cook Political Report has rated “lean Democratic.”

There is also a rare opportunity for House Republicans to go on offense in Minnesota, with two open seats currently held by Democrats in rural districts. Trump will be campaigning tonight in the 1st Congressional District, where Rep. Tim WalzTimothy (Tim) James WalzGOP earns House victory in Minnesota State elections reveal a deeply divided America Democrat Walz prevails in Minnesota governor's race MORE (D) is retiring from Congress to run for governor.

And there are two Senate seats up for grabs this year, although Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFacebook delays political ad transparency requirements in UK Midterms: The winners and losers Klobuchar coasts to reelection in Minnesota Senate race MORE (D) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithSenate GOP beats expectations with expanded majority Democrat Smith wins in Minnesota, will serve remainder of Franken term The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by PhRMA — Trump, Obama battle for the Senate MORE (D) are favored to win their respective races. Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, earned some positive headlines during the Kavanaugh hearings and could run for president in 2020.

The Washington Post: Trump’s trade wars change the political landscape in Minnesota.

The president is keeping an intensive campaign schedule in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections.

Reuters obtained Trump’s travel schedule, and found that he’ll stop in six states over the next 10 days: Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky.

Josh Kraushaar: Battle of the bases will set the tone for 2020.

David Brady and Brett Parker: Will 2018 be a wave election?

 

 

Economist/YouGov: Democrats lead generic House ballot by 5 points, although a new Reuters/Ipsos survey puts the disparity at 12 points.

Fox News: Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerHow President Trump won last night The Hill's Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority Cramer ousts Heitkamp in critical North Dakota Senate race MORE (R) leads Heitkamp by 12 points in North Dakota; Republicans gain in other top Senate races.

Suffolk University: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) has a small lead over Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups Sinema invokes McCain in Senate acceptance speech Sinema defeats McSally in Arizona Senate race MORE (R) for Arizona Senate.

Reuters/Ipsos: One-third of voters don’t know the name of their party’s candidate for office.

Vox Populi: Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Trump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty MORE (D) leads Republican Bob Hugin by 1 point for New Jersey Senate, although a Quinnipiac University survey puts the margin at 11 points.

Ryan Cooper: Democratic idiocy in New Jersey may cost them control of the Senate.

Reuters: In North Dakota, Kavanaugh debate tests Democratic wave and #MeToo.

In another surprisingly close Senate race, Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpRobert De Niro says goodbye to ‘Jeff Sessions’ on ‘Saturday Night Live’ Election Countdown: Recount prospects grow in Florida | Abrams team to sue over absentee ballots | Dem wins pivotal Georgia House seat | A look at the uncalled races | Corporations spend big to beat ballot measures The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by the Counter Extremism Project — Ginsburg hospitalized after fall | 12 people killed in SoCal mass shooting | What Sessions's ouster means for Russia probe | Why Trump thinks he won the midterms MORE is heading to Texas to campaign for Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzProgressives flex muscles as Dems return to Washington Election Countdown: Florida braces for volatile recount | Counties race to finish machine recount | Trump ramps up attacks | Abrams files new lawsuit in Georgia | 2020 to be new headache for Schumer | Why California counts its ballots so slowly Beto supporters urged to 'upgrade' campaign signs for 2020 run MORE (R), who is seeking to ward off a challenge from Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D). The president is expected to do the same later this month.

Michelle Goldberg: O’Rourke offers hope in dark times.

Ed Rogers: Liberal O’Rourke can’t beat Cruz in Texas.

More from the campaign trail…Rep. Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonEllison resigns from DNC after winning Minnesota attorney general race Ellison wins Minnesota attorney general race despite controversy Democrat Ilhan Omar wins Minnesota House race MORE (D-Minn.), who is running for state attorney general amid accusations of domestic violence, might step down from his role as deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee (The Hill)…Trump is back in the branding game for 2020 (The Hill)…Senate Democrats are increasingly turning to their own constituents to deliver their message on health care (The Hill)…If Democrats take back the House, they’re vowing to fight Trump on every front except for infrastructure, where there might be common ground (The Hill).

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

 

 

 

 

 WHITE HOUSE & ADMINISTRATION: Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump's Armistice Day trip marked by controversy | US ends aerial refueling to Saudi coalition in Yemen | Analysts identify undeclared North Korean missile bases U.S. think tank identifies 13 undeclared missile bases in North Korea Pompeo reaffirms to Saudi crown prince US will hold Khashoggi’s killers ‘accountable’ MORE announced Wednesday that the U.S. would terminate the 1955 Treaty of Amity with Iran (The Hill).

The Trump administration argued that Iran was using the treaty as cover to challenge U.S. sanctions in the International Court of Justice. The move came hours after the United Nation’s highest court ordered the U.S. to lift some sanctions against Iran that affect imports of humanitarian goods and products.

            “The Iranians have been ignoring it for an awfully long time, we ought to have pulled out of it decades ago.”  – Pompeo

The Associated Press takes a look at the history of the deal HERE, noting that the first article reads:

“There shall be firm and enduring peace and sincere friendship between the United States of America and Iran.”

> Trump and the White House lashed out at The New York Times on Wednesday over its bombshell report on the president’s finances, which alleged that Trump inherited millions of dollars from his father and that his family used dodgy business practices and tax strategies to protect their wealth. The report calls into question Trump’s description of himself as a self-made billionaire.

 

 

“It’s a totally false attack, based on an old recycled news story … There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone.” – White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

The Times defended its reporting as “unprecedented in scope and precision.”

 

 

The top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee is calling on the IRS to investigate the claims in the article and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said the city will look to “recoup” its money.

The Associated Press: Probes of Trump taxes carry potential for millions in fines.

And finally, first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Dems prepare to aggressively wield new oversight powers Trump arrives separately as world leaders gather to mark end of WWI Trump criticized after White House cancels cemetery visit in France over weather MORE visited a 17 century castle in Ghana that was once a hub of the African slave trade. She described the experience as “very emotional” (NBC News). The first lady is now off to Malawi, Kenya and Egypt.

The New York Times: Far from Washington, Melania Trump seems at ease.

 

 

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 Washington is a dangerous global distraction, by Nic Robertson, CNN. https://cnn.it/2NjjdJD

> Trump and the art of the NAFTA deal, by Jeff Spross, The Week. http://bit.ly/2O29Y63

WHERE AND WHEN

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

The Senate reconvenes at 11 a.m. and will resume debate on the Kavanaugh nomination.

Trump holds a fundraiser in Minneapolis followed by a campaign rally in Rochester.

Pence will give a speech on China at the Hudson Institute 11 a.m. and then hold separate fundraisers for Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockRepublicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration Juan Williams: Trump's hostile takeover of the GOP How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms MORE (R-Va.) and GOP House candidate Danny Tarkanian (Nev.).

ELSEWHERE

> “Rip-roaring hot” jobs market sees private payrolls surge by 230,000 (CNBC).

> Canada relieved trade deal done, won’t forget Trump’s attacks (The Associated Press).

> Steel is surging under Trump. Will workers benefit? (The Washington Post).

> Friends fear for safety of prominent Saudi writer who is missing in Turkey (The Washington Post).

> A year after Weinstein, Hollywood still soul searching (The Associated Press).

> Weird giant may be first known alien moon (National Geographic).


THE CLOSER

And finally…

The Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce the winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.

Time Magazine has a rundown of the favorites, which include Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who have made strides toward an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula despite Kim’s horrific human rights record.

Time: The favorites to win the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.

Let’s test your knowledge on the award, which is given every year to the person or group who has done the most to advance physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economic sciences and peace.…

Forty-nine women have been awarded a Nobel prize since the inception in 1901. Who is the only woman to have won twice?

  1. American writer Toni Morrison
  2. Polish scientist Marie Curie
  3. Mother Teresa
  4. American political activist Jane Addams

Who was the last Pope to win the Nobel Peace Prize?

  1. Pope John Paul II
  2. Pope Pius XI
  3. Pope Benedict XV
  4. No Pope has ever won.

This president is the only one on the list to not win the Nobel Peace Prize.

  1. Theodore Roosevelt
  2. Jimmy Carter
  3. Woodrow Wilson
  4. John F. Kennedy

This existentialist writer is one of only two people to voluntarily refuse a Nobel award.

  1. Soren Kierkegaard
  2. Albert Camus
  3. Jean-Paul Sartre
  4. Friedrich Nietzsche

In 2014, 17-year old Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. Who was the youngest person to ever win in the physics category?

  1. Carl. D. Anderson
  2. Tsung-Dao Lee
  3. Werner Heisenberg
  4. Lawrence Bragg