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 claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values 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 FlakeSchumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat The Hill's Morning Report — Trump eyes wall money options as shutdown hits 21 days Poll: Sanders most popular senator, Flake least 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 LankfordSenate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees next week GOP senator calls Trump immigration offer a 'straw man proposal' not meant to become law Sunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal MORE (R-Okla.)

Late last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Senate GOP eyes 'nuclear option' for Trump nominees next week Taiwan’s President Tsai should be invited to address Congress 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 CollinsTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback The Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal MORE (Maine) said the president was “plain wrong.” Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback The Memo: Concern over shutdown grows in Trump World Kaine to force Senate to hold rare Saturday session amid shutdown 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 HeitkampOn The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction Gary Cohn criticizes the shutdown: 'Completely wrong' EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (D) might vote to confirm? What will Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks 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 Booker2020 Dems seize on MLK Day for campaign messaging Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Grassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices 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 ClintonElise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Russian pop star linked to Trump Tower meeting cancels US tour Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies MORE edged Trump in Minnesota by 2 points in 2016.

But Minnesota also factors into the 2018 midterm elections:

Republican Reps. Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenThe 8 House Republicans who voted against Trump’s border wall Minnesota New Members 2019 Defeated Republicans mocked by Trump fire back at president MORE and Jason LewisJason Mark LewisMLB donated to GOP lawmaker who made controversial comments about women, minorities Minnesota New Members 2019 Overnight 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 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 WalzStates scramble to fill void left by federal shutdown Where does your governor stand on marijuana legalization? Dem governors draw contrasts with Trump 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 KlobucharGrassley to test GOP on lowering drug prices Identity politics and the race for the Democratic nomination CNN analyst Phil Mudd: Barr will ‘crush’ Trump administration MORE (D) and Tina SmithTina Flint SmithGillibrand defends calling for Franken to resign during stop in Iowa Senate Dems introduce legislation to back-pay low-wage contractors GOP seeks health care reboot after 2018 losses 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 CramerGOP senators would support postponing State of the Union Dems blast EPA nominee at confirmation hearing Hopes fade for bipartisan bills in age of confrontation 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 McSallyMark Kelly considering Senate bid as Arizona Dems circle McSally Schumer recruiting top-notch candidate for McCain Senate seat On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions 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) MenendezBuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president More oversight of America’s international media networks a good idea Pro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems 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 TrumpRussian pop star linked to Trump Tower meeting cancels US tour Conservatives pound BuzzFeed, media over Cohen report BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE is heading to Texas to campaign for Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGroup aiming to draft Beto O’Rourke unveils first 2020 video Howard Dean looking for a 'younger, newer' Democratic nominee in 2020 Congress can stop the war on science 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 EllisonIlhan Omar defends 2012 tweet: 'I don't know how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans' States scramble to fill void left by federal shutdown 116th Congress breaks records for women, minority lawmakers 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 PompeoPompeo: US 'absolutely not' getting out of the Middle East Pompeo taking meeting about running for Kansas Senate seat: report Ex-US envoy in ISIS fight: 'There's no plan for what's coming' after US troop withdrawal in Syria 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 TrumpOvernight Defense: Trump says he won't declare emergency 'so fast' | Shutdown on track to become longest ever | Military begins withdrawing equipment from Syria | Bolton taps new deputy Bolton names replacement for deputy who clashed with first lady The Hill's Morning Report — Groundhog Day: Negotiations implode as shutdown reaches 20 days 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 ComstockDems win Virginia state Senate special election Dem rep asks for asks for pay to be withheld during shutdown New Dem lawmaker hangs trans flag outside office on Capitol Hill 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