The TAKE with Rick Klein
Under these strange and strained circumstances, against the backdrop of a sometimes ugly and very long hearing dominating the week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has to like what he sees.
The Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson may be infuriating to some Democrats. But they have unified Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, from ambitious younger members to more institutionally minded members who are also poised to oppose her.
Jackson's confirmation is on track. Yet so is the McConnell worldview where court vacancies elevate buzzwords the GOP hopes will linger into campaign season.
Then there's the Senate election in Alabama. Former President Donald Trump pulled his endorsement of Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., amid signs Brooks has been fading ahead of the May primary.
The most formidable other Republican in the race has been Katie Britt, who is getting support from across McConnell's GOP Senate conference and who worked for retiring Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.
Brooks tried to salvage his relationship with Trump by taking his lead in attacking McConnell. That didn't work, and Brooks' own account of why proves the point McConnell and others have made about the perils of following the former president down his revenge-fueled path.
Brooks told ABC News' Benjamin Siegel that Trump demanded he "rescind" the election, reinstall Trump as president and hold a new presidential election. All of that is "legally impossible," Brooks said, adding that he told the former president that "fairly promptly."
McConnell still has his share of Trump-loyal members, high-profile recruiting failures and a major scandal involving a leading candidate in Missouri that got worse this week. But his view of how the GOP should be shaping itself is winning out a bit more than Trump's, at least for now.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
Two full days and a total of 24 hours of intense questioning have come to a close in SCOTUS hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
On day two of questions, Republicans rehashed lines of questioning on Jackson's record as it relates to sentencing in child porn cases. Experts described Jackson's record to ABC News as "pretty mainstream." The National Review described the criticism from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., on the issue as "disingenuous" and "meritless to the point of demagoguery."
In a tense exchange with Hawley on the topic, Jackson told Hawley, "I am fully aware of the seriousness of this offense and also my obligation to take into account all of the various aspects of the crime, as Congress has required me to do. And I made a determination seriously in each case."
After being continuously pressed by Hawley, Jackson stopped offering answers.
"Senator, I've answered this question. I've explained how the guidelines work and I'll stand on my answer," she said at one point.
The fourth day of hearings will continue Thursday and will include testimony from outside groups. Despite the political theatrics on full display -- particularly by Republican members who could run for president in 2024 -- the fact remains that Democrats don't need a single vote from Republicans to confirm Jackson to the court.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
Whether Wisconsin's 2022 legislative election calendar can proceed according to its current timeline is now unclear after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked election maps backed by the state Supreme Court and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
The Supreme Court's conservative majority said the lower court did not examine carefully enough whether the addition of a seventh majority-Black legislative district in the new maps was required under the Voting Rights Act. The ruling, celebrated as a win for Republicans, also means candidates for state office remain unsure about the parameters of their districts less than a month before they must begin filing paperwork.
Although the state Supreme Court will now have to revisit the redistricting issue, the burden won't extend to new congressional maps, which the Supreme Court decided to keep in place, potentially bolstering House Democrats' efforts to retain a majority in the fall.
In a statement following the decision, Evers celebrated that, while expressing disappointment in the court's decision to reject the legislative maps, calling it a "remarkable departure, even from their own recent actions."
Wisconsin is now the third state to grapple with a Supreme Court ruling on redistricting efforts that threatened to throw off this year's election cycle. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court allowed Pennsylvania and North Carolina to keep in place redrawn maps approved by each state's respective high courts.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
4.19. That's Nevada's score -- the highest of all 50 states, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of different metrics the Democratic National Committee might consider if it decides to reorder the 2024 presidential primary calendar. Nevada was closely followed by New York, New Jersey and Hawaii. It's not clear the DNC will actually change which states vote first in the 2024 primary, but read more from FiveThirtyEight's Geoffrey Skelley to understand what a new primary calendar might look like.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Start Here begins Thursday morning with Kherson resident, Mykola, on what it's like in a Ukrainian city run by the Russian military. Then, ABC's Ginger Zee describes damage from the deadly tornado that tore through the New Orleans area. And, ABC's Briana Stewart breaks down Jamaica's plans to remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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