The Note: FBI’s Kavanaugh inquiry still controlled by political forces
This phase of the Trump presidency is in the hands of … the FBI. Sort of.
The TAKE with Rick Klein
This phase of the Trump presidency is in the hands of ... the FBI. Sort of.
As arguments turn to the scope of the Brett Kavanaugh inquiry, perhaps it’s good for President Donald Trump’s Republican Party if the oft-maligned — by Trump himself — agency is allowed to do its job.
Perhaps it’s not — and that there are no good political options available anymore in Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has emerged as Kavanaugh’s leading Senate advocate, made a critical point on ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos": "I know that Senators Flake, Collins, and Murkowski wanted a limited review," the Republican senator from South Carolina said.
Sen. Jeff Flake’s agreement with colleagues, including Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, brought the FBI into this. But the White House counsel’s office is running the process — not senators, and not really the FBI.
Kavanaugh on Thursday and Trump on Saturday both framed the confirmation battle as a partisan exercise.
They’re not wrong — at least not yet. The process and how it’s allowed to move forward will still be a function of who controls the votes.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
The president is getting out of town this week, with official White House and political events in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Minnesota.
Nothing motivates base voters quite like seeing Air Force One land in town, a top RNC aide told us recently. The travel is no doubt strategic, as the party thinks about where and when the president can be most helpful.
Power and control of the Senate continue to dominate gossip in Washington, D.C., as Senate Republican have lambasted their Democratic colleagues over the last few weeks for using delay tactics with the Supreme Court nominate confirmation process. They say Democrats are trying to stall until after the midterms, implying — albeit subtly — that the majority power in the Senate could actually be up for grabs.
Notice, too, how the president is even traveling to the Deep South — Mississippi, where a strong Democratic candidate and energy among Democrats could make even that race competitive.
Speaking of Senate candidates, it is remarkable to think about the caliber of leaders who might be coming to Washington in January. From Mitt Romney, running in Utah, to former Governor Phil Bredesen on the ballot again in Tennessee, there could be some real power players in town next year.
The TIP with Adam Kelsey
Answer: This long-time game show host, accustomed to his contestants asking the questions, will have a few of his own Monday as he moderates Pennsylvania’s lone gubernatorial debate.
Question: Who is Alex Trebek?
The face of Jeopardy has generated the majority of headlines in the run-up to the debate, and that, in and of itself, might be a problem for Keystone State Republicans.
The GOP dominated statewide in 2016, but in districts that have since been redrawn to rectify gerrymandered lines, and with the star power of Donald Trump at the top of ballots.
This cycle, the ticket is led by Scott Wagner — who will be at the receiving end of Trebek’s questions alongside Gov. Tom Wolf — and Senate candidate Lou Barletta, a pair who are each trailing in polls and driving turnout concerns within Pennsylvania Republican House campaigns.
While a Ken Jennings-like performance by Wagner Monday could spark GOP-voter interest, it may fall to Trump to boost enthusiasm yet again. The president visits Philadelphia Tuesday for a speech at the National Electrical Contractors convention.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Kyra Phillips, who tells us about who the FBI is speaking to in the Brett Kavanaugh investigation. And, former FBI agent and ABC News contributor Steve Gomez tells us what details in Kavanaugh’s testimony investigators will be zeroing in on. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8
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