The TAKE with Rick Klein
It may be that – again, and for now – Brett Kavanaugh has a path to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
But it wasn’t supposed to play out like this.
Thursday was supposed to be the day Kavanaugh was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee – a marker that promised to rally GOP voters, and put red state Democrats in the awkward position of explaining why they might vote no. Now, that’s delayed, and also reversed.
Democrats have become newly energized in the stop Kavanaugh effort – messaging that dovetails with the pro-women messaging they’ve long been pushing in the midterms. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., announced her opposition to Kavanaugh, despite the tough race she’s locked in.
If the committee and then the Senate moves ahead on Kavanaugh without hearing from Christine Blasey Ford, it figures to be Republicans left trying to explain their votes.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Democrats have a point when they say there's a lot more Republican senators could do to drill down on the details of professor Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
That's just true.
Republicans could call or even subpoena additional witnesses to testify, including the one Ford has named outright from the start. Ford has said explicitly that she remembers another man in the room besides Kavanaugh. Yes, that man has issued a statement saying he does not remember anything like she described, but why not hear from him under oath?
Senators could also promise to use neutral third party investigators, sexual assault crime experts, and give the process more time.
The pushback that Democrats have political motivations for wanting to draw out the process is fair, but that cuts both ways.
Republicans are making it clear they want to get this nominee through to his lifetime appointment – and quickly.
The TIP with Lissette Rodriguez
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican running for the Senate in a key battleground state, is scheduled to travel to Puerto Rico for the eighth time Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria devastating the island.
Scott’s trip, however, comes amid a deepening rift between the governor and President Trump over the storm’s official death toll.
Scott’s office says he’ll be visiting Puerto Rico at the invitation of officials including Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to “pay tribute to those who lost their lives during Hurricane Maria.” A recent George Washington University Milken Institute study estimates 2,975 direct and indirect deaths, a number the Puerto Rican government now recognizes as the official death toll.
Last week, the President questioned the study and tweeted "3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico." He said Democrats were behind the higher numbers "to make me look as bad as possible." Condemnation was swift, including by Scott.
"I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed," Scott tweeted. "I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand."
One day later, Scott released a Spanish-language ad in which he reiterated how he is comfortable disagreeing with the president, saying "when I don’t agree with what President Trump does or says, I’ve said it. My only commitment is with you."
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I think that when you have someone's hand over your mouth and you think that you might die by accident, you know who you're dealing with." — Samantha Guerry, a former high school classmate of Christine Blasey Ford, on whether, as one Republican senator has suggested, she could have confused Brett Kavanaugh with someone else.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Thursday morning's episode features ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce and ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks – the two discuss what senators are saying about the scheduled Brett Kavanaugh hearing, and why Christine Blasey Ford has not yet agreed to testify. And, ABC News’ Joohee Cho checks in from Seoul after another round of talks between North and South Korea. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8
ICYMI: ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" Podcast. On Wednesday's episode, ABC News' Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl sits down with Rep. Anna Eshoo, the Democrat from California and the only member of Congress to have spoken at length with Christine Blasey Ford about her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers. https://bit.ly/2w091jE
NEED TO READ
Congresswoman, first to talk to Kavanaugh accuser, calls her 'honest person'. Rep. Anna Eshoo, the California Democrat who was first approached by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser over the summer, describes Christine Blasey Ford as a "gentle, honest person who may change people’s minds." (Avery Miller) https://abcn.ws/2NTb9DS
GOP senators to Ford: Show up Monday or we vote on Kavanaugh. "She said she wanted to appear but if she changes her mind and refuses to appear, there's not much we can do," the number two Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn of Texas, said of the California professor who alleges Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they both were in high school. (Mary Bruce, Ali Rogin, Mariam Khan and John Parkinson) https://abcn.ws/2MMKQKQ
Ford made her choice. Now she needs to tell her story to the Senate: COLUMN. Christine Blasey Ford has either developed a case of cold feet or she’s playing footsie with the Democrats. Neither one of those options is useful if she wants to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. (Cokie Roberts) https://abcn.ws/2QM3eqG
Christine Blasey Ford's high school classmate: 'Not possible' her friend misidentified Kavanaugh. Asked about comments by senators that Ford may have Kavanaugh confused with someone else, a classmate from the Holton-Arms School offered a strong dispute. "I think that when you have someone's hand over your mouth and you think that you might die by accident you know who you're dealing with." (Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2ODXspx
Trump says hard for him to imagine Christine Blasey Ford's allegation against Brett Kavanaugh is true. The president said he wants to hear from the accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but said it's hard for him to "imagine that anything happened," referring to the sexual assault allegation brought by professor Christine Blasey Ford. (Jordyn Phelps) https://abcn.ws/2xx7CRf
'I don't have an attorney general,' Trump says about Sessions. In an interview with The Hill, Trump said his unhappiness with Sessions extends beyond the Russia investigation. "I’m not happy at the border, I’m not happy with numerous things, not just this," he said. "I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be attorney general, and I didn’t see it." (Jordyn Phelps and Luke Barr) https://abcn.ws/2DdaZD3
Meet Anita Hill, the first woman to upend a Supreme Court confirmation with misconduct allegations. Hill was a law professor at the University of Oklahoma at the time of her testimony, and the official transcript of the Thomas hearings includes a five-page resume detailing her legal work and education. (Meghan Keneally) https://abcn.ws/2QEHA7s
Exclusive: Jailed American's desperate plea for help in letters to Trump, Pence. After five years in prison, an American citizen jailed on trumped up charges in Egypt is pleading for his life to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. (Conor Finnegan) https://abcn.ws/2DayY5P
Usually, a president leading a strong economy can expect a high job approval rating. But Trump is breaking that mold, ABC News' polling unit director Gary Langer writes in an op-ed for The Hill. https://bit.ly/2OAvo6l
Sen. Claire McCaskill will vote "no" on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, largely because of his position on "dark money" in politics, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. https://bit.ly/2poGCjq
The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.