The TAKE with Rick Klein
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Two months out, it’s easy to see how things might get worse for President Donald Trump and the Republican Party – and less easy to see how things could get better.
A 14-point gap in the generic ballot – a 52-38 edge for Democrats over Republicans in House races – highlights the ABC News/Washington Post poll out Tuesday morning. Sixty percent of registered voters say they’d prefer that Congress be controlled by Democrats, to act as a check on the president and his 36 percent approval rating.
The numbers reflect weakness in the GOP brand, as redefined by Trump, than any particular strength for Democrats. Republicans will argue that Democrats plan to impeach the president if they take control of Congress, but 72 percent of voters already expect that to happen.
This figures to be an enormously consequential week, with Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings vying for attention with technology companies in Capitol Hill and more rounds in Trump’s political war against his own attorney general.
But the big consequences of Trump on the Republican Party are already in stark view.
The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks
Fuming over corruption investigations against two of his congressional loyalists, President Trump tweeted this weekend, "Good job Jeff..," taking a sarcastic, venomous swipe at this own Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The president argued in his political tweet spree that indictments against these two Republicans members of Congress could hurt their chances in the midterms.
Ironically, the president's statements could also make life hard for his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Appearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, the aspiring justice will no doubt be grilled about his own opinions regarding Sessions and judicial independence.
Kavanaugh is facing tough opposition from Democrats as is. Activist groups have been digging through his prior opinions and noting controversial decisions he made on environmental protection, health care and labor rights.
The NAACP President Derrick Johnson announced yesterday he plans to attend the Senate hearing Tuesday, writing in a statement: "What we do know of Judge Kavanaugh’s civil rights record is deeply troubling. His views on voting rights, affirmative action, equal employment, fair housing, and criminal justice could shut the courthouse door on justice for a generation."
According to the latest ABC News/ Washington Post poll, 39 percent of Americans do not think Kavanaugh should be confirmed — 38 percent do. Comparatively that places Kavanaugh as one of the most widely unpopular Supreme Court nominees in modern history.
The TIP with Benjamin Siegel
In one of the last primaries of 2018, Democrats in Massachusetts's seventh congressional district will be choosing between two true-blue progressives: Rep. Mike Capuano, a veteran antiwar lawmaker whose seniority could become more relevant in a Democrat-led House, or Ayanna Pressley, a city counselor with sharper elbows who says a progressive voting record is a "baseline," and wants to be a more activist leader in Washington.
"Seniority without leadership doesn't mean anything," she said Monday. Capuano says his knowledge of Washington makes him the best "fighter" the district can send to Congress to challenge President Trump.
Capuano, the favorite who is expected to retain his seat, has a large base of support and is popular among many segments of this majority-minority district. Still, some voters have yet to make up their minds.
"I think they both have something rich to offer," Anna Thal-Reno, 70, a retiree, who said on Monday that she was leaning toward Capuano but had not firmly decided on a candidate.
While Pressley hasn't said whether she'd back Nancy Pelosi for speaker should she win the primary, an upset in this race could send a message to Democratic leaders in Washington about who voters want their leaders to be and how they want them to lead.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
• Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m. for his first day of confirmation hearings.
• The president has no open press events today. He meets with the Vice President for lunch at 12:15 p.m.
• It’s primary day! The ABC News politics team will be live blogging and periodically live streaming primary coverage. Find us on ABCNews.com or the ABC News app on your Apple or Android devices. Here are the opening and closing times for the polls tonight (all times EST):
• Massachusetts: open 7 a.m., close 8 p.m.
• Former ‘Fox and Friends’ host Abby Huntsman debuts as a co-host on ABC’s ‘The View,’ joining Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Sunny Hostin and Meghan McCain. The show also kicks off Season 22 with Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor as a special guest.
• Women grassroots leaders, activists and organizers from across the country convene outside the Senate Judiciary Committee to 'convince senators to cancel the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court' on Capitol Hill at 9 a.m.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“DOJ should always remain apolitical, and the speaker has demonstrated he takes these charges seriously.” A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said Monday in response to the president’s Twitter attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features a preview of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings: ABC’s Kyra Phillips says Kavanaugh has been doing mock testimony while ABC News Supreme Court contributor Kate Shaw says his confirmation could have ramifications for the entire country. And, ABC’s Ben Siegel checks in from Boston ahead of a closely-watched Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District. https://bit.ly/2Ohkpz8
NEED TO READ
Public split on Kavanaugh, views on abortion access shift (POLL). As his confirmation hearings begin, an ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the public evenly divided on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court – among the lowest support levels for a high court nominee in polling back to 1987. (Gary Langer) https://abcn.ws/2NzLyMU
Energized against Donald Trump, Democrats reach +14 in the midterms (POLL). With their supporters energized in opposition to Donald Trump, Democrats hold their widest advantage in midterm election vote preferences since 2006, when they seized control of both houses of Congress.(Gary Langer) https://abcn.ws/2wAOfqa
Stakes are high for Kavanaugh, Supreme Court, as confirmation hearings begin. Because he would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy - a crucial swing vote - his presence could tip the balance - and fundamentally change the Supreme Court for a generation. (Trish Turner) https://abcn.ws/2MK1waX
Trump steams at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reigniting his attacks. President Trump found it apparently too hot outside to play golf, but inside the White House residence, he again seems to be getting hot under the collar — unleashing a fresh round of sharp criticism on his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Avery Miller and Devin Dwyer) https://abcn.ws/2LUCi4a
Kavanaugh comments on abortion to be parsed in confirmation hearings. When Brett Kavanaugh testifies at his confirmation hearings beginning Tuesday, the exact language he uses to describe his views on a broad range of issues will be scrutinized, but nothing will be parsed more closely than his first public comments as a Supreme Court nominee on the volatile subject of abortion. (Stephanie Ebbs) https://abcn.ws/2CdS62r
Democrats raise alarm after 42,000 Kavanaugh documents released night before hearing. On Monday night, just hours before the hearings were set to begin, another 42,000 pages of Kavanaugh documents were released to the Senate, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted. (Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2PzhnGe
US cancels $300 million more in aid to Pakistan, citing lack of action against terror groups. The Pentagon has canceled another $300 million in aid to Pakistan, bringing to $800 million the total cut in U.S. payments to the country this year. (Luis Martinez) https://abcn.ws/2wCRTQr
On Labor Day, Trump takes aim at the head of the largest group of unions in the country. Trump's attack came just two days ahead of another round of talks with Mexico and Canada on NAFTA, which Trump believes has cost American factory jobs. (Cheyenne Haslett) https://abcn.ws/2wDf3Go
Democrats battle over results, representation in Boston primary. Ayanna Pressley, a 44-year-old Boston city councilor, running to unseat veteran Democratic Rep. Mike Capuano with a slogan, "Change Can’t Wait," evoking President Obama’s insurgent 2008 presidential campaign, hammered that message home in a session with faith leaders and supporters at Roxbury Presbyterian Church on Sunday. https://abcn.ws/2oBkD8r
A surge of female veterans running for Congress gives the 'pink wave' a camouflage tint. Nearly a dozen female veterans are among the women who have won their parties' nominations for seats in the House and Senate this year. If they win, it could increase the representation of veterans as well as women. (Quinn Scanlan) https://abcn.ws/2wCEGYx
1 US service member killed, 1 wounded in apparent insider attack in Afghanistan. The service member who died in the attack Monday is the sixth American killed in Afghanistan this year. (Luis Martinez) https://abcn.ws/2CcDCQe
David Hogg and activists raise thousands for anti-Ted Cruz billboard featuring Trump tweets. In an increasingly tight senate race this year, Trump has promised to campaign for Cruz in the lead-up to the November election. Now, a group of activists, including Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg, are reminding voters of Trump's old tweets against Cruz in an effort to undermine the senator. (Deena Zaru) https://abcn.ws/2NKsJ9C
The Boston Globe takes a look at the 30- and 40-somethings on Tuesday’s Democratic primary ballot, buoyed by a national trend, who echo a generational divide in the party between its longtime stalwarts and upstart contenders. https://bit.ly/2Q1pJY5
Within 30 minutes of one another, John Mulaney, Judd Apatow, Jack Antonoff and Jim Carrey announced they would pull out of scheduled events at the New Yorker festival if Stephen Bannon was a headliner, the New York Times reports. Now, Bannon is no longer participating. https://nyti.ms/2wCeP2U
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.