Morning Consult Washington: Kavanaugh Accuser Could Testify Thursday, Attorneys Tell Judiciary Staff

Top Stories

  • On a call with bipartisan staffers with the Senate Judiciary Committee, lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford — who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were teenagers — discussed having their client testify before the panel on Thursday. Ford’s lawyers want Kavanaugh to testify first at the hearing, a condition Republicans are not likely to grant. (Politico)
  • Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, has spoken with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team multiple times over the last month, according to sources. In addition to cooperating with Mueller’s team, Cohen is also cooperating with a separate investigation in New York where state officials are probing the Trump Organization and the Trumps’ charity. (ABC News)
  • The first votes of the 2018 midterms are being cast in Minnesota, where early voting has begun in a battleground state for the control of the House. (The Associated Press)

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

The Federalist Society hosts event previewing the Supreme Court’s October term 12 p.m.
Trump holds a rally in Missouri 6:30 p.m.

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Here’s the reputation data you need in a brand crisis.


Internal GOP Poll: ‘We’ve Lost the Messaging Battle’ on Tax Cuts
Sahil Kapur and Joshua Green, Bloomberg

A survey commissioned by the Republican National Committee has led the party to a glum conclusion regarding President Donald Trump’s signature legislative achievement: Voters overwhelmingly believe his tax overhaul helps the wealthy instead of average Americans. By a 2-to-1 margin — 61 percent to 30 percent — respondents said the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families,” according to the survey, which was completed on Sept. 2 by the GOP firm Public Opinion Strategies and obtained by Bloomberg News.

Ex-aides in Hill sexual harassment scandals tell Congress: Finalize a misconduct deal
Elana Schor, Politico

Seven women who have come forward about experiencing sexual harassment while they worked in Congress made a public plea Thursday for lawmakers to finalize a deal to strengthen Capitol Hill’s misconduct policing system. In a letter to congressional leaders, a copy of which was shared with POLITICO, the women described themselves as “dismayed and disheartened by Congress’s failure to act and take care of its own” by agreeing on final legislation modernizing the Hill’s workplace harassment rules.

Ben Carson’s HUD: Political loyalty required, no experience necessary
Tracy Jan, The Washington Post

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded promotions and pay increases to five political operatives with no housing policy experience within their first months on the job, demonstrating what government watchdogs and career staff describe as a premium put on loyalty over expertise. The raises, documented in a Washington Post analysis of HUD political hires, resulted in annual salaries between $98,000 and $155,000 for the five appointees, all of whom had worked on Donald Trump’s or Ben Carson’s presidential campaigns.

Kavanaugh accuser leans on Democratic operative for advice
Annie Karni, Politico

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both teenagers, is being advised by Democratic operative Ricki Seidman. Seidman, a senior principal at TSD Communications, worked as Joe Biden’s communications director during the 2008 general election campaign, after he was named Barack Obama’s running mate.

Hackers Went After a Now-Disgraced G.O.P. Fund-Raiser. Now He Is After Them.  
David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

Of all the scandals swirling around the Trump White House, the Republican fund-raiser Elliott Broidy is in a category of his own. Documents from the office of the president’s personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, revealed that Mr. Broidy had agreed to pay $1.6 million to a former Playboy model to keep her quiet about their affair, which led her to get an abortion.


Trump Sees a ‘Red Wave’ Where His Party Sees a Red Alert
Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman, The New York Times

During a discussion about his party’s legislative high points this year with a small group at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, expressed a new concern about an old habit of President Trump’s. The many “distractions” generated by the president, Mr. McConnell said during the dinner, were preventing Republicans from having a coherent message for the midterm elections focused on the booming economy, according to multiple people who were briefed on the remarks.

Trump Calls Heller a ‘Champion,’ Slams Opponent ‘Wacky Jacky’ Rosen
John T. Bennett, Roll Call

Aiming to boost vulnerable Nevada Sen. Dean Heller on his home turf amid a fierce re-election bid, President Donald Trump dubbed the Republican a “champion” of conservative causes and called his Democratic foe “wacky.” “There’s been no better friend — we started off slow — but I’ve had no better friend in Congress than Dean Heller,” Trump said Thursday at a campaign rally in Las Vegas.

Trump Will Meet With at Least Six World Leaders Next Week at UN
Justin Sink, Bloomberg

President Donald Trump will meet privately with at least six other world leaders next week at the United Nations, where he’ll also make remarks on countering illicit narcotics. Trump will have a one-on-one meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, according to a schedule released Thursday by the White House.

Nafta’s Latest Deadline Day Came and Went Without a Canada Deal
Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg

Nafta talks have probably missed the latest in a string of deadlines, leaving all eyes on the U.S. over what will happen next. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met Thursday in Washington, negotiating while a prominent Canadian union leader stood outside and sounded the alarm over deal-breaker issues.

White House Confirms It Has Relaxed Rules on U.S. Use of Cyberweapons
Dustin Volz, The Wall Street Journal

The White House said Thursday it had rescinded a classified Obama-era memorandum dictating when the U.S. government can deploy cyber weaponry against its adversaries, publicly acknowledging the move for the first time. John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, confirmed during a press briefing that the old rules had been replaced by new classified guidance intended to empower the Defense Department with more flexibility to launch offensive cyber strikes without first needing to vet those decisions through an elaborate interagency process.


Dems: We’ll probe Kavanaugh allegations if we win in November
Elana Schor et al., Politico

Congressional Democrats are threatening to investigate sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh from the highest bench in the land should he be confirmed without a probe and the party reclaim Congress. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said that “as soon as Democrats get gavels,” the party will vet the FBI’s handling of Ford’s claim against the Supreme Court nominee — even if Kavanaugh is already seated on the high court by that time.

Mazie Hirono’s blunt style makes her a favorite of liberals looking for a fighter
Sean Sullivan, The Washington Post

Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono’s voice dripped with disgust as she evaluated how Republicans have treated the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. “You know what? They’ve extended a finger,” the junior senator from Hawaii said in an interview Thursday.

State-backed hackers target Gmail of US senators, aides
Frank Bajak and Raphael Satter, The Associated Press

State-backed hackers are still trying to break into the personal email accounts of U.S. senators and their aides — and a lawmaker focused on cybersecurity says the Senate’s security office should stop refusing to help defend them. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a Wednesday letter to Senate leaders that his office discovered that “at least one major technology company” has warned an unspecified number of senators and aides that their personal email accounts were “targeted by foreign government hackers.”

Feinstein’s office receiving ‘threats of bodily and sexual harm against staff’
Kate Irby, McClatchy DC

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office has received threats of bodily and sexual harm against staff — some naming specific employees — following Feinstein’s involvement in allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Feinstein is the second woman senator whose office is reporting such threats.


Republicans threaten to subpoena Nellie Ohr
Olivia Beavers, The Hill

Conservative House Republicans are calling on their colleagues to subpoena Nellie Ohr, the wife of Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, after a deal fell apart this week that would have led to her voluntary testimony. “Now that Nellie Ohr is not coming in it is time to subpoena her and get her in as soon as possible,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said in an interview with The Hill.

New Documents Reveal Yet Another California Democratic Cyberattack
Andy Kroll, Rolling Stone

It was a nightmare scenario for a scrappy congressional candidate. A few hours before the biggest debate of the primary season, California Democrat Bryan Caforio’s website crashed. When he took the stage to debate his Democratic rivals, each of them vying to knock off vulnerable incumbent Republican Steve Knight in California’s 25th District, Caforio’s site was still down.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, facing a tough reelection fight, ridicules sex assault accusation against Kavanaugh
Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, in a tight race to retain his Orange County seat, ridiculed the decades-old allegation of sexual assault that has thrown the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh into turmoil, according to a recording acquired by Talking Points Memo. “This guy who’s going to be our Supreme Court justice,” he said, “and he better be our Supreme Court judge, he’s a perfect candidate. And what do they say? ‘Well, in high school you did this.’ High school? Give me a break.”

SC congressman jokes about Supreme Court sexual assault amid Kavanaugh drama
Jamie Lovegrove, The Post and Courier

South Carolina Republican congressman Ralph Norman made light of the ongoing drama surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by making a suggestive statement linking two American icons. “Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news from the Kavanaugh hearings?” said Norman, R-Rock Hill, said at a Kiwanis Club debate.


Dems break open GOP hold on Midwest governorships
Daniel Strauss, Politico

Democrats are surging back in the Midwestern states where President Donald Trump cut deepest into their old coalition in 2016, led by a class of candidates for governor that have Republicans on their heels. The Republican Governors Association cut the size of its ad buys in Minnesota and then in Michigan, according to Advertising Analytics data reviewed by POLITICO.

Ron DeSantis Faces Questions About Supporter’s Racist Slur
Karen Zraick, The New York Times

Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee for governor of Florida and an acolyte of President Trump, is facing questions about a racist slur by one of his supporters, the latest race-related controversy during his campaign. Politico reported on Thursday that a Republican activist who has donated more than $20,000 to Mr. DeSantis over the years recently used a vulgar, racist slur against former President Barack Obama on Twitter.

New California law to limit plastic straws in restaurants
Sophia Bollag, The Associated Press

People who want straws with their drinks at California restaurants will have to request them under a new law. The law signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown makes California the first state to bar full-service restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws.


Evangelical Leaders Are Frustrated at G.O.P. Caution on Kavanaugh Allegation
Jeremy W. Peters and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times

Worried their chance to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court could slip away, a growing number of evangelical and anti-abortion leaders are expressing frustration that Senate Republicans and the White House are not protecting Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh more forcefully from a sexual assault allegation and warning that conservative voters may stay home in November if his nomination falls apart. Several of these leaders, including ones with close ties to the White House and Senate Republicans, are urging Republicans to move forward with a confirmation vote imminently unless the woman who accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, agrees to share her story with the Senate Judiciary Committee within the next few days.

Inside the Shadowy Think Tank Tied to Paul Manafort
Betsy Woodruff and Lachlan Markay, Daily Beast  

A shadowy think tank that Paul Manafort boasted about directing featured one of the libertarian movement’s most prominent foreign policy voices—who told The Daily Beast he didn’t know the now-convicted fraudster was involved. The think tank, which appears to no longer exist, typifies the way savvy lobbyists can covertly introduce and amplify voices backing their clients—a strategy that’s especially valuable when those clients are tough to defend.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

We remain the world’s most generous nation
Mike Pompeo, USA Today

I am proud that one of America’s greatest qualities is our steadfast generosity and willingness to welcome families who have faced circumstances most of us cannot fathom, including war and ethnic cleansing. Refugees are among the world’s most vulnerable people, and America has embraced about 3 million of them since 1980.

The New New Normal?
The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

The economy is doing so well these days that even Barack Obama recently emerged 20 months after he left office to claim credit. Perhaps he’ll give another speech after Thursday brought more news that the days of economic malaise are over.

Research Reports and Polling

Poll: More Americans oppose Kavanaugh confirmation than support it
Mark Murray, NBC News

More American voters now oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination than support it after he was accused of committing sexual assault while he was in high school, with opposition increasing 9 points since last month, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Kavanaugh has categorically denied the accusation, which delayed his scheduled confirmation vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and which has roiled American politics less than seven weeks before the 2018 midterm elections.

Ratings Changes: House and Governors
Kyle Kondik, Sabato’s Crystal Ball

By now, those who watch the House of Representatives are aware of the New York Times’ massive House polling project in conjunction with Siena College. They are in the field daily and will release dozens of House polls from now through the November election.

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