* Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck report that there’s a new development in the Kavanaugh nomination:
The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Thursday that she received information from a person about Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh and referred it to federal investigators — but declined to make public any details, citing confidentiality issues.
The information came in a letter, which describes an alleged episode of sexual misconduct involving Kavanaugh when he was in high school, according to a person familiar with the matter. Democrats on the Judiciary Committee first learned about the contents of the letter at a meeting called at the last minute on Wednesday night. The letter had been relayed to Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), two people familiar with the matter said.
“That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
The White House defended Kavanaugh, calling the latest controversy an “11th hour attempt to delay his confirmation.”
There are a lot of rumors flying around, so we have to be careful about this. It could be nothing, or it could be incredibly serious. Stay tuned.
* John Wagner and Joel Achenbach report that President Trump really classed it up today:
President Trump drew widespread rebukes Thursday — including from several fellow Republicans — after falsely claiming that the number of deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria had been inflated by Democrats to “make me look as bad as possible.”
In morning tweets, Trump took issue with the findings of a sweeping report released last month by George Washington University that estimated there were 2,975 “excess deaths” in the six months after the storm made landfall in Puerto Rico in September 2017.
Trump said on Twitter that “they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths” when he visited the island about two weeks after the storm.
Yes, the real tragedy here is that people criticized Trump.
* Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein report that Trump’s lawyers and Paul Manafort’s lawyers have a joint defense agreement that allows them to share information. Like perhaps, “A-stay iet-quay and I’ll ive-gay oo-yay an ardon-pay.”
* Marc Caputo has a great exchange with Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, in which he tries to pin down DeSantis on his attendance at the conferences of that fellow who believes the only real race war is against whites.
* Timothy O’Brien gets this right, noting that Trump kept thinking about Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria — not because he wanted to help, but because he was bugged that people criticized him over it.
* Yoni Appelbaum offers a nicely turned essay that gets at the deeper roots of our democratic malaise.