With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve
THE BIG IDEA: The old bulls agreed something is rotten, but they disagreed on what’s causing the stench.
Democrats disrupted the first hour of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday by making procedural objections to highlight the degree to which Republicans have blocked them from accessing hundreds of thousands of pages of potentially important records from the Supreme Court nominee’s time in George W. Bush’s White House.
“Any claim that this has been a thorough, transparent process is downright Orwellian,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who was elected in 1974 and has been involved in 19 Supreme Court fights. “This is the most incomplete, most partisan, least transparent vetting for any Supreme Court nominee I have ever seen, and I have seen more of those than any person serving in the Senate today. What is being done here is unprecedented. … I have never seen so much at stake with a single seat, and I’ve also never seen such a dangerous rush to fill it.”
Among other tactics, President Trump is blocking the release of more than 100,000 pages of documents by asserting executive privilege. Leahy noted that Ronald Reagan tried to claim executive privilege to stop documents from William Rehnquist’s service in the Nixon administration from coming out but backed off under bipartisan pressure from the Senate. “I have a sense of history,” Leahy said. “Boy, how times have changed!”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the second-longest serving senator, said what’s unprecedented is the “insolence” from the liberal protesters who were disrupting the hearing and the Democrats on the dais who were making a commotion. “This has been the most thorough Supreme Court process that I’ve ever participated in,” said Hatch, who was elected in 1976.
A former presidential candidate himself, he noted that several Democrats on the Judiciary Committee plan to run in 2020 and they want to get on television by being needlessly provocative. “They have to turn the volume up to 11 to paint you as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” Hatch explained to Kavanaugh, raising his voice to speak over protesters who were screaming in the hearing room. “I don't know that the committee should have to put up with this type of insolence that's going on in this room today and, frankly, these people are so out of line they shouldn't even be allowed in the doggone room.”
More than 70 protesters, mostly women, were arrested in the Hart Senate Office Building by the end of the day — an unusually high number, even for a high-profile hearing.
-- During seven hours of opening statements on the first day of hearings that will continue through Friday, the word “unprecedented” was uttered a perhaps-unprecedented 20 times, by at least seven senators from both parties:
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) complained that Bill Burck, a buddy of Kavanaugh who worked for him in the White House, is in control of the document production process, instead of the National Archives. “It's unprecedented that this committee has ceded its role to a partisan outside lawyer,” said Booker.
“To require the minority to pre-clear our questions, our documents and the videos we would like to use at this hearing is unprecedented,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).
“If we're going to safeguard the rule of law in this country,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), “our Supreme Court must be a bulwark against unprecedented violations of law, deprivations of freedom and abuses of power by our president.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the No. 2 in GOP leadership, told Democrats to “get a grip.” He said the pandemonium was “unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in a confirmation hearing” and accused Democrats of trying to govern by “mob rule.”
“What we’ve heard is the noise of democracy,” replied Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “It is not mob rule!”
-- Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said what was truly “unprecedented” was when Democrats blocked Robert Bork’s confirmation back in 1987. “This is my 15th Supreme Court confirmation hearing since I joined the committee in 1981,” said the Iowa Republican. “Thirty-one-years ago, during my fourth Supreme Court confirmation hearing, liberal outside groups and their Senate allies engaged in an unprecedented smear campaign against Judge Robert Bork.”
Bork, as the solicitor general, conspired with Richard Nixon in 1973 to carry out the “Saturday Night Massacre” and fire Archibald Cox in a scheme to obstruct the special prosecutor’s investigation into the Watergate affair. He did so after then-attorney general Elliot Richardson and deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus had resigned rather than do so. Bork’s nomination to the high court went down 42 to 58 on the Senate floor, with six Republicans joining every Democrat in opposition. Ronald Reagan subsequently nominated Anthony Kennedy as a more moderate replacement.
Kavanaugh is now up for this seat, which Grassley still resents did not go to Bork. The chairman read at length from an op-ed that ran over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal by conservative legal blogger Mark Pulliam. “By confirming Judge Kavanaugh,” Pulliam wrote, “the Senate can go some way toward atoning for its shameful treatment of Justice Robert Bork 31 years ago.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), whose father was Reagan’s solicitor general, also complained about Bork being blocked during his opening statement. “It remains something of a rock-bottom moment for the Senate and for the Senate Judiciary Committee,” he said.
The chorus of reverent Republican paeans to Bork, whose legacy will always be tainted by his role as the hatchet man in the “Saturday Night Massacre,” were particularly striking against the backdrop of Democratic charges that Kavanaugh would give legal air cover to Trump in the plausible scenario that he moves against Bob Mueller, as well as the continuing unwillingness of congressional Republicans to pass legislation that would safeguard the special counsel.
In this vein, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) argued that holding the hearing is “unprecedented … because [Trump] is an unindicted co-conspirator who has nominated a potential justice who will cast the swing vote on issues relating to his possible criminal culpability, including whether he is required to obey a subpoena or to appear before a grand jury, whether he is required to testify in a prosecution of his friends or associates or other officials in his administration and whether in fact he is required to stand trial if he is indicted while he is president.”
-- Introducing himself to the committee as reasonable and collegial, Kavanaugh described Merrick Garland as a personal “friend” and a “superb” chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where they have served together for more than a decade. “I am proud of that body of work and I stand behind it,” Kavanaugh said.
Perhaps this was meant as an olive branch, but Democrats took it as trolling. Garland, after all, was Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia in 2016, and Senate Republicans refused to give him a hearing or otherwise consider his nomination. As much as anything else, the GOP’s treatment of Garland two years ago destroyed the last vestiges of comity in the judicial nominations process. Three Democrats cited him during the hearing on Tuesday to call for a postponement.
Kavanaugh’s comment about Garland wasn’t the only thing that rubbed salt in open wounds. Tuesday’s hearing featured sometimes naked displays of brute political force by a party that has just a one-seat majority in the Senate.
“You had a chance, and you lost,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told the Democrats. “If you want to pick judges from your way of thinking, then you better win an election.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) claimed that the GOP’s refusal to allow a hearing for Garland actually gives Gorsuch and Kavanaugh “super legitimacy” because voters in 2016 knew that the next president would get to pick at least one justice. By releasing a list of the judges he’d pick from, Cruz said, Trump provided “unprecedented transparency.”
“This is an attempt by the Democrats to relitigate the 2016 presidential election,” Cruz continued.
To be sure, when it looked like Hillary Clinton was probably going to win, Cruz argued that Republicans should consider keeping the seat vacant for her entire term.
-- Republican senators also attacked their Democratic colleagues for participating in a Sunday conference call to discuss strategy, but these same GOP members have also been going to the White House complex for several weeks to participate in mock confirmation hearings with Kavanaugh. They’ve pretended to be Democratic senators in these moot sessions and coached Kavanaugh on how to deflect expected inquiries from the other side.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) predicted that Kavanaugh will follow “confirmation etiquette” when he begins taking questions. “It's mostly a sham,” said Whitehouse. “You know the game,” the senator told Kavanaugh, who looked back at him stone-faced. “In the Bush White House, you coached judicial nominees to just tell senators that they have a commitment to follow Supreme Court precedent, that they will adhere to statutory text and that they have no ideological agenda. Fairy tales!”
-- Even before the judge delivered his opening statement, Grassley announced that he plans to advance Kavanaugh through the Judiciary Committee on Sept. 20. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already said he will get him confirmed on the floor during the last week of this month. That way he’ll be able to cast a vote on the cases that the court will hear as soon as its term starts on Oct. 1. “If you don’t run the committee, it runs you,” said Grassley.
Last year, McConnell went “nuclear” — in the parlance of the Senate — by changing the rules of the body to allow Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed by a simple majority — instead of 60 votes. Harry Reid shortsightedly changed the rules four years earlier to allow lower-court nominees to be confirmed this way, but he said at the time that the Supreme Court process should stay sacrosanct.
Going nuclear means that presidents are more likely to pick ideological nominees when their party controls the Senate, whether from the right or the left, because they no longer need any members of the other party to cross over to secure 60 votes. Kavanaugh can be muscled onto the court with only GOP votes, which makes his confirmation a sort of fait accompli. He does not need to make concessions or agree to recuse himself from certain cases.
The result of the rule changes is a Senate that’s become more majoritarian. Members of the minority have fewer prerogatives. This is a recipe for institutional decay. No one who watched yesterday’s circus could credibly call the Senate the world’s greatest deliberative body. It certainly isn’t what James Madison had in mind when he designed the upper chamber as a cooling saucer on the passions of the people’s representatives in the House. Republicans will probably come to regret the rule changes when they again, inevitably, find themselves in the minority and Democrats treat them as they’re now being treated. That probably won’t happen next year, but perhaps in 2021 or 2023.
But there’s no going back now. Why would Democrats tie their hands and hold their nominees in the future to a higher standard than Republicans have held theirs? Neither party’s base would tolerate unilateral disarmament.
-- The Kavanaugh hearing is dramatically more intense than last year’s Gorsuch hearing because both sides expect he will tip the balance of the court. Gorsuch was replacing the consistently conservative Scalia, but Kavanaugh is replacing Kennedy — who has been the iconoclastic swing vote on the court since Sandra Day O’Connor retired. Now Chief Justice John Roberts, who is much further to the right than Kennedy, will become the swing vote.
“It was a poisonous session, as acrimonious as I have witnessed since sitting in the committee’s hearing room for the grilling of Anita Hill during the second round of the Clarence Thomas hearings,” writes columnist Ruth Marcus. “And while no dispute over documents, however impassioned, can rival the Hill-Thomas encounter, the Republican majority’s handling of this issue will be even more dangerous for the future of the Senate’s ability to conduct its constitutional duty of advice and consent.”
-- “Kavanaugh may not become the most conservative member of the court, but his background suggests he would be the most partisan,” Dana Milbank explains in today’s paper. “Democrats say the committee received only 7 percent of Kavanaugh’s White House documents — and some of those have been altered, while half cannot be discussed publicly. Why? They would likely reinforce what is already known about Kavanaugh as a nakedly partisan appointment, solidifying the court’s transition from a deliberative body to what is effectively another political branch. …
“Among the Kavanaugh documents that have been released: an email sent to him in 2002 by a White House spokeswoman about a column I was writing. ‘Dude, you’ve got trouble,’ it says, informing Kavanaugh that I wanted to discuss Clinton pardons and his work for [Ken] Starr. Kavanaugh’s two-word reply: ‘uh oh.’ Kavanaugh didn’t talk for the piece, which argued that ‘a cynical view of Kavanaugh’s actions would be that he bases his legal reasoning on his conservative views — that he supports broad powers for a Republican president and circumscribed powers for a Democratic president.’ What has emerged about Kavanaugh — particularly his vulgar plan to humiliate [Bill] Clinton — reinforces that cynical view. This is why Kavanaugh’s defenders don’t want the documents to come out.”
-- In another 2002 email, Kavanaugh noted that he was being “blasted” for withholding presidential records. A White House colleague quipped that they were “denying historians and generations of American school children important information about their government.”
“Careful,” a second White House official responded in a message that was sent to Kavanaugh, according to Michael Kranish. “These e-mails will all be disclosed in 12 years.”
“Not if Brett can help it,” the first White House official responded.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
-- Ten-term Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.) lost his primary race to Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, a major upset that marks another victory for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. David Weigel reports: “‘You saw what I saw: That these times demanded more from our leaders and our party,’ Pressley told cheering supporters in Boston. … Capuano acknowledged the district’s desires in remarks after early returns showed him losing his old political base to the challenger. ‘Clearly, the district wanted a lot of change,’ Capuano said. ‘Ayanna Pressley is going to be a good congresswoman.’ Pressley, 44, is set to become the first black woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress, as Republicans are running no candidate in the 7th District. Capuano, 66, first won the seat in 1998 but struggled to keep up with Pressley as she argued that a young and majority-nonwhite district needed a fresh voice in Washington.
“Capuano has been one of the House’s most reliably left-wing votes, especially on issues of war and defense funding. Pressley, a former Capitol Hill staffer long seen as a political star, had argued that she could lead 'a movement' from the seat while Capuano was content to simply vote the right way. … But Pressley ran to Capuano’s left on a few key issues, calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and for restoring voting rights to prisoners. She also gained an advantage over Capuano when the congressman groused that Democrats were becoming ‘balkanized’ by racial identity.
“Polling found a consistent lead for Capuano, who locked up endorsements from Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and most local labor unions. But [Elizabeth] Warren and some other Democratic leaders stayed neutral in the race, while the Boston Globe and a number of local liberal groups backed Pressley. The challenger got a burst of attention after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) with a similar message.”
A Boston Globe reporter puts this in perspective:
A black woman will now represent Massachusetts in a congressional seat that was once held by Tip O’Neill and John Kennedy.— Matt Viser (@mviser) September 5, 2018
-- British prosecutors have charged two Russian suspects with attempted murder tied to the March nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Karla Adam reports: “The two men, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, were charged with the attempted murder of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. They were also charged with the attempted murder of Nick Bailey, a British police officer who also fell ill from the nerve agent. All three have since recovered. … [Sue Hemming, the Crown Prosecution Service’s director of legal services,] said Britain would not apply to Russia to extradite the men because Russia’s constitution does not allow the extradition of its own nationals. But she said Britain has obtained a European arrest warrant for Petrov and Boshirov.”
-- Tropical Storm Gordon, which has already killed at least one person, made landfall just west of the Alabama-Mississippi border. Jason Samenow reports: “As the core of the storm came ashore, winds have gusted up to 72 mph on Alabama’s Dauphin Island and to 61 mph in Pensacola. One person has died in the storm, according to the National Weather Service, when a tree fell on a trailer near Pensacola. In Alabama, about 10,000 power outages have been reported — mostly in counties near the coast. Flash flood warnings are in effect over parts of the western Florida panhandle and southern Alabama as up to several inches of rain has fallen and more is expected overnight.”
-- A GAO “performance audit” found that FEMA was overwhelmed by last year’s series of major hurricanes and wildfires across the country. From Joel Achenbach and Arelis R. Hernández: “The GAO report concludes that FEMA generally carried out its duties as expected when responding within the continental United States — to hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the California wildfires — but it found that FEMA was not ready for what Hurricane Maria did to Puerto Rico. … Some of the FEMA staff deployed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands ‘were not physically able to handle the extreme or austere environment of the territories, which detracted from mission needs,’ according to the report.”
GET SMART FAST:
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) announced that he will not seek reelection in 2019, an unexpected end to the former White House chief of staff's eight years in office, including a second term that was plagued by his mishandling of the 2014 Laquan McDonald shooting. He declined to endorse a candidate in the race to replace him. (Chicago Tribune)
Amazon became the second American company to reach a market value of $1 trillion, following in Apple’s footsteps. Amazon shares rose to $2,050.50 yesterday morning, allowing it to reach the $1-trillion mark. (Abha Bhattarai)
The scandal-ridden blood-testing company Theranos plans to formally dissolve. The move comes three months after the company’s founder, Elizabeth Holmes, was charged with defrauding investors, doctors and patients. (Wall Street Journal)
Cities responded with outrage to the Justice Department's threat to take “swift and aggressive action” against “supervised injection sites.” Such sites — under consideration in cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York City — have been proposed as a way to monitor illegal drug users to minimize overdoses amid the opioid epidemic. (Lenny Bernstein and Katie Zezima)
The FBI recovered a pair of ruby slippers from the “Wizard of Oz,” which were stolen in a brazen 2005 smash-and-grab robbery from a museum in Grand Rapids, Minn. The slippers were insured for $1 million. (BuzzFeed News)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk renewed his baseless accusation that one of the Thai cave rescuers was a pedophile. In a new series of emails, Musk accused British diver Vernon Unsworth of being a “child rapist” who moved to Thailand to take a child bride. (BuzzFeed News)
Monica Lewinsky walked offstage at a Jerusalem conference after a top Israeli news anchor asked whether she “still expected” a personal apology from Bill Clinton. Lewinsky said the question violated an agreement that such topics would be “off-limits” during the interview. (Ruth Eglash)
A new study found that half of airport security bins may carry viruses that cause respiratory infections. Researchers also noted that, due to frequent cleaning, the toilet was the most virus-free spot tested in the Helsinki Airport during the peak of the 2015-2016 flu season. (Martine Powers)
NBC announced a 13-episode order of “Law & Order: Hate Crimes.” Executive producer Dick Wolf said he hoped the show would create a dialogue about hate crimes as “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” did for sexual assault. (Antonia Noori Farzan)
- A kindergarten principal in China was fired after she hired a pole dancer to perform for hundreds of incoming students on their first day of school. In video footage, students — who range from ages 3 to 6 — can be seen dancing excitedly while the pole dancer perches and swings above them on a flagpole in the school’s courtyard. (BuzzFeed)
BOB WOODWARD'S NEW BOOK:
- Top administration officials, including former chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, stole documents from Trump's desk, so that he was unable to see or sign them: “Cohn 'stole a letter off Trump’s desk' that the president was intending to sign to formally withdraw the United States from a trade agreement with South Korea. Cohn later told an associate that he removed the letter to protect national security and that Trump did not notice that it was missing. Cohn made a similar play to prevent Trump from pulling the United States out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, something the president has long threatened to do.”
- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis vented that Trump “acted like — and had the understanding of — a fifth- or sixth-grader.” This came after a January National Security Council meeting at which Trump “disregarded the significance of the massive U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, including a special intelligence operation that allows the United States to detect a North Korean missile launch in seven seconds vs. 15 minutes from Alaska . . . Trump questioned why the government was spending resources in the region at all.” “We’re doing this in order to prevent World War III,” Mattis told him.
- Trump told Mattis he wanted to “assassinate” President Bashar al-Assad following the Syrian government’s chemical attacks on civilians in 2017. “Let’s [f---ing] kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the [f---ing] lot of them,” Trump said of Assad. “Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: 'We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.' The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.”
- John Kelly, who often lost his temper with Trump, complained that the commander in chief was “unhinged.” “He’s an idiot,” Kelly reportedly remarked during one meeting. “It’s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He’s gone off the rails. We’re in Crazytown. I don’t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I’ve ever had.’”
- Kelly’s predecessor, Reince Priebus, referred to Trump’s early-morning tweetstorms as “the witching hour” and the bedroom — where Trump watches cable news and tweets — as the “devil's workshop.”
- Trump referred to his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, as “mentally retarded” and a “dumb Southerner,” who “couldn’t even be a one-person country lawyer down in Alabama.”
-- “Woodward depicts Trump’s anger and paranoia about the Russia inquiry as unrelenting, at times paralyzing the West Wing for entire days,” per Phil and Bob. “Learning of the appointment of [Robert] Mueller in May 2017, Trump groused, ‘Everybody’s trying to get me’— part of a venting period that shellshocked aides compared to Richard Nixon’s final days as president.”
- Trump did a mock Robert Mueller interview with his then-lawyer John Dowd — which provoked “stumbles, contradictions and lies” until the president lost his cool. “'This thing’s a goddamn hoax,' Trump erupted at the start of a 30-minute rant that finished with him saying, ‘I don’t really want to testify.’”
- In March, Dowd and Jay Sekulow reenacted the January practice session in a meeting with Mueller and his deputy to explain why they were trying to keep Trump from testifying. “Dowd then explained to Mueller and [his deputy James] Quarles why he was trying to keep the president from testifying: 'I’m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot. And you publish that transcript, because everything leaks in Washington, and the guys overseas are going to say, ‘I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?’' 'John, I understand,’ Mueller replied, according to Woodward.”
- Later in March, Dowd told Trump, “Don’t testify. It’s either that or an orange jumpsuit”: “But Trump … had by then decided otherwise. ‘I’ll be a real good witness,’ Trump told Dowd[.] ‘You are not a good witness,’ Dowd replied. ‘Mr. President, I’m afraid I just can’t help you.’ The next morning, Dowd resigned.”
-- Trump called Woodward last month to say he wanted to participate in the project, repeatedly claiming his staff hadn’t informed him of an interview request. According to a transcript of the call, Trump told Woodward, “Well, I just spoke with Kellyanne [Conway] and she asked me if I got a call. I never got a call. I never got a message. Who did you ask about speaking to me?” “Well, about six people,” Woodward replied. Trump later added, “It’s really too bad, because nobody told me about it, and I would’ve loved to have spoken to you. You know I’m very open to you. I think you’ve always been fair. We’ll see what happens.” But then Trump acknowledged that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) spoke to him about the possibility of talking to Woodward: “I did hear from Lindsey, but I’m just hearing about it. So we’re going to have a very inaccurate book, and that’s too bad. But I don’t blame you entirely.” Woodward responded, "[I]t’s going to be accurate, I promise.”
-- After an initially sluggish response, the White House lined up a string of statements denying elements of the book, while Trump accused Woodward of being a “Dem operative” perpetrating “a con on the public.” From Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: “Mattis called the book ‘fiction,’ and [Sarah Huckabee] Sanders denounced the tome in a statement as ‘nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees’ without disputing any of the specifics that have been reported in excerpts. Trump tweeted the statements Tuesday evening and then, without providing evidence, suggested the book’s release was timed to affect the midterm elections in November. … In a statement to The Post, Woodward said, ‘I stand by my reporting.'
“Despite rumors for weeks that Woodward’s latest project would likely paint a damning portrait of Trump and his team, the White House found itself caught ill prepared Tuesday as scenes from the book emerged. The official pushback initially was slow — coming almost exactly four hours after scenes from ‘Fear’ … began dominating Twitter — and felt pro forma, more Pavlovian muscle memory than rigorous rebuttals. White House officials, for instance, recycled a denial from Kelly back in spring — the last time reports emerged of him calling the president an ‘idiot’ — in which he claimed that he and Trump have ‘an incredibly candid and strong relationship’ and that the ‘idiot’ anecdote was ‘total BS.’ As of Tuesday afternoon, the White House was still scrambling to procure a copy of Woodward’s book, and several White House aides asked reporters if they were mentioned in ‘Fear’ — and, if so, what they were quoted as saying.”
-- Meanwhile, Southern GOP senators defended Sessions and criticized Trump’s purported description of the attorney general as a “dumb Southerner.” From Gabriel Pogrund: “Republican lawmakers are typically cautious in their criticism of Trump’s latest remarks, but on Tuesday several senators who said they had not read the book still bristled at the president’s alleged slight. ‘I’m a Southerner, people can judge my intellect, my IQ, by my product and what I produce rather than what somebody else says,’ Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) said … [Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.)] pointed out that Trump himself relied on Southern voters during the 2016 general election, warning: ‘I guess the president, he says what he thinks . . . I think the president’s probably got a lot of respect for the South, I hope so. He did well there. Without the South he wouldn’t be the president of the United States.’” On Twitter, Trump denied making the remarks, adding that “being a southerner is a GREAT thing.”
-- Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) appointed former senator Jon Kyl to fill John McCain’s Senate seat. In doing so, he managed to strike a delicate balance: satisfying both Trump supporters and those loyal to the late senator. “Up for reelection in November, Ducey faced the dilemma ensnaring other Republicans in 2018: avoid angering Trump, who has a viselike grip on the party, while placating the GOP establishment epitomized by [McCain]," Sean Sullivan and Felicia Sonmez report. “[Kyl] has at times voiced criticism of Trump’s style, [but his shepherding of Kavanaugh through the confirmation process] has also landed him in the good graces of the White House. By Tuesday evening, it was clear that Ducey’s appointment of Kyl had succeeded in bringing about a rare moment of harmony, with Trump, McCain’s family and [Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)] praising the move. Both Meghan McCain and her mother, Cindy, tweeted their support for Kyl, who they described as a friend of the family and a statesman who is well-suited to take up McCain’s mantle in the Senate.
“Kyl, 76, said he was willing to serve through at least the end of the current Congress, injecting a degree of uncertainty about the future of the seat. If Kyl leaves in January, Ducey or his successor must appoint a Republican to fill the seat, according to state law.” There is speculation in Arizona that Ducey could appoint Rep. Martha McSally to replace Kyl during the lame duck if she loses the race for the Flake seat to Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in November.
“Ducey asked Kyl if he would accept the appointment on Aug. 25, the day that McCain died, according to two people close to the governor. Kyl tentatively said he would but added that he needed to check with his wife, Caryll. Within days, he said he was a firm yes.”
-- House Democratic leaders are showing increasing confidence that their party will regain control of the chamber. Mike DeBonis reports: “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter telling colleagues on Tuesday that Democrats ‘must Be Ready for the prospect that we will be in the Majority in January.’ Pelosi said that the top Democrats on House committees will write bills reflecting the party’s ‘For the People’ campaign agenda, with an emphasis on reining in health-care costs, raising wages and cleaning up corruption in Washington. The letter came the same day Pelosi said in an NPR interview that she has ‘every confidence’ that Democrats will reclaim the House. … Meanwhile, the No. 2 House Democratic leader, Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters he is ‘pretty confident’ that voters will return Democrats to power in the House come November.”
-- GOP strategists are seeking to highlight a video of Chuck Schumer suggesting Democrats will quickly work to impeach Trump if they win control of Congress. Politico’s Christopher Cadelago reports: “On Tuesday, the president’s allies began circulating a YouTube clip of the New York Democrat responding to a question from the crowd about when Trump would be impeached. ‘The sooner the better,’ Schumer replied, speaking through a bullhorn to amplify his answer. Pressed about when, the senator added: ‘We got to get a few Republicans. The Democrats are on your side.’ Strategists and advisers close to Trump have tried to rally their base by suggesting that Democrats are hiding their true intentions from voters in hopes of defeating Republicans in November.”
-- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife made their first major political contribution, donating $10 million to a super PAC dedicated to electing veterans from both parties to Congress. The Wall Street Journal’s Reid J. Epstein reports: “The contribution introduces Mr. Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post, to a class of political megadonors that includes Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and California billionaire Tom Steyer, who have each poured more than $100 million into elections over the past decade. But unlike with Messrs. Adelson and Steyer, the Bezos contribution isn’t to a partisan political organization. Instead it is to With Honor Fund, a year-old super PAC that backs veterans of both major parties who are running for House seats.”
-- John Kerry said that he doubts “very much” that he will seek the presidency in 2020, clarifying his comments two days after declining to explicitly rule out a bid. “I've said again and again it's hard to get away from it, but I doubt very much I'll be running for office again,” Kerry said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” “But I'll say this, no one should be focused on 2020 right now, they should be focused on 2018.”
-- Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) is lying low in this year’s reelection campaign amid accusations of election fraud, which involve allegations of forged signatures on a petition to help a rival candidate enter the race. Gregory S. Schneider reports: “Taylor has been subpoenaed to a court hearing Wednesday in Richmond to determine his role and whether that third candidate is improperly on the ballot, while a special prosecutor separately investigates possible campaign law violations. … Taylor’s help came to light in a local television report a month ago. Since then, questions have emerged about dozens of the signatures turned in by Taylor’s staff. Some belonged to dead people, many signed in similar handwriting. Even the name of local Republican Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. was apparently forged, and his name misspelled. … The controversy has boosted his Democratic opponent, Elaine Luria, in a race with national implications. [The 2nd District] went for Trump in 2016 but backed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam last year, [and has been targeted] by Democrats as a possible flip in their quest to regain control of the House.”
-- A panel of federal judges decided against forcing North Carolina to redraw its congressional map, which has repeatedly been ruled unconstitutional, before the midterms. From Politico’s Josh Gerstein: “The decision Tuesday came after groups challenging the state's district map said they opposed making such a change so close to the Nov. 6 contest. ‘Having carefully reviewed the parties’ briefing and supporting materials, we conclude that there is insufficient time for this Court to approve a new districting plan and for the State to conduct an election using that plan prior to the seating of the new Congress in January 2019,’ … Judges James Wynn Jr., William Osteen Jr. and W. Earl Britt wrote in a joint order.”
-- Former Democratic senator Mark Begich declined to exit Alaska’s gubernatorial race, despite fears from within his party that his candidacy could hand a victory to Republicans. The Anchorage Daily News’s Annie Zak and Tegan Hanlon report: “Begich is facing off against incumbent Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, and former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican. Some Democrats have said they're concerned Begich and Walker will split the vote, resulting in a Dunleavy win. Walker is a Republican-turned-independent, who is running again this year with his Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, a Democrat.”
-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) released a highly misleading ad that appears to show his opponent, Beto O’Rourke, endorsing flag-burning, but the clip relies on a heavily edited comment from the Democratic congressman. The Dallas Morning News’s Todd J. Gillman reports: “O'Rourke did not say he's ‘grateful’ for flag burning. Nor did he say that flag burning is ‘inherently American.’ But that's how the Cruz campaign portrays O'Rourke's remarks from an El Paso town hall on Friday, in a 25-second video posted on the senator's campaign page and shared through social media. The challenger's camp called it a sign that Cruz is so worried about his re-election prospects, he is willing to twist facts.”
-- Bill Graves, a former Republican governor of Kansas, endorsed the Democrat running in the state’s gubernatorial race over Kris Kobach. Graves said in a statement that he planned to support state Sen. Laura Kelly because, “She has all the qualities and all the capabilities that we are looking for to lead the state during this difficult time and to reestablish the state to what it once was.” Kansas City Star’s Hunter Woodall reports: “Graves, who served as governor from 1995 to 2003, is the most prominent Republican to support Kelly this election cycle.”
-- Michigan Democrats pointed to a shift in the Republican Governors Association’s advertising spending as a sign that the GOP establishment is abandoning the state’s gubernatorial race. The Detroit Free Press's Kathleen Gray reports: “The RGA still has reserved $5.6 million in advertising time around the state through Nov. 6, but has shifted $1.5 million from TV spending in metro Detroit and Grand Rapids, the two largest population — and voting — centers in the state. … Republicans said these types of changes happen all the time and aren’t a cause for concern, but Democrats said recent polling has shown [Democrat Gretchen Whitmer] with a significant lead in the race and the GOP is probably looking to other states, like Ohio and Florida, where the race for governor is much tighter.”
-- GOP officials are criticizing Democratic congressional candidate Abigail Spanberger, who spent a year substitute teaching at a Saudi-funded Islamic school in Northern Virginia, for Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women and gays. Laura Vozzella reports: “‘Is she comfortable with the policies Saudi Arabia has on the books related to women’s rights and LGBTQ rights?’ the state GOP asked in a news release issued Tuesday. ‘Did she ever report any female students for violating the full body covering dress code at the Academy?’ Spanberger dismissed the attack without directly responding to the party's questions. ‘These attempts to question my strong national security and law enforcement background, including my time spent in the CIA thwarting the terrorist threat, are simply desperate and weak coming from political operatives,’ she said in an email via her campaign.”
-- The New York Times editorial board endorses Gov. Andrew Cuomo over actress Cynthia Nixon ahead of next week’s Democratic primary.
THERE’S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:
-- Mueller said he is willing to accept written answers from Trump on whether his campaign coordinated with Russia in their efforts to influence the 2016 election, according to a letter sent to the president's legal team on Friday. The special counsel has yet to receive a response to the concession. Carol D. Leonnig reports: “Mueller did not rule out interviewing the president as part of his wide-ranging inquiry. His [letter indicated] that he may revisit his long-running request to pose questions to Trump directly about Russia’s activities during the campaign after reviewing his answers. And the special counsel left open the possibility that he may still try to press Trump in person about a second piece of his investigation: whether the president has sought to block the probe since taking office. On potential obstruction of justice issues, ‘he said he’d assess it down the road,’ said one [source]. ‘They’re essentially saying, ‘We’ll deal with this at a later date.’ … Some of Trump’s advisers viewed Mueller’s new letter as a sign of begrudging acceptance that he would lose a legal battle [compelling Trump to] testify. But others saw it as just another volley in a 10-month-long legal tussle.”
-- New York comedian and political “performance artist” Randy Credico will testify before a grand jury in Mueller's probe on Friday -- where he is expected to be grilled about his friendship with Trump ally Roger Stone, who claims he acted as a conduit to Julian Assange during the 2016 election. (Credico said he's also planning to do some impressions during his appearance– and is considering bringing along his 14-pound dog, Bianca, for companionship.) The New York Times’s Danny Hakim reports: “Politics in the Trump era has always had a reality show feel, but the Randy Credico chapter … is a high point. Mr. Credico is a political performance artist and sometime New York protest candidate. He is a man who has a ‘Tonight Show’ appearance on his résumé and … campaigned so aggressively against the tough Rockefeller drug laws that The New Yorker once called him ‘The Man Who Screamed So Loud the Drug Laws Changed.’ He has been known to dress as the Greek philosopher Diogenes and prowl the State Capitol building, where he once protested marijuana laws by lighting up a joint.
“Mr. Credico … has visited Mr. Assange at the embassy three times since the [2016 election], and conducted a phone interview with him for a radio show … But Mr. Credico, while not formally cooperating with the investigation, said he would share whatever information he has and, toward that end, recently met voluntarily with Mr. Mueller’s investigators in advance of his testimony."
-- FBI Director Christopher Wray has become the latest official to draw Trump’s ire in recent days — with the president blasting James Comey’s replacement as yet another Justice Department official who is “possibly out to undermine” him. NBC News’s Carol E. Lee, Nicolle Wallace and Kristen Welker report: “Trump is ‘in the worst mood of his presidency and calling friends and allies to vent about his selection of [Jeff Sessions and Wray],’ said one person familiar with the president’s thinking. This person said the president was particularly focused on both men over the Labor Day weekend. [Until] now, the president has been cautious about [publicly criticizing Wray]. That has changed … as Trump’s frustration with his Justice Department has escalated. He’s pointed to issues such as the resistance by the FBI to turn over documents to congressional Republicans. … Trump has at times been wound up by Tom Fitton, the president of the conservative advocacy group Judicial Watch, and a regular commentator on Fox News, who has been sharply critical of Wray and what he describes as corruption at the FBI.”
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN AND WOMEN:
-- A new inspector general report found that the EPA lacked proper justification before authorizing former administrator Scott Pruitt’s 24/7 security detail — which ultimately cost the agency a whopping $3.5 million. Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin report: “Those costs covered just 11 months from February to December 2017 — more than double the cost during the same period a year earlier. ‘The increased costs associated with this undocumented decision represents an inefficient use of agency resources,’ the report concluded. Pruitt began receiving 24/7 protection from the moment he took office [at the request of a Trump political appointee] … Guarding Pruitt soon demanded triple the manpower of previous protective details, requiring EPA special agents to pause criminal investigations and rotate in from around the country. In its report Tuesday, EPA inspector general Arthur Elkins said the agency had no formal threat assessment process to determine what was actually warranted. Rather, the agency relied on an August 2017 report that listed threats against Pruitt and his family but ‘did not assess the potential danger presented by any of these threats.’”
-- In the year and a half since she entered office, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been unable to advance her lifelong cause of school choice. Laura Meckler reports: “That’s partly because DeVos herself emerged badly damaged from a brutal confirmation process, with few people — even in her own party — interested in taking up her pet cause. She’s also been stymied by division among Republicans over the idea of federal incentives for school choice. And Democrats are united against her. … And if Democrats gain power after this fall’s midterm elections, chances for action would fall even further. For all practical purposes, the fight is over, and she lost. School choice has become the latest ambitious policy plan to arrive in Washington with great hope, only to die a quiet death.”
-- Senior career executives at the Education Department have been asked to consider taking on new positions, potentially signaling a staff shake-up at the agency. Laura reports: “While not all of those workers may be reassigned, every member of the department’s Senior Executive Service was asked last month to select two or three positions for potential reassignment, according to a memo viewed by The Washington Post. An attachment listed 68 jobs that could be affected, including positions in finance, acquisitions, budget, ethics, human resources, privacy and planning. Some people, inside and outside the agency, see the move as an effort to undermine career staff. Others say shifting senior executives can be healthy for the individuals and for the department.”
WASHINGTON VS. SILICON VALLEY:
-- Top Twitter and Facebook executives will testify in back-to-back hearings on Capitol Hill today. From Tony Romm: “The political gantlet begins in the Senate, where the Intelligence Committee will host Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter. They'll testify — their first time on Capitol Hill — at a hearing on foreign governments that spread misinformation on social media. … Later Wednesday, Dorsey alone will head to the House, where the tech-focused Energy and Commerce Committee plans to delve into Twitter's powerful algorithm — and the way the company polices hate speech, harassment and other ills. The broad focus is in name only, as Republicans called the hearing in response to allegations that Twitter is silencing conservatives.”
-- The executives intend to take an apologetic approach in addressing their companies’ past failures, while emphasizing their growing efforts to combat disinformation. The New York Times’s Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel report: “‘We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act. That’s on us,’ Ms. Sandberg said in prepared testimony … ‘We’re getting better at finding and combating our adversaries, from financially motivated troll farms to sophisticated military intelligence operations.’ … The tech executives’ strategy of appeasing lawmakers will most likely meet resistance, as animus toward the companies has been whipped up further by [Trump], who has claimed that social media sites are deliberately suppressing some information. And with the midterm elections in November, Ms. Sandberg and Mr. Dorsey will be pushed to reveal whether the measures they have taken to prevent disinformation and manipulation are starting to work.”
-- The Senate Intelligence Committee may mark Google’s absence from the hearing with an empty chair. Wired’s Issie Lapowsky reports: “The committee extended the invitation to Google CEO Sundar Pichai as well as [Google cofounder Larry] Page, who is CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, but the company wanted to send senior vice president Kent Walker instead. The committee refused, leaving a glaring hole where one of the biggest internet giants in the world should be.” “[I]f Google thinks we’re just going to go away, they’re sadly mistaken,” Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel, said. “I’ve had a great working relationship with Google over the years, but I’ve been generally surprised that they might not want to be part of the conversation about how we fix this and get solutions.”
-- Twitter’s policy chief said that Trump would not be immune from getting kicked off the platform for violating its rules. Politico’s Nancy Scola and Ashley Gold report: “The social media company's rules against vitriolic tweets offer leeway for world leaders whose statements are newsworthy, but that ‘is not a blanket exception for the president or anyone else,’ Twitter legal and policy chief Vijaya Gadde [said] in an interview alongside [Dorsey].”
THE #METOO MOVEMENT:
-- The DOJ inspector general’s office is investigating how the FBI handled sexual abuse allegations against sports physician Larry Nassar. The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Davis O’Brien reports: “The Justice Department is scrutinizing how multiple FBI field offices acted on — or failed to act on — gymnasts’ claims against Nassar, starting in late July 2015, when USA Gymnastics leadership reported the athletes’ concerns to the FBI’s Indianapolis field office. The FBI didn’t open a formal investigation into Nassar until the spring of 2016. In particular, investigators are interested in the Indianapolis FBI office’s 2015 dealings with the gymnasts, a person familiar with the matter said. Around September 2015, an agent in the field office spoke with former Olympian McKayla Maroney over the phone — rather than in person — to discuss her allegations of abuse by Nassar. That conversation didn’t lead to an investigation.”
-- The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said it has declined to file sexual assault charges against Kevin Spacey, Anthony Anderson and Steven Seagal. In a formal declination, prosecutors said the statute of limitations had expired in the accusations brought against Spacey and Seagal in the early 1990s, while Anderson’s accuser declined to be interviewed as part of an investigation. (ABC News)
-- A police report revealed that JD.com CEO Richard Liu was arrested on suspicion of rape in Minneapolis. Police officers originally described the accusations against the Chinese tech billionaire as sexual assault, a term that covers a range of unwanted contact. The e-commerce giant’s stock fell to an 18-month low shortly after Liu’s arrest. (Danielle Paquette and Luna Lin)
-- Cardinal Donald Wuerl traveled to Rome last week to consult with Pope Francis about how to address claims that he mishandled allegations of clerical sexual abuse. Francis instructed the archbishop of Washington to meet with his priests back home. That meeting took place Monday night, and the priests were rather split on whether Wuerl should resign. (Michelle Boorstein)
-- Bill Cosby’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was vandalized with the words “serial rapist.” Los Angeles police are investigating the incident, which was at least the fourth time Cosby’s star has been vandalized. The word “rapist” was written across the star three times in 2014 as the now-convicted comedian faced mounting sexual assault allegations. (LA Times)
THE NEW WORLD ORDER:
-- European allies are devising creative new ways to skirt Trump’s sanctions on Iran as they work to keep the 2015 nuclear accord alive without U.S. involvement. NBC News’s Josh Lederman and Dan De Luce report: “With a second round of U.S. sanctions set to take effect in November, European officials are working at cross-purposes with Trump's ‘maximum pressure’ campaign as they try to preserve as much business as possible with Iran. The goal is to persuade Iran's leaders to stay in the deal for a few more years — perhaps long enough for Trump to be replaced and for a new U.S. president to rejoin the deal. Among the creative workarounds under discussion in Brussels and other capitals: Devising an alternative — free from U.S. influence — to the current electronic system used to transfer money from place to place … And since commercial banks must stop handling transactions with Iran or face U.S. penalties, European countries are considering using their own central banks to transfer funds to Iran, wagering that Trump wouldn't go so far as to sanction an ally's central bank.”
-- Canada shows no signs of relenting in its demands for the NAFTA renegotiation. From Reuters’s David Lawder and David Ljunggren: “The Trump administration, eager for an agreement to be signed soon, wants to scrap a dispute-resolution mechanism that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says is crucial. The two sides, which failed to settle their differences last week, are also arguing over U.S. demands for more access to Canada’s closed dairy market. Trudeau said on Tuesday: ‘There are a number of things we absolutely must see in a renegotiated NAFTA,’ and reiterated he would not sign a bad deal.”
-- Russian warplanes bombed a rebel-held city in Syria’s Idlib province, killing at least nine people and raising fears of an all-out government offensive that could trigger a humanitarian disaster. The northern Idlib region has served as a final rebel stronghold in Syria’s civil war, and has become something of a “holding pen” for the millions of civilians, activists, journalists and aid workers displaced by the conflict. (Louisa Loveluck)
-- Meanwhile, the United States warned Syria's president not to use chemical weapons against civilians — threatening to respond “swiftly and appropriately” if pro-government forces wage such attacks in the Idlib province. (Reuters)
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
An AP photographer captured this moment at Kavanaugh's hearing:
Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was killed in the shooting in Parkland, Fla., left, tries to shake hands with @realDonaldTrump's Supreme Court nom., Brett Kavanaugh, right, during a lunch break. Kavanaugh did not shake his hand. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) @ap pic.twitter.com/smcCGuLT6X— Andrew Harnik (@andyharnik) September 4, 2018
In damage control mode, Trump's deputy press secretary sought to downplay the snub:
As Judge Kavanaugh left for his lunch break, an unidentified individual approached him. Before the Judge was able to shake his hand, security had intervened. https://t.co/ylOhtA1s6G— Raj Shah (@RajShah45) September 4, 2018
Guttenberg rebutted Shah's account:
Incorrect. I was here all day and introduced by Senator Feinstein. No security involved. He turned and walked away.— Fred Guttenberg (@fred_guttenberg) September 4, 2018
The executive editor of Lawfare, a former lawyer for the NSA, watched video of the exchange posted by the White House and said it didn't help its case:
I recognize it was an uncomfortable moment, but it would not have been difficult to say "I don't think it's appropriate for me to speak right now, but I'm very sorry for your loss."— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) September 4, 2018
Actress Piper Perabo was arrested at the hearing:
I was just arrested for civil disobedience in the Kavanaugh hearings.— Piper Perabo (@PiperPerabo) September 4, 2018
Many citizens before me have fought for the equal rights of women. I can’t be silent when someone is nominated to the Supreme Court who would take our equal rights away.#StopKavanaghpic.twitter.com/f3SG7gmVam
Trump's campaign used the Kavanaugh protests as an opportunity to fundraise:
The Trump campaign is now fundraising off of Brett Kavanaugh's kids having to witness protesters in his confirmation hearing. 😐 pic.twitter.com/zWdD7zJCBz— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) September 4, 2018
But the campaign wasn't alone in its fundraising efforts:
Gabby Giffords' gun control group is now raising money off the photo of Brett Kavanaugh blowing off Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland school shooting. pic.twitter.com/XulR33y99q— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) September 4, 2018
From a New York Times reporter:
I’ve covered five other Supreme Court confirmation hearings. None of them included anything like the chaos in the opening minutes of the Kavanaugh hearings this morning.— Adam Liptak (@adamliptak) September 4, 2018
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez congratulated Ayanna Pressley on her primary victory:
This photo was taken months ago.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) September 5, 2018
.@AyannaPressley I bonded over running while constantly told it’s “not our turn,” that we “weren’t ready,” “good enough,” or “experienced” enough.
We kept going anyway.
In June, I won my primary. Tonight, she won hers.
Here’s to November.🚀 pic.twitter.com/4Xf8AnTMUQ
One Post reporter contrasted Pressley's win and Biden's appearance at Pittsburgh's Labor Day Parade:
Yesterday: 75-year old Joe Biden at a Labor Day parade.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) September 5, 2018
Today: 44-year old Ayanna Pressley knocking off a scandal-free white dude incumbent.
You gotta wonder if this iteration of the Democratic Party is hungering for an old, white, male standard-bearer in 2020.
Another Post reporter envisioned how differently things would be for Capuano if he won his 2009 Senate primary:
Alternate political reality: Mike Capuano wins primary in Dec. 2009 for Senate, takes the special election serious, defeats Scott Brown & is remembered as heroic vote 60 for an ACA that is more cleaned up than current version, possibly softening blow of 2013 rollout.— Paul Kane (@pkcapitol) September 5, 2018
A Cook Political Report editor offered this statistic:
The share of House Rs who are white men is 86% and rising.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) September 5, 2018
The share of House Dems who are white men is 41% and falling. #MA07
Trump's criticism of Bob Woodward caused this 2013 tweet to recirculate:
Only the Obama WH can get away with attacking Bob Woodward.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2013
This morning, Trump suggested lawmakers should change libel laws:
Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
George W. Bush's former press secretary defended Woodward's book:
I've been on the receiving end of a Bob Woodward book. There were quotes in it I didn't like. But never once - never - did I think Woodward made it up. Anonymous sources have looser lips and may take liberties. But Woodward always plays is straight. Someone told it to him.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) September 4, 2018
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) celebrated the selection of Jon Kyl to fill McCain's seat:
Governor Ducey has selected Senator Jon Kyl as Senator McCain’s replacement. What an excellent choice! There is no one more qualified and Arizona is well served. Kudos to Senator Kyl for his willingness to serve once again.— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) September 4, 2018
McCain's widow also sang Kyl's praises:
Jon Kyl is a dear friend of mine and John’s. It’s a great tribute to John that he is prepared to go back into public service to help the state of Arizona.— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) September 4, 2018
Trump noted his business relationship with Nike to explain why he's not criticizing the company for using Colin Kaepernick as the face of a major new ad campaign. From a Daily Beast reporter:
I feel like the insanity of that very matter-of-fact statement isn't really getting through.— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) September 4, 2018
This national anthem kneeling debate is total Trump catnip. He routinely uses the POTUS bully pulpit to hammer it.
He's not doing so here, because the company at issue is paying him.
An American Enterprise Institute scholar compared Trump to Andy Griffith's character in a 1957 movie:
Everyone should watch or rewatch “A Face in the Crowd,” a stunning movie about a dangerous demagogue, played brilliantly by Andy Griffith. Donald Trump is so much like Lonesome Rhodes. Except Rhodes was undone by his contempt for his followers. https://t.co/xAU0un2htg— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) September 4, 2018
And a GOP Senate candidate in Montana confused the Second Amendment with Article II:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
-- New York Times, “A Facebook War: Libyans Battle on the Streets and on Screens,” by Declan Walsh and Suliman Ali Zway: “When a new bout of fighting between rival militias engulfed the Libyan capital in [recent days], some combatants picked up rifles and rocket launchers and headed into the streets. Others logged on to Facebook. Social media enjoys outsize influence in Libya, a sparsely populated yet violently fractured country that is torn by a plethora of armed groups vying for territory and legitimacy. But Facebook, by far the most popular platform, doesn’t just mirror the chaos — it can act as a force multiplier. The [Times] found evidence of military-grade weapons being openly traded, despite the company’s policies forbidding such commerce. … Forged documents circulate widely, often with the goal of undermining Libya’s few surviving national institutions … Human traffickers advertise their success in helping illegal migrants reach Europe by sea … [And] practically every armed group in Libya, and even some of their detention centers, have their own Facebook page ...”
-- The Atlantic, “A New Kind of Labor Movement in Silicon Valley,” by Rick Paulas: “Employees at Google and elsewhere are protesting their bosses’ business decisions. Will that evolve into a more sustained labor movement?”
HOT ON THE LEFT:
“Fox News’ Brit Hume: ‘Thank God for the people around Trump’ who steal papers to stop him from destroying the nation,” from RawStory: “[Brit Hume said Tuesday] that he felt somewhat mortified by the released tidbits he’s seen from [Woodward’s] new book … In particular, Hume found himself appalled that White House aides are removing documents from the president’s view . . . However, Hume did come up with a bright side to Woodward’s disturbing narrative of Trump’s presidency: Namely, that there were responsible people around him who will hide information from him to stop him from destroying the nation.” Hume said, “It seems to me the lesson that comes away from this is: Thank God for the people around Trump who are keeping him on the straight and narrow to the extent they can.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT:
“That was no white-power hand signal at the Kavanaugh hearing, Zina Bash’s husband says,” from Eli Rosenberg: “The husband of Republican operative Zina Bash denounced the people spreading the theory Tuesday that Bash made a white-supremacist gesture as she sat behind Brett Kavanaugh during his hearing on Tuesday. John Bash, the United States attorney for Western Texas, called the accusations geared toward his wife, a lawyer who has spent years working in Republican politics, ‘repulsive’ in heated tweets. ‘Everyone tweeting this vicious conspiracy theory should be ashamed of themselves,’ John Bash wrote. ‘We weren’t even familiar with the hateful symbol being attributed to her for the random way she rested her hand during a long hearing.’”
Trump will meet with the emir of Kuwait and later sit down with GOP congressional leaders.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Trump grumbled about the disruptions during Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing and wondered aloud why the very act of protesting cannot be outlawed. After watching cable coverage in the morning, Trump gave an Oval Office interview in the afternoon to the conservative Daily Caller. “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters,” the president said. “I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that. … You don’t even know what side the protesters are on. In the old days, we used to throw them out. Today, I guess they just keep screaming.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
-- The heat index in Washington could top 100 again today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “And we bake some more. This late-summer heat wave remains locked in place, as highs head for the low to mid-90s under mostly sunny skies. With unrelenting humidity (dew points in the mid-70s), the heat index tops out near 100 to 105 again. Winds are light from the south, with only a slight chance of a storm.”
-- The Mystics advanced to the WNBA Finals for the first time in the franchise’s history. From Gene Wang: “Washington will face the Seattle Storm, which eliminated the Phoenix Mercury with a 94-84 win in Game 5 of the other semifinal series Tuesday. Game 1 of the Finals is set for Friday night in Seattle.”
-- The Nationals lost to the Cardinals 11-8, dipping back below .500. (Jesse Dougherty)
-- All public schools in Prince George’s County will close two hours early today because of the heat. At least two more Maryland school jurisdictions announced they would close some of their schools because of the hot weather. (Martin Weil)
-- Prosecutors and defense attorneys have outlined concerns about finding a group of jurors able to render a verdict in a widely publicized murder trial. From Keith L. Alexander: “Daron Wint, 36, of Lanham, Md., is charged with first-degree murder and other crimes in the killings of businessman Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip, 10; and their housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, 57. Authorities allege that Wint bound, beat and stabbed his victims and then set their bodies on fire within the Savopouloses’s palatial home between May 13 and 14, 2015. … In hearings in D.C. Superior Court and court filings, defense attorneys and prosecutors said it could be difficult to find District residents whose schedules would allow them to participate in a trial expected to last about eight weeks.”
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Seth Meyers mocked Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh as he has been “implicated in a truly staggering number of criminal cases and corruption scandals”:
Protesters dressed in costumes from “The Handmaid's Tale” gathered for Kavanaugh's hearing:
The liberal veterans group VoteVets released an ad aimed at convincing Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to oppose Kavanaugh's nomination:
Abby Huntsman joined “The View” as a co-host:
"I AM SO THRILLED TO BE HERE!" Join us in welcoming our new co-host @HuntsmanAbby to the table. She shares what it's like to return to @ABC News where she started as an intern and tells us about her big family: pic.twitter.com/g4KbnHFMLp— The View (@TheView) September 4, 2018
A suspect attempted to flee police in Florida by jumping into a canal but ended up pleading for their assistance after he was overcome by algae in the water:
And The Post's Maura Judkis experimented with drinking a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte in D.C.'s 92-degree weather: