with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Brett Kavanaugh did more than just emphatically reject the allegations of sexual assault from Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez during an interview with Fox News on Monday. President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court portrayed his teenage self as a sort of 1980s version of Wally Cleaver, the good kid on the sitcom “Leave it to Beaver.”

“The vast majority of the time I spent in high school was studying or focused on sports and being a good friend to the boys and the girls that I was friends with,” Kavanaugh said earnestly. “I went to an all-boys Catholic high school where I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday … working on my service projects and friendship — friendship with my fellow classmates and friendship with girls from the local all-girls Catholic schools. … I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect …

“And, yes, there were parties,” the 53-year-old added. “The drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there. And, yes, people might have had too many beers on occasion, and people generally in high school — I think all of us — have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. … And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends.”

-- Kavanaugh repeatedly cited a letter signed by 65 women who said they knew him in high school and that “he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect,” but one of the signatories has just renounced her support.

There is a cryptic reference on Kavanaugh’s yearbook page that describes him as a “Renate Alumnius,” Kate Kelly and David Enrich report in the New York Times. “The word ‘Renate’ appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the ‘Renate Alumni.’ It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school. Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.

“When [Renate Schroeder Dolphin] signed the Sept. 14 letter, she wasn’t aware of the ‘Renate’ yearbook references on the pages of Judge Kavanaugh and his football teammates. ‘I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,’ Ms. Dolphin said … ‘I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way.’

A member of Kavanaugh’s growing legal team, Alexandra Walsh, told the Times that the inside joke was simply a reference to a single high school event that the two attended together, during which they “shared a brief kiss good night.”

Dolphin replied that she never kissed Kavanaugh. “I think Brett must have me confused with someone else,” she said through her lawyer.

“They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” said Sean Hagan, a Georgetown Prep student at the time, said of Kavanaugh and his teammates, in an interview with the Times. “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now. … She should be offended. I was completely astounded when I saw she signed that letter.”

-- Why this matters: If it turns out that Kavanaugh is not telling the truth about comparatively little things, that could undercut the credibility of his denials about the bigger things. Ford is eager to tell her story to the FBI and to testify under oath — and passed a polygraph administered by a retired FBI agent and told her therapist about the incident several years ago. Kavanaugh and the White House, meanwhile, have resisted asking the FBI to open an investigation, instead dismissing the allegations as “smears.”

-- One of the other people described in that yearbook as a “Renate Alumni” is Mark Judge. Ford says Judge watched Kavanaugh attack her at a high school party in the early 1980s and that he leaped on top of her and Kavanaugh, allowing her to escape. Judge has said he does not remember the party and never saw Kavanaugh behave like that.

“A review of books, articles and blog posts by Judge … describes an ’80s private-school party scene in which heavy drinking and sexual encounters were standard fare,” Marc Fisher and Perry Stein reported last week. “Judge wrote about the pledge he and his friends … made to drink 100 kegs of beer before graduation. On their way to that goal, there was a ‘disastrous’ party ‘at my house where the place was trashed,’ Judge wrote in his book ‘God and Man at Georgetown Prep.’ Kavanaugh listed himself in the class yearbook as treasurer of the ‘100 Kegs or Bust’ club.” (Individual students got to design their personal yearbook pages at the school, so this wasn’t someone else pulling Kavanaugh’s leg.)

During senior year, Judge said he and his pals hired a stripper and bought a keg for a bachelor party they threw to honor their school’s music teacher,” per Fisher and Stein. “‘Most of the time everyone, including the girls, was drunk,’ Judge wrote in ‘Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,’ a memoir of his alcoholism and recovery. ‘If you could breathe and walk at the same time, you could hook up with someone. This did not mean going all the way … but after a year spent in school without girls, heavy petting was basically an orgy.’”

In “Wasted,” Judge refers to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh” who was passed out from drinking too much and threw up in a car.

-- Judge has tried to disappear since Ford went public, and Senate Republicans are blocking Democratic efforts to subpoena him to appear during Thursday’s hearing. Post reporter Gabriel Pogrund tracked him down on Monday at the house of a longtime friend in Bethany Beach, Del., where he’s been in seclusion: “A car in the driveway contained piles of clothing, a collection of Superman comics and a package addressed to Judge at the Potomac home where he lived three years ago. ‘How’d you find me?’ he said. The reporter gestured to the car packed with belongings. Judge declined to comment further. Barbara ‘Biz’ VanGelder, Judge’s lawyer, said she instructed him to leave the D.C. area last week because of an onslaught of criticism and media questions.”

-- During the appearance on Fox, host Martha MacCallum pressed Kavanaugh on his drinking. His freshman roommate at Yale University, James Roche, told the New Yorker that he never witnessed Kavanaugh engage in any sexual misconduct, but that he does recall him being “frequently, incoherently drunk.” Now the chief executive of a software company in San Francisco, Roche told the magazine: “Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie? Yeah, definitely. Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.” He added that he cannot imagine Ramirez making up her story.

Kavanaugh said he remembers Roche but emphasized that he does not corroborate Ramirez’s story. Asked why his ex-roommate would say that he could see Kavanaugh treating a woman this way, the nominee said: “I’m not going to speculate about motives. … If I had done that, it would’ve been the talk of campus.”

MacCallum asked, “Was there ever a time that you drank so much that you couldn’t remember what happened the night before?”

“No, that never happened,” said Kavanaugh.

“You never said to anyone, “I don’t remember anything about last night,’” MacCallum followed up.

“No, that did not happen,” he replied.

-- Kavanaugh also said on Fox that he kept his virginity through high school and for “many years after” college, though neither of his accusers said they had sexual intercourse. Ford says he pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes. Ramirez says he exposed himself to her during a drinking game at Yale and caused her to touch him in an unwanted way. He categorically denies any wrongdoing.

-- “It is unheard of for a Supreme Court nominee to give interviews during the confirmation process,” Robert Barnes notes. “Lori A. Ringhand, a law professor at the University of Georgia and an expert on the confirmation process, noted that Felix Frankfurter became the first Supreme Court nominee to testify in public to counter criticism that surfaced during his hearing. And Justice Hugo Black gave a national radio address after he was confirmed to denounce his past association with the Ku Klux Klan. ‘In some ways it isn’t surprising that this type of interview is the next step,’ Ringhand wrote in an email. But she added that by appearing on Fox News, a favorite of conservatives, Kavanaugh ‘is making his appeal on what many perceive as a highly partisan platform. That is risky, in that it can make the nominee himself appear overly partisan.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sept. 24 called the latest sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh “another orchestrated hit.” (U.S. Senate)

-- Trump has been pushing Mitch McConnell to move more swiftly to confirm Kavanaugh. The president even called the Senate majority leader on Saturday and urged him to call the vote as soon as possible, per Phil Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey: “Despite their public projections of unity, Trump and his aides behind the scenes see Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) as having been too accommodating to [Ford] … The president has said … he is sick of Ford’s attorneys getting their way and that he does not believe her accusations are credible … In private talks, Trump has targeted McConnell and Grassley for criticism, complaining that they have not been forceful enough … [McConnell] has tried to explain to the president that he, too, is eager to hold a vote but that he first needs to ensure that the nomination has the majority support to pass the Senate.”

-- In the wake of the New Yorker story, Republicans launched a full-court press on Kavanaugh’s behalf, casting doubt and flooding the zone. Trump said he was with Kavanaugh “all the way” and called him to wish him luck ahead of the Fox sit-down. McConnell promised that there will be a vote “in the near future,” and his lieutenants said they’re going to try to vote Kavanaugh out of committee this Friday — on the morning after Ford’s testimony.

-- Also on Monday, 128 anti-Kavanaugh protesters were arrested at the Capitol complex and charged with unlawfully demonstrating, per Justin Wm. Moyer.

-- Looking ahead to Thursday, Republicans apparently continue to insist that Ford be questioned by a female attorney. Michael Bromwich, Ford’s lawyer, complained last night that Grassley’s staff has said they’re going to have an “experienced sex crimes prosecutor” ask questions, but they’ve thus far refused to identify that person. “This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate,” Bromwich wrote. “Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial.”

-- “Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions, while many years ago, were serious and have had a lasting impact on my life,” Ford wrote in a private letter to Grassley, noting that she’s had to hire personal security guards and has spent “considerable time managing death threats.”

“My original intent was first and foremost to be a helpful citizen — in a confidential way that would minimize collateral damage to all families and friends involved,” explained the Palo Alto University professor. “While I am frightened, please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions. I ask for fair and respectful treatment.”

-- Kavanaugh wrote a letter of his own to Grassley, as well. “I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” he said.

A second woman accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct on Sept. 23 as Kavanaugh's first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, prepares to testify. (Reuters)

-- As Kavanaugh insists that he did not attempt to rape Ford, more of his supporters have come out to argue that it would not necessarily be disqualifying if he had. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who is challenging Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, went on the local television station KX4 on Monday to clarify his statement from the weekend that “nothing evidently happened” between Ford and Kavanaugh. “My point was that there was no type of intercourse or anything like that,” Cramer said. “That was my point. That nothing happened in terms of a sexual, um, event, beyond, obviously, the attack.”

The congressman continued, “Even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him? It certainly means that he did something really bad 36 years ago, but does it disqualify him from the Supreme Court?”

The TV host, Chris Berg, noted that, if the allegations are indeed true, it would mean that Kavanaugh is lying. “If it’s found that he knew, that he recalls it, he knew it happened and lies about it, then I think that would disqualify him,” Cramer replied.

-- Some on the left, meanwhile, see karma: “Kavanaugh was not only a part of special counsel Ken Starr’s investigation into President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky; he was also one of the lead Torquemadas of it — zealous in the pursuit of his goal to the point of cruelty,” Helaine Olen writes on the PostPartisan blog. “Kavanaugh not only thought Clinton needed to be questioned about his relations with Lewinsky; he also wanted Clinton to be interrogated in the most detailed and specific way possible. He drew up a memo with a series of 10 sexually explicit questions about Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky. He claimed he wanted to establish Clinton had no defense for his ‘pattern of behavior.’ As a result, ‘[the] idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me,’ Kavanaugh wrote in the summer of 1998. To say that the questions Kavanaugh came up with for Clinton were prurient doesn’t do justice to the gross invasiveness and detail he sought.” (Read the memo for yourself.)

“The questions Kavanaugh wanted to ask of Clinton — long before anyone went public with allegations against him — are clear proof there is a side to Kavanaugh that many of his defenders, both male and female, do not want to acknowledge,” Olen adds. “Now that he faces not one, but two accusations of misconduct, he deserves every question that comes his way, no matter how invasive. What goes around comes around.”


  • Jenna Johnson and Robert Costa: “‘It’s the culture war on steroids.’ Kavanaugh fight takes on symbolism in divided era.”
  • Susan Svrluga: “Yale Law students sit out class, travel to Supreme Court to protest Kavanaugh.”
  • Deanna Paul: “The new Kavanaugh allegation is on precarious legal ground, former sex-crimes prosecutors say.”
  • Philip Bump: “Some conservatives have identified the real victims in the Kavanaugh fight: Men.”
  • Petula Dvorak: “Attempted rape isn’t boys will be boys. It’s criminals will be criminals.”
  • John Yoo: “Senators, you are not running a criminal trial.”
  • The Post’s Editorial Board: “Yet another reason to call the FBI.”
  • Richard Cohen: “The FBI is investigating Lincoln’s hat. Why not Ford’s claims?”
  • Bob Bauer in the Atlantic: “The Decision Not to Call in the FBI Is Looking Worse and Worse.”
  • Eugene Robinson: “Republicans are going to ‘plow right through’ a minefield.”
  • Bloomberg News: “Kavanaugh Isn’t Like Harvey Weinstein, White House Tells Supporters.”
  • USA Today: “Celebrities join in #BelieveSurvivors protest in support of Kavanaugh accusers.”
  • Isaac Stanley-Becker: “‘I know his heart’: Ashley Estes Kavanaugh revives old-fashioned script in newfangled era.”
  • Lara Bazelon for the New York Times: “Man Up, Grassley. Question Blasey Ford Yourself: Outsourcing this responsibility to female aides or an outside female lawyer because of bad optics is sexist and cowardly.”
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  1. The Dallas Police Department fired the cop who fatally shot her neighbor, Botham Jean, in his own apartment. Until Monday, Amber Guyger had not faced any disciplinary action, even after she was arrested two weeks ago on manslaughter charges. (Avi Selk)
  2. Communities in the Carolinas are still experiencing severe flooding from Florence as some rivers continue to rise. The slow journey of floodwaters from the interior of the Carolinas to the shore has exacerbated the effects of the hurricane. (Jason Samenow)
  3. A new type of experimental therapy has allowed several people paralyzed by spinal cord injuries the ability to walk for the first time in years. The combination therapy involves the implantation of an electric stimulator device, as well as months of daily physical therapy. And while early results have been successful, researchers warn the tiny sample size makes it “impossible” to know if intervention would be successful in the broader population. (Carolyn Y. Johnson)
  4. The co-founders of Instagram are leaving the company six years after they sold it to Facebook. The departures of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger follow disagreements with Mark Zuckerberg. (Elizabeth Dwoskin)
  5. Satellite radio company SiriusXM is acquiring Pandora for $3.5 billion. The transaction will allow SiriusXM to combine its 36 million subscribers with Pandora’s 70 million monthly active users. (Hamza Shaban)
  6. Michael Kors is nearing a deal to purchase Versace for $2.4 billion. Acquiring the Italian fashion house would give the U.S.-based designer a long-coveted foothold into the world of high fashion in Europe — and help expand its appeal beyond the “affordable luxury” market. (Wall Street Journal)
  7. A new study found that obesity is slated to overtake smoking as the largest preventable cause of cancer among U.K. women by the year 2043. The estimate comes as the number of smokers in the United Kingdom has declined in recent years, while childhood obesity has continued to spike. (BBC)
  8. A 74-year-old man was found alive at a senior housing complex in D.C. five days after a major fire broke out at the building. The resident, Raymond Holton, was found after engineers assessing the building’s structural integrity heard him yelling and used a crowbar to pry him out. He emerged without serious injuries! (Clarence Williams, Peter Hermann and Michael Brice-Saddler)

  9. A 19-year-old Indonesian man survived for 49 days at sea after his floating fishing hut lost its mooring and drifted into the Pacific Ocean. Aldi Novel Adilang survived by stretching out his supplies, which were only meant to last him a week, and relying on seawater until he was finally rescued. (NPR)

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein left his Bethesda, Md., home en route to Washington on Sept. 24. The Post reported that he has offered to resign. (Reuters)


--  After a chaotic morning full of speculation that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was about to resign (or be fired), the White House announced he would stay in his role for now. From Devlin Barrett, Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman: “Job insecurity has been a regular feature of Rosenstein’s life for more than a year, as the president and his allies have publicly attacked him over [Bob Mueller’s probe]. But his hold on his job never seemed as tenuous as on Monday morning, after reports last week that Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department, had suggested secretly recording the president and mounting an effort within the Cabinet to remove him from office. Rosenstein has disputed the accuracy of those accounts, but his denials have left plenty of room for interpretation. …

Now, [Trump] plans to meet with Rosenstein on Thursday to discuss the situation — and the deputy attorney general’s fate remains uncertain. Multiple officials said that during weekend conversations between and among White House and Justice Department officials, Rosenstein indicated that he was considering resigning. During some of those conversations, Rosenstein said his resignation might be warranted to end the controversy, according to people familiar with the discussions … Friday night, Rosenstein spoke with White House counsel Donald McGahn, according to a person familiar with the discussions. In that conversation, Rosenstein said he was willing to resign, but McGahn urged him to wait until they could talk further Monday morning, this person said.

By Sunday, some senior Justice Department officials had concluded that Rosenstein was about to be out of his job and began planning for Solicitor General Noel Francisco to take over supervision of the Russia probe. … When Rosenstein went to the White House on Monday morning, senior Trump advisers expected him to resign, according to several advisers. A Justice Department official, however, said Rosenstein had no intention of resigning but went there expecting to be fired. Before the meeting, one news outlet reported that Rosenstein had ‘verbally resigned.’ That led Justice Department officials to believe he was going to be forced out, and they drafted a statement about his expected departure. … After Rosenstein met with White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, he went to a meeting of senior administration officials, the first sign that, at least for now, he was staying on the job.” (Axios posted the full draft of the DOJ statement.)

-- Some Trump allies said the Rosenstein circus was a coordinated move to direct media attention away from the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. From Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman: “Over the weekend, as [Kavanaugh’s] prospects appeared increasingly imperiled, Trump faced two tactical options, both of them fraught. One was to cut Kavanaugh loose. But he was also looking for ways to dramatically shift the news cycle away from his embattled Supreme Court nominee. According to a source briefed on Trump’s thinking, Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news, potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate. ‘The strategy was to try and do something really big,’ the source said. The leak about Rosenstein’s resignation could have been the result, and it certainly had the desired effect of driving Kavanaugh out of the news for a few hours.”

-- “[I]f Rosenstein is gone, who, if anyone, will make sure that Mueller’s work can continue?” Jeffrey Toobin asks in the New Yorker. “[I]f Rosenstein is out, the matter would ordinarily fall to the department’s No. 3, the Associate Attorney General, but that post is vacant, meaning that it would go to the Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, who ranks fourth. But the matter may be more complicated. According to Marty Lederman, a professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and a former Justice Department official, Francisco might also have to recuse himself, because his former law firm, Jones Day, still represents the Trump campaign. That would leave supervision to Steven Engel, the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel—at least until Trump fills the post of Deputy Attorney General. …

-- Philip Bump explains why it matters whether Rosenstein resigns or is fired under the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act: “The president — in this case Trump — can fill a vacancy in a Senate-confirmed position with anyone who has already been confirmed to a position by the Senate. In other words, Trump can allow Francisco to run the probe — he could move over anyone else in his administration who already ran the Senate gantlet. That [opens the position up to a list of 350-plus people] … Georgetown University law professor Paul Butler . . . noted a catch: It wasn’t clear whether the law applied if the person was fired from his position. … If Rosenstein resigns, it’s clear-cut. If he’s fired? Things get tricky and, again, probably end up at the Supreme Court.”

-- How it’s playing for Rod:

  • CNN: “Fate of Rosenstein, Russia investigation unclear.”
  • CNBC: “Watergate prosecutor warns of protracted 'Saturday Night Massacre' if Rosenstein is fired.”
  • Dan Balz: “A chaotic opening to what could be a fateful week.”
  • Jennifer Rubin: “The Rosenstein follies don’t make anyone look good.”
  • Paul Waldman: “Even if he fires Rosenstein, it’s too late to protect Trump from Mueller.”


-- Trump sought to promote his foreign policy agenda at the U.N. General Assembly, criticizing Iranian leaders and announcing a second summit with Kim Jong Un. But he was largely thwarted by the political firestorm in Washington — which by day’s end, had completely eclipsed his appearance on the global stage. David Nakamura and Anne Gearan report: “By midafternoon, when he sat down for a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose diplomatic outreach to Kim last week helped put nuclear talks back on track, Trump was looking ahead to Thursday, when he’ll meet Rosenstein at the White House. Moon was relegated to a sideshow. … The question shifted from whether Trump could tame rival leaders abroad to whether he would be able to tamp down yet another day of internal White House chaos. … Some foreign affairs analysts said Trump’s preoccupation with his domestic crises are the byproduct of a president who is unable to compartmentalize the duties of office.”

-- National security adviser John Bolton said U.S. forces would not leave Syria until Iran ends operations in the war-torn country. Paul Sonne and Missy Ryan report: “Bolton made the comments to reporters in New York ahead of [Trump’s] planned speech Tuesday to the [U.N.], directly linking any future withdrawal of American troops from Syria to the departure of Iranian forces from the nation. … For years, the Pentagon has said the U.S. military mission in Syria would conclude once U.S.-backed forces defeated the Islamic State and secured the territory the group once occupied. Countering Iranian forces hasn’t been part of the U.S. military mission to date. … Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon hours after Bolton’s remarks, said the U.S. military mission in Syria remained focused solely on the defeat of the Islamic State.”

-- Russia’s defense minister said that Moscow will send sophisticated S-300 air-to-ground missile systems to Syria in the next two weeks — delivering a blow to Israel and hindering its ability to bomb across its northern border. Anton Troianovski, Loveday Morris and Liz Sly report: “Israel, which has repeatedly bombed Iranian targets in Syria, has long opposed such deliveries, and Russia up to now has refrained from supplying the weapons. But the downing last week of a Russian reconnaissance plane with 15 service members aboard changed the dynamic. The plane was shot down by a Syrian missile, but Russia faulted Israel for the crash because an Israeli fighter jet allegedly had used the Russian plane as a screen against Syria’s air defenses. Israel, by contrast, said its air force had not violated any agreements with Russia and that Israeli jets had already returned to Israeli airspace when the missiles were launched.”

-- Iranian officials vowed revenge against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, United States and Israel for an attack on Saturday’s military parade, which killed 25 people — despite the fact that a local Arab separatist group claimed responsibility for the violence. The attack, and Iran’s vowed retaliation, is expected to escalate tensions at this week’s U.N. General Assembly. (New York Times)

--A long-anticipated State Department report accused Myanmar’s military of coordinating a violent campaign against Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state. But it stopped short of describing the mass killings, gang-rapes and village-burnings — which forced nearly 700,000 people to flee into neighboring Bangladesh — as genocide. (Reuters)


-- In the months since a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent on British soil, several suspected GRU operatives have been arrested across Europe, suggesting a newly aggressive approach to Russian espionage. Rick Noack reports: “On Friday … Norwegian authorities arrested a 51-year-old Russian man on suspicion that he unlawfully gathered information during an inter-parliamentary seminar on digitization this month[.] Earlier this month, Estonia arrested a military officer and his father — both Russian-Estonian citizens — and accused the two of having spied for Russia for more than half a decade. [And] Swiss officials confirmed two weeks ago that Dutch authorities had arrested and expelled a pair of suspected Russian spies earlier in the year over accusations that they had been trying to hack a Swiss laboratory. The targeted Bern-based Spiez lab is associated with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which was involved in the investigation into the [nerve agent attack on] Skripal … Recent public accusations in Norway and several other European countries may similarly indicate a more confrontational approach to counterespionage as well.”

-- British music publicist Rob Goldstone was questioned by Mueller’s team in March about any potential links between Trump and the Agalarovs, the Russian-Azerbaijani family of billionaires who asked him to broker the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting attended by a Kremlin-linked lawyer and key members of the Trump campaign. The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus reports: “[Goldstone, who contacted Donald Trump Jr. [on] their behalf, spent roughly eight hours talking to Mr. Mueller’s team in March. Weeks later, he testified before the special counsel’s grand jury[.] In an interview … he said Mr. Mueller’s investigators were particularly interested in how the relationship between Mr. Trump and the Agalarov family began, as well as a 2013 trip by Mr. Trump to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant. The Agalarovs sponsored the pageant, which Mr. Trump co-owned at the time. ‘They wanted to know about what I thought their relationship was with the Trumps, and what their relationship was with any Russian government officials, [including] the Kremlin,’ Mr. Goldstone said.”

Goldstone said investigators asked “detailed” questions about the Trump Tower sit-down and said he was asked to draw investigators a “table of who sat where.” “In their meeting with Mr. Goldstone, investigators [also] asked about the relationship between [Putin] and Aras Agalarov, whose real-estate company has won several state contracts in Russia, and to whom Mr. Putin in 2013 awarded the Order of Honor of the Russian Federation[.]” 

--  Goldstone told NBC on Monday that he now believes the Trump Tower meeting  “could have been set up by Russian intelligence.” NBC's Sarah Fitzpatrick, Cynthia McFadden and Ken Dilanian report: “Asked if he had conveyed a ‘dirty offer' to the Trump team in brokering the [meeting], Goldstone said, ‘Yes. That is true.’ ‘That [dirt] didn't materialize,’ said Goldstone, but he believes the apparent willingness of campaign officials to accept dirt is what drew the scrutiny [of federal investigators]. Goldstone says he was asked to set up the meeting … by Emin Agalarov, on behalf of his father Aras Agalarov[.] The email, Goldstone said, ‘was written in about three minutes on my cell phone with scant information, with my own, I suppose, way of interpreting what I believe my client was trying to get across, and puffing it. That's what I do. I'm a publicist.’”


-- “The Evolution of Kyrsten Sinema, from Homeless Child to Senate Candidate,” from the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin: “When [Sinema] began her rise in Arizona politics in the early 2000s, she was a Ralph Nader supporter and local spokeswoman for the Green Party who worked to repeal the death penalty and organized antiwar protests[.] But today, as the Democratic nominee for Senate from Arizona in one of the most pivotal races in the country, Ms. Sinema is campaigning as an altogether different person. While she is now a three-term member of Congress, Ms. Sinema is running as much on her biography — her three years spent homeless as a child — as on any issue. She is using that personal hardship to project grit and distinguish herself from ‘most people in politics,’ as she says. … Ms. Sinema’s evolution reflects a calculation about what it takes to prevail statewide in Arizona, which has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988. And it is a strategy that has put her in a competitive position against [Rep. Martha McSally], her Republican opponent, as they seek to replace Senator Jeff Flake … But court documents reviewed by The New York Times raise questions about Ms. Sinema’s descriptions of what she endured in the mid-1980s … And Ms. Sinema herself, as her national profile has risen, has given contradictory answers about her early life.

-- The Republican Party is enjoying its most positive image in over seven years, according to Gallup. From Jim Norman: “Forty-five percent of Americans now have a favorable view of the Republican Party, a nine-point gain from last September's 36%. It is the party's most positive image since it registered 47% in January 2011, shortly after taking control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections. Forty-four percent give the Democratic Party a favorable rating.”

-- Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.), who is giving up his seat to battle alcoholism, has left an opening for a very unorthodox Republican to potentially take over Virginia's 5th District. From Laura Vozzella: “Denver Riggleman ran for Virginia governor last year as many things — killer of terrorists, distiller of whiskey, irritant to powerful interests. … Riggleman wants to stop illegal immigration but calls for more migrant farmworkers and fast-tracked legal immigration. He wants Planned Parenthood defunded and marijuana decriminalized. He wants government shrunk, cronyism smashed and same-sex marriage treated the same as any other. ‘Liberty Republican’ is how Riggleman, up against Democrat Leslie Cockburn in November, brands himself."

-- The pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety is launching a $5-million ad buy targeting 15 Republican-held House seats. Politico’s Elena Schneider reports: “[The group] announced plans to target House districts embedded in suburban communities outside of cities like Atlanta, Kansas City, Miami and Minneapolis. The 15 districts are all featured on the [DCCC’s] ‘Red to Blue’ target list, a program that denotes top-tier races.”

-- Florida Democratic congressional candidate April Freeman died from an apparent heart attack. She was 54. Freeman, a writer and producer, was facing off against Republican state Senator Greg Steube in November to succeed outgoing Rep. Tom Rooney (R). (Reuters)


-- Bill Cosby’s sentencing trial began Monday in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors blasted the disgraced comedian for his “lack of remorse” and asked the judge for a five- to 10-year prison sentence. Cosby was convicted in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault against Temple University basketball official Andrea Constand. Manuel Roig-Franzia reports: “'We ask this because of who he is behind the mask, behind the act that he perpetuated all these years and that he used — used — to victimize,’ Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele said. ‘The bottom line, your honor, is that nobody’s above the law. Nobody.’"  Steele’s demand for a lengthy prison term — far beyond the sentencing guidelines in Pennsylvania — was countered by Cosby’s defense team, which is asking for the entertainer to be sentenced to house arrest.

Constand also took the stand briefly on Monday, asking that the judge “consider her testimony” during Cosby’s sentencing hearing. “Constand … [testified] in harrowing detail at the [April] trial about losing control of her limbs after taking pills given to her by Cosby, who served on Temple’s board of trustees and was the public face of the university. The pills, Constand said, left her unable to stop him from violating her at his suburban Philadelphia estate.”

-- A group of Alaska residents — outraged by the sentence given to a man accused of strangling a woman until she passed out and then masturbating on her — are now pushing for the ouster of the judge in the case. Amy B Wang reports: “Alaska voters [are] slated to decide whether the judge in the case should be retained on the Anchorage Superior Court in the November elections. And so, Thursday morning, [Anchorage social worker Elizabeth] Williams started a Facebook page: ‘NO retention for Judge Michael Corey,’ she named it. ‘If you are horrified by Judge Corey’s brazen disregard for the victim in this case, then commit to voting NO on Judge Corey’s retention,’ Williams [wrote]. … Within a day, the page had garnered 500 followers. Over the weekend, as news of the case circulated nationally, the page surpassed 2,700 followers.”


-- CIA Director Gina Haspel pledged the agency would ramp up its efforts to target opioids entering the United States, saying during a speech in Louisville that the drugs have “killed more Americans than terrorists.” NBC News’s Ken Dilanian reports: “Haspel's mention of drugs, in a state whose residents have experienced a sharp uptick in drug overdoses in recent years, was an unusual note in a careful speech that emphasized general themes articulated by many of her predecessors. In her prepared remarks, Haspel also said she wants to increase the number of American spies deployed overseas, for example, and step up foreign language training, something also emphasized by [Mike Pompeo]. The CIA has been criticized … for not having enough officers abroad, and not having many fluent in the languages of America's adversaries, including Pashto, Dari and Arabic. She said the CIA during her tenure will ‘invest more heavily in collection against the hardest issues,’ which is usually code for espionage against hard targets such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and China.”

-- An Illinois priest living legally in the United States for the past 14 years is slated to be deported this week over a single vote he cast, by mistake, in 2006. Rev. David Boase confessed his error last year during a U.S. citizenship interview, and told authorities he voted on only one measure — to boost resources for the local fire department — before he learned of his mistake. He is expected to be deported on Friday. (Meagan Flynn)

-- A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers appears likely to block Trump’s proposal to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. Joe Davidson reports: “With Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) taking the lead and 27 co-sponsors, including five Republicans, backing her, a significant segment of the Senate joins the House in telling Trump that a privatization plan would meet stiff opposition in Congress. … It is a companion measure to a House resolution introduced in July by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.). That was co-sponsored by 36 Republicans and 196 of the chamber’s members. With more than one-quarter of the Senate and almost half the House declaring opposition to USPS privatization, the plan seems like a lost cause.”

-- Google CEO Sundar Pichai plans to meet privately Friday with GOP lawmakers and appear at a public hearing later this year. The Wall Street Journal’s John D. McKinnon and Douglas MacMillan report: “‘Google has a lot of questions to answer about reports of bias in its search results, violations of user privacy, anticompetitive behavior and business dealings with repressive regimes like China,’ said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), who is organizing Friday’s meeting. He added that Mr. Pichai has ‘kindly’ agreed to field Congress’s questions with Republican members on Friday. Mr. Pichai also is expected to appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing after the November election.”

-- A new Harvard report recommended stricter regulation of tech companies. From the Wall Street Journal’s Deepa Seetharaman: “The business models powering digital advertising platforms like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google still undermine user privacy and incentivize disinformation campaigns despite recent efforts by tech companies to prevent abuse, says the report from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and New America, a left-leaning Washington-based think tank.”

-- When asked whether he believed Roe v. Wade should be overturned, Trump described that debate in a radio interview broadcast Monday as “a controversy that I’m going to leave to the courts.” From John Wagner: “Do you believe that Roe v. Wade should be overturned?” host Geraldo Rivera asked Trump in an interview that was taped Sunday. 'Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it now, because that’s a controversy that I’m going to leave to the courts,' Trump responded.” 

-- Trump said he is an “absolute no” on statehood for Puerto Rico, citing a year-long feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz over the federal response to Hurricane Maria. John Wagner reports: “'With the mayor of San Juan as bad as she is and as incompetent as she is, Puerto Rico shouldn’t be talking about statehood until they get some people that really know what they’re doing,' Trump [said] … later calling Cruz ‘a horror show.’ Trump’s assessment brought a rebuke from Ricardo Rosselló, the governor of the commonwealth, who has been making a stepped-up effort to persuade Trump and Congress to support statehood ...” “This is an insensitive, disrespectful comment to over 3 million Americans who live in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico,” Rosselló said in a statement, which also criticized what he described as “the unequal and colonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.”


Trump claimed he had turned down requests to meet with the Iranian president:

Trump also dismissed the allegations against Kavanaugh as a Democratic ploy:

And he offered this reminder to his supporters:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the longest-serving GOP senator, challenged the latest allegation against Kavanaugh:

One of the New Yorker writers who broke the news of Ramirez's accusation responded with this:

The No. 2 Senate Republican claimed he had seen no “evidence” of the allegations against Kavanaugh:

Another Senate Republican accused Democrats of “character assassination”:

Another Senate Republican, Arizona's John Kyl, avoided the subject:

A senior aide to Mitch McConnell attacked the former executive editor of the New York Times:

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers and candidates expressed support for Kavanaugh's accusers:

Celebrities also voiced their support for Ramirez and Ford:

Protesters implored senators to vote against Kavanaugh's nomination:

The White House appears to be sticking by Kavanaugh, per a Post reporter:

One high-level GOP operative expressed skepticism Kavanaugh would be confirmed:

Anti-Kavanaugh forces are outspending pro-Kavanaugh forces on TV in Maine, per a CNN reporter:

From a contributing editor at Washington Monthly:

A Washingtonian photographer noted this of Kavanaugh's copy of the Constitution:

A Politico reporter tweeted this surprising tidbit:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) defended Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions:

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee echoed her concerns:

A reporter for a Fox News affiliate in New York noted another possible point of conflict for the solicitor general:

The Weekly Standard editor recommended that Congress take up the bill protecting Mueller's probe:

A Politico reporter shared this photo from the '90s:

A former congressman who had a heart attack last week offered his own take on the chaotic news day:


-- “In a suburban classroom, learning to parent the sons she left behind,” by Antonio Olivo: “Elam Reyna sat through her first parenting class, filled with worry. The housekeeper from Guatemala was adjusting to being a day-to-day mother, nearly 13 years after leaving her home country and placing her two sons and their baby sister in the care of her grandparents. Now the boys had made a similar journey, fleeing gang threats. They were struggling to become a family again. … Hoping for guidance, she enrolled in the Fairfax County Public Schools ‘Families Reunite’ parenting class, one of dozens of efforts underway in U.S. communities that have seen a historic migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America. … [Many of these children] witnessed or experienced rapes, kidnappings or other violence on their journeys or in their homelands, and are wary of joining parents or guardians they’ve never met or haven’t seen in years.”

-- New York Times, “Hotel Workers Fret Over a New Rival: Alexa at the Front Desk,” by Eduardo Porter: “Unlike manufacturing workers, whose jobs have been lost to automation since as far back as the 1950s, workers in the low-wage portion of the service sector had remained until now largely shielded from job-killing technologies. … But with advances in machine learning and other innovations in information technology, many service jobs are now potentially in jeopardy. Compared with manufacturing, the investment needed to automate some tasks in the hotel sector — like front desk or concierge services — is likely to be relatively low.”


“Newspaper apologizes for cartoon that depicted Christine Blasey Ford demanding M&Ms and roses,” from Eli Rosenberg: “The Indianapolis Star issued an apology to its readers for an editorial cartoon that skewered Christine Blasey Ford ahead of her upcoming hearing after an outcry from readers. The cartoon … depicted Ford sitting in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee with her back to the reader. ‘Here are my demands,’ she is depicted telling the panel. ‘No questions from lawyers, dim the lights, I want roses, sparkling water, a bowl of green M&Ms.’ … Readers, many of whom took to social media, complained that the newspaper’s treatment of the alleged sexual assault victim was insensitive and offensive. Ronnie Ramos, the executive editor of the newspaper, said in a note published on its website Monday that ‘the Indy Star also has a responsibility to promote a civil discourse and to present diverse viewpoints in a way that does not demean or appear to belittle anyone who says they are the victim of a sexual assault.’”



“A strip club accepted food stamps for drugs and lap dances, a 5-month investigation revealed,” from Reis Thebault: “In a strip club near Dayton, Ohio, food stamps were frequently accepted as payment for lap dances and illicit drugs, police said last week. An investigation resulted in criminal charges and the revocation of the establishment’s liquor license. Over nearly a half-year span, police say, undercover agents from the Ohio Investigative Unit were able use nearly $2,500 worth of food stamps to buy dances and drugs, including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines, from Sharkey’s, an adult entertainment lounge in a neighborhood north of downtown. Authorities charged club employees and patrons with a panoply of criminal offenses: drug trafficking, food stamp trafficking, aggravated shipment and distribution of heroin, corruption and illegal sexual activity. State officials announced the revocation on Thursday, marking the second time since May that they have cited a Dayton-area strip club for food stamp and drug trafficking.”



Trump is still in New York. He will address the U.N. General Assembly this morning. He will then have meetings with the Colombian president and the U.N. secretary general. He will also have a working luncheon with the secretary general before meeting with the U.N. General Assembly president. Tonight he will participate in a Security Council reception.


“'I don't think I would be good at [being president] … I think it's probably too soon for a banker.” — JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, dismissing 2020 rumors, again, after he boasted recently that he could beat Trump in a presidential election (CNBC)



-- The District will see more rain through Thursday. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Overnight rain lingers into the rush hour. Showers and fog lowlight (opposite of highlight) our morning view as temperatures climb into the mid-70s. We may get some afternoon cloud variability, but watch for more showers and maybe even a thunderstorm. Humidity holds at moderate to high levels. Light winds are from the southeast. Daytime rain totals could reach a quarter inch but will be locally heavier around scattered afternoon thunderstorm activity.”

-- The Nationals beat the Marlins 7-3. (Jesse Dougherty)

-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Democratic candidate Ben Jealous faced off in the sole debate for this year’s gubernatorial race. From Erin Cox: “The candidates described dramatically different views of Maryland’s challenges, talking over each other and saying the other lied about his plans for the future. Hogan defended his record on education and the economy, describing his opponent’s attacks as delusional. … Jealous, citing statistics about regional job gains, jabbed at Hogan’s assertion that he led the economic turnaround that followed the 2008 recession. ‘That’s like taking credit for the sun rising,’ Jealous said. The candidates had never met before shaking hands less than five minutes before the debate, which was taped in the morning and was broadcast at 7 p.m. Monday on Maryland Public Television.”

-- “Meet the very wealthy, very private couple behind Washington’s most original museum,” by Geoff Edgers: “[Mitchell Rales and Emily Wei Rales are] about to reveal a major reinvention of their Potomac, Md., institution. What was once a single building has been transformed into a sprawling, 230-acre campus of art and nature. The idea is for Glenstone to no longer be one of the best-kept secrets in the Washington area. It is to show off what many consider the greatest private collection of American and European contemporary art in the country.”


Ronan Farrow discussed Ramirez’s decision to go public on PBS “NewsHour”:

Trevor Noah criticized the media for its handling of the Rosenstein news:

Conservative group Republicans for the Rule of Law is highlighting Rosenstein's potential firing to call on Congress to protect the special counsel's probe:

The Fact Checker awarded Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke Four Pinocchios for a claim he made about his 1998 arrest for drunk driving:

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Texas, denied attempting to leave the scene of his 1998 drunken driving arrest. (Reuters)

Democratic congressional candidate Amy McGrath released an ad of herself playing goalkeeper against her opponent's attacks on her:

And 7-year-old Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja blew away the crowd at an L.A. Galaxy game by belting out the national anthem: