With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: Senate Republicans have hired a female prosecutor from Arizona to question Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday about her allegation that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her whey they were teenagers.

The goal is to spare themselves the level of public outcry that followed Anita Hill’s cross-examination 27 years ago by a group of all-male senators and thus avoid a redux of the Year of the Woman that followed in 1992.

It’s no coincidence that Republicans announced the selection of Rachel Mitchell at the end of another day in which President Trump forcefully criticized the women who have accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexual misconduct.

After speaking at the United Nations, Trump harshly dismissed the account of Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale who told the New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during an undergraduate party. The president said Ramirez was “totally inebriated and all messed up.”

“The second accuser has nothing,” Trump told reporters. “The second accuser thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits she was drunk. She admits time lapses.” Then he used sarcasm: “Oh, gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.”

The president’s comments highlighted why polls show a widening gender gap as the midterm elections approach and also added fresh urgency to congressional GOP efforts to appear as sensitive and humane as possible, even while they push to confirm Kavanaugh as soon as possible.

-- A registered Republican, Mitchell is the chief of the special victims division of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which deals with sexual assault cases. She’s worked in the county attorney’s office for 26 years, and people in Phoenix who have worked with her from both parties are saying nice things about her this morning.

Mitchell’s name was being held close to the vest through late Tuesday night, with Senate Republicans declining to disclose her identity to Ford’s own lawyers. But my Post colleagues Sean Sullivan, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman and Michelle Ye Hee Lee ferreted it out last night.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s office then confirmed her identity. “The goal is to de-politicize the process and get to the truth, instead of grandstanding and giving senators an opportunity to launch their presidential campaigns,” the Iowa Republican said in a statement. He was on the committee when Hill testified and mentioned the experience to reporters earlier Tuesday.

Other Republicans, on and off the committee, signaled support for this approach. “Inadvertently somebody will do something that’s insensitive. I would not be wanting to ask questions about something like this,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

-- Even 27 years after Clarence Thomas was confirmed, all 11 Republicans on the committee that confirms judges remain men. (Four of the 10 Democrats are women.) The Democratic senators plan to ask the questions themselves of both Ford and Kavanaugh, though Grassley has announced that the lawmakers will only get five minutes each to question Ford and then Kavanaugh. When Kavanaugh appeared earlier this month, all 21 senators on the committee got two rounds of 30 minutes.

-- In another plot twist: On NBC’s “Today” show this morning, Ramirez’s attorney John Clune announced that his client is willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Savannah Guthrie asked if Ramirez will agree to testify even if there’s no FBI investigation, as she has requested. “That’s a decision I’ll certainly let her make … but it wouldn’t surprise me if she would agree to do that,” he said. “We’ll wait to see if she gets that invitation and we’ll go from there.”

Asked about the New Yorker article’s report that it took Ramirez six days of carefully assessing her memories and talking to her attorney before speaking to the magazine, something Trump mentioned on Tuesday, Clune replied: “She wanted to make sure that her recollection of what happened and what information that she was going to put forth … was accurate. So she hired Stan Garnett, who is a career prosecutor and someone who is very experienced in handling sex crimes. [He] knows how to work with victims, knows how to talk with victims in ways that are not suggesting information to make sure they can work through their recollections and come up with the information they know is accurate. That’s what they did.”

-- Nervous that more damaging revelations about Kavanaugh could still emerge and prodded by Trump in private phone calls, Senate Republicans have decided to step up the pace to get Kavanaugh across the finish line. Even before Ford’s testimony, the majority scheduled a markup for 9:30 a.m. on Friday morning to advance Kavanaugh out of committee. They’re also considering the unusual step of keeping the Senate in session through the weekend so that they can run down the clock and force a vote of the full Senate next Tuesday — or possibly earlier. GOP leaders told their members during a closed-door caucus lunch yesterday that they should prepare to stay in Washington this weekend for Kavanaugh and not plan to return home to their states.

“I’m confident we’re going to win,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared Tuesday afternoon, during a news conference after the lunch. He described Kavanaugh as a victim of “the weaponization of unsubstantiated smears,” but he also insisted that he wants Ford to be heard. McConnell said Republicans hired “a female assistant” to “ask these questions in a respectful and professional way” and thus avoid “a political sideshow.”

-- “Respectful” was the key word the Republican rank-and-file were encouraged to use. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the No. 2 in GOP leadership, echoed McConnell at the news conference: “As the father of two adult daughters,” he said, “as I’m approaching this hearing, I’m thinking, ‘I want to make sure I treat Dr. Ford the same way my daughters would be treated in the event they were making an accusation, or my mother, or my wife.’ To me that’s, I think, the appropriate way for me to think about it.”

-- But the cementing narrative in the press is that this is not the case. “GOP adopts Trump’s tactics in Kavanaugh battle,” Annie Linskey writes on the front page of the Boston Globe: “Deny the accusation. Attack the victims. Then soothe the political base by going on Fox News to explain it all away. And most importantly: Never back down. That’s the playbook President Trump has used to sidestep multiple allegations of womanizing and sexual misconduct against him. And there was a time these tactics made the Republican establishment both nauseous and nervous. But in another sign of how Trump has taken over the GOP, he and Republicans … have ripped up the rules for a high court confirmation and adopted Trump’s battle-tested, hyper-combative ways for the Kavanaugh fight. They’re turning the confirmation process into a drawn out, sex-infused slugfest that court-watchers say is topping the list of partisan court nominee battles.”

-- To support his firm denials of the allegations by Ford and Ramirez, Kavanaugh insisted on Fox News Monday night that he never drank so much that he couldn’t remember what happened the night before. The judge painted a picture of himself as a teenager who was primarily focused on his studies, sports and service projects — a portrayal at odds with how he presented himself in his high school yearbook.

-- After the interview aired, two women who knew both Kavanaugh and Ramirez at Yale publicly challenged the nominee’s protestations that he wasn’t such a heavy drinker.

“He’s trying to paint himself as some kind of choir boy,” said Lynne Brookes, a Republican and former pharmaceutical executive who was roommates with Ramirez. “You can’t lie your way onto the Supreme Court, and with that statement out, he’s gone too far. It’s about the integrity of that institution.”

“Brookes said she was present one night when Kavanaugh participated in an event with his fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon,” Aaron C. Davis, Emma Brown and Joe Heim report. “Brookes said she believes there was ‘no way’ he remembered all of the behavior she observed that night, when fraternity brothers pushed pledges to get ‘ridiculously drunk’ and do ‘ridiculous things.’ Brookes said she remembers seeing Kavanaugh outside the Sterling Memorial Library, wearing a superhero cape and an old leather football helmet and swaying, working to keep his balance. He was ordered to hop on one foot, grab his crotch and approach her with a rhyme, Brookes said. He couldn’t keep balanced, she said, but belted out the rhyme she’s remembered to this day: ‘I’m a geek, I’m a geek, I’m a power tool. When I sing this song, I look like a fool.’”

“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling,” added Liz Swisher, a Democrat and chief of the gynecologic oncology division at the University of Washington School of Medicine who describes herself as a friend of Kavanaugh’s in college. “There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. … But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”

“The Post contacted Brookes and Swisher last week because they lived with Ramirez at different points during their undergraduate years,” per Aaron, Emma and Joe. “Neither returned calls or emails until Tuesday. Ramirez previously told neither of them about her allegation … but Brookes and Swisher said they believe her account. …

Kavanaugh acknowledged heavy drinking in a 2014 speech to the Yale Federalist Society,” they add. “He recalled organizing a boozy trip for 30 of his Yale Law classmates to Boston for a baseball game and a night of barhopping, complete with ‘group chugs from a keg’ and a return to campus by ‘falling out of the bus onto the steps of Yale Law School at about 4:45 a.m.’ According to his scripted remarks, he said: ‘Fortunately for all of us, we had a motto. What happens on the bus stays on the bus.’”

White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec responded with this statement: “No one has claimed Judge Kavanaugh didn’t drink in high school or college.”

-- A Post researcher also noted that Kavanaugh could not legally drink at 18 when he was in high school:

-- Separately, three former Yale Law School classmates who previously endorsed Kavanaugh called Tuesday for an investigation into both women’s allegations. “Kent Sinclair, Douglas Rutzen and Mark Osler were among roughly two dozen of Kavanaugh’s law school classmates who lauded Kavanaugh’s qualifications in an Aug. 27 letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Elise Viebeck reports. “Separately, former Kavanaugh classmates Louisa Garry and Dino Ewing on Monday asked the New Yorker magazine to withdraw their names from a statement defending Kavanaugh from claims made by [Ramirez] … An editor’s note said the two did not ‘did not wish to dispute Ramirez’s claims.’ [Garry] was featured praising Kavanaugh in a television ad released last week by the Judicial Crisis Network.”

-- And Yale Law professor Akhil Amar — who taught Kavanaugh, testified on his behalf earlier this month and wrote an effusive New York Times op-ed that called him a “superb nominee” — is now having “second thoughts” and wants a full investigation into what he describes as “serious” accusations. “If the investigation’s facts and findings support him, then he will join the Court in the sunshine and not under a cloud,” Amar writes in an op-ed for the Yale Daily News.

-- USA Today reports that Ford’s attorneys have provided the Senate with sworn and signed declarations from four people who corroborate her claims of sexual assault by Kavanaugh, including her husband and three friends:

“In her declaration, Adela Gildo-Mazzon said Ford told her about the alleged assault during a June 2013 meal at a restaurant in Mountain View, California, and contacted Ford’s attorneys on Sept. 16 to tell them Ford had confided in her five years ago. ‘During our meal, Christine was visibly upset, so I asked her what was going on,’ Gildo-Mazzon says in her declaration. ‘Christine told me she had been having a hard day because she was thinking about an assault she experienced when she was much younger. She said she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge. She told me she had been trapped in a room with two drunken guys, and that she had escaped, ran away and hid.’

“In another declaration, Keith Koegler said Ford revealed the alleged assault to him in 2016, when the two parents were watching their children play in a public place and discussing the ‘light’ sentencing of Stanford University student Brock Turner. ‘Christine expressed anger at Mr. Turner’s lenient sentence, stating that she was particularly bothered by it because she was assaulted in high school by a man who was now a federal judge in Washington, D.C.,’ Koegler said.

“In another declaration, Rebecca White, a neighbor and friend of more than six years, said Ford revealed the alleged assault against her in 2017. ‘I was walking my dog and Christine was outside of her house,’ White said. ‘I stopped to speak with her, and she told me she had read a recent social media post I had written about my own experience with sexual assault. She then told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen. I remember her saying that her assailant was now a federal judge.’

“In his declaration, Ford’s husband said he learned of his wife’s experience with sexual assault ‘around the time we got married’ but that she didn’t share details until a couple’s therapy session in 2012. ‘I remember her saying that her attacker’s name was Brett Kavanaugh,’ Russell Ford said.”

-- Trump’s attacks on Ford from last Friday, meanwhile, continue to reverberate. “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” the president tweeted.

Women from across the ideological spectrum have continued to come forward for the first time to explain why they didn’t report their own experiences with sexual assault when they happened:

-- A New Hampshire state senator explains why she did not report her 1976 assault at a Dartmouth fraternity party. From the AP: “Sen. Martha Hennessey, a Hanover Democrat seeking a second term, posted on her Facebook page last week that she was assaulted by a Dartmouth College classmate . . . She said that she suffered multiple bruises from being thrown against a fireplace while about a dozen other students watched. ‘I didn’t press charges, but word spread around campus — all false — about what occurred. Friends I had known my whole life quickly blamed me for the incident,’ she wrote. Hennessey said her parents and boyfriend wanted her to report the assault to police but she just wanted it to go away. … ‘It is NOT POSSIBLE for anyone to know what they would have done in my shoes or in the shoes of Christine Blasey Ford,’ she wrote. ‘YOU HAVE NO IDEA. BOYS and MEN get away with it every day, everywhere. Victims are ridiculed, shamed, denied, and traumatized over and over again. Forever. DON’T ASSUME YOU KNOW.’"

-- “I Was The US Treasurer. I Didn't Tell The FBI Background Checkers About My Abuser,” by Rosario Marin, who served under George W. Bush, for BuzzFeed News: “I was a victim of sexual abuse. I was 5 years old. I may not remember what color dress I was wearing or how long my hair was, but the times, the locations, and most importantly how I felt are ineradicable. They live forever in my mind. It took 18 years before I shared those awful memories for the first time. It was to the man I was about to marry. It took another four years before I told my mother. I did not even mention it to the FBI when they interviewed me as part of an extensive background check I underwent to become the treasurer of the United States in 2001. It wasn’t until I was 49 years old, in 2007, that I went public with that horrific episode of my life.”

-- “I Was Raped at 16 and I Kept Silent,” by Padma Lakshmi in the New York Times: “When I was 16 years old, I started dating a guy I met at the Puente Hills Mall in a Los Angeles suburb. … He was in college, and I thought he was charming and handsome. He was 23. … On New Year’s Eve, just a few months after we first started dating, he raped me. … On Friday, [Trump] tweeted that if what Dr. Blasey said was true, she would have filed a police report years ago. But I understand why both women would keep this information to themselves for so many years, without involving the police. For years, I did the same thing.”

-- “Like Christine Ford, I'm a research psychologist. I believe her. Because I'm her, too,” by Natalie Sachs-Ericsson for the Tallahassee Democrat: “Like Ford, I’m a research psychologist, a university faculty member, and a survivor of sexual assault. … [After the assault,] I saw a [therapist] for my depression. He said, ‘Research shows that women who get raped really wanted it.’ I was so confused. The rapist said I wanted it, my mother said it was my fault, and now my therapist.”

DIVIDED AMERICA:

-- Ted and Heidi Cruz were chased out of Fiola, a white tablecloth restaurant here in the District, by zealous antifa activists and members of the Democratic Socialists of America who were screaming at them: “Several said they were sexual assault survivors,” Avi Selk reports. “They told The Post they had been tipped off to the Cruzes’ reservation that evening and sat covertly at Fiola’s bar for more than an hour to await his arrival. … We’re not trained to deal with this,’ Fiola’s co-owner, Maria Trabocchi, later told The Post. ‘How do you deal with things like this? It’s crazy times.’”

Beto O’Rourke, Cruz’s Democratic challenger, condemned the hostile confrontation:

HOW IT’S PLAYING:

-- More from The Washington Post:

  • Robert Costa: “‘Back in the foxhole together’: Conservatives rally around Kavanaugh amid accusations.”
  • Michelle Boorstein: “Mormon women demand LDS senators halt Kavanaugh hearings so misconduct allegations can be investigated.”
  • Monica Hesse: “It’s time to reconsider a lot of our own stories. Are we ready for what they’ll tell us?”
  • Eugene Scott: “The virginity defense is a reminder of our ignorance about sexual violence.”
  • Amber Phillips: “Top Senate Republicans aren’t even pretending Kavanaugh’s accusers will make a difference.”
  • Aaron Blake: “How in the world is Mark Judge not testifying?”
  • Robert H. Tembeckjian: “Yes, we can investigate decades-old allegations against judges. I’ve done it.”
  • David Von Drehle: “Kavanaugh says he never blacked out from drinking. Can he swear to it?”
  • Molly Roberts: “What happens at Georgetown Prep.”

--From elsewhere:

  • Frank Bruni in the New York Times: “The Many Faces of Brett Kavanaugh. Some women saw a young gentleman. Some saw a drunk predator. Maybe he was both.”
  • AP: “Kavanaugh’s 2nd accuser never sought spotlight, friends say.”
  • Politico: “Frat boy vs. choir boy: Dueling versions of Kavanaugh raise credibility questions.”
  • BuzzFeed News: “Kavanaugh’s Yale Classmates Remember Him In A ‘Drinky Crowd.’”
  • HuffPost: “Kavanaugh And The Men Who Say Nothing.”
  • USA Today: “Here's the 1982 calendar that's being used as evidence against sexual assault allegations.”
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: The Milwaukee County GOP deleted a tweet joking about Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped by Abraham Lincoln after it drew sharp rebukes.

MORE FROM THE #METOO MOVEMENT:

-- A Pennsylvania judge sentenced Bill Cosby to three to 10 years in state prison, citing an “overwhelming” amount of evidence that the disgraced comedian planned the 2004 drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand. From Manuel Roig-Franzia: “On Tuesday, more than a dozen women who alleged abuse by Cosby — no longer doubting that the world would take them seriously — crowded into the ornate courtroom where Cosby finally got his comeuppance. … Many of the women sat with their arms around one another’s shoulders as the sentence was read. When it was clear that Cosby would not be allowed to remain free on bail during his appeal, former supermodel Janice Dickinson pumped her fist from her seat in the second row. Dickinson had testified during the trial that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the early 1980s.”

-- Prosecutors released a letter from Constand, in which she said Cosby “took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it.” She wrote in her victim impact statement, “At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit, confident athlete. I was strong, and skilled, with great reflexes, agility and speed. … I knew who I was and I liked who I was. I was at the top of my game, certain that the groundwork provided by my education and athletic training would stand me in good stead whatever challenges lay ahead. How wrong I was. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.” Read the full statement here.

-- Cosby's publicist claimed at a news conference that his client and Kavanaugh are both victims of a “sex war” that is “going on in Washington today.”

-- Despite Cosby’s sentence, California officials confirmed that his star will remain on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In a statement, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said it “does not remove stars from the Walk of Fame” because they “are intended to be permanent.” (CBS Los Angeles)

-- The Star Tribune in Minneapolis has sued to unseal the divorce records of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee who is running for state attorney general and has been accused of domestic violence by an ex-girlfriend. From the Tribune’s Jessie Van Berkel: “The efforts follow allegations by Ellison's ex-girlfriend, Karen Monahan, that Ellison domestically abused her in 2016. He has denied the allegation repeatedly, and Monahan has continued to press her case in frequent tweets about Ellison.”

-- The House Financial Services Committee invited a woman who has accused Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt, a former Democratic congressman, of sexual harassment and retaliation to testify on Thursday. (Wall Street Journal)

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GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Germany published an explosive new public report that documents more than 3,600 sex abuse cases within the Catholic Church, involving 1,670 clergy members and spanning a period of nearly seven decades. (Luisa Beck and Chico Harlan)
  2. The first penalty was levied under a new French law aimed at punishing sexual harassment in public spaces. A man accused of slapping a woman and making lewd comments aboard a bus was fined 300 euros and jailed for three months. (France 24)

  3. A federal judge restored protections for 700 grizzly bears in the Yellowstone area, siding with conservation and tribal organizations to cancel planned hunts in Wyoming and Idaho. The decision delivers a blow to the Trump administration, which argued the park's grizzly population had “recovered” enough to allow an open season. (Karin Brulliard)
  4. A new study argues climate change has already had a detrimental effect on the 417 U.S. national parks and monuments. Researchers warn a warming planet could render iconic sites, such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, into barely recognizable versions of themselves. (Alex Horton)
  5. Instagram is struggling to crack down on accounts that advertise illegal drugs. The platform’s algorithms exacerbate the problem, as users who like or follow one dealer’s account will often be prompted to follow similar ones. (Elizabeth Dwoskin)
  6. A new UCLA report outlines how the Smithsonian failed to act on a seminal 1994 report that recommended strategies to diversify the institution’s nine museums and increase Latino representation throughout its galleries. One of those efforts included working with Congress to launch a new Latino museum. (Peggy McGlone
  7. A New York City puppet technician and prop maker for “The Lion King” has been arrested on accusations of printing a 3-D gun at the Broadway theater. Security officers said the 3-D printer was partially finished producing a plastic revolver when they discovered it and contacted police. (Meagan Flynn)
  8. A Detroit police officer was fired after posting a Snapchat message that said, “another night to Rangel [sic] up these zoo animals.” The post widely circulated on social media, with some users arguing the message contained racial undertones. The officer, Sean Bostwick, is white, while Detroit is 80 percent black. (Eli Rosenberg)

  9. An employee at Comerica Park in Detroit, where the Tigers play, was arrested after he was captured on video spitting into a pizza he was preparing for a customer. The video was posted online by a co-worker, where it quickly amassed tens of thousands of views — and caught the attention of authorities. (Reis Thebault)

  10. After nearly 70 years, Dunkin’ Donuts announced it is shortening its name. As of January, the franchise will be dropping “Donuts” in an effort to reflect the company’s growing emphasis on coffee. (AP)
  11. The latest presidential limousine cost $1.5 million and weighs about 20,000 pounds. The car is the last in a long line of specially designed presidential limos and contains a fridge full of Trump’s blood type in case of a medical emergency. (NBC News)

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- For years, a staple of Trump's stump speech was that the United States had become a “laughingstock” to the rest of the world. And that no one would laugh at America if he was in charge. Yet yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly, foreign leaders started laughing at his expense. David Nakamura reports: “The embarrassing exchange came when Trump boasted that his administration had accomplished more over two years than ‘almost any administration’ in American history, eliciting audible guffaws in the cavernous chamber hall. The president appeared startled. ‘Didn’t expect that reaction,’ he said, ‘but that’s okay.’ Members of the audience chuckled again — perhaps this time in sympathy. Trump continued his address, which lasted an additional 34 minutes, but the moment marked a pointed rejoinder from the international community to a president who has delighted in poking traditional U.S. allies and partners in the eye on trade, security alliances and general diplomatic bonhomie.”

“He has always been obsessed that people are laughing at the president. From the mid-80s, he’s said: ‘The world is laughing at us. They think we’re fools,’” said Thomas Wright, a Europe analyst at the Brookings Institution. “It’s never been true, but he’s said it about every president. [Including Ronald Reagan.] It’s the first time I’m aware of that people actually laughed at a president. I think it is going to drive him absolutely crazy. It will play to every insecurity he has.”

-- “Trump’s response was telling, too,” Aaron Blake notes. “Just as he seemed genuinely taken aback when NBC’s Peter Alexander called out his electoral college number-fudging last year, he did not seem to anticipate anybody questioning his claims of nearly unprecedented success as a president. It was as if he never even countenanced it. Later in the speech, Trump made another overzealous claim: that Germany is becoming ‘totally dependent’ upon Russian energy …. The German delegation’s response: more laughter.

-- Trump focused on issues of “sovereignty” in his speech to world leaders, declaring that his administration would reject constraints other nations attempt to place on the United States and vowing that America would act to counter “global control.” David Nakamura and Anne Gearan report: “‘America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control and domination,’ Trump said … ‘I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.’ Trump publicly thanked [Kim Jong Un] for his ‘courage and the steps he has taken,’ [and emphasized that] Pyongyang has not tested a ballistic missile since the engagement process  [with North Korea] began … Asked later whether the same trajectory from tough talk and threats to warmer relations might be repeated with Iran, Trump said he was open to future talks on a different nuclear deal.”

-- Trump revived one of his favorite talking points by threatening to cut off all foreign aid to countries that are “disloyal” to the United States, but key members of his administration are working quietly to stop that from happening. John Hudson and Josh Dawsey report: “For several weeks, a senior official at the National Security Council, Kevin Harrington, has led a review of U.S. foreign aid policy aimed at putting into practice Trump’s ‘America First’ mantra and adjusting foreign aid priorities in the budget for fiscal 2020. In the process, he has faced stiff resistance from officials at the Pentagon, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development who have said his proposals were counterproductive and contradictory[.] The proposals include revoking assistance to countries that do not vote with the [U.S. at the U.N.] and those that have developed strong financial ties to China, and providing loans to countries instead of grants … The challenge, some officials argued, is that the United States risks losing influence to China if it works only with countries that are outwardly pro-American.”

-- “In [Trump’s speech], one thing about his Iran policy became clear: its incoherence,” explains columnist Jason Rezaian. “'We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues. And we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny,’ Trump said. Earlier in the day, however,Trump had tweeted about the person who embodies that despised Iranian regime like no other — President Hassan Rouhani: ‘I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!’" (Jason has some good reasons not to think Rouhani is “absolutely lovely" . . .) 

-- Trump’s praise in the speech for Poland, where nationalism is on the rise, attracted criticism. “In Poland,” he said, “a great people are standing up for their independence, their security and their sovereignty.” Polish leaders have been accused of abandoning democratic principles as they embrace an increasingly nationalistic agenda. (Philip Bump)

-- Trump will chair a meeting today of the U.N. Security Council, where he may encounter pushback from Bolivia’s leftist president, Evo Morales. From Adam Taylor: “Bolivia joined the Security Council for a two-year term in 2017. … Bolivia has been extremely critical of U.S. foreign policy since Morales took office in 2006. In 2008, it expelled the U.S. ambassador there and threw out American departments such as the [USAID] and the Drug Enforcement Administration. And few leaders have been as openly critical of Trump as Morales, who has said he thinks the U.S. president has ‘mental problems’ and racist attitudes toward Latin Americans.”

-- Also present at the UNGA hall: a baby. “On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, one of only two elected world leaders to have given birth while in office, became the first to bring her baby into the U.N. assembly hall when she arrived with 3-month-old daughter Neve Gayford in tow,” Amy B Wang writes. “Little Neve even got her own temporary U.N. badge identifying her … In her ID photo, she appears fast asleep, snug in a blue knit baby beanie.”

-- The latest U.S. sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro strike at the heart of his inner circle. The U.S. government accuses Venezuela’s first lady, defense minister and vice president of helping Maduro “systematically [plunder] what remains of Venezuela’s wealth,” as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said. (Carol Morello and Anthony Faiola)

-- Meanwhile, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan expressed concern after more than 25 civilians were killed in two separate airstrikes conducted by Afghan and U.S.-led forces. In a statement, officials called on all warring parties to “uphold their obligations to protect civilians” and obey international humanitarian law. (Sayed Salahuddin)

THE TRADE WARS:

-- The Trump administration is poised to miss its self-imposed deadline to reach a new NAFTA deal with Canada. From David J. Lynch, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner: “A downbeat U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer said Tuesday that negotiators are ‘sort of running out of time’ to include Canada in the trade deal with Mexico, which was finalized last month. If the remaining gaps cannot be bridged in the next few days, the administration will request congressional approval of a Mexico-only deal, Lighthizer said … That would open [Trump] to intense criticism from key GOP lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, as well as leading business groups, which favor preserving a unified North American market. … The administration wants to announce details of a new North American accord by Sunday to meet a timetable permitting Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to sign it on Nov. 30, his final day in office.”

-- A top Chinese government official accused the U.S. of “holding a knife to our neck” to force trade concessions, one day after both countries moved to impose another round of punishing tariffs on each other. Anna Fifield reports: “‘Our door is open for the resumption of trade consultations and negotiations, but to make the negotiations effective, they should be based on mutual respect and treating each other as equals,’ [Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen] told reporters.  A Chinese delegation had been expected in Washington this week for talks on resolving the trade dispute, but the visit was canceled after [Trump] last week announced tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods … Beijing responded by announcing it would impose tariffs of 5 percent to 10 percent on an additional $60 billion of U.S. goods, including meat, liquefied natural gas and more."

-- The Chinese increasingly believe that Trump’s tariffs are merely one part of his broader efforts to stifle their country’s economic rise. From Fifield: “Washington might see this as straightforward economic rebalancing. But Beijing looks at it in the wider context of Trump’s relative friendliness toward Taiwan, the prospect of U.S. sanctions over its treatment of Uighur Muslims and the American decision to exclude China from Pacific Rim military exercises this year. Taken together, there is a strong whiff of conspiracy. ‘The United States’ intention to disrupt China’s development process has been thoroughly exposed,’ the state People’s Daily reported … The fact that the sanctions were imposed on the anniversary of Japan’s 1931 invasion of northern China — which many Chinese see as an unofficial day of national humiliation — only rubbed salt into the wound.

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Officials say Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is now likely to stay on until after the midterm elections. Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey report: “Inside the Justice Department on Tuesday, officials still struggled to understand the events that nearly produced a seismic upheaval in their leadership ranks — until it didn’t — and they braced for a potential repeat of that chaos later in the week. Some officials said that Matt Whitaker, [Jeff Sessions’s] chief of staff, had told people he would be taking over for Rosenstein — an indication that the deputy attorney general’s departure was all but certain — and were surprised when it was announced that Rosenstein would remain in his job. Sessions began telling people on Sunday that Rosenstein might be in trouble … Others said they learned all the developments from news reports that evolved throughout the day. While it remained possible that Rosenstein could still resign or be fired imminently, people inside and outside the department said it seemed increasingly more likely that Rosenstein would stay in the job until after November’s elections and then depart, probably along with [Sessions].”

-- The saga of Rosenstein’s potential departure displayed again Trump’s penchant for avoiding direct conflict by dragging out personnel decisions, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker write. “Trump believes that by dragging out what ultimately will be a dismissal, he can best gauge the prevailing views in his circle, as well as public sentiment, [friends and advisers] said. … [Thursday’s] meeting, at the very least, is likely to be unpredictable. White House aides stress that they believe that the only way Rosenstein would leave his post is if he resigns, while Justice Department officials say they believe he would have to fired — a potentially problematic action by Trump that could be interpreted by Mueller and his investigators as obstruction of justice. People close to the president predict that the meeting could be deeply uncomfortable for Rosenstein, especially if Trump presses him on the veracity of the reporting about his alleged disloyalty. As one outside Trump adviser quipped, Rosenstein would be wise to arrive ‘wearing some Depends.’”

-- Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said their Republican counterparts plan to subpoena memos from former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Committee Republicans informed the Democrats of their intent to subpoena McCabe’s memos Tuesday night . . . Committee Democrats also learned that Republicans were planning to call [former FBI director James Comey], as well as former attorney general Loretta E. Lynch, former acting attorney general Sally Yates, former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos … and Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS."

-- Longtime Trump ally Roger Stone offered to assist his alleged WikiLeaks intermediary, Randy Credico, with legal expenses. Mother Jones’s Dan Friedman reports: “Credico has denied being Stone’s go-between. And now he [says] that Stone offered to help him pay his legal fees in what Credico believed was an effort to stop him from contradicting Stone’s account of their interactions during the 2016 campaign.” “He knew that I was upset,” Credico says. “He wanted me to be quiet. He wanted me to go along with his narrative. He didn’t want me talking to the press and saying what I was saying.”

--Investigative journalist Murray Waas reports in the New York Review of Books that Mike Pence knew in advance about Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and on Feb. 10, 2017, joined Reince Priebus and Don McGahn to “strongly recommend” Trump fire his national security adviser. He refused. “Earlier that day, Pence, Priebus, and McGahn had met in the Situation Room to read classified transcripts of Flynn’s conversations on sanctions with [Kislyak],” Waas writes. “After reading those intercepts, the three men concluded that Flynn had lied to the American public, to the vice president, and perhaps even to the FBI. Pence, Priebus, and McGahn confronted Flynn before then recommending to Trump that Flynn be fired. Trump would not undertake to do so — a refusal so inexplicable to the president’s men that they worried that he was protecting Flynn because he knew in advance of Flynn’s back-channel diplomacy with Russia, or had even authorized it … Alarmed by Trump’s inaction on firing Flynn, two senior administration officials then arranged a leak to the press about Justice Department warnings to the White House concerning Flynn’s false statements, in order to force the president’s hand.”

One day after The Post reported his talks with the Russian ambassador, Flynn announced his resignation. The very next day — Feb. 14 — Trump held his infamous meeting with Comey, where he allegedly ordered him to shutter the FBI’s investigation of Flynn. This timeline, Waas argues, could make Pence a “star witness” in the Mueller investigation, as prosecutors seek to answer the key question of what Trump knew when he pressured Comey to stand down. “As a participant in crucial meetings that led to Flynn’s firing, Pence has vital information for investigators that can shed light on these questions. ‘If they have a weak case, or circumstantial case, Pence can make it a stronger case,’ [said one former White House official, who has already spoken to the special counsel]. ‘If they already have a strong case — which I believe they have — Pence’s testimony might elevate what they developed to an existential threat to [Trump] and his presidency.’”

THE MIDTERMS:

-- Billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer intends to make a massive investment in Senate campaigns if Trump fires Rosenstein and Kavanaugh gets confirmed, I reported yesterday: His aides say he would spend seven figures targeting the Senate races in Arizona, Tennessee, Nevada, Indiana, Florida and Texas. Steyer has previously outlined plans to spend more than $110 million on politics this year. Encouraged by millions of dollars in television and digital advertising, nearly 5.9 million people have now signed his petition calling for Trump’s impeachment. The Steyer political operation has already built a website in the event Rosenstein is fired. Three commercials pertaining to the firing also were cut more than two months ago in anticipation of the possible development.

-- Steyer also plans to spend more than $5 million directly supporting Democrat Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial bid in Florida. The New York Times’s Alexander Burns reports: “Mr. Steyer . . . said in an interview that he would spend more money in Florida this fall than any other state. He endorsed Mr. Gillum, 39, in the Democratic primary, and hailed him as a model for the national Democratic Party. In the interview, Mr. Steyer praised Mr. Gillum for having endorsed impeachment, though he said that had not been a ‘litmus test’ for his support.”

-- A new NBC News-Marist poll shows Gillum and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson holding slim leads in their Florida races. From NBC News’s Mark Murray: “[Nelson] gets support from 48 percent of likely voters, while Republican Rick Scott, the state's governor, gets 45 percent. Six percent say they're undecided. Among the larger pool of registered voters, Nelson leads by 5 points, 48 percent to 43 percent, which is essentially unchanged from his four-point edge in June's NBC/Marist poll. And in the gubernatorial race — arguably the nation’s top contest for governor — [Gillum] is ahead of Republican Ron DeSantis by 5 points, 48 percent to 43 percent. Among registered voters, Gillum’s advantage expands to 8 points, 49 percent to 41 percent.”

-- DeSantis’s campaign is having trouble shaking a string of racial controversies, the Tampa Bay Times’s Adam C. Smith writes. “DeSantis has never fully recovered from his ‘monkey this up’ comment about the African-American Gillum the day after winning the Republican nomination. Without a compelling message beyond warning people how bad Gillum would be for Florida, he has been on the defensive over the racists or extremists that keep popping up around him. He blames the media for unfair coverage, but the sheer number of fringe activists associated directly or indirectly with this nominee is unprecedented in modern Florida politics. Clearly the race for governor is wide open 42 days before the votes are counted. Even more clearly DeSantis is losing to the most liberal Democratic nominee in modern history who is entangled in an FBI corruption investigation.

-- The first debate in Tennessee’s Senate race underscored the hurdles Democrat Phil Bredesen will have to overcome to score a victory in a state Trump carried by 26 points, the Guardian’s Ben Jacobs writes. “[GOP Rep. Marsha] Blackburn seemed unable to finish a sentence without linking her opponent to Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama while [Bredesen] tried to separate himself from party politics almost entirely. … Bredesen tried to tiptoe around divisive issues and avoid strong criticism of Trump. In the midst of the drama surrounding the confirmation hearings of [Kavanaugh], the Democrat said that the behavior of both parties on Capitol Hill ‘disgusts me’ and declined to take a position on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Bredesen also became the second Democratic candidate for Senate to refuse to support Chuck Schumer for Democratic leader in Senate, taking a page from dozens of House candidates who have declined to support Nancy Pelosi. In contrast, Blackburn wholeheartedly endorsed every policy proposal backed by Trump … ”

-- A Monmouth University poll found Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who famously upset former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) in 2010, locked in a dead heat with Democrat Abigail Spanberger. From Laura Vozzella: “Spanberger, a former CIA officer and political newcomer, leads Brat 47 percent to 42 percent among all potential voters, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday. … Spanberger’s lead shrinks when the poll applies two different models to the race in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District … The candidates are tied at 47 percent when the survey assumes turnout will follow historical norms for midterm elections. Spanberger leads 48 percent to 45 percent — a statistically insignificant margin — when the model projects a Democratic surge.”

-- This year's midterms have turned into more of a “suburban tsunami” than a blue wave — with new polls and surveys failing to prove that the near-constant White House turmoil has meaningfully eroded Trump's support with blue-collar, evangelical and rural whites voters. CNN’s Ronald Brownstein reports: “That stark divergence means those watching the electoral shoreline for signs of a ‘blue wave’ in November may be looking in the wrong place[:] the 2018 election now appears more likely to produce a targeted current that widens the nation's existing geographic and demographic divisions, like a river cutting through rock. ‘Just like in 2016, we are seeing voters shifting in opposite directions, which is not something you usually see,’ says Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz. ‘The normal pattern you see is that everyone shifts in the same direction to varying degrees ... In this case, we're seeing really big differences and voters going in opposing directions.’”

-- “This underdog candidate ran in nine Senate primaries and lost them all,” by Reuben Fischer-Baum: “In 2016, [Rocky De La Fuente] ran for president — first for the Democratic nomination and then as an independent in the general. That same year, he ran in the Democratic primary for Florida Senate. In 2017, he attempted to run for New York mayor but was blocked by residency requirements. But in 2018 he really went for it, running for Senate in seven Republican primaries and the California and Washington open primaries. Constitutionally, this is totally fine. Candidates aren’t elected until the general election. So if De La Fuente had won any of his nine primaries, he would have had plenty of time to become an inhabitant of that state before Nov. 6.”

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:

-- A DHS memo, reported on by The Post in April and now made public, contradicts Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s claims that the administration did not have an official policy of separating migrant children from their parents. BuzzFeed News’s Adolfo Flores reports: “Nielsen signed off on the option to prosecute all adults who crossed the border illegally, including those with kids, knowing it would lead to family separations. … ‘DHS could also permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted,’ the memo said. When the administration was under fire for the family separations Nielsen told reporters ‘This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border.’ Yet, the memo she signed states the effect of attempting to prosecute every adult at the border would result in children being separated from their parents.” 

-- The DHS inspector general found FEMA Administrator Brock Long’s unauthorized use of official vehicles cost the government $151,000. The Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender reports: “[Long, who used government vehicles to return to his North Carolina home,] also relied on government vehicles and employees to drive him and his family around Hawaii during a trip that included official functions and a vacation, according to the [inspector general]. Mr. Long’s use of government vehicles and staff cost $94,000 in salary, $55,000 in travel expenditures and $2,000 in maintenance-related costs, according to a portion of the inspector general’s report … [Nielsen] released a statement Friday night saying that she had ordered Mr. Long to repay the government ‘as appropriate.’ A spokesman for Ms. Nielsen said Tuesday that the secretary and Mr. Long hadn’t yet agreed on the total that would be repaid.”

-- Deputy press secretary Raj Shah plans to leave the White House after Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, according to Yahoo News’s Hunter Walker. “Shah has been leading the communications efforts in support of the confirmation process since Kavanaugh’s nomination in July. Two sources familiar with Shah’s thinking said he thought that helping to shepherd the successful confirmation would allow him to end his White House tenure on a high note. The now contentious nomination may have put a damper on Shah’s departure plans. … One of the sources familiar with Shah’s plans said his exit ‘calculus’ included his assumption that [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] is also planning to leave the White House soon.”

-- Former White House adviser Steve Bannon is trying to spread his nationalist message across the globe. Kevin Sullivan reports: “He argues that nationalist and populist forces, in part inspired by Trump, are poised to claim political power in capitals from Pakistan to Japan to Australia, Brazil and Colombia, and he says he’s on the horn to all of them. … But first, Europe, where Bannon started the week here in the Italian capital before heading to the Czech Republic, Hungary and beyond. … At the center of Bannon’s global efforts is The Movement, which was formed last year by Belgian right-wing politician Mischael Modrikamen, and which Bannon formally joined this summer. … Bannon said he is trying to build The Movement into a ‘connective tissue’ that offers nationalist and populist political parties across Europe U.S. know-how in polling, messaging and ‘war-room’ strategy for responding immediately to political attacks.”

-- The EPA placed the head of its Office of Children’s Health Protection on administrative leave in an apparent attempt to sideline the office. The New York Times’s Coral Davenport and Roni Caryn Rabin report: “The E.P.A.’s Office of Children’s Health Protection, created by President Bill Clinton in 1997, is tasked with seeing that agency regulations and programs take into account the particular vulnerabilities of children, babies and fetuses. … Several people within the E.P.A. or who work closely with the agency said that [Dr. Ruth Etzel’s] dismissal is one of several recent developments that have slowed the work of the children’s health office.”

-- “Inside Steven Mnuchin’s Manhattan co-op,” by Amy Dobson: “Mnuchin is selling his Manhattan co-op for $32.5 million, according to Warburg Realty, which is listing the property. Mnuchin had purchased the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom unit outright in 2000 for $10.5 million … ”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

Trump overnight repeated the word “CON” to describe Democratic opposition to his nominee:

But some reports suggest the president harbors private doubts about Kavanaugh’s confirmability:

A Democratic senator slammed his Republican colleagues' handling of the Kavanaugh accusations:

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee accused Republicans of relying on assumptions they have already drawn about Ford's accusation:

A New York Times Magazine writer argued the Senate is about to repeat the mistakes of 1991:

A former chief of staff to McConnell seized on a liberal outside group saying that it hopes to keep the Supreme Court vacancy open if Kavanaugh goes down — the way McConnell did with Merrick Garland:

A Daily Beast columnist said Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh has bolstered support among some on the right:

This excerpt from Lindsey Graham's memoir has garnered attention as he defends Kavanaugh's character:

A Maine newspaper has received a flood of mail regarding Kavanaugh's nomination:

This 2014 Trump tweet recirculated after his U.N. speech:

Fox News appears to have edited out the laughter at Trump in clips that it shared on social media:

Some of Trump's children gathered in New York for his speech:

The attorney general avoided questions about his deputy, per a Politico reporter:

Michigan's Democratic gubernatorial candidate swatted away Republican attack ads:

A conservative New York Times columnist's negative take on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) widely circulated:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- New York Times, “As Debt Rises, the Government Will Soon Spend More on Interest Than on the Military,” by Nelson D. Schwartz: “The federal government could soon pay more in interest on its debt than it spends on the military, Medicaid or children’s programs. … Within a decade, more than $900 billion in interest payments will be due annually, easily outpacing spending on myriad other programs. Already the fastest-growing major government expense, the cost of interest is on track to hit $390 billion next year, nearly 50 percent more than in 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office. … Deficit hawks have gone silent, even proposing changes that would exacerbate the deficit. … The combination, say economists, marks a journey into mostly uncharted financial territory.”

-- Novelist Ben Fountain reported on the NRA’s national convention and the “paranoid style” of gun shows in the United States: “Just as I can imagine scenarios where I’d feel foolish and reckless for not having a gun, I can conceive of just as many where I’d be the world’s biggest fool for having one,” Fountain writes in LitHub. “But in NRA Land the lines are always bright and clear: us against them, good versus bad, American versus villain … ‘We, in this room, we ARE America,’ insisted [NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, who] warned of those ‘other rooms’ where ‘political and media elites at the highest levels’ are conspiring to destroy the Second Amendment. It seems safe to say that the paranoid style in American politics is alive and well. All of the classic elements … were on full and florid display at Louisville’s Freedom Hall: conspiracy, persecution, apocalypticism, the characterization of political difference not as a matter of good-faith give-and-take, but a final showdown between absolute good and absolute evil …”

-- Daily Beast, “Inside Barstool Sports’ Culture of Online Hate: ‘They Treat Sexual Harassment and Cyberbullying as a Game,” by Robert Silverman: “The other week, Dave Portnoy, the founder and chief of content of the sports blog Barstool Sports, did what he and fans of his site always do: ratcheted up an online spat to a fever pitch, transforming their collective rage at a perceived enemy into content. Even if it meant leaning into the type of social-media harassment and misogyny that Barstool is infamous for. … Founded in 2003 by Dave ‘El Presidente’ Portnoy, a 41-year-old from Swampscott, Massachusetts, Barstool Sports started out as a Boston-only free newspaper before migrating online. Over the ensuing 15 years, it has developed a reputation for trafficking in misogynistic and boorish blog posts, which now can total close to 100 per day. Though the site is frequently described by the press as a ‘satirical sports and men’s lifestyle blog,’ the homepage is bulked out with nondescript aggregations of whatever viral detritus is swirling around and soft-core pornography.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Jimmy Garoppolo injury prompts calls for 49ers to bring back Colin Kaepernick,” from Des Bieler: “The San Francisco 49ers suffered a devastating blow Monday with the confirmation that starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee the day before, ending his season. With San Francisco suddenly down to just C.J. Beathard at quarterback, the team needs to add another player … prompting calls for the Niners to bring back [Colin Kaepernick]. The free agent quarterback has been out of the NFL since March 2017, and he has filed a grievance against the league, accusing team owners of colluding to punish him for being the originator of players' protests of racial injustice during the national anthem. While Kaepernick’s story has gained renewed attention in the wake of a major Nike ad campaign for which he is the centerpiece, he reportedly has continued training in hopes of returning to the league. The 49ers' owner … [has] spoken favorably of Kaepernick’s aims in his protests . . . So owner Jed York might be on board with a reunion . . . and others have made the case that it should happen.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Cuomo campaign admits outreach by Crystal Run,” from the Times Union: “In a meeting with the Times Union editorial board three weeks ago, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo emphatically and repeatedly stated that Crystal Run Healthcare, a growing Hudson Valley company, had never warned his campaign of potential problems with its $400,000 in donations. Moreover, the governor said that if the company had done so, Crystal Run would have effectively ‘admitted to a crime.’ But on Tuesday, in response to the Times Union's questions about Cuomo's statement, his campaign acknowledged that what the governor said that day was not true: Crystal Run had indeed approached the campaign with concerns about its donations. . . . The FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan have been investigating whether a two-day flurry of 10 separate $25,000 checks from Crystal Run officials to Cuomo in October 2013 were actually reimbursed by the company through bonuses. If that occurred, it could violate state election law, which bars the circumvention of donation limits through the use of so-called ‘straw donors.’”

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump has a morning meeting at U.N. headquarters with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He will then participate in a Security Council briefing on counterproliferation. He will have two meetings at the Lotte New York Palace with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister Theresa May before holding a news conference. He has a dinner with supporters tonight.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I'm so happy to be out of Washington D.C. right now I could cry.” — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking Tuesday at the Virginia Military Institute.

 

NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:

-- Some afternoon sunshine may surrender to a late-day storm in the District today. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “After a cloudy morning, we may actually see partial sunshine this afternoon, which helps highs into the low to mid-80s with high humidity. Could see a few isolated showers or storms during the afternoon as a cold front approaches.”

-- In the midst of helping the Nationals secure a 9-4 win over the Marlins, Max Scherzer recorded his 300th strikeout this season, becoming the sixth pitcher since 1990 to do so. Chelsea Janes reports: “The Nationals won the game, an offensive explosion that gave Scherzer his 18th victory. Anthony Rendon homered and moved his average to .312. Bryce Harper became the season’s first National League player to score 100 runs to go with 100 RBI and 100 walks. That duo combined to reach eight times in eight plate appearances. But Tuesday night belonged to Scherzer.”

-- Former Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in Arizona. The Nationals said they were not aware of the charges against Werth when they inducted him into their Ring of Honor earlier this month. (Chelsea Janes)

-- The District has already surpassed the total number of homicides recorded last year. The city saw 116 homicides in 2017. This year, the count already stands at 119. (Peter Hermann and Michael Brice-Saddler)

-- Early findings from an investigation into the electrocution of a 6-year-old girl at MGM National Harbor indicate the accident was caused by faulty wiring. From Lynh Bui and Rachel Chason: “The failures, investigators said, stem from ‘major’ code violations that should not have passed the permitting and inspection process. The findings are part of an ongoing investigation by Prince George’s County officials into the June 26 incident that has left the child hospitalized for three months.”

-- A 65-year-old bicyclist was killed in a hit-and-run on Constitution Avenue. Authorities said the driver went through a red light and did not stop after the crash. (Peter Hermann)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's independent expenditure arm launched an attack ad against Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) that focuses on his “A” rating from the NRA and opposition to abortion. It’s the first House Democratic ad that features a clip of Kavanaugh:

Trevor Noah questioned the picture Kavanaugh depicted of his time in high school:

Stephen Colbert reveled in Trump's reception at the United Nations:

Kennedy Holmes, a 13-year-old from St. Louis, blew away the judges of “The Voice” with her rendition of Adele's “Turning Tables”:

And a kangaroo who escaped from an animal sanctuary set off a multiagency search in Florida: