With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: The decision by Senate Republicans to vote this morning to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination validates Christine Blasey Ford’s hesitation to publicly accuse him of sexual assault.

After reaching out to a Washington Post tip line and her representatives in Congress, as well as outlining her story to friends, the Palo Alto University professor said she decided she wanted to stay anonymous for two reasons: She believed her life would be upended if she shared her imperfect memories of what happened at a house party in 1982, and Kavanaugh would ultimately get confirmed to the Supreme Court anyway.

“Once he was selected and it seemed like he was popular and it was a sure vote, I was calculating daily the risk-benefit for me of coming forward and wondering whether I would just be jumping in front of a train that was headed to where it was headed anyway and that I would just be personally annihilated,” she testified yesterday. “I believed that, if I came forward, my voice would be drowned out by a chorus of powerful supporters.”

Ford’s first fear has undoubtedly materialized: she will be a household name for the rest of her life. She’s received death threats. She’s needed to hire body guards. She’s been staying apart from her children as a security precaution.

Increasingly, it looks like Ford’s second worry may also come true: that it would all be for naught. After a closed-door meeting of the Republican conference late last night following the nearly nine-hour hearing, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) announced plans to vote Kavanaugh out of the Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m. Lawmakers were told that they need to stay in Washington over the weekend for procedural votes on Saturday and Monday. A final confirmation vote on the floor is planned for Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed optimism and confidence as he departed the Capitol last night that he will corral the 50 votes to get Kavanaugh onto the highest court in the land. He can afford to lose one of his three members who are still wavering — Susan Collins (Maine), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — because Vice President Pence can cast a tie-breaking vote.

Emphatically denying the charges leveled against him by three separate women, an emotional and angry Kavanaugh sought to paint Ford’s testimony as the result of a vast left-wing conspiracy, orchestrated by Democrats who cannot accept the legitimacy of President Trump’s victory and are seeking “revenge” for his work with Ken Starr to impeach Bill Clinton. “A calculated and orchestrated political hit,” he called it.

The questioning of Ford, led by a female prosecutor from Phoenix named Rachel Mitchell, focused more on process — how she got her lawyer, who paid for her polygraph examination and whether she took an airplane to Washington — than her underlying account of what happened 36 years ago in suburban Maryland.

Senate Democrats vehemently denied that they leaked her name, and Ford herself said she believes they respected her wishes to keep her story confidential. But when other reporters who had heard her name through the grapevine started showing up at her classroom and her home, as well as reaching out to co-workers about her, Ford reluctantly decided to go on the record with The Post and then testify so that she could tell her story on her terms. “I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn,” she said.

But Kavanaugh’s decision to attack Democrats more than he challenged his accuser appears to have succeeded in galvanizing GOP senators who might have defected after Ford fared better than they expected during her morning appearance. His conservative allies on the committee all called the timing of Ford’s allegation suspect and suggested that there were ulterior motives at play. “Watching your mother’s pained face has been heart-wrenching as she’s seen your name dragged through the mud,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) told Kavanaugh. “This is a national disgrace, the way you’re being treated,” added Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). “You’ve been treated unfairly,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).

THE SEVEN MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS:

-- Regardless of who you think is telling the truth or whether Kavanaugh should be confirmed, everyone who watched the marathon hearing on Thursday will remember where they were when they saw it. It was a defining event of our time, whatever the outcome. Here are the key quotes that will stick out years from now:

1. “The uproarious laughter.”

Ford said Kavanaugh was so drunk when he pinned her down and held her mouth to prevent her from screaming that she thought he was “going to accidentally kill me.” She believed he was going to rape her if she didn’t escape. But she said her strongest memory is of Kavanaugh laughing with his Georgetown Prep classmate Mark Judge, who she alleges was also in the room when it happened.

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two,” she testified. “I was, you know, underneath one of them while the two laughed — two friends having a really good time with one another.”

“That laughter is now indelibly etched into my hippocampus, too, and, I suspect, in the minds of everyone who listened,” writes Ruth Marcus.

2. “His face was white.”

Ford said she ran into Judge six to eight weeks after the alleged assault when she went to the Safeway in Potomac. “I was with my mother, and I was teenager, so I wanted her to go in one door and me go in the other. So, I chose the wrong door, because the door I chose was the one where Mark Judge was,” she said.

She said Judge was arranging the shopping carts, and she said hello to him. “And his face was white and very uncomfortable saying hello back,” Ford explained. “We had always been friendly with one another. He was just nervous and not wanting to speak with me. He looked a little bit ill.”

“Mr. Judge does not recall the events described by Dr. Ford in her testimony,” his attorney Barbara VanGelder said in a statement.

In a 1997 book, Judge wrote that he worked as a “bag boy in a local supermarket.”

“Invariably I would be hungover — or still drunk — when I got to work at seven in the morning, And I spent most of the first hour just trying to hold myself together,” he wrote.

3. “You have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy.”

Kavanaugh channeled Clarence Thomas’s outrage at being questioned about Anita Hill’s charges in 1991. The justice famously called it “a high-tech lynching” — and got confirmed.

Thomas and Kavanaugh both repeatedly used the word “circus” in their testimony. But Kavanaugh also said Democrats are on a “search and destroy” mission, a term Trump had used.

“This has destroyed my family and my good name,” the 53-year-old Kavanaugh said. “I may never teach again. … I may never be able to coach again. … You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

It was a strikingly different tune from Kavanaugh’s initial appearance before the committee earlier this month. “We don’t comment on comments made by politicians,” he said, declining repeatedly to criticize Trump’s personal attacks on judges.

4. “I hope the American people will see through this charade.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called an audible. He was mad that the female prosecutor they had hired wasn’t scoring points because her questions were so clinical and legalistic. So he used his five minutes to accuse the Democrats of attempted character assassination. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics,” Graham said. Then he looked at Flake, the only truly undecided Republican on his side of the dais. “To my Republican colleagues, if you vote ‘no,’ you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”

5. “Whatever the chart says.”

Before Graham took over from Mitchell, she asked Kavanaugh about reports that he drank heavily in high school: “What do you consider to be too many beers?”

“I don’t know,” Kavanaugh replied. “You know, we — whatever the chart says, a blood-alcohol chart.”

After insisting he was something of a choir boy on Fox News Monday night, Kavanaugh acknowledged that he did drink a lot. “I drank beer with my friends — almost everyone did,” he said. “Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone.”

Mitchell then asked Kavanaugh whether he had ever “passed out” from drinking. “I’ve gone to sleep,” the nominee replied, “but I’ve never blacked out.”

6. “Do you like beer, senator?”

Kavanaugh tried to turn the tables on his Democratic inquisitors as they wondered whether heavy drinking might mean that he doesn’t remember what Ford says he did to her because he was blackout drunk. He asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who also went to Yale and whose father has struggled with alcoholism, whether she has ever blacked out. “I’m curious,” he said. “I have no drinking problem, judge,” the senator responded. “Neither do I,” Kavanaugh said. After a bathroom break, Kavanaugh apologized to Klobuchar.

The nominee also interrupted Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) at one point to ask what kind of alcohol he drinks. “I like beer,” Kavanaugh said. “Do you like beer, senator, or not?”

7. “One hundred percent.”

Asked how confident she is that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was 15, Ford said: “One hundred percent.”

At the end of the day, Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) asked Kavanaugh whether he harbors any doubts about his own denials. “Not a scintilla; 100 percent certain, senator,” the judge replied. “I swear to God.

MORE WASHINGTON POST TEAM COVERAGE:

-- The most consequential Supreme Court opening in a generation gave rise to the most bitter Senate hearing in memory,” write Robert Barnes, Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck. “In her testimony, Ford was calm and at times clinical in describing how memory works, drawing on her training as a psychologist. But her recollections were raw.”

-- “[White House aides] worried that Ford came off as compelling and credible, and began talking as if Kavanaugh’s nomination would fail. … But then, at exactly 3:10 p.m., the curtain opened on the second act: Kavanaugh was sworn in, and just like that, the mood inside the White House abruptly shifted from bleak to bullish,” report Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker. “At a fundraiser at his hotel [last night] . . . Trump said Kavanaugh 'knocked it out of the park' and called the hearing 'painful' to watch. He did not comment on Ford.”

-- “Behind Kavanaugh fight, a national struggle over trust, identity and sex roles,” by Marc Fisher: “A hearing that was supposed to bring clarity instead erupted in thunderclaps from the nation’s built-up tensions over how the sexes are supposed to behave with each other. … The result was affirmation that Washington is as broken as it has ever been. Based on what the senators in the room said, the result was, once again, people hearing mostly what they were inclined to believe. The result, far from clarity, was a complex rush of emotions adding up to two families left in wreckage and a political system without even a pathway to cooperation.”

-- The American Bar Association called on the Judiciary Committee to postpone its vote on Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation can be completed. Republicans will not honor the request, even though Kavanaugh and his supporters frequently touted his favorable rating from the ABA during yesterday’s hearing. (Meagan Flynn and Seung Min Kim)

-- Four Republican governors have now called on the Senate to delay a vote on Kavanaugh. Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Phil Scott of Vermont and John Kasich of Ohio have all urged Senate GOP leadership to slow down the confirmation process. (Erin Cox)

-- Three Republicans who sit on the Judiciary Committee had their purported personal information posted on Wikipedia. Sens. Mike Lee, Orrin Hatch and Lindsey Graham had their Wikipedia pages edited to include phone numbers and personal addresses, which were quickly removed. (Reis Thebault)

-- “Kavanaugh’s testimony depended heavily on exonerations that aren’t exactly exonerating,” Philip Bump writes. “Kavanaugh is pressed on the key July 1 entry in his calendar. But only to a point,” he adds.

-- “In direct interactions with Ford, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was polite and even solicitous, reassuring her that she could ask for breaks and clarifications as needed. But it was his other interactions that set the tone,” Aaron Blake reports. “Rather than being cautious and measured and avoiding overreach, Grassley has set about controlling the hearing and even hitting back at Democrats in ways that occasionally seemed unhelpful.”

-- A Catholic University dean apologized for tweeting about one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, Julie Swetnick, in a manner that “unfortunately degraded” her. (Susan Svrluga)

-- Local authorities in Maryland said they have not opened any investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh because they have not been contacted by any of his accusers and the statute of limitations on the crimes appears to have passed. (Dan Morse)

-- Kavanaugh continued to falsely claim yesterday that he could legally drink in high school. The legal drinking age in Maryland was raised from 18 to 21 when Kavanaugh was still 17. (AP)

-- “Pride and anguish: For those connected to prep schools, this was personal,” by Joe Heim: “For the communities of Holton-Arms and Georgetown Preparatory schools, the elite Washington-area single-sex academies that Ford and Kavanaugh attended more than three decades ago, the hearing was also intensely personal and the source of anguish and pride. One reaction of the men and women associated with both schools as they followed the day-long televised testimonies: It was hard to watch.”

-- “When Ford’s account [first] made headlines this month, the stories began pouring out — and they’re still coming, especially from older women who have maintained their silence for decades. My inbox began pinging hourly. The women emailed that they were crying as they typed,” Petula Dvorak writes.

-- “A rare moment of silence befell Washington on Thursday,” Ben Terris reports. “Elected officials holed themselves up in their offices to watch a hearing that captivated a nation. … Crowds gathered in basement coffee shops around the Capitol, not for source meetings or gossip sessions, but to hold their collective breath and watch …”

-- “Silence on Wall Street. Tears in a retirement home. The country watches, transfixed, as Ford and Kavanaugh tell their stories,” by Lori Rozsa, Brittney Martin and David A. Fahrenthold: “As the hearings began around 10 a.m., some of the busiest places in the country fell quiet. At the New York Stock Exchange, Brad Smith — an anchor for the news site Cheddar — said normally frenetic traders were all watching the TVs. Phones rang in the background, unanswered. The hearing reached into places that normally don’t bother with politics — at least, not so early in the morning.”

-- “‘Gut-wrenching’: What it felt like to watch Ford and Kavanaugh testify,” Sarah L. Kaufman reports.

-- “Whatever anyone intended, Thursday’s hearing … devolved into the worst of Washington,” Dan Balz writes. “It was a partisan brawl on steroids that will leave the country more deeply divided than before. It ended as many had feared it would, a she-said, he-said moment that left senators with no easy out on the question of whether to confirm [Kavanaugh].”

-- “[T]he whole cast of the #MeToo movement hovered, unseen, over the hearing,” Margaret Sullivan writes. “In a sense, actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan were there, accusing mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. And Gretchen Carlson, whose 2016 lawsuit began the demise of her Fox News boss Roger Ailes. And so were all the figures who populate the movement’s recent and hugely consequential history. … And certainly present, in the same sense, was [Trump], many times accused by women and a fierce defender of other powerful accused men.”

COMMENTARY AND PERSPECTIVE:

-- The editors of the prominent Jesuit publication America Magazine pulled their Kavanaugh endorsement after the hearing: “[E]ven if the credibility of the allegation has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt and even if further investigation is warranted to determine its validity or clear Judge Kavanaugh’s name, we recognize that this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country. While we previously endorsed the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh on the basis of his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist, it is now clear that the nomination should be withdrawn.”

-- “The logical next step would be to take the time to see if an investigation can bolster either contention,” The Post’s Editorial Board argues. “Yet Republicans on the committee seemed more aggrieved by the Democrats’ delay in forwarding Ms. Ford’s allegation than interested in getting to the bottom of it.”

-- The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board encourages the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh: “Thursday’s Senate hearing on [Kavanaugh’s nomination] was an embarrassment that should have never happened. Judge Kavanaugh was right to call the confirmation process a ‘disgrace’ in his passionate self-defense, and whatever one thinks of [Ford’s] assault accusation, she offered no corroboration or new supporting evidence.”

-- “[Kavanaugh] is not suited to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Because of his self-pity and rage,” says Los Angeles Times columnist Robin Abcarian. “Kavanaugh's anger may be understandable in a man who claims — hyperbolically — that his life and family have been ‘destroyed’ by what he says are false allegations of sexual assault. But they are hardly what we deserve or expect in a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has so much control over Americans' lives, especially women's.”

-- “Thursday’s hearing did not add an iota of corroboration to [Ford’s] allegations against [Kavanaugh],” former George W. Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen argues. “The burden of proof is not on Kavanaugh to prove he didn’t do it. He cannot prove a negative. In the United States of America, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But apparently not in the United States Senate.”

-- Frequent Trump defender Alan Dershowitz for Fox News: “The Senate Judiciary Committee needs to slow down and postpone its vote … until the FBI can investigate accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against him by three women.”

-- “Today, there were conservatives across the nation who choked up — some openly wept — during [Kavanaugh’s] testimony. Not because they disrespect women. Not because they excuse sexual assault. But because they also love their sons,” conservative commentator David French writes for the National Review. “Because they are tired of being painted as evil when they are seeking to do what’s right. Because they want to see a man fight with honor. That’s what Brett Kavanaugh did today. He fought with passion, evidence, and compassion. And absent any new, substantiated revelations, he united the conservative movement. Any Republican who abandons him now will abandon the electorate that put them in power.”

-- Joe Biden’s former chief of staff Ron Klain, who suggested last week that Republicans use outside counsel to question Ford, called Rachel Mitchell’s performance “a disaster”: “Mitchell missed the point and focused most of her questions on petty efforts to assail Ford’s credibility … and never asked Ford about the real issue: what happened to her as a 15-year-old, and what role Kavanaugh had in it. … Perhaps the idea itself was flawed. But, in truth, I think the problem was more in the execution rather than the concept.”

-- “Either Kavanaugh Goes Down or the Republicans Do,” Walter Shapiro opines for Roll Call: “Women of all political persuasions — and a hell of a lot of men — will be remembering this hearing when they go to the polls in 2018 and 2020. And while it is dangerous to overexaggerate the political influence of a single event in our hyper-partisan times, Thursday’s testimony has the potential to be seismic.”

-- “If that hearing could have possibly gone worse, please tell me how,” Eugene Robinson writes in his column. “[Ford] didn’t sound like a partisan. She sounded like a determined survivor. Kavanaugh sounded like a man fighting for his life.”

-- “The Kavanaugh allegations dredged up bad memories. But it’s my teen daughter I worry about,” Elizabeth Heubeck writes.

-- Former GOP congressional staffer Kurt Bardella on HuffPost: “Republican senators only wanted to win.”

-- Andi Zeisler, the cofounder of Bitch Media: “The case against Kavanaugh isn’t just about sex. It’s about sexual humiliation.”

-- The Post’s resident satirist Alexandra Petri parodied Kavanaugh’s angry tone in his testimony: “If Brett does not secure a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, this country will be IN SHAMBLES! THIS IS HIS BIRTHRIGHT! Do you know how embarrassing it is for a Georgetown Prep graduate to NOT be on the Supreme Court? They are literally 12 PERCENT of the court! THIS IS PROBABLY THE WORST INDIGNITY YOU CAN INFLICT ON A HUMAN BEING!”

-- How cable covered the hearing:

  • “If politics is a sport, then this was covered like the Super Bowl, with every small moment analyzed for significance. Hosts dubbed the break between the two witnesses' testimonies in the afternoon as ‘halftime,’” Eli Rosenberg notes.
  • Fox News anchor Chris Wallace called Ford’s testimony “extremely emotional, extremely raw and extremely credible.” “This is a disaster for the Republicans,” he said.
  • “I think the Republicans made a grave error not necessarily in choosing Ms. Mitchell, but having her craft her questioning as she did,” Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano said.
  • Fox News hosts and commentators applauded Kavanaugh’s testimony. “It was exactly what a lot of people were hoping for, wondering, waiting for,” Wallace said. “This is raw,” Brit Hume added. “His family has been under attack. ... I don’t think the emotion destroys his credibility, in fact it enhances it."
  • “During Ford’s testimony, CNN and MSNBC frequently returned to a statement she made saying she was ‘100%’ certain that Kavanaugh was the one who assaulted her. Fox mentioned it only once by our count,” Aaron Williams, Danielle Rindler, Chris Alcantara, Kevin Schaul and Kevin Uhrmacher report.
  • Fox, CNN and MSNBC all zeroed in on Ford’s statement that her accusation against Kavanaugh was “absolutely not” a case of mistaken identity.
  • CNN and MSNBC frequently returned to Ford’s statement that it was her “civic duty” to testify.
  • A Fox News contributor was fired from the network for referring to Kavanaugh’s accusers as liars and using a derogatory word to describe their sexual history.

-- How late-night covered it last night:

  • James Corden: “I was so inspired and humbled by Dr. Ford’s testimony today. … Her bravery in the face of intimidation and abuse and bullying, I thought, was truly remarkable.”
  • Trevor Noah: “It was gripping. But that doesn’t mean today was a fun day. … Emotionally, it was taxing. If anything, it was like a sad Super Bowl.”
  • Jimmy Fallon: “Trump said he was clearing his schedule to watch on TV, then realized his schedule already said ‘Watch TV all day.'”
  • Seth Meyers: “She gave a detailed anatomy of the hippocampus and the memory centers in the brain to a roomful of guys who look like they eat brains.”
  • Jimmy Kimmel: “[Lindsey Graham] warned Democrats that if this is the new normal, if this is the way it’s gonna go, they better watch out for their Supreme Court nominees. As if Merrick Garland isn’t out there somewhere judging a dog show right now.” 
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GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. The SEC sued Elon Musk and is seeking to ban him from leading any public company, alleging the Tesla CEO lied to investors on Twitter earlier this year in claiming he secured the funds to take his electric-car company private. (Drew Harwell and Renae Merle)

  2. A new study found that abnormally warm temperatures last year in the Atlantic Ocean likely helped intensify  three “monster” hurricanes — Harvey, Maria and  Irma — which each barreled onto U.S. shores as Category 4 storms in 2017. And researchers projected “even higher numbers of major hurricanes” coming from the Atlantic in the future.  (Jason Samenow)
  3. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò wrote another scathing letter about Pope Francis. The former Vatican ambassador to the United States accused the pope last month of ignoring sexual harassment allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Francis has not directly denied the allegation, which Viganò pointed to in his second letter as evidence of the pope’s guilt. (Julie Zauzmer)

  4. The U.S. military temporarily suspended its top enlisted official from his post amid an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct. The Joint Staff declined to comment on the nature of the allegations, but said Army Command Sgt. Maj. John W. Troxell will serve as special assistant to its vice director until the probe ends. (Paul Sonne)

  5. A new CDC report found that influenza killed or hospitalized more than 75,000 people in the United States last winter — the highest number in more than three decades. (Lena H. Sun)
  6. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a minimum wage target for their employees of $19 per hour, the highest ever set by a U.S. public agency. The decision will raise the wages of as many as 40,000 airport workers over the next five years. (New York Times)
  7. A team of surveyors mapping the Mayan empire tallied 61,480 structures erected by the ancient civilization. The study upended many long-held theories about the Mayans, including the notion that the civilization was made up of disconnected city-states. The new findings suggest the Mayans used agriculture to sustain large populations. (Ben Guarino)

  8. HBO is dropping professional boxing matches from its lineup. The network has broadcast more than 1,000 fights over 45 years — starting with George Foreman’s stunning upset of heavyweight champion Joe Frazier in 1973. (New York Times)

MORE FROM THE #METOO MOVEMENT:

-- Ruth Bader Ginsburg told students at Georgetown Law that she was “really turned on” by the #MeToo movement. ABC News's Meghan Keneally reports: “'These #MeToo complaints, every woman of my vintage has not just one story but many stories, but we thought there's nothing you can do about it, boys will be boys, so just find a way to get out of it,’” she said. "#MeToo was also an example of women coming together in numbers …’ Ginsburg cited another famous female jurist, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, calling for women to work together more moving forward. ‘What Justice O'Connor said, she said women have to get out there and do things that make an impressive show. The more women that are out there doing things, the more women will be encouraged to do things, and we will all be better off for it, men, women and children,’ Ginsburg said.”

-- Bill Cosby is now in jail and alone, Avi Selk reports. “He slept alone Tuesday night on a cot bolted to the floor of a cell he shares with no one. When his door was unlocked Wednesday morning, Cosby stepped into a TV room that was empty except for his guards. Several cells identical to his own lined the walls in this section of State Correctional Institution Phoenix, and every one of them was vacant. … This quasi-isolation won’t last forever — maybe only a week or two. It’s mostly a coincidence that Cosby was assigned to a brand-new prison that is still just barely half full. Administrators decided out of caution to isolate him from the other prisoners until they can figure out what to do with one of the most famous sex offenders in the country for the duration of his three- to 10-year sentence.”

-- India's Supreme Court struck down a colonial-era law that made adultery illegal, saying in a ruling that it discriminated against women by treating them like “chattel.” Under the 158-year-old law, men could receive jail time for adultery with another man's wife “without the consent or connivance of that man,” but did not allow women any legal recourse. (NPR)

-- The Washington Redskins are implementing a number of changes to their cheerleading program after the New York Times reported the cheerleaders were subjected to sexually exploitative treatment during a 2013 trip. From Liz Clarke: “Slightly more conservative outfits. The potential inclusion of men and youngsters in a game-day ‘energy team’ that would interact with fans in a ‘family-friendly’ manner. And the end, perhaps, of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders’ annual swimsuit calendar — to be replaced by something more ‘demure.’ Those are among nearly a dozen changes that Redskins officials have made or are mulling following an in-house investigation into [the Times’s] claims.”

-- The D.C. high school principal recorded mocking a student’s sexual assault report has been placed on administrative leave. Perry Stein and Peter Jamison report: “In a letter to [Roosevelt High School] families, Amanda Alexander, interim chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, said the system will conduct a second review of how the case was handled. … [Aqueelha James], who has been principal at Roosevelt since 2016, will remain on paid administrative leave until the investigation concludes.”

-- A high school athletic director in Tennessee was placed on administrative leave following a now viral video in which he called for girls to be “blamed” for a dress code policy “because they pretty much ruin everything." The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports: “While addressing a dress code policy regarding athletic shorts (which students are not allowed to wear at the school), [Soddy-Daisy High School Athletic Director Jared Hensley] said, ‘If you really want someone to blame, blame the girls. Because they pretty much ruin everything. They ruin the dress code, they ruin . . . well, ask Adam. Look at Eve. That's really all you really gotta get to, OK. You can really go back to the beginning of time. So, it'll be like that the rest of your life. Get used to it, keep your mouth shut, suck it up [and] follow the rules.’”

-- Michael Darby, an Arlington-based restaurant owner best known for his role on the reality show “Real Housewives of Potomac,” has been charged with second-degree assault and improper sexual contact after he allegedly groped a cameraman during the filming of an episode. (Emily Heil)

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- A major Trump donor reached out to a high-ranking Russian official for a meeting in the summer of 2016. NBC News’s Richard Engel, Kate Benyon-Tinker, Charlotte Gardiner and Kennett Werner report: “The businessman, Simon Kukes, a Houston-based oil executive, sent an email to the official in Moscow in July 2016, boasting of his connections to the Trump campaign and requesting a face-to-face meeting. ‘I have been actively involved in Trump’s election campaign, and am part of the group on strategy development,’ Kukes wrote in the email to Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways and a former Russian ambassador to Norway. ‘I will be in Switzerland July 20th till August 2nd. Let me know how you are doing, and whether you want to meet.’ … Kukes, who donated $273,000 to the Trump Victory Committee during the 2016 cycle, later sent a photograph of himself posing with Rudy Giuliani … at what appears to be a fundraising event.”

-- The White House said a highly anticipated meeting between Trump and  Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been pushed to next week because it “might interfere” with the Kavanaugh hearing. Josh Dawsey, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian report: “The meeting’s postponement marks a dramatic de-escalation of a conflict that Monday seemed certain to end with Rosenstein leaving the Justice Department, injecting uncertainty into the [special counsel investigation]. But Rosenstein is still not out of the woods.”

-- BUT, BUT BUT:  Even if Trump does move to oust Rosenstein as deputy attorney general, his headaches  from Robert Mueller's Russia probe are far from over. Politico's Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Gerstein report: “Several Trump administration appointees in line for Rosenstein’s role overseeing Mueller’s probe come with their own baggage, from direct involvement in the probe to recent work at law firms with clients mired in the investigation.

  • “The immediate front-runner to replace Rosenstein in an acting capacity is Matthew Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor from Iowa who has been serving for the last year as Sessions’ chief of staff. However, if Whitaker lands the acting deputy attorney general job, he would not automatically be given ultimate authority over the Mueller investigation. Longstanding Justice Department practice allows for only a Senate-confirmed official to inherit those duties …”
  • “First up on the list of Trump officials who would formally assume Rosenstein’s role overseeing Mueller’s work is Noel Francisco, the 49-year-old solicitor general who since last fall has dutifully defended Trump’s policies before the Supreme Court. But the conservative lawyer would also face a conflict of interest if he’s handed the Mueller portfolio: Prior to joining the administration, Francisco was a partner at Jones Day, the law firm that represents the Trump presidential campaign …”
  • “Several of the Trump officials after Francisco who are in line to be tapped for the Mueller oversight job have their own potential conflicts, too. Next up would be Steven Engel, the assistant attorney general heading Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel. But he worked at the law firm Dechert during a period when the firm was representing James Comey[.]”

-- “The Making of Rod Rosenstein,” by Washingtonian's Luke Mullins: “The story of an epic prison-corruption case in Maryland might seem distant from Russia, the White House, and the extraordinary geopolitical drama now revolving around Rod Rosenstein. But there are more parallels than you’d expect between how Rosenstein handled that local debacle and the challenges he’s facing as he navigates what has to be the worst job in Washington. … [And as he prepares to meet with Trump over his future at the department], there may be no better prism for understanding the man charged with shielding Mueller from Trump than the most spectacular case from his prior job: the Black Guerrilla Family prosecution. While it ultimately resulted in success, with 40 convictions, it was also complicated by politics and bureaucratic interference. In fact, the investigation was nearly derailed until Rosenstein stepped in. According to those involved, he protected law enforcement and provided his team with the backing they needed to get to the truth. “Rod pretty much insulated us from the politics,” France says. “He was a guy who was focused on doing what was right.”

-- The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena for memos written by former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, as well as the FBI documents used to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Karoun Demirjian reports: “Republicans requested McCabe’s memos from the Justice Department over the summer and were told they would not be shared … But the revelation last week that McCabe suggested in his memos that Rosenstein considered recording [Trump] put new urgency behind the GOP’s desire to see the documents. In recent days, conservative lawmakers have weighed pushing for a vote on a resolution to impeach Rosenstein, after failing to secure such a measure over the summer. Some, such as [Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows] (R-N.C.) … have also called for Rosenstein to resign if he is not willing to come to Capitol Hill and explain himself. On Thursday, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) … said lawmakers were ‘moving in a good direction’ toward securing Rosenstein’s testimony ‘soon.’

-- House Democrats are preparing to force a vote on a bill to protect Mueller’s investigation from interference by Trump. Politico's Kyle Cheney reports: “Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, with the backing of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, intends to introduce the proposal as an amendment ahead of expected consideration of three tax-related bills. The proposal would force Republicans to decide whether to consider the Mueller-protection proposal or sideline it. For Democrats, the effort is a chance to force Republicans on the record on an issue that has generated some bipartisan support in the House and Senate.”

-- Russia’s military intelligence unit appears to have developed a type of computer malware that is virtually impossible to remove. The Daily Beast’s Kevin Poulsen reports: “The malware, uncovered by the European security company ESET, works by rewriting the code flashed into a computer’s UEFI chip, a small slab of silicon on the motherboard that controls the boot and reboot process. Its apparent purpose is to maintain access to a high-value target in the event the operating system gets reinstalled or the hard drive replaced—changes that would normally kick out an intruder."

THE MIDTERMS:

-- Voting machines used in more than half of U.S. states carry a flaw that makes them vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to a new report. That flaw was disclosed in a security report commissioned by Ohio's secretary of state more than a decade ago. The Wall Street Journal's Robert McMillan and Dustin Volz report: “The issue was found in the widely used Model 650 high-speed ballot-counting machine made by Election Systems & Software LLC, the nation’s leading manufacturer of election equipment. It is one of about seven security problems in several models of voting equipment described in the report, which is based on research conducted last month at the Def Con hacker conference. 'There has been more than plenty of time to fix it,' [said Harri Hursti, an election-security researcher who co-wrote both the Ohio and Def Con reports]. The Def Con report is the latest warning from researchers, academics and government officials who say election systems in the U.S. are at risk to tampering.”

-- Republican Corey Stewart is struggling to rebrand his campaign as polls show him consistently trailing Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine in Virginia’s Senate race. Antonio Olivo, Paul Schwartzman and Gregory S. Schneider report: “Aiming to blunt his bombastic image, [Stewart] is blaming the abrasive campaign he has run for more than a year on bad advice from a top consultant he recently fired. At a debate Wednesday, Stewart presented himself as a pragmatic leader able to bridge differences to get things done in Prince William County, where he chairs the Board of County Supervisors. But Stewart didn’t seem able to resist his caustic ways, implying without evidence during the debate that Kaine has been accused of sexual harassment.”

-- “The Struggles of Joe Manchin, the Last Democrat in Trump Country,” by GQ’s Jason Zengerle: “As a political creature, Manchin is a rare breed in these hyper-partisan times. A self-described centrist, he's been a thorn in the side of fellow Democrats since he arrived in Washington, in 2010. During the Obama years, he routinely clashed with the White House and then Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid; under Trump, he's voted with the president more than any other Democrat … But Democrats also know they need Manchin. … the race is about something more than whether Manchin stays in the Senate. In a way, it'll test the fundamental nature of our politics — and might just reveal how broken they've become.”

-- A new poll from Monmouth University shows Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) still leading in his reelection bid, despite his indictment for alleged campaign-finance violations. From Politico’s Elena Schneider: “Hunter has 49 percent support to Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar’s 41 percent among all potential voters, including voters who have participated in elections since 2010 or have newly registered to vote. Another 10 percent of voters are still undecided. Under a pair of likely voter models, Hunter’s lead grew. … One in ten respondents who think Hunter is ‘probably guilty of the charges’ are still willing to support his reelection bid. Just under 40 percent of voters believe Hunter is either definitely or probably guilty of these charges.”

-- A new Mason-Dixon poll found Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) leading Democrat Ben Jealous by 15 points. While 52 percent of registered voters support Hogan, 37 percent said they would back Jealous. The poll shows Jealous has captured more commanding leads among key constituencies — including African Americans and Democrats — than a Goucher poll released last week suggested. (Ovetta Wiggins)

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- China flatly denied that it is interfering in the November midterm elections, calling Trump’s assertion during the U.N. Security Council Meeting “totally far-fetched and fictional.” Anna Fifield reports: “With an acrimonious trade dispute rumbling on and amid an increasingly fractious security environment, the latest tit-for-tat could worsen the relationship between the world’s two largest economies. ‘I believe the international community knows very well who is most used to meddling in the internal affairs of others,’ Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told reporters Thursday. ‘We advise the U.S. side to stop its unwarranted accusations and slander against China and refrain from wrong words and deeds that might hurt our bilateral relations and fundamental interests,’ he said.”

 -- A group of U.K.-based investigative journalists said they have identified the suspect in Russia’s nerve agent attack on a former spy and his daughter in Salisbury earlier this year as Col. Anatoly V. Chepiga — a highly decorated officer in the GRU, or Russia’s military intelligence unit. The New York Times’s Ellen Barry reports: “A report by the investigative group Bellingcat and the Insider, a Russian news outlet, named the suspect as Col. Anatoly V. Chepiga, a 2014 recipient of the title Hero of the Russian Federation, probably for service in eastern Ukraine. The award, given to only a handful of officers each year, is typically bestowed personally by [Vladimir Putin].” Bellingcat says the identification was “confirmed by multiple sources familiar with the person and/or the investigation. Moscow has since denied the report and dismissed the charge as “bogus.”

-- A reporter who Trump referred to as “Mr. Kurd” during his Wednesday news conference said he accepted the moniker with pride — much to the surprise of some Twitter users. From Meagan Flynn: “‘Yes, please, Mr. Kurd. Go ahead,’ Trump said to Kurdish journalist Rahim Rashidi as he called on him to ask a question about U.S. relations with the Kurds. … The clip started circulating and wound up in highlight reels of the news conference. ‘Mr. Kurd’ started trending on Twitter. But of those shocked by Trump’s remark, Rashidi, a reporter for Kurdistan 24, was not among them. … ‘I loved it, because all the time our identity is ignored by the Turkish government, by the Iranian government,’ [Rashidi said]. ‘We are proud of our struggle for democracy, for justice, for freedom.  He made me so happy when he called me Mr. Kurd. It was a moment of respect for us, for me.’”

THE REST OF THE AGENDA:

-- The EPA is slated to eliminate the office that advises its agency chief on the scientific research that underpins health and environmental regulations. The New York Times’s Coral Davenport reports: “The science adviser works across the agency to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions, according to the E.P.A.’s website. The move is the latest among several steps taken by the Trump administration that appear to have diminished the role of scientific research in policymaking while the administration pursues an agenda of rolling back regulations. Asked about the E.P.A.’s plans, [a spokesman] … described the decision to dissolve the office as one that would ‘combine offices with similar functions’ and ‘eliminate redundancies.’”

-- The EPA ordered an extensive cleanup of a controversial landfill filled with radioactive waste near St. Louis, delighting  community activists but angering companies arguing the agency’s own science called for a more modest cleanup, Brady Dennis reports: "'This action reflects [Trump’s]  commitment to return EPA to its core responsibility — clean air, clean water and clean land,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said at a morning news conference of the West Lake Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo., which has lingered on the agency’s Superfund list since 1990. 'We believe this decision strikes the right balance, while emphasizing the health and safety of the community.'  Wheeler’s decision is the latest signal that he intends to largely follow the policy course set out by his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, who ... was eager during his tenure to balance his industry-friendly regulatory rollbacks with a commitment to accelerating cleanups at the nation’s Superfund sites, saying such work was more central to the agency’s mission than combating climate change and helping shift the nation to cleaner sources of energy."

-- Veterans Affairs is moving to add opioid antidote kits to defibrillator cabinets at its buildings across the country, a move officials say could serve as a model for other health-care organizations. NPR's Martha Bebinger reports: “Equipping police with nasal spray naloxone is becoming more common across the country, but there has been some resistance to making the drug available in public. Bellino has heard from critics who say easy access to naloxone gives drug users a false sense of safety. She disagrees. 'Think of this as you would a seat belt or an airbag,' she says. 'It by no means fixes the problem, but what it does is save a life.'"

-- A handful of House members indicated their support for new federal regulation of sports gambling. From Ben Strauss: “Four months after the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling paving the way for legal sports betting nationwide, Congress held its first hearing on the matter.”

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

A fired FBI director argued that “small lies” matter:

From a former top official in the U.S. intelligence community:

An Atlantic editor put the day in historical perspective:

A handicapper at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report explained the structural disconnect between the Senate and most of the country:

From an NBC News reporter:

The Post's campaign editor observed:

Democratic senators applauded Ford for testifying before the Senate:

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans expressed support for Kavanaugh:

An MSNBC host offered one possible explanation for Kavanaugh and Ford's differing testimonies: 

A BuzzFeed writer analyzed Ford's testimony:

But a conservative CNN host had a different take:

Ford's lawyers appeared to react to a claim from the Senate Judiciary chairman with skepticism:

A veteran D.C. sex-crimes prosecutor criticized Rachel Mitchell's performance:

A writer for the Atlantic reflected on some women's reactions to the hearings:

A Fox News host commented on the weight of this cultural moment:

Many viewers expressed concern that Kavanaugh will be permanently tainted if he joins the high court. From the New Yorker's Washington correspondent:

A Vanity Fair writer echoed her concern:

A former federal prosecutor, who is a Democrat, felt the hearing denigrated the Supreme Court as a whole:

A CNN reporter raised this question:

Two undecided senators appeared to ruminate on their decisions long after the hearing ended:

Orrin Hatch's communications director repeatedly defended the Republican senator after he described Ford as an "attractive" witness:

A Brennan Center senior counsel shared the view from his flight:

And a CBS News reporter reflected on some non-Kavanaugh news:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- The Guardian published an excerpt from Michael Lewis’s forthcoming book, “The Fifth Risk” — which explores how Trump’s bungled transition process set the tone for a tumultuous presidency: “Chris Christie was sitting on a sofa beside Trump when Pennsylvania was finally called. It was 1.35am, but that wasn’t the only reason the feeling in the room was odd. Mike Pence went to kiss his wife, Karen, and she turned away from him. ‘You got what you wanted, Mike,’ she said. ‘Now leave me alone.’ She wouldn’t so much as say hello to Trump. Trump himself just stared at the TV without saying anything, like a man with a pair of twos whose bluff has been called. His campaign hadn’t even bothered to prepare an acceptance speech. It was not hard to see why Trump hadn’t seen the point in preparing to take over the federal government: why study for a test you will never need to take? Why take the risk of discovering you might, at your very best, be a C student? This was the real part of becoming president of the US. And, Christie thought, it scared the crap out of the president-elect …”

-- New York Times, “Hundreds of Cases a Day and a Flair for Drama: India’s Crusading Supreme Court,” by Jeffrey Gettleman, Hari Kumar and Kai Schultz: “The court is one of the most vital institutions in a vast and chaotic democracy of 1.3 billion people, weighing in on wild dogs, killer tigers, mob lynchings, garbage dumps and Muslim divorce rules — hot potatoes that Indian politicians won’t touch. It loves juicy social debates, often siding with victims and wielding dramatically worded rulings designed to capture maximum attention. … And unlike the United States Supreme Court, which agrees to hear only about 70 cases a year, the various panels of the Indian Supreme Court hear up to 700 legal matters a day. By law, any petitioner who wants to appeal to the country’s highest court has the right to at least a hearing there. So how does the court do it?”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“'Star Wars’ Actress Mocks Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford,” from the Daily Beast: “Los Angeles-based voice actress Rachel Butera thought another aspect of Ford’s testimony was worthy of attention — her voice. In a now-deleted Twitter video, Butera mercilessly mocked Ford’s vocal mannerisms, specifically her slight vocal fry and her ‘baby’ voice. … Butera, speaking in a grotesquely affected Valley Girl accent … poked fun at Ford’s voice. ‘I know it’s a surprise, to even me, that I talk this way, and that I’m a doctor and a grown woman,’ Butera whined in the video, ostensibly imitating Dr. Ford. She added, ‘I sound like I’m still back at that high school party,’ referencing, of course, the suburban party where Ford alleges that Kavanaugh [assaulted her]. The backlash against Butera was swift. . . . The imitation is especially tone-deaf considering that Butera voices Princess Leia Organa, the feminist icon and fierce crusader for justice … on the animated Disney series Star Wars: Resistance.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Toobin: Republicans want Kavanaugh [to be confirmed] because they want ‘gay people to not be allowed to shop everywhere,’” from the Daily Caller: “CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin accused Senate Republicans of supporting [Kavanaugh] for homophobic reasons during an intermission of his accuser’s testimony in front of the judiciary committee on Thursday morning. ‘How can the Republicans — if you take Professor Ford as credible — how can you move forward and confirm somebody to the swing seat on the United States Supreme Court without getting a potential eyewitness under oath?’ the panel host John King asked. ‘I do not know how they can answer that question.’ ‘Because they want to win,’ Toobin responded. “Because they want to overturn Roe v. Wade. Because they want Citizens United expanded. Because they want gay people to be not allowed to shop everywhere they want to shop. That’s why they’re doing it.’”

 

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will participate in a signing ceremony for the spending bill and meet with the president of Chile.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“But the optics were not always great for [Lindsey] Graham on Thursday. Hours before his afternoon outburst in the committee hearing, he had brushed past Robyn Swirling, a 32-year-old Washington, D.C., resident who told the senator in a Capitol Hill hallway that she had once been raped. ‘I’m sorry,’ the South Carolina Republican said, not breaking his stride as he headed into an elevator. ‘You needed to go to the cops.’” (McClatchy’s Emma Dumain)

 

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

-- Clouds will dominate in D.C. this morning, but sunshine could prevail by the afternoon. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Morning hours could still be a little damp, with some sunshine breaking out as showers slowly taper. Northwesterly winds could briefly gust near 15 mph as the sky clears a bit. Some mugginess may hang around for much of the day as the drier air push lags a bit. Late afternoon high temperatures get into the low-to-mid 70s or so.”

-- The D.C. Council is considering legislation to strengthen safety regulations against lead poisoning in District homes. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who introduced the bill, said he was inspired to action after reading a Post article about District residents, including children, being exposed to lead while living in low-income housing. (Terrence McCoy)

-- The Metro board voted to give General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld a raise of $37,500 — bringing his annual income to $435,000. The board also agreed to extend Wiedefeld’s contract to 2021. One member of the Metro board, along with many of the agency’s front-line workers, objected to the raise, which makes Wiedefeld one of the highest-paid public transit chiefs in the country. (Martine Powers)

-- Ninety-two percent of Virginia schools won accreditation from the state’s Department of Education, even though 40 percent of schools failed to meet expectations for narrowing achievement gaps between white students and students of color. (Debbie Truong)

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

A C-SPAN caller said the hearing brought back memories of her own assault that occurred decades earlier:

The Judicial Crisis Network is releasing a new ad urging senators to confirm Kavanaugh:

New Zealand's prime minister addressed global gender inequality at the United Nations:

A sea turtle that was left stranded on a Florida beach was returned to her natural habitat:

And Will Smith bungee jumped into the Grand Canyon to celebrate his 50th birthday: