With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: The White House’s agreement Monday to slightly expand the FBI’s probe to look at a third woman’s allegation of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh highlighted the immense power that the three undecided Republican senators wield over the process.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared on the floor that he intends to move ahead with President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee “this week,” but right now he still doesn’t have the votes.

While 48 of his 51 members have committed to vote “yes,” and conventional wisdom in the Capitol is that he’ll be able to whip his way to success, McConnell still must wrangle two of the three GOP senators still on the fence: Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Vice President Pence could then cast a tie-breaking vote.

-- Collins’s office said the senator advocated that the FBI look into claims made in a sworn affidavit by Julie Swetnick, who alleges that Kavanaugh was physically abusive toward girls in high school and was at a house party in 1982 where she says she was the victim of a gang rape. Kavanaugh has categorically denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.

Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said she “was consulted about the White House authorizing the expanded FBI approach to the Kavanaugh background check and it is her understanding that the work will still be completed in the original one-week timeline.”

Swetnick is represented by Michael Avenatti, the outspoken Trump critic who also represents Stormy Daniels. Avenatti said Monday that the FBI has not contacted his client.

But an administration official said the FBI will now be allowed to investigate Swetnick’s claims, according to Devlin Barrett, Josh Dawsey, Seung Min Kim and Matt Zapotosky: “The FBI has completed an initial round of interviews as part of its reopened background check … and more are likely in the coming days … The White House and the FBI, though, still view the investigation as limited and time-sensitive …”

-- Meanwhile, Flake said last night in New Hampshire that the FBI must thoroughly investigate “any current credible allegation” against Kavanaugh. “We’re wanting to make sure that is a fulsome investigation — that it’s not limited as some worry that it might be,” Flake told reporters. He added that the FBI must take a “real” look so that it doesn’t seem like it just gave air cover for Republicans to vote yes.

“Decrying tribalism, partisanship and ‘the politics of vengeance’ in a speech that served as an unmistakable shot at Trump, the Arizonan signaled he intends to use the polarizing court fight to amplify his long-standing calls for more civility and cooperation,” Sean Sullivan reports from Manchester. “As he awaits the outcome of the FBI probe … he is poised to be a hero to one side and a villain to the other. … Earlier in the day, Flake spoke in Boston at a summit hosted by Forbes. His appearance had to be moved for safety reasons, organizers said.”

“The Republican Party is the president’s party right now,” Flake said in Boston. “But it won’t always be. And it can’t be if we’re going to be a major political force in the future.”

At Saint Anselm College last night, the possible 2020 presidential candidate elaborated: “Tribalism is ruining us. It is tearing our country apart. It is no way for sane adults to act. We Republicans have given in to the terrible tribal impulse that first mistakes our opponents for our enemies. And then we become seized with the conviction that we must destroy that enemy.

-- A reporter for Alaska Public Media, the state’s NPR affiliate, asked Murkowski whether she’s ever experienced her own #MeToo moment. “She answered with an immediate and emphatic ‘yes.’ And that’s about all she wanted to say about that,” Liz Ruskin reports.

Murkowski is holding her cards closer to the vest than Collins or Flake. “I am not going to prejudge. I’m going to see what they come back with,” she told reporters last night. The senator faces additional complications because Alaska Native Americans, who were pivotal to her success as a write-in candidate in 2010, have been pushing her to oppose Kavanaugh, who has a track record of being unhelpful to their interests. Kavanaugh has previously questioned whether constitutional protections for Native American tribes should continue to be extended to Native Hawaiians,” a report from Brookings explains.

Remember, Murkowski and Collins — along with the late John McCain — torpedoed the repeal of the Affordable Care Act last year.

THE LATEST:

--Even the broadened probe — which will now encompass the allegations of a third accuser — seemed to have limits that might fuel the controversy,” per Devlin, Josh, Seung Min and Matt. “The FBI will not, for example, conduct an unfettered review of Kavanaugh’s youthful drinking or examine statements Kavanaugh made about his alcohol consumption during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to see if those answers were accurate or misleading … The White House also could resist inquiries into new allegations … Drinking is inextricably intertwined with the allegations Kavanaugh faces, so it would be impossible to avoid that topic entirely. Two people familiar with the interviews so far say agents have asked routine questions, including about alcohol use. … A person familiar with the matter said the White House is getting briefed regularly on the investigation.

-- A former Yale University basketball player said he is scheduled to meet with the FBI today to discuss Kavanaugh’s role in instigating a bar fight during college. Aaron Davis and Amy Gardner report: “Charles Ludington told The Washington Post that the brawl occurred in September 1985, after a concert featuring the band UB40. At a bar called Demery’s, a small group of students believed they spotted the band’s lead singer. Ludington said he approached the man to ask. ‘Turns out it wasn’t him,’ Ludington said. ‘He was New Haven tough. He said something aggressive, like ‘Screw off.’ Kavanaugh escalated the situation, Ludington said, replying with an expletive or something similar ‘and then threw his drink in the guy’s face.’

“The FBI reopened Kavanaugh’s background check last week after California resident Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her while he was, in her words, ‘stumbling drunk,’ when both were in high school in 1982. He has strongly denied the accusation. … Last week, Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he drank but was never out of control. … Ludington told The Post that his recollection differed. ‘I saw him quite drunk. There were certainly many times when he could not remember what was going on,’ he said, adding that, ‘There’s an angry streak that comes out when Brett drinks.’”

The New York Times first reported last night the existence of the police report, which shows authorities interviewed Kavanaugh at the time. “In the report, a New Haven police officer wrote that after 1 a.m. on Sept. 26, 1985, a man found bleeding from the ear told officers that another man — identified in the report as Kavanaugh — ‘threw ice at him for some unknown reason,’” per Aaron and Amy. “Ludington said the aggressive act by Kavanaugh touched off a brief melee. Soon the man and Kavanaugh ‘were connected in some head lock or wrestling form,’ Ludington said.”

-- NBC News has obtained text messages that suggest Kavanaugh himself was directly communicating with former classmates in the days before the New Yorker published Deborah Ramirez’s allegation that he exposed himself to her when they were college freshmen. Kerry Berchem, a classmate of Kavanaugh and Ramirez at Yale, has tried to get those messages to the FBI but said last night that she has yet to be contacted by the bureau, per Heidi Przybyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell: “In one message, [Karen] Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh's team and former classmates in advance of the story. The texts also demonstrate that Kavanaugh and Ramirez were more socially connected than previously understood and that Ramirez was uncomfortable around Kavanaugh when they saw each other at a wedding 10 years after they graduated.”

“Berchem's texts with Yarasavage shed light on Kavanaugh’s personal contact with friends, including that he obtained a copy of a photograph of a small group of friends from Yale at a 1997 wedding in order to show himself smiling alongside Ramirez 10 years after they graduated. Both were in the wedding party: Kavanaugh was a groomsman and Ramirez a bridesmaid at the wedding. On Sept. 22nd, Yarasavage texted Berchem that she had shared the photo with ‘Brett’s team.’ But when Kavanaugh was asked about the wedding during a committee interview on Sept. 25th, he said he was ‘probably’ at a wedding with Ramirez. Asked if he interacted with her at the wedding, Kavanaugh replied, ‘I am sure I saw her because it wasn’t a huge wedding,’ but added that he ‘doesn’t have a specific recollection.’

Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that the first time he heard of Ramirez’s allegation was in the Sept. 23 article in The New Yorker. Kavanaugh was asked by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when he first heard of Ramirez’s allegations. Kavanaugh answered: ‘In the New Yorker story.’

“Berchem is concerned about what she witnessed at the 1997 wedding where Ramirez and Kavanaugh were both in the wedding party. According to the information Berchem provided, Ramirez tried to avoid Kavanaugh at that wedding of their two friends, Yarasavage and Kevin Genda. Ramirez ‘clung to me’ at the wedding, Berchem wrote to Yarasavage in a Sept. 24th text message. ‘She never went near them,’ a reference to Kavanaugh and his friends. Even in the group photo, Berchem wrote, Ramirez was trying to keep away from Kavanaugh.”

Berchem is a partner at the powerhouse law firm Akin Gump. “I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate,” she said in a statement. A spokesman for Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told NBC that the texts “do not appear relevant or contradictory” to Kavanaugh’s testimony.

-- During her interview with FBI agents on Sunday, Ramirez provided agents with more than a dozen names of people they should follow up with, including people she says were in the room when it happened, who she discussed the incident with at the time and people who may have heard about it, per CNN.

-- The Washington Post Fact Checker rounds up six on-the-record statements critical of Kavanaugh’s drinking and at least three people who dispute that it was a problem. “There is not enough consistent information to assign a Pinocchio rating, so readers can judge for themselves,” writes Glenn Kessler.

-- Meanwhile, fellow prosecutors questioned the assertion of Rachel Mitchell — the GOP prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans to question Ford — that no “reasonable prosecutor” would pursue the case. Emma Brown and Seung Min Kim report: “Though Senate Republicans said the memo was helpful, legal experts from both political parties and advocates for victims of sexual assault on Monday questioned how Mitchell could reach such a conclusion without a fuller investigation and without the ability to cross-examine witnesses such as Mark Judge, the only other person Ford says was in the room when the alleged incident occurred in the summer of 1982.”

-- Kavanaugh yesterday told Harvard Law School that he will no longer teach a seminar in the winter term, as he planned to do. More than 800 Harvard Law School graduates had signed a letter calling on the school to rescind Kavanaugh’s appointment as the Samuel Williston Lecturer on Law, Susan Svrluga reports: “Harvard’s Undergraduate Council voted Sunday night to ask the university to investigate the allegations made against Kavanaugh before allowing the judge to teach a winter-term course at the law school … And some law school students have held protests and plan to call voters to speak out against Kavanaugh.” Other justices, including Elena Kagan, continue to teach classes while on the high court.

-- This reckoning continues to cascade across the culture in other ways, as well:

Sigur Ros drummer Orri Pall Dyrason resigned from the band on Monday amid allegations of sexual assault. Los Angeles-based artist Meagan Boyd reported the alleged assault last week on Instagram. She said watching Ford’s testimony inspired her to go public, per Travis M. Andrews.

Watching last week’s hearing also prompted Candace Faber, 35, to allege on Twitter that a Republican state senator in Washington State raped her in 2007. He denies the accusation, according to the Seattle Times, which has roiled his reelection campaign.

-- How it’s playing:

  • Petula Dvorak: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a very different path to power than [Kavanaugh].”
  • CNN: “Archived videos give a view of … Mark Judge.”
  • Richard Cohen: “Gentlemen, get ready: The revolution is here.”
  • Eugene Robinson: “If he is eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court, Republican senators will be sending a clear message to women who accuse powerful men of sexual misconduct: Tell your story if you must, then shut up and go away.”
  • Harvard Law professor Andrew Manuel Crespo: “Kavanaugh, take a polygraph.”
  • “We’ve become so accustomed to casual lying … and ‘alternative facts’ that many of us have come to believe lying does not really matter in public life,” writes Jennifer Rubin. “How refreshing that two senators are reminding us you cannot avoid accountability for lies under oath if you want to sit on the Supreme Court.”
  • Sarah Hosseini: “The Kavanaugh allegations show why we need to change how we teach kids about sex.”
  • Susan Svrluga: “Catholic U. students protest dean who disparaged Kavanaugh accuser.”
  • Margaret Sullivan: “Press coverage of Kavanaugh is imperfect. But imagine if we didn’t have it.”
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WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:

-- A Chinese destroyer and a U.S. warship nearly confronted each other in the disputed South China Sea. Danielle Paquette reports: “[The] Chinese destroyer came within yards of the U.S. Navy ship Sunday, compelling it to switch direction in what American officials called an ‘unsafe and unprofessional’ clash. China’s Defense Ministry countered that the USS Decatur should never have traveled through those waters in its ‘freedom of navigation’ mission, provoking Beijing to order a Luyang-class warship to force it away from the Spratly Islands. … The presence of American ships near the Chinese-claimed archipelago off the coast of the Philippines, Malaysia and southern Vietnam is ‘seriously threatening China’s sovereignty and security’ and ‘seriously undermining the relations between the two countries and the two militaries,’ [a Chinese spokesman said]. A statement Monday from the U.S. Pacific Fleet blasted the Chinese response as ‘aggressive.’”

-- Arthur Ashkin, Gérard Mourou and Donna Strickland won the Nobel Prize in physics for their work on turning lasers into powerful tools. From Sarah Kaplan: “Ashkin, a researcher at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, invented ‘optical tweezers’ — focused beams of light that can be used to grab particles, atoms and even living cells and are now widely used to study the machinery of life. Mourou, of École Polytechnique in France and the University of Michigan, and Strickland, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, ‘paved the way’ for the most intense laser beams ever created by humans via a technique that stretches and then amplifies the light beam. … Strickland is the first woman to win the physics prize since 1963.”

GET SMART FAST:​​

  1. Indonesian authorities are still struggling to grasp the full scope of the devastation wrought by back-to-back natural disasters on Friday, which killed at least 1,230 people and displaced some 60,000 others. Emergency responders are struggling to access remote areas damaged by the 7.5-magnitude quake — and a 20-foot tsunami that crashed ashore just 30 minutes later. (Read Nick Kirkpatrick, Joy Yi and Adam Taylor’s haunting visual story on the disaster here.) 
  2. Amazon announced it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour. The pay hike will affect 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as 100,000 seasonal employees, and it will apply to both full-time and part-time workers starting next month. (Amazon founder and CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos also owns The Post.) (Abha Bhattarai)

  3. Tropical Storm Rosa is set to unleash torrential rains in the Desert Southwest. Although Rosa was downgraded from a hurricane, the expected heavy rains have prompted flash-flood watches from the Mexican border northward through Utah. (Matthew Cappucci)

  4. The IRS pursues far fewer cases of tax evasion than a decade ago. The IRS’s criminal division brought 795 cases in which tax fraud was the primary crime last year, a decline of a quarter since 2010. Republicans in Congress have repeatedly cut the agency's budget since 2011, slashing the enforcement staff by a third. “Over time, crimes only tangentially related to taxes, such as drug trafficking and money laundering, have come to account for most of the agency’s cases,” ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger and Paul Kiel report. 

  5. LAX announced it will permit travelers to carry small amounts of marijuana in their carry-on bags. But loading up one’s luggage with pot could still be a risky move since marijuana is illegal in most states, and passengers found carrying the substance will be at the mercy of local law enforcement upon landing. (CNN)
  6. The digital roadside signs that tell you how fast you’re driving may be doing more than just measuring speed. Many are now doubling as license-plate readers for the DEA, as the department works to expand its national surveillance platform and crack down on interstate crime. But privacy advocates have sounded alarm over the sprawling data collection network — as well as the potential consequences, should the information ends up in the wrong hands. (Quartz)
  7. General Electric abruptly announced the ouster of CEO John Flannery after just one year on the job. His replacement, Danaher chief executive H. Lawrence Culp, is the first outsider to ever take over the 126-year-old company, which has been plagued by strategic missteps and ill-timed investments. (Thomas Heath and Jena McGregor)
  8. Kanye West said he is trying to arrange a meeting between Trump and Colin Kaepernick, who kicked off the NFL protests Trump has repeatedly criticized. West said he hopes he can get the president and the former NFL quarterback “on the same page.” (HuffPost)

 THE IMMIGRATION WARS:

-- An unpublished DHS inspector general report concluded that the Trump administration’s family separation policy was flawed from the outset. Nick Miroff, Maria Sacchetti and Seung Min Kim obtained a copy: “The [IG] review found at least 860 migrant children were left in Border Patrol holding cells longer than the 72-hour limit mandated by U.S. courts, with one minor confined for 12 days and another for 25. … The investigators describe a poorly coordinated interagency process that left distraught parents with little or no knowledge of their children’s whereabouts. In other instances, U.S. officials were forced to share minors’ files on Microsoft Word documents sent as email attachments because the government’s internal systems couldn’t communicate. … Based on observations conducted by DHS inspectors at multiple facilities along the border in late June, agents separated children too young to talk from their parents in a way that courted disaster...”

-- ICE is encountering fierce pushback from activists at the local level. Justin Jouvenal reports: “With little leverage to counter the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration crackdown in a Republican-controlled Washington, immigrant advocates and grass-roots groups are mounting a furious backlash in local communities across the country. They can’t stop deportations, but they hope to throw sand in the gears by targeting pressure points in the system: [ICE] relies on local agencies to jail detainees who may be in the country illegally, notify ICE of their release and even help conduct immigration enforcement. … While [abolishing ICE] remains a long shot, the more modest local efforts have notched victories in at least a dozen communities.”

-- “For Private Prisons, Detaining Immigrants Is Big Business,” by the New York Times's Clyde Haberman: “Studies suggest that governments save little money, if any, by turning over prison functions to private outfits. And in 2016, under [Barack Obama], Justice Department concluded that private prisons were in general more violent than government-operated institutions[.] Today, despite their mixed record, private prison companies are overseeing the vast majority of undocumented migrants . . . How ably these companies discharge their duty — or not — has new urgency in the Trump era, given this administration’s efforts at strict border control, which include detaining large numbers of children.”

-- The Trump administration has started denying visas to the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. employees unless the couples are married. Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch reports: “[The administration is] requiring those already in the United States to get married by the end of the year or leave the country. The U.S. Mission to the U.N. portrayed the decision … as an effort to bring its international visa practices in line with current U.S. policy. In light of the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, the U.S. extends diplomatic visas only to married spouses of U.S. diplomats. … But critics says the new policy will impose undue hardships on foreign couples from countries that criminalize same-sex marriages.”

THE TRADE DEAL:

-- Trump said in a news conference that the successful trade deal with Mexico and Canada was “proof” that his tough talk and tariffs work — alarming other world leaders as he said those tactics would serve as a “model” for future negotiations. Damian Paletta and Erica Werner report: “[Trump told reporters] he would try a similar approach with the [E.U.], China, Japan, and potentially Brazil and India, convinced that foreign leaders only take the U.S. seriously if the White House threatens to upend economic ties. ‘We’re totally prepared to do that if they don’t negotiate,’ Trump said, raising the prospect of new penalties if countries don’t remove trade restrictions or allow more U.S. investment. Trying to head off these threats, the E.U. and Japan have already begun discussions on how to address Trump’s concerns, and the president said similar conversations are underway with India. Trump said it was this pressure — particularly the threat to use tariffs as a negotiating weapon — that forced [Justin Trudeau] to agree to a number of changes Sunday night to [NAFTA]. The deal must still be approved by Congress … But White House officials were jubilant, believing Trump successfully used his business acumen to force Canada to agree to something it had long resisted.”

-- But many economists and trade experts say Trump may be overly optimistic about the new trade deal, which he boasted will bring back manufacturing jobs and “send cash and jobs pouring into the United States.” David J. Lynch and Heather Long report: “While some industries and regions would fare better than others, the sheer size of the $20 trillion U.S. economy will probably swamp those specific effects. ‘This isn’t a revolutionary deal. It’s a modification of a deal already in place,’ said Eric Winograd, senior U.S. economist at AllianceBernstein[.] ‘The total economic impact will be very small.’ … As economists and trade analysts sorted through the 1,800-plus pages of the new accord, they saw few signs of major change.

-- “Sources close to the action say the eleventh-hour deal came together as a result of deadline pressure, willingness to compromise and Trump’s constant threat of hitting Canada’s extensive auto industry with tariffs if it didn’t agree to a new deal,” report Politico’s Alexander Panetta and Adam Behsudi. “[B]ut it took months of shouting sessions and mutual suspicion to get there. The two sides clashed about issues as broad as auto-production rules and as tangential as world history. Negotiations were especially tense at one point last fall when one story after another popped up on Canadian news sites about unusual U.S. proposals. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer scolded his Canadian counterparts over media leaks. The Americans fumed as their proposals went from the negotiating table to the internet and their counterparts whispered in the hallways. ‘We could literally see them [leaking],’ one American official later observed.”

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN AND WOMEN:

-- A senior Trump appointee at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau apologized for years-old blog posts in which he questioned whether it was racist to use the n-word. Renae Merle and Robert O'Harrow Jr. report: “‘Do I regret some of the things I wrote when I was 25 . . . Absolutely,’ Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the [CFPB], wrote to colleagues [in an email]. ‘The tone and framing of my statements reflected poor judgment.’ The apology was in sharp contrast to a defiant statement issued by Blankenstein in response to The Post story last Wednesday about his blog postings. … Blankenstein’s turnabout came just hours after a senior civil servant in the bureau, Chris D’Angelo, wrote a bureau-wide note saying that many employees under Blankenstein felt ‘chilled’ and ‘threatened by the language used’ in the posts, and Blankenstein’s ‘affirmation of those posts in his public statement, and his failure to denounce those statements or acknowledge their hurtful nature.’”

-- Since joining Trump’s Cabinet, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has managed to keep a low profile. But the long stretches of “private time” blocked off in her calendar have left many wondering how, exactly, she is spending her time. Politico’s Tanya Snyder, Kathryn A. Wolfe and Beatrice Jin report: “In total, Chao clocked more than 290 hours of appointments labeled private — the equivalent of about seven weeks’ vacation — during her first 14 months . . . That total does not include any private hours that occurred on nights, weekends, days marked as vacation or federal holidays. By their nature, Cabinet members have highly irregular schedules, including out-of-town travel, work through lunch and dinner, pre-breakfast meetings and activities at night and on weekends … But six former DOT officials who worked closely with previous Transportation secretaries [said] the amount of private time during work hours delineated on Chao’s calendar is atypical. One former DOT official … said the sheer amount of private appointments on Chao’s calendar suggests an attempt to hide her activities rather than truly private time.”

-- White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held only one on-camera press briefing during the entire month of September — marking a sharp contrast from previous administrations, where such briefings were a near-daily occurrence. CNN’s Brian Stelter reports: “Sanders held five briefings in June, three in July, and five in August. So the previously ‘daily’ briefing has become a ‘special occasion’ event. … The White House's strategy, as of late, is to put Trump front and center, at the expense of on-camera briefings from spokespeople. While reporters are always hungry for opportunities to pose questions to the president, briefings have historically served a different and complementary purpose.” On “Fox News Sunday,” Sanders said the White House will “certainly” continue to hold formal briefings, but suggested that Q&A’s with Trump himself will become a more frequent occurrence.

THE MIDTERMS:

-- Two years ago, Democrats didn’t even bother fielding a candidate against Texas Rep. Pete Sessions — a Republican heavyweight and leader of the powerful House Rules Committee. Now, he's fighting for his political life in what analysts believe is shaping up to be one of the nation's toughest races. The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Frosch reports: “[C]hanging demographics [reflect] the broader diversification of the Lone Star State, along with a jolt of anti-Trump sentiment . . . The district, which encompasses communities from moneyed Dallas enclaves to parts of Richardson, a suburb with a sizeable Asian population, is changing. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of Hispanics increased to 25.5% from 12.5%, while the Asian population jumped to 9.2% from just under 1% . .. . . Mr. Sessions said Mr. Trump’s presidency had ‘driven the opposition.’ But he said the [Colin Allred] campaign was betting on support from recent transplants to the Dallas area, which wouldn’t pan out because voters in this booming region would continue to back his low tax, pro-business policies."

-- Barack Obama issued another round of midterm endorsements. From Felicia Sonmez: “Among the notable names on the list are more than a dozen gubernatorial nominees who reflect Democrats’ broader embrace of ethnically diverse, female and LGBT candidates in this year’s midterms. They include Andrew Gillum in Florida, Ben Jealous in Maryland, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico and Christine Hallquist in Vermont. Four Senate nominees also made the list: Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona, Bill Nelson in Florida, Tina Smith in Minnesota and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin.”

-- Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke apologized for a review he wrote as a Columbia University student, in which he criticized Broadway actresses “whose only qualifications seem to be their phenomenally large breasts and tight buttocks.” From Eli Rosenberg: “‘I am ashamed of what I wrote and I apologize,’ the Texas congressman said in a statement according to Politico, which reported the story. ‘There is no excuse for making disrespectful and demeaning comments about women.’ The old review was surfaced by someone who opposes O’Rourke, a Democrat, and his campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas . . . O’Rourke’s review of ‘The Will Rogers Follies,’ was published in the student newspaper, Columbia Daily Spectator, on Oct. 10, 1991. O’Rourke had just turned 19.”

-- The Minnesota Democratic Party said it has referred an internal report on Rep. Keith Ellison’s domestic abuse allegation to local authorities, after an attorney hired by the party was unable to substantiate the claims. The Star-Tribune’s Stephen Montemayor reports: “The decision promises to keep alive lingering allegations against the Democratic candidate for attorney general, who has denied that he tried to drag a former girlfriend off a bed by her legs and feet during a fight in 2016. The party declined to release the report produced by Susan Ellingstad, a Minneapolis attorney it hired to conduct the investigation. … The attorney, in her report, described Monahan as ‘unwavering in her claim that the alleged physical altercation occurred’ [but wrote that] Monahan was not willing to release a video she says she has of the incident. … In the end, Ellingstad wrote, Monahan's refusal to allow a private review of the video prevented a definitive finding.”

-- The reelection campaign of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) released a new television ad attempting to link his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, to “radical Islamists” in the United States. Politico’s Jeremy B. White reports: “[Hunter has maintained a comfortable polling lead] despite being the subject of a federal indictment . . . But as Democratic groups have sensed vulnerability, Hunter‘s campaign has embraced a tactic that strikes critics as racist: invoking the fraught family history of [Campa-Najjar], whose grandfather was involved in the terrorist attacks on the 1972 Munich Olympics. While Campa-Najjar has forcefully renounced his grandfather, saying he died 16 years before the candidate was born and emphasizing [he] is a Christian who has passed government security clearances, the Hunter campaign is doubling down. ‘Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress,’ an ominous new campaign ad warns … invoking ‘his family’s ties to terrorism’ and calling Campa-Najjar ‘a risk we can’t ignore,’ before displaying an image of Hunter, a Marine veteran, in military gear.”

Hunter has dismissed the notion that he can be racist — because of where he lives: “I was born in San Diego. Sorry Southerners, you had some issues back in the day,” Hunter told constituents. “Didn’t happen out here on the West Coast.”

-- “He’s a Rhodes Scholar. The G.O.P. Keeps Calling Him a ‘Big-City Rapper,’” by the New York Times's Lisa W. Foderaro: “It has taken 12 years, but Antonio Delgado has finally received recognition for his brief career as a rap artist. All it took was for him to run for Congress in New York. The [NRCC] last week released its second political attack ad against Mr. Delgado, a Democrat, waiting all of six seconds before it labeled him a 'big-city rapper.’ The video ads have injected elements of race and identity in a contest already fraught with national implications: The race between Mr. Delgado and the Republican incumbent, Representative John Faso, is thought to be a tossup, so both parties are heavily invested in the district, which covers much of the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions.”

-- Sitting senators in Missouri and Nevada are facing extremely tight races in their reelection bids, according to a new CNN-SRSS poll. Jennifer Agiesta reports: “Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill edges challenger Josh Hawley 47% to 44% among likely voters in Republican-friendly Missouri, while Republican Sen. Dean Heller stands four points behind his Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen in Nevada (47% Rosen to 43% for Heller), which has broken for Democrats in each of the last three presidential contests and has been a regular Senate battleground in the last decade. In both states, the political equilibrium has been shifting away from the party of the incumbent senator."

-- Florida’s Republican nominees for their Senate and gubernatorial races have taken starkly different stance on embracing Trump. From Tim Craig: “[Rick] Scott’s and [Ron] DeSantis’s different paths reflect the strategic options facing Republican candidates this year as they decide whether to run away from or embrace Trump, their party’s dominant figure. It’s a conflict that is especially dramatic this year in Florida, where [Scott, the current governor and Senate candidate,] is trying to rebrand himself as consensus builder, which requires some distance from a president known for his unpredictability. [DeSantis, a congressman running for governor,] meanwhile, is more dependent on energizing the state’s conservative, Trump-supporting base. … But Scott’s strategy, which has included aggressive outreach to Latinos and support this year for some gun-control measures, has been clouded since DeSantis won the GOP primary after campaigning as a steadfast supporter of Trump.”

-- Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Andrew Gillum, fired a staffer for past vulgar posts on social media. From Amy B Wang: “Manny Orozco-Ballestas, who served as a statewide youth outreach director for the Gillum campaign, was fired Sunday … ‘The type of language this young man used on social media before his employment with our campaign is unacceptable, and he will no longer be working with the campaign,’ Gillum campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said in a statement … The Florida GOP had first pushed for Orozco-Ballestas’s firing after local blogger Jacob Engels unearthed an Instagram photo of Orozco-Ballestas wearing a shirt that included a map of the United States. On it, states that had gone for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election were colored red and labeled ‘Dumbf---istan.’”

-- A woman who accused Democratic congressional candidate Gil Cisneros of sexual harassment announced she was withdrawing the complaint. Eli Rosenberg reports: “Melissa Fazli, a former candidate for state assembly in California, said she met with [Cisneros], who is running … in California’s 39th district, over the weekend to discuss comments that Cisneros had made to her earlier in the year after the two saw each other at the California Democratic Convention. And in the meeting with him, which was brokered by a community activist, Fazli came to believe that she had likely misunderstood his remarks, she said. ‘We sat down and we talked about it,’ Fazli told The Post. ‘We rehashed everything, we had a lot of emotions and feelings going in both directions. It was a huge misunderstanding.’”

-- Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) dropped out of a second debate in his closely watched race against Democrat Abigail Spanberger, according to Spanberger’s campaign. Laura Vozzella reports: “The rival campaigns in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District had announced one debate, to take place Oct. 15 at a community college in Culpeper. That debate will be live-streamed and shown on C-SPAN. The two teams had privately agreed to a second debate, to take place Oct. 25 at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, with the local CBS affiliate planning to air it, Spanberger’s campaign said. Brat’s campaign pulled back from the Richmond event late last week, saying that it will decide whether to participate in a second debate only after the first one takes place, Spanberger’s campaign said.”

-- Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington state, said he is “not ruling out” a 2020 bid. “We’ll have a good candidate in 2020. I’m not ruling out a run,” Inslee said. “I think our country needs a Democratic Party to produce a nominee who’s going to really be committed to climate change and defeating climate change and creating a clean energy economic message and clean energy jobs.” Climate change has been one of Inslee’s top issues as governor. (Politico)

THE COURTS:

-- The Supreme Court began its new session with an empty seat and a debate over the dusky gopher frog. Robert Barnes reports: “[The debate] managed Monday to divide the understaffed Supreme Court into familiar camps and raised the possibility that the first case of the 2018 term might end in a tie. … [Chief Justice John] Roberts noted before arguments began that the day marked the 25th anniversary of Ginsburg’s investiture. ‘We all look forward to sharing many more years with you in our common calling,’ Roberts said. Ginsburg, 85, smiled, but did not respond. But her silence did not last long. Ginsburg and the court’s other liberals seemed inclined to believe that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not exceeded its authority in designating more than 1,500 acres in Louisiana — about 50 miles from the places the frogs are known to live now — as ‘critical habitat’ for the [frog’s] future survival.”  

-- The Supreme Court declined to take the case of a California billionaire who sought to block public access to Martins Beach — delivering a victory to proponents of the state’s landmark coastal access law. The San Francisco Chronicle's Peter Fimrite reports: “The decision means lawyers for Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, will not get the opportunity to argue before the high court that he has a right to stop people from crossing his property to reach a picturesque beach. Advocates for public access touted the decision, which keeps an access road open to Martins Beach, about six miles south of Half Moon Bay, as a victory for beachgoers across the country.  At stake was the [California Coastal Act, which] prohibits homes or developments from blocking access to beaches, essentially making the entire California coast, including all beach property below the mean high-tide line, public property. … Had the Supreme Court taken the case and ruled in favor of Khosla, it would have affected as many as 22 states that have granted the public the right to access beaches, lakes and waterways[.]”

-- A federal judge in Arizona blocked a measure that would punish businesses for boycotting Israel. It’s the second finding this year to strike down state legislation aimed at prohibiting anti-Israel activity. Isaac Stanley-Becker reports: “At issue in the case is the specific obligation imposed in Arizona, but the ruling cast doubt on the constitutionality of broader government efforts to regulate boycott activity by private companies, even those that do business with the state. The finding … is in line with a similar judgment in January, when a federal judge in Kansas ruled for the first time that enforcing a state provision requiring contractors to sign a no-boycott certification violated expressive rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. Similar provisions are on the books in more than a dozen states, including Maryland, Minnesota and South Carolina, according to the [ACLU].”

THERE'S A BEAR IN THE WOODS:

-- Paul Manafort met with Robert Mueller’s team in D.C. as part of the plea deal he struck last month in their ongoing Russia investigation. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “The sit-down at the special counsel’s downtown [office stems from Manafort’s guilty plea], which requires the former Trump campaign chairman to cooperate ‘fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly … in any and all matters as to which the government deems the cooperation relevant.’ [Two] attorneys for Manafort — Richard Westling and Tom Zehnle — [were spotted] outside Mueller’s office early Monday afternoon speaking with one of the special counsel’s lead prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann."

-- James Comey said through an attorney that he is willing to appear before two House panels investigating the Justice Department’s actions during the 2016 presidential race — but only if he can testify publicly. Matt Zapotosky reports: “[David N. Kelley] told Republican leaders of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees that . . . because Comey lacked a security clearance, there should be no concern about his having to discuss classified material. He wrote that he expected the committees would obtain approvals from the FBI for Comey to discuss events while he was in charge there. … Spokesmen for the House Oversight and Judiciary committees did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment, [though a] Judiciary Committee aide said officials were prepared to subpoena Comey.”

-- Talk-show host and Roger Stone associate Randy Credico told the Senate Intelligence Committee he plans to plead the Fifth Amendment in response to its subpoena. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “Credico, a Bernie Sanders-supporting activist and comedian, told the Senate Intelligence Committee through his lawyer that he’d invoke his constitutional right against possible self-incrimination rather than answer the panel’s questions in the ongoing investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election. … Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, has said Credico was his intermediary to [Julian] Assange and WikiLeaks.”

THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

-- Melania Trump has embarked on her six-day trip to Africa, where she will visit Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Egypt. While abroad, the first lady is expected to meet with schoolchildren and visit hospitals. The New York Times’s Katie Rogers reports: “The East Wing has played down the idea that the trip is meant to smooth over any of the president’s diplomatic mishaps … or undo any missteps Mrs. Trump has made. So why Africa? ‘She had always envisioned that Africa would be her first solo international trip,’ Stephanie Grisham, her communications director, said. ‘She is interested in Africa because she has never been before and knows that each country will have its own unique history and culture.'”

-- New polling shows Trump has less global popularity than Chinese President Xi Jinping, even as many respondents expressed unease about China’s growing power. From Adam Taylor: “Polling data from 25 countries released Monday showed a widespread global belief that China is a growing power, perhaps one that now rivaled the United States in economic might, but that most people wanted the United States to retain its leading role in global affairs. However, the poll also found very little confidence in the countries surveyed that the current U.S. leader would do the right thing in global affairs. Indeed, confidence in Trump was lower than for world leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Russia’s Vladimir Putin — and even [Xi].”

-- British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt prompted outrage after he compared the E.U. to Soviet-era prisons — echoing a comparison used by far-right populists as the country seeks to negotiate the terms of its upcoming Brexit. Rick Noack reports: “In all the Baltic states that were occupied by the Soviets, Soviet prisons are still deeply associated with torture, executions and inhumane mistreatment. … To European leaders, the latest remarks from Hunt, a leading mainstream conservative, served as yet another metaphor for the disconnect between British politicians and their European counterparts that has permeated the Brexit negotiations for more than one year now.

  • “Just FYI — Soviets killed, deported, exiled and imprisoned 100 thousands of Latvia’s inhabitants after the illegal occupation in 1940, and ruined lives of 3 generations, while the E.U. has brought prosperity, equality, growth, respect,” the Latvian ambassador to Britain, Baiba Braže, said in response to Hunt’s speech.  

SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

A USA Today columnist made this argument about Kavanaugh's drinking history:

Fox News analyst Brit Hume pushed back against Powers, pointing to this tweet from a Democratic congresswoman:

Powers responded to Hume:

From an NPR reporter:

The D.C. bureau chief of the Intercept criticized the scope of the FBI's investigation:

The White House press secretary went after a writer for New York Times Magazine who reported out the bar fight story and criticized Kavanaugh this summer:

A New York magazine contributor added this:

A D.C. reporter for the Times highlighted one way that McConnell is trying to lock down Collins's vote:

Trump issued a brazen accusation at his news conference:

A CNN reporter noted this:

The ABC News reporter who Trump insulted during the news conference tweeted this:

At the news conference, Trump also explained his use of a certain term :

The seating at the Supreme Court has been changed for the new session:

A Politico reporter shared a photo from Paul Manafort team's meeting with Mueller's prosecutors:

A former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations condemned a new policy limiting visas to the same-sex partners of diplomats:

A former House speaker dodged a question about Seth Rich, per a CNN reporter:

A gubernatorial candidate flip-flopped on vaccination:

Meghan McCain announced she would return to “The View” after taking time off to mourn the loss of her father:

Kanye West thanked The Post for providing some context on his Twitter outburst:

And a bat attended Trump's Tennessee rally:

GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:

-- New Yorker, “The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care,” by Larissa MacFarquhar: “The large central room of the memory-care unit was designed to look like an old-fashioned American town square. There was a small fountain, surrounded by plants and a low stone wall … [The] walls were the facades of what looked like clapboard houses, with wooden shutters and shingled pitched roofs … In recent years, many more of these kinds of props and simulations have been devised: not just fake bus stops but fake buses, with screens for windows, on which footage of a passing scene gives the impression of movement; one home has made a simulated beach, with heat lamps, sand on the floor, and the sound of waves …

“Lying to most patients in this way now seems obviously wrong; but when it comes to people with dementia there is no consensus. If a woman asks for her husband, having forgotten that he is dead, should you tell her the truth and cause her terrible grief, knowing that this fresh bereavement will likely repeat itself … day after day? Or should you just tell her that he is at the office? And is direct lying different from various forms of passive lying … What is more important — dignity or happiness?”

-- NPR, “The American Dream Is Harder To Find In Some Neighborhoods,” by John Ydstie: “Does the neighborhood you grow up in determine how far you move up the economic ladder? A new online data tool … finds a strong correlation between where people are raised and their chances of achieving the American dream. Harvard University economist Raj Chetty has been working with a team of researchers on this tool — the first of its kind because it marries U.S. Census Bureau data with data from the [IRS]. And the findings are changing how researchers think about economic mobility. It used to be that people born in the 1940s or '50s were virtually guaranteed to achieve the American dream of earning more than your parents did … But that's not the case anymore.” "You see that for kids turning 30 today, who were born in the mid-1980s, only 50 percent of them go on to earn more than their parents did," Chetty says. “It's a coin flip as to whether you are now going to achieve the American dream.”

-- GQ, “The Great White House Reporter Glow-Up,” by Joel Pavelski: “Thanks to the nonstop demands of cable news, the ink-stained wretches covering Trump have transformed into tightly tailored professional pundits. … Where [on-air guest spots were once] scheduled days in advance … today reporters on the Washington beat describe a grueling uncertainty. They never know when they might be called to sprint to set or to a pop-up studio in their own newsroom. And with the sizable checks and national prominence comes the pressure of upgraded expectations — and looking the part of a TV host is a new job requirement. So much so that many print reporters landing contributor contracts have lost weight, tailored their suits, spent thousands on their smiles, and gotten everything from frequent beard trims to what could only be spray tans to capitalize on the frenzy of attention paid to their reporting. … Now, suddenly, reporters are ready for their close-up.”

HOT ON THE LEFT:

“Matilda statue stands up to [Trump],” from BBC: “Children's character Matilda has been portrayed as a statue standing up to [Trump] to celebrate the book's 30th anniversary. The figures at the Roald Dahl Museum in Buckinghamshire were created as part of a ‘reimagining’ of the schoolgirl, three decades on. Trump was the public's top choice for the heroine's modern-day nemesis, the Roald Dahl Story Company said. Matilda stood up to headmistress Miss Trunchbull in the 1988 book. . . . Bernie Hall, from The Roald Dahl Story Company, said: ‘Matilda demonstrates that it's possible for anyone, no matter how small and powerless they feel, to defeat the Trunchbulls in their own lives - a message that feels even more relevant today than it did 30 years ago.’ … Trump topped a public poll [for Matilda's modern-day nemesis,] with Prime Minister Theresa May coming second and TV presenter Piers Morgan third.”

 

HOT ON THE RIGHT:

“Christian Broadcasting Network Launches 24-Hour News Channel,” from the AP: “A Christian TV network is entering the crowded world of 24-hour news broadcasting . . . The [CBN’s] news channel will provide a religious perspective that other channels lack, CEO Gordon Robertson [said, adding that it will] air on local television stations in 15 U.S. cities, [and] produce original programming and commentary on everything from the power of prayer to Justin Bieber's faith and Christian persecution … ‘What I think is missing is an opportunity for someone to come in and just tell their story from their point of view, not give it an angle, not try to be argumentative,’ [Robertson] said. ‘I think we've been criticized for allowing people to speak. But from my point of view, we want that.’” He added that most of the network’s donors are older and “like to watch TV.” 

 

DAYBOOK:

Trump will fly to Philadelphia today to deliver a speech at the National Electrical Contractors Association's convention. He will then travel to Southaven, Miss., to participate in a roundtable with supporters and a campaign rally before flying back to the District.

The RNC announced that the 2020 Republican National Convention will be held Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte.  

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

“I can honestly say I’ve never had a beer in my life. It’s one of my only good traits. I don’t drink. Can you imagine if I had, what a mess I be? I’d be the world’s worst.” — Trump to reporters in the Rose Garden.

 

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

-- It will be sunny in the District this morning, but clouds and possible showers threaten the afternoon. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Mostly sunny morning as temperatures slowly edge warmer up into the 70s. We should reach about 80 or the lower 80s by afternoon as clouds increase. Watch out for a brief shower or thunderstorm in the middle to late afternoon. Humidity is moderately uncomfortable, with dew points in the mid-60s (well above normal for October).”

-- The Washington Capitals received their Stanley Cup championship rings. From Scott Allen: “The 14-karat white and yellow gold rings, which were handcrafted by Jostens, feature 230 round diamonds, 22 princess-cut diamonds, 28 taper-cut rubies, seven star-shaped rubies and a star-shaped sapphire. The top of the ring features the Capitals' wordmark surrounded by 27 pavé-set diamonds and encircled by 28 taper-cut rubies.”

-- Juan Soto became the first Nationals player to win rookie of the month three times in the same season. (Jesse Dougherty)

-- The D.C. Council’s bill to repeal Initiative 77, which voters approved to raise the minimum wage for the District’s tipped workers, was amended to address some concerns from the proposal’s supporters. Fenit Nirappil reports: “D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) released a new version of his bill to repeal Initiative 77 that now includes provisions to address wage theft and sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. Mendelson’s move also undercuts a separate effort by some D.C. Council members to preserve a watered-down version of the initiative and to spare lawmakers the political cost of overturning the will of the voters.”

-- Airbnb is pushing back against another D.C. Council bill aimed at curtailing short-term rentals in the city. Robert McCartney reports: “[Airbnb said the bill] would cost property owners tens of millions of dollars in lost income and give Washington the most restrictive legislation of any major U.S. city except New York and San Francisco. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), whose Capitol Hill district includes large numbers of Airbnb hosts, said he may seek to soften the bill when it comes up for an initial vote Tuesday.”

VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

During a news conference, Trump belittled two female reporters. He called on ABC News’s Cecilia Vega for the first question. “She’s shocked that I picked her,” Trump said. “I’m not,” Vega replied. “That’s okay, I know you’re not thinking. You never do,” he said. Vega replied, "I’m sorry?” “No,” Trump said, “go ahead.”

“And when CNN’s Kaitlan Collins kept pressing Trump as he dodged a question on whether he would consider it disqualifying for Kavanaugh if he lied to Congress while under oath,” Amber Phillips reports, “Trump cut her off: ‘You know what. You’ve had enough. You’ve really had enough.’”

Seth Meyers criticized the White House for trying to limit the FBI's investigation of Kavanaugh:

Stephen Colbert questioned some of Kavanaugh's answers during his testimony last week:

The ACLU launched a seven-figure ad buy aimed at convincing senators to vote “no” on Kavanaugh:

A liberal organization shared a video of female activists yelling at Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) as he walked through DCA:

Hundreds of people gathered for an anniversary vigil to remember the victims of the Las Vegas shooting:

"Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek hosted a Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate:

And a racehorse tore through a bar in France: