With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump, who loves feuding with fellow celebrities, appears to be getting right in the middle of maybe the biggest feud in music.

Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, are scheduled to eat lunch at the White House on Thursday with the rapper Kanye West, who has taken to wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and praised the president while appearing on “Saturday Night Live” the weekend before last.

Yesterday, Trump dissed pop star Taylor Swift for endorsing Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen over GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who he’s traveled to Tennessee to campaign for several times. “I’m sure Taylor Swift doesn’t know anything about her,” the president told reporters. “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now, okay?”

Just last week, Trump touted West’s positive comments about him during a rally in Johnson City, Tenn. “How great was Kanye West?” the president said, to cheers from the crowd.

Anyone who has engaged with pop culture even a little over the past decade knows about the bad blood between West and Swift, who has stayed famously apolitical — until this week. “As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn,” the pop star wrote on Instagram a day after she completed the last American stop on her latest tour. “Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.”

While celebrity endorsements in political campaigns are certainly not new, a president gleefully punching back at one this way is. And Thursday will almost certainly make for another drama-filled episode in the reality TV show that is the Trump presidency.

The previous two occupants of the White House never welcomed West. In what he thought was an off-the-record comment, Barack Obama called the rapper a “jackass” in 2009 after he interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards. West had jumped on stage and grabbed the microphone from the then 19-year-old to say Beyoncé deserved to win for her “Single Ladies” music video, which he insisted was superior to Swift’s “You Belong to Me.”

George W. Bush wrote in his 2010 memoir, “Decision Points,” that West’s comment after Hurricane Katrina that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” was an “all-time low” of his presidency that he still resented years later. “It was a disgusting moment,” Bush said.

But Trump has developed a somewhat symbiotic relationship with Yeezy, as West prefers to be known. “One person briefed on the meeting said that Mr. West wanted to discuss the availability of job opportunities for former convicts,” reports the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman, who first reported the news of the Thursday visit. “He also hopes to discuss with Mr. Trump how to increase the number of manufacturing jobs in the Chicago area, where Mr. West grew up and recently said he planned to return. Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner recently met with Mr. West’s wife, the celebrity Kim Kardashian West, about sentencing overhauls. It was at her urging that Mr. Trump commuted the life sentence of Alice Johnson, an African-American woman serving time in a drug-related case.”

-- I’ve written extensively about the celebrification of politics as one of the defining story lines of our time, because it has potentially enormous implications on governance in the future and the kinds of people who pursue public service. (Oprah Winfrey and Stormy Daniels’s lawyer Michael Avenatti are among those said to be mulling 2020 bids for the presidency.) It’s bigger than Trump, though. Politicians, their children and even their staffers are treated as celebrities and even expected to act like entertainers, now more than ever. Yesterday offered several fresh proof points.

-- Live Nation, a company that typically promotes musical acts like Justin Timberlake or Maroon 5, announced that it is putting on a 13-city tour for Bill and Hillary Clinton. “The unusual tour will take the Clintons mainly to friendly territory — including several large Democratic-leaning cities such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit and Boston, as well as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal — from mid-November 2018 to May 2019,” Felicia Sonmez reports. “The entertainment company … is also producing Michelle Obama’s upcoming book tour. Tickets for ‘An Evening with President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’ will go on sale later this week; prices for a single event are listed as ranging from $59.50 to $375.

It’s not clear whether any of the money will go to charity — or if it will just line the pockets of the Clintons. Trump’s raucous campaign-style rallies are free.

Last week, Billary – joined by aide-turned-friend Huma Abedin – went to see Christina Aguilera in concert at Radio City Music Hall. They posed for selfies with fans — and with the pop star. Page Six ran the pics the next day.

News also broke that a play about the Clinton’s marriage called “Hillary and Clinton” will be staged on Broadway next year, starring Tony winners Laurie Metcalf as Hillary and John Lithgow as Bill. The story is set in 2008 and features Hillary struggling with whether to call in her husband for help as she struggles against Obama.

-- Is life imitating art or is art imitating life? Sometimes it’s hard to answer.

-- Hope Hicks, who was Trump’s campaign press secretary and later his White House communications director, was named yesterday as the head of corporate communications for New Fox, the successor to Fox News’s parent company, 21st Century Fox. “The appointment will place Hicks, 29, in charge of communications for a company that will oversee Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and other entities controlled by Rupert Murdoch,” Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison report. “New Fox is the corporate entity that will be formed after 21st Century sells many of its assets to the Walt Disney Co. The $71 billion deal is likely to be completed early next year, leaving Murdoch with a company that will focus on televising news, sports and entertainment. … Two people familiar with the discussions said Hicks first discussed joining Fox with Suzanne Scott, Fox News’s chief executive, drawing the Fox-White House connection even tighter.”

In July, Trump hired former Fox News executive Bill Shine to replace Hicks. The two are part of a growing list of people who have transited through the revolving door between Fox and the Trump administration: “The list includes former Fox contributors John Bolton (now national security adviser); Richard Grenell (now ambassador to Germany); Mercedes Schlapp (now White House director of strategic communications), and Tony Sayegh (now a spokesman for the Treasury Department). A former Fox News reporter, Heather Nauert, is the top spokesman for the State Department.”

-- Meanwhile, Jenna Bush Hager broke the news on NBC’s “Today” show that her sister, Barbara, got married on Sunday to screenwriter Craig Louis Coyne at the family’s Maine compound. Hager telephoned into the show, on which she’s an anchor, to give a readout of the small ceremony, which was kept secret until after it happened. Then NBC posted a story with handout photos provided by the Bush family with the message, “Congratulations to the bride and groom!” The father of the bride later posted another picture:

-- And Meghan McCain returned to ABC’s “The View” for the first time on Monday since her father passed away. She got emotional and choked up as she recounted the memorials to John McCain to her co-hosts:

-- Launching next Tuesday: We invite you to sign up for The Post's newest newsletter, Power Up, a quick and very early look at the most important stories affecting Washington. It will be helmed by staff writer Jacqueline Alemany. Sign up here.

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-- Hurricane Michael continues to strengthen and is expected to become a Category 3 storm by the time it reaches Florida tomorrow. Jason Samenow reports: “Florida’s Panhandle, from Pensacola to Apalachicola, and its Big Bend area are the zones of greatest concern. Michael is poised to push ashore a ‘life-threatening’ surge of ocean water that will inundate those coastal areas. The storm will also unleash flooding rain and destructive winds starting Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday. … ‘A potentially catastrophic event is developing,’ the National Weather Service forecast office serving Tallahassee and surrounding areas wrote. The office warned of ‘widespread power outages, downed trees blocking access to roads and endangering individuals, structural damage to homes and businesses, isolated flash flooding and the potential for a few tornadoes.’ … By Wednesday night and Thursday, heavy rains from Michael are likely to streak into the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic, perhaps bringing more flooding to some of the same areas still recovering from Hurricane Florence.”

-- Since March, Google has kept secret its discovery of a bug that imperiled the personal data of hundreds of thousands of Google users. Craig Timberg, Renae Merle and Cat Zakrzewski report: “The decision to not immediately report the software bug — in a process that included briefing chief executive Sundar Pichai — was discussed in an internal document that expressed concerns about the company’s reputation and the possibility of increased scrutiny from regulators … Google said Monday that it did not immediately announce the data leak because it was unsure which users were affected or that the data had been misused. … Google discovered the Google security bug in the same month that Silicon Valley rival Facebook was facing massive scrutiny over its role in allowing people affiliated with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to collect data on 87 million users … Google [announced Monday] that it will mostly discontinue Google , its failing social media offering ... The company also announced new curbs on the information … And it will impose new limits on the data shared about [Gmail users].”


  1. The driver of a stretch limousine that crashed in Upstate New York did not have the proper license to operate the vehicle when it crashed into a parked car and killed 20 people, state authorities said. In addition, the limo itself had failed at least one prior safety inspection — and the company that owned it had a record of noncompliance with state and federal requirements. (Amy B Wang, Faiz Siddiqui and Arelis R. Hernández)
  2. The death toll from Haiti’s earthquake rose to 15. Another 333 people were injured in the earthquake, according to new figures released by Haitian authorities. (AP)
  3. A suspect in the assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro died after he mysteriously fell out of a window. The Venezuelan government says Fernando Albán, a Maduro critic and a city councilor in Caracas, committed suicide by jumping from a window of the country's top intelligence agency. (CNN)

  4. Anthony Weiner is on track to be released from prison three months early for good conduct. The former congressman, who was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sending sexual texts to an underage girl, is now slated to be released next May. (New York Post)
  5. Federal and state employees with administrator-level access to government websites will soon be required to use two-factor authentication to access their accounts. What took so long? (Hamza Shaban)
  6. The former Cleveland police officer who fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice, as he played with a pellet gun in 2014, has been hired at another police department in the small town of Bellaire, Ohio. (New York Times)
  7. ExxonMobil donated $1 million to a group that supports a carbon tax-and-dividend plan. Despite the show of support from an industry leader, a carbon tax would still face widespread opposition in Congress. (Steven Mufson)

  8. Israel is refusing entry to a U.S. student because she once supported a boycott. Refusal to admit Lara Alqasem, whose father is of Palestinian heritage, stems from a 2017 law barring entry to foreign nationals who have ever supported any kind of boycott — economic, cultural or academic — against Israel or West Bank settlements. (Ruth Eglash)
  9. Johns Hopkins named a building on campus to honor Henrietta Lacks — the young African American mother whose so-called “immortal” cells were critical in helping develop the polio vaccine and decades of medical research on leukemia and AIDS. (DeNeen L. Brown)
  10. Actress Busy Philipps accused her former co-star James Franco of assault. Philipps alleges in her upcoming memoir that Franco threw her to the ground, knocking the wind out of her, as they were filming a scene for “Freaks and Geeks.” (Vulture)


-- Trump continued to politicize Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court selection during a symbolic swearing-in ceremony at the White House last night, apologizing to Kavanaugh and his family “for the terrible pain and suffering” he said they were “forced to endure.” Ashley Parker and John Wagner report: “Trump used the ceremony to press a message he thinks resonates with his base in the face of the #MeToo movement — ‘In our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty,’ he said — before turning to Kavanaugh and asserting: ‘I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent.’ In fact, no definitive conclusions were reached during the confirmation process regarding Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school, or accusations of sexual misconduct in high school and college by two other women.

The White House ceremony, which included cocktails and a band, in some ways felt like a cross between a campaign rally and a wedding reception. In addition to all of the high court justices, attendees included conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Since Kavanaugh was confirmed on Saturday, Trump has seemed more interested in inflaming rather than reducing the tensions over his Supreme Court pick . . . Trump’s comments came just hours after he said calls to impeach Kavanaugh were an 'insult to the American public' — and predicted that they would also provide a boost to Republican candidates in the midterms . . . 'I think a lot of Democrats are going to vote Republican,' Trump added. 'The main base of the Democrats have shifted so far left that we’ll end up being Venezuela. This country would end up being Venezuela.'”

-- Flashback: Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Barack Obama's two appointees to SCOTUS, opted not to participate in White House ceremonies to celebrate their confirmations, a show of independence that Obama welcomed.

-- Mitch McConnell signaled he would push to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2020 — despite his refusal to consider Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of Merrick Garland. Elise Viebeck reports: “Speaking at a news conference in Louisville, McConnell said his decision to block [Garland] was based on a tradition that opposition parties in control of the Senate do not confirm Supreme Court nominees during presidential election years. He claimed the precedent only applies when different parties control the Senate and the White House — leaving open the possibility he would help advance a Trump nominee in 2020 if Republicans still hold a majority … ‘Look, it’s practical,’ he [said]. ‘Think about it. There’s no chance that an opposition party in control of the Senate is going to fill a Supreme Court vacancy occurring in the middle of a presidential election year, and that’s why it hasn’t happened since the 1880s.’ … That justification marks a notable shift from the argument McConnell invoked repeatedly in 2016, when he said voters ‘should have a say in the court’s direction’ by casting ballots in the upcoming election.”

-- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Kavanaugh was treated like a “slut whore drunk” during his confirmation process. Graham argued that Ford was treated better by Senate Judiciary Committee members than the Supreme Court nominee. “I think the roles were reversed: The slut whore drunk was Kavanaugh,” Graham said. (The State)

-- A majority of respondents in a new CNN-SSRS poll oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but his support has grown among Republicans since last month. From CNN’s Jennifer Agiesta: “Overall, 51% in the poll oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, up from 39% who opposed it in early September, after his initial confirmation hearing but before accusations of sexual misconduct emerged. Support for Kavanaugh's confirmation has merely inched up, by contrast, from 38% backing him in early September to 41% now. Much of that shift has happened among partisans, with both sides pulling further apart on everything Kavanaugh-related. Among Democrats, 63% opposed his nomination in early September, and that has risen to 91% in the new poll. Among Republicans, 74% backed him in September and 89% do so now. … All told, 52% of Americans say they believe the women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct over the judge's denials of those accusations (38% said they believed him more than the women).”

-- With 28 days until the midterms, Republicans are working hard to recast Democratic protests against Kavanaugh as representing “out-of-control anarchy.” Matt Viser and Robert Costa report: “[Trump] and the GOP firmly control Congress and the White House and have massive financial and media infrastructure behind them. But in an effort to flip the midterm elections from a referendum on the unpopular president, they are casting themselves as defenders at the barricades. In Virginia, Rep. David Brat (R) is running against the ‘liberal mob,’ and GOP Senate candidate Corey Stewart has decried the ‘mob tactics’ that ‘tried to destroy’ Kavanaugh. ‘When we’re out at grocery stores or at events, we’re finding swing voters are turned off by how Kavanaugh was treated,’ Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) said. ‘Chasing senators down the hall, running up the stairs at the Capitol — we’ve been taken aback by how people have reacted to it. And we’re responding.’

“The characterization evokes fear of an unknown and out-of-control mass of people, and it taps into grievances about the nation’s fast-moving cultural and demographic shifts that Republicans say are working against them. With its emphasis on the impact on traditional values and white voters, particularly men, it strikes the same notes as earlier Trump-fanned attention to immigrants, MS-13 gang members and African American football players protesting police treatment of young black men. … The turn toward a culture war is also a tacit admission that many of the issues that Republicans had sought to run on, from tax cuts to the upbeat state of the economy, have not been enough to fan GOP voters’ enthusiasm and counter an electrified Democratic electorate.”

-- A number of Maine Democrats are considering running against Susan Collins in 2020 after her “yes” vote for Kavanaugh. The AP’s Marina Villeneuve, Steve Peoples and Julie Pace report: “Half a dozen Democratic prospects are openly considering running against the Republican political powerhouse, while an online fund has generated $3.6 million — and counting — for Collins’ ultimate Democratic challenger. The would-be candidates include Susan Rice, who had been one of President Barack Obama’s closest aides. … Many Maine Democrats prefer that a woman take on Collins, although few, if any, enjoy the statewide notoriety and fundraising prowess needed to defeat New England’s last remaining Republican senator. Many may try. The Democrats’ prospect list is topped by Rep. Chellie Pingree, who Collins defeated once already, back in 2002.”

-- The Alaska Republican Party's central committee is considering reprimanding Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) for opposing Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The AP’s Becky Bohrer reports: “The party has asked Murkowski to provide any information she might want its state central committee to consider. Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock says the committee could decide to issue a statement. Or he says it could withdraw support of Murkowski, encourage party officials to look for a replacement and ask that she not seek re-election as a Republican. He says the party took that more extreme step previously with state legislators who caucused with Democrats.”

-- Proposals to change practices for reporting sexual misconduct on Capitol Hill have stalled. Elise Viebeck and Gabriel Pogrund report: “Aides on Capitol Hill still have no choice but to report abusive behavior through a system that was widely decried last year as favoring lawmakers over employees who allege mistreatment. After lawmakers could not agree on a package of changes, they punted the issue until after the midterm elections — which are now shaping up as a battle between the #MeToo movement and Republicans who say many accusations have gone too far. Some victim advocates and lawmakers who support changes view the delay as a sign that Congress has lost its urgency toward improving itself as a workplace and addressing one of the central concerns of #MeToo activists — holding powerful men accountable for sexual assault and harassment.”


-- "[His] first vote as a member of the Supreme Court could come as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday on a Trump administration request testing how much power courts should wield over top executive branch officials,” Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports: “The administration has already made one unsuccessful run at the high court on the issue: It asked Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week to step in to block depositions of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Justice Department civil rights chief John Gore in lawsuits challenging Ross’ decision to put a question about citizenship on the 2020 U.S. Census. Ginsburg rebuffed the stay request, but Justice Department attorneys have indicated they plan to return to the Supreme Court with another emergency stay application within days unless they get full relief from lower courts, which seems unlikely.”

-- Kavanaugh’s confirmation could also shift the Supreme Court’s rulings on wartime detainees and presidential powers. Missy Ryan explains: “In a dozen years as a circuit court judge, Kavanaugh left an important mark on federal courts’ interpretations of landmark Supreme Court rulings on detainee rights and the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Again and again, scholars said, Kavanaugh gave broad deference to presidential powers on matters of national security and war, espousing a limited view of the courts’ ability to challenge the executive branch’s mandate in that realm.”

-- Kavanaugh, whose grandfather went to the new justice's alma mater at Yale, could help strike down affirmative action at universities across the country. The Intercept’s Eoin Higgins reports: “One of the leading voices in that fight is Edward Blum, a [conservative activist most famous for his attempt] to dismantle affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas. That effort flopped … in part because the plaintiff objectively and demonstrably did not meet the admission standards of the school[.] [But on] October 15, Blum will be back, this time with a potential Supreme Court majority. A group called Students for Fair Admissions, which Blum founded, will go to trial in Massachusetts District Court, claiming that Harvard University is discriminating against Asian-American applicants to the school.”

-- Kavanaugh’s confirmation also gives Trump the chance to fill another seat on a highly influential federal appeals court. BuzzFeed News’s Zoe Tillman reports: “Kavanaugh’s former court, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, is often referred to as the second-most powerful court in the country. It’s the primary venue for fights over executive power, federal regulations, and political controversies — last month, the court heard arguments about the Trump administration’s authority to stop pregnant undocumented teens from getting abortions, and next month will take up a challenge to [Bob Mueller’s] authority. It’s also long been a springboard to the Supreme Court.”


-- “Missing journalist’s fiancee demands to know: ‘Where is Jamal?’” by Souad Mekhennet and Loveday Morris in Istanbul: “The sleepless nights show in the dark circles under Hatice Cengiz’s eyes as she recounts the last moments she saw her fiance before he disappeared into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to finalize papers for their wedding. She is accompanied by two plainclothes Turkish police officers for protection. She is scared. ‘I no longer feel like I am really alive,’ she said. ‘I can’t sleep. I don’t eat.’ It has been nearly a week since Cengiz, 36, last saw the man she planned to marry, Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and critic of the Saudi government. She is the only witness to his disappearance inside. She had said she’d wait for him near the front entrance. ‘Fine, my darling,’ he said, before turning and heading into the squat yellow structure, which lacks the grandeur of many of the kingdom’s diplomatic buildings.

Khashoggi, 59, has not been heard from since. Turkish officials have said they believe he was killed inside in a planned murder. A team of 15 Saudis arrived on two planes to carry out the killing, officials have said. Cengiz has not been told whether Khashoggi is alive or dead. On Monday, she was interviewed for the second time by police. They took some of his clothes and other personal items for DNA samples, she said. Saudi officials insist that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, through a back entrance.

If his death is confirmed, it would represent a new level of audacity in Saudi Arabia’s clampdown on dissent under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. While painting himself as a reformer, Mohammed has shown himself to be ruthless in confronting any challenge to his power, jailing activists and dissenters. Once close to the Saudi establishment, Khashoggi had in the past year become one of its most high-profile critics, living in Virginia in self-imposed exile and contributing to The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section.”

-- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that Saudi Arabia prove their assertion that Khashoggi left the building of his own accord. Erin Cunningham and Kareem Fahim report: “'Do you not have cameras and everything of the sort?’ Erdogan said of the consular officials. ‘They have all of them. Then why do you not prove this? You need to prove it.’ … Erdogan’s comments were his most direct suggestion yet of potential Saudi culpability in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi ambassador to urge ‘full cooperation’ in the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance … The ambassador was called to the ministry in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Sunday.”

-- Trump told reporters he was “concerned” about Khashoggi’s disappearance, while the State Department demanded answers from the Saudi government. “I am concerned about it,” Trump said. “I don’t like hearing about it. Hopefully that will sort itself out. Right now nobody knows anything about it, but there’s some pretty bad stories going around. I do not like it.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, “We call on the government of Saudi Arabia to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.” (Anne Gearan)

-- The Post’s Editorial Board demands the immediate release of any relevant information on Khashoggi’s disappearance: “Any delay only magnifies the suffering of Mr. Khashoggi’s family, including the fiancee who waited for him in vain outside the consulate. It compounds the crime of those responsible for his disappearance, who will not succeed in deflecting questions through stonewalling.”

-- According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 43 journalists have been killed for their work so far this year. From Amanda Erickson: “Fifteen other journalists have also been killed, though their deaths have not been officially linked to their work. The most dangerous country in the world for journalists is Afghanistan, where 13 members of the press have been killed this year, many in terrorist attacks. Reporters in Mexico are also particularly vulnerable. At least six have died this year, often in acts of grotesque violence perpetrated by drug cartels and corrupt government officials. Additionally, at least 155 journalists around the world are imprisoned, along with 142 citizen journalists and 19 media assistants.”


-- The International Monetary Fund warned last night that Trump’s trade policies could undercut economic growth not just in the United States but around the world. Heather Long reports: “In its World Economic Outlook, released Monday evening, the IMF says the U.S. economy is expected to grow 2.9 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year. The organization had forecast in April that the U.S. economy would grow 2.7 percent in 2019. … The IMF repeatedly singled out Trump’s trade actions as disruptive to global growth and prosperity, especially the imposition of tariffs on roughly half of the goods that the United States imports from China. The IMF also reduced its growth forecast for China next year to 6.2 percent because of the trade war, down from 6.4 percent in April.”

-- China is trying to boost its slowing economy amid the escalating tariffs, which the Trump administration is citing as proof of its successful negotiation strategy. David J. Lynch and Danielle Paquette reports: “The Chinese moves to boost growth are seen at the White House as evidence that the president’s hard-nosed approach will pay dividends if the administration keeps its nerve and Chinese officials come to recognize the cost of their refusal to change course. … [But] economists say China’s biggest problem is debt, not tariffs. Since the 2008 financial crisis, China has cut by one-third its dependence on trade to drive growth. Instead, it’s relied on easy credit. Beijing doubled the size of its economy over the past decade — but it needed to quadruple its banking system, adding $29 trillion worth of new loans, to do so, according to a study by Logan Wright and Dan Rosen of the Rhodium Group.”

-- A professor facing child pornography charges is also being investigated for possible economic espionage on behalf of China. NBC News’s Tom Winter and Julia Ainsley report: “Until April, Keping Xie, 55, was a gastroenterology professor at Houston's University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where the officials say the FBI is investigating a suspected effort to funnel advanced research from the facility to the Chinese government. Xie was part of a Chinese government science recruiting program called ‘Thousand Talents’ that U.S. intelligence has linked to espionage.”


-- As deputy chairman of the Trump campaign, Rick Gates sought online manipulation proposals from an Israeli intelligence firm during the 2016 election, which, among other things, suggested creating fake online profiles to help defeat GOP primary rivals and Hillary Clinton. Robert Mueller's team has reviewed the group’s proposals and questioned its employees as part of the special counsel's ongoing probe. The New York Times's Mark Mazzetti, Ronen Bergman, David D. Kirkpatrick and Maggie Haberman report: “The Trump campaign’s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aid [Trump]. Though the Israeli company’s pitches were narrower than Moscow’s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump’s favor. [Gates] sought one proposal to use bogus personas to target and sway 5,000 delegates to the 2016 [RNC] by attacking [Ted Cruz], Mr. Trump’s main opponent at the time. Another proposal describes opposition research and ‘complementary intelligence activities’ about Mrs. Clinton and people close to her … A third proposal by the company, Psy-Group, … sketched out a monthslong plan to help Mr. Trump by using social media to help expose or amplify division among rival campaigns and factions. There is no evidence that the Trump campaign acted on the proposals, and Mr. Gates ultimately was uninterested in Psy-Group’s work … in part because other campaign aides were developing a social media strategy.” (Psy-Group’s owner did, however, met with Trump Jr. in August 2016.)

-- The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins explores whether there was communications between Russia's Alfa Bank and the Trump campaign in 2016

-- The Guardian reports that former Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix, who earned millions from his work for the Trump campaign in 2016, used the n-word to describe the prime minister of Barbados. Juliette Garside and Hilary Osborne report:New details around the firm’s work in the Caribbean — and the tactics it was prepared to use — have emerged from leaked emails and documents … Last month, the Guardian has been told, Nix made contact with the opposition party of St Kitts and Nevis, a state in the eastern Caribbean. According to a senior source from the Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour party, Nix offered to manage its next campaign. A general election is expected to be called in the coming months, with opposition leader Denzil Douglas hoping to oust the prime minister.”

-- “After selling off his father’s properties, Trump embraced unorthodox strategies to expand his empire,” by David A. Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell: “In 2005, Donald Trump kicked off a decade-long buying and spending spree, vastly expanding his hotel and golf-course empire and cementing his image as a brash impresario. The unorthodox approach Trump took in making those bold bets — racing through hundreds of millions in cash and drawing loans from the private-wealth office of Deutsche Bank — came when he was on new terrain as a developer. For the first time, he was operating without the safety net of his late father Fred’s real estate empire … That means that between 2005 and 2015, when Trump expanded his hotel chain from three locations to 12 and increased his golf courses from four to 15, he was finally on his own.”

-- Trump told reporters he has no plans to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying the two had a “good talk” while traveling together on Air Force One to an event in Orlando yesterday. Devlin Barrett and John Wagner report: “A White House spokesman said Trump and Rosenstein had talked for about 30 minutes, but he provided no details. Trump later told a reporter the conversation was ‘great,’ without elaborating.” His remarks come after Rosenstein reportedly offered to resign late last month, amid reports that he had floated the idea of wiretapping the president in May 2017. 

-- Legal experts warn the Trump team’s use of joint defense agreements, known as JDAs, with others caught up in the Mueller probe may push legal boundaries. From Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn: “Legal experts say they’re perplexed by Rudy Giuliani’s public insistence that JDAs still exist for people known to be talking with federal prosecutors — a practice they say verges on unethical. Such arrangements are also almost guaranteed to raise the ire of Mueller, as prosecutors typically only strike cooperation deals with defendants on the condition that they withdraw from any joint defense setup. … But Giuliani’s comments also could be seen as a warning that the president’s lawyers are primed to challenge Mueller’s authority to use some of the evidence collected from [Paul] Manafort — or other cooperating witnesses — through JDAs, as the bulk of information shared in this manner is supposed to be covered by attorney-client privileges.”

-- The federal government has frozen the U.S. assets and sprawling Upper East Side mansion of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and close ally of Vladimir Putin. The New York Post reports: “US officials say Deripaska, an aluminum billionaire ... is on the sanctions list because he is allegedly involved in murder, money-laundering, bribery and racketeering. Deripaska also had [Manafort] on his payroll for years.  ... Washington has frozen Deripaska’s US-based assets, including massive mansions in Manhattan and Washington, DC. But the feds are also negotiating with him to give up some of his European-based operations to keep them running free of sanctions, Treasury officials say.  Deripaska’s ... uber-posh residence is just down the street from fellow Ukrainian-born oligarch Len Blavatnik’s mansion, which he bought for a record $90 million earlier this year."


-- Trump will announce a pro-ethanol EPA directive at a rally in Iowa tonight as part of a bid to woo rural voters in the Midwest for the midterms. Felicia Sonmez reports: “The move to direct the [EPA] to draft a rule allowing year-round sales of E15, or fuel that is 15 percent ethanol by volume, is ‘directed at increasing the supply of biofuels and providing consumer choice,’ a senior Trump administration official told reporters on a conference call. The president, who previewed the move in April, is expected to formally announce the directive at a rally for Republican candidates in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. The first-in-the-nation caucus state is the country’s largest ethanol producer; it is also one of the states projected to be hardest hit by Trump’s trade wars with China and other countries.”

-- A new Post-Schar School poll found GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock has fallen 12 points behind Democrat Jennifer Wexton in their Virginia race. Jenna Portnoy and Emily Guskin report: “A month before the midterm election, Wexton, a state senator and former prosecutor, is ahead by 12 points, 55 percent to 43 percent among likely voters. The survey finds voters say the president is the most important factor influencing likely voters’ choice for Congress, more so even than the strong economy which would boost the party in power in a typical election year. Instead, Trump’s approval rating is weaker in the 10th District, 35 percent, than in a parallel survey of competitive House districts across the nation, which found 43 percent approve of the president.”

-- During a debate for Indiana’s closely watched Senate race, Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun attacked each other over their stances on abortion. The Indianapolis Star’s Chris Sikich and Kaitlin Lange report: “Donnelly accused Braun of being more extreme than Republican Richard Mourdock on abortion. Mourdock lost to Donnelly in 2012 after saying that sometimes rape is ‘something that God intended to happen.’ … Braun describes himself as ‘100 percent pro-life’ — including opposing abortion in the cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the woman. Donnelly, one of the few anti-abortion Democrats left in Congress, makes exceptions in all three cases.”

-- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is planning a nine-day blitz next week for Democratic midterm candidates. John Wagner reports: “An itinerary shared by a Sanders aide includes several stops in Iowa, where Sanders finished a close second to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic caucuses, as well as South Carolina and Nevada, two other states that appear early in the nominating calendar. Sanders, who is actively weighing a 2020 presidential bid, will also make appearances in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado and California.”

-- Sen. Tim Kaine (D) launched his first attack ad against Republican Corey Stewart in Virginia’s Senate race. From Antonio Olivo: “For months, [Kaine] barely acknowledged [Stewart] as the provocative Republican repeatedly called him ‘weak’ and ‘ineffective’ while falsely accusing the moderate of being part of the far-left antifa movement. But after Stewart’s darker implication — also without evidence — that Kaine has been accused of sexual harassment, the usually upbeat former Virginia governor is punching back. A Kaine campaign television ad that began airing Monday calls Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, ‘dangerous,’ while highlighting the fact that Stewart skipped a vote in December for emergency funding for opioid prevention in the county to travel to Alabama to help Republican Roy Moore in his failed Senate bid.”


-- House Speaker Paul Ryan predicted a “big fight” over border wall funding after the midterms. Erica Werner reports: “‘We intend on having a full-fledged discussion about how to complete this mission of securing our border, and we will have a big fight about that,’ Ryan (R-Wis.) said at the National Press Club. ‘We’ll figure out how to do it in December,’ Ryan added. ‘I can’t speak to what the outcomes will be.’ … Trump wants $5 billion for the border wall in 2019, whereas Senate Democrats have agreed to only $1.6 billion. It’s unclear how the issue will be resolved. ‘We have a commitment to go fight for securing the border and getting these policy objectives achieved,’ Ryan said.”

-- Lawyers who work with immigrants say courts are increasingly dealing with the cases of young children. The New York Times’s Vivian Yee and Miriam Jordan report: “The youngest child to come before the bench in federal immigration courtroom No. 14 was so small she had to be lifted into the chair. … The girl, Fernanda Jacqueline Davila, was 2 years old: brief life, long journey. … These young immigrants are stranded at the junction of several forces: the Trump administration’s determination to discourage immigrants from trying to cross the border; the continuing flow of children journeying by themselves from Central America; the lingering effects of last summer’s family-separation crisis at the border; and a new government policy that has made it much more difficult for relatives to claim children from federal custody.”

-- Trump encouraged Chicago police to use the controversial “stop and frisk” policy to address the city’s gun violence. Philip Rucker reports: “In a hard-edged and at times overtly political address to thousands of law enforcement officers [in Orlando], … [Trump] suggested that Chicago implement the stop-and-frisk tactic, in which police officers stop, question and frisk people they suspect may be dangerous or may have committed a crime. ‘It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago: Stop and frisk,’ he said. Trump argued that the policy helped reduce violent crime in New York City in the 1990s and early 2000s, when [Giuliani] was mayor. … But the concept of ‘stop, question and frisk’ as a means of proactive policing has come under fire in recent years because statistics show it was imposed disproportionately on racial minorities.”


Trump reiterated his baseless claim that the anti-Kavanaugh protesters were paid actors:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), the No. 2 in GOP leadership, posted this picture from last night's cocktail reception to celebrate Kavanaugh at the White House:

More color from our man in the room:

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), a potential 2020 presidential candidate, had this message for his followers after Kavanaugh's swearing-in:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders celebrated Hope Hicks's new job at Fox:

So did on-air talent at Fox:

From a New York Post reporter:

A New York Magazine reporter added another observation:

A Vanity Fair reporter shared this:

A writer for The Fix addressed arguments about Senate representation following Kavanaugh's confirmation:

Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed concern about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance:

The vice president mourned the journalist's possible death and emphasized the importance of freedom of the press:

A CNN host made this point about Trump's meeting with Rosenstein:

A Post reporter questioned the House speaker's thoughts on Democratic health-care proposals:

A New York Times writer challenged a Republican attack line on Taylor Swift's political endorsement of two Tennessee Democrats:

Mike Huckabee dismissed any potential impact of Swift's endorsement:

A Democratic congressional candidate fired back:

The Post's book critic altered his syllabus to devote time to the New York Times's tax investigation:

A co-host of "The View" welcomed Meghan McCain back to the show:

And a Democratic senator delivered the best pun of the day:


-- BuzzFeed, “Can Mike Bloomberg Make America Boring Again?” by Ben Smith: “There are many reasons to dismiss Bloomberg’s run. He’d be running straight into the teeth of conventional political wisdom about this incendiary moment. He represents the Democratic Party’s single worst demographic group — older white men. He has deep ties to what used to be thought of as the moderate wing of the New York Republican Party, from Rudy Giuliani, who blessed his first campaign, to the Long Island Republican Peter King, whom he still supports. . . . But what of [the core contention of Bloomberg’s longtime aide, Kevin Sheekey], that the antidote Americans are seeking to Trump is less ideological than stylistic, and that there’s a market for dull technocracy? Democrats running for president are already racing to the left, and to stand out with moments of drama. Will there be a lane for a low-key centrist? It won’t get a lot of retweets, but if Bloomberg doesn’t try it, someone else will ..."

-- New Yorker, “Daniel Radcliffe and the Art of the Fact-Check,” by Michael Schulman: “Researching his role in ‘The Lifespan of a Fact,’ the actor embeds in The New Yorker’s fact-checking department.”


“‘A betrayal beyond words’: The far right melts down over Taylor Swift’s endorsement of Democrats,” from Avi Selk: “Taylor Swift’s declaration that she plans to vote for Democrats next month fell like a hammer across the Trump-worshipping subforums of the far-right Internet, where people had convinced themselves … that the world-famous pop star was a secret #MAGA fan. The news caught 4chan and Reddit trolls mid-post. On the pro-Trump r/The_Donald board, someone had just written out a sexual fantasy in which Swift and Kanye West hooked up because ‘Trump being the best president is actually something they both agree on.’ The author edited the post minutes later: ‘NVM didn’t realize Taylor sold out to the left.’ Missives about Swift’s perceived betrayal of conservatism clogged far-right message boards. Some simply refused to believe what she had written to her 112 million Instagram followers Sunday evening.”



“Astronaut Scott Kelly attacked for quoting Winston Churchill,” from BBC: “One of the unwritten rules of social media is avoid inspirational quotes. American astronaut Scott Kelly put that to the test on Sunday when his use of Winston Churchill quotes landed him in hot water with people who oppose the wartime British prime minister's views on empire and race. But when Kelly tried to apologise for the tweet and offered to educate himself, Churchill fans attacked him for discrediting the politician's record. … Kelly quickly apologised for the offence caused, writing that he would educate himself on Churchill's ‘atrocities and racist views’. He added that his point was that Americans should not let politics divide the nation. But he was swiftly attacked by Churchill fans for calling the leader racist. They suggested those views were standard in the mid-20th Century.”



Trump will have lunch with Mike Pompeo. He will then travel to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for a campaign rally.


“You never say never to these things. … I have presidential-sized policy ambition. I've really never had presidential-sized personal ambition. It just was never really was in my DNA.” — Paul Ryan on a possible presidential run after he retires as House speaker. (The Hill)



-- Washingtonians should prepare for some morning rain and more summerlike mugginess. The Capital Weather Gang forecasts: “Morning drizzle, clouds and patchy dense fog should burn off later in the morning to yield mixed sky conditions that lean partly sunny and warming temperatures into the lower 80s again. Light breezes from the south continue to pump in the humidity and offer that muggy summery feeling (dew points run in the mid-upper 60s).”

-- The Redskins lost to the Saints 43-19. (Les Carpenter)

-- Former D.C. deputy mayor Courtney Snowden has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine to settle an ethics probe into her use of government staffers and interns for babysitting. In a written agreement, Snowden — who resigned last month — acknowledged three instances of misconduct in which she requested that employees care for her child during the workday. (Peter Jamison)

-- “Montgomery County executive candidate Nancy Floreen has returned $18,000 in campaign contributions after a county resident filed a complaint alleging that the donations were improper,” Jennifer Barrios reported. “Floreen’s campaign manager, Rich Parsons, said the campaign scrutinized the $57,000 in contributions listed in the Sept. 15 complaint by Gaithersburg resident Kenneth Myers, and found that five of them, totaling $24,000, could have been made by entities that are owned by the same individuals. Under state law, contributions are limited to $6,000 from a person or group. But the law also puts the onus on complying with the limits on the contributor, not the campaign. Parsons said four contributions were returned[.]”


Late-night hosts reacted to Kavanaugh’s confirmation:

Jimmy Kimmel compared Melania Trump’s public appearances in the United States to her Africa trip:

The first lady expressed dismay over the focus on her wardrobe after she was criticized for wearing a colonial-era pith helmet in Kenya:

An anti-Ted Cruz group is running an ad with an actor mocking the Republican senator's slogan, "Tough as Texas":

And The Post asked children to explain tariffs — using Halloween candy: