With Mariana Alfaro

THE BIG IDEA: Even if you’re not a baseball fan, and even if you don’t live in Washington, you can still be inspired by the resiliency of the Nationals, who won their first playoff series in team history over the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers in the wee hours of this morning.

The triumph of the underdogs, which sends them to St. Louis for the National League Championship Series, is a testament to the virtues of never giving up.

On May 23, the Nationals had a record of 19-31.

Last week, the team came back from a 3-1 deficit – four outs away from elimination – to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 in the wild-card game that sent them to the City of Angels.

Last night, the Nationals were down 3-0 after five innings in the fifth, and final, game of this divisional series. They tied it up and forced a 10th inning.

Howie Kendrick has repeatedly failed in the clutch, even this week. He committed three errors over the five games. In the sixth inning, the infielder had killed a rally by hitting a grounder that gave the Dodgers a double play. That’s why Los Angeles – Kendrick’s former team – felt comfortable intentionally walking Juan Soto, which is what loaded the bases and brought him to the plate.

Kendrick fouled off the first pitch, a breaking ball. Then relief pitcher Joe Kelly threw a 97-mph fastball. That’s when Kendrick redeemed himself. He atoned for all his mistakes – and many more. The 36-year-old – an old man by baseball standards – walloped the ball 410 feet over the center field fence. He made Los Angeles pay for underestimating him and his team.

It’s only the second time in the history of postseason play that someone hit a grand slam in extra innings. With those four runs, the Nationals prevailed 7-3. And Washington fans were rewarded for staying awake until victory came at 12:41 a.m. Eastern.

The Dodgers had creamed the Nationals 6-0 in the first game of the series, an inauspicious start. After clawing back to win 4-2 in Game 2, the Nats lost 10-4 in Game 3. That required them to win two straight to survive.

But the team’s motto this year has been “Stay in the fight.” And that mentality is what gave them the sweetest victory since baseball came back to D.C. in 2005 – with the possibility of sweeter victories still to come in October.

The Nationals have developed a bad – but very deserved – reputation for choking. They qualified for the playoffs in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017. But they never made it past the division series. Even when the oddsmakers in Vegas favored them to do so.

None of us who stayed until the end of that 18-inning game against the San Francisco Giants in October 2014 will ever forget just how bitter that defeat felt – or how cold and literally sobering it was. (They stopped selling beer after the seventh inning – many hours before the Giants broke the 1-1 deadlock and put us out of our misery.)

Like in life, confidence is the key to success. Wins beget wins. Victory emboldens.

Manager Dave Martinez’s mantra in his pep talks to players – which he repeated over and over – was this: “Today’s the biggest game of the year, and we want to go 1-0 today.”

These are good words to live by. In the locker room after the champagne-and-beer celebration, Martinez made a special point to thank “the fans who showed up for all those miserable days” in the spring when the season seemed over.

“Keep fighting — that’s been the story of this whole organization,” Anthony Rendon told Thomas Boswell. “We believed in ourselves when [others thought] we weren’t going to make it.”

We can all learn from these comeback kids. Never give up. Play to win the day. Then worry about tomorrow.

MORE TEAM COVERAGE:

-- Jesse Dougherty reports on the scene in L.A. after the win: “Max Scherzer, the team’s ace, the pitcher who threw seven innings in Game 4 to make this possible, walked out of the clubhouse with his face in his hands. His eyes were red and dripping with alcohol. He came back moments later wearing ski goggles. Closer Sean Doolittle held a Star Wars lightsaber. Shortstop Trea Turner wore an North Carolina State football helmet while he floated through the fray. Yan Gomes wound up shirtless with a cheeseburger in his hand. Fernando Rodney ate an ear of corn. Daniel Hudson stood by the door, a Bud Light in his hand, sipping it slowly because he’s flying to Phoenix on Thursday where his wife is expected to give birth to their third child. This is what relief looked like.”

-- What’s next? St. Louis looked really strong last night, scoring 10 runs in the first inning and never looking back in a 13-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves, who beat out the Nationals for the NL East title.

“The Cardinals present a serious and immediate challenge to whatever dreams the Nationals have,” Sam Fortier writes in a preview of the championship series. “It might not seem like it, because the NL Central champion won the fewest games of any team in the LDS round (92), but the Cardinals possess traits that make a club difficult to deal with in October. They have a capable starting staff, a deep bullpen and a solid defense that didn’t make more than two errors in a single game all season. They have some experience with catcher Yadier Molina, starter Adam Wainwright and outfielder Dexter Fowler.

“They, perhaps most dangerously of all, have confidence. The manager, Mike Shildt, embodied the mind-set his team will bring to their series with the Nationals as he stood in the visitor’s clubhouse at SunTrust Park. The 51-year-old usually appears deferential in his cap and glasses, but the hard-charging Tony LaRussa disciple emerged in the clubhouse after the game. He delivered an expletive-laden speech that, unbeknown to him, one of his younger players live-streamed on social media. ‘No one [expletive] with us. Ever,’ he said. ‘Now, I don’t give a [expletive] who we play. We’re going to [expletive] them up.’”

-- The winner of the Nationals-Cardinals series will meet either the New York Yankees, the Houston Astros or the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series. (The Rays and Astros face off tonight in their own Game 5.)

-- Four other smart takes from our sports desk:

  • Always read Boswell: “Kendrick keeps the party going, and the Nats are dancing into the NLCS.”
  • Barry Svrluga: “For heroic Nationals, ghosts of playoffs past are busted in Game 5.”
  • Sam Fortier: “Kurt Suzuki’s injury, questionable availability for NLCS opener dents Nationals’ win.”
  • Ben Golliver: “Clayton Kershaw, of all people, let the Nationals back into Game 5.”

-- A final thought: It turns out we didn’t need Bryce Harper to get into to the NLCS. He’s watching the postseason from home in Philadelphia.

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IMPEACHMENT LATEST:

-- Breaking: Two business associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani have been arrested and are in custody. The two men, who helped Giuliani investigate former vice president Joe Biden, were charged with campaign finance violations, according to a person familiar with the charges. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman have been under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan. (Developing.)

-- Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Giuliani, Bloomberg News reported last night, citing three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office: "Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request. Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. … The White House declined to comment. …

Zarrab was being prosecuted in federal court in New York at the time on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. … The president’s request to Tillerson -- which included asking him to speak with Giuliani -- bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style … The episode is also likely to fuel long-standing concerns from some of Trump’s critics about his policies toward Turkey and his relationship with its authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Zarrab’s release was a high priority for Erdogan until the gold trader agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in New York. … After his arrest in early 2016, prosecutors alleged he had ‘close ties’ with Erdogan. …

“In a phone interview this month, Giuliani initially denied that he ever raised Zarrab’s case with Trump but later said he might have done so. … ‘Suppose I did talk to Trump about it -- so what? I was a private lawyer at the time,’ Giuliani said. … Giuliani said he discussed the Zarrab case with State Department officials and disclosed that two years ago, although he declined to say if he ever spoke directly to Tillerson about the case, saying ‘you have no right to know that.’ … Tillerson has said publicly that the president frequently asked him to do things that were illegal.”

-- The whistleblower’s lawyers said the civil servant has never worked for or advised any political candidate, campaign or party. Attorneys Andrew Bakaj and Mark Zaid said their client “has spent their entire government career in apolitical, civil servant positions in the Executive Branch.” (Colby Itkowitz)

-- Marie Yovanovitch, the ousted former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, plans to appear for a Friday deposition with House investigators. Karoun Demirjian and Carol Morello report: “Yovanovitch and her lawyer are ‘on board,’ according to a senior congressional aide … It is unclear whether the State Department will expressly forbid Yovanovitch from testifying, as it did in with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland earlier this week — in the overnight hours before he was due to speak with the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees.”

-- House Democrats investigating Trump and Ukraine have requested that former Trump adviser Fiona Hill appear for a deposition on Oct. 14. Hill left her role as Trump’s top Russia expert in August. It is unclear whether she will attend, per the Wall Street Journal.

-- White House counsel Pat Cipollone has told colleagues there are two approaches to legal fights: “One, he said, was like the Department of State, when the two sides would try to work out a deal to avoid painful and expensive litigation. The other, when the first failed, was the Department of War,” per the Times. “As of this week, Mr. Cipollone has put himself squarely in the war camp when it comes to Mr. Trump’s defense against the House impeachment inquiry. … [Cipollone] is now leading a no-cooperation strategy that holds substantial political risks but also seems to suit his combative client in the Oval Office.

-- Trump is turning his “I’m rubber, you’re glue” schoolyard taunts into his defense against impeachment, writes Ashley Parker: “The tactic epitomizes Trump’s ‘I know you are but what am I?’ presidency, a long-held strategy in which Trump turns an accusation back forcefully on his accuser, regardless of how outlandish or fallacious the countercharge may be. … ‘President Trump is a better counterpuncher than Floyd Mayweather, and it starts with his ability to turn a perceived weakness into a position of strength,’ said Jason Miller, a senior adviser on Trump’s 2016 campaign. … Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser in the Obama White House and a co-host of the ‘Pod Save America’ podcast, said Trump and his allies are operating under a philosophy of ‘whataboutism’ — deflecting from his flaws and problems by trying to accuse his opponents of similar misdeeds. … ‘Trump’s lies and conducts are indefensible, so they don’t try to defend it – they just try to say everyone else is more like Trump thank you think.’ The sheer shamelessness of this approach leads to a type of asymmetrical warfare that is tough to counterprogram, he added. ‘This,’ Pfeiffer said, ‘keeps Democrats up at night.’”

-- While the White House won't answer questions about the July 25 call, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is giving marathon interviews to reporters. Natalie Gryvnyak and Will Englund report: “Every half-hour, Zelensky will talk to a different group of 7 to 10 journalists. Three hundred in all have signed up. No questions in advance, no picking and choosing which reporter gets to ask a question. ‘I wanted to have an informal meeting,’ Zelensky said as things got underway at 10 a.m. in the Kyiv Food Market ...  American reporters want to know about Trump, of course. ‘There was no pressure or blackmail from the U.S.,’ he told the first group. Ukrainians are more interested in Zelensky’s decision last week to back a mechanism that could, possibly, lead to peace talks that, could, just maybe, lead to a settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. It was widely felt that his office botched that announcement, drawing intense criticism from those who interpreted it as a capitulation to Russia. He has been trying to reassure the country ever since. ‘I want to stop this war,’ he said. ‘It’s my mission through these next five years.’”

-- Attorney General Bill Barr's trip to Rome has upended Italian domestic politics: Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli report from Rome: “Until a few weeks ago, Italian officials had little pressing interest in the unsubstantiated theory that a professor at a Rome-based university had been working on behalf of Western intelligence agencies and the American ‘deep state’ to undermine the Trump campaign in 2016. But then [Barr] showed up here asking for insight. In the United States, the visit has fed the narrative promoted by Democrats pursuing impeachment: that the administration has pressed foreign governments for help discrediting [Trump’s] adversaries and undermining U.S. investigation work on the Trump campaign. In Italy, the Barr visit created a difficult political situation — and has launched a heated national debate. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is under pressure to explain his role, while former prime minister Matteo Renzi is suing for slander.

-- Hypocrisy watch: Key Republican players in the Benghazi probe – including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, then a Kansas congressman, and former congressman Trey Gowdy (S.C.), who has joined Trump’s defense team – have dropped their stout defenses of congressional prerogatives. Mike DeBonis and Rachael Bade report: “The Republicans’ fealty to Trump just a few years after their steadfast defense of congressional oversight has cast a spotlight on their words and actions in the Benghazi probe as well as GOP investigations into the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service. Those probes uncovered serious lapses inside the government that led to grave and sometimes deadly consequences, but they did not reveal misconduct at the highest levels of the Obama administration, as many Republicans had suggested they would. And while Republicans tussled with the White House for months over access to evidence, they ultimately obtained tens of thousands of pages of documents and dozens of witnesses for each probe.”

-- And the same Republicans who criticized Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official government business are now turning a blind eye to the fact that Trump and his envoys use personal phones and encrypted messaging apps to conduct official business, John Hudson and Karoun Demirjian report.

    -- Biden made his most direct call yet for Trump’s impeachment, saying it is time the president be removed from office to preserve “our democracy and our basic integrity.” Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Felicia Sonmez report: “China, Biden said, ‘was the third foreign power that we know of that [Trump] has asked in clear, unmistakable language to intervene on his behalf in the democratic proceedings of the United States,’ the former vice president said, referring to public remarks Trump made last week on the White House lawn. ‘President Trump has indicted himself by obstructing justice, refusing to comply with a congressional inquiry ... He’s already convicted himself,’ Biden said. ‘In full view of the American people, Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, betrayed this nation and committed impeachable acts.'"

    -- Biden’s campaign ripped the New York Times for running an op-ed by conservative author Peter Schweizer. Tim Elfrink reports: “In a letter sent to New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Biden’s campaign called Schweizer a ‘discredited right-wing polemicist’ and suggested the op-ed was part of a larger pattern of ‘journalistic malpractice.’ ‘Are you truly blind to what you got wrong in 2016, or are you deliberately continuing policies that distort reality for the sake of controversy and the clicks that accompany it?’ Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s deputy campaign manager, wrote in the Wednesday letter ... The Times defended its work in a statement sent to CNN. … Schweizer didn’t immediately respond to messages sent to his spokesperson and to Breitbart News, where he is a senior contributor.”

    -- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) hopes the impeachment inquiry gives her an opening to pitch herself as a prosecutor. From the Wall Street Journal: While in Iowa, Harris “praised the ‘brilliance’ of the framers of the Constitution for thinking of ‘this moment, when there would be an abuse of power in one of our branches of government’ and had some tough talk for Mr. Trump, whom she called a ‘crook’ and ‘a walking indictment in a red tie’—harsher than her usual reference to him as a ‘predator.’ For much of this year, Ms. Harris’s campaign approached her prosecutor background cautiously, trying to navigate around critics who said she didn’t do enough to tackle the inequities in the criminal-justice system. But now, with her campaign homing in on the Iowa caucuses in February and on scrutiny over Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, she is banking on voters seeing her courtroom experience as a major asset.”

    -- A new poll – by Fox News – shows that a 51 percent majority of Americans want Trump impeached and removed from office. Another four percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether.

    -- The impeachment fight is opening fresh divisions in the Fox newsroom. Sarah Ellison reports: “Trump is a famously loyal viewer of the channel, and the attention he pays it has helped drive ratings and amplify the messages of its most outspoken hosts. But that amplification has stoked friction between on-air personalities who are aware of the stakes and realize what they say carries huge implications for the country … Fox serves as creative inspiration for the president and his political message. And the power that Fox News holds over Republican voters — and in turn their congressional representatives — is a crucial factor as the battle over impeachment continues. ‘Richard Nixon would have killed his own dog for that kind of a counterforce,’ said Rick Wilson, a Republican political consultant and Never Trumper who frequently appears on MSNBC.”

    -- Trump appears to have lost an influential ally in conservative media: Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge, per CNN

    -- Notable commentary:

    THE NEW WORLD ORDER:

    -- Trump downplayed the U.S. alliance with Syrian Kurds, saying “they didn’t help us in the Second World War, they didn’t help us in Normandy,” and were only interested in fighting for “their land.” Karen DeYoung, Missy Ryan and Dan Lamothe report: “‘With all of that being said, we like the Kurds,’ he said in response to questions about Turkey’s incursion into Syria. Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks, following a White House ceremony where he signed unrelated executive orders, came as the administration continued an effort to correct what it has called the misimpression that Trump enabled the offensive against the U.S.-allied Kurds that Turkey launched Wednesday. … In an earlier written statement, Trump urged Turkey to protect civilians and safeguard prisons where Islamic State fighters are being detained, saying the United States would hold its NATO ally responsible for the consequences of its decision to attack a key U.S. counterterrorism partner.”

    Behind the scenes, Defense Department and State Department officials have rushed to reassure other U.S. allies operating in Syria — principally France and Britain — that only a handful of U.S. troops were being moved and that the presence and mission of the total force of about 1,000 Americans in northern Syria would remain unchanged. France, whose foreign minister condemned ‘the unilateral operation launched by Turkey in Syria,’ called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday morning. … Meanwhile, the U.S. military was closely monitoring events. Military officials said that Turkey was targeting mostly Kurdish military facilities and probably had destroyed some U.S.-provided military equipment. Another official … said some Turkish airstrikes had appeared to hit populated areas."

    -- The U.S. military is taking custody of several dozen high-value Islamic State detainees, including two British men accused of involvement in the killings of American and other Western hostages. Ellen Nakashima, Souad Mekhennet, Rachel Weiner and Missy Ryan report: “The British pair — part of a group of four British militants dubbed the ‘Beatles’ by their hostages — were being detained with the goal of putting them on trial in the United States, said a senior U.S. official … Two officials said the men — Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh — had been taken to Iraq. It was not clear whether any other high-value detainees would also be brought there. … The British men are accused of involvement in the beheading of Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig, as well as other Western hostages.”

    -- “Trump has opened the door for an Islamic State resurgence in Syria,” warns David Ignatius: “Here’s the appalling scenario that U.S. officials fear could unfold if the Turkish invasion isn’t a quick, limited operation, as Trump apparently hopes: As security collapses in northeastern Syria, hardened Islamic State fighters could escape the prisons, storm the al-Hol camp to reunite with their families and then renew the terrorist assault against the West that they began in 2014.”

    -- “I am ashamed for the first time in my career,” a member of the U.S. Special Forces serving alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces told Fox News. “Turkey is not doing what it agreed to. It’s horrible,” the military source on the ground said. “We met every single security agreement. The Kurds met every single agreement [with the Turks]. There was no threat to the Turks -- none -- from this side of the border.” “This is insanity,” the service member added. “I don’t know what they call atrocities, but they are happening.”

    -- Trump’s Syria decision is testing the bounds of Republican support as he demands solidarity on impeachment. Philip Rucker and Robert Costa report: “Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his party. … Although there is always a risk in breaking with a president who demands absolute loyalty from within his party, many Republicans feel far safer doing so on more distant issues of foreign policy, where Trump often finds himself outside of his party’s historic positioning, such as Syria, than on matters that personally affect Trump, such as impeachment, according to party officials and strategists. … ‘The complexity with Syria, Turkey and the Kurds is beyond the normal person’s understanding,’ former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory (R) said. ‘It’s one of those issues that seems to be important, but no one understands the complexities. All you hear is, ‘Trump might have made a mistake there,’ but not much more than that.’ The Syria issue, McCrory said, is ‘not personal for most Trump supporters. It’s a foreign policy disagreement.’”

    -- Hypocrisy alert: Rand Paul has flipped on the Kurds. From National Review’s John McCormack: “Paul, perhaps the most prominent non-interventionist in Congress, said in 2015 that the United States should defeat ISIS by arming the Kurds and promising the Kurds their own country … Now [Paul] is cheering on [Trump’s] decision … Even if you’re a principled non-interventionist, how does abandoning the Kurds advance the national interest? A key objective of non-interventionism is relying on allies to fight our enemies, so America doesn’t get bogged down in wars. What lesson will this betrayal send to existing and potential allies, now and in the future?”

    -- Top White House officials met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He today, and Trump signaled that a trade agreement may be close behind, buoying U.S. stock markets in early trading. The president tweeted that he will meet with the vice premier tomorrow. (Rachel Siegel)

    -- On the eve of the talks, Trump declined to criticize China for pressuring the NBA to renounce Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey because he tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. David Nakamura reports: “Trump said the two sides ‘have to work out their own situation. The NBA knows what they’re doing.’ At the same time, Trump accused NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, both of whom have criticized him in the past, of ‘pandering to China’ for failing to speak out forcefully on the matter in their own right. Trump mocked Kerr for acting ‘like a little boy,’ saying that the coach ‘was so scared to even be answering’ a question about the issue. The president said the two coaches ‘talk badly about the United States, but when it [comes to] China they don’t want to say anything bad.’ ... As he has sought to maintain good relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump has appeared reluctant to publicly criticize Beijing over its handling of the Hong Kong demonstrations that have lasted for weeks.”

    -- Demonstrators showing support for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong had their signs confiscated during a Wizards pre-season game against a team from the Chinese Basketball Association. Shouts of “Free Hong Kong!” echoed through the arena during the lightly attended game and a Wizards spokesperson said no protesters were asked to leave the arena. (Candace Buckner)

    -- Eight members of Congress – including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) – signed a letter condemning the NBA’s response to the controversy. From Deadspin: “The lawmakers criticize the NBA for failing to put ‘fundamental democratic rights ahead of profit’ and for being ill-equipped to deal with the foreseeable ‘challenges of doing business in a country run by a repressive single party government.’” The bipartisan group makes four requests of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, including the suspension of NBA activities in China “until government-controlled broadcasters and government-controlled commercial sponsors end their boycott of NBA activities and the selective treatment of the [Rockets]” and the reevaluation of the NBA’s training camp in Xinjiang, “where up to a million Chinese citizens are held in concentration camps as part of a massive, government-rn campaign of ethnoreligious repression.”

    -- Rockets merchandise has disappeared from stores in China.Managers at five Nike stores in Beijing and Shanghai told Reuters that they’d been told via memo from management that all the merchandise had to go. 

    -- Trump defended the wife of an American diplomat who’s been accused of killing a British teenager in a road accident, suggesting that driving on the other side of the road is difficult. From the Independent: “Speaking at the White House after a conversation with prime minister Boris Johnson, during which he apparently rejected a request to consider waiving the woman’s diplomatic immunity and her returning to Britain to face the police, the president said he wanted to try and bring about ‘healing.’ … ‘The woman was driving on the wrong side of the road. That can happen,’ he said. ‘Those are the opposite side of the road. I won’t say it ever happened to me, but it did.”  

    -- A gunman killed two people outside a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle. He apparently recorded his attack with a head-mounted camera, a method echoing a far-right attack on two New Zealand mosques earlier this year. Rick Noack, Luisa Beck and Loveday Morris report: “At the beginning of the ­35-minute video, a man in a green jacket that matches eyewitness accounts introduces himself as ‘Anon.’ He denies the Holocaust and lists what he sees as the world’s problems, including immigration and feminism that leads to low birthrates. … The man swears repeatedly and apologizes to his video audience as his plan appears to go awry, at points blaming his homemade weapons. When a locked door keeps him from gaining entry to the synagogue packed with worshipers for Yom Kippur, he shoots a woman in the street and a man at a nearby kebab shop. German authorities said they had one suspect in custody and were investigating a video.”

    -- Ten Americans were in the synagogue at the time of the shooting, per Fox News.

    -- Polish author Olga Tokarczuk won the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature, while Austrian author Peter Handke won the 2019 award. Both prizes for literature were given out this year after the 2018 award was postponed following sex abuse allegations that rocked the Swedish Academy. (Ron Charles)

    THE DOMESTIC AGENDA:

    -- Northern California’s massive power outages have begun, and residents are struggling to live without power. Scott Wilson reports: “Before dawn, Pacific Gas & Electric flipped the electricity switch off across 20 counties, most of them north of San Francisco, an intentional and highly disruptive hedge against wildfire risk. … Favorable weather in Northern California pushed off a second phase of power outages that had been planned for midday. … The crisis economy that emerged Wednesday in stores such as Home Depot belied the larger losses that would result from days without electricity as vintners, ranchers and farmers, small restaurants and corner groceries face millions of dollars in lost business. … Even short-lived outages have proved onerous — and expensive — for state residents. In rural California, recent power shut-offs have led to a lack of refrigeration and the spoilage of butchered meat and harvested grapes and avocados. Emergency generators are costly to buy and to run, with the price of gasoline exceeding $4 per gallon. Generators also pose a fire risk of their own.”

    -- September tied for the second-warmest month on record in the Lower 48. A stubborn heat dome baked the Southeast, bringing scorching temperatures that reached the triple digits in some spots, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information said. According to the Climate Prediction Center’s three-month temperature outlook, it seems like the anomalous warmth will continue across the contiguous U.S. for the rest of autumn. (Matthew Cappucci)  

    -- A Defense Intelligence Agency employee was charged with leaking classified information to journalists. Paul Duggan, Justin Jouvenal and Matt Zapotosky report: “Henry K. Frese, 30, of Alexandria, Va., ‘was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information,’ according to the Justice Department … His alleged motive apparently was to advance the career of the female reporter with whom he had a relationship, the FBI said in an affidavit filed in court. Frese allegedly passed additional classified information to one of the woman’s female colleagues at ‘an affiliated but different news outlet.’ … The reporters appear to be Amanda Macias of CNBC and Courtney Kube of MSNBC, both of whom cover national security.”

    -- Conservatives claim Elizabeth Warren lied about being pushed out as a teacher because she was pregnant. Women reality-checked them online. Eli Rosenberg reports: Hundreds of women “shared stories on social media about being fired or discriminated against for being pregnant, a tidal wave that needed no hashtag. The chorus of voices sharing tales of misconduct served as yet another rebuttal to a concerted campaign to undermine a prominent woman’s account of misconduct. … Women told stories of being fired outright for being pregnant … or being told during interviews or meetings that pregnancy was a mark against them as they competed for positions, promotions and raises. They wrote of contracts not being renewed after they gave birth, and of positions that were revoked, as Warren says hers was. And they also spoke of more subtle forms of discrimination they faced while pregnant — being moved out of public view from a post at a bank, for example.”

    -- A lawyer and assessor for Arizona’s Maricopa County was arrested on charges of running adoption fraud schemes in Arizona and Utah. Lateshia Beachum reports: “The 32-count indictment filed in the Superior Court of Arizona alleges that [Paul] Petersen committed conspiracy, fraud and forgery. Petersen and another person, Lynwood Jennet, are accused of committing fraudulent schemes and artifices for organizing travel for women from the Marshall Islands, a country of volcanic islands between Hawaii and the Philippines, to give up their children for adoption in Arizona. … In Utah, where he faces more serious crimes, the attorney general alleges that Petersen transported more than 40 women from the Marshall Islands to have their children in the state between December 2016 and August 2019, offering each women $10,000 through associates, according to Utah court documents.”

    SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:

    The attorney who represents the whistleblowers at the heart of the impeachment inquiry live-tweeted the Nationals game:

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is pressing House Democrats to release the transcript of the Kurt Volker deposition:

    A CNN reporter pointed out that, during the last impeachment inquiry, Graham was acting quite differently than he is today: 

    Trump once again insisted he's innocent while criticizing Biden for endorsing his impeachment:

    Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale joined his boss in calling the impeachment inquiry a "coup" attempt:

    So did one of Trump's sons: 

    Hillary Clinton cheekily said she's looking forward to what the administration does to combat foreign interference in the next election:

    A conservative columnist for the Daily Beast worries that history is repeating itself:

    Picking profits over principles, Apple bowed to Beijing and announced the removal of a Hong Kong app that pro-democracy protesters have used in their demonstrations:

    QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

    “A part of it is a little bit sad to me, that people cannot say in this country, ‘I’m voting for Donald Trump again.' ... I just want to encourage you not to be afraid," said second lady Karen Pence during a "Women for Trump" event. "I think for me, especially being a mom of young women, I look at my daughters and my daughter-in-law and I say to them, ‘This is a president who cares about your future.’ ... If you’re on the fence as a young woman, you need to look at the facts." (Minneapolis Star Tribune

     

    VIDEOS OF THE DAY:

    Stephen Colbert joked that, in the end, Trump might be brought down by his own weakness, "his Achilles mouth": 

    Seth Meyers said Trump will be very shocked if he ever reads the Constitution: 

    Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) wouldn’t answer a CNN reporter who repeatedly asked whether the senator thinks it's appropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent. Eventually, Ernst just walked away:

    Bernie Sanders defended his decision to wait days before disclosing that he suffered a heart attack and told NBC that he “misspoke” when he told reporters that he will cut back on his campaign schedule:

    And a special guest crashed a TV hit of one of MSNBC’s Pentagon correspondents: