05312020What's Hot:

POLITICO Playbook PM: Kavanaugh confirmation looks likelier as senators read investigation

Presented by

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), emerges from a secure room in the Capitol after reading the FBI report on Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday. | J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

THE SCENE … SENATORS this morning have been cycling in and out of a secure room, in which they have been able to read an FBI report about BRETT KAVANAUGH. The room is below street level in the Capitol Visitor Center — a complex intertwined with the Capitol. Senators are able to go in with members of their party — parties switch each hour.

LAWMAKERS were pretty prompt. SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CALIF.) was there early. We were there ahead of the 10 a.m. GOP hour, so we saw mostly Republicans going in. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) walked in together at 9:57 a.m., followed by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) at 9:59 a.m. and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) at 10:01 a.m., followed by Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Jim Moran (R-Kan.) — all of whom entered between 10:01 a.m. and 10:10 a.m.

REPORTERS are staking out senators on two floors — the entrance to the CVC and right outside the SCIF — the secure room. The scene

THE STATE OF PLAY remains largely the same as it was before CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD and Kavanaugh testified last week: It seems likely Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court on Saturday — absent some revelation in the FBI report that no one is talking about at the moment. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE: Everybody in the Capitol and across the country seems more pissed off.

A BIG MOMENT via CNN’S JEREMY HERB (@jeremyherb): “Sen. Collins says ‘it appears to be a very thorough investigation.’ She plans to go back and read the full report later.” That’s not a good sign for Democrats hoping the Maine Republican would vote against Kavanaugh.

NBC’S FRANK THORP V (@frankthorp): “FLAKE leaves briefing on the FBI supplemental background investigation saying he plans to go back and read more of the report, but says he saw ‘no additional corroborating Information.’”

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY.), speaking on the Senate floor: “We will not be hoodwinked by those who have tried to smear this good man. … And when that didn’t work, they turned on a dime and started claiming that his real sin was that he spoke up too forcefully in defense of his good name and his family. Oh, they decided he didn’t have a judicial temperament, because he aggressively defended his good name against this outrageous smear conducted in conjunction with Senate Democrats,” he said, raising his voice.

MCCONNELL asked rhetorically who would have approached it differently, adding that he admired the way Kavanaugh stood up for himself and his family. “For goodness’ sakes. Let’s reclaim this moment for what it should be: a chance to elevate a stunningly talented and impressive jurist to an important office for which he is so well qualified.”

SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), speaking of McConnell, said: “He knows how believable Dr. Ford is. … He knows that any focus on Dr. Ford would bring more feelings that Judge Kavanaugh is the wrong person for the Supreme Court. But he can’t attack Dr. Ford because her credibility is greater than Judge Kavanaugh’s, so he attacks, quote, Democrats, increasing the partisan rancor and basically the fundamental lack of getting to the truth in this chamber.”

— DEMOCRATS seem to all be saying that the investigation was not satisfactory.

— NBC’S PETER ALEXANDER (@PeterAlexander): “NEW: Dr. Ford’s legal team to the FBI: ‘The “investigation” conducted over the past five days is a stain on the process, on the FBI and on our American ideal of justice.’”

THE POLITICO LEDEALL — “Key Republicans signal confidence in FBI report,” by Elana Schor, Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan: “Kavanaugh backers among Republicans were far stronger in saying the short FBI review – it lasted only five days – provided enough information to rebut allegations raised by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. …

“But Democrats said the FBI report shows the exact opposite, and they demanded once again that a redacted version of the document be released to the American public.” POLITICO

MARIANNE LEVINE: “Senate Dems ‘very concerned’ by limited FBI investigation into Kavanaugh allegations”

WAPO’S BOB COSTA: “McGahn’s last stand: The White House counsel has been working feverishly to get Kavanaugh confirmed”: “McGahn — 50, low-key and known for his dark humor — has been in bunker mode, working nearly nonstop to save the nomination by serving as both lawyer and crisis communications adviser to Trump and Kavanaugh, often being the rare person who will speak bluntly to both men.” WaPo

Good Thursday afternoon. WHAT’S ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND — @realDonaldTrump at 8:16 a.m.: “The harsh and unfair treatment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is having an incredible upward impact on voters. The PEOPLE get it far better than the politicians. Most importantly, this great life cannot be ruined by mean & despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!”

… at 9:34 a.m.: “Our country’s great First Lady, Melania, is doing really well in Africa. The people love her, and she loves them! It is a beautiful thing to see.”

… at 9:54 a.m.: “This is a very important time in our country. Due Process, Fairness and Common Sense are now on trial!”

… at 10:17 a.m.: “This is now the 7th. time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh. If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats.”

A message from PhRMA:

New analysis shows some hospitals mark up medicine prices 700% or more. This means if a hospital purchased a medicine for $ 150, a 700% markup could result in patients being billed $ 1,050 for that medicine. These hospital markups lead to higher costs for everyone — patients, employers and payers.

ON THE WORLD STAGE — “U.S. indicts 7 Russians for Olympic hacking scheme,” by Darren Samuelsohn and Martin Matishak: “The Russian hackers — charged in the U.S. with conspiracy, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and identity theft — targeted organizations that had uncovered a sweeping Moscow-driven doping scheme that led to the country’s athletes being banned from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil and the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. …

“Thursday’s indictments are not tied to Mueller’s work, but the head of Justice’s National Security Division said during a press conference in Washington that the indictment charges do cover an overlapping group of conspirators.” POLITICO

ELLISON UPDATE … “Keith Ellison says he is considering stepping down from the DNC,” by CNN’s Colin McCullough: “Speaking to Minneapolis radio station WCCO, [DNC Deputy Chairman Keith] Ellison says he needs to focus on his current race to become Minnesota’s attorney general, which is why he might leave the DNC post he has held since 2017.

“‘You know, I’ve been evaluating that recently so we’ll see. I need to put 100% of my time, energy and resources into the race and my office, so it is something I am taking into consideration,’ Ellison said. The Minnesota lawmaker did not say whether his decision would be influenced by the abuse allegations — which Ellison has denied.” CNN

— HUFFPOST’S DANIEL MARANS in Plymouth, Minn.: “Abuse Accusation Looms Over Keith Ellison’s Bid For Attorney General”

2018 WATCH — “Driven by South’s Past, Black Women Seek Votes and a New Future,” by NYT’s Susan Chira in Americus, Ga.: “Nearly two years after Donald J. Trump’s election, with racial divisions increasingly in public view and voting rights under regular attack, [Lorena Barnum] Sabbs is one of a small army of African-American women across the South using networks originally forged in segregation to muster turnout for Democratic candidates in the November elections. … But whether black women can replicate their success in [Doug] Jones’s Senate race is far from certain.” NYT

— “A Former Obama Operative Built a New Anti-Republican Attack Machine,” by Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joshua Green: “Some Resisters march or knock on doors; others raise money or run for office. [John] Burton felt his gifts lay elsewhere: namely, in tearing down political opponents.

“Over the past year, backed by mysterious donors, he’s organized what may be the most audacious grass-roots project in the age of Trump. Burton has amassed an army of 16,000 amateur sleuths who, with professional guidance, have spent months ferreting out damaging material on scores of vulnerable Republicans in Congress and state legislatures. Now he’s ready to unleash it just in time for the midterms.

“Oppo works best when its target is unaware, so Burton’s project, dubbed Citizen Strong, has operated by stealth, waiting until just now to publicly declare its existence as a 501(c)4 ‘dark money’ group with three affiliated political action committees.” Bloomberg Businessweek

— NYT’S JULIE TURKEWITZ in Millcreek, Utah: “Mia Love, Sole Black Republican Woman in Congress, Fights for Her Seat”: Ben “McAdams, 43, is crisscrossing the region like a Mormon missionary (he was one, in Brazil), wearing a tidy haircut and a grin and trying to convince voters that he’s the centrist alternative to the president, the swamp and anyone tied to them, including Ms. Love. …

“But this is a challenging argument for Mr. McAdams to make, given that his opponent is no obvious symbol of the party establishment. Ms. Love, 42, is the daughter of Haitian immigrants, a convert to the Mormon Church who began her political career fighting a mosquito problem in her hometown, Saratoga Springs … She frequently criticizes Mr. Trump’s rhetoric on immigration. And for many Mormons — who see themselves as a once-persecuted group — she is an important voice to have in Congress.” NYT

AD WARS … “Labor Group Targets Minority Voters With Six-Figure Ad Buy in Battleground States,” by Roll Call’s Stephanie Akin: “The AFL-CIO federation of labor unions launched a massive get-out-the-vote campaign targeting minority voters this week … The $ 600,000 in radio advertisements on African-American and Spanish-language programs represents the biggest media investment in minority communities in AFL-CIO history …

“The AFL-CIO ads will run in 26 markets considered battlegrounds, including so-called Rust Belt regions in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.” Roll Call

COMING ATTRACTIONS … “House Democrats plan investigations blitz over Trump health policies,” by Adam Cancryn and Alice Miranda Ollstein: “Democrats are quietly preparing to launch a slew of investigations into the Trump administration’s health care moves if they retake the House in November …

“The wide-ranging inquiries, coordinated across multiple committees, would focus on the administration’s most controversial actions on health care, which include chipping away at the Affordable Care Act, urging the courts to gut the health law’s protections for pre-existing conditions, and separating migrant families at the border …

“Outside groups are also pressing Democrats to look into the health department’s approvals of new Medicaid work requirements in some states.” POLITICO

VALLEY TALK — BETHANY ALLEN-EBRAHIMIAN (@BethanyAllenEbr): “Mike Pence just called on Google to ‘immediately end’ the development of Dragonfly, the censored search engine Google plans to launch in China.”

AFTERNOON READ — “The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies,” by Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek: “This attack was something graver than the software-based incidents the world has grown accustomed to seeing. Hardware hacks are more difficult to pull off and potentially more devastating, promising the kind of long-term, stealth access that spy agencies are willing to invest millions of dollars and many years to get. …

“[T]o actually accomplish a seeding attack would mean developing a deep understanding of a product’s design, manipulating components at the factory, and ensuring that the doctored devices made it through the global logistics chain to the desired location—a feat akin to throwing a stick in the Yangtze River upstream from Shanghai and ensuring that it washes ashore in Seattle. …

“But that’s just what U.S. investigators found: The chips had been inserted during the manufacturing process, two officials say, by operatives from a unit of the People’s Liberation Army. … One official says investigators found that it eventually affected almost 30 companies, including a major bank, government contractors, and the world’s most valuable company, Apple Inc.” Bloomberg Businessweek … The cover

TOP-ED — “I stepped down as U.S. ambassador to Estonia. Here’s why,” by James D. Melville Jr. in WaPo: “This spring, I reached the point where I could no longer support President Trump’s policies and rhetoric regarding NATO, our European allies and Russia. … Arrogance does not suit us well. ‘America First’ is a sham. … Trump’s habit of denigrating our allies and their leaders while lauding Putin and other authoritarians is no way to lead. It placed me in an untenable position in Tallinn whenever I was asked, as chief of mission, to explain our intentions.” WaPo

SPOTTED at One America News Network’s 5th Anniversary Celebration and Reception, where Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was awarded the “OAN Patriot Award,” last night: Carter Page, Eric Bolling, Roger Stone, Brian Darling, Jack Posobiec, Grover Norquist, Matt Boyle, Benny Johnson, Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.), Neil McCabe, John Fund and Chase Kroll.

TRANSITIONS — Noelle Clemente will be a VP at Penn Quarter Partners. She currently is a VP at S-3 Public Affairs. … Nicole L’Esperance is joining Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) press team. She is currently comms director for Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

A message from PhRMA:

Advertisement Image

Hospital markups lead to higher costs for everyone – patients, employers and payers. Find out more.

Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

comments powered by HyperComments

More on the topic