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The fight over the scope of the Kavanaugh probe

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FIRST LOOK … TRUMP’S WEEK … Monday: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP will have lunch with VP MIKE PENCE and present the Medal of Honor. The president will travel to Johnson City, Tennessee, where he’ll hold a roundtable with supporters and then a political rally. Tuesday: TRUMP will go to Philadelphia to speak at the Electrical Contractors Association Convention, and then he’ll head to Southaven, Mississippi, for a round table and political rally. Wednesday: The president will have lunch with SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO and then will meet with U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

THE POLITICS OF THE FBI INVESTIGATION … The FBI has a tough job in the coming week. The investigation into BRETT KAVANAUGH is limited to “current credible allegations” against the judge. But there seems to be a number of ways they can get crosswise with Democrats. For example: is the FBI going to probe Kavanaugh’s behavior at Yale? Is the investigation going to probe all allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick? Who decides what is credible? There are endless ways people will be able to discredit the investigation as not thorough enough.

THIS PROBE is being done to mollify a handful of Republicans. The vast majority of Democrats were always going to vote against Kavanaugh. They are after SENS. SUSAN COLLINS (R-MAINE), LISA MURKOWSKI (R-ALASKA) and JEFF FLAKE (R-ARIZ.). And they only need two of the three.

AND REMEMBER … This probe is not really a weeklong investigation. The vote on cloture could be Friday.

Good Sunday morning. SUNDAY BEST … SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.) to GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS on ABC’S “THIS WEEK”: “I know that Sen. Flake, Collins and Murkowski wanted a limited review. They wanted the FBI to talk to the witnesses that Dr. Ford named. They want to talk to [Mrs.] Ramirez, because she refused to talk to the committee. They’re going to ask Mark Judge, ‘Did you ever see Brett Kavanaugh drug women … or engage in gang rape? I think that’s going to be the focus of it.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: “So Julie Swetnick won’t be interviewed by the FBI?” GRAHAM: “I think the allegation that she makes is outrageous, not one Democrat mentioned it. But Mark Judge — who is named by Ms. Swetnick — as being part of the gang rape and the drugging women will be asked, did he ever see this happen or did he see Kavanaugh engage in it.”

— SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS to CHRIS WALLACE on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY”: “This cannot become a fishing expedition like the Democrats would like to see it be. I think you have to go back to the very beginning of day one when President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh. From that very first moment before any of these allegations had even been brought up Democrats said they were not going to support him, they weren’t going to vote for him and they were going to do everything within their power to fight him we’ve seen that play out over the last couple of months. They have been absolutely disgraceful in the way that they handled this process, in the way they have exploited both Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford.”

— REP. JERRY NADLER (D-N.Y.), who will likely be House Judiciary Chairman if Dems take the majority, to George: “I hope the FBI has a free hand over the next week to investigate, and that certainly means to call in all the relevant witnesses.” STEPHANOPOULOS: “It doesn’t sound like they do.”

NADLER: “Well, if they don’t, that’s a real problem. It would call into validity the entire Senate process. I would hope that Sen. Flake and others would make clear their votes … will not be for the nominee unless there is a free hand for proper investigation of these very serious allegations of sexual assaults.

“We cannot have a justice on the Supreme Court for the next several decades who will be deciding questions of liberty and life and death and all kinds of things for the entire American people who has been credibly accused of sexual assaults, who has been credibly accused of various other … wrong things, including perjury. This has gotta be thoroughly investigated. I hope the Senate will do so. If he is on the Supreme Court and the Senate hasn’t investigated, then the House will have to.” Clip

— KELLYANNE CONWAY told JAKE TAPPER on CNN’S “STATE OF THE UNION” that she is a victim of sexual assault: CONWAY: “I’m a victim of sexual assault. I don’t expect Judge Kavanaugh or Jake Tapper or Jeff Flake or anybody to be held responsible for that. You have to be responsible for your own conduct. This is not Bill Cosby. Those comparisons on your network are a disgrace and the anchor should’ve called them out.” The 2:43 clip

SNEAK PEEK … SENS. JEFF FLAKE (R-ARIZ.) and CHRIS COONS (D-DEL.) on “60 Minutes” … Full interview will air tonight: COONS: “As I watched him, part of me thought ‘This is a man who believes that he did nothing wrong, and he is completely unjustly accused. And he’s being railroaded. And he’s furious about it.’ There were some lines that he delivered that were sharper, more partisan, more ‘this is the Clinton’s paying me back. This is a Democratic smear campaign.’ That I was surprised – struck, to hear from a judicial nominee. I’m not at all surprised to hear that from other colleagues in the committee or on television. But I was really struck that I thought his anger got the best of him. And he made a partisan argument that would’ve been best left to be made – for his advocates and defenders on the committee.” …

FLAKE: “Well, the part that he talks about, the mention of the Clintons and whatnot, I didn’t like either. It seemed partisan. But boy, I had to put myself in that spot … I think you give a little leeway there.” 2:30 video

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— TRUMP on SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, via WaPo’s Anne Gearan and Aaron Blake in Wheeling, West Virginia: “Speaking at his rally here, Trump also suggested Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, was responsible for leaking a letter from Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford detailing her allegation that the judge sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.

“‘Dianne Feinstein, did you leak? Remember her answer. Did you leak the document? ‘Uh. Uh. What? What? No. Uh. No. Uh. I didn’t le— well, wait one minute. No, no, we didn’t leak it.’ I’ll tell you what, that was real bad body language. Who knows? Maybe she didn’t leak it, but that was the worst body language I’ve ever seen,’ he said.” WaPo

— NYT’S MIKE SHEAR, SHERYL STOLBERG, MAGGIE HABERMAN and MIKE SCHMIDT: “Details of F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Inquiry Show Its Restricted Range”: “President Trump said on Saturday that the F.B.I. will have ‘free rein’ to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, but the emerging contours of the inquiry showed its limited scope.

“Four witnesses will be questioned in coming days about aspects of the assault accusations against Judge Kavanaugh, according to two people familiar with the matter. Left off the list were former classmates who have contradicted Judge Kavanaugh’s congressional testimony about his drinking and partying as a student.

“The White House will decide the breadth of the inquiry, though presidential advisers were working in concert with Senate Republicans, said the two people, one a senior administration official, who both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive investigation.

“The White House can order investigators to further examine the allegations if their findings from the four witness interviews open new avenues of inquiry, and Mr. Trump seemed to stress that part of the plan in a tweet late on Saturday. ‘I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion,’ Mr. Trump wrote.

“He denied an NBC News report that he was limiting the inquiry and that investigators were not permitted to examine the claims of Julie Swetnick, a woman who has said she witnessed a severely drunken Judge Kavanaugh mistreat women at parties in high school, and that he had attended parties where high school boys gang-raped teenage girls. Investigators will interview one of the witnesses, a high school friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s named Mark Judge, about Ms. Swetnick’s accusations, the two people said.” NYT

— WSJ’S DUSTIN VOLZ and PETER NICHOLAS: “White House Directs FBI to Interview First Two Kavanaugh Accusers, But Not the Third”: “The Wall Street Journal has attempted to corroborate Ms. Swetnick’s account, contacting dozens of former classmates and colleagues, but couldn’t reach anyone with knowledge of her allegations. No friends have come forward to publicly support her claims.

“She has recorded a TV interview to be aired Sunday, the first woman making accusations against the Supreme Court nominee to do so. NBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ on Thursday aired a clip of her interview with John Heilemann of Showtime’s ‘The Circus,’ in which Ms. Swetnick called for an investigation into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.” WSJ

THE POLITICS … NYT’S JONATHAN MARTIN and ALEX BURNS on A22: “Kavanaugh Could Help G.O.P. in Senate Midterms. But Not in House Races”: “By agreeing to delay Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination in the short term, President Trump and Senate Republicans are making two long-term bets: that a drawn-out confirmation battle will secure a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and that the fight will give them a better chance of keeping control of the Senate in the midterm elections.

“With that Senate majority squarely in mind, Republicans are also making a concession to stark political realities. Party leaders have concluded that supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, in the face of sexual assault accusations against him, will all but ensure that Republicans lose control of the House in November even as their fortunes may improve in some tough Senate races.

“The thinking, according to Republicans, is that Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation would cause a backlash from female and independent voters against Republican candidates in dozens of highly competitive House races — many of which have already been slipping away — and do more damage than in statewide Senate contests. The party has a 23-seat majority in the House.” NYT

LATE-NIGHT BEST – SNL IS BACK — “Kavanaugh Hearing Cold Open”: “Judge Brett Kavanaugh (Matt Damon) takes questions from Sens. Chuck Grassley (Alex Moffat), Diane Feinstein (Cecily Strong), Amy Klobuchar (Rachel Dratch), Thom Tillis (Mikey Day), Cory Booker (Chris Redd), John Kennedy (Kyle Mooney), Sheldon Whitehouse (Pete Davidson), Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon) and prosecutor Rachel Mitchell (Aidy Bryant).” 13-min. video

FRONT PAGES … MIAMI HERALD: “FBI reaches out to 2nd woman in Kavanaugh assault inquiry” … ARIZONA REPUBLIC: “Flake is pulled into a spotlight he doesn’t want” … GREENWICH TIME: “Turmoil rocks Yale Law amid hearings” … ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION: “How Kavanaugh probe will unfold” …

BOSTON GLOBE: “Kavanaugh’s defiance echoes tone of man who picked him” … JANESVILLE GAZETTE: “Kavanaugh consequences worry GOP”

WAPO’S PAUL KANE: “Seeds of populist anger sown in Wall Street bailout that never reached Main Street”: “The revolution launched 10 years ago Saturday, when a ragtag group of unknown lawmakers went up against the most powerful political coalition possible.

“The ‘Skeptics Caucus,’ as the bipartisan group of House rank-and-file lawmakers dubbed themselves, defeated the first version of the $ 700 billion Wall Street bailout on Sept. 29, 2008, a temporary victory that foretold the next decade of tumult in Washington and nationwide, shaking the Republican and Democratic establishment.

“Ever since, conservative grass-roots activists have dominated GOP politics and rejected calls to diversify their ranks and adopt moderate positions on many topics, including immigration and banking.

“‘That’s what I think helped launch this grass roots — whether you call it the tea party, conservative, populist — and it helped President Trump get elected,’ said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a first-term lawmaker in 2008.” WaPo

2020 WATCH — “Warren: I’ll ‘take a hard look at’ 2020 run after midterms,” by Quint Forgey: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Saturday announced that she would ‘take a hard look at’ a prospective 2020 presidential run following this fall’s midterm elections. ‘After Nov. 6 I will take a hard look at running for president,’ Warren told the audience at a town hall event in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

“Warren, a star of the party’s progressive wing, has taken several steps in recent months to heighten her national profile. She has recorded ads for a Democratic group aiming to turn statehouses blue, made plans to lend her name to a fundraising email for a Democratic candidate running for Iowa state auditor, and announced a new media strategy to combat her press-averse reputation on Capitol Hill.” POLITICO

FIOLA OWNERS GOT DEATH THREATS AFTER THE TED CRUZ INCIDENT … PLAYBOOK INBOX — Fabio and Maria Trabocchi emails friends of Fiola: “As you may have heard, Fiola has been in the news lately and not in a particularly helpful way. On Monday night, a group of protesters found out that Sen. Ted Cruz was at the restaurant for dinner. A large group entered the restaurant suddenly and were joined by others already inside the restaurant who may have been patrons or protesters in waiting. …

“[A]s is our policy, our managers called the police and eventually escorted the senator outside away from the protesters when it was safe to do so. We managed to hide him in the kitchen until the protesters left and he finished his dinner and left, thanking us for our hospitality.

“We have no idea how the protesters knew to come to Fiola to protest, but some in the media have suggested that we intentionally leaked his presence to the protesters. How insane to imagine we choose to host an attack in our own restaurant! As crazy as that idea is, the negative effects of the repetition of this false statement is unprecedented in our careers. We had to take down our social media temporarily because we received thousands of hateful comments. Our reservation lines are inundated with calls from people who are taunting our staff and threatening to destroy our restaurant.

“Maria and I have personally received death threats. We would have never thought such a thing was possible in the restaurant business. … We are now living in the aftermath of this PR disaster. The restaurants will be getting security guards for the time being to avoid similar instances. We are re-training the staff at all our restaurants on what to do in the event this happens again. … We are writing to explain what happened and with a request. Simply, please come to Fiola now and through the Fall and holiday season. Not to the neglect of our other restaurants but to come with friends to enjoy the original Fiola soon.” The full letter

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LINE OF THE NIGHT … Daniel Dale (@ddale8): “!!! Trump on Kim Jong Un: ‘I was really being tough and so was he. And we would go back and forth. And then we fell in love. No really. He wrote me beautiful letters. They were great letters. And then we fell in love.’”

SPOTTED: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his wife Lola; and Sally Quinn at separate tables at Café Milano last night … former Vice President Joe Biden and wife Jill at the Henlopen City Oyster House in Rehoboth Beach last night … Eric Holder and his wife, Sharon Malone, having dinner last night at Fig and Olive … Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) at IAD on Friday evening. – pic

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President Donald Trump shakes hands with US senatorial candidate Patrick Morrisey

PHOTO DU JOUR: President Donald Trump shakes hands with U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey during a rally at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia on September 29, 2018. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

L.A. TIMES: “Campaign to repeal gas tax short of cash as California Republican leaders focus funds on other contests,” by Patrick McGreevy.

FOR YOUR RADAR – “Indonesia tsunami toll tops 800 amid search for survivors,” by AP’s Niniek Karmini in Palu, Indonesia: “Rescue officials feared the full scale of Indonesia’s earthquake and tsunami could climb far past the more than 800 already confirmed dead, as several large coastal towns remained cut off Sunday by damaged roads and downed communication lines. The country’s disaster agency said the death toll more than doubled to 832, and nearly all of those were from the hard-hit city of Palu on the island of Sulawesi.” AP

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BONUS GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from Solomons Island, Maryland:

— “The Woman Who Accuses Ronaldo of Rape” – Der Spiegel: “An American woman claims Cristiano Ronaldo raped her in Las Vegas. Years ago, the soccer star paid her to remain silent. Now, the woman is going public for the first time and filing a complaint against Ronaldo. She possesses a document that could be extremely dangerous for him.” Der Spiegel

— “Revealed: Documents Show BP Quietly Paid Just $ 25 Million to Mexico After The Worst Oil Spill Of The Century,” by Nathaniel Janowitz in BuzzFeed in Tonalá, Mexico: “After the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in 2010, BP paid out more than $ 60 billion in the US. More than eight years later, Mexico quietly settled with the oil giant for $ 25 million.” BuzzFeed

— “Special Report: As a Saudi prince rose, the Bin Laden business empire crumbled,” by Reuters’ Katie Paul, Tom Arnold, Marwa Rashad and Stephen Kalin in Jeddah and Riyadh. Reuters

— “America Is Living James Madison’s Nightmare,” by Jeffrey Rosen in October’s Atlantic: “The Founders designed a government that would resist mob rule. They didn’t anticipate how strong the mob could become.” The Atlantic

— “Wild Speculation: Evolution After Humans,” by Lucy Jakub in the N.Y. Review of Books: “Humanity’s enduring legacy is not its alteration of the environment, but that the extinctions we have precipitated will have left behind an array of empty niches, to be filled by whatever adaptable species are able to take advantage of them. Imagine a game of biogeographical musical chairs in which penguins evolve comb-like beaks to sieve plankton as whales do, rats replace big cats as dominant carnivores, cats swing through the tropical canopy chasing monkeys, monkeys glide on flaps of skin like flying squirrels: similar traits arise in different species to perform similar functions in similar environments.” NYRB

— “A Hunger for Tomatoes,” by Shane Mitchell in Bitter Southerner: “Southerners profess great love for homegrown tomatoes. Only a few of us will do the sweating and digging ourselves. So while tomatoes have been part of Southern culture from the beginning, our hunger for them means too many people in the fields don’t get treated fairly.” Bitter Southerner

— “What the professor taught us: Even if it didn’t stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony mattered,” by Margaret Carlson in the N.Y. Daily News: “Staff put tissues on the table for Ford; she didn’t need them. They didn’t for Kavanaugh, who did. …He, his stricken wife sitting by her man eerily similar to Hillary’s standing by hers, went from being sad for his family to being sorry for himself, to becoming the sum of his shiny resume, in his ‘good man’ defense, as if it’s unheard of for a good one to do bad things.” NYDN

— “Speak Truth to Power,” by Lacy M. Johnson in an adaptation of “The Reckonings: Essays,” in Longreads: “We must speak truth to the power of all that threatens to keep women and girls silent in the face of sexual violence.” Longreads … $ 17.10 on Amazon

— “Finding Comfort in Small Spaces,” by Jessica Gross in Longreads: “Gross considers her preference for certain types of confinement.” Longreads

— “Where Soccer Gets Made,” by Omar Waraich in Roads and Kingdoms: “How a town in cricket-mad Pakistan became the center of the global soccer ball industry.” Roads and Kingdoms

— “Canadian History Isn’t Boring,” by Melissa J. Gismondi in The Walrus: “As a historian, I used to think our country’s past wasn’t worth studying. Podcasts helped change my mind.” The Walrus

— “The Next Level of Commitment: Revealing our Money Secrets,” by Vanessa Golenia in Longreads: “Golenia contemplates the ins-and-outs of merging finances as the higher earner — and bigger spender — in her (heterosexual) relationship.” Longreads

— “A Blind Man’s Trip Will Change the Way You Think About Safaris,” by Ryan Knighton in Afar Magazine – per Longform.org’s description: “A visually impaired traveler journeys through the wilds of Zimbabwe and discovers a side of the safari experience that very few know.” Afar


MEDIAWATCH — Eva Pilgrim and Whit Johnson are joining Dan Harris as anchors of ABC’s GMA Weekend.

WEEKEND WEDDINGS — Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, married Katherine Cusani-Visconti Saturday evening at the French Ambassador’s residence. French Ambassador Gerard Araud opened the ceremony. The wedding unites their two families, including three sons and a daughter. The couple met while working at Atlantic Media. Pic

SPOTTED: David and Katherine Bradley, Bruce Gottlieb, Mike Gottlieb, Emily Lenzner, Poppy MacDonald, Aretae Wyler, Geoff Morrell, Sena Fitzmaurice, David Rubinstein, Margaret Carlson, Steve Clemons, Virginia Shore and Tom Hardart, Ambassador John Phillips and Linda Douglass, Bart and Leslie Gordon, Lyndsay Polloway, Peter Elkins-Williams, Pascal Blondeau, Elizabeth Baker Keffer, Cameron Cox, Michael Peterson, Scott Havens and Andrew Benett.

— Gabby Morrongiello, who will soon be a White House reporter for POLITICO, on Saturday married Caleb Orr, a policy adviser for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The couple met at an off-the-record happy hour for Hill staffers and journalists at the height of the 2016 presidential campaign. Wedding pic

BIRTHDAYS: Craig Minassian is 48 … Trey Anastasio of Phish is 54 … Natalie Rossetti … Hildy Kuryk, founder of Artemis Strategies … 538’s Perry Bacon, Jr. … Greg Mecher (hat tip: wife Jen Psaki) … Ari Shapiro, host of NPR’s “All Things Considered” … Nate Tibbits, SVP of global gov’t affairs and public affairs at Qualcomm (h/t Ben Chang) … Carolina Herbert-Hewell (h/t Jon Haber) … Conor Maguire (h/t Sara Sendek) … Politico’s Sally Goldenberg and Brendan MacArthur … Politico Europe’s David Herszenhorn … Stefanie Higgins Mohler … Jake Yunker … Felix Schein is 42 … Ben Voelkel, comms director for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), is 32 (h/t Brian Reisinger) … AP legal affairs writer Curt Anderson is 57 … former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) is 58 … former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is 73 … Iowa Republican operative Grant Young … WSJ’s Steve Russolillo … Michael O’Connor, senior director of state government affairs at Eli Lilly … Edelman’s Emily Lippard … LaRhonda Burley (h/t Ed Cash) …

… Mike Henry, chief of staff to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) … Bradley Akubuiro, director of corporate communications and public affairs at United Technologies … Sue Andres … Anastasia Goodstein, SVP at the Ad Council … Maggie Rousseau, comms director for Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) … Charlotte (Dillon) Ross (h/t Natalie Boyse) … Caroline Cirillo … Leslie Davis Hiner … Arthi Yerramilli … Cynthia McCabe … Sam Lozier, SVP at Revolution Messaging … Nathan Thornburgh, co-founder of Roads and Kingdoms … Max Alletzhauser … Hunt Allcott … Aaron Pickrell … JJ Mitchell … Christian Woelk Zaal … Courtney Sanders Felts of the U.S. Chamber … Gerardo Interiano … Maria Cereghino … Brandon Farbstein … Mark Drapeau … WGBH’s Phillip Martin … Paul Guercio … Alan Eason … Adam Hudson … Joshua Hoyos, assignment editor at ABC News … Kitty Eisele … Mike Milligan … Aaron Pickrell (h/ts Teresa Vilmain)

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