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On the roster: FBI report on Kavanaugh could arrive today – Poll: Women give Menendez double digit lead – Illinois reps. request investigation into Pritzker’s ‘improper’ tax breaks – Audible: Ready to rumble – Goat rodeo
FBI REPORT ON KAVANAUGH COULD ARRIVE TODAY
WashEx: “The FBI is expected to deliver a supplementary background check on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this afternoon, said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Corker told reporters after a closed-door GOP meeting that lawmakers were told a stack of interviews relating to sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh would soon be available for them to review in a secure reading room in the basement of the Capitol. ‘I think it may come up this afternoon,’ Corker said. Corker said lawmakers were told in the meeting the FBI would not be providing any summary or findings but rather would deliver a stack of interviews, ‘where they went and talked to people,’ Corker said. ‘It’s possible they may have conflicting accounts.’ Senators review secure or classified documents in a room in the Capitol basement visitor center. Senators will not be provided individual copies, Corker said, and will have to review the documents in the room.”
McConnell rejects request for FBI briefing the report – The Hill: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday rejected a request to have the FBI brief all senators on its report on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. In a letter to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), McConnell said having the FBI meet with senators did not comply with the rules that govern background investigation reports. ‘The briefing you request is not authorized by the MOU. It would be unprecedented and irregular. For example, there was no such briefing on the supplemental BI for the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court,’ McConnell wrote in the letter. He added that ‘in all candor’ he believes Democrats only want to delay a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.”
Swing vote senators condemn Trump’s mockery of Ford – WaPo: “A trio of Republican senators crucial to the confirmation prospects of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh criticized President Trump on Wednesday for mocking the account of a woman who has accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault decades ago. In separate interviews, Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — all considered swing votes on Kavanaugh — took issue with comments the president made the night before at a political rally in Mississippi that drew laughs from his supporters. ‘There’s no time and no place for remarks like that,’ Flake (R-Ariz.) said on NBC’s ‘Today’ show. ‘To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t done it . . . It’s kind of appalling.’”
NYT stands by report that shows Trump’s fortune a gift from dad – ABC News: “The New York Times is standing by its bombshell investigation into the Trump family’s real estate empire, reporting Tuesday that President Donald Trump ‘engaged in suspect tax schemes as he reaped riches from his father.’ The president’s lawyer signaled in a statement the possibility of a defamation lawsuit ‘should the Times state or imply’ that he engaged in ‘fraud, tax evasion, or any other crime,’ but one of the reporters who broke the story, Susanne Craig, is ‘not at all’ concerned about the warning, she told ‘Good Morning America’ Wednesday. Trump mocked the report Tuesday morning, calling it an ‘old, boring and often told hit piece’ in a tweet. The Times’ 18-month investigation puts the president’s finances under scrutiny, without analyzing Trump’s personal tax returns or current businesses. The president declined repeated requests from the Times to comment on the findings, the newspaper said.”
Wrapping up? Mueller ‘downsizing’ – Politico: “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team is shrinking by two in the wake of its successful prosecution of Paul Manafort and amid signs the Russia investigation may be nearing its final stages. Brandon Van Grack and Kyle Freeny — government lawyers with key roles in bringing the case against the former Trump campaign chairman over tax evasion, bank fraud and failure to register as a foreign agent for his lobbying work in Ukraine — are going back to their prior posts at the Justice Department, according to Mueller spokesman Peter Carr.”
THE RULEBOOK: INDISPUTABLE LESSONS
“Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to be conclusive and sacred.” – Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Federalist No. 20
TIME OUT: HELLOOO OUT THERE
Atlantic: “Astronomy has really wreaked some havoc on science textbooks over the years, particularly when it comes to cataloging the solar system. For most of the 20th century, there were nine planets… Then, in 2006 … a set of astronomers determined that Pluto was better classified as a dwarf planet than as a full-fledged one. And now, after more than a decade of relative peace, astronomers wish to add a new ninth planet, upending humanity’s understanding of our solar system, not to mention the current school curriculum. For the past several years, some astronomers have been thinking about a new planet in our cosmic neighborhood. … They have only observed evidence that it may be out there: a cluster of small celestial bodies that move in unusual orbits compared with the rest of the solar system. This configuration, astronomers say, suggests these objects were jostled by a powerful unseen force: a huge planet, about 10 times the mass of Earth, orbiting in the fringes of the solar system, well beyond Pluto. Telescope searches haven’t yet found this hypothetical planet, if it exists. But they’ve detected about a dozen objects with distant, unusual orbits that bolster its case.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 42.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.4 percent
Net Score: -10.2 points
Change from one week ago: no change
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 41% approve – 53% disapprove; Gallup: 42% approve – 53% disapprove; Pew Research Center: 38% approve – 55% disapprove; NPR/PBS/Marist: 44% approve – 49% disapprove; Fox News: 46% approve – 52% disapprove.]
Control of House
Republican average: 41.8 percent
Democratic average: 49.8 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 8 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 1.2 points
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 49% Dems – 42% GOP; Pew Research Center: 52% Dems – 42% GOP; NPR/PBS/Marist: 48% Dems – 41% GOP; Gallup: 51% Dems – 42% GOP; Fox News: 49% Dems – 42% GOP.]
POLL: WOMEN GIVE MENENDEZ DOUBLE DIGIT LEAD
Quinnipiac University: “With a big lift from New Jersey women, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the Democratic incumbent, leads former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, the Republican challenger, 53 – 42 percent among likely voters, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today. Only 5 percent of likely voters remain undecided, but 13 percent of voters who do name a candidate say they could change their mind by Election Day. Women back Sen. Menendez 57 – 38 percent, while men are divided 48 – 48 percent. This is the first survey of likely voters in this race by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll and cannot be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters. Republicans go to Hugin 93 – 6 percent, as Democrats back Menendez 93 – 6 percent. Independent voters are divided with 48 percent for Hugin and 43 percent for Menendez. The incumbent leads 67 – 26 percent among non-white voters. White voters are divided with 49 percent for Hugin and 48 percent for Menendez.”
But… Menendez really could lose – FiveThirtyEight: “The “classic” version of our model gives Menendez about an 8 in 9 chance of winning the race — not bad, you might say! And then you’d look at the recent polls and maybe not say that quite as loudly. A Fairleigh Dickinson University poll out Wednesday shows Menendez leading 43 percent to 37 percent among likely voters, within the margin of error. Two other recent surveys — one by Vox Populi Communications and one by Stockton University — also showed the race within the low single digits. If you consider that Menendez won his 2012 election by 19.5 points, you can start to see why Democrats are getting nervous about the race. So actually you might say, not great, Bob!”
Poll shows narrow race in Minnesota’s 2nd District – Roll Call: “A Republican poll has given Minnesota GOP Rep. Jason Lewis, who’s consistently ranked among the year’s most vulnerable incumbents, a narrow lead in his rematch against Angie Craig in the 2nd District. Lewis led the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nominee 46 percent to 43 percent — within the margin of error — in the survey conducted by WPAi for the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Lewis campaign, and obtained first by Roll Call. Eleven percent were undecided. In its polling memo, WPAi noted that Craig’s share of the vote has slipped. An earlier WPAi poll, conducted Aug. 18-21, had Lewis ahead 46 percent to 45 percent, with 9 percent undecided. … The 2nd District, which narrowly backed President Donald Trump in 2016, is regarded as a top Democratic pickup opportunity this year…”
Collins’ challenger struggles, despite incumbent’s indictment – Politico: “A Trump-allied congressman indicted for insider trading who refuses to pull out of his upstate New York re-election race: It’s enough to make Democrats giddy this fall. But while New York Democrats say they feel energized about their chances of capturing Rep. Chris Collins’ seat in November — and some Republicans are annoyed to be stuck with the third-term Republican — underfunded and little-known challenger Nate McMurray still faces a serious challenge in prevailing in one of the reddest districts in the state. The Democrat, whose support for gun rights plays well in this conservative upstate area, raised nearly $150,000 online in three weeks after Collins was indicted in August, according to a Federal Election Commission filing from ActBlue, the Democratic online fundraising platform. But his online fundraising pace had slowed dramatically by the end of September…”
Prosecutor says cops must review domestic abuse claims against Ellison – [Minneapolis] Star Tribune: “A county attorney who was asked to look further into the Minnesota DFL Party’s investigative report of a domestic abuse allegation against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison said Tuesday that he would not do so without an additional review by law enforcement. Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal, who received the report Monday from the DFL, forwarded it to Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom to avoid a conflict of interest given that Ellison’s son serves on the Minneapolis City Council. But in a letter to Segal Tuesday, Backstrom wrote that his office would not look at the report by the Lockridge Grindal Nauen law firm and would only review findings that come from a law enforcement agency. Backstrom’s letter also disclosed that the law firm requested, in an e-mail to Segal, that the Minneapolis Police Department investigate.”
Md. House candidate says he’s ‘cancer free,’ returns to trail – WaPo: “David Trone, the Potomac Democrat seeking to succeed Rep. John Delaney (D) in Maryland, declared himself ‘cancer-free’ Tuesday and said that he has resumed campaigning nearly three weeks after undergoing surgery. In a statement released by his campaign, Trone pronounced the operation to remove a kidney a ‘success’ and said his recovery ‘is going very well.’ His campaign released photos of Trone at what it described as meet-and-greets last week in Montgomery and Frederick counties, both of which are within the 6th Congressional District, which stretches to Western Maryland. Trone, the co-founder of Total Wine & More, is facing Republican Amie Hoeber in the Nov. 6 general election. Delaney is vacating the seat to run for president.”
Brat’s challenger fires highschoolers who left nasty note on his door – WaPo: “Abigail Spanberger’s congressional campaign apologized to Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) and fired four campaign volunteers who left a nasty note on the congressman’s front door over the weekend. Brat, who is in a tight race with Spanberger in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, received a piece of his rival’s literature on his front door with the words ‘Rot in hell Dave’ and a smiley face scrawled on it. Brat contacted Capitol police and Henrico County police. … Dana Bye, Spanberger’s campaign manager, said four high school students who had been knocking on doors in the area were responsible. They have been fired from the campaign, which also issued an apology to Brat and his family, Bye said in a written statement.”
ILLINOIS REPS. REQUEST INVESTIGATION INTO PRITZKER’S ‘IMPROPER’ TAX BREAKS
Fox News: “Multiple Illinois congressmen have requested the federal government investigate J.B. Pritzker following a watchdog report that alleged the billionaire gubernatorial candidate improperly received more than $331,000 in tax breaks. In a recently released report, Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard said Pritzker was able to receive massive property tax breaks on a mansion he owns in an affluent Chicago neighborhood as ‘part of a scheme for obtaining money by means of false representation.’ … Specifically, the inspector general flagged $132,747.18 in ‘tax refunds’ from 2012 to 2014 and $198,684.85 in ‘tax savings’ from 2015 to 2016. Pritzker’s campaign has said the Democrat will repay the county by the end of next week. All seven members of the Illinois’ Republican congressional delegation sent a letter to the U.S. attorney’s office in Illinois asking for an investigation into Pritzker’s tax dealings. … The signatories are: Reps. Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood, Peter Roskam and John Shimkus. … Pritzker is challenging incumbent GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in November. He’s leading Rauner in the polls with a little more than a month to go until Election Day; Fox News has ranked the gubernatorial election as leaning Democrat.”
Cuomo in a boat race – Siena College: “Incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo leads Republican Marc Molinaro 50-28 percent in a six-person field for Governor. Working Families Party candidate Cynthia Nixon has the support of 10 percent and the other three minor party candidates receive combined support of four percent, with eight percent still undecided, according to a new Siena College poll of likely New York State voters released today. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand holds a 61-29 percent lead over her little-known Republican opponent, Chele Chiavacci Farley. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli leads Republican Jonathan Trichter 58-26 percent. The race for Attorney General is closer, with Democrat Tish James, New York City’s Public Advocate, leading Republican Keith Wofford 50-36 percent. Farley, Trichter and Wofford are all first-time candidates.”
Poll shows razor thin margins in Florida governor, Senate races – WCTV: “A recent survey of 800 likely voters in Florida shows that many of the races in the upcoming November election may be very close. The survey, conducted for Gray Television by Strategic Research Associates, LLC, collected results from Sept. 17 through Sept. 30. … In the race for Governor, Democrat Andrew Gillum leads Republican Ron DeSantis 44% to 43%, with 12% undecided. Gillum is viewed favorably by 37% of likely voters and unfavorably by 25%, with 15% holding a neutral opinion and 23% still unfamiliar. DeSantis is viewed favorably by 38% and unfavorably by 35%, with 12% holding a neutral opinion and 15% unfamiliar. … 45% expressed support for incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, with 44% expressing support for Republican challenger and current Governor Rick Scott, well within the poll’s 3.46% margin of error. Eleven percent have yet to make up their mind in the race.”
Gov. Northam threatens to veto Virginia GOP redistricting plan – WaPo
Jeff Flake is right. Poll says he’s hugely unpopular in Arizona – Arizona Republic
Jason Kander ends Kansas City mayor campaign to focus on depression, PTSD – Kansas City Star
Pompeo pulls out of treaty with Iran, in response to UN court ruling – Fox News
AUDIBLE: READY TO RUMBLE
“It’s time for the senators to be senators. For women to women up, men to man up and let’s vote.” – Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Wednesday morning on America’s Newsroom.
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I have a thought, Chris, for you to ponder… I believe that the Swamp is now drained. It has been transformed into ‘A Den of Political Iniquity.’” – Mike Myers, Nokomis, Fla.
[Ed. note: I would submit Mr. Myers that swampiness depends on each individual’s hygrometer. Very often calls for reform end up really amounting to tossing out one set of cronies for another. That’s not an entirely bad thing in the sense that most government positions have little to do with politics when you get down to it. Having opposing teams fighting over the spoils at least keeps the players alert. The most damaging corruption in Washington isn’t so much about who holds which job or even strictly illegal or definitionally unethical behavior, it is the way in which the members of each party seek to punish their enemies and award their friends beyond this city. As the power of the federal government has grown, so too has its power to enrich or destroy depending on favor and faction. We often talk here about presidents, like Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge, who actually sought to make themselves less important and diminish rather than expand the role of the executive in the government and of the government itself. The crony capitalism and cycle of retributive justice that emanates from Washington is a bipartisan plague on this country.]
“Chris, Based on his testimony during Thursday’s senate hearing I have serious concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s impartiality as a jurist. Speaking about a left wing conspiracy and Clinton revenge does not sound rational, even handed or judge-like to me. I don’t think he can put these beliefs aside and render fair opinions.” – Bill Ciao, Bellingham, Wash.
[Ed. note: I bet Kavanaugh would like to have some of those words back, Mr. Ciao. We often praise hypocrisy in these columns since it tends to reinforce valuable precepts. In most of the cases that go before the Supreme Court, any casual observer can figure out where almost every justice will settle in the final decision. But it’s important that they pretend to keep an open mind because in so pretending it may actually manifest itself in real consideration. If the smoker tells his friends and family that he’s quit, he still may sneak a butt where he can, but pride may prevent him from puffing away as he once did. It would be better if he could quit all together, but if vanity helps him cut down then it’s worth something. I cringed when Kavanaugh called out the Clintons, even if there was something to his point about resentment for his work on the 1998 impeachment effort. I similarly cringe when I see the way Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes snarky, partisan comments, even when they are funny or accurate. Being a judge is an awesome power, sometimes even over life and death. In a very real way these jurists are the custodians of our republican virtues. If he is confirmed, I would hope that Kavanaugh would work in his demeanor and his decisions to demonstrate evenhandedness and a sense of equal protection under the law for all Americans. Maybe like the guy caught sneaking a smoke, Kavanaugh’s outburst will cause him to redouble his efforts to conceal his habit.]
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UPI: “Police were called to a South Carolina fast food restaurant where an escaped goat chased an employee around the building. The Summerville Police Department said officers responded Tuesday to the Zaxby’s in Knightsville on a report of a goat loitering outside the business. ‘It’s not every day our Police Officers get to round up a goat at the fast food drive-thru,’ police said in a Facebook post. ‘Today was that day, as FTO. T. Bilancione apprehended the first goat in his career.’ Zaxby’s manager LaQuyin Cason said employees discovered the unusual animal outside the eatery just before 10 a.m. Cason said one of the workers was chased around the building by the goat before police arrived to capture it. Police said the goat was returned to its owner.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Nonetheless, the revolt of the attorneys general is to be celebrated. It is a reassuring sign of the creativity and suppleness of the American Constitution, of its amphibian capacity to grow a new limb when an old one atrophies.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post March 2, 2017.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.