NEW … THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN is running full-page newspaper ads in Maine and Alaska, urging Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to oppose BRETT KAVANAUGH’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Anchorage Daily News … Bangor Daily News … Maine Sunday Telegram
ELANA SCHOR, BURGESS EVERETT and ELIANA JOHNSON on the KAVANAUGH BOMBSHELL: “The decades-old sexual misconduct charge detonated at the most critical juncture of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle — sending Republicans into damage control mode and leaving Democrats unsure how or whether to capitalize. …
“But after a tense 24 hours of speculation and partisan tussling over what one top Republican called ‘wholly unverifiable’ allegations, Kavanaugh remained exactly where he started: neither closer to nor farther away from the 50 votes needed to give President Donald Trump a second high court justice in two years. The two swing-vote GOP senators who hold Kavanaugh’s fate in their hands, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, made no comment Friday on an anonymous woman’s charge. …
“Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) plans to press ahead with a Thursday committee vote on Kavanaugh, and GOP sources said that nothing short of public skepticism from Collins or Murkowski would upend the party’s plans for a final Supreme Court confirmation vote this month on the full Senate floor.” POLITICO
LATEST ON FLORENCE … “7 dead in NC as Florence, an ‘uninvited brute,’ brings heavy flooding and power outages,” by Jane Stancill, Lynn Bonner and Tammy Grubb in the Raleigh News and Observer: “Hurricane Florence began a slow-motion assault on North Carolina on Friday that continued Saturday morning with catastrophic storm surge and torrential rains that will continue for days.
“Seven deaths have been blamed on the storm, which made landfall at Wrightsville Beach [on Friday] at 7:15 a.m., with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. By late afternoon, the winds had died down and Florence was reclassified a tropical storm.
“But the heavy rain continued, topping 15 inches in many places along the coast by early Saturday morning. As the storm slowly moves westward Saturday into Sunday, rivers and creeks across central and eastern North Carolina are expected to leave their banks, with record or near-record flooding on the Cape Fear, Northeast Cape Fear and Neuse rivers. … In Wilmington, a mother and her infant died and the child’s father was injured when a tree fell on their home.” Raleigh News and Observer
THE PRESIDENT and VP Mike Pence are getting a hurricane update this afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
HURRICANE NEWSPAPER FRONTS … CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: “UNRELENTING. DEADLY.” … STAR NEWS (Wilmington, N.C.): “HURRICANE FLORENCE KILLS 3” … STATESVILLE RECORD & LANDMARK (Statesville, N.C.): “FURIOUS FLORENCE” … THE ISLAND PACKET: “Chaos in slow motion: Winds, floods, rescues” … THE POST AND COURIER: “A lumbering giant” … THE STATE: “FIVE DEAD; POWER OUT IN SOME 640,000 HOMES”
— “In Pictures: Florence Unleashes Fury on Carolinas” — Bloomberg: 16 pix on one page
THE PRESIDENT again cast doubt on the 3,000-person death toll in Puerto Rico. At 10:05 p.m. last night: “‘When Trump visited the island territory last October, OFFICIALS told him in a briefing 16 PEOPLE had died from Maria.’ The Washington Post. This was long AFTER the hurricane took place. Over many months it went to 64 PEOPLE. Then, like magic, ‘3000 PEOPLE KILLED.’ They hired….”
… at 10:23 p.m.: “….GWU Research to tell them how many people had died in Puerto Rico (how would they not know this?). This method was never done with previous hurricanes because other jurisdictions know how many people were killed. FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER — NO WAY!”
THE PRESIDENT gave the Wall Street Journal an interview about his former divorce attorney writing a book … WSJ’S PETER NICHOLAS: “Trump Faults Former Lawyer for Writing Book, Says It May Violate Attorney-Client Privilege”
— TRUMP QUOTE: “Mr. Trump cited economic gains, rising consumer confidence and a strengthening military as proof of a successful tenure and said, ‘I’ve had nothing but victories, so it’s sad that somebody you can’t take to Washington for obvious reasons wants to write a book.’ He added: ‘We’re hitting new records every day.’”
MORE ON MANAFORT …
TRUMP on Manafort, to the WSJ: “Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and in a brief telephone interview Friday said that the Manafort case had nothing to do with him. ‘I got hit with an artificial witch hunt that should never have happened,’ Mr. Trump said.” WSJ
— “Manafort Plea Deal Casts New Scrutiny on Lobbyists He Recruited,” by NYT’s Ken Vogel: “[E]ven some people at the lobbying firms he recruited saw the nonprofit group, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, as a sham, according to new evidence laid out by prosecutors when they unveiled a plea agreement with Mr. Manafort in federal court in Washington on Friday.
“An employee at one of the firms, the Podesta Group, referred to the European Center for a Modern Ukraine in an email as the ‘European hot-dog stand for a Modern Ukraine.’ The employee dismissed it as ‘a fig leaf on a fig leaf,’ its written attestation that it was not controlled or funded by Ukraine’s pro-Russian president at the time, Viktor F. Yanukovych, or his party, which Mr. Manafort represented.
“A co-founder of the Podesta Group, Tony Podesta, told his team to operate on the understanding that Mr. Yanukovych ‘is the client,’ while an employee at the other firm, Mercury Public Affairs, called the claim that the nonprofit was independent from Mr. Yanukovych ‘nonsense,’ comparing it to ‘Alice in Wonderland.’” NYT
— “Federal prosecutors weigh charges against Democratic powerbroker in Manafort-linked probe,” by CNN’s Erica Orden and Evan Perez: “Federal prosecutors in New York are weighing criminal charges against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig as part of an investigation into whether he failed to register as a foreign agent in a probe that is linked to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to sources familiar with the matter.
“In addition, these sources said, prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are considering taking action against powerhouse law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where Craig was a partner during the activity under examination. Prosecutors are considering a civil settlement with the firm or a deferred prosecution agreement with Skadden.” CNN
— “Manafort’s surrender shows Mueller probe’s overwhelming force,” by Darren Samuelsohn.
— JOSH GERSTEIN, “Manafort’s deal reins in a pardon’s impact”: “The plea deal special counsel Robert Mueller granted to Paul Manafort on Friday appears built to be pardon-proof. That doesn’t mean President Donald Trump won’t try to legally absolve Manafort anyway, a step the president has considered taking for months. But Friday’s events mean Trump’s ability to contain the legal damage from his former campaign chairman is now severely limited. Two new factors appear to stymie the impact of a potential Trump pardon for Manafort. The first is that Manafort is already talking.” POLITICO
NYT’S ANDREW KRAMER in KIEV: “How a Ukrainian Hairdresser Became a Front for Paul Manafort”: “At first glance, what happened to Yevgeny G. Kaseyev hardly seems like misfortune.
“Without his knowledge, he says, unknown individuals set up multiple companies in his name and deposited tens of millions of dollars into those companies’ bank accounts. ‘Sometimes it seems fun,’ Mr. Kaseyev, a 34-year-old hairdresser, said with a shrug during an interview. ‘I’m a secret millionaire.’
“Until the authorities came calling, that is, seeking $30 million in back taxes. One of the people who did business with a company opened under Mr. Kaseyev’s stolen identity didn’t mean anything to him. But the name certainly caught the eye of investigators in the United States: Paul J. Manafort.
“Mr. Manafort, who worked for a decade as a political consultant in Ukraine before becoming chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016, made a deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with the shell company under the hairdresser’s name. It was called Neocom Systems Limited, according to a Ukrainian lawmaker.” NYT
Happy Saturday morning. SUNDAY-SHOW BABY NEWS: MARGARET BRENNAN, moderator of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” and husband Yado Yakub on Tuesday welcomed Eamon Brennan Yakub. He was born at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. and came in at 7 lbs., 8 oz. She told CBS: “We wanted to find a name that honors both his Irish-American and Syrian-American heritage. Eamon (pronounced Ay-mon) means guardian in Irish and, while spelled differently, also means righteous in Arabic. We picked it long ago while traveling through Ireland on a road trip.” Pic … Another pic
SPOTTED: Al Franken waiting in a long line outside on Friday to get into the Paul Simon concert at the Capital One Arena.
WASHINGTON, INC. — “Consultants sue nonpartisan group No Labels,” by WaPo’s Dave Weigel: “The nonpartisan political group No Labels, along with a number of affiliated super PACs, is facing a lawsuit from contractors who say they were stiffed for millions of dollars of work in the 2018 cycle, let go in favor of political strategists with ties to the group’s president, Nancy Jacobson — and her husband, Mark Penn.
“In the complaint, which was filed in the Supreme Court of New York this week, strategists Matthew Kalmans and Sacha Samotin say that their firm, Applecart, helped implement No Labels’s current strategy of creating PACs that can invest in primaries and general elections to boost centrist candidates; they seek $3.7 million in damages, saying that money they were owed was shunted away from them, in breach of contract. No Labels’s leaders and its affiliated strategists say that the lawsuit is without merit and that the charge that Penn was ‘calling the shots,’ as the lawsuit puts it, is baseless.” WaPo … The complaint
FOR YOUR RADAR — “U.S. Is Ending Final Source of Aid for Palestinian Civilians,” by NYT’s Edward Wong: “As part of its policy to end all aid for Palestinian civilians, the United States is blocking millions of dollars to programs that build relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, according to current and former American officials briefed on the change. The move to prevent Palestinians — including, in many cases, children — from benefiting from the funds squeezes shut the last remaining channel of American aid to Palestinian civilians.” NYT
MEDIAWATCH … CNN’S OLIVER DARCY: “New York Times amends report that improperly pinned pricey curtains on Nikki Haley”: “The New York Times on Friday said that a controversial story about curtains purchased for the new residence of the ambassador to the United Nations improperly focused on Nikki Haley.
“The newspaper recast the story to ‘reflect those concerns.’ The initial story written by reporter Gardiner Harris carried the headline, ‘Nikki Haley’s View of New York Is Priceless. Her Curtains? $52,701.’ But the original story included a comment from a spokesperson for Haley who said plans to purchase the curtains were made during the end of the Obama administration and that Haley had no say in the purchase. The story drew significant backlash on social media, prompting editors to review it.
“Following review, The Times concluded that the story had ‘created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question.’ An editor’s note placed at the top of the revised story stated that ‘the decision on leasing the ambassador’s residence and purchasing the curtains was made during the Obama administration, according to current and former officials.’ ‘The article should not have focused on Ms. Haley, nor should a picture of her have been used … The article and headline have now been edited to reflect those concerns, and the picture has been removed.’ … Its headline was changed to say, ‘State Department Spent $52,701 on Curtains for Residence of U.N. Envoy.’” CNN … The NYT story
YOU’RE INVITED — ANNA and JAKE are headed to Columbus Thursday for a special Playbook Elections event in Ohio with REP. JIM RENACCI (R-OHIO), who is running for Senate, and DEMOCRAT RICHARD CORDRAY, who is running for governor, to discuss how the 2018 midterm elections are shaping up. RSVP
HE’S RUNNING! … @steinhauserNH1: “2020 WATCH-NEW: Sen @JeffMerkley of Oregon, a potential Democratic presidential contender who’s on a jam-packed 4-day trip to NH, his fourth #FITN visit this year, tells me he’s ‘helping to hire folks to help out with the New Hampshire campaigns’ #nhpolitics #2020election”. Video
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: “Les Wexner renounces Republican Party affiliation after Obama stops in Columbus”: “After former Democratic President Barack Obama made a quiet stop in Columbus on Thursday night, the wealthiest Republican supporter in the state told a small audience at a Downtown event that he is fed up and has quit the Republican Party.
“‘I just decided I’m no longer a Republican,’ said L Brands CEO Leslie H. Wexner, speaking during a panel discussion about civility at Miranova’s Ivory Room billed as a ‘Columbus Partnership and YPO Leadership Summit.’
“‘I’m an independent,’ he said. ‘I won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party. I’ve been a Republican since college, joined the Young Republican Club at Ohio State.'” Columbus Dispatch
— WEXNER has given to just one candidate this cycle: NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers, who represents the Columbus area.
NYT’S HELENE COOPER: “Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’s Fate in Doubt”
WAPO’S PAUL KANE: “Deficit hawks are dead, and few in Washington can muster any outrage”
NEW ADS … RANDY BRYCE, the Democrat running to fill Paul Ryan’s seat, has a new ad calling Bryan Stiel, the GOP nominee, a liar. They are spending $150,000 on this spot. The 30-second ad
— THE NRCC has a new ad against Dean Phillips in Minnesota’s third district. The spot
VALLEY TALK — “Venture-Capital Firm Kleiner Perkins Plans to Split,” by WSJ’s Tomio Geron: “Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is splitting in two, a surprise rupture that reflects the storied venture-capital firm’s struggle to balance making smaller bets on young startups and jumbo investments in companies on the cusp of initial public offerings. …
“The split is the firm’s most striking move in its four decades, restoring it to its smaller, early-stage roots, best known for initial bets in Google and Amazon.com Inc. The move is indicative of the changing fortunes in venture capital, as funds over the years ballooned to levels not seen since the dot-com boom and startups stayed private longer with money that in past eras would have been raised in the public markets.” WSJ
CLICKER – “The nation’s cartoonists on the week in politics,” edited by Matt Wuerker – 10 funnies
GREAT WEEKEND READS, curated by Daniel Lippman, filing from San Francisco:
— “For 40 Years, This Russian Family Was Cut Off From All Human Contact, Unaware of World War II,” by Mike Dash in Smithsonian – per Longform.org’s description: “In 1936, Karp Lykov whisked his family into the Siberian wilderness to escape Bolshevik persecution. They remained there, alone, until discovered by a helicopter crew in 1978.” Smithsonian
— “The Country’s First Climate Change Casualties,” by Elaina Plott in Pacific Standard: “Scientists predict Tangier Island could be uninhabitable within 25 years. This is the story of the people willing to go down with it—and why they’ve risked it all on Donald Trump to keep them afloat.” PS
— “A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come,” by Anne Applebaum in October’s Atlantic: “Polarization. Conspiracy theories. Attacks on the free press. An obsession with loyalty. Recent events in the United States follow a pattern Europeans know all too well.” Atlantic
— “The Constant Consumer,” by Drew Austin in Real Life Magazine – per Longreads.com’s description: “The world as platform: In Amazon’s dream universe, we’re all customers by virtue of existing.” Real Life Magazine
— “Americans Want to Believe Jobs Are the Solution to Poverty. They’re Not,” by Matthew Desmond in the NYT Magazine: “U.S. unemployment is down and jobs are going unfilled. But for people without much education, the real question is: Do those jobs pay enough to live on?” NYT
— “The Inside Story of Jocelyn Flores, the Tragic Teen Who Inspired XXXTentacion’s Hit,” by Tarpley Hitt in the Daily Beast: “She took her own life while visiting the rapper, who memorialized her death in a track before he was killed in a shooting.” Daily Beast
— “The Billion-Dollar Mystery Man and the Wildest Party Vegas Ever Saw,” by WSJ’s Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, adapted from their new book “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World”: “Armed with a seemingly bottomless supply of cash, an unassuming Malaysian named Jho Low staged the ultimate extravaganza.” WSJ … $18.30 on Amazon
— “A Turbulent Mind,” by John J. Lennon and Bill Keller in the Marshall Project: “It’s not easy being an overweight, balding, Jewish schizophrenic in the New York prison system. During his 19 years at the Sullivan Correctional Facility and in Sing Sing, Andrew Goldstein has been teased and bullied by the high-functioning mental cases. Everyone inside seems to know at least the tabloid outlines of his crime. In January 1999, suffering from schizophrenia and given to explosive violence when off his medication, Andrew pushed Kendra Webdale into the path of an oncoming N train at the 23rd Street subway station.” Marshall Project
— “How the Composer George Benjamin Finally Found His Voice,” by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker: “He was a prodigy, but became creatively blocked—until he dared to try an opera.” New Yorker
— “The New Passport-Poor,” by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian in the N.Y. Review of Books: “Casablanca is more than seventy-five years old. If released today, it would be criticized for its moralising of American nationalism, and for celebrating French colonial rule. Read as a migration narrative, Casablanca reminds us that the identification papers we carry were created not to give us freedom but rather to curtail it. While most countries no longer ask for Casablanca’s famous exit visas, all their elimination has done is remove a cudgel from the bureaucratic gauntlet. What is the use in leaving if you have nowhere to go?” NYRB
— “Sperm Count Zero,” by Daniel Noah Halpern in GQ: “A strange thing has happened to men over the past few decades: We’ve become increasingly infertile, so much so that within a generation we may lose the ability to reproduce entirely. What’s causing this mysterious drop in sperm counts—and is there any way to reverse it before it’s too late?” GQ
— “Why Did America Give Up on Mass Transit? (Don’t Blame Cars.),” by Jonathan English in City Lab: “One hundred years ago, the United States had a public transportation system that was the envy of the world. Today, outside a few major urban centers, it is barely on life support. Even in New York City, subway ridership is well below its 1946 peak. Annual per capita transit trips in the U.S. plummeted from 115.8 in 1950 to 36.1 in 1970, where they have roughly remained since, even as population has grown.” City Lab
BIRTHWEEK (was Wednesday): Citadel’s David Meis (hat tip: Rowan Morris)
BIRTHDAYS: Ashley Parker, WaPo White House reporter and MSNBC contributor … Sara Fagan, partner at DDC Public Affairs … former Bush WH speechwriter John McConnell (h/t Tim Burger) … Politico Europe’s Hannah Connaghan … Christian Pinkston … Chris Lehmann … Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) is 69 … Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) is 43 … NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik … Todd Breasseale (h/t Paul Rosen) … Ben Kamisar … CBS News producer Adam Aigner-Treworgy … Alana Russo … former Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is 59 … Politico’s Kathryn Wolfe, Jennifer Miller and Hung-Su Nguyen … Alexandra Berg … Eliza Shapiro … Tiffany Haverly, comms director for Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) and the House Vet Affairs committee … Sabrina Rush … Justin Bryant … Sandra Alcalá (h/t Jon Haber) … Jon Gossett … Owen Pataki … Chandler Smith, comms director for the Senate Republican Conference, celebrating in Navy Yard (h/t Rodell Mollineau) … Amy Sisk (h/t Jody Serrano) … Rebecca McGrath …
… Zara Rahim, head of comms of The Wing … Tony Mauro … LCV’s Dawn Cohea (h/t Marguerita ten Houten) … Katie Thompson … David Lloyd … Elizabeth Meyer of Booz Allen Hamilton … Cat Cheney … Don Irvine … Jodi Hanson Bond, SVP of global government and industry affairs at Chubb … Bryan Doyle … Wayne King, deputy chief of staff for Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) (h/t Matt Boyle) … Mal Kline … Kristen Bor … Dave Shott (Red Sox tip: Richard Keil) … Bloomberg Opinion’s Max Berley … CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles … Veronica Lew … Nathan Hurst … Allyson Alvaré Kranz … CNBC’s Ryan Ruggiero … Theola Debose … Michael Ruby … Connie Carter … Neil Makhija … Marie Arana … Mike Lewis … Phil Zabriskie … Wayne Reynolds … Chip Rodgers … Todd Olsen … Betsy Shelton (h/t Teresa Vilmain)
THE SHOWS, by @MattMackowiak, filing from Austin:
“State of the Union”: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez … Ken Starr. Panel: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Mary Katharine Ham, Marc Short and Karine Jean-Pierre
“Fox News Sunday”: Brock Long … Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) … Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Panel: Karl Rove, Jason Chaffetz, Julie Pace and and Jane Harman
“Meet the Press”: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) … FEMA Administrator Brock Long… Bob Woodward. Panel: Yamiche Alcindor, Doris Kearns Goodwin (“Leadership: In Turbulent Times”), Rich Lowry and Peggy Noonan
“This Week”: Ken Starr … Jamie Dimon. Panel: Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, Tamara Keith and Jonathan Swan
“Face the Nation”: Brock Long … Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) … Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Panel: Jamelle Bouie, Jeff Goldberg, Susan Page, Ramesh Ponnuru and and Major Garrett (substitute anchor: John Dickerson)
“Reliable Sources”: Michael Avenatti … Janice Min and Jessica Valenti … Brendan Nyhan and a Amanda Carpenter … Glenn Kessler
“Inside Politics”: Margaret Talev, Eliana Johnson, Lisa Lerer and Seung Min Kim
“Sunday Morning Futures”: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) … Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) … former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Panel: Ed Rollins and James Freeman
“MediaBuzz”: Emily Jashinsky … Adrienne Elrod … Sara Fischer … Charlie Gasparino … Kat Timpf … CATALINA magazine founding publisher Cathy Areu
“Fareed Zakaria GPS”: Bob Woodward … Zanny Minton Beddoes and Andrew Ross Sorkin … Ross Douthat (“To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism”)
“Al Punto”: Arantxa Loizaga … Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló … Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) … José Andres … LIBRE Initiative press secretary Wadi Gaitan, United We Dream executive director Cristina Jiménez and RNC media director Yali Núnez
“The Communicators”: US Telecom president and CEO Jonathan Spalter, questioned by Ali Breland … “Newsmakers”: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), questioned by Kate Irby and Kellie Mejdrich … “Q&A”: author and presidential historian Richard Norton Smith(“An Uncommon Man”)
“Kasie DC”: former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory … Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) … Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) … Lisa Lerer … Catherine Lucey … Kimberly Atkins … Jon Ward … Maria Teresa Kumar … Emily Jane Fox
“Mack on Politics” weekly politics podcast with Matt Mackowiak (download on iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher or listen at MackOnPolitics.com): former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.).