Feinstein releases cryptic statement about Kavanaugh

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On the roster: Feinstein releases cryptic statement about Kavanaugh - I’ll Tell You What: A storms a brewin’ - Fox Poll: Blackburn up three in Tennessee Senate race - New Yorkers hit the polls to decide Cuomo vs. Nixon - We have so many questions

FEINSTEIN RELEASES CRYPTIC STATEMENT ABOUT KAVANAUGH
Fox News: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday threw a cryptic curveball at Brett Kavanaugh, insinuating the Supreme Court nominee could be guilty of a crime even as Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee seek to delay his confirmation. The vague accusation comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee already grilled Kavanaugh and other witnesses and prepares to vote on sending his nomination to the full Senate. The White House blasted the ambiguous charge as a last minute gambit. ‘I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,’ Feinstein said in her surprise statement. ‘That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.’ A spokesperson for Feinstein declined Fox News’ request to elaborate on the lawmaker’s statement, but there has been much speculation that she is referring to a secret letter that has been the subject of intrigue on Capitol Hill over the last few days. A source familiar with the confirmation proceedings told Fox News that Feinstein received the letter back in July, but did not make its existence known publicly until Thursday.”

Kavanaugh responds to 1,287 written questions from senators - Fox News: “The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday released Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s responses to over 1,200 questions submitted by mostly Senate Democrats following his four-day hearings earlier this month. Kavanaugh’s responses, which amounted to more than 260 pages, answered the senators’ questions on topics that ranged from abortion, executive power and his personal finances. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., took to questioning Kavanaugh’s stance on abortion after he reportedly said in a 2003 email that he considered Roe v. Wade to be ‘settled law,’ an answer she considered to be too vague. … He also addressed a similar question to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, saying that the email ‘commented on the views of legal scholars. It did not describe my own views.’”

THE RULEBOOK: TO EACH THEIR OWN
“And there are [nations], not less numerous than either of the former, which take their origin entirely in private passions; in the attachments, enmities, interests, hopes, and fears of leading individuals in the communities of which they are members.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 6

TIME OUT: MORE CHEESE PLEASE
NatGeo: “Cheesemaking is an art, but it’s also science. Like other fermented foods such as sourdough, kombucha, and kimchi, cheese is the product of bacteria and yeast, plus mold. Cheese is mostly coagulated milk, but adding a unique culture of microbes determines its texture and flavor. In the cheese’s thick exterior rind, microbes teem, jockey, and help create a covering to keep in moisture. Microbiologist Benjamin Wolfe’s lab at Tufts University studies how bacteria and fungi interact in the small ecosystems of cheese (compared with the wild worlds inside the human gut or a scoop of soil). ‘There’s a war and peace happening on these cheese rinds,’ says Wolfe. Understanding what influences the microbes’ behavior will illuminate how to manipulate and engineer them. That could lead to more effective pharmaceuticals, new ways of inoculating crops from disease, even a future of microbes colonizing other planets. Not to mention better cheese.”

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SCOREBOARD
Trump job performance 
Average approval:
 39.2 percent
Average disapproval: 53.8 percent
Net Score: -14.6 points
Change from one week ago: up 0.8 points
[Average includes: CNN: 37% approve - 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve - 54% disapprove; NPR/Marist: 38% approve - 54% disapprove; Gallup: 40% approve - 54% disapprove; Grinnell College/Selzer: 43% approve - 50% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 
39.8 percent
Democratic average: 50.2 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 10.4 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage up 1.2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 52% Dems - 42% GOP; Quinnipiac University: 52% Dems - 38% GOP; NPR/Marist: 50% Dems - 38% GOP; Grinnell College/Selzer: 45% Dems - 43% GOP; ABC/WaPo: 52% Dems - 38% GOP.]

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: A STORMS A BREWIN'
It's book launch week on I'll Tell You What as Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss “Every Man A King,” all the latest on polling and great Mexican food. Plus, Dana answers your mailbag questions and Chris answers some “Every Man A King” trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE

FOX POLL: BLACKBURN UP THREE IN TENNESSEE SENATE RACE
Fox News:President Trump won Tennessee by 26 percentage points, and he remains popular in the Volunteer State. By a 20-point margin, Tennessee voters approve of the job he’s doing (58-38 percent), and by an 8-point margin, more say their vote in the Senate race will be to express support for the president (35 percent) rather than opposition to him (27 percent). That helps Republican Marsha Blackburn top Democrat Phil Bredesen, yet it’s surprisingly close given Trump’s wide win two years ago. Blackburn gets 47 percent to Bredesen’s 44 percent in the race to fill the state’s open Senate seat, according to a Fox News poll of Tennessee likely voters. Her three-point advantage is within the poll’s margin of sampling error. The candidates are vying to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker. Eighty-one percent of Bredesen’s backers feel certain they will vote for him compared to 74 percent for Blackburn. Overall, one in five say they could switch their pick before November.”

Fox Poll: McCaskill up in Missouri Senate race by a whisker - Fox News: “Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a two-term incumbent, tops her Republican challenger Josh Hawley by a narrow 44-41 percent margin, according to a Fox News poll of Missouri likely voters.  Her three-point edge is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.  Third-party candidates get six percent. While women back McCaskill by nine, the candidates are tied among white women.  Men go for Hawley by four points.  Suburban women support McCaskill by 14 points, while white evangelical Christians prefer Hawley by 34. McCaskill gets stronger support among Democrats, 90 percent, than Hawley captures among Republicans (79 percent). Missouri voters are more likely to identify as Republican than Democrat by seven points.”

Fox Poll: Republican ahead of incumbent Democrat in Indiana Senate race - Fox News: “President Trump remains popular in Indiana, a state he won by 19 percentage points -- and that’s bad news for incumbent Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly. A Fox News poll of Indiana likely voters shows Republican challenger Mike Braun ahead of Donnelly by 45-43 percent.  Libertarian Lucy Brenton captures three percent and eight percent are undecided. The result is far from certain. Braun’s two-point edge is within the poll’s margin of sampling error, and one in three voters say they could change their mind before Election Day. The poll, released Wednesday, finds 54 percent approve of the job the president’s doing, and twice as many say their financial situation is better rather than worse compared to two years ago (37 vs. 18 percent). Meanwhile, 33 percent say they will cast their Senate vote to show support for the president, while 31 percent say it will be to express opposition.”

Fox Poll: Republican challenger ahead in North Dakota Senate race - Fox News: “Republican Kevin Cramer tops incumbent Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp among North Dakota likely voters by 48-44 percent, in a Fox News poll released Wednesday. Cramer’s edge in the Senate race is within the poll’s margin of sampling error. Both Heitkamp (85 percent) and Cramer supporters (84 percent) have a fairly high degree of vote certainty. Overall, 15 percent say they may change their mind before voting in November. There’s a wide gender gap, as women prefer Heitkamp by 7 points, and men back Cramer by 15 points.  He also gets strong support from white evangelical Christians (+30) and voters prioritizing the economy (+36). Heitkamp comes out on top by 49 points among health care voters.  Health care is the top issue for North Dakota voters (30 percent), followed by the economy (18 percent).”

NEW YORKERS HIT THE POLLS TO DECIDE CUOMO VS. NIXON 
NYT: “New York voters head to the polls on Thursday as an unusual season of primaries, marked by surprise victories and insurgent candidacies, moves to an end. Voters will choose their party’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and the State Legislature — and there’s more intrigue than normal. The intrigue starts at the top: Can Cynthia Nixon defy the polls and deprive Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of a third nomination? The race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general in New York — a contest to decide who will inherit ongoing lawsuits and inquiries into President Trump — is a tossup, according to the polls. Even the logistics are complicated. New York has a split primary system where federal primaries are held in June but state and local primaries occur in September. This year’s primary is on a Thursday, rather than a Tuesday, because of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish holiday, and the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Finally, check your watches: In much of upstate New York, except for near Buffalo, polls do not open until noon; downstate, polls open at 6 a.m. All sites close at 9 p.m., according to the State Board of Elections.”

Raimondo wins big in Rhode Island - RIPR: “Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo dealt her detractors a blow by scoring an unexpectedly big win in a primary election Wednesday, cruising past Democratic challenger Matt Brown by almost 24 points, according to unofficial results, while Cranston Mayor Allan Fung notched a decisive 16-point win over his closest GOP rival, Patricia Morgan. The results set the stage for a November rematch of the key contestants from 2014, when Raimondo beat Fung by slightly more than 4 points. Raimondo has been a polarizing figure since she spearheaded an overhaul as state treasurer of Rhode Island's pension system in 2011. While she argued that changes were necessary for the health of the pension system, many public employees and retirees remain upset about changes to their benefits.”

Espy puts money on Miss. Senate runoff - McClatchy:Mike Espy is running for the runoff — the sort of election that some African Americans have said for years is designed to keep them from winning. Espy, President Bill Clinton’s agriculture secretary and a former congressman, is counting on Mississippi’s runoff election system in his bid to become the ruby red state’s first African American U.S. senator since Reconstruction and its first Democratic senator in nearly four decades. The runoff is baked into Espy’s campaign strategy against Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and conservative firebrand Chris McDaniel, Republicans who he’ll face in a so-called ‘jungle’ primary special election Nov. 6 to finish the final two years of GOP Sen. Thad Cochran’s six-year term. Cochran retired in April citing health reasons, and Hyde-Smith was named to replace him until the election determined a successor. If none of the candidates receive 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 6, the top two finishers will square off in a Nov. 27 runoff with possible national implications. If one party winds up with a 50-49 edge Nov. 6, the Mississippi contest could determine who controls the Senate when it convenes in January.”

Cyclist who gave Trump the finger now running for local office - WaPo:Juli Briskman, the cyclist who flashed her middle finger at President Trump’s motorcade — and lost her job at a government contracting firm as a result — is parlaying an act of resistance into a run for local office in Northern Virginia. The 51-year-old marketing executive said this week she will file the paperwork to challenge Suzanne M. Volpe, a Republican who represents the Algonkian District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in 2019. The county reliably votes for Democrats at the state and federal level, but Republicans maintain control of the board, 6 to 3, and Republicans have represented the county in Congress for nearly 40 years.”

POLLS SHOW CLOSE RACES IN THE HOUSE
NYT: “With just under two months until the midterms, the races that seem likely to decide control of Congress remain strikingly close, according to a first wave of New York Times Upshot/Siena College polls. To take over the House, Democrats need to wrest at least 23 individual districts from Republican control. We’ve started surveying dozens of the most competitive districts and have finished polls in nine: seven tossup districts and two districts that lean Republican, according to the Cook Political Report. In the seven tossup races, the result was within one point in five of them, though Democrats claimed a nine-point lead in Minnesota’s Third, where the incumbent, Erik Paulsen, trailed the Democrat, Dean Phillips, 51 percent to 42 percent. Republicans had an eight-point polling lead in each of the two races thought to lean Republican. A close race in these contests is no surprise. Indeed, we asked Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report for his expected results in these races, before we conducted the survey. On average, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans did better than expected. The Cook Political Report characterizes the Democrats as ‘substantial favorites to win control.’ Still, at this stage, there’s little hard evidence indicating that either party has claimed a clear and consistent edge.”

But the Senate is looking more blue - Bloomberg: “Once seen as a scant possibility, Democratic hopes of retaking the U.S. Senate have brightened with just eight weeks left before the midterm elections. The shifting fortunes are starkly illustrated in Texas, where Senator Ted Cruz is confronting surprisingly strong competition from Democratic Representative Beto O’Rourke. … In another sign of Democratic momentum, two incumbents in states Trump carried overwhelmingly -- Joe Manchin in West Virginia and Joe Donnelly in Indiana -- have shown strength in some recent polls that make them seem better bets for re-election. At the same time, Democrats have a chance to pull off upsets in states once thought safely in the Republican column, particularly in deep-red Tennessee where popular former governor Phil Bredesen is running ahead in polls.”

Dems continue to spend big money on TV ads - Daily Beast: “Recent primary victories by underfunded Democratic candidates have prompted a renewed push within the party for it to finally quit its addiction to television advertising in favor of digital. But not everyone is on board, raising the specter of bitter internal fights over strategic vision in the critical months before the midterm elections and into the 2020 presidential contest. ‘There are a lot of people in the progressive community who have turned against TV advertising because they view it as the primary driver for big-moneyed politics,’ said Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign manager. ‘I think that’s a mistake. You are conceding a huge amount of turf to the Republican Party.’ For years, the Democratic Party has grappled with the changing media landscape and how best to allocate its resources in response to it. But what was largely a tense but civil debate has become something more acrimonious after Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016 exposed what many saw as a painfully large digital advantage for Republicans.”

THE JUDGE’S RULING: TRUMP AND THE RULE OF LAW
This week, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano discusses the true definition of treason: “Trump first accused the Times and its unnamed writer of treason, and then he publicly asked for a Department of Justice investigation to find the writer. Then, to change the subject, he threatened to declassify documents submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2016…I am deeply disappointed that the president uttered the word ‘treason.’ This is wrong under the law and a dangerous charge to make. The Times op-ed is protected political speech and personal opinion. Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution, thereby preventing Congress and the courts from changing its meaning. It consists only of either waging war against the United States or any of the states or providing aid and comfort to those who are waging such a war. The president should know that it is nearly impossible to commit treason by expressing an opinion. Even calling for a Nazi victory over the U.S. during World War II -- as hateful and harmful as such speech was -- constituted protected speech and was hardly treasonous.” More here.

PLAY-BY-PLAY

Republicans respond to the president’s tweets about Hurricane Maria
- Weekly Standard

Senate approves $146B ‘minibus’ spending bill, sends to House
- Fox News

Sasse: ‘My new reform plan will drain Democratic and Republican ethics swamp’ - USA Today

AUDIBLE: HE’S NOT WRONG
“Honorable – if we could use that word about more people who are in public life, people who actually ask the questions at confirmation hearings, instead of ‘Spartacus’ … If we could use the word honorable more often, think about the difference it'll make.” – Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took a jab at Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., during a conversation with the Federalist Society that aired Wednesday on C-SPAN.

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WE HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS
UPI: “Ohio organizers are hoping to gather at least 500 people to break a Guinness World Record for most people doing paddle ball at the same time. The record attempt, organized by LAND studio and the Gordon Square Arts District, a public art organization in Cleveland, and hosted by the Superelectric Pinball parlor, is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and will involve a period of paddle ball practice before the official record attempt. LAND studio said it is hoping to gather at least 500 people for the attempt, and each participant will be presented with their own paddle ball to keep after the event. The attempt is timed to coincide with the installation of a 14-foot paddle ball public art sculpture to be installed in the Gordon Square Arts District by Superelectric artists.”

AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“A broad national consensus is developing that health care is indeed a right. This is historically new. And it carries immense implications for the future.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on March 30, 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.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.