FOX NEWS FIRST: Kavanaugh, Ford face the hot seat in Supreme battle; Kavanaugh a victim of mistaken identity?

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Developing now, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018

  • Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation could be on the line as he and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexual misconduct, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday
  • TUNE IN: Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum will anchor FOX News live coverage and analysis of the Kavanaugh Senate hearing starting at 9 a.m. ET
  • Late Wednesday night, Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that they had interviewed two witnesses who believe Kavanaugh is a victim of mistaken identity by Ford
  • Kavanaugh has denied new sex assault allegations made by woman represented by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels, and by an anonymous 1998 claim
  • President Trump is standing by Kavanaugh, calling Democrats 'con artists' and predicting that their attempts to block his Supreme Court confirmation will backfire
  • Trump is considering postponing his highly anticipated Thursday meeting with Rod Rosenstein, but said Wednesday that he would prefer not to fire his embattled deputy attorney general 
  • Employees of the Washington, D.C., restaurant where Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife were heckled earlier this week are receiving death threats, the eatery's owner says 

THE LEAD STORY - SENATE SHOWDOWN FOR KAVANAUGH, FORD: As an extraordinary series of uncorroborated, lurid last-minute allegations threatens to derail his confirmation to the Supreme Court, nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Ford, the California professor accusing him of sexually assaulting her more than three decades ago, are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday morning ...  The stakes for Kavanaugh could not be higher:

Key swing-vote senators have said Thursday's hearing, which will begin at 10 a.m. ET, presents a pivotal opportunity to assess Ford's credibility and determine whether to advance Kavanaugh to the nation's highest court. It will also be a chance for the public to see Ford, in person, explain in detail what she claims happened at the Maryland house party in 1982 where Kavanaugh allegedly jumped on top of her and tried to muffle her screams -- and why she didn't tell anyone about the episode until 2012.

The proceedings will commence with opening statements from Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. After taking an oath, Ford will deliver the prepared remarks she has already provided publicly, according to a schedule provided by the committee. Each senator on the committee will then be afforded a single five-minute round of questions, with the opportunity to ask questions alternating between Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans have retained Rachel Mitchell, an experienced sex-crimes prosecutor, to handle some of their questioning, saying it will help avoid an overtly political atmosphere. Grassley has hammered Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., for "grandstanding" during the confirmation hearings earlier this month. Thursday's hearing is supposed to focus solely on Ford's allegations, not the others that have surfaced against Kavanaugh in recent days.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY? - Late new developments Wednesday night could preview how the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee may proceed Judge Kavanaugh and especially his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. Two men, Senate Judiciary Republicans say, have suggested in interviews that Kavanaugh may be a victim of mistaken identity. ... In a statement released Wednesday evening, Judiciary Committee Republicans revealed that on Monday, they conducted their "first interview with a man who believes he, not Judge Kavanaugh, had the encounter with Dr. Ford in 1982 that is the basis of his complaint." They conducted a second interview the next day.

On Wednesday, Republicans said in the statement, they received a "more in-depth written statement from the man interviewed twice previously who believes he, not Judge Kavanaugh, had the encounter in question with Dr. Ford." GOP investigators also spoke on the phone with another man making a similar claim.

Ford has previously said there was "zero chance" she would have confused Kavanaugh for anyone else. In response, an aide to Democrats on the Judiciary Committee reportedly unloaded on Senate Republicans, calling their tactics "shameful and the height of irresponsibility." The aide claimed Democrats were never informed about the two witnesses' claims about Ford.

TWO NEW ALLEGATIONS AGAINST KAVANAUGH: Attorney Michael Avenatti, on the eve of Brett Kavanaugh's high-profile hearing to address sexual misconduct allegations, identified and released a "sworn declaration" from a woman who claims the Supreme Court nominee was involved in "gang" rapes in the early 1980s ... Avenatti’s client was identified as Julie Swetnick, who further claims in the statement that Kavanaugh and a friend were "present" when she became a "victim of one of these 'gang' or 'train' rapes" in 1982.  Kavanaugh issued a strong denial in response, saying in a statement: “This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened.”

The Avenatti-led claim was only the latest allegation Kavanaugh had battled in recent days. In an interview with Senate Judiciary Committee investigators on Tuesday, Kavanaugh was asked specifically about a new claim in a letter received by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., on Sept. 22 from an anonymous individual apparently in Denver. The anonymous accuser alleged that Kavanaugh "shoved" someone up against a wall "very aggressively and sexually" during an outing in front of four witnesses. "We're dealing with an anonymous letter about an anonymous person and an anonymous friend," Kavanaugh said. "It's ridiculous. Total Twilight Zone. And no, I've never done anything like that."

TRUMP: DEMS KNOW IT'S A 'BIG, FAT CON JOB': President Trump defended Brett Kavanaugh at a news conference Wednesday, saying that Democrats had "destroyed a man's reputation" with sexual misconduct allegations... In response to a question from FOX News' John Roberts about why the White House did not ask the FBI to investigate allegations made against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford, the president responded that "there was nothing to investigate." The president added that even if an investigation found nothing to corroborate Ford's claims, "it's not going to change any of the Democrats' minds."

"They're obstructionists," Trump went on. "They're actually con artists because they know how quality this man is, and they've destroyed a man's reputation and they want to destroy it even more ... And they know it's a big, fat con job. And they go into a room and I guarantee you, they laugh like hell at what they've pulled off on [the media] and on the public."

POSSIBLE ROSENSTEIN REPRIEVE: President Trump said Wednesday he'd "certainly prefer not" to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and is considering delaying their scheduled Thursday meeting in Washington, D.C... Speaking at a news conference in New York, Trump said he may push back the highly anticipated meeting with the Justice Department's second-in-command. That meeting was scheduled after the New York Times reported that Rosenstein allegedly suggested that aides wear a "wire" while with Trump. Rosenstein reportedly also suggested invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office last year.

RESTAURANT FEELS RADICAL LEFT'S WRATH: The owner of a Washington, D.C., restaurant where Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and his wife were heckled by a group of protesters earlier this week, said staffers have received “life-threatening” messages in the wake of the incident ... “Personally, I am blessed to work with the staff who have handled the harassment and life-threatening messages we and our families have received in the wake of the event,” Fabio Trabocchi, the owner, said in a statement on Wednesday posted to Twitter. “They have shown remarkable grit and calm, It is scary to hear anger directed at you and those you love -- I am lucky to work with brave people who respect our work.”

Cruz and his wife were dining at Fiola on Monday when a group appeared to chastise the senator over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

AS SEEN ON FOX NEWS

'A DISGUSTING SPECTACLE': "This entire process...has been hijacked by the radical left."  – "Life, Liberty & Levin" host Mark Levin, on "Hannity," blasting Democrats for their apparent disregard of the rule of law in the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. WATCH

GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT: "It is Judge Kavanaugh who is seeking a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, and I think now bears the burden of disproving these allegations." –  Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on "The Story with Martha MacCallum," attempting to defend his argument that Brett Kavanaugh bears the burden of disproving the sex allegations against him. WATCH

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FOX NEWS OPINION

Tucker Carlson: Kavanaugh stands between the Democratic Party and the power it seeks.

Laura Ingraham: The critical lessons of the Kavanaugh battle.

Ashley Baker: I'm one of many women who still want Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court – And it's not why you think.

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Bill Cosby will have access to TV and email while behind bars, prison says.

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On FOX News: 

FOX & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump; U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. R-S.C.; U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., candidate for U.S. Senate seat; Washington Times columnist Charlie Hurt; Judge Andrew Napolitano; U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

The Brett Kavanaugh Senate Hearing, 9 a.m. ET - Don't miss FOX News' live coverage and analysis, anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, from beginning to end.

On FOX Business:

Mornings with Maria, 6 a.m. ET: Special guests include: Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump; Kiron Skinner, FOX News foreign policy analyst; U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.; Gordon Chang, author of "The Coming Collapse of China"; C. Boyden Gray, former White House counsel to presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush; Beth Comstock, author of "Imagine It Forward"; Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, founders of Echelon Front and authors of "The Dichotomy of Leadership."

Varney & Co., 9 a.m. ET: Art Laffer, former economic adviser under President Reagan; Ron Bonjean, former communications strategist for Justice Neil Gorsuch.

The Intelligence Report, 2 p.m. ET: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue; attorney Tom Dupree; Ronna McDaniel, RNC chairwoman; Howard Franklin, Democratic strategist.

On FOX News Radio:

The FOX News Rundown podcastDeputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is tentatively scheduled to meet with President Trump Thursday amid growing questions about his future at the Justice Department. Judge Andrew Napolitano explains what to expect from the much anticipated meeting and what a dramatic shakeup could mean for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. Flooding continues to be a problem in the Carolinas nearly two weeks after Hurricane Florence devastated the area. Ray Farmer, director for the South Carolina Department of Insurance, and Bob Freitag, South Carolina insurance adjuster, discuss the problems residents will face. Plus, commentary by Sadie Adams, director of education for the Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness.

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The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: The Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearing, President Trump's press conference Wednesday and his speech before the U.N. General Assembly will be the big topic of Thursday's show with the following guests: Steve Doocy, Andrew McCarthy, Kennedy, Jenna Lee and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R- Ohio.

The Tom Shillue Show, 3 p.m. ET: Retired Navy SEALS Leif Babin and Jocko Willink join Tom Shillue to discuss their new book, “The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win.”

#OnThisDay

2004: NBC announces that "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno would be succeeded by "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien in 2009. (O'Brien's stint on "The Tonight Show" in 2009 would last just over seven months.)

1991: The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocks, 7-7, on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court.

1964: The U.S. government publicly releases the report of the Warren Commission, which concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in assassinating President John F. Kennedy.

FOX News First is compiled by FOX News' Bryan Robinson. Thank you for joining us! Enjoy your day! We'll see you in your inbox first thing Friday morning.