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After watching Brett Kavanaugh evade Sen. Dick Durbin's question about why he wouldn't publicly call for an FBI investigation, I asked sources close to him the same question.

Driving the news: The question became more urgent after Republicans eventually asked President Trump to order a "limited" one-week FBI probe into the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh.

Here's what I've learned from sources with direct knowledge, and from conversations in real time as the events unfolded:

  • When the Washington Post first broke the story of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her in high school, the team around the judge thought they could squash the story quickly. At first, they were reluctant to contemplate a public hearing let alone an FBI investigation.
  • White House Counsel Don McGahn and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have always worried they would lose control of the confirmation process if the FBI started a new background investigation.
  • "You have to have this open-ended 'let's search for anything or everything,'" a source involved in the process told me.

But, but: Sources close to Kavanaugh told me that while they obviously would've preferred a quick vote without a last-minute demand from Flake for an investigation, things may still work out.

Republicans have already voted Kavanaugh out of committee and they've only agreed to an investigation limited in time and scope. It could provide the assurances the wavering senators say they need to vote for him. And given Kavanaugh's friend and alleged witness Mark Judge has already said he doesn't recall any attack, it may be impossible for the FBI to gather evidence corroborating Ford's story.

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In photos: Virginians line up for hours on first day of early voting

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In some parts of Virginia, people waited in line up to four hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic seems to already have an impact on how people cast their votes this election season. As many as 80 million Americans are expected to vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, told Axios in August.

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 30,306,469 — Total deaths: 948,147— Total recoveries: 20,626,515Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 6,705,114 — Total deaths: 198,197 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.

Court battles shift mail-in voting deadlines in battleground states

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Michigan joins Pennsylvania in extending mail-in ballot deadlines by several days after the election, due to the coronavirus pandemic and expected delays in U.S. Postal Service.

The latest: Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled that all ballots postmarked before Nov. 2 must be counted, so long as they arrive in the mail before election results are certified. Michigan will certify its general election results on Nov. 23.