Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic senators are consulting experts in such fields as sexual assault victimization and college drinking ahead of Thursday's hearing with Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, according to a source inside Democratic prep.

The big picture: The experts include service providers, legal scholars and scientists. "There's a very active network around the country of experts in this field who are helping people understand the gravity of this and the reality of this," the Democratic source said. Like Kavanaugh, Ford is undergoing testimony prep sessions to be sure that she does not "encounter any surprises," the source said.

Heading into the hearing, Democrats plan a variety of outside advocacy, both in person and online:

  • Brian Fallon of the progressive group Demand Justice told me: "Republicans want to try to put Dr. Ford on trial Thursday, but look for Kavanaugh opponents to make his character and integrity the central issue heading into the hearing," by invoking past character witnesses who have disowned him.
  • The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer: "Kavanaugh’s attitude toward women has come to play a central role in his confirmation process."

Top Republicans tell me they remain confident that Kavanaugh will get the 50 votes he needs, in a floor vote that leaders hope to hold on Friday or Saturday.

  • Per AP: "White House counselor Kellyanne Conway held a conference call with supporters during which she said there was a 'vast left-wing conspiracy' to prevent Kavanaugh from winning confirmation, according to a participant."

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... Kavanaugh, in a letter to the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he denounced "grotesque and obvious character assassination":

  • "I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process."
  • "The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed."

Go deeper: Read the transcript of the interview with Brett Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, on Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum."

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
Please enter a valid email.
Please enter a valid email.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Subscribed! Look for Axios AM and PM in your inbox tomorrow or read the latest Axios AM now.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests
  2. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases
  3. Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  4. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.

In pictures: Storm Zeta churns inland after lashing Louisiana

Debris on the streets as then-Hurricane Zeta passes over in Arabi, Louisiana, on Oct. 28. It's the third hurricane to hit Louisiana in about two months, after Laura and Delta. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

Tropical Storm Zeta has killed at least two people, triggered flooding, downed powerlines and caused widespread outages since making landfall in Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane on Wednesday.

The big picture: A record 11 named storms have made landfall in the U.S. this year. Zeta is the fifth named storm to do so in Louisiana in 2020, the most ever recorded. It weakened t0 a tropical storm early Thursday, as it continued to lash parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle with heavy rains and strong winds.

3 hours ago - World

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing" and the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus for the achievement, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China