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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."

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Go deeper

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
21 mins ago - Health

The end of the Omicron wave is in sight

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

The Omicron wave is likely beginning to recede in the U.S., experts say.

Why it matters: Omicron is still wreaking havoc in parts of the country, but infectious disease experts are optimistic that relief is around the corner.

NASA estimates Tonga volcano exploded with force of 5-6 megatons

A satellite image of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Dec. 24, before the eruption. Photo: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

NASA scientists estimate the power of Tonga's volcanic eruption over the weekend to have been 5-6 Megatons of TNT equivalent.

Threat level: Saturday's eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Haʻapai volcano and subsequent tsunami killed at least three people. Scientists warn an "ash-seawater cocktail" poses a potentially toxic health threat, and drinking water could be contaminated.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and his two elder children to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."

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