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Senate GOP leadership at a press conference last week. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Brett Kavanaugh's allies plan to aggressively contest what they call the "foggy memories" of his accusers — an approach that's likely to lead to nasty confrontations at Thursday's showdown hearing on his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

What's happening: The plan is to fight back right away and to emphasize denials and hazy recollections. And the mission is to portray the debate as cheap-shot politics orchestrated by liberals and abetted by the media.

Republicans see two silver bullets, one for each case:

  • In the high school allegation by Christine Blasey Ford, three others said to be at the party have no recollection of it.
  • In a second case, The New Yorker last night quoted Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez as saying Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her when they were freshmen. The New York Times reported that it had "interviewed several dozen people over the past week in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge."

As part of this strategy, Kavanaugh plans to aggressively contest the Yale allegation, sources tell Jonathan Swan.

  • Kavanaugh had initially planned to leave his pushback to written statements until he could state his case in the Senate Judiciary Committee's open hearing, which is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, with testimony from both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.
  • A sign of this more proactive approach: Kavanaugh's decision to give the Judiciary Committee his calendars from the summer of 1982. The N.Y. Times' Peter Baker reports that they "do not show a party consistent with the description of his accuser."

Swan's whip count: Kavanaugh's future rests partly with Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. But the senator who most worries Kavanaugh strategists is Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is retiring and has ripped Trump (and been ripped by Trump).

  • "Flake is flaky," said a source involved in the vote-counting.

See the letter Christine Blasey Ford sent Sen. Dianne Feinstein, released yesterday by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

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Go deeper

25 mins ago - World

Live updates: Biden and Putin meet in Geneva as summit kicks off

President Biden is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for five hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: Putin arrived in Geneva shortly before 7 a.m. ET and traveled via motorcade to Villa La Grange, a mansion set in a 75-acre park overlooking Lake Geneva. Biden arrived at around 7:20 a.m. ET. The two leaders shook hands and took a photo with Swiss President Guy Parmelin before entering the building for private talks.

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden and Putin's "red line" summit

Courtesy TIME

After a bitter blast from Russia's Vladimir Putin and tough talk from President Biden, both sides agree: Don't count on much from Wednesday's summit.

What they're saying: "We’re not expecting a big set of deliverables out of this meeting," a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva. "No breaking of bread."

Florida's business travel boost

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

As post-pandemic business travel comes back, experts say Florida's reopening policies should allow it to lock in a significant share of returning corporate events and meetings.

Why it matters: There's a lot of money to be made — with a lot of people itching to travel — after the sector lost $97 billion in spending last year, according to a new Tourism Economics analysis by the U.S. Travel Association.