Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

What was previously an allegation of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh by an unidentified person — without a lot of details or evidence — is now backed by a name, a specific allegation and therapist's notes. A senior Republican official involved in Kavanaugh's confirmation privately admitted to me that they felt queasy when they read The Washington Post story.

Driving the news: There was one sign Sunday that these allegations could actually derail Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court — which was previously a sure thing. Jeff Flake told the WashPost's Sean Sullivan that the Senate Judiciary Committee should wait to hear more from Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford: "For me, we can’t vote until we hear more."

  • Why it matters: Doug Jones' special election victory late last year gave Democrats an extra seat on Senate Judiciary — there are now 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats — meaning that Flake's defection could stall Kavanaugh's confirmation process.

Since the story broke, I've spoken to four sources close to the Kavanaugh confirmation process. All were defiant and sought to raise doubts about the accuser's credibility and the holes in her story — though none were willing to do so on the record. They signaled potential lines of attack: the accuser's Democratic political background, lapses in her memory and the accounts of the 65 women who've known Kavanaugh since high school who've vouched for his character.

  • But now Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is working to schedule follow-up calls with Kavanaugh and Ford, per WashPost's Seung Min Kim.
  • I've also contacted spokespeople for the swing-vote Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to see if the allegations have changed their voting intentions. I hadn't heard back by deadline.

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Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a vote on Republicans' $500 billion targeted COVID-19 relief bill, a far less comprehensive package than the $1.8 trillion+ deal currently being negotiated between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

Why it matters: There's little appetite in the Senate for a stimulus bill with a price tag as large as what President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been calling for. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) "skinny" proposal was mostly seen as a political maneuver, as it had little chance of making it out of the Senate.

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The recent firestorm over the New York Post’s publication of stories relying on data from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden shows the increasingly hazy line between domestic political “dirty tricks” and a foreign-sponsored disinformation operation.

Why it matters: This haziness could give determined actors cover to conduct influence operations aimed at undermining U.S. democracy through channels that just look like old-fashioned hard-nosed politics.