Sep 16, 2018

What's next: The politics of Kavanaugh's crisis

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.

Go deeper

The difficulty of calculating the real unemployment rate

Data: U.S. Department of Labor; Note: Initial traditional state claims from the weeks of May 23 and 30, continuing traditional claims from May 23. Initial PUA claims from May 16, 23, and 30, continuing PUA and other programs from May 16; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

While economists predict that today's nonfarm payrolls report will show around 20 million Americans were unemployed in May, it's likely the real number is close to double that.

Why it matters: Traditional economic reports have failed to keep up with the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and have made it nearly impossible for researchers to determine the state of the U.S. labor market or the economy.

58 mins ago - Sports

How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The NBA's Board of Governors approved Thursday the league's 22-team plan to resume play at Walt Disney World — a plan that also includes tentative dates for both this season and next.

Why it matters: The league's proposed trip to Disney World not only impacts this season but could have a domino effect that impacts seasons in the future — and could permanently change what time of year the NBA plays its games.

Buffalo police officers suspended after shoving elderly man

Photo: Mike Desmond/WBFO via AP

Two Buffalo police officers were suspended without pay Thursday night after video emerged of them violently shoving a 75-year-old man to the ground while clearing a protest in the wake of George Floyd's killing in the city’s Niagara Square, WBFO reports.

The state of play: Before WBFO’s video of the incident went viral, a Buffalo police spokesman issued a statement that said "one person was injured when he tripped and fell."