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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump wanted a walk-off home-run win with his Supreme Court pick, so when confidants raised doubts about Brett Kavanaugh over the past week, according to Axios' Jonathan Swan, Trump brushed them aside and offered the simple retort: “He’s got the votes.”

Why it matters: So many reluctant Republicans voted for Trump because of the Court. They got Justice Neil Gorsuch, and now they have Kavanaugh, validating and institutionalizing their ideology for 30 years to come.

  • Trump stuck to the list of conservative judges he had promised to draw from. He delivered what he promised, as he promised, on the one thing most Rs care most about.
  • He has cemented his credibility and power with the base — giving him nearly infinite license, especially with evangelicals.

Why voting matters: Remember that a shift of fewer than 80,000 votes in three states (Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) would have made Hillary Clinton president.

  • Now there's a conservative court for a generation.

Trump secretly settled on Kavanaugh because the 53-year-old federal appeals court judge, who lives seven miles from the White House, is "in Washington, but not of Washington."

  • That was the description last night by the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo, Trump's closest outside adviser on judicial selections.
  • Leo told me that Kavanaugh, 53, cemented his bond with Trump during their second in-person meeting, when his show of strength and humility convinced the president that he would "do what he thought was right, no matter what the social, cultural and politics fashions of the day might be."
  • Leo said that between Kavanaugh's 300 opinions and his private conversations, he showed "a willingness to demand transparency and accountability from an ever-growing administrative state."

Trump aides had advised him from the beginning that Kavanaugh was perhaps the most certainly confirmable option on his shortlist:

  • Advisers told me that Kavanaugh's Ivy League credentials (Yale 1987, Yale Law 1990) and Central Casting family made a deep impression on Trump.
  • Using Trumpian lingo, the five pages of talking points the White House sent its allies last night declare: "Judge Kavanaugh is the single most qualified person in the country to serve on the Supreme Court."
  • Listen to this story ... Over the past year, when Trump talked about his first pick for the Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, he frequently bragged: "He went to Harvard, then Oxford. He actually said Oxford was tougher than Harvard. How smart must he be?"

This quote says it all ... A source close to Trump told me: "For an anti-elitist, he is a hardcore credentialist."

Be smart ... N.Y. Times columnist Ross Douthat, a Catholic and abortion opponent, captures the dynamic behind last night's prime-time selection show:

  • "[N]otwithstanding all the head-fakes and reality-television atmospherics, Trump has demonstrated that he’ll take his Trumpishness only so far."
  • "It’s one thing to blow up the G-7 with trade wars and make nice with a murderous North Korean despot; it’s quite another to disappoint the D.C. conservative legal establishment."
  • "So ... he circled back to the best-known, deepest-resumed, most-vouched-for choice."

Go deeper.

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Updated 32 mins ago - Health

PM announces vaccine mandate for 40% of New Zealand workforce

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during an October COVID-19 briefing in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Robert Kitchin - Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Tuesday a new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses as the government pushes to reach a nationwide 90% vaccination target.

Why it matters: Under the new COVID-19 Protection Framework, businesses in close contact with customers must require vaccine certificates from them. Ardern said at a briefing Tuesday that such venues wishing to operate, including hair salons, bars, restaurants and gyms, must ensure staff are vaccinated.

State Department to set up new cyber bureau to combat hack attacks

Secretary of State Tony Blinken speaks on the challenges during an October conference in Quito, Ecuador. Photo:y Felipe Stanley/Agencia Press South/Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced Monday plans for the State Department to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy.

Why it matters: The establishment of the bureau and plans for a new envoy to oversee critical and emerging technology come after a series significant hack attacks and other online crimes, notably ransomware assaults on U.S. infrastructure.

Biden rejects Trump's latest executive privilege claims

Photo: Jim Watson and Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House on Monday rejected two more of former President Trump's claims of executive privilege over documents that the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot requested, CNN first reported.

Why it matters: Trump's legal team is seeking to block some of the panel's requests for records by invoking executive privilege, which can allow presidents and their aides to sidestep congressional scrutiny. The Biden administration has maintained that it will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.