☕️ Good Saturday morning.
Situational awareness: The backing of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is expected to confirm Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court after a fight for the ages, in a 51-49 final vote today (estimate: 5 p.m. hour).
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed later today, as looks all but certain, he'll be numerically one-ninth of the Supreme Court. But he'll draw a vastly disproportionate share of attention and speculation, controversy and criticism.
Why it matters: Both sides made it clear last night that they plan to keep Kavanaugh in the news for political purposes, deepening and prolonging the most divisive new issue of the Trump era.
President Trump was ecstatic last night — very fired up and happy, an aide tells Jonathan Swan.
Top Dems tell me that the impeachment of Kavanaugh, however impractical, will be an irresistible applause line for the party's 2020 hopefuls in New Hampshire and Iowa in the months after Nov. 6.
Republicans are already fanning that fire. Donald Trump Jr. was the first political figure on the right to come out pushing the impeachment message after it became clear that Kavanaugh had the votes:
Andy Surabian, a GOP strategist who ran the Trump Tower war room in 2016, tells us: "[T]o keep the base enthused through November 6th, Republicans must now turn the midterms into a referendum on Democrats attempting to impeach Judge Kavanaugh from the court."
Don't expect the 5-4 decisions by the Kavanaugh Court to be "humble, meek, narrow," said Brian Fallon, executive director of the progressive Demand Justice:
The reaction on the right ... You know something rare has happened in the Republican Party when Steve Bannon is gushing over Mitch McConnell — the man he spent months trying to destroy, per Jonathan Swan.
Sources in Trumpworld who spent their careers attacking McConnell as a weak and corrupt totem of the “establishment” are now praising him for ramming through Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation without flinching.
The source — like many others in Trumpworld — appropriated a (debunked) campaign insult (“Cocaine Mitch”) as a mark of newfound respect.
"The famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed for the last time," the Salt Lake Tribune's Peggy Fletcher Stack (@religiongal) writes:
1) "French police are investigating the disappearance of Interpol chief, Meng Hongwei, who was reported missing after traveling from France to his native China, and they have placed his wife under protection after threats," per Reuters.
2) "The Hong Kong government has rejected the visa renewal application of the Financial Times’ Asia news editor, the first time an FT journalist has had such accreditation denied by local authorities," the FT's Ben Bland reports from Hong Kong (subscription):
"The last time the U.S. unemployment rate was roughly as low as the 3.7 percent it is now — December 1969 — the economy was overheating, inflation was spiking and a short recession soon followed," AP's Christopher Rugaber points out:
A risk now: "Tariffs tend to elevate inflation by raising costs, which could lead the Fed to step up the pace of its rate increases ... 'a hangover effect.'"
TIME asked its global network of editors and correspondents to nominate "Genius Companies," with winners chosen based on originality, influence, success and ambition. Among the highlights:
"For an artist ... known for his stunts, this could be Banksy's most perfect art world prank," CNN's Andreas Preuss writes:
"The framed work, spray paint and acrylic on canvas ... began to pass through a shredder hidden in the frame," according to a Sotheby's release.
Tom Jolly, print editor of the N.Y. Times (a memorable title!), tweets that Sunday's paper will include a special section reprinting investigative reports about Trump taxes from this week "(Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father") and October 2016 ("Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades").
An instant-classic Wall Street Journal A-hed ... "The First Rule of Microsoft Excel — Don’t Tell Anyone You’re Good at It ... In the workplace, spreadsheet experts face a constant barrage of help requests; ‘run the other way,'" by Ira Iosebashvili (subscription):
"The trouble often starts with a group email asking if there is anyone who knows Excel really well."