Jul 4, 2018

Go deeper: Conservatives voice concerns over top SCOTUS contender

Brett Kavanaugh. Photo: Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call/Getty Images

One of President Trump's top Supreme Court contenders, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has reportedly triggered strong reservations among social conservatives who are infuriated over some of his past rulings and close ties to establishment Republicans.

The details: As President Trump narrows down his list of candidates to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, critics are pointing to Kavanaugh's connections to the George W. Bush White House — Trump hates all things Bush — and his record on health care and abortion as being red flags, reports the Washington Post's Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey.

What they're saying: Trump advisers have reportedly acknowledged the simmering tensions, and two sources familiar with the matter told the Post that Trump has sought advice from aides, as well as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), about the concerns with Kavanaugh, particularly his record on health care. The president has also "pored" over news articles highlighting Kavanaugh's time in the Bush administration, but nothing he found was damaging enough to jeopardize the judge in Trump's eyes.

  • “You hear the rumbling because if you’ve been part of the establishment for a long time, you’re suspect. Kavanaugh carries that baggage," veteran conservative organizer Richard Viguerie, told Costa and Dawsey.
  • Meanwhile, some Trump supporters, like conservative commentator, Ann Coulter tweeted Tuesday: "Kavanaugh is clearly the best choice. But [Amy Coney] Barrett would be the most fun."

The backdrop: The bickering comes as hard-lines conservative are seeking a nominee that would solidify a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, and hope that the next justice will be the defining vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."