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Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

This scenario seemed unthinkable a month ago, but it's now being privately discussed by sources involved in Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation: If Kavanaugh falls after the FBI investigation this week and Democrats flip the Senate in November, will Trump nominate a compromise Supreme Court justice who's acceptable to Senate Democrats?

The answer: No way, according to sources with direct knowledge of the president’s thinking, both inside and outside the White House.

"If Kavanaugh doesn't make it, it all depends on the midterms," said one of those sources.

  • "If they hold the Senate, OK, regroup, put somebody up next year or maybe end of this year.
  • "But if he [Kavanaugh] doesn’t make it and the Senate flips, I think it's 4-4 for next two years.

"Politically, I think they would rather keep it 4-4 rather than put somebody acceptable on the court," the source added. "He [Trump] needs to run on polarization and the court in 2020."

  • One of Trump's most trusted advisers told me he'd counsel Trump that if Democrats win the Senate, under no circumstances should he nominate a compromise candidate.
  • A senior administration official close to the process told me: "A 4-4 tie is a conservative win. Not as much as a 5-4 majority, but it takes constitutional interpretation out of D.C."
  • And a White House official told me Trump has made clear he'd nominate somebody in Kavanaugh's judicial mold no matter what happens in the midterms. "He sees it as a fundamental promise," the official told me. "They [Democrats] are not going to be rewarded for this. He's not going to undercut allies and reward enemies."

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

American officials and authorities in Haiti are working to try and free 17 hostages from a U.S.-based missionary group who were kidnapped in Port-au-Prince over the weekend, AP reported Monday.

The latest: Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement Sunday, "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children." The Ohio-based organization said they were on a trip to visit an orphanage when they were kidnapped Saturday.

China's economic growth slows

A worker assembles heavy truck engines in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, on Monday. Photo: Long We/Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

China's economy grew 4.9% in the third quarter of 2021 compared with a year earlier, the country's National Bureau of Statistics announced Monday.

Why it matters: The gross domestic product growth in the July-September period in the world’s second-largest economy marked the "weakest pace since the third quarter of 2020 and slowing from 7.9% in the second quarter," Reuters notes.

5 hours ago - World

Former spy Steele defends controversial Trump Russia dossier

Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary released Sunday.

Why it matters: The FBI drew on former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier as part of its investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government, which led to former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

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