Thursday morning news: September 6, 2018

Kavanaugh hearing » It was Day Two of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday. The judge took the hot seat for a marathon Q&A with lawmakers.

Democrats repeatedly pressed Kavanaugh for his position on a few issues more than others, including abortion. The judge told lawmakers he would not head to the bench with the intention of helping to overturn Roe v. Wade, which he called “an important precedent.”

KAVANAUGH: One of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years, as you know. 

But regarding potential challenges to existing abortion laws, the judge declined to comment on hypothetical scenarios. He offered a similar reply when Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy asked if President Trump could use executive power to protect himself.

LEAHY: Does the president have the ability to pardon somebody in exchange for a promise from that person he wouldn’t testify against him? KAVANAUGH: Senator, I’m not gonna answer hypothetical questions of that sort.

Kavanaugh also would not answer questions about whether the president can pardon himself. But the judge did state his belief that no one is above the law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will resume the confirmation hearing at 9:30 Eastern Time this morning.

DOJ to examine free speech protections on social media » The Justice Department announced Wednesday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions plans to meet with state attorneys general later this month to discuss accusations that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are “stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.”

The announcement came just minutes after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, telling lawmakers:

DORSEY: We don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions, period. Impartiality is our guiding principle. 

Republicans, including President Trump, have accused Twitter of “shadow banning” conservatives in its search results.

Earlier in the day Jack Dorsey testified alongside Facebook’s number two executive Sheryl Sandberg before the Senate Intelligence Committee. They answered questions on a range of issues, including guarding against foreign attempts to sway American voters. Both executives said halting those attempts is a top priority.

White House denounces Woodard book, slams NYT op-ed » President Trump weighed in Wednesday on the furor over journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House.

The president told reporters Woodward is just looking sell books with claims top administration officials questioned Trump’s competence, ignored his orders, and withheld documents from him.

TRUMP: The book is total fiction.

But an op-ed published in The New York Times Wednesday outlines similar interactions. The anonymous author, described as a senior administration official, claims to be part of a group of people “working diligently from within” to impede President Trump’s—quote—“worst inclinations” and ill-conceived parts of his agenda.

The president said the claims lack credibility.

TRUMP: When you tell me about some anonymous source within the administration, probably who’s failing and probably here for all the wrong reasons, no. And The New York Times is failing. If I weren’t here I believe The New York Times probably wouldn’t even exist. 

He also called it a “gutless editorial” and a “disgrace.”

Two charged in UK Novichok attack » The British government has charged two Russian men in connection with a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England back in March.

British prosecutor Sue Hemming announced Wednesday …

HEMMING: It is clearly in the public interest to charge Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are Russian nationals.

They’ve been charged in absentia with conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, and using the Novichok nerve agent. Britain issued a European arrest warrant for the suspects since Russia does not extradite its citizens.

Police said the pair flew back to Moscow just hours after authorities found former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on a bench in a Salisbury park.  

Assistant Police Commissioner Neil Basu said the working theory is that the suspects smuggled the nerve agent inside a fake perfume bottle and applied it to the front door of Skripal’s home.

BASU: Box, the bottle and the applicator have all been specially adapted. The bottle itself contained a significant quantity of Novichok. Clearly the applicator is some form of pump dispenser. It’s the perfect delivery vehicle for applying the poison to the front door of the Skripals. 

Amesbury resident Charlie Rowley found the bottle in a park in June. Rowley was hospitalized, and his girlfriend, Dawn Sturgess, died after they were both exposed to the agent.

The Russian government says it doesn’t recognize the suspects and continues to deny involvement in the attack.

Jebi update » The death toll has climbed in Japan from Typhoon Jebi. At least 11 people have now died as a result of the Category 3 typhoon, the most powerful to hit Japan in 25 years. It packed wind gusts of 130 miles per hour. The storm shut down travel and left more than a million people without power.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: Mindy Belz on the political unrest in Nicaragua. And Cal Thomas on Capitol Hill theatrics. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) The witness table is prepared for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 3, 2018.

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