'Start Here': Midterms, marijuana in Canada. What you need to know to start your day.

It's Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. Here's what you need to start your day:

1. Trump likens Khashoggi disappearance to Kavanaugh

As U.S. lawmakers and critics question the Saudi government's pledge for an "independent investigation" into the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration appears to be more receptive to believing the Saudi denials.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a friendly photo op Tuesday with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and later said in a statement there was "serious commitment" from Saudi Arabia "to determine all the facts" of what happened to Khashoggi.

Turkish officials believe Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and critic of Saudi leadership, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but President Donald Trump warned of a rush to judgment, comparing Khashoggi's disappearance to the sexual assault allegations Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced during his confirmation process in an interview with The Associated Press: "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent," Trump said.

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl tells us Trump is more inclined to believe the denials of Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally in the Middle East: "The president has worked very hard to cultivate this relationship and make no mistake, this is a relationship that goes back a long time for Donald Trump."

2. GOP strategist: After Kavanaugh, Republicans are 'energized to vote'

An ABC News/Washington Post poll this week shows in a generic ballot Americans chose Democrats by an 11-point spread. There's been a lot of talk about a blue wave this November, but now less than three weeks away from the midterms, ABC News political analyst and GOP strategist Alex Castellanos says there's a reason for Republicans to be optimistic.

"Prior to Kavanaugh, the only energized people in the country were Democratic women to vote against Donald Trump," he tells us. "Now Republicans and some swing voters are energized to vote against Washington again."

3. Recreational marijuana now legal in Canada

As of Wednesday morning, it is legal to buy marijuana across Canada.

While rules can vary province to province, one thing is constant: If you're 18 years old, you can buy cannabis, from someone, somewhere.

Before the national act went into effect, we caught up with Bruce Linton, CEO of Canopy Growth, who told us what he expects from customers.

4. US ambassador to Israel's appearance in the West Bank draws criticism

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman held meetings on Tuesday in the city-settlement of Ariel, a departure from previous U.S. policy in the West Bank.

ABC News' Jordana Miller joins us from Jerusalem: "Until now, U.S. officials were not allowed really to go to the West Bank. This is considered contested territory, according to the U.S. government."

In other news:

Try again Friday: Mega Millions jackpot rises to $868 million with no winner Tuesday: Mega Millions crept closer to the biggest lottery payout in U.S. history on Tuesday as no one matched all five numbers and the Mega Ball. The next drawing, to be held Friday, will be worth an estimated $868 million -- the second-largest payout in lottery history. The cash option is worth just shy of half a billion, at $494 million.

Staying silent: Subpoenaed by House panel, Fusion GPS chief pleads fifth on Capitol Hill: The private investigator behind the now-infamous dossier of unverified allegations linking members of the Trump campaign to Russian officials invoked his constitutional rights not to testify on Tuesday after being subpoenaed to appear before the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees.

Texas two-step: O'Rourke attacks Cruz as 'dishonest' in testy second Texas Senate debate: With just three weeks until voters decide a surprisingly pivotal U.S. Senate race in the state of Texas, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke faced off in an at-times-testy debate in San Antonio Tuesday evening, as both men sought to paint their opponent as the wrong choice to represent the nation's third-largest state.

Deadly floods: At least 1 dead in Texas flooding that caused bridge collapse: Massive floods swept through Central Texas on Tuesday, and rushing waters are expected to rise overnight and into Wednesday morning. But despite flood operations in several counties already being in place in anticipation of more swift and high waters, the damage, it seems, has already begun.

Shark tank: Toronto police urge man who swam naked with sharks to turn himself in: Toronto police are asking for the public's help searching for a man who allegedly went for a naked swim in the shark tank of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Police have identified the swimmer as David Weaver, 37, a resident of British Columbia who is wanted not only for swimming with sharks but also for an alleged assault he committed earlier that same day, according to a statement from the Toronto police.

From our partners at FiveThirtyEight:

An Upset That Nobody Sees Coming Could Determine Control Of The House

'Nightline' Rewind: Here's what you missed last night:
Being black in America: When performing everyday activities triggers 911 calls: A St. Louis recorded a woman trying to block him from entering his own apartment building, and she later called the police on him.

Meet 'The Conners': What to expect from the show without Roseanne: ABC News' "Nightline" takes you behind the scenes of the show that premiered on Tuesday, Oct. 16, on ABC.

On this day in history:

Oct. 17, 2006 -- The U.S. population reaches 300 million.

Today's must-see photo:

A Honduran migrant, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S., climbs on a truck in Quezaltepeque, Guatemala. (Photo credit: Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

For more great photos from around the world click HERE.

What's hot on social:

Watch as a bus spins out of control on Southern California's 405 Freeway and smashes through the center divider, injuring dozens of people.

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